Escape

Anthony Arroryo woke up one morning, wondering what time it was. As he reached for his glasses, he felt a pain shoot up his arm. Wincing, he sat up to realize he wasn’t in his bed. His back was uncomfortable, like he had slept on it wrong. He felt around blindly on an icy floor for a moment to find his glasses only a few feet away from him. Putting them on, he saw he was in a bathroom, but not his own. He stood up and looked around at the room before looking at his arm. There was a single toilet, a mirror, and a sink. The smell of Comet cleaner was pungent, burning his nose with every breath.

On his arm was one word, deeply carved in all capital letters: Escape. Panic crept its way into his dripping blood, following his veins to his steady heart. When it hit, his heart felt fear, and Anthony hastily went to the door, almost slipping on a pool of his own blood. He stopped as his hand touched the doorknob, unsure of what was to come.

Being a child, Anthony was incapable of handling it. His mother was more than anyone could ask for. Anthony loved her as implicitly as any child, but his father loved her drastically less, hurting her sometimes. When she hurt, Anthony hurt. Anthony was only eight when she decided to stop living.
As he walked through the door, he found a boarded-up window, a few chairs surrounding a wooden table, and a small TV in a cramped room. He went straight for the window, hoping the obvious solution was the best. For a moment, he hoped he could get out, hoped he could see his family. He lost that hope as the boards refused to give, laughing at his pathetic attempts to loosen them.

Anthony tried to recall how he had gotten there. He had gone to his father’s apartment to hear his father’s apology. He pulled up into the parking lot, felt brief remorse for the death of his wife, and as he put his revolver in his pocket… there was nothing more to remember.

The only light coming into the room was from the bathroom, so Anthony looked for a light of some sort. He would have been satisfied with a candle and a lighter at that point. The smell of Comet started to fade, being replaced by a stronger smell, one much less pleasant. Sliding his hands up and down the walls, he finally found a light switch and flipped it – only to find his mother dead on the floor next to him, her throat sliced open, blood stained all over the floor, her shameful eyes staring directly at him.

He backpedalled, not sure where to go, knocking over the table and falling himself. The blood in his veins chilled the more he thought about it, the panic amplifying and reproducing as it sieged his heart. Genuinely, he didn’t believe it. His mother had been dead for 17 years. She can’t be here, not now. Not now, he thought. After what felt like an hour of crying and shaking and curling into a ball, he stood up, ready to Escape.

The new challenge was to step over his mother and walk to the door. Looking back down at her, he saw an imposter, staring at him with dark eyes, knife in hand. Anthony recognized those eyes as the same eyes that shattered him once before.

His father came home one night, stumbling his way through the door with a beer in hand. Anthony knew better than to interact with his sober father, let alone his drunken one. Before anyone had time to stop him, he hurried into his bedroom, hiding under the blankets and hoping the fighting would stop. After several hours, the fight did stop, but Anthony felt that it was too abrupt. Fearfully, he tiptoed into the living room and peeked around the corner to see his father standing over his mother, who had a knife in hand.

Anthony’s gasp gave him away to his father, who turned to him, with another beer in hand. His father picked up the knife and as Anthony backed into a wall, his father snatched him up by the throat, taking the knife to his son’s arm, permanently branding the word Escape into Anthony’s arm.
The man was monstrous in size, had no hair, and his skin was ash-colored, as if someone had cooked him only a moment less than the survivable time. His eyes were bloodshot and jumpy, like someone during a REM cycle. The man stabbed at Anthony with the knife, coming so close to ending a life that Anthony fell backwards. Dropping the knife, the man turned and calmly walked out the door, leaving only Anthony behind, who was in tears with his jaw clenched tight like a nut and bolt holding in place his wail of terror.

Anthony picked up the knife, wanting not to be entirely defenseless. His skinny, pale body was already too weak to fight the demon who tried to stab him. Anthony made chase, hoping if he went fast enough, he could get the man before the man got him.

