24 Nov No Good Deed
“No Good Deed”Written by Ayaneve Edited by Craig Groshek Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek Narrated by N/A
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⏰ ESTIMATED READING TIME — 30 minutes
It was nearly midnight when I first saw her. There was only one 24 hour grocery store in my small hometown and she looked as out of place as anyone could possibly be. Rather than wearing the old faded denim that all the townspeople seemed to prefer she was dressed in a white, pressed blouse and an obviously expensive black, pencil skirt that reached to just above her knees. She stood out like a sore thumb. Unlike most of the working-class farmers in our area she didn’t dress plainly nor did she look old before her time. Her smooth, creamy white skin and long blonde hair revealed a pampered lifestyle that none of the townsfolk here could possibly afford. She also had wide, innocent green eyes that seemed oblivious to the harsh realities of this world. And I… well, I was instantly smitten.
We had both arrived at the mom and pop shop at the exact same time. Myself, I had come for some late-night microwave pizza and a few beers. And she, well… I could only wonder as to what had brought such a beautiful and sophisticated young woman to this small place and at such a late hour. I froze in my steps when I noticed her. She swept by me with a shy smile and continued into the small establishment. I shook my head in an effort to clear my thoughts and followed her through the dimly lit entrance of the store. I made my way quickly to the frozen food aisle to grab my pizza and then moved on to the wider beer and liquor section of the market. I was pleasantly surprised to find the same woman also standing there, seemingly debating over two brands of red wine. She looked up at me as I approached and gave me another quick smile as she hastily returned one bottle to the shelf and turned to walk purposely toward the checkout line. I hurriedly picked up a twelve-pack of my favorite brand of imported lager and followed after her.
Due to the late hour, there was only one checkout lane open and I impatiently took note of the other shoppers standing in line. There was an old woman whom I instantly recognized as Dorothy Woodsworth at the front. She watched with an eagle’s eye as the checker rang up her meager items, her fist tightly clenched over what looked to be a stack of painstakingly-clipped coupons. Behind her was a rather disheveled and dirty-looking man in his late 30s. I didn’t recognize him but with his numerous piercings, tattoos and the strong stench of alcohol and body odor, I was instantly on guard. The town had so few residents and even fewer tourists that I found it very odd to come across two strangers in the same night, especially at the same location.
He must be a drifter, I decided, and a rather suspicious-looking one at that. Even more disconcerting than the man’s appearance was the suspicious items that he was purchasing. I saw a box cutter, zip ties, garbage bags and large amounts of duct tape crowded into his small shopping basket. I somehow doubted that a man like this was starting some late-night home improvement project. I instantly felt myself reacting as any young, hot-blooded male would. I puffed out my chest, flexed my muscles and met his dark eyes in a “You don’t scare me” kind of way. Behind the drifter but in front of myself stood… her, the beautiful young woman that I had been ogling this entire trip. Much to my dismay, the dirty man’s gaze also seemed to focus on the young woman. His tongue kept darting out to wet his dry, chapped lips as his eyes raked up and down her body in a clearly lustful way. I felt my protective instincts roar to life as I watched her uncomfortable gaze dart quickly from old Mrs. Woodsworth to the strange man and back again as though seeking a safe place to land. I wracked my brain for some form of conversation that would distract the girl from the man’s inappropriate scrutiny and put her more at ease.
“H-hi there, buying some wine, huh?” The words just fell out of my mouth and I visibly winced as I stated the painfully obvious in a choked voice. The unkempt man snorted and gave me an amused and knowing look. “I mean…”
“Yes, I am having a late dinner with a friend.” She calmly said with a relieved smile. Her voice was as soft and alluring as the rest of her and I instantly felt my body start to relax. I couldn’t help but hope that there was more than just gratitude behind that smile.
“Oh, dinner that sounds nice,” I replied awkwardly. “Must be going on a date then, huh?” She opened her mouth as if to reply to my question but after a moment she shut it again and turned her eyes toward the cashier without answering me. Too shy and embarrassed to press her further, I also turned my attention solely to the cashier and attempted to pretend that no one else existed. The young man, whom I vaguely recognized as the grandson of the owners – Timmy or Jimmy, I think, was his name – made quick, competent work of everyone’s purchases and before I knew it I was all paid up and walking towards the store exit. The same mysterious woman walking only a short distance in front of me. Once I reached the parking lot I watched as she quickly walked to a car a few spaces away, placed the wine in her trunk and unlocked her car doors. I was already at my truck, as I was parked closer to the store than her and was about to climb into the driver’s seat when something came over me, a last-ditch attempt to catch the girl of my dreams, I suppose. “Hey,” I called out to her. “My name is Sam, and I… don’t mean to bother you. But I would really like to know your name… and, well, do you have a boyfriend or anything?”
