I'm so sorry for the delay. I'm having some trouble with the blog and I hope to resolve it soon.
Friday, January 17, 2020
Terror in Cognito
What would you do if one minute you were walking along, minding your own business, and the next being chased by a madman? In the blink of an eye, Amy Gallagher is thrust into a world where she is being hunted by some sort of animal type man out for the kill. What she doesn’t understand is how she got there.
She finds herself living two lives, and she has no idea which is real.
Is the kind-hearted Reese Webber, who has taken her in, real, or is the mad man chasing her in the dark forest real? Or has she completely lost her mind?
He sat near the back, in the shadow, slowly sipping his Bloody Mary. The club was full, and the music was loud. Horny men crowded around the dance floor, eager to get from one of the women bouncing their half-naked bodies on the stage. They flounced about on the stage, their ample breasts bouncing as they danced. He watched intently as the brunette currently showing off her assets twirled around the tall metal pole in the centre of the dance floor. She wrapped her legs around the pole, flipping her head back, her long black hair snapping her buttocks like a whip. She spun around the pole, making love to it in sharp erotic motion. Her grand finale had all the men cheering. She stood near the edge of the stage, her hands on her hips, then began swaying in a slow snake-like motion. The tassels attached her to breasts began to twirl in a hypnotic dance.
She was no different than any other woman he’d seen tonight. Bored, he quickly finished off his drink and just as he stood up, the music began to play. It wasn’t hard as the previous beat. No, this tune was slow, erotic, hypnotizing. He paused as the curtain opened and as she stepped into view, his breath caught. She hadn’t even made a single move yet, but he couldn’t seem to take his eyes off of her. She was stunning.
Dressed like a prep school student, complete with a short plaid skirt and white shirt and tie, she glided along the stage. The white stalking on her legs reached all the way up her thighs. Peeking out from under the skirt were garters holding them in place. The high heels, she wore made her legs even sexier. She had the face of an angel.
Taking his seat, he watched as the red-headed temptress danced around the stage. She had moved, there was no doubt about that. The way she moved her hips was mesmerizing. Turning her backside to the crowd, she slowly bent at the waist, touching her toes. The view made the men whistle and cheer. The red thong she wore beneath the skirt left little to the imagination. Slowly she ran her hands up and along her long legs and as she straightened, she grabbed the skirt and in one yank, pulled it off. And the men went wild.
He waved the waitress off when she came to his table, not allowing her even one syllable. He wasn’t interested in another drink. He sucked in a breath as the beauty on the stage yanked her shirt open. The tiny swatches over her breast that he supposed could be considered a bra was the same fire engine red as her thong. The way she touched herself, the things she did as she moved to the music aroused him to the point that he throbbed. He wished he was close enough to smell her scent.
She twirled on the pole, using it in a manner that told the viewer she was skilled at what she did. As she slid to the floor, she rolled about, touching her breasts, her chest, her legs and finally dipping between her legs. She sat up, legs spread out to either side in a split manoeuvre that made him drool. With little effort, she drew her torso down until her breasts touched the platform beneath her. Reaching around her back, she unclasped her bra. As she sat up, she tossed it into the crowd. Men fought over it and for a moment he thought a brawl would erupt. She smiled and winked as she slid her way to the edge of the stage. Slowly, lifting her hips up, she planted her hands on the floor and smiled at the crowd. Her ample breasts jiggled as she moved her hips. One of the men reached out and grabbed her breasts and in a move that was nearly as fast as a blink, she balled her hand into a fist and slammed it into his face. She stood up, spun around and walked to the pole. From the crowd, a tall chubby bearded man pushed his way to the stage and as he approached it he jumped up. The crowd stilled. He marched up to the woman, grabbing her by the arm, and pulled her to the back. They slipped behind the curtain and out of sight.
He waited half an hour before giving up and leaving the bar. Chances were she wasn’t returning. He left a tip, then slipped out of the bar.
Slamming the back door, Amy stepped into the dark night. “Goddamn fucking bastard! I need to pay my goddamn bills you asshole!” She kicked the door and swore some more when her toes stung from the connection to the hard metal door. “Suspend me for a week! Fucker!” Slinging her purse over her shoulder, she stomped down the dark alley. The heels of her shoes crunched the gravel beneath her feet. How dare he punish her for protecting herself. The guy had grabbed her tit. HE’D grabbed her! The rules were no grabbing. They were allowed to slip money into their strings, but no grabbing. And yet she was in the wrong. All she’d done was smack the guy. And now she was suspended, without pay, for a fucking week. And her goddamn hand hurt.
