00: Sounds of Madness
3:09 am 12/27/2009
Jamie Anderson’s head was pounding as she opened her bleary eyes. She woke up to darkness, an odd earthy smell, and a piece of hair tickling the tip of her nose. She sneezed and batted away the offending strand before rubbing her eyes and trying to clear the sleep away. Arching her back, vaguely aware of the dull ache between her legs, she extended her arms above her head, and cringed as she knocked into a rough wall.
She frowned, curiously stretching her fingertips out to explore what she’d knocked into… rough panels that felt strangely like wood. Her bed wasn’t next to any wooden walls. She specifically remembered it being in the middle of her room, it matched her décor better. The positioning had taken days to decide. It most definitely wouldn’t have been moved after a mistaken night of illegal underage drinking, and a few other scandalous activities Jamie knew she’d want to forget soon enough. She brought her hands down to feel the soft plush cushions under her and her brows drew together. It felt like her bed.
She moved to sit up but cursed as her head slammed into something solid. The throbbing pain made her eyes water. Her alcohol induced migraine was bad enough, but the extra knock made her head feel like she’d split it open. Biting her lip, she probed the tender area, gasping when she felt a trickle of wetness. She rubbed her fingers together and brought it to her nose, inhaling. The dirty smell of copper, sweat, and dirt confirmed that at least some of the fluid accumulating on her forehead was blood.
Did I hit my head that hard?
With the palm of her hand, she applied pressure to the wound making a vow that she would never drink again with every lancing pain that shot into her skull. Last night would be her one and only time of trying to be a wannabe wild girl with some semblance of a partying social life.
Drinking is bad.
She took a deep breath, her cheeks puffing out as she exhaled and reached up again, sliding her fingers along the panels above her. The rough wooden panels had five deep lines etched into the frame work and on the outer edges of those marks were two circular rubber-feeling circles.
“What the hell?” she whispered when she matched her fingernails to each line.
A burning pain shot through her index finger and she jerked her hand away, inhaling sharply. With her free hand, she pinched at the piece of wood stuck under her nail and pulled the tiny sliver out. Jamie popped the bleeding finger into her mouth, hoping to dull the pain. When it worked, she shifted her legs and the sharp ache that had been there before coerced between her thighs. She cringed, dropping her uninjured hand between her legs. Her hand pulled away when she felt the wet stickiness clinging to her jeans.
We didn’t go cave exploring did we? Harley wouldn’t be able to help me if I got hurt.
“Harley,” her voice cracked as she called out to her best friend, “I think I’m hurt”
Hesitantly, she lifted her fingers to her face and sniffed. She was all too used to the metallic smell of blood, but the mix of that with the pain and the rancid smell had her gag reflex about to go into overdrive. Nausea rolled in her stomach and she quickly wiped the blood off on her shirt. Reaching up, her palms flat against the wood, she pushed hard.
Why is there wood in a cave? she thought to herself as she stopped and reapplied more grunting pressure. Her first priority now was to get out from under this thing. Her arms quivered from the effort, but when it wouldn’t budge, she pulled away.
Clearly, shoulder strength alone wouldn’t work. With her jaw set, Jamie slid down the cushions, her shirt riding up her midriff the further she went down. She bent her legs, wedging the tops of her kneecaps against the wood panels, hoping the additional body weight would do the job.
Harley must’ve put the cushions there. To keep me warm and comfortable while she went for help.
Exhausted and breathing heavily with the effort to lift the board, her hands dropped to her sides, clenching into tight fists. She glared angrily into the darkness above her and gritted her teeth in frustration. Punching forward with both arms, she let her knuckles ram into the board.
“If I can’t move this how the hell did Harley get it over me in the first place?” she mumbled, trying to squash the hysteria washing over her. Jamie had always been stronger than Harley.
It wasn’t like she’d never been hurt on a cave adventure, but when it happened her father – the professional cave explorer – was always with her. She inhaled and exhaled three times before she tried again, growling with effort, hoping to loosen whatever was holding the thing down. It didn't move an inch. Her nostrils flared with anger and a hint of fear.
Harley couldn’t have done this, which means I’m not in a cave and we didn’t go exploring. Maybe it was a joke – a joke that had gone too far – but a joke all the same.
“What’s the big idea?" she asked and waited in silence. She punched the wood again, her knuckles now too numb to feel the pain, when no one responded. "Guys, come on, this isn’t funny. Where am I? Get me out of here. This smell is gonna make me yack!" It was an eye watering stench of rotting meat that someone tried covering up with bleach and the nauseating sweetness of one of those cheap pine tree scents found in gas stations. "Man, it's so gross. I'm really sick guys. This hangover is killer.”
Jamie jerked as a high pitched screeching sounded right next to her ear. There was a pop followed by static and dark male voice spoke.
“There’s a lighter in your pocket.”
Quickly, she reached over and grabbed the cold device next to her ear. She fingered the talking piece, feeling the rough holes of the speaker before depressing the button she found on the side. “What is this, a walkie-talkie?”
She snorted, trying to find her inner sarcasm. This was either a really bad joke or she and Harley had thought enough to bring these, but not enough to not cave explore while drunk.
