Detective Renee Rodriguez awakes with a splitting headache and a confusion unlike anything she’s ever felt before. She’s had similar headaches though—they’re the kind of throbbing, muffled pains she gets sometimes when she drinks too much. And these days, she almost always drinks too much. But the confusion is new; it’s a very palpable thing.
As her senses slowly return to her, she feels like a surfer who has been knocked violently from her board by a tsunami-sized wave, struggling hard to swim back to the surface before it’s too late. She attempts to move a hand to her splitting head, but finds she can not. Awareness comes slamming into her, and she feels cold, hard steel locked around her wrists, which are pinned behind her back. A realization: she’s handcuffed. And of course, they are her own rigid police-issue handcuffs, because what other handcuffs could they be?
Quickly sitting up, her wild black hair falls into her face and she flips her head back to clear her vision. Renee assess herself and her surroundings. She is wearing her standard work day clothes—black pants, a cream colored blouse, a black blazer. Her leather boots have been removed, and her feet are clad only in thin black socks. She had been laying, and is now sitting, on a bare, uncomfortable mattress—something stained and slightly foul smelling, likely trash-picked. The mattress is sitting on a wooden floor in an otherwise empty room. There’s a window across from her, but several sheets of plywood have been nailed over it, thin slivers of light peeking through whatever cracks there are.
Other than her cuffed hands, she is otherwise unfettered. But the cuffed hands are enough to send off alarms. Renee plants her stockinged feet firmly on the floor, in an attempt to push herself up to a standing position. But her head suddenly feels soggy and a feeling of vertigo overwhelms her to the point where she is forced to sag back on this filthy fucking mattress, groaning inwardly as she does.
“Think,” she tells herself, trying very hard to remain calm and composed. “Where are you? How did you get here? Remember.” Memories come in blinks and bursts, like fireworks or the flashbulb of some antiquated camera. She had finished a 12-hour-shift. She was going to meet some of the guys—and in her job, everyone was “some of the guys,” even the few women she worked with—at Finnigan’s for a drink. And “a drink” was code for “several drinks.” Had she made it to the bar? She couldn’t remember.
She has visions of the other cops she met at Finnigan’s usually, their laughing faces. Loud bar music. Christmas lights strung around the bar blinking. She must have gone there. Then what? She would’ve called a cab, obviously. She was too intoxicated to drive, and even though she was a cop and clearly could get out of any sort of DUI, she was also responsible. She knew that she had a drinking problem, and she wasn’t about to risk smashing her car into some idiot pedestrian.
So she had likely taken out her cell phone and—
With some difficulty, she twists her body and moved her cuffed hands towards the pocket of her pants, patting desperately for the rectangular bulk of the phone. It isn’t there. Of course it isn’t—whoever did this to her wouldn’t just remove her boots but then leave her fucking phone.
And that thought makes her suddenly very anxious—because it is the first time acknowledged that SOMEONE had done this to her. Of course someone had—she didn’t take herself to some strange room and handcuff herself. She was a drunk, but she wasn’t THAT talented of a drunk.
So then what? What happened? With her foggy memories, she recalls she had to step outside of the bar to make the call, because it was too fucking loud inside. So out into the cold December air she had gone, but not the front. No. She had gone out into the alley, through the side door. And then…nothing. Everything after that was gone, as if someone had sawed open her head and physically plucked the memory away.
On the other end of the room there is a shut door, and as Renee’s attention turns to it there is the faint sound of jingling keys, then a lock being turned. Renee sits up straight, clutching her cuffed hands into fists. The door swings open, and in steps something Renee was not expecting: a girl. The girl is probably in her late twenties. Renee herself is thirty-five, and the fact that this girl is clearly younger than her makes this all the more confusing. The girl wears a black tank-top, tight faded jeans, and black Doc Martin’s boots that come up to her calves. Her hair is red and tied up into a bun at the back of her head. She carries a water bottle, and has a black duffle bag slung over one shoulder. But what is most striking about her is the fact that she appears to be covered with tattoos. her bare arms are criss-crossed with colorful sleeves of ink. There is a burning heart tattooed onto her chest, just above the line of the tank-top. Even her neck is decked out in tatts, stopping just at her jawline.
As Renee stares at the tattooed girl, a sudden feeling of deja vu strikes her. She knows this girl, from somewhere. From some time. Where? When?
Renee licks her lips, which she suddenly realizes are very dry, and says: “W-where am I?”
The tattooed girl says nothing. She grabs a folding chair that is propped against a wall, unfolds it in front of Renee, and sits down in it. Up-close, Renee can see the girl is in exquisite physical shape. Her inked arms are tight with ropey muscle. She’s also quite beautiful, with striking grey eyes and thick, sensual lips. But there’s a cold look on her face, and it gives Renee the creeps.
“What is this?” Renee says. “What’s going on?”
