I couldn’t shake the feeling that someone was following me.
I was wishing I’d brought a thicker jacket with me as I hurried back to my dorm from the library, hugging my books to my chest. I could hear the faint bass of dance music and drunken laughter coming from the other buildings on campus. It was a Friday night and I spent all of it studying. But if I didn’t ace my calculus exam the following Monday I would probably end up having to re-take the class next semester. And the last thing I wanted was another semester of math.
A leaf crunched somewhere behind me and I had to suppress the urge to run. A quick perusal of the walkway behind me confirmed that my jitters were unnecessary – the path was empty. I scolded myself for being so jumpy. The wind could have easily scraped the leaf across the walkway. I chalked it up to my nerves over my test and the late hour. I needed to sleep. I had literally spent the entire day holed up in the library. I picked up my pace and before I knew it my dorm building loomed up ahead of me.
I pushed open the door to the lobby and sighed a breath of relief. I had made it back to my dorm in one piece; my paranoia had been for nothing. But as I moved to take a step towards the stairs an arm wrapped around my waist and suddenly there was a white cloth pressed to my face.
Chloroform. I struggled to keep my eyes open and then my world went black.
My shoulders ached. That was the first thing that registered when I woke up. The events of the night came back to me and I shivered with fear. My heart pounded mercilessly against my ribs and my cheeks were wet with tears. My mind was still fuzzy, and my body and head felt heavy. I couldn’t even tell if I was laying down or sitting.
I took a few shaky breaths to gain composure. I needed to calm down. I opened my eyes, squinting against the bright light of the lamp above me. I was laying on a carpeted floor in a room somewhere, hands bound behind my back. My cheek itched from where it’d been rubbed against the rug. I pushed myself up on to my knees with difficulty before looking around. The room had two windows, both with shades closed tight, a couch and a TV, and a kitchen area, lights dimmed. There were three shut doors, two behind me and one directly across from me that I was sure led to a bedroom. Have I been here before? I tried to shake my still foggy brain into focus. I looked down. There was something about the carpet. It was burgundy. And scratchy. Old and burgundy and scratchy and ugly, just like the one I used to sit on at … at Johns. Oh God. My head shot back up, my gaze finding the fridge in the kitchen and the pictures scotch taped to its front. A picture of a girl sitting Indian style on a rug, this rug. A picture of me. No. My chest was tight, I couldn’t breathe. Please no. I squeezed my eyes shut tight. I couldn’t look at that familiar burgundy anymore.
The door to the bedroom creaked open and heavy footfalls came toward me. I kept my eyes shut. I didn’t need to see who it is, didn’t want to see. Strong hands gripped my arms and pulled me up on to my feet.
“You’ll never leave me again, Baby Girl.”