Her head swam, her vision rocked, making her feel sick to her stomach. Where was she? She didn’t know. How had she gotten there? She couldn’t really remember. Small flickers of memory rose to the surface, but quickly descended back down into the darkness of her confusion. She groaned as her senses began to work again. She could feel the coldness of the cement floor beneath her and smell some sort of chemical. It didn’t take her long to recognize that it was bleach. Next her hearing came back, but there was nothing but silence and then finally her vision cleared and she could see that she was in a dimly lit room behind bars. She pressed her palms against the floor and slowly pushed herself up. Her head spun and she grabbed the bars, holding herself up. “Hello?” She yelled. “Is anyone there?” She pulled herself onto her knees and that’s as far as she could go. Her head touched the top of the cage. “Please, is anyone there?”
“I’m here.” The voice startled her. She heard movement and the dim light brightened so she was blinking. When her vision cleared again there was a man’s face right in front of hers and she jumped back, almost falling back to the floor. “It’s good to see you’re awake.”
“Where am I?”
“In my basement, don’t bother screaming for help, this room is sound proof.” He was smiling, but there was nothing in his eyes. It sent a shiver up her spine. “How did someone like you get such an expensive camera?” He asked as he turned away from her and lifted her camera off of a metal table. “Did you steal it?”
“Steal it?” She looked down in confusion as she forced herself to remember. She had been doing an undercover shoot on homelessness. She remembered dressing up like she was homeless, wanting to integrate herself into the homeless population. Then she remembered nothing, only waking up in a cage.
“You wouldn’t tell me if you did would you?”
“What do you want from me?”
He put the camera down. “To understand.”
“To understand what?”
“Everything that makes you tick.”
Mick walked around the crime scene as confused by this one as he had been the last one. A homeless man had walked into a diner and slit his own throat. He didn’t understand it. He knew most of the homeless suffered from some sort of mental health problem, but the way this man had gone about his death and the implement he had used was all so strange. He had used a scalpel and not something old or rusty he may have found somewhere, this item was pristine, almost new. “So what do you think?” His partner Julian asked.
“Hell if I know, this is just like that drifter hanging himself in the middle of town. There was no reason for it. This is all so disturbing and wrong. A hanging rope sure, but why walk and hitchhike your way to this town and kill yourself. There are so many places in between and this scalpel just makes no sense.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “I guess we should let CSI have the crime scene.”
Mick walked away wishing he could make any sense of this. Not many people cared since it was only homeless victims but to him every life mattered. There were certain exceptions like pedophiles but unless you had done somthing as unforgivable as harm an innocent child he felt everyone deserved their life as much as the next guy. Mick drove back to the police station to write up his report and take care of more minor things while he waited for CSI to take care of their end.
Mick walked to his desk and began his work. The tapping of his keyboard drowned out by the noise of a busy police department. Slowly he tuned everything out, only keeping an ear open for his phone to ring. Examining evidence took a long time but in a case like this he couldn’t help but anxiously wait. At least he had busy work to take care of so he wouldn’t be left with nothing to do.
He just sat staring at her, his empty gaze unnerving. Epione knew he was studying her and she stared right back, refusing to show him fear. For all she knew he got off on that sort of thing and if she screamed or cried or begged it would only excite him. She had covered enough stories on sickos to know that. “You’re different from the others.” He finally said and stroked his chin. He suddenly laughed. “She’s not afraid of you.” “Shut up.”
“Who are you talking to?” She asked and his eyes jumped to her face.
“That’s none of your concern.”
“I’m the one in the cage, it’s more my concern than anyone else’s.”
He just stared unblinking at her for a moment then crossed the room, pulling the cage key out of his pocket. She moved to the back of the cage as he opened the door and reached in. She kicked at him, her eyes full of rage as she did her best to keep him away. He finally grasped a handful of her hair and forced her out. “Are you afraid now?” He asked.
She spit in his face. “Never, fuck you.”
He smiled, but it once again did not show in his eyes, and forced her over to the metal table. He managed to get her on it, hitting her when she didn’t comply. Any other person would be surprised that she refused to go down so easily, but he just looked at her dispassionately as he hit her again and strapped her down. “Do you know the best torture that works for women?” He asked as he picked up a scalpel and cut her clothes off. “It’s the threat of rape, but you, you’re not afraid of that are you. The other women I had in here begged when they thought they would be raped. I can see it on your face, rage, but no fear.”
“I’ve seen the fucked up side of things, you’re just another stepping stone in my life.” She shot back.
“So I’ll have to use other means.” He sat the scalpel down and picked up a syringe and a vial of liquid. “This causes intense headaches, more painful than any I am sure you have experienced. The others screamed, I wonder what you’ll do.”
“I’ll save you time and tell you I wont give you that satisfaction. I wont help you get off you fucking sicko” He looked at her confused “does your boyfriend get off by women screaming?”
“I don’t have one but if I did he wouldn’t. Why ask that?”
