[This is the conclusion behind Fear From Within; Or Is It? and Bobby, You’re Projecting Again! Still somewhat mild, this one has a little more meat to it. It deals with the victim coming to terms with her own death, yet clinging to a successful last ditch effort, as is obvious from the beginning of the story]
You Lose, You Get Nothing, Good Day, Sir!
“Are you alright, Holly? Would you like to take a break? Ken, could you get Holly a refill, please?” The detective turned back to Holly.
Ken took the cup without comment and exited the room. He was dressed in a pair of jeans and a plain white T-shirt, tucked in and showing off his badge and service weapon. Ken reminded Holly of a frat-boy turned cop with his dark brown feathered hair style and his ‘life-bores-me’ demeanor.
“No, I just want to get this over with so I can go home.”
Ken returned and handed Holly the fresh cup of water.
“Trish, a quick word?” Ken asked his partner and signaled toward the door.
Holly liked Trish, on the other hand. She was down-to-earth, caring, and attentive. She looked more like a police detective, as far as she was concerned, wearing a smart grey pantsuit over a white blouse that contrasted against her long black hair. She kept it braided in the back while at work, and had eyebrow length fringe in the front.
“Excuse us a moment.” Trish followed Ken into the hall where they exchanged a few whispers and re-entered the interview room, taking their seats.
Holly looked at them expecting an explanation. She was feeling vulnerable sitting in front of these detectives and telling her story. Especially in the state she was in. Her body ached and her she was shaved bald so her head injuries could be addressed. She was wearing a loose fitting purple track suit and kept her hood up over her head to hide the bandages.
“Just police business. Please continue, Holly. No more interruptions. Promise.” Trish assured.
“Holly, tell us what happened. Take your time, we understand this must be hard for you.”
Holly closed her eyes and began searching her memory for the best place to continue. And then she began…
“I didn’t know if I had been trapped in that tiny hell hole for days, weeks, or months. Might as well been years. I had created whole universes, galaxies, and solar systems. Each with their own detailed earth-like planets. Complete with complex societies with their own ideologies. Probably tweaked to my own way of thinking, but hey, it’s my head, right? Now I know how God must feel.” Holly chuckled at the irony. In light of her experience she had developed a flair for melodrama.
“That’s how I kept from going mad. It got me through the worst of it, well, except the moments when it got to be too much. Then I would just pass out altogether, but when I was able to stay alert, and not give in … those were my victories.” She said triumphantly. “He was trying to break me. Why? I couldn’t say. Maybe it was because he didn’t want to throw away a perfectly good toy. Really, who cares why?” with a touch of anger.
Holly’s emotions were cycling steadily, yet softly. You could see the pain she suffered in her agonizingly beautiful blue eyes, but she was having no trouble containing herself.
“What he didn’t seem to understand, though, is this toy doesn’t work the way he thought she would. I am a person, damn it, not a fucking toy.” Holly balled her hands into fists and fought the urge to shout and instead, gritted her teeth. “No, I wasn’t about to be broken. He was going to have to kill me.” Her tension eased.
“On that last day he walked in and said good morning to me. He was always polite, the sick son of a bitch. It was a bit weird, if he wasn’t always physically hurting me, I probably would have liked him.” Holly shifted in her seat. It was obvious that her injuries were still painful. Inside and out. “Anyway, he told me that day was going to be my last. I just gave up right there.” Holly paused and sipped her water.
“Until he came and interrupted me, I had been trying to remember the moments of my abduction. I could only get to the moment where his big, nasty hand clapped around my face. I don’t think I fainted because I specifically remember feeling like I was going to. That and I felt like I might barf everywhere, but when he grabbed me and jerked me back, I began to scream. I couldn’t get much out before his giant man claw wrapped around my jaw and cut off the sound and most of my breath.” She closed her eyes and felt for the mental wall that had erected around the event that started all of this; still there. “After that there’s nothing, but … I fought him.” She squinted and looked at the fingertips on her right hand.
