A Self-Suspension Fantasy
It seemed like a good idea at the time.
Which would explain why, on a Friday night, I had thrown my work clothes into a heap and 'dressed' instead in a ragged strip of grey cloth angled across my hips, and run goose-pimply and bare-breasted around the empty house making preparations.
I re-focus my blurred eyes. Same view: sighting down the gleaming ravine of my own bare chest, my breasts drawn almost flat by the strain, nipples poking dark, my ribs in stark relief. And far below that, my toes, swinging free, just inches from the concrete floor. For the hundredth time, I tip my head back, look up into the inverted-V of my own arms. Good arms, I have always thought, toned, slim, and now the means by which I am suspended. And the rope, two simple loops, one about each wrist, trapping my purple-lump hands.
I let my head fall forward again, and hang motionless by my wrists.
I hadn't meant it to end up like this. I had tied those two loops in the rope with girl-Scout deftness, wide enough for my narrowed hands to pass through, but too tight for my fists to escape. The theory being that my own body-weight would distort my hands' shape enough for them to be effectively trapped. Good theory.
I had tossed the free end of the rope over the central rafter in the garage, carefully measured so that, when hanging, my feet would be a delicious three inches from the floor. Then I had tied the rope off around one leg of the work-bench. A clock, propped against the wall directly in front of where I would hang, to measure the duration. With heart fluttering, the first tingles of arousal in my belly and with my nipples like stones, I had dragged the laundry bucket underneath the rope, climbed onto it.
Rag? Nah. I had ripped away the cloth. Totally naked was the only way to go. Reaching up, I carefully slipped my hands through the loops, took a deep breath, and shunted the bucket away with my feet.
It's hard to imagine the feeling of hanging by one's wrists, until you actually try it. It was far more brutal than I had expected, entirely different from hanging off a bar at the gym. There was so much sheer tension through my shoulders, stretching out my ribcage, my belly, my arms clamped either side of my head, immobilised by the weight of my own body. Breathing was a little difficult, phantom pains flickered down my sides. And of course the burning pain in my wrists, the bite of the ropes.
It was actually painful. But not unendurable. I let myself hang, pointed my toes towards the floor, stirred my feet. How strange, to feel the cool air on my soles, for my flexing toes to find nothing to touch, my legs dangling free. I imagined that I was an Amazon princess strung up deep in a Barbarian dungeon. I imagined that I was a captured soldier about to be interrogated. I imagined that I was a condemned innocent, and that this was the nature of my execution, slow and cruel.
My eyes returned to the clock. Almost two minutes. Amazing how time became so stretched as I hung there, fighting the urge to reach for the bucket, as the pain in my wrists grew. Of course, I could have used suspension cuffs, or wrapped my wrists in padding, and probably endured longer; but if women in ages past were hung by ropes or in manacles, the least I could do was spend five minutes like that.
Three minutes. I closed my eyes. There were new pains in my arms, my shoulders, spreading down my sides. It was enough to start sweat prickling along my hairline, testing my endurance. I shifted my dangling feet again, and was rewarded by a slow creaking from the rope above me as I twisted.
Four minutes. How did people endure hours, even days, like this? The answer, of course, was that they had no choice. The unrelenting weight of my own body on my arms was draining their strength. I was conscious of the cool air of the garage on my naked body, my exposed sides, underarms, breasts, and belly.
Five minutes. At last! With growing urgency, I reached my foot for the bucket. Inadvertently, I kicked it, and it was shunted a little further away. Shit! The pain of hanging forgotten, I frantically sought the bucket again with my bare toes. I managed to hook its edge with my toe, and began to draw it towards me.
Then, disaster. I was too hasty, and the bucket tipped over.
“No!” I croaked, but the bucket rolled, just beyond reach of my flailing foot. My leg dropped, and for a few moments, I hung, slowly swinging on the end of the creaking rope, my heart racing.
This was not good. My own panic reaction told me this, the fact that adrenaline had dulled the pain for a moment, and that the chill was replaced by an unpleasant wave of heat all over my body. I could feel sweat pricking into existence on the nape of my neck, in my armpits, between my buttocks.