Clenching her jaw, Amy marched through the quiet, empty dark alley. The sound of crunching behind her caused her to pause. A quick glance behind her reassured her that no one was following her. Blowing it off, she crossed the street and entered the next alley. There were only three blocks to go before she reached her apartment. Her home, which she wasn’t sure how much longer she would have. Especially if she couldn’t make this month's rent, and it was doubtful now that she would be a week short of wages.
She hated her boss. Larry was slime from his head to his toes. She was sure his soul was slimy, too. It was impossible for someone as horrible as Larry to not have a tainted soul. Amy turned again to the sound of gravel crunching behind her.
“Stop being paranoid.” She turned back and froze.
Stumbling back, nearly falling on her ass, her heart pounded. Before her stood a gnarly yellow-toothed, scraggly haired… thing. He was hideous, beyond hideous. Was he a man, or was he a beast? She couldn’t be sure. He had fangs, long, sharp fangs as yellow as the sun. His mouth was wide and dripping with saliva. She could smell it and it made her sick. It was a rancid aroma of bile and blood.
His face, good god, his face was hideous. There were slashes over his face, one starting from his left eyebrow over the eye and along his sunken cheekbone. His deep yellow animal-like eyes seem to pierce into her as he stared at her. Swallowing her fear, she turned to run. Her breath ragged, she raced down the alley and came to a sharp halt. Before her were trees. Tall, leafy trees. She turned around and gravel crunched beneath her feet. Confused, she looked around and all she saw was more trees. It was a forest. How the hell was there a forest on the street? All of the lights were gone. It was pure darkness.
“Do you know what I would do in this situation?” He stepped closer and she sucked in a breath. “I would run.”
She didn’t have to be told twice. Spinning around, she started off on a hard run. The heels of her shoes sinking into the soft parts of the ground, her ankles twisting. Losing her stability, she wobbled and ended up falling flat on her knees.
“Fuck!” Her knees burned like fire, and as she got to her feet, she saw the blood trickling down her knees.
“Those aren’t the best footwear to have on in this area. Might want to lose them.”
She screamed! Getting up, she ran, pushing branches out of her way. Thistles and branches sliced her ankles, but she ignored the pain. She had no idea where she was or how the hell she’d gotten here. Better question. How was she going to find a way out?
She came to a sharp halt and screamed when he jumped down in front of her.
“You’re in my territory now, little one.”
What did he mean by his territory?
“Mmm, aren’t you a tasty morsel.”
She jumped back when his hand, clawed with nails so long they curled at the ends, reached out to her.
“I’m going to enjoy sinking my teeth into you.”
“Wha…what the hhhell are you?” she stammered, still inching backwards trying to escape.
“I am your worst nightmare.” He laughed, a sound so loud, so animal like it nearly howled.
“No!” She had to get away, she had to get help. She had no idea what was happening, only that she needed to run.
“That’s right, run little one. I so love a chase.”
She lost a shoe when she spun around. There was no time to stop to pick it up, so she kicked the other off. The rocks and branches cut into her flesh. The ground squished between her toes?
Listening, she couldn’t hear him behind her, so she slowed her pace.
She needed to breathe, just to catch her breath if even for a moment.
She screamed and the sound sent dozens of birds scattering from their sleeping spots in the trees. Before she could turn to run, his clawed hand lashed out and grabbed her arm.
“I’ve got you now, little one.”
“No, no, let me go, let me go!” She fought, her hands lashing out to his hideous face, her nails scraping away his gnarled flesh, peeling it from the bone. She wanted to hurl.
“Feisty one, aren’t you. I like it.” He smiled and that grotesque mouth spread wide, saliva dripping. “Want to know what else I like?”
“No, no please, just let me go.” She struggled to break free, but the more she tried, the tighter his grip grew.
“No can do. I like to peel the skin from my victims while they’re still alive. The thrill of hearing them scream makes the morsels so much tastier.”
