All I feel is cold. There is a dampness that surrounds me. As I begin to open my eyes all I can see is the darkness. I momentarily panicking thinking that I’ve lost my vision. There is only but a tiny little line of light that seems to be coming from under a door. A shiver runs up my back from the cold. Where the hell am I? What the hell happened? And then I remember. I was sobbing, begging for my life, when that man… that man pistol-whipped me on the side of my head. All I remember was a trickle of blood flowing down my temple and then complete darkness.
I go to reach for the side of my head to feel for any injuries but I can’t. I feel something frigid against both my wrist. My hands hang above my head and when I try to pull down again I can hear the metal clanging against itself. My arms have begun to lose feeling from lack of blood flow. The tingling takes over in my fingers feeling like pins and needles.
Shortly after adjusting to my new surroundings I hear footsteps nearing the room I’m being kept in until I see a shadow of two feet within the skinny line of light seeping through the bottom of the door. The door opens with a loud, ear piercing creek, much like in suspenseful horror movies. The blinding lights that shines from the hall forces me to squint my eyes and turn my head burying it into my hanging arms. I quickly accumulate to the new brightness of the room. Standing in front of me is the same middle-aged, grey haired man that my sight was fixed on at the hospital before I lost consciousness. The one who gave me the lovely concussion that I am now dealing with.
I guess I should be grateful. I mean after all he didn’t take my life from me. Just gave me a nasty headache and a head laceration that probably needed stitches. I mean I could be dead six feet under right now. But in retrospect it’s kind of hard to think about being grateful for not being murdered when he currently has me chained in a dark room for lord only knows what purpose. Just be grateful you’re still alive Addi. You’ve been through much worse, I thought to myself
“Look who is finally awake. I must have hit you harder than I thought. You have been out for two days sweet child” the man said pulling a chair up in front of me, with the back of the chair facing me. He quickly turned on a light that connect to the ceiling above my head and straddled the chair crossing his arms over the backrest and resting his head on top of his arms.
I finally had a chance to look around the room. It was small. A tiny metal cot lay behind me with a thin mattress full of stains from who knows what. It looked like it had dried blood on multiple parts of it and what looked like bodily fluids scattered on every other inch that wasn’t covered with old blood. The room was a dark grey. The walls were made from cinder blocks stacked one after another, much like most basements. Moisture was dripping through the cracks making small puddles in the crevice of the walls and floor. There were no windows. I turned my head to the right noticing something different about one of the walls. There was a ceiling length, metal cabinet with slight rust near the bottom from the moisture in the room. The doors were slightly ajar, but not enough for me to see what was inside. I looked back and the man, who was sitting there just gawking intensely at me tracing my body with his eyes.
“I’ve been anxiously waiting. I haven’t gotten to have play in a while.”
“Who are you, what do you want with me, why and I chained?” I rattled off.
“Ah that’s right. I never got to introduce myself. I’m Franco. I’m pretty much the only person you’ll be seeing for awhile. So, get use to this handsome face. We are going to be just the best of friends.” Franco chuckled wickedly.
I had no idea what he meant. But I had a feeling that I was about to find out.
“So, Ms. Artell. Tell me what happened at the hospital.”
“How do you know my last name?”
“Oh sweetheart, I know more about you than you probably know about yourself. Would you like me to elaborate? Addilynn Elizabeth Artell, born in 1993, 25 years old, your parents were killed in a accident when you were 14. Oh so sad” he pretended to pout. “You lived with your aunt, Ava, who was never married and had no kids. You got into a relationship when you were 17. You showed up at an emergency room almost monthly, like clockwork, for four years. Hmmmm? Wonder why that was? You went to nursing school when you were 19. And when you finally graduated you randomly moved to a new state. And then you moved here about what, a year ago now? Wonder why that was also? Care for me to go further, because I know a lot more or will that suffice for the time being?”
Tears beckoned at the rim of my eyes. I shook my head no. I don’t know how he was able to find all of these things about me but it terrified me. I knew he knew more about me than the information he so effortlessly just spit out. Just the little bit of information he repeated to me flooded back too many memories. I didn’t like to be reminded of the tortures I had to go through as a child and as a young adult. No one should have to go through what I did. It was a miracle I made it out alive, and a miracle that I’ve made a life for myself after everything. I tried every day to forget about those memories. I tried to remember that every day is a new day and how blessed I am to wake up safe and alive. Until today, that is.
“So, Ms. Artell, I’ll ask again. What happened at the hospital the other day?”
I told him what I knew about Dominic. I recalled the events the best I could. But Franco didn’t seem satisfied. His face turned into a scowl and his brows shifted in, slightly furrowing towards his nose. His eyes showing signs of frustration.
