After a rushed last drink, she left the bonfire party. She shivered in her jacket which wasn’t long enough to cover her short skirt. She’d felt great getting ready, donning her high black stilettos, lip gloss and straightening her long dark hair. Now she wished she was wearing jeans and trainers. The click-clack of her heels sounded wrong, alone, so late at night and every booming, screeching firework startled her.
Michelle gathered speed, dreading the narrow bridge by the stream. It was only 20 seconds or so until she would be back in the buzzing streetlights but it caused anxiety. Each time, she envisaged falling in, cracking her head open or someone swooping from behind the trees and grabbing her. She started to run and couldn’t stop; her legs didn’t belong to her. Heart jumping out of her chest, her breathing rapid and her lungs on fire, she reached her garden gate. A furtive scan of the streets revealed nothing but a white cat, unperturbed by the pounding explosions in the black sky. Her clumsy, cold hands unlocked the door. She was in. Lock. Bolt. Chain.
Immediately a large hand grabbed her shoulder, the other quickly wrapped around her face to muffle her terrified screams, her hands scratched at the obstructive gloved hand. Tears from wide eyes raced down her cheeks. She had associated danger with outside and all along the danger waited; warm, cosy and unexpected in her own house.
Whoever gripped her was tall and immensely strong. She couldn’t see him, still positioned with her back against his frame, and then she saw nothing at all as something hard cracked down on her head and she fell to the ground unconscious. When she came to, the nauseating realisation that it hadn’t been a dream, a horrific nightmare, caused her to whimper like a small child. Her hands were tied together with a length of black cable and she couldn’t see her shoes. Michelle guessed that the sticky mess beneath her was blood which made her heave. The crushing, heavy pain in her head stopped her attempt to struggle. Her eyes searched for clues as they slowly adjusted to the darkness.
A sob broke out from her trembling body, she couldn’t understand what was happening, who would want to do this to her? Michelle listened to the eerie, choking silence; no traffic, no smoky sulphuric bangs illuminating the sky above her. Clearly she was in the back of a van and she must have unknowingly travelled some distance to escape the familiar noises of the city. Noises she’d never really noticed, taken for granted in the background of her life, until now.
The van doors abruptly opening left her begging the black shadow of a man. Over and over again the word no left her lips, the only word her voice could find. With ease, her silent attacker threw her over his shoulder and jumped down on to the path. He roughly tossed her on to the ground and returned to the white van. She watched his silhouette rummage for something, as her brain simultaneously sent too many messages, yet told her not nearly enough.
His boots crunched on the gravel; he placed her stilettos nearby, neatly lining them up at the edge of the path. That’s when she heard water, running water. He began to bind her ankles together tightly, cutting into her soft flesh, she winced. The string of pleading no’s pierced the freezing cold air.
He lifted her up and carried her to the spot where her shoes were and set her down, holding on to her around the waist. They were on a bridge with choppy, brutal waters racing underneath. She wondered if this was the reservoir. She thought her parents had brought her here for a summer picnic as a little girl. The mental image of her parents brought loud tears which blurred her eyes.
He teetered on the edge, loosening his grip of her to just one hand, digging her in the small of the back with the other. Still, he did not utter a word. He wanted her to jump, to make the decision herself, to let go, to hurtle off the edge and take the leap.
The hardest thing of all was not being able to comprehend why. Who was he? Why her? Why this? As she mutely antagonised over her limited choices, he went with her. He swung them both of the ledge and they were falling. Falling. Falling. Falling.