Abigail had returned to the sofa, unable to hear anything through the door, too afraid to risk opening it and running for the door.
A little voice in her head seemed to scream at her to take action. Now is the time. Get up. Go now!
Despite the events of the past few days, and the fight that Abigail had shown, she found herself unable to reignite that fire for freedom. Common sense suggested that she should stay still until the police arrived, that this man couldn’t possibly be as bad as the others, but that disquieting feeling was welling up inside, vying for her attention.
In contrast to the feelings and thoughts rushing through her, the act of physically moving was not forthcoming. It was as if there was no energy left to be burned on the commencement of another chase. All she could do was to sit, staring at the television, unable to even concentrate on the near constant prattling of daytime TV presenters.
At the moment that her mind and her body both seemed to resign to staying in the room, the man believed to be named Ben re-entered.
Without saying a word the man took a seat beside her, as close as he could get without making physical contact.
Turning her attention to the clock on the wall, Abigail tried to quell the feeling of alarm that was trying to force her to get out of the way of this near-anonymous man. It was after eleven o’clock. She had been in that flat for an hour. She fidgeted with her fingers again, the only movement of which she seemed capable at that moment. He said he’d called the police. They should have been here ages ago.
“Waiting for the police to get here?” Ben asked.
He lowered a hand to Abigail’s right thigh and started to stroke it over her jeans. “What did I say again when you asked if I’d called them?” He took in a deep breath, and before Abigail could respond he said with a smile, “Oh yes. I said someone would collect you soon.”
Abigail wanted to say something in response but words escaped her, as did her voice, trapped behind a dry throat and unable to escape.
“You see, I know you’re Alicja, Sergei’s property.” Abigail’s eyes widened as Ben continued to talk, edging closer to her. “He said you were a pretty thing. I’m not about to hand a girl like you over to the police when there are… other things I could do.”
His hand moved slowly up Abigail’s thigh until an electric impulse shot through her and she stood up, batting his hand away in the process. She thought about running for the door but as she turned around, her legs seemed to lock in-situ. She could only stand there, willing herself to run for the door, but her worst fears had paralysed her once again. I need to get out of here. Why can’t I move?
Ben cleared his throat. “I know what you must be thinking, but you would be much happier if you just relaxed.” He patted the seat next to him with the palm of his left hand. “Take a seat and I’ll help you unwind.”
There was a leer on his face that sent a shiver through Abigail. She shook her head and tried once again to move her feet. All I need to do to get free is to move my feet. Why won’t they move?
Ben stood up and walked towards her. “Sergei could be here any minute,” he said. “But I think he’d still allow me time to have some fun.”
In one sudden movement he raised himself up and grabbed Abigail’s wrists. She tried to struggle free as pain shot up and down her arms. For a small man, this guy was strong. He flung her around and threw her down onto the sofa on her back.
As she turned and tried to scramble free, Ben hurled himself on top of her. She was pinned down, he had a free hand, which he used to grab at her t-shirt. He managed to somehow plant a kiss on her head which was thrashing from side to side. He tugged at her top, tearing it from the neckline down.
Ben wasted no time in putting his hands on her breasts, his right hand moving across her stomach and moving down towards her jeans.
Heaving her arms and legs in sequence or together did nothing to deter the man. She wriggled and thrashed around, trying to knock him off balance. Nothing seemed to be working. He was strong and he seemed to have been used to wild girls. If anything, his grunts and facial expressions suggested that he liked the challenge.
“I don’t get a girl to myself very often,” he said through gritted teeth, reaching for the button on her jeans.
Abigail stopped throwing her head from side to side and waited for a second for the dizziness to dissipate. Then, with every ounce of strength she could call upon, she wound her neck backwards and then smashed her head forwards as hard as she could, right into Ben’s nose.
She heard a dull crack as the man recoiled. She then used her legs to topple him off the sofa, landing hard on his side. Letting out a scream of pain and clutching his face, he shouted, “You little bitch! You’ve broken my nose!”
There was a comedic look to the scene Abigail had helped to create in the lounge of that flat, but Abigail was too afraid for her life to find amusement. Instead, she started to find her way off the sofa. She didn’t get far before one of the man’s hands sprung up with a vice-like grip on her right ankle.
