Home > The Watcher

The Watcher
Author: Bella Jewel

PROLOGUE

Breathe in. Breathe out.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

“Marlie, I know you’re in here.”

A deranged singsong voice fills the overly quiet space, making my skin prickle. I think it’s the tone that makes it feel worse—that chipper, no-regrets tone that tells you with one simple word just how crazy he is. It tells you the limits he’ll go to, to achieve exactly what he wants. Death. Slow and painful. Tortured.

Breathe.

Just breathe.

Humorless laughter rings out. “You don’t actually think you can escape me, do you?”

Cold, clammy sweat runs down my forehead and I’m shaking all over as I scoot further back into the closet. Why did I pick a closet? I don’t understand what possessed me to do something so stupid. My one chance at freedom, and I lock myself in a place I can’t escape from. I wasn’t thinking. I was just running, and all my instincts told me to hide. That’s what I did. It wasn’t until after I got in here that I realized what a stupid mistake that was, and now I’m trapped. It’s too late to try to get out.

Another shiver travels through my body as I peer into the light coming through the tiny crack in the door. Maybe I can swing it open and slam it in his face. That might buy me a few minutes. But I can’t see well enough to know the exact moment he might be close enough to do that. I’m relying on the lighting, but that’s flickering and dull at best.

“I know you’re in here, you’re not smart enough to outrun me. We can do this the easy way, or the hard way. If you want me to kill you slowly, stay hidden. If you want it to be quick, come on out. Either way, you will die, Marlie. It’s part of the plan. You understand that, right?”

Sick.

He’s speaking to me as if I’m no more than an employee, or a naughty child. Like it’s completely normal to stand there and discuss my death. As if having options will make it feel any better.

I clench my eyes shut, trying to force back the burning bile rising up in my throat. I can’t be sick now; if I’m sick it’ll take away my focus and he’ll get hold of me for sure. And I know what he’ll do. First, he’ll break my knees, because that’s what he does. I read all about him. Everyone did. I know exactly who has me. After he’s broken my knees, he’ll start peeling my skin.… Bile burns my throat and I inwardly scream, praying this is just a horrible, sick dream.

But I know it’s not.

“Oh Marlie Marlie Marlie, why do you have to make things so hard on yourself? It’s as if you want to die a slow and painful death. Which is fine by me, but surely you’re a little smarter than that.”

A tiny, broken cry leaves my throat and I clench my eyes shut, fists balled, wondering why I didn’t get a weapon. Why didn’t I go for the front door? Honestly, what the hell was I thinking running in here? Of course he’d find me, of course he’d know where I’d go. He’s done this thirteen times before. Successfully.

Not one girl has escaped.

The closet door swings open and I’m faced with cold, deadly blue eyes and a crooked smile. You would probably pass him on the street and not once suspect that he’s capable of this. Hell, I had no clue. He had dropped his briefcase and I’d leaned down to help him pick it up, then bam, he’d held a rag over my nose and before I knew it I was bound and lying in the back of a white van. All alone and terrified. He made it seem so simple.

All because I was being a good person.

Life is a bitch like that.

Deranged eyes pin mine, and he laughs hysterically as he looks down at my pitiful attempt at me. “There you are. You know, a few of the girls have tried to escape me. One nearly succeeded. I punished her severely—her death was the slowest.”

I try to scurry backwards, only to hit the wall with a thump. The breath is ripped out of my lungs and all my instincts beg me to scream for help, but I know as well as he does that there’s no help coming.

There never is in this situation, is there?

He swings the bat, and it hits my kneecaps.

I drop to the ground, hands hitting the old, faded carpet. I roll to my back, screaming in pain. He hits me again, this time the bat connecting with my shins.

He keeps going, driving the bat down over my legs. I can hear my own bones breaking, but I can do nothing to fight him off.

All I can do is lie there screaming, and wishing for death.

* * *

I spit blood on the floor as I drag my broken, pathetic body towards the kitchen counter. I don’t even know how I’m still alive. He’s shattered my knees, or the bones around them, or my whole legs, I don’t know. All I know is I want to die, but I can’t. I won’t. Somehow, I’m here, dragging my body towards the counter at a rapid pace, sweat rolling down my face, my body screaming at me to just stop.

I can’t.

I screwed up my escape once. It won’t happen again.

I reach the counter and haul myself up, my bruised hands somehow managing to grip tight enough for me to get to my feet. I scream in pain, but I’m no longer trying to be quiet. I don’t even know how I got away from him. He drugged me, but as if my prayers had been answered, I apparently woke earlier than planned and pretended I was asleep as he moved around me.

He unbound me and began to move me, probably to prepare for my gruesome end, but I managed to take him by surprise. I raised my shattered knee and hit him so hard in the groin he stumbled backwards. It was, without a doubt, the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my life. I managed to drag myself off the bed and reached for the lamp beside it. Before he could get up, I slammed it into his head, knocking him out.

Then I got the hell out of there. It’s amazing what the human body can do when it has to. Somehow I pull my broken and damaged body out of the room, even though the pain is excruciating.

It’s only been a matter of minutes, but it feels like hours. I don’t feel like I’m moving quickly enough. He’s coming for me. Once he came to from his moment of blackness, I heard him get up. Seconds. It’s all I have. I reach for the kitchen knives and pull the first one out. I’ve never thought about killing another person, but right now I’m more than willing to take another life for the sake of my own.

“I’ll peel your skin from your body!” he roars as he stumbles out. “Then I’ll stuff it down your throat until you gag on your own flesh.”

I hold the knife close and let my body lower to the ground, pulling myself closer to the counter so I’m protected. I have one chance only. It’s not much, but it’s all I have. My fingers tremble around the cold steel of the handle, as I press it to my chest and swallow the bile in my throat over and over, praying it stays down.

Just for one more minute.

A sharp pain radiates through my skull, taking me off guard, and I realize he’s come from above me. He takes handfuls of my hair, his large body lying over the top of the counter as he reaches down, trying to haul me up. I scream as chunks of it dislodge from my scalp and, because of the pain, the knife in my hand skitters to the floor.

“I’ll rip your fucking skin from your body, inch by fucking inch.”

He tugs again, and through my blurred vision I desperately reach for the knife. I scream in agony as he tugs again and again, and finally I get hold of it, curling my bloodied fingers around its handle. I look up, and through the blood running down my face and over my eyes I take one last look at the man I know will forever haunt my dreams. But I do what I have to do, no matter what kinds of scars will be left behind.

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