The night air was damp and cool as I stepped outside the Maxis Harmon science building. Class had run late again, it was now 9:13 pm. I hated taking three-hour classes at night, but it was only one night a week and it worked with my schedule. I sighed as I bundled my coat tighter around my chest and headed toward my car. Of course in college, you never get to park anywhere remotely near the classrooms, and since I didn’t like waiting for the bus, which revolved endlessly around campus, I was forced to walk. There weren’t too many other students around at this time of night, but I didn’t really notice. I was too focused on getting home so I could get some studying in before bedtime. I had a test to take in the morning, and at this moment in my life, grades seemed like the most important thing in the world. I needed the best grades I could get because I had already messed up once before, and if I wanted a chance at getting into pharmacy school, I needed to get serious. When I was almost to my car I began to dig around in my purse for my keys. I didn’t even notice the figure behind me until it was too late.
A hand was in my face and an arm around my waist before I even had a chance to look up. I felt myself lift into the air as I was pulled tightly to my attackers chest. Panic flooded through my body and my mind raced to catch up. I thrashed violently in an attempt to free myself, my mind muffled with terror. I must have kicked him somehow, because I heard a low grunt in my ear and suddenly I was flung against the hood of a nearby car, his weight crushing me. Even with all the adrenaline pumping through my body, I began to feel weak and dizzy. My mind screamed in alarm as I realized what I had actually breathed in. I felt hopeless. A hundred scenarios went through my mind at that moment, and none of them ended well. I’m going to die, I thought miserably as darkness took over.
Some indefinite amount of time later I opened my eyes, groggily forgetting what had happened to me. The first thing I noticed was the most obnoxious headache I’d ever experienced before, pounding in my head. I moaned in pain. I attempted to cradle my head with my hands but I couldn’t do it. I panicked at my paralysis, attempting again and again to move, anything. I was lying on my side wiggling desperately but accomplishing nothing. Suddenly I remembered what had happened to me and simultaneously forgot about my throbbing head. I realized I wasn’t paralyzed, I was tied. I froze in fear, attempting to discretely look for my kidnapper as though he hadn’t just seen me wiggle around like a crazed worm. All I could see was the end of the bed I was lying sideways on and a bare, tan colored wall. There was a white door in the corner by my feet. I noticed it had some sort of lock mechanism on it. Undoubtedly it was locked but there was no way I was going to find out at this point. I became aware of the gag in my mouth when I tried to look up. The sides of my mouth were burning against the material wrapped relentlessly around my head. There was also something in my mouth and I found I couldn’t breath through anything but my nose. I wiggled my arms again. I could feel not only my wrists tied tightly behind my back, but also my elbows. In fact, I could feel something like rope wrapped practically everywhere on my body, including up my legs like the stripe on a candy cane.
I lay there for a few minutes in utter terror, not really sure what to do, and not even sure what I could do. I had decided I was alone in this room. I couldn’t really see behind me but I had heard nothing but the slow whir of the ceiling fan above me thus far. There was absolutely no way I could free myself. Any movement I tried to make accomplished nothing but pain, and I was already extremely uncomfortable. My arms literally felt like they were falling off, and my left shoulder had gone numb long ago from me lying on it. My throat felt like it had been stuffed with sandpaper, and for all I knew it had. My eyes began to tear up the more I thought about what was happening to me. This was not something that really happened to people. This was something I read about in the news or in a book, or saw in a movie. This was something that happened to someone else, anyone else, not me. I was freely crying now. I always thought I would be brave in a situation like this, but now that it was happening I was absolutely terrified. I wondered if I would ever see my family again, and doubted it. My roommate would definitely be missing me. She’d been my best friend since elementary school, and staying out all night was not one of my habits. She would be calling around for me, calling my parents, the police maybe. I hoped so anyways. They would find my car easily, and know that I had gone to class that night…
I stopped thinking suddenly when I heard a door close from somewhere nearby. My heart pounded wildly in my chest, anticipating what was to come. My eyes locked onto the door in the corner. I could hardly breathe as I heard footsteps approaching, followed by the jingle of keys. Unable to take the pressure, I shut my eyes and listened to the lock clink. The door opened and for whatever reason all I could think was, please let there be just one. Maybe I could have a chance… I heard the door shut again. I didn’t open my eyes until a hand pushed gently against my shoulder. Opening my eyes, I was surprised at what I saw. I was expecting to see someone old, ugly, and creepy. Some derelict I would have known to avoid. But this was not what I saw at all. He was tall and thin, but obviously in shape. His brown hair was parted in the middle and swept down both sides of his face, just long enough to cover his ears. He looked older than me though, but not as old as I was expecting. I guessed late twenties, maybe thirty. He wore a simple black t-shirt and jeans. Based on looks alone he was completely harmless. He was someone smart and put together and successful and someone any girl’s parents would like. More tears slid down my face as I stared at the devil in disguise. He stepped back and smiled when he saw that I was awake.
