I went dark; I went creepy; I went violent. An odd direction for such a lovely song. I debated posting to the contest. I've debated posting the story here. But I did place 3rd so I wanted to get feedback from my broader reader group. I've been told this is a hard piece to read - let me know what you think.
Penny unlocked her apartment door and stepped into the dark entryway. She tossed her keys onto the hall table and locked all three deadbolts before heading into the kitchen for a beer, flipping on lights as she went. She kicked off her heels by the fridge as she twisted the top off the first bottle she grabbed. She tipped the bottle upward and took several gulps before surfacing for air.
A good ending to a shitty day, she thought as she padded barefoot across the kitchen and into the bedroom. Penny set the beer on her dresser and began peeling off work clothes, tossing them in a pile on the floor.
Create the sales forecast for next month, run diagnostics on the new implementation at AR-Com, finish coding the finance reports – she ran through her mental to-do list as she pulled on sweatpants and a tee-shirt. A hand slammed across her mouth and a gruff arm punched into her belly, jerking her back. It took a moment for her brain to catch up with the action; someone was in her apartment. Panic spread as she was lifted off the floor by the unseen assailant. She thrashed out wildly, her feet making contact with what felt like a shin. A deep “Umph” sounded in her ear as she clawed at the hand muffling her screams.
“Stop fighting,” the male voice commanded. Wait, she knew that voice. She bucked and kicked once more, this time hitting the night stand. Terror rose up in Penny’s throat; they were moving toward the bed. She yanked her whole body forward, trying to break free of the tight grip. Her attacker wrenched his arms tighter and shoved her face first onto the mattress. Thick knees dug into the back of her thighs and an elbow drove her shoulders down. The hand covering her mouth swung around and grabbed the back of her head. The hand pushed her face down into the bed until all she could suck in was the musty taste of her duvet cover. A hot, wet breath on her ear raised goose bumps on her neck as she struggled to breathe.
“I said stop fighting,” the voice whispered. Recognition once again tickled the back of Penny’s mind just before she blacked out.
Penny’s eyes fluttered open. She was laying on a bed in a strange room. She looked around as a killer headache crept up the back of her skull. She knew this room but couldn’t seem to get her bearings on exactly where she was. A friend’s house; a lover’s? Wait, had she gone out drinking? No. She wasn’t hung over. She’d been attacked; in her apartment. It had been a man, someone she knew. She bolted upright as it dawned on her exactly whose house she was in.
“I knew you’d remember this room. We had some great times in here.” A male voice spoke softly from a dark corner.
“James, what am I doing here?” Penny moved to get off the bed but the chain around her left ankle kept her tethered. Fear began to churn in her stomach.
“Do you remember when you said goodbye,” James asked.
“You mean, when I graduated college?” Penny replied. Tears welled in her eyes as she realized she was bolted to the wall.
“It was raining.” James continued as if she hadn’t spoken. “Your heels kept sinking in the mud. I ended up carrying you all the way back to the dorms.”
He chuckled and Penny heard the scrap of a chair as James stood up. She scrambled across the bed but there was nowhere to go. James pinned her to the wall and gripped her chin in his fingers, forcing her to look him in the eyes.
“Then you hugged me and fucking pecked me on the cheek.” He spat the words out angrily. “I never heard from you again. After all we’d been through.” Her head cracked against the wall as he released her and backed away.
“James, that was five years ago,” Penny whimpered.
“Do you know what it was like to live five years without you?”
“Please, let me go,” she whispered.
“No. This time you’ll stay.”