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Out Of The Darkness

Things are not always clearer, even after you've stepped out of the darkness.

I wake on my left side, shivering from the cold. I fumble for the comforter but come up empty-handed. Annoyed, I roll onto my back thinking I'll have to wrestle it from Ben, my blanket-stealing husband who likes to wrap himself in a cocoon. Instead of feeling his warm body, I find only space, as my hand drops to a cool, hard surface covered in what feels like small wood shavings.

Confusion blurs my memory. Gradually, the veil of fog lifts. The last thing I recall is walking back to the car after our romantic anniversary dinner. The ache in my head intensifies, and I stop straining to remember.

The place I'm in seems unnaturally quiet. When I open my eyes, I encounter a darkness so thick I feel as though I'm entombed. I inhale deeply and hold my breath. Lying still, I try to slow my hammering heart, to stop its roar which is filling my ears. I get lightheaded and exhale with a muffled sigh.

I wonder, Where's Ben? Is he here with me, unconscious, hurt or? "Oh God no!" I mumble in sudden panic. "Please don't let anything happen to Ben."

Taking shallow breaths, I try to regain some semblance of calm. Of all the times during my life I've needed to remain strong, this is at the top of the list.

"Focus only on the here and now," I mutter, "nothing else."

My hands are free, but my ankles are shackled with what feels like nylon rope. Though not too snug, its knot is tight. While trying to unravel it, two fingernails bend back, "Shit!" I cry out in pain. I freeze, expecting my outburst to bring unwanted company. When it doesn't, I continue working to untangle the confluence of strands, only stopping when the throbbing in my fingers becomes more than I can bear.

A lingering, unpleasant taste tells me that, at some point, I was gagged. I notice distinct scents of pine and fresh hay hanging in the still air and think, 'Maybe I'm in a barn, but where and why?' Before these thoughts can go further, the pounding in my head forces me to lie back on my makeshift bed.

When I wake some time later, it's still dark, but I can make out what appears to be the outline of a door on my right. I notice it is no longer silent. I can't figure out what I'm hearing, so I close my eyes to concentrate on the not too distant sound. After a few moments, I realize someone is softly whistling. It's a drawn-out throaty whistle, not the kind used to gain attention, but a tune.

After a short time, the whistling stops. Other sounds come to my attention, but these I can't identify. A gentle, repetitive teetering rap against wood and a fainter ... tic, swish, tic, swish, smooth and steady, both hypnotic in their fluidity.

These too stop as I hear voices, followed by footsteps crunching on gravel, both growing louder as they approach. I turn on my left side, slow my breathing and pretend to sleep.

The hinges groan in protest as the door opens. Sunlight shines a path to the workbench on which I'm lying. A deep voice says, "She's right over there."

Footsteps come my way, and I'm relieved to hear the voice of the man I've loved for over 20 years. "Why is she tied up? What the hell is going on here?"

The first voice replies, "I don't know what you mean, Mr. Langston."

Before Ben can respond to the man, I turn and call out, "Ben!"

He looks at me, disgust written all over his face then turns away. In a harsh tone, he tells the man, "You were supposed to finish the job last night! That was our agreement, ten-thousand dollars when you prove to me the bitch is dead!"

I'm stunned. The dark room is flooded with light as uniformed men rush to restrain my husband, cuff him and lead him away. As an officer cuts the rope from my ankles, I ask about the man with my husband. The young officer only says that he is a retired cop.

As I'm escorted to the waiting ambulance, I see the man from the barn on his porch, slowly rocking back and forth, whistling softly. He glances up, nods once then he returns to working a knife on a block of wood ... tic, swish, tic, swish. He whittles away a sliver at a time; small wood shavings fall to the ground.

I would like to send out a special Thank You to JWren (Alan), for your editorial input on this story.

This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.

Copyright © Copyright © 2014 - 2019 Darlene T.

All rights reserved. No part of the publications submitted by Darlene T. may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including printing, photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the author or copyright holder.

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