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Pitch black. You can't see a thing. Cold hard floor. Head throbbing. Hard to think.

Winter Night in a Park

Jogging. You were jogging through the park. It's starting to come back now. You had just crossed the lane by the cherry trees. You were rounding the maintenance shed.

It hurts to think.

You were jogging through the park. It was warmer than usual. You were rounding the maintenance shed. You quickened your pace because you never trusted the look of that old shed.

You're shivering.

The floor is cold and hard. It saps the heat from your bare legs. You sweep the immediate area with your arms, but find only the hard cement floor.

You try to stand, but immediately fall to your hands and knees. Your head spins. You can't get your bearings in the dark.

You crawl a few feet until you run into a wall. You turn and use the wall to guide you along the perimeter of the room. There must be a door. You only make it a few more feet before hitting your head against something metal. The impact causes your headache to flare. Bars. Iron bars. They're cold and sturdy. You push, but they don't give.

You were rounding the maintenance shed again. You quickened your pace because you never trusted the look of it. You saw someone lying by the side of the path.

You again follow the bars. There's no way out. Iron bars and a concrete floor. You could try climbing over them, but you can't trust your legs to stand. You hear a quiet rumble.

You slowed your pace as you approached the body. It was a woman lying face down. She was wearing jogging gear. You stopped. You asked her if she was okay, but she didn't respond. You crouched down and gave her a gentle shake, but she was limp.

You hear the rumble again, followed by a sniffle. The sound reverberates through the room, making it impossible to locate the direction. Another sniffle. You realize that you are not alone.

You gave her a gentle shake, but she was limp. That's when you noticed the pool of blood forming around her head. You put your fingers to her neck, but could not find a pulse. She was cold.

You hear the quiet rumble again. The muffled sniffle.

“Hello,” you whisper; “is there someone there?”

“I'm here.” The voice is shaky but you can make out that is a girl. She sounds young.

“What's your name?” you ask.

“I'm Eleanor,” she whispers. “Be quiet or he'll get mad.”

“Who will get mad?” you say in a hushed voice.

“I'm not allowed to talk about him,” she says, “but he always gets mad when he loses one.”

You hear the rumble again.

“I'm sorry,” she says, “I'm just so hungry.”

Her words make you realize that you could die here. You need to get out. You cannot rely on the mercy of a man who keeps a little girl locked away like this. You need to escape, and you need to bring Eleanor with you. God only knows what he's done to her. You need a plan.

“Doesn't he feed you?” you ask.

“Yes, but sometimes he forgets, or gets mad, and then he doesn't. Sometimes there's no food for a long time.”

“Does he do anything else?” you ask. “Does he hurt you?”

She whimpers and says she doesn't want to get in trouble for talking.

“How long have you been locked in this room?” you ask in the quietest voice you can.

“I don't know,” she answers, “a long time.”

“You must miss your parents.”

“They're dead. He told me that.”

You need to find a way out. You need to find it now. He knows you're injured. He might not be expecting you to be up and moving yet. You could surprise him if you act quickly.

Your vision is blurry, but your eyes have adjusted to the darkness. You can make out the shapes of the bars. They run to the ceiling. You shake them again, looking for a weak link, but you cannot find one.

“Is there a way out of here?” you ask, trying to sound calm for Eleanor.

“There's a door, but it's always locked,” she answers.

Your throat burns and your mouth tastes metallic. Your head throbs relentlessly. You need to move fast. There's the door. You need to get to it. But first, you need to get out of this cage. You search your pockets, but they have been picked clean.

Time passes. Eleanor stopped answering your questions. She's so afraid. You could save her. You could stand beside the door and rush him when he opens it. You could run. You could carry her if you had to, if she couldn't keep up.

You hear a metallic click. It came from the bars. You search them again until you find the latch. It's no longer locked. You open the door to your cage and quietly call for Eleanor.

“I'm here,” she says.

It is so dark, you don't notice her until she's standing right in front of you. You kneel down to whisper in her ear. She is small and thin, wearing only a white nightgown. Your pulse quickens as you run the plan through in your head.

“Eleanor,” you say, “we need to get out of here. We need to escape so he won't hurt you anymore. We'll make some noise, and when he comes, we'll run through the door. Do you understand?”

“Yes,” she says meekly.

“Okay, good. Now why don't you start calling out for him so he comes and we can get out of here?”

“I don't think that's a good idea,” she says.

“Why,” you ask.

“Because he gets mad when I play with my food,” she says pleadingly into your ear.

You are so surprised by the rows of saber-pointed teeth burying into your neck that you don't even think to scream.

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Originally uploaded on December 26th, 2011