Cat was not the only one tormented by the fridge. Every now and again, she would hear Jenna either groaning or muttering to herself. “I just want some water.”
Finally, Cat spoke up. “You learn to ignore it.”
“I know, it sucks.”
Jenna laughed dryly. “Really? It sucks? I’m fucking terrified and I’m starving and I’m at least eighty-three percent sure that nobody has noticed I’m missing.”
Cat stared up at the ceiling. “You’ve been here for how many days?”
“Yeah.” A dry chuckle erupted from her before she quieted again. She hadn’t meant to imply that she was worse off, but wasn’t she?
The pair of them sat in silence for a while before Jenna spoke up. “We should escape.”
She couldn’t help it. Cat shook with laughter and by the time she could speak, her eyes had watered and her sides ached. “What a wonderful idea. Let’s just, you know, escape!”
“I know you are. That’s why it’s so funny.”
Jenna groaned and pulled at her handcuffs, making a clanging against what Cat assumed to also be pipes. “Why is it so funny? If we work together, we might actually get out of this shit.”
Cat looked over at Jenna’s half-head. “First thing’s first. Do you know how to pick the lock on handcuffs?”
“Well, uh, no.”
“There you go. Neither do I.”
Jenna slumped backward, concealing any view Cat had of her. “Maybe we can’t pick the locks, but that doesn’t mean we can’t come up with something.”
Cat sighed. “You’re right. If you have any ideas, I’m all ears.”
One hour later, they were still no closer to a real plan. All either had come up with was to ‘take Michael down somehow.’
“Well, how the hell am I supposed to take him down? I’m handcuffed to a fucking pipe,” Cat said.
Jenna sighed. “Come on. You know him. His knee is jacked up, isn’t it?”
Memories of Michael hobbling up and down the stairs, wincing as he climbed a ladder at the office to fix wiring in the ceiling, rubbing a salve on his knee during lunch breaks suddenly came to mind. She couldn’t remember how he had sustained the injury, but she was sure he had told her at some point.
“Right.” Cat nodded and glanced over at her. “How’d you know that?”
“The stairs, right?”
Cat nodded again. “So I kick him in the knee. Then what?”
“You can keep kicking him until he falls.”
“What if he backs up?” Cat scoffed. “Or if he hits me back.”
“I don’t know,” Jenna sighed again. “But I’m telling you, there are other options than pretending to love him to soothe his ego.”
“Yes, usually, but not this time.”
“But what about-”
“I already told you,” Cat said. “Me kicking him into submission and raiding his pockets is not only stupid but unrealistic.”
“How so? Need I remind you, if you’re not willing to at least try, we’re practically guaranteed to die down here.”
Cat chewed on her lip for a few moments, thinking, trying to come up with a valid reason behind her argument. Eventually, she shook her head. “Fine. I’ll try it.”
It wasn’t until the next day that the pair of them heard the keys in the locks again. When the door swung open, Jenna looked at Cat with excitement. Now’s your chance!
Michael descended the stairs and, again, ignored Jenna, walking straight over to Cat and holding an apple. “Hello, sweetheart.”
Cat took a deep breath but said nothing.
“Oh, don’t be so rude. I said ‘hello.’ What should you say?”
She tried to lower her heart rate through willful thinking as she said, “Hello.”
He smiled at her, revealing his pearly whites and, again, drawing her gaze towards that crooked canine. “Good girl. Now, I suspect you know what you’ll have to do for this juicy, succulent, sweet-” he said each word slowly- “apple. Do you think you can do that, darling?”
Again, Cat took a deep breath and she tried to steady her racing pulse. Still, she nodded.
This time, Jenna’s voice intruded her thoughts with encouragement. You can do this. Just kick him in the knee, face, and balls until he’s incapacitated.
And, as though there was a higher power on her side, when Michael was close enough, Cat’s foot slammed into his knee. When he reached down towards the joint, her foot kicked up at his jaw and pushed his head upwards. Then, she landed a kick in his chest, which knocked the wind out of him. She continued to kick at him until he fell to his knees and then she kicked him in the stomach and between the legs, which caused him to double over. One last kick to the head knocked him out cold and he collapsed on the ground, barely close enough for her to reach him with her free hand.
“Oh, my god. You- you actually did it,” Jenna said. Her eyes were wide and her voice was dripping with the same exhilaration Cat felt.
“I can’t believe that worked.”
Cat stared down at Michael’s unconscious body for a few moments before she plunged her hand into his pants pockets until she finally felt a key ring. Then she shoved his body away from her with her feet and unlocked herself from the handcuffs, struggling as her hands trembled.
As soon as she was free, she rushed over to Jenna and unlocked her.
When Jenna stood up, the two of them looked each other over. Jenna had a small, heart-shaped face and her mouth was small but she had plump lips, reminding Cat of Betty Boop.
After a few brief seconds of looking at what the other really looked like, they both ran up the stairs, but something caught Cat’s eye on the kitchen floor. A dog. In fact, it had been the dog whose pictures she and the other ladies fawned over in the office.
She remembered Michael saying he had found this injured Rottweiler lying by the side of the road. He had taken her to the vet and then taken her home so he could take care of her. He also made a point to say that she growled and barked whenever a man came near her, but she had started to trust him as he took care of her. Cat assumed this was meant to affirm his own ‘good character.’
The dog stared at her with sad eyes and drooping ears, and she let out a whine as she lead her head upon her front paws.
“We should take her.”
“The dog? Are you serious?”
“Yeah, we can’t just leave her.”
Jenna looked like she wanted to argue, but she just shook her head. “Okay, fine, but hurry.”
Cat walked over to the dog and looked at the tags hanging from her collar. “Missy. Okay, Missy, where’s your leash? Where’s your leash, girl? We’re gonna go for a walk.”
Once they found a leash, Cat and Jenna rushed out the front door, dog in tow. Cars were passing and when a couple in a pickup truck saw them running along the road, looking like they did and with tears running down their faces, they pulled over and allowed Cat to borrow a cell phone to call 911.
“Please, you need to come to wherever the hell this signal is coming from. My name is Caterina Danvers and- and I was being held captive in Michael Gates’ basement for about a week. Please, there was another woman and she’s with me now, her name is Jenna Phillips. We both just escaped. Please hurry, I knocked him out but I don’t know how long he’ll be unconscious.”