Her hands were trapped behind her back and she couldn’t move. Her feet seemed to be stuck to the floor. She couldn’t move. There was something over her eyes so she was blind and scared. A small whimpering sound escaped but she wasn’t aware that she made any noise or that her whole body was shaking. Her mouth was covered with something sticky and foul-tasting. Tape! Her mouth had been taped shut! Another moan escaped, muffled by the gag and in reflex she swallowed, her dry throat protesting at the movement. In her mind she was testing her restraints, in reality her body was undergoing a jerky dance. She knew that she would appear like a puppet with its strings cut but she couldn’t help it. Within her panic she heard an intake of breath. Immediately she froze, even trying to breath quietly, even though her heart beat so loud she was certain she had heard it. Then another breath. She
Still she couldn’t move. No matter how much she pulled at the bonds there was no give. And her glasses were gone. Even if her eyes weren’t covered she would still see almost nothing. Panic began to slip into her thoughts. She knew she had to use her other senses to work out if she were alone. Would her captor know she was almost blind? Would he stay out of her limited vision? She hoped so as she could only see clearly to about nine inches in front of her. She could hear her own heartbeat and taste the sourness of fear in her mouth, could feel the sweat running from the base of her scalp and trickling down her back. Her fear had overridden all her senses, so she never heard him, or even felt his breath as he leaned in to place a kiss on her forehead. She had been totally unaware of his nearness. She heard only her own heart beating and the sound of her breathing.
At the contact of his lips her body went rigid. Her whole focus was that point on her forehead. He was there! Was it a he? Was it human? If only she could remember what had happened?
He touched her again, this time to push a lock of curly hair from her face and she recoiled. He closed his eyes, rubbing the hair between his fingers. So soft, so silky. So much like hers. He opened his eyes. It was a shame that the colour didn’t match, but life was all about experience and feeling, and he had come to realise that some disappointments had to be accepted in order to experience pleasure in life. At least touching her felt the same; soft, silky and warm. She had the same eyes too. Deep brown and so beautiful. Just like hers.
With this thought he gently pulled the tape from her face, trying to limit the pain she would feel. Tape was so crude but when he had grabbed her she had fought and there had been no choice. He needed to look at her eyes again, to establish that they were the same, but then in all his victims he had to make sure the eyes were the same. He moved back to sit five feet away from her, well out of her field of vision, so he could stare into her eyes, lose himself in her eyes, and yet she could see nothing. That thought cheered him, it would heighten her fear and deepen his own experience. He sighed in anticipation.
She had felt him touch her again and then the tape had been carefully removed. Surely she was going to live if he was so gentle? Except she remembered being snatched and the pain of a blow to the back of her head and then nothing. Nothing until this chair. Her whimpering redoubled. She could hardly see. The poorly lit room had one light source, a halogen table lamp which was focused on the floor. The only dim light was the reflected blur from the unpainted concrete. She squinted into the darkness trying to distinguish any shape and colours, but everything was grey. Was he there? Was he watching her? Was he behind her? As the questions swirled in her head her breathing became more and more frantic. She couldn’t see.
He shifted on the chair, focusing on her completely. Could she see? The other wouldn’t have been able to, his love.
He was there. She had seen a blur move. Grey on grey. A slight shift. She was sure it was a he. She could smell something. Not perfume, it was too musky. Definitely an aftershave. A man, and the smell was familiar. Who was he? Why had he done this to her?
He watched her, watched those eyes. “Because of your eyes.” She sat so still, barely breathing. He had answered, but she hadn’t spoken. How had he known she needed to know why? Was he a mind-reader? As soon as the thought appeared she dismissed it. It had to be a coincidence. He was playing with her. That thought sent her into a tumble of panic, her breathing increased and she struggled. Eventually she slumped in her restraints. She wasn’t going to escape. She had to come up with another plan, another way to get out of the room. If only she could see. She just didn’t understand why her, why had he taken her? Did she know him?
He watched her brow furrow as confusion showed on her face. He smiled.
“You know everyone has a crossroads in their lives. A place where good and evil collide. Mine was seventeen years ago.” He paused and when he next spoke there was laughter in his voice. “I was twenty-seven. Can you believe that? So young. She was seventeen.” His words faded out, remembering another time. “Shall I tell you? You remind me so much of her.” Silence.
Swallowing hard she tried to overcome her fear and nod. If she could get him to talk and take time then maybe someone would find them. The idea of a rescue made her breath quicken. She nodded again, trying to seem eager. She remembered to breathe, whooshing breaths loud in the room, her heart a drum beat. She knew that although she could not see him, he could see her. She was sure that in the background she could hear a beat. It wasn’t just her heart. A party? The party she had been going to? Was she still on campus?
He saw her nod. That was good. He liked to tell stories, especially this one. In fact, this was the only story that he liked to tell.
“I was twenty-seven and she was seventeen,” he repeated, “Sounds romantic already doesn‘t it?”
Frantically in front of him the girl nodded, so vigorously that her hair bounced around her face.
“We met by newspaper dating. I know that now everyone uses the internet, but back then it was by pen and paper. So much nicer, don‘t you think?”
