CHAPTER 01 <
CHAPTER 02 <
CHAPTER 03 <
CHAPTER 04 <
CHAPTER 05 <
CHAPTER 06 <
CHAPTER 07 <
CHAPTER 08 <
CHAPTER 09 <
CHAPTER 10 <
CHAPTER 11 <
CHAPTER 12 <
CHAPTER 13 <
CHAPTER 14 <
CHAPTER 15 <
CHAPTER 16 <
CHAPTER 17 <
CHAPTER 18 <
CHAPTER 19 <
CHAPTER 20 <
CHAPTER 21 <
CHAPTER 22 <
CHAPTER 23 <
CHAPTER 24 <
CHAPTER 25 <
CHAPTER 26 <
CHAPTER 27 <
When she was certain there was no one looking, she made her way to the apartment, used the key she'd made from an impression and, once in soaked in his presence. He wouldn't be home for an hour-and-a-half, but she didn't need him there physically to be reunited.
His smell permeated the room, just as it had her cage thirteen years before. She was aware of another smell, faint but lingering; the odor of the last girl he'd mind-fucked.
She recalled the fetid odor of her body as he'd violated her with his words and camera thirteen years earlier. She'd become keenly aware, for the first time, of the differing secretions of her body as her mood changed. Her body had responded one way to fear of imprisonment, another to the unknown, and another still to the humiliation of being watched and photographed.
Each hour she had become more attuned to the subtle difference her response had on her body. Waiting for him to return each day, she wondered if he were aware of the minute, but clearly perceptible changes, and if it gave him an additional rush.
By the end she decided his sensual fixation extended solely to the visual; her reaction to his intimidation and degradation.
She'd become aware, too, of changes in him. There was the odor of domination, intimidation, arousal and satisfaction. When she had snapped and given up completely, posing seductively for his camera, asking him what more she could do to please him, she had smelled boredom. Crushed, no longer a challenge and unable to be further terrified, he had tired of her, and no longer responded to her.
In the months that followed, and again over the past year-and-a-half, when his hungry eyes assaulted her at night, so did the odor that had accompanied it earlier. It was if he were in the same room with her. An animal, if she desired, she could track him wherever he ventured. But all she had to do was wait.
The fly was coming to the spider.
While she waited she also dwelled on her meeting with Deidre. Deidre had considered it a confrontation. She'd viewed it more as a reunion. She had, of course, been startled that Deidre had found her. Rather than being afraid, there was a sense of relief, as well as pride. Relief in the fact that the game of cat and mouse had ended. She no longer had to watch every word for fear Deidre might locate her before she was prepared to strike. Pride, in that Deidre had proved a worthy adversary.
It had been good to tell her the truth about what had happened to her when she was kidnapped. She had never felt guilty allowing Costanzo to take the rap for what her half-brother had done. Pawn that he was, Eddie had kidnapped her. His sentence had been relatively light, as she never accused him of violating her.
Once she had started talking to Deidre about Bobby, she could hardly contain herself. Bottling up what he had done to her had affected her more than she thought. Maybe part of the reason he preyed on her mind so was the fact she had never confided in anyone what he'd done to her. In hindsight, it had been a mistake. Had she told Deidre then, she would have made sure Bobby couldn't get to her. But once she had started lying, there was no turning back. She hadn't lied when she'd said she had never trusted anyone except for the first Shara. But, she had gotten close to trusting Deidre. Unfortunately, by the time she had known she could have told her the truth, she was trapped by the story she had fabricated.
At that point, she cared only about survival. Dumping on Bobby after accusing Costanzo would destroy her credibility. There would always be a reasonable doubt. Which story had been the truth. And, young as she was, she had been certain Bobby would get to her if she dimed on him.
Opening up to Deidre earlier, though, had released tension pent up since the day of her release. Deidre shared this secret. She'd left nothing out, at least about the abduction and her captivity. She had let her guard down, and damn if it didn't feel good.
She hadn't told everything, of course. She still had to take care of Bobby or everything would have been in vain. She hoped Deidre wouldn't hate her for the betrayal. Deep down she was certain Deidre knew she hadn't revealed everything. She'd never revealed all to anyone, except the first Shara, and bad habits die hard.
