The Death of Nicki Price?
Samantha moaned as she came to. There was still a throbbing pain in the back of her head from where she'd been hit. Not to mention sharp pains in her arms and legs that she couldn't quite explain. She realized she was laying on her stomach on a cold, metal floor, which puzzled her at first...until she remembered the creatures storming the boat, coming after Jessie and herself...
She tried to open her eyes, but found she couldn't; a strip of tape held them shut. Another strip of tape sealed her lips shut, silencing her. Her heart rate skyrocketing in fear, Samantha also realized her hands and feet were tied together, and her legs had been pushed up so that her wrists and ankles could be tied to each other. Kidnapped, she realized with a sinking heart; had this been Nicki's fate as well? At least, she reasoned, Nicki was probably still alive if she'd been abducted too...or at least had been alive at some point...
"What's going on out here in the ocean that pulled Nicki and now us into this!?" she wondered worriedly to herself, squirming about from side to side in a fruitless attempt to find some leeway to work on the ropes with, "Who are these people who'd resort to kidnapping us to keep it covered up!? And what's going to happen to me and Jessie now that...Jessie!" her heart froze at the thought of her friend, "...is she all right...is she even...!?"
There was a sudden loud moan from behind her. Samantha breathed a sigh of relief; apparently Jessie was indeed alive and nearby. Unfortunately, though, she could clearly tell Jessie was also tied up and gagged too-there was no mistaking, even from a good distance away, the sound of ropes stretching and the completely muffled, unintelligible sounds Jessie was making. The redhead was trying to cry out for help and struggling hard well across the room from Samantha, sounding very scared. Samantha couldn't blame Jessie for being frightened; she was scared herself to be tied up like she was. But she knew they had to overcome their fear if they wanted to save Nicki and themselves...if Nicki was still alive at the moment to begin with...
"Where are we, exactly, for starters?" she thought, wishing she hadn't been blindfolded so she'd have a better idea of their location. She listened hard to ascertain anything about their surroundings. Although Jessie's nonstop muffled cries behind her almost drowned out all other sounds, Samantha could still hear angry waves crashing into rocks not all that far away. Moreover, she could noticeably feel herself rise and fall gently, rather than sharply, every other minute. So they were on a boat, she reasoned, and it was probably moored somewhere comparatively sheltered, out of the full fury of the hurricane. But where? And how close were they to Nicki? Only Jessie's grunts could be heard behind her, so Nicki wasn't with them. But where was she, then? Was she even still alive? And if she wasn't, would Samantha herself and Jessie be slated to share their friend's fate in time? The thought if true made Samantha's blood freeze cold. And since they were now unable to contact Adam or anyone on the beach, no one was going to come and rescue them, especially with the hurricane raging. She and Jessie would have to escape their bound and gagged predicament themselves...if they could manage that...
"Don't say can't, Koppel; Coronado Beach lifeguards never say die," she told herself firmly, "Of course you can get out of this. Nicki's counting on you. Let's do this."
She started struggling as hard as she could with her bonds, her lips twisting under the tape from the effort. The ropes were tied extremely tight, and Samantha could find no slack in them at all to work with. Still, she kept straining and pulling against the ropes with all her strength, willing them hard in her mind to break for her. After a good fifteen minutes, however, she slumped down, defeated and miserable. The ropes were simply too tight for her to loosen by merely struggling with them, she conceded glumly. And no matter how hard she rolled about, she seemed to be stuck on her stomach in more or less the same spot, well away from Jessie or the walls or anything. If she wanted to get free, she conceded glumly, she'd have to find something to cut the ropes with-while blindfolded, hardly able to move an inch in any direction from how she'd been tied, and not knowing anything about where she was. Samantha slumped her head on the floor and let out a loud sigh, utterly frustrated to be as helpless as she was. This was always so much easier a predicament on TV and in the movies, she thought bitterly; why couldn't it be just as easy for her when she needed it to be...?
