A bead of sweat rolled down Candy’s spine.  She was fucked, and she knew it.

 

      This wasn’t like high school, when she got caught blowing Robbie Henderson in her parent’s basement.  

 

     This was much crazier shit.  

 

     She never imagined that she’d find herself in this predicament.  For once, she’d done the responsible thing, and where did it get her?  Five minutes from her own execution. She just knew it deep in her core.  She could hear people being dragged from rooms like cattle and marched outside to their own grizzly deaths. The thought of her torture, rape or whatever the hell they had in store for her was enough for her to jerk hysterically against her bonds again. She screamed and screamed again, but nothing came out but a muffled sound against her gag.  

 

 

      Once she quieted down, she wondered if anyone else was in the room. The thought of being alone in a dark hole was unbearable.  She’d go insane if she allowed herself.  She began to think of all types of horrible possibilities: eaten alive by rats, poisonous snakes slithering around her ankles, starving boogie men, cannibals and even malevolent ghosts. She didn’t liked cramp spaces, and even worse she didn’t like dark places [even now at twenty three she slept with a night light on].  Dark places held all types of surprises, and she'd never liked surprises. 

     At seven years her big brother locked her in the closet with the cat. OJ wasn’t the friendliest cat in the world either. On the outside, it was orange with darker orange stripes.  Reminded them of orange juice. On the inside...a real shit storm of a feline.  OJ was prone to random attacks of mean-ness, especially when locked with humans in cramped closets. The memory made Candy shiver and she had to take a couple of deep breaths again before she could regain her composure and assess her situation.   

 

     She was in a dungeon of sorts –or a cold cement like place.  She could hear screams, but they weren’t coming from inside this place.  They were at a distance –from the outside- and from up above.  Out and up….like the bottom of a well.  What was going on up there? Didn't the murdering usually happen in the inside. She's seen enough horror movies to know.

    Then she decided it was probably not best to concentrate on that just yet. She forced herself to calm down a bit. Ignore the panic that threatened to consume her. Get a sense of her surroundings.

     Tired from struggling against her bonds, she took a breath and willed her body to relax.  She sat. She heard scratches. Then more people being dragged from rooms. Then grunting noises. It sounded like rough sex. A banging and clacking that went on and on ...until it stopped.

 

       She was exhausted by it all. The adrenaline that course through her veins. The screams. It drained her until she was drunk with calm. She realized she just didn’t care. Whatever happened would happen. It would hurt. A lot. And probably for a while. And then she’d either black out from shock or just die. Death wouldn't be so bad. Sipping Mojitos at the pearly gates sounded divine at the moment. 

     But would she be on that bus? Did she get to go upstairs? Candy began to consider her life. Take stock of the past. Her meager, pathetic existence —one that had been wholly selfish and one dimensional. She’d managed to accomplish nothing in her life but constant gossip, a string of sorry boyfriends and hollow friendships. That momentary realization made her sad. That she’d been a victim of her own stupidity. She hated being a victim, and she hated people who played the victim. Now she really was a victim. Thinking about it enraged her. She had things she wanted to do in life. She'd planned to start becoming a good person at 30. More selfless. Then at 40, she'd be frickin' Mother Theresa. But now, in her 20s, she'd just enjoy being bad. She could wipe the slate clean when she wanted. Isn't that what churches were for. "Spiritual outsourcing" she'd heard it called. But now she wouldn't even get the chance.  

     And that got her pissed, which gave her a bit of energy back.

     She began working her tongue against the gag. Hopefully she could loosen it just enough to breathe better and talk to whoever was in the room with her. It was pitch black, but she could sense someone else there.  

      She worked and worked on the gag until it felt like her tongue would fall off. Then the cloth stretched enough so that she could work it free. It slipped finally off of her mouth, down her chin, around her neck. 

     Blessed Jesus she could finally breathe again. Panting, she didn’t wait long.

 

     “Is anybody in here?” she whispered.

 

     Silence.  Darkness.  Her body involuntarily shook.  Her eyes darted back and forth looking, seeking.  She squinted, hoping to catch an outline, a shape, anything to give her a clue.  

