Millicent sat across from the interviewer, relaxed and confident. A man pointed a finger at the interviewer. Five cameras softly whirred into action.
“We’re here today with Millicent Boone, best-selling author of the self-help book, Ending a Bad Romance. In this book, Millicent takes us, step by step, through the process of getting out of a bad relationship. So, Millicent, can you expand on this a little more?”
“Certainly. But we have to understand where we’re going before we know how to begin. That is, we must consider the endgame. To achieve our purposes, we look at…”
Conrad woke up, finding himself chained and shackled in a basement. It wasn’t supposed to happen this way, not to him. He had planned his escape well, as usual, yet the grimy, cluttered basement and the eerie, pale yellow bulb burning overhead spoke of something that had gone terribly awry.
For the first time in his adult life, Conrad was frightened. There could be only one reason to chain someone up in a basement, and Conrad felt the force of that reason fully.
He looked around, desperate to find a way out of the steel bindings. He found nothing that would aid him in breaking free. He did, however, spot something that horrified him.
He screamed until he could scream no more.
Step 1: Seize the Initiative!
You’re in a bad relationship. Maybe it’s a toxic one, maybe it’s something less malicious. No matter. The crux of the matter is that you need to find a way to get out of this mess with as little damage to yourself as possible.
Don’t wait around for your partner to make the first move. They’ll have the upper hand, and you’ll find yourself being dictated to. Haven’t you had enough of that? My guess is that you have, and you need to get some of your own back.
Take action – right now! Below is a list of things you can do to come out on top…
Conrad heard the footsteps on the stairway. He shuddered slightly at who could be coming down to the basement. His mind had already run through the possibilities, but no one came to mind. At least, no one that wanted to murder him. Sure, he had taken advantage of a lot of women. Certainly, he had absconded with a lot of their money. That was what he did.
A figure stopped at the bottom of the stairs, shrouded in shadow. Conrad could feel their eyes on him, appraising him, judging him. Conrad felt his flesh prickle; he was soon to meet the person who wanted him dead.
The figure stepped forward, causing Conrad to gasp in astonishment. It simply didn’t make sense to him. Millicent Boone, his current girlfriend/mark, stared at him impassively. As if he were a butterfly in a display, stuck through the heart with a pin.
“I am officially ending our relationship, Con. Our bad romance is over.”
Conrad gazed at Millicent, his terror abating. Surely, he thought, this meek woman isn’t capable of murder. Teach me a lesson is what she’s doing.
“Millie. What the hell – “
Conrad stopped speaking when Millicent held up a notebook. A stylish, red notebook that showed lots of wear and tear.
“I found this at your apartment last month. Interesting reading, Con.”
Conrad became angry. He stood up and advanced toward Millicent, coming up a foot short of where she was standing, held back by the chains that bound him. Millicent didn’t flinch, didn’t move. She knew how far he could travel in his chains.
“You scammed a lot of money out of a lot of women. I found that as well.”
Conrad blanched. His secrets and his money were precious to him.
“Took some finding, I must admit. Secret compartments under rugs and furniture. Very clever of you to use magnets to lift the floorboards. No way anyone could suspect that they were there.”
“Yeah,” Conrad said, sulkily, “so how did you figure it out?”
“Saw it on a television show. And you had two magnets with handles in the storage room. I put two and two together and came up with – well – you know what I came up with.”
Conrad glared at her.
“Fine. Lesson learned. Let me go. I’ll leave town and you’ll have money.”
Millicent smiled grimly and left. Conrad didn’t like her smile. Not at all.
Step 2: Eliminate Retributive Acts
Now that you’ve taken the initiative, it’s time to deal with the possibility of retribution. Your partner will be angry. They’ll want to get back at you. You can’t let that happen.
Don’t threaten them with legal action; that’s like pouring gasoline on a fire. No, you must be forceful and direct. You must give them reasons not to mess with you, and those reasons should be deterrent enough. Remember, you are not in a relationship any longer. You are now dealing with a potentially dangerous person. They may want to harm you, or your personal property. You cannot let that happen.
Below is a list of things you can do to ensure that your ex-partner will stay well away from you…
“Back again?” Conrad growled at Millicent. His mood had not improved the past two days; he had been given no food or water. His weakened state was assuaged somewhat when Millicent sat a gallon jug of water and some chips out for him.
Millicent watched as Conrad guzzled water and gobbled chips. She hadn’t set out any napkins for Conrad, so he wiped his fingers along his jeans and shirt.
“So,” Conrad turned to Millicent after he had finished his third bag of chips, “when you gonna let me go?”
“Who says I’m letting you go?” Millicent smirked. This did nothing to lessen the anger that Conrad was currently feeling.
“Look, we both know you don’t have the balls to do me in. It isn’t in you, Millie. Just – just let me go and we’ll part ways, ok?”
Millicent gazed at Conrad. She was, frankly, amazed that he thought she would believe him. He wasn’t the brightest bulb in the bunch, she knew, but surely he saw his future.
“I think you underestimate me, Con. The metaphorical balls are present and accounted for.”
“Let me explain it in simple terms. You have to die. I have to kill you. Simple as that.”
Conrad blinked again, then laughed.
Millicent sighed at his obtuseness and began working.
“You ever read The Cask of Amontillado? A Poe tale. One man walls up another man as an act of vengeance.”
“Oh! Ah! So that’s what you think you’re gonna do to me? Fat chance. Yes, I admit that you’re scaring me. Fine. I’m scared. But you can’t keep me here forever.”
Millicent stared at Conrad, shaking her head.
“Con, I can and will keep you here forever. That’s the whole point.”
“C’mon, Millie. Let me go. Seriously, I’m tired and smelly and I won’t come after you. Promise. Swear to God.”
Millie kept on working. Soon, she had enough cement mixed to do the job properly. She then turned to Conrad and shot him.
“What the – “
“It’s a dart gun, loaded with a powerful sedative. Amazing what you can get your hands on these days. You have ketamine in your system now. It’ll put you out – hello? – and he’s asleep. Wow, that stuff works fast. Ok, now I’m talking to myself. Nothing unusual there.”
Millie used a pulley system to get Conrad in place. She secured him to the back wall with more shackles. She then walled him up, but not before whispering in his ear.
“Don’t worry, Con. The rats will get you before you die of thirst.”
Conrad started screaming just as Millicent was placing the final brick in place.
Step 3: Enjoy Your Freedom, Learn from Your Mistakes
When you end a relationship, the natural thing to do is to dwell on the mistakes you made in the relationship. I advise you to abandon these types of thoughts. Everyone makes mistakes; they’re inevitable, especially in relationship matters.
Concentrate on what you did correctly. You took the initiative, you protected yourself from retribution, and now you’re free to celebrate your accomplishments. You’ve just done something remarkable. Celebrate! Enjoy the freedom that comes from leaving a bad romance. You are now a wiser person, a better person. Reflect on your victory.
Rather than castigating yourself for your missteps, simply reflect on where you went wrong. Identify the red flags that were present early in the relationship. You’ll be in another relationship at some point. Use your new knowledge to your advantage. If something doesn’t feel right, get out immediately. Don’t let it snowball.
I have a few tips for what to do at this point. Read below to…
Millicent visited the basement in the abandoned farmhouse two weeks later. It was quiet. Serene. Pleasant, even. Rats could be heard scurrying back and forth. Millicent was pleased that she could provide them with some food for the summer. Crucially, no odor emanated from the walled-in victim.
Just like the first three times.