by Sarah Barkman

"How long have I been here?" I think to myself as my eyes begin to adjust to the darkness. My head is pounding and my throat is raw and I am unsure if I can even speak. I am in so much pain that I begin to cry. My voice is very muffled. I try to scream but it sounds more like a squeak. Now that my eyes have adjusted I try to take in my surroundings. I seem to be in a basement of some sort. My hands are bound with chains that are attached to the wall. My feet are free and I have no shoes. I try to remember what happened. I remember walking back to my apartment after work; I guess it was about 7:30. I remember passing a man in dark glasses, despite the lack of sun, and a dark coat. Next thing I remember is pain, and darkness. Now I am here. I know that people are looking for me, I hope. Who even knows if they know I am gone. Who knows how long I have been here. I start to cry again. "No." I whisper to myself. Straighten up; you have to get out of here. I begin to jangle the chains and try to free my hands. It hurts but I don't care, I want out. I stop when I hear footsteps above me. I hear a door slam, and a car start outside. Someone is leaving, is it my captor, are there more. I have to get out, I need to hurry. I continue trying to free myself for at least an hour. It is no use, I realize. I slump back to the floor, ready to give up. When I hear the car pulling back up. The door opens and I hear footsteps again. They walk across the room above me and I begin to hear a key ring jingle. I look in that direction and see a stairway hidden in the dark. I slump to the floor and pretend to still be out. I am scared but I don't have much of a choice. I am stuck. The door opens and I try to peak. I bit of light slivers into the room from the open doorway. There is a man coming into the room, carrying another girl. The man is large, very large. He isn't the man I saw on the street. He barely even glances at me as he carefully places the young girl on the floor. He doesn't even bother chaining her up, but her hands are bound behind her. "Don't worry dear, Jim will be in to check on you soon." He whispers to the girl who is still unconscious. I wonder who Jim is. Finally he leaves the new girl and me alone.

As soon as the door is shut I sit up to get a better look at the girl. She is young, probably 17 or so, with black hair and dark skin. She looks to be Asian. She has a terrible bruise on her head; I reach up and notice I have quite a knot on my head also. After a half hour or so I begin to try to wake the girl. She begins to stir and as she does I beg her to be quiet. She is scared, but she listens. "Someone has kidnapped us, I need your help so we can get out of here." I tell her, my voice beginning to come back. "If you come here, I can try to free your hands." She slowly crawls towards me. "Who are you?" she asks. "My name is Kyla." I say. "I'm Lina." "What do you remember?" I ask as I try to undo the rope that binds her hands. "Well, I had been out with some friends. We had gone to eat and then we did a little shopping. They left and I was going to work. I work evenings at the hospital. I'm a receptionist. We weren't to far from the hospital so I told them I'd walk, that I didn't need a ride. Then I began walking towards the hospital. That is the last thing I remember." I have almost gotten her hands free when I hear the footsteps walking outside again. Then the car starts. "I think he's leaving, if we hurry we might could get loose before he gets back." I continue to work on the ropes as I tell her what happened to me. "I think that he must have hit me in the head to, my head hurts really bad." "Yeah, there is a pretty nasty bruise on your forehead close to the hair line." Finally her hands are free. "Ok, now you need to find a way to get me loose." She looks for a few minutes and finds nothing. "What do we do now?" "Well just come here, maybe with both of us trying we can get my hands free. We have to hurry though. I think there might be someone else here." I had forgotten about 'Jim' until I heard what sounded like a shout in the distance. "Someone else?" Lina asks, beginning to get scared. She had been doing pretty good, staying calm and everything. "Look, we can't freak out, we have to stay calm or we will never get out." The chains were really starting to hurt as they dug into my skin but finally we were able to free my hands. I was bleeding pretty badly but I didn't care. I just wanted to get loose. "Now what?" "Well, we need to try that door." I quietly head up the stairs for the door. It's locked but feels pretty loose. "I might could break it but then who ever else is here might hear me." "What other option do we have?" "Lets look around." We look around the small basement looking for another way out. I head toward the far back corner to look behind all the boxes, hoping for a window or something.

