Amy opened her eyes to nothing, and she was confused. She tried to bring her hands to her eyes thinking she could rub away the dark, but her hands were bound behind her back. A wave of panic surged through her body. She tried to scream but could only mew like a kitten. Her mouth was sealed with a sticky substance she knew to be duct tape. Her breathing came hard and ragged in and out of her nose. The sudden loss of carbon dioxide brought her to the brink of hyperventilation.
Cold fear tightened around her neck and suffocation like the grim reaper threatened her life. Knowing death was eminent, she tried to concentrate on slowing her breathing. Again she tried to move but to no avail except for a slight sway back and forth. To Amy’s horror she realized she was hanging upside down. Warm liquid ran down her legs from her shackled ankles. The shackles that bit into her skin had been tightened by a man three times her size. The pain was almost unbearable and Amy did the only thing she could. Silent tears dripped to mix with the blood and cold earth below.
Amy hung helpless like a piece of meat waiting for the butcher’s saw.
He was confident she wouldn’t be able to escape. The shackles he used were old but solid, and he had added a bit more force when clasping them to her ankles. There was no way she could get out of them. He hadn’t wanted to leave her but he had worked up an incredible appetite and he became grumpy when he was hungry. He smiled at the thought, and looked at the spinach he sauteed and saw that it had reached perfection. No, he didn’t like being grumpy; besides it was most important that he display his “good side” to his guest, hanging in the cellar.
Yes, he had already decided to play the perfect gentlemen. He would be ever so kind and gentle as he cared for her wounds and afterward he would present a dinner cooked to perfection in honor of their first night together. He reached for the steaks that had been marinating overnight. The hot grill sizzled when both fillets kissed the iron. God it smelled good. He smiled knowing Amy would enjoy them.
He thought of Amy. God she was beautiful. Beautiful but not glamorous, and he liked it that way. The first time he saw her in class he thought of Mary Ann from Gilligan’s Island. Her innocence had captivated him so much that he found it hard to concentrate on the lesson she taught. After a while he got past her smile…she was always smiling, and settled in upon the content of her lesson. Not only was she a “looker” but the lady could teach. She taught through example, so the technique developed right before your eyes. It was almost as if they were the only two in the room; he was oblivious to the other twenty-five who sat under her teaching.
Amy floated in and out of consciousness as she hung in an old root cellar. Exhaustion and pain, from gravity, and her own, body weight, made even shallow breathing near to impossible. The vessels in her brain bulged heavy with blood, so no matter how hard she willed herself to stay awake, she eventually could do nothing but surrender to the darkness.
In those short waking moments, she tried to remember what had happened to bring her to this place of hell. Memory came and went in flashes, and the very moment she thought she understood, darkness clouded her mind and once again she fell into unconsciousness. At first this was frustrating, but then, in a sick sort of way, it became a game of cat and mouse. Amy conditioned herself to capture, hold, and tuck away every memory from each awakening moment.
Conscious once again, Amy began to sort the snippets of memory she had collected…a cabin…a phone call…Rudy… barking and growling…utter fear and confusion… Slowly, ever so slowly, the pieces fell into place and Amy was able to remember the sequence of events that had led her here…
Amy and Rudy finally arrived. The snow storm had made the roads treacherous, so the two-hour trip had turned into four. Amy called Sky, not wanting her worry. Sky’s voice greeted her after the third ring.
“Hey you! Yeah, I’m talking to you…the person with the phone growing out of their ear! Obviously I’m unable to attach mine, so leave a message and “yours truly” will call you back. If you’re lucky.”
Amy rolled her eyes.
“Okay…the greeting is getting a little old…why don’t you change it already…”
“Listen, didn’t want you to worry. The roads were hellish, but Rudy and I made it to the cabin in one piece…err…maybe I should say two pieces…hmm… Anyway, we’re here, we’re safe and we’re sound. Try to be good while I’m away. I know for you, that’s quite the challenge! Call me when you get a chance. I love you, babe…bye.”
In spite of herself, Amy smiled, and tossed the phone into her handbag.
Rudy, eager to escape the confines of the car, licked the closed window. Amy reached for the passenger’s door handle, “Poor baby, how dare mama keep you cooped up for so long!”
Rudy jumped into the undisturbed snow and rolled vigorously.
Smiling, happy to see her golden so excited, she gathered her handbag, suitcase and easel and trudged through the deep snow towards the rustic log cabin, she and Sky had built together.
The musty air, that had been trapped inside for months, assaulted her nose, causing her to pause for a moment, but Rudy nonchalantly padded past her and went inside. He busied himself sniffing here and there, as Amy opened windows to let in fresh air. A cold snowy breeze rushed in and Amy breathed it deep into her lungs. Looking around at the rustic walls, she felt a peace she hadn’t known for a long time. Secretly, she thanked Sky for insisting she take this week to rest, recover and perhaps, begin a new painting. God knows she needed recovery, after barely surviving the horrors of the previous month. Immediately her mind began to replay each horrific scenario; the letters, the calls, random gifts…the home invasion…
“Stop it Amy, ” she chastised herself and willed her mind back into the present.
Rudy, sitting on his haunches, stared at her and shifted his head sideways trying to understand what, “Stop it Amy” meant. Amy noticed his quizzical look, laughed and ruffled the golden locks atop his head. All at once his confusion dissipated. He gave her hand a quick lick before padding away in search of stinky new smells.
The cabin, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, was so isolated that cell-phone reception, became a dream that never came true. So Amy, a lover of antiques, had purchased an old rotary phone, from a local flea market; and hung it on the wall, beside the entrance that opened into a small kitchen. The entire cabin was small; other than the kitchen, it contained only 1 bedroom, a bath and a cozy den with a stone fireplace and a cedar mantle. It was a perfect “weekend get-a-way” for her and Sky.
Rudy barked, startling Amy. He anxiously scratched at the screen door that led outside. Thinking he had to pee, Amy opened the door to let him outside. Simultaneously the phone hanging on the wall began to ring. Amy knew it was Sky returning her call. She picked it up on the third ring and immediately said into the receiver, “Hey babe! It’s beautiful here! You should see the snow!”
The voice on the other end replied, “Amy, listen to me. Lock the door!”
Amy recognized Sky’s voice, but Rudy’s incessant barking garbled her message.
“Damn it Rudy, hush up!”
In response, Rudy’s barking deepened with guttural growls, making it impossible for Amy to hear Sky.
“Wait a minute, I’ll be right back,” she said into the phone, and then laid it to rest on the wooden table, they used to eat their meals. As Amy walked toward the screen door, the voice from the phone, begging her to not open the door, went unheard.
The screen door squeaked when it opened. Amy stepped outside, and stood on the wooden porch. Rudy, only a few feet from her, crouched low and snarled baring his sharp canines. Amy felt a wave of uneasiness, for she knew Rudy, her happy-go-lucky retriever, rarely growled.
Amy scanned the edge of the woods looking for anything that would explain her dog’s vicious transformation. Seeing absolutely nothing, she knelt and began to coax Rudy to come to her.
“Come on boy…it’s okay…”
A shadow, flickered quickly past her peripheral vision, before she could turn to see what it was, Rudy lunged in her direction. Gnashing teeth and a deafening BANG were last things Amy remembered.
Afterwards, came darkness.
