Feeling the severe headache, followed by the extreme cold, Riley began to regain consciousness, her blue skin painfully tingling. Reaching her hand up, she touched her head, feeling the knots left by their knuckles and the bat. Struggling to open her severely swollen eyes, she stared up at the clear sky, the stars glistening against the deep blue as it was almost completely dark. Slowly, she sat up and looked around. Through the diminishing light, she saw the blood stained snow. Their footprints were barely visible but she could tell which direction they were traveling.
Never having been so cold in her life, she tried to pull herself up. Feeling dizzy, her vision was blurry and her weakness prevented her from standing. On her hands and knees, she began to crawl in the direction from which the tracks came and went.
Unsure of how many miles she had crawled before she seen the shadows of the cabin come into view, it was now completely dark and she could see no light coming from the windows. Crawling closer to the cabin, she peeked around the corner to see their car was gone. Continuing to the front porch, the door was locked but she managed to pull herself to her feet. It took every ounce of her strength to kick the door open, causing her to fall inside.
She could feel the cabin was starting to cool as she kicked the door shut. In the darkness, she felt her way around, burning her hand on the still hot wood stove. Remembering the flashlight on the shelf by the door, she felt around until she grasped a hold of it and turned it on. At first, it didn’t work but she hit it against her hand and it came on.
Using the kitchen table, she pulled herself up to her feet and staggered into the same bedroom where they had kept her. Looking through the drawers, she found a pair of sweat pants and a sweatshirt. As quick as she could, she dressed in the oversized men’s clothing and covered her feet with three pair of socks. Then in the top drawer, she found the drivers licenses, to which hers had been added. She put them in her pocket.
Looking through the other bedroom, she found a thick comforter that she wrapped around her to help warm her body. Grabbing the rest of the blankets, she spread them out on the floor in the living room. Then finding all the loose paper she could, crumpled it into a ball, throwing it onto the blankets. Using the small shovel propped up beside the wood stove, she scooped out the remaining hot coals and sprinkled them on the blankets.
Kneeling down, she blew on the coals until the papers ignited the blankets and the floor caught fire. Still standing inside the cabin, she watched the fire grow until the smoke was too thick. Coughing, she went back outside and stood in the snow, watching as the entire cabin went up in flames. Feeling the smallest amount of satisfaction, she couldn’t bring herself to smile about it.
Knowing she needed medical attention, she turned her back to the flaming cabin and staggered towards the road. Looking up and down, she saw nothing but darkness in any direction. Looking at the car tracks, she followed them in the direction they traveled.
She seemed to stagger forever before the road ended into another. Again, she looked both ways, and seeing a faint glow in the sky, she decided to go in that direction. Turning back towards the cabin, she saw the prominent glow from the cabin fire.
Continuing to stagger down the road, she felt herself getting weaker with every step, feeling as if she had concrete blocks on her feet. With snow caked onto her socks, she slipped on some ice on the side of the road and fell into the snowy ditch.
Laying in the snow, still freezing, she cried thinking she may still die. After a few minutes, she seen the lights of a car then heard it as it came closer. Sitting up, she waved her arms with the flashlight shining towards the car and the comforter falling around her.
Blinded by the headlights as the car stopped in front of her, she heard the door open, and saw the shadow as someone ran to her. The injuries on her face and head were clearly visible and she had dried blood and snow caked in her long hair.
“Oh my God, what happened to you?” Seeing only a silhouette, Riley heard a woman’s voice and was overly relieved. “Come on, I’ll take you to the hospital.” The woman said, helping her up and to the car. Sitting in the passenger seat, Riley felt safe and rescued as she passed out from her injuries and trauma.
Suddenly, she found herself running naked through the snow covered forest, being chased by the three men. The three of them tackled her to the ground and Chuck pulled the knife from his pant pocket. Just as she felt the blade cut into her throat, she sat up screaming and grabbing at her neck, to realize she was safe in a hospital.
Beginning to cry as she tried to catch her breath, two nurses ran into her room. Talking softly to her, they calmed her down and let her know she would be alright. “Now that you’re awake, I’ll go get the doctor.” One of the nurses said as she left the room.
