Playing Games

Submitted into Contest #182 in response to: Start your story with a home alarm system going off.... view prompt

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Crime Drama Fiction

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

What the hell is that noise? Like always, I struggled falling asleep, and like always, something wakes me up. But this is a first, the damn alarm is going off. Did Jenna come home? No, she always stays with Mike. Surely, this is a mistake. People don’t break into houses in Rosedale. It’s fine, you’re fine.

And then the alarm stopped.

It must’ve been Jenna.

I wrapped my robe around me and walked to the hallway.

“Jenna?”

No answer.

I felt a prick in my neck, and my eyelids closed. I fell back into a pair of arms, then nothing.

I woke up to the sun pouring directly into my eyes. I shut them immediately. My body felt like it was in the ocean, making it difficult to move. What time is it? Did I go drinking last night? Did I work last night? I can’t remember. Ok, Molly, open your eyes. My white ceiling came into view, along with my fan, spinning around and around. I still couldn’t get up. Why do I feel so damn heavy?

I turned my head to the right, to grab my phone. Where is my phone? Why is my dresser green? Did the alarm go off last night, or was that a dream? I looked at the wall to my right. What. The. Hell.

On the wall, were a dozen framed pictures of me, and Jack, my ex-boyfriend. Two from last Christmas, five from our trip to California, several from the bar I worked at, and one from last year’s Fall festival. 

Is this some weird joke Jenna did? Unlikely, Jenna and I were friendly, but we were mostly roommates. I would go weeks without hearing from her.

I finally found the strength to sit up.

I gasped. This was not my room. There was nothing but two green dressers, the bed I was on, and a huge flat screen T.V.

Move, Molly, get up, I willed myself.

I sat up, took a breath, and swung my legs onto the floor. They came down hard, a “clanging” noise, along with them.

That’s when I screamed.

There were chains around my ankles.

The door busted open. I screamed again.

“Jack?” I said, in disbelief. Was he brought here too?

“Hi, Molly.” He smiled, carrying a plate of food, and a glass of water. “Are you ok? Did you sleep ok?”

“What? Jack, you have to help me, someone put chains around my ankles. I think someone broke into my house last night. I remember the alarm going off, but I can’t remember anything else. I think…. I’ve been kidnapped.” I was shaking.

“Here, take a sip of water.” He walked over and handed me the glass.

“No, Jack, are you listening? I have chains around my ankles! I have been kidnapped…” I stopped talking. The realization of this nightmare, coming full circle.

“It was you?” I whispered.

“Sweetheart, I didn’t kidnap you. I would never hurt you. I love you.” He knelt on his knees, and placed his hands on mine. Frozen, I let them stay there.

“Jack, please, I’m so confused. What is going on? Where am I?”

“You’re at home, Molly. Our home.”

“What?”

“After you reached out to me, I knew it was sign, to act now. You need me, the same way I need you, Molls. You just need more help realizing it.” His thumb gently ran across my face.

“Reached out to you?” I asked.

“Yes. You told me to have a great Christmas. With a heart emoji.” He pulled out his phone and showed me. My name was saved as “Wife.”

“Jack…I was just telling you to have a good Christmas. That’s all. Please let me go, Jack, please. I have a job, and a life, my roommate will wonder where I am. My dad will call the police. You can’t just…keep me here.” I burst into tears.

“Shhh, baby, it’s ok.”

“You have fucking chains around my ankles, Jack. This isn’t ok.”

“Just until you realize our breakup was a mistake. And you will realize, Molly, you will. We were meant to be. I knew that the moment I walked into your bar two years ago. That year and a half we spent together was amazing. I took care of you. I will always take care of you.”

“I broke up with you. I don’t want to be with you, Jack.”

“Yes, you do. You made a mistake, that’s all. You’re only twenty-six. I’m thirty-three. You make dumb decisions in your twenties, and that’s ok, that’s what those years are for. But, Molly, you have me, to help correct those mistakes.”

