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If I kissed you...
Author's note: Writing is my passion. If I don't write daily, I feel like my day is incomplete. I wrote this to showcase where I am currently at, regarding talent in writing. Currently I have at least five other books I've started on which have the same amount of dedication and talent. When I manage to get a publisher I'll publish them as well when they are finished. This is the first big piece I've put out there that I feel truly shows where I am at in my writing. If you like it, keep in mind this is only part 1, and part 2 is in the works. Any good and constructive feedback is more than welcome. The more feedback I get, the more I will consider there being a part three.
My feet crunched on the hardened desert floor, sand cracking beneath my feet, I was running, my tired body made of dead weight-as I ran away from the man who would kill me. It would come after my other three friends. Oh God, where are you John? My boyfriend had run off in the killer's direction to distract him after I begged him not to, and now...here I am. Heart pounding through the desert's shadow as night has descended. A slight breeze cools my face as I make myself stop, my feet dead and dragging on the sand and crushed brush. My cold, blue eyes scanned the night, looking for figures-shadows-anything! Anything to tell me whether my John was caught. How could he?! John knew I was weaker-more tired than him, so he ran after the killer and acted as a sacrifice-WHY?!
I wailed, unable to control it, sobbing and falling to my knees as dust spat up on my thighs. I caught myself, stifling my pain and pushing it painfully back into my heart instead of out through my wails. It burned, but I got up and tried to clear my eyes. I strained them as hard as I could to see any figures in the distance. I had severe astigmatism, my eyes were blurry most of the time, useless for reading unless I had glasses. I lost my glasses. The killer took them off my nose.
“I think I'll do you a favor.” he said to me.
His whispering, rugged voice pierced my memory. He took off the glasses. He was usually quiet, why did he talk to me, was there hope? My lips stretched against the duct tape trying to speak through it to plead with him. My friends, Maleah and Jen weren't duct taped and they were calling out for help, Maleah banging the back of her head against a rustic window to try and shatter it. He looked at the glasses in his hands once-considering, then he dropped them, and they were demolished under his foot.
He grabbed a large pair of shears on the rank, old nightstand. I pressed my back further into the side of his bed frame, my hands were tied behind it. My friends screamed louder and I started yelling through the duct tape for him to stop, it came out as a loud muffled 'No', over and over. He stopped, and slowly his head turned my way. His lean, muscled body turned, towering over my huddled one.
Suddenly the doors of his shed ripped open and as their chains rang out against the walls, John ran into him, slamming him into the wall. The shears dropped, but immediately the killer had a hold of John's lank frame, and was flipping him over onto the ground. John's breath was knocked out of him as he gagged, their hands went after each other's chests, punching. John however was only making attempts to land blows as he was blocked and hit hard with every counter-move he would try to make. John was no longer at it, his body was just taking it as he went limp. He received one last blow to the stomach when he cried out, and screamed for me, “Kim!”
“No!” I screamed through the tape.
The killer turned his head to me, his dark, chiseled face giving me a small grin. “I'm going to kill your weak little boyfriend.” he breathed, trying to get me to react. I did, not caring, shaking my head no, pleading with my eyes.
“Hah!” he laughed at me and wrapped his large hands around John's throat. Tears streamed down my face. “NO! NO!”
And then the shears were planted into his shoulder. He let out a roar of anger as he fell back, off John his head landing near my feet. I raised my feet and landed them, hard as I could on his skull. His head re-vibrated off the floor boards and settled back as his eyes slowly closed. John ran to me ripping off the tape, I screamed from the pain. “John he's tied us all up! Get the shears, baby, get the shears!”
“Uhh...” he moaned in disgust as he jerked the shears from the killers body and cut my ties. I got up immediately, and swayed into him.
“I'm so sorry, so sorry!” Maleah started sobbing. “This trip was my idea, it's all my fault!”
“No-Maleah it's his! Don't think like that!” Jen comforted.
Steadying me, John went immediately to Maleah who was the closest, as he stepped over the killer's body and I let out a blood curdling scream as he came back to life, and grabbed John's feet out from under him. Immediately chorusing screams from Maleah and Jen followed and I jumped on top of the killer's back as he tried throttling John again.
“Get off him!” I screamed.
John's hand started back to the shears as I wrapped my elbow around his neck, and my legs around his back to keep him from flinging me easily off him. Despite my choke hold, the killer slapped his hand around the shears and raised them up, ready to land them in John's head. I screamed and with all my might, I used my body weight to rip him away from John. His back landed on top of me as we were thrust back words onto the floor, and the air whooshed out of me as I gasped. John kicked the shears from his hand, and attacked him while he was still on me. The killer rolled off me and onto John, and then John managed to grab the sharp end of the shears, as he slammed the steel handle into the killer's head. The killer was knocked back a bit-just enough for John to squeeze from under him and grab me and then we were running, into the morbid desert sunset. We ran when we heard the screams of Maleah and Jen, we ran and we sobbed into the sandy hills.
Now I was alone with the dark. And the cacti. We knew we were being tracked a day ago, after we awoke one morning to find Maleah's head on a spike near us. And then today we heard him laughing in the brush. He had guns. I know he did, but he wouldn't use them against us for some reason. Maybe it softened the hunt? We could always hear him, but never saw him. John said he saw him, John said he had a gun and told me to run. He said he would be right behind me...
“No! John! John?! Where are you?!” I wailed.
Nothing except the barrenness of the desert waste answered me back. I was alone now. I was the only one left. A low rumbling noise intruded into the silence and I ran to it stupidly, knowing it was probably the killer, but that my John must be with him. John, just him, just finding him-the noise sped off into the distance, and then beyond a hill I saw it, the killer's black car speeding back towards wherever his next lair was stationed.
“JOHN!” I screamed out, shrill enough to break glass to pieces, the terror of his death-his mutilated corpse, living inside me. My hands were out, helplessly reaching towards the little black square, growing smaller by the second. “Baby...” my voice was a wisp of air.
I stood there, the silent breeze blowing tumbleweeds on their course through the dust. A single green cactus stood out from all the surrounding shades of sand and earth. In my silence I knew why he did it, he wanted me to live-he really loved me after all. My mouth hardened into a line, determined not to sob again, and I struggled to keep it there. Salty strains of water leaked from my eyes to the corners of my mouth. I would not die. I will live.
I turned my back to John and walked the way he told me to go. There were what looked liked giant boulders in the distance, John said they would make better cover than the ones here that could hide a body easily if lying on the ground. I remembered what he said, “The hills and smaller boulders here could hide him easily, but when we get to the bigger pile of boulders, we could stand on top of them and see where he really was. The only problem is he'll know where we're going, and he's obviously intelligent, so surely he would try to get us before we got there...” he told me. He was right. The killer-whatever his name really was-didn't want us to get there after all.
“How can I ever forgive myself?” I asked softly to the air. I was walking away from him, he would die.
I turned back, my eyes widened at the thought of turning myself into the killer's hands and getting killed with John. Kim, that is what will happen if you turn back-he has guns! I rationalized with myself.
I kept walking. Once I made it to the bigger pile of boulders I climbed onto the side of the pile and fell to the hard surface, singing The Jane Dear Girl's lyrics softly until I fell into sleep, shielded from anyone's eyes.
Pop! I awoke, gasping-he was here-he was here! I stumbled on my knees, looking around a boulder. I saw a small pebble on the dusty surface of the large rock. Someone was throwing rocks at me. I looked into the emptiness of the desert, and saw a figure in the distance. It was dragging a person and walking towards me, long legs sauntering. I stumbled down the rocks and started running the opposite direction.
“Right here baby! I got him!”
I halted in my sprint and gasped in relief and shock, “John!” I turned back to the sound of his voice. It must be John dragging Jen! Why would he be dragging the killer after all. Jen must be alive! I ran around the boulders towards him.
“I'm here baby, I got him!” he yelled again.
I stumbled and slowed. It sounded more like he was wailing out the words. I strained to see his figure. I was within thirty feet now and I walked slowly trying to get my sight in focus. Something didn't sound right in his voice. “You need to come to me!”
“Honey, are you hurt?!”
He stopped walking immediately. Stone cold. He looked taller than I remembered, but maybe it was the night shadows. I still couldn't see the details of his body. But I did see his free hand holding something.
“-I got-” he wailed, then collapsed.
“JOHN!” I ran full-speed to him, and reached him in seconds.
It wasn't John. His hair was short stubble and red. It was the killer, and John was who he was dragging. In his free hand was a tape recorder. I screamed, jerking my body back, trying to double back to run, but his hands clasped hard around my ankle and he tore me back to him as my body writhed in the sand and brush, twisting like a strangled cat, trying to get away. He managed to drag me, inch by screaming inch to him, his determined face was breathing hard from the exertion as he finally raised a rock and brought it down to the side of my head.
“Ain't nothin' sweeter than those Georgia peaches!” Jen and I sang, dancing to the tune. Maleah was dozing off in the passenger seat.
We were off on our way to the Mojave desert, the convertible top rolled down, dancing on top of the car seats, wind blowing in our hair refreshing us, as we drank and sang; moving our hips, flipping our hair, and twisting our torsos in dance. John was at the wheel, stealing a look back at us when he couldn't resist.
“Georgia Peaches!” Jen sang the last part as I wriggled my butt this way and that. We both laughed hysterically. Hunched up in my hysterics was when I saw the large, beat up, black car behind us.
“Hahh, you think he's having some fun watchin' us?” I exclaimed.
“Hell yeah!” yelled Jen as she started dancing to the next tune. I looked uncomfortably for a moment at the car behind us, wondering whose eyes were watching behind the tinted window. But then Jen started singing lines at me and I sang some back at her, forgetting the guy and dancing to the next tune. My hair was getting blown everywhere.
“Ah!” I awoke to chains clinking in a chorus against the shed's wall.
Light streamed into the shack, the heavy doors had been kicked open with enough force to slam against their accompanying walls. An icy blade of horror swept through me as I realized I was on his bed, one of my wrists tied to the frame in the farthest corner which was pinned against the wall. I scrambled to the corner and brought my knees up to shield from any attack.
He came in after I had positioned myself in the corner of the bed against the wood planks holding the tiny room together. As if he were biding his time. As he walked in he grinned an awkward smile at me.
His smile left, a barrenness in his eyes much like the desert, washed over his face instantly. Silent still, he turned his back to me and slung a bloody hand towel over the chair Maleah had been sitting on. From the window behind it I could see the other shed.
I swallowed my horror. “...I know Maleah is dead. Will you please tell me if John is too?”
He turned his head barely looking my way, the profile of his chiseled face showing off his prominent nose. “No.” he quietly answered. It was obvious the 'no' meant he wouldn't tell me.
I was about to ask him if he would not give me any relief, when I realized he could take that the wrong way and I held my words back just in time.
He cleared his throat, and walked over to the rustic dresser by the nightstand, I tucked my legs to me further cringing away from him as he pulled out an old ratty work towel and wiped dirt and sweat off his face. He then proceeded to wipe blood off his hands. Some of it was too stained to be wiped away without water. He ignored the bits that wouldn't wipe away, setting down the cloth and fingering some of the hunting knives he had lined up in a row on top of the dresser. His eyes looked up from them at me. There was silence as we looked at each other; cold, blue eyes against his penetrating gray, we both seemed to know what the other was thinking and I seemed to actually see him-something in his eyes for the first time, that was not masked over. Something bare and laid to judgment before me, if only for one moment in time. He was the first to break the gaze, and looked away, dropping the hilt of the knife back to it's place as he turned his back to me.
I decided he might actually tell me something now. I didn't dare mention John, but I hadn't seen Jen's body.
“If you won't answer me whether John is dead,” my voice broke the silence, unwelcome and tense. “Would you tell me...is Jen dead?”
“Yes.” he answered curtly, as he grabbed the towel off the dresser and stalked out.
He didn't bother closing the doors. I waited in silent fear looking at all the guns mounted on the walls, and then, straining my neck, I started crawling across the bed as far as I could go to see more outside in the desert wilderness. I remembered the other shed. One about the size of this one and farther to the northwest of it that I could make out through the dirty, rusted window by one of the chairs lined up against the opposite wall. There was also an outhouse. And I knew these small sheds were situated strategically around the hills and cliffs. John and I had to run around the big mountainous hill that was covering his sheds in order to get away, but even then we weren't out of view because he could get atop the hill and see where we were.
My strained neck didn't help things any, what I saw just confirmed what I already knew. Plus endless miles of desert. His strange, black, and now topless car that I didn't know the make of, was in view. I hadn't drank anything for about two days now and my head hurt really bad.
Suddenly he stalked back into my view looking me over, stopping at my cleavage and back to my face. I crawled back to the corner fast and wrapped my legs against me. Still eying me he took a drink from an old water bottle and I diverted my eyes, not wanting to ask for water, for fear of him retaliating and not giving it to me for that very reason. He looked at the bottle and then to me suggestively, knowing he had something I needed.
He walked into the shed and stood at the end of the bed, offering the bottle to me. It was still almost full. I licked my dry, dead lips and slowly shuffled to him on my knees so that he wouldn't get a show of cleavage when I bent down like before. I grabbed it fast, and he wouldn't let go, I looked at him in shock, and he slowly took his hand off the bottle with this dark, cracked, mischievous look on his face. I backed out of reach from him and started drinking.
“Do you want to eat tonight?” he asked simply, it was clear by his tone of voice that something had to be done in order for me to eat.
I nodded, waiting for him to start making passes at me.
He paused mid-thought and grinned as he took off his ragged, long, black coat and walked in the direction of the other shed. I breathed a sigh of relief.
After drinking the whole bottle I set it aside and relaxed my legs, stretching them out onto the bed. After a while I started smelling the smoke of a grill cooking, and I began fingering the throbbing bump on the side of my head. Leaning back into the wall I remembered my last night with John before we were caught.
Maleah and Jen were sleeping around the fire in their bags, and I had John.
His large hand caressed the curve of my side as I turned away from him in the sleeping bag. I didn't even bother opening my eyes, it would ruin the magic of the moment. I was afraid my contentedness would disappear and my nerves would get the best of me. Out in the middle of nowhere. The only true way to go camping in a desert Maleah said.
His hand made it's way to my breasts, but I snatched it away up to my lips and I kissed it. I kissed and teased every one of his fingers, he made a tortured sound and he caressed my waist more forcefully, sneaking his hand under my shirt, about to touch my scars.
“Uh-uh,” I stopped him quietly. “Do you remember what I said? Our promise rings mean something to me.”
His whole body froze, no longer warm to me and I felt bad. He withdrew his hand pressing it to my waist once more, but as I tried to reach back for his face to sooth him, he got up fast and left.
I fell asleep though I was sad, and woke up to him acting as though it never happened. I knew he must be embarrassed, he didn't shrug it off and joke about it like the other times, so I never mentioned it to him. As I lay my head against the wall I couldn't help but wonder if that was the right choice. Now he might be dead...I still stuck to my beliefs. I suppose it was the right choice after all.
I heard the clack of metal tongs being tossed down, and the echoing of the lid covering up the BBQ.
Night was beginning to descend, the sky was turning red outside. Had I been asleep all day?
He came in wearing a tan, blood-stained shirt, the wound John managed to inflict on his shoulder with the shears was covered in a tightly wrapped gauze underneath. I averted my eyes when he looked at me, he set down the plates on the bed and hung up his jacket. He looked unsure for a moment back to me and took one of the plates for himself, putting it on a fold up table he set in front of the chair Jen had been sitting in. He sat in her chair, watching me watch him. He jerked his head towards my food, the question of 'Why aren't you eating?' in his eyes.
I looked down to the plate, it looked like chicken with Worcestershire sauce. I grabbed the plastic spork he left on my plate and took a bite. Tasted like chicken. I smiled halfheartedly and he began to eat as well. After I swallowed a few more bites in an eery silence, he spoke.
“I'm surprised you like it.”
“Yes...” he shrugged. “I thought human flesh would taste different...”
“Uh!” I choked in surprise, I slowly looked back down at the meat in realization, and dry heaved. Now was one of the times I regretted not being able to throw up easy.
“You have your friend Jen to thank for it.”
I squeezed myself as far back into the corner as possible away from the flesh, not daring to even touch the plate. Jen was inside me? I heaved again, but caught myself and turned my face into the wall.
When he was finished with his, he took my plate and ate the rest of mine. I looked at him out of the corner of my eye, watching him eat every piece of her.
He gathered the plates, and left, presumably to the shed. It was dark now, the shadows from outside filled the room. When he came back he looked at me awkwardly like he didn't know what to expect from me. It was almost like he was nervous in his own messed up way. He closed one door, and then the other, latching them with a thick board he picked up. He gave me the same side-glancing nervous look and took off his bloody shirt, I cringed into the corner though he was not going towards me, but the dresser. As he was pulling out some wiry string, scissors, and a needle, I noticed all the other scars on his back. They were long and thick, some of them carried all the way down to his pants line. He looked at me head on, and I saw he had the same scars all across his torso, there was barely any space left clean of them. Like my scars, only worse.
“Do you know how to sew?” he asked roughly, his eyes cold.
“Yes-well sort of-” I stammered.
He handed me the needle and thread, keeping the scissors away on the nightstand. He eyed me skeptically, tearing off the gauze from his shoulder wound and then startled me, as he inched onto the bed watching me closely with the needle. He slowly laid on his back, his eyes not missing a heartbeat.
What could I do with a needle? I decided quickly that I should play along and try to get his trust so that I can run away.
“H-have, you cleaned it?” I asked, looking the deep wound over for any sign of dirt.
“It's clean.” he muttered.
Thankfully it was on the shoulder nearest to me and so I didn't have to lean over him. I started tying a knot in the string and since my fingers shook, I decided to make some conversation.
“So...how did you get all those scars?”
“My father. People.” he answered, his eyes cold.
I figured I shouldn't pursue the subject.
“...What should I call you? Wha-”
“You can call me Raiden.”
I finished the knot. I looked at his skin, if I hurt him would he kill me?
“Is that your real name?”
He was silent. And then, “It's like my real name, only different. Go ahead and start stitching.”
I looked over the wound again and because it was so deep I figured it should have deeper stitches than the regular shallow gashes.
“Okay, I just want you to know that I'm going to have to make the stitches deeper since the wound is so deep, so the skin holds the wound good and it doesn't rip open.”
He nodded gruffly. And without wanting to drag it on, I pierced through the skin. Little red dots appeared around the stitching as he let in a sharp intake of air, and then seemed deep in concentration on hiding the pain.
Unsure of what I was doing, I still made the stitches about a fourth of an inch thick, and used the same length as the depth to space them. I just hoped this was how I was supposed to do it, if it got ripped or infected he would probably be blaming me for it. And I wouldn't know what would come after that. I noticed his fists were clenching, but I did it as fast and meticulous as I could.
“Done.” I said after the last stitch. “Just have to tighten it,” I had been making tight stitches but I didn't want it to get infected. He cringed as I pulled it together tight. “...and tie the knot.”
Once the knot was tied, he grabbed the scissor and since he moved fast I slammed myself back into the wall. He looked at me and grabbed the fallen needle, “Skittish?” he asked, grinning tortuously, and cut the thread. He got up nimbly, and pulled open the bottom drawer of his dresser to get some bourbon, he hissed as he poured it over his wound.
“Ah...” he exclaimed in pain before taking a drink. He tossed it back into the drawer, and took a jagged piece of mirror out of another one, examining my work. Then it dawned on me and I felt stupid for it's lateness. I was still on his bed.
“...where will I sleep?”
He glanced at me, “On my bed, unless you wish to take a chance with the scorpions?” his eyebrows were raised in a tense manner, and I thought of why he left the doors open since I woke up-could it have been for that very reason? Maybe he wanted me to to sleep on the floor and get bit.
I still couldn't decide whether to say I preferred the floor. If I did would he kill me? He took my silence as an affirmation. Apparently pleased with my work, he tossed the mirror on the dresser and took off his pants. I started wrenching against the rope tying my wrist, but it held strong and so I inched away from the corner so I wouldn't be pinned.
“Your winy boyfriend...he's not dead. If you plan on him surviving the night, I wouldn't be trying anything if I were you.”
“And what about you? Will you be trying anything?” I accused, unable to hold back my venom.
He chuckled, “That depends.”
He turned off the light and everything was dark. I felt him moving onto the bed, and felt him staring my direction. Finally after some minutes of pure terror he moved onto his back and underneath the covers. I swallowed the lump in my throat louder than I'd wanted. He was constantly keeping me on edge. He wanted control, and this must be one of his tactics.
He just laid there, stiff as a board and I knew he was awake. He was either waiting to make his move, or for me to settle into a sleeping position-or both.
“Lay down.” he commanded.
“So I'll feel you move if you try to knock me unconscious like you did the last time, remember?”
“If this is some-” I screamed as he lurched up and grabbed me, tossing me down on the bed.
He was over me, though not on me, his rough hands covering half of my upper arms pressing them back into the mattress. He looked down at me for what seemed like forever, I couldn't make out his expression, but somehow I knew I didn't want to. He moaned in frustration and laid back where he had been, and I dared not move until I saw some sign of him sleeping. Then I would try undoing the knot tied to the bed frame, since the other end tied to my wrist wouldn't let up.
