Carly, p.3
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       Carly, p.3

           D. M. Wolfenden
 
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  Carly blinked a few times, her breathing unsteady. “When I came out of the bathroom, James was standing in front of me. I screamed. I definitely remember screaming. Then, something hit me.”

  Carly opened her eyes. She squinted, the pounding in her head got louder. She tried to sit up, and felt something holding her wrists. Blinking to try and focus, she saw the black cable ties binding her wrists, bigger, thicker cable ties wrapped around her ankles. Panicking, she looked round the room; the familiar sight of the living room furniture confused her. As she looked at the floor, a set of legs were protruding out from behind the dark wooden coffee table.

  She rolled over onto her front, got to her knees and leant over. Using her hands, she shuffled across the room.

  As she got to the coffee table, she screamed. Her mother lay there, eyes wide open staring at the ceiling, bright red liquid seeping on to the carpet.

  “He killed my mother.” Her bottom lip trembled.

  Carly screamed out, “Billy,” as she heard the front door open. “Billy, run!”

  A loud thud echoed through the room. She braced herself against the sofa, and wormed her way up onto her feet. Jumping as fast as she could, she made her way towards the door to the hallway. As Carly got to the hallway, her legs collapsed under her. James had hold of Billy, slapping his face. Carly shuffled her way towards him, screaming, “Get away from him!”

  She sat back on her knees, locked her fingers together and hit James over and over again, screaming at him, “Leave him alone!”

  James moved back, and Billy’s head fell to the side.

  The interview room fell silent. Minutes passed, Carly noticed Vanessa’s eyes were focused on her chest. She was watching me breathing.

  “He kept shouting that it was an accident, how he didn’t mean to hurt him, Billy must have hit his head when he tried to grab him. Billy convulsing. His whole body shaking, frothing at the mouth.” She burrowed her head into her hands. Her voice was muffled when she said, “I kept asking the prick to get an ambulance, he just let Billy die. He let me watch him die.”

  Vanessa turned away, biting her lip and looked troubled. “He must have been so scared…Billy, that is.”

  Carly sneered. “Did James like hurting animals as a kid?”

  “What?” Vanessa took a sudden, loud breath. “I wouldn’t know.”

  Carly picked at a loose cotton thread on her tunic. “Hmm, thought you would have done a bit more research on him?” She studied Vanessa’s now emotionless face.

  “So…then, he grabbed me and put a cloth over my face, and everything went black.

  “I woke up shivering, wearing just my underwear and t-shirt in some shithole of a cellar.

  I was on a dirty mattress. My hands were cuffed to a chain on an iron bed. The stench of urine and crap made me gag. There was no windows, and barely any light, just a dull glow from a bulb on the other side of the room. It was cold. I sat up and put my bare feet on the damp concrete floor. Something moved, I heard metal scraping on concrete. In the far corner, two eyes stared at me.

  “When the door opened, the dog whimpered, and that metal sound was back. That’s when I noticed the chain around her neck. She tried to hide behind a freezer.” Carly picked up the photos of the dog and held them against her chest.

  “Was it her?” Vanessa asked.

  “Yeah, I barely recognized her. She‘d lost so much weight, you could see every rib.” Her shoulders slumped. “He came in with a cheeseburger.” She searched her memory. “I get confused, I think it was a cheeseburger. It doesn’t matter. Said he knew I liked take-aways. I told him to choke on it. He slapped my mouth so hard my bottom lip burst open. I could feel the warmth of the blood trickle down my chin.”

  Carly suddenly laughed, almost hysterically. If she didn’t pull herself together, she would start crying, forget why she was doing this. And, she didn’t want to break down, not in front of her.

  Vanessa shook her head slightly. “I think we should take a break.” She smiled. “Would you like a tea, or a coffee, or anything else?” She looked over her shoulder towards the open door, and called out to Officer Hammond, before Carly could answer, “Can you arrange that, please?”

  Hammond stepped in the room. “No hot drinks. I can get you water, soda, or juice.” Something, an edge of contempt in his words.

  Vanessa ignored it. “I’ll have a cola.” She turned to Carly. “What would you like?”

