The glow of Rich's phone cascaded over his face as he scrolled through the last texts he had sent. He had a date with a girl he met at the local library, Janet, and was making sure if things went sour, he had some sort of backup plans. Last thing he wanted was to have another Saturday night end with him sober and sleeping alone. The glow faded as he felt pleased with his auxiliary plans, and he stepped out from his car. Janet's place was a loft over an old bookstore that had been closed down for a few years. She had told him rent was cheap, especially with it being so close to the industrial district of town. Didn't matter much to him, since he had gone to worse spots for uglier bitches anyway. One last pat down to make sure he was in full lady killer mode, and he walked up to the entryway.
Rich grabbed the door and pulled, but it shuddered and would not budge. He stepped back, and scoffed at himself as he saw an intercom just off to the side.
Idiot, get your shit together so you can seal the deal!
He shook the thought from his head. No, this would be easy. Janet was already almost crawling all over him in the library. They had bumped into each other in the history section. He had been searching for a book on historical architecture when he found her there, sitting on the floor. Janet had looked him up and down and smiled, as if finding immediate approval of his looks, which only stoked Rich's ego in all the right ways. She stood up and asked what he was looking for, and from there the conversation briefly touched on Baroque stonework and found its way quickly to things two people could do in the dark. They had agreed for him to come over the next night, to which Rich accepted a tad quicker than he would have liked to. No, this would be easy. He pressed the intercom button and waited for a reply.
No voice came back, but the door buzzed and he opened it and headed upstairs. The stairs seemed to be much maligned, and creaked upon nearly every step. The walls spoke of years gone by without maintenance, as grime and mold were apparent in the corners.
Fucking shithole, he thought to himself but pressed on.
Arriving at the top of the stairs, he found Janet's door, 1A. 1B was across the hall, but had boards nailed across the threshold. No matter, Rich knocked on the door. It swung open to reveal Janet, wearing a quite revealing black top and a skirt that left little to the imagination.
"Come inside, Sugar," Janet said with a deep smile.
Rich quickly skittered inside and set his jacket down. The inside of Janet's apartment was in stark contrast to the building itself. Beautiful decor filled the room, and it seemed like he had walked straight into a condo in the uptown area.
"Not what you expected, huh?" Janet said, as she walked into the kitchen, rummaging through cabinets of glassware.
"Oh, no, I mean, this place looks great…In here, at least...um..." Rich cursed himself for stuttering and sounding like a fool. Janet seemed to be taking it all in joyous stride as she let out a strong laugh and emerged from the kitchen with two glasses and a bottle of wine.
"Don't worry. The outside may look like shit but I don't let that stop me from living the life I want in here. The rent is cheap so I get free reign to do what I choose. It makes me happy." Janet gazed around the room as she spoke, resting her gentle eyes upon Rich eventually.
"Shall we have something to drink before we get things started?" Janet was already pouring the wine before Rich could answer, so he played along, feeling confident in where it was heading.
"Yeah, that sounds good." Rich sat down upon her couch and made himself comfortable. He began surveying the books on Janet's coffee table as she finished pouring the wine. A strange collection of hunting and survival books alongside information texts of publishing and printing. An odd combination, but before he could think more on it Janet sat down with the wine and moved in close to Rich. She placed her hand quite high up on his thigh and looked directly into his eyes.
"Tell me more about yourself, Rich,” she said, without diverting her eyes at all. Some apprehension began to creep into Rich's mind, but his libido decided to press on.
"What do you want to know?" he said as he leaned back in the couch and sipped the glass of wine.
"I think every person has a unique story that leads them to where they are now. A path only they have taken, a world seen only by them. Tell me of the world you have seen, Rich. Please." She finished speaking and bit her lower lip. Rich felt like he had his foot in the door. He smiled and drank some more, and then began to tell the tale of his life.
"Where do you want me to start?" Rich asked as he looked up into her hazel eyes. Their eyes locked for a moment, but she conceded and shifted her gaze down. She spoke as her eyes traversed along his body back to his face once again.