The tattooed girl just silently looks her over, never blinking those grey eyes.
“Listen,” Renee speaks softly. Her police training takes hold of her. She needs to get control of the situation. She needs to make sure things don’t get anymore out of hand. “I’m a police officer. You need to think about what you’re doing. So far, things are not so bad, so we can work through this.”
That was a bunch of bullshit. Things WERE bad. This was kidnapping, and kidnapping of a police officer, to boot. This tattooed bitch was fucked, but Renee was not about to say such a thing. That would be stupid.
“Why don’t you uncuff my hands,” Renee says, never breaking eye-contact with the girl. “And we can talk.”
The girl smirks. She leans back in her chair and digs into the pocket of her tight jeans, producing a pack of cigarettes and a Zippo lighter. She slides a cigarette into her thick lips, then lights it, exhaling a cloud of smoke directly into Renee’s face. Renee blinks involuntarily and tries hard not to cough; tries hard not to show any sign of weakness.
“Who am I?” the girl asks, crossing her tattooed arms over her chest.
“What?” Renee asks, confused by the question.
“Who am I?”
“I…I don’t know. You tell me.”
The girl laughs, looking towards the boarded up window and shaking her head. “You don’t fucking know, do you?”
“Of course you don’t. Why would you? Why would you remember me, you fucking cunt?”
“I don’t know what you’re planning to do,” Renee says. “But you need to talk to me, right now. We need to work this out, before you get in over your head. Before you do something you’ll regret.”
The girl unscrews the cap of the water bottle. “Drink this. You’re probably thirsty.”
Renee realizes that in fact she is thirsty; she’s more thirsty than she’s ever been in her life. Her mouth has a cottony feel. But she’s not about to drink something from this girl; it could be drugged.
Seemingly reading Renee’s thoughts, the girl rolls her eyes. “Bitch, it’s water. It’s fine. Look.” She takes a big swig from the bottle herself, and swallows it. “Don’t worry about me drugging you—I already did that. That’s how I got you here. Now drink this.”
The girl holds the bottle up to Renee’s lips and Renee accepts it. The girl tips the bottle back, and Renee takes long gulps. When she’s had enough, she tries to pull away, but the girl clutches the back of Renee’s head and forces the bottle hard against her mouth. Renee gags, spewing water, but the girl won’t let go. She forces Renee to drink the whole bottle, water splashing down onto her neck and shirt in the process. When it’s empty, the girl pulls the bottle away and Renee coughs out water, gasping for air.
The girl laughs at this, then says: “Open your mouth.”
“Open your mouth.”
“Fuck you,” Renee says. She’s had enough of this shit. “You listen to me, you stupid bitch. I’m a cop, okay? Do you know what that means? You are in DEEP, DEEP SHIT. And you need to—“
The girl grabs Renee’s face with one hand, her thumb and index finger pressing into Renee’s cheeks, forcing Renee’s mouth open in an O. Renee struggles to pull away, but she can’t. The girl takes her cigarette with her other hand and taps the ashes off into Renee’s mouth, turning it into an ash tray. Renee cries out, startled, tasting the ash. The girl lets go and laughs again as Renee coughs and spits the taste of ash out.
“You fucking lunatic,” Renee gasps.
“Be thankful I didn’t stub the damn thing out on your tongue, whore,” the girl says.
“HELP!” Renee suddenly screams. “SOMEONE, HELP ME!”
The girl laughs once again, the hardest laugh yet. “No one can hear you, bitch. No one.”
“HELP ME!!!” Renee screams, ignoring the girl. “SOMEONE FUCKING HELP!”
The girl rolls her eyes. “Well, I can hear you, at least. And I’m already sick of it.”
She reaches down and grabs Renee’s ankles. Renee tries to kick at her, but she can’t really get any leverage, and her energy is still sapped from whatever this girl has drugged her with. The girl peels off Renee’s socks and rolls them into a ball. Then she grabs a fistful of Renee’s coal black hair and shoves the ball into the detective’s screaming mouth. Renee gags at the taste of the socks, which taste like fabric and sweat intermingled. She has no opportunity to spit them out though, because the girl is now pressing her own hand over Renee’s mouth, holding it shut. And with her other hand she digs into her duffel bag and produces a fresh roll of clear packing tape. With calm precision, the girl begins wrapping the tape over Renee’s lips, sealing them shut. She wraps the tape again and again, around the back of Renee’s head and over her lips, going through nearly half the roll, effectively gagging her.
“GMMPPHHHH!!” Renee moans pathetically. The girl pushes her back, causing her to flop onto the mattress. She shudders and screams muffled sounds through her gag.
“I’ll be back later,” the girl says, rising to her feet. “Maybe you should spend some time trying to remember who I am. And what you did to me.”
Then the girl is gone, slamming the door and locking it behind her. Renee, feeling utterly hopeless and helpless, begins to cry.
to be continued…