“I’m trying to understand”
‘I’ve already told you. I want to understand what makes you tick, what makes everyone around me tick.” He injected her arm then stood there expectantly waiting for the show. Epione clung to happy thoughts and braced herself for the pain to come. She was absolutely determined not to even whine for him. She didn’t know what games he was playing or what he wanted but she would be sure not to give him anything.
The pain hit her like a truck. He knew it had because he saw her already tense body tense more and her visibly struggle not to cry, scream or let any noise escape her atall. He was surprised she was able to hold back. Even some of the tougher homeless men he had nabbed cried like women when he injected them. It had been almost an instant response but she just laid there silently.
“What makes you so tough?” He grabbed a pen light and shined it in her eyes, making pain splinter through her skull. “Is it some sort of genetic predisposition for resilience or is it something the nature of the world around you gave you?” He moved away from her and she heard him open a drawer then come back with a notebook and pencil. He scribbled something down. “Perhaps you were nurtured by your parents to be tough. Were your parents good people or bad people?” When she didn’t answer he dropped the pencil into the notebook and grabbed her face. “Answer.”
“They were good.”
He picked up his pencil. “So you had no reason like abuse to be tough. What about being homeless?”
He still thought she was homeless and she didn’t know if that was a good thing or a bad thing. “What about it?”
“Have you been harassed in any way, had to trade favors for food and water?”
He scribbled something else down then sat down the notebook and picked up another syringe. “I’m going to take some blood samples.” “Like she needs you to walk her through it, you’re going to do whatever you want.” “Leave us alone and go back to your hole.” He cleared his throat and drew some blood then set the syringe aside. “Have you ever had sex?”
“You’re not my type.” Her head was in a lot of pain and she was beginning to feel sick. “I think I might throw up.”
Her stomach bubbled and she could feel the vomit moving up to her throat. He unstrapped one arm and helped her lean over the table where she threw up. When she was done he quickly strapped her back down. “We can’t have you suffocating on your own vomit now can we.” He tapped his chin. “Perhaps we should see how your body and mind respond to electroshock therapy.”
“Mick.” The voice had him looking away from the cases of the homeless man and drifter. There had been a few similarities between their cases.
“What is it?” Mick asked the woman who came walking over to him.
“Someone just called to file a missing person’s report. A freelance reporter by the name of Epione Armstrong did not call in to her friend. Apparently she calls in ever few hours so someone knows where she is in case something goes wrong. Now I wouldn’t have bothered you, but apparently she likes to go undercover to get her pictures and story and this time she was pretending to be homeless. I know it’s a long shot, but maybe…”
“Since the drifter and the homeless guy killed themselves…they are connected.” Mick finished. “Someone gave that man a scalpel. Give me the address where Miss Armstrong was last seen and have the boys in the lab call me the minute they get something on that scalpel, oh and have them run tests on the noose again.”
“okay” she said then gave him the address. He hurried out and into his car, hoping the bastard was careless enough to leave some evidence. He doubted the man would be that careful considering his victim choice. When he arrived he checked his phone, a habit of his when he was waiting on a call about evidence. Considering that was most days he was sure most of his phones battery life was spent lighting up the screen a few moments just so he could be sure he hadn’t missed a call or text.
With the picture in hand he had been given by his coworker Laura he questioned the homeless men and women that were in the area Epione had been pretending to be homeless in. One of the men he gave the photo to said “wow, that really her? She looks beautiful cleaned up.”
“I’m not sure how much time she has so anything you may have heard or seen would be appreciated. Do you remember when you last saw her?”
“Just yesterday, she gave me some McDonalds food she said she didn’t need because she was full. I guess those times she would so happen to have leftovers when I didn’t eat all day was really her just being kind. Not to say anybody isnt an angel around here for sharing leftovers.”
“Did you see her talking to anyone or see any unfamiliar face?”
“I remember she had a camera and took pictures of things when she thought everyone was asleep. I never told anyone because I didn’t want her getting mugged for it.”
“Do you think another homeless person could have hurt her?”
He shook his head. “I don’t think so, she was so nice, but I would rather be safe than sorry.”
The man seemed to be thinking, his brain working hard as he tried to recall every detail possible. “Wait, there was a van, black, dark windows, it kind of reminded me of those unmarked vans you’d see in cop shows. It drives around sometimes. At first I thought it was just some guy looking for whores, but then it would be back a couple of weeks later, disappear then come back. I never saw the driver or found out what he or she was doing.”
“Has anyone else disappeared since it’s been around?”
“Uh yeah, Leonard, good guy, really quiet and young, maybe twenty-three or twenty-four.”
“Thank you.” Mick pulled his wallet out and gave the man twenty dollars. “Get yourself something to eat and drink.” He then pulled out on of his business cards. “If you can remember anything else or if you need anything please call me.”
“I will, thank you.”
A van to look for was at least somthing to take back. He would make sure a deputy stayed around here to keep an eye for the unidentified criminals van. He hoped they wouldn’t see it back here since that would most likely mean Epione was dead. Too many deaths followed him to bed at night, he didn’t want another. Mick returned to the office and made sure everybody had the description of the van and that it was confirmed this wasn’t just suicides. Leonard had apparently been snatched up by this same man and then later released to kill himself.
