The Dark and Shadowy Places

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500 W0rds

Do you know what it feels like to think you are about to die? Everything slows down and then stops. All the life, all the colours drain out of everything. It’s like you’re trying to conserve every last bit of energy into just keeping yourself alive, to keep your heart pumping and your mind thinking. You go into survival mode: sounds disappear until all you hear is your heart and your breath as loud as a hurricane in your ears.

Trust me, I know. I’ve been almost dead more times than I have fingers and toes. And I don’t recommend it. It’s not as if I try to get into situations that get me almost dead, it’s just... I guess you could say it’s my hobb-.

I hear a familiar click right next to my left ear; the small sound that has such a huge meaning - the sound of a gun’s safety being pulled back. Slowly, calmly, I put down my pen. Without turning my head, I begin to stand from the Adirondack chair where I’d been enjoying a rare peaceful morning on my deck devoid of any life – I do not have a green thumb – above the Pacific.

“Don’t move,” the voice says quiet but firm. At first I’m surprised. It’s not any voice I was expecting, going through my mental rolodex of the long list of people who want me dead.

I try not to sound like I’m on the verge of a laugh. I swallow once, hoping to quash the offending sound, and try to sound serious and even as I stop in a squat, half sitting, half standing.

“What do you want me to do?” I ask, plainly, removing all traces of amusement from my voice.

The voice behind me makes an exasperated noise. “Okay, you can move, but only do what I say.”

I try to suppress a smile, grateful my face is turned away from my captor. She sounds unsure, nervous. I don’t recognize her voice – I’m usually good with recognizing who it is that wants to hurt me.

“Okay,” I say agreeably. “Can I at least stand up?”

There is a pause. I can almost sense eyes being rolled. “Yes.”

I straighten slowly. “Now what?”

Another pause, longer this time. “Take us to the library.”

Us? A shiver races down my spine. I mentally shake my head. I hadn’t been on alert. I’d been too busy writing.

“The library?” I repeat, confused.

“Your library,” the woman says, irritation and impatience tingeing her words.

“Why?”

“That’s not important. All you need to know is you have a gun to your head.”

I laugh, short and sharp. “That’s nothing new to me.”

I hear the another small click that causes the hair on my arms to rise involuntarily and I raise my hands defensively. “Okay, okay,” I say, leading the way into the kitchen and down the hall.

The double doors to the library already stand open. I stop and gesture inside. “Ladies first.”

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