“Your father and sister just went down to the cafeteria to get some breakfast, they should be back soon.” The other nurse told her.
“They’re here? How long have I been here?” Riley asked in a weak voice.
“You were brought in Sunday night and it is now Wednesday morning.” The nurse answered as she checked her IV bag. Riley was astonished she had been asleep that long but knew it was due, in part, to a head injury.
“Ms. St. Claire?” She heard a male’s voice and turned to see the doctor enter the room. “I’m Dr. Burke. How do you feel?”
“Like I’ve been hit by a semi truck. I’m sick to my stomach and starving to death. Am I allowed to eat?” She asked the doctor.
“Yes, of course. I’ll have them bring you something immediately. And I’ll order something for your pain.” He said as he looked into her eyes with his small flashlight. “I think you should stay another day so I can keep an eye on you with your head injury.”
“I really want to take a shower, can these bandages come off my head?” She asked the doctor.
“Well, let me take a look.” The doctor said and reached towards her. Riley flinched and the doctor drew his hand back some. Just looking at her, he moved slower to reach for the bandages. Pulling them away, he exposed the sutures just above her hairline. “Do you remember what happened to you?” He asked her.
“I was captured and held prisoner all weekend, beaten and raped. I do believe they meant to kill me.” She suddenly wished she hadn’t said anything about it but spoke too soon.
“They? Do you know who they were?”
She merely shook her head. “No”.
“The police have been waiting for you to wake up, they want to talk to you.”
“No, please, I don’t want to talk to them. Just forget I told you that.”
“I can stall them for a while, but you’re probably going to have to talk to them eventually.”
“I won’t do it, just send them away. Please.”
All her bruises were now prominent and her eyes were still swollen. Noah, her father and Aleah, her sister walked into the room. Riley began to cry as she held her arms out to them. Walking up to the opposite side of the bed as the doctor, they each hugged her.
“I’ll let you talk with your family but I think it should be fine to take a shower.” The doctor said before he left the room.
“What happened to you, Riley? We’ve been worried sick since Friday night.” Noah was the first to speak up.
“What about mom? Is she ok?” Riley ignored her father’s questions.
Noah and Aleah looked at each other, then back at Riley before her father spoke. “She passed away Sunday night.”
“Oh my God, no. NO!” Riley nearly screamed, shook her head and cried harder, burying her face in her hands.
Noah and Aleah both walked up to either side of her and both hugged her, the three of them grouped together, crying. Trying to contain himself, Noah let his curiosity take over. “Riley, please tell us what happened to you.”
“I’ll explain everything to you, after you take me home, to Crystal Falls. Right now, I need a shower.” Riley said as she pulled the covers back. Trying to stand, she was still extremely weak and nearly fell to the floor. Aleah helped her to the bathroom, then left her alone.
With one glance in the mirror, Riley found herself staring into it as she began to cry again. Reaching up, she touched her sutures lightly. Then ran her fingers over the swelling in her eyes. She was horrified by the reflection of her injuries and discoloration.
Looking down, she stood for a moment then reached over and turned on the water in the shower. Slowly, she removed her gown and reached in to feel the temperature of the water before stepping in. Seeing the bruising on her ribs, she assumed from the pain, that she had at least one broken rib. Crying harder as the water ran over her face and down her body, she felt the intense anger, beating her fists on the wall in front of her, then she slid down the wall behind her, to crumple herself on the floor.
Finding the complimentary shampoo, she gently scrubbed her hair, using caution to not rip the sutures, or reopen any wounds. Watching the blood tinged water as it escaped down the drain, she pulled herself back to her feet, and cleaned her entire body, still feeling nauseated and disgusted. No matter how hard she scrubbed, she still felt dirty.
By the time she came out of the bathroom, they had brought her some food from the cafeteria. She did not hesitate before digging in. The nurse entered the room carrying a syringe and injected it into the line of her IV. Almost immediately, she started to feel its effects.
“I need to get out of here now.” Riley said after waiting for the nurse to leave.
“They just gave you pain medicine. I don’t think it’s a good idea.” Noah argued with her.