Her ears abruptly picked up a distinct conversation somewhere nearby getting louder, followed by footsteps thumping directly overhead. Samantha raised her head up towards whatever was above her. "HELP!" she cried as loud as she could through the tape covering her lips-which sadly allowed only a low, garbled moan to escape from her-and started struggling hard again, as too did Jessie behind her. The footsteps came to a stop directly above the spot where Samantha was laying. "So you've got them on ice down there?" she heard a man speak up.
"Yep," a second man answered, "Don't worry about these two brats causing any more trouble either; they're tied up, gagged, blindfolded, the works, just like their friend Miss Price. See for yourself."
Samantha heard a hatch of sorts opening directly above her. She thrashed about even more wildly and screamed harder into her gag up at the men, hoping she and Jessie would be shown some mercy and at least be untied. Instead, she heard the first man laugh coldly and declare, "Yep, looks like you've got the two of them good and helpless down there, Edgar. You didn't have any trouble grabbing them?"
"Nope; once we got the tip Miss Price's friends were coming looking for her, it was a simple matter of going back to about where we left her boat tipped over and waiting for these two to oh so heroically show up to try and save her. They didn't suspect anything until we knocked them out cold."
Samantha stopped squirming, surprised. They had known she and Jessie were coming out to look for Nicki? But who'd...how'd...who had tipped them off?
"Just as I'd hoped; the brunette and the redhead had to be the heroes and come try and save their friend the blonde at all costs, even in a hurricane," the first man snickered coldly, "Comfy down there, my dears?" he sneered down to the two lifeguards, prompting more frightened cries from Jessie in the corner of the compartment, "Sorry if you're not happy at being bound and gagged like we have you now, girls, but it's all your own fault for wanting to be amateur Nancy Drews like your friend. If you two lovely lifeguards hadn't joined Miss Price in her snooping around, you'd be safely back on the beach now. But since you did join with her, you have to be punished too, which meant tying you two troublemakers up real good like this for starters."
"And so you know, you girls could struggle for hours down there if you want, but it's not going to do you the least bit of good at all," Edgar mockingly taunted Samantha and Jessie, "Like I told your friend Miss Price when we grabbed her, I have lots of experience tying people up. I took the liberty therefore of making your ropes so tight that it would take you two at least a year to get loose. And don't think about cutting your way loose either; there's nothing down there with you but solid steel walls and an empty steel floor. So you're both going to stay good and put down there, and no one's coming to save you or Miss Price."
"And your friend is all right, if you've been wondering-for now," the first man informed his prisoners. Samantha breathed a deep sigh of relief to know Nicki was at least OK for the moment. "Of course, she won't be for long," he continued gravely, "And neither will you two. In fact, if I were you girls, I'd try and enjoy the situation you're in at the moment, uncomfortable and helpless though it is for you, because you're both going to die real soon- and die as agonizingly as we can make it for you..."
"So, when exactly do we kill Miss Koppel and Miss Greenbriar here, then?" Edgar inquired to his partner, which made Samantha frown in confusion as to how he knew their names. "Do we do it right away, or do we take them with us as hostages until we're safely at our new hideout and kill them then?" he continued to ask.
"Well, taking care of their friend Miss Price is priority number one," the first man said as the hatch slammed closed above the girls' prison and he and his associate started walking away, "Once we've finished her off, we'll make the final decision on how and when to dispose of these two brats. Like you said, they're not going anywhere any time soon, and by the time we get back, they'll probably have completely worn themselves out struggling with those ropes, so they'll be too tired to resist whatever we do. I'm thinking right now we either slit their throats, or blow a hole in the bottom of the boat and let them drown slowly and..."