“You aren’t telling me everything.”
“Ye-Yes I am.” My voice shook out. I really was telling him everything I knew. I didn’t understand why he didn’t believe me. I told him everything that happened. Except...except the conversation I overheard when I stepped out of the room. But was that really pertinent? It seemed like such a menial thing, and it really had nothing to do with Dominic, but rather me. I wanted to be left out of all of this as much as possible.
“Remember when I had you pinned against the wall in the stairwell? Remember how I told you I know when people are lying. You aren’t telling me the truth. Not the whole truth at least” Franco growled clenching his jaw. His face was growing more furious by the second. His pupils dilated with rage. The muscles in his jaw twitching.
Franco quickly stood up from the chair and moved it to an empty corner. He walked briskly over to the other side of the room where the cabinet stood. When he opened it I heard the shuffling and clanging of metal. My heart sank into my stomach when I saw the tools that hung in the closet. There were knives of all shapes and sizes, pliers, hammers, brass knuckles, and many other objects that I didn’t know what their purpose was for. He quickly grabbed two items and returned to stand in front of me.
Franco began flipping a knife around in his hands, throwing it in the air and always catching it by the handle. “Tell me the truth Ms. Artell.”
“There is nothing else to tell you, I swear that’s all that happened that night.” My voice raised an octive and got louder hoping to drill into his head that I didn’t know anything else.
“Okay than. I tried playing nice with you.” His face contorted to something purly evil. A devilish smirk raised the corners of his lips and his cheeks. My eyes widened in fear. I knew what was coming. I tried squirming as far away fro his as I could. But the shackles kept me in place.
Franco flipped the small knife one last time and clutched onto the handle, his gaze intensifying on it. It was small knife, maybe four or five inches. It was serrated on the side. Franco’s gaze shifted from the knife to me. He swiftly neared me giving me a look of ‘one last chance’ before he ripped off my scrub top with it leaving me exposed in just my bra. He glanced over my body with his eyes contemplating what he wanted to do next. I tried to shift away from him again turning my body in attempts to cover my exposed chest. My eyes begged to him. My voice followed pleading him to stop, telling him I knew nothing more. He didn’t care. In another swift motion he ripped my pants off now leaving me in my white lace bra and panties. Feeling even more exposed I tried to shift my legs to cover myself. Franco began tracing the dull side of the knife along the side of my cheek, down my chest, drawing little circles with it on my stomach before tracing his way down to my legs. He dropped his hand holding the knife to his side and brought his face next to my ear, brushing a piece of hair that lay on my face behind my ear with his free hand. He whispered softly into my ear, “It’s such a shame. You have such a beautiful body”.
With one abrupt motion Franco took the serrated side of the blade and sliced into my stomach. Please, please, PLEASE, make it stop. Why is he doing this to me? I looked down watching blood drip from the six inch wound he just inflicted running above my belly button.
“Let’s try this again Ms. Artell. Tell me the whole truth.” He said forcefully.
“I told you everything that happened, please I SWE-“
Before I could get my words out a knee came up to my already sore ribs.
“I can do this all day Ms. Artell.”
“The only… other…thi-thing that… happened” I broke down and began sobbing all while continuing to try to catch my breath. “…was a small conversation… I heard.”
“Do go on” Franco stood in front of me, his arms crossed over his chest looking full of himself like he succeeded in his mission to get me to tell him what he wanted to know.
“Just that, they knew you would find him. He said he wanted me, said I would be useful to him. His brother said that they have a mole giving them information on another side, I presume yours.”
“That’s it?” He looked defeated and unsatisfied with my answer. His response had a tinge of annoyance like he already knew the information I gave him. I nodded my head yes.
“I don’t believe you. There has to be more.” Anger resparked into his eyes pushing away the frustration and annoyance that once was held there seconds ago. Soon another crash came to my ribs. This time Franco took all of his aggression out of me striking me repeatedly until I was on the verge of passing out. I began to cough up blood, I couldn’t breath. His face turned cold, his eyes turned even colder. He looked deranged and sadistic. He took another gouge with his knife, this time from my cheek. He still looked dissatisfied, like he wasn’t happy he wasn’t causing more pain. He grabbed the pliers out of his pockets. I knew what he was going to do. I had seen enough actions movies to know. He was either going to go for my nails or my teeth. Worse, he could go for both. He grabbed my hand still shackled to the chains hanging above my head. He began ripping my nails out, one by one. I screamed in pure agony hoping someone would hear and come to stop him. Then only then, did a smile come across his face like he was beginning to feel satisfied.