A gust of frigid air whips over exposed thighs and strappy heels. Chains clink, cutting into wrists, as she attempts to shield her eyes from the glaring white. The snow swirls through the narrow doorway and in a disoriented state she shivers in bone-chilling cold.
An imposing shadow passes through the blinding light and into the small, musty room.
“Who the fuck are you?” She manages to croak. Mouth dry. Voice hoarse. Memories of champagne and Jägerbombs swirled. Blinking through the fog of last night, she squints and tries to focus on the hulking figure in dirty jeans. The damp, dirty floor. The small, cluttered shed.
He tossed a blanket at her without a word. Throwing down a sandwich and a bottle of Mountain Dew, he stepped forward to check her chains. She barely had enough time to raise one weak kick towards his shin and he was finished, slamming the door behind him. Click. The sound of a padlock.
“No! You can’t do— Psycho! - Help Me!” Voice cracking. “Someone please!”
Shivering in her sequin mini dress she grabs the dirty blanket and wraps it around herself. Sobbing uncontrollably and burying her face in it, the smell of sweat and pennies permeates her senses.
“Rose? What the hell! Rose? Is that you?” The voice was faint, coming from behind her.
“Oh my god! Kenzie! Kenzie!” she cries out through thick tears. “What happened?”
Kenzie starts banging the metal wall of her shed a few yards away. “We have to get out of here. Did you see him? Did you see his face?” The snowstorm between them muffles the thuds of her fists.
“I couldn’t see anything past the snow. Just a shadow,” Rose replies, her eyes still adjusting. “Are you chained? Can you ge-“
“It was that creepy ass Uber driver from last night!” Kenzie shouts back. “I saw him. He leered at me when he came in here. We have to get away.” She started sobbing. “There are some old tools over here but I don’t think I can reach them.”
Rose squinted her eyes, taking inventory of her captivity. A pile of dirty tarps, a rusty heap of yard tools in the furthest corner, remnants of old furniture. The usual hillbilly junk. She stretches her leg out, trying to grab a hold of something. Anything.
“These chains are rusty,” she cries back to Kenzie. “Try to find anything you can use to break them or pry the bolts loose.” Rose’s arms ached from the cold and the strain of the metal. Her fingers were numb. The heel of her stiletto grazed the edge of an old, iron bedpost. Pushing it further away. “No!” She screamed through tears.
“I told you our driver was supposed to be in a damn silver Taurus,” Rose screamed in frustration. Teeth gritted. Stretching for the broken post. “Pay attention to the fucking app.”
“Rose,” her friend bawled behind her in the other shed. “There’s nothing here. I can’t reach anything.” Kenzie wailed and started pounding on the metal wall with her fists once more.
“Hold on. I’ve almost got something.” Rose had her body stretched out, contorted, trying to coax the iron rod with her heel. Icy dirt scraped her skin as she extended. Chafing exposed thigh. Wrists bleeding from the strain against her shackles.
Far away, to her left, a door slammed; the blizzard made the thud sound more distant than it actually was. Her breath abandoned her lungs. Her sobs painfully constricted back into her throat. Fear caught in her chest.
“He’s coming,” Kenzie hissed from somewhere behind.
Recoiling back into a tight ball against the metal wall, Rose covered herself as best she could with the soiled blanket. She tightened herself into a fetal position. Psychologically a position used as a safety mechanism. Yet she wasn't deluded. She wasn’t safe.
Rose made an involuntary jump at the sound of the padlock being clicked open and the shed was once again filled with white light. A tall shadow towering in the doorway was the only reprieve from the bright swirling snow disturbing the dank cell. The figure approached her and roughly grabbed a fistful of her hair, tilting her head back.
A small, grimy window in the corner of the shed gave off enough light for her to catch his face. Sure as shit, it was their ‘Uber’ driver from last night.
He smelled like acrid smoke. His hands were stained red and muddy. He laughed as he forced her to look into his soulless eyes. His crusted beard tickling the side of her face.
“Screw you!” Rose spat into his face. “Why are you doing this?”
She could see the red stains on his beard. Pasta sauce. Looked like it hadn’t been washed in days. He reached towards his back pocket and she struggled, fighting to get away. Pulling her own hair out in her frenzy.
“Don’t touch m—“ The stagnant flavor of filth defiled her tongue as he gagged her with a dirty sock and roughly smashed duct tape against her lips. The cotton instantly choked her, sucking all of the moisture from her already dried mouth.
Spitting at the ground beside her he laughed and wiped a hand across his beard, leaving it even dirtier than before. Reaching into his other pocket he pulled something out and began to chew on it. More red running into his beard.
“Don’ worry hun,” he sneered. “I ain’t gonna touch you. Least not til I’m hungry.” One quick tug on her shackles and he was slamming the door shut behind him. A few snowflakes scurried in and settled before the padlock clicked once more.
