Liz woke slowly, groggily, still half asleep. Too much to drink, she thought with a groan, and tried to sit up. When she couldn’t, it took her brain a moment to register that it wasn’t the effects of a night out at work, to feel the pull of the ropes holding her down at wrist and ankle. Fear shot through her, and she screamed, or tried to, but there too her efforts failed. Liz felt the press of the tape across her mouth as she struggled to open it, and that sensation pushed her over the edge. She thrashed, panicking. There was no thought to it, but perhaps some tiny part of her mind hoped that maybe the ropes would tear free from whatever moored them.
Eventually, panic gave way to exhausted tears, and Liz stilled. She forced herself to look around, to try and make sense of something, anything.
She could see breezeblock walls from where she lay, and a concrete floor ending in a metal door. A garage. The pattern of the junk strewn around the place seemed familiar. Her own garage then. Someone had brought her to her garage. For what? Rape? Worse? Her clothes seemed still to be in place, but that wasn’t really a comfort. What was happening?
Light came from a dozen candles, arranged around her in a circle. They flickered, lending shadows to the garage that only fed her fear. Biting down, Liz tried to force herself to stay calm. That’s what they’d said in the self-defence class she’d gone to once. Stay calm. Don’t panic. Think. What was going on? What did she remember? Liz could recall coming home from the village pub alone. Drunk, but not too drunk, she’d thought. She remembered opening her front door, and then…
Footsteps nearby made hope rise, closely followed by a fresh wave of fear. Here, on the edge of the village, there wasn’t anyone who would come to her rescue. There weren’t any neighbours to come wandering by. That left whoever had done this. Liz couldn’t bear to think of what they might want, what they might do. Again, she tried to tear free of the ropes, pulling this time until she felt the wetness of her own bloody wrists, rubbed raw by the rope.
The figure seemed to drift out of the shadows like a part of them, thanks to the cloak. Liz remembered it, or at least a swirl of blackness before her memories ended in the deeper darkness of unconsciousness. It was hooded, floor length, and midnight black. Its folds hid any hint of detail from Liz’s eyes. Somehow that was worse than seeing a face.
She tried to plead through the gag, but the robed figure just knelt, scratching at the concrete around her with chalk, drawing symbols Liz couldn’t recognise. All the time her robed attacker muttered, too low to make out, but with an edge to it that sounded jarring, wrong. It took long minutes, and through it all Liz struggled to keep the tears from her eyes. She wouldn’t let them know how frightened she was. No matter what, she wouldn’t give them that satisfaction.
Finally, the robed figure came to kneel at Liz’s head.
As the knife came from inside the robe Liz tried to plead upwards with her eyes, to find some scrap of mercy in the folds of the hood. But she couldn’t even see a face there. Despite the promise she’d just made to herself, tears pooled, and Liz found herself begging, praying, as the knife swept up.