Panic set in to the point where she didn't care, she rushed and half ran through the labyrinth of cloth and smoke, no walls or doors to be found as if the room was never ending. Her hands ripped and tore at the curtains, turning about in dizzying circles searching for something, anything other than the red, red, red everywhere! She felt her sanity slipping into the dark depths of panic and chaos, her legs trying to buckle beneath her as she darted first one way then the other. No longer bothering with silence she screamed and screamed, calling for help from anyone who'd listen, her voice no more than a hoarse whisper, hitching with sobs and ragged hacks, feeling the tang of blood on her lips, dripping down her face and matting her hair. This was it, she finally realized, this was Hell and she was trapped here, she'd done something, something so wrong, so evil in God's eyes that she'd been condemned to this never ending torture. A fiery red maze of smoke and the faint whisperings of a madman who called to her through the madness, giving her a false name and singing that song that would forever haunt her existence.
'…I gave you my heart….'
Her breathing quickened even further, hyperventilating on the toxic fumes and clouds of smoke that filled her lungs to the bursting point.
"Aliiicceee…Aliiicceee…" the darkly seductive voice taunted her, called her to oblivion and still she repelled would fight until her body crumbled beneath the pressure, which wasn't far off.
'…you gave it away…'
"God, please!" she cried with whatever energy she could muster, shoving past a tangle of velvet and falling against something hard, starting to sink to the floor when her hands caught on the thick, cold metal of a bar. A bar on a…on a wall?
Stinging, near useless eyes trailed blindly through the smoke over a gray wall that stood indiscernible in the ever thickening smoke, and there, glowing up over her head, seeming to cast the whole glow that illuminated this hellish pit was a sign. She could hardly believe her eyes, read it twice, her whole body shaking roughly with tension.
"Alice…I told you to stay put, darling. Now look what you've done." The voice behind her was positively poisonous, the dark tone droning like thick venom as she spun around clumsily, hands pressed back against the release bar on the door, barely holding her up as she hacked and gasped for breath. The dark fringe of unconsciousness threatened her gaze, splotches flashing before her eyes, though not nearly enough to hide the wicked form of the man who stood no more than a few feet before her. His eyes blazed through the smoke like twin beacons of raw murder.
"W-We made a deal…Alice. Don't you understand? Don't you love me anymore?" His voice hissed, drawling off with such a sense of agony, as if he'd been deceived from the start.
Monica didn't have to look at the gun, could feel its barrel pointed at her chest as she stared into his eyes, those cold, insane portals of blue and shook her head with a strangled sob.
"I-I'm…I'm sorry, P-Peter." She hardly finished her words before she pressed back, throwing all her weight against the exit with the last of her energy and feeling the merciless pressure of the bullet against her chest. The retort sang in her ears as she fell back through the door, closing her eyes and letting out a long sigh, ready to welcome the release of death, anything to free herself of that prison, that madman's playhouse.
Her body lurched suddenly, shoulders slamming into something hard and jarring her roughly, making her gasp in pain and stagger forward once more right into a…a wall.
Monica opened her eyes to the lights of the gas station, one bulb flickering overhead as it usually did in the back by the bread, and sure enough as she spun around she found herself face to face with shelf upon shelf of cheap bread, several of the loaves crushed from her fall.
"wh-what…" she just stared at them in utter shock, lifting her hands quickly to feel over her chest for a bullet wound, blood, anything, but she only found the slightly wrinkled blouse of her uniform, dampened with a nervous sweat. Her mind spun and for a moment she thought she might be sick as she slumped back against the far wall of the small convenience store-like station. Lifting a hand to her face she paused a moment in surprise, uncurling her fingers to find a piece of paper tucked away in her palm. Frowning she just stared at it, fear still flowing through her system, her heart pounding fiercely in her chest as she struggled to understand what was going on, what had happened-
"Hey…Monica? Is that you, honey?"
Monica looked up quickly at the sound of her manager's voice, the plump woman peeking up over the shelving units from the front of the store, a confused expression worrying her chubby features. "I though you checked out already? Is everything alright?"
Monica took deep breaths, trying to calm herself, hide the terrified quaver in her voice, casting a glance down at the paper once more and making a quick decision, clenching her hand around it.
"o-oh. Yeah. It's me Mrs. Carter." Monica managed to call back, voice rather raw, her throat still burning from the smoke, proof that she at least wasn't going completely insane. Right?
Mrs. Carter made as if to come to her aid and Monica shifted swiftly, wanting to avoid any confrontations at the moment.
"th-thought I forgot something. Guess not." She muttered hurriedly, walking on unsteady legs out towards the door.