The words he said reverberated in her mind and sunk in her belly like a hard rock. He was going to kill her. But there was no damn way she was going to make it easy for him. Pretending she was about to faint, Amy let her body go lax, then just as he loosened his grip, she kicked out and hit him directly in the crotch with her foot. He released her, grabbing his genitals.
“Yes!” she shouted in victory and though her foot throbbed like a bitch, she took off running. Don’t look back, just keep going forward.
“Do you think you can get away from me that easily?” he shouted at her as she ran. “This is my territory, remember.”
She stumbled, righting herself before she fell. Something was rushing in her head or was it in the air. Water, was that running water? She could smell it, freshwater, like a river or lake. She turned to see if he was still behind her and felt the ground give out beneath her.
Screaming, she fell, her hands scrambling to grab hold of anything. Her nails broke off, ripping flesh as she slid down the embankment. Catching on a branch, she hung on, panting. She didn’t dare look down, and looking up was pure darkness. She could hear the rushing water below her. It was a river, or lake or something. And from the sounds of it, it was far below her. If she let go now and fell, would she live to walk away?
“Well hello there,” he said as he leaned over the edge, smiling down at her. “You seem to be in a bit of a pickle.”
She was stuck. Now, what should she do? Looking down, she saw just how far below the rushing water was. If she let go now and fell, she wouldn’t walk away. Or would she?
“I wouldn’t chance it. See those rocks below, very jagged. They’d cut through you like a knife through butter. Although it would make my life easier to scrape the bits and pieces off the rocks and satisfy my hunger, it’s not as much fun.” He held his hand out to her. “Allow me to help you up.”
Amy looked up at his gnarled face, his clawed hand, then back down to the jagged ground below her. Closing her eyes, she let go.
“I’ve got you now.”
She screamed, the sound piercing the night.
Amy woke to something cold on her face. Forcing her eyes open, she saw a face hovering over her. Seeing the gnarled face of the monster that had chased her, Amy bolted straight up and scrambled to the head of the bed.
“It’s all right. I won’t hurt you.”
She blinked and the gnarled face before her, changed into a thing of beauty. He had a round face, sculpted cheekbones and eyes as blue as the sky. He was far from the monster that had chased her. Her pounding heart slowed down as she relaxed. “Who are you?”
“Reese Webber. How do you feel?”
“Confused.” She inched back down onto the bed, but kept her guard up. “Where am I?”
“My house. I found you unconscious on the ground and decided to take you to my home. You have colour in your face now. That’s a good sign.”
She touched her cheek. If he’d found her unconscious on the ground why hadn’t he taken her to the hospital instead of his home? The biggest question was why had she been lying unconscious on the ground?
“I had my doctor take a look at you. Aside from a lump on your head, you’ll be fine.”
She felt her head, winced when she touched the tender spot. “Why didn’t you take me to the hospital?”
“My place was closer and I have a doctor on staff. I figured if it was anything serious we could take you then. You had a steady pulse, and seemed perfectly fine other than the lump on your head. Plus, I couldn’t find any I.D. on you and didn’t feel right just dropping you off at the hospital. My guess is you were robbed and knocked unconscious.”
She never carried a purse. She’d learned a long time ago to keep her money, I.D. and keys in her bra. She didn't have to search to know they weren't there.
There d been a sound, behind her. Crunching gravel.
“I was being chased by…” she rubbed her head. “There was someone, in the alley.”
“Did you see who it was?”
“You should report it. I could take you to the police if you like.”
“No! That’s fine. I should go.”
He stood, allowing her to climb from the bed. “You’re more than welcome to stay until you feel more stable.”
She stood and the room swayed. “I’m okay. Really. Thank you so much for your hospitality.” She’d never known anyone in her life as kind as him. Most of the people she knew were slime. Either drug addicts, alcoholics or bikers. None of them would have helped her out in her time of need.
“You are very welcome. I don’t even know your name.”
“Pleasure to meet you, Amy. I’ll have my driver escort you home.”
“Huh? Driver.” She paused in the doorway.
“I have a driver who takes me around. He can take you to your home.”
A driver? He had to be rich. Stepping out of the room, she got a look at her surroundings. Rich was an understatement. The winding staircase looked like it was made of marble. Standing at the top you could look down at the grand living room. Sweet God, it was huge and gorgeous. She didn’t know much about designer furniture, but from the looks of it, the pieces in the living room had to be worth a good penny. There was a fireplace with a fire roaring. It was decorated with black marble stones that went all the way up to the ceiling. Placed on the hardwood floor was some sort of oriental looking rug. She imagined the rest of the house was elegant and rich as well.
