Her head was screaming in pain. Actually, her whole body was hurting. Therese tried to move, to stretch, but couldn’t. She opened her eyes to darkness. Her brain felt like it was lost in a fog of dulled sensory information- pain, loud noises, cold, and what was that smell? She tried to move again. Why wouldn’t her arms and legs cooperate? She tried to focus. It must be a nightmare and she just needed to wake up to open her eyes. She screamed, but found the sound muffled. There was something over her mouth? Like a hundred pound weight falling from the sky, awareness hit her. “FUCK!” She screamed in her head. She twisted her hands, but it was useless. Her breathing and heart rate suddenly increased and she pulled against the ropes until she felt them burning her skin.
“Calm down.” She heard a voice in her head. It wasn’t her own. “Calm your breathing, listen for clues. Try to remember. Ignore your pain. Calm your breathing.” It was the voice of one of her instructors at Quantico. They had been trained on what to do if ever in a hostage situation, and while this wasn’t exactly the same, the basics seemed relevant. She needed to calm her breathing, take control of her thoughts and listen for clues. She repeated the words over and over like a mantra.
Therese moved her head around and felt it hit something hard. She couldn’t see in the darkness, but she had her other senses to rely on. She went through them one at a time. I smell rubber and gasoline; I hear traffic and cars; I’m in a trunk of a car. Must be on a major road based on the sounds. If she could get her hands or legs free, she could break out a light, hopefully get pulled over by a police officer.
She tried to move her legs and felt it pull on her arms. She realized her arms were pinned behind her and quickly realized she was hog-tied, arms tied to her legs behind her body. She started to panic again, but the voice returned. “Calm your breathing.”
The pain was starting to become overwhelming. The muscles in her arms and legs were burning and the throbbing in her head was building. She needed a distraction. Like an angel in the darkness, an image of Carol flashed in her mind. She let herself remember Sunday at Carol’s, making love all afternoon. The smell of her perfume, the feel of her skin, the taste of her…she replayed the afternoon over and over in her mind. She remembered dinner with Carol and Rindy and the games they play and all the fun of the evening.
Wait. Did I go home? I don’t remember walking into my apartment. She focused now on her memories of leaving Carol’s. She remembered getting into her car and driving away from Georgetown. She remembered parking in front of her apartment building and then she walked in…and back out…and then there was a sharp pain and that was it. You idiot! How did you not see him? You are trained to be alert! She chastised herself in her mind.
A wave of exhaustion washed over her. There was no way to know where she was or how long they had been driving. She should sleep- conserve energy. She imagined Carol again and let herself slip back into unconsciousness.
Therese woke to more pain. She opened her eyes expecting darkness, but this time she was visually assaulted by disgusting green carpet. She looked around the room and took in the dingy paint on the walls and the smell of stale air and cigarette smoke filled her nostrils.
“You’re awake. Good.”
Therese tried to roll to see who was speaking, but it was useless.
“I have a gun…your gun, actually. I'll remove your gag so you can drink and eat, but if you scream, I will kill you. Do you understand?”
Therese nodded. He bent down and removed the gag from around her mouth. This wasn’t Harge. He was younger, skinnier, and wore wire rimmed glasses. Therese didn’t try to speak, she just let her mind imprint the scene. She would need to be able to describe him, identify him.
“Are you hungry?” He asked.
Therese tried to speak but it only came out as a dry croak.
“Thirsty, too. It was a long drive.” He bent down close to her with a bottle of water and poured some into her mouth. She let the liquid swish around her dry mouth before swallowing.
“Where are we?” Therese finally asked.
Her eyes went wide. “How long have I been asleep?”
Tommy tilted his head and eyed her curiously. She could tell he was trying to decide how much to tell her. He finally decided there was no harm in being honest as she wouldn’t live to tell the tale. “It’s Monday night. I gave you a pretty strong dose.”
“Powerful stuff. I gave you a syringe full and you’re so small it really did a number.”
Therese assumed it was Rohypnol. “My…my arms really hurt.”
“I’m not going to untie you yet, so don’t ask me, too. I know you’re an agent and I know what you’re capable of.” He poured more water into her mouth.
“You’re the one who has been following me?”
