The black fog enveloped her mind but soon evaporated like a mist lifting. She tried to move. Her arms ached. Scratches and cuts covered the hands bound in front of her. The confining space closed in around her. The fear in her heart escalated. Beads of sweat dripped into her eyes. The odor of fuel and oil surrounded her. Her legs cramped, her muscles hurt as if she’d been beaten.
The child lay still for a moment. What did I do wrong? She thought about her daily trek to school. She never suspected. She and her friends had not been warned. A predator hunted nearby. Usually she walked with Nancy but yesterday she’d been late and made the journey alone.
The roar of the engine ceased. Forward momentum stopped. Hope invaded her thinking. A car door slammed. The sound of footsteps infiltrated the darkness inside the trunk. She held her breath. Fearful anticipation filled her as the lid began to lift.
Tears flowed freely down the girl’s face. “Let me go! Please. I won’t tell.”
“Shut up.” He grabbed her. The brute set her on her feet. Her legs buckled. The man circled her arm with one hand. He dragged her around the back of the car and untied her hands. She managed to force her limbs to cooperate. Her slender legs kicked at his shins. He shook her so hard, her head snapped back.
The girl tugged her arm. His hold never slackened. She kicked again. She tried to scratch the hand that took her. Her scream hurt even her ears. Her captor slapped her, his open palm leaving a hot stinging sensation across her lower jaw. “Let me go!”
He laughed. They moved toward a circular stone-walled structure. The girl dared to fight harder. She yanked her body every which way, slipping on damp, broken pavement. Her gaze flew to his face. He pushed her against the wall. The cold from the stone wall seeped through her jeans. What is this?
The man’s grip tightened on her arm as he swung her to face the deep, black hole. It’s a well! His other hand reached for a rope. The scratchy hemp hung from a round log bracketed between upright posts standing on two sides of the well. She twisted away from him using her feet to leverage herself against the stone. His grip released but he used his body to imprison her. Escape was futile.
She glanced down into the depths before her. “No. Don’t drop me in.” She checked out her surroundings. She yelled for help, taking a deep breath to fill her lungs again. She remembered the instruction her voice coach taught her. She screamed again, a little louder. He didn’t care. He wrapped a rope around her torso. The knot at her waist bit into her spine.
The kidnapper released her. He grabbed the handle for the winch used to lower the rope. She tried to reach behind to untie herself. The corded strands were strong, course, and scratched her skin. Her arms weren’t long enough.
The brute turned the handle. Her body was pulled closer to the well, then up. He set her on the edge of the wall and the struggling stopped. She didn’t want to fall. He pushed. She dangled in mid air. Her screams escalated but they seemed to be in the middle of a large vacant field. She screamed louder. “Let me go! Let me go!”
Her body began its descent into blackness. She was falling. The darkness grabbed at her, wrapping tentacles around her body and her head. It pulled her into the abyss, enveloping her like the coils of a snake. Her screams echoed from the dank walls. Her eyes adjusted slowly as the ground below seemed to advance toward her. She gazed up but now a round piece of sky was the extent of any light source. His face leaned over the edge. “Untie the rope.”
“I can’t.” Her feet slipped out from under her. She fought for balance. “Don’t leave me here.” Tears cascaded down her cheeks.
“Do it.” He yanked on the braided fibers swinging her in the air again. “I’ll shoot you.”
She struggled, her hands managed to move the rope a few inches around her torso. She tugged again. Her fingers grabbed the knot. She worked the twisted hemp until the knot released. She wanted to grab the life line as it disappeared over the rim of the wall above her. He’s going to leave me here. All alone. Her tears turned into a bawl. “No! You can’t do this!”
Silence. She screamed, “Get me out of here!” The sound echoed around her but seemed to go nowhere. “Help me! Someone!” She raised her screams a decibel higher.
“Shud up.” Someone sniffed and then sneezed. The girl jumped, her trembling body took a step backwards.
The person sniffed again. The girl blinked. “Who are you? Where …?”
“Don’t do no good screaming. I know.”
The girl’s eyes followed the sound. She spotted a body, scrunched against the earthen wall. She swiped at the moisture clinging to her eyelashes. “How long you been here?”
“Four days.” Her voice contained little emotion. “What’re you? Twelve?”
The child hiccoughed. She cleared her throat and took a step toward the other girl. “Yeah. Why is he doing this?”
The other one laughed. The sound held more contempt than joy. “Can’t you guess?” She altered her position a little. “Might as well sit down. You’re gonna be here a while.”
This time the tears flowed freely down the girl’s face. She stepped to the opposite wall. As she looked for a dry spot, she spotted its beady eyes shining from the darkness before she caught sight of the rodent. She screeched. The sound could tumble walls if they’d been made of something other than the earth itself.
“You’ll come to think of him as a friend soon. Sit over here. He won’t come any closer as long as you don’t fall asleep.” The older girl pointed to the bite marks on her arms and legs. “We can help each other now.”