My vision blurred, sounds rolled into one, his stench thick in my face, I felt his heaving breath as he carried me over his shoulder with each slow, painful step higher than the last. I kept silent, not able to talk, not able to think what would come when we reached the top of the stairs. Tears boiled over as he laid me down in a dark room, the musk of months old bed clothes all around me. I tried to fight as he grabbed at my hands, but when his face lit up with an arc of electricity, I let him take them, sealing the Velcro around my wrists, clipping the cuffs to straps either side. My instinct told me to kick out as he forced my ankles wide, but the memory of the spasm won and I let myself go.
I shuffled up, resting my head on a pillow to get a better look and tried to bring my hands together, but when I could almost touch my fingers, the straps stopped my progress. A lamp clicked on to my side, its long arm tilting with a hand wrapped around its shaft, the light falling to my body, turning my eyes away from the brightness and he disappeared into the dark.
I heard his weight rest in an armchair, the leather creaking under his mass, a huff of air from his chest as it pushed out the effort, leaving just the rattle of his lungs with each laboured breath. I looked to the window, the daylight almost gone, what remained of the light doing nothing to help me see the room. I waited with nothing else I could do, the grate of his breath somehow reassuring as he sat there. He wasn’t the worst thing I’d had to deal with this day and I knew with certainty I would deal with worse before all this was over. I told myself again and again, it was another story to be told, the underbelly of rural England, of humanity. Collect as much information as I can.
With a great bubbling surge of noise from my belly, his breath paused, the silence disconcerting, leaving me only in pain. I thought of Toni out in the darkness alone. She would be safe, she had the gun, but her worry would be uncontrollable. By now she’d be at the van for sure, she’d be searching and I listened out for the distant call of my name. Laughter was the only reply, his laughter, a low, bass grumble from his vocal cords, his shot lungs doing their best to give voice to his joy as he tried in vain to let his breath settle. Maybe I could send him over the edge, make him clutch his chest as he fell to the floor. I found my legs opening as the thought progressed, his breath rising with each tiny move, the leather of the chair creaking with each fidget.
I stopped moving, my brain catching up. What if he keeled over? I’d be stuck here until Toni searched each house and by then who knows what I would have become. Who knows if the pit of hunger would deepen beyond where I could get back from. I wanted that less than I wanted to battle this creep. I pulled my legs as far as they would close.
The void had grown in my stomach, a cloud descending into my head. I remembered the first time I’d had this feeling, the first time I’d experienced the alien depth of want in my belly. He must have seen my expression change as I heard a deep breath and the complaint from the chair, air hoofing from his lungs, the floorboards creaking with each movement. I looked into the darkness, following as the noise travelled around the room, but the light was too bright at my eyes to make out any shapes in the dark, even with his sound close by my side.
The straps pulled at my right arm, a slow, gradual movement I was powerless to stop. His short breaths told me of his concentration as movement by movement my hand pulled out wide from my body. When the progress stopped, his rattle and the creak of floorboards told me of his travel, I pulled, gentle at first, the pressure building, but all I could feel was the velcro tighten, each hook and loop increasing their grip. He was around the other side, my left hand doing as my right had done and I could feel the breath in my chest speeding, but only shallow as I glimpsed his sweaty round face in the light before he drew back with realisation.
My hands spread and I knew what would be next, my leg going the same way as my wrist, until my left was at the edge of the bed, the floor boards creaked again and I shook my head.
“No,” I said, cursing myself for the feeble sound as my other ankle pulled to the right. “No,” I repeated. “Is this the only way you can get girls?” I said, the yank of my ankle making me regret the words, my leg going no further, my thighs tight against my skirt. His breath panted just beyond the light, spraying me with decay from his mouth as his hands came down, reaching for the join of my jacket, his fingers like butcher’s best sausages, fumbling for the gold buttons holding the fabric together. Footsteps ran across the tarmac outside and I screamed, letting the girl out I wanted so much to suppress, bellowing my lungs before they were empty, a fist thumping hard into my belly.
Pain seared upward from my stomach like a knife dug in deep, my stomach thrust up as I bucked against the pain, my eyes wide, the surprise not hidden in his expression as it dipped into the light staring down at my chest. The pain settled and I saw the arc of electricity at his side.
I could smell the ozone snapping in the air.
I could smell his flame grilled beef.
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Reading out of sequence, here’s the rest of Season Two.
Not read Season One? Here it is.