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I woke to find myself tied to a chair. I was placed a few feet in front of a fire, but from the what else I could see, I was in some kind of cave. My mouth was duct taped shut and my hair was damp, by what I could not see. I tried to move, but my legs were tied to the legs of the chair by what felt like a handkerchief. I wasn’t yet at the point of crying out of panic, I was simply trying to recall the last twenty-four hours. My clothes were torn but I didn’t remember any kind of beating; the questions going off in my head were coming and going like cars on a highway.
“I must say my darling, you woke up a bit sooner than I planned,” a woman noticed, bending side ways in front of me to see if my eyes were really open. I didn’t recognize her. She had short red hair, and brown eyes.
“You didn’t give me too much time to make things look nicer dear, I was going to decorate a little nicer to suit your normal life style,” she said looking around. I tried to look around, give myself a hint as to what needed to look nicer.
“You see dear, my original plans were to have you looking nice and clean, but oh dear you put up a decent fight for someone your size. I had to get out my sleeping gas dear. I really didn’t want to use that on you, I’ve a patient who will be in more need for it later,” she said nodding to a body that was laying against a brick wall. It was my boyfriend, now was a considerable time to panic. My heart sped as I noticed he had cuts all over his body. Tears trickled down my face but I tried suppress any emotion that would get us in more harms way.
“Why’d you kill him? My boy was so nice to you, he praised your existence. I can see why he did, you’re quite a looker I’ll admit, but why did you feel the need to kill him?” she pleaded as though I could speak. What is she talking about? I never killed anyone, I don’t know anything about the supposed death of her son. I don’t know her! Why did she take my boyfriend? He’s never hurt anyone, is the kindest guy any girl could ask for.
“Johnny, my dear, I’m talking about my Johnny, he asked you out a few times and you refused. He told me he apologized to both you and your lover for anything he might’ve done to make you feel the need to ignore him. Did you not think that maybe he had a mother he would seek revenge on his behalf, dear?” What is with calling me dear? Johnny? Oh s***, that kid we called my stalker. I never knew his name, he’d always creeped me out, so naturally I felt it necessary to ignore him. Was that not hint enough? Even Chris had given an innocent warning to just state clearly “leave her alone please, she’s my girlfriend and I don’t appreciate other guys irritating her. Consider this a clear warning,” I had listened to Chris tell him just before lunch. Johnny, he a was really skinny, delusional guy. He wore coke bottle glasses and a tie every day to school. He was, I guess what you’d consider a geek, even though I wouldn‘t say that to anyone. To me he was just an annoyance.
Johnny’s mother ripped the duct tape off my lips like you rip a band-aide off so it won’t be too painful. This was painful. My heart was skipping beats now, I was starring Chris’s body, begging in my head for him to wake up. I would not talk to this deranged angry mother.
“If you do not answer my question, I will have to cause you more damage. You already managed to get blood in your hair,” she said as though she was a nurse giving a child an alternative way to suffer. Her voice, far from soothing spoke calmly and in a tone of ration.
“I…I didn’t know your son well ma’am. I…I’m truly sorry for your loss, but I…I guarantee you, I never caused him any harm. Especially not death,” that was all I managed to get out hesitantly and terrified.
“Well, if you call heart break harmless, you are sorely mistaken Janelle. And since you are so blind to what love is, let me show you a little bit of what my dear Johnny thought of you,” she said and left my side. I heard her walk behind me.
“To start, some music to hear what he felt, for you,” she said as she played some old classical music. What the heck? Since when do people, well at least kids like Johnny enjoy old classical? Then again, I didn’t know him very well. She turned on a mood light which gave me too well a view as to what I truly was to him. I was in a small cave. The place was fairly empty but looked like it was in some fashion a home. I looked to my left to see the cave went on and closed a bit with a few doors. The hall curved to the right so I couldn’t see much farther. The few lights that were on were very dim, and spread out a bit through the cave.
Around the fireplace, the only homely like quality about the place, were pictures of me. Pictures of what looked like me laughing with my friends or walking with my boyfriend. Only, they were all cut out of the pictures, and replaced by Johnny. He had thick brown eyes, looked like he was concentrating really hard on something, and also seemed in his own world. In only one picture was I looking up, and that was yearbook picture. My senior picture. How did he get a hold of that?
“Would you please say something dear? I did put this up to hear a response,” she said, sounding irritated. I stammered in my mind the right thing to say.