The girl paused in her motion to open her door and raised one perfectly groomed eyebrow in answer to my question. Damn, that had sounded awkward and far too needy to be anything even approaching casual. But then I had always been somewhat awkward around the ladies. “I mean, well, do you?” She smiled briefly, revealing a cute little dimple in her left cheek, and I felt my heart melt even more.
“I am Mina. And no, I don’t have… anyone like that. But please just trust me when I say that you don’t want to get involved with me. I am… too much trouble.” With that, she flicked back her long hair with a careless movement of her pale, perfectly manicured fingers and slid into the front seat of her luxury car. Following suit I plopped down into the driver’s side of my beat-up pickup and sighed. Wow, smooth, I sarcastically chastised myself. I can’t imagine why she didn’t just fall into your lap after such a brilliant line like that. Punching my steering wheel in several frustrated movements I gloomily watched her car back up and head towards the exit of the parking lot. It was then that I noticed the top of a head peeking out of her rear window, barely visible in the backseat of her car.
“Wait. What the…” I trailed off and quickly backed out of my parking space to follow her car towards the exit. It was only when I was directly behind her that I realized I recognized whose head I had seen peering at me from her rear windshield. The long, greasy hair together with the reflection of the store’s lights glinting off his many piercings finally clued me into who this was. Somehow, the same dirty man who was in line before us had slipped into the back of her car without her notice! He quickly ducked back down below eye level until I could no longer see him. Meanwhile, she had switched on her turn signal indicating that she was going to turn left out of the parking lot. Even though my home was in the opposite direction I too flipped on my left turn signal and prepared to follow her. I was concerned for her safety, given the rough appearance of the man and the fact that he was obviously hiding out in her car. I knew he must have bad intentions; there was just no other explanation. I fought the urge to simply blare my horn at her, knowing that the man was quite possibly armed and able to cause her fatal injury if he knew that he had been discovered.
Instead, I followed closely behind her as she slowly made her way through the streets of downtown and then turned off to a smaller, less brightly lit road. I considered then rejected several strategies that might get her out of her car without alerting the menacing stow away in her backseat. Several nerve wracking minutes passed as she navigated through town before finally turning into an all-night gas station and my heart leapt. Thank God, this was my chance! I quickly turned in behind her and stopped at the pump adjacent to hers. At this time of night, I could see no other patrons and only one scrawny teenage boy who seemed to be manning the register from inside the small building. There was really no one else in sight. I could see no sign of the man in her back seat and concluded that he must have flattened himself onto the floor of her car. I climbed out of my front seat and pretended to start gassing up my already full tank. I tried to appear nonchalant as I knew I had to be smart about this. If I just ran over to her screaming as my first instincts demanded then I would likely just frighten her back into her car then be back at square one.
She got out of her vehicle and looked at me somewhat suspiciously as she began pumping her gas. I opened and closed my mouth several times, my mind racing to come up with a plan to get her away from her car. “You know this place has great coffee.” I began. “Could I buy you a quick cup?”
She made an exasperated sound in the back of her throat before replying, “Boy, you just don’t give up, do you?”
Attempting a casual smile, I said, “I just really think we should get to know each other, that’s all. Just give me ten minutes, one cup of coffee, and if you’re still not interested you can go on your way and I promise to never bother you again.” Please, please let this work my mind chanted over and over again.
“I really can’t,” she finally said. “Look, you seem like a nice guy, but I am just not interested. Sorry.”
“Damn.” I hadn’t meant to say that out loud and once it came out it sounded rather angry. I watched helplessly as she took a frightened step back and looked down at the gas nozzle that I had just been holding, not even bothering to put it into my tank as it was already full.
“You followed me here, didn’t you?” she asked accusingly. “Listen, man, I have tried to be nice but if you don’t back off right now I am going to call the cops, do you understand?” She angrily finished pumping her gas and slammed the nozzle back into position at the pump. She had every right to be upset and I knew that I was probably scaring the hell out of the poor girl. I just didn’t know what else to do. I was not the kind of man who could just leave a helpless woman to the wicked plans of a deranged man. I returned the nozzle to its compartment as I briefly considered calling the police myself.
We only had one sheriff, who always left the station promptly at six every evening. That left only a single, young deputy whom the whole town knew to be drunk far more often than not. I couldn’t help but think it would be the wrong move to involve him. If this guy was armed and got spooked he could kill her long before we got close enough to stop him. This situation required far more delicacy than an inebriated and inexperienced cop would be capable of. But then what should I do?
She was just about to climb back in her car when I desperately called out, “Wait, Mina, don’t go. You… your tire is flat! Come see.” She made a movement as if she was about to get back out to check but then she merely shot me a fearful look over her shoulder and started her engine.
