Read A Night To Remember Online

Authors: Paige Williams

A Night To Remember (3 page)

"Look, you beastly man, I have no idea what you're ...."

His eyes narrowed and I swear I saw flames spring to life in their depths.

"D
o not mistake my forbearance
for weakness," he said. "It is mine
.
I will keep it,
whatever it takes
."

Well, that settled it. He was clearly a psycho.
"Listen,
buddy
, I
have no idea what you're
babbling about
,
but if you don't want to be charged with assault you'd best let me go.
Now
!"
At least,
that's
what I would have said, what I was about to say--really, I was!--when
Franklin
came around the corner wearing what looked like a welders mask and holding what I took to be a stick of dynamite.
It
couldn't
have been, though, since it was emitting white hot rays of light. I had never imagined anything that bright.

"Don't look!
It is a flare, don't look at the light," he cried out to warn me, but it was too late, I had looked and could only see stars moving on a background of static.

I felt the man's hold on me falter as he
cringed away from the light.

It was enough.

I
did something very unladylike with my knee,
tugged my limbs loose from
him
and ran toward the sound of
Franklin
's voice.
Running blind,
I would have banged into the wall at the end of the corridor but
Franklin
caught me in his arms
and
h
eld
me
. He
pet
my hair and comforted me like I was a small child
.

"
Shhh
,
shhh
,
it's
okay now.
He's gone."

 

 

Chapter 4

I survived the attack, but
all my parts were not
equally lucky. I wrenched my an
kle
when I tore away from
the crazy man lurking in the shadows
.
Franklin
, who apparently had some training in the
medical arts
, assured me it
was only sprained
, although badly so.
As he bandaged my ankle with practiced
hands
I fought to control my
shaking
.

"Who was that man?
Does he live in the castle, roaming the hallways?
" I tried to keep my voice steady, but when I thought about what might have happened if
Franklin
hadn't
come along, it was difficult. If I
was
at
home I'd curl up in front of the TV, put on
The Princess Bride
, and eat an entire
gallon
of
Rocky Road
ice cream.
For starters.

Franklin
gave me a dark look from under his brows and continued bandaging my ankle.
"If living is what you call it."

"What?
Oh, you're just trying to scare me."
And doing a good job of it
, I thought.
"What do you think he wanted?"
I asked.

"Don't dwell on it.
Some
things
don't
bear thinking about
.
He has a human form, but not the thoughts that go with it."
Franklin
must
have noticed my expression of horror because he added in a brighter to
ne, "Don't worry about it
,
put
it out of your mind.
I'll
escort you to the door and you can be on your way.
The Andersons live up the road a few miles,
I'm
sure they won't mind
letting you use their satellite phone. They might even give you
a ride to the next town."

As he finished bandaging my
ankle
he gave my knee a fatherly pat.
"I'm going to make sure the way is clear for us.
Wait for me here, I'll be back in a few minutes."

"
Franklin
!" I cried out after him, afraid for him to leave me alone, afraid that he would meet the
deranged
man in one of the corridors and never come back.
F
eeling silly I blushed and stammered, "Shouldn't you take something with you?
A gun or a club or something?"

He smiled at me, showing strange pointy teeth, and said, "I'll be fine, don't worry about
me
child."
A chill
travelled down my spine
at the way he said it.
I sunk against the
stone wall
and watched him as he hurried
to
shut the door
.
There was a grinding sound, like a key--exactly like a key--turning in a lock.
Panicked, I sprang up and flew to the door, impotently throwing my weight against the huge wrought iron hinges.

"
Franklin
!
What are you doing?" I screamed, slamming the flat of my hands hard against the thick wooden door.

"Don't hurt yourself child, I just don't want to have to worry about you wandering about getting lost.
I'll
be back for you soon. If you get thirsty there is a bucket of water in the corner."

"
Franklin
!
Don't
do this!
Franklin
!
"
In the
stillness
I heard
his
shuffling footsteps retreat
into the distance.
Shaking, I
paced
the floor.
I told myself there
was nothing to worry
about
.
Franklin
was just looking out for me.
He would be back soon, I had to believe
that
or I would go mad.

