Using every ounce of strength, Marie pulled against the restraints trying to move the table nearer to her captor’s workbench and the key to her freedom. Each tiny millimeter notched brought her closer, yet the exertion was taking its toll. The loss of blood teamed with her painful injuries made the room spin each time she lifted her head. A tick-tick-tick sound made Marie stop the struggle, close her good eye, and listen. Sounds like a leaky faucet, she pondered. Before she could strain against the binds again to search for the source, the dreaded sound of his heavy footfalls hit the stairs. A fear unlike anything she’d ever known before struck her very core. The horror movies that she’d always loved had become a reality—a terrifying, painful reality. Unlike the idiots in her beloved movies, she vowed not to run upstairs into the attic or any other foolish nonsense that got characters killed. I’m too smart for that. He’s going to rue the day he messed with a Southern girl! All through her inner monologue, the same dripping sound continued, distracting her from his approach.
“It’s a bit chilly down here, pet, isn’t it? I thought you might need… Hang on now, what’s that?”
Oh God! He realized that I’ve moved the table. He’s going to kill me now. Inside, Marie was saying her goodbyes to her family and friends when he spoke again.
“Hmm, looks like the flesh on your leg has broken open again. That’s no good. I can’t have you bleeding out overnight. Not when we’re having so much fun together, my pet. I’ve decided to keep you around for a while so let’s reseal this wound.”
The blowtorch hissed in the background but Marie was too exhausted to care. Unlike last time, he did not point the flame directly on her skin. Instead, he heated the blade of his favorite butcher knife then pressed it against her open flesh. A sizzle, like the sound of fajitas being carried through her favorite restaurant, echoed in Marie’s ear while the smell of burning flesh made her stomach roil. The gag swallowed up her scream until she finally lost consciousness as he tucked the blanket around her. Lost in the fuzzy haze, Marie could not hear her captor’s dog barking wildly.
“Shut up!” he bellowed from the base of the stairs but the dog continued. Furious, he stomped upstairs to put an end to the racket. “What’s gotten into you, boy?”
With hackles raised, the dog continued barking and leaping at the window. Finally, his master peered outside and saw what had drawn the pup’s ire.
“Hmm…wonder who that is, messing around at the old Harmon place. Maybe I should go take a look.”
He pulled on his jacket and stepped outside. A woman, with her hands cupped over her eyes, stood on tiptoe trying to peek inside the house next door.
“Excuse me, can I help you?”
The startled woman gasped and jumped away from the window.
“Oh! Hi…um, do you live here?”
“Lucky for you, no. I live next door. No one has lived here for a few months. The old man died and his kids are squabbling over what should be done with the place. The neighborhood watch in this area is pretty stringent so you’ll need a better line than ‘do you live here’ if someone else catches you.”
Already relaxing her stance, the woman chuckled and extended her hand.
“I suppose you’re right. I’m Jill, by the way. Actually, I was looking for a friend of mine. She was supposed to meet me and I was running late. I checked her cell phone and the last location was somewhere near here. I was just trying to see if anyone around here had seen her.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Jill. What’s your friend’s name and what does he look like?”
“He isn’t a he. She is she and her name is Marie. She has short, blonde, hair sort of a pixie cut annnnd…you’re a man. You probably have no idea what that means.”
“Give me a little credit. I think I know what that means.”
Their laughter was cut short by an alert from her phone. The scowl on her face showed clear frustration.
“I know it’s none of my business but is everything okay?” He asked, smiling warmly.
“Yeah, it’s just…my ride bailed and now my cell is nearly dead. I guess I had just expected to find something out by now. You’re the only one home in a five-mile radius.”
“Tell you what; come over onto my property so you don’t get in trouble for trespassing. You can have a seat on my front porch where it’s well lit. I’ll let you use my phone and you can call someone to pick you up. Heck, I’ll even bring out a hot cup of coffee for you so you don’t freeze to death.”
“That sounds fantastic! I can’t thank you enough.”