CHAPTER TWO - THE GETAWAY
I run as fast as I can in the opposite direction of my house. I needed to get as far away as I could before they figured out I was still near. I didn't know where I was going, but I had to find a place to regroup my thoughts on what to do after I knew I was out of immediate danger. I keep running till I get to a part of woods near a park I use to go to when I was a kid. I get into the tree line, collapsing to the ground on my hands and knees. I'm gasping for air, my body is hurting and I'm feeling helpless. I set back on my butt, resting my back against a tree as I slow my breathing down. I was fooling myself if I thought I could do this on my own. I had no money, no place to go and no one I could go to that my uncle would not come looking for me.
I start to cry all over again, I was going to have to quit my school, forget my boyfriend, and leave all my friends behind. I had to get out of this town if I was going to survive this nightmare. I needed answers but I knew it was a lost cause to try to find any. It would only lead me back to him, and I couldn't let that happen. I sit and cry for what seemed like a few minutes when I hear a car pull up close by. I look past the trees to see a silver car parked near the park entrance. Two men get out, dressed in the black coats like the night before. I'm frozen with fear that if I made even the smallest noise they would find me. I was even holding my breath as I watched them start to look around. I knew I had to move before they made their way to this side of the woods. I watch them move to the other side of the woods, giving me the opportunity to put some distance between me and them.
I get to my feet, and run as fast as I can deeper into the woods. I knew these woods pretty well, which gave me a little bit of an advantage on them. The only place I could think of was my best friend Hanna. She lived not far from here but if I went to her for help I could bring the danger that was following me. I didn't have any other choice but to turn to her for help. With my mind made up I head in her direction. I make it through the woods, then I keep to the shadows of the buildings. I take the back ways as much as possible. I'm only a block away from her house so I slow to make sure everything is safe. In the darkness I scope out the house making sure I was not followed.
I see her room on the second floor, lite up by her desk light. I can only hope that she's still awake. I took another look around and once I figured it was clear I made my way over to her house. Standing beside a tree in her yard I picked up several small pebbles and tried my best to hit her window to get her attention. After missing several times, I fuss at myself in the process while constantly looking over my shoulder. Finally, on the fourth time she slid her window up and peered down at me.
“Hanna it's Kirsten, I need your help, can I come in?” I ask in a whisper.
"Sure come to the back door and I'll let you in," she says as she slides the window closed.
Taking another look around I dart around back to the porch. When she gets the door unlocked, I run inside shutting the door and locking it behind me. I peered back out to make sure no one has seen me come in.
"What's wrong Kirsten, what happened to you?" she asks as she pulls me into her arms. “Who did this to you?” she asks as she pulls away to take in my awful state.
"I don't have much time, I'm in serious trouble. I have to get away from here and fast. I have nothing on me, not even my phone. I had to leave it all behind. I don't know what happened other than my uncle flipped out on me and attacked me. I've been on the run since last night," I explain to her.
"Your uncle how could he do this to you? He's one of the nicest people I know. Here set down and let me get you something to drink and then I'm going to get you patched up. We will figure this out. Do you think that they would suspect that you are here with me?" she asked as she pours me a glass of juice.
"I don't think so, but everything I have ever known has just been thrown out the window literally. Do you care if I get you something to eat? I haven't eaten anything in a while,” I confess.
"Lord Girl, you know this is like your second home, help yourself," she says as she opens the cabinet to get me a plate out.
I open the fridge and pull out some lunch meet and some other things. With the task at hand I put a quick sandwich together. I have it eaten in less than five minutes which almost makes me sick. My stomach thanks me greatly.
Hanna leads me up to her room, then heads into her bathroom. When she emerges, she has several items in her arms. Dumping them on her bed, she motions for me to sit. She closely examined my face.
"I can't believe he did this to you." she says as she starts going through the items she brought out.
"Me either, I'm still playing out everything that happened. It just doesn't make any sense to me. You should have seen the look in his eyes. He looked like he was possessed by something. There's something else, when he was trying to take me to the basement I could hear other people talking. I didn't get to see who they were but the whole situation was really scary. One minute I'm sleeping and the next my uncle is dragging me to the basement in any means necessary. I have a really bad feeling about this. I have no one but him as family. I don't know what to do," I tell her.
"I'm hoping that there is a good explanation for all of this, it sounds like something out of a horror book," she says as she continues to clean my face.
Once she finishes with my wounds, she starts going through the items that look like a first aid kit. Taking some cotton balls and some peroxide, she starts to clean my face. When she hits certain spots on my face, it stings.