“Creative isn’t it,” the gritty disguised male voice responded.
She drew in a deep, shaky breath as she blinked her blue eyes, blew out, took another breath, and repeated before responding. “Ben is that you? This is not funny. Your jokes have always and will always be lame. You need to come get me out because I think I’ve really hurt my legs.”
“Not Ben,” the voice said with an eerie, satisfied chuckle.
Jamie rolled her eyes. “Blake? Your creep voice is lame.”
“I don’t know Ben or Blake.”
It hurt to breathe.
“Okay. Is this a late Christmas present or something? Am I in a trunk?” Her eyes widened as it dawned on her. “I know! You’re taking me to Colorado. I’ve always wanted to go there. I knew Mom and Dad would cave eventually.”
Damn, I’m thirsty.
She paused to swallow and lick her dry, peeling lips. “I get it… so can I get out now?”
“You aren’t in a trunk and you’ll never go to Colorado.”
She sighed, trying to be a good sport. “Never is the wrong word.”
A tinkle of laughter crackled over the com. “In this case never is the right word. You’ll never go on another drinking binge, you’ll never lose your virginity - oh, wait, I guess I already took that - you’ll never see your parents, hell, you’ll never see daylight again. You won’t be doing much of anything.”
Jamie tensed and the dulling ache between her thighs ignited into a burning pain at her subtle shift. It’s a joke, Jamie. It’s just a joke.
“Ha, ha, very funny,” she said with a light teasing lilt. “Seriously, let me out of the trunk now.”
“There is no trunk.”
She rolled her eyes and crossed her arms over her chest. “Really, it’s not funny anymore. Let me out!”
“Hmm,” came the reply and Jamie found herself trying to place the voice again. It was the noncommittal noise that sounded familiar.
“I know I know you. Is Harley behind this?”
“Harley’s in the same position you’re in and you did meet me last night. I bought you and Harley Tequila Sunrises laced with GHB. A personal touch.”
“Is this a senior prank? There’s still another semester, ya know? I mean, this would be kind of early.”
She heard the voice sigh in irritation. “As I said before, Jamie, there’s a lighter in your pocket. Take it out, switch it on. You’ll need it for my instructions.”
The way the word ‘instructions’ came out had the twinge of panic slipping away as she realized what was really going on. Jamie had always been academically ambitious. She wanted to join a sorority once she’d gotten into college. She looked during her junior year of high school, like most college oriented students. Now that she was a senior, she’d been able to narrow it down to three, but she knew that two out of three had rumors of dangerous initiations and one had accepted her.
“My sorority initiation,” she said, and breathed with relief as she reached down towards her pocket. "Lucky, I'm not claustrophobic... I'll pass this test with flying colors."
“No, you stupid bitch! Get the fucking lighter.” The shift in the tone of his voice happened instantly. It had gone from playful to hostile and deranged.
Her eyes squeezed shut and her hand froze at the shout. The slow shake starting in her body made her teeth chatter together as she tried to hold back the tears.
“Please, I’m really scared now,” she pleaded, her voice trembling.
When it seemed he wouldn’t answer, she scrambled for the tiny lighter in her pocket. When she pulled it to her face she was trembling so hard she had to wrap her other hand around her wrist. The flickering flame emitted wasn’t enough to see much, so she brought it down the length of her body. The cushion beneath her was red velvet and what she’d originally thought was just a board turned out to be an entirely enclosed space around her. She couldn’t bend down, so she curved her upper body to the side to see more. Her shoulders knocked into the side of the wall, her arm stretching as far as it would go. Her thumb released the button on the lighter and darkness filled her sight again.
There was no way. Absolutely no way.
Letting out a frantic squeal, she fumbled with the warm lighter. She followed the red velvet lining down again. Her hand may as well have been the center of an earthquake with how much she was shaking. With a sinking feeling, Jamie lifted the light to the lines she’d felt earlier... the lines above her where her fingernails had fit perfectly.
She was in a coffin. She was alive and in a coffin.
A wave of dizziness blurred her vision and she shook her head. “Th-this is a horrible sorority initiation. I could die from a lack of oxygen!”
“That’s the plan.”
She gritted her teeth as she could practically hear the shrug. She let out an impatient growl. “Well, I don’t want to join this sorority. So let me out, damn it!”
“Look straight up.”
She instantly brought the light in front of her, but before she could see anything the heat burned her thumb and she dropped it. Scrambling to retrieve it she quickly clamped her fingers around it, rubbing the hot metal against her shirt to cool it off before lighting it again. When she lifted it, she saw the two rubber circles she’d felt earlier, directly in front of her arms.
“I suppose I like to give the impression of being a good sport. The minute you pull the tab on those circles, dirt will pile in. The best you could do is stick your arms through to the push the dirt away. You’re only about three feet down so you could get out. It’s highly unlikely, but possible. I know you’re a screamer, but are you a fighter, Jamie?”
She was blinking rapidly now, shaking her head furiously. She could feel her heartbeat pounding in her throat.
"The idea is to give you an option. You can choose two different ways to die. Now, if you wait it out and die slowly, nourishment and oxygen will be supplied through two different holes on your left. Haven’t had anyone chose that option yet, but I’ve been hoping.”
