Saturday, August 22, 2015

SINful Saturdays... Shari J Ryan's Sin of the Shed

Welcome to SINful Saturdays!

Let me introduce you to Sin of the Shed by Author, Shari J Ryan. This is a weekly excerpt brought to you by the author in order to build a story to be published at a later time.

The story will be different from anything else you have seen since Shari is asking that the readers contribute ideas and such to help build a story that everyone can love.

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I don't remember what the grass felt like while tickling the bottom of my feet, or the way the sand felt between my toes. I don't remember how cold the snow felt after it had freshly fallen, and I don't remember what it felt like to laugh out loud.
I remember the day I stopped talking—stopped hearing my voice. It was the day I should have listened to Mom. But I didn't.

When the sun peeks through the cracks in the wall and the sound of a slight thump echoes against the front door, I push myself up to my feet and slowly pad across the dark cement slab. Silently, I count to thirty—until I know it will be safe, and open the small flap on the bottom of the wooden door. With caution, I reach my hand out, basking in the warmth of the sun as pin-pricking chills crawl up my arm. It's what I want to remember a warm bath felt like.

My body falls limply to the floor as I steal the extra second of warmth before retrieving my paper bag. With contact, my dry fingers scratch against the paper, gripping around the folded top. "Thank you," I want to tell him. 'Thank you."

With my bag in hand, I clutch it against my chest as I stand and make my way over to the mattress. Placing it down like a baby in a cradle, I cover it with my sheet to keep safe from the mice and other insects who share this common abode with me.

I've wondered why I've been kept alive in here. It is by the slimmest means of survival that I have made it through each day since I arrived. I wasn't sure if being here was a form of some sick torture or if Snatcher, as I call him, had a more motivating reason.

My mind is clear of all thoughts, old and new. My emotions and fears have transplanted into a state of nothingness. Being contained within these four walls has given me a sick sense of safety. Until five days ago, when I learned the reason I'm being kept alive.
His name is Sin.


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Five Days Ago

The cracks in the wall are only good for letting in the cold during the winter, and the heat in the summer—precisely the opposite of what I always seem to need. I believe it is currently the middle of summer, but the weather here in Chipley seems to be variable. Sometimes when I think it's the middle of winter, we'll have a warm day, and when it's summer, I sometimes swear it feels like hell is freezing over. Where I lived before, we had two seasons: hot and warm. I don't like the cold.

When I look through the cracks, I see gravel, rocks, and red dirt. I see sprigs of brown grass and large insects. There's one crack on the back wall with a small hole in the middle, and when Snatcher's old, rusty, red pick-up isn't sitting there, I can see the sky. I usually stare at for as long as I can. I'm always hoping the image will burn into my mind and allow me to dream of the color blue rather than the color brown—the color of everything around me. I have been wondering if I might forget what other people look like, but this time as I look through the small hole, a pair of smoky, grey eyes stare back at me. A bit startled, I pull my face away from the hole, allowing myself to see a little more, but I can only see his eyes and his dark shadow-casting brows. They’re beautiful, and they aren’t Snatcher's. I wonder if this man has looked in through the cracks before.

"Who are you?" I ask quietly. Seconds go by without an answer, and now he’s gone from my view. Please, come back. The door rattles from behind me—the door that hasn’t opened in three years. It flies open, carrying in the most beautiful gust of wind. The sensory overload forces me backwards, and I land firmly on my butt. Now staring up at this unfamiliar man, I have the urge to jump up and hug him, purely for the reason of seeing another human being. I don’t know why he is there, but I also don’t think I care.

I pull myself up to my feet, feeling quite small in his large presence. His face is covered in thick, black stubble, accenting the light grey color in his eyes. His hair is messy, short, and everywhere. Black smudges cover his white shirt, and his jeans match. As I take in every inch of his appearance, my focus finally meets with his boots. It looks like they may have been brown at one point, but now they are covered in a rusty, reddish-brown color. I hate to think it resembles blood, but it does. I also hate to think that this amazingly attractive man may only be here to finally do what I had been fearful of Snatcher doing to me over these past three years. Why are they dragging this out?

"I'm Sin," he says, the deep and hollow sound of his voice pierces through my chest. He looks worn and emotionless with a sort of emptiness behind his eyes—probably the same way I look.

