Qualified Entry: Fiction Category
By: Harmony Stalter
I felt him slip one of his muscular arms around my waist. The other one wrapped around my shoulders, his hand covered my mouth. I could smell the soap he used to wash his hands. My heart and mind were racing. I did not know what was going on. I began to panic. I squeezed my eyes shut, trying to fight back the tears. I began to weep. He cinched his grip tighter.
“Don’t move and don’t make a sound,” he whispered in my ear. “If you remain still, we can become invisible.”
I did not want to be invisible. I wanted someone to save me from his grip. He had pulled me into a dark hallway off of the main lobby. The rest of the party goers were walking into the party. I was scared. I did not know what to do. I started to struggle against his grip in an effort to escape. I even tried to scream. He cinched his grip tighter, leaning back to lift me off the ground. He carried me deeper into the dark hallway. I tried to break away, but to no avail. He was stronger than I was. He walked backward into a door.
“I am going to let go of your mouth. You scream and I will kill you. Do you understand?” he threatened.
I nodded to confirm my understanding. He let his grip go on my mouth.
“Help,” I screamed.
A person attending the same party I was supposed to be at stopped at the opening to the hallway. I seen her look down the hallway briefly before shrugging her shoulders and moving on, not believing what she thought she heard. The door was opened and I was thrown into the room. The door slammed shut behind me.
“I told you not to scream, bitch,” he angrily said, as he swung at me, striking me just below my eye.
Six months prior to this night, I was informed I was to be given an award for my eco-friendly office building design. I was going to have to give a speech. I was nervous about it because I did not like to speak in front of people. At the time, I was an architectural designer. My firm was looking to come up with ways to make the building designs and the building process more eco-friendly. I worked long hours and many weekends to come up with the concept and to make it work to our and our client’s specifications. I spent months on the research and the integration of the process. I was single and so engrossed in my career that I had forgotten how to live. Now, I feared I would never get that chance again.
I had friends and family that loved me, but I never had children or a husband. I did not even have a boyfriend at the moment. I longed for that now that I feared what my fate may be. I wanted to taste the lips of another, to feel another’s touch, to smell the sweet mix of colon and sweat on the skin of someone who wanted me. I was beginning to regret being all about work and wanting to be a success. I just wanted to be loved. There was only one thing I could do, fight back with everything I had.
I got up, only to be punched again. I could feel the blood trickling down my cheek. I reached up to touch my face. The blood was coming from a gash underneath my left eye. I could feel the heat of the blood rushing to the gash. My cheek was swelling fast. My left eye was becoming hard to see out of. I needed to stop this assault and fast.
“Please, tell me what you want,” I asked, as I struggled to return to my feet.
“Your life,” he growled from behind his ski mask.
“Why? We don’t know each other and I have never done anything to you.”
“Why do I need a reason to take your life? I just may enjoy the art of killing.”
“The art of killing, is there such a thing?” I asked sarcastically.
“Tell me about it,” I said in an attempt to distract him so I could survey the room for a weapon.
“Why should I?”
“Because I want to know why I am dying before it happens.”
“Don’t worry, sweetheart, there is plenty of time before I do the deed. I like to think about the way it’s going to happen first.”
“What does that mean?”
“Let’s just say we will be spending a lot of time together, before our relationship ends.”
That statement frightened me. I had to find a weapon and fast. Scanning the room revealed nothing within arm’s reach. I was against the back wall of a large closet. He was by the door. By him was a wire shelving unit. It was bare, but it did not look very stable. There was no way I was going to get past him in a room this size. I began to think I was never going to get away, and then I heard voices. He did too. I braced myself and got ready to scream. Before I could get anything out, he was across the tiny room and had his hand over my mouth. He placed his other hand on the back of my head and lifted me off the ground. He pinned against the wall so I could not move, using the entire length of his body.
“Make one move and I will not take the time to think about what I am going to do to you,” he whispered angrily.
I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes. The salt in my tears stung the gash under my eye. I desperately wanted to get away. I knew if I moved I was dead where I stood. Dying in that room was not an option. When we no longer heard voices, he let go of my mouth.