  Carly spoke directly to Officer Hammond. “Just water, please.”

  Hammond reached for his radio. He pressed the push-to-talk button. “Hammond here, can I get a water and a cola for room three? Charlie wing.”

  “Roger,” a female voice replied.

  “Excuse me, Carly. I have to send a quick text.” Vanessa took her phone out of the briefcase, stood up, and walked to the other side of the room.

  Once Vanessa had turned away from her, Carly looked over at Officer Hammond.

  He gave her a slight nod and a quick wink, before he turned away.

  Part 2

  Once the drinks arrived, and the women had something to wrap their hands around, both became calmer.

  Carly took up where she left off. “When he bust my lip open, I spat the blood right in his face. He was so pissed off. Honestly, I thought he was going to have a heart attack. He began shouting and jumping about all over the place. The light from the open door was shining through and I could see the dog. She was shaking in her own piss. She’d actually pissed herself, she was that scared of him. I screamed at him, asked him where Lisa was, why he’d killed my family. He just grinned. He threw the food on the floor, grabbed my hair, he pulled so hard it bent my head back, told me to eat. When he let go he took off, but I could hear him smashing things up outside the door. He’s a proper nut job!” She reached for the plastic water bottle and took a long drink.

  Vanessa turned her head away.

  “It took me ages to get the dog to come over to me. She was petrified. This huge chain padlocked around her tiny neck, at least it was long enough for her to roam the whole cellar. Eventually, she edged her way over, one paw at a time. When she got the food, she ran back to the corner.”

  “He’d come down sometimes and bring food, other times he’d just stand in the doorway, staring at me.”

  “Did he say anything to you?”

  Carly nodded. “No, he would just stand there, for ages. Sometimes when he brought the food, he would get close enough to brush his arm or leg up against me, but he didn’t speak. I gave the dog most of the food he brought for the first few days. I think three or four. Umm…not sure. Time didn’t mean anything. I couldn’t eat anyway. You know, she actually started to curl up next to me on the bed at night.

  Vanessa puckered her lips. “That was nice for you.” Her voice emotionless.

  Carly jumped up slamming both hands on the table.

  Vanessa bolted upright in her seat.

  “There was nothing nice about it, any of it! My family had been murdered. My cousin missing, maybe dead. I‘d been beaten, and had to piss and shit in a bucket he never emptied.”

  Officer Hammond stepped into the room, Carly never took her eyes off Vanessa.

  Vanessa started fanning her face with a piece of paper. She released a heavy sigh. “You really scared me then, Carly. I didn’t mean anything by that comment.” She looked over at Officer Hammond. “But everything’s alright, Officer. You can leave us.”

  Officer Hammond stepped back, his top lip curled up as he leant against the open door.

  “One night, I woke up to him stroking my hair, singing some stupid love song. When I cowered away from him, he undid my cuffs and washed my wrists with antiseptic. They were blooded and swollen with my constant fighting against the restraints. All the time he was bathing them, he was singing, ‘Heaven, I'm in heaven.’ I tried playing nice, thanked him for taking the cuffs off. I looked him right in the eye, and asked him again about Lisa. Where she was, what he’d done to her. He screamed it wasn’t
him, it was James who’d done it. He ran over to the door, and started banging his head off it. He looked back at me, his face covered with blood, he grinned at me. He just bloody grinned and walked out. The psycho actually thought he was someone else.”

  Abruptly, Carly stood up straight. She took a cigarette out of her packet and lit up.

  “Well, he didn’t put the cuffs back on when he left. I sat at the door for hours, listening for any movement, until I was sure he’d gone. There wasn’t a lock on the door, Slowly, I pulled it opened, I cringed as the hinges squeaked. My heart was in my mouth as I snuck up the stairs. When I opened the door at the top of the stairs, he was waiting for me. He punched me right in my face. I fell backwards down the stairs.”

  Holding the smoke in her mouth for a few seconds, she lifted her head towards the ceiling, and watched as she slowly released it.

  Taking another drag, she deliberately blew a mouthful of smoke towards Vanessa’s face.

