The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.
“If you lie to us, we will kill you,” the voice whispered into Greta’s ear. His breath was sour and she could feel the greasy stubble of his beard on the side of her neck. Greta shuddered and felt the bile rise up in her throat.
“I am not lying! I don’t know what you are talking about!” Greta said in a firm voice.
“That is not what we heard,” the man answered back.
Immediately Greta wondered who the, “we” referred to.
Greta began to panic. The feeling of powerlessness made her feel both like she needed to fight like hell and remain calm at the same time. She couldn’t see. She could feel the man close to her, but did not know who he was. The man slapped Greta across the face, she saw stars behind her blindfold. He ears rang. She cried out in fear, in pain. Greta’s hands were tied behind her back, but she didn’t need to touch her chin to feel the blood running down it. Greta peed her pants.
“What do you know about the body?” the man asked again.
Again Greta hoarsely whispered, “What body? I don’t know anything!”
The man slapped her again, more blood, more pain.
Greta yelled this time, “Stop! Please! I got fired! I don’t know anything!”
“We know you didn’t get fired,” the man said, she could hear him walk across an open space. Greta was frozen in place. She could hear him whisper to someone. Greta strained to hear, but could not pick up on the other person’s voice. Greta had never been more afraid in her life. She had lied.
The man walked back. He was carrying something. She could hear him open a bag and rummage around in it. Greta felt a sharp stab of pain in her shoulder.
Everything went black.
Greta woke up later, her body throbbed. She could hear someone walking around the cold hard space. Then, there was silence. Greta heard footsteps move away from where she was.
She called out, “Are you going to leave me here? God! Please, don’t leave me here alone! Please, let me go!”
She got no response. A door slammed.
No one knew where she was. No one was coming to get her. She had been out on a run on the overlook trail when a man had grabbed her. It grew cold in the cavernous room. She was in an old warehouse or an unfinished building. Somewhere remote, she could hear water dripping from a broken pipe. When she called out, there was an echo. When the panic finally died down, Greta felt a small surge of relief. She was going to die here. It was finally going to be over.
Greta was tired, she was bone deep, physically, painfully tired. She would finally get to leave all of this behind. Death it seemed, was ready to open its dark arms and welcome her into its cavernous maw. It grew colder. Greta began to shiver, She could not stop herself. After a few hours, Greta drifted off to sleep. She never once tried to fight it.
Greta woke up on the floor of Annie’s living room. She was groggy and confused. It was dark and she could see the shadows passing along the walls, perfectly framed by the large picture window, each time a car drove past. There was a potted plant on the ground in front of the window. The plant made the shape of a man on the wall every time the headlights of a car flashed past it.
Greta was uncomfortable, her body ached. Somewhere in the groggy shadows of her mind, she knew she needed to get onto the couch. She was in so much pain, she thought that she could find relief if she could just lay on something soft. She looked up at the couch as another car drove past and saw something strange begin to happen. The couch seemed to be moving of its own volition. Slightly at first, and then more pronounced as the next car passed by.
Greta stifled a scream when she began to see the couch vibrate as another car drove past. Slowly, it seemed as if something was trying to break out of the cushion. The big, gaudy orange flowers that covered the couch rose up on thorny stems. The flowers grew taller and taller as they developed. Greta reached out to see if they were real and recoiled as another car passed, illuminating a face beginning to form in the center of one of the large blooms. The face looked truly evil.
The next car drove past and she could see the face begin to twist into something more macabre. The next car passed and she saw fangs sprout from the grimacing mouth. The next car passed and the face reached out to hers, it smiled a villainous smile. Their eyes met and she saw all of the dark things inside of her as if they were under a magnifying glass, writhing and straining to take over the whole operation. Greta squeezed her eyes shut, she willed herself away, back to the hospital, back home, anywhere but here.
The flowers that had once been so beautiful had turned evil. Another car passed and she looked down at her chest and where her breasts once were, there was a sharp, red cactus growing out of each dark cavern. Another car passed and she watched in horror, as a plant she had never seen before began to unfurl its menacing leaves from her stomach. She felt the pain as the plant ate its way through her body and strained to touch the light of the next passing car.
