I flew back a few feet in shock, my heart hammering in my chest, my lung pulling air in and out rapidly.
Oh no, no, no, no, no!
The face continued to beam at me - a big, less-than-sane-to-be-sincere smile that was broken by dark patches on his face. His eyes were dark and wandering, and looked as if blood had leaked from them and stained his cheeks. He stood there for a moment longer, smiling at me and then moved off.
It was him.
The Groom that the crazy women had been talking about.
It was Gluskin.
What was I supposed to do?
“Did I frighten you?” he called, his voice echoing around the rooms, so that I had no idea where he was coming from, “I'm awfully sorry, I didn't mean to.”
I ducked down, listening intently for his footsteps and watching beneath tables for a any sign of his shadow.
But something was bothering me.
His voice... I knew his voice.
Gluskin continued to speak as he conducted his search, “We've met before, haven't we? I know I've seen your face.”
“Maybe... Just before I woke up... Though it seems like a dream now, being here with you.”
I saw him move off in a direction and half-hopped my way to a shelf by the door. I was shivering.
“Let me fill you up,” he said, “You don't have to be alone anymore.”
What was this? This... strange charm?
Did he think I was a woman?
The words from the attic found my memory and haunted me.
“You could make me whole, I could fill that emptiness inside you,” Gluskin went on, changing his voice at the right points, knowing where to add a gasp or shift to a whisper. It didn't help that he had a delightful British accent.
I could have slapped myself.
What was wrong with me?
I watched as Gluskin navigated the darkness, spewing his love as easily as I could have vomited from the uneasiness he put in me. I was in no mind to be raped and then used as a prop for one of his models. I watched him enter the room I was standing in, moving away from the doorway, speaking and calling me. I held my breath and shut my eyes.
I had to go now, or he'd see me.
Now, now I had to go!
I took one last look at Gluskin's back and ran through the doorway.
He had seen me. I heard him say, “Darling, wait!”
This was so... weird. There wasn't any other way to describe it.
I pushed through doors, shutting them behind me, and hopped over desks. All the while, looking behind me to see if he was following. I could hear him, begging me as if lovesick.
Weird, weird, weird...
I felt so violated.
I hid under a table and curled up in a tight ball, waiting for my wits to catch up to me.
Where to go?
How to get there?
There had to be a staircase leading further down somewhere, right?
Or an elevator?
My train of thought crashed as I watched a pair of legs walk in front of me. I stared at them, waiting for them to pass. I felt the need to pull my legs closer to my chest.
“When I was a boy, my mother often said to me:” Gluskin was singing, “Get married, son, and see how happy you will be.”
I had to get away. He would find me.
I looked around, trying to calm myself. But his singing echoing everywhere was so distracting. In the dark, he could be anywhere. He could be crawling up right behind me.
“I have looked all over, but no girlie can I find -” something screeched across the floor, and I slapped a hand over my mouth to stop from yelping. I could hear a laugh in Gluskin's voice, “who seems to be just like the little girl I have in mind.”
He knows I'm here, he knows I'm here, he knows I'm here!
The singing stopped. I couldn't hear his footsteps.
This was bad.
Oh, God, this was bad!
“I will have to look around,” Gluskin said, his voice a deep octave, “until the right one I have found.”
He tore the table from the floor and threw it aside, crashing it into a window. I screamed, before I realised it wasn't the table I was hiding under.
Shit, shit, shit, you bloody moron!
“Darling!” Gluskin laughed.
I ran again like a man possessed - not knowing where I was going and not caring how I was getting there. The aim was to get away from the creepy, creepy man who wanted to marry me. If I was far from him, that was enough for me.
“You could be so beautiful!” he called after me, his footsteps thumping on the wood as he gave chase.
I passed walls marked with blood, spelling out words:
A woman's work is never done.
What was this place!
And why was I in it!
I saw an open elevator shaft and I thanked God openly that it was there. I jumped to catch the ladder on the opposite side and held it firm in my hands, putting my feet on the lower rungs.
I was going to get out!
I made to climb up.
When the rungs beneath my feet gave and fell.
This can't be happening.
No, no, no, no, no!
The ladder unravelled, the rungs leaving their supports and twisting over me, falling apart. I reached for the sturdier rungs above me, but to no avail.
The rung I was holding snapped and I fell, plummeting down on the elevator roof below. I cried out as one of my feet crashed through the wooden roof. Tears leaked from I eyes as I pulled my foot free and ripped out a splint that was lodged in just above my ankle. I held the wound tightly in my fist, biting down the agony, trying not to make too much noise.