After hours of still silence, I rolled over on my stomach so slowly the creaky mattress barely made noise and I reached my free hand down the corner of the frame, gliding my fingertips along the rusty frame. I touched something rough and frayed-furry almost, and breathed quietly in relief. Then several long, furry legs skittered over the top of my hand.
“Ahhh!” My shriek pierced the deathly silence as Raiden jerked and fell off the bed, while I flung out my arm shaking the thing off my hand and onto the bed. I scampered back as far as I could to the end of the bed, and kicked out my feet in the direction it had fallen. A flashlight switched on and Raiden looked incredulously at me and what I was trying to shuffle away with my feet. I saw it and screamed as he got out a hammer and smashed the giant tarantula twice.
I felt all the color draining from my face, and my energy along with it.
“Did it bite you?” he asked in aggravation.
I brought my hand up to my face immediately, “No, no marks!” I answered, exasperated.
“...good.” he looked me over and stopped at my chest, swallowing hard, the hammer still tensed in his hand. Afraid of seeing another tarantula on my chest I slowly looked down. My shirt had gotten partially pulled down below my glittery, bright pink bra. I moaned and pulled it back up, darting my eyes anywhere except his face.
Letting out a pent up breath, he picked up the tarantula's body-which amazingly still stuck together, and tossed it on the floor. There was a stain of guts on the top of the sheets now, where I'd be sleeping.
“So...you were just lying down when this happened?” he asked, suspicion apparent.
His knuckles were white, clutching the hammer. I lied fast.
“Well, I don't know, I was on my stomach when it happened-I just felt this thing on my hand-”
“Where was your hand?”
“I-uh-by the corner of the bed...”
“What was it doing by the corner of the bed?” he asked, voice low. I was sure he knew what I had been doing. I played dumb.
“What? The spider?”
“You know very well what I mean.” he snarled, gesturing my way with the hammer.
“I wasn't going to attack you-” I started on a desperate tangent. “I swear, I wasn't-the spider attacked me after all, how was I going to attack you-I didn't try anything!” He gave me this empty-eyed killer look, some predatory thing I couldn't describe, but it chilled me to the bone. It looked like he was at the edge when it came to dealing with me. And he hadn't let go of that hammer.
“I'm still tied up!” I exclaimed. He devoured me with his eyes.
“Yes and even if you had gotten-” he stopped, running his hand across his face. “Ah...” he threw the hammer at the dresser, and the loud crash made me jump.
“Do you want me to kill him?!” he bellowed. “Because his wining is really getting to me, and it is taking all that I have to keep from killing that pathetic, winy little b****!”
I cringed at the way he talked about John, “No-no, of course I don't want you to kill him-I won't do it again I promise!”
His hand swept to the back of his neck and he seemed to be in a constant state of unrest, walking here and there and glancing at me sporadically. He stopped and looked at the door. He retched off the board from it's lock.
“No!” I screamed, completely hysterical. “Please-please, nothing else will happen, as long as you don't touch me I'll sleep under the covers with you-we can keep warm that way-I'll help you whenever you're wounded, I'll cook for you-just not human meat! Please!”
He had one door creaked open and then stopped, his head turned my way.
“Ah-ah...Yes-yes-I'll clean too, heck, I'll even clean you if you want me to, and I'll-I'll...um-clean your clothing...ah-”
“...you mean to tell me if I untie you and let you do all these things, you'll do them for your boyfriend's life?”
“Yes! And I'll stay for John's life too-what's the use of trying to get away anyhow-you'll just catch me all over again!”
He laughed like he had me right where he wanted, and then looked at me with intelligent eyes like he knew something I didn't.
He closed the doors, and shoved back the board.
“Very well.” he answered, sounding overly pleased.
He sauntered over to the bed and turned off the flashlight. It was dark again, and I felt him move underneath the covers and onto the bed. I stayed on my knees wondering what kind of bargain I'd just made.
“Well are you going to join me, or do I have to get up in the middle of the night to kill your b**** of a boyfriend?”
I cringed again. This was not okay, I was not okay with this...and if I didn't John would die.
“Remember I said not to touch me.”
He made to get up.
“No-no-no, I'm doing it, see?”
I slipped under the covers and, despite the tarantula scare, squeezed myself as far as I could into the wall away from him.
“Ah-that's better,” he settled into bed and I felt him watching me. I turned my back to him and squashed my eyelids together.
For hours of fear it was like this, until I drifted to sleep in the early morning hours.
I awoke to some strains of golden sunlight coming through slightly open doors. He was gone, and on the end of the bed was a wrapped Twinkie. I snatched it up greedily and scarfed it down fast.
When I was done, screaming started echoing from the shed-John's!
“What are you doing?!” I screamed, furiously to the shack doors. “We made a deal!”
I pulled on the rope hard as I could, tried crawling across the bed as far as I could go, my left arm behind me, jerking against it's shackles. Common sense came back to me in my emotional haste, and I started gnawing at the rope, only managing to get it wet and leaving the taste of gasoline in my mouth. Pretty soon I saw his shadow stalking towards the shed, with a menacing kick the door flew open.
There was blood on his hands and arms, he was grinning madly looking at me with narrowed eyes.
“For his life-not his finger,” he murmured, looking pleased with himself as he tossed a bloody finger wearing a ring onto the bed, and I jumped up and started screaming. “He no longer has a commitment to you anymore, I'm afraid he's lost his ring-ha-ha-ha!”
I gasped and choked against the farthest wall I was cramming myself against as he bellowed in laughter.
“Please-stop hurting him!”
He shook his head at that, “No.” he pointed up at me. “That, I'm afraid, will require more from you.”
John's ring finger was curled and bloody on the sheets, staining them. It's pinkness showed that it had been recent, I fell on my knees and wailed, thinking of what John had to go through.
“Don't worry, I cauterized it.” he added as a second thought, looking at me, almost in a concerned way. He then grinned, and picked it up, studying it. He jerked off the ring and tossed John's finger out of the shack, examining it. “I promise you...” he murmured, reading the inscription. I hid my hand behind my back.
“Please, let me sew it back on, let me see him! Just let me do something, please!”
He looked at me straight in the eyes, “No.”
He glanced at the ring again, then glared at me, skeptically. “So tell me, did you both screw each other, or did you keep your promises?” he asked, vulgarly, clearly mocking us.
“Yes.” I answered, out of breath from the pain.
“We kept our promise.” I muttered, looking at the shed in tears though the rusty bars of the window.
He looked away in disgust of my crying. “Good.” he shrugged.
“Good for what? You? What do you mean, good?” I snapped, hair sticking to my wet, tear-stained face.
“I think you know what I mean.” he answered roughly, tossing the ring up in the air and catching it as he left the shack.
A silent, horrific realization swept over me and I was paralyzed to the spot. I breathed in air that seemed cold, despite the heat. My face felt frozen, thinking of what he may be planning. My eyes drifted to the nightstand, which had been placed strategically, two feet away from the bed out of my reach. I heard the erupting rumble of his car. He was leaving, I heard it's rumble grow farther and farther.
I have to reach the dresser. Laying on my back I reached out my right arm and could only touch my fingertips to the edge of the nightstand's drawer. But my nails were long. I edged them under the drawer's side and painfully, milliliter by milliliter-stretching my nails nearly from the skin, I got it open about three inches. Then, stretching my body as much as possible, I stuck my middle finger about one inch into the drawer-and felt nothing to latch it onto.
“Uhh!” I fell back, relieving my cramped body.
“No-oo!” I pleaded to the air, pounding my fists into the mattress.
Closing my eyes, I pictured John. Missing his finger, holding a bloody hand in shackles, chained to the wall like an animal.
I stretched over and shut the drawer. There had to be other options.
On my knees, I squinted down the dark corner, where the pole of the bed frame was. Somewhere down there the rope ended, and I might be able to uncover a weak spot. Sucking in a breath, I knew that I might get bit by a poisonous tarantula, but I had to take the risk.
I moaned as I slinked down my arm, this time gliding my hand around the rope to find it's end. I felt spider webs, but continued-and I touched smooth metal. What? I felt all around the fuzzy rope-it joined into a metal holder of some sort, I moaned again in frustration, but continued to glide my hand around the metal. And then I felt a lock. Furious, I jerked the rope-over and over, I did this for hours, screaming in a trapped hysteria, as the bed squeaked like chalk against my ears, and I got nowhere.
After a while I stopped, and just lay sprawled on the bed, panting. I lay on top of the tarantula's guts, the Twinkie wrapper and the stain of John's blood.
Eventually I heard the sound of two cars, I shot up thinking there must be help on the way-he must have gotten caught. After the torture of trying to look around the door, and hearing the cars come ever closer, they both stopped in front of my view.
One was a large, fancy motor-home, and the other was Raiden's car. Raiden got out of it, holding a gun to the passenger side, his towering height enhanced even more when he pulled out a small woman by her hair, she was screaming shrilly, and at this a balding man wearing a Hawaii t-shirt got out of the motor-home with his hands up.
“Please don't hurt my wife-please!” the man yelled.
Raiden seemed to revel in the pain he was causing him as he jerked her hair again, making her scream some more, and then after watching the man's pained reaction and listening to more of his pleads, he got bored and threw her onto the ground towards her husband. As she started crawling towards her husband I heard a loud POP! The balding man's body was thrown back as blood spattered behind him, and as the woman screamed I heard two more loud pops blasting through my ears as her body was jutted forward twice against the ground. Raiden lowered the gun and walked over to them, his towering figure looking at their fallen bodies. I shook my head, “...no...” This isn't happening. I sucked in air-I didn't have any, I needed it-I gagged and gasped for breath-he started dragging her husband away as everything went black.
I woke up to the smell of burning. There was something about the smell that wasn't right, something that made me want to throw up. I think I knew what was burning.
Raiden tromped into the shack and I shook when confronted so suddenly with him.
He clapped his hands together once. “I have good news.”
My stomach muscles turned to stone along with the insides. My jaw clenched along with every other muscle in my body. He looked at my reaction, digesting it slowly.
Before I knew it the bed squeaked as he sat on it beside my face. I jerked up, eyes alive before my brain came back to life. He grabbed my arm. “Look at me,” he murmured, his voice hoarse. I didn't know what he was talking about-I had been looking at him, surveilling him constantly since I saw him enter the shack.
I squirmed in his grip, still watching his every movement, but he looked at me as though I still were not doing what he told me to.
He moaned softly, “I went out today.”
“I noticed.” my voice shook.
He snorted. “Yes, you did, didn't you?” he had on a small smile, as though I was meddlesome, and he found it cute.
“We have a trailer now.” he looked at me, nodding in pleasure at fetching this desirable thing. “You will do for me what you said you would.” he stated, concretely. Seeing the hesitation in my eyes, manipulation fit into his, as easily as slipping on a glove. “Or he dies.” he let his voice trail off dramatically.
As soon as the desperation for John's life entered my eyes and the thought of his demise brought emotion to me, Raiden snarled.
“Uh!” He grabbed my jaw, almost dislocating it in his giant hand.
“Don't you see what I'm doing for you?” he half-whispered, half-snarled into my ear, his face touching mine as it shook. “I kill people every day, and I have refrained from killing one of the most annoying-most pathetic one I've come across!”
There was silence as I felt him grimacing into my ear. “I HAVE NEVER DONE THIS BEFORE!” he bellowed into my ear, as I started shaking violently. I was too scared to even sob.
He grabbed my hair, painfully twisting it and pushing the back of my head up to make me face him directly, my jaw was jutted up farther than I thought it could go, and as he looked down at me, his face into mine, his eyes were trying to rip me to shreds on their own. His lips were grimaced as they floated over mine.
“Do not test me...” his voice shook now. He breathed hard, I whimpered in relief as his grip on my hair loosened. “What would happen?” he asked hoarsely, seemingly to himself as he looked me over with this strong, sick wanting.
“Uh!” I made this shocked, helpless noise as he let my hair go and pushed me by my back closer to him. He studied me, my face still hadn't moved from it's position, I was afraid he would hurt me more if I moved it. He looked at me expecting an answer, silently questioning.
“If you did what?” I choked, voice breaking.
He was almost panting, looking at my lips.
His face hovered over mine, it looked like he was about to devour me, his sentence trailed off into words he couldn't speak. I withdrew my face slowly away and he looked at me with this dark disappointment, shadows filled his eyes.
“...Raiden,” I said, whisper-soft. “I need to be loose of this rope, if am going to do all those things for you I said I would...”
He looked away from me, a betrayed expression on his face.
“Raiden I need to be able to walk, I have to go to the bathroom, I have to shower, I have to eat, and not only do all these things, but do things I said I would for you too-I need to be set free.”
He looked at me, a more practical look shrouded his face.
He scanned my body with his eyes, and got up, slowly walking to the dresser. I gulped as he grabbed
a giant hunting knife. He stood there, looking at me, waiting. “You want to be free?” he grinned. “You're going to have to show some trust yourself.”
What else could I do? Stay there, rotting on the bed until he eventually decided to rape me?
Feeling like the self-elected idiot-of-the-world, I crawled over to him and slowly brought up my wrist.
He grabbed my hand roughly and slit the rope open.
I made a noise of breathless relief, as I slammed myself back into the wall away from him.
He studied me, his eyes were critical as he looked away stretching out his jaw.
“If you go anywhere near the shed I will kill him. If you try to run I will kill him. If you attempt to kill me I will kill him and make you watch.” he stated with solidarity. “You will hear his screams from miles away.” he murmured.
I cleared my throat as something in me felt this was only the beginning. The beginning of a dangerous game I had to play. Oh, I would play this game. I would survive and so would John. I would earn his trust, and when I did, I would take my first chance of killing him, or getting away.
“I understand.” I said, nodding.
“Very well. We need to clean out the trailer.”
He tossed the knife on the dresser, and I inched off the bed to really face him standing up, for the first time. I felt liberated, this was the beginning of a game I was going to win.
I walked with him out to a fancy hot-shot trailer, the sunlight blinding my eyes from the intense glare off of the swirly green-gray patterns covering it. The sand seemed to intensify it ten times as much. I glanced over at the other shack, it seemed so small and distant now that I was outside. Somewhere in there was John. He was waiting for me, suffering.
Raiden opened the trailer door and walked in. I stepped up the stairs and out of the glare of the sun to see that inside the trailer it was like a mini luxury home with dark leather sofas, and a fancy kitchenette-but then I saw them. There were toys.
“Raiden?” I addressed him by his name hoping he would listen to me with more of an open ear. “Why are there toys?” my voice cracked.
“There were kids.” he answered simply, tossing some stuffed animals in my direction.
My heart felt as though it had been stabbed, and I stumbled into the back of the passenger seat.
“Are you going to do what you said you would or do I need to end this right now?” he snarled. “-Get all of the toys, kid's clothing, and anything that isn't of use and burn it. Toss it in the fire. Get moving.”
I moved mechanically, hands trembling as I started gathering the children's clothing from drawers and suitcases, tossing it out the trailer like he did. I ventured into the bathroom, and found that there were children's stickers of Finding Nemo on the mirror. Hastily, I ripped them off. I looked through the drawers and whatever belonged to the children that we couldn't use I threw out the door. I soaked the adult's toothbrushes in hydrogen peroxide, and when I found children's mouthwash and shampoo-stuff that we could use, I started crying silently and stuck them in the bottom drawer so I wouldn't have to see them. I saw the dull shine of an old-fashioned razor and jerked to a stop from raising up. It seemed so out of place-he could be testing me. I heard him barely two feet away from me, looking through the drawers on the other side of the bathroom.
One mistake this early on...thinking of John, I couldn't stop myself as I snatched it and stuffed it into my back pocket. Then thinking more clearly after I heard him stop making noise, I started opening up drawers so he heard me moving and then he resumed his work. Sucking in a breath-I knew I did not want him to catch me with this on me, and even it he did-it really wasn't all that good of a weapon. It was extremely dull-barely sharp, and so flimsy-as though it could break just from one quick struggle with him. So I decided to hide it, my eyes stripped-searched the closet-small room. As I heard him moving a few steps further away I saw there was a slight space between the bottom of the sink and the floor. I wedged the razor in and though it was questionable whether I'd be able to get it out, it was better than to have it slide out if he were to drive the motor-home again. Resuming my work I figured he should see me moving throughout the house instead of focusing on one room, suspicion even more so than now, would brew otherwise.
When I was done with stripping the fancy bed and cleaning out the cupboards of children's cups, I realized that Raiden was no longer in the trailer. I tossed out the children's cups and bundled the bedding under my arm as I walked out the door into the blinding sunlight.
Raiden was gathering up the children's toys and clothing and stalking out of my view. He must be going to the burn pile. Where their bodies would be, I choked and ran back into the trailer. I couldn't do this, I bit my fist hard, to keep myself from crying. I looked around frantically, there must be something else I can do. I looked underneath the sink to find a bucket which I cleaned and filled with water, I added soap and took it out into the desert by the Winnebago and piles of clothing. I got to my knees soaking the sheets in it, scrubbing and ringing them out over and over as Raiden would gather items thrown out, in bunches and I would hear his footsteps pause, looking my direction, then start back to the pile.
When I heard him behind me the next time, he hesitated.
I felt a big hand on my shoulder. “They have a washer in the home.”
The hand on my shoulder felt not like he was comforting me, but trying to possess me-that I belonged to him, and it made me sick. “What, seriously?” I asked, muffling my emotions.
He snorted, and removed his hand just as soon as it had been placed there. “This is top of the line. We got lucky.” he said, gruffly.
I turned my face up at him, “Are they-” I stopped my word vomit. I wanted to ask if the children were dead too, but I knew it would make me look weak. I had to play this game right. Those innocent children were dead. I had to make sure I survived, and that it didn't happen again.
“They're dead.” he confirmed.
It was too late. He already knew what was on my mind. I cringed, looking at the wet bedsheets.
“Put those in the washer and treat yourself to a shower.” he murmured, waiting for me to get up. I grabbed the bucket and made my way into the home, past the fancy sofas and little kitchenette, and into the bathroom which was situated before the bedroom with the crammed-in, fancy, queen-sized bed. I spied the stacked washer-dryer set by a cupboard and opened it's door. Jumping back I felt a lightening bolt thrash through me. There was kids clothing in the washer.
“Take it to the burn pile.” a cold voice demanded.
I whipped around to see his towering silhouette with his face made of dark shadows, had been following my every move. I nodded, grabbing the clothing to my stomach and I squeezed past his testing gaze out the door.
Walking in the sweltering heat towards their fiery graves I wished the heat would just crack me to pieces, turn me to dust and ash so I wouldn't have to face them.
The pile was by the hills. I stopped from afar before continuing after seeing a charred hand. Closing my eyes I thought over and over, I can do this-I have to. I have to so that it never happens again. Letting out a breath, I couldn't see the bodies clearly-they were mostly burned by now, and the toys and clothing on top of them covered my sight. Aside from that, my astigmatism blurred everything in the fire together. I walked quickly and tossed them to the fire, it hissed from the water, and the clothing started to steam. I slowly backed away, and then I spotted something. A little charred leg.
Dropping to my knees, I felt the desert wind blow against my face and bare arms. Bowing my head I said a silent prayer for them, and I got up shakily-knowing I had no time, moving as fast as I could back to the motor home. He was sick-what kind of a monster could do that to children? I was walking towards the monster who did this-I blocked it out of my head before it could convince me to just run.
He was going through the man's clothing when I entered.
“When you shower, make it quick, I'll go after you.”
I nodded and put the sheets in the washer, and stuck the bucket back under the sink.
Pacing fast to the shower, he caught my arm before I made it.
“Here.” he handed me a white shirt with yellow flowers and a pair of shorts.
“Thanks. I should of thought of that.” I nodded at him, and he let go of my arm.
“Be quick, and no locking it.”
I nodded and shut the door.
Water droplets showered my lips, their dead skin revived by the little pools of moisture. I savored the cool droplets flowering my body for ten seconds, and then started scrubbing like mad. I used the dead lady's lily of the valley scented body wash, smearing the gel all over me, and then grabbed her shampoo and scrubbed my scalp, frantic.
Once I finished pat-drying my body as fast as I could with the gardenia towel, I put on the woman's clothing, and plugged in the hairdryer, opening the bathroom door so he knew I was done and wasn't wasting water. It took a while to dry my hair because it was so long, so I only got it done half-way figuring the heat of the desert would do the rest.
I dropped the dryer as I looked in the mirror to see his rugged, unshaven face peering back at me.
I put on a straight face and turned to him, “Find anything interesting?” I asked brazenly, trying to divert his mind from whatever he was thinking about me.
He opened the paper thin door and walked into the tiny bathroom, his body close to mine as he looked down at my face and hair. He gently grabbed a strand of it with his dirty hand and brought it to his nose inhaling.
“You smell like roses.” his deep voice complemented.
You just killed children! I wanted to yell and scream at him, try and fight-and I smelled like roses because I used a dead woman's shampoo. My mind reeled.
“Ah-I think there's some AXE body wash in here,” I opened the curtain and grabbed the bottle handing it to him. “I used her flower body wash, it worked really good, but I'm sure you don't want to smell like a lady.” I smiled awkwardly at him as I grabbed my dirty clothing and slid past his muscular chest and into the little hall. “He has raz-I mean, we have razors now too, they're in the second drawer below the sink. Along with the shaving lotion.” I informed.