Epione had not remembered slipping into unconsciousness. The last memory she had was of her body convulsing after having her brain jolted with electricity. Her jaw hurt from her teeth clenching down on the piece of leather her captor had put between her teeth to keep her from biting off her tongue. She groaned and tried to set up, but was quickly reminded she was restrained. “You there?” Her voice came out a raspy whisper, her throat almost completely dry. She moved her head around, her blurry vision making it hard to recognize anything around her. “Hello, if you’re there don’t be a fucking coward, show your face.” She didn’t hear anything, no breathing, no shuffling of feet or the sound of clothes rustling. She figured he must have left after she had fallen unconscious, obviously getting nothing from someone who was unable to show emotion.
She jerked on one of her wrist restraints. It was just a leather buckle and she thought if she tugged enough, it might come loose and she would be able to slip free. She jerked as hard as she could, listening for the sound of his return. She cursed herself for not being more alert and allowing some freak to kidnap her. She had been so engrossed in her work, she had not seen him coming. She heard the sound of floorboards creaking above her and went still. He was coming back. She closed her eyes, steadying her breathing and moving her eyes under her eyelids so it looked like she was actually asleep. She heard a door open then close. The sound of footsteps moved down some stairs and then over to her where they stopped.
He sighed. “I wish you would wake up. I would carry you out of here, but I wouldn’t get very far before he came back. You’re a lot stronger than the others, you only cried because your body made you, you didn’t scream even once. He doesn’t understand that, because he’s actually a big moron. I would have loved to shove your escape down his throat.” He sighed again.
She stayed completely still, not knowing if this was some weird trick. She had heard him talking to himself before and had established that he must suffer from multiple personality disorder and while this personality sounded more friendly, she wasn’t about to trust him with her life. So she just stayed still. “What do you think you’re doing here?” He suddenly snapped and it took every ounce of self control for her not to jump in surprise. “Just talking to the beautiful young woman you’ve locked in your basement.” “You have no reason to talk to her.” “What do you care, you’re just going to do her like the others. Break her and make her kill herself, what a waste, she’s just so beautiful.” “Go away, she’s not even awake.” The other side of him said nothing more, obviously having been forced away. “He’s always meddling, but you’re mine until I grow bored.” She felt a finger brush some hair off her forehead. “I think once I have broken you, you will be the most servile of all.”
Disgust welled in her at his touch but she still acted as though she were sleeping. She needed time, time for her friend to call the cops and for them to find her or time to figure out a means of escape. Epione was really glad now she kept that safety of checking in so that at the very least it was known somthing had happened to her. Now she just had to have faith in the police department that they could figure everything else out.
He walked back upstairs and she opened her eyes again to look around. There didn’t seem to be a way out from here so if she did manage to get out of restraints at somepoint she knew she would have to go upstairs which made getting away harder. She decided to start jerking at her restraints again and hope for the best.
Micks phone went off and he quickly fished it out of his pocket and hit the answer button. He held it between his shoulder and ear as he looked over where Epione had set up her rest area. “Talk to me.” He pulled out the backpack and went through it. He was amazed no one else had touched it.
“You were right to get us to run the rope again, we found skin cells that didn’t belong to the man who killed himself. We ran the DNA through the database, but we didn’t get a hit.”
“What about the scalpel?”
“We found a partial fingerprint, but nothing on it so far.”
He sighed and zipped up Epione’s backpack then slung it over his shoulder. “Well don’t just stay local, go nationwide. Odds are he’s done this in other places. We have to find Epione before she winds up another victim.” He hung up and sighed, looking at her picture as he walked back to his car. She was so beautiful, a bright smile on her face that seemed to light up the world around her. She was a wonderfully selfless person, helping those less fortunate than herself. “I’m going to find you, I swear on my life.”
He meant those words. Just looking at her picture he knew it would rip his heart out if he found her too late, or worse, let her kidnapper run off to another state to continue his horrible work. Mick dropped her bag off at evidence, knowing much probably wouldn’t come of it but it didn’t hurt to let the CSIs take a peek and give it a comb over. He was called just as he sat down “Detective Mick”
“I have hits in multiple states, all the victims are homeless or drifters. Some kill themselves while other were severely beaten. He’s left DNA and fingerprints but its doing us no good since he isn’t in the system”
“It’s somthing, we bring the right guy in we can run a DNA test and compare fingerprints and nail him. How many victims are we talking in total?”
“Yeah, it’s not good.”
“Any survivors who are willing or able to talk to us?”
“I’ll make some calls.”
Epione felt like her wrist restraint had loosened and she pulled even harder, not caring how bad it pinched her skin. She pulled using all her strength, feeling the leather tearing. She could tell it was worn from overuse and it made her sick to think of that man doing this to enough people for that to happen. She didn’t even want to know how many innocent men and women had struggled against these restraints while he tortured them. The leather suddenly snapped and she had to turn her head away to keep from hitting herself. She quickly unbuckled her other wrist, her heart thumping wildly in her chest. Just as she got one leg freed she heard footsteps and fumbled with the last one.