“Did you see me?” He looked upset. “There is no way you saw me! I’m too good! I stay far away- special camera!”
“I could feel you.” She answered honestly and this seemed to spark his interest.
Tommy’s eyes narrowed. “Feel me…feel me how?”
Therese paused and took a moment to analyze him. She needed to keep him talking to build a profile. She also needed to find a way to humanize herself in his eyes. “It was like I could sense you in my head. You’ve been following me for a couple of weeks, right?”
“Saw you at the restaurant with her. He told me to change.”
“You were following Carol? Why?”
“Hmmmph. She never noticed...years off and on. You must be special, to feel me like that.” He stood up and went over the his bag and pulled out a pack of crackers that were clearly from a vending machine. They were the orange kind with the fake cheese, but Therese suddenly felt the hunger burning in her stomach. She would eat them. He fed her one cracker at a time, followed by water. “The drugs can make you sick to your stomach. Don’t eat too fast. Keep it simple for now.”
“Thank you,” she paused. “I don’t know what to call you.”
“Tommy.” Therese repeated. “Are you sure you can’t at least loosen the ropes, Tommy? I promise I won’t run.”
“No. It’s better this way. Safer for both of us. I’m not allowed to touch you until…” He broke off and fell silent, looking off towards the motel room door.
“He is coming to meet us. Only then. His rules. He gets angry when I break them.”
“Who is coming, Tommy?”
He sat on the edge of the bed and looked down at her laying on the floor, helpless. It sent a surge of pleasure through his body to see her this way. “I have to control myself until he gets here. He was really angry about Baltimore. I will be good and wait, but you’re so pretty. I really want to touch you.”
Bile rose in her throat. This is the monster that had murdered Sandy in Baltimore, not Harge. The image of the crime scene flashed in her mind. Sandy had been beaten and strangled, but not sexually assaulted. Was it the partner that raped the women? “Who is coming to meet you, Tommy?” Therese asked again.
She thought for a minute. Therese needed to word her question in a particular way to get the right reaction. “Is Mr. H. your boss?”
Tommy stood and started pacing the room, clearly anxious…or maybe frustrated. “Not my boss! He’s my partner! We do it together! Always together!”
Therese noted this shift in his demeanor and flashed back to what Carol had said about the dynamic between the two unsubs, about how one would be dominant and the other submissive. Tommy was clearly the submissive, but he wasn’t happy about that. She wondered if she could manipulate that in some way. She tucked that nugget away. “Tommy, I need to use the bathroom.”
He sat back down on the bed and looked down at her. “Go ahead.”
“What?” Therese was confused. “You want me to do it here? On the floor?”
Tommy moved quickly and was suddenly laying on the floor staring Therese in the face. He was so close she could feel his breath on her cheek. “I’m NOT untying you, Therese Belivet, so do what you need to do.”
He knows my full name and knows I'm an agent. Everything helped to confirm in her mind that Harge was Mr. H. Somewhere in her training, Therese remembered reading something about women urinating on themselves to help ward off a sexual assault, but somehow, she knew this wouldn’t make a difference with Tommy and Harge. She decided to try to hold it, but then wondered if she had already gone on herself. There was no way she’d gone 24 hours without going. She couldn’t tell. She wondered if leaving pee on the carpet could be used as evidence to prove that she was here, but as she looked at the disgusting, stained carpet, she doubted they’d be able to tell.
Tommy stood up and sat on the bed again. “You should sleep.” He brought a pillow down and placed it under her head. “We have a long drive tomorrow.”
“Where are we going?”
“Iowa.” Tommy laid back on the bed and shut off the light. It only took a few minutes for Therese to hear his steady breathing. He was asleep. She looked around the room for anything that could be used to free her, but everything was up on tables or counters. She didn’t sleep, though she tried. The pain in her legs, arms, and back made it impossible. The drugs had completely worn off now. She thought of calling out for help, but knew she’d probably just end up gagged or dead.
Therese laid in the silence and tried to picture Carol again. She closed her eyes and let herself dream, picturing Carol’s eyes. And then she was there, leaning next to her and whispering in her ear, “Hold on baby…I’m coming.”
“Find me…Carol…please find me.”