Hey, Everyone, it's been awhile! So for any of you who read Lana and the Dark Brothers or Kora and the Dark Brother s-- I know, they're not on Lit anymore. There are a couple reasons why. If you want to know what happened, take a look at my bio.
I know I promised some shorts, so sorry its taken me forever to start writing one. This one is a little more contemporary than the Dark Brothers. Hope you enjoy Part 1.
It was dark. Cold. The wind wasn't strong, but there was enough of a breeze that it seemed to make the night chill a thousand times worse and Jane wished to God she'd not forgotten her coat on the back of her chair at work. Who the hell forgot their coat in December? An idiot, that's who!
Teeth chattering, she pulled her black cashmere cardigan around her, folding her arms over it to keep it closed. Indoors it was toasty warm, but out here against the elements it might as well be a bikini top for all the good it did. Her dark leggings were just as bad and her shoes, she snorted at the thought, stupid little ballet pumps. Fine for the last day of work before Christmas, not great for winter hiking in the dark.
She didn't even know what had happened. One minute she'd been driving home from the office. She'd stayed a bit late, but that wasn't unusual. Despite the others going out after work for a Christmas drink, she was Carl's assistant first and foremost. When he worked late, she did too. She didn't mind it. She wasn't much in the mood to celebrate anyway.
The first part of the drive home had been forgettable. She'd driven that stretch of road home for the past few weeks without incident, but tonight... Something hadn't felt right as soon as she'd left the office and it was worse now. Damned if she knew what it was though. Maybe she hit her head in the crash. She felt lucid enough but, she didn't know -- how did concussions feel? If you had one, did you know you did or did someone else always notice and say, 'Hm, you should go to the doctor, you might have a concussion.' Jane had no idea. Her dad had always dealt with... tears welled up in her eyes as she thought of him and she fought them back. It had been over two months, she reminded herself, and though the grief of his passing was still fresh, walking along a deserted road in the dead of night was not the time to fall to pieces.
She looked down at the ground, following the road wasn't hard with the flashlight of her phone. Unfortunately, that seemed to be the only part of it she could get to work. The now-flickering screen had been shattered in the crash. The display was all disjoined and didn't respond to her touch properly. The power and volume buttons didn't work. She could vaguely make out the time, but it said 23:55. It had to be wrong. She'd left the office at eight and it only took half an hour to get to this road. It hadn't been over three hours since she'd skidded off the road into the trees on that bend. It just couldn't have been. Unless she'd blacked out... did a person remember if they blacked out? No clue. If she ever got out of this, some binge watching of old Grey's Anatomy, ER, hell, even Scrubs episodes was in order, she thought.
The wind picked up for a minute and she clutched her arms around herself tighter, keeping a firm grip on the phone, light pointing down in front of her. Then she saw little specks of white falling through the beam. It was fucking snowing.
'Jesus,' she muttered angrily, 'how much worse can this night get?'
And why hadn't she seen even one car? Maybe it really was almost midnight. She heard a rustle in the trees close by. Something big. Probably a deer, she told herself. She peered in that direction, but it was pitch black. There was no moon, no nothing and the phone's light wasn't strong enough to get much further than the asphalt. She'd already tried earlier.
She kept walking, hoping it was just a deer and not something nastier. There was gas station around here somewhere. She passed it every time she took these back roads home. But she should have come up on it by now. She felt like she'd been walking forever.
She heard the noise again-- closer-- and she began to walk a little faster. Should she turn off the light? Keep it on? She felt giddy. Excited like when you play tag as a kid and you get that goosebumpy feeling that makes you scrunch up your shoulders and run squealing. Except this was tinged heavily with a deep panic borne of basic survival instincts. This was no game.
She kept her pace though. Running from a potential predator was a dumbass move. It just made whatever it was see you as something to chase. She didn't even have anything on her she could use as weapon. Nothing. She had a few self-defense classes under her belt that dad had encouraged her to take, but that probably wouldn't do much against a bear or a bobcat.
She heard the snap of a branch to the side and just stopped herself from crying out. Her hands were shaking, but maybe that was just the cold. Whatever it was was following her from inside the tree line.