I have to get free. My hands were starting to hurt again. I tipped my head back, looked up the landscape of my own arms, to my roped wrists. All I had to do was pull myself up, slip one hand free, then the other. With my hands looking like two lumps of purple dough, it was going to be interesting, but desperation gave me strength. I gritted my teeth, and hauled. It was hard work, after hanging for almost six minutes, but I managed to raise myself to the ropes, the muscles in my arms shaking with the effort. But when I got there, I realised there was no way I could take my weight on one arm long enough to slip a hand free.
With a gasp, I dropped down to a full hang, faster than I intended. The result was a jolt on my right shoulder, and the most unbelievable pain. It was searing-hot, spreading from my shoulder all the way up my arm, down my side, so severe that for a moment I could not even breathe. It was a clue to what torture on the rack would feel like, and it was agonizing. My feet swung aimlessly for the minute or so it took me to recover.
I was in trouble. Again, I tried for the bucket, but it was truly beyond my reach.
“Ow, ow, ow, ow!!” I whimpered, my wrists hurting badly now. There was a deeper burning in my taut arms, too, the weight of my own body creating a slow racking torture of its own.
I tipped my head again, looking up. The rope was passed over the rafter, stretched behind me to the bench. Perhaps … I tried to twist my body about, kicking my feet, turning my hips, but I was unable to get any kind of leverage, squirming from my bound wrists like a worm on a hook, demonstrating my helplessness and nothing more.
So I hung still, again. I looked at the clock. Eight minutes. I was sweating, I could see the shine on my own arms either side of my face, on my breasts. My breathing was shallow, quick. Another option dawned on me. Once again, I began to haul myself up to the rope. This time was more difficult than the first, my muscles aching as I raised myself. I managed to get my teeth to one of the knots, and started tugging to loosen it. For about half a minute, I tried, but my arms finally gave out, and I had to lower myself - carefully, this time.
Far from being a chance to recover, hanging by my wrists seemed to drain more strength by the minute, and I realised that I was running out of time to free myself. My hands throbbed relentlessly. I had been hanging for nearly ten minutes, proof that I really was in trouble. I have to try again. I began to haul myself up for a third time; but my arms refused. I got half-way, and my muscles failed. I could get no higher.
I dropped, and the jarring halt sent a new flash of agony through both shoulders, so severe I cried out. New sweat beaded on my body, and for half a minute I hung in serious pain. When it ebbed, the tears came. Frustration, fear, anger at myself for getting into this situation. I had tried everything; there seemed nothing left to do but cry.
Eventually, the tears stopped. Instead, I hung, motionless, hearing the slow creak of the rope, feeling the burning in my arms. My hands had gone numb; a bad sign, though my wrists hurt as if they were encircled in red-hot steel. Why the hell did I do this stupid stunt
It had seemed like a great idea, half an hour ago, when I first began preparations. My roommate Sarah had gone for the weekend, with her boyfriend. It was Friday night, I had the place to myself, and I had suddenly decided to engage in a little self-bondage before curling up in bed with a good vibrator. Curse my perversion.
Every minute seems like ten. The pain in my arms is getting worse and worse, my feet are tingling. The sweat on my body is cooling, and stretched naked, I am open to the chill. I have been hanging by my wrists for twenty minutes, and it has finally dawned on me that I really am in trouble.
What do I do now? I realise that I could simply start calling for help. The neighbours would hear me, they would come, let me down … and I would have to find a new apartment at once, or die of embarrassment. Die. The word hits me like a punch to the belly. I had heard that, hanging like this, a person's diaphragm eventually fails, and they die of suffocation. Could that happen to me? And even if it doesn't, if I don't get free, couldn't I die of dehydration? Could my passing fantasy of slow execution, hung by the wrists, come true?
For a time, despite my pain, I hang, deliberating - humiliation, or possible death? Surely there is an alternative to calling out for the neighbours? I try to swing myself around again, hoping perhaps to get my leg over the rope that runs down behind me, but I can't turn myself - and anyway, the rope would be too high to reach. The process of kicking and swinging my legs is exhausting, leaving me breathless, sweating again, swinging side-to-side on the creaking rope, my arms screaming pain from the motion.
