Please note: Were it a film, the following story would most likely be rated R. It includes violence, adult language, and themes to do with sexual violence. Reader discretion is advised.
Adam managed to get out from work early that Friday afternoon, and it was a damn good thing too. He’d been studying his secretary all day, and it had taken everything in his power not to put his hands on her. It drove him crazy to see the way her fine red hair spilled over the shoulders of her white silk blouse; the way she crossed those slender, nicely-tanned legs when she answered the phones; or the way she looked at him nervously whenever he called to her from his desk, afraid that he might suddenly raise his voice. Dear God, it made him so very desperate to get home.
It didn’t take him that long to get there, either; rush hour wasn’t for a while yet. Adam forced himself to walk slowly from his car to the interior of his apartment building, and he forced himself to look up at the ceiling as he passed two of his neighbors on the way in. It was that lesbian couple who lived right next door to him—he couldn’t remember either of their names—and while the brunette looked like she belonged at a zoo, the blonde one in the summer dress was perfect. She smiled at him and said hello as he passed them, but the brunette scowled and said nothing.
She’s on to me, Adam silently chuckled to himself. If only you knew what I have waiting for me upstairs, Butchie. Don’t worry; that pretty little princess of yours is safe enough from me.
A few moments later, Adam was opening the door to his apartment. He was greeted by the sound of dishes clinking beneath a running faucet. Smiling, he closed and locked the door, set his briefcase beside the hallway closet and removed his shoes.
“Hello, precious!” he said as he entered the kitchen. “I’m home!”
The woman at the sink flinched, and Adam felt a pang of excitement wash over him. The woman turned and said meekly, “Oh! You—you startled me.”
He frowned at her then, suddenly disappointed. She became visibly afraid. “What’s wrong? Is it the dishes? I—I’m sorry, Daddy; I know you like me to have them done before you get home…”
“No,” Adam replied. “That’s all right; you didn’t know I’d be coming home early. No, I’m afraid it’s your hair, babe.”
“Oh.” The woman smiled and laughed a little nervously, reaching for her hair. “Oh, okay…”
“It’s been brown for the past month. I think you’re due for a tune-up.”
“But—but I like my hair brown.”
Adam blinked at her. “What does that matter?” he asked.
The woman hesitated; then she asked, “What color would you like my hair to be, Daddy?”
Adam remembered his secretary. “Red, I think.” He went to the living room and reached for something on his bookshelf. It was a medallion that had several markings etched onto its surface. When his fingers touched the object, it shocked him with a surge of static electricity. Smiling, Adam brought the talisman into the kitchen and held it up to the woman.
“Yes,” he said, closing his eyes. “I think your hair should definitely be red this time.” He held out the medallion and began to hum, and the kitchen was filled with an unearthly green glow. The talisman burned Adam’s fingers for just a moment; then the light died down and Adam opened his eyes to see what he had wrought.
“My God,” he said.
“What?” the woman flinched again, reaching fearfully for her red hair.
“You look just like her.”
“My secretary. God, I wanted her so bad today.”
“Oh. Does that mean I look okay?” The woman sounded only slightly relieved.
Adam set his medallion down on the kitchen table and approached her, wrapping his arms around her waist and kissing her. “You look perfect.”
Her mouth smiled, but her eyes didn’t.
“Now,” Adam said in a conspiratorial tone, “I came home so early because I could barely control myself at work. Take your clothes off, and let’s go to the bedroom.”
She said nothing for a moment; then she said, “But I have to finish the dishes first, Daddy. You don’t like it when I forget—”
“The dishes can wait,” he insisted, growing impatient. “I want you now.”
She looked like she might cry, and by God, it excited him even more. “No,” she whimpered, tears welling in her eyes, “I don’t want to.”
Adam loved this game. “You want whatever I want, remember?” he asked, unbuckling his belt. “You are what I say you are, and you do what I tell you to do.” He slipped off the belt and whacked it against the stove for good measure, making the woman cry out. “That’s why I don’t just erase you out of existence, you little whore.” He wrapped the belt around one of his fists and stepped toward her; she cowered away to the living room. “I’m glad you’re finally wearing that cute little outfit I made for you,” he growled as he followed her. “At least I don’t have to convince you to do that anymore.” She was up against the wall behind the sofa now, her eyes wide with terror and dripping with tears. “But unless you want me to start putting things where they aren’t supposed to go again,” he said as he approached her, raising his fist, “you’d better take it off right now.”
Then he stepped on the broken class that was strewn all over the carpet.
“FUCKING OW!” Adam roared, leaping backwards and falling to the floor. He forgot all about his belt and reached for his bleeding feet instead. “WHAT—WHAT THE…?” He glared at his wounds, shrieking with rage when he saw the shards of glass poking out from his soles. Then he glared up at the woman, but his wrath vaporized instantly when he saw her. She towered above him now, and she was holding a fire extinguisher above her head.
“What are you DOING?” Adam demanded, trying to sound like he was still in charge.
“Putting out a fire, Daddy,” the woman replied, and the extinguisher came down on his head.
* * *
When Adam awoke, he found himself tied to his own recliner with an assortment of belts, bedsheets and duct tape. His head and his feet were throbbing horribly, and something wet and sticky was in his hair. The sun had set long ago; the entire apartment was in darkness.