He nodded. “They have Georgia Peach tea.” he said, as if testing or suggesting something to me.
I remembered singing 'Georgia Peaches' with Jen in the car. He was watching me, expecting.
“Good. I like that flavor.” I said, blinking in surprise, knowing now for certain he had been in that car, tracking us from the beginning.
“So do I.”
I nodded, “I'll have a look around-I'm not going anywhere, alright?”
The consequences of what would otherwise happen, were in his eyes.
“I'll hear you if you leave this trailer.”
I nodded, as he shut the door.
I stopped the washer and shoved in my dirty clothes so they would be clean too, adding more detergent.
Looking through the woman's drawers I found condoms, and my heart froze. I hid them under the bed. Then stopped, wondering if that was a good or bad thing. I didn't want him to get any ideas...I put it aside and hunted for a bra and underwear, I found both, the underwear fit fine, but the bra was a bit tight. Which meant more cleavage, I tried to button the shirt back up as far as it would go, but it only had so many buttons. I moaned and just stopped. I let my mind go silent and fell onto the bare bed, trying to relax. After about two minutes of clearing my head the shower stopped and I started hunting for shoes. Her shoes were way too small, but a pair of her sandals were manageable, though my heel stuck out at the end.
Raiden opened the door to the bedroom, still unshaven though I thankfully no longer smelled his sweat. He walked into the bedroom in two strides and shrugged off the man's robe he was wearing. He was completely naked underneath.
I jumped in surprise and turned my back to him, my mind's moments of peace completely shattered. I heard him rummaging through the dead man's drawers and getting dressed. The pounding of my heart almost suffocated his noise.
Involuntarily I was still covering my mouth in shock. I'd never seen a man naked before-not even John. I cleared my throat, “Are you dressed?”
I turned around to find him wearing a polo t-shirt that was way too short. He was looking in the mirror, brows furrowed. Time to play the game.
“Ugh, I had that problem too, only with her shoes. Let me see if I can find something longer.”
I went over to his side of the bed and looked through drawers for him, finding a long gray t-shirt down a ways through neat, folded piles.
“Here,” I handed it to him, and he took off his shirt, exchanging it. “All of these polo shirts are useless to us.” I took out a pile and placed them on the bed. “Oh, and do you want me to wash your black coat for you?”
His eyes darted at me and away, puzzlement in his expression. “...Yes.”
I nodded, “Just bring it to me whenever, and I'll get on it. Maybe we should look through all of their clothing and select what will work for us?”
“Yeah.” he nodded. “Let's do that.”
We seemed to have sorted through everything except the clothing. I'd been avoiding the bedroom. I immediately started with her shoes, only keeping some of her flip-flops and fancy sandals, then went through the underwear. It felt so weird, looking through another woman's clothing for yourself.
I felt his eyes on me, though I heard him opening the man's drawers, I would throw the useless items on the bed and so did he.
Stopping in my tracks, I was shocked at hearing him address me by my name. “Yes?”
“Has anyone ever told you what a nice ass you have?”
Looking at him, I struggled, eyes narrowing at him despite myself, unsure what to say-or if I should say anything.
“Has anyone told you what a nice attitude you have?” I countered, grinning mischievously.
He grinned back and chuckled darkly at the sarcastic joke.
We finished sorting through clothes and he started taking loads to the burn pile. This time I followed him, like a partner in crime would-hoping to the dear Lord above that this would help me earn his trust. One small slip was all I needed. If he went out one day, I could try hot-wiring the motor-home and getting John and I out of this place.
After tossing everything on the burn pile, I returned to the motor-home and he surprisingly went to the shack without saying a word to me.
I watched him deviate off his course and walk to the shack where John was, in horrific shock. If I went anywhere near it he said he would kill him. Maybe he's just getting something? Maybe he's feeding him? I let these questions settle in my mind as I went back to the motor-home. I put on tea, and discovered the sweetener, distracting myself.
Opening the silverware drawer I looked for knives-they were all gone.
Maybe he's getting his jacket?
I stuffed his clothing in the washer and the sheets in the dryer. The tea kettle whistled, setting my nerves on fire. I answered it and poured two big mugs full. Sweetening them, my eyes looked through the window and to the shack where John was. How long had it been-must be five minutes by now.
Running my fingers through my hair I pictured him cutting John, but I heard no screams, I kept the trailer door open.
I let out a small scream of relief as Raiden's tall body emerged from the shack and started pacing to the trailer. Running out, I shouted, “I made us some tea! What were you doing in there?”
As he got closer, I saw that he was clearly irate.
He grabbed my arm roughly, “Your little boyfriend seems to think that running his mouth won't give him any trouble.” he growled, dragging me back to the shed.
“Uh-what did he do? What are you going to do to him?!” I asked momentarily dazed at being so suddenly dragged to my John, whom I had been longing to see ever since I was captured.
“Your little b*tch won't stop wining, he won't stop saying-” he cut himself off.
He pushed me into the shack walls, giving me this determined look.
“What are you doing to her?!” I heard John choking and wailing in one sentence.
“John?!” I made to get out of his grasp.
“Stop it. Now.” Raiden snarled, a dangerous edge to his voice.
I looked at him, questioning how hurt John was with my gaze.
“You will dance for me the way you danced in that car, do you understand?” one of his hands went to my jaw. “And he will watch.” he said menacingly into my face.
Raiden's eyes were maddened by something John had obviously said, but what?
I nodded as he let go of me. He made to go in the shack as John called out for me, but I grabbed his arm. “Raiden, what did he say to you?” I asked with a psychiatrist-calm voice.
Momentarily his eyes calmed from the storm inside them, as he scanned me.
“Nothing to concern yourself with.”
His eyes slowly trailed down to my hand that had gripped his arm gently, he grabbed it back and ushered me into the shack.
There was blood stained to the ground, a couple sinks of bloody water were stuck to one wall and all around the walls were knives, swords, and guns strapped to them. In the middle of the room was a surgery desk, with sharp scalpels and an electric screwdriver on it. John was chained to the wall at the end of the room, dried blood all over him, his t-shirt ripped off to expose black bruises and small cuts where the skin broke open from the force of the punches.
“John!” I shrieked, making run to him, suddenly the back of my hair seared on fire, and it burned intensely as Raiden jerked me back to him. He held me to him and touched my lips, looking at John.
“No! Kim!” he thrashed again his chains, face wet with sweat, hair matted. I noticed one of his front teeth was missing.
“Oh John,” I sobbed. Raiden tossed me to the ground, angered at my emotion.
John's hand was reaching for me through the chains and I saw the bloody stump where his finger should have been and wailed. “What have you done to him!” I screeched at Raiden.
He looked at me, and giving me this evil grin he slowly walked up to John and punched him with as much force as he had, in the face.
“AH!” I screamed, running at him, trying to tear him away-he easily pushed me on my back to the ground.
“We...are going to show John how it's done around here now. Tell him...” he turned his head to John, a smug look on his face. “Tell him your promise meant nothing to him. Tell him you don't love him.”
My lip quivered, as I stood up.
“TELL HIM!” he grabbed a police baton off the wall.
John gave me this understanding look. “It's okay baby...” he cooed.
“I...I don't love you. Our promises meant nothing to me.”
John seemed relieved just to see me and he nodded at me, trying to make me feel better.
“Tell him you'll be glad if I kill him because he's a pathetic little b*tch.”
I sucked in a breath, turning my head away from John, unable to face him.
“I'll-I'll be glad if he kills you.” I grimaced as tears started to flow.
“Why?!” yelled Raiden.
“Because...you're a pathetic...little b*tch.”
John squeezed his eyes shut as he cried with me.
Raiden dragged a heavy, rust covered chair and set it in the middle of the room by the surgical table.
“Grab that bag and take out the i-pod.” he growled at me.
I grabbed one of our travel bags he was hoarding from the side of a blood-spattered wall, and did as he said. He snatched it out of my hand and stuck it into a speaker system he got out of another bag. Setting it on top of the table, he put on a song that sounded like 'Porn star dancing' and demanded me yet again.
“Dance.” he sat down, relaxed, with his legs apart.
I looked at the floor and gasped for air, he took the electric screwdriver and pressed it a few times as through he were revving it up.
I nodded and just started. I closed my eyes the entire time, picturing myself dancing for John in our apartment back home like I used to. Pretty soon I had myself convinced. I flipped my hair, gyrated on my knees, twisted around in a provocative routine I had learned at parties in my high school years. I let my body take over and ran my fingertips through my hair as I swung my torso around, constantly teasing. I used some belly dancing moves, incorporating them into the rock music while ringing my neck around, hair cascading everywhere. I flipped my head back as I slowly crouched lower and lower, waving my butt side to side. Jumping up quick I walked around and got on my back, twisting my legs into the air like a pin-up girl and then finished it on my knees with a hair flip, my back facing him.
I was panting at the end, I had put all my effort into it so he wouldn't kill John. John was looking at me in slight wanting, but then back to Raiden in reproach and fear.
Slowly I turned, and saw that Raiden's chest was visibly moving in and out. It looked like it pained him as he adjusted himself in the chair, still gazing at me; his eyes met with mine. There was desire, this strong intense desire, whether it was to rape or kill me-or both, I didn't know. For ten long seconds he held my eyes captive, his predatory nature slowly leaking into them. I looked away once to break the intense gaze and slowly got up. I wrapped my arms around me, uncomfortable, as he still gazed at me with this predatory look, on the verge of becoming territorial as his head jerked when John spoke.
“What are you going to do with her?” he trembled.
I bit my lip, perhaps I'd gone too far. I had just wanted it to be good enough so that he wouldn't kill John!
Raiden suddenly got up and grabbed me, determination and darkness taking over his face as he took me outside without a sound.
“What are you doing?! Don't touch her!” John bellowed, screaming followed, but my ears seemed to go silent for seconds that went by like hours while he dragged me some feet into the desert towards the trailer. My heart started pounding in and out of my chest, this giant drumming noise enveloped me as something in me snapped, knowing what he was going to do.
I jumped on him throwing him to the ground with my weight which caused him to let go of my arm in shock, this strength flowed through me-adrenaline I'd never had before as I got up, fast as lightning and ran into the desert. Before I knew it he jumped at me, tearing me by the shoulders to the ground, he seemed to be strengthened even more as well in his desire.
“Let me go!” I shouted in his face, slapping him and punching at his chest. He latched one big hand onto both of my small wrists and wretched them up over my head, pinning them to the ground. His legs were on either side of mine, and I tried kneeing him in the crotch, but he blocked it with his knee and used his free hand and his feet to pry them open.
He let out a small sound of relief, but he wasn't where he wanted to be yet. Raiden looked at my face with this sick exhilaration-and slowly licked my neck, as I yelled and thrashed.
He ran his hand up my shirt, and bent his face down to kiss my torso when a look of question ran over his face, as his hand slid up the rest of it. He scanned his eyes over my scars, pupils widening, for the first time I saw shock on his face, replacing his determination. He blinked in surprise, his eyes more open to the world than I'd ever seen them.
Raiden looked to the sky, squinting through the sun, thinking as this revelation swept over him.
“Where did these come from?” he demanded, the fight was still in his voice though it was not harsh.
I remained quiet, not daring to tell him because if I did I knew he'd think I was lying.
His grip tightened on my wrists, “Where did this come from?” he asked, intensely, trying to force the words out of my mouth with his gaze.
Something in me decided to tell him, something from my very core, I looked him straight in the eyes with all my anger and frustration at being helpless all over again, “My step-father.” I ground out.
He blinked again in surprise, panting as though he himself were hyperventilating.
“...Why?” this question meaned so much to him, I could see it in his eyes.
I swallowed my fear. “Why did your father do it to you?” I asked him back. I could see he was disappointed, not knowing this fundamental answer, so I gave him my own, “He wanted me.”
His brows furrowed, as his emotions seemed to get control over him.
“Did he?” he asked, he was breathless.
“No. He wanted me to come to him willingly, and he never managed to torture it out of me.”
He swallowed, looking at the ground above my head, looking as if he were that tortured child he had been all over again. He let go of my wrists and stayed hovering over me, his hand on the ground by my face. Raiden's lips would move as if wanting to speak his emotions, but nothing came out.
He raised himself up onto his knees, still over me, not looking at my face, just squinting some more into the nothingness of the desert, scowling. His breathing had slowed and he let out a breath.
“Where is he now?” he asked matter-of-factly.
“He died in his jail cell.”
He nodded, getting off me. This realization hadn't been swept away, yet he still spoke as though he didn't want to really face it. He looked at me, as I raised myself up on my elbows to look at him, scars still showing, he scanned his eyes over them again, and squeezed them shut.
“We need to get food.” he stated, though he looked at me differently now. With this respect, with his eyes actually open to me for the first time.
I nodded, pulling down my shirt and getting up. I stretched my stiff, bruised limbs, and brushed the sand off me. Shoving my torn emotions aside I knew I had to get back to playing the game.
“Where should we get it?”
He shrugged with one shoulder, and the look he gave me told me one thing. “The diner.”
This was another test.
A long silence grasped us as I got in his car and he drove through the bumpy desert. Internally, I managed to calm down some after the struggle, and my adrenaline ebbed down. It took about fifteen minutes to get to the dusty road, and once we were on it, it didn't seem much else would change. But I had just gotten him to look at me differently-however inadvertently and violently, and I wasn't ready to stop the progress I was making with him at that.
I looked over at Raiden, and caught him looking away from me, turning his head back to the road. I decided to try reaching out.
“We have pancake makings now. I remember when my mom first taught me how to make them, she was the best at cooking, her name was Jemma- short for Jemmirah.”
An eyebrow raised, “Jemmirah?”
I laughed a little, “Yeah.”
He looked back at me, as my hair was getting blown into the air, he sped up the car and I wondered what he was thinking.
“My mother died before I could meet her. I was left with my dad and his girlfriends.”
Taken aback by his sudden openness I automatically just asked the next question that came to mind.
“Were his girlfriends nice?”
He paused, seeing into the past, eyes looking along the rows of them.
Raiden shook his head. “No.”
After a minute of my head on full-speed, wondering what topic to pursue, what I should say to make him feel good-would that even work? He started talking again.
“They were mostly hookers and strippers. One was a bar hostess. Another a waitress.” his voice was rough and angry at the past.
I decided to ask him something that seemed like the most intimate question to him.
“Why did your dad cut you?”
His knuckles turned white on the steering wheel and I got angry at myself for pushing it.
As I looked away, cussing myself out in my head for setting this trust back, he glanced at me once and spoke.
“He would tell me I was the biggest mistake he ever made. He said my worthless life belonged to him...and that if he felt like doing it, he very well would.”
I let out a silent, pent up breath. He was damaged. Bad.
“Where is your father now?”
“Dead. I killed him.”
“How old were you?”
“I was thirteen.”
“Were you glad that you killed him?”
“It felt good. Yeah,” he turned to me curious, but not scared of my reaction. “It felt pretty damn good.”
As hard as it was, I knew I had to formulate something I thought he would like to hear.
“I'm glad he's dead. He didn't do right by you.”
He was wordless, and this awkwardness settled about him, he didn't know what to say and yet was pleased-by his expression and glances at me. After a silent twenty-five minutes of me gazing out the window he spoke again.
“You've never killed anyone have you?” he didn't even expect me to answer. “Until you have, you don't know what it's like-that rush...I live for it.”
There was a small, tan and red building slowly coming into view.
“Who knows?” he said, looking at me. “Maybe if you ever killed someone, you would too.”
This sentence he said disturbed me beyond all the others he had ever spoke. Before I knew it he turned into the parking lot, and we were there. I sat still, expecting him to speak, tell me the drill.
“You know what to do.” he said, as he opened his door and I followed him, walking casually into the diner.
This generic, cheerful music from the fifties popped into my ears in the background of a few other regular folks just chatting about their families and sitting at booths. He took a seat and I sat across from him at one near the window, with red seats. The checkerboard tables were covered with two lacy place-mats.
This was so surreal, I found myself looking in awe at the other people who didn't know what was happening, who were just going about their daily routine. I admired them and their comfort with this place.
I glanced at Raiden once to see a warning in his eyes and so I tried to pretend I was there with my uncle instead of him. I smiled, replacing his face, and looked at the outing in a different manner.
A voluptuous, blonde women in her late thirties walked up to our table.
“Hi! I am Wendy and I'll be your server today!” she gave a special smile to Raiden, who had been looking suspiciously at me moments before. His entire expression changed like a master of deception.
“We would like a couple glasses of water-I'll have a beer.” he said pleasantly.
“Alrighty-and you miss, would you like anything?” she asked as she jotted it down.
“Yes, I would like an iced tea if you have any.” I asked lightly.
“Course we do hun, coming right up!”
I smiled, and twiddled my fingers nervously on the table as she left.
Raiden cleared his throat and looked at something on his hand. My eyes drifted towards the ketchup packets and the sweeteners. We might need them. I scanned the waitress and everyone else, as I grabbed half of each of the condiments and stuck them in my bra. They were so small, I maybe could even smuggle them to John somehow.
Raiden looked around nervously, but seemed amused as he dropped his jaw, trying to keep from grinning at me.
I cleared my throat, and looked at the menu, I immediately picked out the fish and chips, and set it aside.
Wendy clicked back to us in her heels in no time as I gave her a prize-winning grin. She set down the waters and then the tea and beer.
“Oh!” she said in surprise looking back and forth to both of our hands. “You're married! How long?”
Raiden's eyes looked momentarily taken aback, but he answered her seamlessly. “Two years.”
My mouth was open, staring at him in shock and then I noticed it. He was wearing John's ring.
“My-my, two years, congratulations!”
I clamped my mouth shut and smiled genericly as her head turned to me.
“So whatsit you both be havin'?”
“I'll take the steak and potatoes.” answered Raiden.
“I'll have the fish n' chips.” I said sweetly.
“Okay then, I'll get right on that!”
“Oh and can we get some coffee?” Raiden asked demurely.
“Yes, I'll get that too!” she clicked away, swinging her hips visibly as Raiden turned to watch, grinning.
He looked back at me as though he made small mistake and diverted his eyes once to to the table and back to me. I wasn't looking at him in any particular manner that would make him think I was jealous, but he still seemed to be confused about it. It was an unwanted confusion.
His left hand slid out onto the table, laying there, palm down with John's silver ring gleaming, as though he wanted me to place mine on his. I decided to test him and laid my right hand out as if waiting for him. We both gazed at each other, our eyes both seemed to know one was trying to trick the other into something. There was this mutual understanding we both found some sort of unity in, as screwed up as it was. He tried to rape me-I knew why, I wasn't stupid. I knew why he wanted to hurt me and everyone else now, though it didn't make it right. But I was going to stop it. Somehow, even if he did end up raping me-I would survive it, and I would escape him and get him caught.
He broke the gaze, taking a sip of the beer as his eyes wondered over my chest and then stopped at my arms. I saw him swallow a large lump in his throat. Turning my head to my arms, I saw there were red marks on them-finger imprints.
“You seem cold, have my jacket.” he wormed his way out of it and hastily handed it to me as I wrapped it around me. Had the waitress already noticed?
I sucked down my iced tea as he frowned slightly my way, but otherwise kept his cool.
A thought suddenly came to my head as I got up, “I need to use the restroom.” I said casually to him as his eyes narrowed in on me.
“You do that and I'll be gone when you get back.” he growled, low enough for no one else to hear.
Gone to kill John. I sat down immediately, “I can wait.”
“Sure you can.” he grinned.
But then I wondered something. If John was nothing to him, and he was only keeping him around so that I would stay subservient to him, then what would be the point of losing me? Say I didn't care about John and just yelled out for everyone to hear that he was keeping John and I captive, what would he do except walk out and kill John? Well yes, he would kill John, but what would be in it for him, the thing he wanted to keep would be lost after all? By taking me out he was completely dependent on my loyalty and love for John.
I watched him, thinking about this manipulation and pondering whether he really understood the depths of my devotion for John.
Wendy came up with our coffee and cups, pouring it out for us.
“I'd like mine black.”
“Alrighty be taking any cream with that?” she asked him, looking over the new jacket I was wearing.
He looked irritated with her, so I spoke up.
“I will, I think my sweetie wants his plain. Are you sure you don't want any sweetener with that, hun?” I asked him adoringly, playing up a sweet wife demeanor.
“Uh-I-” he seemed shocked at my sudden switch and just gave a nod.
“How much baby?” I asked as she poured some cream in my cup.
“Is that enough?” interrupted Wendy.
“That's just fine.” I nodded, smiling.
“Be right back with your food then!”
Finally she was gone. I breathed in, and held out two packets of Splenda, questioning him with my eyes.
“Yeah.” Raiden said gruffly.
After scanning the area as I was pouring the packets into his coffee I murmured, “I don't think she noticed.” As though I were on his side.
He nodded, eyes concerned and looking at me as though he suspected something.
“So sweetums,” I started, almost mockingly-though I really was trying to play the part. “How'd your day at work go?”
He looked taken aback again, and then laughed lightly. “It went perfect as usual sweetheart.” he played, and then added sinisterly. “You know how much I love my work.”