“This place is incredible!” And as soon as it came out, she realized how foolish she sounded.
“Thank you. If you stay for breakfast, I could show you around.”
She headed down the winding stairway.“Breakfast? What time is it?”
“Holy shi—I mean, wow. How long have I been here?” It was after three when she’d left the club.”
“I found you shortly before four am.”
She stopped at the foot of the stairs. “I’ve been out all this time?”
“Yes, but like I said, you’re pulse and heart rate were stable and my doctor kept a close eye on you.”
Still…. It seemed odd. “Okay, well, I better get going.” The whole situation seemed weird and the sooner she left the better. It wasn’t that she didn’t appreciate his help, she did. It was just… weird.
“I’ll call my driver. Just give me a moment.”
She waited in the foyer while he went down the hall to make the call.
He led her out the door and she couldn’t help but gawk at her surroundings. Three houses could probably fit in the yard in front of her. Acres of lush green lawn with brightly coloured flowers adorned the property.
“This is awesome!”
“You must be loaded.” Well, that was just rude. She silently cursed herself.
He smiled. “Yes, I am.”
He had more than just money. “It shows. So what do you do then, for a living?”
“I’m an artist. I paint.”
“Not houses I gather. You any good? Scratch that. Stupid question, you wouldn’t be rich if you weren’t good. I tend to put my foot in my mouth when I speak so I’ll just shut up now.”
“We all tend to do that at times. Here we are then.” He took her hand and led her down the steps to the car.
“You’re coming along?”
“Of course.” He opened the door and waited until she climbed in to close the door.
She pinched herself to make sure she wasn’t dreaming. “You drive in this every day?” She asked after he sat in his seat. She couldn’t imagine it, being picked up, a driver waiting to help you into the car, then be taken wherever you need to go. That would be the life.
“Whenever I need to go out. What is your address?”
She recited it, feeling even cheaper now. Her entire apartment couldn’t be much bigger than the bedroom she’d been in.
“Why were you walking so late at night?”
“I don’t own a car.” Couldn’t afford one even if she knew how to drive, which she didn’t.
“It isn’t safe for a young woman to be wandering that neighborhood so late at night.”
“Yeah, well what can you do? I had to get home from work somehow.”
“You work in that area?”
“And what is it you do there so late at night?”
The tone in his voice had her back straightening. “I don’t sell my body if that’s what you’re thinking. I work at a club, as a waitress,” she spouted, deciding to leave out the fact that the club was a strip joint and she was a dancer.
“There are other means of transportation.”
“Sure, if you can afford it.”
“And you can’t?”
She felt ashamed and held her head down. “No. Hey, what were you doing in that area so late at night?”
He shifted in his seat. “I had some business in the area.”
“Yeah, I bet.” He just didn’t look the type to need a hooker. He was too classy, too gorgeous. A man with such a dreamy face and his wealth could have any woman he wanted. Still…. “Whatever bud, it’s your choice.”
His brow wrinkled. “What do you mean by that?”
“Nothing. Look, what you do in your spare time is your business.”
“I wasn’t there to solicit sexual favors if that’s what you meant.”
“Look, I’m sorry, okay. I didn’t mean anything by it.” Turning to the window, Amy watched as the beautiful scenery began to turn into run-down houses, vacant land and garbage piled up on the streets. She’d give anything to not have to come back to this crappy, dangerous area. “That’s my place.” She pointed at the shabby run-down building to the left. When the car pulled up to the curb, she couldn’t get out fast enough. When he followed her, she stopped. “Look, thanks for everything.” She waited, expecting him to go back to the car.
She suddenly remembered she didn’t have her keys. “Damn it.”
“Yes, I don’t have my keys… I
must have lost them.” Now, what was she going to
do? She knew perfectly well Lou, the caretaker of her building wouldn’t let her
in. He had a strong policy of not letting people in when they forgot their
keys. If you wanted a new key, he would charge you to make a new one, and
she was broke. Damn it, now what was she supposed to do?
“You don’t have a spare?”