I quickly jumped back into my pickup and fired up the engine. When she turned out of the parking lot I hesitated a few moments before turning behind her. I followed slowly at what I hoped was a discreet distance and tried to plan my next move. I was cursing myself for not thinking of writing her a note and slipping it discreetly to her somehow. If only I had thought of that sooner! She made several turns which led her out of the downtown area and eventually turned down what appeared to be a long dirt road. I had thought I knew every inch of this city but I soon found myself in unfamiliar territory. I followed about 200 yards behind her and the tall stalks of corn on either side of the narrow road caused eerie shadows to dance on my windshield. My heart and mind seemed to be in a competitive sprint and I knew that the finish line lay somewhere at the end of this rural road.
There was no other option, I would just keep my distance until she reached her destination, and then once she stopped I would intervene when the man made his move. I was too far away to see into her vehicle now but would still catch the occasional glimpse of what looked like the top silhouette of a head through her back window. I took a mental inventory of everything I had in my truck that could aid me. I had a cellphone with a flashlight and thankfully also had an old shotgun that my dad had lent me for a hunting trip several weeks prior. I hated hunting. I was not a violent man and couldn’t understand the thrill my friends seemed to get from taking down a defenseless animal. But there wasn’t much to do in my hometown and hunting had always been my buddies’ favorite pastime. I was actually very thankful for that now. After driving through the darkness for what seemed an interminable amount of time I suddenly realized that I could no longer see the taillights of Mina’s car. I slowed my speed down to a crawl and scanned the area up ahead and to the sides. Thinking that the man might have decided to force Mina to drive into the cornfields I watched the road closely for any fresh tire tracks, but I saw nothing.
After traversing the road for another couple of minutes I pulled my truck over, removed the shotgun from the rack behind my seat and cautiously climbed out. The sounds of night creatures and crickets were nearly deafening way out here and the still, hot air began to coat every inch of my skin with slick sweat. I could see nothing around me and was just about to give in to my crushing defeat to save Mina when I heard a loud, shrill cry. I quickly turned in the direction of the scream and it was only then that I noticed what looked to be a huge old barn roughly 300 yards behind me. “How the hell did I miss that?” I cursed myself as I jumped back into my truck, tossing the shotgun into the passenger seat and somehow managing to only take out a few of the towering stalks of corn in my haste to get turned back around on the road. No longer concerned about stealth I roared down the road as dirt and bits of rock hammered at my truck. Realizing that the situation had escalated far beyond my control I quickly whipped out my cell phone and dialed the emergency police number. It rang eleven times and I was near to hanging up when a sleepy male voice finally came on the line.
“Emmergacy. Whas-tss yer locatioon?” came the familiar slurred voice of the deputy. Damn, why couldn’t he have been sober, just this once? As quickly as I could I relayed the night’s events, trying to speak in a clear, concise voice so that even a drunk hillbilly could comprehend the urgency of the situation. “This had better not be a prank.” The deputy said after I had finished my explanation. Suddenly sounding far more sober, with only a tiny hint of the slur still evident in his voice, I felt my hopes rise slightly. “We’ve had a string of people go missing this week and so far there have been zero real leads. If what you’re saying is true then this girl could be in very real danger.”
“It’s definitely not a prank,” I quickly assured him. “My name is Sam Larsen, and I don’t know the exact address, but I am in a large cornfield roughly eight miles west of the Hilliard farm. There’s a huge barn or something in the center and that’s where I believe the woman is being held. I heard a scream a few minutes ago but nothing else since and I need to go in–” I was abruptly cut off by several fast beeping noises on the line. Looking down at my phone I realized that the phone was no longer getting a signal. In such a rural area, cellphones were notoriously unreliable. I tried calling back but it quickly became obvious that I had no service.
“Damn it!” I yelled and threw the phone onto the seat in frustration. I was on my own now; there was no time to try to move to a place with a better signal. The poor woman might already be dead at this point and I needed to act now. I switched off my headlights and slowed the truck down to a slow crawl as I approached the old barn. I could see Mina’s expensive black car parked carelessly in front of the decrepit old building, both of its doors left wide open. Beyond that, there was no other sign of life. Quickly scooping up the shotgun and re-pocketing my cellphone I opened the driver’s side door and stealthily slid out of my truck. I was hypersensitive to the slightest noise as I cautiously made my way towards the structure. Peeking into the nearest, grime smudged window I could vaguely make out two people. One was seated in a chair and seemed to be struggling against some type of restraints. The other stood a few feet away and it looked as though they held something large and threatening with both their hands. Both figures seemed to be arguing based on their hand movements and the muffled shouts I could barely hear through the thick walls. I walked around the entirety of the structure until I came to a large hole where the wood had disintegrated just enough so that I could crawl through without alerting them of my presence. Once inside, their voices were much clearer to me.
