She tried to twist her head away, but her Aunt Harriet was absolutely relentless and too strong to be denied. Her meaty body pinned Carrie Lyn in the chair. One hand held the girl's head still while the other hand forced broccoli into her mouth.
Carrie Lyn couldn't believe it was happening. Aunt Harriet was her least favorite relative and baby sitter, but the grim old woman had never behaved like this! She kept forcing more horrid material into Carrie Lyn's mouth, even though there was no more room. Carrie Lyn was suffocating, choking, gagging...!
Dr. Carrie Lyn Thomas' eyes fluttered open and tried to focus. A black object passed across her field of vision, trailing something cream colored behind and beneath it. Was that the family cat, Maxwell? No, he was brown.
The awful pressure in her mouth intensified. Was she at the dentist? Had she somehow fallen asleep in the chair? Had she been in an accident and now revived in the hospital with tubes in her mouth? She tried to shift her body's position, tried to bring a hand up to her face. She could do neither.
There was an unpleasant snicker. "Is Sleeping Beauty awake? Did she have nice dreams?" The hands that had been at her head loosened their pressure somewhat. She turned groggily toward the voice and saw a black ski mask. Brown eyes blazed at her gleefully. Bad teeth were on display inside the gloating mouth.
Then he laughingly resumed the work he had briefly interrupted. His hands passed the long piece of bandage around her the back of her skull and then between her lips and teeth, continuing to secure the wad of cloth which had been jammed inside her mouth.
She had a pounding headache and for a few seconds her brain simply didn't work, wouldn't process information, couldn't separate the dream she'd been having from the living nightmare within which she had awoken. Then her mind cleared, and she knew the truth with terrifying certainty.
She was, God help her, a captive of the Seven Counties Sadist.
*** *** *** *** *** ***
"Good afternoon doctor. I'm detective Stevens, and this is my partner, detective Ryan. We'd like to talk to you if we could."
"Let me see your identification, please."
They flipped open small cases containing their badges and photo IDs. Stevens was a pretty woman in her mid-thirties who was making no effort to improve her looks with cosmetics. Ryan was a few years older and was losing his hair. His expression was tired.
"May we come in?" Stevens asked.
"Do you have a warrant?"
Ryan made a scoffing sound and looked off to one side, shaking his head slightly. "No," Stevens answered. "We're not here to arrest you or to search your home. As I said, we'd merely like to talk with you. We thought you'd prefer that we visit you at your home rather than at your office."
"I'm sorry, but I actually prefer neither. I'll come to your station tomorrow at 2 PM if that would be convenient."
"As you wish, doctor. We'll see you tomorrow afternoon then. Please call if you need to change the time." She handed Carrie Lyn a card with her work and cell phone numbers on it. And after receiving a nod, she immediately turned to return to the car in which they'd arrived. Ryan gave one sour, belittling look at Carrie Lyn before he turned to follow his partner. Catching up to her a few steps from the car, he turned his head and said something; if she responded she didn't break stride or look at him.
Carrie Lyn closed her front door and watched from a window. The two detectives sat in their car for a few minutes. Ryan appeared to be angry judging by the way he gestured as he spoke. At last the car drove away.
*** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***
Carrie Lyn began to try to struggle, although there seemed to be a delay between the orders her mind sent and the actions that her body clumsily executed. At least her vision was clearing, for what little good that did her. She was sitting on the floor of what appeared to be an empty warehouse. The man who had abducted her was beside her at a 90 degree angle. His legs were scissored around her torso and arms to hold her in place. His crotch pressed against her right hip, and she felt the bulge of his arousal.
Her hands were handcuffed behind her back and held tightly in place by the man's clenching thighs. Her legs were unfettered but of little use to her at present. The fashionable high heels she wore, strapped around her ankles, scrabbled ineffectively on the smooth, hard floor. Her beautiful golden calf-length gown further hindered her attempts to break free. Her nylons whispered against one another as her legs pistoned fruitlessly.
The cloth the man had been winding over her lower face time after time had reached a point where the layers had come level with her forcibly open teeth and lips. The man now started to cover her the area from just below her nose down to her chin with the windings. She shook her head, trying to impede his progress. It made her headache throb more painfully, but seemed to bother her captor not at all. He laughed as she tried to scream only to have most of the noise blocked by the gag he was fashioning.
"Come on baby, you know you love it," he taunted her. "Maybe you want something else I've got between those sweet lips instead, is that it? It'll be there eventually honeybuns, don't worry."
He had finally used up most of the long cloth. Releasing his legs from around her body, he spun her partway around and knotted the gag tightly at the back of her head.
"Real nice of you to wear your hair up, cupcake," he said while patting her on a cloth covered cheek with one of his gloved hands as he got to his feet. "Makes the gag look much neater. You're a real thoughtful little girl. Your new boyfriend appreciates that."