“Nope, and I can’t get one right now. Shit.” She supposed she could go back to work and sleep on one of the sofas in the lounge area. And if Larry caught her, she would be in a load of trouble. “Damn it.”
“Is there somewhere else to go?”
“No.” She sighed, had a look around. She’d tried shimmying up the pipes once, only to have fallen flat on her butt, bruising more than her ego.
“Then you’ll come stay with
He turned back to his car, signalled the driver to open the door. me.
“No. I couldn’t stay with you.”
“I don’t even know you.”
“You know my name, what I do for a living. I assure you. Amy, I’m not some deranged man looking to do you harm.”
Funny how he should say that when in her delusion—or whatever it had been—she had been hunted by a deranged man. But Reese was nothing like that animal, and for some odd reason, she actually felt safe near him. “Maybe.”
“Maybe I could stay with you. For now, just until I can talk to the caretaker and have him let me in.” Amy wasn’t too sure how she was going to do that, but she’d figure it out. She always did.
Smiling, Reese held his hand out to the car. “After you, then.”
She was being an idiot, going home with a complete stranger. But what else was she supposed to do? “Just for now.”
“Of course,” he said as she slipped into the car.
What the hell was she doing? She had to be out of her mind. Who would agree to go back to a perfect strangers house? The whole scenario was bizarre. Her mind cleared now, she tried to figure out what had happened to her. She’s been walking home from work, then Bam, she was in a forest being chased by a…. Manimal, she supposed, is the best description of the creature. It had felt so real. The rocks and twigs beneath her feet burned as they scraped off the flesh. The pin was real… or at least felt real. She must be out of her mind. She’d fallen off a cliff. The jagged rocks beneath would have killed her. Then she’d woken to a strange handsome man looking down at her.
And there was another weird thing. What kind of person finds an unconscious woman lying in an alley and takes her to his home instead of the hospital?
Yet here she was, sitting at his table, being served a banquet breakfast. There were eggs, bacon, sausages, muffins and coffee. She couldn’t remember the last time she’s seen so much food. She muffins let alone bacon and sausages.
“How do you take your coffee?” Reese asked as he stepped up to the table with a pot of coffee.
“Uh, black thank you. This is a shit-load of food. Uh, sorry.” Wow, just show how classy you are.
“Not a problem,” he laughed. “I didn’t know what you liked so I had the cook make everything.”
Taking the cup of coffee he’d poured, she contemplated what she should eat first. Definitely the eggs and bacon… or sausage? Before she could decide, he held a plate out to her full of all the food.
“Thanks.” She stabbed a sausage with her fork and shoved it in her mouth. Looking up, she saw him watching her and suddenly felt like a fool. She set the rest of the sausage on her plate and cut it into pieces. Neither said much while she shovelled the food in her mouth. She finished off her coffee with her muffin, then sat back in her chair. Damn it felt good to have a full belly.
“You’ve got a healthy appetite.”
Her cheeks flushed. “I… uh…”
“It's refreshing to see. Most women these days are so worried about their figures they eat like mice.”
“I don’t eat like this… well, ever.”
“Yeah, well, on my income, I can barely pay the rent and bills.” She shrugged. It was a fact. “Look, thanks for the grub, but I should get outta here and go to work. I’m sure I have a spare key there.”
“There's no hurry. If you work nights, that means you haven’t slept. I have several guest rooms upstairs. You could take one and get some sleep.”
“I… uh, I’d rather sleep in my own bed. Besides, I’ll need a change of clothing for tonight. Could your driver possibly take me to my job?”
“Certainly. I’ll give him a call.”
When he left the room, she quickly grabbed another muffin and ate it as fast as she could. She was just swallowing the last bite when he came back into the room.
“He’ll be here shortly.” He held his hand out to her, showing her the way out.
She opened the front door and--
His nails bit into her wrist and in a blink of an eye, she was pulled back up to the surface.
“You can't get away from me that fast, little one.”
Confused, she yanked her hand free and saw the trees around her. What the hell?
He grabbed her wrist again and yanked her against his chest. His breath was so horrible it made her gag. “I think I’m going to have fun playing with you.” Putting an arm around her waist, he began to dance in circles.
She’d been in Reeses house, she’d opened the front door. And now she was here. Again.
“What’s happening to me?”
“What’s happening to me?”