“Can I please have my phone?” My brain was struggling to process everything.

“Not yet. It’s for the best.”

“When can I have it?”

“Once you realize what I've realized. One day soon, you and I, will get married, start a life, have children.”

“You’re psychotic.”

He frowned.

“Please, don’t call me names. Not after everything I’ve done for you.”

“Jack, I broke up with you.”

“For no good reason!” He screamed, beating his fist on the wall. I looked at him terrified.

“Oh, Molly, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to get upset. Please don’t be afraid. I just get angry thinking about it. But this is fixable, completely fixable.” He grabbed the plate of food. “Please eat, I cooked eggs just the way you like.”

“People will wonder where I am.”

He ignored me. “Molly, please tell me, why did you end things? I know that’s not what you really wanted."

“I just wasn’t into you, Jack.”

“Why?”

“I don’t really know.” I lied.

Jack came into my bar, two years ago, shortly after a breakup with my toxic ex-boyfriend. Jack was funny, friendly, and smart. He wasn’t the cutest guy, with his tall, skinny frame, and thick glasses. But I always dated the sexy guy, the cool guy, and it never worked. So, I gave the funny, tech nerd, a chance. He treated me good, doing small, thoughtful things, like the guys in cheesy rom coms.

But then, he became clingy. Spending every free moment sitting at my bar. Getting upset when I couldn’t have conversations with him, while working. Glaring at any man who ordered a drink from me.

And of course, the sexual aspect. I was used to passion and lust, and that’s what I liked. But, Jack, insisted on treating me like a porcelain doll. He was obsessed with maintaining eye contact and whispered “I love you” a dozen times.

I wanted to end things months before I did. But the people pleaser in me felt terrible breaking his heart. Turns out, I shouldn’t have.

“Sweetheart, of course you didn’t know. Because you didn’t really want to. It’s ok, learning who you are and what you want, is another part of your twenties. I’ll help you through this.” He patted my leg like a child.

“What about the people who will miss me? You can’t keep me here forever.” I said, again.

“You will come to your senses, and no one will ever know how you got here last night. I texted your dad, when he asked if you got your hot water fixed, and your self-absorbed roommate is always with Mike. I will deal with your other friends as need be. I’ll keep up your social media accounts, and I quit your job for you.”

I stared at him horrified.

“And the chains? How am I to shower and use the bathroom?”

“Oh, the chains are twenty feet long.” He said, smiling proudly. Like I should be excited. “You can go to the bathroom, and I packed everything from your house.” He pulled open the closet door, revealing all my clothes and shoes. “All your makeup and shower stuff are in the bathroom.”

“You quit my job for me?”

“Molls, you won’t ever have to work again. Google pays good. I bought us this house, just last month. You’ll love it once you see the rest. I bought the whole twenty-three acres, not a neighbor in sight. Tons of room for the kids to play. I’ll install a pool soon.”

“We don’t have kids, Jack.”

He glared at me. “We will one day. Look, I have to run to the office for a few hours. Unfortunate work emergency. Will you be ok alone?”

I nodded.

“Your food is here, I’ll bring more water, you have access to the shower, and Netflix is up and running. What else do you need?”

“May I have knife to cut my eggs?”

“I’ll cut them up for you.”

He came back with a butter knife. I watched as he cut up the eggs, I planned to throw away.

“There you go.” He handed me the plate.

“Thanks.”

“What would you like me to bring back? I know you love to read. Any books I can buy?”

I shook my head.

“Molly, don’t be like this. Refusing to have fun, to cooperate. This won’t work if you stay closed minded. Enjoy not having a job. People would kill to have a rich husband.”

Husband? He was full blown crazy. But I have to play, and win, his psychotic game, if I’m getting out alive.

“Actually, would you mind picking up the new Kate Black novel? I believe it’s called “Jasmine.”

“Of course.”

“Maybe a Starbucks on your way home?”

