#NaNoWriMo Novel – High School Soap Opera: Chapter 16

High School Soap Opera

Chapter 16

My head feels like it’s spinning, and when I try to open my eyes I get dizzy. I keep my eyes closed for a long time. I can’t even tell how much time is passing. Finally, I try again, and my eyes stay open, but still blurry. My head feels like I’ve been hit with a ton of bricks. I try to reach up to feel my left temple, but I can’t move. I am tied tightly to the office chair with rope. My arms are wrapped around the chair behind me. They are bound by the rope, but there’s metal too. Handcuffs.

I look around, completely disoriented. What happened? Where am I? Then the stench hits me, and I vomit, only I can’t move so it ends up all over me. I close my eyes again for a second, but when I wake up it has probably been a lot longer than that because my vision is almost clear. Now that I can see better, I realize that I am in a large metal cube. There are shelves from floor to ceiling, wall to wall. Something Nick said floats through my fuzzy mind. Circuitry broken… nothing salvageable… What was he talking about?

I turn my head to the right and see a door, and it clicks. I’m in the walk-in fridge at the pastry shop. The only thing that seems to be going for me right now is that the broken circuitry means I’m not going to freeze to death, but there is emergency lighting so I can see. I just need to figure out how to get myself to the door. There’s a safety trigger that should open the door from the inside. They even make it work if the door is locked shut. I try to shake my head to clear it and immediately regret it when the pain intensifies.

I take a deep breath and try to take a mental inventory of my body, as best I can. My feet don’t hurt. They are warm, and I can wiggle my toes. I’m still wearing socks and shoes. My legs can’t move much, but I’m still wearing jeans. I have no pain in my arms or legs, my chest, or my neck. So it seems the only injury is from when John hit me in the head with the gun. I wonder how long I’ve been here. How long was I passed out? Does anyone even know I’m gone?

Next, I try to determine my range of motion. My ankles can move. I try to see if I can make my whole body jump up with the chair, but the chair is too heavy. I look down and see that the desk chair is tied to a box that is behind me. So there’s no use trying to move. I will never be able to get out of here. I don’t even bother trying to scream. Nobody would hear me anyway. There has to be a way out. I can’t give up or I will die here, tied to a chair in a broken walk-in fridge.

I take a slow, deep breath, and sigh it out. My eyes widen. Was that real, did that just happen? I move my shoulders forward into a shrug, then push them back. Yes! The rope is moving a tiny bit! I might be able to get it off, but it’s going to take a lot of work. I wiggle my shoulders around as much as I can, but it’s not easy, and I don’t seem to be making much progress on the rope.

My head is pounding, and I stop struggling. From what I can see, I don’t think there is blood dripping from my head. Of course not, if you were gushing blood you would be dead by now. I can’t think! I whimper, and I am trying my best not to cry. If I start crying, it’s all over. Be strong. I feel like I could fall asleep again, and I know that at least I wouldn’t feel the pain anymore, at least for a little while. It would be so easy, just let go.

No! You have to fight through this! I try to visualize Jack, my knight in shining armor, but that’s not helping. That’s just making me want to wait for him to save me. Sometimes the damsel has to rescue herself. So then I think about Nick’s voice on the phone when he told me that the ballistics came back and that it was looking bad for him. I think about his face when he saw Olivia at Amelia’s, in that absent, trance-like manner. I think of the way he was folded into himself on the floor in the pantry of the bar. I think of the pain in his face six months ago when Olivia didn’t remember their love, when she told him to leave her alone. If I can’t find it in me to fight for myself, at least I can find plenty of reasons to fight for Nick.

My shoulders hurt, so I start trying to move my feet back and forth. I can’t do much with sneakers on, so I use one heel to push down on the other, kicking off the shoe. Then I kick off the other one. I manage to get my socks off too, and now I feel a surge of power over this tiny victory. I may be tied up, but I’m not broken down.

I keep fighting against the rope that binds me. I try to loosen it from the bottom, but it’s tight. No, I have to keep working it from the top. I start working my shoulders again, forward and back, up and down, any way that moves the rope. I look down. I had forgotten that I vomited on myself, but I must have gotten used to the smell. Ew ew ew, gross! But even though my brain thinks it’s disgusting, my body won’t let me dwell on that. Survival instincts I didn’t even know I have are kicking in.

Below my chin is the part of rope that has loosened. I bite at it, and after two false starts I get a decent grip on it. At first I thought I could wriggle myself free, but that will take a long time. Now, I wonder if I can somehow chew my way through this thing. It tastes dirty and awful, but I have to try everything I can think of until I’m out of here. I feel like a dog with a chew toy, but after a while, one little thread breaks. Just a few thousand more and I should be able to wiggle out.

While I work on chewing my way through this impossibly thick rope, I think about my real life. Because this has to be the part that’s not real. I don’t live in a soap opera. I have parents, and friends… maybe… and right now, I would give just about anything to be back in my bedroom dealing with the high school drama I’m used to instead of being locked in a walk-in fridge for discovering the murderer who framed my boyfriend’s cousin.

