They Beat Me Down

Monica just lost her dad. She didn't know where he went. He just disappeared. Gone. Her mom is worried and for good reason. She knows about the family business.

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1. Goodbye.

“Mondays. I hate and always will hate Mondays.” I say as I drag myself out of bed, “And being a freshman is boring! I already know all the stuff they are teaching us!” I complain to my Mom.

    “Well, you aren’t getting out of it so get your hiney ready for school.” Mom mother said playfully, “Oh, don’t forget that you have a science quiz today.”

    “Ya, well I always get an A so it doesn’t even matter. Just think of it as another assignment. They only difference is that you have to finish it in class and you can’t look in your textbook! Plus I never use the text book on assignments anyway.” I say.

    “Sure, just wait till you have actually challenging work.” She said walking out of the room.

    “When will that be? Two days from never?” I say sarcastically. I was not about to let her get the last say in this conversation. I look at my clock. Crap! I have ten minutes! I throw on some clean clothes, brush my teeth quickly, and grab a breakfast bar on my way out the door.

    “Adios Mom! See you after school!” I yell already halfway down the sidewalk. I jog about two blocks down before I start to walk. As I approach the school, I hear Jewel’s voice behind me.

    “Hey Monica! Wait for me!” I slow down and a few seconds later Jewel runs up beside me.

    “Hey Girl! What up?” I say giving her a side hug.

    “Nothing. Absolutely Nada.” She says, “Is there any news on your father?”

    “Well not yet, but Mom thinks we will hear from him soon.” I see reassuring. However the truth is my father is still missing, without a trace. The police are not positive. Mother is really worried. But my problems should not get in the way of her good day. Jewel means well.

    “That’s too bad. Well we all hope. On another note, can you help me study for science at lunch? I forgot to study last night.” Jewel is not and never will be organized. And an eighty year old man has a better memory.

    “Sure.” I say. The bell briefly interrupts our conversation. “Well we better get to first period. See you at lunch!”

    “Ok bye!” Marisol says as she walks away. I grab my English books and make my way to my desk, my personal prison. The last bell rings as I start to take my seat. I slap my books on my desk and turn my attention to the teacher. Forty two minutes of boredom start. Mr. Slagerman talks for a very long time and the rest of the day goes by in a monotonous, dreary blob. By the end of the day, my brain had reached its limit of boredom. Jewel usually walks home with me but today she had a piano lesson with the music teacher and had to stay at school. As I started my trek to school double checking in my mind if there was anything I forgot in the classroom. I have my lunch box, my science book, my files, and…

    “Hey mind if I walk with you?” comes an unfamiliar voice from behind. I whip my head around to see Alex. He is in my Spanish, PE, and Geometry class by kept to himself and never talks.

    “Hey Alex! Sure, you can walk with me.” He steps up next to me. “So what’s up with you?” I said trying to get a conversation started.

    “Oh nothing.” He says, still using as few words as possible. He looks around nervously.

    “Are you ok? You look kind of jittery.” I say concerned.

   “Ok the truth is, I am walking with you because I keep seeing this guy. I’ve seen him around the school but only when you’re around. You may not notice it, but three times this week I have seen him when you are around.” At first I was too stunned to speak. But as the truth sunk in, I realized what that meant. “And I figured I could keep you company, just in case.” He finished. There was this awkward silence all the way to my house. And the funny thing is, Every time I would look over at him, He was looking at me. Considering we are freshmen I don’t know what to think of him. When we got to my house, he stopped at the end of the driveway.

    “I guess I will see you at school tomorrow,” He says sheepishly.

    “Yeah I guess so.” I reply awkwardly, ”So, bye!” I say before walking up to my door. As I lock the door he is still there, at the end of the driveway. I smile before closing and locking the door. I turn and head toward the kitchen to grab my after school snack.

    “Mom! I’m home!” I yell. My mom is usually upstairs working on some big assignment from the publishers. My mom a journalist for a newspaper. My dad works for some big oil company in another country. I can’t remember which one though. I didn’t hear my mother’s reply. I decided to take a detour to the study to say hi to her. I went up to her study that she shares with Dad As I approach the door I hear country music.I smile remembering that mom always listens to country while she works. I pause before entering to knock.

    “Hey Mom! I’m home from school. I step inside and freeze. She isn’t here.

    “MONICA!!!” I hear my mom’s yelp coming from the kitchen. I immediately darted down the stairs, my heart pounding with each step. I fly around the corner, my imagination running wild through my head trying to figure out what could be going on. As I run into the kitchen, I see my mom sitting down on one of our kitchen chairs. I slow to a jog as I reach her.