“Good girl. This relationship may last longer than I thought if you continue to do what you are told.”
What he said spark something in me. I wanted to make this last as long as possible, in hopes of surviving this onslaught.
“Why did you pick me? Why do you think it is my time to die?”
“I have been watching you for quite some time. I know that there is no one who is going to miss you, except for maybe your gray cat and little Chihuahua.”
“H-How do you know I have a cat and Chihuahua?” I stuttered, swallowing the lump that had formed in my throat.
“Like I said, I have been watching you for quite some time,” he answered, as a smile formed on his lips and his eyes went darker than the blackest night.
“F-For how long?”
“Just know I knew about your last boyfriend and the fight that ended it all.”
My last boyfriend was over a year ago. Just how long had he been planning my death? Why was he planning to kill me? Did I know him? There had to be a reason. I had to think of a way out. I had to listen for clues to who he was.
“What did I do to cause my death?”
“You decided work was more important than a relationship.”
There was something in what he said that was familiar.
“What makes you think that is how I feel?” I inquired, determined to figure out who this guy was.
“I told you, I have been watching you for quite some time. Did you think I didn’t do my research?”
“Research, you did research?” I asked, becoming increasingly panicked by the moment. “How did you do research on me?” “Why do you want to know?” he asked.
“Because I am curious as to why you came to the conclusion that I needed to die.”
My left eye was completely closed. My cheek was throbbing. I reached up to touch it, wincing at the pain I felt. I was almost positive that I had a fractured cheek.
“Curious? Why do you need answers before you die? It won’t help save your soul and it will not stop me from completing my task,” he laughed.
“Who put you up to it?” I asked.
“No one put me up to it. This is not a job. It is something I enjoy doing.”
“Because I like to see people suffer through the torture. It makes me happy.”
“You’re sick,” I shouted at him.
“Hahaha, you are just now figuring this out? I thought you were smarter than that, miss architectural genius?”
“Why? Why me? Why did you choose me?” I said, as I began to sob.
“Because I thought you would put up a good fight, but from the looks of it you are no better than any other person.”
“I never claimed to be better than anyone else.”
“Well you are getting an award and giving a speech tonight, aren’t you?”
“That doesn’t make me better than everyone else. It just means that I did my job and did it well.” I retorted.
Then it clicked. He was someone I knew. Recently, Dave, who was my ex-boyfriend and worked in the same office I did, confronted me about the award. He was not happy that my design was chosen over his. He thought his design was better and more efficient. The board of directors thought otherwise. They took the time to review both of our designs and the research we had done. They thought mine was more cost effective and better done. Dave was not happy about it.
“Huh,” he said. “You think so.”
“Yes,” I said.
I had to get out of this closet. Now that I knew who it was and why he was going to kill me, I needed to save my own life. I had to think of a way to use the shelving as a weapon and not block my only exit out of this room. He must have seen me looking at the unit. He moved in front of it and smiled at me.
“There is no way you are going to survive, so don’t even think about trying a thing.”
“I wasn’t thinking about trying anything,” I said.
“Bullshit, I know you a lot better than you think,” he said, smiling his evil grin.
That is when I recognized the voice. It was definitely Dave. He had been working hard to disguise his voice. He had given up on it. He knew I figured out who he was. It was time to act. If I did not, I knew I was going to die in this room. I headed toward the door. He stepped in front of me, blocking me from getting to the door. I tried to side step him, grabbing the shelving unit as I did. I pulled it toward us. It hit him. He swiped it away. He put his hands around my throat, squeezing it until he could see my face turning red. I began choking. I could feel my face getting hot. The gash just below my eye began bleeding more profusely. I began to hit at him. He squeezed harder, grinning the entire time. He was enjoying taking my life from me. I started to
become weak. I tried to kick him. I connected with his shin, hurting my foot more than his leg. He just laughed. I began sinking to the ground. I knew the end was near. He squeezed harder. Once I was on the ground, he got on top of me, putting all of his weight on my hips. I could not move. My eyes rolled to the back of my head. I tried to fight it. I could feel my world going dark. His hand got tighter around my throat. I felt and heard a bone break. Everything went dark.