Hours turned into days. Days turned into weeks. And weeks turned into a month. Unable to sleep, thousands of nightmares haunted Rapunzel keeping her up at night.
Torturous, dark visions of her past lover being beaten and then hung while she watched came as vivid taunting ghosts. The nightmare often changed from her lover’s face to visions of Nick being tortured. The sheriff’s beady eyes twinkling with delight as he watched her cry on her knees asking for mercy. In those nightmares, every night, he demanded her to be his.
As luck would have it, she would always wake before he took her by force while Nick watched horrified. Sweat and blood streaming down the sides of his face. His sweet face, beaten to a pulp. An eye swollen shut, his lip cut, and a broken nose.
Intense pain circuiting his body, similar to a flow of electricity.
Her stomach churned, repulsed by her bedtime terrors. Rapunzel was deeply pained and unhappy she wasn’t able to control them.
Why Isn’t Nick back?
She’d imagined the worse. He’d been captured and imprisoned. Although if that were true, she’d learn about it as soon as it came time for Cirilla to visit her again. No doubt she would know something about that if it’d happened.
Any small news was big news in their kingdom. Nothing was a secret, nor private. Except her and her hidden life in the shadows.
No one had seen him arrive; she knew this for a fact. If they had, the Sheriff’s men would’ve been tearing down the tower to jail or kill him. No one saw him leave. Cirilla would’ve made a special trip to the tower to tell her all about the mysterious stranger seen in the area riding his non-horse apparatus.
During the day, when she lay awake stupefied by her thoughts, the visions of the two of them were somewhat better ...
Sometimes, he finally reached her and unjailed her from prison. A prison that had held her for years. In others, he never came back.
She gave him constant thought to the point that many days she wondered if she’d imagined him; except that he’d left a few things behind. His smell on the furs on her bed. A metal container that held water and two tide-up condoms in her rubbish barrel.
He’d been there and forever she would remember his voice. The intensity of his face in the throes of passion. The leanness of his muscled body; how it felt against her fingertips and his kind, penetrating eyes.
“Rapunzel, Rapunzel. Let down your hair.”
With a sigh of relief, she ran up to the window and waved at Cirilla. Finally, she’d get to speak with her about Nick! She tied her hair to the hoop and allowed Cirilla access into the cold, stone cell. Once up, Cirilla hugged her tight and kissed her cheek.
“How are you, girl?” Cirilla said catching her breath. “I tell you. It doesn’t get easier to go up that wall as I age.” She huffed looking at the floor.
“I’m sorry to hear, Cirilla.” Rapunzel’s eyes teared. “I’ll understand when you can no longer make it up to hug me. I’ll miss your hugs so much. I’ll start taking them two at a time!” She tried to laugh, but her sadness overpowered her.
Cirilla lifted her eyes to meet Rapunzel’s and was shocked at the vision before her. Her hollow cheeks were prominent and the circles under her eyes made her look like a living corpse.
“What’s wrong, Rapunzel? You don’t look well, my child.” She stood facing her and put her hand to her forehead to check if she had a fever. “You also look sadder than usual and I don’t think it’s the news I just gave you.”
Rapunzel began to cry relating to her what happened the month before. An open-mouthed Cirilla stared at her in disbelief.
“I swear I’m not making it up. Look!” She held the half-full, metal water contraption in her hands.
Cirilla studied the item carefully. “Interesting!” Fascinated she unscrewed the top and looked inside of it. “Just like a wine-skin holder but in cylinder form made out of metal. Fantastic!” Then, with a judging eye, she turned to Rapunzel. “And he was with you all night?”
“Yes,” her voice cracked as a hiccup spurt from her lips. Her cheeks burned rose.
“And why do you blush, child?”
“No reason!” She was quick to reply. “I-I was only thinking about the fact that we spent time alone. He’s very handsome.”
Cirilla studied her face closely puckering her lips and squinting her eyes at her. “Are you with child? Have you retched?”
She didn’t want to go into them having sex nor how Nick caught his man seeds in some kind of little, stretchy, testicle-looking lambskin.
“It wasn’t like that. He-he wanted to help.”
A skeptical Cirilla raised her hands in surrender. “Okay-okay! I wanted to make sure he didn’t take advantage of you,” she cut her off before she could continue.
“He-what? No! He didn’t!”
“And he said he’d come back?”
She nodded profusely. “As soon as he could, he said. I’m not sure if he was getting help or-”
Rapunzel shrugged looking at the frigid grey walls. “I thought he’d be back by now.”
Cirilla pondered for a while. “I’ll come by more frequently. I’ll help you as much as I can once he is here. I promise.”
“No, Cirilla! They’ll kill you.”
“You let me worry about that, girl.”
Ten weeks. Ten hellish weeks and he couldn’t get through to the other side.
