"Hey you, out there on the road...Can you help me?...Hey you, out there beyond the wall...
Can you help me?...Hey you, don't tell me there's no hope at all." Hey You, Pink Floyd 1979
She wakes up and she isn't in her bed. At first, she doesn't realize it, because she's sort of a zombie at least an hour after she wakes up and the room is still dark. She moans, pulling whatever is covering up and over her head. She wants to sleep more, relish the first free time she's had in a month since her projects had piled up. It's such a short break, she can just sleep in for once... Plus, it was Saturday, so she didn't have to get up in a rush to catch her bus to school like she does on Mondays and Wednesdays. She can enjoy a lazy day of fanfiction and movie marathon. Maybe some sketching or getting around to actually making an art piece that is personal, her's and not an assignment.
She debates with herself the pros and cons of getting up now or trying to get back to sleep. But she is more or less awake and there's no point. She yawns, rubbing her eyes as she sits up, stretches, relishing the small cracks in her back. Absently running a hand through her short cropped hair, she pats with her other hand around in the direction her window should be in, the sile specifically. She always puts her phone there, along with her remote for the television and she wants to check the time.
She gets empty air.
She blinks. What the frack? Wonders for half a second if she fell asleep downstairs on the extra bed her mom has for guests and realizes that she is on a bed as tiny as her own twin sized one. Lauren Calderon takes a good look at the room she's in. Firstly, it's much larger than her room, even in the dark she can tell that; with its sloped ceilings, bare of any furniture but a desk with a dinosaur of a computer that she hasn't seen since she was in elementary school, a cork board and a rocking chair in one corner, near a window with old, lace curtains.
It's a very far cry than her cluttered, shelf filled room. It gives her no clue to where she is and why- neutral colors, pale blue walls, and pale wooden floors. Clean, smelling strongly of bleach and some sort of wood polish, and stuffy. It doesn't look like it could belong to anyone, really, a blank slate to fill your own personality with.
Her room is her's, it screams Lauren Isabel Calderon: colorful, half the time it's a mess but it organized neatly in divided areas for maximum use in the tiny space. It's her sanctuary, her studio and her little nest when her anxiety and depression is at its most potent. Her room is full to the brim with knick-knacks of her favorite tv shows, anime, posters and papers and movies, snacks. Her shoes scattered on the floor, jackets, and scarves tossed on the ottoman uses as a desk chair, blankets and stuffed animals she has no heart to toss out on top of a shelf in the corner which held her snacks, and games. Books, comics, manga and movies lined up and stacked up neatly, filling another shelf, overflowing and screaming of her haphazard tastes of fantastical, nostalgic and the bizarre.
Pens, papers scattered across her desk and her coffee table, small coffee maker atop a small end table by the door giving the smell of tea and coffee about the room. She can feel herself each time she enters her room; smells her lotions and perfumes, the dust she spreads on the carpet to make it smell like apples and cinnamon, candles and that distinct smell of sharpies, paint or nail polish. She feels safe and beautifully alone in her room because.. well...
It's lived in.
This room is cold and impersonal. It would've been sad, really, because she can see some semblance of life, very old and long gone. Fade pictures pinned up on board, they are crude and speak of a very small child, Christmas lights and purple lanterns are awkwardly hung by the desk, stuck with duck tape in a rushed job. The strong smell of cleaning solutions permanent the room, but she can see dust lining the computer as if the person who had cleaned had rushed the job. It's squeaky and clean and at the same time it is haphazardly cold in its unlived state, and it's as if it's trying to be pleasant and welcoming and it sends legitimately creepy vibe instead.
She blinks again, rubs at her eyes as if she's having an after vision of a dream.
Wake up. Come on Lauren, wake up, get up right now.
The strange room doesn't go away. She looks away from it, stares at her hands in her lap. The purple comforter tangled around her legs is vividly different than the blue, fuzzy, soft, double sided dolphin/flower combo she got when she was eleven and makes her not ignore the situation she's in. It's pretty and shiny, satin material, matching the lanterns by the desk. She squeezes her eyes shut, scrambling for a logical explanation why the hell she was in a room she didn't recognize. She doesn't find one that is plausible and feels herself start to breathe very quickly. She's trembling and she wonders what the hell was going on.
