To Fall a Tree Chapter 3

“Come on,” Kat blinked to take in the face of the young girl, “let’s jump in!” her little fingers were wrapped around Kat’s hand. They weren’t holding hands; the girl was just holding her. The girl motioned toward the cliff. She had to be twelve maybe thirteen at the most. Her bathing suit was already wet and they had been swimming, Kat realized without thinking it. Kat looked down to find her own bathing suit, they matched. This was her sister? She scrunched her nose in question but the girl pulled harder. Pulling her attention back.

“We won’t get this again,” the girl begged. Her blonde hair was like that of an angelic baby doll. Curly and bouncy with silver highlights. Kat tried to open her mouth but no words came, as if her tongue was covered with sand. Her own red straight hair caught in the breeze and covered her eyes. She tried to pull her hand from her sister but the grip only grew tighter.

Suddenly her hands were both free and she nearly staggered backward. She brushed her hair away from her eyes and saw the back of her sister’s head just as she went over the edge of the cliff.

Bone straight and cut blunt at the ends. Not a piece out of order. Kat put her hand to her own strands, bold red. Her sister was the starch opposite but Kat smiled and moved to follow the girl. The rocks on the cliff dug into her heels and she couldn’t move.

Katarina tried desperately to scream but no sound came. Her feet were too heavy as she ran to the edge, the blue water below was perfectly still. Not a wave. Not a crease.

She blinked her eyes open. Her own scream woke her and echoed back to her from the darkness. Kat blinked desperately. Wishing the darkness would leave and the colorful beach would stay with her forever. But it didn’t and the warmth and colors of her dream faded into all that she knew now. Fear.

She lay still, staring into the blackness above her. Pretending there were stars and she could connect, pretending the girl was laying next to her.

“Who are you?” she asked the girl of her dreams. Her sister, she was sure, but why couldn’t she form a name to go with the pleasant face. Even the familiarity of the cliff, the beach, the seagulls above her. It all faded faster than she could put names or places to. If she could at least place the water, maybe more memories would accompany the freckled girl. She yearned to return to her destination dream, the one and only escape she had. It left a void deep inside her just as this dark place was that she was forced to live in. Stolen from her friends, her family. Her sister. A tear rolled from the corner of her eye. A void that was filling quickly with anger.

There was no way to know if anyone was looking for her, she couldn’t remember when or how she had been taken. Although her capture fed her too well for her to starve to death, she prayed for death most days. Endless dream where she could happily make that jump with her sister, over the cliff together and then maybe instead of her disappearing into the deep blue waters, they could fly away together. Oblivion. Bliss.

She heard the outer door creak; the sound was slow and ominous. The anger and fear boiled up her throat. Kat had a strange urge to growl at the man as the door closed behind the distant outline and once more, she was only in perfect darkness.

There was a faint odor of breakfast, or possibly supper, she never knew. She didn’t move as his footsteps drew closer across the concrete floor. The faint slaps of his naked feet on the floor matched the slam of her heart in her rib cage. The anger of the dream and her sister being ripped from her grew until it felt difficult to breath.

Her kidnapper was breathing heavy but she could hear the faint click of the TV tray being set up. The plate hitting the wood top and the jingle of keys as he drew nearer to change her cuff. He would rotate hands to allow Kat’s hand some rest. This was the only reprieve she had.

His hand touched her arm and began to pull her upward. Most days she would comply and sit up for her meal but the fading picture of her sister’s face in her mind only fueled her rage. Kat pulled her arm away, “No!” she screamed spontaneously.

“I’m done playing this unknown game, what do you want from me? Why am I here? Why do you not talk to me?” She kicked her legs and sprung upward on the bed so quickly that her shoulder slammed into his chest. A solid, ‘umpf’ escaped his lips and it was the first sound she had ever heard from him. Except for the occasional throat clearing. This was new! A surge of adrenaline turned to electric heat through her body and even though the thin nighty did not much against the cool of the room, she kicked the blankets off and reared her legs toward his sound. Her ankle made contact his middle.

“You mother fucker! What do you want from me?”

A grumble and heavy breathing replied Kat as she wailed her legs as a child would, playing he game- not my fault if I hit you. Her left knee connected with the tray and the dish went crashing, something shattered that Kat could only imagine was a glass of water or juice accompanying the food.

Kat pulled her body back against the metal bed frame, catching her breath. It had been more movement than she had done in a while. Tears stretched her cheeks in the darkness.

“I want to go home, I want to see my sister.” Katarina sobbed, not wanting to show the evil man such raw emotion but it poured from her. She dropped her head and cried as the man moved toward her once again. Laying a hand on her thigh, it may have been an act of compassion but Kat had nothing but anger and fear in her. The warmth of his hand on her naked skin infuriated her. She could hear his feet moving away the bits of glass as he drew closer. The key moving past her head, shifting just enough of her hair to set her off.

She inhaled and held her breath because she knew if she exhaled, it would be too soon.

The key turned in the cuff and it clicked free. His hand lifted from her thigh and moved to her hand, resting her elbow against the cold frame of the bed. Kat felt her head grow faint, holding her breath was getting more difficult. He moved his hand to her free hand where he would lock the hand cuff back on and Katarina would be chained once more. In a deep dark, black hollow room that held no emotion and hid her from the world and her sister. And whoever else might be looking for her. He was keeping her from them. He was hiding her from the only ones she loved for no reason, no fault except that he could. For the power of it. Kat burst.

 “How dare you!” She screamed. Her pent-up emotions; anger, depression, loneliness, the edge of insanity burst out. Both her legs at once slammed into his chest, throwing him backwards, Kat heard the glass crunch and break even further. He made no sound as he collided with the hard floor and Kat sprung off the bed. Her feet holding her upright and she kicked at the darkness to where she thought he might be lying. She missed and screamed an animalistic war cry.

