Written by Lynx Firenze
It’s been four days since I was thrown in this well. The woman who left me in here promised she’d bring me some food in a week, if I survive that long, but I’m partially submerged in freezing salt water, up to my chest, and I can’t sleep for fear of slipping and drowning. The only means I have of telling the time are the shadows cast by thin rays of sunlight I catch a glimpse of every now and then.
As the cover is removed and more freezing water is poured on me, which is my only source of hydration, I think someone or something must be adding more salt to the water I’m submerged within. The addition of fresh water is masked by this strange sea salt. A sudden shiver runs through me though it’s a reassurance more than anything – the end stages of hypothermia have yet to reach me.
To stave off the inevitability, I start to fidget and flex my muscles as best I can in the confined space. Wasting my strength is, perhaps, needless but I don’t know how long I can last before my blood starts to clot or freeze. I don’t know what that woman wants from me but, unless it’s my corpse, she’d best let me out of here soon.
Death is close, I fear. No sunlight. It’s probably night-time. I hear the sound of a heavy metal bucket being placed on the edge of the well and tilt my head back, mouth open and hands cupped to capture as much of the precious liquid as I possibly can. A torrent of warm water with a slightly metallic tang washes over me and I blindly guzzle it down, meekly hoping that if it’s poison it finishes me off quickly. The flow stops and I whimper, partly out of shame at what I’ve been reduced to, and partly because it once gained me another cupful or so of water. The cover closes, leaving me in total darkness again, and I drink the remaining liquid I’ve caught in my hands.
There’s a faint blue light coming from the water underneath me, but I don’t believe it’s anything more than a hallucination. For all I can tell, I’m probably suffering from advanced hypothermia. A faint singing accompanies the light and I smile. Feeling warmer with this voice around somehow, my own lips purse ready to join in with the woman’s song. Her song – strangely – seems to lift as I join, as though she’s happy that I want to sing with her. Thoughts of hypothermia vanished, nothing seems to cloud my voice, as I focus on the sound of hers; fillling me up and lifting my mind from its present cage.
But as all things come to an end, so does the song, with her voice fading away, leaving me in the cold darkness once again.
“She’s in here,” a woman’s voice floats down to me, the one who put me in here.
“A disused well, is that safe?” Another voice joins; I believe it’s the woman who sang. “Seems dangerous to me. Mortals are so fragile.”
“She’s either dead and unworthy or alive and determined. Or she’s just lost her mind.”
“I don’t find that particularly reassuring Juno.”
“Well, you said to test her.” The cover comes off and I can see stars, cold moonlight illuminating the area around me.
“I meant her supposed abilities as a singer, not her ability to survive in a disused well for a week.”
“Well, maybe if you were more clear…”
A teenage goth, the likes of whom populated my concerts since the start, leans over the well. “She’s alive, so that’s a start,” shrugging her shoulders. “Come on Nightingale, sing for your supper,” she laughs, cruel and bitter.
Nightingale… Is that my name? I think it is, or at least it’s my stage persona, why do they want to hear me sing though? The thought crosses my mind that perhaps she’s just an overzealous fan who saw Misery one too many times and got ideas.
“W-Why?” I croak after several attempts, forcing the words from cracked and bleeding lips. No tears come when I try to cry, just pitiful wheezing sobs.
“She’s too thirsty to sing. Give her a drink,” the singer said.
“Are you going to pay for it?”
“Just add it to my tab, I’ll work it off later since I know that’s all you want.”
I hear the sound of laughter and a firm slap; a minute later a hose appears over the edge of the well and a steady stream of water spills in. I drink it gratefully.
“Whenever you’re ready, honey.” A second woman appears over the edge of the well, almost albino in her complexion.
After a moment of silence, filled with resentment and tears, I force my swollen tongue to obey; singing a melancholy song about a girl lost in her memories as she wallows in a dark dungeon. The song ends by implying that she dies alone and unloved in the cold darkness of her cell – I hope the irony isn’t lost on them.
“That was beautiful,” the albino sighs.
