General Fiction posted July 25, 2018

This work has reached the exceptional level
Stuck in a the darkness

The Hole

by Cory G

The author has placed a warning on this post for language.
He put her down there. He was mad, so he put her down there where the spiders crawled along the dirt walls and spun there filmy webs. Where mice skittered along the sides of the dank, dark hole. It was so dark. Complete. Not even a small slat of light shone through where Larry had slammed the trap door down over the opening and locked it. Paula rubbed her sore ankle as she thought of him pushing her down through the hole in the bathroom floor. When she dropped, she fell on her ankle in a bad way. She didn’t think it was broken but it hurt and it had swelled almost instantly. 

“You cunt!” he had screamed at Paula after she clawed at his face with her cherry red nails. The anger that rose in him gave him more strength. Her neck, caught in a vice grip between his bulging bicep and forearm choked Paula. In the end he lifted her up so her feet couldn’t touch the floor and then he dropped her in the hole. A heavy thunk, then a piercing wail as Paula’s ankle twisted with all her weight on it.

“You goddam, good-for-nothin son of a bitch!” Paula screamed at him. Her heart pounded large and hard in her chest. Her ankle screamed in pain. She drew in deep quick breaths thickly scented with mold and mildew and all things damp that were rotten and decaying underground. 

Larry gave the trapdoor one firm stomp with his steel toed work boots before he left Paula down there in the hole. And then he walked away. She heard the storm door slam followed by the sound of him firing up his truck and driving away in a fury.

Paula screamed even though she knew no one could hear her. She screamed and then cried until no more tears would come. Exhausted, she rested her head against the dirt wall, her hand still holding her swollen ankle and she began to drift in and out of consciousness. 

Larry had been mad at her before but he’d never done this. So why now? What did I do that was so different, so bad? Nothing. And that was the darn right truth about it. Absolutely nothing. So if it wasn’t me, then what ? Maybe it was him. Maybe something had set him off and he was taking it out on me. Paula knew he had been stressed at work lately, his boss working him an extra hour or two every night for the last couple of weeks. That must have been the trigger. What else could it have been? Larry didn’t mean to push her down in the hole. It was just all the pent up anger he felt towards work and his boss. Paula let the thoughts roll around in her head but deep down she knew she was making excuses for him. He’d never treated her like this before but he had hit her a couple times, not badly though. The first time he hit her square in the jaw it didn’t even leave a mark. It hurt like a bitch and she remembered seeing stars or something bright like stars that flashed for a split second and then disappeared. But it didn’t leave a mark so it hadn’t been that bad. The second time had been a little different. The second time Larry hit her it was a direct punch to her left eye. Paula remembered she was wearing a yellow sundress with spaghetti straps and white sandals that day. Her skin was tan and her light brown hair, kissed by the sun, was almost blonde. They were at a barbecue, at Joe Lewiston’s house. Joe was a long time friend of Larry’s and he worked with him at the lumberyard for the past twelve years since they both graduated from high school. The four of them, Joe, his wife Patty, Larry and Paula, were sitting outside in the backyard in fold-up chairs on the lawn that was mostly dirt with tufts of grass growing up sporadically here and there, each of them drinking a bottle of Budweiser from the case Larry had picked up at the cold beer store on the way over. The sun was blazing and unforgiving that day. Paula remembered how she felt, her skin beginning to burn and she silently cursed herself for not bringing her sun hat. She took her cold, perspiring beer bottle and slowly rubbed it up and down her arms, cooling her skin. Then she put the cold glass against her chest, just above her breasts that were almost too big to fit in the sundress. The cool, wet bottle gave her temporary relief from the heat and for a moment she closed her eyes. Before she had time to open them he hit her. Paula went sprawling backwards. The lawn chair snapped shut with her still in it and she flipped over onto the ground. The beer bottle went flying up into the air and smashed into a million shards of amber glass on a slab of concrete next to the house. Patty jumped up out of her chair to help Paula, but Paula waved her off.