Then she heard it. A car engine. She looked up the road behind her and could see headlights coming over the top of the hill. She was saved!
She went to the middle of the road, waving her arms. The car was coming up fast, had to be speeding. She began to yell just as she heard a growl right beside her. She turned the phone.
Eyes. More than one pair, glowed in the night a few steps away. She turned back to the car. So close. Not slowing down. With a scream, she dove out of its way, sliding in the grit of the road painfully.
The car zoomed by like it hadn't even seen her, bass thumping. Fuck! She got to her feet, clenching her teeth so she didn't make a sound. Miraculously, her phone was still in her hand, but the flashlight function looked like it was dead now too. She was truly in the dark. Alone. With those things.
She stood frozen, listening, hoping the car had frightened them off. Turning in the direction of the woods, she didn't hesitate any longer. She couldn't stay on the road. Maybe she could lose them...outrun a pack of wolves. Fucking wolves? She almost laughed at the absurdity. She'd only been living here a few weeks, but she had no idea there were wolves in these woods. I'm going to fucking die tonight.
She fled into the forest; arms outstretched so she wouldn't run headfirst into a tree. She powered through the undergrowth as fast as she could go. She didn't even know where she was going. Why was she doing this? Shouldn't she have stayed on the road despite the lack of cars? Try to make it to the gas station? Maybe she wasn't thinking clearly... was this hypothermia or had she actually hit her head when her car had wrapped itself around that tree? Should she go back?
She heard a snarl behind her. They were stalking her.
She kept going, wondering when they would pounce. Or were they playing with her. Did wolves play with their food like cats did?
Unexpectedly her foot didn't make contact with the ground and she was catapulted over-- falling, rolling down and down, hitting the hard earth over and over. And then she came to a stop. She lay gasping. Was she dead?
No. Gingerly, she sat up, testing her limbs. Her hands and feet were numb, but nothing else felt broken. She got to her feet. The snow was still falling, and it was starting to stick, but at least she couldn't hear the wolves anymore. Maybe the fall had made them lose her trail. Now she was just lost in the freezing woods. Things weren't really looking up if she was honest.
Shivering, she went to pull her cardigan around her and realised it was gone. Must have snagged on something on the way down the hill. Now all that protected her from the elements was a tank top. Great. Stupid casual last day before Christmas.
She had to keep moving. But where? Then she saw a light on the ground not far from her. Her phone! And the light was back on. She shone it around and realised she was on a trail. It didn't mean anything of course. The Appalachian was a trail and people died on that one all the time even in ideal conditions -- with like supplies and stuff. But at least this was something to follow and maybe she wouldn't break her neck in another fall if she stuck to the path.
She started walking, well, limping. Something wasn't working quite right, but her leg was practically numb from the calf down so she couldn't feel enough to figure out what was actually wrong.
She kept going for awhile, the forest around her blessedly silent. Nothing seemed to be chasing her now. She was walking slower than she had been a few minutes ago though. She felt so tired. Not a good sign. How long would she last out here? Would someone find what was left of her in spring or would the animals pick her bones clean first? Stop scaring yourself.
A rustle sounded in front of her and she tensed, fearing the wolves were back!
But then a light shone on her.
'I told you I heard something,' a masculine voice growled.
'What the fuck?' another man said. The light was shined in her face and she put a hand up to shield her eyes.
'It's a girl.'
'What the hell are you doing out here?' one of them snarled so menacingly that she took a step back.
Her ankle of course picked that precise moment to buckle and she fell down with a cry, landing hard on the snowy ground.
'Please,' she said, her voice stupidly soft. She cleared her throat and tried again 'Please, I need help.' She couldn't make her voice any louder. I'm so tired, she thought, closing her eyes. No! She had to stay awake. She didn't know who these guys were. What if-- her head lowered itself to the ground. She couldn't help it.
She vaguely heard someone mutter something that sounded like 'she's not one of us' before a louder voice snapped, 'We can't just leave her. She'll die out here.'
She felt herself being picked up and carried and struggled feebly, her mind sluggish. Where were they taking her?
No one said anything more, but she was no match for the iron grip of the man whose arms she was in and she soon tired, falling into unconsciousness.
