Tricked by the woman at the shop, Hannah’s drugged and abducted. What could the woman and her son possibly want with Hannah?
Someone trotted up the stairs. She was propped in a sitting position, the cup of cold tea pressed to her lips. They forced her to drink and swallow. The liquid was bitter now and dribbled down her neck and between her breasts. Rough hands stripped off her clothing, blotting the wetness. That was all she remembered.
~ * ~
Hannah woke to the sound of the phone ringing loudly beside her. Reaching out with her left hand, she grabbed it awkwardly, trying to get it to her ear.
“Hello?” She croaked, hardly sounding like herself.
“Hannah-banana?” It was Bernie. No one else called her by that ridiculously juvenile nickname. He thought it was cute.
“Bernie?” She blinked and tried to focus on her clock. She was naked in her bed and her body ached all over.
“Where were you last night? I was worried sick! I’ve been calling for hours!”
He kept yammering as she grabbed her head. She could not formulate a coherent thought. Everything was jumbled around in her memory.
“I was shopping,” she muttered.
“Shopping? All night? Hannah, please tell me the truth! Is there someone else?”
“Bernie, no! I was shopping. There was this little store and I went in for candles. That’s all I remember….”
“Hannah-berry, are you all right? I’m coming over.”
“No! No, Bernie, there’s no need. I’m fine, really. I’m just going to get a shower and have some coffee.”
“Okay, honey. I’ll be over at lunchtime, okay? I’ll bring you something to eat.”
“I’ll see you then, Bernie.” She hung up abruptly. “The tea,” she thought unhappily. “I should never have stayed for the tea.”
A hot shower would ease her aching muscles. Better yet, a little while in the Jacuzzi might work better. She felt like she had run a marathon. She uncovered the Jacuzzi and turned the jets to full. Slipping down in the hot, bubbling water, she looked at herself for the first time. She was covered in welts! All over her body, even in the most private places, were red marks! There was only thing that did that to her.
Leaping from the tub, she ran to the full length mirror in the bathroom. Examining herself carefully, she discovered a pattern to the weals. Like runes, they wound around her body with a regularity that could only have been intentional.
Running to the toilet, she vomited, falling in a heap on the rug. Dry sobs wracked her body. She could hardly drag herself back to the hot tub. She was still soaking when Bernie arrived an hour later.
“Hannah, what the hell!” He turned off the tub and dragged her out, crooning softly like a mother dove. “My God, Hannah. You went shopping where? Sadists Are Us? We’re going to the hospital. Right now, no arguments!”
Too weak to fight him, she allowed Bernie to dress her in a soft, loose jogging suit. He drove rapidly to the doctor’s office. He had no trouble getting her in once the nurse saw the marks on her face and hands. Dr. Zimmerer took one look and immediately admitted her into the hospital.
“We’re lucky you didn’t go into anaphylactic shock, Hannah! You have to tell the police. This could have killed you!” She tutted and muttered as she filled out the paperwork.
The police arrived shortly after she was admitted, and tried very hard not to stare. It wasn’t every day one saw a woman with ritualistic runes blazoned on her flesh.
“Where was the shop again, Ms. Simpson?”
“I told you already, right around the corner from my hairdresser on that little side street. I forget the name, something silly. But it’s the only building on it.”
The policemen exchanged a look that Hannah could not interpret.
“Ms. Simpson, there is no little side street around the corner from your hairdresser. The shop you describe isn’t there, it isn’t anywhere. I don’t know where you think you were, but honestly, ma’am, we can’t find it.”