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The Struggle for Survival

Chapter 14:

She could barely see anything when she opened her eyes. Her vision was hazy and the faint sounds she heard left an abominable echo. She did not know how long it had been since she lost consciousness, but she did know that she was still lying on the floor of her living room. The stranger in black was standing across from her. He was holding a phone and mumbling something to someone, but she could not make out the words because of the echo. She tried to get up, but an excruciating pain shot through her left arm and caused her to crumble to the floor. She tried to get up once more. This time she used her right arm for support and she managed to bring herself to a sitting position. The stranger was watching her from the corner of his eye, but did not seem to care that she was up.

Lesly’s eyes examined her surroundings. The room was a mess. Shattered glass covered the floor where he was standing. Pieces of the broken table she was thrown into surrounded her. Something was trickling down her face to the floor. She hesitantly placed her right hand on her cheek and then examined her fingers. They were covered in blood. Her eyes examined her left arm next and discovered that it was badly swollen. Judging by the excoriating pain that was shooting through her arm, it was safe to conclude that it was broken.

Her heartbeat began racing and her breathing quickened. It was happening again. Her nightmarish experience was about to repeat itself. She needed to do something, anything to keep that from happening at all costs. Her eyes scanned her surroundings once more. This time she was looking for something she could use to debilitate him long enough so she could escape. Fighting him was going to be impossible. She tried it a moment ago and she ended up with a gash on her forehead and a broken arm. There were a couple of options she could consider. One option involved knocking him with the lamp that was lying next to her before running towards the exit. This was risky for two reasons. One, he stood close to the hallway that led to the exist. Two, her apartment’s door was jammed and could only be open or shut with force which meant that her oppressor was going to get to her before she got it open. Her second option also involved knocking him with the lamp. She could then run, grab the phone that was sitting on the kitchen counter to call for help, and then barricade herself in her bedroom until rescue arrived. This option was also risky for a different reason. The guy could easily break her bedroom door if he wanted to. He had a massive built which meant that he could get the task done with ease.

She kept her eyes fixed on him as she hastily went over her options one more time. Both did not seem to offer much promise, but she had to try. She carefully stood up using the wall behind her for support. The stranger stopped talking. However, he was still listening intently to what the person on the other line was telling him. Suddenly, her phone started ringing. He looked at it momentarily as if he was not sure if it was necessary to do something about the disturbance. Her eyes too were immediately drawn to the source of the sound that was sitting on the kitchen counter. It seemed at that moment that reaching it was going to be the one thing that could end her predicament. Her mind was made up that instant. She was going to go for the second plan, run towards the phone, grab it, and barricade herself in her room.

Her hand reached for the lamp that was lying next to her shakily and she hurled it towards him. Then she immediately began running towards the counter in the hopes that she was going to have enough time to see her plan though. The heavy lamp she hurled at him did nothing to debilitate him. He blocked it with his arm with ease before he immediately ran after her. There was no time. She had to answer the phone, ask for help and hope that it was going to reach her before he did what he came to do. The stranger instantly got to her. He grabbed her by the hair and tried to drag her away. She fought with every ounce of strength she had left and managed miraculously to pry one of his fingers away and twist it. His grip weakened. This gave her a few precious seconds to accomplish her task. She answered the phone without even checking who the caller was. Her voice came out in a shrilling scream as she begged whomever that was calling her for help. Her oppressor tightened his grip on her hair and forcefully tried to silence her by covering her mouth. He found difficulty in getting the task done for she would not stop resisting and trying to break out of his hold. Her shrilling screams continued and he found that the best way to keep her from calling for help was to grab the phone and smash it against the wall. He then turned her around, pinned her against the counter and covered both her nose and mouth as he menacingly began talking to her.

“You can’t breathe now, can you?” He asked in a harsh whisper.

She couldn’t. Her eyes grew wide in terror as she tried to pry his hand away so she could breathe again, but there was no way she could get the task done with one hand.

“Stop resisting if you want to breathe again,” he demanded.

She complied and hoped that he meant what he said. He did not immediately release her. His cold eyes watched her for a bit as she struggled to get some air into her lungs. Her hand tightened around his and she begged him with her eyes to let go of her. He eventually did, causing her to gasp loud for breath. He watched her with sadistic interest as she tried to bring her breathing under control. It was not long, though, before the pain in the finger she twisted filled him with wrath and caused him to strike her, and forcefully threw her against the kitchen cabinets. Then he followed her into the kitchen, grabbed her by the hair and dragged her across the carpeted floor into her bedroom.