"Oh, god!" I gasp. "What is it?" Lina asks coming towards me. She begins to scream but I clamp my hand over her mouth. Lying on the floor is a girl, a dead girl, about 16 with blond hair that is streaked with blood. She looks as though she'd been dead awhile but I couldn't be sure because I was just a second year nursing student and had no idea how dead people looked. "They are going to kill us." "No, they can't kill us if we get out." As I turned toward the door I caught a glimpse of sunlight. "Look, a window." I say pointing towards a small dirty window up near the ceiling. "There is no way we could fit through that." "No, maybe not, but at least we know around what time it is." I go toward the window and begin stacking boxes to see out. "It looks like it is around noon." "The last thing I remember was around six. That means I've been here for hours." I stretch to look out and I see a man sitting on some steps to the side of the window. It was him, Jim, the man who I saw on the street. He was just staring out into an empty field. This house seemed to be in the middle of a clearing and surrounded by trees. Just then I see the car coming. It is an old van with blacked out windows. Jim rises to go great the van. The big man, I think I will call him Bubba, gets out and says something to Jim. Then he opens the sliding door and pulls out another girl. "They have another girl." "What are they going to do with all of us."? I jump down. "I don't know but we have got to get back into the rope and chains so they don't know we got loose. I hope that if they think we are still out they will leave us alone." We hurriedly get back into the rope and chain to make it look like we haven't moved. A moment later Bubba, Jim, and the other girl come in. I keep my eyes shut and he throws the girl down next to me. She is quiet, probably unconscious. "So, how much do you think we'll get for these three?" "Not as much as we would have gotten if you hadn't killed the last one" "Sorry Jim, but she wouldn't cooperate. If I hadn't of shot her she'd have gotten loose." "Well if we are lucky these three will stay out until Leonard gets here to take them. I'd hate to have to kill them too." They leave and I open my eyes. The new girl is blond and very tall, about 19, and very pretty. SO I guess they are going to sell us to this Leonard guy, like slaves or something. "Now what?" "Well I wish we had a better idea of when Leonard is coming." "Look I say we get this girl up and then we bust open the door and leave." "I think we should wait until night. Then we might have a better chance. Until then let's look for something to use as a weapon." We kept our selves busy for a while. I wasn't feeling hungry but I knew it had been hours, if not days, since I had eaten last. I hoped I would still have enough strength. As the sun began to set the new girl began to rise. I quickly put my hand over her mouth and began to explain what was going on. She looked scared but as I talked she began to look really angry. "Lets go. Lets get out of here. Find me a weapon, any of these guys try to get me I won't let them, oh and my name is Gabby." "Look I think we ought to come up with some sort of plan. It seems we are pretty close to the front door, but I feel like that is close to where the guys are. I think we ought to head to the back. Look for an exit there." "Look no matter what, they are going to hear us bust open the door. We might as well come out the front." "I know they will probably hear us but they will expect us to come out the front. So I am heading out the back." "I'm with you." Lina says. "There may not even be a back. You guys do what you want." I thought for just a second, good, they can catch her and we'll get free. That was a terrible thought but you know what, if she wasn't willing to work with us what could I do, at least this way she would be helping us get free. "Fine, do what you want." We headed up the stairs, me with a large 2'4 that I was pretty sure I could swing, Lina with a shovel, and Gabby with some metal post, and we got ready to bust open the door.

It didn't take but one good shove and the force of the three of us busted open the door. Lina and I headed right as Gabby ran left. I heard shouts from the guys but I was unsure of where they came from. We went into the kitchen but no door. "Now what?" I cry. Then I notice a large window and I shove the 2x4 through the large window. "Come on." I cleared as much glass as I can and head out the window. Lina was out now to and we head towards the woods. I was afraid to run towards the driveway because I figured the men were out that way. I could hear shouts and I wondered if Gabby was ok. Just then I see her coming our way. Jim is on her heels. She screams for us to help but I just keep running. We run on into the woods and hide. Jim grabs her as she nears the tree line. She swings her rod at him and strikes his head. "Bitch." He shouts at her as he yanks at her long hair. "No." She shrieks as he throws her to the ground. I didn't see a gun and I hoped he had run after her without grabbing it. She swings the rod again from the ground and it strikes his leg but doesn't knock him down. I can't watch any longer. I run for him and bust him in the back with the 2x4. He falls and I grab for Gabby and we run into the woods. "You girls are never going to get away. There is no way out. We will find you and we will kill you." "What if he's right, what if there is no way out?" "There has to be a way out. We'll find it." As we begin to run I hear Jim shout to Bubba. "Leonard is here now." Bubba shouts back. "Good, he can help us catch them." We go further into the woods, and the further in we get the thicker the woods become. It is so hard to see anything or even know what direction we are heading.

