TEXT by Cambria Hebert
**This is copyrighted material by author Cambria Hebert**
All I heard was his breathing. The pounding of my heart. I felt the rush of blood draining to my head and the sharp stab of pain every time his shoulder gouged into my stomach. I don’t know how long he walked. I don’t know how long I’d been gone, how long I’d been passed out. The sun was higher in the sky, which told me it must have been a while.
We could be anywhere.
His steps slowed, and my entire body stiffened.
Was this it?
Were these the last moments of my life?
I noticed something then… the bulge in the back pocket of his jeans. The top of a cell phone peaked out, tempting me.
He stopped walking altogether. Silence rained upon us. Not even a bird dared make a noise. I was presented with a choice. This entire day had been nothing but a series of choices, of attempts at gaining freedom.
I lurched my body to the right, rolling off his shoulder and down his arm. He swore and threw me back up. I made an intense gagging sound, not all of it made up (his shoulder really hurt my gut). He leaned forward like he was trying to get away from a shower of puke, and my body went with him.
I flailed my arms about like I needed help, quickly making my move. Then I gagged again.
He made a disgusted sound and pulled me off him, pushed me away, and held me out. Our eyes met one final time.
And then he let go.
I braced myself for the brunt of the hard ground. Only it didn’t come. My body was forced into a free-fall.
I dropped from the air, the bottom falling out of my stomach as my arms and legs searched for something—anything—to catch myself with.
But there was nothing.
The longer I fell, the darker it became. Until the sunlight was just a beacon above.
And then I hit.
My teeth banged together, biting into my tongue and filling my mouth with the tang of blood. I blinked, trying to rid my head of the throbbing, but it didn’t help. I looked up… up past the tall dirt walls of my prison, up to the tiny round hole at the top.
My captor stood there staring down, watching me, not saying a word.
I lay there unmoving, feeling the damp, cold dirt at my back and against my legs. I lay there and stared at him, hoping he would think I was dead, that the fall broke my neck.
He stood there a long time.
And then he stepped away, disappearing from sight, leaving nothing above me but the image of trees and sunlight.
I lay there a little bit longer, wondering if he would come back.
When I thought it was safe, I began to wiggle my prize out of the sleeve of my running jacket, jiggling it down into the palm of my hand.
A shadow fell overhead, and I stopped breathing.
He stared at me some more. I lay there still unmoving, gripping my lifeline in my hand. Finally, he grunted. And he said three words that scared me more than death itself.
“I’ll be back.”