A Car In The Woods: Chapter Nine
KALEIDOSCOPE IN HER EYE
Mouth agape, Samantha was stunned by what Lisa told her. Tied hands and feet, ass planted on the ground, her back thrust against the cooling VW Microbus, she had no options but to listen. Most everything she thought she knew about Lisa was a lie. She tried to run through memories of their sessions. Nothing stood out that sounded false, and there were the state and hospital records to back things up. She couldn’t understand how wrong she had been. Was still. Samantha’s confidence, already shaky at this point, crumbled even further.
Lisa went back into silence mode after she dropped the bomb. Testing? A glass-walled cell? Samantha was beyond puzzled. She hurt from the beating, the way the ride to this grove battered her along, and the fear she felt about her parents, then herself. It was all just too much.
Mocking laughter brought her attention back to the present. The slap that followed burned on her cheek, her head conking on the body of the VW. Anger welled up as she turned her head back to face Lisa.
“You went away for a bit, Dr. Sam. Isn’t that against your training as a psycho?” She grinned widely.
“Therapist. Psychotherapist,” Samantha spat out, immediately regretting that she let the other woman goad her like this.
“Yeah, yeah. Doesn’t really matter now, does it? So, where was I?” Lisa looked around the site, up to the sky, and turned back to Samantha. She cocked her head to the side. Waiting.
Dropping her gaze, Samantha reluctantly said: “Something about testing.”
“Oh, yeah.” She patted the ground around her, fidgeting a bit.
“Did you know I killed my first guy in this spot? Yes, this very spot. That never came up when we chatted. I think it was six or seven years ago. Yeah. Wasn’t like I meant to, really. Things just got a little out of hand. I wasn’t thinking very straight at that point. Dumped his body here. Blood was everywhere. Everywhere.”
Lisa’s voice faded, her eyes taking a glassy turn. Samantha waited. Moments passed before the narrative picked back up.
“I got back into my brand new car. The very first car I owned outright. Stupid but, again, wasn’t thinking very straight. My driving was just as crooked. Went too fast, hit a tree, and didn’t get much further after they got me.”
“They?” Samantha couldn’t help herself from asking.
Lisa shook her head. The wrong looking smile returned to her face.
“Heh. I lied before, just a wee bit. There was no jail cell then. I was spirited away, but the jail? Nah. The glass cell, the rest? That’s what happened after I killed that guy, wrecked my car, and they snatched me up. Yeah, yeah. They. The guys. D Line. They were still controlled, then. Shame. We eventually had some wicked times together. Until it became my job to terminate D Line.”
Samantha bit back saying anything. Lisa went on.
“Boom. Bye Bye. That happened a few years ago. It’s funny in a way. I was their victim at first; in the end, they were my puppies. Rabid puppies, but still.”
Lisa stood up, looking around again.
“What the hell is keeping them?”
Samantha continued staring at her.
“Yeah, I don’t know either,” she sighed, sitting again in the same spot. “After some time in the glass being gawked at the rounds of drugs began. Then the operations. More drugs. Physical work. Drugs. Sex. No Rock ‘n Roll. Heh. Things changed. Others got terminated. Weird shit went on in other labs, we heard.”
“My first task when I was deemed ready enough? They let me choose. Guess who I chose, Dr. Sam. Guess.”
“What are you talking about, Lisa. This doesn’t make sense.” Silence. “Lisa!”
This slap was harder than the first one.
“Stop calling me that. Stop. It’s not mine.” A long pause. “Hey. You didn’t guess.”
“I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. NO! Please, no more hitting. I’ll…I’ll try a guess.”
Samantha raced through all the things she knew-thought she knew-about her assailant. One person stood out as a possibility. It was better to play this insipid game then more pain.
“Bingo. Right on the nose. Oh, nose. Yours, not so good right now.” Lisa reached over with both hands, wrapping them around Samantha’s swollen snout, and quickly jerked it. Samantha screamed.
“There. Never going to be as pretty as it was. Better than the smooshed thing I left you with. So, yeah. Dad. Two years later, he was still a bastard. Had a new plaything, too. I snuck onto the estate, waited until they were done, and drove my knife a few times through and through. The plaything I took with me. She was next in line.”
“Yeah. He was filthy and rich. I know. I know. You thought I was trailer trash. Wrong. You got so many things wrong. You couldn’t see straight.”