Stay calm. Don't scream, don't panic too badly. Don't be an idiot in a horror movie. Don't be an idiot in a horror movie.
Quickly and as quietly as she can in her panic, she get's out of the bed. She stops as she stares at her clothes. Lauren went to bed with booty shorts, braless and in a tank top. It was eighty degrees outside and boiling in her room because it's at the front of the house and facing the sun, she hates the heat, loathes it entirely. Hates to sweat hates the feel of it against her skin and the oppressive feeling of heat that across her pale-ish skin and makes her red and splotchy. She doesn't do bras when she's in the comfort of her own home because she is well endowed and her mammaries appreciate a break as does her back. She's dressed now, she notes, in a bra, black sweatpants, a ratty t-shirt full of holes and thick, plain gray socks. It's cold as fuck in here, I have goosebumps. She feels violated, wondering who the hell changed her. clothes She licks her lips and looks around.
She doesn't see any shoes on the floor, like in her room, just worn pale wooden floors, a large window, and two doors. She takes a chance, and creeps to one and opens it. A closet, very bare and small compared to her own cluttered, walk in mess is what she sees and she breathes a sigh of relief. She looks around and spots four pairs of shoes lined up neatly in the right corner. She checks the size, shivers at the fact that they are just her size and grabs the white chucks: particularly new, not a scuff or a stain, but worn to suit, frighteningly enough, her slightly wider foot at the toes. Her own pair of dirty, floral pair had the same crease where her toes start. What the hell.
She puts them on with trembling fingertips, and she tries to stop the stinging heat in her eyes or the fact that her breath is coming in harsh, hiccupy little gasps. Lauren then snatches a huge, thick black hoodie, noting again, that it's her size(in fact with a quick check she can see that the small wardrobe is all in her size range*) and walks back to the room.
Don't scream. Try to stay calm. Don't be an idiot in a horror movie. Don't be an idiot in a horror movie. You're an intelligent, non-promiscuous brunette. Points for you, less chance of being the first killed and more chance of being the plucky last survivor. Increase your chances of survival and think.
That's something she tells herself each time she walking home from school late at night, downtown in the less touristy bits of town, where there's little to no foot traffic and it screams of slasher/ rapist vibes. It's dark, the streets are deserted and she's usually clutching her pepper spray in her right hand, with a box cutter in her back pocket. She listens to music softly in one ear and keeps her other ready to hear footsteps behind her. The distance from her bus stop and her campus is roughly seven city blocks and half the time it's filled with shady people that she does her best to ignore. The bitch face is her best friend and she always tries to never show fear or hesitation. She's been followed more than once and has always tried to keep calm even when someone is freaking her out. That's the only thing keeping her from screaming hysterically now.
Don't be an idiot in a horror movie.
It's still somewhat dark, but lighter than when she woke up but giving her fairly good internal clock(not that it matters now that it could possibly be in a different time zone) she guesses it's very early morning, roughly five or six. She looks around for a weapon, eying the door that leads to the rest of the house and finds a baseball bat, purple with butterflies, obviously meant for little kids but still heavy, underneath the bed when she checks, next to a little shoebox that says 'Isabella's' in a mixture of crayon and Crayola marker. Also, much to her damn relief, she finds her phone sitting on her pillow when she checks the bed for a clue. She stuffs that into her bra(that doesn't belong to her either and looks much more expensive than anything she owns, she notes with growing dread) and heads towards the window.
It's really green outside, is her first thought, she lives in a very green suburb, with trees and wildflowers in the summer. But this green is very dark, evergreen, vibrant and rich, unlike the softer colors she's used too. Her second one is that she's on a second floor. A floor is roughly ten feet, not too bad of a fall. Just don't land on your face or back. Also, there's a tree right next to the window when she whips away the condensation on it. She looks back at the door, white, looking so innocent. Whoever brought her here could be right outside, and she rather not risk that.