We began to hear shouts again. "They're coming!" Lina shrieks. "Shut up, do you want to let them find us?" Gabby hisses. "We've got to just keep going." We picked up the pace and as the shouts got louder we got faster. "What are they saying."? "Sounds like they are calling for us." "Wait." I say. We all stopped to better hear what they were saying. "We'll let you go. Come back. We'll let you go." "Are they saying that they will let us go?" "Sounds like it, I doubt they will, it is probably just a trick." I say. "What if it isn't?" Gabby asks. "It is a trick, I guarantee it. Why would they let us go?" "Look, we are never going to get out of here. If we go back they may not let us go but maybe we could come up with a better plan and get away. This plan of yours obviously isn't going to work." "Look Gabby, you do what you want. I am not going back, this plan will work as soon as we get out of these woods." "But what if it doesn't, what if we are so far out we never find our way?" Lina says quietly. "Yeah, if we go back maybe we can get the van somehow. We can't walk much farther, I am to tired, and we can't rest because they will find us." "Look do what you, want I am going." I say harshly. "But we need your help Kyla. The three of us could take them, maybe." Lina says unsure of herself. "Maybe isn't enough for me. If you two go to them they will kill you. You will not get a chance to run away." I glare at them, unsure of what to do. Just then I see a light and I know it is too late, they've found us.

I begin to run, not sure what is happening to the others. I know I should help them but I can't bring myself to turn back. Besides, they wanted to go back. I hear them shout and I hear a gun shot. I don't turn back, not yet. I have to keep going. Once I can no longer hear anything I stop. There is a large tree with low branches and I begin to climb. Once I have climbed as far as I can I look back towards the house. I can see light but no house. What should I do? Should I go back and try to help them? They could already be dead. Just then I hear a shriek, so loud and so scared. "Lina." I whisper. And I know now what I have to do. I have to go back for them. Hopefully they will still be there. I'm not sure how long I should wait, what if one of the guys is waiting for me. Just then I see someone, Bubba. He is still looking for me. His phone begins to ring quietly and he answers. "No, I don't know where she is." "Did you call Leonard, is he coming back for them?" "Well two is better than nothing." "Oh, well, one is still better than nothing." "I know but what if we can't find her." One, I think, did he kill one of them? Well at least one of them is still alive and they are planning on waiting on Leonard, which is all I need to know. I just needed to know that there was someone to go back for. "Fine, I will call Leonard but this isn't all my fault, how was I to know they'd get away." He hangs up and begins to dial. "Leonard, hey, look we've got them." "OH, ok, well we can keep them until morning, sure no problem." "Oh, no we won't let them get out again." He hangs up and calls someone else. "Jim, he said he wouldn't be back until morning. He says he will not make another trip out here tonight just to waste his time again. I think we ought to try to look for this one when the sun comes up. It will be harder to hide and there is no way she will get out of these woods by morning, she'll never find her way." He hangs up, gives the area one last glance, and heads back towards the house. I wait awhile, unsure of how long and I then notice a light go out. I assume it is a porch light or something and I begin to climb down from the tree. I head in the direction of the house trying hard not to get turned around. The woods are thick and dark and it is really hard to know where I am. I finally reach the clearing and begin to worry that they are watching from the house. There are no lights on in the house, at least not on this side. I decide to walk towards the back of the house. I hunch low and walk slowly. It is dark and luckily I am wearing a pair of dark jeans and a plum colored shirt, not easily spotted in the darkness. As I near the house my heart begins to beat harder and I begin to get scared, more scared than I already was. I go to the window that I climbed out of earlier and it is pretty high off the ground, a little to high to climb into. I find a back porch and slowly walk up the steps. From a window I can see a soft glow of the TV and Jim sleeping in a recliner. I don't see Bubba but I decide not to worry about him. I climb off the porch and hunch down and walk around the house to the van. I look inside hoping to find keys, there are none. I walk up to the front porch and peak inside the window. I can see the door to the basement. It is closed and barricaded with a large bookcase. Then I remember the window. I walk to it and climb to the ground. I wipe away the dust and look inside. Gabby is lying on the floor holding her shoulder and there is blood all over her shirt and the floor. She is bleeding really badly, she must have been shot. Lina is sitting beside her crying. I am not sure what to do now. Even if Lina could get through the window I doubt that Gabby could, especially with her hurt shoulder. I knock on the window and Lina hears it. She gets up and comes over, smiling when she sees me. "Kyla." She whispers and Gabby looks up. She smiles through her pain and I can tell that she is as white as a ghost. She needs help soon. "Can you open the window?" I ask. Lina tries but is unsuccessful. "Just break it." She says. "What if they hear it?" I ask. "You two can't get out it anyway." "We could try. It is better than nothing." Just then Gabby falls over. "She passed out, she's lost a lot of blood." Lina runs to her to try and wake her up but it doesn't work. She comes back. "We'll never get her out this window if she's unconscious." I say. I have to find another way. I climb to my feet and head back to the front porch. I needed the keys anyway so I had to go on inside.