He came around in front of her and she tried to kick him but she was still moving in foggy slow motion and he caught her by the ankle casually. "Now how did you know I wanted this next? Our first date and we are already so in tune. It's just amazing. Shows we belong together."
He dragged her by the ankle across the floor. Her dress rolled up on her legs, over her knees to mid-thigh before they reached his destination where an eyebolt was screwed into the floor with a couple of feet of rope knotted to it. He tied her right ankle with it and ran his hand up the leg to the top of her nylons. He brought his face close to hers and whispered "Now don't go away. I'll be right back just as soon as I get some more rope, and we'll get better acquainted." He pulled the shoulder straps of her gown down onto her arms, smiled, and sauntered away.
Breathing heavily, she watched him walk across the floor and exit through a door which he closed behind him. She could scarcely believe that this was really happening to her, although she'd been preparing herself for it for weeks. But it was real, and she had to find a way out of it.
She twisted and hitched her body around until she could get her fingers to the knot on her right ankle. Desperately she picked at it. She kept her fingernails short, but could still feel some of them chip and crack as she tore at the knot. At last it loosened, and seconds later she pulled it apart and freed her ankle.
She rested for just a few seconds. Then she went onto her back and bridged her body, supporting her weight on her feet and shoulders. She struggled to make the arch of her body more severe, trying to force her feet and shoulders closer together. It was extremely difficult, particularly in the high heels which kept trying to skid away. But there was no way to get them off, at least not quickly enough, so she kept at her task. At last she judged that her feet were close enough. She took the weight of her upper body from her shoulders onto the top of her head as her neck quivered.
Simultaneously she brought her arms up, tried to push her hips back even further, and then dropped onto her back. Her hips landed between her forearms; her handcuffed wrists were now in back of her thighs, between hips and knees. She grimaced at the way the tight handcuffs were biting into her slender wrists but kept working. She folded her body, pressing her chest against the top of her thighs and her ankles close to the back of them. Then she moved her wrists and arms up toward her knees. Again the heels she was wearing worked against her, but she didn't dare take the time to try to unstrap them. She kept giving anxious glances toward the door the man had gone through. While the metal of the cuffs threatened to break her wrists, she was able to work first one foot and then the other between the links and finally bring her hands out in front of her.
She got to her knees and then to her feet. She wanted very badly to get the tight gag off, but was unable to reach the knot. She tried to pull the cloth down, but to her great frustration it was so tight and had so many layers that she couldn't manage that either. She could only roll down the edges a bit below her nose - nowhere near enough to get the wad out of her mouth.
Then she stopped as she saw something on the floor off to one side. Was that her purse? She took a few steps in that direction. It was! She stumbled toward it. She was still woozy from whatever had been used to knock her out and her balance was uncertain, particularly in her heels.
Inside the purse should be the items she had kept with her while making herself a target for the abductor. Her cellphone of course. But also a folding knife, a small caliber pistol, a can of pepper spray... and a handcuff key. Scarcely daring to hope that the man had dropped the purse without looking inside, she went down on one knee, unlatched it and reached inside. she recoiled with a muffled cry of disgust when her fingers found only a large, lubricated dildo.
She stood up again and hesitantly went to the door the man had used to leave. It was locked. On her side was only a keyhole. There was no way for her to open it or to keep him from re-entering. She looked around desperately. In a far, shadowy corner of the huge room there appeared to be an opening. She ran to it as quickly as she could. Just inside of the doorway was a stairwell, with steps leading both up and down. There was no light in either direction. She hesitated and then went up.
*** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***
"So, Dr. Thomas - in the past three weeks, you have given four television interviews, three newspaper and magazine interviews, and two radio interviews about the so-called Seven Counties Sadist. Is that correct?"
"I believe so. Along with some internet articles and interviews."
"Mmm-hmm." Ryan drummed his fingers on the pages of the open folder on the table between them. Carrie Lyn had expected Stevens to conduct the interview, but thus far she had remained silent, sitting back and watching her partner and Carrie Lyn verbally spar.
"You are aware of course that this perpetrator's m.o. has generally been to been to target successful, attractive women who occupy positions of power or influence or who have other notable accomplishments."
Ryan paused, but Carrie Lyn did not deign to answer; she merely raised her eyebrows slightly and tilted her head slightly to one side.
"You yourself, doctor," Ryan went on after a moment, "are a beautiful woman with a considerable professional reputation."
"Aren't you sweet to say so."
Ryan took a few seconds before continuing, obviously struggling to control his temper. "And in your interviews and articles, you have, most would say, gone out of your way to belittle this criminal, to mock his perceived sexual inadequacy, and to insult his manhood at every opportunity."
"Do you find him to be a commendable example of your gender, detective?"
