“I made a promise,” Becky Rant says.
She could be talking into the void. She’s not completely sure.
She’s been trapped in this damn room for an hour—maybe more, maybe less. Hard to tell.
The silence is deafening.
The beige is crushing.
The blandness of the room doesn’t help ease the escalating feeling that everything is rapidly caving in on her. The walls feel tight. Feels like an elephant is wiping its feet on her chest. The steel cuff that’s clamped around her ankle doesn’t give her much of a radius to play around with. It’s secured by a rusty chain attached to a chair that’s been bolted to the floor of this beige-colored hell room.
A room designed, chosen for a specific purpose, she thinks.
She can’t help but notice a shower-like drain in the middle of the floor. Installed for easy cleanup, she assumes, rather than think about why it’s needed.
A small black speaker rests in the middle of the gunmetal-gray table in front of her. Scratches and thick cuts pepper the cool metal surface of the table. Becky Rant imagines someone clawing at the table. She’s been here long enough for her brain to kick into overdrive. There’s been a series of imaginary scenes that have bounced around in her switchblade mind. Scenes range from a woman’s nails scratching the steel table while in the throes of the sweet agony of orgasm, to someone being beaten to death, with the claw marks being the last scratches in a fight to find freedom. Find salvation. Survival.
The black speaker has a thin, black cord that snakes off toward the far wall, where it’s connected to a larger phone console. The light on the speaker is lit up blood red, letting Becky Rant know it’s on and ready.
Ears are listening.
Every once in a while she’ll hear some shuffling or someone clear their throat on the other end. There’ll be a sharp, sudden string of silence like the mute was tapped on the other end, then seconds later there’ll be another noise. A cough or some other nonsense. They want her to know they are there, but they haven’t said a word on purpose.
The illusion of control, she thinks. No, not an illusion. She knows they are in complete control.
She has tried to open a dialogue with them. Multiple times.
They aren’t interested.
The they could be a few folks. Since Becky Rant has been sitting here, she’s run through that list and narrowed it down considerably. She’s had time to get herself together. Gather her fuzzy thoughts. Her dulled recall. It has been a scramble the last few days, to put it mildly.
Becky Rant’s eyes scan the bare walls, searching for something to work with. There’s not much to speak of. She studies the corners, the outline of the door without a knob, the square of black glass in the wall in front of her. It’s the obligatory two-way glass. She’s seen it before. It’s there so her captors can get a nice look at her, study her like a zoo animal. She pictures them in lab coats with clipboards. They probably aren’t, but it keeps the mood light for her.
Becky Rant is not unfamiliar with people wanting to look at her.
Happens a lot in her everyday life.
She imagines slowly rising from this cold, steel chair, ripping its legs free from the floor, snapping the chain that binds her, and humming the chair toward the glass like a hammer wielded by the gods. Correction. By the Goddess Becky Rant, summoner of anarchy, deliverer of wise-ass words, daughter of… someone she’s never met. This goddess-hammer fantasy is so vivid she can almost hear the glass tinkle to the concrete floor upon impact. The frozen looks on the terror-stricken faces of the they beyond the glass.
She knows they will talk to her, eventually.
They’re just being difficult.
“I won’t hurt you. Truly I won’t.” She leans in, bouncing her eyebrows with some flair. “You won’t feel a thing. Killing you painless-like will be my special project, but only if you let me go. You hearing me, sweethearts?”
She hears what sounds like a snicker over the speaker.
Becky Rant smiles, runs her tongue across her teeth, then leans back, slumping down in the chair. “You’re such a bucket of shit.”
She’s hoping to draw a reaction from them.
Anything to help her narrow the list further.
Pausing, she stares at the glass, catching a slight reflection of herself. She’s surprised she hasn’t noticed this until now. More surprised how good she actually looks right now, considering all that’s happened. Sure, there are some cuts and scrapes. Some wounds that are shutting down as the blood begins to dry, holding back the bloodgates. The aches and bruises she feels, for sure. She’ll feel more later, no doubt, but it’s not until you see yourself that you truly realize what you’ve been through. She’s thankful her fiery red hair, soul-stopping blue eyes and natural appearance that most people consider attractive are still working despite the nicks and dents. Her big brain and weaponized wits are still around as well. That much she knows for a fact.
Charm, looks and a razor-sharp tongue plays in this life.
All she’s ever had.
All she really needs.
She stands up, taking advantage of the foot and a half of play her ankle cuff chain allows her. A biting pain rockets up her knee as she straightens her leg, but she fights not to show it.
Not to them.
Never show that you’re hurt.
“I get it,” Becky Rant says. “You’re not happy with me. That’s fine. Not really all that happy with you, either.”
She wants them to think she’s sure who they are. She’s not, but selling lies is one of the few weapons she holds at the moment.
The buzzing silence booms.
“It’s been a rough ten days, hasn’t it?” a woman’s voice asks from the speaker.
Becky Rant stops, frozen in place.
Not what she was expecting at all. It’s a voice she doesn’t recognize. Of course, the woman’s voice is being run through some kind of vocal modifier, but there’s no doubt in her mind that it is indeed a female. It’s got this “terrorist being interviewed on a TV news magazine” robotic feel to it.
“Come on in and I’ll tell you all about it, gorgeous,” she says, taking a seat.
“I’m fine where I am,” the robotic-sounding woman says. “Tell us a story.”
Becky Rant shoots the black glass the finger.
“Come on now. You’re better than that,” Robot Woman says.
Becky shakes her head while looking away, lowering her finger and placing her palms flat on the table. Fingers spread wide. She can’t believe this. Defeat isn’t her thing. She breathes in deep, assesses her place in life—her place in this room—then exhales big and twists her hair around her finger.
Staring into the glass at herself, Becky Rant works through the math of the situation she’s in. Plays around with the shitty numbers this moment in her life has provided for her.
It’s an unbalanced equation at best.
“Please,” Robot Woman repeats with a lifeless tone, “tell us a story.”
“Fine, gorgeous.” Becky Rant shrugs her shoulders. “But let’s be clear on this one thing. I’m keeping my damn promise.”