She opens the window and is dead relieved that it can be open, but cringes when it starts to squeak about halfway up. She stops, breathing deeply, licking her lips, checking the door that leads to the rest of the house. Waits from some sort of noise to indicate that someone had heard. It doesn't move and the house stays silent. She throws caution to the wind and throws it open. The noise is loud, but after a minute of the door not moving she relaxes her tense posture. She licks her lips and heaves herself onto the window sile.
The window is large, not floor length, but she can sit comfortably in it without hitting her head. She isn't very tall, just five foot nothing, but that still surprises her. The smell just after rain hits her and in any other circumstances she would have loved that, loved the biting cold that settled over her, nips at her exposed cheeks and nose. But right now she can only think of the cold that had just started to settle, chasing away the Texas sun and easing into winter. There were only three seasons where she lived, hot as hell most of the year, wet as hell for a bit of the year, and cold as hell the rest of it.
How long have they had me here? Have I blocked it all out or did they just move me somewhere where it get's cold in November?
Lauren licks her dry lips, squirms in her seat because she just realized she really needs to pee on top of it all. She eyes the tree in front of her, clutching at the small, metal bat with one hand and the other at the edge of the insanely big window. The closest branches touch the side of the house, but those are thin and definitely won't hold her hundred and sixty something pounds of squish and tush comfortably. One branch, about a foot away, looks like it can hold her weight. She licks her lips again, blinks rapidly and looks towards the ground. Mostly grass, full of dew. She can do grass. If you don't make it to the tree, bend your knees. Like when I was five and I would jump off the top of the monkey bars, no biggie, easy peasy lemon squeezy.
She tosses the bat to the ground and scouts the furthest she can on the ledge towards the thick branch. Lauren wasn't athletic, not like when she was a kid zipping around like a meth head on a sugar high. But the thought of whoever was in the house that had stripped her, changed her, touched her and brought her God's knows where, makes her take a deep breath, lick her lips, and launch herself off of the ledge.
She almost doesn't make it. Her first hand slips right off the slick, moss-covered branch. It's her second hand, snatching up, flailing and with her screeching that saves her. The dangerous swing she get's is what allows her to straddle the slightly vibrating and creaking branch. Drops of water drip down from soaked leaves, getting in her eyes and soaking her partially through. She scratched her palms, and her thighs ache from the force of smacking against the tree. But she's stable and the branch holds her weight. Now to get down, slowly, swing yourself up, just like recess. She had been a boss at the handlebars, could flip and swing herself up, get to the tallest set and everything. Except the swings had been her favorite most of the time and it's been a long time since she'd set foot in a playground.
She hooks her right leg, grips the branch after shimming closer to the trunk, where the branch is thicker, more stable and tries to get on top. She slips again, not quite able to haul her weight on the first time and slips back. Her head hits some branches and sends a stream of water from rain squirting all over her. She blinks, grits her teeth and tries again until she's seated on the branch, panting and trembling. Lauren squeezes her eyes shut again, breathes deeply through her nose in a well-practiced yoga way, easing her breathing and trying to ease the adrenaline high she was on.
She get's down from the tree damp, bruises and scratches galore, probably covered in moss and leaves in her hair. She doesn't care, snatches the cold and wet bat and starts heading for the treeline, away from the street. Once she's in the woods, near the tree line, she stares back at the house. It looks so normal- smaller than her own house, but with a large back yard, no fence. She could pass it any other day and think nothing of it. She squints at it, trying to memorize it before she slowly starts making her way right, keeping an eye on the vastly spaced houses, just out of reach of the forest. It isn't until she can see a road with no houses anymore, that she stops and fishes her phone out of the bra. She huddles against a tree, facing the direction of the house she just came from.
She dials 911 with trembling fingers thanking God she has wonderful reception in what's obviously a rural-ish town.
