Warning: GRAPHIC. Viewer discretion is advised if you don’t do well with reading about violence. Read with caution and at your own risk, please. Take care. <3
As my eyes scanned my surroundings, a dawning feeling sank right in the middle of my stomach. How was I to recognize the place?
What came next?
I’d managed to not think even the most urgent situations through. Deep breaths, Sam. Baby steps. And we’ll find her.
Why didn’t they just take me? My heart pleaded internally yet again. Anything would’ve been better than this anxiety.
“You don’t know anything else, do you kid?”
I gulped, averting my eyes down to where my shoes were the only thing in my vision of sight and shook my head no.
“Hey, it’s okay. Cheer up. At least we’re on the right track.”
I held my head up and gave him a look. “Okay, okay. At least we have a little more assurance on the path we’ve taken. It’s better than nothing. And trust me, kid. Your mother will be all fine. We won’t let anything happen to her,” he raised his hands up in defense.
“I hope,” I whispered to myself.
But that was all that was spoken before his eyes hardened and his eyebrows furrowed in concentration at the path we were taking. “Just look for anything suspicious,” he mumbled under his own breath to himself.
“This. This could be it,” he mumbled again as my eyes looked around. He killed the engine trying to make the least sound possible. “You need to stay here and be quiet as I have a look around. I have backup tracking us and they should be here in a few. If there seems to be any problem, anything at all. I need you to keep the extra walkie talkie with you.” He took a deep breath and gave me one long look again. “Are you a hundred percent sure you know how to operate it?”
I nodded, half debating whether I could ask him if I could come along and help him before deciding that would be an extremely childish move considering I only had the basic self-defense moves and would probably get killed on the way before I could even get to mom. He could do better without having a useless weight to pull around.
“Are you sure you’ll be fine here alone? Or do you want me to stay before the backup comes in?” He looked into his trackers and located his colleagues. “If I go by this, they should be here in exactly three minutes. Screw this. I’m going to stay with you before help doesn’t come in. I have an unsettling feeling about this,” he said as he eyed the motorcycle parked behind the rusty, old-looking trashcan in the corner.
“No, please. Please, go look for her.”
“Sorry, kid. But it’s against the protocol anyway. Bringing you here was a risk I had to take in on myself. I’m not losing my license if anything happens to you.”
“I’ll be completely fine. What if this isn’t even the place? There could be so many possibil--”
“A no is a no, Samantha. We can wait.”
I bit my tongue to prevent myself from blurting out anything else. He was a cop. And I was not to forget that.
He glanced at his tracker yet again and frowned at its sight. “Why are they at the same place as before?” He tried hitting it a couple of times with his index finger, his hit getting more and more aggressive every time he did it until it registered that his actions led to no real consequence.
As if detecting our frustration, the walkie talkie came to life and let out some awfully annoying static sounds yet again. “10-11. We’re down. Tyre’s punctured. Send immediate backup.”
“105 copy that.”
“Copy that,” Mr. Lint shut his eyes as if controlling his anger.
“It doesn’t sound right. What? Their tyre just magically died on the way?”
With a reluctant sigh and his eyes averted elsewhere, Mr. Lint nodded. “I don’t know, kid.” But almost instinctively, his hands flew to his gun to check if it were safe in his pockets, ready to be used. The man exhaled a breath of relief and averted back to his walkie talkie in hushed whispers, trying not to make a loud sound.
“Okay, sorry, kid. Time out. Order’s been given to take you back.”
“What? No!” I refused, trying to keep my tone low.
“Yes. And that’s the end of it.” He saw my face and softened a bit. “Listen, I know this is important to you. And I understand why you’re upset right now, but I know this place now. I just need to drop you off and I’ll come back right here. And then your mom will be home-- completely safe. How does that sound?”
I didn’t want to admit it. But it sounded more rational when he said that out loud. “Okay,” I said back in a small voice.
We rode back in silence to where the other police car stood by. Two cops circled it, examining the damage. Mr. Lint wordlessly got out of the jeep, his face stoic and professional and had a word with the others.