Ah, fuck it.
“Help!” I call. My voice sounds oddly strangled, the position of my arms affecting not only my breath, but my capacity for voice. I can barely get any sound, and though I call out again, I realise that the neighbours will never hear my cries. Maybe if I can find something to kick …? I peer down towards my feet, swinging my toes about, but in my enthusiasm for self-bondage, I have suspended myself right in the middle of the garage, well out of reach of the walls.
I hang again, another five minutes or longer, exhausted, shaking now. I regard my own naked, dangling body below me, and wonder how I must look. Pretty damn stupid, I guess. Still, this is what my fantasies have always been about; the fact that a simple, slim length of rope, suspending me three inches off the floor by my wrists, can be so inescapable. I might as well have been locked in Alcatraz or sealed in a concrete tomb, the result is the same; absolute helplessness. My liberty kept from me by one single rope.
I hang by my wrists, because I have run out of alternatives.
There is no fade-to-black, no miraculous passage of time, as Friday evening passes. I am fully awake, fully aware of every crawling minute, not a second passing in which I am not utterly conscious of the fact that I am hanging naked by my wrists. Worse, the clock ticks faithfully before me, measuring my ordeal, laughing at my original plan to spend just five minutes suspended.
An hour. 8pm. Dusk is closing outside, and the garage is growing dark. It is getting harder to see the clock. It had not even occurred to me that I might have to spend the entire night hanging here, but as the shadows close in and my vision becomes grainier, I realise it is inevitable. The entire house will be dark; even a passing friend would assume I was out, and not come up the driveway. I let out a groan.
Soon, it is too dark to see the clock. It makes no difference; I am still hanging from the rope by my wrists, completely helpless, and now regretting the fact that I am naked. Auckland winter nights are not harsh, but it's cold enough, the chill seeping through the gap at the bottom of the garage door. And, extended and nude as I am, I'm open to it. I feel my skin tighten and creep with goosebumps, I feel my nipples crinkle and harden, I feel the tiny hairs on the bare nape of my neck stand. I try to move my legs and create some warmth, but that only stirs the chill air and makes it worse, so I let myself hang still, again.
I begin to shiver.
My arms hurt more and more as the night progresses, but it is pain I can do nothing about, and I try to focus, try to use meditation techniques to control the waves of panic that wash over me. All I have to do is endure until - God, Sunday?? That realisation prompts me to call out again, hoping that the stillness of nighttime will help my voice carry further. But my cries are feeble, and nobody comes.
I have never spent a longer night than this one, hanging by my wrists in the garage.
The endless torment of suspension is matched, minute for minute, by the cruel wanderings of my thoughts. It is impossible to distract myself from my predicament. My biggest fear is asphyxiation; every breath I draw into my strained ribcage is a relief, but I keep wondering if I am getting enough air. My feet feel like blocks of ice. My toes tingle. Is it lack of oxygen, or is it just slowed circulation? I flex them, on occasion. My legs are starting to ache. My back and sides are hurting from the slow stretching of my suspension. My shoulders are constantly on fire, and I wonder if they might become dislocated. As for my wrists; the hot-cold burning reminds me that the blood flow has been seriously compromised. My numb hands might never recover. Are my nerves already damaged beyond repair? I can't feel, let alone move, my fingers. How long will my heart be able to pump blood up my straining arms?
Hours, and hours, and hours.
Dawn comes with incredible slowness. I strain to see the clock; it becomes the single focus, my only distraction, and as the garage grows lighter with the gradual progression of time, and the dawn birds begin their chirping in trees outside, I finally read half past five. My world once again becomes limited to the slow shifting of the hands on the clock-face, my suspension in the cold garage.
Exhaustion and the strain of hanging take their toll, and for a while, I am in a daze. My eyes, half-closed, see nothing. My mind is finally empty of thought. Accustomed to the burning pain in my arms and the ache of cold, I dangle unmoving. It isn't until seven o'clock that I realise, with horror that jolts me back to full awareness, that I have been hanging by my wrists for twelve hours.
