The man started. He had been lost in thought while inspecting a picture of a beautiful young woman lying in a field of flowers when a strange sound faintly pervaded his ears. He listened closely to the sound, eventually deciphering it as a type of music. It was unlike any music he had ever heard before. It had an upbeat, relaxed tone to it. He listened harder, trying to identify where it was coming from. It sounded like it originated from downstairs, but he couldn’t be certain. He tip-toed towards the staircase, hovering near the banister. He gave a quick nod of his head. It was definitely coming from downstairs.
He continued listening to the music. It was completely foreign to him, and yet he found himself enjoying it. The upbeat rhythm almost made him forget that someone else was in the house with him. Pulling himself out of his reverie, he contemplated his options. The safest option at the moment would probably be to go back up and hide in the attic. But that would accomplish nothing. The most pragmatic option would be to sneak out of the house then find a route back to his rendezvous point. With another quick nod of his head, he walked down the stairs.
From his previous visits here, he knew the front door was out of the question as far as a means of escape went. There was far too much open space between the stairs and the door, leaving plenty of room for discovery. The back door by the kitchen would be the best way to go. That route would also provide him with a copious cover of trees to dash to, just in case he was discovered. The man walked down the hall towards the back of the house. The music grew louder. He noticed a light coming from an open door. Carefully he plastered himself against the wall and scooted down the hall. He stopped at the doorway and peaked his way around the door. What he saw was both shocking and oddly refreshing. Standing at what appeared to be a sink was a young woman who was wearing what could only be described as a strange set of undergarments. Her long brown hair fell in loose waves down her back. She was singing and dancing along with the music. The man found himself lost in some sort of spell. He swayed to the song, wondering what the hell blue jeans were, then finding that he really did not care.
Feeling comfortable in his ability to remain unseen, he stepped a little closer to the door. Just a few more moments, then I’ll leave he said to himself. He listened as the song ended and another song began. This song was completely different from its predecessors. The song was both heartwarming and heartbreaking. The woman began singing along with it and the man found himself enthralled by her voice. It had a sweetly haunting quality to it. It was unlike anything he had ever heard before.
Of their own volition, his feet started moving into the room, taking him closer to this enchanting woman. His rational mind told him he needed to turn around and leave now, but his body did not listen. Instead he moved closer, not knowing exactly when he would stop. A few seconds later that choice was made for him. With the dishes completed, the woman turned around. Her hazel eyes grew wide with fear. She let out a shrill scream then grabbed a pan and slammed it up against the man’s head, sending him into a world of darkness.
Annie stared down at the unconscious man lying at her feet. She fought the shock that threatened to overwhelm her. Now was not the time to panic. She considered her options. She knew she should call the police, but first she needed to secure the man. She had no idea how long he would remain unconscious. Rummaging through the kitchen drawers, she eventually found some zip-ties that would do the trick. Making a chain of them, she walked over to the man. She tried to roll him onto his stomach so she could place his hands behind his back, but the pathway in the kitchen was too narrow. Giving up on that task, Annie placed his hands in front of him and secured one wrist with a zip-tie. She was reaching over to the other when the man began to stir. He opened his eyes and stared right at her.
Annie scooted to the other end of the kitchen, stopping only when her back hit a row of cabinets. She pushed herself from the floor and felt around for a weapon, never taking her eyes off of the intruder.
She felt a sharp stab on her left hand. “Shit!” she exclaimed. She glanced over her shoulder, noticing a knife. She grabbed the knife and held it in front of her. The task was difficult. Between the combination of her shaking body and the blood flowing down her hand and arm, Annie’s grip weakened with each passing second. Slowly the man moved towards her, his hands raised in a position of surrender.
“Miss, would you please allow me to take a look at that cut,” the main queried. “It looks pretty deep.”
Annie stared at him. His deep voice was soothing, not at all threatening; not that that meant anything. Often times the ones who sounded harmless were the ones who were the most dangerous, she had learned that lesson the hard way. Annie pushed that memory from her head. She had fought so hard the past few years to forget. Now was not the time to dredge up the ghosts of the past. Annie ignored the man’s plea and continued to hold the knife in her trembling hands.
“Please. If we do not cease the bleeding you are liable to swoon...or something much worse.” The man continued towards her.
“Who are you?” Annie did not recognize the high pitched, panicked sound of her own voice.
“My name is Cameron,” the man replied. “What is your name?”
“Annie,” she whispered.
“It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Annie. Now will you let me take a look at your hand?”
Annie did not have time to respond. The world around her began to spin. She felt the knife fall from her hands. Her knees weakened, then gravity took over. The last thing Annie saw before the world went dark was Cameron’s concerned face