Riley pulled the needle out of her arm and stood up, then went to the small closet and found the clothing that her sister had brought her. Taking them into the bathroom, she managed to dress herself. Then she returned to the closet to retrieve the clothing she was wearing when she came in. Feeling through the pockets, she found all three drivers licenses then left the clothes on the bed.
“Come on.” Riley said and waited for them at the door. Noah and Aleah looked at each other then walked towards Riley knowing they couldn’t change her mind.
Riley waited until her sister merged onto the freeway, and they were quiet, before she spoke. “I tried to contact you guys.” Her voice was quiescent and she stared down at her hands. “My car broke down on the side of the freeway. I walked to the rest area and tried again to call both of you. I was hitchhiking, but no one would help me… until they picked me up. They took me to their cabin and raped me all weekend. All of them. They beat me, violated me with foreign objects. It was beyond horrible. They meant to kill me, I’m convinced of that.”
“Riley, do you know who they were?” Noah asked his oldest daughter.
“I’ve never seen them before, but I will never forget them.”
“You need to report this to the police. You left the hospital before they had the chance to talk to you.”
“I don’t want to talk to them. I don’t want to report it. I’ve decided I’m going to deal with it my own way.”
“What are you talking about, Riley? Don’t you want to see them to go to jail?” Noah said.
“I don’t know who they were, how are they going to find them?”
“DNA. They did a rape kit in the emergency room.” Noah informed her.
Riley just closed her eyes and leaned her head back. She didn’t want to talk about it anymore. Between the silence and the hum from the motor, she found comfort on the soft seat. The effects from the pain medication were floating back to her and she fell asleep.
It took some time for her to be woken when they returned home. She was weak and groggy as both, Noah and Aleah, helped her into the house and up the stairs to her room. Laying her on the bed, Aleah took off her shoes and covered her with a blanket then closed her door as she left the room.
It was dark when Riley woke up, screaming. Turning on the light, she cried as she tried to catch her breath, her knees pulled up to her chest. Noah and Aleah both ran into her room, Aleah sitting on the edge of her bed. Riley leaned against her as she continued to cry. Her sister spoke softly trying to comfort her. Noah, standing in her doorway, watched. It killed him to see his daughter this way and he understood what she had been through.
Knowing she was alright, Noah returned to bed, but Aleah stayed with her until she fell back asleep. Riley opened her eyes just as the sun was rising. Starving and weak, she managed to scoot down the stairs to the kitchen to find something to eat, knowing her father and sister had both already left for work.
Although still nauseated, she ate anyways, knowing she needed the nutrition. After breakfast, she called both the college, and her employer, telling them she was in an accident and have been in the hospital since Sunday night. They both granted her the week off and also agreed to send her assignments to her via email so she wouldn’t miss the homework.
Again, she cried as she prayed, thanking God for being alive. Something deep inside her gave her the strength she needed to get up and find her way out of the cold darkness, escaping certain death. Sitting on the couch, she flipped through the channels of the TV. Finding a favorite movie she had seen a thousand times before, she put down the remote. Continuously catching herself thinking about the events at the cabin, she turned off the TV and threw the remote across the room, angered.
She went to her room to gather some clothes to take a shower. The hot water offered no relief from her anguish. She just couldn’t get her mind off the entire weekend, still asking why. Why her car had to break down on that freeway, why she couldn’t contact her family, why she had to hitchhike and why they had to be the only car that stopped. Why she got back into that car at the gas station.
Depression washed over her like a tidal wave and she sat on the floor of the shower until the water turned cold. Wrapping her long blonde hair in the towel, she got dressed then wrapped herself with blankets and went out to the patio. She brushed the snow off a chair and sat down, staring into the woods, thinking of her mother, instead of the tragedy of the cabin. She cried as she spoke to her mother, her words being heard only by the passing wind.
Trying to avoid the confinement of the inside of the house, she sat in the cold for two hours, staring out into the woods but looking at nothing. Out of tears as she wandered back into the house, she slowly climbed the stairs and went into her bedroom, leaving the door open. She laid on her bed, still staring off into space.
