“My father’s already dead. What am I still doing here?” Cassie questioned, leaning back, the chains that shackled her to the wall, rattling. The large man in front of her dropped a platter of food and it clattered against the ground. Cassie’s eyes followed the plate, then moved back to the man.
He smiled, but it was ugly. Just like all the monsters that were keeping her there. “Entertaining us.” He said, and anger engulfed Cassie. But he had already walked out, slamming the door shut behind him. Leaning her head against the wall, Cassie thought about how long she had been chained to these walls. Eight years. Eight years and those sick bastards were still enjoying torturing her. She’d given up trying to escape. No one was looking for her anyway. Not anymore. So, she just closed her eyes and dreamt that someone was.
Liam Jacobs was lost. He had been trying to get out of the woods for hours. “Stupid shortcut.” He mumbled to himself. He stumbled around, walking in no particular direction, until he finally saw a road, leading to a dilapidated building. He walked until he was at the entrance. Knocking twice, he waited for a response. Nothing. When he looked at the building again, it seemed odd. Sighing, he realized that it was abandoned. There wouldn’t be anyone in there.
Still, he went inside with the hopes of finding someone who could point him in the right direction. As soon as he entered, he was met by a cloud of dust. Definitely abandoned, he thought. Nonetheless, he wandered around looking for someone. He walked past a door when he heard someone’s voice. He couldn’t hear what they were saying, but he opened the door. In there was a girl, covered in rags and dried blood. She was chained to the wall.
Both Liam and Cassie’s eyes widened upon seeing each other. “Who are you? How did you get in here?” Cassie questioned, confused and worried. “I got lost in the woods. I saw this building… Uh – what is going on?” He stuttered, shocked. “Are you okay?”
Cassie smiled at his efforts but knew that he needed to leave before the guards returned. “You need to go. Now. Leave before they get you too!” When he didn’t move, Cassie yelled. “GO!” But he didn’t listen. Instead, he rushed over and picked the lock of her chains. When she was free, he lifted her by the arm, but she shoved his hand away.
“What are you doing?” Liam was shocked. She didn’t want his help. “Come on! Let’s go!” Cassie shook her head, “No. I can handle it. And there’s no time. You need to go. NOW!” She shoved out of her cage and he stumbled backward. Suddenly, the sound of footsteps made them gulp in fear. Cassie gestured for him to leave, but he stood still. He knew he couldn’t leave her there but he also wanted to save himself.
“Who’s this?” Cassie’s guard had already reached them. Liam started backing away, while Cassie’s face twisted with anger. “Leave him alone. He didn’t mean to come here. It was an accident. Let him go.” Cassie negotiated, slowly stepping in front of the guard, shielding the boy who tried to save her.
The guard’s eyes moved to Cassie and then her hands. He scoffed, gritting his teeth. “An accident, huh? Is that why you’re not chained to the wall?” Cassie clenched her fists, looking down. She heard Liam gasp and when she lifted her head, there was a gun hovering over her shoulder, pointing at Liam.
Then there was the sound of a gun firing and a body that lay on the ground. “Damn it,” said the guard, frustrated, “Gotta clean this up now.” He walked into another room. Liam was frozen as his eyes moved to the girl that lay at his feet, her breath unstable. Cassie beckoned him closer and Liam slowly knelt down. “Hi. I’m Cassie.” Liam gulped, “I’m Liam.”
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Cassie smiled, coughing blood at the same time. “Thank you, Liam.” Liam took his eyes off of the blood that was slowly spreading across her chest and met her eyes. “For what? I did this. Th-this is my fault.”
Cassie grabbed his hand. “I told y-you, th-that I could handle it. Death seems better than going through th-that again.” Liam opened his mouth to speak, but Cassie cut him off. “There’s no saving m-me. But I can save you.”
“Isn’t the guy meant to save the girl?” Liam asked, scared and worried. Cassie managed to laugh, “In fairytales, yes. But this is real life. Which means I’m saving you.” She squeezed his hand. “You need to go. Run. Before he comes back. Run and don’t look back.” Tears fell from her eyes and from his, as he shook his head. “I don’t know you, but thank you for trying to save me. I didn’t think anyone would.” Liam choked on his tears and Cassie’s breathing became shaky. “Now run away. Run.”
Liam stood up and walked away slowly. Cassie’s eyes followed him, as he turned around. Before he started running away though, he turned around to meet her eyes, “I’m sorry, Cassie,” he whispered. Cassie smiled, before she finally closed her eyes. Because that’s what happens in real life; people make mistakes and they don’t just magically go away. In real life, people die. At least she was at peace, but he would never be.
All because she lay still, while he ran.
(Hostage: short story is written by Ruheen Kumar. She is a class 10 student in Zambia. She is passionate about writing.)