TWENTY-TWO – WAKING NIGHTMARE
Kay Bailey awakened from a terrifying dream only to discover the nightmare had been real.
At first, she wasn’t sure she was awake. The place, wherever she was, was nearly completely dark. And it was cold and damp.
Her arms felt heavy, leaden. She realized with horror that she’d been shackled. Long chains connected her wrists to heavy bolts in the cold earthen wall behind her.
Her clothes were torn and soiled, and she felt filthy. A damp odor, like fresh earth, hung in the air.
“Heeeellllp!” she called, but the darkness swallowed her cry.
She could see a bit better now, as her eyes adjusted. Dim light filtered in from somewhere in the distance to her left. Pale, warm light, like the glow from a fire. She was in a small room, with a single, round opening about five feet up in the wall, almost opposite where she lay chained.
Listening, she heard voices.
“Listen to her,” said the female voice she’d heard in her kitchen—how long ago was it? Kay couldn’t remember.
The harsh voice continued. “Crying, simpering cow! I don’t know what you see in her.”
“Shut up, bitch,” said a second, deeper voice, one Kay hadn’t heard before she’d been kidnapped—a voice that sounded almost human. “It’s not for you to question the master.”
“The master’s tastes, though not sublime, far surpass the lusts of thine,” said a third voice. This voice was deep and resonant. Again, it was one Kay hadn’t heard before.
“This guy supposed to be some kind of poet?” the female voice asked incredulously. “I’ve heard better doggerel in church.”
“Thy mouth bespeaks thy vanity, thy figure does it shame, for the sake of your own sanity, don’t thwart our restless game,” said the Poet.
“I may be like you,” said the female voice, “but I’ll never be one of you. I was raised better than that.”
“For your own good, join us you should.”
“You’re the master’s now, woman,” said the deep voice, “whether you like it or not.”
Kay realized with a start that she knew the deep voice. She’d heard it many times in the past, though she had hoped never to do so again.
“She’ll grow to like it,” said a voice that hadn’t spoken before. “They all do… in time.” In the background, a chorus of voices chirped and tittered their agreement in unison.
“The master’s right, a specter’s delight, a wight of might, a lord of night,” agreed the Poet.
“In time,” said the master’s voice, growing closer now to Kay’s small cell, “even Kay will like it.”
Horror gripped Kay’s heart as she remembered the face that went with that voice, the horrible, blighted face she’d seen in the light of the refrigerator.
The Ghoul King poked his head through the hole that led into her cell. “Isn’t that right, Kay?” he cackled, his lips pulling back from his sharp teeth in a hideous smile.
Kay lost her breath. The darkness swirled in and swallowed her up once more.