Only a moment after deciding he would find the man, Anthony lost his fortitude and almost broke down crying. He knew he had to keep moving if he was going to find the man, but that was it: Do I really want to find the man? Anthony was only half-sure, but he moved warily through the doorway in attempt to win the game.

The room had a coffee table with cigarettes on it, and a lighter. The table was made of black wood and on the other side of the room was a lamp. The lamp hung from the ceiling, almost like a fan or a chandelier, but there was nothing besides the light bulb. The amount of light was blinding to Anthony – the other rooms were so much dimmer than this one – but through the blindness, he could still see the man sitting in a chair by the coffee table, lighting up a cigarette.

The cigarette burned instantly, the flame consuming the entire cigarette in only a moment. Opening his mouth wide, the man inhaled the ball of fire and smoke, appearing to eat it. He consumed the power, and the smoke started billowing out his every orifice.

It went dark again, and Anthony was too full of his panic to notice until he felt his legs drop from under him. Looking up, he saw that the man was crushing his throat with his Army boot. Anthony saw the disdainful, condemning look he recognized so well. He felt the knife in his hand, almost forgetting it. Forcing his entire soul into the move, he jerked his arm into the leg as well as he could. The knife bent in half, doing nothing to the man’s impervious leg.

Crying from the pain of the knife in his tiny arm, Anthony tried to defend himself with his free arm by hitting his father. He curled up his little hand into a ball, and hit his father in the nose. His father dropped him, stunned for a moment, and he realized he hadn’t thought the next part through. As he turned to run, his father kicked him in the head, launching his skull into the drywall. Waking up in the hospital, he finally heard the news that he would no longer live with his father.

Out of ideas, Anthony tried squirming in every way to get out from under the Army boot. The attempts were hopeless; the man had a perfect hold of him. Anthony gave up and lay there, having nothing more to work with. He closed his eyes and waited to be delivered from the pain of asphyxiation, which finally happened after an eternity.

Opening his eyes to what he assumed would be heaven, he saw the same ceiling he had just been looking at, and remembered he was in hell. He stood up in time for the man to punch him in the stomach, pick him up, and throw him back on the floor. Another strange smell introduced itself to Anthony, which he identified as gasoline.

The man forced a funnel into Anthony’s mouth, and as Anthony reached up to pull it out and try to get away, the man brought his Army boot down on Anthony’s hand, breaking every finger in it as he took away every inch of space between the hand and the concrete floor. The man poured gasoline all over Anthony, making sure to get enough in his mouth. He emptied the entire container. Anthony lay there, unable to scream, his broken hand still under the man’s Army boot. For fear of the man crushing it too, he put his other hand in his pocket.

As he did this, he felt the grip of his revolver in his pocket. He pulled the revolver out of his pocket and put all six bullets into the man’s body – two denting his head and the other four destroying his chest. The man stumbled backward and dropped to his knees, gasping for air to fill the holes in his lungs.

Anthony’s father greeted him at the door with a false welcome. There was a smile on his face, but Anthony knew it wasn’t because of his presence. Anthony knew it was a condescending smile, knew that it was because his father got away with killing his mother. He could take it no longer. Blacking out, he woke up to see a gun in his hand and his father dead on the floor, for once with a look of fear on his face.

While Anthony lay there, bleeding and choking in pain on the floor, the man took the last few moments of his life to light a match and throw it at Anthony. It came just close enough to him to spark the gasoline, and as the flames licked his whole body with passion, he only felt triumph over the man, who he had successfully killed. The world faded into blackness around him.

When he woke up one morning, he wondered what time it was. As he reached for his glasses, he felt a pain shoot up his arm.

“It is with this evidence that I hereby find Anthony Arroryo not guilty of the murder of his father, Richard Arroryo, by reason of insanity. However, given the recent death of his wife and the status of his mental condition, he will be placed in Logansport State Hospital until he is deemed sane.” Anthony was in the courtroom, but his soul was not. The ash-colored man was still choking him with his Army boot as Anthony looked for any way to Escape.





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