I look around for Bubba but still don't see him. But I do find a key ring. I put it into my pocket and head to the bookcase that is blocking the door. It is so big and I don't think I can move it on my own. Just then I hear someone coming my way. I turn around and head into the kitchen. It is Bubba coming from upstairs. He heads into the living room where Jim is. The TV goes off and he heads back upstairs. I wait about half an hour before I move again. I haven't heard anything so I figure he has gone on to sleep. I go back to the bookcase and try to move it quietly. It is no use. If I move it they might hear it. I go towards the living room. Jim is still sleeping and I see a pistol on the table next to him. I creep towards him and take it off the table. Just then he stirs and I freeze. He glances up at me and I grab the gun just a second before he does. I point it at him as I release the safety. "Stay quiet or I will shoot you." "I doubt you know how to work that thing." "Try me." I say feeling a little less scared. He glances up and I hear something behind me. Just then someone hits me from behind and I fall but I don't lose grip on the gun. I hit the floor hard and quickly role over. Bubba is standing over me pointing a gun at me. I point my gun towards him. "Just shoot her." Jim says. "No way. We need her, we need the money. Tie her up." Jim comes towards me and I move my gun to him. "Come on sweet heart you won't shoot me." I'm scared and I don't know what to do. I could shoot him, I should, but what if then Bubba shoots me. "I heard Jim and Leonard talking earlier. When I was in the woods. He's going to kill you; he isn't going to share the money. He and Leonard are in this together. He just needed you to help him, he said you are worthless, and he could have done this easier without you." I say without even thinking. "No way man. That is crazy, just shoot her." Bubba moves his gun off me to Jim. "Is it crazy, Jim? You said earlier to me that I was worthless. I know you need the money. Your still mad at me about the other girl aren't you." It was working. "I don't care about that whore. Why would I, sure the money we would have got for her would have been nice, but if I kill you, I could make up for it. I wouldn't have to share my part with you. So maybe I should just kill you, why not?" He reaches down and takes my gun from me so quickly I don't even have time to react. I really don't need you anymore anyway." Jim says pointing the gun to Bubba. I can't believe how well my plan is working, I jump to my feet and neither of them even notices. "Jim, you're my friend, how could you?" "Your friend. As soon as this tramp started talking you believed her. I never said any of that to Leonard but if you don't trust me then I don't need you. If you can't trust me then we aren't friends, never were. How do I know you weren't planning to kill me in my sleep and take the money for yourself." "No Jim, I'd.... ' But he doesn't finish his sentence, I hear a shot and Bubba falls to the ground. Jim turns his gun to me but I am already moving. I jump behind the couch and he shoots, hitting the TV. I crawl towards a shelve nearby. As he comes towards me I pull it down on him. It is heavy and full of crystal vases and other trinkets. Jim falls with it and I hope that it has slowed him down. I run to the kitchen and grab the first thing I see, a knife. As he comes into the room I jump out from under the table and stab him in the gut. He curses and falls to the floor in front of me. I doubt that he is dead but at least he is out for now. I run to the bookcase in the hall and begin to shove it aside. After for what seemed like hours I finally am able to open the door. I hear Lina shout out to Gabby. "Its me Lina, we have to hurry." "Are you ok?" She asks as I help her pull Gabby to her feet. "Yeah but we have go to go, now." We hurry up the stair and just as we are about to get out the front door Jim grabs me. I quickly reach into my pocket for the keys, toss them to Lina, and say, "go". She catches the keys and she and Gabby get out the door as I begin to wrestle with Jim. He throws me to the floor and as he bends over me I kick him as hard as I can in the gut right on the knife wound. He grunts and stumbles and I am able to get up and out the door. He runs after me and just as he gets to the bottom of the steps I see the van coming towards us. I jump out of the way just as the van plows into Jim, not stopping until Jim is pinned between the grill of the van and the front door. The porch roof begins to crumble and the van dies. Lina climbs out. "What about Bubba?" She asks. "Jim killed him earlier. Shot him." We get Gabby out of the van and begin to head towards the driveway. "Wait, I say. Leonard is coming. I have a plan."

Awhile later a car pulls up the drive. Leonard begins to shout as he climbs out. "What is going on here?" He walks up to the van and I come around the side of the house with Lina, my gun on Leonard and hers on the man with him. "I should have known not to trust Jim," Leonard says shaking his head, "he's worthless." Leonard reaches towards the gun on his belt. I cock my gun and say, "I wouldn't do that, you don't want to end up like poor Jim." I nod by head towards the van and the rubble that used to be a porch and Leonard laughs as he sees Jim lying dead on the hood of the van. A moment later we begin to hear the sirens. "Cops." Leonard grumbles glaring at me but he doesn't even try to run. I nod my head smiling. "Cops, I wonder who called them." I say and Lina laughs. As I see the flashing lights I am finally able to relax, thank God this day was over.

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