A Car In The Woods: Chapter Eight
Samantha woke with a coughing fit. Slow and sluggish, she was having trouble focusing. She was in pain. The pain grew as her attentiveness sharpened. There was a horrible taste in her mouth. Working her jaw amplified an abrasive texture against her face; something hard and gritty pressing into it. She coughed again, hawking out something moist. The pain in her nose hit her, hard. She was having problems trying to breathe. Samantha opened her eyes slowly, shutting them instantly. A blurry, swirling mass of color hurt her head. The pain was intense.
Samantha attempted to get up. An inner scream cut through her held back by firmly clenched teeth. Her hands were pressed against each other, pulled tightly behind her back. They wouldn’t budge. Her legs were in the same condition. Samantha forced herself to keep trying. Her body arched up, the struggle of forcing her extremities at the same time seized her. “Tied up. I’m tied up,” she finally realized. Slowly, so slowly, Samantha eased off the tension and further pain she was causing. The realization momentarily broke her.
Panic was starting to circulate.
A feeling of hopelessness began to slink through her. It wormed its way through, nibbling at Samantha’s essence. Life’s myriad of moments cascaded, flipping scenes too fast to catch and hold them. Birthday parties, heartaches, driving, being driven, dancing, vacations, school, more school, even more school. Her first kiss. Mom and Dad. Grandma. Vanessa. Mom and Dad. MOM AND DAD!
She remembered. The car. Her parents were in the car. The crash. It all happened so fast. Someone is running towards her. The pain. Someone…Lisa. Lisa, running towards her. Her arm raised, fist hurtling forward. Awakening.
Thinking of Lisa brought her to her sessions, then her studies. Years of studying, training. What she needed to do flowed through her now. Distress tolerance skills. She grabbed onto the one that always helped her. Breathe in. Hold. Breathe out. Counting breaths in, then out. Repeat. The repetition focused her. The focus calmed her.
Fear started working away at it.
A hard bump sent her up and down, the quickness too sudden. Her face hit the flooring, pain shooting through her nose all the way up through her skull. The groan she let out was met with a nasty little giggle.
“About time, Dr. Sam. Thought you’d never wake up. Hoped so, too. Really hoped.”
“Lisa?” The name was croaked out; followed by a series of coughs, each one an escalation of pain.
Silence. A Lisa silence; drawn out, taking her time in answering, or not, in all of their sessions.
“Yeah. Me.” In case you was wondering, we’re driving. Not sorry about that bump in the road. Anyways, we’re almost there.”
It took a moment to process. “Where is ‘There,’ Lisa?”
“Lisa, please, talk to me. We’ve always found a way to talk things through.”
A barked laugh. Samantha hoped it would be followed by something more.
A different tactic. “Lisa. Can you help me understand something?” She waited for a moment. “I have been going over our last enc…session. Can you tell me why my leaving affected you so?”
The horn on the car took a staccato beating. When it stopped, Lisa still said nothing.
“Lisa. My decision to move was nothing against you at all. Not one bit. You said I was trying to throw you away as others have. I wasn’t. I’m not. I wouldn’t leave until I had the right person to take over for me.” Nothing. “Lisa…”
“Stop saying my name,” Lisa growled. “Shut up already. Just shut up.”
The vehicle they were in drove on. Uncomfortable on so many levels, Samantha wanted to get up off the car floor. Asking for help did not seem like an option that would get her anywhere. She began rocking from side to side, finally forcing enough to roll her onto her side. Her back met a hard surface. It wasn’t comfortable, but at the moment the pain that lanced through kept her there.
Looking around, she saw why she had the space to move. She wasn’t in the back of a car. They were in the cabin of a VW Microbus. She knew what it was. Vanessa bought a used one in San Francisco, sending her over a dozen Polaroids, inside and out, with circles and arrows punctuated with exclamation points. Lisa didn’t own a VW. She drove a beat-up Dodge Dart; a hand me down of a hand me down.
“Soon. Soon,” Lisa quietly said.
Samantha was pretty sure Lisa wasn’t talking to her.
A quick right turn onto an even bumpier path. Lisa was doing a lot of weaving now; the jerky movements were sending small waves of pain through Samantha. With some straining, Samantha could see a bit out of the windows at the top of the van. Trees. Lots and lots of trees.