"Why are you here?" I ask. Bravery has never been my strongest quality, but at this moment, the words just come out. I need to know.

He takes the few steps that are between us and looks down at me. He must be at least a foot taller. He smells like wood and dirt—maybe just the outdoors. I don’t recall such a scent. “I have always been here,” he says quietly. “You’re here and alive because of me, but don’t confuse that with me wanting you in here.” Has he been watching me? He dips his hand into his pocket, retrieving something that he clutches tightly within his grip. “Happy Birthday, Reese.” He reaches his closed hand out to me, waiting for me to take what he’s trying to give me. What is it? He knows my name. No one has spoken my name in three years. My birthday. I was taken when I was fifteen, which means today must be my eighteenth birthday. How does he know? I only know three years have past because of the scratch marks I’ve left on one of the wooden panels beneath my mattress.

“What is it?” I ask before reaching my hand out.

“An apology on behalf of my father,” he says. “I can’t let you out, but I can offer you this…”

My forehead aches as I stare confusingly into his eyes. I unclench my fist and open my hand, cupping it out in front of me. “Please, just help me,” I beg.

“This will help,” he says. He places the object into the center of my palm, but I can only feel the contact of his fingertips sweep across my skin. His touch—a touch—it’s warm and magnetizing. I don’t want him to move. He gently curls my fingers down over the object. “I’m sorry.”
His touch instantly becomes absent; the warmth goes with him. He turns his back toward me and opens the door, allowing in another gust of fresh air. “Will I see you again?” I ask as the door slams shut. The locks click and the gravel beneath his boots crunch until there is nothing more than silence surrounding me. I look down at my hand and uncurl my fingers, revealing what he has given me.


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I’ve waited patiently by the hole in the wall. Morning has turned to night five times since Sin left me with what I might have thought to be an imaginary wind of his existence. Except, my hand is now full, and it wasn’t five days ago.

Food continues to appear, but only while I'm giving in to the sleep I've been fighting off. I want to see Sin again. I want to ask him questions. I'm even hopeful for an answer every time I open the food-filled paper bag, but there’s nothing other than bread, cheese and turkey. Every day it’s bread, cheese, and turkey.

I uncurl my fingers, feeling the ache web through my palm from keeping my hand clenched so tightly. Running my thumb over the slick metal and all of its fine ridges, I pinch the base between my fingers to study each groove, cut, and angle. Moving the metal from side to side, I see a small, blurry reflection of pale skin staring back at me. I try not to blink, fearful of losing eye contact with the stranger I have become to myself. Sadly, though, when the sunlight shifts away from the hole in the wall, I lose sight of myself.
I anchor my focus back out of the hole in search for the cloud that has stolen my light, but instead, I see him. Dirt covered knees hit the ground, and an eye looks back at me. “We obviously need to get this hole patched up,” Snatcher says quietly under his breath. “Light will keep you sane, and we can’t have that.”

“Please let me out,” I beg, as I always beg when this man is in the vicinity of my presence.
A howl of laughter floats through the air outside. “Only your mother can let you out.” My mother.

“Do you know my mother?” I cry. His eye disappears from my view and his dirt covered knee waves by, leaving me with the view of dirt. The sound of his footsteps grow and shrink as if he is walking back and forth, amplifying my fear of what he’s going to do next. Anger sears through me like it does several times a day, and I pound my fists against the walls, praying for a crack in one of the boards. With no shoes or hard objects, I’m left with nothing but my weak body parts to help me out of here.

“Shut up,” he screams, his voice sounding as if he swallowed a mouthful of gravel. “Shut up you, you little bitch.” The speed of his steps increases. His anger is growing, and I consider what will happen if I push him over the edge. Death does not seem like the worst option anymore. Remaining in this box does.

I pound my fists harder into the boards, feeling the splinters slice through my knuckles. The wood is distressed in the places I’ve beaten over the years—above and below each crack and hole I have pounded with all of my strength, but my weakness does little damage.

With a thud, the barrel of a gun presses through the hole, sealing the spec of light. “How do you know where I’m standing?” I ask calmly. If he shoots and misses me, there might be a new hole for me to look through. “Please, shoot your weapon. I’m standing right in front of it.” I stare down at the barrel from the side, waiting for the eruption of metal to break its way through the shed. Minutes pass, however, and nothing but silence blasts through these four walls. “Are you scared?”

