How long have I been here? It was hard to tell.
His thoughts felt more coherent that morning. Was it morning? The past few what he assumed to be days were for the most part a blur of images in his mind. The sun was setting from what he could tell, a rosy hue filtered through the dirty window along with the dying rays of light. He couldn’t remember that morning, though all evidence pointed to it being evening. When he tired his brain seemed to go fuzzy with hazy images fleeing the moment his brain went to fully grasp them. Raven’s face was one of them, hovering from above. Nick shuddered instinctively. Who knew what this woman planned to do with him? What would come next? She truly believed in her cause. Her eyes blazed with the false truth – that he was her soul mate. God only knew when he might be freed from this new hell.
How have I gone to the bathroom? He wondered. There was no bedpan beneath. Nothing that could make that happen. Thankfully he wore no diapers. Such a thing would only further his degradation within this place. Nick once again forced his brain to dive into his memories but he only knew one thing.
She’d been in watching him constantly. She’d been smiling.
Swallowing back the bile that threatened to rise, he forced a smile. It was a fan smile. The smile that so instinctively came any time a fan approached him and seemed a bit off. The smile he used when his family had been shitting all over his life and he had to pretend everything was fine. A smile when he was trapped in a mob of fans on the BSB Cruises when all he’d wanted to do was take a few selfies and the crazy ones had swarmed him. It was fake, and plastered and old reliable. Nick only prayed she didn’t know that smile. Many of the saner ones did.
This chick is out of her fucken mind so maybe she won’t.
He coughed and gazed up into those dark and empty blue eyes of hers. “Still here.”
She brushed his hair out of his face, stroking his bandaged up forehead. “I know baby, and you’ve been so patient. I can’t wait for the day you’re able to be up and about. We can really start our lives together then.”
Steady, Nick... he reminded himself. If you lose it, she’ll kill you.
His bladder probably should be screaming, shouting, but it wasn’t. He was thankful for that one miracle. What could he say to Raven though? Could he truly stomach pretending he was seeing things her way? That he was willing to cooperate with her psychotic delusions? He could hardly handle staying quiet. Each moment felt like acid in his stomach bubbling intensely and begging to burst at just that concept, let alone playing in her little games. His options were few.
Nick refused to become her living Ken Doll.
But, he also needed to survive. For the fellas. For Lauren.
“Thank you.” He croaked.
“Anything for you.” She cooed. Raven reached for the TV remote. “You’re doing so much better today. No complications from your injuries. Your accident was very lucky. You made it out alive and it finally brought us together.” She started channel surfing. She seemed disgruntled at the reports and kept changing channels, Nick saw his face flashed on a number of screens before she gave up and turned it back off.
I hope everyone doesn’t think I’m dead. I need them to keep looking.
Nick stared at her, his fan smile frozen upon his face and threatening to shatter into a thousand shards.
“I want to tell you all about me,” She continued, shifting closer upon the bed. “I’ve been a fan of yours forever it feels like. I remember the first time I saw you in person.”
He swallowed the initial reply that sprang to mind back, inhaling the sickly sweet flowery aroma that seemed to surround her. “Have you?”
“Oh yes. My family was originally in Florida.” Her face darkened. “After my mother abandoned us, we moved to the west coast.”
This bitch is fucking crazy.
“Anyways…” She forced a smile. “Back to lighter memories. The first time I saw you,” she sighed happily as her eyes took on a glazed look, “it was September 21st, 1997. It was in Kissimmee, and when I watched you sing, I knew I was right about you being my soul mate. It didn’t matter that I was only fourteen. Sometimes, you just know.”
Nick, hard as he tried, couldn’t manage to hide his confusion. “We were both just kids then.”
“Age is a number. I mean you’re not that much older than me. Three years is nothing. And less than a century ago plenty of girls got married at that age, because they knew who they loved and who they wanted.” She smiled at him patiently. “I knew, and I was right.”
“I…” He searched for words. “I wasn’t criticizing you. I was shocked, because of my background.” He had to keep her calm. That much was true. “It’s um, hard for me to picture, because of that.”
“Really? Oh. I should’ve realized. I’m sorry.” She kissed his cheek before she stood and brushed herself off. “But I need to start working on dinner. I can’t have you going hungry. I gotta take good care of you.”
Suddenly an idea shot into his head and his head snapped upwards. She hadn’t drugged him yet today. That was why his mind felt so clear and why he wasn’t fighting that thick mental fog that kept him in constant confusion. It had to be why she was so eager to feed him again. “Raven…” His voice was soft, sweet, almost charming. “Wait a minute.”
