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Short Story 44



“It looks like you have bigger problems.” The smile that slid across her lips was cloying, sharper than a knife and providing just the same sense of ease as if it was sticking in your side.


Yes, that was always the answer. There were always much bigger problems, but that never made anything easier. It never comforted anyone to think of that. Even as he was hanging there by the rope he had considered that what she said was correct, that he did, in fact, have larger problems. For one the occupation of being in the rope was far less worrying then actually getting out of it. How when he got out would he leave and even more so where would he go. His being unaware of anything in the neighboring districts, having been unconscious when he was hung up.


He soothed himself to think that though the rope was in a very suffocating place it was not likely to kill him. or at least not very quickly. It was all bound up under his arms and the very tight squeezing knot rested between his shoulder blades. There was no point in squirming. He had tried this and it appeared to only frustrate the knot at his back and made it get tighter, which inevitably made it more difficult to breath. It was a welcome relief for once in his life to be a generally small person. There was the idea that if he was stronger he might be able to pull himself up the rope and reduce the pain on his ribs, but then they might have tied up his arms if that was the case. Or possibly if he was taller, he could have reached the ground better and helped himself that way. More than likely though they would have just hung him higher. The building was very tall actually, rather like a warehouse, there was no end of space to complicate things and rather a lot of stacked boxes to distract from how high he was.


He had spent some time looking around for something to stand on, something that he could reach with his feet to relieve a bit of the load. There was nothing very close and nothing that could be finagled nearer.


Generally, he felt he was in a failing position. The likelihood of him dying was quite high, and growing every moment. It was a terrible thought. A very upsetting thought. But he was quite sure that there would be nothing left of life in him the following day, for the nights hanging was sure to kill him.


There was a note here that was something akin to resignation. Unpalatable, but rather realistic. There was nothing much else to do then to resign himself. He had thought of many things, but all of them in their own way had knocked themselves off into a state of impossibility.


“Something wrong? Has the pressure gone to your head?”


It was an interesting question. There was no pressure anywhere near his head. Just all around his rib cage, surely, she must be aware of where the pain would be. If only he had the ability to free his arms some space for movement, if the rope was not so clinging and the ground not so far away. He found himself wondering exactly how far the ground was from him. It felt quite a distance.


“Are you writing a will in your head little one? Planning your obituary?”


Two incredibly pointless things to do. He had no mind to do either, and even at her suggestion he couldn’t help a small scoffing breath. What was a point of a will that was trapped in your head? It would go nowhere. No one would hear it. And it certainly wouldn’t be legally binding. Then the idea of his authoring his own obituary was another unpassable thought. He had no idea what he would write even if somehow he could get it to the papers. The latter idea alone a stunning impossibility. Obviously, something had gone wrong with his torturer, she seemed to have lost all contact with logic. There was no rational reason to do either thing she was suggesting.


If not for her sake alone he had to discover a way to release himself. If he didn’t there was a real possibility she might truly descend into madness and then were would things stand? There was no possible way he would be able to convince a mad woman to release him, not that there was a possibility that, as she was now, his torturer would consider doing so. He had to help her by helping himself. It was the only way.


He could put his arms up and slip through maybe, but then it was possible the rope could end up around his neck. There might be some means of getting his fingers at the knot behind him, though he had already tried several times and found it very difficult. He would have to think of something soon, not only was she displaying strange amounts of mental fatigue, but the rope was chaffing through his shirt and its grip on him was making it difficult to breath.


Finally, he came upon the only answer he could possibly think of, she, of her own accord, must let him down. The problem at this point, after coming to this conclusion, was how exactly to convince her to put him back on the ground and release him?


Simply asking wouldn’t work. That had been the first thing he tried and all she had done was laugh at him. She wanted him to die… but he wasn’t good enough at it to achieve such a thing, at least not on his own, and even with her great efforts it was taking a great deal of time to do. It was simply lack of practice that made it difficult for him, as for her lack of success he could only guess. He had to think of a win win for both of them.


“Madam,” He began at last after giving the matter a lot of thought.


“Oh, look the little puppet can still talk, is there something you want then?”


