CHAPTER ONE - NIGHTMARE
Rain pours down with a chill to the night air, I find myself running for my life, a nightmare that I could not wake up from, a sick reality that had me on the run. The tears streak down my now dirty face, as I cry with the overwhelming doom that hung over my head. I was all alone, betrayed and wanted for reasons unknown to me. I had so many questions racing in my head with no answers. When I think about how angry he was with me, how he hurt me. It was clear to me that something snapped, he was not the same man I thought of as my uncle that raised me as his own child. Not only was he different, there were others, and I didn’t know who they were or what they wanted.... A noise not far away pulls me from my thoughts, I look up in desperation to find out where the sound was coming from. Fear begins to spike through me as the sounds grow closer; I fear he has found me.
I manage to pull myself off the ground to get to the alley ahead. I hoped that in the darkness I would be able to out run him or even hide. With my racing heart, and gasping lungs, my feet beat against the pavement as I try to reach the alley before they spot me. I manage to get around the corner, drop down and hide myself beside a large metal garbage bin. I squat down, pushing myself against the wall; I conceal myself in the shadows. My breathing is erratic, my heart is pounding and all the adrenaline running through my body is taking its toll on me. I try to calm myself so I can focus on the situation.
Who was I kidding, I was just a teenage girl, helpless and defenseless against him. I couldn’t imagine what he wanted with me that had to do with the strangers that were in our basement? I couldn't let him find me, I had a bad feeling about this whole situation. One thing for sure was that I couldn't hide here all night in this weather, if he didn't find me here, I would catch a cold from the cold rain. I had to make a choice, a risky one but it was still a choice I had to make. I move to the end of the garbage bin to try to peer around the side when sounds of footsteps make me freeze. I pull myself back, wedging myself up against the wall as the sheer panic sets in. I can only hope he didn’t see me in the shadows.
With every hair standing on end, I fight against my body’s urge that screams for me to run. Knowing I can't outrun him with my exhausted, run down body, all I can do is pull my legs up against my body and slow my breathing. I make myself focus on trying to be as calm as possible, as the footsteps grow closer. Full-blown panic starts setting in as I reach up to pull my hood over my head. Without moving a muscle, I watch as the two figures walk past me, making their way up the street, I try to make out who they are with no luck. They are too far away from me now to make out any details, other than they appear to be two males dressed in long black coats. One of the men shouts something to someone at the end of the alley, as they take off running down another alley.
Finding my courage, I manage to pull myself up from my crouching position. I take one quick look around before taking off running in the opposite direction. As I run, I’m trying to figure out where I can hide so they can’t find me but nothing comes to mind. I continue to run as my lungs feel like they are going to fail me like before, I push myself to continue running down the alley leading to a street, to avoid anyone that might be around searching for me. Stopping dead in my tracts, I spot a fire escape ladder hanging down only a few feet from the ground. I decide that this was worth taking a chance as I jump up grabbing the ladder. I pull the ladder the rest of the way down, and begin to climb up the rusty steps that threaten to give way at my weight. Climbing onto the platform I reach down and grab the top of the ladder, pulling it up so no one can reach it from the ground. Grabbing the rails, I continue to climb up a few more steps putting me further off the ground.
When I reach the top, I find a window that has long been busted out as the broken glass litters the platform around the window. Carefully I peer inside to see that it appears to be abandoned. Pulling my sleeve down over my hand, I knock the rest of the pieces remaining in the window so I can enter without cutting myself. Taking one last look around I slide on leg in first followed by the rest of my body. Holding on to the frame of the window, I steady myself as I pull my other leg in. Peering out I look for any signs of anyone that might be around only to find the streets quiet with no one in site. Stepping back from the window I find that every muscle aches in protest making my body scream for some kind of relief. I walk over to the wall and slide down to sit on the ground. Leaning up against the wall, I bring my knees to my chest as I try to calm my body that’s shaking violently from my cold wet clothes that cling to my body. I close my eyes and listen for any sounds that would signal anyone’s approach.