"He really did a number on your face. I hope these don't scar," she says as she makes her way around my face.
I know it's very bad; it must have been when I fell and hit the floor. I can't stay long; this is one place I'm sure he will come looking for me.
"Ok, all done. Go take a quick shower and I will get you some of my clothes," she tells me as she hands me a towel.
I walk into the bathroom and shut the door behind me. I peel my dirty clothes off me and start the shower. I step in and let the hot water wash over me. I try to ignore the bruises that cover my body as I take the body wash and squirt it onto a sponge. I lather it up and make my way up my legs to my arms. My ribs are still really sore and I fear that I might have a broken or fractured rib. I wash my hair and the shampoo smells delightful. After getting all rinsed off I step out and wrap the towel around my body. Brushing my wet brown hair out it hangs down my back. I head out of the bathroom and find Hanna busy packing.
"Here are some clothes for you,” she says as she hands me a clean pair of Jeans and a blue long sleeve shirt with stripes.
Thank goodness that me and Hanna are about the same size. I pull on the clothes and they fit comfortably. I dry my hair and put some more ointment and bandages on my scrapes.
"I know everyone will be asking all kinds of questions when I don't come back to school. Daniel will be crushed when I don't contact him or explain anything to him. Will you make up some story on why I left and why I won't be coming back," I ask Hanna.
Her face falls with horror. "He's going to be crushed, I didn't think about that. I don't know if I can break the news to him," she says with panic in her voice.
"I need you to do this, I can't handle any more heart break. I know he will ask questions, and I don't have any answers. He's the type of guy that would run off with me, and I can't have that," I explain.
Hanna sets down on the bed with a sad face. "You better be glad I'm your best friend, I don't know if anyone else would take on this crazy request. He's going to cry and everything, you watch," she tells me.
"I know, but it's the only thing I can think of," I tell her as I set down beside her on the bed.
"While you were in the shower I called my aunt in West Virginia that I stay with during the summers. She said that you could stay with her for a while till you could figure something out. She doesn't need to know all the details, only the main details. I told her that your father was abusive and you needed to get away. I think that would be the best cover story for this situation. When she sees you, I guarantee she won't ask many questions. She's really cool about stuff like this. She my favorite aunt, she’s the aunt that everyone likes. If you are still there by next summer, I will come down and see you. Until then, you better use my phone and keep me updated. He would never expect you to be there so this is the perfect safe place for you," she says as she wraps her arms around me.
“I can't believe the mess I'm in," I tell her as I start to get all emotional again.
"It will be ok, you’re not alone, you have me. Here is some money that I managed to get out of my mom's wallet, she won't even know it's missing. And here is my phone, you can call me to let me know how you’re doing," she says as she places some money in my hand with her cell phone.
We are distracted when we hear Hanna's mom coming up the steps as she's talking to someone making me and Hanna freeze. Hanna pushes me to the ground and motions for me to get under her bed as she grabs everything off the bed slinging it into the floor. She kicks the stuff under the bed, then leaps into bed and turns her light out. A knock sounds on her door. I'm holding my breath, as Hanna acts like she just woke up.
"Mom I'm trying to sleep," she calls out.
Her door opens and the hall light, lights up her room. Hanna this is Kristen's uncle," she says as my uncle enters the room.
My heart pounds and the fear takes hold of me all over again. I want to run but I know I got to be as quiet as possible or he will find me.
"Hanna, sorry to have woke you up at such a late hour but I'm worried about Kirsten. We were playing around and she fell and hit her head. She ran off before I could see how bad she was hurt. I'm worried she may have hurt herself bad. She’s not acting herself. I think she may have a concussion that is making her see things that are not true. I really need to get her to a hospital. Have you seen her?" he asks in a calm tone.
Liar I want to scream. I know I'm not seeing things and I sure in the hell didn't have a delusion about him attacking me.
"I’ve not seen her, or herd anything from her. I will keep my eye out for her. If she comes here, I will have mom call you," she says as if she was actually shocked by the news he just told her.
Oh how I love my friend. Thank goodness she took all those drama classes at school. "Ok, sorry to have bothered you," he says and they shut my door. She flops back on the bed and I can hear her let out her breath. "That was a close one," she says.
"I got to get out of here and fast," I say as I shimmy out from under the bed. I walk over to the window and see him get in his car and leave.
"As soon as mom goes to sleep, I will drive you to the bus station.
