As he entered the living room he saw Jair standing over Tiny who lay face down on the floor with his arms tied behind his back. Caleb pushed Jair back and grabbed hold of the biker’s greasy hair and pulled. For a moment it seemed as though Jair might push Caleb back, but once their eyes met it was obvious Caleb was not to be fucked with and that Tiny was about to learn the same. “Jair. Knife.”
Tiny struggled and cursed so that Caleb had to straddle his back to keep the man steady. The moment the knife landed in Caleb’s palm a rush of endorphins and rage poured down his spine. “I warned you, you motherfucker!” He was blind. Bloodlust consumed his vision. He raised the knife at a forty-five degree angle and plunged in straight into the base of Tiny’s neck where it met his right shoulder. Tiny let out an inhuman scream and more endorphins released inside Caleb. He pulled the knife out and blood sprayed across his arm, chest, and neck. His head swam and his nostrils flared. He brought the knife down again, this time toward the back of the neck to separate the spinal cord.
Tiny’s accomplice screamed and screamed and screamed, making Caleb drunk with power and pure male satisfaction. Jair and his men yelled and cheered, wanting their turn. In the background the woman was making shrill incoherent sounds as she begged for Caleb to stop. Caleb lifted the knife and once again plunged it deep. Tiny no longer made sounds. He just bled and ripped apart under Caleb’s knife.
As Tiny’s body sagged in Caleb’s grasp, his head holding up his body by only a few inches of muscle, bone and sinew, Caleb’s thoughts slowly began to clear. As he took in the sight of the blood covered room and screams of those who were about to suffer, Caleb’s thoughts returned to Kitten. She was hurt. She needed him. Caleb let go of Tiny and watched as he fell to the ground a lifeless lump of meat.
He stood, drenched in Tiny’s blood holding the gore covered knife. His eyes found those of the whimpering boy they called Kid and he slowly approached. Kid began screaming even before Caleb ever reached him. He pressed the tip of the knife under his baby smooth chin, “Kid. I’m going to take you and that little bitch over there with me and when Kitten wakes up she’s going to tell me what happened. And if either of you had anything to do with it I’m going to do you worse. Understand?” Kid shut his eyes and tears streamed down his face. Caleb almost let the knife run through the boy. Something about his features, his youth, and his weepiness made Caleb want to slap him to the ground, so he did.
“Jair,” Caleb’s voice was cold, “take this little pussy and the girl alive. Kill the rest and burn the house down.” Caleb dropped the knife and didn’t look back as he made his way toward the bathroom.
The man from earlier was still bleeding and writhing on the floor of the hallway, but as he saw Caleb approach he worked to remain still, become invisible. Caleb’s fury rose up again. This was one of the men who had hurt her. He wanted to go back for the knife and play a little game of poke the rapist, but he didn’t have time. Kitten needed a hospital.
He approached her quivering body slowly, suddenly wishing he wasn’t covered in blood. She whimpered and cried as he gathered her into his arms. His heart lurched and he fought hard not to squeeze her to his chest.
He lifted her and walked as efficiently as possible out of the house and out into the light. He looked down at her, watching as the sun lit her bloodied face. Her trembling stilled somewhat and her brows knitted slightly. For a moment he saw her as he had that day, a shy young girl looking up at him with awe. Her savior. I’ve failed you.
Caleb kissed her forehead and whispered into her ear, "Don’t worry Kitten, I promise I’m going to make it better.”
I was sinking, falling. I struggled to open my eyes but my world was a blur, a mirage. Not real.
Could it be real?
All around me there was blaring light and muffled voices, but I couldn’t lift my head to see where they came from. A man wearing a white coat came into view and spoke. Mulder? I was in an episode of The X-files. No, that didn’t make sense. Scientist? Doctor? Madman with a scalpel? I couldn’t make out what he said, but his face seemed full of reassurances, false promises, empty words in a tone meant to pacify me. Then there was a tunnel of soft blue light surrounding me. I wanted to say something, or get up, but the pain was too intense. My eyes closed in their heaviness, and I sunk back into myself.
There were other moments of time when I drifted in and out of consciousness, but I couldn’t remember them clearly. Time was irrelevant. It was not now, or then, or later.
There was only pain. More pain. Less pain. It was the only constant.
No bottom, only down – forever.
I’m crying? I can’t be sure.
It must be because I’m burning.
I’m sinking and I’m burning.
Mother was right. I’m going to hell.
Can a person make such a huge mistake they can never be forgiven?
I guess so.
I don’t want to burn. I don’t want to fall into forever, dragged down.
Forever – it’s unimaginable.
There has to be an end to the suffering. I don’t deserve this.
“It wasn’t all my fault!”
I trusted him too. He said it would be okay. A kiss. A touch. A few more kisses. A few more touches. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what to say. It wasn’t all my fault!
You bitch…forgive me.
I’m sinking. Still burning.
I opened my eyes. For certain this time. Dark. Just a low lamp in the corner. Startled, I tried to move all at once and my entire body contracted in pain with the effort. For a moment I thought I might still be dreaming. My body burned. I placed a hand on my ribs and felt the bandages surrounding my midsection. It hurt to breathe. I kept hearing a low buzz in my ears and I realized that it was coming from inside me. I saw pinpricks of dots every time I moved my head and the light hurt. My fingers and gaze followed the pattern of damage. My left arm was in a sling across my neck, and my nose was covered in a type of tape. My eyes were puffy and blinking felt like a chore, an exercise in futility but a necessary one. Gently, I touched my face again, carefully removing the cakiness around my eyes.