  Vanessa coughed and waved her hand about.

  “Don’t remember hitting the floor at the bottom of the stairs. When I opened my eyes, I was back to being chained up again, a hood over my face. I could feel the dog trembling at my side. It was the banging that woke me up.”

  “Banging?”

  “Thud, thud, thud.”

  Vanessa licked her dry lips, and took a drink from her can.

  “It took me a while to figure out what it was. It was a bloody nail gun. Pounding over and over again. When he removed the hood, there was a wooden box, like a big coffin, stood up at the end of the bed. He gave me some food and a bottle of water, and told me to eat up. He said it was going to be my last chance for a while.” She stubbed the cigarette out in the ashtray, picked up the all the photos and tucked them in her pocket. “That time, I did eat. But I gave half to the dog. When I’d drunk a good mouthful of water, I poured the rest into a dirty, plastic container on the floor for the dog.

  He left me sitting there for hours, worrying over what he had planned for me. And what that bloody box was for.”

  Vanessa opened her briefcase. “It disappeared from the house, didn’t it?” She pulled out a photo of the cellar, and pointed to the corner of the picture. “Is that the box?”

  Carly stared at the picture. Tears built up in her eyes, her vision blurred. She took a deep, shaky breath and sat down. “When he came back, he put the hood on my head again. I tried to struggle, scream, even pleaded with the piece of shit scumbag. I begged him to take the hood off, told him I was sorry.” She pushed the picture off the table.

  He undid the cuffs and dragged me to the box. He kept saying I should be careful, and I should let him move me into position. I just howled and I let him do it, I let him slowly guide me backwards.” Carly took a shaky breath and hugged herself.

  “He eventually pulled the hood off my head, and just stood in front of me with the nail gun in his hand. He pointed it at the walls of the box. Hundreds, maybe a thousand, nails were sticking out of the wooden walls. All facing me.”

  Looking up, sweat streamed down her face. “They were so sharp, just centimetres away from each other. He put the front bit on, and started nailing it in place. I panicked, like, who wouldn’t? I tried to kick it open. Dozens of nails stuck in my foot, and scratched my arms when I moved.” Her hands went to her arms, and she started rubbing them.

  “I couldn’t move. He left me there for days. I don’t know how long, I was so tired.” She hugged herself, and rocked back and forth on the chair.

  Carly felt Vanessa watching her, studying her.

  “Every time I started to fall asleep, I would get stabbed by the nails. The dog was scratching at the box, barking. She kept me sane. I’d talk to her for hours. Just knowing she was there helped.” Carly stopped swaying and looked up again. “Then, he came and got me. He acted so caring, helping me out of the box. When my legs gave way, he picked me up and carried me to the bed.

  After he laid me down, he washed my wounds with disinfectant, he put plasters on almost every little scratch. He kissed each plaster.” She pulled the scrunchie out of her hair, and put it around her wrist. Absentmindedly, she scratched her head.

  “He kept going on about how much he loved me, how he didn’t want to hurt me, but I needed to be punished. Something about the stars and the signs, how they meant we were to be together. I had to promise not to try and leave him again.” Her hand went to her pocket, and she took comfort in knowing the pictures were still there.

  “He fed me soup. He even gave the dog some, but only after I pleaded with him. I asked about Lisa again.” She stared into Vanessa’s cold eyes. “He said, not to worry about her, she’s with Nessie now.”

  Vanessa’s face paled. “He said Nessie? What did that mean?”

  Carly pursed her lips and shrugged her shoulders. “Don’t know. Wouldn’t tell me.”

  Vanessa closed her eyes for a few seconds.

  “The next day, he brought me clean clothes, a broom, and even a mop and bucket, with hot water and disinfectant, so I could clean the cellar. I didn’t notice the foul smells anymore, but I still swept and mopped the bit of floor I could reach. He cleaned what I couldn’t, saying Tom hated cleaning, and his family wouldn’t accept Tom, they used to deny his existence.”

  Vanessa paled, she stared, unblinking at Carly.

