Michela Walters’s Picture Choice: 2
Title: Screams for the Nightingale
My eyes fluttered open to the grey muted light. I could smell the musty odor of mold and dust and even though I didn’t know where I was, my stomach was unsettled with dread. An achiness in the back of my head kept me from thinking clearly. The fog had settled over my thoughts and even though I felt the panic to figure things out, I was sluggish and confused.
Resting my head back against the wall, I closed my eyes, trying to fit the puzzle pieces together.
Blackness-- nothing but blackness-- until suddenly like an old film flickering beneath my eyes, I witnessed my capture.
My hair whipped around my face as I ran away from an unseeing foe. Unable to stop at the stupid blue lights that were supposed to save me from danger, I continued on, hoping i’d come upon a saving grace. He’d managed to catch me midstride, forcing me down onto the ground. I vaguely remembered fighting, scratching and kicking in vain. Fighting for my life.
I’d been ambushed on my way home from class. I wasn’t sure what time it was now, but I knew it had to be a day or two since the attack based on the light filtering in through the tiny window above my head. When I’d been attacked, it was after my film appreciation class that didn’t let out until nine thirty at night. I usually walked home with some others, but I’d been in a hurry to get back to my room. I was supposed to be meeting my friends at a frat party at ten, leaving little time to get ready.
The door creaked open and heavy footsteps clomped down the stairwell across from where I was chained. I waited impatiently to see who my captor was. Slowly, he revealed himself, first the dingy, black combat boots, followed by grey industrial pants. His hand was holding something hidden from my view, but his chest and broad shoulders looked imposing in the dark red and green flannel shirt. Finally, I was rewarded with his face, one that I was intimately familiar with.
“Hello, Amber. I see you’re awake.” Stuart’s voice echoed across the empty room, seemingly deeper and intensely creepier than it had been when we’d dated over a year ago.
“Why are you doing this?” Even though I tried to keep my voice even, the shrill of panic still managed to reverberate in my ears. My eyes darted throughout the room and back at him, trying to figure out how to distract him or get him to release me.
He stalked closer, crouching down to look me directly in the eye. “You’re all part of the plan, Amb. Maybe if we’d worked out, you wouldn’t be in this position-- but then again, maybe you would be.”
“What plan? What do you mean?” I was about to ask another open ended question but stopped when I saw the new ink emblazoned across his neck. A black wing of a bird peeked out above the collar of his shirt, the image drowning me in pure, terrifying horror. I knew in that moment, it wouldn’t matter what I did or said. I wouldn’t live past nightfall. I was the Nightingale's next victim, and there was nothing I could do about it.
“What happened to you?” I whispered, looking away from the knife I saw clutched in his hand and trying to appear more calm than I was.
“Nothing happened to me.” The anger burst out of him. Standing, he paced back and forth in front of me, delivering what would ultimately be the last soliloquy I’d ever hear. “I’ve always been this way. I’m just now finally living up to my potential,” his voice was exaggeratedly proud. “You think I haven’t read the papers? That I don’t know what they’re saying about me? But have you?”
He leaned down, swiping one of my errant tears away and asked, “Do you know why they call me the Nightingale? Do you know how I plan on killing you? Do you know how I always succeed in getting away with it?”
I did know some of the details, how he would first slit both femoral arteries in my legs letting me bleed out as he tortured me until at last I would cease to exist. I shuddered uncontrollably thinking about the torture devices that had been used on a couple of his previous victims. From the news, it sounded like it had been leaked accidentally to the press, but now that I knew what I had in store, I wished I was still ignorant.
“From the look in your eyes, I see that you too know some of what I have planned, but what you don’t know is how I will get away with it.” He pointed up towards the grimy window and explained that this was a hidden room in the basement of a building that was about to be imploded the next morning. “You’ll be buried under a few hundred tons of rubble. If they do find your body, they’ll never know if your injuries were because of me, or the building. I don’t do the same body dump twice, which is why I succeed when others fail. So prepare, my sweet little nightingale, for you are about to sing my favorite song. Bloody Murder.”
Michela Walters is a wife, mother and book enthusiast. She is currently attempting her hand at writing her first romantic fiction novella. You can read her other stories on her blog: michelawalters.wordpress.com