894 words (3 minute read)

The Week of...

Three point eight ounces, that’s all I have left of my daughter.

All my hopes and dreams, the sum potential of a human life, reduced to a minuscule container of ash. But even that’s not true, we call them ashes but they’re not, not really. When a body is cremated, after it’s passed through a 2,000 degree fire, all that’s left behind are bone fragments which are crushed into a fine sand. We don’t have ashes sitting in the urns on our mantles. We don’t scatter ashes into the wind or sprinkle them over the deep blue sea. The returned remains of our loved ones aren't ash, they're dust. Pulverized bone, ground down into near nothingness. An entire life reduced to nothing but a fine powder.

Of all the lies I've uncovered these past ten weeks, this is the one that my mind most often comes to rest on.

There’s no reason to fixate on this. It doesn't matter what’s sitting in this urn. Ash, or sand, can’t become bone and bone can’t become flesh and my daughter can't be brought back from this tiny pile of grit. Even if there was a way, a magic potion or some miraculously advanced technology, she’d still be lost to me. Because this isn’t my daughter. These aren’t her earthly remains.

These three point eight ounces of sand are a lie.

I don’t know who they came from, if they even came from anyone at all, but I refuse to let go of them. They may not be my daughter but I still need them. I need them to remind myself of the lies and the deceit. I need them to remind me of what was taken from me and what’s still out there somewhere. I need them to remind me of the family that they destroyed.

I need them to remind me that it’s worth risking anything to get my daughter back. No matter what it takes.

They think they’ve won; that they’ve confined me to a place I’ll never escape. A place that I’m now realizing is run by them. For all I know, I may be the only normal human in the entire facility. It doesn’t matter though, it can’t matter, because I will escape. I will tear this place down brick by brick if needed. I will leave this place. No matter what it takes.

Then I’ll find him, the one who took my daughter, and I’ll make him confess. No matter what it takes.

Am I losing myself? Surely. A little more of the person I was seems to crumble away every day. I’ve never been a violent man. Never been in a fight. Never came leaping from my car to scream at someone who’d cut me off at a red light. My wife once said I was a strong but gentle man with a kind heart. It’s better she can’t see this, can’t see who I’ve been forced to become.

A gentle man wouldn’t dream of smashing another man’s head into a concrete sidewalk until it cracked. Continuing long after the cries of pain and pleading have stopped. Long after he’s told me where my little girl has been taken. Not stopping till there’s nothing recognizable left.

They’re the ones who did this to me. Who wiped out my family and destroyed my life. Who pushed me to this place. They’re out there somewhere, I know it, laughing and gloating and celebrating their victory. Awash in confidence that yet another threat to them has been contained. Swirling in the dark and between places, bloated by their superiority to the human race while they watch us. While they witness us struggle and fight to survive; to build something in this life.

They watch and they mock and they jeer because they know, deep in the charred fissures of their broken souls, that everything we do is for them. All our building, creating, inventing. All of it is for them. The more comfortable we are the easier it is for them to take us, to consume us, to break us.

We’re like cows building the ramp that will lead us into the slaughter house.

Well let them gloat. Let them scoff and mock and jeer. Because I’m coming for them and when I get there it won’t be the gentle man with a kind heart that my wife knew. No, it’ll be a broken man with nothing left to lose; the man they forged. A man who wants nothing more than to catch them so he can beat them till their flesh splits to the bone. A man who will crush and pulverize every piece of their skeleton to dust while they still live. A man who dreams of hearing their desperate screams of pain and will take pleasure in knowing that they may feel half of the pain he carries with him daily.

I just need him to lead me to them. Then I’ll destroy them one by one till I have my daughter back. And if he won’t talk, we’ll just have to see how much dust he can be reduced to; one piece at a time he’ll watch me dismantle him. Till I get her back.

Like I said, no matter what it takes.

Next Chapter: Excerpt 1