I knew if
Franklin
was hurt by the
madman
who assaulted me this room would be my tomb, but I tried to push the thought away.
Water.
I needed water.
I had heard that a person could survive for as many as 30 days on water alone.
I went to look.
A bucket of water was in one corner, just as
Franklin
had said.
Thanking my lucky stars,
I ladled up a generous scoop and
greedily slurped it up. Shortly after the stress began to take its toll and my
eyelids
felt heavy. Groggy, I wondered how I could fall asleep in the midst of such a crisis.

 

 

Chapter 5

I awoke to dampness and the smell of rotting things.
Instinctively
,
I
struggled to
sit up but the world exploded into shards of pain
.
Groaning
,
I
gripp
ed
my head as
though
by holding it firmly I could make the
pain go away
.
When that
didn't
work I
peered
around
at my
surroundings
.

I was no longer in the infirmary.
I
had been moved
, and none too gently considering
how my head felt
. A single wooden torch
anchored high on the wall chased back the immediate darkness but there
wasn't
enough light to see the details of the room.
Curious,
I cautiously stood up and was rewarded with a spike of pain driving into my head--my ankle
didn't
feel happy either, but I found I could only concentrate on one really big pain at a time. It
wasn't
much of a silver lining but it was something. After gasping a few times, like a fish sucking air, I fought back dry heaves
.

Slowly, I move
d
toward the torch hoping to warm my cold hands. After creeping
forward
about two feet there was a hard tug on my an
k
le--my uninjured one, mercifully--that nearly sent me sprawling face first on the stone floor. Reaching down I felt a manacle loosely clamped on my lower leg. My breath caught in my throat and all sorts of thoughts, none of them pleasant, tried to jam themselves into my head
at the same time
.

Franklin
. The water
had been drugged
, and only
Franklin
could have done it.

But
I didn't
know
that, I chided myself. The mani
a
c I had run into earlier could have snuck into the room, seen the bucket of drinking
water
and drugged it.
But then
, how would he have known I
w
ould be hurt? How would he have known
Franklin
would take me to
that
particular room?
Or
perhaps the drug had never been intended for me at all, perhaps it had been intended for
Franklin
.

As I
reached
up to
the torch
, hands grab
bed
me from behind and, before I could scream, twirl
ed
me
about
like a rag doll
and pressed me, hard,
against the wall
. A
hand across my mouth muffl
ed
my screams
for help.

"Screaming isn't going to do you any good and it will just make me grumpy.
Trust me, you wouldn't like me when I'm grumpy," a
familiar
voice growled in my ear.

"I
don't like
you
now
," I said, my voice shaky, as he eased his hand away.

"Then it's mutual
," h
e said, but
he
didn't
seem as angry
as he had in the hallway
. "Have you
explored
the room?"

"Um, n
o.
I'm not looking to buy."

Reaching up he plucked the torch from the wall bracket and, seizing me by my wrist, dragged me with him as far as my shackles would allow. As he walked slowly around the large room he held the torch aloft so
its
flickering light could reach the walls and ceiling. Chains
loomed
out of the darkness
. They
undulat
ed
like snakes as he reached up
and ran
his hand over their dangling ends. The walls
were similarly adorned
.
I shu
dd
ered.

It turned out t
hree walls of my cell were made of stone but the fourth
was formed
of iron bars. In the center was a door ... and it was
open
.
My heart
skipped a beat
. Not that it did me
a lot of
good since my angle was shackled.

"My ... my family is expecting me," I said,
as he let go of my wrist.
"They'll be worried
,
they'll have called
the police and the
hospitals
and ... did I mention the police?"

He smirked,
"Is that supposed to frighten me?"
His voice sent
shivers down my spine.

I tried to back away from him but my back
, once again,
hit the cold stone of the wall. If only I had some sort of
weapon ...

The man looked at me a moment, his gaze inscrutable, and then shook his head.
"
I'm not the one you should be
scared of
.
"

I looked
at him appraisingly
. The odd thing was he seemed sincere.
"Really.
You're
saying I shouldn't be scared of someone who has attacked me
? I'm assuming you
do
remember the whole
, "Do not mistake my forbearance for weakness, I will keep it,
whatever it takes
," speech you gave me
in the hallway
," I said, pitching my voice an octave or so deeper
to imperfectly mimic his
.

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