The barrel disappears, allowing the light back in, but I know he’s still there. I can hear him breathing. I can hear the heaviness of each one of his breaths. I think I can hear his racing heartbeat too, but that may only be a part of my imagination. “How do you know my mother?” I ask. Mom was, maybe still is, a nurse at the local hospital in the town I used to live in before I was taken. She worked long hours to put food on the table for the two of us, often coming home well after midnight and leaving again before sunrise. She told me life wouldn’t always be so challenging, but sacrifices are sometimes needed to survive. We were hardly teetering on the edge of survival. After Dad had died, our sacrifices became meals, safety, and warm water. But like she always told me, surrendering is never an option. Fighting is the only way to survive. So I will fight for her.
“Your mother is a coward. She is weak, stupid, and na├»ve. She screwed up, and now she’s going through what I went through.” What he went through.

“What?” I shout. I shove the heels of my palms into my ears, needing to erase everything I just heard. I slam my head into the wall, clenching my eyes, and grinding my teeth. I hit my head again, and again. “Stop it. Stop it. Stop it,” I mutter to myself. I scream through my teeth, tugging at my hair, feeling the snap of a few frail strands. “Just do it, you coward!”

“You’re not locked in here so I can kill you,” he seethes. His mouth is so close to the hole, spit sprays from his mouth, wetting the outline of the wooden hole. “This is karma. Sometimes karma needs to be jumpstarted.”

“Maybe you don’t understand how karma works then.” I unfold my hand once more and grip the key tightly between my fingers. I kneel down putting my face in front of the hole. “You know what?” I ask, pulling in his attention. I don’t know what the hell this key is for, seeing as there are no goddamn locks on the inside of this shed, but, I know one thing it can do.

Baiting him in, his eye lines up with the hole again and I shove the key right through the hole and into his eye.

The shed shakes, rumbling with growls and obscenities.

Once more, light returns to the hole and his feet stomp around to the front where the door is. The lock on the outside clatters against the wall and I hold my breath. I close my eyes.

And I pray for death.


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Drip. Drop. Drip. Drops of blood trickle down over Snatcher’s dirt covered fist as he presses it against his right eye. I exhale slowly through my nose. I’m not afraid. His top lip curls into a snarl as his nostrils flare in and out. In and out. I try not to blink, tremor or breathe too heavily as I take small steps toward him. I’m not afraid. With force, I press my lips into a tiny grin—bravery will hide my fear—as I take the remaining few steps up to where his shadow begins. I’m not afraid.

With his free hand, he reaches over to his hip, retrieving his gun. He told me he didn’t want to kill me, which means he only wants to hurt me—to make me suffer. He points his gun at my face, but I don’t think he’ll shoot.

Another shadow covers the light from behind Snatcher, forcing a pause in the action. “What are you doing out here, son?” he shouts. “This ain’t something you need to concern yourself with.”

Son. It’s Sin.

“Don’t hurt her,” Sin says, his voice is soft and rough just as I remember from the other day.

“Boy, you really have gone crazy, haven’t you now?”

“Don’t hurt her,” Sin says, his calm demeanor soothing in a way that makes me believe he has power over Snatcher, but I shouldn’t be fooled to think such things.

Snatcher’s harrowing laughter bellows as Sin’s shadow grows larger, covering more of the light. “Why don’t you join her in there if you care so much?” Snatcher waves his arm toward me as his laughter continues to echo inside of the shed and my head.

“You don’t know what you’re doing. Don’t you hear that?” Sin asks him.

“This roof is coming off today. She’ll die in here.” I close my eyes to listen for whatever he’s talking about, but I only hear slight howls of the wind.

“That tornado ain’t touching us,” Snatcher growls.
Tornado? Here? They come here? There hasn’t been one in the three years I’ve been here, and we didn’t have tornadoes where I lived before—warnings sometimes, but never something too bad. We would get hit with nasty thunderstorms and hurricane winds from the coast, but other than that, the weather was never a concern.

“You see that?” Sin says, pointing off into the distance.

“She’s fine,” Snatcher grunts. “Now, get back to work. That wood ain’t chopping itself.”

