While the overcast clouds ate through the black sky, I could feel no rain. I heard the humming of the motor, felt vibrations cutting through my body. My skin began to itch and I violently tore at the ropes that were binding me, twisting back and forth like a mental patient in a straightjacket. but it was no use.
I was stuck.
Looking face down, all I could see were split lines. White line, gray tar. White line, gray tar.
I couldn’t hear the whooping and yelling that I knew was happening in the truck above me. I was terrified. When would someone stop the vehicle and untie me? Did they forget that I was under here? I could smell the sticky oil dripping from the engine above. I knew my back was drenched, but I couldn’t feel the wetness. I was still itchy.
After a long several minutes, the road below my face began to change. It was no longer cement, but dirt, right under my nose, and I could smell earth, and not oil. My face was so close to the ground that I was convinced that I would have my features scraped off by the bumps and rocks, which was something I was definitely not looking forward to. I blacked out for several minutes as the pickup tore through the woods. I was nauseated, yet strangely subdued by the twisting and turning. It was the rollercoaster ride from hell. Every rickety inch smashed into my back with searing pain and precision. I was almost certain my vertebrae were nonexistent, my spinal cord gone.
After a long time, the vehicle stopped. There were loud voices, and I was shocked that I was able to hear. The noise of the tires and the engine had been so deafening. I was pulled out from the undercarriage, bloody, bruised. My right arm was severely broken; two of my toes were missing since I had lost a shoe.
I didn’t care so much. I am left-handed, and I can walk just fine now.
I stumbled behind them as they walked me down a path. I was in so much pain. Everything in the night was red. There was smoke, or there must have been, because there was a bon fire, but who knows. I certainly don’t. I can’t remember too much, and what I do remember from that night, I try to forget. Others who had been dragged to the scene were being led down the path too. There must have been about five others. All of them in worse condition than me. I was the lucky one.
We got to a clearing in a small grove of pine trees. The ritual was about to begin. I could sense it. I could sense what I had been dragged out of bed for in the night. I knew what was coming. It was something that everyone knew, yet no one mentioned. I knew it was coming. Knew they would come for me. I was awkward, and clumsy, and smaller than the all the other guys, and I was the one people laughed at. I knew that they always took the unwanted ones and got rid of them. I knew that I would be dragged under someone’s truck to the spot. It was to disguise the streets that were so familiar to me. Now, nothing is familiar. I was the only dragee that had not been blindfolded. I didn’t know why. I thought they had forgotten. I wondered what I had done that was so horrible that I was the one who needed to watch the spectacle. I needed to see all the carnage. Maybe they knew that they would let me go.
The tall one came out of the woods and stood in front of the fire. He took one of the others. The one holding me was short and fat, with thick skin and bad-smelling hair. He was humming the music from the Nutcracker. The one where all the sugar plum fairies were dancing. I almost fainted. The one that I could see being held was then taken suddenly into the woods. The humming got louder. I think it was to drown out the screams and the hollow sound that the wooden bat was making. They were playing a sort of twisted game of baseball. It was disgusting. I could smell the blood. My head was spinning. I felt like I must have been drunk or something.
I had never had a drink before.
One by one, all of the unwanted ones were taken back into the woods. The same hollow smacking of wood-on-wood happened. I braced myself. I was next. The other five were gone into the woods. Oh my God. I was going to be next. They had already come for me once, and now they were going to do it again.
When it was my turn, they untied me.
The tall one led me back to the road. I was surprised by the fact that the walk wasn’t as long as I had imagined while I was tied up underneath the truck. I could see the lights of town in the distance, and the blue mountains behind it. He told me with his rough voice to get lost. I’m pretty sure his voice was so rough because he was going to cry, as if he felt guilt from his duty. It was lightening up, and soon it would be daytime, and soon this whole situation would be forgotten.
The unwanted others would be forgotten too. I never knew what they did with their bodies. I don’t know what their names were.
I have my scars.