“Is that when you scratched his neck?” Trish asked.
“It must be, but I don’t remember doing it.” She answered.
“What’s the next thing you remember after that?”
“The next thing I remember is a vehicle door slamming and hearing shuffling in a seat in front of me, just before the engine turned over. Before driving off in silence he said:’You got me good, Holly. Didn’t think you had it in you.'” Holly tried to imitate her abductors attitude.
“I couldn’t see anything.” She continued. “My head was covered with some red material. Pretty sure it was one of my pillowcases. He must have gotten it out of the laundry cupboard” She explained. “That was when I realized my mouth had been stuffed with something else; a rag or something, held by some kind of string. I tried to scream but it was useless, and I could hardly breathe as it was. Still I tried. I kept trying until I felt like I was going to pass out. I didn’t want to pass out, so I tried my best to calm down.” Holly paused to reflect. Over the course of her imprisonment she had developed skills in meditation that would impress a Tibetan monk.
“It was difficult given the situation, but somehow I managed to steady my breathing. It was at this point I began to replay for the first time what had happened. It was the first time I realized that there was something missing; I could remember anything that happened in my house after he grabbed me, but yet we must have been there for at least another two hours.”
“It’s not uncommon for victims of extreme trauma to block out the worst parts. It’s alright, we’ll deal with that when and if it comes back to you later. For now just take your time and tell us what’s easiest to remember.” Ken coached. Holly got the sense that he was trying to rush her along despite telling her to take her time. If she didn’t know it before, she knew it now: You, Sir, are a dick.
They were both friendly, yet Holly felt that they were definitely employing investigative strategies on her. Ken was bad cop to Trish’s good cop. Neither were very effective at their roles as far as she was concerned, but it didn’t matter. Nothing really did anymore. She was still alive, an no one would take that from her.
“My upper body was already sore and I was exhausted.” Holly picked up her cup, deciding she needed lubrication for what was about to say. “Below the waist, nothing. I was scared to think what that might mean and something inside me said, Not now, Holly. Worry about it later. It won’t do you any good to think about it now. As she said it, Holly knew the voice of this something coming from just beyond that mental wall.
“We weren’t driving for long when the car stopped. He got out and opened the door nearest me and I started to scream again but only for a second. I was cut off when he drug me out of the vehicle and effortlessly hoisted me over his shoulder. It nearly knocked the wind out of me as I desperately tried to call out for for help.” Holly paused.
She hadn’t previously told any of this to anyone. It made her a bit self conscious, but what could she do? It was time to tell what had happened. When Holly had been rescued police swarmed the tunnel entrance; due to the state she had been found in, and the way the two young girls had reacted to finding her. Holly swallowed and continued.
“The pillowcase slipped off my head and fell to the ground. I could see now, and the sun was up. I knew where I was being taken and I started crying because the stories I had heard about this place were not only true, but were going to forever include me.” Holly looked into the air, thoughtfully. Come to think of it, none of the stories she remembered were nearly as bad as what really happened to her.
“I never thought about being a statistic, but at that moment, as I was being hauled across that narrow gravel driveway and into the Sanders Sewage Systems entrance tunnel, statistics was all I could think about.” Holly stole a small break. “Strange that I would be thinking about statistics at that point, don’t you think?” She asked, shaking her head.
Trish blinked and nodded. “I’ve been to homes where a mother walked out of a nightmare scene and ask me if I would throw the wash into the dryer for her since she wouldn’t have time to do it herself. Coping mechanisms, I guess.” Trish didn’t want to mention the blank stares that usually came with some of these coping techniques. Similar to the one that Holly was getting during certain parts of her story. The blank stare meant that those eyes were re-seeing something that they never should have to begin with.