"well if you're sure-"
The rest of the manager's words were cut off by the duel glass doors as Monica hurriedly pushed her way outside, unable to stand another moment cooped up inside a small building. Brushing her dark hair back with a flick of her trembling hand she caught her breath as a cruel gust of wind tossed her hair and tugged at the gray skirt of her uniform, sending shivers up her spine. Grumbling something to herself about winter she rubbed her arms as the cold seeped through the thin sleeves of her white blouse, and froze. This all seemed so familiar. Dread welled up inside her, instantly threatening to turn into a frenzied panic, though she tamped it down as best she could, looking down at her hand once more, a corner of a tattered and aged newspaper clipping peeking out from her fingers. Glancing over her shoulder, she caught sight of Mrs. Carter eyeing her worriedly and shook her head slightly, stepping down off the curb and starting across the small run down parking lot at a slow, uneven pace.
Her feet were unsteady on the cracked pavement and uneven patch jobs, but she hardly noticed, all her attention focused on this little bit of paper. Opening her hand once more she smoothed the clipping out with cold, nervous fingers, bringing the paper up closer to her face to read it more clearly.
"oh my god-" She breathed, voice cut off as she tripped on a dislodged chunk of cement, her short narrow heel snapping off her shoe. She cursed, glaring down at her misfortune distractedly and kicked off her shoes, reaching down to grab them when she hesitated, looking from her mangled shoe to the piece of paper once more, the sense of dread only growing, making a certain horror clamor in her mind.
Swallowing hard, she scooped her shoes up and tucked them under her arm as she hurriedly scanned over the article in utter shock. It was an old article from a local newspaper dated nearly 5 years earlier and Monica didn't understand why she had it. And yet her eyes locked onto the sheet, the slightly smudged newspaper print seemingly unimportant though words jumped out at her.
Alice Ann Fitzgerald…kidnapped…murdered…gunshots…husband of 6 years Peter Fitzgerald…mental hospital…
Any previous sense of relief died away immediately as he gaze drifted down the page to a small snapshot of a beautiful young woman, dark hair brushing her shoulder, clear eyes staring out at them with a kind smile. And, Jesus, they could have been twins!
"oh god…oh-oh my god." Monica tried to steady herself, pressing a hand to her head as the cold stole her breath away right when she needed it, making her cough slightly and shudder with more than just the frosty air.
What had just happened? That couldn't have been real and to just show up in the station…maybe she was going crazy? But what was with the newspaper clipping? She'd never seen it before and, hell, she would have been a teen back then anyway. This was all just too much. Clenching her eyes a long moment she bit hard into her lip, trying to fight back her fear and contemplating on calling the police…and tell them what? That she'd been abducted, taken to a house and chased through a basement with red curtains and smoke? Right, that wasn't going to fly. So that just left her with home, getting home and away from this place.
After a few tense moments she let herself open her eyes, looking around with the sense that danger was creeping around every corner and lingering in the shadows cast from the cold lamplight that washed over the street. Taking in a deep breath she started back across the parking lot, stepping carefully over the potholes and keeping a look out as if expecting a van or old rusted out truck to drive by like it had apparently done before. When no old truck went by with it's worn out muffler, Monica managed the slightest sigh of relief, gradually reaching the curb of the crosswalk and glancing down to make sure she didn't step on any glass, her eyes lingering on the scratched and nearly crushed form of her cell phone, the word RESTRICTED still glowing faintly on the screen, sending a chill as cold as death up her spine. The soft squeak of breaks caught her attention as she looked up swiftly, staring at a sleek black car that pulled up to the light. Before she could feel any flicker of relief she cast a glance at the driver and caught the stare of harsh blue eyes that seemed to drill right through her. She caught her breath, ensnared by his gaze for a long moment, frozen in place with fear, unsure if she should run back to the station or forward towards home. Seeing as she escaped this man and ended up in the station that wasn't necessarily a place she ever wanted to be in. never actually. Never again, she'd quit tomorrow.
Several moments went by and he didn't move but lift a hand to point at the cross walk sign that depicted the little white man crossing the street. Monica didn't dare move her gaze from him more than she had to, stepping down onto the street slowly, taking a few hesitant steps around the front of his car, keeping her eye on him until she'd reached the other side. Peter held her gaze all the while, a slow, knowing smile lighting his features as the flashing yellow light indicated he could have gone this whole while. Shifting his hand down once more he flicked on his turning signal, taking a slow, purposeful turn around the corner she stood at, nearly face to face with her a moment, his words drifting after him as he drove off. He left her standing there with a haunted feeling, shivering in the wake of his dread and the winter's frost, his words echoing eerily in her mind.