This is a work of fiction, a short story of 780 words.
Neil eventually realised he couldn’t move. He knew that he had been asleep, but was unsure for how long. His arms felt dead. Raised up above his head for so long, the blood had drained out of them, and they almost didn’t seem to be there. He looked up to check that they still were, but the mask over his eyes made him unable to see anything.
Trying to move his legs off the bed, it soon became clear that they were stuck fast. A soreness around his ankles indicated that something was holding them tightly in place. No point calling for help, as there was something in his mouth that forced him to breathe through his nose. There was that headache too, one of those that felt like it wasn’t going to go away soon.
Neil tried to shift the weight from his buttocks, with no success. He would dearly love to be able to move just a little, as he felt flattened out against the bed. It was still a bed he was lying on, at least he was certain of that. And he could move his head, but there seemed little point, when he couldn’t see anything. The thing in his mouth was making him very thirsty, and his tongue felt swollen too. He wiggled his toes, trying to get some feeling back into his feet. That seemed to work. He tried the same with his fingers, but nothing happened.
No point getting into a panic. Neil was a reasonable man, known to be calm and logical in approach. He would think. It was definitely daytime, of that he was sure. Something about his senses just told him that. Then again, that would mean he had been there for more than ten hours. That didn’t seem possible.
What if nobody came? He could just lie there forever, or at least until his body was found. Work wouldn’t miss him, as he was on holiday until next week. His wife wouldn’t miss him, as he had told her he was on a business trip until next week. In fact, no-one knew where he was. There was something ironic about that, and he would have chuckled, were it not for whatever was in his mouth.
There was a muffled sound from somewhere. Perhaps it was a door closing. It sounded something like that, but it could have been anything really. Then footsteps, he was sure about that. You can’t mistake footsteps in hard shoes. A slight rush of air, and the definite presence of someone else in the room. He wasn’t sure what to do, how to respond. At best, he could make a gurgling noise, but he decided not to. Better to retain some dignity.
The mask was pulled off, and the light flooded in. At first it was hard to see, but as his eyes adjusted, he looked around. His legs were held by some straps that disappeared under the foot of the bed. Looking up at his shoulder, there were his lifeless arms, also secured by thick straps wound tightly around the slatted wooden headboard. Some contraption was on his chest, and even more straps led from that, tying his body down hard to the bed. Swirling his eyes down to look below his nose, he could see some sort of leather gag, fastened hard around his face.
Then the woman leaned over him. She wore far too much make-up, and her hair was stiff with lacquer. A cigarette was clamped between her lips, and it bobbed up and down as she spoke. “Do you want the gag out now?” Neil nodded, suddenly beginning to remember. It was a relief to be able to breathe properly again, and he flicked his tongue around his mouth, and over his lips. The woman leaned in again, tipping a plastic bottle of water so he could drink from it. When he had quenched his thirst, she placed it on a table beside the bed.
She sat herself in the occasional chair a few feet away, and looked across in a scornful, disinterested fashion. The cigarette almost hit her on the nose as she started talking again. “So, do you want me to untie you?” Neil didn’t hesitate with his reply. “I think I will be alright for a while yet, thanks.” He was very polite. She shrugged her shoulders, and stood to walk over to the bed. Placing the gag back in his mouth, she reached up and pulled the mask back down over his eyes.
As she closed the door behind her, she waved a hand nonchalantly in the air.
“It’s your money, honey. See you in a few hours.”