The cold steel around her wrists was almost paralyzing. Her head felt like it was spinning out of control from being jerked so hard backwards.
The light felt like it was piercing straight through her head. It wasn’t that bright, it was more that they just weren’t accustomed to the fluorescent bulbs above.
“Where am I?” Lisa whispered.
She tried to rub her eyes, but the cold steel around her wrists restrained her reach as she heard chain links tightening and pulling taught on the table. She yanked on them a couple times to make sure they were sturdy. After a dozen attempts of pulling, she finally gave up and let the chains rattle limp onto the table.
Her head fell down onto her arms resting on the table. The brightness was still stabbing deep into her head.
Suddenly a loud deep boom rang out through the room. The room went completely dark in an instant. Lisa began tugging on the chains again, trying to free herself.
A faint growl, almost a purring, slowly paced in to her ears. She could feel moisture in the air against the nape of her neck. Every hair on her body stood at attention. Her heart rate increased as her breathing decreased as she tried not to move at all. A single tear rolled down her cheek as she tried her hardest to not even blink.
Lisa screamed in terror as a loud mechanical sounding roar echoed through the room so loud that even the table shook. Her arms tried to cover her face as the noise stopped as instantly as it had begun.
Her eyes slowly began to open and glance around the room. Her vision was more adjusted, as the lights were not near as bright as they were before. She could see only brick walls on both sides of her. Realizing she was still alive, she slowly lowered her arms down.
Staring back at her was two beady eyes inset into an old wrinkly face. She couldn’t help but to stare into the stranger’s eyes as they turned colors right before her. From pale blue to green to hazel, they kept changing colors until they finally decided upon a bright reddish color.
A voice belonging to the red eyes asked politely, “Lisa…?”
Lisa’s bottom lip quivered and her head slowly nodded a few times before replying, “…yes.”
“Wonderful! I believe that we have the right one!”
The stranger’s eyes became a darker crimson as she leaned back and stood straight up. The figure in front of Lisa was a woman dressed in a black blouse and mid-length skirt. Her arms folded across her chest that was half covered up by her wavy locks of red hair.
Lisa kept staring at her pale face as it came closer. The stranger’s knuckles cracked as her fists rocked across the table as she leaned in closer, never breaking eye contact. Lisa could feel light wafts of air as their noses were almost touching. The scent of sulfur reeked through the room. A lump pushed through Lisa’s throat as she swallowed all the saliva in her mouth at once.
The lights flickered a few quick times, but neither ladies stopped leering at the other.
“Why did you do it?” She blurted at Lisa.
Lisa, startled by the intenseness, sat as far back in her chair as she could. Her hands gripped the edge of the table tightly.
“Why did you do it?” echoed through the room again.
Lisa’s eyes begin to water. Her mind is racing as to why she is even here. ‘How did I get here? Where was I yesterday? Where was I a few hours ago?’ None of these questions could she answer.
“Why?? Answer the question!”
Lisa’s head keeps reeling with emptiness. ‘Why can’t I remember? Do I have amnesia? My head hurts, maybe I hit it too hard against something?’
Finally Lisa retorts, “I don’t know what you are talking about!”
Silence fills the room as the stranger stands up straight and closes her eyelids until there are just hints of her pupils showing. She crosses her arms over her chest and tilts her head slightly to the right.
The Stranger breaks the silence repeating Lisa, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Her eyelids open a little. “How could you forget something like this?”
“Like what?” Lisa inquires, “Like what?!”
“Do you honestly not have any idea why you are here?”
“WHY I am here, I don’t even remember HOW I got here…”
Lisa looks at her hands that are holding the chains that keep her bound. Her eyes quickly dart up to meet the stranger’s eyes. Her glare feels like it’s invading Lisa’s inner soul. Lisa looks back down at her hands.
“Little girl. There is blood on your hands.”
“What do you mean…? Lisa looks up.