This time he didn’t wait for a reaction but ploughed on. On the chair the girl wasn’t sure she wanted to hear this story, but she knew she had no choice and the time could bring another person closer to discovering her absence and a rescue.
“I had studied handwriting. After all if you want to find your true love, then never leave anything to chance.” His voice had become a harsh whisper as if conveying a secret. In truth she didn’t care. Not about the story. She just wanted him to speak. If he spoke then she could tell where he was and she felt safer. She would tell if he came close enough to touch her.
“Her handwriting was beautiful, like her. It was all loopy and curvy. I think I loved her from that moment.” Smiling, his voice had taken on a conversational tone, as if they were friends sitting in a café, not a windowless room. “We met. She was shy. Of course she was young. I was much older. More experienced. The right man to lead her through life. To teach her and guide her. It took some convincing, but I wooed her.” He stopped again, remembering the outings and the play. How well she had complimented him. How jealous other men had been, slyly glancing at her, trying to catch her eye. But she only had eyes for him. His face set as he remembered. The crossroads. The day he became what he was and the day she fulfilled her destiny.
Sitting, unable to move, she froze. He was suddenly quiet. Had he moved? Where was he? She strained her eyes into the distance but couldn’t see anything, only dim light playing amongst shadows. Abruptly he started to speak and she jumped and then settled back into her cramped position.
“I was at university, not here, a better university. Higher suicide rate, but not all places are perfect. She had come out to join me. So beautiful in a purple top. I had a room, ground floor and expensive. She liked it. We spent a day wandering around. Later we went to my room. She seemed excited, but then that wasn’t surprising,” he bragged.
She couldn’t believe that he was boasting. He was telling her this story as if he was proud. Maybe he was. But proud of what? Sitting bound to a chair, she wasn’t sure if she wanted to hear the end, but then she had no choice. Fear began to escalate again, her heart getting louder.
He could see that she was scared. He liked to scare, and he hadn’t even finished his story.
“There was a party out in the hall. Everyone was there except us. She was content to stay with me. I had turned off all the lights except a small table lamp, like this.” He gestured around the room. Across from him she saw a movement but could not tell what. Had he moved? “I was reading. She couldn’t read well so it was a classic, I forget which one. Someone knocked at the door. I opened it, and she stayed on the bed. It looked as if she were asleep except for her eyes which were open. So beautiful.” He mumbled the last words. She barely heard him above the frantic beating of her heart. When he next spoke his words were stronger.
“There was light flooding the room, invading my space.” He spat the words at her. “And he stood there! All bright and golden. ‘Do you want to come to the party?’ That’s what he asked, but he looked at her. Of course I said no and she agreed. Then.” Agitatedly he got up and started to pace the small room. “I started to read again, but she interrupted me. Interrupted!” He stopped in front of her. She could tell because the light was blocked, but he was still a fair distance away, not within touching distance. “She asked if I wanted to go. We had been content. She had been with me. Me! But he came and she thought about him. Before him she was happy. Now she wanted to be with him.” His whole body moved with each breath.
Walking swiftly toward her he dropped to one knee in front of her. She rocked back to try to escape. He stayed just outside her field of clear vision but placed his hands on her knees. “She was all I wanted, but she wanted more. How could I give her more? She had everything. Everything. I sacrificed for her. I let her in. She was my everything.” His voice had been getting quieter. He leaned in a little.
So blurry. She still couldn’t see. The light was so bad now that he blocked it, that his face was nothing but a play of shadows. She tried to lean back, to get away, but the restraints pulled tightly against her ankles and wrists.
He slowed his breathing and his voice took on a more normal pace. He swayed and she hoped he would move back. Instead he settled and she began to whimper. A small sound. A sound that he ignored.
“The party was loud. It drowned out any noise. Not that she made much. I think that she was in shock. I hit her only on the body, never where it could be seen. She stopped struggling after a while. She was so small. Her beautiful eyes had closed but her hair was spread out on her pillow. She looked ethereal.”
Keeping his hands on her knees he leaned back. “I didn’t kill her. She left the next day. And I never heard from her again. It was her fault that our relationship didn‘t work. I tried to find her, but she disappeared. She obviously didn’t believe in our love and commitment. That was my crossroad. She made me what I am. So no matter what I do to you, you now have the knowledge that she is the reason.” He paused and started to lean closer.
She tried to move further away and the front legs of the chair lifted off the ground. He pushed her knees down, bringing her even closer to his face. She could smell his overly sweet breath and feel the moisture gather on her face.
“Every time I find you, you are never the same. Always a little different. Rachel, I know that this time you will be mine, because I won’t let you go. Not ever.” He leaned all the way in and placed a kiss on the tape where her lips were. “Mine.” he whispered.
She saw. Saw him. She knew him. Recognition widened her eyes and fear quickened her breath. His face was still in shadow but his piercing blue eyes were instantly recognisable as her lecturer. The man she had a crush on for the last three years. Yet she found it difficult to equate the monster in front of her with the wind tousled blond archaeologist she thought she had known.
Smiling, he reached down and turned off the lamp. She screamed but the sound was lost in her own throat, behind the gag. Once again, like a time past, the sound of the party hid the noise of the blows. Except that this Rachel would not walk away. She would not be allowed to run. Now none of his Rachels ever ran. He never let them.