“Stop your fucking crying,” one of the men in black fatigues barks as they push, shove, and drag us through the hallways.
We’re lead down a set of dark stairs, and I nearly fall twice as I struggle with the change of lighting. Sophia’s grip on my arm is the only thing that keeps me from wiping out completely.
Once we reach the bottom of the stairs, we’re lead down another dark hallway lined with doors and marched up to the third one. The door is unlocked, pushed open, and then we’re pushed inside.
I hear one of the two men mutter, “Fucking worthless bitches.” Then the door slams behind us and once more we’re locked in.
The three of us just stand where we’re left for a moment before Amanda collapses to her knees.
“We’re going to die, we’re going to die,” she keeps repeating, and I don’t know how to comfort her.
I don’t know how long I just stand still, listening to Amanda crying, waiting. Expecting the door to open again and for the men to reappear.
Waiting for them to come tell us they know who we are.
They know our fathers.
Waiting for them to put a bullet between our eyes.
My ears still ring from the gunshots, and it’s a long time before I realize Sophia is talking to me.
“What do you think they want with us?” Sophia repeats, looking at me. Her face is red, blotchy, and her makeup is running with tear streaks.
“I don’t know,” I croak out, but inside I think I know.
I just don’t want to say it out loud.
I don’t want to voice my fears and give them life.
“What are we going to do?” Amanda sobs, breaking down completely. “They killed Lindsey!”
My throat tightens up and fresh tears flood my eyes. Lindsey’s dead, she’s really dead, and a part of me wants to collapse, to breakdown like Amanda. But there’s another part of me that wants to make it out of this.
That wants to survive.
Wiping the back of my hand across my face, I take another step into the room, and look at what we have to work with.
The walls appear to be made out of concrete and there’s no window. We must be in a basement. There’s one bare twin mattress on the floor, a bucket… a fucking bucket… and a gallon jug of water.
“What are we going to do?!” Amanda repeats, crying hysterically.
I drop down to my knees and Sophia follows me.
Pulling Amanda into a hug, I fight back my own sobs, my own despair, and whisper, “We wait.”
Time crawls by. Hours must pass. Sophia and I manage to get some water into Amanda, and then use some of it to rinse off my face. After awhile, Amanda curls up into a little ball and falls asleep on the mattress.
Even in her sleep she whimpers and cries.
Sophia and I sit on the floor, up against the wall, side by side.
“You know,” she says, her gaze far away. “I overheard my father talking about a surge of disappearances recently.”
“Oh?” I ask, looking over at her.
She nods her head and tucks a blonde curl behind her ear before looking at me. “Yeah, but most of the disappearances were college girls. He warned me to be more careful and to avoid campus after dark…” She shakes her head and the curl she just tucked behind her ear pops out. “He’s always warning me of one danger or the other, so I didn’t take him seriously.”
“We weren’t grabbed on campus,” I say quietly and look away.
A strong surge of shame slams into me.
“It’s not your fault, Sophia,” I say, my throat wanting to tighten around the words to keep them from leaving. “It’s mine.”
“How is this your fault?” she asks, turning towards me.
“If it weren’t for me, if I would have just stayed at home, we wouldn’t have been at that dive bar in the first place,” I say and hang my head. “Amanda and Lindsey didn’t even want to be there.” I start to choke up and tears prick at my eyes. “Lindsey wanted to leave… if we would have left earlier…”
Sophia’s arms come around me and I feel myself weakening. I feel myself filling with self-pity and self-loathing.
“It’s not your fault. It’s not, Beth. You’re not the one that pointed the gun at Lindsey’s head…”
The memory of Lindsey just dropping to the floor flashes through my mind. Her dull, lifeless eyes. The blood staining her hair red…
I shake my head back and forth, fighting a losing battle against the tears and sobs that escape my mouth.
“We live in the most dangerous city in the country,” Sophia murmurs as she rubs her hand in circles on my back. “These guys… these guys are to blame. And they will pay for this.”
“But it won’t bring Lindsey back,” I shudder.
“No, it won’t bring Lindsey back,” she agrees reluctantly.