“Tarnished” Part 8

Hannah’s life may be in danger. If someone’s trying to kill her, why?

People on the street walked by, ignoring her. No one even turned to look their direction.

“Help me!” She shoved at the man, her hands burning when they connect with his jacket.

The buttons. They were silver! He shoved her into the cab, slamming the door. Pounding on the roof, he sent the cab into the street, leering hungrily as it disappeared. He dug a cellphone out of his pocket.

“She’s on her way.”

“Are you sure about this, Anton?”

“Positive. She’s the most responsive subject we’ve ever had.”

“This is cruel, Anton. She’s innocent.”

“She’s a witch.”

“She’s a woman with an allergy, Anton. What you’re doing—it’s wrong.”

“Stop us then,” the older man said testily. “You’re so sure you’re right.”

The other man sighed heavily. “Why? Why must it be this way?”

“You know the law.”

The phone went dead.

Hannah struggled in the backseat, trying to get the door open. She banged on the windows, screaming with fear as the cab sped down the road. The driver seemed oblivious to her protests and the door wouldn’t budge. Before long, she noticed a sweet, cloying odor.

“What’s that…?” But she never finished her question. Slowly, she collapsed in the backseat and the cab continued out of the city.

~ * ~

She woke with a terrible headache. The cab had come to a stop. She looked out the window and saw blue skies and fall trees, little else. To her right, she saw an old fashioned gas station. An attendant stood beside the car, pumping gas.

Hannah pounded on the window, but he didn’t hear her. Her fists beat the window, sounding muffled. The attendant had his back to her and was wearing earphones. He heard nothing. Tired from the effort, she stopped pounding and tried the door. This wasn’t the cab, but a luxury sedan. She was still unable to get out.

The attendant turned around, putting the gas cap on. She tried to get his attention, waving and yelling. He glanced at her, smiling. She recognized him. He was one of the faces from her nightmare!

“NO!” She screamed. “No! No! This can’t be happening!”

She looked for her suitcase. Maybe she had something in it she could use to break the window. Her bag was missing. She tried to kick out the window, but all she succeeded in doing was bruising her feet. The attendant grinned at her. It was a cruel, heartless expression that made her blood run cold.

The driver came back to the car. He slid into the driver’s seat, not even looking at her. Hannah tried to ge this attention, but he wouldn’t turn around. Eventually, the sickly sweet odor touched her nostrils again and she fell asleep.

This time, when she woke, she was in a four poster bed in a barren stone room. Except for the bed, there was nothing. Her suitcase was nowhere to be seen. She was dressed in a soft white robe that clung to her aching body. She didn’t have to remove it to see the welts. She knew there were even more than before.

Weeping softly, she curled in a fetal position in the middle of the bed. There were no windows in the high ceilinged room. There was only a heavy wooden door with a silver doorknob just opposite the bed. As if on cue, the door opened and Kier’s mother stood there. The expression on her face was one of loathing. Hatred burned in her dark eyes.

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