“Yeah I know.” I answered, though he could see the solemn look in my eyes.
He grinned and adjusted uncomfortably on his seat; his tall, well-built body practically convincing me these seats were only made for one.
“If you worked there too, I think you'd develop a taste for it, myself.”
“Heh,” I exclaimed, shocked at what he was implying, but still thinking about what would earn his trust.
I shrugged, knowing I was crossing my own moral boundaries as I said: “Maybe you're right.”
Raiden smiled a genuine-but disturbing, dark grin.
I just hoped he wouldn't test me on my words.
“Here you go!” Wendy startled me as she intervened, putting the plates on the table.
“Thank you,” Raiden and I both chorused together in the same tone of voice. We looked at each other, I was shocked and he amused, we all laughed-awkwardly in my case.
“Well-well, I guess you two are married for a reason. Both of ya think just the same.” the smile dropped off my face. “You know, you both look so much alike too.” she added.
“W-what?” I asked, incredulously. Raiden was just as surprised as I was and looked at her with an extreme form of skepticism.
“Well yeah, haven't you both looked in the mirror lately?” I looked at Raiden, and his eyes turned to me, an undecipherable look in them. “Your noses are just the same, and your eyes have that same look to them, as well your hair color-just alike.”
There was a slight resemblance I had overlooked in his rough features-when he was not either covered in dirt, blood, or sweat that is, with that menacing killer gaze constantly in his eyes. Our hair on the other hand-she was exaggerating. I shrugged, “We never really noticed, but I guess you're right-though I'm definitely shorter.” I exclaimed.
“Well yeah hon, you're the girl!”
We both laughed.
“Well, you two lovebirds need anything just give me a holler.”
'You two lovebirds', she made me want to throw up. Raiden and I nodded at her, both wanting her to go away. I ran my fingers through my hair once in frustration and began to dig into the fish n' chips. Raiden followed, pausing once to look at me.
We got my leftovers bagged and I had the rest of the condiments stuck in my bra by the time we left. I drank as much as I could and when I was done with the coffee, I poured water into the paper cups-as did Raiden, and we left.
We had the cups in the holders and the bagged food down by my feet as we drove along. A disturbing suspicion came over me like a shadow. Not just a suspicion, but something-a theory, that could ultimately save my life.
“How old are you?” I asked.
“...Thirty-eight. Why you asking?”
“I'm twenty-five. You said you killed your father when you were thirteen, I wouldn't have been born yet, even.”
Silence passed as he sped down the lonely highway, now eerily shadowed in night's darkness. The moon glowed amongst the desert stars.
“I never knew my father. Mom said he was a drifter.”
His hands wrung the steering wheel, and he got this mad smile on his face as his eyes narrowed.
“What are you saying?” he growled loudly.
“She said his name was Daryl.” I tested.
The brakes squealed suddenly, his chest heaved in and out as he looked over at me, and the car jerked to a stop. My mouth dropped. This couldn't be. That must have been his father's name.
There was silence as his eyes shot this way and that, thinking wildly in his mind. He steadied himself and looked at me. “Coincidence. Nothing more.” he demanded me to believe, not sure if he even believed it, himself.
“Oh yeah?” I asked, my eyes starting to water-this man could be my half brother?! “Coincidence is it? Coincidence we have scars too-from different men, but we still have them, and now this! Coincidence?!” I exclaimed at the sky, hands out reaching for an answer. Even if it was I wasn't going to let the opportunity pass, where he just might not end up killing and raping me.
He momentarily glanced up at the sky too, thinking I was actually looking at something. “Yes. This must be, I don't have a sister.” he was trying to control his emotions. “You can't be my sister!” he bellowed.
“No-no-no, you can't back away from this!” I shook my head. What I would say next would either make it or break it.“My mother was a waitress when I was conceived, she baked pies at a place called Bluebells Bakery. You said there was one waitress your dad had been with!”
He ran his hands over his short stubble of hair. “Arh!...Bluebells Bakery?” he looked as though he knew the place, but his memory seemed foggy, and he shook his head. “Must have been another waitress then.”
“You mean another waitress at Bluebell's?” I asked, skeptically.
“Yes.” it looked like he was going to have an explosion if he didn't deny it. But if even the bakery were the same, perhaps this wasn't just a chance for me, maybe it was real.
“So her name wasn't Jemma?”
Silence. He shook his head and started driving again. That wasn't really an answer. Leaning my head back on the seat I stared up at the dark skies and glittering stars. I was reminded of an ancient Nordic God called Loki. If the Nordic Gods were real, he most certainly was the one messing with us.
As the car pulled up near a hill by the trailer, I grabbed the stuff and got out to stock it into the fridge. I walked past him in silence, as he sat still in his car. Once I got into the trailer, my head was still hurting from getting knocked by that rock and not even adrenaline could dull it down any more, so I looked for Advil-anything to help with it. I spied some Tylenol, and downed a couple with the ice-water.
I stopped, staring at my find. John could really use some of these. Hearing the car door slam, I quick hid them behind the bucket under the sink. Just as his footsteps pounded through the door I turned to him. His face looked at the floor, and back up to me with wounded eyes.
“If you are my...” he stopped himself. “I still don't want you being with him.” he finished gruffly, his eyes trying to appeal to me like it was for my own good, almost to want to connect emotionally.
“Why?” I asked, completely taken aback, if he couldn't have me, what would he care?
“He's weak. A pathetic fool.” he answered.
I stared at him defiantly.
“And you're not leaving me.” Raiden ground out. This seemed to affect him the most now that he thought we could be related-that I would leave. “If you think anything's changed because of this you're wrong.”
He stomped away, going outside.
I ran out after him, realizing he was probably going to the shed.
“Wait!” I yelled at his back.
He stopped, and I ran up to him, “Raiden what are you doing?”
“Getting something from the shed.” he answered simply.
“Has John even drank anything since you tied him up?”
He started grinning mischievously.
“Perhaps his own piss if that counts.”
My hand went up to my mouth to keep from gagging. “Let me give him something to drink-some leftover food-please?”
He shook his head.
“If he dies I won't stay here and you'll have to either kill me, or capture me again and again and again as I try to escape.”
“Or I could just chain you to the bed.”
He had me beat on that one. I was speechless, then he started back to the shed.
He stopped again, agitation running through his body.
His face turned white as I walked around to face him, and I stopped myself, wondering what I'd just said. Aiden? Why did I say Aiden? From the looks of it that was his real name, so how on earth did I know?
“I-uh-lucky guess I suppose.” I stammered at his shocked face. “Look-if you are my brother I need you to let him live, I care about him: like it or not, and in order for him to live he's got to eat and drink. Please?”
He clenched his jaw and looked at me mournfully-as though he were denied something he had waited to have, and wanted very badly. He shook his head and walked to the shed. I stood there, frozen to the spot, waiting for him to come out. When he did he had a small work bench in one hand, a knife and a piece of wood in another, walking my way to the trailer. I decided to go back into the trailer and look around for scraps to get to John when Raiden was asleep.
There was fruit, which I knew had to be used before it went bad, as well as vegetables in the fridge. I changed the bed with the clean sheets and started slicing up an apple. Peeking out the kitchenette window, I saw him sitting on the bench carving at the wood. Someone who killed my best friends and countless others could be my-I stopped myself before I fainted and started to vacuum at the floor with a small, portable cleaner. After about fifteen minutes of this Raiden opened the trailer door.
“Can I have my coat back?” he grinned, though it was a mournful one.
“Oh-yeah!” I forgot, getting it off me and handing it to him. He looked at me with that same mournful look as I got back on my knees and vacuumed the floor corners. Raiden wouldn't stop looking at me like that, finally I couldn't take it.
“What's wrong?” I asked him, getting up.
He stared at me with haunted eyes and left. Raiden put on his coat as he walked to the car and sped off.
I was alone. A wave of shock gripped me as I realized I had been standing there for a full minute like an idiot from my surprise. I scrambled, grabbing three Tylenol, my coffee cup and my leftovers. The trailer door slammed into the wall as I ran to the shed, my feet clumsy at my desperation to be quick. This could be another test. He might only be gone ten minutes for all I knew.
“Ah!” I side-swiped away from a scorpion, and ran into the shed, putting down my load, as I jerked on the door and panted.
“Kim! Kim! Is that you?”
I started crying, “It's me baby! Oh God, I can't get it open, how do I open it John?!”
“It's locked, he has a key, Kim did you see a key on him?”
“Uh-no! No! What I am supposed to do, where-just a minute, I'll be back!”
I ran to the other shed, where we used to sleep, and kicked the door open with as much force as I could. It had only one chain tied loosely on the other side so there hadn't been much point to it, but I was in a hurry. Rushing to the dresser where he kept all the knives and useful objects, I opened every drawer, finding nothing until I came down to the bottom. Under a pair of brand new jeans was a rusty set of keys. I closed the drawers and ran out back to the shed, narrowly escaping the scorpion again.
“I got keys!”
“Oh thank God! Baby try 'em out!”
I half-laughed as they jangled in my hands, I panted at him: “What do you think I'm doing?!”
I went through half of them, turning my neck to look behind my back throughout all of the missed keys. One clicked.
“I got it!” I hollered.
John screamed in relief, as I grabbed my load and busted through the door, laughing hysterically.
“I got you water-”
“You need to unchain me, the water can wait, we need to get out of here!”
I stopped. “We can't.” I shook my head, ashamed at myself for saying so.
“What-you got this far, of course we can!”
“And how far will we get!” I shouted. “He took the mobile home keys with him-you'd have to hot-wire it!”
“You can't just leave me here!” he both asked and stated, astounded.
“Of course not, I'm going to give you Tylenol and food and water so you'll survive.”
“We need to get out of here, honey, I know you're scared-I am too, trust me, but we've got to leave-”
“He could be back at any moment and face it, he'll find us and kill you!”
“You can't do this to me! Kim-don't you love me at all?”
“Of course I love you-I want you to survive and trust me we won't out there in the desert, he will find us and we will die. I've been earning his trust John, and when the moment comes I'll get us the hell out of here or I'll kill him!”
“DON'T YOU SEE THIS IS YOUR MOMENT!” he bellowed, stopping me as I tried to shove a Tylenol in his mouth.
“Get me unchained!”
Was I letting a good opportunity go down the drain? Was he my brother? What-A migraine gripped me and I fell back.
“Alright, honey, get the keys I think one of them in the bunch you had will unchain me, sweetheart please!”
“If we run now he'll kill you!” I wailed. “Take the pain killers please just take them-drink something!”
He looked at the water, thirst devouring him, he nodded fervently and I fed him the water as he drank down half of it in one sitting. I gave him the pain killers and then fed him a piece of fried fish.
“Alright that's enough! You have to unchain me!”
I slowly shook my head and backed away. He could be back at any time and we would die.
“What are you doing?!” John's face was contorted in pain.
“I'm so sorry.” tears strained down my face. “We have to wait. He could be back at any minute!”
I walked away, sobbing.
“Wait-wait, at least give me a knife, something please?!”
“I can't,” my voice broke, and I ran to the door.
I turned to him, old blood caked to his body and face as he struggled against the chains on the wall. “He could be my brother.”
John's face dropped in shock and I took the opportunity to run out the door. I struggled to lock it back up, but I got it done as John screamed out for me and I cried. I ran back to the shed and set everything as right as it had been.
Then I walked through the night and back into the trailer. I cried and cried, for many hours as my head felt like it had exploded from all the things I'd realized-from not running with him, wondering if I made the right choice, and whether Raiden really was my brother. If Raiden killed John tomorrow it would be my fault because I hadn't saved him today. I sobbed and sobbed, lying on the bed until finally my head went blank and I turned out the lights numbly, changing into one of the woman's nightgowns and trying to sleep.
Hearing the rumble of his car woke me. I looked at the time of the alarm clock next to their bed. Three am. The trailer door opened and shut and I pretended I was asleep.
I heard him in the room. He sat on the bed, eyes on me.
“I know you're awake.”
I turned to him, and he waved something at me. He flipped the light switch. He had a small knife in one hand and a little square of paper with a small bottle in the other.
“Hold out you hand.”
“This will confirm whether you're my sister.”
“Wha-How on earth?”
“I stopped by a lab and payed them off-half now, half later of course. Give me your hand.”
I gave him my hand and he slit my pinky, “Ow!”
He snorted. “Little cut.” he muttered, as the blood dropped onto the little sheet. He bottled it.
“You're coming with me.”
“Why? I'm tired.”
“You know how long I'll be gone now. By now you'll know that it's more than enough time for you to hot-wire this motor-home. Get up.” he ripped the covers off me, exposing my bare legs.
He shuddered. “I'll be so glad when this is over.” he murmured.
I got dressed and he grabbed me, leading me out through the door into the night and in his car. The top was back on it so people wouldn't see me I suppose. My head lolled on the back of the seat as he drove for hours and hours.
“So...what did John say when you told him you couldn't set him free?”
I snapped out of my sleep, alarmed and somehow managing cranky at the same time. How would he know? Was this a test? Of course.
“What are you talking about?”
The car swerved suddenly as he pulled over and grabbed my hair, jerking me to his face.
“You didn't think I'd check my shed before I came in, did you?” he whispered.
I must have left something in the wrong place in my haste.
“Aiden...he needed water.”
He violently pushed me by the hair away from him. Raiden composed himself, running his hands through his hair, smoothing it, and straightening out his jacket.
“I'll be glad when this is over with.” he murmured. We were in a denser town now, he had pulled off beside a bar. He glanced over at me, and then grabbed my chin and angled my face at him.
Raiden looked me over, studying my face, my jawline, my eyes-everything. He was trying to convince himself it wasn't me. I had to admit, I wished the same.
“My old man always lied about the women he slept with. He would lie about their names, slur them when he was drunk. For all I know he slept with a transvestite named Jerrard who worked at your mother's pie shop.” he looked into my eyes, trying to convince me it was a coincidence, that it was someone else. But the name of my dad was the same as his.
“Raiden,” I talked even though there was a very real danger of having my jaw get dislodged. “It still doesn't explain why my dad's and your's names are the same.”
He shrugged, frowning. “Could have been another Daryl. There are lots of Daryls.”
He let go of me, and I squeezed my back into the seat. Swerving the car back onto the road he drove deeper through the town, coming across a hospital in the middle of it. I felt such relief at seeing the lights of the town-neighbors on their porches enjoying a cigarette, and a couple fighting near the street. These regular sights were so relieving and yet stifled because I knew if I ran away he would kill John and disappear.
Look what I'm doing just for you, baby. I said to myself. John, don't you see I still love you? I'm staying with him-being tortured everyday-just for you to live. Why couldn't he see that? I couldn't take the risk of him dying as we escaped yet. The timing had to be perfect.
My head started pounding and as I leaned over to cradle it, something wet exploded on my bare skin. I felt my bra in disgust. “UH!”
“What?” Raiden asked as though I had interrupted his thoughts.
“A ketchup packet exploded.”
He started laughing uncontrollably.
“Oh-it's disgusting-let me throw it out the window,” I couldn't help but smile though I still wasn't in a laughing mood.
He rolled down the window and I flung it out. I unloaded all but one in the fridge I guess.
I wiped off red from my cleavage. “Is there anything I can wipe this crap off with?”
Still smirking, he pulled out a 'work cloth' from the dashboard and handed it to me. “There's blood on it though it's dry.” he stated.
For a moment I looked at him, mortified, then sucked it up and used the part of it that was not bloody to clean myself.
When I was done I folded it up neatly and put it back on the dashboard. Raiden's eyes darted nervously to the red stains in clear view in the window. He grabbed it and shoved it under his seat. He pulled the car around the back of a hospital, and parked it.
As he was making to get out of the car I stopped him.
“Raiden,” I swallowed. “What if we really are related?” I asked him with emotion I finally let loose. “What if you're my brother?”
Raiden's eyes grew colder and he let no emotion show, his jaw muscle clenched as this tenseness overwhelmed him.
For a moment it looked like he was going to say something thoughtful, but then he stopped himself and after giving me a warning look-as if saying, 'Don't start crying,', he got out and walked over to the back door, knocking curtly.
A sickly, stick-thin man who was two feet shorter than Raiden and hunched over, greeted him nervously in his white lab coat and held out his wrinkled hand as Raiden handed him a wad of cash and the bottle. They spoke in blurs since I was still muffled in the car, exchanging words I couldn't overhear. Raiden's deep, masculine voice contrasted with the man's raspier one. He handed the man a piece of paper and left.
The door creaked open as he got back in the car.
“When will we know?” I asked.
“Two or three days. One or two if he expects to live.”
“Do you think we could hear from him by tomorrow?”
“I impressed that upon him...” he emphasized 'impressed' as he pulled the car out of the hospital parking lot and back onto the road. “He should tell us by tomorrow.”
“...How will he tell us?”
He glanced at me as though considering something. He decided to tell me. “Cellphone.”
I blinked in surprise. “I didn't know you had one.” I murmured, instantly thinking about where I should look when he finally went to sleep.
“Don't bother looking for it. Don't get any reception where our home is. I leave it closer to town. By the end of the day tomorrow, I'll drive out to see if there are any messages.”
The way he said, 'our home' irked me. Though I knew I had to ignore it because I wanted to earn his trust enough to get away or kill him-I needed to try more. I was pushing him away when I needed to do just the opposite to get away with John. But at the same time...I didn't want him thinking I was getting too cozy with him. Despite this possibility we could be related, I had no idea what he was capable of. He killed his dad-though I could hardly blame him, but he killed all those other people too-he killed children, he was unpredictable.
He pulled into a gas station and filled up the tank after feeding the machine money. He looked at me with this glare in his eyes the entire time he was filling it up. When he was done, he pulled the car into a space and tossed me a hair clip from under his seat.
“Put your hair up.”
I did as he said, and he crammed a beanie hat on my head, and handed me a hundred dollar bill.
“You don't acknowledge me when you're in that store. You check out and leave before I do. You will buy the same water I have-same amount, and you will fill a basket up full of dry foods-necessities. Got it?”
“Yeah, got it.” I confirmed, surprise unmasked in my voice. He was actually giving me more freedom? I couldn't decide if this was torture or a Godsend.
“You remember, if I see any suspicious activity from you, or if you displease me in any way, I will leave you here and kill your winy little b*tch.”
“You won't see any suspicious activity from me.” I breathed.
He nodded curtly. “Come in in exactly six seconds after me.”
Without another word he left me in the car. After three seconds I got out and with the time it took me to get to the door I entered the store at the right second. I saw him with a hand basket, looking over some giant containers of water, he put them in his basket and went to the next aisle.
Grabbing a hand basket and sliding the bill into the woman's shorts I was wearing, I walked casually along the aisles filling up on loads of power bars and instant soup. When I was done I grabbed a couple enormous jugs of water and shuffled over to the clerk.
He nodded once at me, grinning, his black hair shining. “That be all, ma'am?” he asked as he scanned the stuff. My eyes drifted to the plan b pills just sitting out in the open on the counter, by the cigarettes.
“Yes.” I smiled back, flirty.
I knew I didn't have enough money for them. And brother or not I had no idea what Raiden was capable of. I came up with something very reckless, but in case he did something to me, I didn't want to have to suffer for it. Leaning my arms on the counter, against the edge of the cigarettes I bit my lip and gazed at him. He watched, absorbed in my 'come hither' gaze as he bagged up the groceries, and I leaned more towards him.
Packets of cigarettes cascaded to the ground on his side of the counter.
“Oh I'm so sorry! Let me pick them up!” I exclaimed.
“Oh no ma'am-let me do that. It's no problem, really.”
As soon as he bent out of sight, I snatched one of the packets and shoved it under my jacket, holding it there by the corner of my elbow.
He shot back up, smiling stupidly at me and when Raiden walked up beside me, he said something he shouldn't have.
“So, someone so pretty like yourself, you must have a boyfriend?” he rang things up painfully slow.
I answered him with what I thought Raiden might want to hear.
“Actually no. Not anymore.”
“Well, if you don't mind me askin', what on earth could have kept him from a pretty girl like yourself?”
Damn, he was nosy. I smiled, genuine sadness and uncomfortableness in my expression.
“We got in a fight on the road.” I looked down at the counter. “I'm alone now.”
He finished scanning the last things and I handed him the bill.
“Some stupid guy.” he exclaimed.
“That's for sure.” Raiden joined in and I blinked in surprise, looking anywhere except him.
Not wanting to let Raiden take the spotlight, as he handed me the change and I dropped it into one of the sacks, he said: “So my friends and I are having this thing Sunday, wanna join?” he glanced nervously at Raiden.
“Oh-” I smiled hysterical, shaking my head as I grabbed the heavy jugs, handing one carefully to the other hand, “I'm sorry I-”.
“Hey it would take your mind off things! How about it?”
“I really should get going!” I practically ran out the door, it jingled violently behind me.
“My name's Jake-stop by some other time!” he yelled, as I cringed, hoping Raiden wouldn't take out his frustration on either me or him.
I tossed the heavy jugs in the back seat and kept the dry food up front, planning on munching on something, as my stomach was practically eating itself. I pried out the pills and directions and shoved them in my back pocket, tossing the box under someone’s car. Nervous nausea got in the way of my planned snacking as I waited for Raiden.