“We are here because you killed an innocent person.”
“But I…I didn’t…I don’t even remember…” Lisa keeps shaking her head as tears roll down her cheeks.
“There is blood on your hands.”
“But I don’t even remember…” Lisa replies, “I don’t remember.”
“There is blood on your hands.”
“Are you even listening to me? I do not remember!”
“There is blood on your hands.”
“I said, I don’t…”
The stranger abruptly leans forward, grabbing both of Lisa’s wrists, “There is blood on your hands!”
“Stop saying that! I don’t remember anything!”
“There is blood on your hands!! LOOK!!!”
The stranger forces Lisa’s hands to turn upright so her palms are facing up. The stranger states quietly one more time, “There is blood on your hands.”
Lisa looks down at her hands. She sees her hands starting to bubble in the center of her palms. She takes a closer look as her veins become more visible and begin to turn a dark purple color.
Lisa shudders and the bubbling stops. Her hands look normal again as she blinks several times.
“There is blood,” The stranger grips Lisa tighter, “on your hands.”
Small drops of red form in the palms of each of Lisa’s hands. The drop grows more and more increasing in volume. Quickly, the pads of her hands are covered. The blood then overflows onto her fingers and down her wrists. She tries to break free from the tight grip of her interrogator.
“Stop it! Stop this! Let me go!” Lisa yells. She tries to stand up, but her entire body just slides off the chair instead as her body dangles from the table, the chains keeping her from hitting the ground.
Lisa, bewildered by everything, looks down to notice that her legs are both missing. Lisa lets out a scream.
Silence fills the room.
Lisa looks around the room and finds herself sitting down in the chair once again. Fully aware of what just happened, but unaware of how things went back to ‘normal’ instantly. She looks around the room empty except for the table from which her shackles still cling.
A voice whispers into her ear, “Welcome back.”
Lisa tries to turn to see the stranger, who now stands right behind her. Her body is only able to turn so far because of the chains holding her captive.
The stranger grabs her shoulders and sets her back in to her chair firmly, “Sit for a while. We have plenty of time to chat and figure this out. You aren’t going anywhere for a while.” She says with a playful smirk.
“Why am I here? Why do you have me chained up? Don’t I get a lawyer or something?” Lisa asks, demanding an answer.
“I AM YOUR LAWYER! So just answer my questions and we can get this over with. I have a thousand other people I have to see later too.”
“I still don’t understand why I am here.”
The stranger paces around the room. Lisa notices she is holding a manila folder in her arms now. On the tab is a sticker with the name Lisa Waters written in red letters.
“What is that in your hand?” Lisa asks politely.
“I’m not sure you want to see this.”
“Of course I do, maybe it’ll help me remember.”
The stranger opens the folder, carefully keeping it close to her chest as she looks through the contents. She slips out a single photo and puts it into her blazer pocket.
“OK, here you go.”
The stranger places the open folder on the table. She slides it across the table until the folder just barely hangs over the edge.
Lisa cringes as she sees several photos taken of a young girl’s body. Cuts and bruises all over her arms. Dark red abrasions surround her neck. Blood stains across the carpeted floor and some on the walls. Lisa closes her eyes and turns her head away in disgust.
“Look at them!” the stranger demands, “LOOK!!”
“No, I…I can’t.”
The stranger grabs Lisa’s head, pulling her hair and forces her to face the folder of pictures again. “Do you see this? This one here?” holding a picture to Lisa’s face. “See the bruises you left on her??”
Lisa’s body jolts to one side as if being hit by a baseball bat. It flings the other direction, almost knocking her out of the chair. Her entire head jolts quickly forward as her stomach pushes backwards. Lisa lets out an almost airless gasp as her eyes widen.
“Not so fun, is it?” the stranger chuckles.
Lisa, out of breath, shakes her head in disbelief and tries her best to mouth the word ‘no’ with very little success.
“Did you get a chance to see this one?”
