Cara Michaels’ Picture Choice: 2
Title: Miss Me, -Kait
A song I loved on normal days—the kind that didn’t end with dead bodies, gunshots, and me sitting alone, trapped, and beat all to hell—ran through my mind on an infinite loop.
‘And I feel as if I am looking at the world from the bottom of a well…’
Fuck if the universe didn’t love a good joke.
I closed my eyes and hummed. The dark didn’t press in so hard if I just pretended to rest. The temp of the water barely bothered me now. My body had adjusted and soon enough my internal thermostat would slow everything down… a last ditch effort to save me.
Somewhere in the water, a shorted out flashlight and my equally useless cell phone kept me company. No one knew about this place. Tears and blood ran down my face.
‘Feeling lonely… and the only way to beat it is—’
I choked on my breath, tune and lyrics wiped clean from my mind. Coughing, I covered my mouth to muffle the sound. Thunder continued to pound and growl, and I couldn’t see a damn thing through the rainy gloom.
Say it again, I pleaded in my head. Please don’t be my imagination.
“You down there, lady?” A young man’s voice.
“She has a name, jackass.” This one sounded feminine.
“Shit, I know that, Hannah. I’m a little freaked here.”
Hannah? Oh my, God.
“Chad?” My attempted shout sounded anemic at best.
“Holy shit, she’s down there,” he said. “Hang on, lady. Ma’am. Uh—Riley. We’re gonna get you out, okay?”
I couldn’t stop crying enough to form any words, so I made a sound I hope he took for my grateful agreement to any plan ending with me getting out of this well. I searched through the water, finding the gun. Ballistics would be able to match it to—Adam. If we found him.
The cold stole back into my awareness, my body quaking as I climbed to my feet once more, keeping my weight on my right leg. Far above me, Chad and Hannah discussed logistics as they lowered a bona fide harness down to me. I buckled myself in and gave the rope a tug.
“Pull her up, Hannah!”
Some kind of machinery fired up and I rose fast along the wall, the rough surface carving a path of fresh scrapes and bruises. Watching the circle of light above me grow with each second, I took the hurt with a smile.
“Okay, okay,” Chad called. “Ease up. I almost got her.”
The ride slowed and then Chad grabbed my hands, heaving me over the side of the well. I collapsed in a sobbing heap.
I forced my eyes open, focusing on rain soaked grass, tiny orange flowers, and a moth or butterfly going from stem to stem, heedless of the storm. Its stained glass wings might be crushed with a gust of wind, but it held up, stronger than it seemed.
Stronger than me.
Funny to envy something so delicate.
“Easy now, Miss Riley,” Chad said.
He and Hannah freed me from the harness and helped me sit up.
“You look like shit,” Hannah said. She pressed a clean work towel to my forehead. “Hold this. God, you’re covered in blood.”
Ten feet away, a muddy, red 4X4 with a ridiculous lift kit idled. My savior stuck out from the front, a winch more suited to hauling vehicles than people. Thank God for Floridians and their love of swampy off-roading.
“We found Kait,” I said. “Got her out. Adam was bringing me up when a couple of Carson’s thugs came along.”
“We saw,” Chad said.
I looked up at him. His eyes still held the fear, but something stronger shone there, too. Determination.
“You were right,” he said. “This is our chance to stand up to him. For Kait.”
“How are you even here?” I asked. “The uniforms were supposed to sit on you until we finished.”
“Yeah, well.” He and Hannah swapped weary smiles. “Might’ve been some excitement over a minor jet ski collision out on the lake.”
“It was kinda short sighted of you guys not to realize we know practically everyone out there,” Hannah said.
“Your friends staged an accident?”
“No one got hurt, I promise. We had the plan ready before you even left,” Chad said. “We hightailed it out of there no more than a minute behind you.”
“We would’ve gotten you out sooner,” Hannah said. “But we saw the senator’s goons loading your detective in the trunk of their car. We had to split up to help both of you. And we needed the right gear to get you out.”
“Split up?” I latched onto the two words. “You mean someone went after Adam? Hannah, those guys are stone killers. We have to get to your friends.”
“Don’t worry,” she said. “They’re following only.”
“Come on.” Chad picked me up in his arms.
Hannah opened the passenger door and Chad helped me climb in. He took the 9mm with a handkerchief and stowed it in the glove box.
“You guys are pretty smart, you know,” I said.
“We watch a lot of Law and Order reruns,” he said.
Hannah scrambled into the backseat and Chad took the driver’s seat. He picked up a CB radio and called out some mumbo jumbo.
While he talked, Hannah held something out to me. “I found this in the grass. Thought maybe—”
What had I thought when we found Kait? The living didn’t talk to me. When I found a missing person alive, I did it through the memories left behind them, through impressions gleaned from those close to them.
If Adam spoke in my mind now, if he tried to lead me as Kait had done, did it mean he was dead? When we’d kissed, I’d known his thoughts for a brief moment; the first time I’d ever shared minds with the living.
I frowned, remembering. Kait had reached me before she died. In all the excitement, I’d forgotten.
“They dumped Kait,” Chad said, “kept the detective, and they’re heading east. The cops are on the way to get Kait, and there’s an APB on the car.”
“We need to find them,” I said. “We need to help Adam.”
“Is he even alive?” Hannah asked Chad.
“I don’t know.”
“Only one way to find out,” I said.
Maybe my abilities were changing. Maybe Kait had been psychic. Whatever the cause, we’d connected. And what happened once could happen again.
I pushed aside the fear, the pain and fatigue, and took the soaked billfold from Hannah.
I just had to be stronger.
Cara Michaels is the author of the Gaea’s Chosen sci-fi romance series and host of the #MenageMonday flash fiction challenge.