In his room, he could think of nothing but her. For the past two and a half months he’d been back to the same spot he entered through, every single day. Sometimes in the morning, others during the night. He’d gone alone and with friends. In his Harley, his car, and even a bicycle. He couldn’t figure out what happened either time the blue hue of light appeared in front of him and swallowed him whole.
Destiny was thwarting his future.
He couldn’t sleep or eat. Images of her rotting in a prison tower haunted him. He’d distanced himself from friends and withdrew from racing at a dirt bike competition held the week before. Visions of her naked softness against him kept his body awake at night. Their lovemaking replayed in his mind like a movie.
Nicolas recalled the way every single fiber of his responded to her touch and her teasing ways.
He’d never been tied up before. He’d never trusted anyone to do so. And while at first, it had not been his choice, he never felt more comfortable or wanted it more than with her.
Suddenly he sat up. The light bulb in his head went off. Both times when he crossed the portal he’d wanted to get out, not go in. When he arrived at wherever the hell it was she lived at, he’d been seeking adventure. He’d tried to leave, escape the monotony and normality of it all. When he left her and crossed back to his world, he’d wanted to get out of hers so he could help her.
He realized, when he returned to the exact spot to get back to her, he’d wanted in. Maybe the portal didn’t allow people in. Only out. It was worth a shot. He had nothing to lose and time was no friend as it moved along ticking carelessly.
“Any word, Rapunzel?”
Cirilla was going by the tower more frequently. She’d thought of a plan. She would share it with Rapunzel and her knight as soon as he came back. Hopefully, he would. Cirilla knew the girl did not deserve to be locked away until death came for her. By the looks of her, it could be soon.
Rapunzel was looking even worse than before. A barely recognizable ghostly figure took her place. Dark circles surrounded her eyes. The little happiness she had left, gone. She constantly cried and didn’t eat. She was looking thinner too and if he wasn’t back soon Cirilla thought Rapunzel might die or become crazed.
He’d given her hope. A jolt to her veins. A lifeline. And the fact that he had disappeared into thin air was consuming her. Cirilla’s heart cracked deeper and deeper still every time she came to visit; which was weekly.
“No.” She sobbed from the small window.
“Don’t lose hope, girl. He said he’d be back, didn’t he?”
Rapunzel gave a small smile and loudly replied, “Yes!”
“If he said that, then he must. He’s a man of his word yes? A knight?”
“I don’t know. I think so. All I know is he isn’t a prince and he rides something better than a horse.”
“Better than a horse?” A horseless knight? What kind of nonsense had the stranger put in Rapunzel’s head? Cirilla’s voice rose with concern. “Could it be a carriage?”
“Something called a bike. I think a man by the name of Harley owns it. I don’t know Cirilla!” She shook her head and covered her face with her shaking hands.
“That’s alright, Rapunzel. You don’t need a prince or a knight for that matter. You need someone you can count on.”
Rapunzel nodded and waved. “Where are you, Nick?” she softly asked herself. “Where did you go?”
He checked the list on his tablet against the contents in his bag thrice. Nicholas gathered everything he could carry that he considered helpful and placed it in his backpack. Locking the door to his apartment he checked again. A very long rope. A sharp blade. Scissors. Carabiners. Silver jewelry he owned that could be used as a bribe.
He was nervous and frustration set in because he knew, what he truly needed, he could not get through. A car, a ladder, the police, a fire truck.
He couldn’t ask anyone to go with him. What if his idea didn’t work? They’d think he was joking or lost his mind completely. The few people he brought to the portal’s location at one time or another had no idea why they were there. If it had opened, he would have taken them through. But it never did.
Sitting on his bike he imagined getting out of town. Leaving his life behind, finding a new adventure away from home. Somewhere different where his hunger for excitement would be satisfied.
Out in the distance, he finally saw it! A barely visible tinge of dark blue light. But he could see it. It was familiar to him now and his heart raced as the motorcycle engine roared.
The portal opened wide. The grassy, circular-shaped path could be seen ahead. He could see its vibrant greens and yellows from afar luring him into the cobalt blue hue of light. He riveted the bike once more and sped on ahead.
She’d been talking to herself more frequently lately. Laughing at nonsensical things. Asking questions aloud; then answering them herself loudly, in annoyance. It wasn’t good. She didn’t sound or look good and it was gravely concerning.
Angered, she balled her fists and cried. She wished he’d never been there. She wished she’d never met him. Nick had given her hope. New hope. A window of opportunity to escape. Finally, a way out and be free. Like an eagle.
She’d flown so high when he laid his eyes upon her, he’d made her body explode with his touch. She was sure she’d reached the sun, but instead of comfort, her skin burned in the process.
In the distance, she heard a foreign sound. Some kind of roar. Like a lion but not exactly.
She turned to the window and saw a mirage. A vision of Nick sitting on some kind of machine with wheels. His hair flew in the wind, and his eyes were covered by dark glass. Rapunzel panicked, thinking her eye deceived her. She felt sick to her stomach. Nauseous.
Before she knew what was happening, everything went hazy, and she passed out.