"No doctor. But the question here is, are you deliberately attempting to make yourself this individual's next target? Are you using yourself as bait?"
"That would be dangerous and rather foolish, don't you think?"
"I certainly do. Now would you like to answer the question?"
"I have given my answer. I have nothing more to say on the matter."
Ryan again needed a few seconds to compose himself. Then he swept the folder in front of him closed, clasped his hands together, and brought them down together on top of the folder with a thud.
"You're related to the fifth victim, aren't you? Sharilyn Daniels? Her mother is your older sister, isn't that right? You were her aunt and also her godmother, correct? Are you hoping to avenge her murder?"
"Perhaps if you had spent more time looking for this degenerate and less time researching relatives of his victims, you might have caught him by now and all of this would be academic, detective," Carrie Lyn snapped, losing control for a moment.
They glared at one another for a moment, and Stevens at last leaned forward and spoke. "Let's remember we're all on the same side," she said quietly.
Carrie Lyn's posture softened and she blushed slightly. "I'm sorry. That was a stupid and horrible thing to say. I apologize."
Ryan too seemed to relax and waved a hand dismissively. "Forget it. We're all under stress. Look doctor, whether you believe it or not, we are concerned for your welfare. You've done these... taunting interviews. You're related to a previous victim. You recently applied for and were granted a permit to carry a concealed handgun. Leaving aside the question of vigilantism, do you really want this rapist and killer to come after you?"
"If he is going to attack another woman - and I have no doubt that he will - I would rather that it be someone who is as ready for him as possible."
"We have trained policewomen to act as decoys, and you..." Ryan began, but he stopped speaking and just shook his head and rubbed his face.
"In the past few weeks," Stevens asked, "have you noticed any vehicles following you? Have you received any obscene or hang-up phone calls? Gotten any internet threats?"
Carrie Lyn hesitated before answering slowly. "I... have had a sensation that I was being watched at times. But I've never really noticed anyone doing it, and of course it could be just my nerves. After some of the interviews and articles, there were some comments on radio talk shows and on the web about how I ought to learn my place and stay in the kitchen and bedroom and keep my mouth shut. The typical misogynistic grunting. I've no doubt that the criminal shares those sentiments, but I doubt he'd risk even an anonymous radio call to say so."
"Perhaps not," Stevens said. She seemed to be thinking about something else before returning to the moment. "Still, we're going to be assigning someone to follow you around for a few days."
Carrie Lyn started to object, but Stevens held up a hand. "He'll be discreet. You probably won't even know he's around most of the time. It's not as if he'll be walking right behind you. But it needs to be done. You've simply made yourself too large and tempting a target. And, to be blunt, there's really nothing you can do to change it. Please cooperate with us, and perhaps we'll have this animal behind bars sooner rather than later."
Carrie Lyn became away of observation and looked out through the interview room door. A large man with a long scar down one side of his face turned away when their gazes met.
"Have you ever considered the possibility that The Sadist might be a member of a police force?" she asked before thinking that perhaps she shouldn't.
Ryan turned his head to look at Stevens and she met his eyes with a sidelong glance. "Do you have any particular reason for asking that?" Ryan wondered. "Is there some fact you should share with us?"
"No, I was just thinking out loud. I've wondered how all these smart women were abducted with relative ease. Little sign of struggle, no noise and so forth. A police officer would have little difficulty in getting a woman to lower her guard. But I've no information pointing to that. It could be a different sort of authority figure, or someone completely the opposite. the almost invisible person of whom we take little notice. A store clerk, a taxi driver..."
Her voice trailed off as the tall man passed outside of the doorway again, glancing in at her. A man with a scarred face like that would have trouble achieving a romantic relationship with a woman, might come to hate women as a result...
*** *** *** *** *** *** ***
Carrie Lyn reached the next floor and found that the stairs ended there. There was no sign of another exit, and the only illumination came through narrow cracks in heavily boarded windows. She was turning to go back down the stairs when suddenly a picture was projected on the wall opposite her. She saw herself lying bound and gagged on the floor below, watched herself undo the rope around her ankle, maneuver her cuffed wrists in front of her, wobble across the floor and reach inside her purse...
"Clever little girls are a real turn-on." The voice behind her came just as two strong arms suddenly clamped together around her, pinning her arms to her sides.
The man had come up the stairs behind her with absolutely no noise while she had been hypnotized by the video playing on the wall. She gasped in shock and tried to struggle, but he had already lifted her off of the floor.
"Now where were we?" he asked with a laugh. "Oh, that's right - you seemed a little uncomfortable, so I was going to help you out of those clothes after I had you tied up better."
Carrie Lyn tried to kick back at him and whipped her head backward, hoping that she might break his nose and force him to release her. But her skull only impacted his shoulder, and seconds later he had wrestled her down onto the floor and her slender frame was pinned beneath his beefy body.
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