“Please, just let me go, I will give you whatever you want and… and I won’t tell anyone what happened here, I swear!” It sickened me to hear this sweet young woman begging for her life and I felt a white-hot rage begin to well within me, replacing my earlier fear. It was almost completely dark inside; the only light seemed to come from a small candle or lantern towards the front of the building where the voices originated. I could see several long shadows cast onto the floor and walls of the barn. Two of them clearly belonged to Mina and the drifter but there were also at least half a dozen large shadows that seemed to hang down from the ceiling. They were raised several feet of the ground and seemed to sway gently back and forth. I assumed that they were simply large farm tools and paid them little heed beyond the thought that I could potentially use one of them as a weapon. There was a thick, putrid odor that seemed to permeate the air, and I had to choke back bile as it rose in my throat. Creeping closer I crawled my way around the moldy bales of hay and fallen beams, trying desperately to be swift but silent.
“Anything I want, huh?” I heard a man’s deep, menacing voice say. “Well, that’s a mighty tempting offer and one I plan to take you up on. Of course, what I really want is you. I just want to have some fun, you know? There ain’t much to do around these parts except hunt, and I believe I have already bagged my prize. Just as with any fine young doe, I will start by stringing you up, I will skin and gut you and then separate the… choice bits.” The woman began to sob hysterically and I quickened my pace, only slowing when I was mere feet from their location. I could see small tufts of smoke rising from an old fashioned oil lamp that was set on a workbench next to several sharp knives and what looked like ancient, dirty surgical instruments. The lantern gave off so little light in the cavernous old barn that I felt I was still sufficiently hidden from view. I quickly turned my attention to the woman who did indeed appear to be strapped tightly to an antique wooden chair. She was softly whimpering what sounded like a garbled prayer and her long hair was tangled around her tear-streaked face.
Before I could pinpoint exactly where the male stood I felt several beads of sweat trickle down from my forehead into my eyes, stinging them and blurring my vision. I hurriedly swiped at one eye with my free hand before pressing it back down onto the ground. I was surprised when my hand landed in something wet and sticky and on reflex I recoiled and looked down. Even in the low light, I could still make out the small pool of thick dark liquid. Oil? That was my first thought, but after a quick sniff, I realized that it was blood. I froze when another drop landed from above my head to join the growing puddle. Slowly, reluctantly I raised my head and nearly screamed in horror. A naked corpse, strung up by the feet, dangled only a few feet above me. It had once been a man, though he had been savagely mutilated beyond all recognition. Though he was clearly deceased, fresh blood still dripped from several gaping wounds. I felt bile rise in my throat once again and the urge to flee was so strong that it nearly overpowered me.
Only the thought of Mina, her beautiful body stripped of both flesh and dignity and strung up like an animal kept me from “noping” my way out of there right that second. You can do this, I told myself. You have the shotgun and you know how to defend yourself. Besides, the cops will be here any minute now. That is if they can find you. How can you be sure the deputy even heard your description of this place before the call was dropped…? No, don’t think like that! The cops will come and if not you can always just shoot the guy! Just as I was wrapping up my internal pep talk two large black boots suddenly came stomping into my line of vision. My eyes darted up the entire length of the drifter, who suddenly seemed ten feet taller and twice as broad in my panicked state. He was holding a large machete and kept tightening then loosening his grip on it in a very unsettling way. It was clear that he was anxious to use it. He smiled broadly before saying “I thought I heard a rat scurrying around in the dark, looks like I was right. Such a determined little guy. Mina said it best, I think, when she said, ‘You just don’t give up, do you?’ Well, you know what they say, no good deed goes unpunished.”
“And you will be punished, that much I can promise you.” That voice. It was… Mina? I watched in shock as she sauntered over to stand next to the huge brute. The same wide, eerie smile on her beautiful face. How had she gotten out of the chair? That was the only question my terrified brain could conjure at the moment. I clumsily struggled to my feet still gripping the shotgun in one hand though at the time I don’t think I was even aware I still held it. Everything seemed to move in slow motion and my mind felt like an old computer that had been unceremoniously shut down and was now struggling to reboot. “My hero,” Mina said in an ugly, mocking tone. “You came to save the poor damsel in distress from a cruel trap. I bet you never once thought that trap might have actually been set for you. Don’t feel bad though, you’re not the only one, they never see it coming. Men like you make this only too easy, almost takes the fun out of it all.”
I could only stare blankly at both of them for several seconds as I felt my stomach swiftly drop and my comprehension slowly dawn. They were in this together, they planned this whole damn thing… and the disappearances the deputy mentioned…?