Abigail fell forward on to her stomach. She tried to kick him away with her other foot, but her position and balance prevented her from making any meaningful contact. She felt herself being pulled backwards across the carpet, feeling friction burns on her palms and elbows. She felt the man’s other hand on her left ankle with the same hard grip. A moment later she was flung into the air and flipped over, landing hard on her back. She let out an uncontrollable long cough before finding herself unable to breathe for several seconds.
She looked on, her wide eyes watching as Ben withdrew several tissues from a box on the small table next to the sofa, stuffing them up his nose and yelling in pain as he did so.
Staring at Abigail with hatred in his eyes, and with blood soaking the tissues protruding from the swelling in the middle of his face, he said, “I was going to be gentle with you.” He wiped drool from his mouth and tears from his eyes with the back of his right hand, not once taking his eyes from her. “I’ve changed my mind.”
Realising that she had recovered from her forceful encounter with the floor, Abigail prepared to react as Ben approached. She laid still, wearing a pained expression, hoping to lull the man into a false sense of security. She remembered being told of a fish, sitting on the sea bed that would lie still, as if dead, waiting to pounce on its prey. She didn’t remember the name of the fish, but at that moment, she was it.
He took a step closer and paused before gingerly touching the tip of his nose. His hand rushed from his face as pain was once again written all over his features and fresh tears fell from his eyes. That look was quickly replaced with one of anger and he took another step towards Abigail. Take one more step.
Ben obliged, moving closer and stooping down, preparing to pick her up from the floor, when Abigail kicked up with her right foot, and then immediately followed with a kick from her left, in between the guy’s legs.
Ben paused mid-stoop and instead doubled over in pain. Abigail retracted her right leg, bending it as much as possible to bring it back, and sent it crashing into Ben’s left knee.
As Ben fell to the floor, Abigail shot to her feet and ran out of the living room, along the hallway, and tried the front door. Locked. She spun her head around in a frenzied attempt to be free. I can find his keys. I must have time before he gets back to his feet.
She ran the full length of the hallway and found the kitchen. There, on the worktop, were the keys. She scooped them up and ran back to the door, listening for any movement from the man, lying in a heap on his own floor. Nothing yet.
She found the long key and fumbled it into the lock until she turned it. The lock released and she opened the door. It opened an inch and snapped to a halt. She looked at the gap and spotted a small chain at her head height. She slammed the door shut and removed the chain at the second attempt. This time the door opened fully.
She bolted down the stairs. One flight, then another. One more to go. She slowed and looked up through the gap between the stairs, towards the top floor. I can’t see him or hear him. I should’ve locked him inside with his own keys.
She shook her head and ran down the final flight of stairs. I can’t risk going back now.
As she reached the front door, she tried the handle and found the door to be held in place with a magnetic lock. Spinning her head to the left and then to the right, she noticed a light switch, and a door release button next to it. In her haste she caught the light switch, illuminating the dull corridor, before hitting the button and hearing the lock temporarily disengage.
No more than four steps into the open air and freedom, she was grabbed from behind in a form of bear hug by someone tall. She was tipped backwards so her kicking legs couldn’t hurt the shins of the man holding her.
Sergei stepped out from behind a corner and stood at her side. He looked like he’d been in a street fight, which she was sure he would have preferred to being beaten up by a girl half his size.
“Alicja,” he said in a cheerful tone. “We meet again.”
In a moment she was wrestled into the back seat of the silver Mercedes she had avoided earlier. As the doors closed, she looked around. No handle to open from the inside. No way of lowering the window. David, the photographer, had been the burly figure who had grabbed her and held her in mid-air. Since then he had been careful in placing her inside the car. He was now keeping a small pistol, tucked in to his jacket, aimed towards her head from the outside of her car window.
“I wouldn’t even think of running again,” Sergei said as he adjusted the rear-view mirror, started the engine and pulled away. “I have my gun this time. Anyway, you don’t know who you might bump in to.”
Tears formed in her eyes as the reality of her situation caught up with her. So much for freedom. What chance have I got of ever getting free?