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Master Minded: A Short Story
You finally screwed up, you son-of-a-bitch. When you left the apartment yesterday, the keys to my shackles and chain were lying on the table and a broom was leaning against the wall within my reach.
Ten years I spent in that windowless room you constructed in the center of the second-floor apartment so that no passersby could hear my screams. A decade with you as my warden, my guard, my unwelcome lover. You were my personal chef, fed me once a day in a stainless steel dog bowl, while another bowl just like it, although for a different purpose, sat in a corner without so much as a lid to cover it when I was finished.
I was seventeen when you took me from my family. I salvaged a portion of my sanity by remembering my life before you crept into it, into my bedroom where stuffed animals adorned my bed and family photos told the story of a happy childhood. You knew I was alone that night. You overpowered me, gagged and bound me without even needing to worry about my screams.
Sometimes, when you watched TV, I'd sit in the doorway to my room. But I paid no attention to the television. I was looking at the door in the kitchen that led outside to freedom. But in my despair, I named it the door to nowhere, for I knew I would never have the opportunity to open it.
When you left yesterday evening, I knew you were going out drinking. And I knew that when you came home around two-thirty in the morning, you would go straight to your recliner and pass out without poking your scraggly bearded face and rotten-toothed grin into my room. So I grabbed the broom, retrieved the keys from the table and left. It’s still early, and you won’t wake up until late afternoon. I know you well, Master. I'm looking at the curtains to the darkened apartment from the alley below. You still don’t know I’m gone.
I know what television shows you like, what your favorite kind of porn is, and I know that you like rough sex. Which reminds me, you worthless scum. You still haven’t told me what you did with the baby.
I also know your fears. The rats find their way from the alley, into the garage downstairs, to the second floor from time to time, and when they do, your face turns ashen, you scream like a little girl, and you pee in your pants.
There are an amazing number of rats under the buildings that line the alley, Master, and it only took a discarded wooden crate, a chunk of rotten ham from a trash can and some patience to capture about fifty of them. They were climbing over each other to get to the meat in the back of the box.
I left the apartment last night and made some preparations. I used the inside stairway to go down to the basement and unlock the overhead garage door. I scanned the equipment you keep down there for your piano and appliance moving business. I didn’t know yet what my revenge would entail, but I thought your stuff might come in handy.
All the heavy lifting you’ve done over the years has made you a strong man, so when it came to rape, you never had any problem restraining me. And speaking of being strong, Master. Did you know I worked out for hours every day while I was your guest? Push-ups, crunches, running in place, anything to keep my muscles toned. And here I am, Master, feeling quite good. When I finally left the apartment, I didn’t leave by way of the basement. I went out that door to nowhere which has become to me the door to anywhere I want to go.
One of your four-wheeled moving dollies made easy work of getting the crate full of rats into the garage. And that brings me to this very moment. I’m climbing the stairs to where I know I will find you passed out in your recliner with the television on bringing the news of the day to a man who will be in the headlines tomorrow.
I’ve never seen you from this vantage point, looking from the kitchen, through the living room to my room beyond. You sleep so soundly when you’ve been drinking. I can smell the piss as it seeps into the fabric of the recliner. I hope you’ve saved some for the rats. The saltiness will be a nice contrast to the sweet syrup I will use.
I retrieve the shackles and chain from my room. I begin with a length of rope from the basement and gently wrap it around your torso several times before tying it off. Still asleep? Good Master. But the chain is certain to wake you. Two wraps around your neck, pull the long ends behind the recliner and snap the padlock in place. You’re squirming now, gasping for a breath with which to cry out.
I circle the chair several times like the Children of Israel walking around Jericho, and the paper thin walls of your pseudo manhood crumple.
“Master– Say it.”
“Say it now.”
“That sounds very good.”
“What’re you gonna do?”
“Do you have any of that fake maple syrup you like on your pancakes? Oh, here it is. Just what the new Master ordered.”
“Wha….What’re you doin’?”
“I’m pouring syrup all over you, dumbass.”
I descend the steps to the basement and search my soul for an ounce of emotion, a hint of regret, any sense of horror at what I’m about to do. I find nothing.
I tip the crate into the stairway. A perfect fit. I knock the lid off with one of Mas… No, I’m the Master now. Who are you? What’s your name? Ten years and I don’t even know your name, but I use one of your hammers to knock the lid off the crate and fifty screeching rats surge forward.
The leader of the rat pack reaches the top of the stairs and rounds the corner into the apartment where breakfast awaits.
I take a beer from the fridge. The screams weaken to whimpers until there is only violent shaking. I lean over the counter and watch a rat’s teeth tear away a chunk of the former master’s cheek. One sits atop his head and reaches down for the delicacy of an eyeball. His body is covered with an undulating comforter of fur.
I venture into old master’s bedroom looking for a money belt I’d seen him use. Under the mattress, of course, and not just the belt, but banded stacks of money and a handgun. The creep was a thief as well as a sadist. I take it all and drop it into a paper grocery bag in the kitchen.
After a final look at the old master, I return to the basement where I find a can of gasoline and some oil-stained rags. Burning the place is for my benefit. My fingerprints are most certainly on file from any investigation into my original disappearance. And they're also all over my room upstairs. I don’t want to begin my new life on the run.
I may be a murderer now, but I’m also the new Master of my own fate.