It was rather interesting to him that at that very moment a tray of tea was brought to her table, by a servant.


“I was thinking about the fact that you wish me to die, and well I would so like to be obliging only there is a problem.”


“Oh, is there,” Her long fingers accepted the cup and saucer offered her, “Do expound.”


“I would only be so happy to, you see you cannot possibly kill me by hanging no matter how hard you squeeze me, no matter from which body part, and no matter what height.”


“Oh really, and why is that?”


“Well, you see I was born from a tree, and so I’m already accustomed to it, hanging that is. Even falling is in my forte, for you see, fruits have to fall from their mother when they are ripe.”


She paused in raising her cup, “You were what?”


“A tree was my mother, I imagine one was my father as well. So, you see I am used to hanging from things, and so it cannot possible kill me. At the worst you can chafe me very badly, but that is all.”


This of course was a ridiculous lie, but ridiculous lies are at times worth trying.


“I am afraid I don’t understand you, are you suggesting that you are a fruit?”


“Everyone is a fruit, you too are a fruit, madam for you are the fruit of your mother’s womb. I merely state that I am the fruit of my mother’s branches.”


Indignantly she replaced her beverage on the table, the crest of her brow attempted to bend, unnatural wrinkles creased the very edges of her forehead, suggesting something already known to her victim. She had fillers and a rather unforgiving amount of Botox.


“I don’t seem to understand you.”


“That is only natural, madam. I am asking you to suspend your disbelief. I assure you I was born of a tree and so spent a great deal of time hanging and, difference in size and height appreciated, an even longer time falling. So, I can assure you that there is no possible way that you can kill me with this current method.”


“Is this some sort of strange little joke you’re playing on me. I mean this is utterly ridiculous. Maybe the blood is fleeing your head, or maybe it can’t get there with how tight your being squeezed under the arms.”


“I can see how you might think that, but have I not been up here for a very long time already? And look at me, I am practically the same as before this whole thing began.”


It was in no way prudent to mention to her that he honestly had no idea how he had not already died or how, in fact, he was still alive. Things as they were it was rather difficult to breath, and very uncomfortable around the chest, additional things that were unimportant to mention and that he was very good at hiding.


This suggestion of his seemed to be beginning the conversion process for his capture, for she gave him a very hard look. There was even a moment where she uncrossed her dainty legs and leaned forward, even squinting her eyes at him as if somehow that would make her see him better. In fact, all it did was cause him to pity her more for her lack of casual logic.


However, her being the perpetual septic she leaned back and took up her cup and saucer, “Ridiculous, I don’t believe you.”


“That is all well and good, but I must warn you that a thousand years could pass and you shall be dust and I shall still be hanging from this very spot just as I am.”


This idea appeared to confuse the great torturer for her victim was doing a remarkable job of appearing completely unaffected. It would be a lie to say he was feeling quite his best at that particular moment, for he wasn’t. But, he was very good at hiding his pain, much as a small pray animal can hide their own sufferings. A talent that is rarely useful save against such as she or doctors giving mental evaluations.


Putting down her china set she watched him with such intensity she might have, if she were capable of it, burned a hole straight through him. An action that would have been no more pleasant than what he was enduring at that current moment and likely would have more efficiently done away with him.


The hanging fruit, or so he had described himself, was waiting as patiently as anyone in his current condition could. He was sure he had confused her, but whether that meant she would believe him was another thing. There was a thought there in the midst of upper body strangulation where the man imagined that should he put his mind to it he might prevent her from noticing his struggle or indeed his face turning red for another quarter of an hour at best. But at that time, he was positive his ability to keep up the ruse would fail and in less than fifteen minutes after that he would most probably suffocate for the pressure on his ribs was becoming quite a difficult thing to overcome.


“Maybe I should let you down,” Were the words that slipped through her unsympathetic lips, “And then again, it wouldn’t hurt to change the venue of your ultimate demise. Oh goodness its quite hard to pick.”


“I imagine it must be very difficult for you,” Her victim began after a few moments of thought, “But I must assure you, madam, that you will not get much satisfaction from my remaining as I am. You will not even have the pleasure of my face turning red.”