    “Mom? What’s wrong?” I say hesitantly. My mom’s head whips around and I have never forgotten her face. Blurs of crimson were running down her tear stained face, her mouth was hanging open and the expression of horror scrawled across her beautiful features. That was the last time I ever saw her and the last thing I saw that day.

    The next time I awoke, I had a throbbing pain in my head and shoulder. I was lying on a metal sheet that stuck out from the wall. The room I was in was basically a prison cell. It had metal walls, metal floors, and vertical bars as a door. There was a guard on both sides of the outside of my cell.

    “Where am I?” was the first thing that escaped my lips as I started to sit up. Before I got too far a sharp pain slashed through my head like a sword. I shrieked and collapsed back on the makeshift bed. I heard a mocking snicker from one of the guards. I scowled in his direction. Obviously I wasn’t anywhere nice. As I relaxed again, I let my mind wander through the events of the day. My mind immediately remembered my mother’s face as she stared at me with terror. Then my mind raced through the list of others who might be here as well. Let’s see, my mom, my dad, me…My sister that was away at college, and my two year old brother that was staying at my grandparent’s house. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I heard indistinct talking and gingerly opened one eye. Unfortunately, I wish I hadn’t. Just as I opened my eye, I saw a guard carrying my unconscious little brother past my cell. Without thinking I leapt off my bed and yelled my brother’s name, but as I leapt my shoulder screamed at me and I fell to the ground. I heard more chuckles from the guards. If I wouldn’t have had an injury I would have jumped up, reached around the bars and strangled him. But I kept my cool and rested until my shoulder felt better, then tried to sit slowly up. Eventually after many tries, I managed to sit up and lean against the metal slab. I carefully laid my head on my knees and started to cry. It was hard to tell how long I did, but after a long while, I heard my name being whispered.

    “Monica?” I looked up but no one was outside my bars except the two guards.

    “Monica!” I realized it was coming from through the wall! With great effort, I maneuvered my way over and leaned my ear against the wall.

    “Monica!” The voice sounded excited now.

    “Yeah! Who is it?” I said back.

    “Oh! Sweetheart! I am so glad you’re ok!” there is only one person that could be.

    “MOM! Well… I wouldn’t say ok. They injured my shoulder. But other than that I am ok! Do you know where we are?”

    “No. I don’t even know what time of day it is.”