* * * * * *
“Why… would you do this? I only wanted to help you. I have been chasing this guy all night trying to keep you safe. I… I cared about you.” I tripped over all the questions flooding up my throat. “Did you do the same thing to the poor fool strung up behind me? You’re sick, both of you.”
“You all like to hunt here, right?” Mina responded in a sugary-sweet tone. “You think nothing of setting your traps and stacking the odds in your favor. Well, I like to hunt, too.” She shrugged her shoulders. “And at least I hunt on an even playing field. I choose game that is intellectually and physically matched to me, and even you can’t argue that I gave you several chances to flee. I told you I was nothing but trouble. It’s not my fault that you chose not to listen.”
“Stop playing with your food, Mina,” Mikhail suddenly snapped, “that’s a very bad habit of yours and I will never understand why you enjoy this elaborate little game so much. Let’s just finish him and get the hell out of here.” Mina pouted prettily at the man before shrugging once more. “I just enjoy the irony, I suppose. But fine, you win, Mikhail. I have had my fun, now you can have yours.”
They both lunged at me, Mikhail grabbing for my shotgun and Mina reaching for my throat. They moved with well-practiced speed and precision as my body suddenly leaped back into action. With as much force as I could muster, I drove the flat end of my shotgun into the front of the man’s throat, at the same time twisting my body to the side to avoid Mina’s clawing attack. Mikhail went down hard on his knees, both hands clutching his neck as he struggled to breathe. Mina also fell, thrown off balance by the velocity of her lunge and the suddenness of my evasive movement. Thank God, I have always disliked hunting so much, I thought to myself. While my friends were always off camping with their dads, I took four years of jiu-jitsu. Using the pair’s distraction to my advantage I ran the short distance to the large front door of the barn. I pulled forcibly on the handle but it wouldn’t budge. It was then that I noticed a large, intimidating padlock at the top. It was holding the doors firmly in place. I knew I was not getting out this way, not without the key.
I could hear movement behind me and quickly turned to see Mikhail fast approaching, the large machete still clutched in one hand. He looked pissed. I took off towards the rear of the building, intending to go back through the hole in which I had first entered. It was only at that moment that I had my first, full view of the entire room. I froze in mid-step as I took it all in. There was not just one corpse hanging from the ceiling, but many. At least ten bodies were visible in the lantern light. Some were missing limbs, fingers, or toes. There were a mixture of male and female bodies and one poor boy looked like he couldn’t have been more than thirteen years old. He appeared to be the newest of their victims. His body had been ravaged and torn but he showed no obvious signs of decay and blood still poured freely from his wounds. All of these people wore identical looks of terror and pain frozen on their tortured faces. I realized then that what I had originally taken for large farm equipment upon first entering had actually been… corpses, so many of them.
Before I could force myself to resume running towards freedom I felt a quick sharp pain in the back of my skull and then… nothingness. I awoke to a feeling of pain and a strong pressure centered in my head. Upon opening my sore eyes I saw that the whole world was upside down… and spinning. I quickly closed my eyes again and took a few deep breaths to gather myself and try to get my bearings. My memories were just a haze of blood and terror and it took several seconds to sort through them all. Once everything came back to me, my eyes flashed back open and I struggled violently to move, to flee. I couldn’t feel my limbs, my arms and legs refused to move. Worst of all, the world outside of my tightly clenched eyelids was still spinning out of control and I could tell that I was definitely upside down. I craned my neck upwards, already knowing what I would see. My feet and hands were restrained with zip ties and I was hanging from thick ropes looped around a large hook that had been attached to one of the barns high rafters. Damn!
I could hear the low murmur of voices and the loud scraping of metal on metal. I caught the scent of something burning followed by the thud of approaching footsteps. I closed my eyes nearly all the way and pretended to be still unconscious as the two figures came into view. Mikhail now held a large, rusted surgical blade and Mina had what appeared to be a fire poker? No, it was a branding iron and the tip glowed with a fiery orange hue. I knew what was coming next as my shirt was roughly ripped away from my chest. I remained as still as possible, trying not to panic as Mina leaned in close.
“Wakey, wak–” she started to say as I roughly drove the blunt part of my forehead into the tender skin above her nose. “Ouch! What the hell…” she trailed off, dropping her torture instrument as she grasped her gushing nose. They may very well kill me tonight but I am not going down without getting a few licks in myself, I thought.
Mikhail grabbed me roughly by the hair, twisting my face as he punched me so hard that I nearly passed out again. “You will pay dearly for that!” he spat as he sliced a long, deep gash into my chest.