Amy, cold and naked, hung from her shackles, her tears followed gravity’s path, to mingle with the earth below. She tried to say Rudy’s name, but the duct tape, stretched tightly, across her mouth, sealed her lips shut. She wondered what had happened to Rudy.
Amy did the only thing she could; she hung alone in the dark, a piece of meat, awaiting its captor.
She heard only the sounds of silence.
He pictured Amy, hanging in the root cellar. He knew of her excruciating pain. He had once endured the same from the hands of his father.
He would never ask Amy to endure anything that he himself had not experienced first. No, he loved her way too much for that.
The aroma in the tiny kitchen tantalized all of his senses. Yes, of course he could smell the perfectly charred meat, anyone could do that, but he actually saw, tasted, heard and touched the aroma as he stood with his eyes closed. All of his senses were heightened to the point of combustion.
He had always been that way, even as a child. At first the strong sensations frightened him, but as time passed he realized he was special, and was indeed unlike any other. He kept this secret and told no one, not his weak pathetic mother, and certainly not his self-righteous father. This revelation of himself created an euphoria that often erupted from his mouth in mad laughter. He tried to contain it as much as possible because he knew others would think him crazy.
He wasn’t crazy. No, not in the least. He, unlike most, was…free…free beyond any bounds of humanity.
Being different made him lonely. He craved someone as extraordinary as himself, and so he began “the search.” There had been so many “disappointments” through the years, but he was confident that Amy would be different. He smiled. He knew “the search” was finally over.
He lifted the fillets from the grill and carefully plated them upon delicate bone china. He then poured a Vintage Port, 1997 into crystal goblets. This particular wine, crafted from Portugal’s indigenous grapes, was thick and juicy and pared well with fillet mignon. The steaks were resting and the wine poured; the only thing missing was Amy.
He opened the cabin door to a clear and cold night. The aged root cellar was visible from the porch. He stood for a moment, surveying the crumbling stone and then took a step into the night.
Amy hung limp from a splintered plank, that ran the length of the underground hole. The cellar was old. It had been built by Scotch-Irish immigrants during the early 1800’s. The hole was barely six feet high, so Amy’s hair fell into blood, tears, and a dank soil, that reeked of mold, and decaying vegetables.
Amy shivered. She closed her eyes to the dark and began to picture the two loves of her life, Sky and Rudy. Her heart ached as she pictured Sky’s smile and Rudy’s wagging tail. She determined, there in the darkness, she would live to see them again. Her love for them would be her survival.
A screeching sound of rusty hinges, caused her to open her tightly closed eyes. The darkness still engulfed her. She held her breath and listened intently. There was a brief silence and then a faint creaking of wooden stairs.
Amy realized she was no longer alone. She heard footsteps, slow and methodical…
One…two…three, and then a pause…
four…five…six …another pause…
seven…eight…and then breathing…slow rhythmic breaths…in and out…
Amy’s heart seized with fear, and she was deafened from the sound of her rapid beating heart. Then, with the strike of a match, her face was bathed with hues of warm gold. She squinted from the shock of light, and tried to focus. The flickering light threatened to die, but a dank breeze quickened the flame, and she found herself staring into the bluest of eyes, only inches from her face.
He smiled and almost laughed aloud, when he saw his Amy’s eyes widen with recognition.
Slowly he pulled the tape from her mouth, freeing the question he had longed to hear from her.
There was a long pause with no answer, so once again she asked her question.
Her question was raspy and barely audible, and like a razor it sliced at her dry throat. Intense pain caused her to suck air, which only added another helping of agony. Amy closed her eyes, in response, but the tightly shut lids did little to alleviate her suffering. And so she opened them once again, and gazed at him through a watery glaze.
The fire, from the match, waxed and waned, but before the light died, he leaned into Amy, kissed her bloody lips, and then licked her blood from his own lips. He smiled, and then slowly brought the match to his mouth to blow out the only light that lit the darkness.
In the dark, he leaned into her body, positioning his left shoulder against her waist, and placed his left hand on the small of her back. Standing slowly, he lifted Amy with his shoulder just enough to release the tension in the chains that held her upside down. With a strong right hand he inserted the key and unlocked the shackles around her ankles. The bloody shackles fell loose and swung back and forth from the wooden beam that ran the length of the cellar. He pulled her close and cradled her naked body protectively against his chest. Amy wanted to kick and bite him, but her body was so weak, all she could do was hang limp, like a rag doll.
Taking one step at a time, he climbed the stairs with ease, and exited the root cellar. Amy shivered. The night air was noticeably colder than that of her cryptic prison. She scanned the area, already searching for a way of escape. Both sides of the small path was bordered by dense forest. Amy squinted and tried to see beyond the trees, but pitch blackness swallowed the view, so that the only thing visible were the closest branches.
Looking into the blackness, Amy exchanged her fear for anger, and then her anger for rage. She wanted to beat the shit out of the son-of-a-bitch carrying her, and she wanted to kick her own ass, for being so weak. Silently she cursed her body, for letting her down. She hated that her head rested against his shoulder, and that there wasn’t a damn thing she could do about. Everywhere her body touched his, recoiled with anger and disgust.
“Damn him,” she thought! Amy’s brain crescendoed with the noise of her anger, but the only audible sound of the night air, was the snow crunching beneath the boots of a mad man.
Once inside, he laid her on a couch, in front of a fireplace, roaring with flames. Without hesitation, he took a soft lamb’s wool, blanket, from the back of the couch, and gently tucked it around her body. Then he kissed her right temple and whispered in her ear, “Don’t go anywhere.” She watched him turn and leave the room.
Amy closed her eyes; her thoughts conflicted. On one hand, she was grateful for the warmth of the fire and the softness of the blanket, but on the other hand, she was mad as hell and wanted to kill the monster who had put her in this position.
Hearing his footsteps, she opened her eyes to see him approaching, carrying a first aid kit. He sat on the floor and reached for her. Amy felt the softness of his hands, as he wiped clean the blood from her wounds. Next, he applied antibiotic cream and then wrapped each ankle with gauze and secured it with medical tape. Amy closed her eyes and wondered why…why would he have inflicted such torture only to tend to her wounds with so much tenderness?
She felt a warm cloth being pressed to her lips. Amy opened her eyes to see his eyes, only inches away. His eyes were cold and hollow; and reminded her of a shark’s soul-less stare. Fear clutched her heart, and took her breath away. As she stared into the emptiness of his eyes, she felt herself teetering on the edge of his insanity. Something inside warned her, there would be no return from such a fall. In self-preservation, Amy closed her eyes and wondered why she had never noticed this madness in his eyes before. James had been her friend.
Sky once again cursed, as her car fish-tailed over the ice-covered roads. It had been three hours since she last heard Amy’s voice. Their phone call had been interrupted by Rudy’s continuous barking; therefore, the warning of “Lock the door!” had gone unheard by Amy.
Sky righted her old Sentra, and eased off the gas a little more, realizing she would be of no help, stranded in a ditch.
“Damn it, this slow pace is killing me!”
She smacked her hand hard against the steering wheel. She was only 30 miles away from the cabin, but traveling at turtle speed, meant it was still a good hour or more away. Sky racked her brain, trying to think of something else she could do. She had tried to contact the local Sheriff’s Department, but her damn cell phone had zero reception. Mentally she kicked herself for not calling 911 before she had left the house.
