Breaking the Ice
I felt my hip bone crunch as I fell on the ground with a muffled thud. Not finding time to cushion my fall with my hands, I thought I died from the pain. Red and silvery blotches danced before my eyes and I felt my pants getting warm from my buttocks downwards. The shock of the fall had caused me to urinate. “I-I- only meant to pull myself up,” came a familiar voice. A face began to break through the red and silvery mosaic pattern still dancing in front of my eyes. It was him. The black hood had fallen off his head and disheveled hair stood haphazardly about. His pupils had constricted into pinholes as the torchlight still intact in my hand, fell on his face. A pair of pale blue eyes were searching my face with what I interpreted as a tiny bit of concern. However I wasn’t sure if it was that. There was caked blood around his nose. “How did you get here?” I asked as I took my own fingers to my own nose to see if I was bleeding from the fall. I wasn’t, and I remembered that I had wet my pants instead and quickly twined my legs together that as if by twining my legs I could evade the sour smell that had begun to emanate from me. However he seemed oblivious. “You have blood on your nose,” I said quickly killing the awkward silence and he instantly rubbed it with the back of his hand. We got into the vehicle and shut the darkness and the raw wind out.
Without the noise of the cold wind whipping us, I felt a nauseated wave fill my stomach. I was famished. Thankfully the key still hung from the ignition hole and he turned the key bringing the vehicle to life again. I knew better not to roll down the windows now. “ I need to eat.” I said in a matter of fact tone. No answer. No suggestions. He drove silently, his gaze pinned to the road ahead. The smell from our battered bodies quickly filled the vehicle and I became aware of the sour smell that emanated from his body too. What I wouldn’t give for a hot shower, some food in my stomach and a bottle of cold water I thought. The thought of food linked my thought homewards, to my parents. I wondered if they had started looking for me. I wondered if they had dialed 112 by now and had a police car curbed in front of the house with nosey neighbours peering out from their windows. I wondered if the telephone had started ringing from numerous sources to confirm my missing situation.
“Stay here, and don’t move!” he groaned. The vehicle had stopped in front of Statoil the petrol station. Bright white light that illuminated the station’s interiors as well as exteriors spread casting a pale glow within a fifty meter radius within which he parked. He disappeared again slamming the door but this time I saw him limping towards the station in the pale light. I hoped he would not do anything silly as robbing the counter girl, or a boy or wake their suspicion by shoving packets of candy into his pocket. I started getting anxious when he didn’t return. I kept my eyes glued to the door of the petrol station shop but there wasn’t any movement in there. Suddenly the door slammed and I jumped. He was already sitting in his driver’s seat now, grinning with a strange glint in his eyes. “Here, this is for you. Eat up and drink up,” he said throwing me a packet of M&Ms, a packet of Lays and a bottle of Powerade. He rubbed his hands together, turned the ignition and cast back a smile at me. “Lets have some music!” He roared stressing on the first two syllable of “music” in a way people do when they are in a very jovial mood.
I stared at him in disbelief. The broken, snappy man was gone. The cantankerous mood was gone and in its place sat a vibrant youth with no evidence of violence his body had withstood a while ago. One Republic warbled away in the car stereo as he heaved the vehicle out of the station and on to the highway. This could be a good life, good life, a good-good life. He sang along with the song.
“What?” he said after a while when he caught me still staring at him. I hadn’t touched the food he had laid on my lap. Suddenly my appetite had plunged.
“My parents might me out looking for me by now. The police might be looking for me.” I said still staring at him, without blinking.
“Oh don’t worry. We are beyond parents and police and such,” he said grinning back at me, his eyes still carrying that strange flicker of light. This time I thought I saw dried blood on the corners of his mouth. I shoved my shoulders backwards in a way that, now I was literally pressing my back against the door of the vehicle. I was already shaken up by what happened back there. Then this sudden alteration was indeed way too much for me to withstand. I squeezed my eyes tight and tried to shut my mind from everything else.
A fuzzy portrait loomed above me. Scrunching up my eyes I became aware that my abductor was looking at me with concern with one hand on the wheel and the other touching my knee. “There you are,” he whispered sounding more concerned than I ever imagined he could be. “I was beginning to wonder if you’d had a heart attack,” he scoffed.
“Where are we?” I managed.