The goth is silent for a moment then she shakes her head, “I should teach Darla to sing,” she says, “do you think she could do it?”
“Darla? Sure, loan her to me for a few weeks and I’ll have her singing like an angel for you.”
“And then when she divulged all of my secrets?”
“I’d ask her why she was telling me about your operation when she should be practising. You can keep Nightingale for a while longer if it’ll make you feel better in the meantime.”
“Please don’t leave me down here,” I whimper involuntarily, “I’ll die.” My voice seems pathetically small, like a child begging the monsters under her bed to leave her alone.
“Will she?” the albino turned to the goth.
“Probably. Chances are she’s suffering from deep hypothermia, she won’t have slept, she only drinks as much as she can catch, and she hasn’t eaten unless you count the blood I tossed her last night for a joke.”
Blood? Surely, I would have noticed. “You never fed me blood,” I say with false bravado.
“Yes, I did, you’re covered in it.” The goth laughs and drops a compact mirror into the well. I catch it and flick it open, a pale blue light illuminates me and I drop the mirror in shock, my face and breasts are caked in a deep crimson crust. Gurgling a scream, new tears burst from my eyes with accompanying wails.
“Juno, that was just cruel, you’ve needlessly traumatised her.”
“I’ve taught her to respect her betters,” the goth corrects. “If she behaves herself from now on she has nothing to worry about, but if she doesn’t she’ll be back in there. Whenever she feels like disobeying or causing trouble then a part of her is going to remember how she feels right now.”
“It was unnecessary. Haven’t you ever heard of a blood bond?”
“So I did it because I’m a sadist, sue me.”
“Just throw her a rope.”
Through my tears I vaguely make out the shape of a rope as it’s thrown down to me, a loop tied at one end to make a foothold.
“Nightingale, sweetheart,” the albino’s voice takes on a honeyed edge. “Come out like a good girl and we’ll only keep you for a week, there’s towels and food and a blanket up here for you…” There’s a familiar warmth to her words, “And I promise not to let Juno do anything this horrible to you again.”
“Like I said, so long as she behaves.”
I hesitate then try to slip my boot into the loop, but I miss. “I can’t get my foot in the hole,” I whimper after four attempts; expecting another bucket of blood or, worse, the well cover sliding back into place.
“Big surprise, hang on,” the goth retracts the rope and drops it back down with a lassoed knot. “There, just loop that around your waist and hold on.”
I obey silently and she effortlessly pulls me out one-handed, I wonder if it’s because of a pulley system I can’t see, or she’s just freakishly strong.
It’s almost as dark outside the well as in it, the only illumination being the headlights of a black sedan parked nearby with the boot popped. I shiver again.
“She’ll live,” the goth says dismissively. “Dry her off and stick her in the boot, I’ll drive.”
“Don’t mind her,” the albino wraps a towel around my shoulders and starts to gently dry me with the other. “She isn’t as bad as she seems. There’s food and blankets in the boot for you.”
“OK,” I sigh weakly, not wanting to be put back into that freezing darkness. “Just please don’t hurt me, I don’t want to die.”
“Do as you’re told and you’ll be fine. But if Juno gets pissed off, stay out of her way, she’ll be nicer to you the more submissive you are so if you’re in any trouble with her just beg and call her Mistress a lot. She liked your song by the way, not that she’ll ever admit it. Lay down though, I don’t want the boot to hit your head.”
I obediently lay as flat as I can and she closes the boot, sealing me in. The engine of the sedan roars into life and pulls away at high speed, taking me away from the life I loved and into the waiting darkness of the future.
After running the Fiction Frenzy between July 1 and August 31, we received various entries and all of which were superb. In the end, the winning entry was one which was both strangely comical and enticing. Written by the newest member of our writing forum, Lynx Firenze has pieced together an interesting tale, blending vampires and the supernatural with humanity. Given us the chills just by wondering what’s in store for this poor young Nightingale, we hope she gets out alive. If you enjoyed Lynx’s work, please consider leaving a like or comment below.
Featured Image CC // Dilip