With a jolt I wake in a panic, realizing I must have dozed off sometime during the night from exhaustion. I look around to make sure I was still alone. Taking in my surroundings, it appears as if I'm in what must have been an apartment long time ago. It must have been shut down years ago with its poor condition. The room was empty with only trash and broken items littering its floors. The wall paper had peeled down the walls and was marked with spray paint and holes that I could only guess were some kids having fun. I manage to roll over, getting to my feet even though my body protests from the position I slept in. Making my way across the floor avoiding several holes and cracks, I make my way toward the door. With my curiosity I want to see what else may lie ahead in this building. I push the door, making it creek on its rusty hinges. Sticking my head out, I look to see if I can find anything that might help me, but I wasn't going to get my hopes up with the way everything looked. Making my way down the hall without stepping in the damaged part of the floor, I head for the next door. Pushing it open, I see what must have been a bathroom at one time with a broken mirror hanging sideways on the wall over a dirty old skink that was stained with rust and grime. I take my sleeve to my shirt and wipe a spot that was not broken or corroded to see what I looked like. When I find a decent spot what reflects back at me shakes me to my core.
My poor face is a mess with makeup running down my cheeks as the bruises show from underneath it all. I reach up and rub my face to find that it stings from the cute running along my jaw. Anger runs through me, as I take in my appearance. I look like I was hit by a car with this amount of damage to my face. How could he do this to me? How could he say he loved me like his own child and turn around and attacked me? Tears sting my eyes as I choke down a sob that threatens to undo me. I remove my jacket and drape it over the tub that sits beside the sink that looks more repulsive than the sink. Pulling my eyes away I look back at my poor reflection that now haunts me. My dark hair hangs flat past my shoulders in a tangled mess. The cut is not to deep that it would require stitches, but needed to be cleaned up before any infection set in. My eyes are swollen from crying through the night. I pull my eyes from the mirror to assess the rest of my injuries. I pull up my shirt to find that my side is black and blue to match my poor face. I run my fingers along the black bruise making me flinch from the pain from the kicks my uncle unleashed on me when I was down.
I had no idea how bad it was last night with all the adrenaline raging through me. Pulling my shirt down I move down to pull my pants down only to reveal more bruises that cover several parts of my legs. I don't remember how I got those exactly, but figure it was when I was fighting him off. I pull my pants up and pushing up my sleeves to see more bruises where he held me so tight with his hand that his fingers were almost embedded into my skin. Pulling my sleeves down I reach over and pull my jacket on. I try to sooth my poor hair down to find it’s a lost cause. I turn the knob on the sink in hopes that there might be some water only to jump when black and brown water spirits out of the sink leaving a black puddle in the sink. The water clears up a little I run my hands under to wash the dirt from my hands and face to try to get some of dirt and makeup off my face. When I start I muffled my cry’s when the dirt scratches my face like sandpaper. After washing for several minutes I look up to see my red face without the black eyeliner marks but no better than when I started. He beat the crap out of me with just his hands. I can't let anyone see me like this or they would grow suspicious.
I make my way through more of the house to find nothing but more old broken furniture with trash lying around everywhere. I figure if there was ever anything left it was taken either by thieves or by the rats that ran up and down the halls. After coming up short handed I head back to the room where I came in. Sliding down the wall I decide to wait it out until dark to travel in the shadows of the night to keep hidden from the world. My stomach grumbles with hunger as I try to ignore it I pull my knees up and rest my head as I fiddle with the locket on my chain around my neck that always gave me comfort.
I could never truly understand why because I couldn't remember who gave it to me when I was only a small child. It was made of gold in the shape of a tiny heart that had strange writing engraved on the back in some language that I couldn't understand. It looked like it could open but I never could figure out how to get it open without damaging the locket. Out of a nervous tick I would rub my thumb along the engravings of the words. The women that I remember gave it to me only asking only one thing in return "It is very important that you never take it off. Make it a part of you," she said as she finished snapping it. I never took it off and somehow it felt like a part of me now and I relied on it for comfort.
