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Unknown Date, Unknown Time, Location Unknown

An acrid scent hangs in the air as I wake in a sweat. Some other muted smells I can’t identify tickle my memory and fight for recollection. There’s a pressure on my left foot and as my muddled head clears, the room around me starts to resolve.

The tiles of an unfamiliar ceiling and the headboard greet me. My thoughts grind to a halt as I look down to see why my foot feels so weird. A large bald man has taken my entire foot into his mouth.

Not a stitch of clothing can be found on either of us. What’s also apparent is he enjoys having my foot in his mouth. My stomach churns and my body heats up. He removes my foot and moves to the other one, he starts with my toes.

Realization hits me and my heart starts to beat faster. What the hell happened! How did I get here? The fight my mind had for other smells in the air are clear now: fish and chlorine. The source is evident now, and the danger present makes me nauseous. I push back the urge to vomit at what’s going on, because I suspect this sick monster would enjoy it.

Screw this noise, I need to get out of here. In an effort to find salvation, I look around and see hope in a candlestick holder. I yank my foot away and crawl forward toward the nightstand to the right of the bed. It’s an awful large candle holder but I file the thought away for later.

As I grab the candle stick holder the monster seizes me. He flips me over and places me back in front of him. The sudden movement makes my world spin, but I’ve managed to keep a hold of the candle holder. I sit up and smash him in the side of the head with the square corner of the holder.

The impact did little more than nudge his head to the side an inch. My eyes widen as his face warps into a hideous visage of glee. This isn’t going to end well if I do nothing. Time and time again I slam the candlestick holder into the same spot.

He makes no movement to stop me and a certain area indicates he enjoys this treatment. In my head I scream: ‘fall. You. Dirty. Animal,’ by the last blow.

The mountain of a man lurches forward to the left, so I roll to the side to avoid being pinned. A strong heartbeat replies when I place my finger to his neck. The monster’s still alive.

Stubby legs cause me to stumble as I drop to the floor. A rush of fear rolls through me: I’m small, very small. My fingers are chubby compared to what I remember. Not now, I shake the notions from my head.

The cool air incites a shiver, so I look around for any sort of clothing. On the far edge of the room is a door with a hooded robe hanging off a peg. Must be the monster’s robe. On the door handle I see a small hanger with clothes that look like they would fit me.

The fishy smell of my clothes make my nose wrinkle of its own accord. What this man must have done with these before he hung them up, yuck. Disregard this thought for now, Anessa. The small dress slips over my head with ease.

The man says something I don’t comprehend. By his tone it sounds like he’s disoriented.

As I hear this, I stop dead in my tracks. Shit. The monster’s stride alone will make it impossible to outrun him. The faintest of ideas forms. After I open the door and close it, I dash under the bed. I cover my mouth as I settle into my hiding place.

The monster shouts. The bed creaks as his large form stands. He repeats the same phrase three times. A clear hint of fear underlies his tone as he screams.

The monster leaves the room and closes the door behind him. The key he uses to lock the door rattles and I say a silent prayer to whoever is listening that I can get out of this.

After what sounds like more curses, the rattling stops. Silence takes over.

For the next few anxious minutes I wait with my heart racing. If I go too soon, he could double back and catch me, so for now I wait.

With the utmost care I turn the door handle. Another prayer is given of thanks, to whoever answered my first.

The monster left a key in his haste, which I pilfer. Who knows what good it will do, but I feel a sturdy piece of metal in this dangerous situation is better than tiny fists. The key stays in my hand, held by the head.

A scream of shock catches in my throat as I glance back at the end of the bed. The added light from the hall has illuminated many sets of clothing under his bed. Each wrapped in plastic with a strand of hair and blotch of blood on them.

Given my lack of pain I say silent prayer that I stopped him at my feet and for the other girls who weren't so lucky. I would not have been his first. That monster has been active for some time.

With trepidation I stalk forward down the hall. A stairway is to my left that leads further in. In front, beyond a windowed door, are rows of chairs, each row higher than the last. An assembly hall, it seems.

The layout of this building is foreign to me. A large open space is risky because I’ll be easy to spot, but a narrow corridor is riskier as I’d be easy to trap. Large room it is then.

Once in the large room I look to my right and catch a glimpse of horror. The assembly hall’s central focus is pedestal that rises from the sunken floor. Atop the pedestal is a naked woman with her legs spread and her head missing. Blood runs off the back of the pedestal into a trough. My eyes widen and I realize I need to get out of here, NOW.

The cold wooden floor hates me, I realize, as I run. With each step I hear a thud. Let’s hope no one hears me then. As I near the double doors, that I hope lead to freedom, a young man in a red and white hooded robe steps in front of me. The pendant of an eye around his neck gives me pause.

His hands come together as though he is praying. With a light bow he closes his eyes. Incomprehensible words greet me, his voice is soft and calm.

There’s no way he’s any better than that monster, they killed a woman in the middle of this room and he’s cool about it?

Mid bow he opens his eyes, his nose crinkles and he sniffs. A tight lipped scowl replaces his smile and his eyes narrow.

The mood darkens as his tone deepens. My skin crawls as he continues to talk toward me. He makes a grasping motion for my hair.

I duck out of his grasp and dart around him for the doors.

Before I can open the door with my left hand I am picked up around my midsection. The man shakes me and makes a mistake by brining me close.

His putrid breath forces me to squint my eyes and nose, and I search for my resolve for what I do next. Sorry. A liquid hits my dress as the key pierces his left eye. A glance down and it’s apparent that it’s not blood.

The man drops me as his hands go toward his eye. My ears hurt as he screams and spittle flies from his mouth. He must be disoriented because he stumbles forward and falls face first.

A squishy crunch makes me wince and the man goes still. My stomach stirs as I realize: I killed someone.

The monster’s distant voice makes it clear that I don’t have time to worry about it now. After I pick myself up, I open the doors and rush out into the ante chamber. An alien sight greets me as I exit the building.

This is not Earth! Two moons cast the night in a purple light. One has a bluish light and the other a reddish light.

The facts replay in my head: I’m smaller, stubbier and chubbier than I remember. The people, places and language are all foreign to me. Am I dreaming, or did I die and this is my second life?

The monster’s voice calls out behind me so I push my confusion and questions to the side. His faint voice catches my ear, which gives rise to another shot of fear, as I dash down the stairs. What I suspect is more cursing follows.

Two carriages slow as I dart across the street toward the closest alley away from the building. A man with a red handkerchief hanging from his pocket shouts at me as I pilfer the red cloth. Sorry, I don’t have the luxury of asking. I use this to cover my head in hopes I’ll be harder to recognize at a glance.

Out of breath in the alley, I collect myself. As I peer around the corner at the building, I see a white-crystal figure fixed to its steeple. If I hadn’t just had a harrowing experience, I may have been inspired by the sight. It is marred by the massive third eye carved into the figure's forehead.

The monster pops out of the front doors and I disappear down the alley.

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Allen Clark Copeland, Jr.

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