Sanders Sewage Systems. How cliche! Holly had thought. She finished her water and asked to use the toilet. Talking about the Triple S tunnel brought back memories of her childhood. As kids, she and Charlene would ride their bikes up to the entrance, climb off and stand in front of the tunnel and dare each other to go in … alone. Neither ever did, but it was good for about ten minutes worth of giggles and shoves. Finally, they would climb back onto their bikes and ride off.
This memory lent an extra quality to the panic Holly felt having passed over the threshold into the forbidden darkness of her youth. It was that feeling you get when you are in the passenger seat of a car driven by someone who isn’t noticing the red light they are about to run.
Holly finished her business and returned to her seat, a comfy brown leather chair that looked like someone swiped it from a shrink’s office.
“Where was I?”
“You were being carried into the Triple S tunnel.” Ken said. Again, sounding impatient. Holly got the impression that the man just didn’t believe a word of what she was saying.
Trish shot him a look. To Holly her expression looked as if it was saying, “Yo! Ease off the bad cop, dude!” Instead, she turned to Holly.
“Take all the time you need, Holly. We aren’t going anywhere. What happened next?”
“He took me into the tunnel. After hanging upside down for awhile, my head was swimming. He felt me struggling to lift myself and pinched the back of my thigh, hard. It hurt so bad and I dropped back down but not before noticing that the tunnel entrance looked like a tiny keyhole. You know, for like a skeleton key?”
Trish nodded. Ken was clearly bored. He didn’t like the fact that Holly was taking so long to get to the stuff he needed to put in his report. As far as he was concerned the case was already closed. The girl had the evidence of self defense written all over her body. Trish, on the other hand, relished this part of her job. She enjoyed having the full picture, it’s what made her three times the detective that ken was. Not only that, though, Trish cared about people and Holly had been through hell.
“That’s when I started getting angry.” Holly’s brows furrowed, and she sat a bit straighter in her seat. “When that bastard pinched me like that, boy did it piss me off! I tried to hit him in his back but I was too tired to make a difference. My arms just fell back to dangling like a couple sausages hanging in a butcher shop. That’s about what I felt like, too. Meat. That was all I was to that bastard. That was when I made up my mind. I was not going to make it easy for him.” Holly’s eyes gleamed with purpose. Trish would never admit it, but she secretly cheered Holly with every sentence she spoke. She didn’t see this kind of fighting spirit in most victims.
” I remember thinking that he clearly had the upper hand. He had strength and size over me, but he also knew about me. He must have. He knew my name. How did he get in my house? How did he know I was alone?” Holly fidgeted. “He said he didn’t know I had it in me to fight. So he must know something about me, but who the hell was the piece of crap?” It was as close as she would come to saying, Why me?
“Regardless of who he was, for me, it was go time. I knew I needed to be clever. I was going to have to get creative. That’s what I was thinking when we came to the first door. He unlocked it and we went through. As he turned around to close the door again, he banged my head on the wall.” Holly said this indignantly.
“It hurt so freaking bad, you don’t even know! I was doubly pissed off, now. Oh, I was going to get even with this asshole. How I was going to do it was anybody’s guess, but even if he was going to kill me as soon as we got to where we were headed, I was going to have at least one small victory before this was over.”
Trish smiled, and Ken sighed.
“We walked a little more but it was too dark to anything. Well except the shards of light there were fading from having my head bashed on a wall. Why do they say, “Got your lights knocked out.”? It seemed to me that I got my lights knocked on.” Holly thought this was funny. She needed something to be funny for a moment. Ken apparently did as well, as he gave a little chuckle and turned away.
“I heard him pull out his keys again.” Smile fading from her lips. “This time I saw the glow of an led break the darkness momentarily before he unlocked another door. I thought we would walk through it together again, but then he jerked upward with a grunt, ramming his shoulder into my gut and tossing me like a sack of beans onto a hard packed dirt floor. He flicked a switch and a dull yellow light illuminated the room. Before I could recover from hitting the floor and allowing my eyes to adjust to the light, he backed out and slammed the door shut.” Holly took another sip of water. It made her think of putting her mouth to a tap that was only yielding drips at a time.
