We are the only two survivors.
And the monster will make me wish I’d died along with the rest of them.
“We need to take care of the basics,” he says, when he leads me back to our shelter. “Food, water, safety. You paying me back for saving your life.” The corner of his lips quirks up. “Your training.”
I choose not to respond.
His focus is on survival. Mine is, too. I don’t know what this “training” is he refers to, but I’m not jazzed.
He leads me back into the room and to my relief, takes the keys out and uncuffs me. I run my fingers along my wrists, trying to rub away the ache and burn, but I sit on the bed obediently. My stomach rolls with hunger, my mouth as dry as sandpaper. With such little sleep, I’m feeling weakened. I need sustenance.
“Lay down,” he orders. I welcome the bed beneath me, feeling suddenly tired. “Hands in front of you.” I do what he says. I can’t fight him. Not now. I’ll wait until the time is right.
He kneels in front of me and pulls a large folded blade out of his pocket. I wonder where he got it from, but my thoughts are beginning to grow hazy and confused from lack of food. He pushes a button on the side and the blade springs open. Lifting my tattered pants from the floor, he makes quick work of cutting the fabric into strips. I don’t fight it. The pants were useless at this point. They now lay in ribbons, which he inspects with a frown. Kneeling in front of me, he takes the strips and winds one over my wrists, not quite as tight as the cuffs, but tight enough that there’s little room to move. When I’m good and secured, he stands, inspects his work, and nods.
“Good,” he says. “That’ll work better long-term than the cuffs.”
My stomach drops. Long-term? God. The thought of endless days tied up as his captive makes my throat clench and tears water my eyes, but I blink them back quickly.
I’m no victim. I’ll escape from him. And when I do, he’ll pay for the way he’s treating me.
He kneels down in front of me. “I’m going to gather up what we have for food and water,” he says. “You’re going to lie here like a good little girl. Understood?”
“Where the fuck am I gonna go?” I snap.
He reaches for my hair, but doesn’t pull, just winds his fingers through it so the warmth of his hand is against my scalp before he brings his mouth close to my ear. “I said your training begins today, Nadine.”
It’s the first time he’s used my name, reminding me there is nowhere to hide here.
“And the first thing you need to understand,” he begins patiently, like a teacher instructing a small child, “is that you’re no longer allowed to mouth off to me. You’ll speak to me with respect or be punished.” His breath is warm and tickles my skin, but it’s the latent threat in his words that makes me shiver. “This is your only warning,” he continues. “For now, I’ll allow you to get away with that comment if you say, ‘I’m sorry, sir.’”
I shudder, then his hand tightens in my hair, warning me.