Stockholm

Detective Maye has seen it dozens of times before. Stockholm syndrome. When the victim develops an affection for her captor.

He holds his hand out for the feral child hiding under the kitchen sink. If not for her wide marble eyes, glowing like orbs in the darkness, he would think no one is there.

He shines his flashlight inside. Compared to the photo he keeps in his chest pocket, she is unrecognizable. Gone is the fair-skinned angel with the free-flowing blond hair. Her skin is caked in dirt, hair a dingy orange collected in one unkempt knot atop her head. The t-shirt she wears barely covers her. She folds herself like an accordion amongst the kitchen chemicals, no bigger than a bottle of bleach.

Maye curls his fingers into his palm to draw her out. “Come on. He can’t hurt you anymore.” But then he wonders how many times this man has promised not to hurt her.

He stuffs his hands in his pockets, and child psychologist, Dr. Pridget, steps in front of him, opens her arms like a doting mother.

“You’re safe now.”

Maye thinks it’s working. The child emerges. All skin and bones, falling hair and ripped fabric. She shields her eyes to the flashing of CSI cameras. Pridget moves to hug her, but the girl drops her shoulder. On hands and knees, she crawls across the floor, between Maye and Pridget’s feet, exposing everything the shirt doesn’t conceal to everyone in the room.

A sickness in Maye’s gut tells him she’s used to being naked around men, she’s used to the heaviness of their hands, the tightness of their beer guts pressed hard against her fragile body.

They watch as she does what she’s had to do to survive for the last six months—curl herself underneath the sinking chest of the now dead man who killed her childhood, t-shirt soaked in both of their bloods.

Nortina


 

Fright Night Fridays:  Every Friday night, dare to venture into something spooky, something paranormal, something suspenseful, something that would surely give you a fright. Are you brave enough to stick around?

Adopted

He glanced back again, surely more times than was necessary. They had lost his trail and were no longer following him, at least he prayed they weren’t.

Anita said they were being tracked, and it was becoming glaringly obvious why.

When he walked through the front door, the first thing he spotted was it lying on her chest, nibbling at her breast, sucking the milk that was never meant for it.

He could only refer to it as it. Humanizing it would create an attachment, and he needed a clear and focused mind if they were ever going to escape for a third time.

He tossed Anita the dufflebag by the door, prepacked with the essentials—three pairs of clean underwear, jeans, a t-shirt, tennis shoes, a grand in cash, hair dye, colored contacts, prosthetic teeth to create new identities again (he knew a guy in Juno who made fake IDs; they’d visit him first), a bag of mixed nuts and chopped fruit for sustenance, bottles for the baby (they couldn’t risk stopping to breast feed while on the run).

“Sirens are close,” he said. “We gotta split.”

“Just a minute. He hasn’t eaten all day.”

Dammit, woman, he wanted to scream. The baby wasn’t even theirs. And could he even call it a baby? It looked nearly three, but apparently its mother never weened it, and so Anita cradled him against her raw nipples, pressed its head down to latch on, as if it were an infant, an infant like the one they lost at the hospital when her body ejected him from her womb five months too soon.

His son.

Not this source of all their troubles, lying there, drinking the drugs still circulating in her system that killed his precious baby boy. That grew into an even bigger burden the closer the police came to finding them.

He peeked out the window. Flashing blue lights reflected on the apartment building across the street. If they climbed down the fire escape, they might still make it, but Anita would have to leave the boy.

He sighed and folded on the floor. It was pointless. From the day she scooped it up from the playground sandbox, Anita would never let it leave her side.

—Nortina


Written for Monday’s Muse Writing Prompt, hosted by Candice Coates over at I came for the soup… The objective is to create a story in 20 minutes using the above line in bold and the picture provided.

VisDare: Captive

“Water,” she whispers harshly, her voice sounding as if someone, invisible to me, is pressing a forearm against her throat, making it hard to breathe.

I run upstairs, two at a time, get a glass from the cupboard and hold it under the faucet.

Mama and Deddy said I was only imagining things. “The end of a dream, is all,” Deddy said. “Like when you dream your alarm is ringing, and it wakes you up.”

But I knew the scratching under the floorboards weren’t tree branches hitting the side of the house. I knew those soft cries—“help, somebody”—wasn’t the wailing wind blowing through the crack in my windowsill.

There is a girl in our basement. She’s been here three months.

She drains the glass in two gulps, holds it out for me to refill it. The dirt caked around her eyes and cheekbones crack and peel as the muscles in her face revive.

“How’d you get in here?” I ask, searching for burrows between the walls and floors where she might have dug her way through, like the rats we set traps for.

She points to the top of the stairs, and I turn to find Deddy standing by the basement door left ajar.

“You just too curious, boy.” He slams it shut, locks it from the outside, leaving us in darkness.

—Nortina


12ced-5346021c4b91a1e58920693712960d2aWritten for VisDare, a weekly challenge to craft a story based on the provided photo in 150 words or less—or more, as is always my case… 😉