Michela Walters’s Picture Choice: Both
Title: The Foreign Devil
She awoke on the dusty floor, trying to sort out where she was and how she’d ended up here. Examining herself, she was dressed in a dingy blue smock-like dress, shoeless and absolutely filthy. Running her fingers through her grimy hair, she wondered what had happened to the shoes she vaguely remembered having worn. Vivian thought back, trying to focus amid her throbbing head to recall what she’d last been doing.
A creak coming from the low planked ceiling made the hairs on her neck and arms stand at alert in fear. Dust fluttered down with every footstep above. Hobbling over to the barred windows, she could make out a dry, dusty field, but little else. She tried tugging on the bars, to no avail, when a quiet voice rang from a darkened corner of the room, startling her.
“Tis no use.”
Vivian spun and walked slowly to where the masculine voice had come from, trembling with every step -- not knowing what she would encounter. “Hhu - how do you know? Who are you?” She couldn’t even try to control the waver in her voice.
The figure in the shadow stood, slowly as if doing so was painful. Coming forward into the dim light being cast from the single window, a man appeared before her, hunched so as not to bang his head on the ceiling. His hair was mangy and long, hanging past his shoulders, a greying beard fell unkempt, hiding what might have been a handsome face.
“I’m John. Been here a long time, if you couldn’t tell.” He chose to sit back down, leaning against the wall. “Have a seat. Not like we’re going anywhere fast and standing in here’s killin’ my back.” he muttered, pointing over towards the cement slab near the window. “Have they told you why you’re here yet?”
Vivian glanced over her shoulder as she walked towards the window to sit. John appeared feeble and emaciated, not a real threat to her at all. “I’m Vivian, and I don’t even know where we are, let alone why I’m here.” She fought hard with her memory, trying to make sense of her current predicament when an image of a small tan car and a bearded man jumping out to snatch her off the dirt road popped into her mind. She’d been walking towards her hotel, needing a shower and a change of clothes with just enough time before her news team was set to go on air to discuss the newest airstrikes. The flood of memories streamed through her thoughts, causing her to reel back, grabbing the window bars for support. She always knew being on the fringes of war, kidnapping was possible, but she never thought it could happen to her. She was careful, blended in as best as she could, sticking with the customs of the country she was in. She was so lost in thoughts, she startled when he finally spoke again.
“You look familiar?” He stared quizzically at her face, trying to place where he might know her from.
“If you’ve ever watched CNN International, I’m one of their correspondents for their Middle East desk.”
Gently resting his head back against the wall, John felt uneasy with the thought of an actual television personality being captured. This would bring this extremist group more notoriety than ever before, and usually there weren’t any survivors when the dust settled.
“Unfortunately seems like these guys have it out for us reporting types. I work for the London TImes. I’m guessing you’ll be forced to make a statement soon. They’re probably waiting until you’re so hungry you’ll do anything they ask for a scrap of bread. Just read what they want you to and don’t try to send any signals about your whereabouts. You and I both know how easily this can end with a sword to our necks.”
“Do you think the military will try to rescue us?”
“The motherland doesn’t negotiate with terrorists and I’m beginning to think I’ll be stuck here forever.” His dejected tone left her little doubt about his optimism level.
“But you’re a Yank, right? Maybe they will. Your Seals are pretty heroic when they want to be.”
Their conversation ended when the clomping of boots down a set of rickety old stairs caused them both to cower in their respective corners. The man looming over us was covered from head to toe, only his dark beady eyes were visible through the black and white head dress he wore. Vivian knew enough of the language to understand his rants at both John and herself as being the devils causing ruin to their country. When he waved his gun at them both, her heart dropped into her stomach. She leaned over and wretched what was left from her last meal onto the floor beside her.
The kidnapper grabbed her by the hair, forcing her to look in her eyes. “One hour.” Thrusting her head back toward the vomit on the floor, he kicked her leg, reminding her to clean herself up.
She stared through the hair hanging in her face at his retreating form and wondered exactly what was going to happen in one hour. As much as she wanted to believe John, she’d seen what they’d done to other female journalists, and it wasn’t just talking sweetly into the camera.
And that thought absolutely horrified her.
Like what you just read? Have a question or concern? Leave a note for the author! We appreciate your feedback!
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