“Certainly.” He smiled. “One vanilla, oat milk latte, coming up.”

“With whip cream.” I forced a smile.

“How could I forget?” He jokingly smacked his forehead. “I’ll be back in a few hours.” He bent down to hug me. I forced myself not to recoil.

“Ok, bye Jack.”

I waited until I heard his car drive away, ran to the bathroom, and puked everywhere.

It occurred to me, as he was rambling about our nonexistent children, he most likely set up a hidden camera. He was a genius with all things tech, and installed cameras in every room of his old apartment. If he caught me rummaging through the room, looking for a way to escape, that would be bad for me. My only weapon was his “love” for me, and I’ll use it to save my life.

I went to the bathroom, got undressed, and quickly hopped in the shower. I casually glanced around, looking for something that could be a hidden camera, but nothing suspicious caught my eye. I looked at the chains around my ankles, and burst into sobs.

“I’m ok. I will be ok.” I whispered to myself. Would he really let me go if I convinced him I loved him? That I came to my “senses.” It was my only shot of getting out. I refused to think of the alternative. I have to stay positive and somehow outsmart the genius.

My grandma was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer, thirteen years ago. Every day, she got up and repeated, “I will fight and win, the cancer will not.” And two years later, she won. The chemo, and her attitude, beat the cancer. She passed peacefully at eighty-two, asleep in her bed.

“I will win, Jack will not. I will win.” I whispered as the water poured down my face.

I hopped out and looked around. Jack really had brought everything. All my makeup, hair products, nail polish, night cream, it was all here. I walked to my closet, and again, all was there. I casually went through my things, hoping to find some sort of weapon.

He removed the mase from my purse. The thick flashlight, I could’ve used to beat him over the head with, was gone too. I had all but given up, when there it was. In the secret hidden zipper, every girl has in her purse. That no man, not even genius IQ Jack, would’ve found. My nail file. Long and sharp. I closed my eyes to control the tears of relief. The feeling of being watched was strong.

I closed the closet, and casually hopped on the bed. I tucked the nail file into my pillowcase, feeling a tiny bit of relief.

I should make an effort, put on nice clothes, and makeup. He preferred me as feminine as possible. And smile when he got home. But not too big, that would be a red flag.

I chose a pair of jean shorts, and a black tank top. Casual, but cute. A dress might give him other ideas. Ideas, I wouldn’t even let myself think.

I had just finished my makeup and hair when I heard the car pull up.

I sat on the bed and turned on Netflix.

He lightly knocked twice before walking in, a huge Barnes & Noble’s bag in one hand, a Starbucks in the other. 

Smile, Molly, play his game.

“Wow. You look incredible.” He walked over and kissed the top of my head. I held back vomit.

“Hey, how was work?”

“Boring tech stuff. I asked the Barnes & Noble lady, what other books were like “Jasmine.” I bought all ten she recommended. And I brought a vanilla scone with your coffee.” Again, he looked proud of himself.

“Thanks, Jack. I’m excited for the books.”

“What did you do while I was gone?” He sat on the edge of the bed like we were old friends.

“Showered, watched Netflix.” I smiled at him. “You know, it was actually pretty nice, not having to work. My feet have been killing me at the bar.”

“Would you like a foot massage?” Hell no.

“I’m actually kind of hungry. I assume we’re staying in for dinner?” I took a sip of my coffee, praying it wasn’t drugged.

“Yep. I am cooking your favorite; barbeque chicken and mashed potatoes.”

“You remembered.” I faked a smile.

“I remember everything about you, Molly.”

He put his hand on my cheek. I knew he was about to kiss me. I can’t handle this. I can’t do this. I’m going to blow my cover.

I will win, Jack, will not win.

He leaned in and kissed me. I blinked away tears, as I kissed him back. His hands were on my back, tracing circles like he used to. I knew what was coming next. He leaned me onto the pillow and started to get on top.