She almost fell when she got to her feet and quickly grabbed a scalpel. The door to the basement opened and he came walking down. He stopped when he saw her standing on the other side of the table and cocked his head to the side. “Hmm interesting.” He reached behind him and pulled out a gun, pointing it at her. “I’m not done with you yet.”
“Just leave me alone, let me go.” She had the scalpel pointed at him.
He pulled the trigger and she felt a sharp pain in her stomach. She looked down, seeing a dart and yanked it out in a panic. “Don’t worry, it’s only a psychotropic drug. You may experience a change in consciousness or mood, hallucinations, things along those lines. Feel free to roam around, I’ll leave the basement door unlocked.”
She just looked at him wide eyed, scared for what was to come. Since he was just leaving the door open it had to be heavy stuff. Maybe even if she did escape now she would only be imagining she did. She could think she made it home free then the next morning find herself in a cage again or locked in another room of this place. She still wanted to try anyway, even if in her drug induced state she got nowhere at least she tried and that meant she could die with her dignity.
He could do what he wanted but nothing he did would ever make her throw away her pride and beg or give up. Not even thirty seconds could have passed when she started to feel strange. The way her head felt almost made her nauseous. These drugs must not fully agree with her but if she was actually allergic to them she’d probably already know with how fast this seemed to work. How the hell did he have all these things? He had to have a large amount of disposal money.
When she looked back at where he was standing, she saw he was gone. Her grip tightened on the scalpel, knowing she could just be hallucinating his sudden disappearance. After all, she had not heard his footsteps. She heard a noise behind her and spun around, seeing nothing but shadows. As she backed around the table she swore she saw them moving, was positive she heard something breathing and felt eyes watching. The back of her legs hit the bottom step and she scrambled up them, her heart ready to beat out of her chest.
When she pushed the door open, she could hear talking. It was muffled and she didn’t understand the words. Those voices, real or not, scared her. There were so many and she didn’t want to get cornered. “Epione.” Her whispered name had her turning in circles. Did that maniac know who she was, would he follow her home if she escaped? “Epione.” She spun around and froze when she saw a little boy. She knew that face, that wealth of brown hair, those bright blue eyes.
“No, no, It can’t be.”
“Epione, let’s play by the river.”
“We can’t, it’s not safe.” She felt a sickness on her stomach.
“Sure it is, come on.” He turned and ran away as she reached out for him. Her hand hung in the air as he vanished through the wall. Of course it wasn’t him, Jack was dead and had been for a long time. She felt herself choking up and pressed her hand to her lips.
“I’m so sorry Jack, so sorry.” She whispered.
Mick was happy when his partner brought him over to her computer to talk to one of the survivors via Skype. It was a man, maybe a couple of years older than Epione. His dark brown eyes looked terrified and darted around as if searching the very building he was in for his abductor. “Hello, my name is Officer Weir and I know this must be hard for you, but I need to ask you about your abduction.”
Mick pulled out Epione’s photo and held it up. “He has taken many others and right now he has this woman. I need to find her, I need to know your abductors habits, what he looks like, what his house looked like.”
The man stared at Epione’s picture for a few minutes, ran his fingers through his hair, revealing the long vertical scar on his wrist. “Okay, for the girl.”
“I remember a sharp pain in my neck, like. I had been stabbed. I was living on the streets then, so I know what it feels like. Next thing I knew, I was out. I woke up in this room with a single light hanging from the ceiling. I must have been in a basement because it was really cold, you know that damp sort of cold you feel when you’re close to the earth.”
“The man talks to himself. He has little fights but he’s both people if you get what I’m saying. There were times he’d almost let me go but then he’d start talking differently and yell at himself for interfering.”
“so a split personality. Is it just two or were there more?”
“I think it’s just two. I was drugged and beaten a lot of the time and I’ve done my best to forget what happened to me but it seemed like only two.”
“what did he look like?”
“white, dark hair, emotionless eyes and really fit. Not muscle builder fit but he’d put most normal guys to shame. I may not have even been able to take him if he didn’t drug me”
“Never any emotion in the eyes?”
“Not once, no pleasure, no anger, nothing. His tone never even changed if he wasn’t fighting with himself.”
“Probably sociopathic then. Anything else atall. No detail is too small.”
“He kept talking about making me subservient. Like his ultimate goal was to make me follow his every command without question. He shocked me a lot and it caused a lot of my memories to fade so i really cant tell you more”
“All this was amazing information. Thank you.”
“I hope you save her. She looks sweet”
“And one more thing.” He held up his wrists so Mick could see the scars. “I was told by the doctors that I did this to myself, that I walked out onto a crowded street with a scalpel and slit my wrists. There was a nurse out for coffee, she saved my life. I think the man who took me, made me do this. Maybe he got bored of me, but if he’s taken others and they’re dead, then it’s because he made them. I’ve been on hard times, but I would never take my own life, never.”