“I’m okay,” Paula had said, stunned and embarrassed. Awkwardly, she maneuvered her way out of the chair, excused herself and left. Walking, almost running, down the street three blocks to her home. It took a week before the black-blue bruise on her eye healed and Larry gave her the okay to go out in public again. She’d had to phone in sick with the ‘worst flu of her life’. Rick, her boss, had told her to get better soon in his jolly Santa voice that matched his rotund belly. Why was he always so damn nice? Why didn’t he question me and make me feel guilty about taking so much time off? Maybe then she would have cracked and broke down and told him the truth about Larry. But she didn’t. She was both disappointed and relieved that he hadn’t pushed her on the subject and just let her be ‘sick’. Paula had worked at Wilson’s Drugmart for three years and had never taken a sick day. He had no reason to believe she wasn’t telling the truth. “Don’t bring your germs around here.” He’d chuckled before he hung up the phone.

Something nibbled on her arm. Paula snapped her eyes open with a start revealing the blackness all around her. It must have been a mouse that took a nip out of her but she couldn’t be sure. She could hear something  scurrying around in the dirt. She pulled her knees in close to her chest and winced at the pain in her ankle. She was cold and she wondered when Larry was coming back.  For the first time ever, Paula told herself she needed to get rid of Larry. He was no good for her. It only took being locked in a dirt prison for her to see that. Stupid, stupid, stupid girlie….she could hear her daddy saying. Well that’ll teach you, won’t it, girlie? Paula’s daddy never called her by her name. It was always “girlie”.  Suddenly, she heard a vehicle pulling into the driveway and the front door opened and closed with a bang. Larry. Paula had an impulsive urge to scream but on second thought she squashed it, holding her breath while she waited. For what she wasn’t sure yet. But she waited until Larry’s footsteps came closer to the trapdoor. 

“You learned your lesson, bitch?” Larry yelled down at her.

Paula didn’t respond. She could almost feel his anger growing above her in the bathroom.

“Are you deaf?” he shouted a little louder. Paula still didn’t reply. She realized she was still holding her breath and began to let it out slowly without moving her lips. Larry unlocked the latch and opened the trapdoor. Sunlight beamed down through the window in the bathroom and the little mouse that bit her clambered over top of her feet and into a corner, safe and out of the light. Paula didn’t flinch or open her eyes. She could feel Larry’s scorn burning down on her.

He picked up a bar of Ivory soap by the sink and threw it down the hole. It smacked her on the thigh, then plunked onto the dirt floor with a dull thud. It took all of her strength to not respond to his taunting. She wondered what he would do next. Was he even concerned that she might be unconscious, or worse — dead?

There was a pause before Larry began to lower himself into the hole. It wasn’t that deep. Maybe six feet. The old ladder attached to the side of the hole farthest from Paula, was mostly broken. Only one rung remained. Larry stepped on it with all his weight, turning his back to Paula. This was her chance to escape. She knew if she didn’t move now, she was done for. There was no telling what Larry might do to her, maybe he’d lock her down here forever, report her as a missing person and go on beating her whenever he felt the need to unleash his inner beast on her.

All at once, her heart surged and she jumped up from the ground, not feeling the pain that shot up her leg from her injured ankle. Paula grabbed at Larry’s unsuspecting shoulders and pulled him back. He tumbled to the ground, cursing something at her that she couldn’t make out. She didn’t have time to stop, or think, or listen. She stepped on the one-rung ladder and heaved herself out of the hole as fast as she could. She felt his meaty fingers grab at her foot and pull off her shoe. Finally out of the hole, she reached for the trap door and slid it into place, pinching his fingers that gripped the sides of the hole in the floor. Paula thought she heard him scream but the ringing in her ears made it almost impossible to hear. With repeated fumbling force she pushed the latch forward and locked the trapdoor. Larry kept trying to push the door up with his brute force but she kneeled on top of it with all her weight and after several tries was able to lock it. Still, he kept beating up on the door. It was lifting and she worried that the latch would break rendering all her efforts fruitless. Now what, now what! What would be heavy enough to hold him down? Paula ran into the spare bedroom and pulled the twin mattress off the bed frame and dragged it into the bathroom and on top of the trapdoor. She wedged it tight between the base of the pedestal sink and the floor. That ought to hold him down  for a while, long enough for her to get out of town and far, far away from his messed up hold on her.

Paula grabbed her purse from the kitchen table and left.  The ringing in her ears subsided a bit but her body and mind felt numb, almost weightless, as she descended the front steps towards her old Buick. 


The Dark writing prompt entry
Writing Prompt
Write a story where your character is stuck in complete darkness.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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