Chapter 20

Copyright© 2020 by Olga Chinka

The sun has set by now and apart from the glare of the TV screen, the room is completely dark. I’m startled when the door swings open and Mrs. Whitmore hurries in, clutching drinks and a bag of takeout food in her arms.

She places the food on the table, turns down the volume and looks around the room. “Smart girl. You didn’t try anything.”

Moving fast, Mrs. Whitmore seems frazzled as she drapes her coat on the back of a chair and rushes back to the door. She double checks the locks and stares out of the peephole. Is she expecting company? If we took Mrs. Wheeler’s car, would the police be able to track us to this motel when they find it parked out front?

“Time to eat!” she declares as she returns to the table, pulling burgers out of the bag and placing them next to the drinks. As I watch her, I notice her peer over her shoulder at me and then position her body between the table and myself.

Is she hiding something? Why would she try to block my view of the food? I glance around the room and am surprised that from my seat, I can see into the dark bathroom. On the mirror above the sink I see her reflection at an angle. She doesn’t seem to notice me watching her, standing there hunched over the food.

“I hope you like cheeseburgers!” she calls out cheerfully as I see her slip something out of her pocket. Being careful not to let me see from behind, she pries the lid off one of the drinks and drops something into it. Two quick swirls from the straw and she squeezes the lid back on.

“I’m going to free you so you can eat” she says as she walks towards me, pulling a small swiss knife out of her pocket. She cuts my zip ties off, peels off the duct tape and puts the folded swiss knife back.

“Get up, I’m moving you back to the table” she ushers me off the chair and I am surprised at how much pain my shoulders are in! Having them tied behind me for hours has made them feel broken.

Mrs. Whitmore places the chair on the opposite end of the table from her and pushes the tainted drink and food towards me. “Eat it.”

Slowly I take my seat and watch her. She rips open her wrapper and proceeds to take massive bites of her burger, barely chewing between the swallows.

“Eat your food.”

“No thank you, I’m not hungry.”

She stops chewing, pulls out the gun from her coat pocket and points it at me. “You’re hungry” she says calmly “eat your food.”

With trembling hands I unwrap the burger. What if she messed with this before she got here? Slowly I take a small bite. It feels like I’m swallowing rocks, my throat burns with pain.

“Now take a drink.”

I look up at her, frozen in my seat. She is pointing the gun right at me, her eyes daring me to disagree.

I pick up the drink and bring the straw to my mouth. I sip it just enough that the liquid is visible in the straw, then stop the flow with my tongue on the tip. I hold it there for a couple of seconds and release my tongue, the liquid trickling back into the cup from the straw. I swallow the air in my mouth hoping she doesn’t realize what I am doing.

She squints her eyes as she watches me, unsure of whether to believe my performance. The sound of sirens nearby make her jump in her seat. A look of panic floods her eyes as she jumps up and rushes to the door’s peephole.

This is my chance! She’s distracted with the sirens outside. As carefully as I can I reach over the table and switch her drink with mine. Quickly, I sit on my hands and look down at the drink. Thankfully, it’s a dark color like the other one.

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