A Charming Nightmare: Chapter 4
‘-ll up!’ is how he would have finished his sentence if a whole new slur of profanity hadn’t trampled the original syllables. I think it was cursing, no matter if you spoke the language or not, cursing has its own pitch that everyone in the galaxy can understand. Catch had found himself tangled in some sort of living rope. It snared him upside down; not too far off the ground that I couldn’t see the canary brightness of his eyes or the stressed, tight lipped strain on his face. He withered and struggled against these confines; the vines working in a quicksand kind of theory, the more you fight the more they wound themselves around you. The first vine had snapped his ankles together, the metal clasps of his boots clanging a shotgun of sound. This and the perpetual upwards-by-your-feet motion not only made my nose happy when he face planted into the dirt, but it’s also what started involuntary reaction to fight. Flight had been smothered when his feet were no longer able to feel the ground. By now, past the slurs and growls, beyond the wiggling and flexing to find a way out, the vined rope was wrapped around his legs just past his thighs all because of those bright ideas one has in anger. The knife Catch had so politely held against the soft parts of my neck was suddenly on my side of the argument cutting into his own thighs. The whole scene was comical from my stand point.
“Aylin, cut me out!” he snarled. A good person would, a nice person could, an obedient person should, but I was an American. Better than that; I was a fed up, tired, dirty, and hungry New Yorker. I didn’t, instead I pushed him, making his body sway in the mint breeze. Oh please, like you wouldn’t have?
“Oh no honey, I don’t think so.” He swung to me again, and again I starting pushing him away again and again. My own body moved forwards and backwards, when did this happen? Meh, his binds were surely more restrictive in the moment than mine. In a bold move for Earth humanity I touched his arm through the liana, rotating his hand, watching it nick his skin with his blade, and in the same rotation give myself more slack on my leash. Your move buddy boy.
“I am to die in an experiment, remember?” I focused solely on unwinding the invisible string.
“I didn’t say you were supposed to. You’ll die sooner here if you don’t cut me loose!”
“What kind of experiment?” forward Catch, push back, Aylin. I was swinging him back and forth back and forth, adding insult to injury.
“Why do you always have to be so impossible, why can’t you just let things happen the way they’re supposed to? Its due to people like you that we even need to- Damn it Aylin!” My fingertips vibrated off the rumble in his chest when I pushed. He was wiggling again. The vine was creeping upwards passed his chest.
“I would stop moving if I were you. Even this idiot can see that it’s not helping. What type of experiment?”
“One to save us.” I had to have him repeat himself his responses were mumbles now that they came from a locked jaw.
“Is busy cutting off your foot?”
“Left strap. Cut. Me. Out.”
“Nope, not. Satisfied. With. ‘To save us.’” I know by now you’re screaming run bitch run, my leash didn’t have that sort of slack, just enough for me to stand a couple of paces away, and like a chocolate lab I couldn’t figure out how to take the damn thing off. Not to say I wasn’t bracing my foot against his chest and pulling back with all my might by then, the accomplishment was slits in my wrist beading with blood, and one very stop-it snarl from Catch’s lips. I’m pretty sure I was leaving cuts on his wrist to match mine. Giving up I pushed him away and let my sarcasm add the extra enthusiasm to that shove. I stopped paying too much attention to my game, getting a little bored with the non-progress of my interrogation. Rhythm in our situation told me he had swung forward I reached out to give a little heave, but the starfish of teeth hissed lashing out at my fingers, putting us back into our roles in one surprised and frightened yelp. I jumped back. Way back, until I was stopped by a tree trunk. Trying to regain the upper hand I leaned against it giving the dirt under what was left of my fingernails my full attention.
“Aylin please. Cut just above where the tree has my legs.” The sincerity in his voice hinted towards surrender in a come here little girl I have some candy sort of way.
“What is this experiment? Why would you even offer your services knowing that someone would die?!” I flicked nature off my shoulder, and stared down at the rest of my dress. It was imperative that I work on pulling at the seam strings right then. The swinging growls only added to things that were making my eyes sting. I will not cry I will not cry I will not cry…
“Cut me down, if I have to get out of here myself you will learn the full extent of the services I provide.”
