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I was first gazing about the summer grass, in the midst of a clearing. The space wasn't huge, but it did provide a bit of a break from the heavy forest. The weather was hot, especially in a clear area. It was at least in the nineties, for sure. Being a amateur photographer, it was a moment that needed to be captured, even if entirely for myself. I focused the lens around, rotating my placement as each direction was recorded. It was a moment in which I considered solace, in peace, doing what I loved best.
It was the in same moment where I had blacked out, with the grass, leaves, and sun all fading to darkness. The moment was brief, to where I don't recall it happening. Fractions of a second usually end up in short-term memory, even when it sends you to somewhere horrific.
In my case, the horrific place was the pit. Call it what you wish; a grave, coffin, cult burial site, its classification doesn't mean shit to me. What means to me is that I went from standing above ground to waking up in a dirt-walled square, about five by five feet wide. Above, a square gave a view of a clear sky, with no branches to block the small window of light. When I first awoke, I was sprawled about the small space, leaning against the earth that surrounded me. The sands were cold, yet the warm weather still familiar. I knew it was still the same day.
I stood slowly to my feet, still in a daze of where I was. I wanted to shout for help, but speech was still impossible for me in the dizziness. The back of my head hurt like hell. There was a large, rough bump from where I assumed to have been struck. There was a drifting in my vision that felt dreamlike, the end of a dream that was being suppressed, its ending delayed.
The open space above me was closer than I initially suspected. It was tall enough to where fully stretching my arms would bring my hands above the pit. This appeared to me as a major flaw in the trap. (Whatever it was for.)
"A hunter," I thought to myself. I came to a conclusion that it must've been a sort of animal trap, designed for a creature far shorter than me, but small enough to where the hunter could retrieve the catch. A small relief went over me. This was followed by frustration, in thinking what sort of moronic asshole would leave such a trap unattended, as well as unmarked.
But why was my head bruised in such a way? I believed to have hit it while falling down, but the space didn't seem capable of inflicting such an injury. Aside from the dirt walls and myself, the space was empty. There were no large rocks, sticks, pointed areas of land. Even still, the area was narrow enough to where I had to have fallen straight down, legs first. Being flipped and landing on my head seemed impossible.
My hands managed to grasp the top edges of the hole. The feeling of grass skimmed my fingers as I felt for the best gripping point. The surface felt flat all around. There were no roots to hold, no rocks to drag, no flowers to pull from their position. My only escape act was to take hold of the edges and pull with my might. The amount of times I attempted this method over my period of capture is uncountable. I tried at different moments of the day, using my feet as means of climbing support. (Which never worked, as the walls of dirt were too shifty to use.) As limited as they were, no approach proved successful.
After attempting escape for hours alone, my full senses returned, and the dizziness subsided. This was the first moments where I began to call out for help. Given that the hole was rather shallow, my sounds managed to echo above. Because I had wanted to take pictures without any outside interference, I had doubts that I would be heard by anyone close. Still, I feel that it's a natural instinct to call for help, even if, within our minds, we have sincere doubts of any support. Somewhere, even deeper, there must be a piece that always believes in help. In most cases, it would make more sense if that piece didn't exist.
As the first, hopeless day of my imprisonment was coming to an alarming close, I became aware of how less likely it would be for my screams to be heard at night. Besides, my voice had become sore and faint from the day's efforts. I began to sit down, in an attempt to relax and find even a sliver of peace in the moment. I was meant with horror, as a sudden pain ravaged about my body.
Cuts. Dozens of... cuts.
The cuts were short, with each no more than a few inches long. None of them were too deep, either, as they looked (and felt) to be more of surface wounds than incisions or stabs. What disturbed me was that they were all throughout my body. There were many on my legs and arms, but some had been done in places that would've required precision. There was one on my shoulder, multiple on my feet (which had been covered by my shoes during my entire walk), a few smaller cuts done on various fingers. Cuts on my chest, stomach, collarbone, a single, pulsating stream on the back of my neck. I pulled up my shorts a bit, and even found a few on my upper thighs.
The worst to me was the fact that they were fresh. Some of them still bled. I had been numb to them since I woke up, and just as I tried to relax for the night, every wound made itself known. No fall could've done it. There were no memories of it happening, but it turned the event from an unfortunate accident to the fucking terror that it was.
I never tried sleeping that night. I feared closing my eyes, but somehow my exhaustion must've got the better of me.
The next day woke me in a shock. I felt like I was waking to a heart attack, but everything became cooler. I had been soaked, with small puddles of water surrounding the bottom of the pit. The skies from the opening above were clear, yet I had been drenched within a second. The impact from the water, though weak, brought a jolt of stings to my already pain-enveloped cuts. Simply put, a rush of water and my body didn't mix well.
It was when I began thinking of the time that attention turned to my phone, which I had placed in my pocket before I even began walking. To be oblivious of such a detail, especially in that moment, I could've kicked myself. Perhaps my head injury literally knocked sense out of me.
I reached into my left pocket, anticipating relief.
Then my right pocket.
And then back pockets.