“Well, nothing at the moment. I like to play with my food sometimes,” he said as he dipped her. “Before I eat it.”
“Stop!” She tugged an arm free, then punched him in the gut. When he released her, coughing, she took the opportunity to run.
“Whoa there, careful. You don’t want to fall down the steps.”
She blinked her eyes, the brightness actually stung. Brightness. She was on the steps again. “What’s going on?”
“I’m taking you to the car. Is everything all right?”
No, everything wasn't all right. She apparently was losing her mind. “Yeah, I just need some sleep.” She was sleep-deprived. That had to be it.
She climbed into the car, eager to get home. All she needed was some sleep.
Thanks to Barney, her neighbor, she managed to get into the building. Sometimes it was good to know a person who knew how to pick locks. Okay, so she didn’t know the most sophisticated people. Who was she kidding, her friends were mostly thieves and druggies? In her neighborhood, they fit right in. And though she didn’t do drugs, or steal—even though there were times she’d thought about it—she fit in as well. When you barely had an income, you couldn’t be choosy as to where you lived. Her job didn’t pay much, but at least it was something.
Which was why she stood outside the entrance to the bar, trying to come up with just the right thing to say to get her job back.
Drawing in a deep breath, she pushed the door open and saw Dan, the bouncer, standing to the side.
“You’re not supposed to be here.”
He wasn't just big, and mean-looking, his voice would scare anyone away. “I really need to talk to Larry. Please, Dan,” She had to crane her neck to look up at him, even in her heels she was barely five foot five. She did her best to look sweet. She hoped it worked.
“If I let you in, he’ll fire me.”
She took his hand, placed it against her chest. “I won’t tell him.”
“Right. Then how did you get in? Back doors always locked and no one gets the keys. Nice try, Amy.”
She released his hand in a huff. “This is fucking nuts! The asshole grabbed me. I just defended myself.”
“Yeah, well, I’m not the boss.”
“No, but you're being as unreasonable.” Taking a chance, she bolted away.
A tree limb slapped her in the face. “Fuck!” Here she was again, in the forest. She was losing her mind. Maybe she had a brain tumor. A twig snapped behind her. She took off again, her feet on fire from the cuts. She knew she couldn’t run forever. The crazy-ass piece of shit was bound to find her. She needed to hide. Looking around as she ran, trees all around her, Amy hoped to find somewhere she could protect herself.
“Come out, come out wherever you are.”
His voice echoed all around her making it hard to figure out just where he was. She needed to act fast. Seeing a pile of fan-like leaves up ahead to her left, she hurried to it. She pushed them aside and smoothed out a spot where she could lay down with the leaves covering her and not be seen. Piling twigs and dirt on her legs and body, she then grabbed as many of the fan leaves to cover her. She could only hope it would work.
“What the fuck are you doing?”
Looking up, she saw Larry and Dan knelt down in front of her. “Oh come on!”
“Get out from under there. I don’t know what the hell you thought you’d accomplish by hiding under the bar.”
She was under the bar. What the fuck? Crawling out, she stood and saw Larry’s tiny beady eyes glaring at her. “That’s it. I’ve lost my mind.”
“Damn right you have. Get out and don’t come back.”
“You’re firing me?”
“I can’t have an unstable dancer on my stage.”
“Are you serious?”
She got right into Larry’s face. “You do that and I’ll file a complaint against you.”
He pushed her back. “You do that sweetheart. Dan, escort her out.”
“I have stuff in my locker.”
“I’ll have one of the girls toss it out the back for you. Dan.”
She yanked her arm away before he could grab her. “Don’t touch me.” She stomped to the door and stepped outside when he opened the door. Hearing the latch click behind her pissed her off. “Who does he think he is. He can’t just fire me for no reason.” Amy kicked a rock in her path as she stomped toward the back of the bar. She arrived just in time to see Patsy, one of the other dancers set her stuff on the gravel. “Hey, Amy. Sorry about this.”
“Yeah. Why do you put up with his shit?”
“Because I need work. You know how it is.”
“Yeah.” Amy picked up the box of her meager stuff. “Take care, Patsy.”
“You to Amy.”
The back door closed as she walked away.
Now what the hell was she going to do?
I'm so sorry for the delay. I'm having some trouble with the blog and I hope to resolve it soon.
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