When we know everyone is asleep she tosses me one of her coats as we head down stairs. She leans down and picks up a backpack with stuff in it. As we head into the garage, she throws the backpack into the back seat then climbs into the driver’s seat. Backing up without the lights on we head down her street. There are no cars in sight which I find to be a blessing. My nerves are on end as I keep looking in the mirror, thinking they will come and follow us. When we get some distance from her house she flips on the cars headlights. We pull up to the bus station and park the car. Climbing out, we both head inside the station. She buys me a ticket and we sit down waiting for the next bus to depart.
"I will keep my ears peeled to see what I hear. You have my phone, call me anytime you need to," she says.
“Don't you need it?" I ask.
"No I can get another one, just keep it until you get there. My aunt said she would meet you at the station when you arrived and would keep you safe until we can figure out what’s going on," she explains.
She pulls me to her and sobs into my shoulder. "I'm going to really miss you. Be careful and stay safe," she says. I give her a nod, and then turn to get on the bus. I peer out at my best friend that waves me off with tears in her eyes. My heart hurts as I finally lose track of her. As the bus hits the interstate, I settle into my seat, then fall apart as I cry as quiet as I can. I cry for a long while until my mind wonders on how this happened. I just didn't see this coming, we were laughing earlier that day. All I could figure, was that my uncle must be involved in something really bad. Maybe he pissed someone off, or owed someone money. Was I the bargaining chip he was going to use to get himself out of hot water. There was no sadness or pain in his eyes, just anger. I just couldn't think of anything else that could make him act like that. It’s still dark outside as I watch each street light passed by. The bus was empty for the most part except for an occasional person that would board and then get off in a stop or two. The past events left me drained and I found myself dozing in and out as my trip went on. When the bus comes to a stop, announcing our arrival, I snapped out of my trance that I must have been in. Stretching I grab my backpack and head for the door.
When I get off the bus an older lady stands in silence until I get near her. "So you must be Kirsten. My niece called me and said you needed my help. Her face grows in shock at the appearance of my face. Her face softens, “Let's get you back to my house and then we can work out the details.”
I follow her out to the parking lot where a dark SUV stands. I climbed in as she starts the engine. "My name is Marie, it's nice to meet you," she says as she pulls out.
"Thank you for picking me up," I say as I try to hide my face from her. I can tell she has already seen the bruises and the painful look on her face tells me that she knows I have been to hell and back.
It's not a long drive at all when we pull up to this white house that has green shutters on the windows. She shuts the car off and climbs out. I grab my backpack and follow her up the stone pathway. She unlocks the door and I walk in behind her. She drops the keys on a nearby table as she heads into another room.
"Do you want some tea? She calls out to me.
"That would be really nice, thank you,” I say as I look around the room.
A few minutes pass and she comes back with a tray with two cups and some cookies. She sets them on the small table and sits down on one of the couches. She motions for me to sit on the one that’s facing her.
“So Kirsten, what kind of trouble are you it? I just need the basics, you can leave out the really bad parts but I need a little information," she says as she pours her a cup of tea.
"I.......I'm not sure what happened. It's my father. He attacked me out of the blue and I think he was trying to kill me. I have to hide from him. I think he lost his mind," I choke out.
She gives me a surprised look and then picks her tea up and takes a sip. "My dear, it sounds like he did lose his mind. I will keep in contact with my niece and see if anything changes. Until then I will hide you here. This means you are going to have to lay low and the fewer people that know you’re here the better protection I can give you. My niece means the world to me and she talks very high of you. I would move the earth for her. I have a spare room upstairs that you can use, and there are some clothes that my niece has that might fit. And take two of these my dear that looks like it's got to hurt," she says as she hands me two pills with a weary smile.
"Yes," I say as I take them and down them with my tea.
“Now let's get you settled, you look like rest should be your best friend," she says as she stands and starts up the steps.
I move quickly to catch up to her as she makes her way to the second floor. "Over there is the room, and this door leads to a bathroom. If you get hungry or thirsty, the kitchen is downstairs. It’s easy to find. If you need anything else, my room is the far door down the hall. Just give her a knock and I'll help you, she says with a smile.
"Thank you again,” I say as I enter the room she showed me.
In the room is a twin bed with a small dresser to the right with a mirror hanging above it in the shape of an oval. There are a few pictures on the mirror of my best friend Hanna. She's with her aunt and her brother in several of them. I walk over to the dresser and open the first drawer. There are the usual socks, underwear and bras. I shut it and move to the next drawer. Bingo, I pull out a little pink set of pajamas, sliding them on. I climb into bed pulling the covers up drifting off to sleep in a matter of minutes.