“Oh God! Oh God, are you alright?” Gluskin called from above.
“Tell me you're okay, I'd hate to think of you suffering without me!” he looked around him, as if looking for a way to reach me and then just looked down at me with something approaching concern, “Why would you do something like that to yourself?”
I furrowed my brows at him.
Who was this guy?
And what was with all this charming shit?
“You'd rather...?” and finally it dawned on him, “Rather die than be with me.”
He paused, as if caught between what to do. I suppose anger got the better of him: “Then die,” he said, and shut the metal gate.
I stood up, gasping when I put my injured foot on the floor. As if there weren't enough horrible things happening to me.
Let's see. So far, Waylon, you've nearly been incinerated, nearly eaten by a cannibal, nearly chopped up by a buzz-saw; you actually attended a game of basket-head-ball, actually fell through a roof into the recreational block attic and now you've actually been chased by a lunatic who thinks he's in love with you and injured your foot.
Great. Just great.
I grasped the ledge above me and made the effort to climb up. Gluskin was one storey above me, perhaps he wouldn't notice if I was quietly limping out of his way downstairs.
“What, have you...?” came a hopeful shout, “Ha! Then we continue!”
Oh, for the love of...!
I hurried as fast as I could on my injured leg, walking through rooms filled with textiles equipment. I saw a pool of blood and limped towards it.
Blood. That was usually a good thing. How sad was that? Blood and dead bodies - a good sign in this place?
I followed the trail of gore, desperately looking for a place to hide. There were lockers, but the doors were all missing. If that wasn't bad enough, I could hear Gluskin's voice travelling towards me, that echoing British voice, explaining his logic, some kind of philosophy.
“..that part of you the world sees, they think is perfect. As God intended,” he said.
I needed a place to hide, I needed a place to hide!
I stepped through a doorway and found a storage room filled with clutter and crates and boxes, the smell of damp everywhere. I was about to hobble to the exit when I saw Gluskin pass right by it.
“...Even these idiots and lunatics see it,” he was saying, “There's something special about you. On the surface.”
I looked around, my breath becoming heavier, my mind removed of any good ideas. I saw a locker standing on its own, door still intact and slipped in without thinking. I could here him come closer.
Gluskin took a deep breath, “Hmm... Close. I can...” he paused. I could see him from the corner of my vision, the broken grate allowing me to watch him think. To watch him turn. And then smile, “Ah, the smell of my love's arbour. Darling, you can't hide from me!” he said, as he came forward and locked the door.
The locker moved forward and then I felt gravity pull me down on my back.
Gluskin was looking at me through the grate, beaming down at me. I could see all the bloody scars on his face, his eyes of blue were bloodshot and indeed bleeding, his lips broken and chapped. I could see the collar of his dirty white shirt and the tips of a battered red bow-tie and he probably wore a worn grey waistcoat and vest.
This guy was running with his theme.
Or trying to, at least.
“You make yourself a gift for me,” he said, in that calm warm voice, “A delicacy to be unwrapped and unwrapped again,” he looked up and smiled, “And savoured.”
Gluskin began pulling the locker along, the ceiling above me shifted as we moved - to dark rooms and rooms with lighting.
“I've been a little... vulgar, I know,” Gluskin said with effort, “And I want to say that I'm sorry. I just... Oh, you know how a man gets when he wants to know a woman!” he chuckled at his own joke, “But after the ceremony - when I've made an honest woman of you - I promise I'll be a different man.”
Ceremony? What the hell does that mean?
The scene stopped shifting and Gluskin's face cam into view again, “I want a family, a legacy. To be the father I never had. I'll never let anything happen to our children. Not like...” he let the sentence hang and picked the locker up. I tried to support my weight on my good foot, but my injured leg still shot with pain.
“You'll have to wait here,” Gluskin smiled at me, and moved away - revealing the scene behind him. My jaw dropped, “I know you must be just as eager as I am to consummate our love. But try to enjoy the anticipation.”
A blood-stained table. Stained. A circular buzz-saw at one end. Dismembered limbs - arms and legs - hanging on chains and hooks from above.
My breath rattled inside my chest.
I slammed against the locker door, bashing it with my fists, screaming and shouting, trying to get it open.
Why hadn't I killed myself when I had the chance?
“Here, darling,” Gluskin appeared again and sprayed something into the locker, “This will help you relax.”
I choked on it, my vision becoming blurry.
I don't want to die...
...Not like this...