We’re talking at the cafe about all manner of things. But I feel he’s still harboring resentment towards me. He is still angry. To be honest, I can’t even remember why there was so much resentment. I try my best during the conversation to smooth things over, but nothing I say seems to be able to change the way he’s feeling. But it’s ok, I know at least I had to try.
  As we talk, his gaze is fierce. Too often I feel uneasy as I try and read the meaning behind it, but I can’t. It puts me on edge and, I realize, gives him the upper hand.
  The conversation isn’t going too great, and finally finishing up my fourth glass of wine (and him his third whiskey), we finally decide to say goodbye and part ways. We’re standing about two feet apart from each other, and I’m unsure of how we’re supposed to do this. He catches me off guard as he slowly runs his hand lightly over my collarbone towards my face, and hesitates, for a fraction of a second, at my neck and then settles for giving me a quick pat on the shoulder. I’m confused by this but I don’t mention it. I try tell myself, the hesitation was so brief I easily could have imagined it, and knowing me, I probably did. So in return I just smile, give a quick incline of my head, thank him for the drinks and head off towards my car.
  As I’m driving home, my mind relays everything that just happened. I start to run over his looks in my head, and despite everything my mind is telling me, my heart quickens in my chest.

. . .

It’s been a few weeks and I’m running late after seeing my last client of the day. It’s in a weird part of town that I’m not 100% familiar with. I’m trying to remember which garage I parked my car in, but they all look the same. As I stride down the street, I finally think I recognize the right garage. I walk in and start heading to the first floor, but soon realize it’s not the correct one. I decide I must be on the wrong block, so I double back and start moving through an alleyway which leads to the other side. It’s getting darker and I know it’s risky but this is shorter than walking the whole way around.
  As I exit out the other side, I don’t recognize anything but as I’m about to turn back again, someone lunges out of the shadows, latching onto me from behind. They wrap their left arm around my upper body, holding my arms down and, with their right hand, cover my mouth. Instantly I tell myself not to breathe in, but I’m mere seconds too late and already I feel my legs dropping out underneath me as the chloroform takes effect. My mind puts up a stronger fight than my body, which frustratingly gives up too quickly, but eventually the blackness takes over and I’m out.

. . .

I wake up to the drip, drip, drip of water somewhere nearby. My head feels foggy and heavy, and I blink a few times to clear my vision. I start to bring my hand to my head but find that my hands have been bound together with rope. I look at them, frowning, and don’t quite understand. As my mind takes it’s time to register everything, I look around and try to take in my surroundings. It’s then when I realize I have absolutely no idea where I am. Looking down at my ankles, I notice they’re shackled to the floor, each on their own chain hooked to a loop which set in the concrete.
  I look around again, this time more frantically, trying to make sense of what is happening right now. Forcing and willing myself as best I can to stay calm, my eyes don’t settle on any one thing as I’m scanning through events in my mind. I remember looking for my car. I remember multiple garages, and I remember the alleyway. Almost instantly I can taste of the chloroform that was used on me and I remember being accosted by someone.
  I whip my head up and take a hard look around. I need to get away. The room is depressingly bare, and I’m sitting on the floor. The dripping is coming from somewhere to my left, but I can’t make out anything in the darkness. The only light entering the room is through a small window in front of me, lighting up my immediate area like a spotlight on a stage.
  To my right I see some tables, but that’s about it. The walls are smooth and plastered, and the floor is concrete; grey and cold.
  I look back at my ankles and reach forward with my hands to feel the shackles locked around them. They’re cold and hard, made from a thick metal. Perhaps it could be steel, I’m not sure. I think to myself while analysing the rope that it looks odd in contrast, and sadly accept it’s thick enough that I won’t be able to chew through it. My eyes follow the rope from my wrists, to the floor where some slack is lying, then upwards to a loop by the ceiling where it disappears thereafter into darkness.
  My mouth is dry and I test my voice by clearing my throat a little. The noise seems to echo in the quiet room and not long after it comes back to me do I hear a chair scrape and footsteps sound toward me. I jump, and I’m scared. I didn’t know anyone was there, waiting and watching in silence. The steps sound heavy so I know it’s male but whoever it is stops just within the shadows so I cannot see them, but the second he speaks, my whole body goes cold with shock.
  His voice is clipped and calculating. He still sounds angry, but there is now a hint of achievement in there somewhere.
  He’s asked me something and when I can’t seem to find my voice to respond, he strides into the light (confirming he is who I thought he was), and hits me straight across the face. He’s strong, so it hurts (later I am thankful it wasn’t a fist), and I cry out as the sheer force of the impact pushes me sideways. Wasting no time he leans down and grips me tightly by the throat. As he hauls me roughly to my feet, it’s almost all happening in slow motion and I can even see the shadows playing over the muscles in his outstretched arm. I am barely able to find my feet, but he doesn’t seem to notice, or care, and he doesn’t let go.
  I remember him being strong, but now he seems almost animal as he slams me back against the wall, his body presses up against mine pinning me into place. I can barely breathe as he is heavy and still has his hand pressed up against my throat. His breath is rough in my ear as he tells me in a hoarse, fierce whisper that I can say what I want but ultimately he doesn’t care what I have to say.
  I’m so shocked at everything happening, my lungs are battling from the lack of air, all I can do in response is choke in his grip. He steps back, keeping the pressure on my neck and narrows his eyes. He seems to be taking pleasure in having the power to do this at his will.
  Just as I feel my mind slipping and fading he lets go and, falling forward, I rake in ragged breaths desperately between my coughs. My mind clears again as the oxygen returns to my brain, but seconds later, while I’m still recovering, the ropes on my wrists jerk upward and I find myself pinned against the wall, hands above my head. I’m unable to move them, no matter how hard I struggle. Kicking makes no difference as the chains are now pulled taught, and the furthest I can move them now is no more than hip distance apart.
  He paces in front of me, laughing at my embarrassingly futile attempts and suddenly it dawns on me that I cannot see a way out of this, so I start to beg. I beg to be let go, I beg for this to be over, I plead that I’m sorry for anything wrong I did before, but he just ignores me.

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In the darkness. (short story cont. SNVL)
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