“Hello?” I hear Damon’s alarmed voice on the other end of the call.
“Tammy’s in trouble. I just got a call from Pam,” I explain frantically through the phone, still unsure that anything has happened.
“Yeah, I was about to call you,” he says urgently, “Nat was on the phone with her when she got taken.”
“What?! Do we have a lead?”
“Yeah, but it might help if you send me Pam’s number so I can get my cop buddies to trace it.”
“I’ll send it, but it’s a new number, so it might be a burner.”
“As long as you’ve got the number, they can do it. Meet me at the police station, Nat and I are here.”
I hang up the phone and send him a text with Pam’s new number in it. Breathing heavily, I try to control my own frustrations, but fail to as I punch a dent in one of the lockers. I put my shirt back on and run out with my things.
“Hey, what’s the lead?” I ask as I enter the station in a wrinkled t-shirt.
“Before Tammy got taken, she took a picture of a squirrel and posted it online,” Nat explains as she shows me a picture on her phone.
I give her a puzzled look and guess, “Is… the squirrel the clue?”
“No, moron,” she rolls her eyes as Damon smiles at her, “she snapped a pic of the license plate of the shady van behind the tree. That’s the one that took her.”
“How do you know that, that’s the van that took her?” My eyebrows meet.
“Because before she got taken, she yelled that into her phone,” she turns around to check on the cop’s progress.
Damon turns to me and mumbles, “Yeah, it’s pretty on the nose.”
“Pam’s rich,” I can hear myself have trouble breathing, “she has the type of money for murderers.”
They both stare at me with worried eyes and each of them reach up to grab onto my shoulder, to comfort me, but I can only think of the worst.
Of how much pain Lane must be in right now.
I wake up to a cold splash in my face. My eyes are still shut, and as I try to stretch my arms out, I realize that I can’t. They’re tied to my back, as are my legs. My eyes open wide as I take in my dark surroundings. I’m in a basement, but the place looks empty. There’s no furniture or washing machine. Nothing. Just walls and floors.
A bucket drops and I watch as the large man takes off his mask. I look away immediately, recalling the various lessons that television has taught me. As long as I don’t see his face, as long as I can’t remember him, I can still bargain for my safety.
To my dismay, his massive hand grabs my jaw and turns my face to him. He might have the ugliest face I have ever seen. I don’t normally think these thoughts, but if he looks like an ogre, and he acts like an ogre…
“Shame a pretty number like you’ll have to go to waste,” he spits in my face. I spit back. “Fucking bitch!” He slaps me across the face and I almost cry from the sting it leaves on my cheek.
“Leave,” I hear a familiar voice say from the corner. I squint at her and recognize Pam stepping out from the shadows, puffing and rubbing her nose.
Didn’t they take all her drugs?
“I said,” she gives him a stern look, “Leave.”
“Oh, come on! If you’re gonna end her anyway, why can’t I have a little fun?” His words send chills down my spine and I have to focus in order to even out my breathing.
“Because it grosses me out and I don’t have time for your fun. I’m paying you and I need to get this done. So leave. The money will be transferred as soon as I’m done.”
His shoulders drop in disappointment, almost cartoonishly, and he stomps out away.
Without a word, Pam walks over and slaps my face. I turn up to her, glaring with a burning hatred in my chest.
“You know, you are very pretty. If you didn’t stand in my way, I might have taken you in as a friend.”
“A friend?” I spit on the ground, tasting the blood that has pooled in my mouth.
“Yeah,” she brightens up like a lunatic. “Wanna meet some?”
I give her a bewildered look, which she ignores as she walks away. She reaches another wall of the basement and switches on a little lightbulb that swings low to show another girl tied up against the wall. She has long brown hair and full lips. She’s too far for me to see clearly, but she looks like someone padded a huge powder sponge on her face. Her hair is in voluptuous curls and she’s dressed in an elegant golden dress.
“This is Lana. Do you like her? I dressed her myself.”
The girl lifts her head to stare at me. Her eyes well up with tears and they plead for a way out.
“Don’t fucking cry or the eyeliner will run!” Pam slaps her. “I’ve always liked the others better anyway.”
She walks over to the wall opposite of me to switch on another light bulb. Two other girls are tied up near the corner where their walls meet. The one facing me is a dirty blonde with wider cheeks and narrow eyes. She’s pretty, but her eyes look lifeless. The other girl to her left is a mocha skinned girl wearing thin clothing. Her hair is straightened and tied up into high ponytail. I stare at all of them, trying to find a reason, a pattern to it all. But before I could ask anything, Pam finally speaks.
“This is Britney and Nikki. You know, I’d add you to my collection of friends, but I don’t like any Asian celebrities.”
I don’t know why I’m angry that she doesn’t like any Asian celebrities. It’s not like I want to be a part of her weird psycho collection of dress up dolls.
“I wouldn’t have even looked at you twice if you hadn’t stolen my Silas,” she says matter-of-factly as she approaches me again. “But I guess I’ll just have to deal with you now.”
She punches me in my face, leaving a sting in my cheek that can only result in a huge bruise. She then straightens herself up, brushing her skirt down before kicking me in the stomach.
“For now, I’ll just let you starve. Maybe when you’re weaker, I’ll get to see more pain in your eyes.” She hisses the last consonant, taunting me.