After she had heard Rudy’s vicious attack, and the explosion, she knew to be a gunshot, the only thought in her mind was saving Amy. And in the moment, it meant getting to her as soon as possible.
She realized, the rush of adrenaline had clouded her judgement, so the idea of calling the local authorities, had never entered her mind, until it was too late. A blinding snowstorm swirled around her, and the only thing to do was to drive slowly forward.
Time ticked slowly by, but within an hour, Sky reached the cabin, and was able to slide her Sentra to a stop, narrowly missing Amy’s parked car. She slung open the door, and attempted to run to the cabin. Her sneakers, lacking traction, slipped, and propelled her headlong into 10 inches of freshly, fallen snow.
She lifted her face from the snow, blew the hair from her eyes, and carefully stood up. The cabin was quiet, and she could see the front door was ajar. Making her way to the front porch, Sky called out to Amy.
“Amy, honey…are you there?”
Sky prayed to hear Amy’s voice, but the prayer went unanswered.
Standing at the foot of the stairs, her heart sank, when she noticed the disturbance of snow, just outside the front door. She climbed the stairs to get a better look, and her heart sank even deeper, when she saw a blood-red trail leading into the woods.
Inside, the cabin was quiet, save for the beeping of a phone hanging on the wall; its handset laid upon the table, where Amy had left it. Sky picked up and put it back in place, and then she lifted it, and placed it against her ear. She dialed 911 using the rotary, and waited to hear a voice from the other end.
Sheriff Jones picked up the ringing phone and grunted, “Blue Ridge Sheriff’s Department. How can I help ya?”
Sky’s hurried voice filled his ear with incoherent words that meant squat to him.
“Uh…Ma’am…” “Ma’am please…” “Soooo… let me get this straight…” “Who’s missing?” “Did ya say it was yer…uh…er…yer friend?”
Sky’s impatient voice returned, “No, not my friend, I said my wife!”
Sheriff Jones cleared his throat, and leaned his massive form back, into the comfort of an oversized office chair. “(Ahem)…soooo how long has yer…uh…wife.. been missing?”
“I told you, at least 4 hours!”
“Only 4 hours? Well, now…little lady…who’s to say she ain’t just gone out for a hike or something like at? Besides…according to regulations, I ain’t supposed to do a thing till she’s been gone for at least 24 hours.”
Skyler screamed into the phone,
“A hike in a freaking snowstorm? And did I mention the trail of blood?? Listen you, hillbilly son-of-a-bitch, I don’t care if it’s been two minutes or two hundred minutes, if you don’t get someone out here, I will have your ass standing in next week’s fucking, unemployment line!”
Sheriff Jones rolled his eyes, “Now…uh…little lady…there ain’t no need for…uh…such hostility. I will send someone as soon as possible, but…uh…I gotta tell ya my two deputies are out on other calls.”
“I don’t give a rat’s ass if they’re out helping the Pope! You send someone and send them NOW! And stop calling me, LITTLE LADY!”
Sheriff Jones rocked his large body forward, and leaned upon a messy desk.
“All right then little laaa…uh…a ’hem…ma’am…if it makes ya feel better I’ll just come out there myself. But with this weather, it may take a while. Now…uh…is the best number where I can reach ya?”
His question was answered with dead silence, and Sheriff Jones knew the little lady had hung up on him
Sky slammed the phone into its cradle.
She knew Barney Fife would be of no help. Hell, he probably wouldn’t even come, she thought.
Trying to assess the situation, her eyes fell on Amy’s suitcase. She opened it and took out a pair snow boots that were a half-size too small, but she knew they would be far better in the snow than her sneakers. She pulled the boots over two pairs of socks, and tied the laces in a double knot. Then she searched for a coat but had to settle for one of Amy’s flannel shirts and an oversized hoodie.
Sky walked into their bedroom, to her side of the bed, and without hesitation, she lifted the mattress and grabbed a 38 revolver that Amy knew nothing about. She tucked the cold steel into the back of her jeans, grabbed a flashlight, from the nightstand, and headed outside to follow the trail of blood that led into the woods.
Rudy had tried his best to save Amy, but his attempts lay waste, due to the bullet lodged deep in his right shoulder. As much as he had tried, he now lay motionless. A light dusting of snow, from the fir branches above, covered his body. A blanket of white, stained only, by the blood oozing from his dying heart.
As Rudy lay there, with his eyes closed, his life began to flash before him, in cinematic grandeur. As scene one opened, the sight of his mother, Abigail, caused him to whimper. Through the years his memories of her had faded, but now, once again, he saw her through puppy eyes…
Rudy gazed into the brown eyes, of a beautiful Golden Retriever, named Abigail. Oblivious of the name given her by humans, Rudy touched his nose to her nose, and knew her only as mama.
It had been long day, for Rudy, without his litter-mates. He was confused, and wondered where they were. At least he still had mama, he thought, and snuggled into the warmness of her fur. This was his favorite spot. The rhythmic beat coming from her heart, comforted him, and as always, like a lullaby, eased him to sleep.
Rudy was roused from his peaceful sleep by the sound of humans close by.
“Well, we only have one left; the runt, but you’re welcome to take a look-see at him. Come on in here…uh…what’d you say your name was…?”
“Sky. My name is Sky.”
“Okay, Sky, come on in here. I like to keep the bitches, and their pups in the barn when it’s this cold outside. I’d hate for them to get cold.”
Human-talk, was gibberish to Rudy; so he snuggled closer to mama’s heart, and buried his head in her warm golden fur. Before sleep could claim him, Rudy felt himself being lifted by gentle hands. He opened his eyes, and looked down at the face of woman with blue eyes, and blonde spiky hair. Rudy yawned, blinked his eyes, and looked once again, into the face of the human holding him. This time, he noticed, she had a big smile upon her face. She pulled him closer and kissed him on his wrinkled brow.
“Oh my God…he’s perfect!”
Human-gibberish again, thought Rudy, but he didn’t mind; he licked the human on her nose, and thought, she smells good.
Sky laughed at the puppy’s slobbery kiss, and pulled him closer.
“So, how soon can I take him home?” Sky asked, feeling the warm bundle of fur wiggle beneath her chin.
“Well, if you got the money, you can take him home today.”
“Oh, I got the money, all right!”
“Well, okay then! Just put him back in there with his mama, and follow me to the office. Watch-ya step, there’s a couple of poop piles I’ve not gotten to yet.”
Sky kissed Rudy again, and put him back beside Abigail, who was now looking up, sitting on her haunches, and wagging her tail.
“My gosh, Abigail, you are pretty!”
Sky patted the top of Abigail’s head, and then turned to follow the man wearing denim overalls.
“Hey, where ya going?” barked Rudy. He jumped up to place his paws on the wire fence separating him from the humans. His little tailed wagged so fast it created a small dust cloud, as it brushed back and forth over the dirt floor.
Rudy lay on the car seat, beside Sky, and cried. The seat beneath him was cold, the smells around him unfamiliar, and worst of all, his mama was nowhere to be seen. The lady beside him was nice enough, but he missed his mama’s heartbeat, her brown eyes and the warmth of her fur.
“Mama…mama…” He barked shrilly. “Where are you, mama?”