I tip my head back, once again, and look in despair at my roped wrists. One tiny relief, at least; the ropes have lodged more around the heel of each hand, rather than the actual wrist, and I find hope that no permanent damage has been done, though my hands themselves are the colour of bruises, now, and paralysed from my long ordeal. Twelve hours, dangling from this rope, my own stupid fault.
I hear the sound of suburbia coming awake; an occasional car on the street outside. The cruelty of it works on me; people are getting up, going about their lives, and here I am, still a prisoner in my own garage, still kept from freedom by a single length of rope.
Nine o'clock, and the phone rings. I am again jerked to full alertness, my eyes wide and fixed to the internal garage door. I kick my feet in some futile escape-attempt, hearing the electronic chirps echo through the house. Seven rings, and it goes to message. I let myself hang still again. Then my cell-phone rings. I can't even remember where I left it, but I can hear it clearly, ringing eight times.
Then, nothing. For a time, my heart still quickened by the phone call, I forget the cold, listening for the ringing to start again. Maybe somebody is suspicious? Perhaps they will come to check out the house? But there is no second call, and ten minutes becomes twenty, twenty becomes forty, and I hang.
Just before ten-thirty, I hear footsteps in the driveway outside, and hope leaps. Somebody has come! I shift my legs, set myself swinging on the creaking rope, and give voice to a weak croak for help. The visitor taps on the door.
“Hello?” It is Boyd, a guy I work with - and dislike. For the last six months, he has tried unsuccessfully to get me out on dates, and to rouse my interest in him, and his efforts have been close, at times, to sexual harrassment. I never thought I would be pleased to hear his voice.
“Boyd …” My voice hardly registers, but Boyd responds.
“Kirsten?” I hear him try the front door; I left it unlocked, and he enters the house.
“In the garage!”
A few seconds later, the internal door opens, and Boyd's head appears. “Oh, shit! Who did this to you?”
“I did. Boyd, can you get me down, please?”
Boyd steps into the garage much slower than I want. All of a sudden, my wrists are burning afresh, my arms are hurting madly. I am aware of being naked, but the fact doesn't really register until I realise that Boyd is staring at my dangling form, a disbelieving smile appearing on his face.
“Boyd, please, it really hurts,” I gasp. “I've been hanging here all night!”
“Where's your roommate?”
“She's gone for the weekend. Boyd -”
“Yeah, yeah, okay, hold on.” Boyd regards the rope around my wrists, then looks to where I have tied it off at the bench, and decides to start there.
“What are you doing?” I angle my head back, trying to see behind me.
“The bucket. Give me the bucket, Boyd!”
Boyd stops short of the rope. “You need to pee?”
“No, dumb-arse, so I can stand on it!”
“Oh. Okay.” Boyd abandons the knot, and returns to me, picking up the bucket slowly. His eyes are on my tight and shining body, my sweat-oiled breasts, in a way that creeps me out completely.
“Can you hurry up?” I bark at him.
“You know …” Boyd stops, still holding the bucket, regarding me. Though I am hanging, our eyes are level; being so helpless while he is walking around, wasting time, is a frustration that makes me break out in a new sweat. I can feel my face reddening with humiliation.
This time, he takes his time looking at me. He starts at my feet, my drooping toes an inch and a half off the concrete, such a tiny distance, but enough to render me so at his mercy. My legs, lengthened and dangling slightly parted. His eyes alight for a long time on my pubic bush, perhaps surprised at how hairy I am; then his attention meanders up over my belly, my ribcage, to my drawn breasts. There is not a damn thing I can do to stop his inspection. He regards my arms, hard-stretched above my head, my roped hands.
Finally he decides, “I should get something from this.”
“Boyd!” I am humiliated beyond words, angry with him. “What the fuck are you talking about? Put the damn bucket under my feet, please!” I swing my feet in a feeble attempt to hurry him up, and end up creaking back and forth like a heavy pendulum. “Oh, God, it hurts!”
“I'll do you a deal,” Boyd says. “I let you down, if you go to bed with me.”
That shuts me up. For a few seconds I hang there, pain forgotten, swinging dumbly, staring at him. Then, “what? No way! Forget it, Boyd!” I can't believe he has made such a sick demand. “Let me down!”
