It’s about to begin. This scary thing where I do an installment a month for the next foreseeable few months. I have the first one, it’s rough. I tried to edit, but my mind isn’t as clear as I’d like. Plus, you, dear reader, are my guinea pig. So, while you read this, know that the story might change, evolve, and become something different… because I am writing it almost as soon as you are reading it. So, the final version might be altered. But the basic sorry will remain. I don’t even have a name for it yet. It’s sitting in Scrivener as “erotic gothic.” I gave you two installments as the first just to get things going. Plus, I think October is the month that will see me the least able to post the next installment. So you get double– right now. And maybe nothing next month or something very small. Bear with me. Seriously, this is a good story. At least, I think so.
So, here goes.
The drive had been long and mostly quiet. The night noises were cut with the roar of the old engine. Both the quiet and the dark were uncomfortable. It seemed like they driven forever.
The moist air seeped in through the cracked driver’s side window. It was laced almost continuously with the scent of burning tobacco. The further they drove the wetter the air became. Her too small clothing shrank even further.
She thought that they might drive all night and watch as the sun rose over the eastern sky. But just as she came up with that possibility, the car turned. Not that they hadn’t turned off a road or two before this one. But the others were merges while this turn was abrupt. Sharp. The quality of the road had changed as well. The road wasn’t as smooth.
It was rougher. Slightly coarse.
She wasn’t sure how much time had passed when she saw the house. It was huge. The only way to tell anything approximating size was the blurry background a structure made against the night sky’s light. But this night, the moon wasn’t bright. Still, the house took up a good deal of real estate even from the faint feeling it gave off by taking up what little light there was to be had.
It was quiet around the house.
She wasn’t sure when the animal sounds had stopped. The chirping of night insects had also ceased their singing as well.
Still no one spoke.
She wasn’t expecting it. She could count on one hand the number of times the man beside her had spoken to her. He didn’t speak much as it was. But to her that little amount was close to nonexistent. She was grateful for that, however. Every time he had chosen to speak to her, bad things had occurred. Mostly, he beat her. She preferred it when he pretended as if she didn’t exist.
The last time he’d spoken to her had been two nights before, after they’d buried her mother. He told her she had to go. She hadn’t understood what he meant then. She’d still been reeling from her mother’s sudden death. Well, sudden if you didn’t consider the history of the man beating her on the regular. Sudden in that it wasn’t natural causes. It was man-made. By the man who told her she had to go.
She understood now. She should’ve left when she had a chance. Left everything and walked away. But she hadn’t understood then. He was making her go and now she didn’t have a choice as to where she was going.
To this house.
He said she was being traded for a debt. Labor for debt. Her labor and his debt. Then he’d thrown her in the car and started driving.
He drove up the long driveway that had turned off the coarse road. They passed the front of the house and followed a smaller driveway to the side and finally to the back of the house. The car jerked to a sudden stop. The man got out and opened the trunk. A few seconds later, the trunk closed. He walked around to the passenger side, opened the door and pulled her out.
“Stay,” he said as he cuffed her upside the head.
He walked around t the drivers side, got in and drove away. All without another glance or word to her. She knew because she hadn’t stopped staring at him or the car. Even when he couldn’t be seen anymore inside the car. And even until she couldn’t see the car anymore after it turned back onto the coarse road. No doubt he was retracing his steps.
She stared for longer than she should have considering she was still in her pajamas. And although it was hot, it was still wet outside. And it was still dark.
She looked around and saw a door.
She walked up to it and knocked.
The door thudded. It wasn’t an insubstantial sound. There wasn’t a doorbell on the back door, either.
She had no notice when the door swung open. The door had dampened anyone’s approaching noise.
“Who are you and what do you want at this hour?” asked an older portly woman in a cheap robe covering incredibly furry slippers.
“Annalise,” she whispered.
“Who?” the woman asked again peering around to look behind Annalise.
“Annalise,” she said in a louder voice, or at least she hoped she had.
“How’d you get here?”
“Aaron dropped me off,” she replied.
“Why are you here?” the woman asked.
She couldn’t say anything more. But saw some small spark of knowledge dawning in the woman’s eyes. And pity. Annalise saw pity before it was squelched completely out.
“Come,” the woman said. “I’m Margaret. Call me Maggie. I’ll get you a place to sleep tonight and we’ll sort everything out in the morning. It’s too early to try and tangle this out now.”
She wasn’t sure what worried her more. The strangeness of where she’d been dropped off or that the own who answered the door hadn’t hesitated more than a minute before letting her in… as if her arrival wasn’t unusual or out of the ordinary.