Don’t Say A Word is told from multiple point of views. Here’s the first chapter from Mia’s POV.
CHAPTER TWO – MIA
Panic. My body feels it first. The swell of nausea in the pit of my stomach. The sense of dread. The tingling sensation of terror.
And then comes the thud of my heart. It’s rapid, beating against my chest like a caged wild animal. It’s all I can hear. It drowns out my other senses. Nothing but the pulse of my blood and the echo of my heart.
Sweat is next. Cold. Trembling. The kind that prickles over my skin, leaving trails of raised hairs and goosebumps.
Darkness crushes me. It is endless. My eyelids brush against rough material. I am blindfolded and for that I am grateful. Because if not for the movement of my eyelids against the material, I would have thought myself dead. It doesn’t matter that my heart pounds in my chest or that my skin dances with dread, those things can be imagined. They could be my mind playing tricks. But the feel of that material and the tightness of the twist which holds it in place are real.
The floor is cold and hard, smooth like polished concrete. My foot twitches and pain shoots through my leg with the stiffness of the movement.
Awareness creeps over me. I am kneeling on the floor, tilted to the side, resting on one hip. My back aches. My stomach aches. My head pounds. My hands are tied. No. They are chained. The rungs of metal are cold and hard as they dig into my flesh.
I wiggle my fingers. Nothing. My arms are dead. All the blood has drained from them as they hang above my head, enough to allow a bend at my elbows, enough to allow my head to rest against my forearms.
I test my restraints. The chains clank as they jostle together. I can move my hands up, from side to side, but I cannot pull them down. My left shoulder hurts more than my right. It is pressed to a wall that reflects the coldness and smoothness of the floor.
All parts of my body ache. It is a dull, deep ache. The type that has settled into my bones, stiff from sitting in the same position for however long I have been here.
Trying to sort through my thoughts is like wading through fog. Memories are there but I can’t recall them. The cloud that has settled in my brain hides them from me. Maybe that is why I’m not screaming, not crying. Although my body drips with panic and dread, my mind is blank. And that terrifies me most of all.
I have no idea where I am, or why I’m here.
Wincing, I twist my body so I can sit on my backside, my back pressed to the wall, my hands hanging at approximately the same level as my forehead. I stretch out my legs, push my feet over the smooth surface and wiggle my toes. Painful tingles of pins and needles torment my feet. I long to reach down and rub them. Push my fingers into the webbing of my toes for relief. Stretch the tendons. Massage the sensation away.
Then I laugh. It is just a small bubble of sound, but it escapes my lips and falls into the empty space. I am tied—no—chained. I have no idea how I got here, why I am here, and yet, I am worried about the pins and needles in my feet.
I laugh again. But it is a splutter this time. A series of foamy bubbles at the back of my throat that eventually turn to tears.
And then I sob.
I jerk on my chains.
I kick out across the floor.
I bang my head against the wall.
But none of it makes any difference. No one comes to my rescue.
The silence is deafening. Only my own voice echoes around the small space. At least, I think it must be small. It sounds small. It sounds as though I am trapped, that no one can hear me because my screams reverberate off the walls until I’m no longer sure if I am still screaming or if I am just left with the echo.
I scream for hours. For minutes. Or maybe for seconds. My throat is raw. There is something warm and damp running down my arms but I no longer feel pain. My arms don’t ache. My shoulders, neck, stomach, and legs no longer exist. I am nothing but a pile of flesh and bones leaning against a wall.
But the fog that drapes over my mind like a blanket is beginning to lift. I still don’t know anything, no answers as to where I am, why I am here, but little connections begin to form. I imagine them as sparks, linking the patterns of my brain. So I sit silent and still, waiting for them to make sense. Waiting for them to give me the answers I’m looking for.
There is this part, the smallest part of me that hopes, or rather dreams, that this is some sick practical joke. That a door will clank open and the blindfold will be ripped from my eyes. I would blink, stunned by the sudden brightness, and people would shout ‘surprise’. But the ache in my muscles tells me I have been here for too long. And the sensibility of my brain tells me that no one I know would be that cruel.
But I long for it. For some sort of sickness in one of my friends that might lead to them thinking a practical joke like that would be funny.
And then I hear it. The beep of a keypad, the hushed opening of a door, the feel of slightly warmer air hitting my skin.
“Hello?” I say. It isn’t a scream or a cry. It’s just one word, usually meant as a greeting and followed by a smile.
“Hello?” I try again, this time louder. More desperate. “Is someone there?” My voice catches, a plea tearing my throat.
There is someone in the room. Whereas before I felt coldness and emptiness, now there is a presence. A dark presence.
“Hello? If you’re there, if someone is there, please answer me.”
I can smell them. Their scent is musky. A man’s cologne mixed with wood and dirt.