Her sister arrived home first and found Riley still laying on her bed. Aleah could see the damage in Riley’s eyes as she looked at her. “When dad gets home, I’ll talk him into taking us out for dinner so you should change your clothes.”
Riley merely nodded at her, knowing she needed to get out of the house for awhile. Looking through her closet at her old clothes, she found something that both looked nice and was comfortable. Noah walked in the front door as she cautiously came slowly down the stairs. Aleah stopped him before he removed his coat and persuaded him to take them out for dinner.
Also knowing it would do Riley some good to get out, he promptly agreed, taking them to Riley’s favorite restaurant. Walking through the door, people began to stare at her as she still showed the evidence of the weekend on her face. The three of them were seated in a booth by the window. Riley sat on the inside with Aleah beside her and Noah across from them. The waitress immediately greeted them with menus and a smile. Riley looked over the menu, not sure what to decide on, still feeling nauseated. Letting her sister and father order first, she quickly decided on something. Without looking around the room, she could still feel the stares from the crowd.
Fixing her gaze out the window, she tried to think of something, anything but her recent trauma. But tears filled her eyes when she thought of her mother. It infuriated her even more, thinking that they prevented her from being by her mother’s side. Her thoughts instantly went to the cabin and she tried desperately to change her train of thought. Clenching her fists and closing her eyes, tears ran down her cheeks. Feeling Aleah rubbing her back, she turned and looked at her, then laid her head on her shoulder as Aleah put her arm around Riley. Noah could not stand to see his daughter this way, knowing she was hurting for reasons far deeper than just the death of her mother.
Feeling as if the people were still staring at her, she felt embarrassed as she gently wiped her painful, still swollen eyes and looked back out the window. As the waitress brought their food, she stared at her plate for a moment before slowly picking up her fork to eat. The trauma she’s sustained gave her cabin fever in a new sense of the words. She anticipated revenge as much as she had anticipated escape.
“Riley, where is your car?” Noah broke the silence and changed her chain of thought.
“It was on the side of the freeway, just north of that rest area. I’m sure it’s been towed by now.” Riley put her fork down, she couldn’t eat more than half of her plate, the nausea and emotional pain overwhelming her.
“Well, I think it’s time you have a newer, more reliable car anyways. Let’s go shopping and find you something.” Noah said, thinking it would probably cheer her up.
Riley smiled at her father as he seen her eyes light up. “Really?”
“Yes. As soon as we’re done eating.” He confirmed.
“I’m done.” Riley said and looked at Aleah. She too, had finished.
Riley and Aleah went outside to the car as Noah paid the bill. She was excited as they stopped at three different dealerships before she found the car she wanted. The dealership was closing, but made an exception to make the sale. Riley realized she didn’t have her drivers license on her but she didn’t’ care, she drove the car home anyways.
As the day passed, she found herself feeling better, physically, at least. It was well after dark when she returned home with her new car. Going upstairs, she entered her room to get her driver’s license from the drawer, where she had put them. Picking up the other two, she looked them over, thinking, then went to her computer and got online.
The first name she looked up was the girl from Pendleton, looking to see if she could find any kind of news on the rape. Even just the name produced no results. Then she tried the girl from out of state, hoping to find something. Of the thousands of results it produced, she clicked on the first link. She could not believe her eyes when she seen the article.
Charlotte Grubb was reported missing two years ago and she’s never been seen since. As Riley continued to read, she learned that Charlotte had went to Newport College to visit a friend but never returned home. Her car was found, abandoned, at the same rest area where Riley went that day.
Riley was more scared, thinking they had actually succeeded in their attempt to murder her and had deep suspicions that Charlotte’s remains were somewhere in those woods, like hers almost were. It infuriated her even more, knowing they had certainly done this before her.
Taking her license with her, she went back downstairs and asked her father for money. He gave her some without asking questions, but Aleah was concerned about her safety in the condition she was in and insisted on going with her. Riley agreed to let her come.
Driving seemed to calm Riley’s mind as she went to the liquor store. Looking at the bottles of whiskey only reminded her of the three men, and what they had done to her in their drunken state. Instead, she decided on cinnamon schnapps, along with a case of beer. She also bought some non-alcoholic items for her sister.
