Twisted Heart

I’ve written a short story.  Here it is:

The twisted branches match his twisted heart, she thought.  The bush had always been so beautiful to her, but not anymore.  The shack was drafty and the wind was bitter.  Through the glassless, rotting window she could see ghost gums towering over everything in sight.  Her left wrist was raw from the rope that tied her to a pole in the open plan building.  There was dried blood on the unpolished floorboards.  It was not hers.

She guessed it had been about 2 weeks since her arrival at the shack.  It had been the break of dawn and they had come in an army supply truck.  She had been bound, gagged and petrified.

He’d been gone for what she guessed was about an hour, presumably off to hunt again.  His thirst for violence must be huge, she thought, as it wasn’t being quenched in his dealings with her.  She had given up trying to escape the rope, all it did was tear open her wounds, but her wounds were the least of her concerns.  He would be back.  Hunting did not seen to dull his rage, it merely gave him a hunger for its expression, and she was his prey.

She had become his property, her body was no longer her own.  He took what he wanted, and he used her as he chose.  He used her to satisfy his thirst for violence and his desire for conquest.  She was broken.  He had smashed her until she had broken somewhere deep inside.  She felt utterly emptied.

She heard a noise, branches and leaves being trampled underfoot.  He was returning.  Fear rose within her and turned to terror as he came into view, stomping down the bush, carrying a rifle and holding 3 rabbits in a bloodied hand.  She struggled to keep calm as he strode towards the shack because she knew that her fear only increased his lust for violence.  He stopped about thirty metres from the shack, sat on a tree stump and began to skin his haul.  She was grateful for the extra time without him.  He was careful and almost delicate in this task as he concentrated on the dead carcasses.  She saw a gleam in his eye as he almost lovingly prepared his kills for eating.

He was about six feet tall, around forty years old and extremely strong.  Constantly being outdoors and battling the elements had left him tough and sturdy.  She was utterly at his mercy, unable to match him in any physical sense.  Watching him interact with the environment since their arrival had shown her how comfortable he was with this place, he knew exactly what he was doing, he had obviously been here before.  The dried blood on the floor sent a chill deep into her bones whenever she thought about it, which she tried not to do.  She did not want think about the person it had belonged to, what their fate had been, what her fate would be.

The sounds of the bush entered her awareness as she watched him outside.  The soft rustling of the leaves, the gentle calls of far off magpies, the whirring of helicopter blades.  She noticed it before he did.  Only a few seconds later did he realise something was amiss.  He stood up in a rush, looking to the sky for confirmation of what he was hearing.  Her heart leapt.  She was terrified and excited all at once.  Would he leave her and flee?  Would he use her to ensure his escape?

She began to tug at the rope, but all it did was make fresh blood ooze from her wounds.  He ran for the shack and the terror within her rose again.  He lunged towards her with a dirty knife as she began to plead with him, tears now streaming down her cheeks.  He sawed the rope until it gave way then grabbed her by the arm, dragging her towards the door.  All the while she was begging him to let her go, telling him he’d be quicker without her, he could escape more easily if she wasn’t holding him back.  She’d scream and call attention to them, she would make it hard for him.  But he was too powerful and he dragged her too easily, like she was a rag doll.

The helicopter blades were getting louder.  She knew this was her chance.  She was screaming at the sky, begging for rescue.  She knew it was useless, that no one could hear her over the noise of the helicopter, but she was beyond the point of rational thinking.  He hit her hard with a backhand across the face and she felt her cheek split open.  She went limp as her head began to swim and he dragged her further from the shack.  She knew that the shack was visible from the air and that being close to it was her best chance of rescue, so she fought to slow him down.  He lifted her off the ground and swung her over his shoulder as he pushed through the bush.