“Not even that, are you quite sure.”


“I have already been hanging consciously for over half an hour now ma’am and my face is neither red, nor my breath short. Really, it would be much better if you returned me to the ground. I am positive if given some time you can think of something more efficient to kill the likes of me.”


This was a lucky fib, for it was very evident to himself that his neck must be quite red at this point from straining and that very soon that redness would be crawling up to his chin and then his cheeks and forehead, and before very much time had passed his whole face would be the color of a ripe apple.


Those vicious cat like eyes watched him for quite some time. They bore and dug, sinking their teeth into the idea. For them they had all the time in the world to consider and take in the scene. And in their victim the wondering thought began to swirl as to whether or not they would be able to keep up the lie long enough to make it to the ground and breath again unhampered.


It was a painful few minutes that rammed themselves in to the remainder of the time he felt he could keep the deception. With a tender finger, she turned the cup on its saucer, her eyes on the swaying liquid as it shifted to handle the movement, its small walls hardly able to keep the swell in that was caused by the sudden and rapid shift.


Five maybe seven minutes remained before it would became very much too difficult to breath. The redness would enter his face, he would struggle for breath, his eyes would grow bulgy and desperate, and then he would die, hanged by his armpits in an undisclosed warehouse, the color of the apple he had described himself as. There was no poetry to it, no dignity. He was quite ashamed for he didn’t even have anyone to mourn the loss. Neither lover, wife, parent, or child.


There was a sudden abrupt jolt in the line, all at once he began to move down. It was the strangest sensation. The villainess had in her hand a yellow box with an antenna and three large buttons on it. Her thumb was pressed to the lowest, this reassured that what she held was a remote to whatever had been holding him so high and that she in fact was letting him down.


There are very few times in anyone’s life where it feels good to be let down by someone. However. this moment in particular was quite a delight, though he showed not an inch of it. In fact, he tried to remain very still and unimpressed as his legs drew closer to the beautiful and unassuming ground. Instead, he chose to focus on taking as deep of breaths as were possible while his ribcage was being squeezed so tightly, so he could avoid her sensing his falsehood and hoisting him up before he had a chance to escape.


The hard concrete ground did at last meet his feet, the soles of his shoes greeted it with a gentle click, surprising him, for he had quite forgotten he was wearing any. A moment later he removed the rope, which was quite easy to loosen when his bodyweight wasn’t keeping it so taunt and found himself freely standing of his own will at the base of the great platform on which his torturer resided.


“Come up here at once.”


“Of course, though it might take me just a moment, I don’t really know my way round. You did hang me up when I was unconscious after all.”


“Be expedient.”


“Of course, madam.”


There were no evident servants or lackies sent to cart him her way, so he took that as a sign that she was either very short staffed or assured somewhere deep within that he would not disobey her. A horrible mistake. Really, he quite pitied her for making it.


In a flash, he was at the wall of the building and quite in a run he searched for a door. It was no concern of his if he panted or struggled, which indeed he did for a great bruise was already forming all around his chest and back. Within half of three minutes he found what he was looking for, a service door, and quite to his own joy he found it unlocked. He turned the nob and discovered it led out into open air and not a soul outside to prevent his leaving. Really, it was almost too sad. She had thought her prisoner would be completely incapacitated by her cleverness, having him hanged for whatever want that lead her to it. But in fact, he had successfully tricked her. Leaping through the door he dashed away with such dexterity and joy you never would have guessed he had been hanging for over an hour and a half. It was such a pleasure to escape, that when she did send those who belonged to her to go after him, he was impossible to find.


She had lost, it was a great upset to her, though for her victim it was a greater joy for having gotten her to believe such an easy lie. Quite to her dismay she never did find him again. She was unaware of where he had gone, and so too was everyone for there is no more written history to follow. It is as if in his great joy he had quietly dissolved into thin air.



End



Thank you so much for reading everyone!!



Prompt Sentence: It looks like you have bigger problems.


Word Count: 2952


©DecemberKnight 2023


Special thanks to Brunno Tozzo from Unsplash for the use of the image!


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