Amanda turned her head. That voice. That familiar, unsettling voice. The voice she's been having nightmares about for days was right inside her room. Was this worse than the loneliness that would have overcome her had she truly been alone in her apartment?
"I'm sure you have several questions," the man said. He sat in the corner of the room. He was bald, aside from a small patch of hair on his chin. His bright blue eyes were cold and striking, locked onto her eyes like daggers piercing through her skull. She certainly had questions, but she was speechless in the presence of the man who entrapped her. His presence was nothing short of intimidating. He stared at her as her mouth began to sputter. "Take your time, I will answer everything."
She couldn't stop gazing back at the man, her eyes entranced by his. They were hypnotic. She wasn't sure where to begin. She was face to face with the person that put her through hell, but freed her from her addiction and saved her from herself. A flurry of emotion swept her off of her quaking feet as she began to fire off questions like an overzealous machine gun.
"W-who are you? Why did you do this to me? How did you do this to me? How did you get in my apartment? H-how-" Amanda couldn't stop herself once she started. The man wobbled as he stood up from the chair. He put a finger to her lips, shushing her gently. He made himself comfortable on her bed beside her.
"You don't need to ask everything all at once," he grinned. "My name is John. I think you know why I did what I did to you. Isn't that right?"
She tore his finger from her lips and jolted off of the bed. John seemed unphased by her immediate jump to action. She was breathing heavily, overstimulated by her circumstance and bursting with enough emotion to incapacitate anyone.
"Why me? Out of every junkie in this shit-stained city, why did you pick ME, huh?!" She cried, trembling in place. "WHY ME?"
"You were once referred to as a lost soul," John sighed. He stood up from the bed, gripping Amanda's dresser to stabilize himself. "Forced into the life you lead by a crooked cop, but choosing to continue living this way despite the advantages you've been given and the support system that has tried to help you again and again."
Amanda backed up as John slowly approached her. She hastily grabbed her pocket knife from the nightstand, pointing it at the raspy-voiced man that intruded on her life.
"I said that I knew you, but you didn't know me. Homeward Bound?"
"T-the clinic? I've never seen you before now, how could you possibly know me from there?"
"I was Jill Tuck's husband, you remember her don't you? You may not have met me, but I've been told many things about you and the others at the clinic. I don't intend to hurt you."
Oh, Amanda remembered her alright. She felt a wave of illness flood over her. Jill was always helpful and kind to her, but Amanda took advantage of her kindness. Her former lover did something unspeakable to her in order to fulfill Amanda's needs. She tried to repress her memory of that with more heroin, but hearing her name again caused the memories to flood back like a monsoon.
"Oh yeah? You don't intend to hurt me but you put a death trap on my head and force me to kill someone? You're sick," Amanda growled, water forming in the corner of her eyes, the knife trembling in her grasp. The man coughed into his arm as he inched closer, his eyes never leaving hers. "I'm not playing any more games with you."
"So far, you have been the only person to survive one of my tests. You are a winner. Don't you feel more alive now that you've met death up close?"
"I feel a lot of things right now," she backed up as far as she could before hitting the crumbling walls of her apartment.
"Did I help you?"
Amanda didn't know how to respond. He did help her, but in the end, he traumatized her more than the drugs ever could. But without his game, she would have been forever trapped in the squalor of her addiction. He set her free, but was she really ready to give him the satisfaction of knowing that? Maybe if she did, she wouldn't be alone anymore. Maybe this man really is her savior - a guardian angel.
"Y..yes," Amanda hesitated. A smile wiped across John's face as he grew closer. Amanda, breathing shakily, started putting the knife down.
He seemed surprised that his method worked. He was right up against Amanda's blade, placing his hand on hers. His hands felt warm against hers. It had been too long since she felt the warmth of another person. He motioned the blade downwards and she let it happen. She wasn't afraid anymore. John wiped the last tear from her cheek.
"Would you be willing to help me save more lives?"
She wasn't sure if she was willing to put others in danger to save lives, but she was sure about one thing. He helped her. If he could help her, maybe she could help others too. She would finally have someone to lean on. Someone who would listen to her. Someone who wouldn't shy away from her when she needs them the most. Someone who could save her. She was in this now and there was no way she could ever turn back.
"Yes," she proclaimed. He nodded as he grasped her hands tightly. She felt secure with the man that intruded on - no… changed her life.
"Good. Your life has just begun."