The remainder of the conversation was lost to Samantha as Jessie started screeching at the top of her lungs into her gag in utter terror, drowning out the fading words above them. Samantha heard the redhead start struggling frantically again behind her, clearly panicking now. Inside, she was numb, and fighting hard to keep from panicking herself. While her life and Jessie's life were safe at least for the moment, Nicki's life hung in the balance even more than she'd thought. And if what their kidnappers were insinuating was that Adam was no longer...the thought filled her with utter dread at what may have befallen him.
"Nicki's life's in our hands alone now," she realized, grunting as she struggled hard to jerk her way an inch at a time across the floor towards who knew what, "We've got to get free and help her as soon as possible, or they'll kill her! But how!?" she grimaced as the ropes dug hard into her wrists and ankles with each movement she made-not to mention the terrible pain in her elbows and knees from the way she'd been tied, "There's got to be a better way than just struggling forever with these ropes, and I need to know it fast! Otherwise we'll be dead too! Oh come on, please, let me get loose somehow, quick...!"
The largest wave yet crashed into the wall behind Nicki, which she heard shudder sharply. She didn't care. She was slumped forward, still sobbing hard. The world was drowned out around her by the crash of the waves, the scream of the wind, and the pounding of sheets of rain against the walls and ceiling of her prison, wherever it was. The shrieks of the hurricane, clearly now at full force, could have easily stood in for the turmoil in her mind.
She was rapidly losing her strength from loss of blood. All she could manage now was continuing to strain to try and get her hands out the handcuffs-even though it was clear by now her hands were too big to slip through them-and trying to pull her legs forward underneath her to try and get her feet out of the ropes and chains, but a half hour or so of this very unsuccessful ploy had now started her ankles bleeding as well-combined with her still-bleeding wrists, the slash wound on her arm, and the stab wound to her chest, it seemed like all of Nicki's energy was pouring out of her in torrents. The weight of the net and chains seemed to be getting heavier and heavier as her strength ebbed, making her slump ever farther forward. In no time, she'd likely fall flat on her face and wouldn't be able to get up...
"Who's going to save the lifeguard's life!?" she dismally rued Rex's words to her when she'd first been locked her in her prison, jerking a little as another intense spray of surf came in through the window and inundated her, "No one, that's who."
The key now could be heard turning in the lock again. Nicki had enough strength left to raise her head. "Hello, remember me, Miss Price?" Rex was almost taunting her, as Nicki heard the sound of tape tearing, "You don't look so good. Well, I can help you there. I can help ease your suffering. Soon your time here will be nothing but an unpleasant memory, Miss Price."
Abruptly a hand slammed down on Nicki's head to hold her still, while she heard the netting in front of her face being snipped through with scissors, then pulled apart. Moments later, tape smothered her nose. "OH GOD NO!" she thought hysterically, realizing what they were going to do to her. She tried to pull her head away, but it was too late; the tape already sealed her nose shut and was being wrapped around her head in ever more layers. Suddenly Nicki couldn't breathe at all. She started gasping wildly. "You see, Miss Price, this is the way to do it quickly and efficiently," Rex told her smugly, "It'll all be over in about five minutes for you at the most; very few people can hold their breaths longer than that. This works both ways for us; we take you out quickly, and you still suffer for it. Just remember again that if you'd minded your own business, you'd've lived to see the sun rise tomorrow, or whenever this storm will end. Tootleloo."
"MMMMMMMMMMMMMM!" Nicki's desperate cry for him to come back fell on deaf ears. The iron door slammed shut and locked again, leaving her utterly alone once more. Her head was spinning rapidly, and she was going into convulsions. She needed air immediately, or she was already as good as dead...
Choking loudly, Nicki frantically tried lowering her head to rub the tape against her sternum, but she couldn't reach it. Only one option remained: she flung herself sideways and hysterically jerked her head back and forth against the floor. It was no use; the tape stayed firmly in place over her nose and sealed off all oxygen to her, as did the tight gag in her mouth. Nicki retched and gasped and choked as she started blacking out. It was over, she knew deep down. She had to face the fact that she was now about to die, alone and helpless, a thousand miles from home...