“What’s the matter?” I asked, hearing the nasally sound of my own voice and knowing that my nose was likely now as broken as Mina’s was. “You said that you wanted an even playing field, remember?” I couldn’t help taunting. Maybe if I made them angry enough they would just kill me quickly and I wouldn’t be subjected to hours of torture first.
Mikhail just smiled at me though, that same wide and creepy grin that held more than a hint of madness in it. “That was Mina who said that, not me. You see, I don’t care if it’s even or fair. I just enjoy the screams… and the meat.” He leaned down to pick up the discarded branding iron, careful to keep enough distance between us. But Mina was quick to swipe it back out of his hands, jabbing the business end of it directly above my heart as blood continued to stream down her chin. I couldn’t help myself. I gave Mikhail those screams as an unbearable agony flared throughout my entire body.
“You’re mine now, forever,” Mina said softly in the same nasally tone that I had used moments before and I took a sick sense of satisfaction in that. Definitely broken, I thought as the world started going dark again. I was quickly snapped back out of that welcoming darkness by a deluge of ice-cold water in my face. I opened my eyes sluggishly to find four identical Mikhail’s standing upside down before me, each holding the same blood coated scalpel in his hands and grinning maniacally. I blinked several times to clear my eyes of water and the four images finally merged back to just one. Before I could brace myself he plunged the instrument deep into my left thigh and I could hear, more than feel, a wet squish as my flesh was ripped open several inches. I think my limbs must have lost most of their sensation due to the tightness of my bonds and the fact that all of the blood was rushing into my brain. Thank God for that tiny mercy.
I knew then that I was going to die here tonight and that these two murderous psychopaths would then desecrate my corpse just as they had done to so many others. They would be long gone before the deputy or anyone else ever found me. My overwrought mind was desperately looking for an escape, not a physical one, I knew that was impossible. All I wanted in that moment was to mentally slip from the reality of what was happening to me and find a warm, soft place to burrow into. Another long deep cut was carved into my opposite thigh. For some reason then, I thought of my mother. She had died in a horrific car accident when I was only nine years old. Her sudden death had devastated me back then. My father toiled long hours on our farm and as a young child, she had been my whole world. Her name was Samantha and I, their only child, had been named after her. Dad had never been the same after that. My mind vaguely registered it as serrated blade of some kind began to saw back and forth through the muscles and tendons that lay a foot below my groin. My father had started coming in later and later every night, I think he just couldn’t handle stepping foot into a house that she no longer occupied.
I felt Mina’s hand lovingly stroke the side of my cheek, right before she again plunged the fiery iron against my neck. This time though, I didn’t scream. Instead, I put all of my energy into summoning back the images of my family. Eventually, my dad and I had fallen into a sad and lonely routine, both too immersed in our own grief to acknowledge or care about each other’s pain. Over time though thing’s started to get better, for me at least. Mikhail’s fists thudded painfully over and over against the sensitive flesh of my rib cage and I heard him laugh jokingly about the need to “tenderize the meat.” I ignored his taunts and burrowed farther inside of myself. My father’s sister eventually came to live with us and help out around the house. She was a kind and loving woman who gave me the maternal affection that I had so utterly craved. I also became good friends with a boy named Mike who lived down the road from me and he, in turn, included me in his much larger circle of friends. I felt bone crunch and then my ear’s picked up on a high-pitched laugh as it pierced sharply through the fog of my memories and I struggled frantically to cocoon myself in them once more.
I am ashamed to say it but I eventually began to forget my mother, piece by piece. First it was her smile; she had this small gap in her front teeth, though it never detracted from the beauty of that smile. Then I had to really struggle to remember the deep, throaty laugh that she always bellowed out when something amused her. The sound had been so contagious and sincere that no matter how badly I was feeling that day, I always started laughing too. Last to go, I think, was her scent. She always smelled of the roses she had so lovingly tended to and the fresh, clean lather of the soap she used. All of those things and more came flooding back into my consciousness and it was bittersweet. I missed her so much! I comforted myself with the knowledge that if there really was any type of an afterlife, I would be seeing her again soon. The sharp agonizing sensation of my femur splitting in two pulled me roughly out of the past once again and no matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t seem to go back under. I knew I was losing far too much blood to last much longer. The sick smell of iron and decay that had once permeated this hell slowly gave way to something far sweeter and I inhaled deeply as I imagined the scent of my mother’s roses now hung in the air. I resigned myself to my death and even through my agony, I smiled.
“Ah, you like that do you? Well then, you’re going to love what comes next–” Mikhail’s voice cut off abruptly as the sound of several male voices suddenly shouted at him to get down on the ground. Finally, Mikhail was no longer grinning as shock and fear quickly replaced his smug expression. I watched from outside of myself as he raised the bloody knife he held and began to run in the direction of the armed police officers who had seemed to appear out of nowhere from the back of the barn. They were all standing behind where my body still hung from the rafters and I should not have been able to see them or what happened next. Mikhail shrieked a demented war cry as he lunged at the men, giving the officers no choice but to fire on him.
