I slide down as my knees start to give out.
There’s a thump to my right and then the grip around my arms loosens as I’m yanked back up. “Can you walk or do I need to carry you?”
I lick my lip, tasting blood. “Walk,” I rasp, the word feeling like a hot knife slicing up my throat.
There’s a grunt and then I’m dragged forward. My feet trip up under me as I struggle to both walk and try to open my eyes.
Little by little, I stumble and peel them open. The fresh air feels almost as good as a splash of cold water hitting my face.
“No, no, I’m going to be sick,” I hear Amanda sniffle behind me.
“Don’t you fucking da—” deep voice starts to threaten and then there’s the loud, stomach-twisting sound of Amanda coughing and something wet splashing. “Fuck! You got it on my fucking shoes!”
The man dragging me starts to chuckle as we stop and he pulls a door open. I try to look back, to get a glimpse of Amanda, but then I’m shoved through the door.
“Keep moving,” my escort commands.
The door slams behind us as he grabs me again and drags me forward.
The light is dimmer here inside and my eyes struggle to adjust to it. What I’m walking on feels softer, it must be some kind of carpet.
It’s also quiet. Almost too quiet.
He drags me down a long hallway, takes a left, and then stops at a door. Opening the door, he gives me a hard shove, forcing me through it, and then the door slams behind me.
I stumble forward, almost taking a knee, before I find my balance and spin around.
The light in here is brighter and harsher on my eyes. Tears blur my vision, and I have to look down at the floor to keep the pain at bay.
I don’t know how long I just stand here, trying to get my shit under control, before the door opens again. Amanda is shoved roughly into the room and then the door slams behind her.
“Elizabeth!” she cries out and rushes up to me, throwing herself at me.
Sobbing, she wraps her arms around me, and shudders against me. It’s everything I can do not to push her off. Not only because she’s almost toppling me over, but also because she reeks like something sour.
“What are we going to do? What do you think they want with—” she chokes out, and then the door bursts open.
Amanda sucks in a breath, freezing against me.
I can tell it’s two men walking in by the big, black combat boots they wear. I follow the boots as they stomp into the room and drop two bodies to the floor.
One of the bodies starts to moan as the men stomp right back out the way they came. Once more the door slams and then I hear the click of a lock turning.
“What the fuck is going on?” Sophia asks, her voice sounding strained.
“We were grabbed!” Amanda wails and starts sobbing again.
“What do you mean we were grabbed?” Sophia asks.
I’m miserable myself, but the way Amanda is clinging to me and crying, I feel the need to try to comfort her. Tentatively, I start to pat her on the back, but I have no soothing words to offer. For one, my throat still burns like hell, and for two, I don’t want to give her false hope.
As far as I can see, there’s no silver lining to this situation. We’re completely fucked. All we can do is try to stay alive and avoid being raped or killed, and I’m not sure we can prevent either from happening.
“Oh my god, Beth. What the hell happened to you?!” Sophia gasps.
Amanda stops crying long enough to peer up at me. She blinks her green eyes slowly, as if she is seeing me for the first time, and then says, “Yeah, you look like shit.”
I feel hysterical laughter starting to bubble up in my throat and have to swallow it back down, because frankly, I know laughing is going to hurt like a bitch.
“Lindsey pepper sprayed me,” I croak out and instantly regret saying that much.
“Oh fuck,” Sophia says with some surprise and then shakes her head. “Of course she did.”
“Why did she pepper spray you?” Amanda asks, a wrinkle of confusion appearing between her brows.
Slowly, but surely, my vision is returning to me, and it’s becoming easier and easier to breathe.
I just look at her. I could tell her it was an accident, that Lindsey didn’t intentionally hit me with the spray, but the question just isn’t worth the pain it would cost to answer it.
“I’m sure it was an accident,” Sophia says after a moment, answering for me. “Damn, she’s still asleep. Lindsey. Hey Lindsey, wake up.”
Lindsey starts to groan as if she’s in pain.