“I don’t know what to think anymore. Lisa, please…”
“I said don’t call me that. Lisa. Not my real name. The plaything. She was Lisa. Right now, I have no idea what she calls herself. Last time I heard my name was from Daddy’s dying lips.” She laughed. “I bet you’re dying to know what it is, aren’t you?”
Samantha just nodded.
“He blubbered ‘You. Doris, you bitch. You bitch. You’ and then he bled out. It was worth it, in the end.” A noise came from the ground behind her, close to the grouping of the trees. “Ah, finally, damn took their time.”
A fog-like dust storm began to fill the area. It grew dense, and a strong wind circled around, adding debris from the ground to the swirling. Doris/Lisa stood up and brought Samantha up with her. It was hard for her to stand. She was held up by the others hand pressing into her chest and wedged against the Microbus side.
A continuous barking sound began, coming from the middle of the twister. The wind died away and everything blown about landed on the ground. In the center was a car. Red, shiny. Doris/Lisa was humming; a Beach Boys song, but Samantha couldn’t concentrate enough to remember the title. What she saw in the car frightened her even more then she had been a second ago.
It was a dog. Huge. Barking like mad. Samantha was shaking. She had never seen such a malformed creature. Lisa/Doris began laughing.
“Girl! Girl! Oh, this is just the icing.” She walked towards the car and beast. There was nothing to keep Samantha upright. She fell face forward, the pain knocking her out for a few moments.
She came to quicker this time. Something had changed. Her legs. They were all pins and needles, but they weren’t tied anymore. As she tried to wake them up, the barking stopped and became a horrible growl. Then there was a scream. One long shattering scream.
Her arms were being lifted.
A soft voice spoke into her ear: “Shhh, sweetie. Relax, relax. You’ll be safe now.” Samantha was crying; the man who spoke was rubbing her hands and forearms, helping the circulation move along.
The wailing scream began to die down and went silent. The barking started up again, turning into a piercing howl.
He spoke again: “Sweetie, listen. The keys to the VW are on the driver’s seat. Give yourself a few minutes. Your feet and hands will thank you. Leave here. Don’t look back.”
Her tears stopped flowing. Testing, she slowly began to rise. It hurt, but she could do it. Leaning against the van, Samantha looked around. No man, no dog, no car. No Lisa. She hobbled over the grove, searching in vain. Nothing was there.
The hobble turned to mild limping to walking by the time she reached the VW Microbus. Getting inside was a bit of a problem, but Samantha did it. She closed the door, started the engine, and drove away.
The hospital was her first destination. Once inside the ER, the fussing over her began: her nose was reset, a cut on her head was stitched up, and the hospital staff swaddled her in bandages. They finally put Samantha in the same room as her mother. She’d have a scar on her head after smashing it on the side window, but she’d live. Her father had one broken leg as well as his left arm. Scar too. He’d live as well.
Someone had called the Sheriff. He arrived as they were all together, tears mingling from the three enough to create a tiny river of their own. He was shooed away by all three. He’d get his full statement in the morning. Samantha assured him it really was all over. Details would follow. He nodded, smiled, and left.
Everyone was released over the next two days. Recuperating at home didn’t sit well with any of them; they wound up at their clinic helping others while the staff buzzed around the three of them. Samantha finally relaxed. Her parents would be ok. They’d live.
She booked a flight for the next day after a very long cry fest with Vanessa. She hadn’t known what was going on and was worried sick. Diving into the work in the Haight kept her as sane as she could be.
Vanessa met Samantha at the gate. They fell into each other’s arms and didn’t let go until the next morning. Samantha was dragged around, moving in and out between the throngs of hippies, avoiding the police and the protestors. Vanessa showed her the best places, in her opinion, to eat, drink, and make merry. Sammy shared those opinions.
A day at the street clinic rejuvenated Samantha. She kept catching Vanessa looking at her, smiling. She smiled back, and then it was the next patient to be taken care of.
That night, they went to the park and grooved with everyone else listening to some freeform rock. Vanessa even got Samantha to drop a half tab of acid with her. They flew together, sailing under the stars, letting the music fill them as they danced, danced, danced. This was magic. Everything else blew away.
Samantha didn’t notice that a 1958 red Thunderbird had crept through the crowded street just beyond the park’s border. The horn honked once. Then it was gone.
Some would say “Poor Doris.”
She overstepped one time too many.
Her master’s voice took on a different meaning after that.
There was a car in the woods.