"Start from wherever you want. It’s your story to tell, Rich. You tell me where it begins, and how you ended up here, with me." The last words hung upon her tongue in such a way that Rich crossed his legs in a slightly abrupt manner. Unable to contain his smile, he began.
"Well, I wasn't born here in the city, but I didn't grow up to far away really..."
He spoke for a while, at least he felt so, and then things started to blur. The wine must have been strong. Very strong. Before he knew it, he was reaching out for her, ready to take her, to fuck her. He tried but the room spun about him and he fell into the black reality of unconsciousness…
Rich awoke to cold water being splashed in his face. He screamed from the shock of the cold, and tried to move his limbs, but he couldn’t. He struggled, but they would not budge. A dim bluish light was all that illuminated the room. It was enough to reveal to him the horror of his situation. He was naked, chained to a wall. Now aware, pain surged through his limbs. His heart began hammering within his chest. Panic flashed across his face. As violently as he shook at his shackled wrists and ankles, there was no release. A guttural screech was all he had to give as he thrashed until his muscles gave in. The walls had no reply. The darkness had no remorse. Silence was all he was given.
"Help! Help! What the fuck is this, what the fuck..." His screams were cut short by the sound of a typewriter. The clicks punctured the silence and brought his attention to deep within the bluish glow. There sat Janet, typing away. Her fingers struck each key with precision, her eyes darting across the page as she inspected every word. She looked over her page, nodded in approval, and snatched the paper out. She set it upon a stack of pages and then turned her focus to Rich. Even with the lack of ambient light, Rich could see her eyes had changed. No longer inviting, they only offered a cold, piercing glare.
"What the fuck is going on, you bitch! I am going to fuck you up!" Rich screamed at her, but the cracking of his voice did not exude the confidence he had upon his arrival. He jerked again at his chains, the rattling echoing in the empty space. Janet stood up and walk over to him. The heels of her shoes tapped upon the dirty concrete floor, each step seemingly pounding at the same rhythm of Rich's frantic heartbeat. Still wearing her low cut top and skirt, she walked right up to Rich, nearly touching him with her body.
"I expected more from your story, Rich. Much more. No great epic, no brilliant drama. You are a tragedy of failed potential. A shit protagonist, that's what you are. Where is your substance? Where is your grandeur? It’s nowhere to be seen, Rich. So shallow and frail. But, I did always have a way with words. So I think even I can make something of your pathetic tale." She moved away as she spoke, and turned on a tiny light in the far side of the room. A bookcase became visible, with many leather bound books upon one of its shelves.
"You're fucking crazy! Get me out of here!" Rich shouted, now with fury and fear stoking the flames within. Janet, however, seemed unmoved. She grabbed a brown leather bound book from the shelf and opened it.
"This, this was Andre. His story was one of the most interesting I have ever heard. Oh, the places he had been, the struggles he had endured. Riveting, truly. But, like all men, he found only one way to prove his worth. To fuck, and to fuck often. " Janet took the book and walked toward Rich. She grabbed a small thin chain and pulled it, turning on a bright light that filled the room. Rich closed his eyes tight as the light stung. As he opened them again, he saw a table with tools laid out before him. Frozen in fear, and now pissing on the floor, Rich could not find any words that would save him. Janet held the book to his face. The title read Andre, The Saint Who Sinned. At such close range, it was now easy to see, it was not leather bound, but it was skin. Andre's skin. Rich howled and thrashed about, but to no avail.
"All the books tell stories of boys who thought so highly of themselves, but could not see the sad truth. Such stories must be told, and I will tell them for you all." Janet moved to the table that shimmered with the steel of blades made for skinning. She ran her finger among them and picked a large blade and then approached Rich. "My next book is called Rich, The Architect Of Ruins. It is not the best story, but still needs to be told."
Janet slashed Rich's neck, and his blood spilled upon the floor. His eyes rolled and his body ceased to struggle. Janet set to the task of putting the final touches to her latest piece of work. It was not her finest, but it would not be her last….
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