Down and Out: Part 2/2

Down and Out: Part 2/2

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I seemed to be breathing quicker. My hands felt clammy, my skin unbearably tight as we waited for a response. In the distant, I could hear a pigeon cooing and a flap of wings. Still we waited.

Out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw a lace window covering twitch. I turned to look at it to see the material wafting softly.

I licked my lips nervously. “We should-“

The sound of locks being unbolted cut through the still air. There was the sound of metal scraping before the door was pulled back to reveal the man from earlier, an easy smile across his face. “Hi girls, I’m so glad you came.” He stepped aside, his arm outstretched in welcome. “Please, come in.”

Sammi stepped over the threshold. I looked into the house and the dirty floral wallpaper. My stomach churned but, after another look at Sammi’s expectant face I crossed the entrance.

I felt him shut the door behind us, the familiar sound of locks tightening my gut. He walked around, his pace slow. “If you follow me, I can show you where to sleep.”

He began to tread across the carpet and across the living room. I reached for Sammi’s hand and clenched it tightly. I saw her throat bob before she offered a small smile. The fingers wrapped around her palm tightened.

We followed a few paces behind as he began to walk down a nearby corridor. The carpet was stiff beneath our feet, the green pale and sickly. Indistinguishable stains marred the wallpaper that was barely illuminated by the dim lighting. We passed a dark wooden door that was shut. I almost thought that I could hear something scrabbling against the wood before there was a loud thud and then silence.

The stranger came to a stop next to a room. The door was open and inside I could see a simple bed. There was barely any furniture.

Sammi stepped past me to look closer. I gritted my teeth as I fought the urge to yank her back to my side.

He spoke again. “What are your names, girls?”

My mind scurried for a response and I quickly cut across Sammi with a lie. “I’m Maddie, she’s Jane.”

The jovial look on his face seemed to melt away and his blue eyes lost their gleam. “First rule girls: don’t ever lie to me. Now,” His smile returned and I struggled to subdue the overwhelming dread that was crawling up my spine. “What are your names?”

I looked at Sammi. I could see her eyes shining and her teeth sink into her bottom lip. “She’s Sammi... I’m Penny.”

“Good.” His eyes flickered to Sammi’s and I saw her shakily reach a hand out towards me. I grasped it tightly, my nails digging into the fleshy part on the side of her palm. “Sammi, this will be your room.”

“Penny and I want to stay together.”

No,” His tone deepened, his words slower as though speaking to a child. “You stay here.”

I tightened my hold on her hand, her own fingers curling around mine. “I think that this has been a mistake. We’d like to leave now.”

“I don’t think that you get it yet. You’re not going anywhere.” He sighed loudly, his shoulders rising and falling with the gesture before he gave his head a small shake. “I tried to be nice girls...”

Before I could understand what was happening, his arm had flung out and backhanded me across the face. The force knocked me to the floor and I crumbled. I could hear Sammi shouting as I tried to think around the fog that had suddenly clouded my mind along with my throbbing cheek.

I tried to push myself up with weak arms, the tremours making them disjointed and awkward. Finding my feet, I pressed my weight against the wall to force myself upright.

I caught a last glance of Sammi before the door was slammed shut and the man pulled a key out of his jeans pocket and locked it. I could hear her screaming, a loud banging from the other side of the door causing the wood to vibrate.

Panicked, I launched myself at him only for him to grab my wrists. I tried to kick at him, hit him, do everything in my power to get away. I could hear Sammi continue to scream and I called out in response.

He managed to get behind me and grab me around the waist. I tried to get away. I clawed at his forearms and tried to kick at his shins as he hauled me down the corridor. My voice was fading, my throat raw as I tried to cry out for help as I failed to find purchase against any of the walls or break out of his hold.

We were approaching another bedroom.

I continued to lash out. My heart was beating wildly, as I tried to elbow his torso, his loud curses meeting my ears as I flailed. His grip was too strong, his arms like vices around me and no matter how hard I struggled, I couldn't break free.

He threw me into the room. I ran for the door but he quickly slammed it shut before the room was filled with the sound of a key grinding inside a lock. I hurled my weight against the door, my yells now raspy and silent as they tore out off my abused throat. I continued to bang my hands against the wood, causing them to sting with the repeated impact before my limbs seemed to cave and I slumped to the floor. What the hell was I going to do? How could we get out of here? I pressed my forehead against the grains of the wood.

He'd be back soon. I knew this with a surety that I couldn't fully put into words. He'd be back and he'd hurt me. My fingers curled into a fist. I had to find a way out of here.

