Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Suggestion Box, Vol. 3: "One Thousand Words" List #8

Suggested by: Olivia C.

The List:
Name: Benji
Place: An underwater hideout.
Time: 3:37 A.M
Object: A small music box.

The Result:
"The Siren Song"

The soreness in his shoulders and arms ripped him back into consciousness. His head jerked up as he gasped, twisting his arms further. With a groan he let his head hang limp. 
His wrists, he observed, were shackled to brackets on opposite sides of a room that was about twenty feet square, concrete walls and steel plates over the only openings that suggested windows and a door. A desk with a lamp stood along one wall, beside two chairs, but that was it. The chains pulled so tightly that he couldn't pull if he wanted to. He briefly considered breaking his own thumbs to slip out of the chains but—
Wait, why the heck would he consider broken bones a viable option? What kind of monster was he? He closed his eyes and fought to remember what he had been doing before the blackout.

Oh well, start with the basics.


Hair color? Eye color? Age? Weight? Occupation? Hometown? Favorite pet?

What was this, a military application?

Finally, the faint threads of another human voice reached his ears from somewhere beyond stone and steel. Flashes of angry voices and putrid breath fired in his head. A sense of urgency washed over him. 

"Have to find it..." He mumbled to himself.
Find what? What was he looking for? He tried focusing harder on the angry faces in his memory. At one point, he had encountered a tree—but wasn't there something different about the tree? Something not quite... tree-ish? There was yelling all around...

A click interrupted his thoughts, and the resulting flinch torqued his right shoulder. He looked back over at the desk. A digital clock blinked at him. 3:37 AM... 3:37 AM...

Great, it was about as busted as he was. There was no way to tell just what time it was, or where he was. It was just him, and a incessant dripping coming from somewhere.

The sound of heavy boots prompted him to let his head sag again. He stared at his muddy, sodden cargo pants as two men entered the room.

One wore a black ski mask and carried a gun. The other wore no mask and walked straight up to the prisoner. 
"Are you ready to talk, Benji?"

Benji! That was his name! And he recognized the voice as one of the men who captured him! But why—

Pain exploded across his head and he yelped.
His captor pulled back his fist. "I ask a question," he growled, "and you answer! Now," he gripped the hair at the top of Benji's scalp and yanked his head up. "What were you and your crew doing in the jungle? What's your business in the Amazon?"

Amazon! Benji felt his head drop and the man landed another blow. Amazon made him think of a woman—but who was she? Had she been part of his crew?

"Talk, darn you!" The man growled, lifting his boot and sending the reinforced toe smashing into Benji's ribs. "Where is it? Where is the treasure? Tell me where it is!"

Benji coughed as the air left his lungs and blood from his split lip trickled into his mouth, but he felt no fear of the man inflicting so much pain. Why was he so calm?

The man sighed heavily. 
"Oh Benji—may I call you Benjamin? You may think you're so clever, biding your time for some miraculous escape... But you see, that's where you are wrong." The man chuckled and continued softly. "Do you have any idea what you would find outside this room?" He gestured to the concrete walls, and signaled the guard at the door. 
Benji heard a soft click, and then a rumbling hum, as more light began to filter in around him. He raised his head and looked.

The steel plates retracted from the windows, revealing reinforced fiberglass panes. Beyond that was a wall of dark green-blue.

"That explains the dripping," Benji mumbled through swollen lips. Meanwhile, the water had triggered more memories. If they were under the water near the Amazon...

"What?" The man snapped.

Vague memories began filling in gaps, and Benji even managed a chuckle. "I think you may have a leak," he quipped.

Swearing furiously, the frustrated captor balled clasped both hands like a sledgehammer and raised them over his head. Benji's instincts told him that the blow would most likely land on the area at the base of his neck, just above she shoulders, and either dislocate his shoulders or knock him out completely.


Benji was still bracing for the blow when he heard the scrape of the man's boots on the floor. He looked up.

The man had turned, and now addressed a second soldier bearing a small object.

"Sir, we found this in a secret compartment in his pack. Jacapo thought it might be important."

"I guess we'll find out."

In two strides, the captor had returned. Slowly, he set the object down in front of Benji. It was a purple scalloped clam-shell, as large as a man's hand, with a clasp of pure gold. Benji gasped and tried to kick it away, but the man snatched it back with the reflexes of a snake. 

"Ah-ah!" He wagged a mocking finger. "Better not damage it!" He stared at his prisoner. "Tell me what it is, if you know it."
Benji thrashed once more and flared up at the leering, dark face above him. His eyes dared him to open the box.

The man took the dare immediately. "Fine, then; we'll just have a look."

The minute he shifted the hinge, the little room filled with a soft, tinny sound. The man opened the lid to reveal an enclosed mechanism turning around and around as the melody continued. 

Benji's eyes softened as the memory of the strange woman returned. Who was she? The music conjured the sound of her voice...

"Oy!" Benji grunted as the man kicked his knees. "You went through all that effort to hide a music box?"

Benji gasped for breath as the low, lyrical voice in his mind sang words to the tune.

"Hey!" The man yanked his head back again. "I'm talking to you! Where did you get that box? Was it part of the treasure? Talk to me!" The man got his hands around Benji's throat and began squeezing.

The shadows swirling in his vision only made the memories clearer. Benji now knew who he was, why he was there, and who else awaited him on the surface. The pressure ceased, and the man let him drop in disgust. 
"Useless..." He muttered as he signaled the guard to exit before him.

Benji closed his eyes and sang along with the music.

"Mystic currents carry me,
Through the wild and untamed sea;
Beware the sound of Ocean's call,
The Siren folk are in its thrall."

The man froze, turning a wary eye on his prisoner. He'd heard rumors... but those were just legends... not one bit of evidence. Benji grinned, in spite of his chains.

"Are you threatening me?" The man growled, glaring dangerously.

Benji chuckled.

The man darted back and hauled Benji upright by his collar. "You little snot-wipe!" He roared. "You think you can scare me with that mystic malarkey?" He spat in his face.

"Not at all," Benji replied, as the debris floating past the windows picked up speed. "After all, you're the one who let Her in."

As soon as the words left his mouth, every window crashed inward as the power of the Amazon River flooded the room, carrying a large figure with it.

Previously in This Series:
#7 "After All" ("Soul Mates" Part 4)
#6 "The Fairies' Keeper" ("Soul Mates" Part 3)
#5 "Soul Mates" (Part 2)
#4 "Inside The Impact Zone"
#3 "Soul Mates" (Part 1)
#2 "The Artist's Wife"

#1 "Red of Morning"