“Jack.” I said quietly.

“Yes?”

“I would like to wait a while before…”

He sat up, frustrated.

“I just haven’t been with anyone since you.” I said

“So, what’s the problem?” He demanded.

“I’m nervous, Jack. And cold. Maybe you could just hold me a while?”

“Oh, baby, sure.” That cheered him back up. I laid on his chest, his skinny arms around me.

Not able to take a minute more of his breath on my hair, I reminded him I was hungry.

He set up a chair in the hallway, so I could watch him cook. My chains didn’t reach the kitchen. Too many knives.

I pretended to enjoy our conversation, reminiscing about our relationship.

“Remember when the waiter tripped, and spilled our shrimp cocktail? The sauce went all over that woman’s white dress.” He was laughing, so I did too.

“That was hilarious.” I forced myself to say.

We ate in the room, watched a romance movie, and laid in bed. Jack rarely slept, two to four hours max. He would be up all hours, doing whatever he did, on his computer. So, I laid there, with the glare of his laptop, in my eyes.

Even when my dad finally got suspicious, he would never think, Jack, would be responsible. No one would. What if I had to play this game for years. What if I couldn’t convince him. My stomach churned as I pretended to sleep.

What a nightmare.

“Good morning.”

I kept my eyes closed, and my breathing slow.

“Good morning.” He said again.

I opened my eyes and smiled.

“Oh, hey, good morning.” I yawned.

“I’m going to cook breakfast, then head to the office. I won’t be gone long.” He kissed my forehead.

“Ok. I’ll be here when you get back.” Obviously.

He made eggs, promised another Starbucks, and finally left.

Several hours later, I heard the car pull up.

“Hey, babe.”

“Hey, how was work.”

“Ehh, how was your day. How’s the book?”

“It’s great, she’s a good writer.”

“I always loved how into reading you are. Beautiful and smart.” He kissed me.

“Thank you. Oh damn, ouch!” I grabbed my foot.

“What’s wrong?”

“Just my damn feet. They’ve been cramping so bad.” I rubbed my foot through my sock.

“Here, let me.”

He took off his coat, got on his knees, and grabbed my right foot.

“Thank you, Jack, it’s right in the arch.”

“Right here?”

“Move down just a tad.”

I grabbed the nail file from my back pocket, and in one quick, smooth motion, stabbed it in his right eye.

“Ahhh, you bitch!” He screamed, blood running out of his eye, down his face. I grabbed our framed picture from Christmas, shattered the glass on the dresser, took the largest piece, and stabbed him in the neck. Blood shot all over me.

I grabbed his phone from his back pocket and called 911, while he moaned and gurgled blood on the floor.

“911, what is your emergency?”

“My name is Molly James. My ex-boyfriend, Jack Litton, kidnapped me. I don’t know where I am, please track this phone’s GPS.”

“We are tracking you now. Are you currently safe?”  

I looked at his lifeless body, blood everywhere.

“Yes.” I said.

“Where is your kidnapper?”

“He’s dead.”

I won.

January 27, 2023 16:16

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3 comments

Kasey Fisher
21:40 Jan 28, 2023

This was a fun story to write. I've wanted to write a kidnapping story for a while, so when last week's prompt came out, I jumped on the chance. Hope you all enjoy! Any feedback, criticism, etc. is very appreciated!

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Janet Boyer
23:10 Jan 30, 2023

Hi Kasey! I love how fast-paced your story is; I could "see" it all happening, too. Some advice: pay attention to your punctuation (run your story through Grammarly-- it's free--and you'll see what I mean). E.g. unnecessary use of commas and quotation marks. Also, spelling (e.g. mace, not mase...etc., not ect.) You've got the chops for good storytelling!

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Kasey Fisher
23:39 Jan 30, 2023

I am so glad you enjoyed it, and thank you so much for the critique! Punctuation is something I struggle with, I will definitely do grammarly from now on 😊

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