Scrambling to my feet, I looked around the bedroom. It was very bare. The walls were a pale grey and a pair of scraggly threadbare curtains hung limply next to a frosted glass window. Hurrying over, I tried to pry it open but it was sealed. I tried the curtains next, yanking desperately at the material but they stayed tight, the rings of material taut around the slim wooden pole. Frantically, I looked around. Noticing a nearby chest of drawers, I scurried over and fell to my knees. The drawers were on runners. I knew that I was running out of time. My eyes flitted around the room before being drawn to the dingy light hanging down just above the bed.

The light!

I leapt onto the bed and reached up, the legs quivering as I reached up and grabbed hold of the bulb. The glass was hot and I winced before scrabbling to unscrew it. My lips were pressed tight as I tried to loosen it, trying not to think about the consequences.

I gave a small cry as I got the bulb loose and it shocked me. My fingers felt burnt as the room was plunged into darkness. Climbing off the bed, I fumbled with the measly blanket on the mattress as I blindly made my way to hide next to the dresser. Crouching down, I tried to control my loud panting. My heartbeat was ringing through my ears and my legs protested loudly as I perched on the balls of my feet. I held onto the bulb carefully, my fingertips tingling as I tried to keep calm.

I heard the lock being turned. My limbs tensed. The door gave a faint creak as it opened before there was the sound of footsteps. I held my breath.

I could hear the click of the light switch as he flicked it on and off before he swore. I could see light stream across the dark green carpet as in the distance I could see his trainers come into view. “Very clever, Penny. Now, why don't you come out?”

I watched as he stepped further into the room, his head turning as he looked about. I huddled further into my corner and prayed that he wouldn't see me. “Where are you?”

He continued to look about, pivoting on the spot until his back was to me.

I jumped.

I felt him flinch as I landed against his back, smashing the lightbulb against his forehead and cutting my hand in the process. He tried to reach back and pull me off but I hooked the blanket around his neck and yanked it back. I could see the blood rush from his forehead as he tried to fight me off but I clung on, pure fear and adrenaline fuelling me. I couldn't think- I couldn't comprehend anything other than my desperate need to escape and to stop the man in front of me.

I could see the material digging into his skin, the blanket digging into his neck. His fingers were at the strip, trying to pry it away but I held tight. All I knew was the blanket, the rapid sound of his breathing and mine and the scraping of his fingers as they tried to break free.

He began to slump against me and my feet reconnected with the floor. I refused to let go, my fingers locked around the thin material until his weight rested against the cloth. I hesitated for a moment, unsure of whether he was truly unconscious before carefully checking his face. He was out cold.

I fell to my knees. My chest felt tight. I could see bits of glass embedded in his face. I felt sick. I had to get out of there.

Swallowing back the bile that was building in my throat, I searched his pockets and found a set of keys. Staggering to my feet, I ran out of the door.

I clung to the doorframe as my vision swam before using the walls to make my way down the corridor. Sammi was still screaming, the loud sounds of sobs filtering down the narrow passageway.

I pushed myself onward and to the door. My hands struggled to place the key in the lock, my hands fumbling as I tried to put the key in the mechanism before I finally managed and forced it open.

Sammi fell forwards and I caught her in my arms. Her face was blotchy, her eyes wide. “Penny,”

I heard a thud from the other room. My breath caught. Grabbing her hand I tugged her to the front door. We ran. The wallpaper blurred past us as we jolted forwards.

The sounds from the other room were getting louder. I could hear the sound of things falling.

We were at the front door. Scrambling with the keys, I undid the locks and ripped the door open.

Girls!”

We bolted. Our legs stretching wide as we sprinted away. The gravel crumbled under our feet almost causing us to trip as we fled. I could hear him following.

I didn't know if we were going to make it. We got onto the col-de-sac.

We ran to the nearest house and hammered on the door. I could see an elderly woman looking out of the window before retreating back inside.

Sammi ran to the next house as I darted to another. “Somebody please! Help us!”

Nobody came to our rescue. I could hear him slowing down, the steady tread of his feet crunching against the gravel.

Please!

“What's going on?” An elderly man a few houses down had opened his door, his silver hair sticking out in erratic chunks.

Sammi and I ran over to him. “Please you have to help us.”

He was clearly confused but he ushered us inside. “What are you talking about?”

“Please just call the police!”

I watched as he grabbed a phone from a nearby table as Sammi started crying again, burying her head in my shoulder.

I was trembling all over but I placed a hand on the back of her head, slowly stroking her hair. “It's ok, Sammi. Everything is going to be ok.”

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