World of Radiation


Continued from ‘Frightened Animal

With a hand still clutched around my ankle, someone draws me out from under the car. My nails scrape on the asphalt. They snag on the uneven surface, bending backwards. Shudders ripple down my spine. They do nothing to smother the scream still rattling in my throat.

“I knew I saw someone out here,” my captor groans. His other hand joins his first as he yanks on my ankle, procuring me from the shadows.

“No!” I screech. Tears stream down my cheeks as fear suffocates me. It coils around my torso, shortening my breaths and constricting the beats of my heart. “Let me go!”

Further and further from the car he drags me. My palms bleed across the pavement, streaking two wet lines to mark my path. My cheek rubs raw. Heat sears through my flesh and my shirt creeps up my torso, revealing my stomach. I scramble to cover myself back up again, but it does little good. Another tug and my jaw cracks into the ground. I nearly bite off my tongue.

The man twists my leg, sparking pain up into my hip until the force flips me onto my back.

Whimpers seep between my closed lips as the sun illuminates the man’s face. Dark stubble shadows his chin, but his smirk creeps through. It squints one of his dark eyes. Still holding onto my ankle, he watches me, amusement dancing in his eyes.

I swallow hard. I’ve seen that look before. The upperclassman gave me the same look. My gut clenches. My lungs seize. My bloodied palms press into the pavement as I try to shuffle backwards, but a single jerk on my ankle, draws me back to him.

“Please!” I beg. I’m not ashamed to beg. I have no pride. I’m not stupid enough to let such a worthless thing get in my way of surviving. “Please! Let me go!”

He chuckles. His deep voice rumbles in my chest, shaking me to my core. “And why would I do that?”

A sob racks my body. The sound’s ugly, grotesque, and pathetic. I wish I could be strong. I wish I could defend myself. I’m surprised I even lasted this long. “Please,” I mumble, losing my voice along with my strength. “Please… Just let me go.”

The man’s grip slackens on my ankle, but he doesn’t let go as he crouches. He pins my ankle to his knee. His dark eyes watch me, a strange look swallowing them as he tilts his head to the side. “How old are you?”

Surprise pries my eyes open to meet the man’s gaze. “Huh?” I sniffle.

“How old are you?”

I swallow hard, not sure whether to answer him or not.

His grip tightens on  my ankle, his nails biting into my flesh.

I yelp in pain, reaching to grab my ankle, to stop him, but he gives a hefty shove in my shoulder. Sprawled back on the pavement, I watch him. My bottom lip wobbles.

He cocks an eyebrow in an expectant look.


His eyes narrow. His lips move as if he’s shifted his jaw to one side. “Nineteen,” he repeats. “You’ve seen nothing of the world yet. You’ve not even lived yet.” He sighs, his dark eyes lowering to the pavement at his feet as if in contemplation.

I say nothing. I dare not make a peep as I bite my lip, suppressing the fear-induced sobs trying to rack my body. Hope dances at the edges of my vision. Could he really let me go? Even as I dare to hope, my stomach grumbles loudly, announcing its lack of food.

He meets my gaze once more, softer than before. “It would be merciful to put you out of this misery.”

My mouth gapes, but no words escape. What?!

“A young girl like yourself isn’t safe out here. The horrors you’ll face if you live…” His voice drifts away and his gaze shifts through me as if seeing something far off.

I take his momentary lapse of attention and try to ease my ankle from his grip. I pull gently.

His fingers tighten as if he’s trying to cut off my circulation. His attention refocuses. “I have to do this.”

“What?” I choke out, panic taking over. I yank and tug my ankle, but he holds it fast against his thigh.

“I’m doing you a favor. I’m doing this to show mercy. It’s what’s right. I’d never be able to live with myself if I let you go to be attacked by some crazies. You don’t deserve that.” He speaks in a soft, comforting tone, like one would with a dying child, not someone they’re about to murder.

“I don’t want to die.” The words barely make it out over the lump forming in my throat. “Please. I don’t want to die.”

His jaw hardens. “I’m doing this for your own good.” A knife slides out of his boot. His knuckles bleach as he grips the handle, the blade pointing at my chest.

Flight is my normal reaction. I’m not a fighter. I’ve never been a fighter, but I can’t flee. I can’t get away and my body reacts in the only way possible. My free foot rears back before colliding with his forearm.

The knife skids away. It clatters against the asphalt as he curses, anger replacing the soft look.

“Damn it! I’m doing you a favor! You’re only going to make this harder on yourself!” With my ankle still pinned on his thigh, he scrambles for my free leg.

Next Installment: June 6th

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