Casualties of Pretty Things -- Chapter Ten
If this is your first visit to Mandatory Midnight don't just dive in. Read CASUALTIES OF PRETTY THINGS from the beginning.
A psychotic father kidnaps teenage girls and uses them as sex dolls in place of the daughter he raped, while her guardian will stop at nothing to find her. When sixteen-year-old Cybil believes her mother was killed by the father who raped her she runs away from Deloris, a woman who loves her like her own daughter and who operates the House of Rahab, a halfway home for young women with backgrounds in prostitution. On the streets Cybil finds the friendship she needs, only to lose it when her father finds her. Now Deloris must overcome an ingenious captor and bring Cybil home.
Penny sat facing the TV in her pretty princess dungeon prison. She was not who she used to be before waking up to this hell. Her face showed signs of the anger raging inside as she struggled to control the movements of her body. Through the pain of a lethargic battle she was able to stand. Sweating, crying, she forced herself to tread the long walk toward Carl’s work-station. Each excruciating step of the way she was distracted by the frozen doll-face of Denise. She had to look away, stay focused on her exhausting task. Looking away she collapsed to the floor.
Breathing hard Penny grunted, moaned, yelled, as if each guttural noise she made was a prayer, until she could rise to her knees and -- SLAM – she fell again.
She observed the distance she traversed was not far. Considering the distance, and in her current weakened state, Penny turned and crawled back the way she came.
From above a distant vibration informed her the dark master of her hell was returning. She looked back at the work-station. She was too slow. It was too far for her to reach. She would not give up, but it was too much for now.
The garage door opened and Carl’s car pulled in. The car shut off and the garage door closed.
Cybil was holding the gun in her hands, cradling it as a line of salvation. She looked at her father, her rapist, and said, “I’m not giving this to you.”
Carl shrugged. “Wouldn’t think of it.”
He got out of the car, closed the door, and walked to the door leading to the inside of the house. He turned back and saw Cybil had not moved. He said, “You can stay out here if you want, but this is your house too.”
Cybil looked up at him. She glared at her father, sadness becoming hate.
“Dinner will be ready in an hour,” he said. “How ‘bout lasagna?” Then he opened the door into the house and walked in.
Cybil looked down at the gun. She stared at it in silence for most of the hour before dinner.
When dinner was ready she thought she must not be acting of her own volition, because she and her father sat at the table across from one another. He was content, not happy, but satisfied she joined him. The meal was delicious but largely devoid of conversation. He was eating what was left of the lasagna on his plate. Cybil had not yet bathed, not even to wash her hands before sitting down. She pushed the food around on her own plate, eyeing the gun sitting on the table in plain view. She could easily take it up again and shoot that fucker in the face. No. First the heart, then the head. Two in the head you know they’re dead. She had seen that in an old movie, she thought. Silly movie but useful advice. What did she know about killing? Only what she had seen. Only what she had most recently seen. So, fuck it. Pick it up and do yourself a favor. Pick it up, goddamnit. Pick it up!
“Not bad for store-bought,” Carl said, finishing off the lasagna.
Cybil was lost in an internal struggle. She did not reply. He’s talking like everything’s normal. Nothing is normal, you sick fuck.
“Now your mother, she knew how to cook lasagna.”
He stood and went to work clearing the table. Except for Cybil’s plate he took everything to the sink in the kitchen. She sat, almost shaking from the storm inside, while he washed a few of the dishes.
Sometimes her eyes darted back and forth to the gun. Carl filled the pots with hot water and then returned to the table.
He stood there and said, “I was going to wait until after you ate before I sprang anything new on you, but it seems you don’t have much of an appetite, so
here goes…” He pulled out a chair and took a seat near her. He behaved as if there were no gun there at all. “You remember the bomb shelter? Your mom hated that thing. Your grandfather built it. Not my dad. Your mom’s dad. But she still hated it. He was rather proud of it. Your mother and I never had any use for it so it just sat there, year after year. Empty. Not too long ago I converted it to suit my purposes. So, now I need you to hear me on this.”
Carl did not know if she was listening or not. “Cybil?”
If she did not reply things could escalate. Cybil managed to put her fork down and look up.
He went on. “The door is secure, so I am not so much worried about it as I am about you. If you should get curious...don’t.”
Cybil knew he wanted some confirmation from her that she wouldn’t go exploring and discover whatever it was he didn’t want her to find. She nodded her understanding.
“Good,” he said, and then stood up to put the chair back under the table. “I’m just trying to be honest with you. I know it’s not convenient to wonder what may be going on down there, but if you have to know just tell me, and I’ll take you down there myself. But, as is, this is for the best. It’s just that... well, it’s rather embarrassing, and I’d rather not have you catch me red-handed.”
Carl searched his daughter’s face, waiting for a reply. “You’re not curious now, are you? It would be perfectly natural.”
Cybil spoke the first words he heard her speak in this house since she and her mother left. “I’ll just... no. I’ll leave you alone down there.”
Carl smacked his hands together. “Excellent! I knew this was going to go well. I’m so proud of you.” He turned to leave the dining room. “You take your time with finishing dinner. Just sit the dishes in the dishwasher. And I know you’re going to want a shower. Get all that street mess washed off. I took the liberty of getting you some new things for your room. Nothing special. Just linens and bed clothes, some odds and ends. Didn’t know what you’re into now, but tomorrow we’ll go shopping and you can get whatever you want. Anything at all.”
When he was gone she forced herself to pick up the gun. She was shaking. It was a foreign thing to her now but she could not take the chance of leaving it behind and needing it later.