Her strength had left her. She could only watch in helpless terror as he handcuffed her to the radiator in her room. Then he began tearing pieces out of her nightdress, causing her terror to intensify as her mind played one possible horrifying scenario after another of what was going to happen to her next. He used one torn strip of fabric to gag her and keep her from screaming. He kept the other strip in his hand and left the room with it. She had no idea where he went, but she knew he was still in the apartment with her because she could still hear him.

Her oppressor came back into the bedroom a few minutes later with what seemed like a flash drive. He stashed it in his pocket before he sat in front of her and started talking in a whisper.

“I’m going to remove the gag. If you try to scream once more, I’ll slit your throat. I swear,” he warned.

She nodded in terror.

He removed the gag and began asking her, “I have one question for you. Answer it, and I’ll leave you alone.”

She nodded again.

“Where is he?” he asked.

She waited for him to clarify, explain, elaborate, but he said nothing more. He simply waited for her to answer as if he was asking a simple direct question. She shook her head in confusion, but that seemed to have made him angry. He sighed in annoyance and gripped her swollen arm forcefully before he asked again, “Where is he?”

“He who?” she asked in a shaky voice as she grimaced in pain.

“Don’t play games with me!” he warned as he tightened his hold against her broken arm.

“I have no idea who you’re talking about. He who?” she shot back with a mixture of pain, fear and anger.

At that moment, he removed a pocket knife, flipped it open and pressed it hard against her throat. She shut her eyes in horror as she felt the blood trickling down her throat slowly. He spoke to her again in the same harsh whisper, “There was a video leak five years ago involving former mayor Davis. Who leaked it?”

“I don’t know,” she answered shakily.

“You expect me to believe that?” the man answered as he pressed the knife harder to her throat. “Davis had been engaging in his sadistic hobby away from the public eye in that house for years. No one knew except those who shared his interests. Then you come along as his latest addition, and suddenly, four days later, his fate was sealed. Who helped you?”

“I have no idea.”

“He’s still in contact with you, isn’t he?”

“Yes, but I don’t know who he is. I’ve never seen him. I’ve never talked to him. He doesn’t even respond when I email him. He is the one who usually initiates contact, not me,” she finally answered, her voice shaking with fear and anger.

The man stared at her for a moment. His knife was still pressed against her throat. She stared back with tears streaming down her face, but she still kept a challenging determined look. She thought he was going to dig his knife deeper and finish her off that instant. He did not, however. Instead, he removed the knife, picked his phone out of his pocket and dialed a number. He began talking to someone right in front of her, “I got nothing.”

The voice on the other line began mumbling something, and she thought she heard him ask if she knew anything. The man in front of her answered, “She doesn’t. I assure you.” He then locked his cold gaze with her terrified one and asked, “Should I finish her off?”

The voice on the other line started mumbling again and she could barely piece his words together. The guy hung up and stared at her for a moment. He grabbed the piece of clothing that was hanging around her neck, placed in her mouth again and tightened the knot. Then he grabbed the other piece of her nightdress which he tore earlier and blindfolded her with it. This caused her mind to hit a new level of pure terror. It stayed with her even after she heard his footsteps echoing away. Her mind began playing one trick after another. Any minute now, he could walk back into her bedroom and kill her. Death seemed certain. How she was going to die, however, was still not clear. Was he going to shoot her? Stab her? Have fun with her before he finished her off? Was it going to be a quick death or a slow painful one? Was he going to douse her in kerosene and light her up with a cigarette like those people did to two of the women who were locked up with her in that house? Was he going to sever a vein and watch her bleed to death?

Every sensation she felt in her blindfolded state sent her imagination into a direction more harrowing than the one before it. The open window in her bedroom made matters worse. It caused her body to grow cold and shiver with every passing second. The thin curtains that fluttered with the winter breeze drove her mad with every caress against her back or bare arms. They made her believe that the man’s malignant presence lingered, that he would strike any minute. The rustling sounds the wind created sent her into a breaking point. They filled her mind with indescribable terror.

Panic overwhelmed her. It caused her heartrate to accelerate and her chest to tighten. She began panting, but not enough oxygen seemed to be getting into her lungs. Her arms grew numb. Her feet felt like they were pricked and tingled by needles. Her head started pounding and she soon found it difficult to remain fully conscious of her hostile surroundings. She tried to maintain her state of hypervigilance, but she was too weak to overpower the darkness that swallowed her consciousness whole.

Her relief was short-lived. She awakened again to the same unknown terror and surrendered once more to the dark narratives of her sadistic mind.

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