“How, how did you get these photos of me?” I asked.
She laughed and said, “You didn’t know? Johnny was an excellent photographer. He did tell me that following you home was rather uneasy for him to keep a decent focus though,” she said pointing to one in which I could only assume was a Friday afternoon. I was smiling, relieved looking and satisfied. It must have been the Anatomy test I felt I did great on.
“He…he followed me home?” I remarked a bit sickened.
“Oh Janelle, you were the main reason for him getting in trouble at home. I can’t tell you how many times he’d gotten caught sneaking back into the house with his camera around three in the morning,” she commented aghast. She pointed to one that looked like me sleeping on my couch a night I’d had the house to myself. I was in nothing more than a black tank top and PJ pants. My hair was still long, fell over my chest and the little make-up I’d worn that day was smudged. It must have been the night Chris was camping with his friends. Usually when parents were out of town, he’d stay the night, but in that picture, I was alone.
“Why would you let your son stalk someone?” I commanded harshly, forgetting for a moment that my life was currently in grave danger.
“I suggest you don’t raise your voice with me young lady, I am a mother. The mother of the boy you killed nonetheless,” she said matter of fact.
“I promise you, I did not kill your son, I barely knew him! As you already noted,” I began nodding my head towards Chris, “I’m sort of taken, we thought it best to ignore him so a friendship wouldn’t give him hope,” I explained. She took a scalpel from her pocket and ran it down my arm. I shrieked in pain as the warm fluid spilled down my pale arm.
“Hope? You didn’t want to give him hope? You are going to give my him hope tonight, whether he’s dead or not.” she yelled at me as though I was her kid and had just broken a valuable heirloom. She stomped away. I sat there squirming to set myself loose.
“Chris, Chris, please wake up. You can’t be dead. You can’t be, c’mon wake up!” I whispered as loudly as possible for sleeping body to hear, or so I hoped. Chris and I had been dating since the end of our freshman year. My best girl Casey had introduced us at her birthday party and we were inseparable ever since. All our friends were friends with each other so things never got awkward, I was the lucky girl who had the high school sweetheart. He was a decent amount taller than be, had green eye as well and his hair was a light brown. He always held me like I was about to leave for a week trip and kissed me just as much. We were on the same level, had gotten into a reasonable number of disagreements, but we realized we loved each other too much to let anything get in the way. I was not about to loose my best friend, and my love.
“Oh Janelle, you can’t possibly have thought that I wouldn’t hear that and for that matter, that your love would,” she said in a mockingly pathetic way. She had something, a black bag that hung over her right arm. She lay the dark bag, folded it first and placed it near the fire, and walked behind me again.
“What is that, what are you doing?” I begged tearing up lightly. I had been so used to not crying, holding it in ever since my brother passed, that the tears seemed all the sudden just ready to stream out. She came back with creams and bandages.
“Now Janelle, I need you to hold still or this will hurt much more than necessary,” she explained as she took out a needle and thread from her pocket.
“No! Back off of me! You’re going to cut me then sew me back together? you’re sick!” I shouted, but she seemed not to hear me as she cleaned my arm and then began to stitch me back together. I screamed a tiny shriek of pain. I had once been a self abuser which made this almost feel like history repeating itself with one exception, I wasn’t doing the work, nor was it at all wanted. She pulled the string which stung like salt water continually being porn into a deep paper cut.
“No worries my dear, everything has been sanitized.” she assured me. Like that would make anything feel better.
“Why don’t you just kill me?” I cried in self loathing pain.
“Kill you? Why on god’s earth would I want to do that?” She asked quite puzzled at my desperate plead. And of course, she was religious. What religion was it that loved human sacrifice?
“That’s what you’re going to do anyway isn’t it? I’ve hurt your sons heart, you’re obviously never believe that I didn’t kill him, I’m not anything you want to exist! Just kill me, I don’t care,” I quite nearly demanded.
“Well, you did break my sons heart. I only blame you for his death because it’s your picture I found in his pocket when I found his body hanging in his bathroom. I maybe should’ve cleared that one up, I apologize for the lack of explanation for that. You may have been my definition of his cause of death but that means you’re not to die. He’s sacrificed his life for you, now you’ll sacrifice your future, for him.” my heart stopped. What did she mean sacrifice my future for him?
“What…are you talking about?” I was no longer crying. I was in shock and could barely breath. She neglected to answer me, and finished her work on me. She stood up, pleased with her work, and left my side once again. I heard her pulling something behind me. To my left side, she began to set up a sort of beauty-like salon. As she was putting things together, it started looking more and more like a little girls area for applying makeup and playing dress up.