I replay the events of the night before as my uncle that I had been living with turned on me. He was the one that did this to me and it was a side I had never seen before. He was so angry with me which confused me. I always had tried to be a good child and always did what he told me to do so his behavior had me confused. I thought that he loved me as if I was his own daughter. He had raised me since I was four when my parents were killed in a car accident. I had no other family but him and I could honestly say it wasn't that bad growing up with him. He had taught me many things and I had many happy childhood memories except for the one night he snapped.
I was so scared when it was happening and now I hated him for it. The hate he had for me in his eyes made no sense to me as I had begged and pleaded with him to stop. When he grabbed me by my wrists pulling me down the steps of our two story house in the middle of the night, I practically fell down the steps behind him. I begged him to tell me what was going on, only to be answered with silence. I pulled away and only got a few feet from him when he grabbed for me again making me trip and fall to the floor hitting my face. Crawling away I was almost up several steps when he grabbed my ankle and pulled me down causing more damage to my face. Yanking me up off the floor he pulled me through the house with almost a growling sound radiating from his throat.
I begged and pleaded for him to stop only to find that it made him angry. "You’re scaring me," I remember telling him with no response as he continued to drag me. I feared what was down there, waiting for me. I was running out of options, finding the courage, I make one bold move by push my body backwards, using my feet I kick at him causing him to lose his grip and go flying backwards down the steps. There were gasps and mumbling from the people down stairs as I turn grabbing at the steps ahead of me, I get to my feet and run as fast as I could up the steps to my room.
As I entered the room I turned fast and locked the door behind me. I'm in a state of panic and I know I have to act fast because I know that only slowed him down. I run across my room and grab a pair of pants from my floor, pulling them on as I dart to my bed grabbing the purple hood that I took off earlier that was draped on the end of the bed. Pulling the hood on I grab my jacket on the chair when I hear footsteps coming up the steps. I must hurry, I don't know who they are or what they want with me but my gut feeling tells me to run. I open the window and start climbing out when the door to my room comes crashing in. I'm almost out when a pair of hands grabs my leg causing me to fall out of the window to the ground below. I fall on my back knocking the breath out of me leaving me paralyzed and sprawled out on the lawn. I must move, I must get up.
Run . . . Run . . . I scream in my head as I gasp trying to get air back into my lungs that seem almost impossible. After a minute my lungs suck in precious oxygen letting me move. I roll over, get to my feet, and run. I take off and run for the street trying to put as much space between me and them.
I keep running as my uncle calls out my name. "Kirsten, stop! You have nowhere to run," he says in a mincing voice.
I hear him running after me as I dart down the side of the building, right into the scary alley that most would steer clear of. I can't think of the possible danger that may lurk in the shadows when I have danger running after me. I keep running as I pull in painful sharp breaths into my lungs as my side’s begin to hurt. My mind races, as I keep running. I make it down a few more alleys when the rain starts to fall. I run a few more blocks darting between more buildings as my body protests from the pain but I keep going till I know that I lost them for the time being. The pain in my body gets to be too much so I take a short rest while hiding beside a garbage bin. I still keep trying to wrap my mind around what they were trying to do or what they wanted me for. This was a nightmare that I was sure I was not going to be waking up from.
Darkness finally comes and with caution I make my way through the window the same way I came following night. Carefully I make my way down the ladder that threatens to give way as it protests from my weight. Jumping to the ground I dart into a full run till I reach the end of the alley. Pulling my hood up, I look around the corner to make sure no one is around. I make my way through the park as I try to think of where to go. I couldn't run forever, I had to find a safe place. Where do I go from here? I'm only seventeen with no other family other than my uncle that has turned on me leaving me with no one to run to. I had to figure out what to do if I was going to survive the night . .