I watched as his body jerked over and over from the barrage of countless bullets and then he finally dropped to his knees before finally landing face down in the filthy mixture of fermented hay and old blood and viscera that coated the ground. Mina just stood there, seemingly frozen in shock, as the police swarmed the old barn. They ordered her down to the ground and she complied woodenly. She was quickly cuffed but then one of the officers told her that everything was going to be okay now and that she was not under arrest, they just needed to secure the crime scene. She shot me a quick evil look over her shoulder and then turned back to cops and began sobbing and thanking the men for saving her from “the evil man.” They don’t know she’s involved, I thought to myself.
I knew that I had lost a tremendous amount of blood at that point. The fact that I was watching all of this unfold from outside of myself struck a mortal terror into my soul. I knew that I was close to death, and I also understood that if I died here tonight she would be free to go on killing. I was the only one at that point who knew the depth of her complicity in all these twisted murders. I had to keep fighting. For the first time that night, I prayed. I cried out with all of my being to a God that I wasn’t even sure existed. At that moment, I slammed forcefully back inside myself. The first thing that hit me was the pain, it washed over my entire being like a tidal wave of misery and for several moments I couldn’t even breathe. Then I began struggling and pulling at my restraints with a strength that I didn’t know I possessed. I shouted out to the men, words that only sounded like panicked gibberish, even to my own ears. Three of the officers ran over to me, calling out for the paramedics as they urged me to stay calm; help was on the way.
“Mina,” I croaked, “She… and… Mikhail…”All of the sudden, I could feel the ties holding my limbs abruptly loosen as I was cut loose and that tidal wave of pain became an ocean of fire as feeling surged back through my nerve endings. I could no longer speak as I was gently lowered to the ground by the men. The EMT’s then swarmed over me, quickly attaching several electrodes and IV’s to my battered body. It was a scene of organized chaos around me. I could hear the murmured voices and occasional retching of the officer’s as they took in the full scope of Mikhail and Mina’s depravity. My ears dimly registered the distant peel of sirens, Mina’s loud sobs, and my father’s voice bellowing my name and demanding to be let in to see me. All of my strength left me then, my vision began to dim once again and I could feel myself drifting away. Before I lost complete consciousness, however, I heard my name being called again. This time though, it was a gentle, feminine whisper from a darkened corner of the room. All other sounds faded as I slowly turned my head towards the achingly familiar voice. There in the corner stood a woman in her early thirties, a sweet smile parted her lips, revealing a tiny, beloved gap in her front teeth. I stretched my fingers in her direction as the overwhelming aroma of flowers and fresh soap filled my nostrils…
I awoke in the hospital three days later. My father, my aunt and the sheriff were all seated at my bedside. They both looked grim and exhausted but smiled warmly at me when I stirred and opened my eyes. The sheriff explained step by step what had happened after my emergency call to his deputy had been dropped. The sheriff and the state police had both been called immediately afterwards. Due to the severity of the situation and the fact that so many people had been reported missing, an emergency task force had quickly been sent to the town. Using the vague directions and location I had been able to give them, a massive search began. Despite the swiftness of their actions, it had still taken nearly two hours to discover exactly where I was being held. By the time they finally found me, I had lost so much blood that the doctors and EMTs had serious doubts that I would survive.
My only saving grace had been the tourniquet that Mikhail must have applied to my thigh before hacking away at it. I knew why he had done that, he hadn’t wanted me to die too quickly. He enjoyed every minute of his torture and the sick bastard had wanted me to suffer. Knowing this and everything else he had done I was disappointed that HE hadn’t been the one to suffer more. His death had been far too swift and painless. I would learn many things over the next several days and not all of it was welcome. Mina had fled the hospital before they discovered that she had not been a victim but a sadistic participant in the grisly murders. The police had pulled eleven corpses from the barn that night. Though it was believed that she and Mikhail may have been responsible for over eighty similar torture deaths across the country over the last seven years. As I had already feared, she had not been under suspicion that night and was long gone before the police had started to collect the evidence that would later prove her involvement. Last I heard the authorities are still searching for her.
But there was also a bit of good news too. Two victims came out of this alive, if not unscathed. I and a fourteen-year-old boy who I later learned had been caught by the psychotic couple the night before this story took place. He was the son of a nearby farmer who had gone to the old barn to investigate the odd smells and screams that he had been emanating from the abandoned building the previous week. Turns out he was very much into the paranormal and had thought the structure to be haunted and in a way, I suppose it was. He had been caught, tortured and left to hang in the barn while the couple ran to the store for more supplies. That was when I had the misfortune to cross paths with them. They had planned to finish him that night, the boy – his name was Thomas – later revealed. He had heard them discussing their plans to finish him off, celebrate with a bottle of red wine, and then move onto a new town the next day.