“There you are,” he said, “I was hoping you’d be awake by now.”
I could do nothing but stare at him. It felt awful to be so helpless. I would have given anything to shrivel up and disappear. But I couldn’t, and I felt completely embarrassed and ashamed that someone was seeing me like this, even if it was my kidnapper. I already didn’t feel like myself…
“Now, I’m sure you’re uncomfortable” he began, “but I hope you’ll understand this method is for the best.”
“I didn’t want you freaking out when you woke up and accidently doing something, stupid,” he continued. He moved towards me again, causing me to panic, but then knelt down so that his face was even with mine and he smiled again. I glared at him, was he crazy? I thought, please don’t let him be crazy. “First things first” he continued, “I need you to understand my rules. Firstly, you will not yell or scream for help. Now I know this sounds like a given,” he put his hands up defensively as though I were trying to reprimand him for stating the obvious, “but I feel I must be absolutely clear in order to minimize misunderstandings between us. And anyways, there is no one but me to hear you, and believe me,” he warned, “you do not want me to hear you.” Even though he was attractive, his expression was threatening as he said this and it scared the crap out of me. “Next,” he went on, “you will not use any foul, hateful, or degrading language. It’s just not becoming! Furthermore, you will be polite and speak to me with respect, and you will stop speaking if and when I tell you to. Do you understand?”
All of these things he was saying really annoyed me, but I nodded anyway. Frankly I would have nodded at anything he said at this point if it meant getting this thing out of my mouth. He smiled. I supposed he thought I was being easy, already giving up and being utterly pathetic.
“Okay, I’m going to take your gag off now. But you’re not going to forget what I just said because if you do, I promise I’ll put it right back on.” He didn’t even check to see if I agreed. He leaned over me and untied the gag, tearing out some of my hair as he did but I didn’t care. My mouth almost hurt more when he took it off. I coughed out the piece of cloth that had been suffocating me and gagged a few times before gasping for air. It left a horrible taste in my mouth. It tasted like a dust rag with some ghastly cleaning solution on it. I coughed some more and tried to moisten my dry throat by swallowing, but it was useless. I desperately needed water.
For a moment I had almost forgotten about my kidnapper until he stood up and pulled a knife out of his back pocket. He saw the fear and alarm on my face and chuckled. I felt sick. He flipped the knife around in the air a few times, catching the handle each time while smirking at me. I could tell he was enjoying this, intentionally dragging it out. “My second rule is that you will not hit, slap, scratch, push, or do anything hostile towards me with those arms of yours, or else they’ll be right back where they are right now. Got it?”
I nodded. I could see what he was doing, systematically untying me while corresponding to his stupid rules. I wanted to slap him for it.
He leaned in and cupped his ear, “was that a yes?”
I clenched my teeth. “Yes.” My voice was dry and coarse and my throat burned.
“Excellent.” He leaned over me a second time. I closed my eyes and felt him pull on my arm so that I was basically on my stomach. He cut away at the ropes until I was finally free of them. The moment he backed away I immediately pushed myself up into a sideways sitting position. My arms were splotchy red and blue and my wrists were practically bleeding. How long had I been like this? I wondered. I rubbed my wrists tenderly as he continued on with his monologue.
“Now this one you really need to listen to, because I know you will want to try it, but if you try to run and escape only one of two things will happen to you. You will either die, or I will catch you. And if I catch you, you’ll be lucky if you’re even able to walk again,” he sneered.
I considered him for a moment. “Die?” I asked, ignoring his threat.
He looked at me, “Yes, you’ll get lost.”
“Where are we?” I asked, suddenly worried about how far away we had to be for me to “get lost”.
He only smirked. “I’m going to cut you free now, but you have to promise me first.”
“Okay,” I said, “I promise.” Did I have a choice in the matter?
“Good.” He moved towards me with the knife a third time, but instead of cutting me loose, he pounced on top of me, shoving my head back onto the bed and bringing the knife to my face. I gasped in a mixture of fear and surprise.
“What are you doing?” I cried, suddenly terrified.
“There’s one more thing,” he paused, eyes piercing into mine. The blade was pressing into my cheek. “Don’t ever kick me again.”
