Authors: Paige Williams
"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.
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.
have no idea what you're
but if you don't want to be charged with assault you'd best let me go.
what I would have said, what I was about to say--really, I was!--when
came around the corner wearing what looked like a welders mask and holding what I took to be a stick of dynamite.
have been, though, since it was emitting white hot rays of light. I had never imagined anything that bright.
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.
did something very unladylike with my knee,
tugged my limbs loose from
and ran toward the sound of
I would have banged into the wall at the end of the corridor but
caught me in his arms
my hair and comforted me like I was a small child
I survived the attack, but
all my parts were not
equally lucky. I wrenched my an
when I tore away from
the crazy man lurking in the shadows
, who apparently had some training in the
, assured me it
was only sprained
, although badly so.
As he bandaged my ankle with practiced
I fought to control my
"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
come along, it was difficult. If I
home I'd curl up in front of the TV, put on
The Princess Bride
, and eat an entire
gave me a dark look from under his brows and continued bandaging my ankle.
"If living is what you call it."
Oh, you're just trying to scare me."
And doing a good job of it
, I thought.
"What do you think he wanted?"
"Don't dwell on it.
bear thinking about
He has a human form, but not the thoughts that go with it."
have noticed my expression of horror because he added in a brighter to
ne, "Don't worry about it
it out of your mind.
escort you to the door and you can be on your way.
The Andersons live up the road a few miles,
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
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."
!" I cried out after him, afraid for him to leave me alone, afraid that he would meet the
man in one of the corridors and never come back.
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
travelled down my spine
at the way he said it.
I sunk against the
and watched him as he hurried
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.
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.
be back for you soon. If you get thirsty there is a bucket of water in the corner."
shuffling footsteps retreat
into the distance.
I told myself there
was nothing to worry
was just looking out for me.
He would be back soon, I had to believe
or I would go mad.
I knew if
was hurt by the
who assaulted me this room would be my tomb, but I tried to push the thought away.
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
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
felt heavy. Groggy, I wondered how I could fall asleep in the midst of such a crisis.
I awoke to dampness and the smell of rotting things.
sit up but the world exploded into shards of pain
my head as
by holding it firmly I could make the
pain go away
I was no longer in the infirmary.
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
enough light to see the details of the room.
I cautiously stood up and was rewarded with a spike of pain driving into my head--my ankle
feel happy either, but I found I could only concentrate on one really big pain at a time. It
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
toward the torch hoping to warm my cold hands. After creeping
about two feet there was a hard tug on my an
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
. The water
had been drugged
, and only
could have done it.
that, I chided myself. The mani
c I had run into earlier could have snuck into the room, seen the bucket of drinking
and drugged it.
, how would he have known I
ould be hurt? How would he have known
would take me to
perhaps the drug had never been intended for me at all, perhaps it had been intended for
, hands grab
me from behind and, before I could scream, twirl
like a rag doll
and pressed me, hard,
against the wall
hand across my mouth muffl
"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
voice growled in my ear.
," I said, my voice shaky, as he eased his hand away.
"Then it's mutual
e said, but
seem as angry
as he had in the hallway
. "Have you
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
flickering light could reach the walls and ceiling. Chains
out of the darkness
like snakes as he reached up
his hand over their dangling ends. The walls
were similarly adorned
It turned out t
hree walls of my cell were made of stone but the fourth
of iron bars. In the center was a door ... and it was
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
and ... did I mention the police?"
"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
The man looked at me a moment, his gaze inscrutable, and then shook his head.
I'm not the one you should be
at him appraisingly
. The odd thing was he seemed sincere.
saying I shouldn't be scared of someone who has attacked me
? I'm assuming you
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