A minute later he sauntered out of the store, a smug look on his face being replaced by this pent up frustration as he glanced my way. Oh no, he must have noticed, I realized, cramming myself into the seat.
After tossing everything in the back, he got out a pack of cigarettes and stuck one in his mouth as his flicked a lighter. Once lighted, he breathed out relief, his eyes were shut, though behind him I knew there was still something waiting to pounce, like a dragon waiting to breath fire on their victim.
“I've waited so long for that...” he took another puff and looked at me.
“I told you not to do anything that would displease me.” he murmured, watching me for my reaction.
I looked away, determined not to have him read my eyes.
Starting the car back up, he backed out and he was silent until he had left the town.
“Why were you flirting with him?”
Praise the Lord, he didn't know! I couldn't believe my luck!
“Oh-I...thought maybe I could get a discount.”
“Liar.” he breathed. “But that's alright-it's fine...can't wait to tell your little boyfriend about it.”
Choosing not to respond to his obvious goading, I leaned my head against the window as the cigarette smoke enveloped the car. Hours later, we pulled into the desert and up to the motor-home. I sighed in relief. Grabbing the bags, I paced into the home and left the bags on the counters as I dropped myself onto the bed, not bothering to dress into nightclothes. On thing for sure, I was going to fall asleep on top of the covers. And soon I did, even after hearing him enter the room and lay silently beside me.
I woke up, the little room had thin lines of light steaming into it and over my eyelids from the slats in the fancy wood blinds. The clock glared 12 pm in red florescent light beams at me. I rolled over to my right side and was startled to come face to face with Raiden. He was still asleep. Calming my fear, not wanting to wake him I remained frozen in place, staring at his face. The face of a killer. The face of a brother-I cringed my eyes shut, not wanting to believe it, but at the same time knowing the only reason he hadn't touched me was because of this possibility now. Maybe it used to be for some weird mutual respect regarding our scars and slight similarities, but now I knew this must be the one thing holding him back. He didn't look at peace. Ever. Even when he slept.
'...And he shouldn't be.' An infuriated voice inside me said. His rugged skin was lined with early aging and worn from the sun, red stubble surrounded his lips and chin. Under normal circumstances I could have mistaken him for a logger, and could easily see him working in an auto shop. I remembered what he told me, that he lived for killing-the thrill it brought him. I really was surprised he hadn't killed John yet, he was only doing this for me-but why? What on earth made me so different at first? Before we compared stories and before we realized we could be related, why on earth would he choose not to kill me?
Not to kill me yet. I impounded upon myself. Not yet. Maybe he wanted to have his fun first. But then again, he could have done that as soon as he captured me, so why did he wait?
I scanned his features; his Nordic nose which was somewhat similar to mine but not the same, the shape of his lips, his strong, steady jawline. Besides this he was so much taller than me-more like towering really, he had a sturdy build and was so manly: there were differences.
His face twitched, as though he were trying to grimace momentarily. Maybe he was dreaming. For a moment I felt pity as I thought that his grimace could have easily fit into a nightmare of being cut. I had those nightmares. For a second I felt protective, like I wanted to shield him from the torture, but it was immediately melted away by thoughts of what he'd done, what he was going to do to me if I wasn't his sister. I felt completely absurd, shame welled inside me for feeling this way about someone who was holding me captive and who had killed so many people.
He too hadn't taken his clothes off. He just fell asleep laying on top of the bed like me. Raiden fell asleep facing my direction. His hand stirred below, by my knee and he rolled onto his back. What would it mean to me if this monster was my brother? What will happen to me when he get's the results?
I felt so sure this couldn't all be coincidence, that he must be, but at the same time I didn't want it to be true-what would it mean to me if I had a lost brother who was a serial killer, and who wanted to murder my boyfriend? I didn't even know how I felt about it, my emotions were like all the waves and ripples in the ocean-I just couldn't sort them out.
“Let me leave,” I wanted to whisper to him. “Let me leave so I can see my mother again, so we can bake pies together and have those sales like we used to. Let her meet John, let John and I be together and get married and have a family. Let me go so I can have a baby on one arm and a spatula in the other as I cook for my husband and look out the window at my perfect garden. In my new, perfect married life. I want to see the sun set from our patio and drink my own homemade iced-tea while John holds my hand.”
I remembered Maleah and Jen, how I would have pleaded for them. All the parties and the dancing, we took our first belly dancing classes together-we wouldn't do it alone. Sitting on the bottom of Maleah's bed as I sobbed in our dorm room, telling her I thought John and I were done because he was halfway across the states from me, that I didn't think I could do it anymore. I made the choice to go to a different college than him and what were we supposed to do now? She had hugged me as I sobbed to her. Just as she had hugged me in rejoice when I told her John gave me a ring-like an engagement ring only different, when we both flew to meet in the middle of the states. I covered my mouth, swallowing my sobs and rolled over, away from this demon who took them from me. I remembered John and that day, I put that happy memory in my head to distract myself. John and I never told each other we were going to wait till marriage and we weren't too religious, but when he gave me that ring and told me he could wait for me until time ended, and that he would prove it. When he told me this wasn't just a promise he wanted to make, but an engagement too if I let it be...
“John,” I said as we took our seats at the coffee shop. I had prepared myself all day for this, I knew we wouldn't make it through this separation, spending months at a time apart, what couple from high school could handle that? I knew I should let him go, he should find someone at his college, and that way he wouldn't be alone.
My throat constricted as he smiled his gleaming smile at me and all the old feelings flared inside me, I smiled back awkwardly. “John I-I know we're so far apart now...” he could hear the finality in my voice, this incredulous, pained look shadowed his face. “I-you need someone-someone who can be with you, always-”
“You-” he interrupted, but stopped, shaking his head. “Are you saying we should break up?”
“I don't know, I just-” now when it came down to it, I just couldn't say the words. It had been so long since I'd seen him, now that I finally saw his face again-I shook my head. “I-just-want-you-to-be-happy!” It rushed out in a torrent of words. It was the truth.
John's eyes seemed to smile on their own. “Kim-don't you see I'm only happy when I'm with you? All my guys back at the campus say I'm like a zombie when it comes to girls, and I tell them about you-”
I started crying-sobbing really: finally seeing him, not knowing what he wanted, being ready to end it all, and finding out he wanted me, just being here with him again; it completely overwhelmed me.
He got on one knee, trying to comfort me, “Don't-don't cry baby,” he looked down and grinned. I tried to stop myself from sobbing. “Well. I guess since you're already crying I might as well do this.”
He reached into his pocket and pulled out a ring.
“Oh my God!” I half-sobbed and yelled.
He looked at me, his emotions as bare as I'd ever seen them. “Kim, this ring can mean more than just a promise-if you want it to, but I'm giving it to you because I promise-I promise you are the one, I promise to love you forever, no matter how far apart we are. And one day, if you permit it, I promise to marry you, and give you everything you ever wanted-because I love you Kim. I love you to the ends of the earth and back again, I think of no other woman except you.”
My hand clamped against my mouth to keep from screaming out, I felt this rush of emotions a giant wave pushing through my body, this rush of love-of euphoria I only felt with kissing him-intensified by a thousand.
“I've never felt like this for anyone else Kim. And if you lived halfway across the world I would still love you.” his voice broke and his eyes got watery as I finally smiled, grinning ear to ear, knowing he was who I wanted-who I always wanted. And he felt the same.
We both stood up and embraced each other, clutching at the other's clothes in relief, relief we had shown for the first time since the meeting. Finally, we belonged to each other.
Hearing Raiden moan, I composed myself, pushing my memories away. I felt him move on the bed, awakened.
I turned around and stared at him, finding that he was watching me with calculating eyes. I needed to distract him from whatever twisted plans he could be making.
“What do you think about me making us some pancakes?”
He blinked in surprise as I actually saw a glint of something like gratefulness in his eyes. Like he would be having an experience he never had before. A simple pancake breakfast.
He shrugged. “Sure.” As if it were nothing.
Raiden walked around me as I was cooking and sat awkwardly at the little table. Opening the window beside it, he just sat back and watched me until I was done. They turned out perfect and fluffy like my mom taught me. I drizzled syrup on the first pancake and layered the second one on, drizzling some more on it, and gave it to him with a fork I found in the silverware drawer.
“So you said your mother worked at a bakery?” he asked, surprising me.
I smiled, pouring out another pancake. “Yeah, she taught me how to bake and cook everything. She's still teaching me actually, I don't know all of her secrets yet.”
“My old man used to say that my mother was an angel, and that I killed her.”
“Why would he say something like that when you never even met her?”
“She died giving birth to me.”
Internally I started cussing at myself. Stupid, stupid, stupid; I should of realized.
“He shouldn't have said that.” I spoke from the heart for the first time talking to him.
“Why not? It was true.” he muttered, taking a bite.
“It wasn't you who killed her, it was the birth.” I stated.
He looked at me darkly for some seconds as though I were lying to him. “Is that what you would think if you died that way?”
“If I died for my child to live I would be happy my child survived and would think that giving birth killed me, not my own child. Besides,” it looked like he needed more convincing and now that I'd already dug my own hole I might as well try to make it less deep. “giving birth was something her body was doing, not you.”
I flipped my pancake onto the plate, and carefully sat down opposite his scrutinizing face. He took another bite, and looked at me again like I was trying to deceive him. His dad must have really drilled it into his head. My heart fell, realizing that he probably considered himself a killer since he was born.
“You're not just saying that?” he asked, deathly serious, looking at me as if I wished to deceive him. Which in most cases I did.
“I'm not just saying that. It's true!” he must have seen the genuineness in my eyes because instead of killing me he only looked at me doubtfully once, and started eating again.
Cold swept over me as I saw he was still wearing John's ring. I glanced at mine, silver and sparkling in the light from the window. I somberly brought it down from the table and ate half the pancake, hoping in vain that the other piece could be smuggled to John somehow.
“Are you eating that?” he asked after I left it alone.
Disappointment gripped me. “No.” I smiled falsely.
His penetrating eyes seemed to know what I was thinking. He swept the plate over to him and put one bite at a time in his mouth, slowly savoring what should have been John's meal and he knew it.
“Don't ever think about getting in my shed again. You're lucky I found nothing missing. If I had...” he looked my face up and down, trailing off menacingly.
When he was done, he sat back, satisfied. “I've been thinking about this...paternity issue we've been having.” he shook his head. “It's impossible we're related. I think I spent all that money on nothing-it doesn't matter to me-the money, I can get more and you know how,” he purposefully said that just to torture me, and my thoughts went to the innocent children he killed, as I cringed. “but nonetheless...I want to know why you tried to convince me otherwise.”
“What?” I asked him, hardly believing what he was saying, just the other night he dragged me out of bed and went as far as to pay this lab technician an obscene amount of money to find out. We both knew there was a possibility, and he was still trying to turn it all on me.
“You know what I mean.” he said bitterly. “You were trying to get me to believe you were my sister so I wouldn't f**k you.”
My mouth dropped open as cold shock ran through me, wondering if he'd had enough. Needles of fear pricked me everywhere.
“Raiden...there is a possibility and you know it. There have been too many coincidences.” I pressed.
“Yes, there have been too many coincidences. What are the odds we would both be from my old man, and that you would still be scarred by another?” he shook his head as if I were the one pushing it on him. “None.” he answered himself.
There seemed to be a finality that settled. He didn't want me to convince him otherwise and I didn't want to push it.
I looked anywhere except him, scanning the interior of the fancy motor-home absently. A thought occurred to me.
“You know, if we want to keep staying in this motor-home we'll have to visit a dump site. Refill on water and stuff.”
He snorted. “I know how to run a motor-home.”
He answered my quick, questioning glance. “My old man and I lived in one.”
“Oh.” I nodded. “So are we going to be traveling somewhere else?”
“What do you mean?” fear crept into my voice.
He grinned, evil. “I'll tie you to the old bed, and dump it, get water, and charge it on my own. You may have proven yourself capable of acting at least halfway normal at the gas station, but don't think for one second I trust you yet.”
This angered me greatly, I still hadn't gotten any sort of trust? All the hard work, holding back my tongue, seeing the dead children, he killed my two best friends and tricked me into eating Maleah, John was missing his finger for heaven's sake-and what had my 'manners' gotten me?
“Why are you still wearing John's ring?” I snarled.
He frowned. “Oh this?...I find it rather comfortable. Besides, it's not like he can wear it.” he drawled out tortuously. I was on the verge of breaking, and going batsh*t crazy on him once and for all. My eyes darted to the fruit bowl with the apple slices in it.
“I found something of your's by the way.” he added.
My anger turned into anticipation, and my face went white as I realized. The pills! I checked my back pocket. It was empty.
He grinned, amused at my frantic movement. “Planning something are we?”
I looked at him in horror-which he found even more amusing and he laughed darkly. “Now I know why you were flirting with the clerk...you were lucky you didn't get caught.” he looked at me, dark shadows in his face.
I nodded, figuring being forthcoming was one of the only things I had on my side now.
Shrugging I said, “Well, now you know. It was a 'just in case' thing.”
He was frowning, thinking of something, his mouth moved once to form words and then he held them back stubbornly, his jaw clenching as he looked out the window instead of at me.
“When are you going to check the phone?” I interrupted his brooding.
“Mm.” I acknowledged, smiling tensely. I put my anger and shock aside to maintain a cooler demeanor. I couldn't ruin things now. Maybe it would take a couple more days-maybe a week, but I would get what I needed-his trust, and he would die or John and I would escape. Brother or not.
Out of the blue, Raiden said something I had been dreading ever since our dinner at the diner.
“What do you think about going to work with me today?”
“Huh?” the light blinded my eyes momentarily as it glinted off the window sill. I must have been mistaken in what I heard.
“Let's go out and kill some people.” he explained simply, holding out his hands momentarily in explanation. He licked his lips as I stared, mortified, at him. This was exactly what I didn't want to happen.
“You said you might like it.” he shrugged. “So...How about after I change the license plates on the motor-home, we go out and try it.”
I wanted to get his trust, but this crossed the line. “I'm sorry, but I can't do that.”
“I wasn't asking.” he stated.
Biting my lip, I took the dirty dishes and stuck them in the sink, washing them off quickly-I heard the door snap back and jerked my head around to see he had left for the shed.
Was he going to make me kill people? As I saw him walking to the shed I ran to the bathroom and looked under the sink searching for the old shaver. It wasn't there. My hand clutched to my mouth to keep from screaming in anger. I kicked the drawers and punched the wall in an uncontrollable fit of frustration.
Leaning my palms against the bathroom wall, my heart fluttered in my chest as my hair cascaded down, obstructing my view with it's tresses.
He must have completely swept through the place. Or had it been a test. Just another test, which he had won-as usual.
He was going to go out and kill people whether I went with him or not. The only difference was whether John would die. If I didn't go, he would kill John, chain me to the bed, and go kill people anyways. If I did go, people would die, but John wouldn't. And I would probably be scarred for life even more than I already was-but with the chance of killing Raiden and escaping being present. It was a decision I was willing to make-if only I could find something sharp, in case there was a moment of vulnerability for him and he got distracted when we were out.
Suddenly I heard his footsteps tromping into the trailer, in an instant he was staring at me questioningly by the open door of the tiny bathroom.
“Looking for something?” a deceptive curiosity shrouded his face.
“Um, yeah. I was loo-I mean, going to brush my teeth,” I opened the little mirrored cupboard above the sink, and got out a brush, waving it at him. “I forgot where I put it for a few seconds.” I shrugged.
“Right.” he gave me a quick, suspicious nod, glancing at the imprints left on the mirror by the 'Finding Nemo' stickers. After clenching his jaw, he walked out of the trailer with the new license plates in one hand.
I scrubbed the syrup and fuzz off my teeth, and rinsed out this stale smell, as I heard him wrenching off the old plates outside. Drilling followed as I entered the kitchenette, looking through drawers for something sharp. He had thrown away all their photo frames so there wasn't much glass to break, and even so it wouldn't exactly be a guaranteed win-a piece of glass against one of his hunting knives. I could only hope to catch him off guard.
Drifting off into the small bedroom I sifted through the bottoms of the drawers and finding an old pair of extremely pointed, high-heeled shoes, I got an idea. Snatching a fork from the kitchenette I paced back to the bedroom. Registering that I still heard him drilling, I wedged the fork beneath the pointed heel and pried it off. I ripped the excess bit of it's sole away and was left with the pointed heel. If I used a lot of force, and caught him off guard I bet I could slam this thing into his chest. But where could I hide it? I shoved the wasted bits of shoe back into the drawer and examined my outfit-shorts and a tight shirt-no way would this fit in with that. Tossing her clothing messily here and there I found a long, expensive, brand name coat and slipped it on. I looked for a sturdier pair of jeans and found some wedged beneath all her swimsuits and summer clothes. After I switched my pants I stuck the heel into one of the inside pockets of the long coat, and hoped he wouldn't try searching me before we left.
The drilling stopped. I walked across the small squares of tile to the kitchenette window and saw him going back to the shed.
I bit the inside of my lips until they turned cold. This was it. The calm before the storm.
Raiden walked out of the shack, locking it as usual, and I watched his tall body stalking towards the trailer, knowing that what could happen on this sick outing could change everything. This could be my chance.
As my mind momentarily went blank from this strange, quiet world which settled over it, I heard nothing-nothing except this hitch-pitched squealing. The world went black as my eyelids closed.
“Close your eyes baby,” whispered John. I heard us both taking in breaths, I felt him smile against my cheek.
Slowly he raised up my right hand into the bare night, the wind blew gently across my exposed arm, and I twirled around carefully in his embrace.
His hand gripped my other, lonely one, fluttering in the darkness for him. “Just close your eyes.” his lips whispered onto my skin.
And we danced-we danced swaying seamlessly into the night-the park we first met in. My eyes closed, waiting for his lips to touch me once more as I twirled around again and they did, resting against my face.
“There is nothing to ruin the magic of this night. Nothing that has the power to ruin it.”
“Nothing.” I whispered back, barely the impressions of the words came from my mouth.
There was pressure on my shoulder-long fingers grabbed it, leaving no room.
“What are you doing?” Raiden's deep voice asked, disguised concern laced through it.
I stared at the shack where John was. “Something you'd never understand.” slipped boldly out from my mouth.
The grip on my shoulder tightened, and then after hearing an intake of his breath, he released me.
“Time to leave.” his voice said to me, overcompensating in gruffness.
We were out on the highway without him having said a word to me. He gave me no weapons though I had the shoe heel in my coat, still left undiscovered.
“Whatever I tell you to do, you do it, understand?”
“And may I remind you that if you don't, your little boyfriend is dead.” he threatened.
His eyes looked nervous, as though I suddenly changed, and that this would be more risky and out of his control than he'd first anticipated. I don't know what he saw in me that seemed to be different, but I knew I felt different-this deep calm settled over me-surrounding me like the pressure of the water in the ocean. My heart rate steadied and I took in calm breaths, I felt I could focus with dead calm on whatever task would be laid before me. I knew death was coming-but I felt at peace with it, though I didn't know whose death it would be.
He drove a long ways down the highway and then pulled over.
“Just go along with whatever I say.” he muttered, getting out of the car and pulling up the hood. I sat, staring into the long, barren distance of the highway with no signs of life. After leaning one arm against the upright hood Raiden looked back and as though he could somehow hear it from so far away; the outline of a yellow van started steadily approaching.
Oh no. It was a van-what if it was a family? I got out of the car and he looked at me.
“If it's a family we should pass it up.” I countered, arguing against stone.
Raiden looked at the sand being blown away from the road. He returned me the same words I had said to him that morning. “I'm sorry, but I can't do that.” And he did so with glee.
Shaking my head in disappointment and loss of hope, I just looked mournfully at the road they would be stopping on, thinking we were just a normal couple with car trouble. The fresh desert wind blew against my face and I felt it's freedom-just going with the current wherever it desired.
“You look beautiful.”
I blinked in shock at the suddenness of this extremely out of place comment, and looked at him with apprehension. He turned away from me-seemingly embarrassed.
My lips parted, hoping I could do something to urge him away from this. “You don't have to do this.” his eyes looked my way, but he would not look directly at me. “I know...I know it gives you this high-but Raiden, we don't have to do this; turn away from it! Come with me, let's both go back to the trailer and I can make you something-dinner like my mom used to make for me!” he looked at me as though I were tempting him with something he never had, but that I was misunderstanding him-everything he represented, as well.
“We can have a normal dinner-we can talk like regular people. Please?” I impressed upon him.
“A normal dinner...regular people...” he said quietly. He shook his head, “When are you going to realize what I am-” he stopped himself, about to go into a fit of some sort.
He finally looked at me in the eyes. They were feral, unwavering.
I thought of what his father had said to him.
“Aiden you weren't born a killer, you became one!” I burst out.
He shook his head, trying to get my words out of it, “Still trying to convince me of that, are you?” he asked me with pain in his voice. “Tell my mother that then.”
“It wasn't you!”
“Stop it! Just stop it! I've had enough of your bullsh*t-”
Some boldness in me I didn't recognize took over. “No! I won't stop telling you that because guess what? It's the truth! And your father's a damned liar!” I spat at him.
