Time seemed to still to a halt.
As a teenager, I was fascinated with the prospect of a domineering, handsome, powerful man; like a majority of the teenage girls I knew were. I remembered gossiping with them at lunch about the latest chapter in their novel, or the latest movie that was released, and talking about the influence of a controlling man on a, more or less, submissive or reliant woman.
It had been romanticized for as long as I could remember. Abusive, dominant men who could always overpower the woman—their woman. Being so young, I wasn’t able to decipher how wrong it was. How it was represented on television, and how it was written on paper, made it seem so appealing. The man loved his woman, so he was unhealthily protective over her. At the time, it didn’t seem so much of an issue.
I used to think I’d be the kind of woman who would depend on a man to prove my self worth—to make me realize I had some value. My friends and I fed off of each other, all craving the same feeling and sharing similar viewpoints. It was, in all actuality, a vicious circle of insalubrious thoughts that should never have been humoured.
I used to joke, along with my friends in high school, that I hoped to get kidnapped by a hot guy so I wouldn’t have to do homework every night and write my exams. It seemed glamorized enough that it was safe—that nothing bad would happen. My privileges would be living under his roof rent free. It seemed like a dream.
Only now did I realize how toxic and completely misguided those disturbing fantasies were. Maybe I had brought this disaster upon myself for wishing on one too many stars for a scenario like this. Maybe this was karma for bringing light to something that should’ve been left in the shadows. Maybe this was karma for me joking around about a serious topic.
Because when I looked into the mouth of the beast, I knew right then and there I was completely moronic for wishing something like this in the first place. Horror rendered me completely frozen, my mind whirring with ugly outcomes that could follow him sinking his teeth into my neck. I could bleed out, I could become comatose, I could become...his.
My hands rested on his chest, and my unblinking eyes envisioned me pushing against him; yet my limbs wouldn’t react. Blood rushed like a rapid river throughout my ears, my breaths coming in slow motion. Even in a slow silence, I wasn’t able to gather the time to psych myself up. I doubted that you could for something like this.
Zacharias resembled a demon, with his knife-like teeth and his blackened eyes. I had a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that this—what he was about to do—was it for me. This would forever affiliate me to him. The Moon would become my God, he would force me into believing him to be my soulmate, and I’d be unable to leave this place. He was going to undermine my rationale and replace it with solicitude for him.
But suddenly he stopped, his grip on me slacking.
I furrowed my brows as I looked up at him, confused as to why he was pausing at such a monumental moment for him. He was so dead-set on sinking his teeth into my neck only to whip his head towards the bedroom door like a guard dog on duty. I wondered if someone was inside the house. I wondered if I could get help.
As if Zacharias read my mind, he rotated me around so my back was pressed to his front. He maintained his arm around my waist but slapped a hand over my mouth in order to keep me quiet. Perplexed, I gripped his forearm but didn’t attempt to fight him off; that part I knew would be useless. He could hear something that I couldn’t. Maybe he was hearing nothing at all and he was just trying to fuck with me. But I doubted it.
We stood there for a while; long enough that I was no longer confused and simply grew antsy. Furrowing my brows, I opened my mouth and gently bit down on the skin of one of his fingers. I didn’t do it hard enough to draw blood, because I was taking a new contrivance to this situation. Maybe acting perturbed would earn an explanation. It did.
“If I take my hand off of your mouth, do you promise you won’t scream?” He asked, sounding on edge. I nodded vigorously. He was irresolute for a second, not believing me, but he relented quickly. I’d keep my word just this once. Curiosity was killing the cat.
“What is it?” I whispered once his hand was alleviated, feigning anxiousness. To further play out my act, I blinked a few times before looking up at him; doe-eyed and vulnerable.
“There’s someone outside,” he said, looking down at me. His eyes returned back to their magnificent green and his teeth to regular size, and he seemed ignorant to my questionable acting and random mood switch. “They’ve knocked twice. They’re not from around here.”
“What do you mean?”
“My pack knows to knock on my door only once. There’s a different knock depending on how lamentable the situation is. The knocks had no code. They’re human, like you,” He explained, and my eyes widened. His narrowed down at me, however, as if to stop my optimism before it could even begin. He shoved me away from him. “Sit down on the bed.”
Hoping my cooperation would elicit some clemency from him, I did what I was told and sat down on the bed, facing him. I couldn’t sit comfortably, and I kept shifting nervously as though he could read right through me. It was hard not to snap at him as he watched me while he dressed into his boxers, making sure I didn’t make a run for it.