She struggled against him as he plowed through the undergrowth, stopping for nothing.  She was trying to look up, to see what was happening in the sky, but she couldn’t twist her neck far enough.  She beat his back with her fists, but seemed to make no impact.  He began to quicken his pace as she heard new, indistinguishable noises.  Something was happening.  She began to hear other movements in the bush.  People were on their trail!  She began calling out for help, screaming for rescue.  He flung her hard to the ground, and she felt pain shoot through her, her thoughts turning to mist.  She was dizzy and confused but still conscious.  He picked her up again and starting running, but she was no longer fighting him.  She could hear distant sounds of footsteps and the whirring of the helicopter overhead, but the sounds all blurred together, everything unclear.

He halted suddenly, he was still only briefly, then changed directions, darting off to the right.  He knew this bush, he had the home ground advantage.  She started moaning, trying to call out but unable to.  The footsteps sounded closer, or was that just wishful thinking in her state of confusion?  She couldn’t tell, but she knew she had to do something.

She mustered all her strength and called out once more as he lurched to left, diving for cover behind a thick tree and throwing her to the ground.  There was an explosion and the bush seemed to lift into the air.  Her ears were ringing and sound no longer made sense.  He jumped back to his feet and wrenched her from the ground, dashing left again further into the increasingly dense bush land as debris rained down on them.

Her muddled mind was grasping for information, trying to decipher what was happening.  An explosion.  He seemed to be expecting it.  An explosion detonated by him.

The people who were following them appeared to be no longer following.  She couldn’t tell if it was just the ringing in her ears, but she no longer heard the sounds of pursuit.  The terror began to rise in her again.

They kept moving for what seemed like hours, never resting, varying in speed.  Eventually he flung her down onto an old bench.  She blinked and tried to focus her vision.  She looked up and realised they were at another shack.  He had another place!

Before she could make sense of the information swirling through her mind he had grabbed her again and thrust her inside, slamming the door behind them.  He pushed her towards another door, shoved her through it, then shut the door and locked it.

It was pitch black.  She stretched out her hands tentatively to test her surroundings.  A wall.  Another wall.  All within reach.  She guessed she was in a broom cupboard, a tiny room with no windows, like an upright coffin.

She could hear muffled footsteps and other unintelligible sounds as he moved around their new shack.  She groped around for a light switch but found nothing.  He left her there only a few minutes before she heard heavy footsteps approaching the door.  The lock unclicked and a powerful arm dragged her out and across the room while she continued to plead with him.  He threw her to the floor in front of a boarded up and barred window, handcuffing her right wrist to one of the bars.  Then he strode off without a word, through to what she assumed was a kitchen.

He rarely spoke to her and paid no attention when she spoke to him.  He was determined and single minded.  It seemed that nothing could change his mind about anything so he didn’t waste his energy listening.  She felt at a total loss as to how to reason with him on any level.

A few minutes later he strode back into the room with a large kitchen knife.  Panic took hold of her as she struggled against the handcuffs.  Her voice seemed detached as she heard herself begging him for mercy, for anything!  It could not end like this.  She couldn’t bear it.  Not here, not in the middle of nowhere, not for no purpose.

She found herself screaming at him, asking for a reason.  Why was he doing this!  What was the point!  He stopped advancing and looked deep into her eyes, then he calmly strode towards her with the knife by his side.  He knelt down and put his face inches from hers.

“Because I can.”  He said in a low, dangerous, gravelly voice.  “Because I am strong and you are weak.  Because I am in control.  You’re just like all the others, pathetic and fragile.  Do you think it matters what I do to you?  Do you think you matter?  I take what I want because I can.  You don’t deserve your life, and I am going to take it from you, because I want to and you can’t stop me.”

She stared at him with no idea how to reply.  There was no way to reason her way out of this.  He was unfeeling, hard and insane.  She felt all her hope drain from her as if something physical had fallen from her body.

He stood up, still looking into her eyes, now with a half crooked smile on his weather beaten face.  Her mouth was hanging open as she stared up at him in disbelief.  He looked down upon her still smiling, raised his arm, and swiped the blade across her throat.

A kookaburra watched the man from a tree as he filled in the hole he had dug in the earth.  It called out and flew gracefully into the dusk as the man picked up a pack and hiked into the bush.

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