Sky placed a reassuring hand on him and crooned, “It’s okay little fellow…it’s going to be all right…I promise.”
Human gibberish, thought Rudy, and even though the warmth from the human’s hand was comforting, he barked even louder, “Mama…mama…mama…”
Finally the car stopped, and the human got out, and closed the door. He was alone but a few seconds, when the car door beside him opened. He saw the human squat, so that she was eye level. Once again his listened to human gibberish.
“Okay, little fellow, now’s the time for you to perform magic.”
Rudy cocked his head, and looked at the human with a confused expression. The human laughed, rubbed his head and continued her gibberish.
“Here’s the plan. When the front door opens, you will mesmerize her with those gorgeous, chocolate eyes of yours.”
“You see, I’ve done something stupid, and once again I’m in hot water with my girlfriend, and you , my little one, are the prettiest olive branch I could find.”
“Let’s hope, Amy thinks so too…”
Rudy cocked his head the other way, trying to understand, and once again the human laughed. In spite of his homesickness, the happiness of her laughter made him feel a little better. And then, he felt her lift him, from the cold seat, and pull him against her, for a warm hug. Rudy’s “happy-meter,” tilted a tad more to the right, and he began wagging his tail.
At the door, the human pressed a button, not once, but twice. After a moment, they both heard footsteps on the other side. Rudy felt himself lifted higher, and the human hid her face behind him, and whispered, “Okay, little fellow, now’s the time. Do your magic…”
The door opened, and Rudy saw Amy for the first time. He looked into Amy’s shocked, brown eyes, and thought, “She has the same eyes as mama !” In that instant, Rudy’s homesickness vanished, and peace took its spot. He knew he was home, and always would be, with Amy.
The magical spell was broken, by the voice of the human, behind him.
“Amy…I’m so sorry…”
Amy, captured within Rudy’s spell, ignored Sky, and took the golden bundle, pulled him to her, and hugged him tenderly.
Sky, stood in the doorway and smiled; confident, her plan had been a success.
The mental image of Amy, caused a dying Rudy, to gasp for air, and the mental flashes of his life ceased. His eyes opened, and to see the fir branches, waving above him. For a moment, he wondered where when he was at, and then the events of the past hour came to him.
He remembered he had been on the porch, sniffing, searching for squirrels, when he caught the scent of someone close by. The scent was vaguely familiar, he couldn’t quite place it, but he knew he had smelled it before.
As Rudy lay in snow, he thought about the events that had led him here…
His gut lurched and he knew danger was near. A waft of air ruffled Rudy’s hair, and he lifted his nose to it, trying to get a better whiff. His nostrils filled with the scent of the stranger, and Rudy realized he knew stranger. He had met this man before, and he clearly remembered disliking him; from day one, Rudy knew this man to be evil. He had tried to warn Amy, by growling and barking, but she had scolded him, and put him in another room. Rudy remembered laying with his nose pressed to the opening, at the bottom of door, until the evil man had left and until he knew Amy to be safe.
And now, as he stood on the cabin’s porch, he took one more sniff, just to confirm his suspicion. Rudy felt the hairs of his back rise, and he realized it was indeed the same evil man.
Rudy began to bark and growl viciously, trying to warn Amy to stay inside, and then to Rudy’s horror, Amy opened the door and stepped outside. In the same instant, the evil man came around the corner of the cabin, and ran to grab Amy from behind. Rudy saw something in the man’s hand, and knew it was meant to hurt Amy. Without hesitation, Rudy lunged forward, but in mid flight, he heard an explosion, saw a flash of light, and then felt something hit him. Whatever it was, it hit him so hard, he fell to floor at Amy’s feet.
The memory of Amy in danger, sent a surge of adrenalin through Rudy’s body, and from its strength, Rudy tried to stand. He stood but for a moment, until intense pain wracked his body, causing him to fall back into the snow. Upon impact, Rudy cried out against the pain.
Again he tried to stand, and once again his body felt horrible pain; however, this time Rudy refused to lay down. Instead he thought of Amy, and somehow he found the strength to take a step.
One slow step at a time, Rudy followed, the snow-mobile tracks that led to Amy.
The watch on her arm, told Sky she had been following the trail for at least an hour.
She followed two paths simultaneously; one from a snow-mobile and the other left by Rudy’s bloody paw prints. She noticed, the farther they went, the bloodier they were.
Sky wiped away the tears, that ran down her face. She knew Rudy was losing too much blood, and so, she braced herself, for the body, she knew she would soon find.
Sky pulled her hoodie snuggly over her head, but it did little to combat the gusts of cold wind. The cold reminded her of the cool steel, pressed against the small of her back. The gun’s coldness comforted her.
A month ago, she had purchased two revolvers, without Amy’s knowledge. She didn’t tell Amy, because she knew, Amy frowned upon the idea of a gun in the house.
Sky hid one gun at home, within a box of her personal mementos, that sat upon the top shelf, of her bedroom closet. She knew Amy would never look there. The other gun, the one at the cabin, she had hid under the mattress, on her side of the bed.
Sky was a little less confident of that particular hiding place, but the cabin was small, with no closets. She had pondered, somewhere in the kitchen, but Amy was the cook, and so, that option had been “shot down” from the get go. In spite of the circumstances, Sky couldn’t help but smile at the corny pun.
Sky wrestled often with the guilt of keeping the secret from Amy; after all, it had been that very thing, that had almost ended their relationship, a few years ago. Silently Sky thanked Rudy, because of him, Amy’s heart was softened, and so she had agreed to give Sky another chance.
Sky soothed her conscience, by telling herself, the guns were for Amy’s protection. She just hoped, Amy would feel the same way when the truth came to light. At the time, Sky felt she had no other choice, especially after Amy had been beaten, and almost raped. Sky was willing to risk their relationship in order to save Amy’s life.
Sky lifted one painful foot from the deep snow, and then the other. Amy’s borrowed, and too-small boots, rubbed against the back of her feet, causing two large blisters to appear. She grimaced with each step, but never slowed pace; her eyes fixed upon the tracks ahead of her. Sky was determined to get to Amy.
“Hang on baby…I’m coming.”
Her words fell empty to the desolate forest surrounding her.
Amy’s body still ached, from hanging hours in a dark, cold cellar. She sat on the couch thanking god for the blanket, and the heat radiating, from the fireplace before her. Alone in the room, she wondered where he had gone, and when he would be back. He, after tenderly wrapping her bloody ankles, had stood abruptly, and without a word, walked out the front door. Like a flip of a switch, his demeanor had changed from gentle nurturer, to cold stranger.
Amy looked around the room. The log walls of the cabin were chinked, with what had once been red clay. Its hues had faded over time, it was cracked, and in some areas it was crumbled enough to let in the cold air from outside. The only window in the room was hid by a large piece of plywood, that had been nailed to the wall. Amy counted the nail heads. There were only four, one in each corner. Amy felt confident, it given the opportunity, she would be able to prise it from the wall. She studied the front door. It was solid wood, with a brass door knob and it fastened by a set of brass deadbolts. Just above the deadbolts, hung a heavy chain, about a foot long, and parallel on the door post beside, hung another chain, with an open pad-lock, swinging from the last link.
The door suddenly opened, and her captor walked inside. He shut the door quickly, but not quick enough to keep out a rush of cold air. Amy watched as he locked both deadbolts, and then linked the heavy chains together and secured them with the padlock.