“I know you’re there.” I try a different tack. One that doesn’t show my fear, that doesn’t have me cowering in the corner. I move to sit on my knees, ears scanning the room for a hint of sound that will betray his position.
There is a hitch of breath so quiet, so faint, that had my ears not been straining for a glimpse of sound, I would have missed it.
“I can hear you,” I whisper. “I know you’re there.”
Footsteps. Quiet. Padded. As though the feet are bare. I jerk my head in various directions, trying to pinpoint the steps.
And then I feel the heat of him and I push myself against the wall, scrambling to my feet, certain he is close, certain he is going to touch me.
His breath is hot and heavy. I can feel the heat of his body only inches away from mine. I begin to tremble again, so much so that the chains rattle.
“What do you want?” I ask the darkness.
“Who are you?”
His heat dissipates and I am left cold.
“Hello?” I call out. “Are you still there?”
I can hear nothing but the sound of my own breath. It is quick and shallow. Panicked. Now that I’m standing with my arms lowered, the blood rushes back painfully. I clutch my left forearm with my right hand, rubbing back and forth, willing the pain to subside.
“Are you still there?” I ask again. Only this time my voice breaks. “Please?” I plead. “Please talk to me.”
I am begging with my captor, whoever he is. He hasn’t laid a finger on me, he hasn’t uttered a word and yet, already I am begging.
“Just tell me why I’m here. Tell me what you are going to do with me.” I don’t know why I ask this. It isn’t as though the knowledge of what is happening would lessen my terror.
I swallow painfully. My screaming has left my throat torn and my tears have left it tight and constricted. A whistle of air is the only thing to escape.
There is a clang above me. A mechanical sound that whirrs into life. And then the chains around my wrists tighten, lifting my arms higher into the air.
“No!” I shout, surprised by the force of my own voice. I thought it had gone. “No, no, no.” I twist against my restraints, creating a fresh trickle of blood that trails down my arm. “Please,” I beg, as though it will make a difference, as though something can appeal to the darkness that surrounds me.
Up and up the chains lift until I am stretched on my tiptoes, my body protesting at being stretched to its full length.
I hang my head, uncontrollable sobs wrenched from me as I struggle to maintain balance on the tips of my toes. Maybe that’s why I don’t hear the footsteps as they approach. Maybe that’s why I am startled when something brushes against me.
A finger runs down my arm with skin that is calloused and rough. My sobs stop, getting caught in my chest along with my breath. The finger trails down my arm slowly, pulling a line of blood, drawing on my skin like he is enjoying the torment he knows his touch inflicts. The torment of the unknown.
His touch doesn’t burn so much once it is shielded by the material of my sleeve. He runs it over my armpit and down my side until it trips over the waistband of my jeans. Then it just stays there, hooked for a second, or maybe it’s a moment disguised as an eternity. When the movement starts again, creeping along my waistband, slipping closer and closer to the buttons of my jeans, I scream.
I scream loud and long and hope I shatter his eardrums. His finger leaves abruptly so I stop screaming, but when it comes back to sear my skin, I scream again. With all my strength, I scream until I imagine my vocal cords snapping and I am wrenched into silence. Only, it isn’t the snap of my vocal cords that silences me, it is the loss of air as firm hands shove me against the wall, lifting my feet from the ground. Something presses against my throat. His arm? I can’t concentrate on what it feels like because it cuts off all the air to my lungs. I gasp, pressed against the wall. I flail my feet, a surge of triumph rising when one connects with what I can only assume is the shin of his leg and a grunt of air is expelled. The pressure against my throat lessens and I swing back, my toes searching for the ground.
But he is still there. I can feel his eyes on me.
He leaves me dangling for a few moments and I hope he will give up and leave me alone, even if that means dangling from the ceiling, wrists in chains and feet constantly searching for the security of the floor. It’s better than being here with him, having his hands run over my body, one step away from doing things I don’t want to think about.
Then my feet are swung from the ground, his hand is at my neck and I am pressed against the wall again. He is quick this time. Quick and rough. My shirt is ripped open and buttons fall to the floor like rain. Coldness presses against me and I hear a slice as my bra is removed. His hand falls from my neck and I swing like a pendulum, my toes frantically grabbing at the floor. I scream again but it doesn’t matter. His hands claw at my jeans, wrestling them over my hips. I flail again and this time my knee connects with a sharp part of him, but he doesn’t stop. He keeps tearing at my clothes until they are gone and I am left naked and dangling.
The chains rattle with my trembling. But I don’t scream this time. By now I know there is no point. If anyone else was here, they would have come to help by now. Either that, or they are in on it too.
And one dose of evil is enough.
I expect his hands to come back. I expected them to brush against my skin and take what they desire. But the only thing that greets me is the clunk of the chain as it starts to lower.
The room grows colder and darker. Colder and darker than it was when he was present. That’s how I know I am alone.
That’s how I know he is gone.
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