Another car passed, blinded by pain, Greta’s consciousness flashed to black.
She woke with a sudden start and looked up to see the bright lights of the hospital pass in front of her face. She was laying down on a bed, covered in blankets. Her body ached and she could feel dried blood on her clothing. She had to lift the blankets to see that her body was still in tact. There was no sign of the plants she had watched grow out of herself. The nurses and doctors had worried looks on their faces. She tried to speak, to ask a question, but no sound would come out. At the doorway, looking like she was going to cry, was Janet.
Greta passed out again. She woke up every couple of hours, looked at the clock until she remembered what had happened to her, and fell back to sleep. When she finally woke up and was able to speak, the nurse told her that she had been in and out for three days. Her lip was still split. She was still raw where she had been hit in the head with something heavy while running.
The doctor came in later, followed by Janet. The doctor asked if she felt comfortable with Janet in the room as she discussed her injuries. Greta said of course. She wanted Janet in the room because she was not sure she would be able to understand the words that the doctor said to her, she felt if she let go of Janet’s hand she would fall off the face of the earth and back into the nightmare from which she came. So they stood, two women against a hard, dark world and took the news together.
The doctor, with his best concerned face, looked at Greta and told her what had happened. She had been abducted while jogging. She was held captive, raped, beaten and tortured. Greta’s body felt it. Her soul did not yet. Janet looked sick. The doctor wanted to run more tests, blood tests, drug tests, disease tests, brain damage tests. All of them felt positive already. Her rape kit had contained no DNA or trace evidence from her attacker. Her had been careful.
It may have already been there, but Greta had felt sick for a long time. She knew that people got diseases, cancer, that they died horrible deaths as their bodies wasted away. Greta’s body had been wasting away for a long time and her brain was the culprit.
She wanted to pull out her IV and tear away the heart monitor they had her on. She wanted to get out of the bed, the hospital, the city. Anywhere was better than here. Already Greta struggled to exist in the world. This was an intrusion that she would be loathe to bear. If the body you are required to exist in is is not safe from violation, how deeply does the soul feel that fear everyday? How does living with such fear twist and change a woman? And how to you recover when your deepest fear becomes a reality? How would she go on from here?
I guess the way that she has done before and will do again. Greta answered her own question. In the darkness and the haze, it was only her. She remembered and told herself out loud that she was only just her. There was no one to watch her, no one to care about her. It was and always would just be her. She had spent so much time alone as a child, this is what she had fought against all of her life, loneliness. At this point, she had just given in.
When you are alone, you are vulnerable. All Greta wanted to do was to feel better for just a moment. She wanted to get out into that brief moment of sunshine, to think about the case. To find some clue in her subconscious mind, to solve something. To be more than a lonely, aging drunk in a city that taunted her. But then this kind of thing happens. And she remembers that not even the body that she has to live in is sacred.
“Do you need anything?” Janet asks with a worried gaze.
“For your face to not look like that!” Greta answered.
“Fuck you! Like what?” Janet asks, quietly angry.
“You really want to know?” Greta says to Janet with a tiny grin.
“No.” Janet replies, knowing what that grin means, and knowing that she is helping Greta, just by being in the same room as her. Janet and Greta had been friends for a long time, they had been through a lot. Janet knew that she could help Greta while she was there, but was afraid of where she would go in her mind when she was not there.
Greta had been through too much for anything to matter. Greta had been through enough that everything mattered. She had to hide this one though. The fact that her body had been compromised had done something too deep for her to accept. In the same way that Bateman could wreak havoc on New York, so could Greta’s mind could wreak havoc on her body.
Surprisingly, Greta got out of the hospital with only three broken ribs. This greatly limited what she would be able to do for the next month. The case was on her mind all of the time. She was not sleeping, she was not eating. She could not figure out if her abduction and attack had any bearing on her current case, but also knew that it was too coincidental to not. It could be any number of crazy people from all of the years before.
She was almost certain that it had to do with the case she was working. Was she getting too close? Where was she at all? She did not know anything at this point. This never lasted very long anyways. Greta never gave up. She had weak arms, she had big emotions, she was overwhelmed by life, but she never gave up. Ever. She would keep working until she found the answers she was after.