“Nope.” I was wounded. I was tired and achy and wanted to hide under the blankets. Catch didn’t care, or rather he didn’t notice, he began to chuckle. A mean mocking sort of sound at my ‘the sky is falling’ revelations. I was stolen so I could die. Someone that they didn’t know, someone that wasn’t their family, their non-mothers and Father, their brothers or sisters, their friends, the guy in the cubical next to them. I was taken because I was disposable. That's why he laughed; he knew before I did, my mistake. He had the advantage that the only part of me he could see without straining his head was my legs, which worked for me. I could let my revelations fall leaving clean streaks down my cheeks. These particular vines move quickly, shocking you with rope burns in their speed. Once I realized that his laugh was from the fact that they had found claim to my own ankles and calves holding still was not in the cards, no matter how much I knew it wouldn’t help anything. The sapling wound itself around me tightening over my chest and shoulders, pulling me further against the trunk of its host tree. I bit my lip so not to scream and waste what was left of air before it made it to my neck.
Then sound, awkward noises, words, I think? I was deaf to it all but the sound of it. A third party had joined us.
The voice snickered all around me. It echoed through the leaves, the branches, it was rumbled as an echo through the ground. Something pulled on a loose lock of my hair, tucking it behind my ear. By this point I had stopped fighting the vines, but still shook, the plant had curved lightly around my neck making it impossible to do anything but look straight ahead. Every little girl sense screamed to close my eyes. I wasn’t about to fight that either. In front of me I felt a puff of cool breath, and heard Catch full out roar.
A lighter flute of a sound came from my left, cooing in tone, humming lightly in reply to its deeper companion.
More things were spoken, one in soprano, so soft and light that even if yelled it was a whisper, the other, was an echo, an afterthought, disturbing the leaves with its vibration above us. Things were touching me, petting, stroking, two, then four, hands. I felt my exposed skin being caressed and soothed, it was the same velvet softness that I used to linger in when trying to get out of bed each morning.
Catch’s own calmer collected self now joined the others, in a language I have never heard before, a combination of sonnets our ears would never be willing to recognize as words. I opened my eyes in recognition of my name being said by the number Twelve and stared straight into a pair of onyx ones. Not onyx like one thinks, not pure jet black, but a sunburst stripe of white, tan and brown. No threat or malice in them, making it easier to look beyond the stare.
The two voices carried the same eyes, the same lanky build that showed off clean defined muscle tone of two arms, two legs. Almost human, from the auburn hair that was braided behind them to the missing noses, missing ears, double rows of teeth, and soft velvet pale tan skin. Ok, so maybe not human-like at all, but not quite little-green-men-like either. I assume the one closets to Catch was male solely based on his more boxed off contours. That, and perhaps add in there when he talks it sounded like Zeus himself had spoken to you from the halls of Olympia.
His back was to me as he addressed Catch, a lullaby is how my captor responded, back and forth, back and forth. It showed that first impressions could be wrong. That braid, was a braid but not like you or I would have pictured. His hair traveled down his back, a mane. Think of how a horse’s mane goes down its neck and in between its shoulders. It was attached to him.
“Place words here.”
He was still touching. Sometimes with fingers, other pats were with something extended from his hands over Catch’s body, things started to drop collecting in a crash and clink in front of where he was swaying. Disarmed, he was being disarmed.
“Jammaas, an agreement…” That I understood that was Catch speaking in English, Earth English. That sentence fell into a low purr of a growl rumbling in his chest when Jammaas (it could have been his name, or his race, or a very polite go to hell in their language, not sure, but in the way Catch paused, I’ll use it as this creatures name) returned his sights to me. The two Jammaas’s (?) were feverishly talking, so fast, finishing each other’s sentences in one quick blur. I couldn’t keep up with any of the sound it was a symphony in conversation between them with undertones of a third voice. Catch’s rumble grew a little louder behind us. Attention whore. I’ll gladly give them back to you. One of them was still speaking to me like she might her childhood baby doll. Adjusting, rearranging parts of me that weren’t covered by vines. She spoke incomplete words. Half ideas, half thoughts, half-
My body quit trying to keep up with who was touching what anymore as they fluttered around my legs, my arms, turning my head almost painfully from side to side.
“Jammaas.” Catch was struggling against his confines again. Neither one acknowledged the sound Catch was growling. That’s right buddy, all about me.
“Jinni?” Catch still complaining almost moaning over his own words, his and her names, I was right, I had to be, right? They were enthralled obsessively taking notes and bouncing off the others ideas. It’s deduction, I still can’t understand it, but the hand gestures, the interruptions, well to me it looked like a day in my office, watching the powers that may be all in a tiffy over ideas. The boxed off one threw his head back every one of those teeth exposing themselves to me. Did I say there were two rows of them? I lied try three or four or four thousand. Out of them came a sound, a surprised howl as if it had resonated from the depths of a cave.
“Jammaas, Jinni, your assistance is with me.” Catch had their attention now. He spit out a mouth of something disgusting, standing his full height behind them and pulled back further on Jammaas’s braid staining the clump of hair in his grasp red, bright red, blood red.