The stranger holds up two pictures. Both are of the girl’s wrists. One wrist is shown on each photo. Both wrists are covered in lacerations, incisions and deep cuts. About three cuts on the right wrist, and over a dozen on the left wrist.
Lisa writhes in pain as she screams towards the ceiling. Her hands tighten to become fists. She squeezes them so tightly that her nails begin to dig into the pads in the palm of her hands. Starting from where her index finger is digging into her had, a drop of blood develops. That drop expands in a single line, slowly inching up to her wrist and onto her forearm. Her hands tightening as her left forearm quickly has more lines of blood and deeper gashes added to it.
The screaming doesn’t stop.
The blood starts to run off her arms on to the chair and the floor.
The stranger grabs Lisa by the throat and cuts off her airway. Lisa’s head still faces up, but she glares over to look the stranger in the eyes.
“Why’d you do it?” she stranger commands.
Lisa shakes her head.
The stranger tightens her grip cutting off air and circulation, “Why did you do it?? You did this!! Do you understand that? You did it, and I need to know why!!”
Lisa tries gasping for air like a fish out of water.
The stranger holds her in that position for a few more seconds before releasing her, but not before she pulls her entire body downward, crashing Lisa’s head onto the table.
Everything goes dark.
Dark red lesions mark Lisa’s neck.
Lisa inhales deeply as she sits upright in less than a moment. Her eyes take a few seconds to adjust to the light. The figure of the stranger becomes more and more in focus even with the room spinning in her head.
The stranger is standing against the wall. She has her arms folded across her chest. “Are you ready to talk yet?”
“I don’t know what to tell you.”
“Just the truth, Lisa. That’s all I ask for.”
“The truth is I don’t know what you are talking about. The truth is I don’t have any idea how or why I am here. The truth is you must have the wrong person.”
“NO! No, don’t give me that song and dance – I know you did it. I’m the only one who can help you right now, so you best go ahead and cooperate!”
“Cooperate?? I don’t have any idea of what is going on! I can’t help if I don’t know anything!”
Lisa looks down and suddenly notices that the bruises and cuts on her arms have been replaced with scars. She runs one of her fingers down her left arm following the path of the scars to her elbow.
A single tear falls from Lisa’s cheek and falls into her lap. She sniffles once and then looks up around the room. The stranger is gone. Lisa turns to look behind her and there is not another soul in the room.
Her chair echoes as she readjusts it to sit more comfortably at the table. She places her hand on the photo with the bruises again. She pushes it aside and looks at the next photo and then the next. She fans all the pictures across the table almost as if she is playing Texas Hold ‘Em with them. She scans back and forth over them as she tries her best to remember who this is or how this could have happened.
As Lisa sits back in her chair, she fully her extends her arms out because of the chains. She drops her head into her hand. Her elbow is propped up on the table holding her head in place.
A solid white object on the opposite side of the table catches her attention.
“What is that?” she asks herself out loud.
She reaches across the table and picks up another photo. This photo she hadn’t seen before. She flips it over slowly and her face goes pale.
Tears stream down her face. She grabs the edge of the table and flips the table and all of it’s content over on to the ground. Not realizing in time what this action would cause, she is quickly pulled forward with the table as her chains whip her entire body onto the upturned table.
She finds herself keeling on the ground. She looks down at the ground and there is the same picture she was just looking at. She grabs the picture and kneels down on the ground holding the photo in her hands. Tears stream down her cheeks and onto the picture and floor. There in her hands, staring back at her is a photo of herself.
It’s a picture of her laying lifeless on the ground. A corpse.
Lisa leans her head back and expects it to hit the wall, but it doesn’t. She looks around the room and realizes she is back sitting in the chair again. The table is back in place and in the center of it is a picture of her dead body.
A few moments pass by before she can feel and hear the voice of the stranger whisper into her ear, “Welcome to purgatory.”