He turned to see Amy watching, and he gave her his best smile.
“See Amy, we’re safe and sound. Nothing can get in, and nothing can get out, without my permission.”
He covered the distance between them in three steps, pulled something from his hip pocket, and tossed it on her lap.
“Put these on.”
Amy looked at a white, cotton gown, picked it up, and handed it back to the man, towering over her.
“Where are my clothes?” She asked defiantly.
He squatted in front of her, and slide both hands under the blanket to rest upon her bare knees. Amy tried to pull away, but he squeezed her so tightly, she couldn’t move. He leaned in to her until his face was only inches from hers.
“Are you referring to the filth you wore earlier today?” He said this through gritted teeth.
Amy almost opened her mouth to answer, but the evil in his eyes, warned her to keep her mouth shut.
“Amy…my dear sweet Amy…” He laughed.
“I threw your whore rags into the fire place…” Again he laughed.
“Are they keeping you warm….hmmm?”
He leaned in even closer, and Amy feared he would kiss her, but instead he put his lips to her ear and whispered, “Enjoy their warmth…they will never touch your body again.”
Amy looked into the blaze, burning within the fireplace, in front of her. There was no trace of the jeans or tee-shirt she’d worn earlier. Obviously, they had burned to ash a long time ago. As she gazed into the fire, she wondered what he would destroy next.
Before standing, he kissed her on top of the head, and said bluntly, “Dress for dinner, and I’ll not ask twice. I worked my ass off to cook the perfect homecoming meal, and you will sit down, and you will eat it.”
Amy began to protest, but stopped when she saw the determination in his eyes. Silently she chided herself, “…pick your battles Amy…control your damn temper…”
Standing up, from the couch, the blanket, that covered her nakedness, fell to the floor. Without taking her eyes from his, she slid the cotton dress over her head. It slipped weightlessly over her body, the hem fell two inches below her knees.
“Can’t forget these,” he said, as he pulled something from the front pocket of his jeans.
In his hand, lay pair of white panties. Without a word, she took them from his hand and attempted to put them on. As she stepped into them, the fabric pulled across her bandaged ankles, smearing the blood that had seeped through. Amy groaned against the pain, but never-the-less she persisted, to complete the task.
“Careful with those ankles,” he smiled and added, “God, I bet they hurt like a bitch…anything that ugly has got to hurt.” With something akin to pity, he tilted his head, and murmured cloyingly sweet, “Awwww…if you’re a good girl, I’ll be a good boy and redress them later, and, perhaps, I’ll even give you something for the pain.” He clucked his tongue three times and said, “…poor…. poor baby.”
Amy wanted to spit into his smirking face, but she didn’t. Instead she glared into his eyes, revealing her hatred for him.
Pity fell from his face, and instantly, it donned a mask of rage. He grabbed her upper arms and squeezed painfully. “YOU. ARE. MINE.” Then he shook her with such force that Amy felt her teeth chatter. Inches from her face, with his nose almost touching hers, he yelled, “Accept the truth, and the truth will set you FREE!”
He pushed her backwards, but grabbed her before she fell to the floor, then he roughly shoved her into one of the straight back chairs, by the small wooden table, that he had set for two. Amy would have fallen out of the chair, but he held her tightly, preventing another fall. He walked behind her and pushed her chair under the table. With a bit more control, he put his lips to her ear and said, “If he takes him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish…Exodus 21:10. God is on my side…you can’t fight this. I will decide what you wear, what you eat, and how you will perform your wifely duties.”
Leaving her there, he turned and walked to the kitchen counter to pour two glasses of red wine. He sat one in front of Amy, and then put his glass, at his place setting across from her. He picked up the empty plates, and once again turned to walk toward the counter.
She watched as he filled both plates with food, from the pans on the stove, and then he promptly turned the knobs to the left, to shut off the heat that had been keeping their dinner warm.
Playing the gentleman, he sat Amy’s plate down first, and followed by setting his own down, across from her. Without a word, he slid into his chair, took his neatly folded napkin, and placed on his lap. Then he looked at her and said with a God-like voice, “Shall we say, grace?”
Amy watched as his face contorted into a horrible grimace, which opened the chasm of his mouth, releasing a series of hysterical cackles. The shrill laughter lasted, what seemed forever, and then, without warning, abruptly stopped. The dead quiet, that followed, unnerved Amy. She looked into the soulless eyes that stared at her, and a chill ran through her body. She realized that in that particular moment, no one was home behind those eyes. Then without warning, his stare refocused, and he broke the silence by saying, “Eat up love. You’ll need your strength for later.” And, just like that, within a second he went from soulless to caring. The sudden change, actually caused Amy to feel dizzy, so she grasped the side of the table to settle her vertigo.
He picked up a knife and fork, cut into the steak in from him, and put it in his mouth. He chewed the meat slowly and swallowed, then cut into the steak again, and followed suit, but, this time, he washed it down with a large gulp of wine.
Amy felt bile rise within her throat, and she seriously thought she would throw up. He, oblivious to her plight, encouraged her sweetly, “Come…come my love, eat your dinner…we have lots yet to do tonight.”
Amy looked down at her plate, and noticed she had no silverware.
He tapped a napkin to both corners of his mouth, and continued sweetly, “Poor Amy has no silverware…what’s a girl to do…hmmmmm? I’m not so sure I can trust you with a knife and fork. God forbid you’d stick me, rather than, the food in your plate. Perhaps soon, you will gain my trust. I’m sure, some day, we will both look back, and laugh at this, our present conundrum. It may be demeaning, but, for the time being, you’ll have to eat with your hands.” He pointed to her steak. “Now pick it up and eat.”
Fighting an urge to gag, Amy whispered, “I’m not hungry.”
“What did you say?”
Again, she whispered, “I’m not hungry.”
“Forgive me…but it sounded like you said, you weren’t hungry…”
Amy looked at him, and, this time, repeated it loud and very clear… “I said…I’M. NOT. HUNGRY.”
He leaned forward, and grabbed both sides of the table. “Do you know what happens to little girls who don’t clean their plates?” He left no pause for her answer. “They get punished…” he continued, “…is that what you want…huh…? Is it? Is it, Amy?”
Amy’s anger grew hot at his prodding. She slammed both hands on the table, causing the dishes to rattle and yelled, “Punished? What the hell do you call being strung up and held captive for hours, in a shitty-smelling, dark hole! Slight of death, I’m not so sure it’s possible to top that!”
Through gritted teeth he answered, “Believe me…it can ALWAYS get worse…don’t try me, Amy…”
Amy leaned forward, and vehemently said, “I don’t want your fucking food!” Then she leaned even closer, “I want to know what you’ve done with my dog!”
At the mention of Rudy, a sinister smile tugged the corners of his mouth.
“Ruuuuuudy…” he taunted, as if calling for him.
“…where are you Ruuuuuuudy? Mommy’s worried about you Ruuuuuuuudy…”
Without warning, he flipped the table over. Amy cringed from the sound of shattering dishes, and the table tumbling across the floor. He grabbed her by the hair, and painfully penned her against his body.