     She couldn't see anything, but she knew it wouldn't be Tommy. He was dead. She was sure she'd heard his screams because it was what brought her back to consciousnees.  And the others. . .well the others — Jonah and Griffin and Riah— she wasn’t sure. She’d heard screams from familiar voices, but she just didn’t know. It had to be Jessie.  She desperately hoped  it was Jesse. Imagine that.  Candy couldn’t stand Jessie.  Jessie was a selfish, arrogant little bitch, but Tommy had invited her on the trip, in an attempt to be polite.  Jessie had accepted, and it pissed Candy off to no end. But now Candy was elated. Jesse was here. She could smell the trumpet's whorish perfume. And that made her glad as hell.  At this point she would’ve befriended Hitler himself just not to be alone in this miserable place.

     Then she heard another cry, and then silence.  Again, outside and up.  That’s where the sounds came from. 

 

     Fuck this noise, she thought. “Jessie?” she whispered. But there was only silence. I really gotta get out of this goat fuck.

 

     “Jessie.  Are you there?  If you’re here say something.  Please.”

 

     Silence.  Then a muffled cry.  Sounded like she was gagged too.

 

     “Jessie.  If you can’t speak, at least tap your feet twice, if you’re in hear.  Please, Jessie.”

 

     Tap tap.

 

     “Oh thank God.  It is you.  I’m so happy.”

 

     She heard a low moan.  Then muffled hysterical, frantic screams.

 

     “Jessie, just calm down okay.  We’re gonna be alright, but we need to keep it down.  We don’t want anyone who has forgotten about us to remember us.  We need to buy some time so we can get outta here.  Okay?”  

 

     More hysterical muffled screams.  Then thrashing sounds.  Then muffled cries again.

 

     “Jessie. Calm yourself, girl.  Are you okay? Tap twice for ‘yes’.  Tap once for ‘no’.”

 

     Tap.

 

     “Shit.  Are you hurt?”

 

     Tap.

 

     “You’re just scared?” 

 

     Tap tap tap tap tap tap.

 

     “Don’t worry Jessie. We’ll get out of here.  Do you still have that pocket knife in your cargo pocket?”

 

     Tap tap.

 

     “Okay.  I’m going to try and work my way over to you, okay?  Just stay there.  Don’t move.  We need to be as quiet in here as possible.”

 

     Tap tap. Candy could tell that Jessie was scared shitless.  Her “taps” sounded increasingly frantic, which made Candy frantic. She wondered if Jessie knew for certain what happened to the others.  Where were they? Did they die as painfully as Tommy?  This had been the worst idea ever. And there would be no more camping trips for Candy . . .  EVER again. She’d passed out before she was brought to this pitch dark room -one of the benefits of being prone to narcolepsy. Stressful situations and all.  Hopefully she wouldn’t pass out while she tried to make her way to Jessie.

 

     Candy tipped herself over onto her side. It hurt like hell. She felt a sharp pain shoot from her shoulder joint along her clavicle. She assumed she'd separated her shoulder. She was still tied to a chair, so it couldn’t be helped. She’d deal with it later. 

 

     She shimmied over to the area where she though Jessie might be. After some time, she was sure she’d found her.  

 

    “Jessie, is that you?”

 

     Silence again. 

 

     “Jessie!” Candy hissed. Something brushed her. A leg perhaps? But it did move. That gave her hope.  

 

     Candy smiled to herself. “Are you okay?” 

 

     Tap Tap.

 

     Luckily the position she was in allowed her to feel around near Jesse. She patted around until she hit something —an ankle. She grabbed the ankle, but it  was thick. Too thick to be Jesse’s. Then it occurred to her. This might not be Jesse.

 

     “Is this Jesse?”

 

     Tap.

 

     She grabbed the ankle again, but it had a lot of hair on it.  No girl had this much hair … even if she didn’t shave. No guy had this much hair.

 

     “Who is this?”

 

     Tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap. . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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