arenaria: (misery)
Bell Swan ω "Shell" ([personal profile] arenaria) wrote2013-03-07 02:49 pm


Paper and pen and a setup to let her write do come eventually.

But they do not come soon enough to catch disintegrating memories.

Shell - she's Shell and the live one is Bell, she decides this early on - supposes that she could have been kidnapped by worse torturers. Voice (he or she, the timbre of the voice doesn't suggest either strongly; it's never more than the two of them together and there's no call for names, so Shell just thinks of her captor as Voice) is as likely to read her a bedtime story or use torturer's control to lead her through neat series of dance steps as to hurt her.

And by the same token, Voice is as likely to hurt her as to do anything else.

The first time is startling even to the self-proclaimed wimp. Didn't Golden burn for days to become what she did? Didn't Amariah's daemon fall into the hands of someone just this cruel? Weren't they both fine, not, perhaps, unchanged, but functional, recognizable as themselves -

But Golden's mind expanded as she changed, enough to hold the pain. Amariah expected rescue and knew that if rescue were not soon enough she could expect death.

Both of them went through their miseries in the arms of people who loved them.

Except for Voice, Shell is alone.

The first time is shattering and destroying and even after Voice torches her intact for the fifth time and sends her into her box and Shell knows she's safe for overnight she cannot stop shuddering, cannot sleep, cannot piece together distracting fantasy or memory well enough to close her eyes now that they're hers to open and attempt to retreat to dreams, all she can do is relive every cut and burn and involuntary twist of her body into this implement or that, all she can think about is when it will happen again. When she can calm down to the point of doing anything else, her brain will not permit direction to arbitrary subjects, will not hold with attempts at self-comfort via dreams of her lost loved Sherlock, will not spare one fraction of a percent of Shell's available mental power towards anything but thinking fiercely of immediate escape, immediate ways to turn Voice's attention elsewhere, immediate attempts at subverting torturer's control with some feat of will. The past and the farther future are irrelevant.

She used to have dreams of nonsense or of pleasanter days. They morph overnight into nightmares.

All her frenetic planning - speculations about how to mix the chemicals that appear in the bathroom or sabotage the lock to her box or make some incremental progress against the door from the basement even in a way that torches her because that's all right she'll just torch and can try again and again and get that little more accomplished - ultimately nothing.

No one has gotten out of the box. Shell doesn't either. Voice doesn't really like it when she tries. Shell runs out of ideas and then stops.

By the time paper and pen and sufficiently well-rigged chains to force Shell's gaze away from the door to the basement so that she can be allowed to write appear, Shell does not know how long she has been kept as Voice's plaything, but dimly suspects that it has been years. She does not know what the bits of name she discarded were beyond "Shell" and is not sure if the Shell part was something she originally called herself or just a name for the hollow thing she's been turned into. She does not know what to write.

She looks at the notebook and the pen that Voice has left her. She looks at her hands, free to write. And can't remember what she wanted them for.

Was she worried she'd forget something if she didn't write it down?

What is there to forget? There's Voice, and there's things Shell made up to make herself feel better before she realized that nothing would help. Silly stories. Power fantasies. She's got half a dozen contradictory visions of herself dancing through her head wielding magic to destroy people like Voice or put them where they can do no harm. It's the sort of thing anyone would make up, in her position.

Before this, before the paper appeared, Shell went through cycles of forgetting and knowing she'd forgotten and panicking and recovering nothing, or recovering a little and losing that and then some the next time Voice came across an interesting new acid. She kept Sherlock the longest, long after everything else was ashes and forgotten frames of dreams: she did not know where Sherlock had come from or why but knew that she'd existed.

Then Sherlock went.

Shell lost Sherlock's face, first, or rather couldn't remember which of the faces in her memories labeled "Sherlock" was the one, the one who loved her, the one she missed, the one she'd been wishing for. She didn't remember whether Sherlock was a man or a woman. She forgot the name, next, because there's another, matching face understood to be not-Sherlock, and any difference she'd once known how to detect was erased in years of scarcely-interrupted darkness and screaming, and that one is named something else, and her scrambled brain is in no position to resolve the confusion: it abandons the remembered name along with the forgotten other label and Shell has neither picture nor word to guide her. When the world has been only Shell and Voice for some time more, her brain abandons the wasted effort of modeling people with personalities, and Shell cannot conjure the fact that her beloved missing person would do this or that. The occasional dreams in which Someone breaks into Voice's house and rescues Bell and spirits her away to safety and murmurs away all the fear - spin away into nothing until the nightmares are unbroken.

After that she stops tracking what she's lost.

She does not mark the occasion when she can no longer remember how her Someone smelled or the way her Someone held her or what her Someone used to whisper in gentler darkness than this.

When she has paper, she can think of nothing to write. She is not interested in storing for posterity anything that she can access, now. (Trauma, confinement, puppetry, pain - she'd as soon it were all obliterated before she could store it.)

She can think of nothing to write in what proves to be wobbly, trembling, childlike penmanship beyond:

Someone loved me once.

She is sure that's true. (No, she's not, but she thinks it's true, thinks it's not just wishing, her psychology - however wrecked and mutilated it is at this point - does not make sense if no one ever loved her.)

Someone loved me once.

She writes it and writes it and writes it, over and over, and she runs out of paper, and she never thinks of anything else to put down, and she cries.

No one loves her now.