Usually my flashes are drabbles, they’re 100 words long, not 99 and not 101. I tried that here too, but it just didn’t work. Insted I wrote 1000 words, not 999 and not 1001.
Fantasy taken a step too far
Lead filled Raphael’s stomach as he heard someone unlocking the first-floor door. He tried to shut down, tried to put some distance between himself and his body.
With a resigned sigh, he started to get off the dirty old mattress but stilled. Two voices? His lungs protested as he held his breath. There was some murmuring and he strained to hear. Two?
Had he lost count of time? He’d thought it was Friday. Friday always meant the Reverend. If the man was a Reverend he didn’t know, but he’d said he was, and he insisted on being called father while he fucked Rafael.
To distract himself he tried to smooth out the wrinkles in his dress. The Reverend always wanted him in long chiffon dresses; he was always in a dress, but the Reverend had a distinct taste. He wanted Rafael to plait his hair into a fishbone braid and curtsy like a good girl.
Last night’s visitor had been rough, so he wore a white dress today. The Reverend tended to be gentler with him when he wore white. The Madame made sure there always was at least one white dress in the box. They didn’t last long; the customers were always too eager. But she supplied new ones when needed. Rafael figured the Reverend paid well since he got to decide on the dresses.
Maybe these men didn’t want him in white. What if they were talkers? He hated when they talked, hated when they touched him when they played with his hair. He’d hear their grunts in his sleep, see their faraway expressions as they used his body while they pretended he was someone else—someone who didn’t exist.
The Madame hadn’t mentioned the two customers when she’d dropped off Rafael’s food earlier. Why hadn’t she? She took such pleasure in telling him what would happen.
He crawled away from the mouldy mattress, avoided the creaking floorboard as he edged closer to the hole in the corner. By now the call had usually come. The hated, dreaded words that haunted him at nights. Rafael, Rafael let down your hair.
Without so much as taking a breath, he laid down on the dirty floorboards. He stuck close to the wall to be able to see as much as possible of the space below. If he could only get a glimpse, just to get an idea of what kind of men they were, then maybe he could prepare himself for what was to come.
There were two men—he’d guessed as much, but it was still like a blow to his belly to see them standing there. Two hard-looking men with guns in their hands. Shit! They were searching for something. They studied the grimy floor, the opening in the broken ceiling, and the stepladder everyone had to climb to be able to reach his hair when he let it down. Just thinking about hoisting those two men up had his heart pounding in his chest. He didn’t blame it for wanting out; he would’ve tried to escape too if it’d been possible.
He’d never seen the outside of the building, but he thought it was an old windmill. What other building would be round? It couldn’t be a real tower, it just couldn’t.
“This can’t be it. Let’s go.”
The man who had spoken turned to the door, stopped, and ran a hand through his short greying hair. Rafael rubbed a few golden strands of his between his fingers without much thought.
“Did he say on the second floor?” The man moved and Rafael scurried back from the hole. Had he been quick enough? His heart pounded in his throat.
“Did you hear that?”
Rafael’s eyes bounced from one item to another. Desperation clawed at his chest. There was nowhere to go, nowhere to hide. Apart from the filthy mattress all he had was a water-damaged cardboard box. Neither of the two could provide any protection. Shit, shit, shit. What should he do?
“Hello? Is there anybody up there?”
Rafael bit his lip, whimpering would be the most stupid thing he could do.
“Come on, girl. We’re not going to hurt you.”
Girl? The grey-haired man must’ve seen his dress.
“Fuck, it’s bloody high,” came muttered from below. Rafael sighed, they would only hurt him more if they had to use the ladder from outside. Lord knows how mad some of the customers had got before Rafael had learned that it didn’t do any good to resist. He walked to the edge of the hole. His steps were heavy. There was no need to hide.
He let down his plait, put his hands against the wall, and prepared for the weight that would come when the man grabbed hold of his hair. The start of the climb was always the worst.
“Fuck! It’s a tranny.” The man on the floor stared bewildered at Rafael. “That doesn’t fit the Disney Madame’s profile.”
The grey-haired man gave his companion an annoyed look. “Any street girl could dress up as Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty. Hair like this….”
“Yeah, I wonder what the little mermaid looks like.”
“We’ll see if we ever find her.” The grey-haired man held out a hand for Rafael. “Come on down, Sweetheart. It’s time to get you out of here.”
Out? Out! Sweetheart? Where were they taking him?
The man reached into his pocket, and Rafael instantly jerked his hands up, certain a gun would be pointed in his direction.
The man held up a badge.
“We’re from the police. We’ve got a tip someone was being held prisoner here. That you were forced to impersonate Rapunzel. Is that correct?”
“Thought as much. Well, we’ve found Snow White, Cinderella, and Princess Jasmine. Do you know where any of the other Disney princesses are?”
Rafael shook his head.
“If you aren’t in any need of medical care, we need to take you down to the station.” Rafael stared at the two men. Was it really over?
Check out Bealevon’s drabble written to the same picture.