“I understand and I will stop him, I promise. Can you do me a favor though, since you’re already at a police station?”
“Ask them to get a sketch artist and have you describe every single detail about the man you can remember. It would really help.”
“Okay, I will.”
Mick switched off Skype. “We’re definitely closer. His survivors are his mistake.”
“He probably didn’t think any of them would come forward or would be far too broken to remember anything.”
“Let’s hope Epione has an even stronger will than all of the others.”
She did her best to ignore the whispering voices, the glimpses of a little boy running away. She had to focus, she had to escape. She kept her back to the wall, sliding along it, scalpel held so tight that her fingers cramped. She moved to the living room, finding that the first voices she had heard were coming from a TV. It sounded like some stupid reality show. She was too busy trying to hold onto her sanity to contemplate why he would be watching something like that. The curtains were drawn, making it dim inside, but as far as she could tell he wasn’t in the room with her. She made her way to the front door and stopped in her tracks when she saw Jack standing there.
“Please don’t leave, play with me.”
“Go away Jack, you’re not real. Please, just leave me alone.”
“Who is Jack?” She spun around and there he was, her captor. She held up the scalpel and pressed her back against the front door. “She looks distressed Rishkov, looks upset.” “What do you know, you’re nothing but an invader.” “I know more than you, the name Jack makes her upset.”
“Shut up, both of you just shut up.” She screamed. “Just let me go.”
He smiled, but it didn’t reach his eyes then he took a step forward, she blinked and he vanished. “Funny things about these drugs, is you don’t know what’s real and what’s not.” She blinked again and he was in front of her. She slashed out, catching him across the face. He grabbed at the wound and she shoved him out of the way. She ran upstairs to the second floor and into one of the rooms. She slammed the door and grabbed a chair, wedging it under the door knob.
She didn’t understand what this was doing for him, why he would want her hallucinating and running around. If it was entertainment for him she hated herself for giving him just what he wanted. She was visibly upset, there was no way to hide what seeing Jack had done to her. It sounded like he was trying to get in but was he really? How was she to know since she didn’t know what was real or not. Even though there was a chance it could be fake it still scared her that he was coming and she was this disoriented.
“Epione” Her name came in a singsong voice. “shut up!” she screamed at the top of her lungs. Laughing enveloped her, it sounded like there were a million of him laughing all at once. “Epione” The laughter went away and there was Jack in front of her again “Epione” he held out his hand and tears rolled down her cheeks. “You’re not real..you can’t be here” she said through her tears.
“Come on, it’s okay. Don’t you trust me?”
She pulled her knees up and rested her forehead on them, her arms wrapping around her legs. “I tried to save you Jack, I tried, but the current was just too strong, I tried so hard. All I could do was cling to the rocks and scream. Please just leave me alone, please forgive me.” When she looked up he was gone and she heard the sound of tapping on the room door.
“Come on out now and lets talk.”
“Go away, I’ll kill you I swear.” She screamed back as she got to her feet and moved to the bedroom window. She ripped the curtains open and pushed up on the window. It wouldn’t open and it only took her a second to notice the nails driven into the window frame. From her vantage point she could see that there were no other houses, at least none close enough to see. She was sure he liked it that way so no one could hear his victim’s screams. He was still tapping on the door and trying to talk her out of the room, but she forced herself to ignore him. She thought of breaking the window, but knew he would hear it and could easily run outside to catch her. An idea bloomed in her mind. If he ran out to stop her, she could sneak back downstairs and find a phone.
Epione grabbed a towel off the floor to break the window so she wouldn’t cut herself. There wasn’t a bathroom in this room so she wasn’t sure what the towel had been used for but at this moment she really didn’t give a damn. Even if it had hard, dry cum on it she would have still wrapped it around her hand to punch through the glass. To her preference it really didn’t seem to be dirty at all, probably used to clean up a drink spill. Hearing the glass break Rishkov ran to get her before she got away.
She heard him going, hoping her mind wasn’t playing tricks because of the drugs. She hesitated only a few moments before bursting out of the room to begin her search for a phone. Most people kept theirs in or near the kitchen so she ran back downstairs, not knowing where the master bedroom was which was another common place people seemed to keep housephones.
When she didn’t find a phone in the kitchen she ran into the living room. The front door was still open so she closed and locked it, even putting the chain in place in hopes it would buy her some time. She found the house phone sitting on the entertainment center and lifted it off it’s cradle. She quickly dialed 911 and held it to her ear. Her hands were shaking so hard she had to grip the phone to keep from dropping it. She heard a voice answer and for a moment she couldn’t speak. “Is anyone there?”
“Y…yes, please he…help me. I’m Epione Armstrong and…and I’ve been kidnapped.” The doorknob on the front door twisted back and forth. “Please, hurry, please.”
“Ma’am just stay on the phone and I will send someone to your location.” The doorknob turned again and this time the door opened, but the chain stopped him.
“Unlock the door.” He ordered.