I pushed the door open and kept myself seated, hoping for some fresh air in the meanwhile. Trying to rid my own self of all my thoughts. All my negative thoughts. Every single one of them. It was so suffocating.
It almost felt like I spiraled back to when Seb died. When I lost control of all of my thoughts. All my harmful thoughts. And for them to be resurfacing took a huge toll on me mentally.
Without knowing or thinking, my hands scrambled to grab my phone. And my fingers hovered around Alex’s number.
For a minute I was confused as to why I even felt the urgent need to talk to him. . . but then I realized it was his snarky nature that didn’t give a shit to as to who I was. What I’ve become. His god-awful personality that became the epitome of normalcy I desired.
I mustered up a lot of courage to push the call button. And it rang. And rang. But when there were no signs of anyone picking up the call, I hastily cut the call, pushed it in the pocket inside my jacket, and tried to calm my beating heart.
You don’t need anyone to help you through this, Sam. You’ve done it before, you’re going to do it again.
You got this, Sam. You got this. Everything is fine. Everyone is okay. And it is not your fault.
Therapy. I could almost laugh at myself. I was following what the therapist told me after all. Guess it did help? I don’t know. I would probably never even know.
If only I’d known I would be actually suffocated with a black cloth covered with chloroform in the next few seconds. I would have peed myself laughing at the irony.
Oh, another fun fact. I tried helping myself. I promise I did. I kicked and tried to scream. But nothing would work. I could literally see Mr. Lint in front of my eyes. I saw him. And my droopy eyes begged him to help.
But my efforts fell short.
It took quite a while. A beautiful and excruciating five minutes of my life to be very exact. And my last hazy memory included my legs slumping, my body giving up, and my whole body being chucked into a car.
Good, old memories indeed.
I woke up to water being splashed right across my face. Or rather gasped for air like a fish out of water.
The water felt like a slap really. It really wasn’t very nice.
My body went in full-on panic mode right after that. I didn’t recognize anything. The ugly, brown walls that held its gaze with me. The stiff, half-broken chair I was tied to. The painful, strong rope that held my hands and wouldn’t let go.
So different, yet so familiar.
When the middle-aged man stared at me across the face, I stared at him back. He looked nothing like I imagined him to be. He looked nothing like my nightmares. Quite different actually.
If one saw him strolling the streets, they’d probably call him over to help an old guy to cross the road. He looked like a decent person. And maybe that was a bit freaky if anything.
Anyone out there could be a monster.
Ruin your life as they did to me.
A creepy smirk fell over his face. “Good morning, princess. How does it feel to now be able to see me? I hope I didn’t disappoint, really. I was quite looking forward to our next meeting.”
My throat tightened.
“I wish you’d followed what we’d asked of you from the very start. . .” he trailed off as he circled my chair slowly, sending a chill down my spine.
“. . .If you did, your mom would still have her right hand.”
My heart fell to the ground and bile rose to my throat. “What did you do to her?” I hated how timid my voice sounded. I hated it. I hated it so, so, so much.
“WHAT DID YOU DO TO HER?!” I repeated, in shock and anger.
“Nothing much. Just chopped her right arm off. She was being such a brat. Whining. And complaining. It was so annoying. And you’d pissed me off enough already. And your brother. He was the cherry on top of the cake. He’s the reason we’re all in such a problem. It’s him you should be blaming.”
“You’re a sick bastard,” I spat out.
“You should be thanking me. I could have slit her throat and be done with it right then and there. Can’t say I didn’t think of it. But it could have been her head that would’ve been gone. The arm was a mere sacrifice.”
“Leave her alone!” I shouted, horror cleary depicting itself on my face.
“Aww, do you want to see mommy dearest?” he cooed getting nearer to my face as I inched away from him to the best of my capabilities, a sob wracking my body at my helplessness. At mom’s possible condition.
“Bring her in, you two.” Men standing from behind my line of vision appeared in front of me and went right out the door.
They came back with a hand. It dripped with blood.
My mind was paralyzed. I’d gone through so much torture with these people. But this one was the worst of all kinds of pain they could have put me through.
