Marcus leaned against the bar. The lighting here was good – neither so dark you needed to squint to see clearly nor so bright you felt like you needed to shield your eyes. Marcus knew he looked his best in this kind of light. That always made him feel good. And the acoustics were good too – not so noisy you couldn’t hear, but noisy enough to convey a party atmosphere. If Marcus hadn’t had a policy against ever visiting the same bar twice, he would’ve liked to come back to this one.
Sure enough, a girl came up to Marcus right away. She was a pretty girl, not that that mattered much. She may have carried a few extra pounds, but Marcus didn’t care about that. He flashed her his toothsome grin. Twenty minutes later, they were headed to Marcus’ place in his car. The car had been parked quite a distance away, and they’d had to walk to it through the rain. Marcus was pretty sure no one had followed them.
The girl’s hair was wet. She laughed a lot. Her laugh was deep and throaty, not like a smoker but like someone who had good, healthy lungs. He’d noticed that at the bar. She also looked to be a similar size as the others. That’s why Marcus had thought she’d be perfect. And she’d been the one to approach him. That had been very lucky.
Marcus pushed the remote as soon as his headlights illuminated the garage door. Marcus always parked in his garage and always made sure the door closed behind him before getting out of the car. He lived way out in the country without any close neighbors, but you never knew when someone might be driving by along the road, or some trespasser might be spying and see who Marcus was getting out of his car with. You just never knew.
The girl continued laughing her melodious laugh as she walked into the kitchen with Marcus. He wasn’t sure if she was drunk, nervous or just laughed a lot. Maybe all three. Yes, she’d love a glass of wine. Either red or white would be fine. She laughed some more. Marcus poured her Sauvignon Blanc. It was safer. Sometimes a bit of light colored residue from the powder he used tended to float on top, and it was less noticeable with the white. Mixed drinks usually worked better, but Marcus hadn’t had time to hit the liquor store lately. He poured some Malbec for himself.
When she’d finished half her drink, Marcus suggested the girl might like to see his music room in the basement. She already felt a little groggy and had trouble going down the stairs, but she made it without stumbling too badly. Marcus kept his arm around her tightly the whole time, and she seemed to appreciate it.
The girl was surprised by the crowd in the music room. There seemed to be over twenty people there, mostly women, but four or five men, too. It wasn’t like a party – they were all wearing robes and standing or sitting in rows. They all looked groggy, just like she felt. Marcus led her to a space at the right side in the second row. He slipped a handcuff around her wrist, attached the other end around a music stand bolted to the floor, handed her a piece of paper and walked to the front of the room.
The girl heard Marcus clear his throat. He tapped a baton against a podium. The others all stood at attention and got very quiet. When the singing started, it sounded like nothing she’d ever heard before. It started softly, then became a beautiful hum that grew and grew, until it filled her soul. The girl knew it might all be a hallucination but didn’t want it to stop.
The others in the room were looking at the papers in their hands, so the girl did the same. After a while, she caught the rhythm and the words started making sense. Then, she started to join in and became part of the hum. That beautiful, soul-filling hum. It went on for hours, or perhaps only a few minutes. It transcended time and space. But, eventually, the hum stopped, and Marcus began leading people away, one at a time.
When it was the girl’s turn to be led away, Marcus brought her to a tiny room in another part of the basement, just large enough for a narrow cot, small sink, and toilet. A box lunch, pillow, and blanket were placed neatly on the cot. She ate her fill and then slept, tired from the music, or maybe the wine, or maybe from whatever Marcus had added to it. She dreamt that a beautiful hum had kidnapped her and filled her up until she exploded.
Marcus felt annoyed. Despite his high hopes, he didn’t think the new girl was going to work out. She’d joined right in, quite enthusiastically he thought, but the great promise in her resonant laugh hadn’t been fulfilled. She’d been flat and didn’t project well at all. He hoped she’d eaten the entire meal he’d left for her. If so, she’d be easy for him to dispose of tomorrow morning.
The next evening, Marcus leaned against the bar. A girl came up right away. She was a pretty girl, not that that mattered much. Marcus smiled his toothsome grin and nodded at her as she chattered away, listening carefully to see if her voice might be right to fill the empty place in the hum of his being.
PC: Kwinten De Pauw on Unsplash