A/N 'Panic' was my first ever entry into a fan fic contest. It was a one-shot anonymous contest and I was pleased to take part. It reaped no rewards...other than the one I felt just by participating. :) It was almost 10,000 words (the maximum allowed) for the one-shot, but now I've broken it into chapters and am sharing it with you, dear readers. Hope you like. Please, IF you like, take a moment to review and maybe rec to others. Much appreciated, as always. Next update...not too long. I promise.


PANIC

CHAPTER ONE

I didn't so much "regain" consciousness, as have it slam back into me in a rush. One second I was 'gone' and the next I was 'back'…but back where? I was completely disoriented. 'Look around.' My mind told me. 'Look around and see where you are.' I moved my head, first left then right.

Oh my God, I couldn't see! I was blind! Was I blind? Were my eyes open? I had thought so at first; I was awake, so they should be open. But no…they weren't. I could tell they weren't.

'Open your eyes!' I told myself silently. 'Open them, damn it!' I tried. It didn't work. There was something covering my eyes. Why would something be covering my eyes? What the fuck was going on? What was happening?

I needed to take it off…to take off whatever was blinding me, but where were my hands? They wouldn't come to help me. They were…above my head and angled out a bit to each side. They were…tied? I was bound and tied to something?

I could feel the panic lurking, waiting to pounce…like a pack of wolves pacing just out of reach of a fire, waiting for the flames to turn to embers before surging forward and overwhelming the doomed traveler. I could feel it threatening to surge toward me…to overwhelm me.

My rate of my breathing increased and became more ragged and I started to cry out, tried to cry out…and then realized it wasn't happening. My scream was muffled and low. It became a moan when I realized that my mouth wasn't available to me anymore either. Like my eyes, it was covered…only not with cloth. It felt sealed. It was sealed, with tape I was sure.

'Don't panic, don't panic, don't panic…' I told myself in a mantra…over and over in quick succession.

'You can breathe. Your eyes and mouth may be covered but your nose seems clear and you can breathe. Now breathe, damn it…but slower…slower…' Little by little I managed. I pushed the panic back a bit more with each slow, measured inhalation. 'Now, take inventory. Think. Figure out what the fuck happened.'

Priorities. What to do first? I needed to take inventory of my body. Was I okay? Was I hurt somewhere? Could I tell?

'Start with your head and work down from there,' said my internal voice. So I did.

My head felt okay. I had a headache, but it wasn't a bad one so I didn't think I'd been hit or anything. That would hurt worse than this, right? This was a dull ache, a throbbing ache…but not horrible. I was pretty sure my head was okay.

My eyes were covered with some sort of cloth. I could feel the softness of cloth. Wait! If it was a blindfold like you wore for a child's party game, it would come off if I could just manage to move my head around enough to dislodge it, right? Of course!

I moved my head gently from side to side. I mean, I didn't think my headache indicated anything serious, but I didn't want to make something worse if I was wrong. Nothing happened to the cloth. It didn't budge. Okay, I needed to be a little more vigorous. I pushed my head back into the surface behind it (a pillow?), hoping to get more friction on the cloth so it would shift, and tossed my head back and forth with more speed and pressure this time. Still nothing. My eyes remained as securely covered as before. Why would that be? Stop. Think.

If there was a cloth blindfold tied around my head, there would be a knot in the back, right? Or, at least something that secured it? I should feel that. It would be uncomfortable. I didn't feel anything but the softness of the pillow. There was no knot, no discernible feeling of any type of fastener. But then how was cloth covering my eyes and what was keeping it in place?

As soon as I asked myself that question, I figured it out. Yes, there was cloth over my eyes…a few layers of it I thought because it felt kind of cushioned, padded…but now that I was paying attention, I could feel something more than the cloth. I could feel something attached to my skin near my temples. The cloth was held in place with tape. It wasn't going to come off just because I moved my head back and forth. Okay, I wasn't going to be seeing for awhile. At least it didn't hurt. At least the tape wasn't directly on my eyes.

'Don't panic, don't panic, don't panic…'

My nose was next, clear and unobstructed. Breathing through it was okay…not as comfortable as also having my mouth available, but okay if I breathed slowly, calmly. I was working on that.

My mouth. I knew about that already. Definitely taped closed and definitely not able to scream or yell or talk. I tried again anyway. Nope…all I could manage was a muffled mmmfffff'…low and barely audible to my own ears, let alone someone else's. At least I could still swallow behind the tape…if I needed to. My mouth was actually so dry that I didn't think swallowing was really going to be an issue for awhile.

My body felt…okay. Having my arms up over my head wasn't the most comfortable position to be in, but my wrists seemed to be bound with something cushioned, not hard or painful. Another good thing. Also, they weren't numb, neither my hands nor my arms. Hmmm…maybe I hadn't been in this position that long. I felt chilled though. Bare arms then. Not covered.

My focus moved to my body…also cool. Also bare? Oh God, oh God, oh…

'Don't panic, don't panic, don't panic…' I forced into my mind.