“Boyd!” I am frantic, and pedal my feet, helplessly twisting on the end of the rope, my toes still beyond reach of the floor. “Please, Boyd!”
“Not until you agree to have sex with me.” Boyd can't resist touching me; his fingers rake up my side, over my ribcage, and I thrash from the rope.
“No way!” I squawk. “Just let me down, you sick pervert!”
“Hey!” Boyd snaps his hand away, and I can see I have made him angry. “I'm not the one who hung myself in my garage for kicks! Do as I say, or no deal.”
“Fuck you, Boyd!”
“You need to calm down, girlie,” Boyd says. To my disbelief, he puts the bucket down - well beyond reach of my feet - and takes a step back. “You're hardly in a position to get an attitude.”
I am exasperated, covered in sweat, panting for breath. My arms are burning in agony, and I am desperate to be let down, but I can't agree to Boyd's demand. “Boyd …”
“I'm going to make a cup of coffee. I'll be back.”
I can't believe that my one chance of rescue has just walked out of the door. I look up, between my stretched arms, at my own roped hands. I am so helpless. Frustration and misery overwhelm me, and I burst into tears again. I have been hanging here for nearly fifteen hours, and Boyd has just abandoned me!
Well, Kirsten, are you happy now? I hear Boyd making himself coffee in the kitchen, while I, thirsty and hungry, hang a prisoner. The 'fantasy' has progressed to the next level; now I have a jailer, somebody with the power to release me. Somebody who has chosen not to.
It feels like he is gone for an hour; according to the clock it is only fifteen minutes. Boyd returns, and stands in the doorway, eating a piece of toast, watching me. I can't look at him. I hang with my eyes down, my head drooping forward, unmoving. Numb.
“Well?” he finally asks.
“Go to hell, Boyd,” I rasp.
Boyd finishes his toast and brushes off his hands. “Fine. I'll be back in a few hours. Hang around.” Boyd laughs at his own pathetic joke; all I can do is hang there and feel sick as Boyd leaves, this time locking the house behind him. The tears roll silently on my cheeks as his footsteps fade.
There is no way I can still be here when he gets back, I realise. My first reaction is to try to reach the floor - not for the first time. I stretch my toes towards the concrete, trying to gain a little more length from my legs, anything that will bring me into contact with that elusive concrete. But my body is suspended just too high, and after a minute of trying, I give up and let my feet swing once more. Once again, I look up. Perhaps if the rope had been shorter, I would have been able to reach the rafter with my hands, somehow draw myself up; but there are four inches of rope between rafter and my curled fingers, once again a tiny distance that I have no hope of traversing. Even so, I try to pull myself up, but this time I realise with shock that I have no strength at all. My muscles refuse to stir, my stretched arms exhausted beyond all capacity to move.
With a groan of despair, I resign myself again to the dull pain of hanging by my wrists.
Although I am fatigued from lack of sleep, and physically drained by my ordeal, my mind is active. With nothing else to do in my predicament, I begin dazedly ruminating on the concept of pain. Oddly, when I first let myself hang, the pain in my wrists was at the very edge of my threshold. Now, after fourteen hours, I am aware that the pain is, if anything, greater; but whether it is because I know I cannot change my situation, or because it has been with me for so long, it is something I endure.
The hands crawl on the clock, the shadows shift outside, the day passes.
My mental and physical exhaustion combine to drag me into a form semi-consciousness. Although I am aware of hanging naked in the garage, my mind finally stops its whirling, and a new numbness sets in. I find I have to focus on the clock, and every time I do, ten or fifteen minutes have passed without my realising. The pain of hanging has settled into a deep, unrelenting ache in my arms and sides, a savage heat in my wrists, somehow balanced by the chill in my dangling toes.
Midday, and I realise I need to pee.
I am surprised it has taken this long, but I guess the lack of water has kept the urge at bay until now. It has been growing slowly over the last - my god, seventeen hours - until now, it is all I can think about. I shift awkwardly, stir my legs, set myself creaking from the rope, knowing that I really have only one option.
Fuck it. I release. Hot liquid squirts from between my legs, wetting my thighs, splashing my ankles, splattering to quickly form a puddle on the concrete beneath my swinging toes. I pee for at least twenty seconds, and then hang limply again.