Maybe, just maybe she could square things with Deidre. Deidre hadn't turned her in. A weakness on her part, to be sure, but a sign of, what . . . friendship? Could she trust Deidre to tell her everything?
Maybe, just maybe, she'd have a chance.
Maybe, just maybe . . .
Her thoughts were interrupted by the smell of his presence.
11:22. She could smell him outside the door. He entered, and she hit him once on the back of the head with the billyclub.
He came to twenty-minutes later, naked on his bed, arms and legs tethered by the very binds that had held his victims.
Shara stood over him in her police uniform.
Focusing on the uniform, she could see, could smell the terror that began to envelope him. Twinged with his fear was confusion. She knew what he was thinking. Why wouldn't a cop just arrest him? Why was he bound to the bed? Why was he naked? Good, she thought, let him bathe himself in the confusion and horror his victims experienced. For once, let him be on the other side of the door.
She said nothing, allowing his fear to mount. The smell was so pungent, but so good. Better than she had ever imagined.
Finally, he couldn't contain his curiosity. "Who are you? What the fuck do you want?"
"I'm your past, Bobby, here to make you pay for your sins. Recognize me?" she said, in a teasing voice. "There were so many. Which one do you think it is?"
She could see him searching his memory, and drawing a blank. It further fueled her anger.
"You little shit. You stole glances at me daily when we shared the same room. You held me captive, and made me do things to myself so vile, I wanted to die. And you don't recognize me?
She bent down, her face almost touching his. He smelled of death and decay, and it all but overpowered her, yet she retained eye contact with him. The curtain she had hid behind was gone. The Renee Barrows he had known so well was there for him to see.
He stared back at her blankly.
"Bobby, Bobby, Bobby, you really disappoint me. Faces are your life; the tortured expressions of children who expect to be raped, sodomized and killed."
She shook her head in exasperation.
"You look, Bobby, but you don't see. For all your prowess, you're a fraud. A fucking fraud."
She held a picture so he could see. A picture of her he had taken thirteen years before, in a cage in an isolated cabin.
His eyes shot from the picture to the woman before him; his look one of disbelief.
She balled her fist and gently tapped his forehead. "Knock, knock, anybody home."
"You're dead," he said, his skin turning deathly pale.
"I'm back, big brother . . . in the flesh. It's you who will be dead, unless you do as I say."
She could smell self-preservation kick in. Anything I say. Yes, he would do anything. He was no different than the children he tormented.
She took out a microcassette tape recorder. I'm your past, and I'm here for your confession."
He didn't need prompting. Like a river overflowing its banks, the words poured out. The infantile sex with Costanzo, which he'd initiated. His threats to expose him. How turned on he was by her looks of anger, exasperation and embarrassment when he'd barge in on her in the bathroom. How he hungered for more. He told her he'd considered killing her at the cabin, but knew Costanzo would crack under the grilling of a murder interrogation. He recounted how he finally decided she wouldn't tell; she could live with anything except the humiliation of the world knowing what he had put her through.
Here, she was wrong, Shara thought to herself. Fuck the humiliation, she feared what he'd do to her physically if she told. But she held her tongue. She wouldn't give him the satisfaction of knowing the truth.
"I'm sorry, Renee. I truly am. I was sick. I never meant to harm you. When I thought you had killed yourself, I considered suicide too. I . . ."
"Did you ever do it again?" she said, interrupting him.
"How could I, after I saw what I had done to you; that I had driven you to suicide. What kind of beast . . . "
Shara pulled out another picture. The girl he had tormented on Saturday.
"Don't lie to me, brother. One lie, just one, and I'll cut off your balls and make you eat them." She took out a knife to emphasize the point.
"Now tell me how sorry you were?"
Tears welled in his eyes, and it took him several minutes to regain his composure. She could smell him plotting, wondering what avenue might secure his release.
"You want the truth, bitch. I loved every minute . . . up until the very end. You fought, you resisted. Your face was so full of emotion. I wanted it to last forever, but you cracked. Cracked, just like all the others. Gave up, and I lost interest. You're all so weak. But I'd do it again if I could. In a heartbeat." He smiled.