There was a shadow, man-shaped, sitting quietly and unmoving in the corner. I squinted and leaned forward. Fuck the pain. Caleb, sitting eerily unmoving and in the dark with me.
“Try not to move,” he said just above a whisper. He leaned into the light. The initial impulse was to move but the pain stopped me, and Caleb, his appearance disarming. He looked rough, like he’d been to hell and back. Me too. Pieces floated to me, some sharp, others vague. Every second of that moment played again, in fast forward, then slow motion, then fast again.
So he’d gotten me back.
That realization echoed through me. Did I feel relieved? Terrified? I couldn’t muster any emotion one way or another. I was just…numb. Empty and buzzing.
He rose from the chair and came toward me. “Don’t be afraid. You’ll be all right now.” I wasn’t afraid. I wasn’t all right and never would be. “Your face is bruised, but nothing’s broken. Your shoulder was dislocated and you have a few cracked ribs, not broken. You’ll heal, but I’m afraid all I have to offer you is rest and medicine for the pain.” His words made no difference to me. I was still alive. And still with Caleb. When he got up, I didn’t flinch but just watched as he came toward me. What was left to be afraid of? What did I have left to lose?
“Where am I?” I hardly recognized my own voice. It was hoarse and gravelly, as dry and brittle as my throat felt.
“Somewhere different,” he said. Vague. Typical.
He sat next to me on the bed. Nice bed, nice room, I thought, focusing on the easy stuff my witless brain could handle. I really don’t give a fuck. He reached for my hand. My fingers recoiled, just a slight clench and tension. He nodded and withdrew.
Did he have blood in his hair? Blood. Everywhere. I shut my eyes and blocked it out. I wanted to stay numb. Get this over with. I was ready for whatever malicious words he had prepared for me. Ready for him to tell me how stupid I had been to think I’d get away from him. Jokes on you asshole, I already know. Ready for him to threaten me with rape or death. Get it over with. Please.
“I’m sorry Kitten,” he whispered. He was sorry? Coming from Caleb, guilt was highly unlikely and the last thing I had anticipated. My face did some weird snort-scoff-laugh-cry thing, which hurt my tender face. I almost laughed. Would have, if it didn’t hurt to breathe. “For what they did to you.”
Right, he was sorry, but not for taking me from home. “Good.” Home. My family. All this because I had wanted to get back to my worthless mother. Even if she doesn’t want me there. Never did. No matter how many times I said I was sorry. My eyes were stinging. I couldn’t believe I still had tears for her. I hated her. I hated her, because I loved her so fucking much and she obviously didn’t feel the same way.
Caleb cleared his throat and swallowed. “I made them pay.”
Them. A group of them that was, possibly, worse than Caleb. I felt shaky all over again, but hearing those words from Caleb’s lips was somewhat satisfying. “Yeah, well,” I said, hollowly, “you’re into that.” A hint of a smile touched his lips and for some reason it cut through me in an essential way. My life was a joke, to him, to my mother, to those asshole bikers! A cruel, heartbreaking joke and I was more than ready for the punch line. Ready for my life, the joke, to be over. Right now, I just needed someone. I needed to not feel so discarded and alone. I choked back words I knew I’d regret later, and only said, “Caleb…”
I stared at him, not sure, wondering what the next step was and as terrified as ever. He continued to look at me, inquisitive, his face a twisted mask of indecision. If that mask was real, I almost pitied him. It was better than feeling sorry for myself but I wanted to be stronger, even as I just wanted to crawl into a hole. Get it over with. “I don’t know what you have planned for me. I know…I know it…” I paused, taking a moment to collect myself as much as my thoughts but the words in me had to be spoken. If not now, then never. I let the sparks of pain encourage me. “…I know it can’t be good. Whatever it is you’re planning. But if you could do me one favor?”
I blinked once, “If it’s anywhere near as bad as what those assholes did to me.... I’m tired of living through this shit just to step into deeper fucking shit. So if all you have planned for me is more torture, I think I’d rather die. Just do me one favor and don’t…I don’t want to die slow.”
He reared back as if I had slapped him. Or not. I had slapped him twice before and he had never looked the way he did now. He suddenly wasn’t so inquisitive or indecisive – he looked pissed! But also...offended. “Is that what you think?” he said, his voice strained and tight. “You think I would…” He stood up and paced. I could do nothing but stare.
“What do you want me to think Caleb?” I said harshly. My face was hot and my nose hurt and felt stuffy. Breathing hurt. “You kidnap me, you beat me, you do...unspeakable things to me.” The burning in my chest felt like it was spreading, and it was all the anger and my despair that had been coiling within me, now oozing to the surface. “What am I to expect from you?” I did a lackluster imitation of his abnormal accent “‘Don’t let me find you.’ Isn’t that what you said?”
Finally he stopped in the center of the room, his eyes flashing then cooling. “You are a stupid, stupid girl Kitten.” I did laugh this time. Loudly, hysterically, laughing through the pain even as it ripped through every fiber of my being. He had never said anything more true. I was a stupid, stupid girl! Stupid to think my mother would ever forgive me. Stupid to think I could be something other than what I was. What had that filthy fucking biker called me? Whore! The label followed me everywhere. And what had I done to earn it? Not enough! Still virgin territory. A whore fighting her nature. For what? Yes, I was a stupid, stupid girl. I laughed and laughed and laughed until finally…I cracked. My laughter devolved into wails of pure loss, grief, and black despair.