Returning home, they walked around to the back porch where they sat on the patio furniture. Riley indulged her sister when Aleah asked for a beer, still only twenty years old and not quite legal to drink.
In the time it took Aleah to drink two beers, Riley had the bottle of schnapps half gone. They cried together, reminiscing about their mother, wishing she were there. After her third beer, Aleah announced she was done and going into the house, buzzed and cold. Riley stayed on the porch and finished the bottle of schnapps, then finished the beer.
Feeling hot due to the alcohol, Riley knew she was too drunk to try to stand right away. Laying her head back against the chair, she unintentionally fell asleep. Suddenly, she found herself dreaming of laying naked in the snow, staring up at the sky that evening. She was freezing cold and opened her eyes. Slowly, she looked around and realized she was still on the patio, fully dressed, but freezing cold. Not knowing what time it was, she stumbled into the house and up the stairs to her room. All the lights were off except the one her father left on for her.
Seeing the sun shining brightly in her eyes, she opened them. Feeling tired and hung over, she ran to the bathroom where she lost the contents of her stomach into the toilet. Pulling herself off the floor, she rinsed out her mouth and looked into the mirror. The bruises were turning green and the swelling around her eyes was almost gone.
Changing her clothes before going downstairs to find something light to snack on, she found money on the table with a note attached to it. Her father had left it for her to shop with. She smiled and grabbed it, shoving it into her pocket. Putting on her shoes, she ate the dry toast she had made. First she stopped at the gas station to fill the tank, then stopped at the local mall. From the department store, she bought a few new outfits along with a new purse and items to replace the contents she had lost.
Feeling better by the time she returned home, she sat down at her desk and tried to complete some of her assignments. Although she tried to concentrate, her mind repeatedly returned to the cabin and she was now irritated, breaking her pencil. Slamming her book shut, she cried as she laid her head down on the desk.
Eventually, she got up and laid on her bed where she cried herself to sleep in the light of the afternoon. Aleah woke her when she returned home from work, asking if she wanted to go to the gym with her. Riley was not one to frequent the gym, but she had been a few times before and thought it would be a great way to get rid of some aggression. She threw a tank top and a pair of shorts, along with clean undergarments, in a duffel bag.
Riley rode along as Aleah drove to her favorite gym. They changed into their exercise clothes and did some quick stretches before beginning their workouts. Aleah outlasted Riley, but she was more physically active than Riley. Both of them took showers before dressing in their clothes. Riley was exhausted, but felt somewhat better, realizing that she could burn away her anger and frustration on the treadmill.
Calling their father on the cell phone, he agreed to meet them for dinner. Riley and Aleah went inside and looked over the menu but waited until their father arrived before ordering. It was apparent that Riley could keep the depression at bay when she was out and about, keeping busy. Realizing this, she decided it was time to return to Newport. The week was up and she would return to classes on Monday morning.
After dinner, they returned home together but Riley went upstairs to her room to work on her assignments, with help from the Internet. Fighting to stay focused, she managed to finish them, although she was still irritated when she was done. Trying to keep her mind busy, she surfed the web until she was bored. Searching their first names from Pendleton high produced only one result. Chuck had been suspended from school, and prosecuted for a lewd sexual video of him and another student that he sent to social media from his cell phone.
It was late and she was still irritated when she went downstairs to find a snack. Noah and Aleah had both went to bed some time ago. After eating, she went to bed too, to assure she would be up before they left for work. She was leaving to go back tomorrow and wanted to say goodbye.
The alarm sounded loudly, making her jump. Pulling herself out of bed, she went downstairs. Noah and Aleah were both in the kitchen eating and were surprised that she was up. She grabbed a plate and helped herself to the remaining ingredients from the frying pan, then sat at the table with them.
Concerned about her return to school, they also knew it would do her some good to get back into her routine. As they individually left for work, they said a tearful goodbye to Riley and she found herself alone in the big house again. After a few cups of coffee, she packed her bags and took one last look around the house before locking the door and leaving.