Was this real?
Saliva pooled in her mouth as she rapidly tried to swallow over the lump in her throat. When she couldn't, she reached up with her hand and clawed at her throat, gasping for air. Tears accumulated in the corner of her eyes, blinding her from the flickering orange glow of the lighter, before spilling down the sides of her face.
“Keep breathing like that and you’ll pass out. I’m supplying you with oxygen, but it’s not exactly abundant.”
She dropped the lighter, but this time she was paralyzed, frozen like a frightened baby.
“Yes. It’s real,” he whispered into the walkie-talkie. “You remember don’t you? The party, the drinks, Harley, and me. You both loved chatting me up. Kept me right by you the entire time.”
Her eyes widened and flashes of blue eyes and black hair flashed like a strobe light behind her eyes. "No." It was more a gust of escaped air forming a word then a whisper. It was all she could manage as she struggled with her burning lungs to breathe.
No, no, no, no. It was a pleading mantra.
“It’s amazing what little whores will do for guy dressed in expensive clothing. You’re all so annoyingly predictable.”
“Y-you were nice. I thought you liked me!” she cried out, shaking her head in denial, trying to mentally dodge the familiarity of the images he described. He really had been so nice... and handsome.
“I liked you all night, baby. Harley too, but she must have been drugged before. Her system cleaned it out quicker than yours. It was actually fun when she started to fight. She was definitely no virgin either, but you were a good girl, weren’t you, Jamie?”
That lump lodged in her throat seemed to rise and the sour taste of vomit clung to the back of her tongue. She gagged, barely swallowing the chunky puke. Oh God. I’d been waiting... I’d been waiting for the right person.
“No. Please stop this. It’s not funny anymore. Stop, stop, please just stop,” she said with a whimper as her voice quivered.
“Harley was a lot more verbal than you too. I think next time I won’t drug them. She fought even harder when I buried her. Broke my damn walkie-talkie," he said it as if the very idea of her breaking it was absurd. "I even had to re-dig her out so I could make her pay for that. That walkie-talkie was the real deal, expensive high-tech shit. That cunt broke it into tiny pieces. That was not a pleasant conversation with my boss when I told him it got broken.”
“You dug her up?”
“You let her go?” Jamie asked, clinging to that sliver of hope.
“No. I just sewed her lips shut while she was awake. Hard as fuck to hold her down and do that. I had to tie her up. Great position too, got me real hot. I did her again after sewing her lips shut. Then I untied her, and dropped her back in. The threads started tearing through the flesh of her lips. It was awesome, some real Hostel shit. She thought she could push her arms through the holes and dig out. The pieces of glass on the outside of the holes proved her wrong.”
He talked like it was the most normal thing in the world.
“You’re a disgusting pervert! Get me out of here. Of course, she isn’t dead. This is going too far.”
He said nothing for two minutes, but when he did speak, Jamie knew. “You know, Jamie, I’d love to hear you scream as you die.”
She'd been drugged, robbed of her virginity, and buried alive.
The scream erupted from her lips and she started punching the wooden top to the coffin. Her voice went raw before her punches weakened and when she could no longer punch from the weakness, she clawed at the sidings with her fingertips, searching for a weak point in the structure.
“Help me! Somebody, please help me,” she shouted between heaves.
Gasping for breath, she reached for the rubber tabs, and yanked down. Dirt poured inside and she shoved her arms through, screaming when she felt the glass slicing into her wrists. Cutting deeper the more she pushed her arms up. Ignoring the pain, she tried desperately to push the damp dirt to the side.
“Please – please, help me! I’ll do anything you want me to. Don’t do this! You don’t have to do this.”
“Even the used-to-be virgin offers to do dirty deeds. Naughty. I was so hoping you wouldn’t pull the stops,” he said.
No longer able to hold it in, she spewed the chunks of last night’s dinner and drink. The projectile vomit bounced against the top of the coffin and splattered in her face before she could turn away from it. It rebounded back into her mouth, on her face, into her eyes, and she couldn’t stop it. She couldn't breathe.
“Are you choking? You fucking puked, didn’t you? Come on, not another one! I hate cleaning that shit up. Hey, say something!” the voice demanded with such intense ferocity.
Only, she couldn’t. Speech was no longer an option. All she could do was gasp for breath that she couldn’t get because chunks of whatever she’d eaten the night before were lodged in her throat and covering her nose.
I’m choking to death.
“Jamie? Jamie Anderson?” the voice called.
The man sighed, dropping the black walkie-talkie onto his desk with a clunk. Disgusted at the way things turned out. Everyone went the same way. It was rather upsetting.
“How boring. Death by vomit again. Come on. At least Harley went down kicking. Jamie?”
When he heard the slight gurgling, her death was confirmed. “Fuck me.”
She was the last. He’d finished with the blondes and the redheads. Brunettes were next. He would get two more soon. He felt his eyebrow twitch and rubbed at his eye. This time he’d have to go a few towns over. He’d gotten lazy and gone only one town over from his own. He always had two rules, no local and no surrounding.
He had to be careful.