I had just rounded the corner of Tyres Road, a quaint little street with fancy Victorian houses and perfectly decorated gardens. I hated living here, I felt extremely pretentious as I would emerge from the doors, onto the ornate porch and into the slick black BMW my mother, the well respected businesswoman, had acquired from work. I just wanted things to go back to the way they were before. Sure, we weren't rich, but we were happy.
I pulled my jacket tighter around my body, desperately trying to keep the heat in, as the lights from the shop came into view. I was literally a few feet away from the shop entrance when I heard a gruff voice behind me.
'Excuse me, I really need your help!'
Instinctively, I turned round. I found myself staring into dark brown eyes, set amongst a tanned face framed with jet black hair. A man, in his mid twenties I'd say, and not entirely bad looking I would admit, was looking back at me pleadingly.
'Um, what with?'
'My girlfriend, s-she's trapped. I need someone to help me free her!'
'Trapped?' I repeated, dumbfounded.
'Under the car! The handbrake...God I'm so stupid.' The man was growing hysterical and I became panicked.
'Let me just get someone else to help!' I started to turn back to the shop, but the man grabbed my arm.
'There's no time! Please!'
God knows why I decided I would follow a stranger away from the safety of the well lit store to the darkness beyond it, but I was an absolute sucker for people in need and right now, these man's eyes were actually brimming with tears. Something inside me clicked and I made my decision on the spot.
'Okay, where are you?'
The man pulled on my arm and began leading me down the road, away from the shop, away from people, away from security.
I remember my heartbeat picked up significantly, pounding against my chest whilst a nasty feeling settled in the pit of my stomach. Something wasn't right. Why on Earth was I letting a stranger lead me away?
'Is it much further?' I tried to sound confident but my voice cracked. 'Cos I really should get back home, my parents are expecting me.'
'It's just round the corner.' The man's face was hidden from the shadows, but I noted his voice was no longer hysterical, instead it contained something else. Something much more sinister.
It was then I realized I was in danger.
I began pulling out of his grip, but he was considerably strong and he turned round to hiss, 'Don't bother.'
My mouth opened, a scream building up when a hand clamped over the top of it. Someone was behind me.
'You took your time!' the man holding onto me directed his attention to the one in front of me.
'GET..OFF..ME...' My words were lost in his flesh, completely muffled. No one was going to hear me. I jerked myself forward as sharp as I could in the hope to shake him off, but this guy was strong.
He lifted me up off the floor and my legs dangled frantically below me, kicking out at everything...anything. The first man grabbed onto my legs, straightening them and wrapping something around them. Rope.
Shit. I was going to be murdered. They were going to kill me.
I remember nothing but pure and utter fear coursing through my body, threatening to explode, ripping me to shreds. My body was wriggling futilely in the men's grip as they headed down into an alleyway, further away from civilization. All sorts of terrible images were flashing through my mind, the men's evil leers, their brutal laughter, me lying shivering and helpless on the damp ground.
When we reached a dead end, they tossed me onto the floor where I landed with a sharp thud. Pain shot through my hip and I winced in pain. My mouth was free through and I began screaming, loud. The loudest I had ever screamed in my entire life.
Until something cocked.
My blood ran cold as realization dawned on me.
They were pointing a gun right at me.
'That's what I thought,' the first man smirked.
I couldn't say anything, I couldn't move, I could hardly breathe. My muscles had frozen and my lungs refused to work.
'Start talking.' They instructed me.
I can't. No.
They'll kill me.
'W-w-w-what...' I was a stammering wreck. All I could think about was the gun, right in front of me. What it was going to do.
'The money!' The first man's voice grew impatient.
It took me several seconds to realise I hadn't said this aloud.
'Money?' I tried again, trying to buy for time, but genuinely confused.
'Yes! Money! I swear to God you'd better start talking or I'm going to plant a bullet right in your brain...'
My body was shuddering. Not from the cold, or the pain but from the terrible, hysterical sobs that were ripping through me. My cheeks were burning from the hot tears and I could barely get my words out.
'I...don't..know what you mean!'
'Shit, I think we made a mistake,' the second one whispered.
'Shut up!' the first hissed and I could have sworn I heard the first trace of doubt in his tone. 'Cali!' The man was testing me, that much was obvious. He was searching my face, waiting to see some form of response, but I had no idea who this Cali girl was.
He seemed to notice that too.
'Fuck...how can we make this mistake?! The boss is going to kill us!!!'
I could not describe, the surge of relief that flooded through my body. It was an incredibly stupid, incredibly reckless emotion as I was dealing with two very dangerous strangers with a gun, but I honestly thought I would be able to go home safe and sound.
'You idiot!' The second man slapped the first one, hard.
'Me?! You're the one who told me where she lived!! What the fuck do we do now?'
'There's only one thing we can do. We can't have witnesses.'
They nodded in unison and turned to face me.
The relief collapsed and was replaced with a terrible sense of fear. I knew what was going to happen. This was going to be it.
In those final moments, I thought of a number of pointless things. My mind wandered back to year seven, my first day of high school and how Stefani had instantly befriended me. I thought of all the sleepovers we'd had, all the secrets we'd shared, all the memories we'd created. A reel of images ran through my mind, and I was able to easily identify every single one of them. Some more than others. My mother laughing with my dad in the back garden at me chasing after the family cat when I was extremely little. Stefani getting us kicked out of the supermarket for challenging me to a race. Us ogling the hot guy in the CD aisle...
All incredibly random things yes, but to me treasured memories. It's amazing what you think in your final moments; it's nothing like you think it'd be. Sure, I guess you could say my life kind of did flash before my eyes, but it was a warm, pleasant feeling that caused a smile to settle on my lips.
So I stared death straight in the face and laughed.
Then the world exploded into light and everything was silent.