I dropped my head when he approached me, but he took my chin in my fingers and forced me to look at him. He bent down so we were eye level, staring at me for a moment that seemed to drag out for hours before he spoke. “Don’t get any ideas. Whoever is out there can’t help you.”
“Even if I tried, what good is it? You have this house reinforced to hold me in.” I shrugged, hoping it sounded like something I’d say.
“That’s right, Edie, and don’t ever forget it.” He said before pressing a fast kiss to my lips. I watched him as he retreated out of the room, closing the door behind him; what sounded like the lock clicking into place. I waited for his footsteps to sound heavily down the stairs before I got off of the bed.
I ran over to the window bench, standing on my knees and pressing my hands and face to the glass like a child looking at puppies through the display window of a pet shop. From where I was, I couldn’t see a vehicle. I wondered if they had come on foot. Were they lost? Were they kidnapped like I was?
I configured for a split second. I was tempted to start banging on the window with my hands, but then I remembered it was shatterproof and Zacharias would hear it before whoever was outside ever could. I had to tackle this in a smart way—if there was a smart way to tackle it. I’d have to go with the smartest way I possibly could.
I walked over to the door, gripping the knob in between my hands. There was no strain and I was able to fully rotate it. He hadn’t locked it; he had twisted it after he closed it in order to make me think he had. I inhaled and held my breath as I opened the door, grateful there was no creak to alert him I was no longer incarcerated.
Stepping out into the hallway, my anxiety spiked as I whipped my head from side to side, making sure Zacharias wouldn’t emerge from the shadows. He had played so many head games with me I believed everything to be some sardonic subterfuge just to fuck with me further. But luckily he was nowhere in sight.
I pondered for a second on taking a quick trip to the bathroom and grabbing a syringe, but decided against it because the last time I had, it plotted against me instead of with me. I wasn’t going to risk giving him another shot of adrenaline. I could’ve grabbed something heavy to ding him with, but if a cast iron frying pan couldn’t take him out then I doubted anything could.
I didn’t have to go down unarmed, but I knew it was probably smarter than trying to overpower or knock him out. I hadn’t succeeded before, so I wasn’t under the impression that I could now. I could see the front door from the stairwell. If I was quiet and inconspicuous enough Zacharias wouldn’t hear me. Maybe I could sit back and wait like a snake in the grass, only making my presence known when I knew the target was in range.
I speed-tiptoed down the hallway, constantly inspecting my surroundings to ensure I wouldn’t be pounced on or taken by total surprise. I had a hard time grasping the concept that maybe—just maybe—I was actually alone and able to roam around; even if only upstairs.
By the time I reached the stairwell, my nerves were nearly shot and I was so apprehensive I nearly goaded myself into tucking tail and turning back around and putting myself back into the room. It wasn’t the freedom that scared me—it was being so close to it only to have it ripped from my hands again. I had faced the consequences of failed attempts; the consequences being devastation.
But I persevered, although it wasn’t something completely admirable to persevere through. I let out the breath I held, took in another one, and held it again as I took the first step down the stairs; my toes sending shocking chills through my body. I was beyond grateful that like the bedroom door, the floorboards didn’t creak.
Walking down a few steps, the door finally came into view; and so did Zacharias. My hand white-knuckled the railing as my body stilled. I stood there like a statue, feeling ripples of alarmed heat lapse through my entire body. He hadn’t noticed me as of yet, but I felt like since I was able to see him that it was only a matter of seconds before he would sense me.
I watched with gutless faith as he paced in front of the door, leg muscles tensing and relaxing with every step he took. His hand rubbed down the length of his face before stopping over his mouth. He seemed both stressed and fatigued. I didn’t know if he had opened the door or not yet, and I especially didn’t know if his pacing was his means of conspiring.
Suddenly he stopped, and I was able to see the front half of his body; and how I wished it would’ve been his back turned to me. All he had to do was tilt his head up slightly, and he’d be able to see me. I was going to blow my cover simply by standing there like a block of ice. I wished I had the power of invisibility because I would’ve made myself disappear.
But he didn’t give me so much as a glance. He whipped his body to to face the door, bent down to look through the peephole, before turning around completely and walking past the staircase without looking up and noticing me. I felt lightheaded when I finally felt safe enough to let out my breath, only doing so when he was out of sight.