“What, what is this? What are you doing?” I sounded now like a broken record. The unacknowledged questions were being answered in my head. I knew what she had planned.
“Oh by the way Janelle, you can start calling me mom or mother or whatever guardianship name you’d like,” she pointed out as she walked towards the bag she’d placed near the fire. Oh, Christ no!
“What? You can’t be serious, your son killed himself because of me and now you want me to consider you my mother? Why would either of us want that?!” I asked. She took the bag and unzipped it, reveling a long white wedding gown. It was a breathtakingly beautiful gown. A tube top, white silk that curved to show off your waist. It was decorated with blue roses around the under bust and was sewn in through the rest of the bottom of the dress. I was struck by it’s beauty and it was a dress any girl would love to wear on her wedding day. This however, was not an event I was ready for or wanted to think about tolerating even for this sick woman’s sake. I didn’t see a veil, which obviously would serve no purpose in this case; unless she was deranged enough to hire a desperate actor.
Apparently she’d caught my stare of awe towards the dress cause she smiled and commented, “Oh I know, isn’t just what you would imagine? I had your thoughts in mind when I picked it. Well, stole I suppose would be more truthful,” she said in a quick realization. She seemed cheerfully mused by the notion of me being her…daughter-in-law. How am I going to get out of this?
“Yes, I’ll admit it’s lovely, but wouldn’t you have to, let me loose for me to even put it on?” I played along trying to conjure up a plan of escape.
“Well of course silly girl, that’s also why I set up a place for you to ready yourself,” she laughed at her brilliance which I was two steps ahead of.
“One moment dear, I’ve got to get the flowers, you can’t very well be married with no bouquet. Where’s the beauty in that? No, no. I’ve planned this down to a T.” she chirped and fled out of the room. Ok, ok. I can do this. I can stall this in plenty of ways. Getting Chris out of her will however be somewhat troublesome. He’s only twice my weight. No, I’ll have to knock her out with something. I looked around, hoping in all desperation to find a vase, or something to defend myself with. who is she planning I marry anyway? I know there’s no one here that she’s going to have me marry…right? Panic struck again, sharper in the gut. I felt ill to my stomach.
“Janelle dear, I want to meat your fiancé.” Behind her, a boy who looked near identical to Johnny as much as I could see from the chair, walked reluctantly to her side. She was pulling his hand, refusing to look up at me. I didn’t know Johnny had a brother.
“This is Charlie, Johnny’s cousin. He’s agreed to marry you for Johnny,” she pushed Charlie in front of me.
“I…uh, it’s nice to meat you Charlie.” Play along, play along, play along.
Charlie spoke quietly to his aunt embarrassed. I only caught some of his words, for it was clear he didn’t want me to hear him.
“Charlie, don’t be silly, of course you’re good enough for her, and of course she’ll think you’re very handsome indeed.” She looked at me, smiling as though I’d told her this all myself.
I smiled innocently and nodded. “Charlie, you’re very handsome, and if anything I’m not deserving of you. I seem like such a sweet young man, I’m ..t …t…touched you’re aunt thinks so, highly of me,” I smiled. To be quite honest, he didn’t seem the least bit interested in being married anymore than I. His eyes were a gentle blue, kind and sad. He had longer hair then Johnny, black, and a bit messy like that of a metal guitarist.
“Say hello Charlie, don’t be rude. You know you’re to be marrying her soon so lighten up.”
“It’s of my greatest honor to meet you. You are strikingly beautiful if you don’t mind me saying,” he spoke in a very light accent I couldn’t identify. He blushed and smiled at the fact that he probably saw me blush as at his polite hello and unexpected compliment.
“See, that wasn’t so hard, now go ready yourself.” She pushed him back to a room that she’d brought him from. It was as if he was probably there the whole time, locked in a room, unwillingly waiting to meet his fiancé.
“That can’t be Johnny’s cousin, Johnny had no accent,” I pointed out curiously.
“Yes well, Charlie came to us from the streets. Oh he was a fools errand in those times,” she began in recollection of his arrival to the psychotic family. As she spoke of the “old times” I thought of ways to free myself. Hell, maybe even get Charlie into a normal lifestyle as well. She didn’t notice my pathetic tugging attempt of setting my wrists free. Too tight. S***, was this woman a rock climber or something? Obviously a criminal, but the steeling of the dress didn’t explain the tightness of whatever was holding me a prisoner.