There wasn't a single object on my persons. In discovering this, I realized that my pack, containing water, food, and camera equipment, had vanished from me. It had been right with me at all times during my walk. I never intended on setting it down.
It was midday, and the sun was beginning to rise perfectly over the opening of the pit. God, it was hot. The cool water that had doused my skin had turned to sweat, combining with the dirt that coated my hands, arms, legs, and nails. The worst of the situation, as before, was the tears that aligned my body. They blistered and pulsed in the warm air, with dirt from the place seeping inside. The cuts would be surely infected without attention. Add on the fact that I was without food or water, and it became apparent that matters were far worse than first believed.
I screamed for help again, with my hands once again reaching above the ledge, grasping for a sturdy handle. My hand jerked away when a sudden pressure went on it, a step from a boot.
Above the pit stood a large, silent figure. The sun above shrouded his detailed features, leaving only its basic shape to be seen. I called to it, yet it remained speechless, motionless, even. My hand reached towards it, hoping for it to reach an arm out in return.
The figure stomped down on my outstretched fingers, causing numerous joints to crack as I pulled my arm away.
As my eyes shifted to my near twisted fingers, from the figure dropped a small object: A clear bottle, unlabeled, filled with a putrid, murky water. When I turned to scream at the being, he had already left.
As the heat of the day continued, the vile excuse that I had been given for water became more and more alluring. I ended up drinking the shit, out of desperation. Consuming it made me want to vomit, but it would be better than dehydration.
The being, whatever man he was (I'll address him as he), came back soon after the first time. He stood another few minutes, staring down at my solitude. He revealed an object, dangling it in a taunt of my position.
It was a camera, my own.
Curses screamed from me, and yet there was no response from the fucking psycho.It became clear that he was the loon that had put me in such a place. He had knocked me out, stripped me of possessions, and then left me for dead in that damned hole. After snapping a photo of my position, he revealed another object:
A large bottle, filled with a clear liquid.
I assumed it to be another buckets worth of water, the same as the mornings. There didn't seem to be a point to it then. The last had already woke me, and it was at a time where it would be almost refreshing.
When the liquid poured down, it became clear that it wasn't water.
The moment the liquid hit my skin, the cuts stung with the pain of fire. My limbs felt like they were burning away, melting as the substance soaked into the crevices of the wounds. I could even feel the burns from under my skin, seconds after the stream had ceased. My eyes closed as the pain unfolded, without an apparent end. Driven near mad from the agony, I used the last of my dirtied water to pour on the cuts. It helped, for the areas I could wash. The rest of the spots continued to sting long after they were affected.
The man was once again gone.
And in suffering, so was most of the day.
When daylight had vanished, with myself about to sleep from exhaustion, I began to feel more water. It had begun to rain.
To me, the sight brought an experience of salvation. As the drops accumulated, the rest of my cuts were cleaned of the substance. This brought a tremendous relief, despite how I was still the imprisoned toy of a wild lunatic. A swift downpour commenced, which had brought hope to a possible means of escape: If the water in the narrow, small pit became high enough, I could use it as an assistance to lift myself up.
My plot was left ignored, as the rain left as quick as it arrived. There was no more than a few inches of water gathered in my space. Still, I couldn't completely feel cheated, as the occurrence still brought a transition to the pain of the cuts.
That is, until they would begin to sting again.
The third day, I was awakened without the splash of water, unfortunately. The morning only greeted me with heat. It was midday again, where the sun set above, directing its rays. My hope was becoming non-existent. My cuts were beginning to look worse as the days dragged away. They were looking darker, veiny. The skin around the wounds were turning a sick, greenish color. The blood had dried on them, giving the red an almost glossy tint.
There was another ration of waste water, beside me. The sick bastard that stood above wanted to keep me alive (barley). I didn't want to continue as his helpless amusement, but the dryness of my throat became unbearable in after less than an hour without a drink. Choking down the blackened liquid made it less painful, on a small level.
Despite the repeated attempts, I continued to find myself reaching up, hoping to grasp a firm ledge. My mind still wanted to believe I could escape on my own. My body, however, didn't. Even if such an escape was available, I don't think I would've had the strength to utilize it. I hadn't eaten at all down there, or much before. My stomach felt like it was starting to prey on itself, rumbling and aching in a way that's only been experienced in nightmares. There were many occasions were vomit began to stream up my throat. I kept it in, though the cause of it was left to guesses. The heat, the foul water, my degraded stomach, they were all contenders.
The sun was beginning to pass again, ending another long, excruciating day. Night skies hadn't set yet, but from that point all I wanted to do was collapse. Perhaps my death would come, which would've sounded like the better outcome, at that point.
I was about to drift into a darkness. My eyes closed, not by my own will, but because of the weight on them. My breaths began to slow, which felt rough and rasped as air escaped me. Feeling drowsy, a weakened sleep began to take me.
Until something fell on top of me, landing next to my upright stance. Whatever it was had shocked me awake.
"Fuck!", I shouted. In the dazed state, a drop of rain could've startled me, let alone the impact of what felt like a massive bag of rubber.