“Still in transit”, he said handing me the bottle of powerade. We were still inside the vehicle and the air inside had festered.
“ I need some air.” I said getting a bit nervous when a squeamish bile roiled inside threatening to gush out.
“No! You can’t!” He said jumping on me. He pounced on me and in an instant his weight lay on mine. I tried to push him away but I was unable to even move under the weight of half his body and I thought I weighed more than he did.
“You just cannot. I can’t risk it again.” he whispered against my face with breath that reeked of something metallic which was vaguely familiar but I couldn’t really sum up to what it could be.
“Get away from me! please” I tried screaming at first and when I couldn’t, I added “please” to sound as if I was requesting. His face was only and inch away from mine. He was doing something like sniffing me up and I was instantly embarrassed. When the tip of his nose touched the flesh on my neck, a peculiar jolt of electricity trembled down my spine and settled on my belly. He brought his face up to level with mine and I saw that his face although was his, wasn’t. Nose flared, blue veins had risen and were pulsing just beneath the skin around his eyes, on his forehead and on his cheekbones. His eyes had turned a crimson red save for his pupils. He breathed heavily as if fighting himself and then I saw. I saw him bear his teeth at me, fangs as white as tusks gleaming and I heard a low growl rumbling somewhere within him. All at once, the next second he pushed himself away with such force that he hit his back very hard against his side of the door. He pounded his fists on the wheel and swore loudly but since my mind had already switched on to the numb mode. I was already dead as far as I was concerned.
* * *
He said it was safe now and opened the door of the vehicle to let me out. Sharp cold air assailed me filling my insides and cooling my parched throat like how a menthol does. The dead old air rushed out from the vehicle immediately getting purified by volumes of fresh air lingering outside. I got out of the vehicle and winced as I tried to move my sore muscles. My hip throbbed and I felt feverish heat rising within me. He said that we wouldn’t be bothered as long as the night thickened wherever we may have ended in that cold dark night. No communication transpired between us as we sat quietly out under a heavy dark sky bereft of stars. Me on dry grass, he, perched on a boulder. Then I burst the bubble of silence that floated between us.
“ Are you going to kill me?” I tried looking towards him but darkness had erased him out of my sight. I only felt him perched like a crow on top of that boulder and I thought I smelled him. Metallic. I felt a smile break on his lips.
“No, I am not. I am only supposed to deliver you into the hands of the person who sent me to get you in the first place. But-but if you come too near right now, I might not be able to resist. Like what happened back there” I heard him say.
“Believe me when I say that it was not always like this.” The timbre of his voice raised slightly.
“You don’t have to tell me what it was like. I only want to know where we are heading to and to whom we are heading to.” My voice was as low and as calm as it could get.
Silence. Then he spoke. “All I can tell you is that you have something he wants so badly that he is willing to kill for it. Even you. To get what he wants he can even kill you.”
“Why couldn’t he come by himself then? Why did he have to send you?” The heat of questions bubbling inside, made me shout with such enthusiasm that I forgot we were meant to keep our voices hushed.
“Can you turn it louder?” he hushed and catching his sarcasm I curbed my voice into a whisper. “Tell me. Now!”
“I would have never agreed. I would have never taken this vehicle into your town had it not been for her.” He sighed as his voice rested at the word “her”.
“Who?” I punched him hard with my question.
His voice wavered when he spoke. “He has Anna. Anna the only person who cares for me and who I care for. I have to get her back. Even if it means that I have to hurt you.” He sighed and continued. “I-I-I mean even if it means I have to hand you to him. You see I can’t let her die. Till death do us part was the vow we took and I am s-s-standing by that promise now even if I am infected. I ugh…I am s-s-sorry.” I heard him choke a bit with pent up emotion. My kidnapper was not an ice cold psychopath after all and I was relieved. Although I was yet to fathom the gravity of the situation, I couldn’t resist feeling sorry for this man who perhaps just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. This man who belonged elsewhere, perhaps sitting in front of a warm fire with his beloved in his arms. I was thankful for the darkness that was so dense that we couldn’t see each other. Otherwise he would have seen, he would have read that I needed, that I wanted to belong to somebody too.
Feeling empty and naked I stood up wincing at my bruised body again and started groping my way towards the vehicle when he said. “He possesses me.”
To be continued…
Read Chapter 2 here
Read Chapter 4 here