It was obvious he thought I was just saying this to get his trust and to deceive him, but besides this I knew he actually thought what his father said was true, and killer or not-that was just plain wrong.
It looked like he wanted to hit me for a second, but thought better of it. Leaning his hands behind his head, he turned his back to me and waited for the car.
“I will kill him. You do anything wrong and I will kill him.”
“I know.” I murmured, the fight taken out of me. I couldn't keep trying to drill this into his head if he was going to eventually haul off and go berserk on me. However wrong it was. I just couldn't help but think, 'What if I could convince him of the truth? Would that make a big difference? Would he change how he looked at himself and stop killing people?' Probably not. But it was something.
The van was in view and driving steadily up to us. I adopted a grim smile, and Raiden waived them down.
A male driver in his mid-forties and his wife were in the car. Three children with curly, blonde hair sat in the very back. Twin girls and a boy-couldn't be more than seven years old.
“Hey-” Raiden gave him a friendly smile.
“Havin' car trouble?”
“Yeah, my wife and I-” I waved halfheartedly. “Our car broke down.”
“Well, we can drive you up to the nearest station so you can phone someone if you want?”
“Really?” Raiden feigned relief.
“Sure, course-I would want someone to do the same for me, so why not?” he was an upbeat, cheerful guy with a very pious-looking wife, her brunette hair was coiffed. “Well hop on in!”
The woman got out of the car and I went to the middle seat to sit with her, as Raiden took the front.
“So,” started the upbeat guy. “My name's Rodney-this is Melinda, our twins Maggie and Ronnie, and our first little boy, Geoffrey.”
“Ah-my name is John,” began Raiden, as I started choking in shock. “And this is my wife, Linda.”
“Nice to meet all of you,” I croaked.
“Need a mint dear?” Melinda asked me.
“Oh, no thank you.” I looked at her, knowing what was going to happen and she must have seen the strange look in my eyes because her eyes darted away and looked out the window, then back at the kids, disturbed. She swallowed hard, with this beady, tense look in her eyes as she looked at the back of her husband's head. I knew I had done something wrong, but I just couldn't help it-this despair overwhelmed me and it showed clearly enough. The woman cleared her throat.
“So, where you two off to?” the man named Rodney asked.
“We were just exploring the scenery.” Raiden said simply, looking back at me and the unsettled woman-at this he frowned and looked behind us to the road for any cars.
“Itsy bitsy spider went up the water spout,” one of the little girl twins started singing.
“Down came the rain and washed the spider out,” her other sister chimed in.
“Out came the sun and dried up all the rain.” sang the little boy.
“And the itsy-bitsy spider was never seen again.” finished Raiden.
“That's not how it goes!” protested the little boy.
“Well, sometimes,” Raiden leaned back to look at the boy's little blonde head peeking over my seat. “..it is.”
My eyes darted to the cellphone on the dashboard. If I could somehow...
An eerily silence settled into the car, Raiden looked back at me, smiling as if this were just another road trip, but I could see beyond the casualness in his eyes-I could see the twisted grin on his face beyond that normal one, and I could remember that same, shrouded-with-false-normality look, on his face as he picked up my friends and I, after we found that our cellphones had been stolen, and the wires had been cut on our car.
His hand took out a hunting knife in his pocket, but oddly I did not become still with fear. My heart pounded in and out of my chest as I remembered that look on his face-right after our first night in the desert. Suddenly he lunged at the driver, slitting his throat. The little girl in the back started screaming as the car swerved, and the woman yelled, “Rod!”-who was now choking on his own blood. Raiden stopped the car and as the women tried to get over me to the passenger door he jumped at her-stabbing and stabbing and stabbing right before me, as all I could hear was a cacophony of screams-the woman's, the children's, over and over. But I was somewhere else. Not here. This strong beating and pumping enveloped my ears-lived in my ears as I recalled that same face Raiden had looked at me with, for the first time.
Just a normal, average Joe. That was my first impression upon seeing his beat up truck rumbling towards us. His unshaven face had looked out the window at John, Jen, Maleah, and I as we walked like troupers across the highway.
“Need a lift?” he asked, squinting through the sunlight, trying to examine us all.
“Oh!” Jen exalted in relief.
“Hell yeah, man!” exclaimed John. “You're the first one for miles we've seen-thank God!”
Maleah's legs went limper as she leaned on me, and I felt such relief at being saved from dying of thirst. His face drifted to mine and I gave him an exhausted, relieved smile. We would finally get somewhere to get a tow, and our vacation would be saved!
He grinned, special at me; “So what's your name?”
John leaned his elbows on the car in relief, but Raiden only gave him a quick side-glance, staying completely absorbed in me. I felt uneasy.
“My name's Kim.” I didn't ask him his, I wasn't really that interested, and he was creeping me out a bit.
Still smiling at me, I kept returning it, but this deep disturbance inside me trembled.
“And I'm Jen!” introduced Jen, perky as usual, “This is Maleah-”
“I'm John,” John interjected. “It's very nice to meet you sir.” he smiled in exhaustion and held out his hand for Raiden to shake. Raiden's eyes darted from John to me and he didn't shake John's hand.
“Well, why don't you all join me-I could use the company! Where you headed?”
John ignored the refusal, and just said, “Anywhere but here!”
Raiden laughed, “That, I can help you all with. Get in!” he demanded, friendly.
“Ah-come on Maleah!” I urged.
She walked with new found energy at being saved and she, Jen, and I took the back seat as John sat up front with the stranger.
As he started up the car I got the same trapped feeling I usually get when sitting in the back of a truck that requires you to have to lift the seat to get out. It felt like we had been shoved back into a little space for storage.
“Hey, I got beer in the back, if you guys want some!”
Relieved at the sound of beer-of any liquid I sighed, as Jen hooted and uncovered a box under the seat.
“Thank the Lord Almighty!” Jen exclaimed.
“Give me one.” murmured Maleah.
I took one, “Here John!”
Raiden looked back at us, registering that we were all drinking.
“You want one?” I asked him.
“Nah-no drinking and driving for me.”
“Oh come on man, there's no one in sight-I feel bad-my friends and I sucking down all your beer!” John urged him.
“Nah-nah, drinkings not my thing.”
John laughed funny. “Why you got the beer then?”
The way he said it made everyone quiet. I looked across my shoulder at Jen and Maleah-who was now dozing, Jen was blinking her eyes really heavy.
Then it came over me-I was overcome with exhaustion, but not like how I was exhausted in the desert-it was different like I took too much Zanax. My breathing slowed. The bottle slipped from my hands as everything fell black.
And I fell back into the moment, just as soon as I had left. Raiden was crouched over the unmoving, bloody woman-the kids were screaming, huddled in the back with their hands over their ears. Raiden looked at me with something only another killer could recognize-this sick thrill plastered on his face. He had told me the truth, he really did live for it-and this was his sick version of living.
His evil eyes looked back at the children from over the seat with intent and they screamed.
Suddenly I realized this was about more than just John and I.
Raiden's eyes looked at me, and to the children. “Your turn.”
I tore my buckle off and flipped myself over the seat, covering the children's huddled bodies as they screamed at me, thinking I was going to kill them. I stared at him with animalistic, wild eyes.
Raiden looked at me in disbelief, “What?”
“Don't you dare touch them!” I snarled.
The children's wails punctured my eardrums, as I pressed my back further to them, keeping them covered from this monster. “Mommy-dad!”
“So this is what you'd die for?” a look of disgust crossed his face. “These sniveling brats!?”
I held my chin up, “They are children.”
“And your little boyfriend's dead!” he lunged at me, and I kicked him backwards.
He thumped hard into the passenger door, complete shock entered his eyes.
Raiden cocked his head at me, “You would let your little boy-toy die over this?” he asked incredulously, seeing me as if for the first time.
“They are innocent children and have nothing to do with the mess John and I are in! You won't touch them! You'll have to kill both me and John first!” I thundered back at him.
He grinned maniacally. “Well then, that may very well happen.”
Raising his hunting knife, he lunged-just as I spotted a baseball bat and shoved it with as much force possible into his head. His body crumbled, and I started hyperventilating-breathing for the first time.
I choked as I crawled quickly over him, and wrenched open the passenger door. With adrenaline working through me I dragged his body onto the road, and took the knife putting it in my pocket next to the heel I'd forgotten to use.
Getting back in the car I wedged the woman's body out of the children's view, “Stay back there!” I yelled, taking one of their blankets and putting it over their heads. “You keep that blanket on-all of you-you understand?!” I tossed another blanket over Melinda's body.
Little whimpers told me yes, and I went up to the driver's seat. He was definitely dead. Numbing myself and working with my fear-faster than I thought possible I opened his door and just shoved him out. Taking the seat, I started up the car.
The rear view mirror showed a tall body raising up-I looked back to see Raiden's gaze-so furious it looked like it came from the depths of Hell itself.
I steadied my jaw, to keep my chin from quivering.
“Rot in hell you b*stard.”
Pumping the gas pedal I screeched away from his gleaming, betrayed face.
Steadily his silhouette grew smaller and smaller and as I began to think more clearly, I grabbed the cellphone, my fingers shook dialing 911.
There was no reception. I flipped it closed and stuck it back on the dashboard. I would just have to keep driving until I got more towards town. My mind drifted to Raiden's cellphone, and the results it could have on it. I shook out the thoughts. I had to get the kids safe first. Then I thought of John. Raiden must be walking back to the car right now, and based on the short amount of time we were in the car before he decided to start massacring people, it would take him less than fifteen minutes.
I stomped the pedal as fast as it could go, but the old thing would go barely above fifty miles per hour. Once I called the cops I had to get to John. I would drop the kids off beside some brush on the road and tell them to hide, and to only come out when they saw the cops, then I would drive to John and we would escape.
For John, I had to do this. The kids could hide-they would be alright! I reassured myself, nodding as I heard their screaming and whimpers. I glanced nervously into the rear view mirror.
Raiden's car was streaking down the long stretch of highway. I punched the pedal some more but it wouldn't go above fifty and he must have been going at least eighty. It was only a matter of time-if I could just get in range of the reception for the cellphone. I snatched it and flipped it open dialing fast-no reception.
Every thirty seconds I would do this-after five more tries, time was getting critical-his car had covered two thirds of the distance separating us and sped ever faster.
“AH!” I shrieked, completely losing my cool in front of the kids. “NO! Work, damn it, WORK!”
I dialed again. No reception.
“NO!” I screamed. The kids cries intensified. “Look you guys-I'm going to get you out of here-okay?” I sobbed to them.
“What about mommy?” one squealed.
“I'm so sorry-” my sobbing turned into screaming as he was suddenly only twenty feet behind us. I frantically dialed 911. This time it worked.
“Hello?” a woman ventured into my screams.
I held it close to my ear as the car lurched forward and the kids shrieked even more-he rammed into us-the kids! They were right at the back.
“Kids! Get up here-NOW-NOW!”
They shuffled around the seat and one asked if mommy was hurt.
“All of you get into the front seat-cram yourselves in!” I yelled.
“What is going on?” asked the operator.
“Oh God-” I began talking as he rammed into the back of the car violently again, this time I almost lost control of the vehicle.
“Please help us-Ah!” another ram. “Please-we're on the highway in the Nevada Desert-oh God, I don't know what name it is-sh*t!”
“Ahhh!” this ram drove itself into the back of the car where the children had been.
“Yes mam, we're in the process of tracing your call, now please tell me what's going on?”
“My name is Kim-I was ab-” another ram. “-ducted by this psycho, he killed my friends, and my boyfriend-John he's being held hostage-I escaped, but he killed these people-AH!”
One giant ram into the back corner of the van sent us spiraling, the phone knocked out of my hand as we did a donut, screeching across the highway.
I put on the brakes, the car halted facing the same way it had been before, but he had drove ahead of us and had turned his car around to face me, I could see his face-both furious and exhilarated.
This was it. He stared me down with death in his eyes.
“Kids!” I got their attention as I held Raiden in my intense gaze, he seemed to be thriving in it. “When I say so, run out of the car as fast as possible and hide in the bushes. When you hear the cop's sirens you run out-not into the street-but get their attention-got it?” I instructed sternly.
One of them nodded and that was good enough for me. I was going to play a game of chicken with Raiden. He wanted it, I could see it in his eyes.
The door flung open and as soon as they jumped out, Raiden licked his lips and turned his car in their direction, I slammed on the gas and flew towards his car. His face was shocked and angry all at once as I sped toward him, unfaltering and unblinking.
We were either going to collide or he was going to chicken out.
His face was wet with sweat-his car zooming right at me, then he blinked. His car swerved sideways, coming feet away from scraping mine as I continued to speed forward onto the road. He spun his car around and followed, easily catching up to me again and he smashed into the back of my car with a revenge. I heard sirens-somewhere in the distance I heard them, relief stabbed though me. I looked in the rear view mirror to see what he thought of this. His lips were pressed firmly together, and a look of deep concentration and desperation was on his face. Raiden swerved his car onto the other side of the road and pulled out a gun.
I shrieked as my car started running lopsidedly, I lost control of the wheel and it shot sideways and in a flash-flipped over off the road and into the desert. I was knocked out of my seat, landing on my back on the top on the ceiling of the car and then my body was in a free-fall again, my chest landed on the steering wheel as my legs slammed into the clutch on the second and last roll.
Choking and sputtering profusely from the force of the jolt into my ribs, I laid back on the driver's seat and tried to breathe. My breathing came out in rasps, trying to suck the air in-I felt my ribs but they didn't seem to be broken. I moved and though it hurt horribly I wrenched the door open and fell out, coughing uncontrollably, to my knees.
I heard footsteps on the sand coming my way.
“You've really done it now,”
I screamed as Raiden jerked me up by my hair and grabbed my arm, dragging me back to his car, he shoved me against it and I yelled in pain from the force of it jarring my hurt rib. He went through my pockets and found his knife-but didn't come up with the heel. It must have fallen out, I realized in some relief as I heard the sirens closer than ever.
He opened the passenger door and pushed me in, starting up the car as I cradled my side.
The car sped back to the spot where I'd let off the kids-they were out of hiding from hearing the sirens-he jerked the steering wheel their direction.
“NO!” I screamed, throwing myself on him, wrestling with the wheel, managing to jerk the car away from them just in moments. His elbow slammed back into my forehead and I flew back into the seat, seeing double as I wondered in and out of consciousness for about a minute.
The sirens were whirling around in my ears-they were getting closer, if anything it sounded like we were moving straight towards them.
The car seats and the back of Raiden's head were swerving in circles in my vision. As they started to settle into a solid formation, I squinted, looking out the front window to see that he was heading straight towards three police cars.
“What are you doing?!” I choked.
He just grinned, and pulled out a hand grenade from his long coat. “Get down.” he commanded, sounding as though I were a third wheel on a date he had with death.
I heard the sirens closer than ever before, as he rolled the window down. My heart froze as I heard the snap of the activated grenade as his hand flicked the pull ring into the car and the other tossed it out the window swiftly. My body thudded against the car floor as I flung myself down and waited in horror as the seconds ticked by like hours-the sirens flew past my ears, and as I heard the police cars brake squealing behind us, a thunderous explosion enveloped my ears and the back of the car blew upwards.
My rib was jarred all over again and the breath was pivoted out of me as the car ran on the front tires for two terrifying seconds and then smashed backwards onto all four. Choking as the breath surged back into me I dragged myself up to see what had become of the police cars, as Raiden's eyes looked through the rear view mirror at the billowing flames, exhilarated. They had all been destroyed, one had landed off the roadside, but was blackened.
“They're dead...” I murmured hopelessly.
“No sh*t,” he grinned through the words, swerving into the desert as the brakes squeaked in protest.
My back dragged across the seat as I turned forward, away from the billowing smoke of my only hope. Raiden was grinning maniacally, as if he'd done a wondrous, evil trick for the first time.
Looking him over the thought ran through my head in circles-he had a gun. But what pocket was it in and would I even be able to get to it? The chances were slim. I pondered what would happen if I jumped out of the car, but even if it didn't hurt me, he would still come back. Why hadn't he killed me?
Solemn he asked, “Do you remember what I told you?”
I ran my hand through my pockets though I knew they were empty, wishing I had the heel.
His knuckles turned white on the steering wheel. “Maybe I'll starve him.” he suggested.
I was going to ask, “Aren't you already doing that?” when I thought better. It would buy me more time to save him.
He continued talking. “I guess you didn't love him after all.” A sadistic grin shadowed his face.
“What do you mean?” my voice sounded more emotional, more raw than I'd expected and it caught me off guard.
“You know what I mean. You chose the kids over him.”
“How do you know I wasn't going to go back for him?” I countered.
“Come on-did you really think you would've been able to beat me to him?”
He was right. I chose the kids over John-I knew I probably wouldn't have made it on time to save him, but I had to. Those three innocent children's lives were worth more than both mine and John's in my estimation, and I'm sure John would've done the same. Perhaps I should admit this to Raiden, maybe I should try flattering him and making it look like I liked him more than John. The thought of where that would lead made me want to hurl, but if I didn't, John's chances of survival plummeted. I had to try something new, what I was doing now was most certainly not working-I ended screwing up all my chances.
“You're right.” I admitted. “I knew he'd die if I tried to save the kids.”
Raiden looked caught off guard and then was caught up in contradicting feelings as he continued to speed into the desert and out of view of the highway. He looked genuinely confused and hopeful at the same time.
“So you didn't care enough about him to sacrifice the kids?” he ventured.
“Yes.” I answered simply, my gut twisting.
He swallowed and I saw his untamed eyes looking at me through the rear view mirror. I could practically hear the gears in his mind turning around the thought-she doesn't care about him.
I wondered for a moment how he'd react if I completely renounced John, but immediately felt stupid for doing so; Raiden wouldn't just stop showing interest in killing him, he would kill him.
“I want you to tell him that yourself.”
A slow grin started to spread on his face. I could see he'd thought of what he would do to John. The urge to just attack him was extremely hard to resist.
“And what are you going to do to him?” I asked.
He didn't answer me.
“You protect those you care about with the same effort as I do to kill them.”
His statement shocked me at how introspective he was being, yet it hit a chord when I thought of John still in shackles and of Maleah and Jen.
“Do I?” I asked dryly.
His eyes held my bitter gaze in the mirror and he went silent again.
As the car rolled up to the motor-home I noticed something red on the car floor. The engine stopped, and he seemed to be in thought for some seconds, so I slowly reached down my hand to it. My fingertips touched a pointed, red heel. He must have missed it and it fell out when he pushed me into the car. I clinged it to my arm, slipping it up my sleeve as my heart started racing the instant I knew what I'd have to do.
He looked back at me with this contemplating look and then turned his head slowly back to the front of the car when he saw the look on my face.
“Just what are you willing to do to keep him from dying?” I could hear the edge in his voice, what he was offering.
Nausea welled inside me and then was replaced by adrenaline.
“Why don't we get inside the trailer so you can find out?” the silence from my last word consumed the car for five horrible seconds and then he finally grinned this sick grin as though he'd managed to crack me. He still hadn't touched the keys which were stuck in the ignition.
His grin grew wider, “Sounds good to me,”
I knew exactly how I was going to strike him with it-low so he wouldn't have as much time to react before it was too late. He opened the door as I opened the back door on the same side of the car, I shut mine as he did, turning to face me with this exhilarated smile with his own sick version of this truly joyous look on his face. Then I froze. Something in that smile reminded me of myself.
A flash of a memory of when I caught a reflection of myself smiling in a mirror at a bar, drinking with friends, toasting to my mother's engagement as the glasses clanged together-that same exact smile.
Then I saw myself-for real-in real life I saw my body standing behind him with the same exact grin and wearing the same clothes I'd worn that day. She looked as though whatever was inside her was darker-like her soul had been charred and blackened just as his had.
“So are you going to kill your brother now, Kim?” her voice echoed in my ears.
I stumbled back from him in shock, my eyes wild, and his grin left his face like a candle being blown out in the shadows of his eyes.
Then she just vanished, leaving only the desert behind her, but her voice whispered once more to me; “It could be fun.”
My face had gone white, all color drained from my body like life, and I was suddenly straining myself just to stand up, whatever energy once in me was completely depleted from this shock.
The shocking red heel thudded to the cracked sand of the desert floor and it was like I sent up a flare to alert him of my intentions. But I didn't care, I pointed to where she had been, and he whipped around; he too looked as though I'd scared him out of his wits.
“There's nothing!” he yelled, frustration in his voice. He looked back at me down to the red, pointed evidence of my intentions and a grimace took over his face as he scanned me over knowing what I had been about to do.
I shook my head, my lips were numb. “Didn't you hear it?” I asked him, whisper-soft.
“Here what?” he snapped, snatching up the heel and throwing it at the old shed-amazingly it stuck in the wood planks, jutting out like a stop sign.
“You didn't hear her?” I asked him, agonized-I was finally snapping-my own mind was betraying me and there was nothing I could do about it.
“Her?! There's no one!” he thundered mercilessly.
I shook my head though I could see the truth in what he said right before me, “But you had to-she was right there!” I screamed out, unwilling to believe as his eyes took mine in.
He could see I truly believed I saw someone. Raiden cocked his head at me, as though seeing a weakness-a sickness I had. I didn't like the way he was looking at me-it made my stomach churn, as though I were an animal he might have to put out of it's misery.
