Bright light streamed in through the single window, revealing a small room with grey walls and a girl with brown hair shaking under the oversized orange comforter. She could feel the warmth from the light, but she could also feel the sweat from her body, no doubt caused by nightmares, moistening every inch of Amanda's upper body. Even her head felt wet, and she shuddered despite the heat. Amanda Young knew that only by showering could she alleviate herself from this filth. She ached to feel cold water pouring around her.
Even more she yearned for the water to cleanse her of the events that had taken place less than twenty-four hours ago. Yet she could not get up. More than that, opening her eyes seemed beyond Amanda's ability. What if they opened only to reveal a place worse than where she had been held captive yesterday?
She let out a low whimper at the memory of that night. Thinking about it was too painful. Thinking was agony. Yet the memories had released themselves and, in flashes, Amanda recalled the events of the night before. Mostly it came in split second images, but her mind dwelled on the puppet. The puppet that had told her what she had to do in order to survive, and once she had accomplished that, declaring that she now appreciated life after she hacked into the man's body to find the key.
Amanda groaned as she recalled the man. The puppet said he was dead, but she could have sworn she saw his eyes move as she plunged the knife into his heart. He didn't say anything, but she was fairly certain the "dead cellmate" had been just as alive as she felt now.
That is, not at all.
How could she appreciate life when there was a serial killer still out there, possibly still after her, who had caught Amanda once? It had been all Amanda could do to stay alive. She couldn't face any more traps.
She brought the blanket over her mouth to stifle a scream. The man could be after her right now. Hell, she realized, he could be standing in this room!
Automatically, her eyes opened and searched the room. No one was there. Amanda's heart raced. He could be hiding. Under the bed, or in the closet. Or even right outside the door. Perhaps even outside of her window. So what if it was locked? He could find a way in.
Amanda stumbled out of bed, searched for a weapon, but found nothing. Tentatively, she looked under her bed then, moving her head so quickly she almost strained her neck, walked over to the window. No one was there.
Just two more places. Two more fucking places. C'mon, you can do this, she told herself.
She approached the closet carefully, almost reverently. She swung the door open and switched on the light, but aside from a few skirts and shirts belonging to Amanda, the room was empty. Try as she might, she couldn't see anyone there.
She spun around again, thinking that the killer might have switched hiding places while she was searching. But no, the door was still closed. Taking a deep breath, Amanda opened the door, and found no one there. She sighed with a mixture of fear and relief. She let herself shut her eyes as she moved back to the bed. As sweat covered as she was, Amanda suddenly felt freezing. No amount of blankets could warm her up.
Eyes still closed, Amanda ran her tongue around her teeth. The taste of blood was still there, but it was faint. As soon as she stumbled into her sister's apartment last night, she raced to the bathroom to brush away the taste of blood, steel, and the vomit which occurred afterwards. She must have brushed for at least a half an hour, pausing every few minutes to add more toothpaste to the brush.
Amanda let out the breath she hadn't realized she had been holding.
Then she coughed. And coughed until it hurt to breathe. Gagging, she ran to the bathroom and knelt beside the toilet. Gunk poured out of her throat. Probably more vomit, she realized.
When she rose, she saw a large, towering figure standing over her.
"Hung over again?"
Her sister, Elizabeth. Liz to those who knew better.
Amanda jumped and shrieked, tripping on the tiled floor. "God, don't scare me."
Liz rolled her pale blue eyes and tentatively held a hand out. "Get up, you idiot."
Amanda accepted the hand as her face reddened. "Thanks."
Liz didn't seem to hear her. "You stink," she was saying. "You didn't come home last night before I went to bed. We agreed about this, Mandy. I know all your life is about getting high, but don't you think I have the right to make sure you're not dead before I get some sleep?"
Amanda made no answer. Yes, it was true. It was one of the few rules—well, explicit rules, anyway—that Liz had made when Amanda showed up wanting to move in. Neither sister wanted Amanda there, and it was only because there had been nowhere else to go that they both accepted the situation. Usually, Amanda could handle Liz's nagging. Today, it was hard enough to stand up without falling.
"Where were you?" Liz demanded, circling her sister.
Not an easy thing to do in the miniature bathroom.
Amanda was silent, but Liz guessed the truth. Or part of it, anyway. "Another club? Don't you know those guys put date rape drugs in your drink and give you their STDs?"
Had she been at a bar last night? Images flashed through Amanda's head. A dark haired man with black, slightly pointy hair. Taking a few sips of beer and then passing out. A dark alley. Yeah, that must have been what happened.
"Don't you ever learn?" Liz was dragging her back to the guestroom by her elbow. "I'm not your babysitter."
"I know." Amanda's voice cracked. "I need coffee."
Liz snorted. "Not to mention a shower."
Amanda started to walk to the bathroom again, but Liz's arm wouldn't let go.
"Stay here," she barked. She glanced around the room. "This whole place needs cleaning." She pushed Amanda towards the bed, pulling off the covers and sheets in one movement. "I'll get these started. Also my bath." She frowned. Liz never let Amanda use her private bathroom, but apparently the situation was desperate enough. "Stay there," she commanded. "I'll be back in a few minutes."
She left without bothering to wait for her sister's answer. Amanda, in spite of herself, smiled. As her father had always said, Liz certainly wasn't the screw up in the family.
Not that she didn't have her flaws.
Thoughts plagued her as she waited, the main one being if she should go to the police. She had a fairly good idea of where she had been trapped. It was in an abandoned building not far from her apartment building that, Amanda believed, used to be a warehouse.
If the police found out, she could be convicted for murder. Maybe. The voice on the TV said "dead cellmate", but his eyes had been open, so he could have been alive, but drugged. Of course, if Amanda hadn't cut into him to get the key, he might have died from the explosion's impact. Or the guy could have murdered him after seeing Amanda fail. Or he could have died any minute from the overdose.
His time was limited. Hers wasn't. The police would understand that.
Still, what if the voice found out that she reported him and punished her? She had enough memories of what had happened the night before to last her several years. If that had just been a trap, with a chance that she could escape (and had, obviously), whatever punishment the voice had for her would be much worse.
Amanda realized that she had better keep quiet unless the police found the site on their own and called her in. Then she would worry about what the voice would do to her.
In the meantime, Amanda just needed to say nothing. Let Liz think that she came back drunk the previous night after a crazy night out. Also, stay off drugs because that would surely incite the voice's displeasure. That would be harder, of course. Amanda relied on heroin to get her high at least twice a week.
Maybe a rehab program. Not that there were many in the area.
She scoffed. That was the first place the killer would look.
Liz entered the room, and as she dragged Amanda by the elbow out of her own solitary space in the entire apartment, Amanda felt almost safe. He wouldn't kidnap her again if she just stayed put.