Thomas was the teenager I had seen strung up on that terrible night in that barn, right before my own ordeal had begun. I had thought him dead at the time but he had merely been unconscious from blood loss and exhaustion. Thomas and I would thankfully go onto make full recoveries, though I will always walk with a limp and we both still bear some pretty vicious scarring on our bodies. We were both just grateful to be alive though. Thomas came to visit me in my hospital room two days after I awoke. He introduced himself and said he wanted to thank me for ultimately leading the police to his location. I didn’t feel like much of a hero though. I had been so duped by Mina’s pretty face and the idea that I could be her knight in shining armor that I had never considered that there could be anything more to the situation.
Before leaving my room that morning, Thomas turned to me and asked in a very hesitant voice if I had too had seen “the lady in the white dress” on the night of our rescue. I looked at him in confusion for a moment, having no idea whom he could possibly be referring to. Seeing my puzzled expression he then added that she had been a pretty woman with dark hair and eyes like mine. That she had a small gap in her teeth and… she smelled of roses. I knew exactly who he meant then, though I could hardly believe it. Thomas had also seen my mother that night. I had thought her to be merely a hallucination caused by trauma and too much blood loss but the way Thomas described her… she must have really been there, in one form or another. After speaking with others who had been at the scene that night, no one else claimed to have seen her, not even my father. I can only assume that this was due to one of two things. Thomas and I had both been dying at that moment and perhaps coming so close to death lessened the barrier between this life and the afterlife. Or maybe my mother had just sought to comfort two scared and traumatized boys. That sounded a lot like the woman I had known as a child.
It has been four years since that horrific night and I have tried desperately to put all of this behind me. I moved to the city shortly afterwards. The numerous cornfields, dirt roads and old barns that surrounded my small hometown were just far too anxiety-inducing for me. I needed the bright lights and busy crowds of a city just to be able to sleep. Even here I find myself unable to quiet my mind enough to drift off most nights. I have become an insomniac, often spending many late hours at my computer surfing YouTube, the Creepypasta Wiki, and Reddit. I think in some odd way it relaxes me to read about creatures not of this world, perhaps it distracts me from thoughts of the real monsters that roam this planet. And that is what has brought me to share this story with all of you. I have become aware of a certain urban legend about men who see a young woman, seemingly alone and unprotected late at night. You may have read some of these stories yourself. Though the places and circumstances differ, the theme is always the same. These men notice a creepy guy lurking in the young woman’s backseat, one whom she is seemingly unaware of. They go to great lengths trying to convince her to leave her car and go with them to safety, all without alerting the dangerous man hiding in her car. Sound familiar?
Without fail, every time a story like this is posted it ends up with the would-be savior being unable to convince the woman. In fact, she seems to think that the man trying to coax her from her car is the real threat and ends up driving away from him in fear. The Good Samaritan ultimately walks away from the situation feeling they have failed to save her and is left haunted by the gruesome possibilities of the woman’s fate. Now perhaps many of these stories are fake, perhaps originating from my own experience and all the publicity that it attracted. But maybe… Well, Mina still remains at large to this day. It stands to reason that she may have found a new partner and that they both may still be out there somewhere, trolling for more hapless victims. I can’t help but think I need to get this warning out there to all who may come across a similar circumstance.
I am certainly not saying that you should never risk yourself to save an innocent; valor and bravery are some of humanity’s best qualities. I am simply cautioning you to do all in your power to ensure that the person you’re trying to save really is innocent.
Now with all the darkness in this story, there is one element of light that I wish to leave you with and it is an absolute fact that is corroborated by the numerous police reports regarding this incident. While the police were still searching for me and Mina in the cornfields, they drove straight past that old barn without seeing it. It was so shrouded in darkness and overgrowth that, just like myself, they hadn’t seen it from the road. It was only after driving several miles past it that a woman had called the emergency services line and directed them to go back and look specifically for the barn. The call only lasted a minute or two before the woman abruptly hung up, and the only information they had to go on concerning the caller’s identity was her first name, Samantha… just like my mother. There will always be forces of evil at work in this world. That has always been and always will be a sad fact of life. Though perhaps on that night of so much pain and darkness, there was also a strong force for good. I am sure many of you will say that the phone call to the police was simply a coincidence and that my mother was long dead and could not possibly have been the one to make it. As for myself, I have only one thing left to say:
Thank you, Mom.
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