I shook my head at him, “Don't-don't look at me like that...” I stuttered.
Suddenly he pounced, dragging me to the motor-home: all I could recall was screaming as I tried pulling away from him so hard I almost jerked my arms out of their sockets, and then blackness clouded my vision as he jerked me into the motor-home so hard it jarred the life out of me.
My arm was up. Dangling above my head, I shook it and heard the clanging of metal. Opening my eyes I saw that I was on the trailer bed, I brought myself up and looked at my handcuffed wrist.
“Damn it,” I murmured, swiping a strand of hair from my face.
It was handcuffed to the top of the fancy, wrought-iron bed board. Then the memories of the previous day washed over me. I remembered seeing myself behind Raiden-he said he was going to kill John, and the billowing smoke of the police cars, those kids...where were they now?
I sat up and winced at the shooting pain my rib produced.
Raiden was nowhere to be seen and I heard no movement in the trailer. I went through the drawers I could reach and all of them had been emptied. “Damn.”
I sat back in silence and waited for him. After thirty minutes or so the silence was broken by something that sounded like whimpering coming from the outside of the kitchen window.
“John?!” I yelled, hurting my own ears.
A muffled, “Kim?!” responded back. I cried out in relief.
“Are you okay?!” I bellowed back, hoping to carry through the walls.
“He's gone!” his muffled voice spoke back.
“I'm stuck!” I screamed at him as loud as I could.
Silence. “So am I!”
“Ugh!” my body went limp in disappointment.
“What are you doing out there?!” I yelled.
What sounded like either laughing or crying reached my ears, “Nothing much.”
Raiden must have tied him up outside now, and was going to make an example of him that way. And make me watch.
“He's coming!” John screamed.
I heard the distant rumble of his car. “No, please don't kill him-please...” I started whimpering as it parked outside the trailer. Hearing the loud thuds of his footsteps the door was opened to the room as soon as I'd heard him.
“I have good news.”
The cellphone he had told me about was in his hand, and he shook it at me as though he had proof, flipping it open, he handed it to me.
Slowly I took it as he looked at me with a renewed face.
There was a text message reading: 'Results confirm no possible relation.'
So he wasn't my brother like that other warped version of me had said. I breathed in hard, knowing now that there was no relation between us things would change. But then again, in the car before he'd seemed willing enough anyways, so I really couldn't say how this would affect someone like him.
He took it away from my shocked face. I heard it snap shut as he put it back into his pocket.
“Why don't you make us some dinner?” he more demanded than suggested, as he pulled out a ring of keys from his back pockets and reached his arms over me to unlock my cuffs.
Raiden hovered over the bed longer than he should have, and once my wrist was loose I shot back off the bed and pressed myself into the closet drawers.
He looked at me as though I should be thanking him instead of acting this way. “...I have a surprise for you.” he went to leave the room and waved me over, “Come.”
Walking through the room and the tiny bathroom hall, when in the kitchenette I saw what was right outside the window and screamed.
John had been stuck up on posts, wrapped there only by barbed wire, streaks of blood trickled down his shirtless body.
I fell to the floor of the kitchen sobbing, in a complete wreck.
Raiden crouched down to face me, “And you know...he will stay that way until he dies-of thirst-starvation-I don't give a rat's ass what. But he will die and you will watch him. Just as I promised.” he shook his head at my sobbing. “No-no-no, don't do that, if I see he's making you cry that just get's me angry you see-and that would mean I would go out there right now and shoot him.”
I started gasping instead of crying, intent on steadying myself for John's sake. I looked at Raiden, the question of 'How could you?' in my eyes, and he returned the look with something like mock concern. He really wanted me to believe that if he killed John it would be for my own good.
“You twisted f*ck!” I wanted to scream at him. My breathing was regulated more as this anger steadied me.
“Now...why don't you make us some dinner.” he got up, looking down at me as though if I made one wrong move he would be all over John.
I made myself get up, and looked at John through the window. I tried to smile at him as Raiden sat at the little table waiting. There was such heartbreak in John's eyes, and I'm sure mine mirrored his, but I couldn't bring myself to look away.
“How's that dinner goin', baby?” Raiden asked me mockingly, leaning back into the chair and opening the blinds fully so John could see what was happening.
“Uh-” I wiped off my face and looked through the cupboards automatically. I cooked some frozen stir fry meal they had, mechanically. However tempting, I never dared to look at John throughout, knowing I would be enveloped by tears.
I set down two platefuls and left some in the skillet in a lost hope of it somehow reaching John. If I were able to get to him-one thing for certain is that we would leave, this time I would not mess it up. I stole a glance through the blinds at John, his head turned our way, watching us in a grimace of pain. This time I couldn't afford to wait for a better chance-whatever chance I got I would have to take it and protect John with my life come what may, because one thing I knew for certain-I was a valuable toy to Raiden, and he wasn't in any hurry to brake me yet, compared to John.
“You haven't eaten anything.” he stated, flustered.
“Oh.” I started eating despite my nausea to satiate him.
My eyes glanced again to John and then to the flash of the silver ring Raiden was still wearing.
When I was done an awkwardness enveloped around us.
Raiden looked at me, things stirring his mind that I'd rather not see, in his eyes.
“Time for bed.” he said, upbeat as he grabbed my wrist and pulled me into the bedroom. One last terrified look at John showed me he was struggling against the wire, trying to get loose.
He shoved me onto the bed and I rolled off it onto the other side of the room quickly.
“Hah!” he exclaimed in surprise. “Fast when you want to be aren't you?” he murmured.
He held out his hand from across the bed, “Give me your left hand.” All play was gone from his now serious demeanor.
I didn't move.
“Ah-Let me rephrase that; give me your hand or I will go outside and shoot him right now.” he boomed.
I limply held out my left hand, and he took it, cuffing it back to the bed board.
As he took off his shirt and examined the stitched up wound on his shoulder he started speaking.
“I've tried-” he moaned as he flexed his back muscles testing the dexterity of his shoulder. “-to show you how weak he is.” he turned his head my way though still with his back to me. “How you shouldn't shame yourself on someone like him...” he walked over to one of the drawers opposite the bed and opened it. Dangling from his hand was a sparkling diamond necklace.
“I could give you lots of things you know.” his voice was rough and overcompensating, he was treading on waters he never had before. He was scared in his own controlled way of whatever reaction I would have.
Raiden finally turned to me and faced me, dropping the expensive necklace back into the drawer as if it were a trinket, just something he could use to get to me, nothing more of value to him.
“Do you like our new home?” he asked me simply.
Unsure whether he wanted me to answer I stayed quiet for a few seconds testing the waters when he began again.
“If not, I can get you a better one. It's only a matter of time until a different one shows up.”
I shook my head thinking of the casualties.
“This one's fine-it's nice.” I assured.
“Do you want jewelry? Shiny things? I haven't been collecting those, but I can start.” he suggested as though he were trying to bargain for my love.
I thought of him taking necklaces and earrings off of dead women and had to look away from him.
“What do you want? Just name it.” he said.
I considered. “Just let go of John-let him live and we can go elsewhere, I'll-” I couldn't say the words out loud, and besides what would they be exactly? I'll be your wife-I'll be your servant-I'll be your sex-slave? Which would it be?
“-And I'll be there for you.” I finished simply.
“I can't do that.” he stated.
“Why?” I ground out.
“As long as he's alive he'll get in our way.”
“Our way of what?”
“I have never let anyone go.” he said menacingly. “And I'm not about to start with that piece of sh*t-that nothing!”
I had to save John, he wouldn't stop until he was dead and it was obvious he had some sort of vendetta against him because of me.
“If you have some sort of vendetta against him because you think I love him, you can go ahead and let that go because as soon as he's safe I'm yours, alright?!” I tried dealing.
“You can say what you want.” he shook his head as if he wouldn't fall for my crap. “But I know what you'll feel. You have to see that I'm stronger than him-I could've protected you from someone else like me-they would've been dead! Him?!” he shook his head as though trying to get me to see his twisted reasoning. “He can't protect you!” he exclaimed.
“Is that what you think you're doing?” I nodded to myself, disgust apparent on my face, already knowing the true answer. This was all a part of some weird manipulation game he was playing, either that or he was seriously twisted-even more so than I thought before.
He grinned-though it wasn't a real grin, more like a grimace in disguise-I could see in his eyes it was like he knew this would be the outcome of his attempt at courting me.
He switched out the lights.
Black enveloped where he once was and I waited for three seconds in shock in the darkness, my heart pounding out of my chest, listening for his movement. Frantically I began wedging my hand together tightly as I tried jamming it out of the cuff. I managed to get it half-way out then it stuck-
Hands gripped my waist and violently jolted me to the bed, unintentionally ripping my stuck hand loose from the cuff painfully as I yelped.
“I've been waiting so long for this-” he breathed into my ear as he pinned himself over me and started tearing at my clothes.
As Raiden started kissing my neck, I grabbed the alarm clock next to the bed and with all my might slammed it into where I estimated his head to be. With a giant thud his body jerked and he went limp on top of me.
“Argh!” I screamed, pushing him off me with my legs and arms.
Rushing to the light switch I turned it on and revealed his half-naked body on the floor, blood trickled down from a gash on his head. Grabbing his coat I looked through it for the cuff keys and found them. In a blurred panic I unlocked the cuff and grabbed his hand up, cuffing it to the bed board instead of mine.
“Let's see how you like it.” I spat at him
Remembering that he left the keys in the ignition last I checked and since I hadn't seen any others in the coat I ran to the car and checked it seeing that he was indeed getting cockier and had left them there yet again. I couldn't believe my luck, grinning ear to ear I ran to John.
He was bleeding even more from the struggling he put up to try and get loose, and I started sobbing in relief when he opened his eyes.
He made to talk and stopped himself, looking at the motor-home.
“It's okay, I knocked him over the head with an alarm clock and handcuffed him to the bed.” I explained.
“Oh thank God,” he moaned. “Baby, you need to get the shears in the shed-”
I scanned how he was wrapped up on the wood stakes and cringed; there were rows of barbed wire around his stomach, his thighs, his shoulders and arms-it was everywhere.
I ran to the old shed and tried opening it.
It wouldn't budge. “Argh!” I yelled and slapped it, looking around in the dark shadows of the desert floor for something to pry it open-that's when I realized-the windows! I ran around it and kicked at the window until it shattered and I unhooked the latch from the inside.
Sliding through it easily, I opened the drawer where I had found the keys before-they weren't there.
“No-no-no...” I murmured, going through all the drawers and coming up with nothing.
I glanced at a hammer on top of the dresser and quickly registered it was useless to me. He must have hid them elsewhere.
My eyes drifted to the darkness underneath the bed, beckoning me to look.
Slowly I crouched down and lowered myself onto my stomach, peering into the darkness. I saw something rusty and silver hanging from a piece of twine in the middle of the frame. I snatched at it fast, and jerked it from it's hiding spot just as I caught a bundle of something furry moving in the far corner.
Hastily I got up and practically fell out the window running to the shed.
“Kim!” John's hoarse voice yelled to me, in a panic. “Hurry!”
“What do you think I'm doing?!” I screamed back as I ran to the shed.
This time I identified the key faster and slipped it in, shoving the splintery door out of my way. I dropped the keys, knowing I wouldn't need them anymore after we got the hell out of here, and ran along the walls looking for the heavy shears. I spotted them next to a police baton and pulled them off their hook. Stopping in my sudden running spurt at the entrance, I looked back-maybe having a weapon just in case wouldn't be such a bad idea. I jerked a machete off the wall and ran back across the desert to John.
“Okay-I need you to start at the top first, okay baby?”
“This is really going to hurt John.”
“I know. But not as much as staying this way, go on.”
I got the shears positioned and cut the layers off one by one, starting with his wrists and working to his shoulders and down.
As I got the last shoulder done with however he started screaming.
“Oh God-my stomach-GET IT OFF-GET IT OFF!”
Because he was loose of the other wire bunches all his weight was now being supported by his stomach, thighs and ankles. I had to work fast, I slipped the shears under the layers of wire around his stomach and cut as hard and fast as possible.
“My legs-oh sh*t-AH!” he wailed.
Suddenly I heard noise from the inside of the trailer-this loud ramming.
“He's awake-he's coming, hurry!” John wailed again in agony as I finished one thigh and went for the other fast as I could. When I'd cut through the other he screamed louder than ever, trying to pull himself up on the pole to keep all his weight from shredding his ankles. Thankfully they weren't as thick and I got them done faster as he collapsed to the ground, panting and moaning. I heard a giant thunderous ripping sound from the motor-home.
Dropping the shears I dragged him upwards, “Come on John-we've got to get to the car before he get's loose!”
He got up with energy I couldn't believe he had, and I picked up the machete, running around the motor-home to the car-just as the trailer door smacked open. I skidded to a halt, landing on my butt and scrambled up just as lightening fast when I saw his tall body jump to the cracked sand below.
“RUN!” bellowed John, scratching at my jacket, jerking me forward with him away into the desert.
“I dropped it!” I turned my head back to see if Raiden had the machete-and a stab of terror and adrenaline fueled me onward even more when I saw he was running at us, trying to overtake us on foot.
“Got it.” John breathed. I glanced over to see he had the machete firmly in his grasp as he ran with me.
Relief wouldn't even help me now though, the adrenaline and exhaustion were taking sporadic turns as we ran further than we ever had before into a different part of the desert with Raiden following suit.
We must have ran full speed for six minutes until we heard a distant yell of pain behind us. Raking my neck around to see what had happened, I saw Raiden hunched over in pain with his hand cradling his bloody head.
We kept running a weak sort of jog even though he had stopped, John let out some relieved, hysterical laughter when he saw Raiden had halted in his pain.
After getting at least a fourth of a mile further away, John started choking and stopped, dry heaving at the ground. I fell to my knees and breathed scathing breaths of air as it felt as though my lungs were tearing open. Turning back to where Raiden had been again, I saw that he had his back to us, jogging back to the trailer.
Eerily he stopped, slowly he turned his head around to me, looking at me as though he knew I was watching him. I continued to stare in shocked disbelief at him until he grinned more evil than I'd ever seen and turned back on his path to the car.
“He's going back to the car,” I managed to pant out.
John nodded, still unable to talk. He lifted up a shaking, blood-spattered arm and pointed forward.
I strained my eyes, looking for what he saw in a hill in the distance.
“What are those? Caves?” I guessed.
“I-think-so.” he panted.
I nodded. “Okay, let's...try...walking,” I panted out again.
He nodded and we walked, dragging our feet for a while across the little cacti on the ground and the brush until some energy returned to us.
“Kim,” John grabbed my arm, concerned. “Did he hurt you?”
I couldn't believe he was even asking me that after what he'd gone through.
I shook my head. “...no, actually he didn't.”
John frowned quickly in skepticism. “He never even touched you?”
“Well, yeah he threw me around and elbowed me in the forehead once, but he never got around to raping me, thank God. It's not nearly what you've been through.” I admitted, touching a part of his arm that wasn't wounded, in support.
“He told me-he said things-things he'd done to you...”
We both looked at each other in confusion.
“I don't know what he said to you John, but I'll be okay-really, it's you I'm concerned about.” I looked him up and down, covered in blood to prove my point.
“So he really didn't rape you?” he asked, afraid to feel relieved too fast.
I shook my head, “No.”
He grinned, “At least you're okay. He said all these things Kim-” John bit his lip as we both walked, and looked at the verge of crying. His eyes were rimmed red.
“He must have been trying to break you-he lied John,” I stopped and hugged him carefully, unable to resist anymore. He hugged me back tight, despite his cuts. “I was so worried-every single day John-I'm so sorry I didn't get you out of there when I had the chance-I'm so sorry-”
“It wasn't your fault-you were right, we would've ended up where we are now only worse-he could have shown up when I was trying to hot-wire the car-and for God's sake I don't even know how to hot-wire a damn car.”
John put his face in my hair, “We're together now-that's all that matters.”
I sobbed. “Why does that sound like a goodbye?”
“No-NO!” he dropped the machete and placed his hands on both sides of my face, looking at me sternly. “This is not a goodbye. We will make it out of here.” I cried in a hopeless relief. He pressed his lips roughly to my forehead and hugged me again. “We WILL get out of here. We'll have a family together-that house you always wanted in the country-it's your's baby...”
He smiled at me and I half-laughed, half-cried. “I love you so much.” he said to me.
“I love you too.” I admitted to him for the first time-the very first time I had been brave enough to say it to any man in my life-to admit I loved him and wasn't afraid of getting hurt or being rejected.
The smile that spread across his face was like the sun rising. He held me to him, and I acknowledged, for the first time in my entire life that this was the man I never had to be afraid of hurting me.
“Did you hear that?” he asked in a small voice.
I looked around with doe-eyes and saw it-Raiden's car rumbling closer, inching it's way towards us.
“Come on!” he snatched up the machete and grabbed my hand as we ran to the caves.
We got to the rocks and climbed over them and up into the rocky opening, into complete darkness as it swallowed us up.
Our hands were clammy together with sweat and blood. I couldn't see my own hand in front of my face, but we pressed onward into the blackness. I heard the car engine stop outside.
“Sh...” he muted me, tugging at my hand another way as I followed him.
There was a shadowy, reflective light in the distance, then we turned a rigid corner and it was everywhere across a cavern with an opening at the top.
Little rocks cascaded downwards, in a cacophony of knocks and plops to the hard floor behind us.
John pointed to a boulder, and we ran to it, hiding behind it's shadow. John made sure he was at the corner of the boulder and held the machete, ready to attack whoever encroached on our hiding place.
I heard what sounded like a misplaced footstep and rocks fell to the ground because of it. The breath went out of me as I realized that Raiden knew we were here and that little flicker of hope I had that he was searching around the caves went out. I swallowed a lump in my throat so loud I was surprised John didn't hear it and jump.
My hear stilled as I finally heard Raiden's footsteps intrude into the quiet of the little cavern we were in. Every little breath I took in sounded like a crash from the waves of an ocean. I felt his footsteps with every nauseous flip my stomach did, as well as heard their padding on the stone below.
He was getting closer. Every few seconds his steps would stop and I felt his eyes scanning the rocks.
Slowly, I turned my head to John, sweat was beading down his forehead as he looked with pure concentration to where Raiden would have to turn his head to investigate. His knuckles clamped the handle of the machete, poised upwards to hack at Raiden.
The footsteps drew closer, he must have been feet away from the boulder, though it were as if Raiden was right next to my body. John drew the machete further up-the footsteps stopped.
Why would he stop-my heart dropped through my stomach as I looked down in question-and saw John's shadow reflected onto the floor, in full-view for Raiden.
I nudged John and jerked my head to his shadow. John's eyes grew big in realization and then we heard the 'shing!' noise of a blade being unsheathed.
In a sudden whoosh of air, a long blade whipped towards John's face, just as he met his machete with it in time and they clashed violently together, as Raiden came into view.
John held the blade where it was and they both struggled against each other trying to force their clashed blades further towards the other in a test of strength. John let out a roar and rammed himself and the blade into Raiden's, forcing him further into the middle of the cavern and away from me. He gave out another roar as he stretched his muscles to the limits and pushed a much bigger Raiden into the wall away from the entrance we'd came through, pinning him there.
“Get out of here Kim!” John bellowed.
I ran around to the back of John, still a distance away from the blades. I ran to the entrance, but couldn't leave as my heart tugged away towards John.
“No-John I'm not going anywhere without you!” my heart spoke for me.
“Kim-leave-get out of here!” he yelled back, desperate.
“No!” my voice shook with emotion.
Enraged, Raiden's strength returned and he pushed John off him. In seconds Raiden was swiftly swiping and shoving his blade at John as he would duck and dodge his ambush. Then, thinking with more concentration than I'd ever seen John muster, the next blow Raiden dealt, John whipped around it and sliced open Raiden's hand, causing him to drop the blade.
Now it was John's turn-I watched with both triumph and anticipation as John swept his machete at Raiden and he swerved and dodged in circles around the room. Then Raiden side glanced the machete barely missing his torso and wrapped his arm around John's hold on the blade and head-butted him. The blade clanged to the ground as they both stumbled back, but Raiden was more winded because of the previous head wound I'd given him.
John scrambled up, grabbed the other machete Raiden had been disarmed of, and ran towards me as we went back through the blackness of the cave's tunnel together.
“We need to get to the car,” I murmured.
There was cracking of rocks falling the ground and heavy footsteps running after ours.
The light was in the distance and we both panted in relief as we ran out into the bare sunlight, burning our eyes. John grabbed me as we caught sight of the car and we ran down the rocks towards it. I tried the door.
“It's locked!” I saw the glint of something silver under the seat.
John saw it as well and smashed at the window with the hilt of his machete, cracking it, then it shattered with a final blow.
Raiden ran out into the sunlight, squinting at us as though he were puzzled by what we were doing. He stood there with his hands at his side, without a blade. This strange grin spread across his face and looking directly at me he took out a set of keys from his back pocket, dangling them from his fingertip.
I shook my head in disbelief and looked down at the shiny set of keys, glinting under the seat.
“He's bluffing!” John said, not wanting to believe it.
He unlocked the car door and I ran around it to the passenger side as John grabbed the keys-Raiden sauntered down the rocks towards us.