“Go to Hell you bastard.” She headed back upstairs, closing the bedroom door and blocking it off again. “Please hurry, he’s coming for me.”
A hand grabbed Mick’s shoulder and he jumped in surprise and looked up at his partner. “We found her, she called 911 and they called us.”
He shot to his feet. “We have to go then. Do they have her location?”
“They used the phone number she called from to find an address.”
“Then lets go.” They ran from the precinct, climbing into their shared patrol car. His partner punched in the address in the car’s GPS and they followed it. Mick’s heart was racing so hard he feared it might slam right out of his chest. He had to save her, to make sure she was going to be okay. He knew she had to be terrified and wanted to be there for her. He vowed to be there for her until she was okay. After seeing that man and how terrified he was at just the thought of his abductor, he knew her life would not be normal for a long time.
She heard him kicking the door downstairs trying to break the chain. Epione was grateful he didn’t have the leg strength to break it off easily. The operator stayed on the phone trying to assure even though Epione wasn’t talking back any longer. The only way the operator knew she was still there was due to Epiones frantic breathing. It was hell before this man was angry, she knew she was in for it if he got his hands on her again. She heard the door come down and she yelped ‘he broke down the door”
“he’s in the room with you?”
“The front door”
“they are coming miss, it’s going to be alright”
“You don’t know that” she answered and just as the operator was about to speak again the phone went dead, Rishkov must have jerked that phones base out of the wall. She let the phone fall to the floor and tried to pull herself together before he found her. He would get more pleasure out of this than she was willing to give.
“How close are we?” Mick asked, his tires skidding as he took a corner.
“At this speed, forty-five minutes, just don’t get us killed.”
“I’m a good driver, so let me drive.”
“Calm down Mick.” He shot a death glare his partner’s way, but kept his mouth shut, just wanting to get to Epione before anymore harm was done to her. He didn’t want to find her dead.
“Here kitty, kitty, kitty.” She heard her kidnapper’s voice say as footsteps moved down the hall. She heard a door open and then close. “You know you’ll have to be punished for cutting me.” “I’m sure she gets it.” “Shut up, this is your fault. You’re constant annoyances and distractions have lead to her nearly escaping.” “You’re the one who underestimated her, not I.” “Just shut up.” She heard another door open, this one across from the room she was in. He stayed there for a few minutes, obviously searching the room. The door closed and then he moved across the hall and tried her door. “Same room? How boring.” “Bored? Do you even know what that is?” His other personality taunted, but he didn’t answer.
“Just let me go.” Epione said, trying her best not sound terrified.
“That’s not going to happen. I wonder how I should make you kill yourself?”
Tears slipped down her cheeks. “Fuck off, bastard.” She took a deep breath. “You’re insane.”
“I think she has you pegged.” “Shut up!”
“Maybe you’re not even the original, did you ever think of that you sick fuck. Maybe the other guy was here first and you’re the invader, maybe you’re not real.” She was hoping it would throw him off, that it would make him doubt himself just a little to delay him breaking in for a few more minutes.
He laughed “Yeah, I’m much smarter than you. The girly is right. I’m the real personality. I don’t know why I didn’t consider it before. How could an oaf like you be the dominate?” his secondary personality goaded. “Shut the fuck up! You are nothing! It’s me who is real! You’re just an annoying asshole who slipped into my head one day!” She felt some relief. Her stall tactic was successful. They bickered between eachother while Epione prayed silently this went on until the cops got here. Every minute was a blessing she counted.
Rishkov groaned “shut up Wilkov!”
“I am the master here moron. Don’t tell me to shut up!”
“No I am! You’re going to watch as a torture her for what she’s done! You wont be able to stop me!” A few more tears dropped out of Epiones eyes. It may have stalled him but now he was even more pissed than before. “Open the door!” he demanded. “No!”
“Then I’ll fucking break it like the front door!”
“No you wont” Wilkov said, disrupting Rishkov again. “fuck you both!”
He slammed against the door, making her jump. She moved to the other side of the bed, wanting it between the two of them, knowing it would hinder him just a little. He slammed against the door again with such force that it actually cracked a little. When he finally broke it open, the chair went flying, the door frame shattered and he nearly fell as he came stumbling in. “There you are you little bitch.” His face was covered in blood and contorted in rage. He came at her and then suddenly came to a very jerky stop. “Stop Wilkov.” “You can’t control me anymore, you’re not focused enough.” Rishkov growled and forced himself forward, his body jerking, reminding Epione of a marionette.
Epione scrambled over the bed while he was struggling and he broke free from Wilkov’s hold, grabbing her ankle and pulling her back. She slashed at him, catching him across the arm so he punch her in the face. “No, let me go!” He grabbed her wrist, wrenching it backwards so she dropped the scalpel.
“I didn’t want to have to use these methods, I told myself I would never stoop so low.” He gripped her throat, squeezing tightly and holding her down as he went for his belt. His hand froze and the one around her throat loosened. She pushed herself out from under him, falling on the floor and quickly getting to her feet and running. She headed for the front door, ripping it open and running out into the yard.