Snatcher pulls the door shut, locking me back in, locking themselves out. Sounds of wrestling and thumps against the door make me jump back a couple of feet. The clatter of their groans and enraged words clash against the sound of the growing wind. The roof is going to get torn off, Sin said.

I drop down in the corner beside the hole in the wall, tucking my knees into my chest and wrapping my arms tightly around myself. I wish I didn’t still feel the fear. Out of everything I can’t feel any more, fear is the one thing I wish I could forget.

As whistles of wind seep in through the cracks on both sides of me, I peek out through the hole, scared of what I might see. I should be scared. Ghostly dark clouds are kissing the sprigs of grass in the distance, confirming Sin’s assumptions.

I turn around and look in each corner of the empty shed, wondering which spot might be safest. But I don’t think anywhere in here is safe. Pulling myself up off the ground, I run to the door and press on it slightly, checking to see if Snatcher had time to seal the lock before their scuffle began. I wonder if they’re even still out there.

Surprisingly, the door gives way a couple of inches, enough space to see the two of them grappling on the ground—Sin getting in most of the punches. Snatcher looks like he’s giving up or becoming too weak to fight back, and I can only hope that to be the case. Sin’s shirt is torn nearly in half, exposing his back and the muscles that contract and relax every time he moves. I’ve never seen muscles so defined and large.

“You caused this,” Sin grunts. The veins on his forehead are thick and red, and sweat is dripping down his face. “I was put into that nut house because of you. You killed her. You did.”

“Don’t be a fool, son. Everyone knows you did it.”

Killed who?

Sin pounds his fist directly into Snatcher’s cheekbone, which seems to knock Snatcher unconscious. Unfazed, Sin stands up and shoves his fingers through his dark, thick hair while spitting out a mouthful of blood.

Should I… my pulse races with hope as I press the door open a few more inches, causing a moaning sound within the hinge. Sin’s focus meets mine, but I can only look at him for so long as the dull, grey light in the sky nearly blinds me. I haven’t been in the presence of this much brightness in three years, and it’s completely overwhelming and painful. The scent of wildflowers, soil, and fresh air is almost too pungent compared to the dust and mildew saturated oxygen I've become accustomed to.  

Another hard gust of wind takes me by surprise and pushes the door and me backwards, sealing me inside once more. No. No. No. I quickly regain my balance and shove against the door again, this time falling directly into Sin’s arms.

Warmth. So much warmth.

“Let’s go,” Sin says gruffly. I’m free. Am I free? The soft dirt tickles the bottom of my feet as Sin pulls me away from the shed. The wind, while harsh and angry, feels amazing on my face, and the way the material of my shirt brushes up against my bare flesh makes me smile. I don’t fight against the force Sin is using to drag me away, but maybe I should. And maybe I should focus on the black clouds threatening to swallow us whole, but I don’t want to.

“Where are we going?” I ask breathlessly.

“The basement.” There’s a basement? We continue running until my legs give out, which doesn’t take long. I don’t have enough strength or muscle to carry me far.

“I can’t—” I wheeze heavily, falling to my knees, wincing in pain from the small pebbles and gravelly dirt stabbing at my skin. “I can’t run.”
He scoops me up in his arms and throws me over his shoulder as if I were nothing more than a bag of sand. We move quickly through the rocky terrain and across a dirt road until we reach a slight hill, which reveals a large house with old brown-shingled siding and several broken windows. “The basement is in there?”

He doesn’t respond, but his speed picks up until we arrive in front of two metal doors protruding from the ground. As he places me down on my feet so he can fuss with the locks, I notice a patch of green grass off to the left of me. I need to feel it. Reaching my foot over, I sweep my toes over the blades, remembering the sensation, relishing it.

“Come on,” he says. I turn my attention to the open doors that lead to a set of deteriorating cement stairs. With Sin’s hand gripping my forearm, I’m tugged down the steps, tripping myself several times before reaching the bottom. “Stay here.”

He hits a switch, illuminating the daunting stonewalls around us and runs back up the steps to seal the doors, locking them with a metal bar from the inside. “What about your dad?” I ask.

He hops down the stairs and steps directly in front of me, showing me how much larger he is than I am. “He can rot out there.”

“Oh,” I say. I think that would be okay.