He snarled, “Do you really want to know what happened to your damn dog? I don’t think you do, but here goes…” “I shot poor Ruuuuuuuudy, and then the mangy mutt fell dead at my feet, where I gave him a kick, for good measure. Then I tasered you…you bitch!” He paused only a second, “…and do you want to know what you did? You pissed your pants like an animal, so I strung you up like an animal. You disgust me!” Then he pushed her backwards, and she fell to the floor
Tears of pain, both physical and emotional, ran down Amy’s face. Her heart broke into a hundred pieces at the thought of Rudy being dead. In desperation she screamed, “You’re lying, you son-of-a-bitch, you’re lying! My dog is NOT dead.”
He grabbed her by one of her bloody ankles and began pulling her across the floor, and down a narrow hall.
“Everyone you know is going to die. First, Rudy, and soon, Sky!”
He stopped, by a small door, only 4 foot tall. Its rusty hinges screeched in protest, but with great strength, he pushed the door open, to reveal the contents inside. The room was empty, save for a sleeping bag and a five-gallon bucket. He stooped as he entered, as not to hit his head, but once inside, was able to stand upright, since the room’s ceiling spanned the height of at least 10 feet. He tossed Amy on the sleeping bag, then turned, and ducked once again, to clear the entrance way. From the hallway he said, “I will be gone for long intervals at a time, use the bucket to relieve yourself.” Amy heard the door close, the lock slide into place, and then his footsteps descending down the hall.
Alone in the dark, Amy curled into a fetal position, and cried for Rudy and Sky.
Sky’s heart sank. The sight before her caused her to stop dead in her tracks. A lump, of what looked like golden fur, lay beneath the boughs of the fir tree ahead. Sky knew it was Rudy. She willed herself to move forward, once she saw it was Rudy, she fell into the snow, beside her dying dog
She leaned over him gently, and put her arms around his quivering frame. The bloody snow beneath him, soaked into the sleeves of her hoodie, but Sky didn’t give a damn. She held her dog, and sobbed.
She heard him whimper, so, she pulled far enough away, to look into his eyes. His brown eyes were almost glazed over, but then they focused on Sky’s face. When he recognized her, his whimpers turned into pitiful cries. Sky’s heart broke into a million pieces. She held him close and whispered in his ear, “It’s okay, Rudy…it’s going to be okay.”
Sky did her best to sooth him, but still he cried. She pulled away, once again, so Rudy could see her face. His brown eyes connected with her blue eyes, and in that moment, she knew he was trying to tell her about Amy.
“It’s Amy…isn’t it…? Are you trying to tell me about Amy?”
At the sound of Amy’s name, his cries grew louder.
Tears streamed down Sky’s face, and she gently pulled him to her, she whispered, “I’m worried about Amy too.” Sky felt his body relax, as if he knew she understood.
Sky buried her face into Rudy’s neck, “I’m going to get our Amy…and…I’m going to…to…bring her home…” She silently cried into his fur, and cried all the more, as she felt his breathing slow, and then his body go limp in her arms.
After a long moment of silence, Sky laid Rudy’s body back upon the snow. Her heart ached, knowing how cold he must be. She rubbed and kissed his head, “I love you, Rudy…I love you…go to sleep now…it’s going to be…okay.”
Sky stood and looked down at her dog. His eyes were closed and he was still breathing, but barely. She reached around and pulled the revolver from the back of her jeans. She couldn’t bare to see him suffer any more.
Rudy lifted his head to stare down the barrel of the gun. He remembered the loud sound and the awful pain he had felt earlier, from looking down a similar hole. That time there was a stranger at the other end, but this time, Sky was at the other end. Rudy was confused. The evil man had hurt him…
Did Sky want to him…? She had never hurt him before…?
No, thought Rudy, I trust her…she would never hurt me. Rudy shifted his eyes from the barrel of the gun to look at Sky. Their eyes connected and Rudy saw the tears streaming down her face.
Rudy understood tears. He had seen Sky and Amy cry before, and when they did, neither one had wanted to play with him. He had even padded over to the door and pawed, trying get them take a walk. Walks always made Rudy feel better. Maybe it would make Amy and Sky feel better too…? He wagged his tail at the thought but when he looked back, neither one had moved. They were still on the couch where Sky was holding Amy, and both were crying. Rudy stopped wagging his tail. Seeing them sad made him sad, so he walked over, laid his head in Amy’s lap and looked at them with chocolate eyes. Both patted his head, so he climbed up and laid on their lap. Rudy remembered their immediate embrace; he knew he had done the right thing. They had stayed like that for a long time until all three fell asleep.
Yes…Rudy understood tears.
Sky needs me, thought Rudy. At the thought, Rudy tried to get up, but he was so weak he fell back into the snow. He tried again and failed. His heart broke because he wanted to help Sky feel better. Again their eyes connected. Rudy saw the sadness in her eyes, and he began to cry.
“God help me…I can’t do it!” Sky dropped the gun in the snow. She went over to Rudy and pulled him close. “I love you, boy…I love you so much…”
Rudy whimpered at the sound of her voice. Her warmth soothed him.
Sky could feel his coldness through her thick hoodie and tee shirt. She looked around for something to act as barrier between Rudy and the snow. She saw some fir limbs scattered about that had broken under the weight of the snow. She began to gather them and shake off the snow. Then she laid them in a crisscross fashion as close to Rudy as possible. As gently as possible she pick Rudy up and laid him on the bed of fir. Brushing the snow from him she examined his would and saw that it had stopped bleeding. Without a second thought she took off her hoodie and wrapped it snuggle around his body, making sure to cover his wound. Then she kissed him on the head and whispered, “I’m coming back for you, Rudy.” She gently laid more fir branches atop of Rudy to act as a wind breaker. She picked up the gun and tucked it against the small of her back between her jeans and tee shirt, and began following the snow-mobile tracks once more.
The cold air bit at her bare arms.
“Fuck it!” Said Sky. She didn’t have time to get cold. She had to save Amy.
Amy crawled in the dark, trying to feel her way around the room. Eventually her eyes adjusted but only to the point of depicting vague shadows. She assumed the shadowy figure lying on the floor was the sleeping bag. She crawled over to it and felt a pillow, and an extra blanket lying on top.
“Oh, bless his heart,” Amy said, then grabbed both and slung them into the darkness opposite her. Anger boiled inside of her like a pot of stew. Her rage overflowed the confines, and erupted from her mouth.
“You god damn, son-of-a-bitch!”
She screamed it a second time, just to be sure he heard her. She waited a few moments, expecting a response, but none came.
Amy continued her exploration. She stood and began slowly inching her way around the room by touching the roughhewn walls. After five steps, Amy bumped into something. Feeling it in the dark, she realized it was a five-gallon bucket. She kicked it so hard, it hit the wall on the other side of the room.
“Thanks for the piss-pot, asshole!” An inner voice warned her watch her mouth, but she cursed at it as well.
Back to the wall, she continued her investigation, taking care trying to avoid the splinters that sprouted like seedlings from the boards. After a few more steps she came to what felt like a window. If so, it was every bit of 7 feet from the floor. Amy stood on her tip toes and was able to feel the window’s ledge. A thick heavy cloth hung just below the edge. Amy grabbed it and pulled. She heard a rip, but it still it clung to the wall. She grabbed it a second time and pulled so hard it ripped from the nails that held it to the wall. Amy lost her balance, fell backwards and hit the hard-wooden floor. She winced from the pain that shot through here body. Every nerve ending screamed in protest as she tried to stand. The pain was so severe, she opted out of standing, and instead scooted backwards until she was on the sleeping bag, with her back against the wall. She drew her legs close, wrapped her arms around them and rested her head upon her knees. She willed herself not to cry, but the tears fell, non-the-less.
