Encounter - (Chapter 10)

Andrew drove slowly along the same route back to the hotel. Although the driving conditions hadn’t changed, the traffic had died down considerably. He knew another confrontation with Henny was inevitable and feelings of dread gnawed at his insides, unremittingly. At least tonight there was nothing more he could do and he looked forward to spending the rest of the evening eating pizza and relaxing in a hot bath.

Twenty minutes into his journey, he noticed a white van following from a distance. He slowed down to allow the van to pass, but the van also slowed down. He thought nothing of it, thinking the driver was just being cautious on this dark and rainy night. A few minutes later the van pulled up beside him. Andrew assumed the driver was trying to pass, and steered gently towards the shoulder and slowed down.

Suddenly, the van crashed into the side of his car, sending a jolt through his body as if he’d been hit by lightning. The shrill sound of scrapping metal reverberated in his ears as he instinctively pulled hard on the steering wheel, causing the car to spin out of control. He slammed on the brakes and seconds later managed to come to a complete stop on the opposite shoulder. Fortunately, there had been no oncoming traffic.

“Shit, what the hell’s going on? Is he crazy?” Andrew said as he hurriedly unbuckled his seat belt.

“Andrew, what’s happened? We heard a loud scrapping noise. Are you all right?” Detective Taylor said into his transmitter.

“I think so. Someone just hit the side of my car,” he said, pulling madly on the door handle.

Realising the door was jammed, he climbed into the passenger seat and got out of the car. The sound of the door slamming echoed through the mountains, disturbing the eerie calm on the isolated stretch of road. Andrew stood next to his car and stared at the van, sitting fifty feet away. Its lights were on, but there was no sign of the driver. Fog had begun to settle on the mountains, giving the van a ghostly appearance, sending chills down his spine.

Andrew knew he should check if the other driver was alright, but he felt paralysed as details of the accident began streaming through his mind. Fear sent his heart pounding and his hand clutched the door handle tight as he recalled seeing the driver deliberating yank on the steering wheel, causing the van to crash into his car.

Andrew quickly got back into the car and crawled into the driver’s seat, hitting his head on the roof and bashing his knee on the stick shift. As he struggled to pull his keys from his pocket, a glance in his rear view mirror revealed a figure walking quickly towards his car.

Lights from the van’s headlights illuminated the back of the approaching figure, casting broad shadows and throwing the face into complete darkness. He slowly began to recognise the slouched, hooded figure in dark baggy clothes and shock waves soared through his body.

“Shit, it’s her.”

Andrew’s shaking hands fumbled with the keys. “Damn it. Come on,” he shouted when he dropped the keys.

As he searched the floor, manically, he heard the driver’s window smash and felt glass fragments rain over his back.

He quickly turned around and tried to scramble into the backseat, but a loud crack threw him against the dashboard and a second later pain shot through his right shoulder. Suddenly, Henny grabbed his collar.

“Get up or I’ll blow your head off,” She shouted, pressing the barrel of a gun into his forehead.

Andrew complied immediately with surprising agility. Holding his bleeding shoulder, he staggered towards the van, the gun now pressed into his back. Henny pushed him into the back of the van, handcuffed his hands behind his back and duck-taped his mouth. She then straddled his chest and searched his pockets. Stabbing pain penetrated his shoulder over and over again as she jostled his body against the cold metal floor. The smell of sweat and diesel filled his nostrils and his muffled screams rang in his ears.

She worked quickly and efficiently. Wisps of greasy, dark hair clung to her shiny, scowling face. Andrew wished there was some way he could stall her to allow the police time to rescue him, but his kicks and screams had no effect.

His eyes widened and his body writhed when she pulled a knife out of her jacket pocket. She quickly cut off his shirt and trousers and pulled off his shoes. With a small flashlight, she began searching his body.

Andrew knew what she was looking for. Feeling utterly helpless, he shut his eyes and prayed for help.

Minutes later, she found the transmitter. With her knee pressed against his neck, she held his head down and pulled it out. He cringed as she stabbed the transmitter next to his face, sending tiny bits of metal in every direction.

“I used to fantasise about having wild sex with you. Now’s my chance,” she said, whispering in his ear, while stroking his cheeks. He couldn’t imagine why he’d ever thought the same. Her pale, blue eyes reminded him of the hollow, vacant eyes of a shark. “You thought you could fool me and I told you what could happen if you wore a wire.” She dug her knife into his ribs, penetrating the skin. His screams reached a high pitched shrill. “You stay quiet or you’ll die and so will Mark.”

After throwing his wallet and cell phone into the woods, she climbed into the driver’s seat and drove off. Andrew concentrated on the movements of the van, trying to memorise the sequence of right and left turns, but the pain in his shoulder made even the slightest movement excruciating and he soon lost track.

Forcing himself to think clearly, he devised a plan. As soon as Henny stopped the van and opened the door, he would kick her as hard as he could, knocking her to the ground. He’d continue to kick her enough to immobilize her. He’d then run into the woods to find help. Andrew realised that in order to have any hope of overpowering her, he needed to control the pain in his shoulder. He tried to relax his muscles and take deep breaths. “Mind over matter, mind over matter,“ he repeated to himself.

After several minutes, the car stopped on a particularly rough and bumpy road. He knew they were off the main road and probably in the middle of the forest. A thought penetrated his mind, “She’s taken me to the middle of nowhere to kill me.” Panic forced his sweaty hands to pull frantically at the handcuffs. His heart burst in his chest and his nostrils flared as he strained to get enough air. He felt like a wounded animal about to be slaughtered. He shut his eyes tight. He needed to be somewhere else, anywhere.

Thoughts of his daughter began to fill his head. “Would she understand what he was trying to do for Mark? Would she be proud of him? Would she miss him?” He then thought of Mark. “What will Henny do to him, when I’m dead? Or maybe he’s already dead, buried out here in a shallow grave.”

Andrew listened to Henny’s footsteps as she walked to the back of the van. Several torturous seconds passed before she opened the door. Suddenly, her bony body jumped onto his chest, knocking the air out of his lungs. Tears streamed down his face and neck as she pulled and prodded at his wound. His throat was beginning to ache from screaming. When he dared to open his eyes, he was shocked to see her carefully treating his gunshot wound using a fully stocked first aid kit. After the treatment, she wrapped strips of his shirt around the wound. She then smiled and said, “Now, let’s go see Mark.”

 

Sarah Morris