As I study his face, I see the wounds left behind from his brawl, and I reach up and touch the side of his cheekbone. “You’re bleeding.” His skin is so rough that each follicle of facial hair pricks my skin like tiny needles. I don’t flinch from the pain, but he flinches from my touch.
I ball my hands together against my chest, looking around the basement for something to help with his bleeding. Behind him, I spot a rag and reach over to retrieve it. Without thinking, I bring it up to his face. “Here,” I say, holding the material down over the wound as I apply pressure. It’s what the nurse in mom would have told me to do. His eye twitches as I press a little firmer. “I’m sorry.”

He nods his head and wraps his hand around mine, pulling it away from his face. “Don’t be,” he snaps. His edginess frightens me a bit, but not enough to make me back away. Something about him makes me want to stay right where I am.

As I continue dabbing at the wound, cleaning up the excess blood, a thousand questions flood my mind. But the only thing I really want to know is, “Have you been here this whole time? All three years?”
Again, he nods. “No. I was locked up, and I just came back home last week after being gone for four years.”

“Were you alone, deprived, and tortured too?” Doesn’t sound as brutal when I say it out loud.

“Yes,” he says. “And I know what deprivation causes.”

“What does it cause?” I ask quietly.

The tips of his fingers feather softly across my cheek, making me want to lean into his touch—a touch—and beg for more. Why is he touching me like this? “After being held in solitary confinement for so long, a soft, gentle sensation feels foreign. So foreign, it can be unbearably painful,” he says. “Do you feel it? The pain.”

He’s right. Aching chills shoot down the lower half of my back, but I won’t complain after craving the feeling of someone’s touch for so long. “Yes,” I utter.

“Then there’s the whole fulfilling hunger after starvation problem. It can make a person sick. Very, very sick.” He removes his fingers from my cheek and in turn, presses his thumb against my bottom lip. I think I want to taste the salt on his skin because I can’t remember what salt tastes like. But his thumb moves away quickly and the look in his eyes darkens with anger, or hunger, or maybe I don’t know what the look is.
I close my eyes, feeling foolish and out of control. “What else?” I whisper, fighting off a new sense of fear.

Both of his hands cup around my cheeks with a slight roughness as he forces me to open my eyes and look up at him. “You want to know the scariest observation I’ve come across since being out?”

“What is it?” I ask, my heart hammering against my rib cage.

“The aftershock of a storm can be way worse than the storm itself.”


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The light is gone. There are no cracks or holes in these walls—only darkness. The howls from the wind are also gone—there is no sound at all, actually. Sin said we need to wait before opening the door, and I don’t know why. “The worst of the storm must be over,” I say into the darkness. “Don’t you think?” I’d like to leave this basement now. That’s what I think.

Silence.

He was standing beside me when the power went off, but he’s not here now. I drop down to my knees, feeling around in front and behind me. I’m not familiar with this basement, and I don’t know how large it is, so I haven’t gone far. “Don’t move,” he finally says.
I stand back up, walking toward his voice, ignoring his demand. “Don’t tell me what to do,” I say quietly. Maybe I should be afraid of him. I’m not.

His hand catches my arm, and he squeezes tightly. A little too tightly. “I told you not to move.” His touch and words make me freeze in place. Maybe I am a little afraid.

When his hand releases from my arm, I take a couple of steps back, feeling the edge of the steps at my calves. I need to get out of here. I take slow, careful steps backwards—up the stairs until I run my hand over the metal bar on the door. I press on the edge, trying to push it to the side. Freedom feels almost close enough to touch; yet the feeling in my gut tells me I’m nowhere near escaping this nightmare. Mom always said, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” She was talking about my similarities to Dad, but I think I might be able to say the same about Sin and his father.

As the metal bar unhinges a smidge, I’m grabbed, dragged down the steps and pinned up against a wall. “Don’t leave me,” he says, breathing heavily against my lips.

His hands are heavy, pressed against my shoulders and the uneven stones on the wall behind me are knifing into my skin. “You’re hurting me,” I utter.

He immediately releases the pressure and rests his hands over me gently instead. “Why were you locked up?” I ask, wishing I could see his face, the look in his eyes, anything that might be an indication of who he is, who he was.

“Why were you locked up?” he retorts.

“I don’t know.” I wish I knew. I think. Or, maybe not.

“I know why we were both locked up,” he says.