Mick skidded onto the dirt road, his tires kicking up dust and rocks as they spun. His patients began to wear thin as the road seemed to take forever to end when he saw someone running and slammed on his breaks. The woman’s hands were stretched out in front of her and she looked terrified. Even without the picture he recognized Epione and got quickly out of his car. She practically jumped into his arms, her face pressed against his chest as she cried. “Where is he?”
“I want you to stay here okay.”
“No.” She clung to him, her whole body shaking.
“Shh, it’s okay, I’ll come back. Just stay here.”
“I’ll watch her.” His partner said as another cruiser came to a stop behind them. “Just go, I’ve got her.”
Epione was willing to let Mick leave since there were other people with her but she still feared him getting hurt by her abductor. At least this man had an advantage she didn’t have, a gun. “You should sit down miss. I can see you’ve been through hell.” men rushed passed her from the other cruiser to help Mick as his partner talked to her. “Okay, just don’t shut the door”
“I wont” He held the door open for her then she sat down with her legs out. “can you give me a statement mam? I know this is hardly the time but the closer to the incident we have it the more you’ll remember and the more we’ll have to make sure this man stays locked up”
“Go right ahead then” Doing this now served two purposes, getting the most information possible and distracting her a little from the obvious worry she had for the officers. When she quit speaking he was impressed “not many would have been so brave”
“Brave? I cried”
“You were brave and you’re safe now because of that bravery.”
When Mick entered the house he could see bloody hand prints on the living room wall and some smeared on the stair banister. The other officers split up and Mick started up the stairs, his gun pointed ahead of him. He pushed doors slowly open, seeing each doorknob was covered in blood. The sound of whispering caught his attention and he froze, cocking his head to the side. It sounded like two people arguing with each other. He moved slowly, stopping next to the door that had been broken open. “I can’t believe you let her escape, she’s going to bring them here you fool.” “It’s not my fault you are so weak.” “Shut up you idiot, I have to catch her, I have to punish her.”
Mick moved into the doorway, aiming his gun at the blood covered man. “Hands where I can see them, don’t move.” He ordered.
The man looked at him, hostility clear in his eyes. “Who are you?”
“Officer Weir and you’re under arrest for torture, kidnapping, and murder.”
“You have no power in this house.” He moved angrily toward Mick.
“One chance, stop now.” He just kept coming and Mick shot him in the leg. It dropped out from under him and he hit the floor with a loud thud. He didn’t scream, just grabbed his leg and put pressure on it. Mick kept his gun on him as he stuck his head out the door and yelled for the other officers. “Did you really think you could get away with something like this?”
“I did for years, but she was such a fighter, so brilliant in her need to survive. I’ve never seen anything like it, someone so fierce. She would have made such a good slave.”
The other officers came into the room and hauled him to his feet. He was handcuffed and pulled outside, a manic smile on his face. Mick slipped his gun back into it’s holster and followed. Epione was sitting in the back of the ambulance, the EMT’s had her hooked up to an I.V. and were asking her some questions. “How is she?” He asked as he climbed into the ambulance.
“We need to take her to the hospital and have a doctor look her over.”
“I’ll ride with you then, my partner has a spare key to the cruiser.”
“What’s your name?” Epione asked.
“Mick Weir, you can just call me Mick and you must be the very beautiful Epione Armstrong.”
“Oh please, I look like shit.” She sniffed.
“I don’t think so, strong women are always gorgeous.” He winked and she cracked a smile. “Is it okay if I go with you, if not I’ll hop on out.”
“It’s fine, I feel safer with you here.” He reached over and gently grabbed her hand.
“I’ll stay with you as long as you need then.”
She gave his hand a small squeeze and her eyes told him thank you. He stayed right by her side in the hospital unless asked to move out of the way so they could exam her somehow. When the doctors were finally done she asked “can I go home?”
“You seem to be alright so I don’t see why not. Things are busy so it may take a few hours to get discharge papers ready though”
“No problem as long as Mick can continue to stay with me” Mick smiled “I’m right here as long as you need me” The doctor gave an approving nod then walked out. Mick tugged a chair by Epiones bed and took her hand again. A blush nearly tinted her cheeks “I really appreciate this”
“Protect and serve.”
“Does that make me your work?”
“That makes you my priority.”
Her face burned and she looked at her hands, feeling a little ashamed for getting so worked up over him after she had just been through something so horrifying. “I’m sorry I’m making you stick around, I feel like such a baby.”
“It’s fine, really. If you need anything just ask, it won’t be any trouble. I’ll even camp outside your apartment if I have too.”
“You don’t have to do that ma…maybe just your number?”
He brushed his thumb over her hand and she felt her heart hammer quickly in her chest. “Um, did you get my camera? He stole it from me and I really want it back.”
“I’ll check the evidence we collected when I get back to the precinct. If it’s there, I’ll get it for you after I take you home.”
She squeezed his hand. “Can I maybe go with you?” She felt embarrassed. “It’s just I don’t want to be alone.”