I didn’t know where he went off to, but I heard a door open and close so I thought it was safe to surmise that he would be occupied for a few moments. I still stood there dumbly for a few seconds to make sure, but when I heard him beginning to rummage around in whatever room he was in I thought it was safe to pursue the door. Sound was muffled on both of our ends.
But I still tiptoed down the rest of the stairs, jumping down three steps at a time while still allowing myself to be as quiet as a mouse. When I had finally conquered and vanquished the stairs, I speed-tiptoed to the door, looking over my shoulder to make sure the man hadn’t stepped into the room without my noticing. He hadn’t.
I stood on the tips of my toes and placed my hands quietly against the doorframe, closing one eye so I could see through the peephole. I couldn’t seem to catch my breath, because the moment I saw who and what awaited outside, all the air was sucked clean from my lungs without a trace.
Right in front of the door stood an officer. Tall, muscular and very impatient. It was beginning to rain; just a light trickle, so he clearly wasn’t fond of waiting for Zacharias to open the door. Parked off to the side, in the blind spot from the bedroom window, was his patrol SUV; white, with the red, blue, and gold label painted on the side. There was an officer here, on the doorstep. I couldn’t help but wonder why, but my large burst of hope quickly overrode my inquisitiveness.
For a moment I was completely frozen in shock, believing this was all just a hallucination, or a dream, and the officer wasn’t really there. I stood flat on my feet, blinked, then stood on my tiptoes again and peeped through the peephole once more. During this time, I pinched myself hard enough to know I wasn’t dreaming.
I was about to throw the door open, but I quickly realized there were more locks to get through than there had been when I was originally brought here. Two swing-bar latches—one on top and one on the bottom—, and a keypad built into the doorknob; which meant I needed to know the code in order to go outside.
Bending down to be face to face with the keypad, I knew it was four significant digits I needed in order to open the door. I was tempted to scream for help, but the door looked too sturdy to be kicked down by the officer, and I had a feeling even if by some miracle the officer could break down the door Zacharias would get to me before he could.
I typed in my name first, but the padlock buzzed and shocked me, so I knew the code was incorrect. I typed in “Zach” next, but that wasn’t it either. I began to type in random dates after, doing my best to approximate the time we first met; but my efforts were in vain. I didn’t know when his birthday was, nor did he mine, and I didn’t think I had the time to type in the remaining three hundred and fifty-five days I missed.
I didn’t even have time to type in one more.
A hand clamped over my mouth while an arm wrapped around my waist, and I regretted not screaming for help before. It would’ve notified the officer that I was here—was he looking for me? Was there a swat team hidden away that I hadn’t noticed yet? Had I completely fucked myself over, dodging what could’ve been my only chance at freedom in order to dodge Zacharias’ radar?
I hadn’t successfully done either, and I screamed bloody murder into Zacharias’ hand; only to have it muffled to the point even I could hardly hear it. As I screamed, I thrashed and clawed and kicked. My hands blindly reached back, grabbing and ripping at his hair, and then transitioning to try and jab out his eyes. I kicked my legs in the hopes of hitting and busting out his kneecaps. As I screamed, I bit deep into his flesh; tearing out chunks of his skin and getting mouthfuls of copper.
But it was all in vain, as was everything I tried to do for myself. He dragged me into kitchen and pressed my abdomen into the sink counter after unwrapping his arm from it; standing flush behind me so I couldn’t elude him. He reached off to the side and grabbed a long dish towel, replacing it around my mouth from his hand so quickly I couldn’t make a squeak. I clawed at him desperately and tried to tear the dishrag from around my mouth before he could tie it, but he was more efficient than I was. I was gagged in no time.
He grabbed both of my wrists in his hands, holding them over my head as he steered me away from the counter before placing my back on the coffee table, standing over me. Slung over his shoulder was a bundle of braided, yellow nylon rope. Holding my arms above my head with one hand, he uncoiled the rope with the other; teeth elongated so he could cut the length he needed as if with a knife.
I couldn’t struggle much because he had me restrained in a way that made it nearly impossible. When he cut the length he needed, he bound my wrists together tightly with it. I knew I wouldn’t be able to free myself from this. It was far too thick and tightly wound. I screamed into the cloth, only to be silenced.
He put the remaining bundle back over one shoulder before grabbing me and placing me over the other. He walked speedily and with purpose out of the kitchen and up the stairs, ignoring my constantly kicking legs and rapidly pounding fists against his bare back. Blood rushed down to my head, dizzying and disorienting me. It didn’t fail in forcing the unshed tears from my eyes, as well. But at least he didn’t see them.
