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A Puzzle Piece From The Past

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Johnnie Star never did make it back to her 1999 Nissan Versa that Thursday afternoon. She left class that day but her usual path had been blocked by ice and snow, so she decided to take the alley way back to the student parking lot, not knowing that it had become a hunting ground for the Hoard. Although the beast preferred High school teens, all the high schools in the surrounding area had buckled down security so the twenty-three-year-old psychology major would have to do for now.

Johnnie hummed to distract herself as she clutched her books a little tighter to her chest while she walked, unaware of the figure stalking her in the shadows. She heard subtle footsteps getting louder behind her but before she could run or even turn to look over her shoulder, a pristine and clean white cloth that was damp with what she assumed was chloroform was placed over her mouth and she blacked out after just a few moments of struggling.

When she awoke, she found herself in a darkened room. All the windows had been covered with large black tarps, making it very hard to see. She was laying on three large comforters of varying color stacked on top of one another to make a makeshift bed, each one more worn than the last. One of her hands had been shackled to a metal bar bolted to the wall. Her throat was dry and scratchy, the sound coming out as formed her lips to scream sounding hoarse. She frantically searched the floor around her for something, anything that could be useful but came up empty handed. She then began to pull hard on her restraint, trying so hard to free herself. Her hazel eyes scanned the room briefly but she found it hard to focus through her tears. Knowing she needed to calm down before she hyperventilated, Johnnie let her lids fall closed and began to deeply breathe. She knew she had to think rationally if she was going to make it out of this alive.

“Good,” came a cold voice from the corner of the room. A man’s voice. He was cloaked in shadow and she narrowed her eyes to try to get a better look at him. His voice was low, gruff and emotionless but she could also tell there was some tightness to it too, like he didn’t want to be doing this or being around her made him nervous in some way.

“You’re awake.” Johnnie kept her head down, her short brown hair hanging in her face, concealing it from his view. She swallowed the lump in her throat and focused on the shallow breaths coming from her lungs.

“You’ve been asleep a long time,” he continued, making no effort to come into the light. Johnnie was actually thankful for this. She wasn't mentally ready to see the face of her abductor. She knew it would happen soon but would she ever truly be ready? She couldn’t find her voice either. Even if she did ask one of the thousands of questions swimming in her head, there was no guarantee he’d even answer it honestly, or at all for that matter. The man cleared his throat and she could feel his eyes watching her intently.

“Your shirt... your shirt is dirty,” he observed, “And your pants are covered in dust.” He actually sounded ten times more distressed now, like he just couldn’t stomach these facts.

“You’ll have to change. We- I can’t have that.” He started to pace back and forth in place, like he was debating something, then he stepped out of the darkness and up to a work bench, retrieving and pair of scissors. Johnnie found herself whimpering and down cast her eyes once more. Even the brief time they were up, she hadn't been focused on his face, only the object in his hand.

He laid down a dowel to kneel upon before taking the hem of Johnnie’s black t-shirt in his hand and used the scissors to snip at the fabric. Thank god she’d put on a bra this morning. The man successfully cut up the center, then each sleeve so it fell to the ground. He set the scissors to the side and cupped her chin between his thumb and index finger, lifting her head.

“Please try to stay on the blankets to avoid this in the future. You’ll feel better once you’re-” He cut off his sentence and gasped the second he met her eyes. His hand fell away almost as if the touch of her skin had scorched his. Johnnie, too, gasped and she uttered her first words since being in his presence.

“No,” she whispered, “It can’t be...” She pushed up further on her knees and reached up her hand as if she were going to touch the man in front of her but he stumbled backward a little too quickly and, sticking his hand palm down on the grimy floor. He pulled it iup to examine it and, although it looked clean, he began to gag, holding it out in front on him and clambering to his feet, darting from the room, presumably to wash his hands. Johnnie stared after him, still in total shock.

“Kevin?” she breathed, “Kevin Crumb?”