    “Mom I will get us out of here, ok? I promise.” I waited a few seconds for her reply but got none.  “Mom are you ok?” I still received no answer. I found out later that I never got to keep that promise.

~~~~~

    There were no windows in the cell so I figured that when they turn the light off that it was night. Judging by that, I had been in the cell for two days. I didn’t get any food the first day and the next day they slid in a piece of bread and a cup of water.  By then I was starving and I ravagly stuffed the bread into my mouth and then downed the water in two seconds flat. My shoulder pain had dulled down. There was still a dull ache and I only with great effort and much time could I move. This is the third day .I thought to myself as I laid my head on the cold metal slab that I now call my bed. I closed my eyes but immediately reopened them. The lights were flickering back on?  You could tell that the lights were old because it took them longer than a turtle running a marathon to turn on and off. They finally switched all the way on and I saw the most horrible figure standing in front of my cell. His dull brown eyes glimmered as the cell door opened and he stepped inside. The smirk on his tan face did not seem welcoming. His eyes seemed to stare right through me and seemed to know everything about me. Adrenaline coursed through my veins and I sat upright. My shoulder shrieked at me and I grimaced and clenched my teeth. His smile faded and he whispered into one of the guards ears. The guard saluted and walked off.

    “Hello dear.” His voice was surprisingly smooth and it sent shivers up my spine. I said nothing. The soldier returned with a plain wooden chair and set it on the ground across from me, whispered in the man’s ear and left again. The man sat down on the chair.

  “Let me introduce myself. My name is Sir. What would yours be?”  He looked at me expecting an answer. I didn’t want to cooperate. “Monica I suggest you help us out. Otherwise things look not so good for you.” I was stunned as he said my name.

    I meekly whispered, “OK” and he seemed satisfied.

    “Well let me just say I am very sorry about your shoulder. I told them not to hurt you. Sometimes they can be such nincompoops.” This made me smile but it quickly vanished as I remembered who he was. However I started to think that maybe he was on my side.

    “It is a shame that such a pretty girl like yourself was hurt.” He said. I looked at the ground and smiled again.

    “He smiled at me and then continued, “I just want to know a few things about your dad’s work. Ok?” I just nodded and then he continued, “So I am going to ask you a few questions. Here we go; do you know what oil company you dad works for?” Truthfully my dad was always very secretive about his work. I had only heard what the company name was like two times and had quickly forgotten it.

    “No, not really. I only overheard it once or twice but I forgot it.” I said quietly.

    “Ok that is quite normal. Have you ever heard him talking about where he was sending the oil to or where the oil was coming from?” came the next question.

    “No. He never talked about his work with me.”

    “Really. Well I have something that might spark your memory. He turned and nodded at the guard outside my cell. He came in and stood before me. The next thing I knew, sharp pain pierced through my jaw. I shrieked and held my hand to my now swollen cheek. This time I didn’t say anything.

    “Still nothing to say?” He nodded again and this time the pain swelled through my other stomach as the wind in my lungs left me and I was left gasping to pull it back.

    “One more chance for today, Got any better answers to my questions?” He said after I had gotten a hold on my breath. Only silence followed. Sir got up from his chair and sighed.

    “Nice meeting you Monica.” He said before turning and leaving the cell followed closely by the guard who locked the door behind him. He returned the next day and asked different questions followed my the guard punching me. This carried on in uniform for the next five days but oddly the harder he hit the tighter my mouth shut. At one point they realized this and fixed the problem.

    “Good morning Monica!” Sir said in a way to cheerful voice. I looked up at him and noticed that the guard wasn’t with him.

    “I don’t have the answers you are looking for.” I said harshly.

    “Oh honey, If we believed that you would still be at home.”  I rolled my eyes.

    “Well what makes you think that I am going to tell you anything without your little flying monkey?”

    “You know I was thinking about that too. I felt like we weren’t getting anywhere with you so I came up with another plan. We will hurt your friend instead.” When he said it I have no idea what he meant. But as the cell door opened I saw exactly what his new plan was. The door opened to reveal Alex tied to a chair exactly like the one Sir was sitting in. My heart did a backflip as I saw his face. He looked just as my mother did, his mouth wide open and fear evident on his face. Crimson also stained his otherwise neat hair. His sleepy eyes widened to the size of dinner plates when he saw me and he started to pull at the restraints. I tried to put on my best poker face as he started asking questions. I answered both questions truthfully just as if Alex wasn’t here.

    Once he finished the first two questions he said, “Is there anything more you would like to tell us about any the questions we have asked you?” I shook my head and he turned and nodded at the guard. But instead of moving towards me he took a hard swing at Alex.

    “NOOO!!!” I yelled as Alex winced in pain and a slight whimper echoed through the room. That hit was exponentially harder than he had ever hit me. A small stream of blood came through his swelling cheek. My heart dropped to the deepest part of me. I slid my head into my hands. He knew nothing! I hadn’t met him until he approached me that afternoon. He is hurt because he wanted to help ME and keep ME safe!!! And now he is hurt. He was innocent but is now suffering because of me.