Carrying me over his shoulder back into the bedroom, he dropped me onto the bed before following me onto it. Only able to use my legs to propel myself, I tried to hustle myself away from him. But he grabbed my ankle to stop me, crawling on top of me and straddling my waist. He was extremely heavy, and it forced a suppressed puff of air from my mouth.
I thrashed my head from side to side, flailing my bound wrists around wildly against and away from him, trying to evade his hands that reached for them with whole fingers unmarred by my bites. I knew he wasn’t done tying me up. If he were to just throw me onto the bed and leave, I could still make some noise and possibly grab the attention of the officer. Zacharias wasn’t leaving any loose ends.
He managed to get a grasp of my hands and, again, he pinned them above my head. Through the dishrag, I screamed and pleaded and begged for mercy as he ripped off the lengths of rope he needed with the same method he had in the kitchen. These lengths were far, far longer, however. He was making sure I had no wriggle room.
He intertwined one rope through my bound wrists and ravelled it around the bed post maybe a dozen times so I wouldn’t be able to drag it up and down the pole. He repeated the process with on the other side before tugging on the two taut lengths that connected me to the bed, satisfied when he felt no slack. He knew I wouldn’t so easily free myself from this—he knew I wouldn’t be able to free myself at all.
He took the rope and placed it onto the floor, out of kicking reach. He crawled off of me slowly before standing at the foot of the bed, looking down at me, then looking look at my thrashing legs, before stopping at my ankles. He was considering tying my ankles, perhaps pondering if my kicking against the mattress would cause too much of a disturbance.
After considering for a few seconds, he decided against it. But he crawled onto the bed once more, positioning himself in between my legs as he hovered over me. He took my jaw in his hands, forcing me to look up at him. “I knew you were going to run. You just can’t fucking sit still, can you?” I tried to look away from him, but he snapped me back to face him with such vigour that it hurt. “Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can outsmart me, Edie.”
And then he was gone and out of the room, the door closed behind him and left unlocked. I was restful for a moment, hearkening to what he was doing. He walked into the bathroom, and I heard the shower run for maybe a minute before he walked across the hallway and downstairs. He was making the delay look as if it was caused by him showering.
Feigning calmness through my petrified jitters, I started trying to work at the one thing I knew I had a better chance of succeeding at; removing the gag. I wasn’t going to waste all of my efforts on trying to free my arms, so I’d try to free my mouth. I could scream pretty loud. Even through this door, and maybe the front door, you’d hear at least some echo. I prayed, at least.
The gag was thick, bulky, and tied so tightly that my jaw began to ache. My arms were pulled high enough and tightly enough that I couldn’t rub the back of my head against the pillow to reposition or even untie the the cloth—if it wasn’t knotted in the back. I was certain it probably was, just in case I decided to get crafty. I couldn’t get crafty in a situation like this.
I had to close my mouth, that was the first part. My mouth was wide open, my teeth clenching down on the fabric; it was hooked so I knew I couldn’t get out that way. I didn’t know if my plan was going to work, but in a matter of speaking it had to.
I was salivating to a great extent, so I wet my tongue and began to lick the cloth with it until it was saturated and slippery. I let my saliva continue to pool in my mouth, however, because the wetter it was the less resistance I’d have when it came to closing my mouth. I hadn’t spent too much time doing this. The officer still had to be around.
Once the cloth was wet enough, I pushed against it with my tongue and clenched my eyes shut as I, what felt like unhinging my jaw completely, closed my mouth and spit the rag out from between my two rows of teeth. My whole body trembled from adrenaline and sheer anxiety, but I had nearly achieved my goal. If that wasn’t motivation, I didn’t know what would be.
I started to move my mouth around in funny ways, wobbling my bottom lip before curling my top; pursing them and moving them from side but I didn’t create enough friction to move the rag the least bit. I felt more tears gather behind my eyes as I picked up speed and continued attempting to move the cloth that way. It became apparent that I couldn’t. I paused for a moment, trying to think of a new approach.
I started rubbing my mouth against my armpit. It wasn’t ideal, but the shirt had ridden down and flashed some skin; skin was grippy enough to move fabric. Hyperventilating, I rubbed the fabric against my armpit, moving my face both up and down to give the option of one side or the other. It took me a few minutes to do, but I was finally able to descend the cloth below my chin.
And I was free.
And I screamed like a banshee.