My heart flutters and a squeezing pain bites around my gut. I clench my hands tightly, unsure if I’m capable of learning the reason for my three-year imprisonment. “But you won’t tell me, will you?” I ask. That would be too easy after all of this time.

Sin’s hand finds my face, and his thumb grazes back and forth from my ear to the corner of my eye. “It was my fault,” he says gently. “I shouldn’t have agreed to help my father.”
“Help him do what?” I ask. “What did you do?”

“Reese,” he whispers. “Do you remember me?” The question completely alarms me, makes my head hurt, and my body ache even more. Remember him. Where would I have seen him? I close my eyes, suddenly needing more darkness than what is already around me to recollect the memory of him. Remember him. Remember him. I went to an all-girls school. I had two friends who lived on the same street as I did, and I played soccer, but that was with all girls too. I have never met a man like him.

“No, I don’t remember you. Should I?” I know I would remember him if I had known him. I wouldn’t have forgotten his face. Those eyes. Although I suppose people can change in three years, as I imagine I have.

“You remember me,” he begins. “You were standing in front of me when both of our lives changed. You looked right at my face. Your eyes were wide like you had seen a ghost. You hugged yourself tightly as someone dragged me away, and you followed me halfway down the hall until you were called back. You told the nurses not to hurt me. Don’t you remember?”

Despite the barrage of memories flooding through my fragile mind, I have forgotten how to breathe in the past fifteen seconds. It’s as if a vacuum has sucked all of the wind out of me, and it’s because I do remember. The lost, young man being taken away against his will is one of the last memories I have before I was taken. I had forgotten that day entirely, partially because Snatcher knocked me out shortly after, and partly because I didn’t want to remember anything leading up to the moment I was attacked. Now, I’m trying to remember everything, though.

With little flashes of memories from that day, I remember thinking Sin must have been only a couple of years older than I was. His hair was everywhere—a complete mess, and his eyes were sad and scared. I was scared for him, and yet, I didn’t even know him or why he was there. They had him in a blue hospital gown with cuffs around his wrists. Those cuffs were tight—I recall studying the red rings around his wrists as they dragged him down the hall, wondering how much it must have hurt. They wouldn’t even let him talk. They wouldn’t hear me out either, but it was because I was a no one and shouldn’t have been there in the first place. I only wanted to know what he did to make people so angry with him. I wanted to know why he was being dragged off against his will and where they were taking him.  Those were questions I never got to ask. “I do remember you.”

“Okay. Do you know what I was blamed for?” he asks, backing away, leaving me to feel lost again in the thick opaqueness of this room.

“No,” I tell him, looking in every direction for a hint of where he might be. It’s useless, though.

“Good,” he whispers into my ear, startling me.

“I need some light. I just need a little light. Panic has been bubbling in my belly for what seems like an hour and I can’t—I can’t deal without the light.”

“He might be out there, Reese. Leaving is not a good idea.”

“We should at least try. He might not be out there,” I argue. “Are we in his basement? He could easily find us down here, couldn’t he?”

“This is not his basement. He won’t find us down here,” he says firmly.

“I want to leave,” I tell him again.

“No. No. No!” he shouts. “We need to stay here. We need to wait.”

My breaths fall shorter, heavier, harder. I feel like the walls are caving in on me, and the ceiling is falling, falling, falling. I imagine deadly dagger-like spikes in the wall growing closer, threatening to end my fears and struggles. Musty air saturates my lungs, and I wheeze through each breath. Screaming is hard, but I manage wispy cries that reach a soft peak before silent air continues to steal all of my sound. I pull at my hair and scrape my nails against my neck. I need the light. I need light. I need air. “I need—please. Please. Please,” I cry senseless, useless words. “Help. Help.”

Sin’s arms reach around me, embracing me. My head his against his chest and I can hear his erratic heartbeat—like the thundering sound of an earthquake. He squeezes me tighter, and I ignore the pain. His hand grips around the back of my neck and the side of his face brushes against mine—his razor-blade hairs scratching at my skin. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry,” he breathes into my ear. “Forgive me. Please. I need you to forgive me. That’s all I need. Then you can go.” The warmth of his body allows the images of the closing walls to blur within my mind. I should want him to let go, but I need the comfort.

“Forgive you for what?”

