Excerpt: Chapter 1
Lying in the dark cabin, I tried not to think about the foul smell of body odor mixed with the stench of urine. I tried not to think about how hungry I was, or when I would eat again. About the plastic zip ties cutting into my wrists, or the spider crawling up my arm. I kept trying and failing. There was nothing to do but think.
Audrey? he spoke in my mind.
“Here,” I replied, still not understanding who or what the voice was, hoping I wasn’t going crazy. Though, after what I had been through, crazy wasn’t too far off. Instead, I focused on what the voice was saying. After weeks of being stuck here, he was the only thing keeping me grounded and giving me hope.
I need you to do something for me.
He sounded drained. “Are you okay?” I asked.
I need you to scream as loud as you can. Now, Audrey! Scream!
Bill had left the cabin only five minutes earlier, and I was afraid to make any noise. What if he was still outside and heard me? Would he come back in? I was so sore and bruised that I couldn’t handle anymore.
Scream! he urged.
Finally trusting the voice, I sucked in a deep breath, closed my eyes, and screamed as loud as I could. At first I sounded like a cat that was being strangled, the sound barely audible and grating on my ears. But I kept trying, and the noise transformed into something loud and fierce.
Yell the word “help.”
“HELP!” My throat was raw, but that didn’t stop me. I took all of my hurt and anger, and used those emotions for the energy needed to sustain the scream.
Then a thumping came from the other room—maybe the front door. My body shuddered. Shimmying to the edge of the mattress, I tried to stand, but my legs gave out, and I fell to the rough, wooden floor, landing on my knees. With bound hands, I inched my way to the corner of the room, as far away from the door as possible.
I wanted to curl into a ball and disappear, but I did what the voice said and let out a shrill, loud cry for help. The sound bounced off the walls, echoing.
Wood shattered in the other room. I kept yelling, wishing that I had the power to destroy Bill with my scream.
The doorknob twisted. Please don’t hurt me again . . . please don’t touch me . . . no more, please. No more.
The door exploded open. Instead of Bill, there stood three hunters dressed in camouflage and bright orange vests. One held a shotgun, and another held an axe. I froze in horror. The men looked at one another and then back at me.
Audrey, tell them who you are. Your name.
“I’m Audrey Marshall. Please help me.”
“The kidnapped girl?” the older guy on the right asked. I nodded. “I’m calling 9-1-1. You’re going to be all right now,” he said reassuringly, his cell phone already at his ear.
“Thank you,” I whispered to the voice. But he didn’t respond.
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