Kat bolted for the door, not thinking past wanting to touch the heavy frame. To feel the exit to her freedom. The pads of her feet slapped the cement floor as she ran. The room felt like it stretched out in front of her, growing larger than she had expected. Exhaustion burnt her lungs and her muscles. She hadn’t done this type of movement in a very, very long time.

Movement came from behind her, “wait,” a masculine voice called. It nearly toppled Kat out of surprise. The first he had spoken in months, years. Ever! She had never heard his voice before now but her hand was on the door. She tripped on the small steps that were leading to the exit and her knees slammed back to the ground.

“Oh,” she cried out in pain.

His steps were quick and heavy behind her. She tried to pull herself back to standing but her head was spinning, the small line of light from under the door tipped vertically as she fell to the ground. The bones in her knees screamed in white pain from her clumsy fall. The man’s hands were on her body, lifting her and turning her back to the bed. She kicked. She screamed and Kat fought for her life. Her left heel bone connected sharply to his patella and she heard a snap.

His strong grasp dropped her but with the pain emitting from her knees, made her consciously lean to fall on her side. In the chaos and confusion that Kat created, she crumpled on her own thin wrist bones. A second snap but this time from her own body. Her lips parted to scream once more but the pain was too much. The blackness lit red suddenly and her head hit the pavement. The red subsided to a deeper black of her unconscious body.

#

It was silent. It was dark. This was normal for Katarina but the sting in her head wasn’t. She moved slightly and her neck popped, small stab of pain from her awkward posture. The memory of what happened came back as a flood along with the pain from her right arm, pinned underneath her body.

Kat cried out, a long sorrow filled cry of pain from the break in her arm. The concrete was cold against her skin but the door appeared ajar in front of her. She sucked in excitedly.

“Hello?” her voice hardly a whisper, she tested to see if her assailant was still in the room. Only deathly silence replied to her. She pulled herself up but when she moved her right arm, pain blinded her and made her fall onto her back.

Kat complained to the silence, “oh, no.” She knew this was a major disadvantage but had he really left and left the door open just a slice? The light that spilled through was an ominous grey but it was the most she had seen in forever it seemed. She rolled to her opposite side and pushed her right arm against her body, in a cradle like position and sat up. Her head spun with the rush of blood and as Kat placed her left hand beside her to propel herself upright, she realized the blood had also split on the floor. It was still warm between her finger tips and immediately she put her hand to her head. A small gash on her eyebrow had opened. She couldn’t recall if the man hit her or she fell of her own accord. All she could remember was the feel of the door for a moment before she bit the concrete.

Instinct placed her hand out to protect her face when she had fallen, there was no way she would have known the thin weight of her body would be no match to her arm bone. It all had happened so fast but Kat felt sick to her stomach from the memory of the thick snap her arm made.

She pulled her bottom along the concrete and ran her fingers along the base of the door. The light moved with her and it was a piece of heaven. Kat pulled herself up to stand and face the door. Her freedom was just beyond her finger tip reach. It was all surreal. It was a trap, her mind told her but when she reached out for the door knob, it fit perfectly in her palm. It swung open freely and Kat couldn’t stop the flow of joyful tears.

Katarina could still taste the metallic tang of her own blood as she stepped through the door, she could still feel the cold concrete as it turned to warm dirt but she would never again feel the confines of that bed. Those hand cuffs or the horrible, cruel man that had kidnapped her.

Another door stood in front of her but Kat felt something pulling her away from it. He could be on just the other side, with a baseball bat. Tapping in his palm, ready to smash her brains in. To her right was a long hall carved from the earth. An old mine shift it seemed, caved in on either side and made to be a trap for just her. She moved down the hallway.

The walls were cold and wet, made of old dirt. She could taste it, smell it stronger than even what her last offered meal from that man had been. Small vines and wrangled roots stuck out as if they were fingers trying to grab her, to hold her captive once more. Kat walked carefully straight down the middle, not allowed anything to capture her. A clump of mud fell off and landed in her hair, she screamed and jump and then stood motionless to cry for too long of a time. Her mind continued to remind herself her that the man could come back any minute. But the release of fear and exhaustion had to be dealt with first.

When she finally turned her head upward again, she saw a line of light kissing the floor. Another hundred meters or more ahead of her. Her knees wobbled, they were scraped and sore. Her heart beat was thumping the pain rhythmically through her right arm and her breathing was erratic at best. The light pulled her forward and kept one foot in front of the other. The black tomb of her life was behind her.

As Kat drew closer, she found there were several lines of blazing yellow gold light from the ceiling. She stopped between the perfectly symmetrical lines and looked up. Buried deep in the packed earth above her head was a door. A locked door.

She found herself staring up at a wooden cellar door. Sealed with a pad lock that was mocking her with the funny crocked smile of the bottom circle and middle gold nose for the key. It smiled down at her, reminding her she was still a hostage. A prisoner of a man she had never seen his face or heard his voice. Not until she escaped anyway but even that felt hazy in her head concussion. A prisoner of an unknown war, Kat yelled out her anger before inhaling and moving on with the issue.

Standing on her tip toes, she could just reach the wood slabs of the hatch door. The smell of nature leaked through the joints above her and she felt she was being lifted by the scent to be closer to the exit. She pushed and pulled, jimmied and jarred the enclosure. Using her fingernails, she tried to loosen the rusty screws. Turning them one way then the other. Her nails breaking and ripping too quickly, and she only had one hand she could use. In no time at all she started rubbing the skin on her finger tips down to the soft pinky flesh. She decided in her heart, she would not leave this spot until the man returned to kill her, or the cellar ceiling collapsed on her head giving her an honest death.

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