“Now then,” she said, kneeling down to my level, “I’m going to loosen you so you can dress, but I need some clarification that that’s exactly what’ll happen. Do you understand?” She sounded like an annoying high school teacher telling me I’m asking for detention. I’m not a baby.
“I understand, but I need privacy, for I’m very shy,” I said hoping that was not a dead give away.
“My dear, what are you shy of? You’re a beauty, but I will allow you privacy. I’ll give you five minutes to change and come back out for your makeup. I will be waiting for you there by the table,” she said as she loosened my wrists and legs. It worked. I took the dress and walked toward the room next to Charlie’s. I shut the door and flicked on the light. I tried locking the door, but of coarse there was no lock. That would be too easy. Five minutes. I did change, in less then two minutes, and then looked for anything to get me out of here. The room was empty besides a bed. No windows and the walls were as plain as clean paper. I heard Charlie calling my name next door, there was a small hole where I heard his voice coming.
“Janelle, if you have a plan, I’ll go along, I know you don’t want to marry me. Needless to say seventeen is too young to be married anyways,” he said comfortingly.
“Thank you, Charlie. Just go along with everything. You’ll be able to see if I have figured anything out,” I said.
“Janelle, it’s been six minutes, I said five. Do you need help?” The woman called from right outside my door. My heart jumped and I raced to the door. I opened it and smiled.
“No, I’m sorry. I was just trying to collect myself, I don’t want to be of disappointment for Charlie,” I replied explaining myself easily.
“You teenagers and your fears of disappointing one another by looks. Love is not about looks dear. It’s about the person, what’s inside, besides, you heard Charlie. He thinks you’re beautiful. Now please, follow me to do your make up.” Charlie came out of his room dressed, very handsome, right as she turned her back. I took Charlie by the hand and we ran for a back door. Charlie led, he would definitely know where he was going better than I. My heart was pounding loud as a drum and because she’d given me nothing for foot wear, my feat were near impossible to hear.
“HEY! WHERE DO YOU TWO THINK YOU’RE GOING?” she shouted angrier than a bitter old lady screaming at children to quit playing on her lawn. She was walking toward us in gigantic steps with great speed and nothing to slow her. Charlie led me into a tunnel and we ran as fast as I could go. I was too slow though, she caught up to us and stepped on the dress to stop me. I fell hard on the cement ground, my head hit hard.
“Charlie, RUN!” I yelled at him. I had to be distraction enough for her to not want him too.
“CHARLIE, GET BACK HERE. GET YOUR A** BACK HERE!” Cursing from a religious woman? Really? I was screwed, but I told Charlie to run. I didn’t want him to see any near future gruesome plans this woman had in store for me. He ran, he was free now.
“You little wench, now you really will pay for this, in worse ways than you’ve ever imagined,” she hissed. She dragged me by my hair and I shrieked in pain. If there was anything I despised with all my heart, it was having haired pulled on or yanked at. My greatest pet peeve.
She pulled my to my feet once out of the tunnel and I punched her in the face as hard as I could. It was a worthy one since I had her blood on my puny knuckles. She slapped me and grabbed my upper arm. I tried to pry loose, but she was sure to be bruising me by how tight her grasp on me was. She propped me in the chair and hit be across the head again, bringing on a nasty headache. She tied me up again, tighter.
“Since you didn’t want to play nicely, you’ll have to play by my rules, an believe me dear, these are not ones to toy with.” I was sure to be dead soon. She grabbed a knife and walked and untied my legs. I kicked her in the face, knocking her only a few feet away.
“D*** it Janelle, you know the more fight you put on the worse it’s going to be?”
“Oh really? And what do you define as worse? You’ve got the knife out, I can only think of so many things, and I’m fairly positive you’re not planning on letting me go in one piece either!” There was no longer need to play along or be nice.
“You’re a smart girl,” she said and crawled back to me with the knife. This time it was from the side. I couldn’t reach her. She grabbed my leg and sliced my lower leg as though she were going in for surgery. I screamed in pain and agony. I felt the blood fall down my right leg. I closed my eyes feeling a pain so sharp I almost couldn’t breath. She slashed my left leg this time, and a screamed louder. I was losing too much blood. All the sudden I started becoming dazed. Just when I thought I was at my end, I hear glass break. I tried to open my eyes to see what she was going to do.
