Cold. When Felix woke up this was the first thing he felt. He was in a dimly lit room. The floor which he found himself lying upon was an unforgiving slab of stone, which sent chills creeping through his entire body. He was lying on his stomach, and one side of his face was completely numb from being pressed against the freezing floor as he slept. Glancing around the room Felix realised he must be in someone’s basement. He saw some rotted stairs which lead upwards to a padlocked latch door. Around him were walls filled with shelves. The shelves held the normal sort of junk you’d find in a basement. DIY kits, paint pots, camping gear. It wasn’t that however, which made Felix stop for a second. It was the table at the far end of the room. It was a sturdy old dining table, covered in a white table cloth. But the cloth had a strange pattern on it. Felix strained his eyes, which were already struggling in the dim light. He realised it wasn’t a pattern on the tablecloth; it was stains. Red stains.
Where the hell am I?
Felix was beginning to come to his senses and suddenly he felt a twinge of terror in the pit of his stomach which began to rise to his throat. Felix tried to right himself, but found to his dismay that his hands were tied tightly behind his back. Felix strained to pull his fingers in towards his wrists, which sent little electric tingles up his arms. When he did they pressed against not rope or tape, but metal. He was in handcuffs. He struggled for a minute, writhing on the ground awkwardly, before managing to kick back onto his haunches and rock into the normal sitting position. Felix took some comfort in the fact that his legs hadn’t been tied up.
But I’m so cold. I’m so God-damn cold.
Goosebumps prickled over Felix, and he decided the best thing to do was get moving and heat up a bit. Felix twisted his head around and saw that only a few feet behind him was a wall. He began to slide backwards using his legs, until he felt the wall against his back. As soon as it touched him a flame of agony was ignited in Felix, and for a moment he saw stars. He stopped for to catch his breath and waited for his vision to clear. It would be fair to say, that Felix was far from having an athletic build and his fitness level was severely lacking. Despite this he strained out a low chuckle.
Who says a little puppy-fat isn’t good? It’ll be keeping me warm right now I’ll bet.
Felix then manoeuvred himself into the standing position by pushing his body up with his legs while leaning back on the wall. It made his thighs strain considerably, and despite the chilling temperature of the room, beads of sweat began to form in small droplets on his brow. Once he was fully upright, he took a moment once again, to catch his breath. His first thought then, was to climb up the old stairs and see if he could open the latch. Maybe the padlock was unlocked; he couldn’t rule that out until he tried it. But he glanced at the stairs. He guessed there were about 18 steps, and this was a problem for a few reasons. One, his hands were tied behind his back, and in his drowsy state his sense of balance would be zilch. The last thing he wanted to do was fall backwards and smash his skull on the stone floor below. Two, he was probably too weak in the first place. Even now his legs were wobbling in his unsteady state. Lastly, maybe the person who put him here was waiting to hear him awaken and move around. Felix reasoned that it would be best to avoid the attention of his captor, at least until he got a better idea of who he or she might be.
Still, he decided if he was quiet enough, it was probably a good idea to get a proper look around the room. He felt his eyes draw towards the table again, and he took a tentative step towards it. As he drew closer, he realised that his suspicions had been accurate. The white cotton tablecloth had large rusty-red splotches dried into it, and Felix could see it was unmistakably blood.
No. Felix shut his eyes tight and gritted his teeth. He wasn’t to think about the tablecloth. Not at a time like this. All that mattered was getting the hell out of this freezing place. As he turned from the table a wave of dizziness washed over him, and the fluffy-yet-sickly cloud of light headedness bloomed over him. For a moment everything went black. He stumbled backwards and fell to the floor, hard. Shock struck him through the back, knocking the wind out of him. For a minute all he could do was lie there, on the cold floor, barely daring to breathe for fear of crying out.
Okay, you’re in shock – that’s alright, that’s normal. Just lie down for a bit but try not to go to sleep...
Try not to go to sleep? A terrible idea formed in Felix’s mind. What if he was concussed? Felix knew from the hospital soaps he watched on TV that if you’re concussed and you fall asleep you might not wake up again. And Felix was feeling like he was on the verge of unconsciousness.
No, come on! You’ve got to get yourself out of here! Do something, anything! Just don’t black out!
Felix struggled to think for a moment. Then, slowly, he pushed his wrist forcefully into the cuff that encased it. This produced a dull ache, and with his hand being so cold and numb it barely even picked up on it. Felix tried again. This time he pushed his wrist deeper into the cuff, and then rotated it, side to side, pushing down on the cuff harder with each rotation. He felt the metal bite into his skin and a spark of sharp pain travelled up his arm. It was the wakeup call he needed. Felix began to feel a hot sensation on the surface of his skin. He could only imagine this was a bit of blood creeping out of the scrape. Felix didn’t care, because the pain in his wrist kept him awake, and right now, he needed to be alert.
That was too close. Alright so it’s blood on the table, but that’s not important right now. What you need to do, is get yourself out of these damn cuffs.
Right. Felix repeated the getting up manoeuvre, and once upright managed to start carefully walking around the room. What he needed would be a pair of pliers or something. Felix knew nothing about DIY, or handcuffs for that matter. But he assumed pliers would be his best bet.
