The Next Crop

“I see you’re awake Nancy… oh no, there’s no use trying to hide it, I can see how your body shifted, tensing against the ropes. Open your eyes dear, come now; let’s see those baby blues…”

Nancy slowly opened her eyes, bleary from having been unconscious for so long. Her muscles screamed from being in the same position for what felt like days, while her throat was dry and raspy, her lips chapped. Smacking her sandpaper tongue against the roof of her mouth, she looked around the darkened room she was in, looking for her captor.

All she found was the inky blackness of night.

A bottle, plastic and cold, pressed up against her lips, slowly tipping up to allow a trickle of ice cold water over her dried lips. She drank greedily, groaning as every time she began to get a steady flow the man (she guessed?) holding the bottle would tip it back, halting the flow. Over the course of what felt like hours, Nancy slowly drank down the bottle of water.

Dropping back against the chair she was tied to, she heaved a sigh, looking around for any sign of life within her darkened room. All she heard was the distinct tapping of hard-soled shoes against stone as her captor walked away from her, the clinking of metal as he shifted something off to her right.

“You know Nancy,” He began, his voice thick and heavy, with a slight accent. French perhaps? “I must say you intrigue me. I watched you for a little over a month, cheating on your boyfriend with that young grocer on West Lake Avenue, slipping into back alleys with him whenever the two of you could manage it.”

“Y-you’ve been watching me?” Nancy asked feeling violated as she struggled against her bonds.

“Why yes, that’s what I do.” She could feel him staring at her; hear the smile in his voice. “I watch. And learn. And eventually kill.”

“Kill? You’re going to kill me?” Nancy stuttered, her voice rising in tenor. Wherever she was being kept, the walls had a slight echo of her voice as she yelled, making her feel as if she were deep underground.

“Why yes, yes I am.” He simply replied, tapping a piece of metal against the glass, a hollow sound. “I’m a little surprised about this actually; I would have assumed you would know my intentions by now?”

“How would I? I don’t even know how long you’ve had me!” Nancy growled, thrashing against her bonds.

“Oh, I would say a little over ten days now. The news has been going on and on about you, you know? You’ve become a celebrity, just like you always wanted!”

“Shut up!” Nancy spat, swinging her head about wildly. “Help! Help!”

“Yes Nancy, scream all you’d like. Nobody is going to hear you… not here in the darkness.” He cooed, moving closer to her. She cried out as she felt a pinprick on her arm, an injection into the crook of her elbow.

“What was that?” She demanded as he moved away from her.

“Something to thin the blood, to make it more palatable... I find women your age to be quite sour, especially when they’ve been as busy as you’ve been.”

“What the hell do you mean by that? Are you going to drink my blood?” Nancy asked nausea heavy in her voice.

“Eventually, yes. But first, I have to make certain it will last for me.” The man calmly explained, the sound of ice being packed and crushed. “My plan is to drain you dry into some medical bags… with your size, I should be able to get perhaps five, maybe five and a half pints.”

“You’re sick! You hear me? You’re sick!” Nancy raged, throwing herself forward, the legs of her chair lifting off the ground, the claws of gravity taking hold of her momentum and pulling her face first towards the ground.

Only for a cold hand to catch her on the shoulder, preventing her from falling. She could feel the strength of the hand, as well as the withered, wrinkled skin. Slowly, he pushed her back until she was seated once more. He was close enough that she could smell him.

Dirt and something slightly sour...

“Now now, no need to behave like a child. Try and face your death with the dignity that your people pride themselves on.”

“My people? What do you mean?” Nancy asked shirking away as one of his cold hands grasped her bicep, clenching down as a needle pierces her vein, sliding in slowly. Wincing, Nancy fights back a cry of pain as he begins to speak once more.

“Your people. Don’t tell me you’ve been so polluted by the American culture that you’ve forgotten your history, now have you?” The man asked, his voice tinged with humor as he began to massage her arm, coaxing blood through the tube and, presumably, into a bag. “I remember when I was a boy how who you were meant so much more than your name or your clothes… it meant your people.”

“And who are your people then, sicko?” Nancy demanded, wracking her mind for a way to try and make an escape. His iron grip on her arm, combined with the expertly tied ropes made such a thought a mere dream.

“My people? I no longer have a people… your people saw to that.” The man said, almost sounding… sad? His grip on her arm relaxed though the spreading cold in her arm slowly gained momentum. “My people have lived on the fringes of society for the last three hundred years, slowly dying off, one by one. My original people have recovered from what, yet again, your people did to them, though they have grown harsher for it. They even have their own nation now!”

