by S. E. Mabson
Ruby's mysterious captor knows all about her, or does he? Will Ruby survive his clutches?
Contest: Show Don't Tell
I stretched my arms up to the head board, as my groggy vision slowly became clear. Clear...ly unfamiliar. I rubbed my eyes aggressively hoping the room would suddenly be painted light gray and the bed sheets be silky and violet. Nope. The walls really were cream and the bed sheets really were white linens. I sat straight up like a spring board. "Where am I? Oh No! Please, Lord tell me I didn't!" I pushed myself over to get off the bed only to realize I couldn't move my legs. I landed flat on my face on the floor. I snapped my head down at my legs relieved they were still intact. I grabbed, rubbed, and punched them in attempt to put some feeling into them. Nothing.
I looked around the room for ANYTHING that could help me walk. I settled for the desk chair placed clear across the room. I drug my body slowly across the floor, in hopes of not being heard, and well, because my arms simply wouldn't allow swifter movements. My mind was still racing. How did I get here? Was I kidnapped, or hurt and being nursed back to health by a good samaritan? Who brought me here? And why can't I feel my legs?! I grabbed the handle on the dresser by the desk, when I heard, by far, the worst rendition of Mary had a little lamb on a piano. The piano had to be a hundred plus years old by the way it sounded. I tried to pull up faster. I really wish I had taken those private workout sessions with that Trainer Amber suggested. "Phew!"
Reaching the top of that dresser was like reaching the top of Mt. Everest-exhausting. My eyes were locked on the top of the dresser. My heart was pounding so hard and so fast my chest vibrates. I knew it was for me. Directions. A list of things I needed to complete before I could leave. "So I am being held hostage!" I belted out forgetting all my fictitious ninja stealth skills. I was so distraught by the words I didn't even register the list. "Just breathe girl, calm down. You are resourceful. You can get out of this!" I urged. "Even without working legs." I shook my head and death gripped the desk chair praying it didn't move out from underneath me.
Now that I was finally in the chair, I realized, I needed to find something to push myself off with. I scanned the room and found the broom resting beside the desk and scooted my way to the door. My eyes were instantly glued to that door. The familiarity was consuming. The song, the door, my legs, why does this all feel so familiar? Have I been here before? The loud bang on the lower keys of the piano snapped me right back to reality. I grabbed the door, surprised it actually opened, and instantly met the gaze of my captor. I could sense his annoyance. My expression must have clearly broadcasted my confusion; I had no idea who sat before me on the piano bench.
“Good, you’re finally awake. How do your legs feel? You will understand that soon.” He paused for a moment, smiling at me almost, lovingly. “I have been watching you for a long time Ruby."
"I have tried so many times to grab your attention to no avail." He interrupted. "I had to take drastic measures for you. That's why I did all this. I hope it will all be worth it.” He smiled at me mischievously as he turned around to begin playing Mary had a little lamb again. “You’re a great detective now, I hear. Too bad you couldn’t solve them all. That pesky Amputee Killer was never caught was he?” He looked over his shoulder at me and chuckled. “Do you remember Jennifer? The first recorded victim. She woke up in her bedroom with no recollection of how she got home, here to this house. A week had passed, and her legs were gone. She slithered around that room for a week. She never made it out of that room alive! When they found her Mary Little Lamb was playing. And you, Ruby, still didn't knock on my door!” He slammed the piano keys and jumped off the piano bench.
While he paced the floor continuing his rant I was connecting dots. I knew he was playing out his fantasy with me. That's why this place is so familiar. I remember it from the files. I couldn't help. “How many times has this story come across your desk over the past 6 months? How many girls Ruby, how many!” He held the arms of the desk chair I was sitting in so tight the chair jolted. “Five times!” He drew out it words as he spoke. He let go of the chair and began pacing again. He chewed on the tip of his thumb nail and appeared to be deep in thought. I was about to speak, but before the words could escape my lips, he began again. He crossed me as an emotional man I shouldn't interrupt, so I let him continue, keeping him busy, while I think up a plan. “You know, for a while, I thought you were ignoring me, but I know you have read every letter I have left for you, probably more then once right?" He paused and looked at me smiling, waiting for an expressive response. "Did you enjoy them, Ruby?”