“Thank you, you’re really the best.”
He smiled, it filling his eyes causing her to force down a blush again. When she was given her discharge papers Mick took her back to the station where she was excited to find out they had found her camera and cellphonr at the scene. They didn’t need them so had no problem giving them back to her “thanks Mick”
“No problem, lets get you home. Should we stop someplace and get some fast food?”
“I guess I should eat somthing”
“We’ll pass Wendys, Hardees and Chik Fil A, which one?”
“Since your driving you should choose”
“I really don’t care. The stops for you anyway”
“Hardees then” she gave an answer so they wouldn’t keep going back and forth. They went back out to his car, stopped for food then he walked Epione to her door. Mick put his number in her cellphone and said “Seriously, any day or time you call me. If you need me or just to hangout together. You seem really amazing Epione”
“so do you Mick, thank you so much”
“Is it okay if I hug you?” Epione moved forward and huged him tightly. He hugged back with another smile crossing his face. “do you want me to stay a little bit? We could maybe watch somthing” Mick asked nervously.
“I’d really like that.” She looked and sounded so relieved he couldn’t help but hug her again.
He followed her into her apartment, closing and locking the door behind them. “You have a nice place.”
“Oh, thanks.” She replied nervously. “So, I’m going to get out of these hospital clothes, make yourself at home. There should be some soda and juice in the fridge.”
“And feel free to look through my movies.”
She cleared her throat. “Okay, I’ll be back.” She went into her room and he grabbed a root beer before going into the living room and browsing her movies. He decided on Hitch, thinking Epione needed something funny after her experience. He went ahead and got everything set up and smiled when she came out.
“Is Hitch okay?” He asked as he took a seat on the couch. She nodded and dropped down next to him, still looking nervous. He pushed play on the controller and they both sat there in silence. He gave a sigh of relief when her first smile broke through and found himself able to relax. She wound up with her head on his shoulder halfway through the movie and by the time the credits began to roll she was asleep. He smiled and stopped the movie. When he moved to pick her up, she grabbed his arm and gave a little groan in protest. She had a look of distress on her face. “Alright, I’ll stay.” He whispered then switched it to TV and kicked off his shoes. He managed to get his gun and badge off then slid down a little so he was at an angle.
He drifted to sleep enjoying this closeness even though he barely knew this woman. It felt incredible and led him into an amazing nights rest. Epione woke first and decided to thank her hero with a nice breakfast. She attempted to get up without waking him but no such luck. “whats going on?’ he asked sleepily. “I was going to make you breakfast”
“Are you allergic?’
“I just dont like them”
“ok, I’ll keep that in mind if you ever stay over again” he smiled and she blushed before walking away. As she walked out of the living room Mick stretched then decided to follow her into the kitchen. “what’re you going to make?” he asked as she was pouring ingredients into a mixing bowl. “chocolate chip waffles”
“Nice, thank you”
“You have no reason to thank me. I might still be with that horrible man if you hadn’t come”
“You don’t owe me Epione” he said, finding himself deeply hoping that wasn’t the only reason he was there. “I know” He watched her make breakfast then sat down and enjoyed it with her. “where’d you get the waffle iron?” he asked for conversations sake. “house warming present”
“smart friend you have there. This is really good”
“Glad you think so. I’ll make strawberry ones next time” he smiled “sounds like I’ll be welcome back frequently. Thats the second time you’ve talked about next time”
Well it’s just…the thing is…well I might have nightmares and need someone to talk to. I guess I figured maybe I could invite you over for breakfast sometimes and talk to you.”
“You don’t have to look so nervous Epione, I don’t mind. I’ll have breakfast with you every morning if it makes you happy.”
“Oh no, please don’t feel obligated.”
“It’s not an obligation if I want to do it.”
She blushed. “Okay.”
“Look, I need to go home, get changed, and go to work. I have paperwork to fill about this case and the arrest of the monster who took you. If you feel scared or just need to talk, call me okay.”
“I will, I promise.”
“Good, don’t hesitate. I know you’re strong, but even the strongest people need someone some times.”
She smiled, warmed by his words. “I’ll call if I need you.” He got up and she stood along with him, her blush deepening. “Sorry, can I have a hug?”
He chuckled and took her hand then pulled her gently into his arms. He held her to him for a couple of minutes and she relaxed into him, letting his warmth envelope her and make her feel safe. “Work’ll be over before you know it.”
“You talk to me like we’re dating.”
He let out a soft laugh. “Maybe someday.” He pulled back and winked. “Alright, see you later.” He let her go and pulled his shoes on then headed for the door.
“Thank you.” Epione said when his hand touched the door handle.
“For what?” He asked turned back.
“For being my hero.”
He smiled, crossing the room and kissing her forehead. “I’ll always be your hero Epione, one phone call and I’ll come running.” He gave her his warmest smile then turned and left. Her heart fluttered in her chest and her entire body flushed. She could still feel his lips on her forehead and she hoped she would have more days full of his gentle affection.