I thought for a moment, assuming he was referring to when he’d inhumanely attacked me from behind and I’d instinctively tried to defend myself. Yes, according to him that was my bad. I opened my mouth to say something.
“Shhhhhh.” He pressed the blade across my lips. “No excuses,” he said. My heart was pounding terribly. I felt another tear slide down the side of my face. He wiped it away. “No don’t cry,” he cooed, “you can make it up to me.” I felt a wave of adrenaline pump through my body. What did he mean by that? My mind raced. I didn’t know what to do, or what to say, to get myself out of what I was imagining was to come. I jumped when he started laughing.
“You’re so adorable when you’re scared,” he mocked, then quickly turned dead serious, “You shouldn’t do that.”
“Do what?” I whispered shakily, unable to feign even a sliver of courage.
He smiled. “Temp me.”
I swallowed, my throat still burning. “Listen,” I pleaded, “you got me okay? I’m sorry. I promise never to kick you again.”
After a moment he sat up, slowly sliding the knife from my cheek down past my chest. He slowly backed himself down my legs and began cutting the rope as he came to it, finally cutting the last of it while standing on the floor at my feet. I was finally free, at least, as free as I could be for now. I could have kicked him again, right then. God knows I wanted to, but I was too scared to even move. He stood there perfectly still, testing me. I knew I was in no position to fight him. Even though he really didn’t look that big, I knew a struggle would only end in his favor. He’d have an excuse to do something horrible. I finally got the nerve to sit up and quickly climbed off the opposite side of the bed. He just watched me as I backed as far away from him as I could.
“This is your room now,” he said as my back reached the wall, “you’ll find clothes in that closet. He gestured to a small room across from me that I hadn’t even noticed until now. “As you can see, there’s not a bathroom in here so you’ll just have to let me know when you need to use it.”
That was the absolute last thing I wanted to do, tell some stranger each and every time I needed to do my business. I felt sick to my stomach again, like I might actually vomit right then and there. He must have seen my expression because he asked me if I needed it right then.
I hesitated, but nodded. Maybe I could scope out a way to escape, or see outside at least. Maybe I could figure out where I was…
My heart sank as he led me literally 4 steps outside my room, down a plain hallway, to a door on the right. He gestured to it so I opened it. Sure enough it was a bathroom. I walked in, half expecting him to follow or at least tell me how much time I had. He did neither, just stood outside while I closed the door behind me. I immediately thought to lock the door. I fumbled with what apparently used to be a lock as it clanked around.
“It’s broken.” I heard him say from the other side. I was nervous to do anything in there when he could easily walk in whenever he felt like it. I glanced around the bathroom, which was oddly shaped like a trapezoid. There was a double sink, followed by a standard toilet, and a sliding door shower at the end. There was another door behind me that I noticed through the mirror. I opened it to find a closet with a few towels, washcloths, and hand towels in it. I was still feeling nauseous so I went over to the toilet as though I might throw up. I gagged a few times but nothing came up, likely because I hadn’t eaten in a while. While I was sitting there I noticed there were cabinets under the sinks. I quietly opened them, finding the usual things like toilet paper and extra shower stuff. I also couldn’t help but notice the rather large supply of feminine supplies. Part of me wondered if another woman lived here. I prayed it wasn’t all for me, if so I would have to be here for years before running out. I felt like crying again.
“Almost done?” He asked as he gently tapped on the door.
That simple action of his practically made me pee my pants right there. “Umm almost.” I replied, praying he wouldn’t come in. I realized I really did need to pee quite badly. I took a deep breath and rushed to do my business as quickly and quietly as possible, keeping an eye on the door just in case. I finished without interruption and washed my hands. I took the opportunity to take a drink from the facet; I didn’t want to ask him for anything. I wiped my mouth and glanced in the mirror, I looked horrible! Mascara was smudged all over my eyes and my skin was a splotchy mixture of pale and red. My blonde hair looked like it hadn’t been brushed in ages. It fell in frazzled clumps just past my shoulders. I turned the sink back on and quickly tried to wash all the crap off my face, including an array of dried tear streaks. God please let someone be looking for me right now, I prayed, please let them find me. I need help. I heard another tap on the door. I quickly dried my hands and face and slowly opened the door.
“Well, you look much better,” he said when I’d opened the door just enough to see him. I was afraid to come out. I wanted to just stay in the bathroom by myself. But my wants apparently meant nothing. He pushed the door open and took my arm. I wanted to resist but I didn’t for the sake of keeping him calm. He led me back to my windowless room and left without saying another word. I heard the sound of the lock click behind me.
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