This story is by Nikki Shaw-Hogg and was part of our 10th Anniversary Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Lost and Found
Sara awoke in absolute darkness. Her body was sluggish, and she had one hell of a headache. Someone had drugged her. They bound her hands to a headboard, and her shoulders were on fire from being in that position. She was only wearing her bra and panties. She had no memory of how she got here.
It had to be the guys from the bar. But why? She whispered for Elliot but heard no response.
Sara struggled to free her hands. She always carried a small pocketknife. Years ago, she began sewing small pockets into all her bras, because of Jake. She needed to protect herself. If she could get to it, she could free herself and start looking for Elliot.
Pulling and twisting, she loosened the knot enough to pull one hand free and reached down only to find her knife missing. Only Elliot knew about the knife. Why would she tell them? She loosened the rope that was on her other wrist, then sat up to untie her feet. She needed to find a way out, now.
Elliot begged at length and Sara finally gave in to a night out. It had been almost a year. Eleven months and twenty-six days to be exact since they ran. Elliot was going crazy cooped up in the cabin. There were only so many walks you can take or books you can read, though Sara had always preferred the quiet stillness.
She was hesitant but understood why Elliot wanted to go out. And she had done everything the police said. She’d kept a low profile, moved out of the province to a cabin that a friend of a friend loaned her, and changed her last name.
Elliot was her best friend and sacrificed so much to come with her. The problem was she was always itching to do something, and that made Sara nervous. It wasn’t healthy for two thirty-year-olds to be so isolated from the world, and she needed this too if she was being honest with herself. Surely Jake had moved on. Although her bruised body and mind were still mending.
Elliot was getting ready by applying her signature shade of Flamingo Pink to her lips. She was precise as she applied her full make-up, ending in winged eyeliner to enhance her blue eyes. Her shoulder-length black hair was in hot rollers, and she had even had the foresight to pack a little black dress and stilettos just in case. She had packed an outfit for Sara as well. A siren red cocktail dress with her favourite Jimmy Choo ankle booties. Sara put her hair up in a messy bun, and with a swipe of lip gloss, she was ready to go. They were overdressed for where they were going, but anything was better than the sweats they’d been living in for the past year.
“The Tank” was the only drinking establishment for 30 kilometres. They found a spot at the back of the lot and squeezed in between two vans. It was your typical dive. The walnut bar was gouged and smelled like a perpetually damp cloth and stretched the entire length of the room. The stools were bolted to the floor in case some idiot wanted to use one as a weapon. They were two feet apart with enough room between each for the impatient customers who didn’t want to wait for their server.
Within a minute of being inside, Sara knew where all the exits and washrooms were, and had scanned every person’s face she could see. She felt safe here. He did not know where she was. They always used burner phones, and she’d even bought an unfamiliar car for when she was ready to escape. They only used the cash that she’d squirrelled away that Jake didn’t know about.
Elliot’s eyes were the size of dinner plates as they adjusted to the low lighting. There were so many people packed into the small space that there were no available tables, and every bar stool sat on. People were milling about on the dance floor, leaving no room to dance.
Sara gave Elliot money to get them a drink while she kept looking around. They came later in the night on purpose thinking it would be less crowded. The lightweight drinkers should be more than half in the bag and on their way home to pass out. The heavy drinkers weren’t far behind and had already called Uber drivers, who were waiting for them outside. Drunks were heavy tippers, so the drivers didn’t mind the wait.
Elliot returned with their drinks just as a small table for two became available a couple of feet from where Sara was standing. She quickly claimed it by tossing her clutch on the tabletop even before the occupants had left their seats. It was all about timing and luck, and Sara’s reflexes were faster because she wasn’t drunk yet.
The music was wonderful but too loud to hold a conversation, so they sat side by side with their backs against the sweaty wall and just people-watched. All the interesting characters in bars could catch one’s interest.
It wasn’t long before two drinks arrived at their table and the server pointed toward a table where six guys were sitting. The men waved at them to come to join them. Sara wasn’t sure they should, but Elliot really wanted to go over. They grabbed their purses, and their drinks, and went over to join them. It was last call before they knew it. The guys ordered one last round, as Sara and Elliot excused themselves to hit the washroom. They had stayed with the guys all night and had a great time. They kept the conversation general, not getting too deep into their personal lives when the men asked questions.
Four of the six wore wedding bands. The other two were doing their best to get Sara and Elliot to hook up with them for the night because they had rented rooms at the motel next door.
Elliot was crushing on Patrick. He was the tall, dark, and handsome type of guy that she had always found hard to resist and was considering taking him up on his offer. They’d been so isolated this last year with only each other to talk to.
“I don’t think this is a good idea, Elliot. You don’t even know him. Doesn’t that concern you at all?”
“Not really,” she said as she reapplied her lipstick. “I need some excitement in my life. I’m not like you.” Returning to the table, Elliot was determined to stay. Sara downed her drink and pulled out her phone. An Uber could pick her up, and Elliot could drive herself home tomorrow, she was leaving. She dug into her clutch to grab her keys and tossed them on the table in front of Elliot. She closed her bag and got up when her entire world went black.
The darkness scared her.
Sara got off the bed, and her bare feet touched cold tile. With her arms stretched out in front of her, she stepped cautiously forward until she touched a cold, damp cement wall only a couple of feet away.
She recognized the sound of a lock opening, then a sliver of light appeared to the right of her. She turned quickly in that direction, ready to fight whoever came through that door.
The instant blinding light of the fully opened door was like taking razor-blades to her eyeballs. It was difficult to get her bearings. When her eyes finally adjusted, she couldn’t believe what she was seeing.
Jake. But how? She’d been so careful.
He laughed. She hadn’t put it together yet.
“Did you enjoy your night with the guys? I knew Elliot wouldn’t be able to resist them, being her type and all, and not your brightest move, bringing her along with you, my darling. She never could do what she was told. She’s been in contact with one of her boy toys back home for the last six months. It wasn’t difficult to track you after that.” As Jake inched closer, she stepped back, eventually banging into the wall. She had to find a way out. She wouldn’t survive the beating he had in store for her this time. Sara tried to distract him.
“Where’s Elliot, Jake?”
“She’s been taken care of, sweetheart.” Jake was now close enough that his breath clung to her face.
“Your focus should be here,” he whispers in her ear. “It’s time to go home, Sara. Have I got plans for you.”