He releases me, and again, he’s gone, but this time I hear metal clanking. It’s the door—he’s opening the door and letting in the light. I just need a little light, and I’ll be okay. I’ll be okay. The door parts with a crack, but the light doesn’t leak in. Where is the light? I clamber up the steps, using my hands and feet, finding Sin’s legs at the top of the stairs. “Where is the light?”

“It’s night.”

“But there should be a moon, stars, something. Right?” I peek out through the crack just enough to see that there are no stars and no moon. Just low bearing clouds and rain locking in the darkness of the night’s sky.

“We’ll leave in the morning. He could be out there.”

“Leave to go where?” I ask.

“I don’t know, but I can’t be found, Reese. You have to understand something; I can’t take the chance on someone seeing me.” He closes the door in front of us, locking it back up with the metal rod. “Maybe you should go yourself.”

“Right now? You’ll let me out?” I ask.

“Yes, but you should understand that my father might be right outside, and I won’t be able to control what he does to you.” I sit down by Sin’s feet, resting my elbows on my knees and holding my head in my hands. I could go, but I’d be alone in the dark. Alone and in the dark. I nod my head, knowing he can’t see, but I’m admitting to myself that I’m safer here with Sin in the dark than I am outside in the dark where Snatcher could find me.
“Are you going to hurt me?” I ask.

His hand is around my elbow, and he pulls me up to my feet. “I already have hurt you. Don’t you understand this?”

“No, I don’t.”

“You should think wisely about your decision. And you should know that I lived in the psych ward of a hospital for the past several years, sometimes spending days surrounded by padded walls while suffocated in a straightjacket.”

“Before that, who were you? You know, we were both someone before we were taken. Right?” There is a pause within his words and I don’t know if he’s thinking of what to say or expects me to go first. I suppose it would be easier if I started. “As for me: I was a bookworm who loved sitting outdoors on our front porch with a book until the sun set each night. I also loved to visit the sick children at the hospital and play with them when they were well enough to play. And sometimes I babysat for our neighbors’ twins. Then on Sundays, I would volunteer to help watch the town’s babies during church. I tried to do as much good as I could, and I wasn’t supposed to be taken or tortured for three years. That’s not what’s supposed to happen to good people.”

He’s breathing heavily beside me as his feet shuffle against the concrete. “I worked for my father,” he says. “We’d cut firewood for the town.”

“What else?”

“There is nothing else. I cut wood, I ate my meals, I went to bed, and I’d do it all over again the next day.”

“No school?” I ask.

“I’d go sometimes, but my father didn’t seem to think I needed an education to cut wood.”

“Well, what about your mother. What does she do?” I assume his parents aren’t together, but nothing would shock me now, especially since I didn’t know Sin existed—or rather, was Snatcher’s son until a week ago.

“My mother is buried in the ground behind the shed,” he says, sounding as if a breath is caught in his throat.

She’s dead. But—“What did she die from?” Please don’t confirm my fear. Please, no. Please.

“Next question,” he says, anger firing through his voice.  He would only be avoiding the question if my assumption were correct. The memory of Snatcher blaming a murder on Sin reels through my head. He must have killed his mother. Who would do that to their mother? This man is a murderer, and I’m locked in a dark basement with him. He could kill me too. Maybe Snatcher was waiting for Sin to do his dirty work. That’s why I’m here.

“Sin?”

“Yes?”

“Were you ill before you were locked up?”

“That’s up for debate,” he says.

“Well, the doctors must have determined that you are now healthy if they let you out. Right?” I ask, knowing I’m only trying to convince myself that I’m going to be okay in here with him.

“Yes, Reese,” he says. “That would be true. If the doctors were the ones who let me out.”

__________________________________________________________

***Recommended for anyone 18+ due to upcoming dark themes and adult language***

Stay tuned for next week’s episode. It will air on Friday on Shari J Ryan's blog!
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About the Author:
Shari J. Ryan is an Amazon Top 100 Bestselling author, a Barnes & Noble Top 10 Bestselling author, and an iBookstore #1 Bestselling author. 
She hails from Central Massachusetts where she lives with her husband and two lively little boys. Shari has always had an active imagination and enjoys losing herself in the fictional worlds she creates. When Shari isn’t writing, she can usually be found cleaning toys up off the floor.
To learn more, visit her at, www.sharijryan.com.





Brought to you by the Author, Shari J Ryan and Paging Through The Days.

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