Feeling somewhat relieved to be heading back to Newport after boredom overtook her, she found herself exiting off the freeway at Chesterfield, and was surprised to find her way to the cabin. Due to it’s seclusion, no one reported the fire and it burnt completely to the ground. Finding herself staring at the charred remains, she wasn’t sure why she had come, now feeling irate. Her hands tightened on the steering wheel, wishing that the memories had burned up with the cabin.
Crying as she left the cabin, she found her way back to the main road. It took some time to locate the impound lot where she could retrieve her book bag and personal belongings from her car. Slamming the door shut, she kicked it before walking away, still angry at it for leaving her stranded.
Getting back on the freeway, she passed the area where they had picked her up at and it made her angrier. Then she passed the rest area, then the area where her car had broken down. She wanted to scream, as angry as she was, but instead, turned the radio up loud and wiped the tears from her eyes.
Reaching Newport nearly three hours after leaving Crystal Falls, she stopped at the grocery store before returning home. She made two trips through the glass doors and down the hallway before she had all her groceries in. The atmosphere of her apartment felt different to her this time. She felt more alone as she put the groceries away.
Listening to her answering machine, there were fifteen calls and ten messages, mostly from her father and sister. A few were from new friends she had made from college. The first friend she called back, Jackie answered on the first ring. She seemed overly concerned about Riley after she missed the entire week of classes. Riley told her she had been in a bad car accident, expecting the lie would explain her injuries and absence.
She told her other friend, Starr, the same story. Then she called her father to inform him that she had made it home and was fine. With her calling complete, she threw something together for a light dinner. Sitting in front of the TV, she ate while she searched for something to watch. It was nearly five and turned it on the news.
As she waited to hear about the weather for the weekend, she learned they had found the charred remains of the cabin when it was the first story on the news. She must have just missed the discovery, just after she left the cabin. Although they didn’t reveal too many details, they did say the fire was under investigation. She found herself growing angry over the thought of the cabin. It was difficult for her to pay attention to the remainder of the news. Turning off the TV, she threw the remote against the wall and got up. Grabbing her coat and keys, she slammed the door and put on her coat as she walked down the hallway.
It was the first time she had ever been to any bar in Newport as she pulled into the parking lot. By the amount of vehicles in the parking lot, she knew the bar was packed. Walking inside, she stopped and took a quick look around. Seeing an empty bar stool beside the wall, she walked to it and sat down. The bartender approached her and she ordered a double shot of whiskey and a beer.
Riley sat with her back to the crowd, watching everything from the mirror on the wall behind the bar. People were playing pool and dancing on the dance floor. She downed the shot and chased it with the beer, then asked for another. Again, she downed the shot.
Turning herself around, she looked around the room. Her eyes glanced over someone who looked just like Chuck. He was staring at her and she was instantly terrified, at first. As she looked at him closer, she realized it was not him, the man seemed slightly older. She looked away from him, feeling her heart racing and her hands shaking. The rush of fear lasted only a few seconds but it took her ten minutes to overcome it.
Ordering two more double shots, she drank them as fast as the first two and started on her second beer. It didn’t take long for her to feel the effects of the alcohol. The longer she sat there, the more it bothered her, the crowd of people and their stares. She was beginning to become uncomfortable. Asking for a six pack to go, she paid the bartender and left the bar, toting the beer with her. She was glad she didn’t live but right around the corner from the bar, having to drive home in this condition. She wished she would have walked instead.
Returning home, she sat on the couch with only the dim light from the TV, and drank her six pack. Not knowing what time it was, she woke up on the couch and ran to the bathroom, barely making it to the toilet before vomiting. The room was spinning as she laid on the bathroom floor.
It was light outside when she woke up, still on the bathroom floor, stiff and barely able to move. She felt nauseated, her stomach hurt and she could still taste the vomit in her mouth. Brushing her teeth, she went into her bedroom. Seeing that it was just before eight AM, she laid in her bed and fell back asleep.
Two hours later, she woke up feeling somewhat better. Pulling herself out of bed, she showered before getting dressed. Putting on her shoes and coat, she grabbed her purse and keys and left her apartment. Sitting in her car before starting it, she gazed out the windshield at the sunny day. Drawing in a deep breath, she realized she was feeling better than she had in over a week. Her nausea had decreased, she felt well rested and she had not had a nightmare, nocturnally recalling the worst events of her life.