After scrutinizing the shelves and boxes around the room, Felix realized it was probably pointless. While there were some DIY tools the range was more simplistic – paint rollers, oils, screwdrivers – that sort of shtick. The person who was keeping him here had obviously thought all of this through. Felix’s rationality was drying up and raw panic was beginning to set in. He had been counting on a pair of pliers, and now he knew there were none, fear was beginning to worm it’s way into him. He closed his eyes. There had to be another way out of these cuffs.
Why not try and get your hands in front of you first?
Now that was a good idea. Felix didn’t know if it was possible, but it would be a good start. He thought for a moment, then gently laid himself back down on the ground. He drew his feet as far as he could towards him. He then pulled his knees into his chest and breathed sharply out, and continued to hold his breath. He tried as hard as he could to relax himself. If he relaxed his muscles would be smaller, and he’d have a better chance of getting the handcuffs in front of himself. He rocked back on his spine carefully, freeing his hands from beneath him, and then stretched his arms out so he was able to bring the handcuffs under his feet. It was difficult, but Felix was able to credit himself with good flexibility if nothing else. With a bit of effort, he was able to bring his hands round to his chest. Waves of nausea continued to wash over him, but this triumph had fuelled Felix somewhat, and he was able to pull himself back up to his feet. It also gave him an idea. He had clocked oil on one of the shelves beforehand, and he realised that perhaps this could grease his hands up enough to let him slip out of the cuffs. He grabbed the can of oil and carefully drizzled it on top of his left hand. His hands had been starved of circulation for so long that they had turned chalk white. It reminded him of putting caramel topping on vanilla ice cream.
The oil helped. But not enough. Felix was able to wiggle his hand out of the cuff until it reached the little sticky-out bone at the base of his thumb. No matter how hard he tried, the cuff wasn’t budging.
Whatever had been holding back Felix’s panic had given up, and Felix was taken over by fear which began to race around his whole body, pulsing through his every cell. Tears began to roll down his cheeks and a fresh line of snot oozed lazily from his nose. Felix was a mess. A shivering, filthy, terrified mess. It was then the table caught Felix’s eye. He’d been so focused on the tablecloth that he hadn’t actually considered the table itself. It was a thick, sturdy wooden table. He imagined it would be very, very heavy. The kind that could do your back in if you lifted it wrong. Slowly, Felix made his way back towards the table.
Are you sure you can do this?
Felix licked his lips, and stared with a fixed intensity at the table. Carefully, he slid underneath it, lying on his back. He positioned himself so that his hands were right next to one of the table legs. Then, he lifted his legs above himself and planted both of his feet squarely on the underside of the table. He pushed and grimaced, but felt the table lift ever so slightly. With extra effort, Felix pushed again, and this time had lifted the table high above him. Glancing at his hands, he positioned his leftie directly underneath the table leg.
No backing out now. Just do it, count to three and get it done.
Felix did. He shut his eyes, counted to three, and then dropped his feet down to the floor. The snap of bone under the weight of the table leg made Felix feel sick, and he let out a moan of agony as hot waves of pain exploded from his hand. He quickly pushed the table up again with his legs, releasing his crushed hand. He crouched now, still below the table, and studied his left hand. It was pretty broken alright. He couldn’t clench it at all. Slowly, carefully, Felix pulled on the cuff. Pain crackled up his arm but to his delight he saw the cuff get over the broken bone in his thumb. And that was it. The cuff slipped straight off after that. Felix had to stop himself from crying out with joy.
Felix’s joy, however, was short lived. The door at the top of the stairs had begun to open. He heard the lock shift and the creak of hinges. Then the footsteps. They came down the stairs one by one. Thud. Thud. Thud. They were heavy footsteps, weighty footsteps. Trouble footsteps.
Felix was terrified. His eyes brimmed with tears. His hands may have been free but only one of them could throw a punch. And what good would that be if his captor had a gun or a knife? Felix stayed crouched under the table, and pulled the tablecloth down to conceal himself from this mystery person. The footsteps had stopped. He must be at the bottom of the stairs now. Felix was shaking in horror. After everything he’d done; breaking his own hand. Was it for nothing?
And then he saw the feet of the man. From a gap in the tablecloth. Big black boots. And they were making their way towards him. Felix shrank back, frightened as a mouse. He saw a shadow over the table cloth, fingers, which stretched and bent in a sinister distortion. Then he saw the hand grasp the table cloth, before yanking it off.
“Please don’t kill me!” shrieked Felix, eyes screwed shut as if it would allow him to remain invisible.
“Who the hell are you?”
Wait... What? Felix opened his eyes and looked to see a man before him dressed in a policeman’s uniform. Felix threw himself at the man, embracing him unashamedly.
Many things became clear to Felix later on. It turned out that the policeman, Officer Monsen, had been called to the house after it was reported that the resident had been found dead in his livingroom. As it so happened, the resident, fifty-four year old Kenneth Shultz, had died of an allergic reaction to a new kidney which had been recently transplanted to him.
Things became even clearer later that night, when Felix looked in the mirror, and saw a crude mass of stitches etched across the side of his back.