"Go on brother. Why did you come to the Sheffields' with mother? To see if I would dime on you?"
"It was more than that. I thought about coming after you when they put you with that cop. Maybe to kill you, because without me around, you might have told them what really happened. But, I also thought of taking you again. Back to the cabin. To the cage. Starting all over again. Seeing how long you would last. I really didn't give a fuck if I was caught. And you knew, didn't you? Knew you'd never be free of me, so you faked your suicide. And look at you now. Hardened. All the emotion I captured gone. You're nothing to me now." He tried to spit in her face, but she pulled back just in time. He looked smug and self-satisfied, possibly having forgotten his precarious position.
She brought him back to the present. "Why the others?"
"To recapture the power I had over you. And to see if any could meet the standard you had set. They couldn't, you know. All so soft and weak. Half-an-hour, an hour tops, and they'd melt. You. Six days before you succumbed." He sounded almost as if he were proud of her.
"I've been looking for you all my life. Searching for someone to challenge me as you did." A cloud passed over his face.
"So I spoiled you. I'm to blame for what you've become?" she asked.
"You can't imagine the disappointment when the first is the best, and no one, no one, can come close. I was a novice when I had you then. What I could do to you now . . . if you were young again. Yes. you spoiled me. There's times I've hated you for it. You were simply the best."
"And you're one sick fuck," Shara said, not wanting to hear anymore of his demented ramblings. She stuck one of his socks in his mouth, and from under the bed took out a stack of photos."
"How many of these children have you destroyed?" she asked. showing each to him. "You fucked with their minds which is worse than taking their bodies. They can never trust again. Can never sleep in peace again. Can never divulge their secret, their humiliation. They'll never forget you, Bobby. And never forgive."
She bent down besides the bed, and removed a bottle, unscrewing the cap and producing an eyedropper.
"You've got hungry eyes, big brother. Eyes that have tried to devour me."
She grabbed his hair, and as he stared wide-eyed at her she released the contents of the eyedropper. The acid tore through his left eye, and she felt a cloud over her begin to dissipate. The acid, like a worm, bored its way deep within his eyeball. The smell of the acid working on his eye mixed with his agonized terror was almost overpowering. She was repulsed. She was exhilarated. She was literally shutting the windows to his world, and it felt and smelled so good.
He struggled in pain, a silent scream unable to make its way past the sock.
When he finally began to relax, several minutes later, she grabbed his hair again and poured acid into his other eye and for the first time in thirteen years she was free of him; free of his searching eyes, his probing, mind-fucking eyes. She was tempted to let him live; to spend his life devoid of his most important sense. It would be hell on earth, and fitting.
In the end, self-preservation, won out, however. When he relaxed a second time, she bent down to his ear. There was so much bottled up inside of her she wanted to tell him. In the end, though, while breathing, he was already dead, and she would be wasting her breath.
"See you in hell big brother," and she pinched his nose.
He struggled, coughed, and she could smell the vomit that began to choke him to death. When he was still she held his nose for several minutes more, knowing he was dead by the putrid smell of his bowels, which had released its contents.
"You always were a shit, Bobby," she whispered, as she gathered the bottle and picture of herself. With lipstick, she scrawled NO MORE HUNGRY EYES on the mirror, and this time it was true.
She left the house, got into her car, and only then did she remove the rubber gloves she had worn, and place them in a plastic bag.
At home, she burned the bag, flushed the remains down the toilet, and turned on her tape deck.
"All the men in these places
And the men are all the same.
You don't look at their faces
And you don't ask their names."
Much as she wanted to wrap herself in her music, she replayed the song only once. Looking at her breasts in the mirror, she was full of anticipation, wondering if the tattoo artist could do justice to the last set of eyes that would now see no more.
And, as much as she wanted to sleep, without the specter of those eyes haunting her, she resisted the urge.
She had other preparations. There would be plenty of time to sleep, and savor her freedom. There would be one last confrontation; one she anticipated with mixed feelings. And she had one last visit to make.
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