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by Lynn Miclea
The slap stung her face and brought tears to her eyes. She had to find a way to get out of there and away from that man.
“Now don’t you give me a problem, girl. You’re mine now. I can do anything I want with you.” His sour breath washed over her as his eyes frantically looked around the small room. “Don’t you even think of escaping or it will be even worse for you, I promise.” He backed up and reached the doorway. “You just sit tight now and don’t move. I’m gonna go get some rope and I’ll be right back. Don’t you dare try to get out of here. If you try to leave, I’ll kill you. You hear me?”
Heather nodded, her lips pursed tightly, trying not to let the tears fall. Her face still stung from the slap, and she felt nauseous with fear.
Just this morning, she had been walking the six blocks to high school like she did every day. And this man had pulled up next to her in his car. He had gotten out, said his name was Karl, and he asked for directions. She had hesitated, taking in his old clothes and foul breath. Then he had quickly grabbed her and forced her into his car before she even realized what was happening. But she couldn’t think about that now. It didn’t even matter anymore. Now she just had to somehow get away.
Karl left the room and she heard him lock the door from the other side. She was trapped. She jumped up, desperate. There had to be a way out. She ran to the door and listened. She heard footsteps that seemed to be retreating, and then silence. She tried the doorknob. Locked.
Her eyes searched the room. There was one window, old and dirty. She tried to open it, but it wouldn’t budge. That seemed to be the only way out. Anxiety clawed at her, and she felt frantic. She pulled her shirt sleeve over her elbow and rammed the back of her arm into the window. Nothing. Again. A small crack. She had to get out!
One more time, harder. The glass splintered. She broke more of the window and pulled out as many shards of glass as she could. Time was running out. She didn’t know when he would be back.
Heather looked out the window. Many tall trees surrounded the cabin. But no Karl in sight. She hoisted herself up on the window sill and scrambled forward, the remaining glass scratching her as she pushed herself through. She dropped to the dirt floor outside. She quickly crouched down, froze, and listened. Nothing.
She took off, running blindly through the woods, her heart thundering in her chest. Roots and small branches reached out to trip her, but she managed to keep her balance and run. A few minutes later a larger root snagged her foot, and she crashed down to the dirt floor. A whimper escaped her with the impact. Filled with terror, she listened. She could hear him stomping through the woods, but she was not sure how far away he was. She got up, stumbled, and ran again.
A path showed up ahead. It would be easier to run on that, but she would also be more visible. She stayed in the woods and ran parallel to the path. Her heart was pounding. It was hard to breathe.
“Hey, you bitch!” Karl’s voice reached her. “Where are you? I’m gonna find you, and you won’t be happy when I do.”
She stopped running and scrambled behind a larger tree trunk. Her breathing was heavy and ragged. Could he hear it? Where was he?
After a few minutes, she didn’t hear him anymore and she ran farther into the woods, away from the cabin. The underbrush was tedious to run through, but she kept going until her chest ached. She stopped, breathing hard, her heart thundering.
“You miserable piece of shit, I’m gonna find you!” Karl’s voice was menacing and it sounded closer now. “Where are you, bitch?”
Heather took off again, sweat and fear drenching her as she ran.
Laughter up ahead got her attention. She looked down the path. A young man and woman were walking toward her, hand in hand, talking and laughing.
Heather ran out onto the path. “Excuse me,” she called out to them.
The couple stopped, and their eyes grew wide with concern. “Are you okay?” the man asked.
“No, I’m not. Do you have a phone? Can you call 9-1-1? Please. Hurry.”
“Sure.” The man took out his phone and looked down at it. “What is wrong?”
“There you are, you bitch. You won’t get away from me.” Karl stepped onto the path, his eyes wild. “And you,” he blared at the young couple, “you two stay out of this. This is none of your business. She’s mine.” He narrowed his eyes at them. “But if you interfere, I won’t hesitate to kill all three of you. You hear me?” He took out a switchblade and waved it in the air. “Enough of this. C’mon, little girl, you’re coming back with me where you belong.”
“No!” Heather stepped closer to the couple. Would they help her? Or would they not want to get involved and risk injury themselves? Had they even had time to call 9-1-1? She wasn’t sure.
Karl took a few steps forward. “C’mon, bitch. Don’t make things worse. You’re coming with me.”
“No,” she muttered. “No.” Terror filled her, and her breathing came fast and shallow.
The young man on the path pulled Heather next to him. “Hey, leave her alone,” he called out.
“All of you are going to die for this.” Karl glared at them, his eyes spitting fire. “Mark my words, you will be sorry.” His venomous gaze narrowed on Heather. “And you, little girl, you will pay for this. And I will have fun making you pay.” He licked his lips.
“No, please, leave me alone.” Her voice was shaky.
“I will not be stopped. And you will be—”
“STOP! POLICE! DROP YOUR WEAPON!” a voice thundered behind Karl.
Karl glanced over his shoulder and then lunged at the group, his knife thrust forward, his eyes wild with hatred and venom.
Heather screamed and backed up. The young man grabbed his girlfriend and took a few steps backward, next to Heather.
“You will die, bitch. All three of you will die!” Karl was ten feet away. He rushed at them.
Shots rang out. The man staggered and took one more step. Another shot split the air and his body jerked. One foot came forward, and then he dropped to the ground, two feet in front of Heather.
One of the two cops rushed to Heather, while the other stopped next to the fallen man, his weapon trained on the body.
The cop who reached Heather looked serious but kind. “Are you okay?” She read the name on his uniform—the name printed was Julian Michaels.
“He … he … he kidnapped me.” She felt woozy.
“We know who he is. We’ve been searching for this guy for months now.” The cop’s face looked grim. “Where did he take you?”
“Back … back there,” she said, pointing in the direction of the cabin.
“We’ll check it out. Your call to 9-1-1 just saved your life. Dispatch contacted us and we happened to be just down the street. You were lucky.” Michaels glanced at his partner who was speaking into his radio. He looked back at Heather. “We’re calling for backup now. Are you injured? Do you need medical help?” He pointed to her arms. “You’re bleeding.”
Heather shook her head. “I cut myself on the window while escaping.”
“You were lucky to get away. Many others didn’t.” The officer shook his head. “We have a lot of questions to ask you.”
Heather gestured to the couple. “They helped me.”
The young man next to her nodded. “I’m sure glad we were here. But to tell you the truth, I was scared myself.”
Heather gave a quick nod and bit her lip as silent tears rolled down her cheeks.
Sirens blared in the distance, getting closer. The cop’s eyes scanned the woods and then looked at the three of them. “We’ll need to talk to all of you.”
“Yes, of course.” Heather shivered and swallowed, a hard lump in the back of her throat. She glanced at Karl’s body and saw a small pool of blood forming in the dirt around him.
Michaels gestured at Karl. “You helped us catch him and bring him down. We are really glad this ended here. And you can rest assured he will not hurt anyone again.” He glanced down the path. “Backup is here. It’s over now. You’re safe.”
“I need to sit down,” she murmured, easing herself down to the dirt path.
“We’ll have paramedics look you over,” Michaels said. “We need to make sure you’re okay.”
“That was too close,” she whispered. “Way too close.”
“I know.” The officer sat down next to her. “I have a daughter your age.” He looked at her, his eyes wet with tears. “Had. My daughter didn’t have a chance to escape. She didn’t make it.”
Copyright © 2019 Lynn Miclea. All Rights Reserved.
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