"Nine-one-one, what's your emergency?" the voice is female calm and it makes Lauren realize how tense she is.
Her shoulders slump, her entire body sags and she falls to the ground because her legs are trembling so damn much. She sobs, a little high pitch sort of snort that would have horrified her had she made that noise on any other day. She's going to be fine. She's more or less safe. She still clutches the butterfly bat against her chest, blinking rapidly as she cried, hot tears leaking down her cheeks.
"Ma'am, are you still there?"
"Yes," her voice is rough and high, a combination of stress and sheer relief, "Yes, I'm here, I'm sorry."
"That's alright. Now tell me what's the state of your emergency."
"I think I've been kidnapped," she blurts and she gives a half little giggle at how ridiculous that is.
Her family isn't rich. At best, they had been lower middle class when she was a child. Now, there are barely making ends meet. She's unemployed, a full-time student, a fine arts major, with long hours and scraping and scrimping to make the best of the meager funds her family can give her. There's no ransom money to be given. If there was it's because of her extended family, maybe, her God-Father(also her maternal uncle) is rich and somewhat prominent down in Mexico, has had some run in with the Cartels because of it. But at the same time, there are other family members that are better, easier targets than a niece that lives in another country. She doesn't think she's particularly pretty; she has a baby face and is heavier set, not enough to be quite curvy but enough to have a bit of a muffin top and passable girls. But sexual predators sometimes don't need a gorgeous captive. The thought that maybe her baby face got her nabbed is vivid and entirely plausible. She had been given the kids menu until she was in high school and has been hit on enough with 'hey, you're sixteen right?' and a crude leer by many men that have no business hitting on teenagers.
She's stunned that this is happening, that she's in a strange place crouching in mud, muck, and moss after escaping her captor's house. She's sobbing again, but there's that odd interruption of a hysterical giggle that she can't stop.
"Can you describe what happened? What makes you think that you were kidnapped?"
"I woke up in a room that wasn't mine. Someone changed my clothes," she starts to gag, vivid imagination thinking that, knowing that foreign, stranger hands had touched her, "I just… Got out, and now I'm in the woods and I'm so scared..."
"Ma'am, can you state your name and age?"
She loves crime shows, Forensics Files, and F.B.I. being some of her favorites. And once upon a time, she had wanted to be in law enforcement herself. She recognizes that the operator just wants to calm her down, gets her coherent to assess her validity of her claim.
"Lauren Calderon, I'm nineteen," her faint Mexican accent slips like it always does when she' s stressed.
Spanish had been her first language and while she had been born and raised in the United States, sometimes her first language is emphasized in odd words. Normally, her English is perfect and without a slight hitch, but Spanish's rolled r's or odd infliction sneaks its way into her voice. Especially when she's emotional. At the moment, she feels more than emotional.
"Can describe the location, some sort of landmark, Lauren? Are you near a road?"
She looks around, heading cautiously towards the road.
"I'm on the end of a street called Fern Hill Road. It's some sort of neighborhood, it's surrounded by a forest. Um, maybe pine trees? I don't know. I'm not a botanist. I do know that I came from the house that is at the furthest down the road."
She has never seen such a place. She's been a city girl all her life, even visiting her parents' rural hometowns in Mexico weren't anything like this place. Those were tropical, high grasses and short trees with heady, humid smells. Flowers and fruits and dusty forest floor that dusted her bare feet in a layer of dry grime. Wherever she is, it is wet, cold, moss everywhere and had trees that towered over the two stories houses that littered the one sided street. Her neighborhood is just a sprawling nearly gated community on the very edge of the city, a mixture of city and undeveloped half-hearted forests that break the rolling grass meadows full of bluebonnets and tall grasses.
"Do you have any injuries?"
"Some cuts and bruises, from getting out of the house... I jumped out a window," she mutters and quickly, she heads for the trees again. She feels exposed and not comfortable.
"That was very brave, kid. Now, there is no Fern Hill road in the city," says the woman suddenly and Lauren freezes.