  “A few days later, he came in with this special meal. Steak and chips, a bottle of wine and candles. He pulled the box down, placed it on its side, and laid everything on top of it, like we were on some date.” Shaking her head, she stopped speaking for a while.

  “Told you he’s a nut job.”

  “That’s twice you’ve made the same statement. He’s a nut job, both times in present tense.”

  Carly shrugged her shoulders. “Did I?”

  “He’s still alive?”

  Carly grinned.

  Vanessa’s eye began to twitch.

  Carly spun the chair around and straddled it.

  Vanessa’s lips thinned. “I don’t think you killed him.” Almost challenging.

  Carly grabbed the back of the chair, her knuckles turned white. “Why do you think that? It’s what I’m in here for.”

  “Where’s the body then?”

  “That’s what the police want to know.” She leaned forward, and rested her head on the back of her hands. “They won’t find him!”

  Vanessa’s fists balled around the papers. “They will find him.”

  “Hmm. Anyhoo,” Carly said with a small smile, “on with the story. The idiot brought steak knives. Told you he wasn’t very smart.” Her head slowly bobbed from side to side as she watched Vanessa struggle to keep calm.

  “I cut my steak in half, asked him if he would give one of the pieces to the dog. When he turned to look at the dog, I jumped up and stabbed him in the back of his neck. He fell off the chair, howling. And I stood over him laughing. I think I actually went crazy. I picked the chair up and hit him over and over again, until there wasn’t much of it left.”

  Vanessa’s chest heaved in and out. She could barely control her facial tics.

  “I grabbed the dog’s chain, but I couldn’t get it off her, I tried sliding it over her head, I was scared she’d get hurt if I pulled too much. I promised I’d come back for her, and then I ran.”

  “Couldn’t believe it, when I got outside. It was a house in the middle of nowhere, no other houses, no roads, just fields and trees. I don’t know if he came after me. I kept imagining him behind every bush and tree. Finally, I made it to a road. I flagged a car down. When the police found the house, he was gone, and so was the dog.”

  Vanessa picked up the can of cola. “So he got away?” she asked, and took a sip from the can.

  Carly cocked her head to the side. “The police said he never had a brother. But he did have a sister. She dropped off the radar years ago, after their father apparently drowned in the bath, drunk. She grinned at Vanessa. “But, yeah, the arsehole got away.”

  “How do you know he’s act
ually dead?” Vanessa sneered and she banged the cola tin down on the desk.

  Carly rubbed her hands together. “Because I found him. Social media can be very useful, Miss St. John.”

  “It’s Mrs. So, why don’t you tell us where James Andres is, Carly?”

  Carly tapped her finger on her chin. “Hmm, I wonder why you care so much?” She dipped her head and let her loose hair fall in front of her face. “Where is Lisa, Nessie?”

  Vanessa’s eyes widened. “What are you talking about?”

  “I know who you are, and why you’re here. Let’s stop with the bullshit, Nessie.”

  Vanessa opened up her Filofax, and took out a small picture. She looked over her shoulder at the officer. He was occupied with his phone. “I’ll get straight to the point.” She held the picture up. “That’s my little girl with the dog.”

  “Where’s Lisa?”

  “I have no idea! But if you don’t tell me where my brother is, I will torture that mutt to death.”

  Carly held her hand out in front of herself and looked at her nails. “It’s simple, Nessie.” She looked up into Vanessa’s eyes. “Your brother’s location for Lisa’s.” She began buffing her nails on the short sleeve of her tunic.

  Vanessa tugged at the collar of her jacket. Shaking her head, she whispered, “She’s not dead.” Carly pointed to the clock on the wall. “Neither’s your brother. Yet. But time’s ticking by quickly for him.”

  Vanessa got a pad and pen from her briefcase. She wrote an address on it. “It’s a house run by Nigerians. They…specialise in girls.”

  Carly stared at the address. “You bitch! You trafficked her to London!”

  “Where’s James?” Vanessa begged.

  Carly nodded at the officer.

  When Officer Hammond walked over, Carly handed him the page with the address written on it. He immediately started tapping at his cell phone.

  Vanessa grabbed hold of Carly’s hand. “Where’s James?”

 
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