“Where are you?!” he yelled, trying to rip himself free from his constraints. Either he was just too weak to do it, or the woman had actually done a good job of tying him up.
That wasn’t a very comforting thought.
Someone lit a match on the far side of the room and used it to light a large red candle. It was the woman. She approached him slowly, holding the candle and staring at him with eyes that were simultaneously scared and resolved.
Resolved to what? Adam wondered. “I don’t understand,” he groaned with the taste of copper in his mouth. “How are you doing this?”
She stood over him with the candlelight dancing quietly upon her face. She said nothing for quite a while; then she whispered, “I don’t know.”
“I command you to let me go.”
“Why? So you can hurt me again?”
“Oh yes, I’m going to hurt you all right. For starters.”
“And kill me? Would you like to kill me, Daddy?”
“You live as long as I say you do.”
“And what if you die? Then what?”
“This is taking too long. Let me GO!”
The woman shook her head. “Not until you answer all of my questions. What happens to me when you die?”
“You’ll fade away—and you’ll do it a hell of a lot sooner if you don’t loosen these straps! All I have to do is say the word, you little bitch, and you’re history.”
“And then what would you do? Who would pleasure you then?” She asked the second question with disgust.
“I don’t need you. I’ll just make another servitor.”
“And you’ll do the same thing all over? Make her afraid of you? Make her say no, so you can have fun forcing her?”
“Enough of this.”
“Why have you done this to me? Haven’t I been a good daughter?”
“Let me go—”
“You’ve never even given me a name.”
“—or so help me God—”
“NO!” the woman shouted, brandishing a butcher knife and holding it up to Adam’s neck. She pressed it into his skin just enough to draw blood, and he wet himself.
This wasn’t going very well at all.
“Wh-why do you do this to me?” the woman repeated. Her voice was faltering, but her knife hand was perfectly still.
Adam just whimpered for a few moments. When he finally found his voice, he said, “Because I can’t get away with doing it to anyone real.”
She pressed the knife against his throat just a little harder. “And what happens…if I kill you?” she demanded.
“What happens if I kill you, Daddy?”
“You—you’ll fade away, just as I said. You can’t exist without me; you are me.”
“Do you know that for sure?”
“You only exist because I want you to. If I die, you cease to exist. Don’t you see? You’re just my dream girl, a fantasy made flesh…and if you hurt me, you only hurt yourself!”
The woman smiled faintly, as if Adam had told an unfunny joke. She removed the knife from his throat and started walking around his chair. Glass crunched softly beneath her heels as she did.
Adam winced, wishing he could see his neck in a mirror. “How are you doing this?” he repeated, almost shrieking. “I created you! I CREATED you, you little whore! You aren’t capable of doing anything against me! It’s impossible!”
“I’m not your whore,” the woman answered; she stopped and stared at him blankly. “I don’t know what I am, but I know that much.” She raised the knife, its blade glinting in the red candlelight. “And I’m going to make sure you never do anything like this to anyone else—‘real’ or not.”
“No!” Adam screamed. “I’m sorry! Please, God! I’m so sorry! I’ll do whatever you want! Please, don’t do it! You’ll die, too! YOU’LL DIE TOO!!”
“I certainly hope so, Adam,” the woman said, and she did to him what he had done to her every day from the moment she was born—
—but with the knife.
* * *
When the Sun rose at dawn, its rays crept through the windows like luminous tendrils.
I wonder if it’s alive just like I am, the woman thought to herself.
She had been sitting on the sofa for hours, sobbing and waiting—even hoping—that she’d fade away into the shadows like Adam claimed she would. It never happened, though; not even when she took a hammer to the medallion in the kitchen. That talisman was the closest thing to a “mother” she would ever have, but she had cast its shattered remains into the trash like they were nothing. Whatever importance it might have had when it was first forged by impossible hands, it now slept with eggshells and used coffee filters. Yet here she was, still living and breathing…and as she watched the Sun climb back into heaven, it dawned on her that maybe she wasn’t ready to die after all.
For the first time since it happened, I’m glad to be real.
Not long after the sky turned blue, the woman took a shower. She scrubbed Adam’s dried blood off of her skin and watched with keen interest as it circled the drain. When she was satisfied that she had washed herself long enough, she dried off and went to her closet. She couldn’t bring herself to wear any of the demeaning costumes Adam had created for her, so she took one of his t-shirts and a pair of his jeans instead. It was wonderful to wear something that didn’t make her feel like an item on a dinner menu, and she decided she would dress that way from now on.
After brushing her hair and finding a pair of tennis shoes that seemed to fit well enough, she went back to the bedroom and reached beneath the mattress on which she had suffered so much humiliation. She had very little understanding of money, but she knew she’d need it on the outside, and she figured that the twenty $100s Adam kept under the bed would be a good start. She considered taking his keys as well, but deemed this pointless since she couldn’t drive.
Then, when she was just about to leave, she felt a wave of cold terror wash over her, trickling into her innards and freezing them like pipes in winter. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, trying to calm herself. She knew she couldn’t stay—that awful stench would lead someone to discover Adam eventually, and she had no intention of exchanging one prison for another—but the thought that she would never see her home again was just as terrifying as it was liberating.
Then she remembered one of the last things Adam had said.
I CREATED you, you little whore!
“No,” the woman said aloud. “I create myself.”
And she walked right out the door.