By Alyssa Mayley
(Writing as Alyssa Casto)
CAUGHT IN TERROR published in 2014-2015 Wayne College Regional Writing Awards Booklet
It should have been my favorite time of day, but he had taken that from me. That foul man had taken so much from me in such a short amount of time. Two months ago, I was just a normal person with normal problems. Now, the morning sun brought on the war that I was forced to wage every single day.
I took another sip of my freshly brewed coffee, as I listened to the deafening silence that filled the inside of my tiny one-bedroom apartment. Even though it was completely quiet in the complex—just outside—the city was already bustling as everyone got a start on their day.
I tried to dispel my worries and—for once—just enjoy the dawning of a new day. But, a nearby car door slammed loudly, causing me to jump and let out a small strangled scream.
I was tired of living in a constant state of fear. I battled hard to calm my overworked nerves.
I knew it would come any moment now, and I would have to face my demons yet again. It was the same routine every morning. I would pace back and forth in the small space, slowly sipping on my coffee and refusing to eat anything until it was over. Until I knew it was safe. Only to start it all over again the next morning.
The sound I dreaded most finally came. Even though it was not heavy, the sound was deafening to my sensitive ears.
My heart started racing at an incredible speed. My stomach bottomed out, and then it suddenly began to churn and clench into a disgusting knot. If I had put anything other than coffee in, I would have thrown up.
Every morning, I told myself I would not rush for the front door. And yet, the need for self-preservation was always suppressed by the impulse to see if today was the day that he would finally track me down. My feet were firmly planted in my house slippers—hand on the knob—before I even realized that I had moved across the floor to the other side of the apartment. I stood hanging half-way in, half-way out of the screen door.
I stared down at the repulsive material. I could easily see it through the clear sleeve that the paperboy had stuffed it into prior to delivering. It took me a moment to gather enough courage to reach out and touch it.
Finally, I tightened the sash on my robe, seeking comfort from the soft folds, and stepped out onto the small porch and reached down for the newspaper—only grasping it by the edges of the plastic bag.
I rushed back inside, grabbed the sealed end and gave it a quick shake to release it from its casing. It unwrapped on the table upon impact.
My heart was pounding so hard, it felt as if it would leap out of my chest. I grabbed my coffee and took another swig as I eyeballed the contrast of black letters against the bright paper. Knowing that I had to start getting ready for work soon, I took a deep breath and reached toward it with trembling fingers.
When the tips of my fingers finally met the crisp surface of the paper, a new sense of urgency flooded my body and I quickly flipped to the section and opened it wide, before leaning over it to scan the tiny print.
I mentally listed off the names down the column. I started to grow hopeful until I ran across one entry.
My vision suddenly grew fuzzy and colors started bleeding in on each other. I struggled to keep conscious as a void of blackness threatened to close in around me. I couldn’t breathe or even process what I was seeing.
There it was, on page A4, my name in bold print.
Perhaps it is someone else. I tried to reassure myself. I held my breath as I poured over the rest of the Obituary.
My hand flew to my mouth and tears began cascading down my cheeks. I realized that even though I had been in hiding, he must have gone to extreme lengths to find me again.
The article listed my name, where I was born, my current employer, even my hobbies. But the biggest shocker was seeing my surviving relatives. My parents and sister were listed along-side of the town which they lived in.
I ran to the sink and threw up the few drops of coffee I had consumed. Dry heaves shook my body even after my stomach was completely empty.
He had found me. Worse still, he had done some digging, and now he knew how to get to my family too.
My body collapsed in on itself in my all-consuming grief. I stayed like that for a long time—sobbing and letting my tears pour out over the cold linoleum floor. At some point I must have fallen asleep, because when I opened my eyes and looked at the clock on the wall, the small hand had jumped by two hours.
A shrill ringing sound filled the kitchen, causing me to panic. I looked at the phone in terror—knowing that if he had uncovered those details, he could have easily found my phone number.
After the third ring I picked up the receiver, checked the Caller ID, and quickly accepted the call.
“Page.” The relief of hearing my mother’s gentle voice was like a beacon of hope, but not enough to dispel my trepidation that he was still out there looking for me.
When I did not respond right away, she became anxious.
“Page, are you there? Page—“ With each passing moment of my silence, I could hear her growing more and more concerned.
I struggled hard to force words out of my mouth. When my voice finally broke free, I sobbed out to her.
“What’s the matter sweetheart?” I could hear my own terror reflected back in her voice.
“Mommy, he found me—“ My throat locked up midsentence. He was surely going to come for me again. Except this time, he would finish the job.
My body went limp and the phone went careening across the floor.
“Page. Page! Stay right there. I’m calling the cops now. I’ll be right there—“
The phone went dead.
The need to hear my mother’s comforting voice drew me out of my stupor enough to reach for the phone. As I began to dial with quivering fingers, the phone rang, and I immediately answered.
“Hello Page.” The draw of his evil voice filled my ears. Shivers raced down my spine.
This was the voice that kept me up late at night. When I did manage to get some sleep, it haunted my dreams. This voice was from the man that held me prisoner, tortured me, and eventually intended to kill me. I had only barely escaped.
“It’s been too long—“