Another few threads break. This is going to take forever, but it’s not like I can go anywhere else. Don’t think about what you’re doing. Just keep doing it. My thoughts drift to Talie. There has to be an explanation for her wanting to get detention for a year. She’s hiding something. Why would she want detention? She doesn’t have a crush on the teacher, he isn’t young and hot at all. So if she didn’t do it to get in, she must have done it to avoid going somewhere else.

Home a voice in my head says. Yes, the only place I want to go right now, and the last place she ever wants to go. She always asks if she can come to my house after detention, and on the weekends. There must be something at home that she’s trying to stay away from. Why didn’t I realize this sooner? Am I really so self-involved that I never put the pieces together? Now that I’m looking, the puzzle is easy.

I spit out the rope for a few minutes. I can see progress, which is a good thing. I move my shoulders around again, but the rope isn’t broken enough to split apart yet. I spit some dirty saliva onto the ground, and I allow myself to whimper again for a few seconds. I wonder what John is doing, and if Jack is back with Alexis. Is Nick still in jail? Without a clock or watch, and with my head injury, I have no concept of time. I take another deep breath and let it out, then bite into the rope again.

I start to think about Josette. We’ve always said that we’ll be best friends forever, and maybe that’s why I’m so reluctant to admit that we’re just so different. Neither of us is the same person we were when we met. We’ve developed separate interests and friendships, and right now, I don’t even care. If I could have her back in my life, I wouldn’t care if she was just a friend I said hi to in the hall at school when I saw her. I wouldn’t need to be best friends with her, I could let her go. Just not completely.

And my parents? I miss them so much right now. If I was at home, tied up in some kind of crazy situation, they would laugh and shake their heads. But at the same time, they would be there to support me as they let me figure out how to untie the ropes and find my own freedom. And after all, maybe that’s what this is all about. Maybe that’s why I’m here in a soap opera, to learn how to be my own knight in shining armor. Maybe I have lessons I need to learn before I can go home.

Yes, this is a metaphor I can use to motivate me to keep going. My friendships are only screwed up if I let them stay that way. I’ve been a passenger in my life for far too long. I need to step in and participate, just like I did when I picked up Ambrosia’s phone near the place she died, and when I found the key to get into her house, and when I stole the flash drive and the video. Like I did when I sent John the text message asking him to meet me here.

Why do I have to make such a big deal out of everything? There’s nothing wrong with Josette having other friends. And if Talie doesn’t want to talk about what’s going on, why she wanted detention then maybe I should leave her alone… but maybe not. Maybe in her case, too, I need to participate more. If there is something wrong at her home, and if it’s bad enough for her to want detention every day, then maybe that’s a time when it would be best to step in and interfere in her life.

I drop the rope from my mouth again and look. It’s almost chewed through! I strain my upper body, but it still doesn’t give. I bite it again, this time not even noticing the taste of it in my mouth. I work my teeth back and forth, and the threads are breaking faster now. How long have I been gnawing on this thing? I spit out the rope one last time, move my shoulders around, and the rope finally snaps.

The ends of the rope fall. I move around as much as I can, and as the rope continues to loosen, I can move even more. Soon, the whole length of rope is on the floor. But my celebration is short-lived. I’m still handcuffed to the back of the chair, and I’m still locked in a walk-in fridge in the middle of a burnt-down building that maybe nobody will think to check for me. But at least my legs are free.

I take a mental inventory of my body again. My arms are tight around the back of the chair, and my wrists hurt from the metal restraints. But my legs feel good. I spread my knees, straddling the chair, and plant my feet firmly on the floor. Then, I use all the strength I have to try to stand up. I push my feet into the floor, and move my arms to help me lift myself up, and I don’t stop until my hands and arms are free from the chair. I walk away from the mess and squat down, then carefully step backwards over my hands. Now my arms are in front of me, and I feel ten times better than I did five minutes ago. Yes, I can definitely be my own knight in shining armor.

Before I can think about leaving, though, I need to check my head. I gently feel around. There is bruising, there’s no question. The skin is open, but it’s not a big area. It probably needs stitches, but the blood has already dried into a scab. Unfortunately, the wound is in my hair, and I might need part of my head shaved before someone can even stitch it up. And that’s only if I can actually manage to get out of here. For all I know it’s only been a few hours and John is sleeping on the couch in the office in case I escape. I hope I can at least get myself safely to an ER. What are you waiting for? Get out of here, they can get the handcuffs off you when you get to the hospital.

I go to the door and find the emergency escape button. I push it, but nothing seems to happen. I try the door, but it’s still locked. I try pushing the button harder, then I try to push the button with one foot while I push on the door with my upper body. But it’s no use. John must have broken the emergency button before he left me here.

I feel for Ambrosia’s phone, but it’s not in my pocket. Did I put it in my other pocket? No, it’s not there. Not only did John tie me up and break my only way out, but he also took the only means of communication with the outside world that I had.

And just like that, the little bit of hope that was starting to grow in my heart is gone. I look around the fridge. All the food is rancid, and there is nothing to use as a pillow. I lay on the floor next to the door on my stomach, using my one of my arms as a pillow, and cry myself to sleep.

I’ve decided to post my NaNoWriMo novel on my blog this year, chapter by chapter. I hope you enjoy it! And remember, this is all about having fun and writing a whole lot in a short period of time, so please don’t give me “corrections.” I’m not planning on going for publication anyway. Start at the beginning: Chapter One