She opened her eyes slowly. It was daytime. Why hadn't Mitsy, woken her up at five in the morning for food as usual? Why did her room stink of pine scent? Her eyes focused on the dark beams of wood above her and she frowned. Hers ceiling was a normal white, painted one. I'm not home.
Suddenly very much awake, she sat up and groaned. She felt like she'd been hit by a truck. She looked down at herself. She was covered in bruises. Her top was gone. So were her leggings. She was laying in a stranger's bed in just a set of black underwear. She swallowed hard. What the fuck happened last night?
She took stock. The room was warm, rustic. Looked like a log cabin or something. There was a little wood burner in one corner, three beds -- one of which she occupied. There was a rough, pine table on the other side of the room in a sort of kitchen area by a back door it looked like and a window next to the front one on the opposite side of the room. There was also a third door that looked like it led to a bathroom. As far as she could see, she was alone.
She swung her legs over the side of the bed and slowly stood, wincing as she put weight on her left leg. She remembered now. The crash, the wolves, the fall. Jane looked down. Her ankle looked very swollen and it hurt like a bitch now it wasn't numb from cold.
She tore the blanket from the bed, wrapping it around herself like a towel, and hobbled to the window. She gasped as she peered outside. Everything was covered in at least eight inches of snow and it was still falling heavily. She looked around the room. Her clothes were nowhere to be seen. She vaguely remembered a couple of guys out on the path. This must be their cabin, but... she looked outside again. Maybe it was just effect of the snow, but this looked like the middle of absolutely nowhere.
The back door opened suddenly, and she hotfooted it to the other side of the room, back to the wall so no one could sneak up. Two men entered carrying armfuls of wood. They closed the door quickly and firmly behind them, dropping the logs in a pile by the fire. One of them caught sight of her and nudged the other one who frowned.
'You're awake,' said the taller one -- though that didn't mean much, they were both ridiculously tall and broad, like lumberjacks -- as he tugged off his thick gloves and shrugged out of his coat. 'You're awake.'
The other one just stared at her. He looked angry. She frowned back. She hadn't done anything wrong.
'Where am I?'
'A cabin. Our cabin.'
She looked around, rolling her eyes just a little. Obviously. 'Why?'
'We found you out on the trail below the ridge. You're hurt; all cut up and bruised. What the hell were you doing out there without even a coat?'
His tone suggested he thought her somehow to blame and she bristled. She wasn't a fucking moron!
'There was an accident,' she said stiffly. 'A car accident.'
'Bullshit,' the other guy muttered, and she scowled at him.
'My cars up on the road wrapped around a tree. Check if you don't believe me.' She shrugged. 'Or don't, doesn't make any difference to me whether you believe me or not.' The mean one's eyes narrowed. No, he definitely didn't like her. She turned her attention to the nicer one. 'Look, thanks a lot for your help. I would have died out in the snow if you hadn't brought me here. I know that. But I need to get home so if you could get me my clothes and point me in the direction of the nearest road, I'll get out of your hair.'
'No can do, sweetheart.'
'The snows still falling. The closest road is up on the ridge and you'd have to climb up it to get there. There's no way you'll make it. Looks like you're staying right here for awhile, gorgeous.'
Sweetheart? Gorgeous? No one called her these things. Ever. She'd spent the last six years caring for her dad during his illness.
She tried to keep the blush from her cheeks and knew she'd failed when he grinned at her.
Jane had never had time for boyfriends. She had a little experience of course. She'd pushed herself into a one-nighter a few weeks ago just after dad...to see if it would make her feel any better. It hadn't. In fact she'd felt even more alone after. And then there was that other time ... she stopped where her mind was going. She didn't think about that. Not ever.
'I can't stay here,' she said as she cut off the thoughts.
'How did you get down here anyway?' the mean one asked.
'All the way down?' he questioned incredulously.
'Yeah, Colombo. It was pitch black, but I fell a long way. Then I found the trail and ... hey, where's my phone?'
They gave each other an indiscernible glance.
'You didn't have one on you.'
'It was in my hand.'
'We didn't see it.'