Behind the locked door of the bathroom Cybil soaked in the bathtub, staring at the gun, which sat atop an empty chair within an arm’s reach. But it was so far away. So, so far away.
After some time of bathing she climbed out, dried off, dressed in new pajamas, and brushed her teeth at the sink. She wiped the condensation away from the mirror and avoided her own reflection. The girl in the mirror wanted answers. Wanted justice. She brushed her hair and told the girl in the mirror to shut up.
A distant THUMP grabbed her attention. She didn’t know what it could be, what the hell he could be up to, but she wasn’t going to be caught off guard. She pulled on a robe, swallowed any arguments she was having inside herself, picked up the gun and stuck it into the robe’s pocket, and opened the bathroom door.
Cybil stepped out of the bathroom and looked down the hall, toward the dining room. Directly in front of her was her bedroom, the door open. She peeked in, knowing nothing unfamiliar was there. She walked into the dining room. The table remained as she left it with nothing out of place. She walked into the kitchen, looked around. Dishes were in the sink. The only thing that stood out was evidence that made it look as if her father had made a second dinner.
Just beyond the kitchen was the door leading into the garage and the landing leading down into the basement. She turned to walk out and
Cybil jumped, startled by a loud noise coming from the direction of the door leading into the garage. She took in a breath and pulled out the gun. She took another breath and walked toward the door. Her footfalls were gentle, slow and careful. When she reached the landing she saw paneling from the wall
had fallen to the floor, and the door that led into the bomb shelter, previously covered by the paneling. It was old but thick and secured. She touched it, quick, and pulled away.
The padlock was missing.
She looked down into the darkness of the basement. If this was curiosity, what questions did she need answered? If it was brevity, why risk being caught?
She called down the stairs. “Dad?
With no reply coming out of the basement she stepped closer to the door of the bomb shelter and laid her ear against it. Nothing. Cybil pulled her head away, pressed again. This time she heard the distant music of a demented waltz.
Carl did not hear his daughter calling down to him. He was lost in the ecstasy of another world, free of antiquated laws, dancing with the doll-corpse of Denise. He smiled, enamored in his fantasy. Shadows were cast against the walls by candle-light; shadows that danced across the face of Penny, who watched helpless, angry and shocked. A tray of food sat nearby, half eaten.
Deloris approached Carl’s house with her car’s headlights shut off. She was holding her cell phone to her ear and whispering in it to Crystal. She parked the car a few houses away and shut it off. On the other end of the cell Crystal was saying, “Deloris, whatever it is you think you can do, trust me and don’t.”
Deloris said, “I’m a grown woman, Crystal. I know how to sit in a car.”
“Don’t go anywhere near that house,” Crystal said. “You know he’s dangerous, and the police will—”
“I know he’s dangerous, but I’m not gonna sit on my ass and do nothing.”
“If you don’t want to end up back in jail that’s what—”
Deloris wasn’t going to be detracted. “I’ll talk to you later.” She ended the call and put the cell away. If the city was going to close the House of Rahab it would be a fight, and that would take time. She knew people who could use that time to prevent that from happening, but right now Cybil didn’t have time.
She got out of the car and casually walked toward Cybil’s prison. If people were going to see her they were going to see someone who belonged there. As there was no fence surrounding Carl’s property Deloris was free to enter.
In the backyard she found her way to the windows of the house and peered into each. She saw movement but could not make out anything certain.
When backing away from a window a motion detector set off a floodlight. Deloris stumbled, cussed, then made her way out of the light and into the front yard where a motion detector set off another floodlight. She considered running but she had committed to this. She hurried to the nearest window and looked in to see what she had come there for, and knew vindication. Cybil sat on the bed in her room, tucking a gun under her pillow.
All this time the police had it wrong, or just weren’t doing their jobs. Useless! Just as she moved to knock on the window a voice took her from behind.
“Out for an evening stroll?”
Deloris tried to whirl around but Carl grabbed her and injected her in the neck with one of his cocktails. The spirit was in her to fight but Deloris lost consciousness and fell into his arms. Carl pulled her out of the floodlight and into the shadows.
In the operating room Carl carried her body to the operating table and laid her there limp. He rummaged through her belongings, found her cell and her keys. He took apart the cell, removed the battery and destroyed it. Penny watched, wondering how this new victim fit his type.
Carl took the keys and looked over at her. He said, “I know what you’re thinking, but don’t worry. We’re going to get rid of her soon as I get back.”
He ascended up the stairs with a whistle.
The garage door opened and Carl walked out, twirling Deloris’s keys.
In her room music played from a device on Cybil’s nightstand. She sat on the edge of her bed staring down at the pillow where the gun lay beneath. She held a knife against the skin of her forearm and used it to outline previous scars. She drew blood but didn’t feel the pain.
The bath towel she brought in after her shower lay next to her on the bed. She picked it up and dabbed at the blood. She observed the knife again then sat it on the nightstand, turned off the music and turned out the light.
She was about to lie down and cover up when she heard the garage door opening. She got out of bed and walked to the window. At this angle she could only see her father walking away from the house.
She went back to the bed and reached for the gun but thought better of it. She returned to the window and knelt, believing she had a better chance at not being seen.
Carl had disappeared into the night so she had to wait. And then she heard Deloris’s car start up and she watched it pull up the driveway and out of view into the garage.
She was stunned. “Deloris?”
The sound of the garage door closing was like the echo of a tomb in Cybil’s ears.