    “So, do you have any new answers for me?” came Sir’s voice echoing in my ear. “Do I have anything I can tell him?” was the resounding answer that swirled around among the question. I heard Sir and the guard walking out of the room and I lifted my head and saw Alex staring right back at me as he was dragged out the door. I slid my head back to my hands and shed one more tear. Why did he even want to walk home with me in the first place if it meant that he was in danger? I willed myself to think of other things but my mind kept coming back to Alex. Eventually the lights turned off and I groaned as I slid my bruised and battered legs onto my ‘bed’. Then I felt something new growing inside of me. A seed was planted and I could feel it worming through the soil to reach the surface. I did not know it but that seed soon grew to cover my heart and it would become my protection and only an intense heat of passion and love could eventually wither this large plant.

    For the next few days no one came into my cell. No visits from Sir or anyone for that matter. I had started to keep a tally of days I had been in the cell. The total is 28 days. That is almost a month. But today I got a visitor, a new one. He stood before my cell. He looked quite pleasant except for the scar that seemed to slither down his neck. His low, powerful voice echoed in the large hallway as he commanded the guard to open the cell. When the doors opened he did not step inside but instead he spoke.

    “Get up and come this way dear.” Slid through his lips like silk. I stood with great effort and walked, if you can even call it that, after him as he led me through a maze of corridors. I kept my eyes open for anything marked exit. But we arrived to a very narrow hallway before I found one. At the end of the hallway was one set of double doors. The man opened the door and ushered me through. It was extremely dark. The only light source was the light from the doorway. I see the light disappear and turn around the see the door slam behind me. I am now in pitch dark. I feel around me and find a table to my right. The surface was smooth only interrupted by a small dent. I hear footsteps and muffled voices. I step away from the table and face away from the door. It opens quickly and I turn to see, not a man, but two girls standing in the doorway. They were both wearing skin tight jumpsuits and had this evil smirk on their face. One of them stepped forward and flipped her blonde ponytail before speaking.

    “So, this is Monica. She won’t put up much of a fight. Will she, Tey Tey?” The evil smirk returns and she glances back at who I assume is ‘Tey Tey’”.

    “I think you’re right Lexy! How should we start?” ‘Lexy’ sashayed forward so that she was standing even with Tey Tey. My heart was pounding and I felt the cold rush of adrenaline coursing through me as I figured out the meaning behind their words.

    “Let’s just go for it.” Tey Tey snickered and stepped back so that Lexy could take the first swing. I pulled on my best fighting face and got ready, my heart beating even faster. Lexy swung her fist toward the side of my head. I tried to duck but I still felt the full force of her punch. It knocked me to the ground. After a few more punches I quit fighting. This went on for what felt like forever and ever and ever. I never thought it would end. I could barely stand. But then they let me collapse in a chair and left. Another the smooth voiced man returned a little later and had me walk to another room. It was another hallway like the one before and almost identical doors. It was almost pitch dark except for one spotlight focused on a figure slumped over in a chair. Blood and tear stains covered his white coat. Then it dawned on me.

    “Dad?” the slumped over figure’s head shot up and I barely recognized the pale face of my father. “Dad!” Another spotlight fell on an empty metal chair. The smooth voiced man pointed to the chair and I got the message. My dad got the message too and a tear rolled down his cheek before I had sat down. A rough voice came over a speaker as I was getting tied to the chair.

    “Monica! I am so glad to finally lay eyes on you. You are a beautiful girl! I can see why this is one of your dad’s sensitive topics.” My dad’s eyes lock with mine then a split second later he pulled away, ashamed.

    “Let us begin.” Sir’s voice sounded from the speaker. I thought for sure they were there to interrogate me so the first question shocked me.

    “ So Mark, Will you tell us where the shipments carrying the bombs are going?” I turned to my dad expecting him to answer but instead I find him just sitting there. He wasn’t answering. A sharp pain pierced through my jaw. I went to cradle the wound but remembered my hands were tied. Several more questions were spat out, followed by silence from my dad, followed by a solid smack from the smooth voiced man. After a while the rough voice from the speaker decided to come down himself. He had scruff on his chin and his suit was ripped. He asked another question and after a period of silence he nodded at the smooth voiced man and he sliced my arm. I grit my teeth to keep from screaming out. I couldn’t believe he would do this to me, my own dad! He is supposed to protect his family but instead he put them in jeopardy. I was sliced and punched and kicked but he never gave in. And then he asked the next question. After two more questions, he spoke a sentence to my dad that still rings in my ears.

    “I guess you love your secrets even more than your beautiful daughter.” My dad looked away and a tear slipped silently slipped to the floor.

    “Ok, You have made your choice. We will have to torture you and your daughter.” He nodded to the smooth voiced man. The smooth voice man leaned back my chair and started to haul me away. The rough voiced man followed behind us all the way to my cell. The chair’s screeching stopped and I was untied in my cell. I quickly moved straight to my bed. The smooth voice man left after the rough voiced man came in.

    “Well beautiful, let me introduce us. That man was Gus and I am Steven.” I looked down to the floor. I feel Stevens cool fingers on my chin. I lifted my chin and he looked straight into my eyes. His rough fingers softly moved up my chin and cradled the side of my face. I was scared but too tired to resist. I wished my dad was here.

    “You really are a gorgeous little flower aren’t you, princess.” He turned and started to walk out of my cell as a low chuckle escaped his lips. Closing the door behind him, He sauntered away and the light flicked off. I was so scared, sitting alone in the darkness. My exhausted mind and body struggled to understand what just happened. I have to get out of here.

