The blood clotted as it was supposed to be. Two and half minutes later. That was the maximum time that was prescribed on the packaging that enclosed the packet of syringes. Raiden waited till the blood clotted in one mouth, then moved to the other. He needed only one tongue from his captives. He needed only one of them to speak. Others didn’t matter. One sense from each one of them was the idea. Vittoria couldn’t remain conscious with so much pain screaming through her nerves. Her brain went numb, and her vision blurred. A word passed from her mind to her mouth. But she could no longer speak. Raiden sealed her tongue in a disposable polyethylene. All the severed parts, had to be stored collectively, and destined to the same place. A construction site in central Tokyo, to be discovered by a 55 year old, Yakushi.
And then he untied everyone. They needed to be free. Teriniko was the only one who had her tongue. And therefore the only one awake, to see that she was still untouched. A chill ran down her spine as, Raiden calmly sat cross legged before Teriniko.
” You know human memory has always baffled me ” he said staring at her intently. She knew him well enough to know that it was in her best interest to remain silent. But then if that was an option, he would have ensured that. No no, he wanted her to talk. And there was no best interest at all.
” Why… Are you… doing this ” she moved her hands forward. She wanted to swing her hands, hit him with all her might and run away to the crackling door behind him. But she couldn’t move. She knew she was angry, but was it on him? That was the question.
” Human memory by default stores every possible data that is thrown at it. Irrespective of necessity or relevance. People pride themselves in retaining all sorts of information., you know ” He continued unperturbed. A captivating smile filled the momentary silence that he opted. Teriniko didn’t find it otherwise usable. He took out a lighter from his pocket. After shaking it for a bit, he chocked it a couple of times to affirm it’s functionality.
” Today you are free to go, but you don’t even try. What is stopping you, my dear ” He said placing his arms on her lap. She was in her senses but something was wrong. She couldn’t pinpoint it, but she knew she needed to continuously see him.
” Do you paint faces, Teriniko?” He asked her. Ofcourse, he knew she could. She couldn’t remember where and how he knew. She just silently nodded in agreement.
” Let’s put that wonderful gift to practical use. You look at me for ten minutes, and draw me. And then you’ll know what is wrong with you ” he dragged a wooden pallette in front of her. Attached a white sheet and clipped on the color trays. And the time started. She observed him with everything in her mind. Every little detail. The way his eyes reflected her own, the way his smiled turned to an alluring grin, the way his silken hair tentatively fell on his forehead. Ten minutes and she was ready.
” Now Draw me. To make it interesting, if you fail to draw me, I’ll burn your, ahem, skin. Your skin truly repels me ” he said and walked away from her. To a dark corner and hid in the shadows. She could see the other captives still bound, not physically but very much like her, psychologically. They didn’t know. And the answers lay in the paintings. She picked up the brush and dipped it in a glass of water. Mixed dark brown and hue of grey, to get the perfect skin tone. But as she placed the brush on the sheet, she forgot. She forgot her subject. Every thing about him. His face turned to smoke in her memory. She tried desperately to remind herself of how he looked, but the more she tried, more he became a ghost. She could remember his voice , his sadistic sport, but not his face. She remembered meeting him, her painting in his eyes, but couldn’t recreate his appearance. She was losing and he was winning. That stopped her from trying to escape. That had made her see him continuously. Now she understood, the thing odd about him, was his face. He could make her forget his face. She glanced at her other companions, all unconscious and in immense pain. She wondered, rather hoped, for a fleeting moment that atleast one of them could remember him.
She looked on, as Raiden walked back to her and took a peek at the white board. Nothing at all. Not even a slight whiff of brush. Not even a try. So he had won. He took her hand and switched the lighter on. He placed her soft palm on it, and the flame stung at her, blackening her skin first and then boring a hole in it. She screamed her lungs out, but then she wanted it. She had asked him to burn him, didn’t she? That was all she could remember. And he loved her way too much to disobey.
He had the power to distort memories. And his story for all purposes had only begun, as the skin of the lady, who was required for her voice, and only for her voice, burned………….