Deborah was alone, she was helpless, and she was terrified. Without the cowl, she could see she was in a windowless room made of concrete, a cellar it seemed. On her right she could distinguish a staircase leading up, to the man's house probably. The room was only lit by dozens of candles scattered all around, with in the center, like some insane altar, the ladder she was strapped on, at the mercy of this man. She had stopped screaming a while ago when her throat became too sore. For several minutes she had screamed, called for help, in utter panic mode, and all along this man had been staring at her, doing nothing, saying nothing, as if he was just... enjoying the show. Tears began to roll down her cheeks as she tried to speak, her voice choked with pain and despair coming out only as a faint murmur:
"Please, let me go... what are you gonna do to me?"
Stupid question, she thought. What do you imagine? It was only at this moment that she noticed, on her left, a small table on which lay a set of knives, a pair of pliers, and a blowtorch. Her eyes grew wide at the sight of these instruments that confirmed a fate she already knew. In a last effort she resumed her pleas with utmost energy:
"Please! Just let me go, please! I promise I won't tell, but please just let me!"
This was no use. The man only came closer, and slowly, unfastened the top button of her blouse. It took him about two minutes to do a single button, and she realized that this slowness was deliberate. He was enjoying every second of it. Her pleas would not move him at all. With nothing else to do, she began to cry silently. Right now, she thought, she was supposed to be having dinner with her parents. Mom would make spaghetti tonight. Then she'd watch some television, chat with Mindy on Facebook about Quentin Mayfair, until it was time to go to bed. Instead, she would die in horrible pain, in this dark basement.
7:28. Jennifer sighed and took a look around. Mostly geeks with their headphones on, doing some of their online game she didn't know nor care about. She looked at her phone. An hour and half until the cybercafé closed, and she regained her freedom at last! Her stomach began to torment her. She took a look again. Those geeks looked like they'd barely notice her absence. She wondered if she could just go grab some ramen at the Chinese store next door. She'd only be gone for two minutes max. No big deal.
She was almost resolved when the door opened. Instinctively she stood up to greet the new customer properly. A guy in a black flight jacket, with a helmet on. Motorbike rider.
"How may I help you, sir?" she said.
The guy didn't answer immediately. He wasn't taking off his helmet, which was covering his whole face. Oh great, she thought, a robber! Couldn't wait for my day off, could you? Nervous, she was about to tell him this was a cybercafé and there were hardly thirty bucks to steal, when he raised one gloved hand, palm toward her, his five fingers spread. Five.
"Five minutes?" she asked.
He nodded. A mute, she thought, this is getting better...
"That's one dollar sir. You may use number 5."
The man put a one dollar note on the counter and when to his designated computer. A minute and a half later, he stood up and left the place without saying a word. Weird pal, she thought. Maybe the helmet was hiding some kind of horrible disfigurement that had rendered him mute. Her imagination running wild, she forgot her aching stomach, and decided to go check his computer in case he'd forgotten to erase his history. She knew this was terribly unprofessional, but curiosity had the better of her. To her surprise, he had left the browser on with the page he was consulting, as if he was expecting her to find it. It was the yellow pages website. He had done a research on the name KEATS. One result was highlighted:
303 Flynn Street
She stopped breathing. A strange guy who's not speaking and not showing his face, looking for another man... to kill him, maybe! She had no proof, and this might as well be her imagination on the loose. Still, she smelled something fishy, and not wanting to have someone's death on her conscience, she called the cops.
The man hadn't reached the bottom of her blouse when a short tune was heard. At first Deborah didn't hear it, in her numb state. But the man had stopped moving, which roused her attention, and she heard it the second time. A tune from above... the doorbell! Feeling this was an unexpected chance to escape, the young girl shouted for help with all the strength she had left in her throat. The man startled, put his hand on her mouth, and with his other hand took the cowl, rolled it and tied it around her mouth in a makeshift gag. She kept struggling to take it off as she observed the man, who looked utterly surprised and confused, like a rabbit caught in the lights, or a child caught doing a forbidden thing. With trembling hands he hastily put on a shirt, and went up, taking his mask off on the way. She prayed this was her parents coming to save her, with the cops. Even if it was the Jehovah witnesses, her only hope was that someone out there had heard us and would put an end to this nightmare. She listened attentively. The door opened. She heard a clatter of voice. A surprised voice, the man's voice! Then there was a ruckus above her head, an infernal noise of feet trampling the ground, things falling down... people fighting? It lasted only a few seconds, then there was the crash of glass breaking, and silence. She held her breath, not knowing what had happened, who would come down. One step in the staircase. Then another. She trembled in expectation. What she would see in that staircase could be her salvation or her doom. Then she saw the feet. Heavy black boots. Soon, she had a view on the man who now stood before her. His face was concealed behind a black helmet.
Coming soon, the second episode of Street Justice: Angel Dust. Don't miss it!