I wasn’t a doctor or anything. But if I were to go with the kind of blood that was pooling here, I’d say she needed a doctor immediately. Immediately.
A piercing scream echoed around the four walls and I recognized it to be my own. “Let her go, please,” I just sobbed at this point. “Please. She needs an ambulance. The blood--”
I couldn’t finish my sentence before I whipped my head to the side and puked all over the floor.
“Do whatever you want with me,” I continued, trying to avoid the stench of my own vomit. “Leave her. Torture me if you want. Kill me even. Just let her go. Please.”
“Not so fast.”
I could have missed it at the speed it came towards me, but there it was. He punched my cheek so hard I could have suffered through a whiplash. A bruise was going to sit there for quite a while, all right.
First, I was shocked. It took me by surprise, but when the pain kicked in, I half respected myself for not losing my consciousness. It stung so much. So very much. Yeah, okay. That hurt. Gotta give the man some credit for swinging a punch.
He gripped my head at an angle, forcing me to look at him when it was the last thing I wanted to do. “You made my life and work so much harder. I warned you.”
“But,” he continued, “it can all be better. Just give me the footage. And we’ll be fine. That’s it. Give me the USB. And I’ll set you free.”
I looked him in the eye and said, “I don’t have it.”
“Ah, yes. I’m aware of the little incident you had with the police. My men were tracking you. And now, since you and your pathetic little mom are definitely not leaving this place alive. Let me tell you everything from the very start.”
“It was Joaquin that tracked your brother down. He followed him. Killed him even. But in all fairness, your brother was asking for it. He kept pestering us, gathering evidence of whatever I’d put together. Do you know how much time I’ve --”
My mind wasn’t focused. The only thing I could think about was my mom. And how she needed help. Urgently.
Was she near? Would she hear me if I shouted her name aloud?
I didn’t give it much thought until I acted recklessly. “MOM! MOM! ARE YOU THERE? CAN YOU HEAR ME?! IT’S SAM! MOM, IT’LL BE FI--” My mouth was clamped shut and my eyes were met by ones that were filled with absolute fury, redness peaking right around the corners of his eyes.
Gone was the goody-two-shoes face. Now emerged a killer’s.
“I was not done,” he sneered in a low voice.
Having my mouth clamped could mean one of two things: either mom was near or we could be heard outside.
There was another punch that managed to spin the world around me and completely eradicate all my thoughts. I blinked a couple of times to gain focus of the now blurry scenario in front of me. That attempt was a partial fail.
He stepped on my foot, applied pressure, and twisted it as one would do to a cigarette butt. It hurt. It really, really hurt. My other foot shook in pain and I bit my tongue to somewhat ease it.
And I hated to know that involuntary tears pricked the corners of my eyes yet again. They were angry tears. Helpless tears. Tears that hurt a lot.
But I looked at him with the utmost hate I could muster and glared at him in the eye. Daring him to go further. My confidence was dangerous. And was very possibly deadly too.
But my emotions were all over the place at this point. And the injustice in the situation didn’t help.
He looked at my face and I watched as his face slowly morphed into one of pure amusement. His lips twitching as though he was holding back his laughter until he didn’t hold back anymore and roared out a burst of laughter.
The agonizing pressure on my foot was relieved.
I couldn’t really put a check on the functionality of my foot before testing it though.
“I like you, Sam. I really do. You’ve always had a different spark to you.” Disgust filled my veins as he continued, “If you cooperate and are alive by some miracle, I might actually give you a big, fat golden opportunity to join us.”
I clenched both my teeth and fist tightly. Don’t let them get to you. You are vulnerable right now. You’re not alone like always. Mom needs help.
“I was continuing until you very rudely interrupted, mind you. He was being a nosy prick. Took a shit load of evidence on my drug dealing business. We were the best in the country. As if that wasn’t enough, he caught a couple of killings on camera too. He was good at the blackmail stuff. Told us to stop before he gave it to the police. So I send one of my men to finish him and get rid of him.”
My heart clenched.