Wait. Not completely bare. I could feel straps still on my shoulders, less chill on my breasts than the rest of my chest. My bra was still on me then. I tried to feel the rest of my body with my mind.

Okay. Legs. Bare legs. They were cool too. Slightly spread but not uncomfortably so…but bound at the ankles, with something cushioned again, and attached to something, obviously. Some movement possible…a few inches maybe. Not a lot. No pain though. Good. Next…feet. I wiggled my toes. Bare feet. No big deal. I can do bare feet. I do bare feet all the time.

Now…my lower body. I took a breath and concentrated. 'Please, oh please…'

I shifted my hips on the surface behind me (a mattress?), first left then right, and felt the slip of satin across my backside. Okay, lacy satin panties still in place. I didn't realize I was holding the breath I'd taken until it came out in a rush through my nose. Did anything hurt…down there? Did anything feel wrong or different? No. Thank you, God…no. As far as I could tell, I was okay there.

I felt tears squeeze out from my eyes. I guess they got absorbed by the cloth that was covering them. There was nowhere else for them to go. I was afraid to start crying though. Crying meant needing more air. Crying meant your nose got stuffy. Crying meant breathing through your mouth, if you had a mouth you could breathe through. I didn't. I couldn't…so I couldn't cry. I couldn't. Don't.

'Don't panic, don't panic, don't…'

My throat ached with the effort to control my tears…but that was better than the alternative of full on crying. Eventually, I regained control and the ache dissipated, a little at a time. Okay…what next? Next was figuring out what had happened and why I was here…wherever here was. Start at the beginning. Be calm. Think.

My name is Isabella Marie Swan. I'm 23 years old and I'm from a little town in Washington, in the United States.

I recently graduated college and decided I wanted to see a little something of the world, to experience something new and different before finding a permanent job. As a result, I was about to begin a job as an au pair for the young children of a wealthy British family. The Cullens hired me after numerous emails and phone calls and then finally meeting and interviewing me in the US while they were vacationing. I'm going to live in their home in London.

The family consists of Dr. Carlisle Cullen, his wife, Esme and their two children; Emmett is six and Alice is four. There is also Dr. Cullen's younger brother who will be living there for the first month or so after I arrive. I don't know his name. I just know that he has started a new job and is looking for his own place in London.

I had only just arrived at Heathrow and was about to hail a cab to take me to the Cullen's home when I saw the man holding a sign bearing my name: Ms. Isabella Swan. He was searching the smallish crowd of passengers making their way from the baggage carousel. I was part of the smallish crowd.

'How thoughtful,' I told myself. 'They sent a driver.' I had told Dr. Cullen he didn't need to meet me. It was going to be late when I landed. I had told him and Mrs. Cullen not to worry; I would find a cab and make it to their home just fine. I was officially a 'grown up' now, after all. Obviously, if they were going to entrust me with the care of their children, they trusted that I was also capable of taking care of myself.

But, now that I saw a driver waiting, I was extremely grateful that Dr. Cullen hadn't listened to me. He may not have come to meet me himself, but how nice that I was being met. How nice not to have to wait in line for a cab, this late at night especially.

I walked up to the driver holding the sign and identified myself as Ms. Swan. He smiled slightly, took the handle of the baggage cart from me, said "Nice ta meetcha, Ms. Swan' and told me to follow him. I trailed behind and out through the terminal doors to the sidewalk.

We walked a good distance from the exit, almost to the very end of the walkway. I supposed the parking spaces nearest the doors were for quick pickups and drop-offs…not for actually awaiting a passenger's arrival. My driver stopped at the side of a nondescript black car, the only one parked this far down the walk.

Leaving the baggage cart near the trunk of the car, the driver opened the back door for me and I gratefully slid in. It had been a long flight and I was exhausted. I leaned my head on the back of the seat and let my heavy eyelids close. 'Just while he loads the bags,' I thought. 'Then I'll perk up and carry on a conversation. I don't want to be rude.'

I expected to hear the trunk of the car open and feel the slight bounce caused by the weight of my bags as they were loaded into it, but instead I felt someone hurriedly slide in next to me through the still open door. I only had time enough to lift my head and turn toward the movement before something…a cloth…a cloth with a sickly-sweet smell, covered my mouth and nose. I started to fight, to push the hands holding the cloth away and to try to kick my attacker, but the door on the other side of the car opened and I felt someone else get into the back and immediately grab my hands and throw one heavy leg over mine so my kicking was ineffectual.

I took a deep breath so I could scream and realized my mistake a second too late. The only thing my deep breath accomplished was increasing the amount entering my lungs of whatever the smelly stuff was on the cloth…the stuff that was making my brain grow fuzzy…that was making my arms and legs feel like lead weights…that was making me unable to do more than flutter my eyes open enough to look at the person holding the cloth on my face.

My brief glimpse was of a face completely covered by a knitted mask except for a slash for the mouth, a hole for the nose and a narrow rectangular opening for the eyes. That last is what scared me enough to make me squeeze mine closed again, as quickly as I could. I only saw one of the eyes behind the mask and it terrified me. It was RED and was fiercely glaring down at me while my struggles grew weaker and weaker.