Nick prayed his face didn’t twitch with the disgust he felt at those words. “I need to use the bathroom, and um, I was kind of hoping, you’d be able to help me to it.” He gazed at her as gently as he could; praying deep down that the acting classes he took over the years might finally pay off. If there was ever a time he needed them too, it was now. “Please…baby.”
Her dark blue eyes lit up with joy. “You want me to help you?”
Thank you God. I said the fucking magic words! “Of course I do.”
Carefully she came over and pulled out the keys to the cuff from her inside her bra. “I was worried I was going to have to use a catheter. I’m glad I don’t Nicky, I’m so glad. I didn’t want to.”
Me too. I dodged another damn bullet.
She unlocked his left hand and while he was tempted to act, the effort would be too futile while the rest of his limbs were still tight against the bed. She cuffed his free hand to the other to keep them together while undoing the right from the bedpost. His legs were unchained only then but quickly shackled together with enough space so that he could shuffle to the bathroom. It was this controlled release of him that reminded Nick that Raven might be completely out of her mind, she was far from dumb.
His body screamed in pain as she helped him sit up and then stand up. Nick had never felt so stiff or sore in his entire life. The pain from the accident and trek through the woods, only to be followed up by being tied down had done its work on him. Slowly she guided him to the bathroom, his feet moving in small shuffled steps. He used her for complete support – half out of necessity and half to keep her in such good spirits. The more trust he had from her then, the better.
God, if you exist, please let the bathroom have a decent enough fucking window! Once inside the bathroom, Raven backed out and shut the door. He could hear the click as she locked him inside. Immediately he wondered when she changed the locks in the house, not that it was important.
“Here you go sweetie.” Her voice called through the thick wooden door. “I’ll be back in about ten minutes. If you need me sooner, yell okay? Maybe we can both eat at the table tonight for dinner, if everything keeps going well. Wouldn’t that be nice?”
“It does.” He swallowed hard. “Thank you.” Then, he waited, his heart beating at a mile a minute. Her footsteps gradually began to fade steadily. Once Nick was sure she was gone, he looked around. For the first time since the crash, he caught sight of his reflection in the nearby mirror.
Simply put, he was a mess.
His face was a mix of fading blacks and blues, there was very little space that wasn’t bruised. In fact he could still see the fading outline of parts of a hand. He frowned; he hadn’t realized Raven had hit him that hard. There were little cuts all along his cheeks as well as a gash she must have stitched up on him just above his right eyebrow. There was a little patch of his forehead and then gauzed wrapped around his head heavily, his golden hair was above the bandaging, messy and going off in wild places. If he didn’t know better, he’d mistake himself for a zombie.
I probably looked way worse when I got to this hell hole, he reassured himself. Focus Nick. That shit isn’t important right now. He had to get out while there was still time. Window. I need a fucking window!
When he turned around to look, there it was, just above the toilet. It was smaller than he would’ve liked, but thanks to the way he’d been keeping himself in shape, Nick was pretty sure he could slip through. It would be tight but it was better than nothing. He walked over and carefully climbed on the seat. It was harder than he first thought given the limited mobility of his hands and feet but he managed, eventually standing atop the seat. He had to move with precise movements if he wanted to stay steady. One crash would bring Raven running, surely.
Music had begun to play softly from the kitchen. For a moment, hearing his own voice threw him.
I keep on sinking in this black hole
Somehow I gotta rise above…
No Captain Kirk here to save me,
Stuck in this vortex of love…
Nick shook his head and ignored Raven’s badly off tune voice singing alone. He had to get moving. His body screamed in protest as he shifted and maneuvered his way to the top of the water tank, using the window ledge to pull himself up into a standing position. He wasn’t sure how much he could take but there was no time to focus on the searing pain in his ribs. Or the ache running down his arm. His head was beginning to throb from the lack of medications, he assumed. Quietly he slid the window open and looked down. There was only one way to get down.
The drop would be wouldn’t be a long one but he knew it’d hurt. Wiggling through the window as best as he could, he let himself fall to the ground. Bracing himself for the impact did nothing as he slammed against the thankfully soft dirt. It must have rained again, fortunately for him. Looking around for any sign Raven heard him, he quickly started half shuffling/half running into the woods. It was the fastest form of escape he could manage with his feet still shackled together. As he rushed into the dark sanctuary of the trees, he prayed for night to fall swiftly.
Darkness would be the only friend he’d have in the world to aide him right now.
Lauren, baby, I’m gonna find my way back to you. I promise. Please don’t give up on me!
The prayer was repeated over and over in his mind and murmured from his lips as he made his escape.