The pain is getting worse. By one o'clock, I am torn from my daze by the realisation that I am sweating again, my bare breasts and arms shining, a droplet meandering down my ribcage from one armpit. My shoulder joints now feel as if somebody has hammered nails into them, and the pain travels in occasional searing flashes down my sides, across my back. My arms are in sheer agony, from the constant stretching action of my own body-weight. But as weakened as I am, I have no way to fight it. I groan aloud, a feeble and pathetic sound. My abdominals ache, and I realise that I have been using my stomach muscles to breathe, my diaphragm indeed straining to cope with my body's prolonged suspension.
At 1:17pm, I decide that I will do what Boyd asks. I no longer care. My whole body is crying out to be released from this torture, I can feel my sanity slipping as the slow hours crawl by and the pain just gets worse. I begin willing Boyd to come back. I will beg him to let me down; after all, what is the use of pride if it only leads to this? He can do it to me any way he pleases, I'll take it up the arse for him, all he has to do is let me down.
For the next forty-five minutes, I hang in so much pain that the sweat is dripping off me, and wait for Boyd's return.
When his car finally comes up the drive, I blink to clear my unfocused eyes, I force a few deeper breaths into my lungs, even though it sends shocks of pain down my tautened sides. My toes flex above the floor. The door is unlocked, and a moment later, Boyd appears in the garage.
“My,” he says. “You do look fetching.”
“Boyd …” I manage to say, weakly.
“Shut up, let me appreciate this for a while,” he replies. He slowly walks around me, looking me up and down, openly admiring my shining skin, my taut and stretched body. He remarks on how the muscles of my back and arms are flattered by the sheen of my sweat. He compliments my lifted ribcage and flattened belly, my elongated legs and down-pointed feet.
Click. I don't need to lift my head to know he has a camera. He is taking photographs of me, hanging here, naked. A whole roll of film. “You look so damn good, hanging like that.”
“Boyd,” I croak. “I'll do it. I'll sleep with you. Please, untie the rope.”
“Ah. See, I've been thinking about that,” Boyd says. “I figured you'd say that. But the problem is, once I let you down, you'll change your mind.”
I am too weak to say anything, so I hang there and let him talk.
“I'm not a rapist, okay, so that limits my options.”
“What can I say?” I wail. “Please, Boyd, I'll do anything! I can't stand it any more!”
“Okay, then.” Boyd stops beside me. “Give me your ATM card number.”
I manage to lift my head. “What?”
“Your PIN number. Give it to me. I'll take your card, and you can pay me, say, a thousand bucks for letting you down.”
“Oh, God, why are you doing this to me? Please, Boyd!” My head rocks back, I stare in desperation and pain at my roped hands. “Just let me down!”
“Give me the number.”
“No, Boyd! Damn you, fuck you, Boyd!” Anger surges, and the adrenalin rush gives me new strength. I thrash suddenly, flinging my legs about, setting my torso twisting. Boyd takes a step back as I struggle helplessly where I hang.
“Just for that, I want two thousand.”
“No fucking way!” The pain in my arms is so fierce that I am openly crying, sweat clustering in droplets on my skin, and I am gasping for breath against an ever-weakening diaphragm. I can't last much more like this, but the sheer look of sadistic delight in Boyd's eyes is, for the moment, more than I can stand.
“Just four little numbers, Kirsten,” Boyd promises. He trails his finger down the cable-tight underside of my arm, through my armpit, and inspects the sweat he collects. Then he places his hands on my slick hips, staring directly into my eyes. “Give me the numbers.”
“No,” I gasp.
Boyd begins to put downwards pressure on my hips. The increased stretching of my already-straining arms is pain beyond belief, and my mouth opens in a wail of agony. “Oh, God, Boyd, Boyd, stop! Stop!”
“The numbers!” Boyd pulls harder. Fire seems to explode along my arms, all down my back, easily the most savage pain I have ever felt in my life. I let out a scream, the tears spilling down my face. But I don't tell him what he wants to know, and after a few more seconds of torture, he releases me with a shove. I swing on the end of the creaking rope, my feet sweeping back and forth. I gasp in disbelief at the pain that still surges in my arms, ebbing only slowly.
