Tuesday, April 6, 2010

30 Days, 30 Stories: "The Unexpected Hero"

The Unexpected Hero
by Elise Rasband

2010 copyright; author retains all rights to story. Please do not use story without author's permission.

I looked at my watch: 9:35. I filled in the last bubble on the answer sheet, reviewed my answers and walked to the front of class.

“All finished?” my professor asked.

“Yup.”

He paused for a second, looking at my answer sheet.

“Alright, you may go.”

“Bye!”

The rest of the students were hovered over their papers, scratching against their life-sucking desks as they frantically tried to finish their essays on time. I was glad I had actually prepared for class so I wasn’t one of them. I tossed my stuff in my bag and tried to silently zip it up. It didn’t really work. Zippers are intolerably noisy. A few students looked up from their tests at the noise. A couple of others stood up, probably just finishing with their exams as well.

I slipped out the door and started walking towards the elevator. I had been taking night classes to get ahead for when I graduate. Don’t ask me why. I’d like to say I’m an over achiever, but really, I’m not. I just want to get done faster. I don’t want to spend half my life in school.

“Wait up!” a raspy voice said from behind me.

I turned to see who it was.

Ugh. Rick. He was probably some poor fool who only had his GED because he finished it up at some “alternate” form of education. I didn’t want to wait for him, but I had been raised to be “charitable.” I leaned against the wall as he strutted the remaining distance. His baggy pants slid across the floor. I couldn’t even tell if he was wearing shoes. I was glad that his shirt was equally baggy, because I’m pretty sure I could’ve seen his underwear if it wasn’t. If he was wearing underwear. Eew. The thought made me throw up in my mouth.

“Can I get a ride home?”

A complete stranger. In my car. A college age guy, none the less who smelt like a mixture of car exhaust and sweaty socks. Huge red flags went off in my head. Dangit. Why couldn’t I say no?! I’ll blame my mother for that. She applied the guilt trip like a pro.

“Sure,” I replied under my breath. Maybe if he realized how inconvenient it was for me, he would change his mind.

“Great! Thanks so much!”

He probably wasn’t smart enough to graduate from high school, why on earth would he be smart enough to read between the lines?

“Yup, don’t mention it.”

Seriously, I hoped he wouldn’t mention it. If my parents found out I gave this guy a ride home… they’d never let me leave the house again. “You’re going to get yourself killed,” they’d say.

“So, it’s Kacey right?”

“Hmm? Oh yeah.”

“That’s a unique…”

“Girl’s name? I know. It’s short for Cassandra.”

I had heard that too many times.

“So why not Cassie?”

“It’s not me.”

“Cool. I like that.”

When we got to the car I unlocked my door and slid in.

He walked to the other side. Just standing there.

“The door’s unlocked,” I said.

He pulled the handle. Apparently it wasn’t. My car had a tendency to automatically lock as soon as the door was shut. It was a glitch in the 20 year old system.

I tried unlocking the door with the automatic lock on my left. Of course, it didn’t work. This was more awkward than it had to be. I leaned over his seat, the seat belt strangling me in the process and manually unlocked his door.

“Thanks,” he said as he slid into the passenger’s seat.

“Yup, so where do you live?” I asked as we pulled out of the parking space.

“I live on 830 W 1000 S.”

That was completely out of my way. And it was in the ghetto part of town. It seemed like the news was always telling a story about some girl getting raped or guy getting killed in that part of town.

“Oh, ok.” I really was going to get myself killed. I looked at Rick, then back at the road. He seemed relaxed. He probably wasn’t a killer. I hoped. I took another look. He was slouched in his chair-- no seat belt.

“Can you put your belt on?” I asked.

“Oh, yeah, sorry,” He said as he pulled his seat belt down, sitting up a little. “Sorry if I’m taking you out of your way.”

There we go; now that he’s in the car he seems somewhat thoughtful. Typical.

“You’re fine.”

“So… why are you going to college? You’re still in high school, right?”

“Yeah, I’m graduating this year. I don’t know… I guess I just want to get ahead, have better chances for getting into my choice of school.”

“Cool. Where do you want to go to school?”

“Anywhere but here. I can’t wait to leave this town.”

“You sound like me. I mean, Winterton’s a great town an’ everythin’ but, I don’t know, it’s kind of suffocating.”

“Yup.”

His breath wafted over to my side of the car. It smelt like a rotting cigarette. My stomach turned. I casually rolled down the window. It was mid fall, so it was a bit too cold for it, but I knew I couldn’t last the smell.

“You hot?”

“Mmhmm,” I lied. I hated lying.

He laughed. He probably saw right through me.

“What?” I asked.

“Ah, nothing. It’s just that I asked you if you were hot and well, you are pretty dang hot.”

I felt the blood rushing to my ears. Was I supposed to say thank you?

He must’ve noticed my awkwardness. “Sorry, I tend to just say what I think,” he said.

I looked at him. He was smiling. His dark shaggy hair hung over his right eye. He had a good smile. Weird. It was weird that I thought any part of him was even the least attractive. I felt squeamish inside. The sooner I got to the southwest part of town, the better.

“I don’t,” I said, “I wish I could, but I never say what I think.”

“I can teach ya, it’s pretty easy. Just open your mouth.”

“Uh, yeah, I definitely can’t do that,” I said.

“Do you know what you want to do?”

“Hmm?” What did he mean? What did I want to do?

“With college, for your career, you know, is there something you’re aiming for?”