“I could hear drips. Water dripping. I looked around and saw in the corner of the small room, a lipped slab of cement with a water spout missing the handle to turn it off and on. It had a steady leak and I thought, At least dehydration won’t be on the autopsy report. If there ever is one.
I was convinced I was going to die. That’s when I had an idea.” Holly pretended to be happy at the prospect of suicide. “I know…I could kill myself before he returns. That would show him. I knew what he wanted to do. If he only just wanted to rape me, he could have left me where he found me. It would have been a lot less work to just drag me back to my room and have it over with. No … he wasn’t done with me. He didn’t go to all this trouble just to kill me and leave me here. He was planning the days events as if he had just checked in to a Caribbean resort and was going over the “Stuff to do” book they leave on the bedside table in the hotel room.” Holly was getting a bit over excited and paused to calm herself.
Both detectives shared a quick glance that confirmed what each of them was thinking. Holly knew exactly what was going on. Killers didn’t go to that sort of trouble for a quick murder and then off to Micky D’s. He was setting her up for the long haul. Considering it had been almost seven months since she had been reported missing, everyone had been surprised she was even still alive.
“That’s what I was thinking while removing the gag. It was a dish rag from my kitchen sink. Plain white. The string was a dirty shoelace. I was kicking myself for not taking it off when we were walking in the tunnel. Maybe I could have screamed; someone nearby might’ve heard me. The tunnel is fairly secluded but … maybe. Either way, the truth is I simply forgot it was there. My mind was elsewhere.” Holly looked down.
“It’s understandable, Holly. Don’t be too hard on yourself.” Trish said.
Holly nodded and continued. “I thought my pajama pants might do the trick. I could take them off and fashion them into a noose and hang myself, but then something flipped inside my mind and I thought, No. To hell with that. I am not going to kill myself.” she paused and her face tensed to emphasize what she was about to say next. “I did nothing wrong. Killing myself might rob him of having his fun, but I knew he would just find a replacement. I needed to mess with him somehow. The bastard not only did God knows what to me before he took me from my home, but he also pinched me and whacked my head on a wall and threw me in that shit-hole. He needed to pay.” The anger was present in her whole body as she trembled while explaining this.
Concerned, Trish tried to re-assure her. “No one thinks you did anything wrong, Holly. You did what you had to do.”
“Well, when he came back he tried hard, but he couldn’t break me.” Holly said triumphantly. “I would not be sitting here telling you this if he had. I can’t really remember much about what he did to me but I know it wasn’t fun.” This was a lie, she remembered everything beyond what wasn’t walled off behind that mental barrier. She wasn’t ready to give voice to most of what she experienced at the hands of that monster, and neither of the detectives were pressing her to.
“It’s alright, Holly.” Ken said. “Are you able to at least tell us what led to your escape?”
Holly nodded. “On that last day, I remember him coming in telling me it was going to be my last and I was relieved. I can tell you he sounded happy to be finally rid of me. How many times had I heard him say, “I should just kill you now, you bitch!” Hearing him say those words gave me joy. That might sound strange, but I didn’t have anything that could give me any sort of pleasure except escaping into my own mind. He wouldn’t give in, though. He just wasn’t ready to kill me until he was satisfied that he had destroyed me. I don’t know what kind of crazy was in that man, but he was on a mission, and yes, I took pleasure in making sure he didn’t accomplish it.” Holly sounded proud and Trish thought she should be. “He finally did give up, though. I knew it when I heard the heaviness in his breath before he slammed the door shut. the night before. Harder than he had ever done before. Come to think of it, he would slam that door harder and harder each time he left me since our first day together.” Holly was surprised to hear herself telling the police about these feelings. Maybe it was the way the detective sat wide eyed listening to her story. Holly could tell that Trish was on her side, even if Ken didn’t seem to care one way or the other.