Through her tears she could tell the room appeared lighter. She felt herself bathed in light, and realized her new-found window had become a conduit for the glow of a full moon. She lifted her face toward the light, and relished in the hope it seemed to bring. It occurred to Amy the storm must have subsided. She thought of Sky out there searching for her, and said a silent prayer of thanks. She had worried about Sky’s safety in such an awful storm, but now, she worried even more for her safety when she finally found the cabin. Amy knew Sky wouldn’t stop until she found her.
Amy mentally heard, once again, the psychopath’s promise, “I’m going to slice up your dyke girlfriend, and make you feed her, piece by piece to the pigs.” Amy shivered, she knew he would do it. He had given her no reason to doubt him.
Amy would die without Skyler.
She could barely remember her life before Sky, which frightened her somewhat, as it had only been three years ago. She wondered about her level of co-dependence…her besetting sin…
Mentally, she scolded herself, and tried to push her fear away; however, no matter how far she pushed, the uneasiness hovered like a fog upon the fringes of her psyche.
It wasn’t that she couldn’t remember, it was more that her life had been so one dimensional before Sky. Her world had been a stage cast in black and white, but when Sky entered her life, she brought with her a full spectrum of colors that Amy never knew existed.
Amy smiled at the thought. She closed her eyes and let her memories take her far beyond her prison walls. She remembered the day she met Sky…
Sky stood behind the protective cover of snow laden fir trees. The cabin was only few feet away, but Sky decided it best to stay hidden, just in case he was close by.
It had taken her hours to get here. Now as she surveyed the area, she wondered what she should do next. Surely Amy was held captive somewhere in the ram-shackled structure. The cabin was ancient. No smoke escaped its stone chimney, and the sod between the hand-hewn logs crumbled from the years of long Blue-Ridge Mountain winters. Sky could see clear through in places. She realized that Amy must be cold…and her heart ached. How she longed to hold Amy in her arms, and kiss away the fear that had tortured her these past months.
Sky reached behind to grab the revolver nestled between her shirt and jeans. The steel was cold, but comforting within her hand. Crouching she began her way towards the cabin, careful to stay behind the cover of the trees as much as possible.
“Hang on, baby…I’m coming,” her teeth chattering.
Amy opened her eyes. Sunlight poured into the broken window, and unfortunately, so did the harsh winter air. She regretted breaking the damn thing. Amy had never been so cold. Her body shook uncontrollably in its effort to fight off hypothermia.
Amy looked up to the window, and for the one-hundredth time, wished she could climb out of it. She knew this was impossible, for she had already tried standing on the pee-bucket, and even on the tip of her toes, her fingers were short of the ledge by a good three inches.
Amy tried to stand, but her body refused to comply. With each attempt she always fell back upon the mattress. After the fourth try, she laid in the fetal position, her thin blanket barely big enough to cover her. She began to cry, but as the minutes ticked away her cries turned into laughter.
“At least my god-damned ankles have quit hurting…they’re too fucking numb to feel any pain,” thought Amy, and laughed all the harder.
Such irony that she should die from her own hand and not that of her captor’s.
Sky slipped herself against the cabin’s wall and began to inch her way towards the front door. Again, she surveyed the area. The absence of the snowmobile gave her hope. She prayed like hell…that he had left. She knew he would return and realized she only had a small window of time to get inside, get Amy, and get back into the cover of the forest.
One step at a time, Sky was careful to hold the gun with both hands; ready to fire if need be. All of a sudden Sky felt the ground meeting her face. The gun flew out of her grasp, and landed on something hidden just beneath the snow. Sky heard a faint “click,” felt a gush of wind, followed by a loud clap. Shocked, Sky stared at the tripped bear trap only inches from her face.
Fear of what could have happened coursed through her veins like hot lava, and then she began to tremble. The gun still quivered upon the bear trap’s trigger. Afraid to move, Sky let her gaze travel down her body to see the culprit of her fall: a split piece of fire wood. No doubt it had been purposely placed there to serve as a booby trap for anyone trying to save Amy.
Slowly, Sky got up, careful as to where she put her hands, knees and feet. She bent to pick up the gun, and put it back in the waistband of her jeans. She picked up the piece of firewood and used it to test the ground in front of her before each step. Finally, she made it safely to the front door, and was surprised to find it unlocked.
Sky cracked the door, to peek inside. Through the crack she was able to see a fireplace overflowing with ashes, a tattered couch, and what looked like a pile of rags on the floor by the couch. She leaned in a little more causing the rusted hinges to protest. They squeaked with even the tiniest move, so, she opened it just wide enough to squeeze inside. She stood in silence for a long while. Hearing nothing, she felt confident her presence was unknown.
Sky surveyed the contents of the tiny room. The kitchen to her right consisted of a tiny refrigerator, small enough to sit upon the wooden counter. Two hot-plates were a few inches away. A cast-iron, fry pan rested on one, and a coffee pot on the other. A tiny table for two was tipped over, and its companions…chairs, plates, and glasses lay shattered on the stone floor. Sky shifted her gaze to the left to rest once again on the tattered couch.
Stepping quietly, she walked over to the couch to inspect the pile of rags that lay on the floor. They were red-stained with what she knew to be blood. Her heart sank because she knew it had belonged to Amy.
A darkened hallway, only a few feet away beckoned her.
One small step at a time she inched closer. She reached for the gun and once again it felt good in her hand. She knew she would have no trouble killing that son-of-a-bitch. On sight she would put a bullet between his eyes. On second thought, she decided she would shoot his balls off, first. That should suffice as suitable punishment for attempting to rape Amy. The ass-hole needed to suffer, and suffer LONG, before he entered Hell.
Stepping into the dark hallway, Sky had to wait a moment for her eyes to adjust. She barely made out a small door only four feet tall to her right. A closer look assured Sky, that it was padlocked. Her heart raced. Perhaps Amy was inside. All of her instincts demanded she charge the door, but common sense warned that there was cabin left to explore, and that the son-of-a-bitch could be hiding around the next corner.
After another couple of feet Sky saw a door on her left. This door, unlike the other, was regular sized, and had no padlock. She stopped and put her ear to the splintered wood and could hear no sound coming from inside. With her ear to the door, she glanced down the hallway. It ended with another door that led outside. It too was padlocked.
Slowly she opened the door and peered into a dark room. Sky had the gun ready to fire, but nothing came at her. Once her eyes adjusted she could make out a bed and a tiny dresser. Save for that, the room was empty.
Confident there was no one else in the cabin, Sky hurried back to the four-foot padlocked door.
“Amy…honey, are you in there?” Sky whispered.
In vain, Sky pushed and pulled on the door.
A little louder than before, Sky repeated her question.
“Amy…AMY…ARE YOU THERE?”
Sky paused a second with her ear to the door, trying to hear any sound of life. Very faintly, Sky thought she heard a groan, but it was followed by complete silence. Thinking it must have been her imagination, she started to call for Amy again but was cut short by the sound of a shaky voice.