“I'll be back,” Boyd promises. “And I'll bring something guaranteed to make you talk.”
For a time, I am incapable of saying anything. I barely even notice that Boyd has left. My eyes cannot focus, tracers whiz across my vision, my ears are ringing. The pain roaring in my arms makes me wonder if my shoulders have indeed been dislocated.
Gradually, I stop swinging, and hang motionless again. To make matters worse, my head feels as if it has been split open, a nauseating headache brought on my the strain of muscles held immobile, and lack of water. I had always heard that power over others sometimes brought out the darkest side of human beings, and Boyd is vicious proof of that.
For the thousandth time, I tip my head back and stare in desperation at my purple-grey hands, but this time, I don't even think about how I might free myself. I am utterly resigned to my helplessness. Slowly, my head rocks forward again, until my chin rests on my sweat-wet chest. For the first time, I lose consciousness.
Awareness, when it returns, is only partial. For the longest time, I am only aware of my arms and shoulders, the burning pain. Then I am aware of my thirst, my dry and raw throat. Finally, my the lids grate over my aching eyes, and I find focus on my bare toes, still dangling just inches from the concrete floor.
I raise my head slowly, fight to distinguish the numbers on the clock. 4:20pm. I seem removed from reality; the freedom to walk around seems just a dream. A dangling prisoner, suspended by my wrists from this rafter, is all I have ever been.
Two more hours pass. I have been hanging just short of twenty-four hours when Boyd finally returns, but he has already been moving about the house for some time before I realise. The stereo is going, loudly, bass thumping through the floor. Music, oddly, brings me back to some kind of lucidity. I realise that my arms, still consumed by a fiery agony, are now tingling wildly. My feet are numb with cold. My skin looks as if I have been covered in coconut oil, shining with old sweat. I do not bother to lift my head as Boyd enters the garage, carrying a lamp-stand with him. He positions it, plugs it in, and I am suddenly bathed in light from two strong bulbs, searing my eyes. I can see nothing beyond them, and it is there that Boyd makes his preparations.
“Boyd … please, what are you doing?” I moan at one point.
“You'll see,” he grunts.
After about twenty minutes, he approaches me with a long wire, a circular clamp, the sort you use on car battery terminals. Crouching down, he puts the clamp over my left big toe, screws it tight. I realise what he is about to do, but I can't even move. My whole body feels as if it is made of lead, dangling lifeless from the rope.
“Please, don't, Boyd,” I whimper.
Boyd returns behind the lamps. The next thing, a bucket-full of cold water hits my body. The shock jolts me wide awake; I jerk in the rope with a shriek, suddenly gasping, icy cold rivulets running down my ribcage, crawling down my legs. “Oh, God!”
Boyd steps into the light. He is a picture of horror. In rubber-gloved hands, he holds a pair of insulated pliers, but my eyes widen at the sight of a long wire; one end of it taped to the metal end of the pliers. The wire runs into shadows behind the lamps, but I can only assume he has them hooked up to some kind of battery.
“Boyd, no! Please, Boyd, please,” I begin to whimper hysterically, as he steps close.
“Your PIN number, bitch,” he snarls.
He doesn't even give me time to reply, but touches the pliers into my right armpit. There is a 'snap' and a tiny spark cracks against my skin, but it feels as if I have been hit in the armpit with a baseball bat. I scream in pain, my whole body thrashing.
“Wow!” Boyd looks at the pliers in amazement. “That really works!”
“Boyd!” I am unable to breathe. My heart is pounding uncontrollably. But Boyd touches the pliers to my armpit a second time, and the current crackles into me. I scream again.
“Do you like that, Bitch?”
I can't speak. My head is spinning. I am fighting for breath. Boyd moves the pliers lower, and before I can stop him, he closes them over the erect stub of my right nipple. The tiny spark seems to leap right through my nipple, and the pain is unbelievable. I scream. Boyd touches my left nipple; another crack of current, another scream. Right nipple, scream. Left nipple, scream. I am dripping sweat, gasping and twisting helplessly from the ropes I tied.