“One of the things I did to pass time was imagine places to go. Mainly serene places where I could escape what was happening. On the last day, I tried to go to one of these places. I remember thinking, Thank God! I don’t know how much longer I can last. Those last few days, he had been getting worse. That’s when he did this.” Holly pointed to some of the scabbed wounds that covered her body. They weren’t fully visible, but Trish and Ken had seen the police photos and knew they were words.
“I was just about to slam the door on him for the last time.”
“The door?” Trish asked.
“The mental door to this place in my mind.” She explained. Trish understood. “I turned inside my mind and looked out the door and saw that, once again, I was being tossed over his shoulder. Suddenly an alarm started to sound. Quietly at first and then increasingly louder. Something was different. A glint. An idea. In the back of my mind I heard, GO FOR IT! THIS IS IT!”
Holly took a deep breath and prepared herself. This part was going to be difficult to get out without losing her composure.
The giant hunting knife that he had used to carve me up with was right there hanging off the back of his belt. The little strap that snaps so it won’t fall out was undone.”
The rest of the picture began to unfold for the detectives without needing Holly’s help. They let her continue anyway.
“I reached with both hands. It was so easy and all of the strength that had previously fled from my limbs now returned, fully fueled and ready to rock and roll. I slipped my fingers quietly around the handle, knowing that nothing could stop me now. Nothing.” Holly closed her eyes momentarily and when she opened them there was fire.
“I don’t think he ever knew what hit him. My whole body bucked as I yanked the dagger out of its sheath and plowed it into the small of his back. I did it again and again. My body bucking and arching with each thrust. I could hear the serrated back edge of the knife tearing at his dark blue work shirt and the white undershirt he was wearing. I remember thinking, Don’t they call that a wife beater? This son-of-a-bitch will never beat another wife ever again! Blood and bits of flesh were sloshing from his back. How he kept on his feet through all of it I’ll never know but suddenly I hit something hard and the knife stopped, but I was using so much force that after a second it just pushed through anyways. I think I severed his spine.”
Trish closed her eyes and mouthed the words, You did.
“Well the feel of it was a bit messed up, and it brought me back from whatever maniacal place I had gone. Whatever place I needed to be to perform such a horrible thing. He fell to his knees, and I rolled off of him and caught my breath. I was covered in his blood. I couldn’t even fathom how it could have gotten all over me in just a matter of seconds. I stood up, but it was hard because I was weak.” Holly exhaled, glad to be done with that part of it.
“I stumbled out the door. I hadn’t realized how weak I had become from only eating loaves of white bread he would dump on the floor before he left each day.” She decided she didn’t need to tell them that he would dump it in the area she was using to relieve herself. “I used my memory to guide myself through the dark and find my way back out. I finally made it back to the light. As I got closer to the exit, two young girls rode up on their bikes, climbed off, and walked toward the entrance. One of them nearly screamed. I must have been a sight straight from their nightmares. I said, ‘Help me’ and then woke up in the hospital.”
“Yes, the girls said you collapsed and they rode to the nearest gas station where the attendant called emergency. The girls tried to visit you at the hospital, but you were asleep and doctors would only let family and your friend Charlene visit. The girls have expressed interest in your well being. Do you think you might like to see them?” Trish asked.
Holly was staring at the ground, recovering from reliving those final moments. Taking a life and in such a way devastated her. She looked up and tried to crack a smile that looked awkward and her eyes were far away. She nodded. “Hm … that would be nice.”
Ken, somewhat relieved, asked, “Is there anything else you would like us to add to your statement, Holly?”
“No, Detective. I’ve said all I care to. May I go home now?”
“Of course. Sweetie.” Trish said. She wanted to touch her in a reassuring way but thought better of it. Holly’s body had been covered from head to toe with misogynistic words that would heal into scars that would forever remind her how much hatred one man could have for her kind. And she would always wonder why. Trish had met her abductors wife when they identified him. She had a pretty good idea what the answer to that question was.
“Call me if you ever need to talk. Char is outside waiting to take you home.”