Comfort Food

By: Kitty Thomas

What prevents it from happening most often is most people sociopathic enough to break and condition someone properly don't have the level of self-control required to do it. Most with the control aren't big enough sociopaths. This was why I feared this man so much, not because I was his prisoner, but because I saw in him the blending of these qualities which made the possibilities of what could happen endless.

He continued to watch me, cruel amusement curving his features, as if this was so much more fun than he'd ever anticipated the long nights he'd probably jerked off to the fantasy. Then he turned and left. The room felt quieter without him in it, as if his presence could somehow equal words for me.

Several hours passed, during which I paced the floor, and danced. I know that sounds insane. It is insane. It was day two, and I was flitting across the floor like a prima ballerina. But you don't understand how desperately I needed sensation, any sensation to make me feel like something rather than nothing.

When I was a little girl, I took ballet. I was pretty good, going all the way to acceptance at a major dance academy in New York. But in the end I decided against it. A ballerina's career is often over by twenty-five. By the time I was imprisoned in the cell, it would have been over for five years already.

I was glad I hadn't made a career of it. It would have ruined my feet. Although, I couldn't help but think ruined feet was better than being the prisoner of a sociopath.

So I danced. To distract myself, to move myself out of this plane of existence and into another, one where I was free. The cell was a perfect stage, plenty of room to pirouette and tour jete across it.

Even though the room was a static seventy-something degrees, I could feel the air move on my face as I whipped around and spun in circles. I felt my feet touching the floor with precision I'd never lost since giving it up. I heard the music in my mind as memories of old skipping records from the dance studios of my childhood played inside my brain.

I believed I'd won a round. I'd beaten the system he'd so carefully set up. When I couldn't dance any longer I sank to the floor. I was thirsty and getting hungry, but I wouldn't scream for him to feed me.

Screaming would have been normal; I knew that. But I'd already seen the way he didn't react when I'd smashed the bowl. Everything would happen on his timetable according to his wishes, and anything I did to try to goad him would make it happen that much slower. Of that I was certain now. Besides, my throat was too parched to scream; it wouldn't help.

I didn't know when he would return with more food for me, or water, and I needed to conserve energy. Within minutes of my sitting on the floor in my corner, the door clicked open, and a bottled water was placed on the floor next to it.

It was cold, fresh out of the fridge, and I was profoundly, indescribably grateful for it. I was also suspicious. Had he been sitting outside the door listening to me? Were there listening devices? Something else? As I drank the water, I scanned the top of the walls.

This was an area I hadn't paid much attention to. After all, I couldn't reach the ceiling, what was the point of lying on my back all day analyzing it? Then I spotted them. In the ceiling, at various points, were what appeared to be smallish black dots. On first glance, from the distance I was from them, they would look like random markings. Pinhole cameras.

The son of a bitch was watching me. For all I knew, he had sound attached. He'd watched me dance and brought me water afterward. What the fuck did that mean? One thing was becoming clear though. He'd entered the room three times since I'd been conscious. Each time I'd been sitting in the far back corner. That probably wasn't a coincidence.

If I was right, he wouldn't enter the room unless I was sitting in that spot. How could I use this information to my advantage? Obviously I had to eat, so I'd have to sit in the corner at some point, but I might be able to prevent extra unwanted visits by staying closer to the door when I wasn't hungry. Sleeping closer to the door was probably a good idea too.

Now I was back to trying to figure out the water. I had a clear enough idea of what was going on, thank you Psych 101. Behavioral conditioning and studies of Stockholm Syndrome had not gone to waste. Though I was aware that even with knowledge of what he was doing, it wouldn't stop him from succeeding, eventually. Or sooner, rather than later, since he'd known my weakness going into things.

I should have learned to be alone with myself, to not have to have noise or company or stimulation. I should have learned to meditate, taken up yoga or deep breathing practices.

I had fleetingly thought earlier about masturbating. I know that sounds wildly inappropriate. When you're in this sort of situation you don't want to do anything even vaguely sexual; it looks like an invitation. But it wouldn't have been sexual to me, not really. It would have just been comfort, stress relief, so I could avoid having a panic attack.

But there were cameras, and I knew it now. So no matter how much I wanted that release, I wasn't going to do it. It was tactile stimulation of the best kind, a weapon in my arsenal against the insidious plans already set in motion against me, but the risks weren't worth the payoff.