Jane frowned. She was sure she'd had it all the up until they found her, but her memories were hazy. 'Oh well,' she conceded, 'it was broken in the crash anyway.'
'Where did you say the crash happened,' Colombo pressed.
'Up on the road.' She shifted on her foot. It was really starting to hurt. 'I forget the name. I only moved here a few weeks ago.'
Is this guy for real? Jane gave Columbo a look. 'What's your deal? What do you care?'
He shrugged. 'I don't. I just think you're full of shit.' He looked back at his friend. 'When Evans gets back, he's gonna be pissed if she's still here.'
The first guy threw his hands up. 'Shoulda just left her out there?'
'Yeah! C'mon, you don't actually believe her story, do you? This whole thing has cops written all over it.'
Jane didn't say anything as they both turned to assess her. They thought she was a police officer? Her? She almost laughed aloud. Why would they even... her eyes darted around the room again. There was nothing conspicuous, nothing that screamed, 'Hey! We're criminals!', but it was starting to make a little sense. Why were they out here in the middle of winter if not to stay off-grid? There are at least three of them. Were they like a gang of bank robbers or something?
'At least check her for trackers.'
'Look, guys,' she tried to placate them. 'Seriously I don't know what you're into and I'm not interested at all. I just want to get home.'
'Someone waiting for you, babe?'
She ignored the endearment this time. 'Well yeah my cat-'
Colombo laughed. 'Your cat? That's it?'
Realising she'd just basically told them no one would miss her, she tried to backtrack, 'Oh well my boyfriend too,' she stammered, but it was too late. She could see their smirks. They knew no one was waiting for her.
Her palms started to sweat. There was no one around to save her if they decided to get rid of her. Oh my god, they were going to kill her, and they'd definitely get away with it too.
She hugged herself as she leant against the wall, trying to ease the throbbing in her leg and foot. 'I was just driving home last night from work and I got into an accident and when I woke up, I started walking because my phone was broken. I was just trying to get some help at the gas station.'
'So how the hell did you end up down below the ridge?' Colombo asked. The other guy wasn't talking anymore, he was just staring intently as if he'd be able to tell just by looking at her whether or not she was lying.
'I told you. I fell.'
'Why would you leave the road? Your story doesn't add up, sweetheart.'
Jane made an exasperated sound. 'I hit my head. I wasn't thinking straight. And there were....'
'What?' The nicer one finally spoke again.
'You're gonna think I'm crazy but, I swear I saw them. They stalked me, chased me through the woods. That's how I fell. I was running through the dark as fast as I could.'
'Who chased you?'
She shook her head. 'There were wolves out there.'
They didn't jeer or laugh; didn't tell her she was a liar. They just gave each other another one of those looks. They were surprised, but they weren't shocked.
'You've seen them?' she asked.
Neither of them answered her.
'So are you going to let me leave?'
'No can do,' the nicer one said, 'You're stuck here with us at least until Evans shows up and we can figure out what to do with you. I'm Harris and this is Riker.'
Then both men just stood there waiting -- for her name she realised. Theirs were probably fake. Fuck, she hoped they were fake. Giving her their real names didn't bode well for her at all.
'Jane,' she finally said with a huff. 'Well, can I have my clothes back at least?'
'Nope. Less chance of you trying something if you know you won't get far. You try to go out in the cold like that...'he trailed off, his meaning clears.
Her mouth dropped open in outrage. 'You're just going to make me stay here in my underwear?'
'Be thankful you have them.' Colombo -- no, Riker growled. 'You give us any trouble and I'll take those too. And put my blanket back. We've already seen you when we stripped your wet clothes off last night, princess.'
She paled at his words and drew the blanket closer, her gaze darting from one to the other.
Just then, the front door opened next to her and a third one joined them. She scuttled over to the corner, furthest away from them all.
'Snows coming down hard out there. Radio said it's gonna be like this for at least a week. Good thing we have-- what the fuck is this?' His hard eyes landed on her. What had they called him? Evans.
He was just as big and broad as the other two, but he looked harsher, nastier, like he kicked puppies for fun or something. She pressed herself into the wall in the wake of his angry gaze. This one would decide her fate.