Short Stories

The Crossroad

I have been working on variations of this story for a while and this is the latest. I’m still not certain it is quite right. I think it skips around too much. Any comments would be appreciated. Oh, it’s definitely a horror/crime – just a little warning. I might turn it into a screenplay and see if it works better… Not sure.

The Crossroads

Her hands were trapped behind her back and she couldn’t move. Her feet seemed to be stuck to the floor. There was something over her eyes. A small whimpering sound escaped but she wasn’t aware 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.

In her mind’s eye she knew that she would appear like puppet with its strings cut but she couldn’t help it. Within her panic she heard an intake of breath and immediately she froze, even trying to breath quietly, though her heart beat so loudly she was certain it could be heard in the room. Another breath. She couldn’t place where the people were, but they were out there. Desperately trying to remember what had happened, but she just couldn’t. She had a vague recollection of strong hands. One person then. A man. Another breath. It sounded strange, as if someone was trying to suppress hiccups or laughter. Was her kidnapper in the room trying to stop himself laughing? Her own breath froze in her throat, her mind taking a tour of her imagination that left her stone cold and twitching in fear.

She tried her restraints again, but she still 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. Would her captor know she was almost blind? Would he stay out of her limited vision? If he did stay out of her sight, did she know him? Was the monster a friend? Her mind shied away from such a disturbing thought. 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 didn’t hear or even feel his breath until a kiss was placed on her forehead. Overly wet lips left a slug-like mark and she jerked, cringing away from him. Her breath was hitching in and out, and she could feel her whole body moving as panic overran everything. For a moment she felt nothing, heard nothing. Blackness enveloped her senses.

*           *           *           *           *           *           *           *           *

In front of her he smiled in wondrous joy. Never before had a victim fainted, overcome with fear and terror. He had chosen this girl well, snatching her from under her friends’ noses. He watched as she returned to consciousness, first twitching and then straightening her back, rigid in the wooden chair. Leaning forward so his face was a scant few inches from hers he touched her again, this time to push a lock of hair from her face. She recoiled and he closed his eyes, rubbing strands of her hair between his fingers. It was 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 with all his girls 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 he knew she could see nothing. He had taken her optical prescription from her bag after her visit the other day. His beautiful girl was almost blind, which meant he could watch her with freedom.

*           *           *           *           *           *           *           *           *

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.

Then just in front of her there was a flash of movement, a slight light change. 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,” he said.

*           *           *           *           *           *           *           *           *

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 fear, her breathing rate 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 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.”

*           *           *           *           *           *           *           *           *

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 he liked to tell.

“I was twenty-seven and she was seventeen,” he repeated. “Sounds romantic already, doesn’t it?”

In front of him the girl frantically 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.

“I had studied handwriting. After all if you want to find your true love, then you must never leave anything to chance.” His voice had become a harsh whisper, as if conveying a secret.

*           *           *           *           *           *           *           *           *           *

In truth she didn’t care, she wasn’t sure she wanted to hear the story but she had no choice. Time was her friend, the longer he spoke the more likely someone could discover her absence. She just wanted him to speak. If he spoke then she could tell where he was and she felt a little safer. She could 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 took on a more conversational tone, as if they were friends sitting in a cafe, 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. She 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.

*           *           *           *           *           *           *           *           *           *

Silent, 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 again 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 blouse. I had a room on the ground floor and expensive. She liked it. We spent a day wandering around, then 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 heartbeat becoming louder.

*           *           *           *           *           *           *           *           *           *

He could see that she was scared. He liked to scare, and he hadn’t even finished his story yet.

“There was a party out in the hall. Everyone was there except us. She was content to stay with me. I turned off all the lights except a small table lamp, like this. He gestured around the room, knowing that although she would see a blurry movement she would not know what he was up to. The heightened level of fear coming off her was exciting, this was going to be one of his best retellings ever. “I was reading aloud. She couldn’t read well, and it was a classic, I forget which one. Then someone knocked at the door. I opened it, and she stayed on the bed. It looked as if she were asleep except her eyes were open. So beautiful.” He mumbled the last words.

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…”

Distracted by the past he got up and started to pace around the room. “I started to read again, but she interrupted me. Interrupted!” He stood in front of her, knowing he was blocking the light and heightening the girl’s fear. Leaning forward but not near enough to touch, he lowered his face into her eye line, aware that the girl couldn’t identify him because she couldn’t see him. Smiling, he remembered the past and relished the present. “She asked if I wanted to go. We had been content. She had been with me. Me!” At the yell he watched as the girl jumped, her body taught with tension. His grin became a smile. “He had come and now she was thinking about him. Before she had been happy. Now she wanted to be with him.” His smile vanished and a cold look replaced it. His whole body moved as he struggled to breathe past his own mounting anger.

Walking swiftly towards her he dropped to one knee in front of her. She rocked back trying to escape. He stayed just outside of her field of clear vision but placed his hands on her knees. “She was all I wanted, all I have ever wanted, but she wanted more. How could I give her more? She had everything. Everything. I sacrificed for her. Let her in. She was my everything.” His voice was getting quieter but trembled with the anger that was coming off him in hot waves. He was genuinely surprised that the girl was not showing signs of blistering. He leaned in a little, allowing her to feel his heat and at the same time he squeezed her legs together, digging into her flesh with his fingers and causing her to utter a strangled cry, muffled behind the gag.