“Joaquin,” he smiled evilly. “That was his name. He killed your dearest brother. You met him too. He was the only one apart from me I let you see the face of. I thought you deserved at least that much. You poor, poor little thing. We tracked you-- monitored you for years. Observed everything.
But you were getting on our nerves. Not once did you have any evidence on your hands. Hell, you didn’t even go into his room! You just mope and cry and be sad and victimize yourself and cry when you’re alone again. It got so sappy. Yuck. Then we had a change of plans. And tada. Today, you’re here. But you’re still the same unwilling brat who wouldn’t tell us give us the USB when asked and who is going to responsible for her mother’s--”
“Okay. Okay, I’ll help you,” I let out quickly, running my brain in overdrive. My heart thudded in my chest, overshadowing my words so much that I couldn’t even hear myself. “I have a copy of the USB at my place. As for the copy with the police, I have an idea. Why don’t you hold us hostage and exchange us for it? That way there will be no evidence left of all your deeds and you can be gone once you get that copy.”
He looked at me for a long time and narrowed his eyes. “What are you up to this time?”
“Nothing. I just want an out. I’m sick and tired of this lifestyle and I just want this chapter to end. My mom is my only purpose. And this way would help both you and I. The second she’s out of this mess, whether or not you wish to kill me is up to you. But think about it. I won’t be gone from your sight and you can get the evidence at the same time. Sounds like a killer deal to me.”
He called two of his men behind me and whispered something under his breath to them, not taking his eyes off me for even a second. “Behave,” was all he said to me before he walked right out the door.
Panic filled my chest again as I thought of how much time I was losing in saving mom and my breathing grew ragged.
A lot of time had passed. Or maybe it wasn’t a lot. Maybe it just felt like a lot.
There wasn’t a lot to do while he was gone. I stared at the ground, strained my ears to hear of movement behind me, and thought hard on as to what next. Anything to distract myself from the stinging pain that made its presence known on my cheek and foot.
And if I were going through this pain, mom. . .
A dark part of me told me I deserved it. That if mom was under so much pain, I deserved a lot, lot more. I put her in that situation. She didn’t ask for it. She didn’t deserve it.
Think about the plan, Sam. Think.
For a minute I thought about trying my luck to get out of the ropes, but the subtle sound of shoes clashing against the floor behind me warned me against that. My head wouldn’t even turn back enough to see anyone. Within my line of vision, everything was still. And beyond, I had to rely on my sense of hearing for.
Soon enough, he was back. His eyes still stuck on me.
He held a USB above my head. “We got your copy. Security’s tight at your place,” he laughed. “It’s turned into a whole crime scene. The stupid idiots left a whole section uncovered. All they needed was a little distraction.”
I waited in anticipation. Did this mean he was going to go with whatever I’d said?
He understood my look of uncertainty. “You didn’t lie about the USB. As a reward, I’m going to agree to exchange your mom for the other evidence. You, however, stay.”
“I’m fine with that.”
He clapped his hands in excitement with a glazed look on his face like a psycho. Or was he high? I don’t even know. And soon enough, he was shouting across the room to one of him men behind me.
“Bensen, make an emergency call to the police for me, will you?”
Hope you liked the chapter. It’s been real long since I’ve last posted, but that was due to the reality of the world finally dawning on me. I’ve spent my last year especially working extremely hard on my exams and trying to attain university places.
And now that even my A-Levels are canceled, I can finally take out time to write. I want to finish this book in whatever time I have left and right now that is the goal. So, I do hope to be writing a lot more frequently. The book is, like I said earlier, nearing its end. And according to my calculations, there should be about three to four chapters left. So, that is pretty exciting.
Keeping everything else aside, I wanted to take a moment to make sure you’re doing well and are safe in whatever part of the world you are in during this heartbreaking pandemic. Enjoy your time and take it positively no matter how hard it is. Because I know you’ve got this. Do things you would normally want to do if you had free time-- trust me, I’m finally trying my hand out at the kitchen.
I’ll try to get the next chapter out as soon as possible. Stay safe.