    This cycle carried on for many days. Each day after the next I resisted even less and my faith in my dad also diminished. By the fifth day, I was out of spirit and had given up hope of getting out. I felt like I was soaking in a bowl of acid and my heart was a razor blade shredding my hopes of a beautiful future. I sluggishly followed orders for two days till at last I saw a glimmering shiny chance; not a big one but big enough. Every day, Gus came and took me to the same room and at the end of the day took me back the same way. But one day we went a different route. Gus denied it, but I think he was lost. We eventually made it there but on the way I saw my chance staring me right in the eyes. This chance came in the form of a glowing sign that read, “Salida” or “Exit”. At that moment I was grateful to my stupid spanish teacher. When I saw that sign my heart jumped in my chest. Unfortunately my legs also stopped, alerting Gus that I had seen the sign.

     “Keep moving,” he said as he shoved me forward. He reached down to his belt and yanked the walkie talkie out and spoke into it.

    “Yeah this is Gus we need more security on door 2b Monica saw it.” Random gibberish came through from the other side. Gus cursed his walkie and banged it on the wall but still nothing readable came through. He pushed me again and I obeyed and walked forward slowly.

    “Don’t get any idea’s girl,” he spat from his lips but he was too late, my mind was already churning with ideas, facts, and plans, too many to stop all at once. That night I got back to my cell right before the lights shut down plunging me into utter darkness. The ideas were still bouncing around and I could now think about each of them till I found the one I wanted. It was almost as if my thoughts were soldiers, they were all lined up at attention, ready to be tested. I stood before each of them and they told me why I should pick them. I marched down the line until I had picked out my favorite. I guess my stupid spanish teacher was right, “Sometimes it takes great motivation to get great results.” That night I didn’t sleep a wink, but instead, I planned out every detail of my escape. I was going to bust out in two days. I knew I couldn’t use the door I saw, but I did learn a few things from that sign: It glows and the glow it green. Now I just need to figure out the security systems. They have probably let their guard down because they think everyone has lost hope. Other than that I think I can get out. All of my major injuries have healed. Now all I have left is minor cuts and bruises. I had just shut my eyes when the light turned on. I turned my head toward the door and waited for Gus to come and get me. I had to keep an eye out for security cameras and tripwires and all the stuff like that. A little less than five minutes later, Gus shows up and I start my charade. I am going to pretend to have a broken bone. Gus pulled open the door and stepped inside.

    “Come on girl. Let’s go.” He was grumpy today. He was probably tired of hauling me back and forth between the different rooms. I groan loudly and try I sit up but collapse back on the bed.

    “I can’t. I think my leg or hip is broken.” I say in my best ‘I am in excruciating pain’ voice.

    “You were fine yesterday. Now get up.” He rolled his eyes at me. I groan again.

    “You could least help me up.” He rolled his eye again am sticks out his hand. I grasped my hand in his and sit up with a struggle.

    “I can’t stand up.”

    “Yes you can now do it.”

    “Let me use your hand again.”

    “Why.”

    “Do you want me to stand up or not?”

    “Fine” I struggle to stand up careful to put most of my weight on his hand. As soon as he let go I yelp loudly and fall to the floor. Gus lets out a low growl before picking me up and carrying me all the way to the interrogation room. And later, all the way back and laid me in my bed. The lights turned off and I smirked and sat up. My warm feet slowly slid onto the cold floor. I slid my hand down my shirt and retrieved the spare keys and mini flashlight that I snuck from Gus’s pocket. I flicked on the flashlight and crept forward, each step as silent as a mouse. My heartbeat accelerated, preparing to run at any moment. I stretched my hand around the bars of the cell and gave the key a quick shove into the lock. It clicked and I turned the key. The door swung open I stepped out the cell door. The floor seemed colder and the darkness seemed darker outside the cell. Instead of turning right to go the interrogation room I turn left and start walking around just waiting for the faint green glow of a Salida sign. About an hour of just wandering around, I see a very faint glow up and to the left. I walk faster as I approach the turn. I swing around the corner and my salvation stands before me. Half the battle is won. I step toward the door and push it open. Cool air rushed onto me and I breathe the sweet smell of freedom. I stepped outside and quietly shut the door behind me. I absorbed my surroundings; a large fence surrounds the whole building, which was not as big as it seemed. About 50 meters and a fence stand between me and freedom. Only a few guards marched around, only two that I could see. I slid along the wall as far out as I could. My heart raced and adrenaline pumped throughout my body. I started my opponent straight in the eye ready to conquer. I got into stance and the countdown started in my head. 3, 2, 1, GO!!! I sprinted ahead my breathing getting heavier and my feet thumping along the ground. I pumped my arms back and forth and back and forth and back and forth. I saw my target getting near when I hear a CRACK!! from my left side. I did not dare to turn back but forced myself to go faster. The fence was getting near so I slowed only enough to not slam into the fence. The gunfire continued as my hands found the cool chain and grasped it and my feet helped my whole body intent on not slowing down. I got to the top of the fence and dropped down to the other side. I turned and saw several men pursuing me. I sprang to my feet and my system gave one last shot of adrenaline to continue going till I was far out of range of their guns. I hoped they would not climb the fence and my wish was granted. I slowed to a jog as the gunfire became more distant. After a long night my body was drained of energy but I forced myself to keep walking for another two hours until I collapsed with a rock as my pillow and a covering of leaves as my blanket. I walked for two more days till I reached a city. I looked around. Freedom. So what now?

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