The VW stopped, idling in place, then moved on at a crawling pace. The weaving continued, but not as ferociously. A “Yes!” was followed by the Microbus being turned off, brake set, and the opening and closing of the driver’s door. Samantha could barely see the top of Lisa’s head through the windshield. She was standing still, both hands behind her head, fingers knotted together. Samantha imagined that Lisa had her eyes closed, muttering a prayer, or a condemnation, to whatever brought them to these woods.
Looking around the cabin, hoping to find something that could help her, she wasn’t prepared for the wall she was leaning on to slide open. Samantha tumbled out onto the ground. She missed hitting her head on a pointy rock by inches. Her breath was knocked out of her for a moment. She looked around once she settled, and then up.
Lisa was standing over her, staring down. The meeting of their eyes was not a pleasant experience for Samantha. All of Lisa’s anger tells were on full show: the flexing in and out of her fingers; the clicking noise she made with her teeth; the angle she held her head, just off to the left; and her eyes, bulging more than she had ever seen before. Danger dangled off of Lisa. Danger and hatred.
Lisa bent over and lifted Samantha, grabbing her upper arms and pushing her backward, leaving her upright leaning against the VW. Taking two steps back, Lisa squatted down, facing Samantha. But, her eyes were moving all around, resting on one location, then another. Lisa was looking for something, and Samantha had no idea what it was. Fear shot up when Lisa locked eyes on her.
“Y’know, you haven’t asked once about your mom and dad. What does that say about you, Dr. Sam?” Lisa sat. “Mind elsewhere? Anyways, as I was putting you in the VW, I saw them both moving in their car, trying to get out, to get to you. I could tell by the blood on their faces they were hurting. Yet, they still tried to reach their darling.” She leaned in close. “And you can’t even ask about them.”
Sitting back up, Lisa continued: “Dr. Sam, you think you know everything. You’re a bit distant, did ya know that? A bit?” She snarled out another laugh. “You’re with me in the room when we meet, but not all the way. Something was occupying you. I felt you pulling away, and as it took you further and further, it made me angrier and angrier. Until you went the whole distance. You’re leaving. I don’t care about any other kooks you ‘take session’ with. You were leaving ME! People leave me all the time. Use me. Toss me aside. Drink makes some of it fuzz away; fucking and fighting take the rest. And then, you.”
Samantha was reeling. Lisa of the three-word sentences, the constant silences: this wasn’t what she expected. Not one bit. She was this wrong?
“Still got nothing? Let me fill you in on a couple of things. The gossip chain went around about how strong I was, getting the upper hand on the Sheriff and his men. Then slipping so fast out of their reach, and staying that way. I heard; practically no one knew me too well. Shades, a hat covering my hair, different clothing; they paid no attention to someone nursing a coffee or a beer.
Have you wondered, Dr. Sam? Miss Ph.D.? How could I do those things? Well, time I filled you in on some truths.”
Samantha stayed silent, listening.
“Not everything you ‘know’ about me is completely true. Yeah, I had one shitty young life. Won’t even call it a childhood. Nothing childlike about it. All that family stuff? True. But my juvie records? Even unsealed they weren’t telling the whole story.
See, my doings pissed off the wrong people. I screwed, then knocked some teeth out, of the wrong guy. I’m in a jail cell, fall asleep, and the next thing I know, I’m waking in a different cell. All glass walls and empty of anything ‘cept me. Empty of my clothes, too. Everything is dark outside of this cage. I screamed, pounded on the glass. Nothing. Not for a long while.
Then the testing began.”
It wasn’t pretty, the testing.
It went on too long and way too far.
Lisa wasn’t the only test subject.
Lab 4 was brutal.
There was a car in the woods.
I wasn’t planning to extend this one more day, but…taa daa…this story goes one more day. A story amidst the larger story theme. Some, and only some, threads start getting pulled together. Some. Not all. Ramifications still need to ensue. Things still need to be discovered. Others may have to kick the bucket. We still have two weeks to go before all is laid out before you.
Shhh. It’s ok. Here’s a nice cup of tea and a plate of cookies.
Tomorrow is another day.