Chloe is slowly emerging from the deep, black abyss of unconsciousness. With effort she forces herself to open her eyes. She is uncomfortable and is feeling awkward. What is gripping her arms and ankles? There is a light in the room but she struggles to comprehend and focus. All seems blurry and indistinct as if her empty head just simply refuse to register. Helplessly she moans and winks her eyes while she ineffectively tries to fight her entrapment. It firmly binds her arms and ankles.
She eventually starts to notice her surroundings.She looks and observes that her arms are tied with duct tape to a dining room chair. Her ankles are tied to the legs of the chair. She is pinned down in the chair. It must have been this uncomfortable, upright position that causes the severe pain throughout her body. Bewildered she looks around and tries to remember what the last thing was that happened to her before she dizzyingly came to her senses in this room.
She suddenly jerks and avoids yelling out loud when she sees Isaac nearby also strapped to a dining room chair. They are in his kitchen. Unconscious, with his head hanging down, he sits motionless. She must contain herself not to try and shout trying to wake him. She is afraid to even make any noise. The person that overwhelmed them and entrapped them is probably still around. Anxiously she sits and listens attentively to any noise that may give away someone’s presence.
It is eerily quiet in Isaac’s home. Maybe they are alone. Maybe burglars tied them up and ransacked the house and left. Maybe they have already left this lonely island in the middle of the blue gum forest with their loot. How did it happen? She looks up and studies the clock on the kitchen wall. It is three o’ clock in the morning. She listens to the ticks as the clock counts down the seconds in this ominous quietness.
Without moving she listens anxiously, fearing that someone might find her awake. She is terrified of what might follow. The strange history of this place in the middle of the forest spooks her. Everyone warned her to avoid this place for different reasons. The inexplicable incidents that chased all the previous inhabitants away; the horrendous family murder; the desolateness of the place; Mrs Kennedy that tried her utmost but could not find a tenant to hire the place.
She closes her eyes and silently listens and tries to recall what she did before she awoke in this situation. If no one turns up and she is sure that they are alone, she will try to call Isaac to awaken him. Now she is going to concentrate on wherever they were before this incident. Maybe some persons might come along and talk to one another and this will give her an opportunity to spy and listen. She might then be able to ascertain the motive for this weird circumstance.
How were they entrapped? Where were they when this happened? Slowly she starts to remember. They were on their way back from the hospital. Memories are now flooding her brain as she recollects that she had been in her room but couldn’t get to sleep. Her mind was in turmoil, full of difficult questions. She had been pondering as to how the life of her family had changed so drastically and fatally during the past few weeks. She tried to figure out who it is that deceived her family. Still thinking about this her ears started ringing like cicadas. Everything around her started to turn like a merry-go-round. She instantly realizes that something is terribly wrong. She desperately wants to get up to get Isaac’s help, but she can’t move or scream. Surely, someone had sedated them, but how did he accomplish it?
And then certainty dawns upon her. It is because of her routine. Usually, she makes supper beforehand. She stows it in the microwave and heats it when they return late in the evening from the hospital. This routine gave the intruders the opportunity to tamper with their food. Someone must have broken in, doctored their food and when they were unconscious and helpless, they were tied up. Are these the same devils that operate like phantoms behind the scenes that terrorize her family covertly or are they simple thugs and robbers?
She dearly hopes that it is only burglars and that they vanished along with the loot. But she knows instinctively that this is a slim possibility. They surely have credit cards with PIN’s. Maybe there is a secret safe and what about her small place opposite Isaac’s dwelling? No, burglars would have made sure whether there were valuables in her place too. They would have made sure that they profited fully on this occasion. Nothing was chasing them. The place is totally desolate.
Fear grips her heart like a vice when she ponders what might happen. Are they going to be tortured for PIN’s or assaulted to reveal the place of the secret safe? Are they in the brutal hands of rapists and murderers? And then she mulls over the professional way in which they entered the house and entrapped them, and that these people are the same as those devils that terrorize her family.
Will she be able to finally find out who these phantoms are in her life and what they are hideously planning?
She again listens attentively. Everything is quiet. No sound whatsoever. Only the tick of the clock against the wall. She feels as if the clock is mocking her. It sounds as if it is ticking away the last seconds of their lives. She wants to scream out of frustration. She starts to believe they are alone. Then, somewhere from within, a flicker like of a candle of hope. Maybe she should gather the courage to scream Isaac to life so that they could help each other to free themselves of the bondage to the chairs. Maybe the chairs would break if they succeed to topple them.
“I see you are awake, Chloe ...” She is shocked out of her wits by the sudden voice in her right ear. Panic rips through her like an electric current; she shudders and gets goosebumps all over her body. It’s a creepy, hoarse voice in her right ear. He knows her name! This is probably one of the devils that terrorize them. He must have been behind her all the time. The sadistic manner in which he has observed her quietly must have been hugely satisfying?
Cautiously with a trembling voice from her dry throat, she asks: “Who are you? What do you want …?”
She has never experienced this horrid voice before. It’s deep and masculine, rough but also a little hoarse. It’s a strange and stomach-churning voice that again whispers in her ear.
“Nothing, Chloe.I want nothing from you except obedience.”
While her brain frantically tries to make sense of the devil’s words, she asks: “Obedience …?”
“You are going to do precisely what I order you to do, then there will be no troubles, darling, and I will vanish into thin air.”
Again there is a flicker of hope inside her. The man is behind her and she cannot see his face and this could mean that he does not intend to harm them. Yes, that can be the reason why he is hiding.
“What is it that you want from me? Do you want my credit card and PIN? If you don’t show your face to us we will give you all the information.”
He suddenly bursts out in a sarcastic laugh. When his voice comes it is uncompromising, hard and self-assured. “No, I don’t want anything from you!”
Again she is confused. What does the devil want from her? “I don’t understand. What on earth do you want?”