*           *           *           *           *           *           *           *           *           *

It was all 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 he squeezed hard on her legs. She could feel every finger sinking into her thighs. Her knees had become painful as they were forced together, kneecaps twinging in protest. After the first cry she tried to muffle her sobs. Any reaction from her seemed to arouse him, not with passion but with anger. She was very afraid of his anger. To her it did not leave him in hot waves but radiated like an ice-cold bath. His only happiness appeared to stem from his torments and her uncontrolled reactions.

*           *           *           *           *           *           *           *           *           *

He slowed his breathing and his voice took on a more normal pace. He did not want the girl to faint, not yet. “The party was loud. It drowned out any noise. Not that she made much. I think 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 spread out on her pillow. She looked ethereal.”

Reaching out he took a strand of the girl’s hair in his hands and curled it around, remembering hair just as soft. He ignored the small whimpers coming from the girl. Sighing his other had moved up and down her leg, from hip to knee, like a lover’s touch. “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 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.” Pulling tight on her hair he leaned closer, his other hand parting her reluctant legs so he could slide his body between them.

*           *           *           *           *           *           *           *           *           *

She tried to move but he had pinned her head with his hand. She tried to force her head back, tried until the roots of her hair screamed in protest. She tried to stop him kneeling between her knees but she was unable to hold back his body. And all the time he got closer. She could feel the moisture gather on her face and smell his overly sweet breath.

*           *           *           *           *           *           *           *           *           *

The voice that came from her kidnapper was almost whining, “Every time I find you, you are never the same. Always a little different. Rachel, I know 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 him. Recognition widened her eyes and softened her limbs so that she did not struggle as he placed a tender kiss on the tape. Fear shot through her. This man was not a persecutor but a valued friend and teacher. The lecturer whom she now gazed upon bore very little resemblance to the man she had followed and simpered at, exposing herself as a wannabe girlfriend, a follower, accepting every smile and handshake as though a precious present to be held against her heart. His physical appearance was the same, he was still a strikingly handsome archaeologist, with blue eyes and permanently blond wind-tousled hair. But in his eyes there shone the true man, a monster unlike anything she would ever know again.

*           *           *           *           *           *           *           *           *           *

Smiling, he delighted in the flicker of recognition in her eyes. Reaching down he turned off the lamp and closed his eyes in pure ecstasy as the darkness enfolded them both like a lover’s embrace. He revelled in the screams she fought to bring into being, only to be thwarted by the gag. Listening to the music in the background he remembered that night and in an echo of past events he began to rain down blows, no longer afraid of hitting this Rachel’s face as no one else would ever see it. He never let any of them go now, they never ran, he would never allow it.

After a while all that could be heard was the soft thuds of blows on an unresisting body and the grunts of male pleasure. Finally it stopped and, in the darkness, came the horrifying sound of flesh being rendered, the sticky sound of something being placed in water and then the scrape of a body being dragged. All this was done in complete darkness. He knew the route and where to go, and he has had a lot of practice. Finally the overhead bulb came on, its harsh glare illuminating an empty room with a single chair and a lamp close by.  Next to the lamp appears to be a jar and in the jar sit two beautiful eyes, quietly floating in pink liquid like two disturbed goldfish.

*           *           *           *           *           *           *           *           *           *

It is warm the next day. The sun beats down on the pavement drying the spattering of rain from the night before. Unseen, a man walks out of a large warehouse building on the edge of campus. Once used by researchers it now houses spare equipment.

Striding with an air of arrogant authority the man moves into the main university building, smiling at those he meets and humming a pretty tune. He ignores the wistful stares of the undergraduates and the passing whispers. Being an attractive blond lecturer he is used to it. Turning to a group of staff-rooms set into the corridor he unlocks his door and sits. Sighing, he smiles happily. He inspects his hands for any telltale stains and, satisfied, picks up today’s schedule. From behind him comes a tentative knock.

“Yes?” He turns and gives his most winning smile as a young dark-haired girl walks in.

“Hello.” Her voice is barely above a whisper. She is dressed in a skirt with large print flowers on and a black blouse, but this isn’t what catches his attention. He is drawn by her quiet beauty; her dark hair flows in waves to her waist and her eyes are the colour of chocolate.

Unable to stop himself he whispers, “Rachel?”

The girl looks surprised. “Yes. How did you know? Did someone say I was coming?”

Smiling, he recovers quickly. “No. You just seem like a Rachel.” She is blushing and seems disturbed. He breathes in, taking in her scent; flowers and cinnamon. “Can I help?” he asks, trying to appear less eager.

“I just transferred…” Not listening, the man smiles and watches, ultimately glad that his Rachel has come back. Leaning forward he takes her hand and rubs his thumb over the inside of her wrist. At this intimate caress Rachel widens her eyes but to his delight does not pull away.

“Don’t worry about a thing. I am going to take good care of you.”

This post was inspired by the daily prompt – captives choice.

17 thoughts on “The Crossroad

  1. Pingback: Taken | LOQUACITÉ
  2. There was a party out in the hall. Everyone was there except us.

    I don’t know why, but those two sentences stroke me deep. A nice story, totally feels like a roller coaster all the way down to the end. 🙂

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