I'm running, and it’s cold and wet. I don't see where I'm running to or from. I look around in the darkness and see nothing but the rain falling from the sky. The street lights light each drop and my feet splash the puddles that are forming on the ground. My heart is thumping and I feel like I'm about ready to come out of my own skin. Then out of nowhere a pair of hands grabs me. My own screams wake me up. I'm sitting up and the sweat is running down my face. My hands are clammy and the covers are a mess form where I was tossing and turning. Suddenly the door busts open and there is Marie standing in the doorway in her robe and a gun in her hand. When she takes in the scene, she puts it against the wall in the hallway and comes into the room.
“Bad dreams," she asks.
"Yes, I'm sorry I woke you up; it was so real. I was living it all over again, the running away part," I say as I try to slow my heart down.
"I'm sure you will have many more of these. At least I will be more prepared for screams in the middle of the night," she says as she smiles at me. “Try to get some sleep," she says as she gets up from the bed and heads over to the door. She looks back one more time and then shuts the door.
I lay back on my pillow and stair up at the ceiling. Now what, I keep thinking to myself. I'm far away from him and still feel like he's going to come busting in and take me away. To do whatever evil that has come over him. I put my arm over my eyes and begin to cry. I cry silently to try not to wake Marie up. I don't like for anyone to see me cry. Tears run down my cheek, making my pillow wet. I'm so tired and exhausted, I want sleep so bad but there is the fear of slipping into another nightmare. I give in and close my eyes once again . . .
For the next few days, things were a blur, I did a lot of sleeping to let my body regain its strength, but little sleep came as I woke up in panic from nightmares or fear that he found me. On the third day I wake up and its daylight outside, I go to set up making my body protest with every move I make. I’m so sore that every inch of me screams with pain. I slip out of bed and head over and pull out a pair of jeans and a pink top. When I dress, I can see Hanna in this, it's totally her for sure. My face looks much worse than yesterday. The bruises are turning different colors. I see yellows, black and purple, and I'm not sure but I think I see brown. This is going to take a few weeks to fix.
I touch my swollen cheek and wonder if my face will ever look the way it once did. I lean down and grab the backpack and dump the contents out. Hanna’s cells phone, some makeup, a little cash, first aid supplies, a brush and some hair ties. Gees the girl was prepared for a makeover. I grab for the makeup first. I dab on the foundation, only to realize I had to drown my poor face to even make any changes. I put on some blush which helps some but I still look like a mess. I brush out my hair and then put the contents back in the backpack and set it beside the dresser.
I head down to the kitchen to find Marie sitting at the kitchen table sipping some coffee. She has breakfast sitting on the table, the smell is heavenly. I can't believe how hungry I am. I take a plate and load it up with pancakes and bacon. I dig in and it tastes so good. She grins at me as she takes another sip of her coffee. "I'm glad to see that you have an appetite and that I'm hoping that my cooking is good," she says. I nod in appreciation as I shovel another bite in.
"I'm going to be heading out to town and wondered if you needed anything while I'm out," Marie asks me.
“I'm not really sure if I need anything, this is perfect," I say.
"Ok I will be gone for a few hours, stay inside and don't answer the door. I have a house key so I can let myself in. Make yourself at home," she says as she stands and takes the keys off the table with her purse.
I finish eating and decide to clean the kitchen up. It's the least I could do to repay her for her kindness. After washing the dishes, I head upstairs to find my best friend’s phone. I find it in the backpack sitting next to the dresser. I dial her up and wait for her to answer.
"Hey," she answers.
"It's me," I say.
"Hey, how are things there," she asks.
"It’s great. Your aunt is great. She's been really kind to me. So what’s going on there," I ask.
"Your uncle came by again asking for you and it looks like he took a beating himself. They are treating it like a runaway case. They had a few search parties looking around for you, I think they are watching my house. I can see them parked down the street but mom hasn't even taken notice. I guess they just under estimate us teens," she chuckles.
"Yes indeed," I say.
"Keep in touch with me as often as possible, but I think that we should keep our chats short just in case they are tracing the calls," she says.
"Oh, I didn't think about that. OK, I will talk to you soon," I reply.
"Yes soon," she replies and then hangs up. I put the phone back in the backpack and head downstairs. If I was going to be here for a while, I figured I would get to know the place a little.