The shine from her flashlight led in some light through the cave. Even then, it was not clear if she was headed in the right direction. It was difficult to concentrate or make sense out of anything at all happening around her. Perhaps it was out of shock, perhaps it was out of trauma. Whatever the reason, she had blocked out everything she could.
All she remembered was the grinding sound of the blade while it severed into her flesh. She couldn't remember herself screaming, she remembered the relief of her flesh as it spread apart, the blood as it dampened and stained her camouflage get-up. The tragic part was not that there was numbness to her face or probable disfigurements. The tragic part was that, in her hands, she tightly held a flesh piece of herself, and that she didn't know which part of her it was.
It could have been the side of her cheek or a part of her ear, as she had repressed the extent of what they’d done. However, her whole face felt numb, and she was too afraid to check for herself. She continued onward through the cave, not stopping to inspect her surroundings or investigate where she might’ve been. It wasn’t like she’d live, after all. The mood in the air had far too much finality; she couldn’t imagine a life after this.
A cold chill found its way to her, but she wasn’t able to see where the draft came from.
“Hallop!” She yelled out as loud as she could, begging for help. It sounded funny. Her mouth couldn’t completely open and her face rattled when she raised her voice to a yell. That gave her an idea for at least one of the things the mad doctor had done to her. She could now remember the way his voice sounded; so proud and engaged in his work.
The more she started to remember the things done to her, the more light-headed and nauseous she became. Maybe she was on the verge of bleeding out, or maybe she was simply about to pass out from hysteria. The former seemed more appealing, the prospect of letting go and ceasing to feel anything at all. Yelling out was only out of instinct, especially when the only people she was likely to alert were far from kind or concerned. Like a wounded animal on the brink, she only yearned to crawl somewhere she could be alone and die.
The cave was vast enough to walk in. The walls and ceiling appeared to be nothing except dirt; no sign of support-beams or pillars to speak-of. The likelihood of a cave-in seemed probable, if not fully inevitable. She crept on until meeting a cliff, which stood in-front of a robust gap she almost missed. From here on, the cave had no ceiling, letting the moonlight show, the sun, had not fully left yet either, creating the appearance of the sky burning overhead. Between the space, which spanned at least fifty feet, a waterfall poured down. The flow of the water was abundant, not overbearing but very present and distinct. It might have even been peaceful under different circumstances then this.
As the cave became more expansive, it felt more like being inside of an active volcano; the way the ground spiraled and the sun added a reddish glisten to the water below.
To her left, Chelsea could see the only way she hadn’t been was a downward path, one that went around and around like a staircase. Chelsea followed the path’s linear lead, traveling down with all the stature and poise of a total zombie.
Pretty soon, she suspected she’d start to smell like death as well, that she’d start having the odor of rot.
The air remained cold, a start contrast from the fiery crimson aesthetic around her. She continued down. The walls were lined with stone doors with hard bars that resembled a prison. The cells were empty. Chelsea was certain to shine her flashlight on each of the cages to be for certain. She noted the distinctive shackles and the skeletons they unnecessarily restrained. What was this? What had it been? What was it now?
The descend seemed to go on for miles and miles. It would clearly take her no closer to a way out from the way, and, in time, it seemed turning back might have been less counterproductive.
“No, you don’t!” The eccentric sounding, neurotic voice of a man came from above, where the cave first welcomed the outside sky.
Without having to think about it, she knew the voice belonged to the doctor, the one that had mutilated her in the name of his sick perspective of science.
That voice. The mere sound of it was enough to light a fire under her. She knew well of the man behind the voice what he was capable of. Chelsea tried to add more oomph to her step, tried to quicken her pace to create some distance away from the man, but, in her current state, she could barely find it in herself to walk, let alone run.
Her walk swayed to the left and to the right, resembling that of a drunkard’s night on the town. If it wasn’t for her own careful deliberation, she would have sent herself tumbling off from the cliff.
“Where do you think you’re going? Please! Don’t damage yourself!” The man yelled out.
Chelsea looked behind her. The doctor was not in sight. She’d circled the cave’s spiral twice now, perhaps she’d created some separation between them. The way her head ached suggested a loss of consciousness could happen at any moment. She walked into one of the cells, opening it as quietly as she could.
Her flashlight shined over to the wooden bunker sat in the corner of the small, cubicle-sized cell. The skeletal remains of a former inmate laid atop the frame, with a thin sheet draped over it. Chelsea turned off her flashlight, left now only with what the moonlight cast into view. She climbed underneath the bunker and did her best to calm her breathing, looking out from between the cell bars.
It was, what felt like, a lifetime of seconds. It was an eternity condensed down into a single moment. At last, Chelsea heard the footsteps of The Doctor as he finally began to near her. The Doctor moved slow, an older frail man that needed a cane to walk, and, with the other hand, carried a lantern that brought his silhouette into sight. The Doctor walked on from the cell door, shining his lantern for a better look into the holdings.
Chelsea clasped her hand over her mouth, for the first time, touching the psycho’s handiwork.
The items held in one hand were clear now. Her cheeks had been sliced into, spread apart like the wings of a bird, then, sewn back together in an ugly stitch job. When she breathed, even with her hand clasped over her mouth, she could feel the air escaping from the holes in her skin. She skimmed her face with her hands. The numbing was starting to wear off. The fleshy remains that were in her hands? That now seemed most certainly to be a part of her nose. In its place, all that was left were the nostril slits; ones that made her quickly think of a snake.
The way she wasn’t wallowing in agony entailed the wounds must have been pampered and she must have been heavily medicated.
The lantern’s light left her line of view, and so, with it, left The Doctor.
As he did, a sound that resembled rattling chains had her attention. It came from on top of the bed. Soon, a pair of feet dropped down, loudly planting themselves down in-front of her face.
It was no use trying to remain unnoticed by the person, her yelp from the shock was enough to make her presence clear. The person’s maneuvering could be distinguished by the creaking of the wooden frame.
“Rindan does not allow for us to have roommates!” The man yelled dumbly, his head between his legs, look at her.
Chelsea flinched and instinctively grabbed the flashlight from off the ground and clubbed him over the head with it, feeling the vibration in her hands and hearing the glass from the flashlight shatter.
The big lug cried out, swiping around at nothing while he suffered. Chelsea climbed to her feet and limped out from the cage. She walked her way drunkenly up the pathway, knowing The Doctor had certainly heard the altercation.
The mistake she made was attempting to do more than walk away, and, in her valiant attempts at running away, her balance gave and she found herself falling to the ground, almost completely off the cliff!
“I’ve got her, Rindan!” The large prisoner exclaimed, sounding proud to be able to service his master.
The prisoner had a handful of her clothing, keeping Chelsea suspended and from falling off the cliff. Chelsea looked down at the drop below, which landed in water, but was a far enough drop that it would kill her on impact. She fought her best, trying to free herself from the lug’s grasp and depart to her death.
“Good,” came a voice in the silence. The voice of The Doctor.