“That sounds exciting…” Nancy said her strength and will-sapping as the blood drained from her body.

“Oh, I imagine it is… I’ve always wanted to see the holy land myself, though I’ve never had the courage to go,” He continued, moving away from her to fiddle with more instruments. “I prefer to live in the darkness, where my people thrive.”

“You mean killers? Murderers?” Nancy asked, breathing heavily.

The man paused for a moment, before chuckling. “Yes, I suppose you’re right. Though in a sense, you couldn’t be further from the truth if you tried. Now relax your other arm dear, I need to prepare it for the needle.”

Nancy tried to tighten her arm up, flex it so it would be harder to pierce, but she just couldn’t seem to move of her own volition. She could feel him smiling at her as he approached, one hand cupping her cheek, the frigid feel of his fingers against her clammy skin almost soothing. “It was a joke dear; I slipped a muscle relaxant into you as well.”

“How do you get all of these tools? These drugs? Someone should have noticed them going missing.” Nancy asked as she felt the cold steel slide into her vein once more, the draining feeling of blood leaking from her body down a tube now making her dizzy.

“I actually grow the herbs used to make the drugs myself, in a garden I keep close by,” He replied happily, rubbing her arm to coax out more of her vital essence. “I was a doctor in a former life, with a degree in botany. Though my knowledge is a bit dated, some of the tried and true remedies of the old world still work when properly used.”

“Well great for you… you must want a fuckin’ medal,” Nancy drawled, her eyes growing heavy.

“For my meager research skills in what is little more than alchemy? No, a medal would be far too gaudy for someone like me. I just prefer to gather what I need from those that deserve to donate.”

“So me cheatin’ on Patrick means I get to die? Who’re you to judge?” She slurred, rolling her head from side to side.

“Nobody more important than you I must admit, though from a month of observation all I saw was a selfish child too high and mighty to realize she had a good life going on around her. I figured since you always seemed so displeased with it, you wouldn’t miss it.”

“Displeased with it? I love my life!” Nancy exclaimed, fighting to get some of her strength back.

“You certainly didn’t show it then, cheating on your boyfriend and slinking around like a thief. Arguing with your family and drinking until you passed out in the arms of your supposed love. You looked like someone who was miserable and wanted an escape!”

Nancy sat still for a few moments before letting out a choking sob. “I did… I did want a way out, but not like this! Why couldn’t I just find a rich man, or win the lottery?”

“Because you didn’t deserve such things.”

“And I deserve this?” Nancy shouted, slumping back in her seat, her whole body shivering from the cold of the darkness and her blood loss.

A hand patted her on the shoulder. “No… nobody deserves this.”

Nancy couldn’t even respond as she faded into the darkness around her, awash in a sea of freezing miasma. She didn’t feel the man pull the needles from her dead arms, nor when he untied her, picking up her frail form from the chair as delicately as possible. Her body curled in on itself, a withered and dry bent at the midsection.

Walking up the creaking wooden steps, the man reached out with a cold hand to open the door, casting light into the darkened root cellar, over the red ice box packed with five bags of dark red fluid, over the table of surgical tools and needles. Over the map of a metropolitan area, littered with thumb tacks.

Moving into the bare wooden room, the man kicked the door to the root cellar closed and made his way to the front door, opening it to reveal a cold, star-filled night in the midst of a darkened forest. Moving with the grace of a dancer, he walked down a long series of steps curling around the hill his home was perched on, to a small garden he kept in the back, beneath the canopy of three large oaks.

A simple hole, perhaps four feet long and three feet wide, two feet deep, was dug; a shovel perched atop the pile of dirt that he had extracted from the ground last night while Nancy sat drugged in his cellar. Gently placing her body into the shallow grave, the man moved with the speed and strength of one-half his age, shoveling dirt atop her form at a rapid pace.

After he’d covered her, he moved to a small shed where he kept small pots full of seeds, extracting a handful of small black beads. Slowly, using one finger at a time, he burrowed an inch hole over the fresh grave and planted each seed, until he’d planted twenty-four new Opium plants. Taking a watering can and sprinkling the new plot, the man whistled, slow and low as he did his work.

After all, he would need this crop within the next few months if he wanted to go hunting once more… though the forty odd plants in full bloom behind him, standing tall and proud, would certainly make any future endeavors such as the one he did tonight an easy task.

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