Rose heard the same thing happen behind her. Kenzie yelling ‘stay away’ before her voice became muffled and the sound of her padlock clicking with finality. Rose’s heart was racing with adrenaline and fear. Over the sound of her own blood echoing in her head, reverberating against the gag, she could vaguely hear his footsteps crunching and fading off towards her left.
Immediately Rose threw off her blanket and began reaching again for the iron pipe. Her stilettos digging into the frozen ground. Her body cold and tired. Hot breath steaming from around the duct tape. A wave of nausea hit her and she fought it back. Mementos from New Year’s Eve partying. She braced herself, willing the vomit back down her throat.
Struggling Rose managed to pull the bar close enough to scoot it within her reach. Summoning what fight she had left in her she maneuvered the piece of metal into her right hand and levered it against the rusty bolt securing her fetters. By grace, she is able to pry one chain from the wall.
Her free hand rips the duct tape from her mouth, removing half the skin from her dry, chapped lips and she spits the disgusting sock out with a stream of vomit. Stale champagne and stomach bile.
“Kenzie,” she wheezes, barely above a whisper. “Hold on. I’m almost free.”
Rose uses her free hand to wrench the other bolt from the wall and bounds to her feet. Nearly falling in her weak state. Before even pulling on the door she knows that it is useless. Her full weight against it. Nothing budges.
One glance at the small window in the corner and she is already stacking broken furniture. The iron post from the bed railing is still clutched firmly in her hand. The frozen window gives way but not easily. A rusty nail catches her wrist and gashes deep. Her extremities are so frozen she hardly notices the pain.
Snow and cold air whip in through the opening. The drop down appears to be about six feet. Rose runs back to the far wall and wraps herself in the disgusting blanket before squeezing through the tight space of the window. Her fall to the ground is cushioned by the snow but still it knocks the wind out of her.
Rolling over, she pants. Sucking in frigid air. Gasping for relief. For any sliver of oxygen. Her lungs tightening from the fall and the cold. Blood is pouring from the slash on her wrist. Steaming. Red. Hot.
About thirty yards away she can see a well-kept brick house, smoke billowing from the chimney. The blue Jetta she could vaguely remember pouring her drunk friend into last night was parked boldly in the driveway.
Rose steadies herself and pulls the blanket tight, holding pressure on her wounded arm. Chains still dangling from each wrist. She makes her way around the dilapidated shed and spots a similar prison less than twenty feet away. “Kenzie,” she murmurs into the blustering snow.
Clutching the iron bar in her fist, Rose hobbles towards her friend‘s cell. She sees the small window above her head, but there is nothing on the outside of the shed to help her reach it. Rose slowly moves towards the padlocked door.
“Kenzie,” she sobs, tapping against the metal. “Kenzie, I’m coming. I swear I’m right here.”
“Mphhhf Phmfph.” She is answered by muted, muffled sounds of distress.
Leveraging the rusted iron bar between the padlock and the door, Rose pulls and tries to pry the lock off. Tries to pry the door open. Tries to free her friend.
With a sickening snap she falls back into the snow, a small portion of the iron pipe left in her grip. Broken shards of rust and metal shower the snow around her. Lock and door remain unmoved.
“The padlock won’t budge. I have to break the window.” She whispers futilely as the storm begins to pick up. The wind and snow whips and howls around her.
“Hphhhmm fmpmm.” The only response.
“I’m just going to interpret that as ‘hurry up’.”
Rose grabs one piece of broken metal from the snow beside her and hurls it towards the dingy window overhead. The sickening crash of the glass breaking thunders loud over the din of the storm.
“Hfpphhmm.” Kenzie mumbles in despair. Frightened. Muffled. Rose can’t reach the window but her hopeful words of encouragement do. Promises blown away with the snow.
A heavy door slams to their left. Rose’s heart thuds in her chest. The distinct sound of a shotgun being cocked. Panic.
“Kenz, he’s coming back. He’s coming.”
“Drnnnt Lnnph Mfph.” Hysteria in her friend‘s moans.
Gauging the direction of the voice, Rose tosses the broken shard of the iron pipe praying that her friend can reach it and cut herself loose.
A piercing shot from a nearby gun shakes Rose to her core. Pulling the grungy blanket tighter around her, she races the opposite direction. Her weary body fighting against her. She slides down a snowy embankment as another shot rings past her ear. A trail of blood and footprints left in the fresh powder of her wake.
Tumbling to the edge of a frozen lake, Rose glances over her shoulder. Her heart is thumping out of her chest. Her wrist aching and dripping. Her head pounding from the consequences of her New Year’s celebration. The taste of the filthy gag that had kept her masked still fresh in her mouth.
A dark form is at the top of the hill. The shotgun cocks once more.
Rose thinks one last time of her friend left behind and tentatively steps out onto the surface of the frozen lake.
Fingers crossed. She runs for her life.