From my blurred vision, I saw that she was not doing any breaking, it was Charlie. He came back for me? I was still loosing blood and slowly failing to keep consciousness.
“You messed up woman! You cut her? You think I ever wanted to stay with your insane asylum kin?” Charlie yelled at her holding her arms from behind. They were now besides the mirror which was cracked and held what looked like the woman’s hair.
“I was like a mother to you! D*** it Charlie, I told you I’d find you someone to settle down with!” she said trying to kick him while his arms were wrapped around her, picking her up, not allowing hr feet to touch the ground. All her fighting must of weighed up since he dropped her, still holding her though.
“I never said I wanted to settle down Caroline! I simply said I wanted out of the family.” Her name was Caroline? He picked her up again and body slammed her into the floor. Ouch.
“I told you never to call me by my name! Get off of me!” she got her arms and threw him a few bunches. They only seemed to serve as baby shots, for he didn’t move. Instead, he got up again and stepped on her stomach, stomping any hair she had out of her. She was out. He raced over too me and tried untying me.
“I’m so sorry Janelle, I’m so sorry. I’ll get you out of here,” he cried as though he’d just broken my heart.
“Ch…Charlie, you’re, you’re saving my life. What have you, got to be sor-” I couldn’t finished.
“Stop talking. You’re loosing so much blood, I’m going to wrap your legs and get you out.” he said. I could feel a warm towel sucking in my blood, and then bandages being wrapped around the fresh wounds. It was enough to keep me conscience. I had to be awake so he wouldn’t be doing al the work himself. CRACK! Just as he finished untying my wrists, I heard his skull crunch and he fell to my side.
Caroline, her hair in every direction, a face bleeding from her nose, and her chin, stood above him with a baseball bat. Her face was bright red, fuming and ready to end this. I was low on breath, weakened and felt low of ambition anymore. I had to finish this. I looked her in the eyes for a deadly moment, trying to think of how to get that bat out of her hands before it’d meet my head too. She looked like a wild woman. Clothes hanging, and out of no where, she flew to the mirror again. Chris had woken up and whacked her. She lost grip of the bat and fell to the floor, seeming knocked out. Chris looked at me and ran to my side to hug me.
“Janelle! I’m so sorry I couldn’t get you out of this last night! She pretended she was looking for her son. She pointed to you and I tried to tell her you don’t know her son!” he held me and kissed me.
“What? I don’t remember anything of this, where were we?” I asked, seeing in my side vision that Caroline was waking up.
“You were on some pain killers for leg, you bruised your bone in gym. You and getting hurt,” he explained. There was a possible reason why I was the only one out of any recollection of the previous night. Caroline was mad now, she started to get up. Adrenaline rushing, I kissed Chris, shoved him lightly to me side and in maddeningly rising pain, limped my way in front of Caroline, spit in her eyes then shoved my thumbs into her sockets.
“AHHHH!” She sounded loudly like a fire trucks sirens. She was instantly paralyzed in pain and shrieked. Blood started drizzling down my hands and down her cheeks, in to her mouth. I pressed my thumbs in with even more force and felt her eyes balls pop in her head. She fell to the ground, lifeless and dead.
“Christ, Janelle. You actually remember what I taught you?” Chris asked impressed with my sudden defensive reflex.
“Well, when your life is at risk, every lesson kind flashes in your head,” I said low on breath. He chuckled, for I repeated what he’d told me when he was reassuring me I’d remember all the moves if my life was ever at risk. He took me in his arms and kissed my forehead.
“I love you,” he smiled, holding me up as began to lose my balance.
“And I love you,” I said.
“I know, you wouldn’t have come to the rock concert with me if you didn’t,” he joked bringing up last night. I let out a little laugh, drawing my arm around his waist.
“Hey, I was going to that concert with you no matter what. I was just as excited you won the tickets as you were. C’mon, lets get out of her,” I pleaded, and helped me toward the tunnel.
“You’re definitely keeping the dress right?” Chris asked only somewhat jokingly, probably getting ready to carry me. I hated being carried, but in this situation, I suppose I could make an exception.
“Ha, you kidding? I was planning on wearing it to school,” I lied. About halfway through the tunnel, we saw light and heard several voices.
It was the cops and our parents. Apparently, this was really the mad family’s home. I suppose a deranged family would live in a cave, I could only imagine what the outside looked like. Chris called them to us, they reached us, and I drew my last conscience breath for the night.