There are people who say that just before something especially horrible happened to them, they could feel it coming. Almost as if that instinctual switch that sensed danger was still present in the back of their cushy, self-centered, top-of-the-food-chain minds, despite evolution and the fact they almost never used it. That way they could prepare to respond, both mentally and physically.
At some point, the fight-or-flight response would kick in and they would decide which natural defense tactic they were going to rely on to keep them safe and alive. It could have been that I wasn’t as sober as I thought, or maybe I was just oblivious to “bad-gut” feelings from living such a sheltered life, but I never received that warning.
I made it to level six of the parking garage with no issues. My newer Jeep was in full view, sitting alone in the back corner, exactly where I had left it hours before. I ended up leaving later than I intended and made a mental note to text my mom when I got settled into my car to let her know I was safe.
As I reached for my keys and pressed the button to unlock the doors, two arms wrapped around my own and trapped me against a granite chest. A large hand was pressed hard against my mouth, filling my senses with a musky, oily smell.
In a panic, I attempted to kick behind me, but was only able to graze the assaulter’s shin with my riding boot, earning an angry groan before he shushed me. Within seconds he was opening the back door to my Jeep and shoving my entire body inside faster than I could react.
“No one will hear you if you scream. It’s just you and me, baby.” The raspy voice was next to my ear, his scruffy, unshaven chin scratching against my skin.
He slammed the back door shut, nearly crushing my leg in it before backing off my body enough to allow me to finally turn around and get a good look at his face. Recognition nearly knocked the air from my lungs. It was the man who had been watching my best friend and I in the bar I’d just left. One I had jokingly referred to as “The Dog” although right now he looked rabid.
I tried to listen outside the vehicle for any sign that someone was around and could help me, but only heard the muffled music and hollering carried up to us from the street. The strip of bars I just came from was filled with people, but the parking garage we were in must have been designated for those attending the concert down the street. Remembering the time I had left, I realized it had to have ended hours ago. He was right; no one would hear me no matter how loud I yelled.
The man brought my attention back to him with a tug at my coat, ripping the buttons off before haphazardly tossing it into the trunk. Next, he ripped at my shirt with thick fingers, as if it were a thin piece of paper and leaving the shredded pieces lying around me.
“I saw you watching me all night, little birdy. I knew you were jealous that all my attention was going to your whore friend and you wanted me all to yourself.”
His voice was like gravel, ground out and deepened from what I assumed was years of smoking. He undid his belt and popped the button on his jeans, pulling them down just enough for his hard erection to pop out of his stained boxers.
Instinct told me to retain every piece of information on him that I could to identify him in a police line-up later. His appearance said he worked a dirty manual labor job. His eyes were black, his hair shaggy and blond. His entire right arm was covered in thick black lines. I had to blink a couple times to focus on what it was, and when the image became clear, my breath hitched. A grim reaper holding a large scythe stared back at me mockingly. Through my scrambled thoughts, I tried to think back to the glimpses I caught of him earlier, if only to pull me from the horror of the moment.
“That guy over there is pretty hot and he’s looking this way. What do you think?” Cara asked, her eyes swinging to the left nonchalantly.
The man’s attention was already on her, and he might as well have had his tongue hanging out of his mouth in a pant—dog.
“He’s too desperate,” I replied, giving him a scowled look. “You need more of a challenge.”
“I don’t want a challenge,” she whined. “I don’t even want to think tonight. I had three people puke on me this morning and a woman screamed in my face over the color of the soap in her room.”
Rolling her eyes dramatically, she took a long swig from her fruity drink. I commended her for the work she did as a nurse, but I never agreed with her methods of coping with it.
“Do you know how unhealthy it is to use sex this way? These men are like a petri-dish for STDs. One day you’re going to meet a creepy stalker and I’m going to have to save you,” I lectured, giving her a pointed look while I knocked on the wooden table three times. You could never be too sure.
I turned and scowled at the drooling dog again before he finally took the hint and looked away. Cara laughed at my antics and flipped her long, smooth blond hair back over her shoulder. Mine was probably closer to a rat’s nest now that the wind was having its way with it on the rooftop bar.
