He never came to save me. Though he promised he would. Lord knew I couldn’t save myself. That’s how the bandits came for me, tied me up, beat me, and chained me in a cage. I existed as nothing more than their entertainment. They gave me just enough food and water to keep me alive. When they grew bored, I became their punching bag. Only to be chained again. I received no water for bathing. All the blood, sweat, and dirt became one with my flesh. Mornings brought me no hope, and nights only brought terrors. The vicious cycle lasted fifty three days.

Day forty brought a small change. The leader of the three bandits left a small knife in the cage with me. I knew what they wanted. They wanted me to kill myself for their pleasure. While I preferred death, I couldn’t find the courage to turn the knife against myself. And though I had lost hope long ago that he would come save me, I couldn’t give the monsters the satisfaction of watching a pitiful suicide. The following thirteen days found me alone in the cage. They never beat me after that. My ragged frame couldn’t hold their abuse anymore.

On the fifty-third night, something clicked. Or rather, snapped. The bandits passed out in drunken stupors after a merry day of pillaging. They had grown quite accustomed to my weak, subserviant state, leaving the cage unlocked. The knife looked rather friendly. Snatching it, I pried off my bonds. Ignored the fresh blood trickling down my appendages from accidental gouging. My hair, matted against my face, covered one eye and part of the other, but I could see the glowing fire. My demons came to me then. Whispered of the great things I could do if I set myself free. Nobody else would save me, so why not save myself? It was a good plan.

Shaking hands grasped the knife tighter as I crept from the cage. My whole body trembled. I limped towards the three slumbering fools. Slit their throats and left their bodies to the fire. It was the first time I had killed, and it felt rather pleasant. My sense of smell had become obsolete because I couldn’t stand my foul stench. I didn’t get the victory scent of burning corpses. So I made my way to find a village. My dead leg kept my progress slow, but I found a quaint town by the following evening.

No one welcomed me. They all ran inside, shut their windows, closed their shops. All I wanted was food and shelter. All I wanted was care. A puddle in the road revealed my horrific reflection. I had become a monster. The demons whispered again. These people weren’t going to help me. They shunned me. They wouldn’t save me. He certainly wasn’t going to come save me. I needed to save myself. It was a good plan. An anger came over me. One I had never felt before. I gave in. Grabbed the nearest torch and ran around, setting the naughty town on fire.

My demons were pleased. I was pleased. It felt good, taking control of my own life. Becoming my own savior. For the first time in a long time, I felt free. Only because I freed myself. I saved me. No one else. Not even him. For another fifty three days, I ventured from town to town. Many law enforcers tried stopping me. But I saved myself. Every time. I saved myself. Even if it meant death and destruction for everyone else. I became the disgusting maniac everybody feared.

On the fifty-fourth day, I saw someone I never thought I would see again. He came up the road. It took him too long for him to recognize me. “You always wanted me to be independent,” I screamed. I held out my arms. “Here I am!” The despair in his eyes filled me with joy. “I’ve been looking everywhere for you,” he called. He refused to come any closer to my nasty presence. My hands clenched. “Not hard enough. I was in the same place for fifty three days! I waited, hoped you would come rescue me, but you never came.” Now he inched towards me, lifting his hands in a placating gesture. “I know.” “You don’t know!” “But you’re free?”

I snarled. “Yes. My demons freed me when you were nowehere to be found. I saved myself. I have no need for you anymore.” I could see this cut him. Cut him…. I whipped out the knife. His eyes begged for mercy. “Please.” I moved around him and held the blade against his neck. “I take it back. I’m not free. Not while you’re alive. You’re a reminder of my pathetic dependence.” My voice lowered next to his ear. “You act like you’re so brave and strong. You’re no hero. You couldn’t save me. Now I’m the hero of my life. That makes you my villain.” Without a second thought, I drew the knife across his flesh. Let his body fall to the ground as I licked the blood off my weapon. “Looks like I’m saved.”


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