Boyd uses the pliers in my left armpit; I scream in pain again. “The number, Bitch.”
If I could remember, I would tell him, but my mind has gone completely blank. I gasp helplessly. Boyd tries to prompt my memory by putting the pliers to each nipple in turn, again. I thrash and twist and scream, my cries drowned by the stereo. The tiny sparks that jump into my nipples are agony beyond belief, tiny wisps of steam rising from each contact.
Boyd brushes the pliers against my ribcage, and I jolt sideways, an involutary muscle spasm that sends shockwaves of pain all the way up my arms. I hang, moaning in pain, and my bladder releases a little pee; it splashes directly onto Boyd's trainer.
“Oh … oh, fuck you!” he growls, and jams the pliers in between my legs.
The sound is like bursting popcorn, I can see the flashes of current reflected off the floor, and the most unbelievable agony explodes up into my genitals. My whole body goes rigid, and I give a long scream of agony. The pliers are withdrawn, steaming. My dangling legs twitch crazily. Boyd gives an evil smile, and touches the pliers between my legs again. The current jumps into my sex, I give a hoarse scream of pain, and twist in desperation on the end of the rope.
Finally, Boyd withdraws the pliers again, and blackness closes in.
When I wake up again, my breasts and armpits and genitals are tingling crazily. I can't believe Boyd has actually tortured me. My head is swimming, and my eyes only partially focus on him, sitting on the upturned bucket, still holding the electrified pliers.
He stands up. “Well?”
“No more,” I manage to say.
“Four - seven - four - six,” I say, surprised that I remember.
Boyd looks uncertain, for a while. I know he wants to torture me some more. But perhaps he senses that I can't take much more anyway, and he finally shrugs, and moves into the shadows. I break into a sweat of relief as I hear him dismantling the equipment, tearing the wire from the pliers.
“When did you say your roommate was due back?” Boyd asks.
I hang for a while, not answering him, then finally croak, “tomorrow night.”
“Tomorrow night …” Boyd looks thoughtful. He regards my drawn and dangling body. “I'd say you should be dead, by then.”
“What …?” My voice is a whisper.
“You have to die, now,” Boyd tells me, matter-of-factly. “Otherwise, you'd run and tell the cops what happened, here. I can't have that. I figure by this time tomorrow, you'll be dead. But I'll come over about … say … two o'clock, just to make sure. If you're still alive, some plastic-wrap across your face should finish it.”
“Boyd, please, I don't want to die,” I beg.
“Of course you don't. But you don't have a hell of a choice, baby. Now, I'm off, but I may – or may not - see you tomorrow. Have a nice night.”
I am barely conscious as Boyd packs up, and I don't even hear his car reversing down the driveway.
Unconsciousness is merciful; I wake occasionally, in the darkness of night, I can't see. I am aware only of the never-ending pain that rages in my arms, the cold that threatens to suck the life from my flesh, the aching of my chilled feet. Phantom lights flash in front of my eyes. In the back of my mind is the realisation that I have been hanging for thirty hours or longer, and I expect death to come soon.
I am vaguely surprised, then, to find myself awake at dawn, and I even manage to make out the time on the clock; just before seven. By far the longest thirty-six hours I have ever spent, and somehow my exhausted, strained, tortured body clings to life.
I drift again, but I am woken, an hour later, by the sound of somebody entering the house. My sluggish heart speeds up at the thought that it is Boyd, come to finish me off; but when the head of Sarah, my roommate, appears in the garage door, relief explodes over me.
The forty-five seconds it takes Sarah to run to the kitchen, grab a knife, return to the garage, and saw through the rope, seem to take forever. But the next moment, I am a limp, greasy heap on the floor, my icy and blue hands curled beyond the ropes. As Sarah unpicks them, revealing savage grooves in my wrists, I fight the urge to vomit. Returning circulation sends shards of agony through my shoulders.
“Who did this to you?” Sarah is saying. “What the fuck happened?”
I may be barely conscious, but I know enough to answer, “Boyd.”
He has my ATM card. He has my money. He has photographs of me hanging. He is fried.
And me … I've had enough of bondage and torture. At least, until the next time …