“I don’t know. I like writing and drawing.”

“Sweet. Have you ever oil painted?”

“Nope. Never have.”

“That’s what I do. I’m an oil painter. If you ever want to try it out, you can come by and use my
materials.”

That sounded really cool, but I didn’t want an excuse to spend more time with Rick than I had to.

“Nah, that’s okay, I’ll just stick with the pen and pencil.”

“Alrighty, suit yourself, but if you change your mind you can give me a call.”

We pulled up in his driveway. He opened the door to get out, but turned and handed me a piece of paper.

“It’s my number, just in case.”

“Eew,” I thought.

“Hey, thanks so much for the ride, I really appreciate it.”

“Yup, see you in school.”

I backed out of his driveway, and began shifting into first. The car lurched, jerking my head forward, slamming against the steering wheel. Stupid car. My dad thought giving me a junker in high school would save us from issues if I bumped into something with it. The car was an issue, all by itself. I turned the key to restart the car.

Whir thup thup thup. Again. Whir clank thup thup clank clank clank.

I cringed. I reached in the back to grab my phone. I couldn’t quite reach it. I jumped out of the car, becoming aware of where my car had so conveniently decided to quit on me. I shut the front door quickly. I didn’t want anyone sneaking in there while I was messing around in the back.
The street lamp was dark. It probably had been out for months.

A shiver ran down my back. I reached for the handle, keeping my eyes on my surroundings. I saw something move in the bush by Rick’s house. I moved my hand around the door more quickly until I felt the handle. I pulled, the door was locked. My stomach fell to the ground. I had locked the keys in the door. Dang automatic lock. I looked at my bag just inches away but no way to get to it. I heard another snap. I whipped around. I couldn’t see anything, but I knew I had heard something. I stared at Rick’s front door where he had gone in. I thought about knocking on his door, but I wasn’t sure I felt comfortable asking Rick for help.

I kept my back pushed against my car as I continued to scan the dark street with my eyes. It was eerily silent.

I started walking towards the door. Rick might’ve been my only hope. With every step I took I felt like I was walking towards death.

Rustle thump snap

My head instinctively darted to the right. I could’ve sworn the noise came from that bush.
I stood frozen. My heart thumping against my chest, my stomach screaming because my voice couldn’t. I was going to die. They were going to rape me and then kill me

I forced my left foot forward. The things that were once second nature now took all of my focus and energy. My right foot. Left.

CRACK!

A large man jumped from behind the bush. Everything after that seemed to go in slow motion. He ran towards me, but there was nothing I could do. My feet were firmly planted on the ground. My body was petrified; I was sure I wasn’t even breathing. I couldn’t scream, I couldn’t cry, I couldn’t move at all. I was transfixed on death running towards me.

The man grabbed my wrist and tried to force me to the ground. The movement allowed my frozen body to gain mobility. Along with that mobility was the surge of the demon. An adrenaline rush I never wanted to feel again. My right leg kicked up instinctively, kicking him in the groin. He groaned, but didn’t stop. My lungs filled with air followed by a piercing scream. It was long and firm. His free arm clamped over my mouth. I bit him. My jaws felt firm and steady. His knee came down on my stomach, forcing me to the ground. My arm was scraped and bleeding from my attempt to break my fall, but superhuman strength flowed through it as I swung to meet his jaw. He grunted again. I kicked him in the groin again. This time his knees buckled and he was on all fours, trying to gain his breathing. I took this as a chance to knee him in the stomach. It was awkward, but enough to have him back off a little. I pushed against the ground to stand up, his left arm swung forward and knocked my jaw. I fell to the ground. The world around me was spinning out of focus.

The last thing I heard was Rick screaming in the background, “Get the hell out of here!” His arm swinging over my head and nailing the attacker right on his nose.

*
The whole room seemed to be rocking back and forth. My head was piercing, my hands stung, my fist was aching. The light stung my opened eyes. I opened my eyes.

A light was right above my head, blinding all else from focus. A dark figure stood above me. Adrenaline surged my body again. My right arm swung up involuntarily and slapped the figure above me.

“Ow!” A raspy voice said.

Another figure hovered over me. “Hold her down,” the strange deep voice said.

A large calloused hand grabbed my wrist. I started squirming. Something was holding me down. I couldn’t move. I tried to kick my leg up, but I couldn’t. I started screaming again. Another hand held my other arm down. I couldn’t run, I couldn’t sit. My face felt like fire. I was sore all over- even my skin ached.

“Kacey? Kacey? Are you okay? The raspy voice asked.

It was a raspy voice. His face came into focus.

“Rick?” I couldn’t disguise my shock and confusion.

The room began to gain focus. Rick stood above me, calmly holding my arms down. A nurse stood next to him. There was blood on both of their shirts. I knew it was mine. I had the urge to start screaming and run, but I couldn’t.

Rick rubbed his jaw. There was a red hand print across his cheek.

“You really nailed me,” he said, laughing, “is that what I get for saving your life?”

“You got pretty badly beat up right in front of my house. It’s a good thing you screamed, or who knows what would’ve happened.” He sounded hurt, worried, maybe even scared.

“Thanks,” I replied simply. There really was no other thing to say to someone who just saved me from death. Really, nothing at all.

3 comments:

Cathy Witbeck said...

That was a rollercoaster.

Taffy said...

I felt my fingernails dig into the palms of my hands while reading!

Lise the artiste said...

Thanks! I'm hoping to get a book accepted for publication this year!