He tried one of them-it wouldn't even fit, I looked under my seat and got a hold of something-the old rusty razor that had been in the bathroom; I looked at it, disbelieving. John tried the other as Raiden got to the hood of the car-it wouldn't turn. John looked at me, panicked.
“He wasn't bluffing...” I stated in a small voice.
Raiden's long, hairy arm shot through the window grabbing John to jerk him out of the car and John slashed his machete at him just in time-I dropped the razor when the machete barely missed my hand in his haste. As Raiden recoiled away I opened my door and jumped out of it as John crawled across the seat and out of mine.
Suddenly we were at a standstill, with Raiden glaring reproachfully at John and I from across the car, and John waiving his machete at him, pushing me back.
“Don't come any closer assh*le!” John shouted to him.
Raiden grinned, testing him as he walked casually around the car and stared him down with eyes that looked as though they could kill on their own.
“DON'T COME ANY FURTHER!” John bellowed.
Raiden turned his head to look at me, “Don't,” I said softly, shaking my head.
He looked away from me into the sun, but it were as though he were lavishing in my attention, and as though he were enjoying every moment of my terrified expressions.
Turning his head back to John and I, he settled his eyes on John as he started towards him, this sadistic grin pinned on his face.
“John!” I screamed as he pushed me back and began twirling the blade at Raiden, who swerved and lunged out of every blow.
Raiden chuckled as he dodged another swipe of John's blade and it was clear John was getting out of breath, “No wonder she cried for you so much...you're so pathetic.” Raiden's lips wrapped themselves around the word pathetic as though it were a final nail in John's coffin.
Suddenly John yelled and rammed the machete at Raiden who was taken by surprise, as he barely got out of the way in time, and a loud screech of metal punctured my eardrums.
John had hacked the machete into the car hood.
Angered at being startled, Raiden immediately pounced on his chance and grabbing John's hand, kicked him in the stomach and back away from the blade.
I ran to him as he got up, stumbling back and away from Raiden and the machete stuck in the car. Raiden looked at it momentarily, and then decided to ignore it, walking slowly towards John and I.
“John-let's run-let's go!” I urged.
“No.” John shook his head. “Let's finish this.”
“John!” I screeched as he ran to meet Raiden, throwing a punch at him which Raiden caught in one hand.
“Ah!” John yelled as Raiden crushed away at his enclosed fist. Clamping together his left hand with the missing finger, John punched and punched at Raiden's side until he got a hold of John's other arm and head-butted him again. This time Raiden didn't recoil from it and it was John who was thrown back.
Frantically I darted around, looking for a rock to hit Raiden over the head with, and when I found one, I crouched behind a nearby boulder, waiting for my chance.
John ran at Raiden and Raiden threw him to the ground where they wrestled on the dirt and sand. John managed to get a momentous punch to Raiden's face, bloodying his nose when Raiden threw back a punch of his own and got a hold of John who was still dazed, picked him up, punching him with all his might into his stomach, and then threw him to the ground. Raiden looked around for any signs of me and seeing nothing, he looked overjoyed as he looked back down on John.
“Where's your Kim now? Isn't she supposed to be protecting her weak little boyfriend?” Raiden mocked.
He crouched down, staring daggers into John's eyes.
“I thought she was supposed to love you...I've got news for you...she doesn't.” Raiden starting laughing.
John looked up at me, poised to knocked Raiden over the head with my rock.
“I've got news for you too,” I growled, slamming it into the same place where I'd hit him before.
For the first time I heard Raiden yell in shock and pain as his body convulsed from the impact and he was thrown to the ground away from John.
John was still on the ground, dazed. I dropped the rock and ran to him, trying to pull him up.
“Come on baby, we gotta go-we've GOT to go-come on-!”
I shrieked as the roots of my hair felt as though they had been light on fire and I was thrown back into the car so hard I bounced back to the ground.
“Uhh!” I scrambled half-way up and was pushed back into the car, as my head rammed backwards into the door. Still dazed I managed to get up when I saw Raiden's enraged face, covered in blood. He drew back his hand and slapped my face sending me hurtling to the ground.
“Ki-” John began, but was interrupted by hacking coughs. I opened my eyes, seeing the world whirling around me and I heard footsteps walking around the car, and the trunk opening. Hands enclosed below my shoulders forcing me up and when I struggled against him forcing my hands together, he twisted one back so far I felt a crack and screamed. His grip loosened some at my pain, but Raiden still brought my other hand around my back to meet it and I felt rough, fuzzy rope being wrapped tightly around my wrists as I tried to steady my vision enough to make the world stop twirling.
Raiden jerked me back to the rear view mirror on the side of the car and after giving me a great shove against the car disorienting me more, he tied me to it.
My vision grew steadier and I felt his bloodied head against mine as he whispered in my ear, “I guess you'll get to see the show after all...”
Anger boiled over inside me and I brought up my knee to his crotch, hard.
“Argh!” he fell to the ground, coiled in pain.
John staggered up, and I smiled in relief.
While Raiden was down, John started pounding him; over and over, punching into his stomach-his side-his face, as Raiden just took it, so incapacitated he could barely move.
This time John was the one who jerked him back up and threw him to the ground of the desert. Raiden's still body lay, face down in the sand on the cracked desert floor.
John stood there, unbelieving he had actually done it, that he had actually felled this giant of a man.
“John!” I yelled to him. He looked back at me, seeing I was tied up and started my way.
“John-watch out!” I screamed again, seeing Raiden's body get up. John turned slowly back around as Raiden balanced himself on one knee and steadily raised himself upwards. He spat out blood on the ground, and faced John once more as we both stared, unbelieving, at him.
Maybe he was weaker now-but so was John. I couldn't lose him-
“John! Run! Get help-I'll be fine!” I yelled at him.
He shook his head, “I won't leave without you.”
I stared at him, horrified, “John you have to-just go!” I wailed at him.
He shook his head at me, “No.” he said, resolute.
John looked into Raiden's scowling face, matching it. “He'll die first.”
He ran at Raiden and was about to throw a punch when suddenly Raiden moved faster than he had put on-he had been acting, playing it out as soon as he had decided to get up, I realized in frozen despair as he landed two giant punches to John's stomach.
“No-o!” I choked out, feeling as though I were the one who had been punched.
I screamed as Raiden landed his elbow with immense brute force into the back of John's spine. I struggled over and over, furtively at the rope holding me to the car.
“Heh!” Raiden exclaimed, looking down at John, struggling to get back up.
Then something caught Raiden's eye, he looked down at something slithering in the brush as though he couldn't believe his luck.
Suddenly the world froze as I heard rattling, and realized what Raiden was about to do.
“No! I'LL DO ANYTHING!” I screamed as he lifted John up and threw him at the snake.
I heard it strike, and the world was destroyed before my very eyes. I stood in shock, everything drained out of me as I realized it was over.
Raiden stood over his body, watching it convulsing as my empty eyes saw nothing.
This wasn't real. It couldn't be. My future was with him, now where had it gone?
His towering body walked my way, no longer sauntering in confidence, but completely drained.
Raiden stopped a few feet away from me, as he wiped his hand across his forehead, it came up covered with blood. He looked away into the desert towards the direction of the motor-home.
I felt him look back to me then. “Do you see now? He was weak, not meant to survive. They are like toys-helpless, meant for your own pleasure.”
Nothing in my mind would work. It was like an abandoned factory, with no right gears to match the machines. Everything felt empty.
Raiden pushed me around so that my back was facing him, and I heard a knife flick open and then the sawing away at the rope. He was only cutting away at the rope connecting me to the car-the other part, tying my wrists together he left.
When it had torn loose he suddenly reached around and jolted me by my stomach back to him, pressing my back against his chest.
His lips pressed against my cheek and I felt that fire light back up within me. “He wasn't fit for a woman like you.” he confided.
I started screaming in anger at him like a banshee, kicking backwards at his legs, elbowing his torso, struggling against him so hard he grunted and yelled with every hard-earned kick and elbow. He wrapped his arm around my waist to keep me from running to John's body and took in all the kicks and blows in order to get the door open. He threw me inside, and locked the door.
I gasped as the top of my finger was slit open from the impact with something on the seat, I stilled myself and gingerly felt the sharp object it had run into-the razor! As Raiden stalked around the car I got a hold of it and remained still, waiting for him to be distracted driving the car before I started to file it against my bonds.
Biting my lips to keep myself from flaring out anymore, I heard the jingle of the keys as he took them out of his back pocket and opened his door. He paused, looking over at something, and slammed the door back shut, walking around the car back to where he had thrown me against it so many times. I started filing fast to make some leeway into it as he was distracted. I looked around to where he was looking. There was a rip in the hood of the car. He stalked back around to the driver's seat and flipped a switch, and the hood started retracting back.
“I think you just need a little fresh air.” he ground out, getting into the driver's seat and starting up the car.
Raiden glanced over at me suspiciously. “What's wrong? All the fight gone out of you so suddenly?”
Staring him straight in the eye, I glared at him, tight-lipped.
Jutting his chin out at me, he looked away at the caves. Something about them seemed to put him on edge and he revved up the car, pivoting it away and in the direction of the motor-home. After about fifteen seconds of driving and of filing away, he suddenly looked at me and I stilled.
Making myself look over at him I saw that he was gazing at me with this questioning gaze, as though he were asking, 'Why don't you understand what I did?' with his eyes. I glared back at him and he returned a stoic look to me, and looked back to the road, clenching his jaw.
I continued filing, I was about half-way through already.
“You do.” he confirmed, to himself or the air, I wasn't sure until he looked at me.
I was curious what he meant, but so close to getting free, I ignored his pointless rambling and just kept filing anyways.
“You do protect those you care about with the same effort as I do to kill them.” he finished, looking at me for some kind of response.
I looked back at him in confusion, wondering what he thought he would gain from saying this to me-was it supposed to be some sort of a compliment? How could it be when all my friends and the people I cared about who had come in contact with him had died?
Unexpectedly I shaved off the last strand and felt my wrists freed, though I kept them back still, and just stared at him in muted confusion.
Then it all came to me.
“No...I don't.” I shook my head. “How could I when you managed to kill them all? You're better at killing than I am at saving people...but you're missing something.” I said quietly.
Raiden looked elated at what he perceived as a compliment from me to him, but when he heard that he was missing something his brows immediately furrowed in question to find out what it was and fix it to impress me.
“What?” he asked, genuinely needing to know the answer.
I looked at his wanting eyes coldly and calculating, “Your razor.” I said quietly.
The second he realized it in his eyes-that I had the razor he'd used to play one of his twisted mind games with me I whipped my freed arm around and slashed his throat.
He screamed and lost control of the car as he tried to block me and the air suddenly went still as the car flipped over in what seemed like hours as I saw the razor fall from my grasp and I was slammed into the ground of the desert as the car hurtled over me, with him still in it holding on to the steering wheel.
Looking to the cracked, golden sand below me, I felt this pressure in my thigh and heard the ongoing crashing wreckage of the car Raiden had used to kill so many people.
Hands pressed firmly into the little partings and crevasses of the baked sand, I lifted my chin up to see the car roll over one last time in the distance, his body had been ejected like me, only further away towards the wreckage.
“Uh!” I lifted myself up, and felt this intense stinging in my thigh. Balancing on one leg, I looked down to see the edge of the razor sticking out from it. I tried prying it out and that's when I really felt the pain. I started dry heaving and felt back on the ground, cradling my thigh, keeping it still. I shrugged off my jacket and without thinking, grabbed the edge of the razor and ripped it out.
Screaming in agony I let the pain pass and picked the razor back up to shear off a long piece of the coat. The fabric shredded easily and I tied it around my upper thigh tight, for a tourniquet.
Hissing from the pain, I got up and watched Raiden's still body for any signs of movement. I was sure I slit his throat, but it hadn't felt right-it felt like a shallow cut. Kneeling down, still eying him I felt for the razor and slid it into the back of my pocket. I watched him for a good ten minutes, apprehensive still, I finally limped closer to him.
I stepped on something solid and looked down. It was his hunting knife. I picked it up and walked nearer and nearer.
Lightening struck me as I felt this wave go through me-this primal warning. I heard a moan-his head jerked as he looked up and shakily got up to his feet. He swayed-I was still too far away from him to make an ambush attack and even so-I was wounded. Shiny, red blood flowed from the long slit I'd managed to make and it looked as though it had already stopped bleeding. He brought his hand up to it and felt the cut, registering how deep it was-and then looked straight at me with daggers in his eyes.
“No,” I murmured, shaking my head. I'd won-that mind game he played on me-I had won it. Some naive voice inside started screeching, 'No-it's not fair-it's not fair-how could this be happening-' and then I bolted for the caves.
I ran through the golden desert, and the searing cut on my thigh as it was stretched over and over with every stride I'd make-he must have been given another knock to his head because he never was able to catch up to me-he just maintained this steady, weak jogging behind me. I continued running and cutting through the air with the hunting knife as my arms moved with my sprint.
My foot caught a rock and I fell to the ground, barely missing my face with the knife. I darted my head around to see that he was making more progress towards me. For one moment in which time stood still a wave of debilitating hopelessness swept through me and weighed me down to the ground. I had this strong urge to give up-to just give in-John was dead, what did it matter?
Then I lifted my face up to see the caves-only fifty feet away. I made myself get up and move-for John-for revenge-for life, and pushed the urge away as I ran to the edge of the rocks and climbed up them into the blackness.
As I fumbled through the darkness trying to remember the way John had aimlessly led me, I heard Raiden stumble up the rocks behind me and it fueled my desire to get to the light-to the boulders where I could hide and surprise-attack him.
I climbed over rocks, and when my hand slapped down on a loose piece of rubble on one of them I hurled it back into the blackness, where I estimated Raiden to be.
“Ah!” he yelped.
But it seemed to only make him faster as I heard him thundering across boulders no longer paying any heed to cuts or bruises he may get.
Whirling around a corner, I saw it-the cavern illuminated with the light. Quickly scanning it, I picked out a place near the entrance that was shadowed the most and slipped into it, making sure I was making no shadow of my own on the ground. I stilled myself and pretended I wasn't even there-I was see-through, I was hollow. A part of the wall itself.
He appeared, bursting into the room of rocks as he panted, it looked as though for a second he considered leaning against the wall to conserve some energy, but immediately rejected it for show of weakness.
Raiden walked into the middle of the cavern, the reflection of the sun dancing off the blood on his face.
'I never wanted to kill anyone.' a little voice inside me whispered.
“Come out!” he demanded, voice shaking.
When I didn't do as he said, he wheeled around looking through the room, squinting through the shadows. Then, after twitching some, he made up his mind and he started waiving his arms around hesitantly in the shadowed areas and peering behind rocks. That's when an idea came to me and I knew what I'd have to do next to finish this. I slid out the razor and replaced it with the hunting knife in my back pocket.
As soon as his back was to me in the distance I padded over to the same boulder that John and I had hid behind from him. I let my shadow show that I had a razor, and waited in terror for the moment to come.
I heard him stop moving-as though suddenly alerted to my presence and I felt him moving closer and closer to me. Soon I saw his shadow next to mine. Abandoning all fear, I jumped from behind the boulder and hurled myself at him.
Instantly he grabbed my wrist and twisted it until the razor dropped from my hand, then he threw me against the wall-he violently shoved me against it three times as he ground his teeth in an infuriated grimace and threw me to the ground on my back, knocking the wind out of me.
I looked up at him-a deer caught in headlights, defenseless as I shuffled backwards on my elbows and feet, trying to lift myself-then stumbling, letting him know I wasn't strong enough to get up.
He grinned at me-with a tint of irony, triumphant, his confident stride having been fully returned.
“You know what I thought about you when I first saw you?” he asked, wincing as he crouched down.
He answered his own question. “How breath-taking you would look, staring up at me like that in bed.” Raiden held up his left hand, admiring it, “and when I felt you that night in the desert...” I looked at him in horrified realization as he sharply inhaled the air as though smelling me. “-when your useless boyfriend wandered off to take a piss-I knew such a wondrous creature like yourself belonged nowhere near his feeble, fragile hands-” he laughed once under his breath.
“And even if he had been stronger-I still would've killed him to have you.” he finished raggedly as his eyes drifted down my helpless body.
He smiled as though paradise were finally his and pressed himself on top of me as I slid my hand into my back pocket taking out the hunting knife and ramming it into his flesh as hard as I could.
Raiden's eyes widened in shock and he choked from the impact and the pain as he lifted himself off me to find the knife sticking out from his torso.
Close to throwing up, I let go of my helpless act and got up, backing away from him and the horror of what I'd done until my back slapped into the wall. Though I knew it wasn't right, I still felt as though I'd stabbed myself; as though I'd stabbed a piece of me.
Staring at him in undisguised horror, I watched as he fingered the hilt of the hunting knife and looked up at me.
“You can never have me,” I half-whispered, half-sobbed.
His eyes looked torn to shreds by what I'd said, his lips moved but he couldn't bring himself to say the words and make the noises come.
“You don't know how long I've waited for someone like you.” he spoke to me in a hoarse voice, his eyes confiding.
My chin quivered and I suddenly burst into tears-from how messed up and utterly broken he was-from John dying-my friends-everything.
He gave me a knowing, saddened grin. “Don't you feel it?” he asked me raspy and weak.
“What am I supposed to feel?!” I wailed at him.
Raiden only looked at me in shock.
“-What-am-I-supposed-to-feel?!!” I lamented again, screeching at him, as my voice echoed through the cave.
“Us.” he choked, his eyes wide and almost child-like in his simple wanting and desire.
“W-what?” I sobbed, disgusted and sorrowful. He blinked for the first time showing this emotion-this bareness.
“YOU KILLED HIM!” I screamed, my hand pointing at him aimlessly, countering his sorrow-why did I feel for him in any way-why? I'm so sick.
“You're trying to deny it, but you know what you feel...” he rasped.
I shook my head uncontrollably, “No-no-NO!” My legs gave out and I found myself limp on my knees just as he was.
His face turned whiter than it ever had and he fell onto his back as his eyes wondered at what was happening to him-how his life was now the one draining.
“I never wanted to kill anyone...” This realization swept over me and I gave a wail as I realized I didn't want someone-anyone to die because of me-I didn't want to kill anyone-not even this monster-this monster who had scars like me-who suffered like me-“No!”
I could actually feel something-this sympathy course through me, I couldn't understand why, but I still felt it, and it was overpowering. I crawled over to him, and shakily pressed my hands to staunch the blood soaking out from the edge of the knife as I leaned over him, panicking.
“W-what would it feel like?” he trembled, locking his gray eyes, penetrating and wondering to my shocked, blue ones.
This strong possession crossed over his face as he jerked up one last time and strung his fingers through my hair, wrenching my neck to him. He was kissing me-his lips pressing into mine, messily caressing them and I drifted momentarily into heaven.
Mine seemed to meld with him-John's last kiss-I kissed him as passionately as I could, our lips locked and possessing each other. We mashed our kisses together like animals, my hand slid over his heart and his gripped it-keeping it there-I felt this pounding.
Then as suddenly as it had started...his lips went still. Raiden's-not John's head, fell back to the floor. I no longer felt that pounding-that sound, that feeling.
Raiden's open gray eyes looked into a paradise I couldn't see. They saw one last thing; hope-for the future-for love-for himself. And that's how they would now stay, forever. Forever looking at this hope he now had, however late he had gotten it before he died.
I stared at him in shock, this was the first time I ever saw him at peace. He had felt something he never had before he died; his chiseled face-I couldn't stop staring in disbelief that he was gone-dead-that he was-
I bolted out the caves as his empty, glassy eyes overwhelmed me, and out into the desert-a lone body in the wilderness.
Running and running and running, through the heat pressing down on me, past the wreckage, towards the trailer.
I'm free! Oh God, I'm free!
Suddenly my heart constricted and I stumbled to the ground, “JOHN!” I wailed in sudden pain for him, momentarily I looked around scanning the desert with my eyes, expecting him to run to me once he heard. Nothing.
He was gone...gone...I made my limp legs move like I would a puppet with it's strings, and ran from John's dead body-from Raiden's dead body, to the trailer as I saw it's silhouette in the distance of the sunset-the shadows threatening to settle down upon me before I made it.
I got there, pressing my hands to the white of the trailer to make sure it was real and panting, I fell to the ground before it-sobbing and screaming for what seemed like hours, curling up into a little ball as I wailed.
It was all over.
I crawled up out of my fetal position and opened the door of the trailer, violently wrenching out every single drawer in it for the keys to it-keys-keys-keys-
“I wondered what it was like.”
I screamed as I whipped around to see him-Raiden, slumped over on the door frame-the hilt of the knife still stuck in his side. He was staring at me with the same emptiness I saw when he was dead.
“I wondered what I would feel if I kissed you.”
Hyperventilating, I grabbed the fruit bowl and smashed it against the counter, holding out the jagged edge in defense, “Don't you dare come any closer!”
He held out his hand to me, “Come with me.” he practically whispered, sounding like the wind itself. A strong desire for love devoured his eyes, though they were wounded from my rebuff.
“No.” I scarcely made the sound.
Raiden blew away with the next gust of wind rushing through the open trailer door.
I was alone.