My first impulse was to look up. The man stood above, an even darker silhouette than before, given the lateness of the day. He stood staring for few seconds, forcing my eyes to stay locked on him. I wanted to get some description of him, a single detail. Hair color, skin tone, eyes, potential age, anything would've sufficed. Just something that would to some degree answer the question: Who the hell was this freak?
He gave a small, taunting wave, just before turning to leave. With him gone, and my eyes free, I looked down to what had been dropped close near lap:
I first saw the back of a head, which led to the rest of a full, pale body.
I leaped to my feet with a shrieked, weakened scream. The body was naked, aside from underwear. It was rather frail, not bone thin, but looking undernourished nonetheless. It was a man, in his twenties, if I had to guess. His hair had been darkened with dirt, with the rest of his white, drained skin lightly covered with the same. After a minute of staring at his corpse, petrified, vomit began to stir up again.
He too had been covered in scars, on all areas.
For the last time, my arms stretched to the skies, shouting for another hand to hold. I swiped my hands in arcs, mindlessly flailing, with hands batting at nothing. In the moment, the last of my tolerance had snapped. My confidence in the prison had withered, leaving me a panicking mental disaster. A payload of adrenaline at hit me, so despite my weakness, I continued to move and shake without control. I scratched the surface, kicked and dragged my feet at the walls, grasped and clawed at the open, free skies. The sky at the time was lined with a full layer of stars, more than I had seen in any of my past walks. Even with its beauty facing down on me, I still cursed them.
My radical fit had settled with time. In my breakdown, I had become blind, enough to where I didn't see a small note stuck to the back of the corpse. Even in the darkness, the message was simple enough to be visible:
I never slept that night. It was impossible, with that body next to me. I would join him, soon. My system would finally fail from my conditions, in which I'd keel over. My mouth would be open, with my skin turning the same cold white, the scars still blaring a dark, dirtied red.
The body, as well as my own near-corpse status, had attracted the files. Most of them had begun to feast on the nameless body, but others attracted to me. I tried to keep them away, but their numbers combined with my lack of stamina left them at will on me. They drew blood from the crusted, burning cuts among me. My body was nothing more than a standing feast, an unresponsive feed to scavengers. Would other creatures come down for a taste of empty, infected flesh?
The same torture went on until morning, a morning in which I heard the faint, chattering voices of a few individuals. If they had arrived a few days before, I would've been letting out screams for rescue.
At then, I could only produce quiet, gurgled moans.
My eyes turned to the skies, to witness a few unfamiliar shadows gaze down, following by gasps of disgust and horror. I had made my existence known. My rescue would either come from the two, or I would perish shortly after. What happened in between those endings was irrelevant to me.
And with that, I let myself black out. A hospital bed greeted me next.
It had been two hikers who found the pit, with myself and the body inside. The two had been on their way to a local mountain, in which their route took them through the forest. My mumbled voice hadn't stretched far, as they heard the my sound very close. Any closer, I might've not had to say anything. They called for a rescue on the spot, despite believing I wouldn't make it another hour.
Four days I stayed in the hospital, which was surprising to me (shorter than expected). I required a complete blood transfer, as my own at the time had been completely fucked from the infections. Every cut had to be sterilized, along with the complete re-hydration and nourishment of my system. For two days after I was still on the verge of death, even wishing for it. My vision remained dazed, and the cuts still gave bursts of intense stings, and burning otherwise. Of course, my stomach still felt it was destroying itself.
When I was deemed responsive and intelligible again, an officer came to ask a few questions, and give a few explanations in return. I told him everything I've mentioned here, in a more hazed, shaken tone.
He told me that once I was recovered, and the other body was identified, state troopers had searched the surrounding forest area. They eventually came across a small shack, run down and cheaply constructed. Inside was a large stash of various packs and equipment; Hiking gear, water rations, tents, supplies of food, survival gear of all sorts.
My pack was among the stash.
In other areas of the wilderness reserve were various holes, dug very similarly to the one I had remained in. Some were deeper, other times larger or shallower. Some held the skeletal remains of animals. Most were empty.
Some were, well, occupied. After being released, my lost items had been returned. I looked inside my pack to find that a single item hadn't been taken out of place. All of the food I packed before remained untouched, and not a single drop of water had escaped the bottles. My phone had been placed inside, and my camera was there as well.
My memory flashed to where it was last used, above me.
I had debated never looking at them, leaving the shots unknown to my eyes. I knew that my story would never be concluded without them, though. Besides, the police would need the extra evidence.
The unknown man, who still remains at large, had took four photos.
The first was of me on the grass, knocked out from the blow to the head. I was unclothed, to where almost all of my body was exposed. The next photo was similar, but with the cuts applied, just after that had been administered. Blood visibly dripped from a few of the slices.
A twisted before and after display, if you ask me.
The third photo was from above, looking down as I screamed at the camera. This was the only photo I actually witnessed the psycho capture.
The fourth, and final photo was the one that will be burned into me. It was so simple, yet, it seemed to be what captured the entire feeling of my nightmare. It was taken from ground level, above the pit.
The photo showed my scarred arms, swiping above the pit, stretching for a grip that would never appear.
Written by Emeryy