“Who are you?” I questioned. “I'm not R-”
“Oh you know me Ruby! I gave you clues in all those letters I sent you! I've watched you read some of them. I don't know why you treat me like I am invisible." He paused and smiled like he figured out a joke. "You were just having fun chasing me weren't you?” He walks over to me and kneels down in front of me. He lays his hand on my hand and caresses my soft skin. As I was about to move my hand he grabbed me by my hips and stood me up. He held me tightly so I wouldn't fall because I was still unable to use my legs. “You have tried so hard to find me in this game of chase the mouse we have been playing the last 8 months. Well here I am.” My mysterious captor stared into my eyes with loving eyes and let his sight fall down to my lips. He slowly inched his lips closer to mine. I quickly turned my lips away from him, forcing his lips to land on my cheek.
"Let me go!” I spouted quickly. "I'm not-” I fell to the floor before I could finish my sentence. He pushed the desk chair out of my reach, then sat back down on the piano bench and began that darn song again. I drug myself yet again over to that desk chair. I didn’t have anything sturdy to pull myself up with, so I just laid there on the floor, helpless.
“Ruby, Ruby, Ruby." He breathed in a deep sigh and shook his head. "You’re really breaking my heart!” He slammed the piano and swung around to face me. He lowered his head down toward me and stared at me with sad eyes. “How could you just throw what we have away? After all I have done for you?”
“What have you done?! You have had nothing to do with-”
“Nothing to do with it?! How can you say that?! It was my case that put you on the list for detective! You stepped up on the streets so you could get on my case, just like I knew you would! That was our time Ruby!”
“That's not how becoming a detective works, and drugging people to the point of partial paralysis is how you show your love?! You don't know what love is!” He jumped up off the bench in a rage, pacing the room, flailing his arms around as he spoke.
“What!? I have loved you for 2 and a half years! I’ve tried everything to get your attention! I’ve been supportive, bought you gifts! Do you remember that stuffed giraffe and flowers I gave you from the carnival? How about the necklace and bracelet set for your birthday! I have written you over 20 love letters! Ruby! I LOVE YOU!!!! I even put a list of romantic activities for us to do before you leave here on the dresser! The paralysis was simply for dramatic effect I was trying to be romantic.” He turned his back to me, lowered his head, sighed, and began slowly shaking his head before walking back toward the bench.
“Wait, your the weird guy Ruby keeps talking about?” He froze. “Her stalker is the Amputee Killer!?” I immediately regretted thinking out loud. He eerily turned around slowly to face me.
“Weird?" He paused and started walking back towards me. "Stalker? Is that really what you think of me?!” As the fire was beginning to flare into a full on dragon blaze, he paused for a moment. “Why do you keep talking in third person like that?”
“Because I AM NOT RUBY!” I blurted out in frustration. The confusion was evident. He clearly didn’t believe me. “I was at the station meeting her for lunch, you idiot! You say you have loved her for the past year. Please tell me how a stalker doesn’t know his target of affection has a twin sister named Roxy who lived upstate! Huh! Explain that to me!” He was visibly fuming at this point. He stormed out of the room. While he was gone I frantically searched for a way to get some help. There were no phones in sight. As I took a deep breath to calm down and focus I felt a sting and a burning sensation in my shoulder shooting through the rest of my body. As I was beginning to fade, I turned my head to see him hovering over me. He knelt down to whisper in my ear.
“Well Roxy, How would you like to be another message for your twin sister Ruby? We'll see how “weird” the “stalker” is when I become the nightmare she can’t wake up from.” A sinister smile glared back into my fading eyes.
“Put your hands up now!” Ruby yelled after the swat team busted through the door.
“The astonishment in his eyes I will never forget. The expression on his face when he realized we're so identical. That’s all I remember before fading completely out." I pulled up to a sitting position, as Ruby adjusted my pillows. "You finally caught him little sis.”
“Little sis? A whole minute, Roxy, a whole minute, haha." She smiled gently hitting my head with a pillow. "Mom and dad are in the waiting room, are you ready to see them?”
“Yes, I am." I replied taking a deep breath. "I was worried I would never see them again, or you Ruby. For a short moment I regretted coming to the family dinner this weekend.”
“I know sis, you're safe now, though, you’ll be alright.”
“Will I? Every time I close my eyes I see that devilish grin staring into my soul. How do you sleep through a nightmare like that?"
“A nightmare is just a dream, Roxy. You make it whatever you want it to be. Make it freedom and safety, because this world is a little safer now because of you. Perspective sis, perspective. You may see a victim, but I see a hero. Most would have succumbed to their fear, but you, you’re brave. You kept him talking for a long time and not acting. That gave us enough time to get to you before, who knows.” Ruby got up from the side of Roxy's hospital bed, where she was sitting, kissed Roxy's forehead, and walked toward the door. “I'll send them in.”