Riley pulled up in front of a restaurant she had been to a few times before. Being just before the lunch rush, the room was empty except for two patrons other than herself. Looking over the menu, she ordered a large breakfast along with orange juice and coffee. Feeling overly hungry, she thought her appetite was finally coming back.
Stopping to pay the bill, she looked up at the small TV and seen the charred remains of the cabin again. Then she seen as the reporter was talking to Aaron. Seeing his face and hearing his voice again made her angry.
Leaving the restaurant, she drove out of town, in the direction of Pendleton, which was only a mere eight miles from Newport. They shared the same county, Newport County. It was the second time she had ever been to Pendleton, the first to dine out of town. Passing the local library, she turned around. Walking in the library, she looked around as she walked to the counter and asked for the latest yearbook from Pendleton High.
Sitting at a table, she opened the book. Flipping through the pages, she saw pictures of the three of them together, knowing they were popular best friends. She continued looking through the book until she came across David’s senior picture. David Doran was his name. Taking a piece of paper and a pen out of her purse, she wrote down his full name. Next, she found Aaron’s picture. His full name was Aaron Fielding. She wrote it down and flipped the page to find Chuck’s picture. His full name was Charles Vanderlin. She wrote his name down too. As she continued to look through the remainder of the book, she found Hannah’s picture. Riley pulled the driver’s license out of her purse and confirmed it was the same girl.
Closing the book, Riley returned it to the counter, then asked for a local phone book. Sitting back at the same table, she looked up all the possible addresses on the three of them and wrote them down. After returning the phone book, she left the library.
Driving without a set destination, she began looking for any of the streets listed on her paper, or the one on Hannah’s license. After nearly forty five minutes of driving, she found the street that David lived on. Slowly passing each house, she located the address. Making a mental note, she drove away. Quickly, she realized David lived just around the corner from Chuck, one street apart. As she drove slowly down the street, she located his house too, also making a mental note of it.
It took her an hour to find the street Aaron lived on, he was further out of town, along the edge of the golf course. The houses on his street were large and lavish. Before she located the address, she saw the familiar white car in the driveway. Her hands were shaking as she pulled away from the house.
Leaving his neighborhood, she turned the wrong direction onto the highway but didn’t realize it right away. Finding a place to turn around, she discovered a large trail head, seeing snowmobile tracks everywhere. Starting back in the other direction, she drove straight back to Newport. Stopping at a gas station, she bought a bottle of peppermint schnapps to take home with her, hoping she wouldn’t need it to drown out her memories. She never was much of a drinker to begin with.
As a last minute decision to stop for an early dinner, she stopped at the same restaurant, after having skipped lunch with all the time she spent scouring Pendleton for their residences. Again, she was starving and craving a large cheeseburger with everything, along with some French fries. The bruises on her face were nearly gone and her sutures were dissolving and she no longer felt the stares she had before.
Returning home feeling full, she laid on the couch to watch TV, but her mind wandered to the trip she took to Pendleton. It wasn’t long before her mind took her back the cabin on the day she was taken there. She couldn’t help but think she should have fought harder against them, or she should have struggled with the tape more. There should have been something she could have done differently to escape their grasp. She blamed herself for getting into their car in the first place, then getting back into the car again. Making herself feel stupid, she ended up mad at herself.
Getting off the couch, she grabbed the bottle of peppermint schnapps from the freezer. Cracking open the lid, she took a few big swigs from it, almost choking on the burn of the strong peppermint. The weight she carried was almost too much for her to bear and she hoped it would have gotten easier to deal with by now. After drinking nearly half the bottle, she passed out on the couch.
It was early when she woke up, still on the couch, feeling ill from the alcohol as she ran towards the bathroom. After she finished vomiting, she climbed into the shower and rinsed her mouth with hot water. Although she was irritated, she dedicated the day to stay home and at least try to concentrate on her studies. Not being able to escape the memories of the cabin, she seemed to get no peace from her trauma.