“Skkkkk…. I’m heeeeee….re…”
The sound of Amy’s voice kicked Sky’s adrenaline into overdrive. She lunged at the door with all her might, and felt it give some, but not enough to dislodge the lock.
“Fuck…” she cursed, and threw herself once again into the door. The wood groaned in protest, but still she was unable to break through.
Frantically, Sky looked around for something to use to pry open the lock. She thought of the gun, but decided against it, fearing the sound would alert the psycho if he were close by.
“Amy…I’ll be right back. I’m going to get you out”
The shaky voice from the other side of the door said, “…ple…please…d…don’t le…le…leave me…”
Sky heard the desperation in Amy’s voice and it broke her heart. “I’m not leaving you…I promise…I’m coming back…”
Sky went to the kitchen and scanned the area for something to use. Not seeing anything of value, she looked around the living room. Her eyes rested upon a set of wrought iron, fireplace tools.
Sky grabbed the poker and rushed back to Amy. She put the pointed end into the loop of the pad-lock, and leaned downward with all her weight. The metal screeched in protest, and she felt it give a little. Encouraged, she did it again, and this time she was rewarded by the sound of the busted lock hitting the stone floor.
Sky burst open the tiny door. She fell into the dark room and desperately searched for Amy. Amy lay shivering uncontrollably, five feet in front of her. Sky went to her, pulled her close, and enveloped her within her arms. She rubbed her vigorously, trying to stimulate heat into Amy’s frigid body.
Amy wanted to cling to Sky, but her hands were too cold to move. She was numb from head to foot, but somehow, she was able to move her trembling lips enough to say…“I…lu…luvv…u…” Her eyes filled with tears that spilled over her cheeks.
Sky gently wiped away Amy’s tears, and leaned in to kiss her softly on the lips. After the kiss she pulled her closer and whispered in her ear…“I love you more.”
Sky helped Amy from the room, and took her across the hall into the small bedroom. She laid Amy on the bed, covered her with a blanket, and then lay beside and held her until she stopped shivering.
Sky searched the dresser drawers and found shirts, hoodies, sweatpants and a pair boots underneath the bed. They both dressed as warmly as possible, and then headed toward the front door.
On their way out the door, Sky grabbed a broom, and used it to test the ground in front of them just in case there was another bear trap.
Amy still hurting, and extremely weak leaned heavily upon Sky. It was slow going but finally they made it to the edge of the forest. Sky felt it a milestone, so she breathed a big sigh of relief.
“We’re going to make it,” she said to Amy, and couldn’t help but smile.
A distant sound of an engine caused Sky’s smile to fade.
Amy heard it as well, and her face turned wild with fear. Like a frightened animal she began to look in all directions for the oncoming danger. Finally, she looked to Sky. The amount of horror Sky saw in Amy’s eyes took her breath away. She had never seen Amy look so afraid.
“Oh m…my… g…god…it’s…Sa…Satan…he…s…here…to take…us to H…Hell!” Amy’s scream was shrill. The terror was infectious, and it consumed Sky as well.
Sky looked over her shoulder to see a snowmobile with a masked rider coming towards them. Without hesitation Sky pushed Amy into the thicket around a group of fir trees.
Then she pulled out the gun, turned, and faced the snowmobile bearing down upon her. She stood in firing position…feet shoulder width apart, right leg slightly back in a boxer’s stance, knees bent with her body weight forward, all the while holding the gun with both hands.
The rider saw the gun, but refused to veer away.
Sky took aim and waited…the seconds ticked away as he grew closer…and closer. She felt sweat trickle down the side of her face, and wondered how it possible since it was so cold.
When she realized he meant to run her over, she willed herself to stand firm.
As if in slow motion she watched him edge closer, and she pulled the hammer of the gun backwards, but didn’t fire until she could see his eyes. The gun recoiled and fell out of her hands, as the snowmobile clipped her right shoulder. Sky fell and slumped into the snow. The snowmobile turned sideways, slinging its rider a good ten feet into the air. He hit hard, and lay face down in the snow.
Sky was riddled with pain, but she forced herself to get up. Slowly she limped to where the man lay. She could see no signs of breathing, so she presumed him dead.
“You died too easy,” she spoke aloud.
To be sure he was dead she nudged him with the toe of her boot, not once but twice. When he didn’t move, she squatted beside him, and rolled him over.
Blood oozed from a hole ripped in his jacket. Sky reached for the mask covering his face, and slid it up and over his head. She looked down into the face of a monster. His dark hair was long, and fell haphazardly to cover the snow that cradled his head. His eyes were closed, and a trickle of blood ran from his nose, and into his slack and pallid mouth.
She unzipped his coat and unbuttoned his shirt to inspect the fatal wound.
His flesh was ripped and torn from the bullet, however, the damage was not to the heart but more towards his upper, left shoulder. It appeared that the bullet had only nicked his collar-bone. Sky was confident it had to hurt like hell, but she was equally confident it had not been a kill shot.
Quickly she looked back to his face and saw her reflection in the blackest eyes she’d ever seen. Devoid of any white they looked like the eyes of a demon…pure evil.
Panic seized her, and she tried to move away, but he was too quick. He grabbed her shoulders and flipped her over into the snow. He pinned her to the ground with his body, spit blood into her face, and then backhanded her hard with his right hand. Using her as leverage, he pushed down upon her with all his might and stood.
Sky felt herself slipping into unconsciousness, but the thought of Amy caused her to gasp for air.
She looked at the monster towering above her. His eyes were still black with evil, and a fiendishly smile split his face. This hideous sight scared the shit out of her. Then she noticed the large rock he held over his head and heard a guttural growl…
“Die, you ungodly lesbian!”
Sky closed her eyes, and waited for the imminent death blow.
A succession of BANGS ripped the cold air.
Startled, Sky opened her eyes, and watched as half of the monster’s face ripped away like the parting of the Red Sea. Amy a few feet away, stood with the gun in her hand and watched as her captor fell lifeless to the ground.
In a few steps, she moved to stand over him and began screaming, “Die you son-of-a-bitch…die you son-of-a-bitch…DIE…”
Amy emptied the gun into the other half of his face, and kept pulling the trigger long after the last bullet was fired.
Three months later…
Amy opened her eyes to an early morning view just beyond the open window of their bedroom. She watched as the breeze gently blew the white cotton curtains, and smiled when she felt the coolness touch the tip of her nose.
She loved her mornings. She quietly gave thanks for another day to live, and for the woman lying next to her in bed. Still asleep, Sky unknowingly spooned with Amy. Amy loved the warmth of her wife’s body. She felt the rhythm of Sky’s breath with the rise and fall of her breasts, pressed against her back.
After a while, Amy felt her stir so she turned to face a sleepy-eyed Sky. They both nestled into each other and as always, their bodies fit perfectly together. Sky nuzzled Amy’s neck. It tickled, so Amy laughed aloud.
Desiring a replay of last night’s lovemaking, they reached for one another, but before they could kiss a large bundle of golden fur pounced on top of them. Rudy barked and wagged his tail at the sight of his two moms.
He was happy they were finally awake…after all he had important things to do!
Amy and Sky laughed at their loveable Rudy, and he wiggled between them to commence operation “slobbery kiss.”
A series of “Ewwwws” and “yuckes” filled the air.
Today was going to be a good day.