While she doesn't live in the biggest city in the country, she does live in a big city. The chance of it not having a street name aren't very high. She gasps.
"What?" her voice breaks and she feels herself start to shake again.
"Stay calm. I want you to head towards the road. Away from the direction you came from and find the nearest house or passing car. I also want you to stay on the line. I'm going to track you and send some your way if I can, is that alright Lauren, hon?"
If the American school system had taught her anything, it was to follow directions from an authoritative, calm voice.
"Okay. Okay. I can do that," she starts heading away from Fern Hill Road.
She walks for longer than she expected. There had been hardly any houses beyond the house she had just escaped from, but away from Fern Hill Road, there is nothing but a single road and endless expanse of towering trees. She stays fairly close to the road and learns that the woman on the line is named Holly and she is trying to get a trace on her location, which is somehow not working. The calmness of her voice is what gets Lauren to take one step in front of another. It is about ten minute into her journey that a single car appears on the road. It's driving fairly fast, but all she can think is that she can find out where she is.
She sprints to the middle of the road, waving her arms like a crazy person. The car slows sleek and easy, black and gleaming metal, turning so that it's blocking the entire road and the driver's side is facing her. Its windows are tinted and Lauren wonders if it's too dark, knowing that there's some law or another that stipulates that it can't be darker than a certain shade. But that slips from her mind the second the window glides down.
Her phone clatters to the floor.
"Are you alright?" says the man a frown on his pale lips.
Lauren is no stranger to pale. She was milk-white until recently, even with the rosy undertones of her skin. She has seen alabaster skinned people who burn in the sun. They literally have nothing on the man staring at her, blonde brows furrowed. She licks her lips and blinks rapidly. Lauren is an artist, she's seen works of arts that make her want to weep. Been stirred by the beauty before, is an avid movie and tv show binger so she's seen many a hot celebrity.
The man in front of her is so good looking it's frankly alarming. Quickly, she scrambles for her phone, noting, surprised that its screen is black, and even as she smashes the power button on the back that it does not turn back on, even if it had half a battery just a second ago. She looks back at the man, blinks rapidly at the killer and heavy bags he has underneath his eyes. The only imperfection she thinks on his creepily smooth face(seriously it's like the uncanny valley and perfect Squidward smashed together).
"Miss?" he leans forward and gets out of the car.
His movements are just as eerie as his appearance, too smooth, too easy, too inhuman. The hair on the back of Lauren's neck stands up. She takes a scrambling step back. And then what comes out of his perfect cupid bow of a mouth causes her world to tilt on its side, do the Gangnam style and then punch her in the face:
"My name is Carlisle Cullen, I'm a Doctor, are you hurt?"
At first, she just wants to laugh in his face. Because seriously, talk about a dated reference. He looks nothing like the guy who played Carlisle in the film, and though it's been eight years since she's read so much as a fanfiction for Twilight, she can bring his general description fairly easily to mind: perfect, but somehow less perfect than Edward according to Bella, blonde hair, roughly in his twenties and somewhat tall, golden eyes. Movie star good looks, yet somehow inhumanly beautiful and pale. She blinks at the stranger and really looks at him.
He is entirely too pretty- the best features mashed together; strong jaw line, big eyes, nice lips, straight nose and, luminous, wavy blonde hair that looks incredibly soft. And honey(cue nearly fucking yellow) eyes. There on the darker side, like some sort of light beer, but not black. And it is inhuman, the way he looks, but not in the entirely fuckable way, or beautiful way as Bella describes for the majority of the books, it's frankly…
He's moving, breathing, blinking and shifting foot to foot but it's so synchronized that she can almost find the pattern that he's following to appear to fidgety. And that is something that an actor could never, ever achieve. Her knees buckled and Lauren collapsed on the road in a heap. Because this can't be fucking happening.
"I'm lost," she says softly and the hysterical edge to her voice is high and clear.
Lauren wonders faintly, how on earth that being kidnapped is a better alternative, more plausible explanation than being in the world of Twilight.