- Title: Forbidden Memories
- Subtitle: Feminized as a Punishment
- Series: Transgender Horror
- Author: Yu Sakurazawa
Dean Baker is the 32 year old protagonist of the story. He is a journalist, the owner of a reputed publishing house and a recently turned author.
When walking alongside the Arno River, Dean is abducted by three men. They take him to the North of the country and shut him up in a small room in a three-unit apartment. Thereafter, Dean receives one riddle after another. Solving them, evidently, will lead him to discover who the mastermind of his abduction is. Dean succeeds in finding the mastermind, but pays a price for a “dark deed” he’d committed in the past by being forcibly feminized.
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Feminized as a Punishment
Transgender Horror Series
by Yu Sakurazawa
Chapter 1 – The Monster of Florence
I had shifted to Florence along with my wife and a young son to write a book on “The Monster of Florence”, an unapprehended criminal who had committed a slew of murders in the quaint city between 1968 and 1985. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that I had had done well for myself. I had started my career as a journalist with the Guardian, had briefly worked in a publishing house in London and now, at 32, was rich enough to take time off to write a book.
As much as I enjoyed my work, the gristliness of the content I was working on at times disturbed me. To refresh my brain, I was in the habit of taking frequent walks across the Arno River towards Pizzale Michelangelo. As I presently sauntered across the bend, I noticed that the roads weren’t teeming with people as it usually did. A sudden, inexplicable uneasiness gripped me. I sat down on one of the benches to calm myself.
As I held took deep breaths, an old ramshackle car pulled over the bend. The driver peeped out and asked “Got a lighter, buddy?” indicating the cigarette in his hand. He had a heavy Italian accent, but took great pains to address me in English. He had obviously realized that I wasn’t a local man.
I discreetly studied the driver. He looked as lean and hungry as an underfed greyhound, and as muscular. He may not have been more than 28 or 29, but years of bad living had obviously taken the sheen of youth away from him.
I got up and obliged. As I turned to go after lighting the man’s cigarette, the back door of the car swung open. Before I knew what was happening, a pair of powerful cocoa arms had dragged me into the back seat. I turned to look at the mighty human who had seized me. He was a black young man, probably in his early 20s. He may have been a North African who had immigrated to Italy years ago, for he spoke fluent Italian. I knew only a smattering of Italian, but understood enough to know that that the man was hurling profanities at me. His thick eyebrows were knit together in an angry manner, and he looked very formidable.
As the guy succeeded in getting me into the back seat, the driver revved up the engine and drove away. Realization struck me like a whiplash. I was being abducted. I had to do something about it—immediately. I opened my mouth to cry out, but a pair of hairy Caucasian hands stifled my cry. A few miles later, I realized that it belonged to my third kidnapper, a dark-haired man in his late 30s. He spoke rudimentary Italian like me; I surmised he was a fairly recent immigrant from Hungary, Romania or some other place in Eastern Europe.
For the next two and a half years, which I spent in captivity; I never learnt their names. For convenience’s sake, I called them Athos, Porthos and Artemis, the names of the famous three musketeers.
As the familiar piazzas, canals and spires disappeared from view, I realized we were moving out of Florence. When my abductors realized that I was closely tracing the route, they tranquilized me. Artemis (the East European) retrieved a syringe from his ragged leather bag and jabbed my arm with it. I was dead to the world for hours after that.
When I opened my eyes, Athos (the Italian) was driving down a sparsely populated mountainous tract of obviously non-arable land. One look at it, and I knew that it was impossible to grow crops, use machinery or build on this land. The air had also grown chillier. I rubbed my arms to subdue the goose bumps that had risen on them. It was apparent that I had been brought a long way from Florence to one of the remotest parts of Italy, evidently the North. My breathing became labored and irregular, and I thirsted for a drop of water.
“Acqua” I murmured in an unsteady voice “May I have some water please?”
“Aspetta!” snarled Porthos (the North African), while Athos, in his heavily accented English, barked: “You can’t order us like that! We’re not your indentured servants! Wait until we get to the destination. Then you can slake your thirst!”
The fury in the man’s voice made me cower and I curled up on my side of the vehicle. My legs were beginning to feel stiff and sore from long hours of sitting in a cramped space. At 5’8, I wasn’t the tallest man on the planet, but I had long legs and often needed as much leg space as a six footer. The expressions on the face of my captors had grown grimmer. I felt all the muscles of my body coil with tension.
The car came to an abrupt halt in front of a modest-sized, three-unit palazzo with wild flowers growing all around it. The palazzo seemed so deserted and overgrown with weed and wild grass, that it was hard to believe that anybody actually lived in it. It was sans balconies and an outdoor stair case that led to the terrace. However, it seemed to have some sort of a garage space where the men stopped their decrepit vehicle.
I had a cursory glimpse of two units of the palazzo as I was yanked in. The first was a living unit, comprising of a bedroom with three bunk beds, a kitchen and a bathroom. The second was some sort of a laboratory reeking of formaldehyde and some sort of disinfecting fluid. As I was whisked past the second unit, I wondered what my abductors did for a living. Were they scientists? Not likely. They were more likely to be blue-collared workers than white-collared ones.
I was subsequently lugged and bolted inside a tiny 8×10 room, with an unplastered wall and cemented floors. As the key turned in the latch, I felt as agitated as a trapped creature at bay. I turned and banged on the door with the entire force of the nervous energy pent inside me. “Open up!” I cried in petrified desperation “Let me out, please!” The men lingered in the vicinity for a moment, apparently indecisive as to what to do. Then, their footsteps faded away and became a mere echo in the wilderness. I stamped my foot in frustration and became fully conscious of the kind of place I had been thrown in.
Calling the room a pigsty wouldn’t have been an exaggeration. The mildewed walls and musty smell that hung about the place certainly gave it the appearance of one. However, the room had marks of civilization that a pigsty couldn’t probably boast of. It had a springy cot, a small coffee table and a rickety chair. A little decrepit little vase stood on the coffee table. A large full-length mirror and a noisy grandfather-clock graced the room as well. I kicked the door of the adjoining compartment open. It had a bathtub, a commode and a washbasin.
I closed the bathroom door and stood in front of the mirror in a zombie-like fashion. I had prided myself on being pleasant-looking, but at this moment I looked like shit. My body looked more skinny than sinewy, and my usually healthy complexion appeared blanched. The pupils of my green eyes were dilated. I noticed that my hands were trembling.
Thoughts raced my mind. Who were these men and what did they want of me? Was it ransom? That was a possibility. I had made quite a tidy sum for myself, which probably made a good potential target for kidnappers. If this was abduction for ransom, the men would have already called my wife up and demanded the money. And Sheena, no doubt, would have dispatched the demanded amount efficiently. She wouldn’t waste a moment if she knew my life was at stake. I really didn’t have much to worry about.
Yet my nerves were going to shreds. And the steady tick-tock of the grandfather clock served to exacerbate my anxiety.
Deep inside my heart I knew this wasn’t abduction for ransom. There was more to this affair than what met the eye.
It was then that I noticed the rose-scented pink envelope lying on the coffee table.
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