“At least I’m getting action. You probably have cobwebs and dust clogging up your vagina. You need to please your lady occasionally before she dries up and becomes useless. It’s okay to feel pleasure, Luna. And speaking of creepy stalkers, that guy next to him hasn’t stopped looking at you since we got here. He looks like he’s going to eat you—and not in the good way.”
She raised her eyebrow at me and smirked, pulling at the top of her shirt to expose her cleavage in just the right way.
I scoffed at her crude words before I focused my attention on the guy sitting next to The Dog, immediately being sucked in by two stunningly blue eyes piercing into mine. I threw him the dirtiest look I could muster, irritated at the cocky smirk he had planted on his lips. Cara might be here in search for her next conquest, but I couldn’t stand the feral men who frequented these bars. If it weren’t for her, I’d likely be sitting at home in my own quiet peace, ignoring the rest of the world.
“Men are pigs.”
I had watched his blue-eyed friend leave the bar an hour before me, hopeful that The Dog would have gone with him. I hadn’t seen him lingering after that. Hadn’t even known he was still at the bar when I left.
I lay there debilitated, hot tears silently streaming down my face as I stared deep into his large, round eyes. I tried to think of an escape plan through the fogginess that clouded my mind, but I didn’t have many options. He had me pinned against the back seat, his body dwarfing mine as he undid the button on my skinny jeans and roughly tugged them down my legs, my simple cotton thong following behind. The exposure woke something up inside me and I was finally able to speak.
“Please, don’t. I’m begging you, please, please, please. I have money. I can pay you and forget this ever happened,” I pleaded.
I was crying harder now and pushing his upper body away from me with all the strength I had in my arms as soon as he let them free to reposition himself. My nails clawed at any skin that was within my reach, drawing out blood that later stained my nailbeds for days. He grabbed me again, gripping my wrists above my head this time, his fingers pressing hard into my flesh. The shooting pain that should have been there never came. My entire body was numb.
My subconscious floated above me like a scared little bird, desperately trying to escape the beating it was about to take. I watched as it flitted over my head, taking in the scene from a safe distance.
His head slowly swayed back and forth in a negative shake, the menacing smirk he had all night reappearing on his lips.
“Fuck, you know I can’t do that now. Besides, I don’t want your money—I want you.”
He reached his hand between my legs and roughly stuck his finger inside of me, quickly pulling it out and inserting it into his mouth to taste my fluids. My traitorous body reacted to his touch, and I wanted to puke. How could I be so disgusting?
“Mm mm, see, you don’t really want me to stop.”
He flashed a huge, calculating smile, baring crooked yellowed teeth while he gathered his erection into his hand, abruptly shoving his length between my legs with no warning. A cry of pain erupted from my mouth at the sheer force of it, but that only encouraged him. His smile grew larger again, eyes lighting up at my reaction to the agony of him being inside me.
“That’s it, birdy! Scream for me.”
I felt myself ripping open, my body resisting the violent invasion that was happening, and there was no way I could end it. I cried, pleading for mercy, begging him to stop and offering him the world if he did. But he didn’t stop, not until he was finished, and once he did, he went in for a second round.
At some point during the first invasion, while he was whispering in my ear and pumping into my limp body, I felt the change happen inside of me. It was as if he reached into the deepest depths of my soul and violently unplugged it. I imagined a mess of cords lying there, lifeless and tangled.
Then, almost as if a switch had been turned off, I stopped crying. I stopped begging and resisting and simply lay beneath him, accepting that this was my fate. I knew that from this point on, I would never be the same person. I didn’t even have it in me to care anymore, and neither did the cowardly girl who floated above to watch as it happened.
“Damn, you feel so tight. You’re so beautiful. That’s it, baby girl, just submit to me. You know you want this. We’ve wanted it all night and finally we can have it,” he cooed delusions into my ear.
I stared straight up at the roof of my car, wishing it to be over so I could pull myself together and drive home. Or into the median on the expressway. It didn’t make a difference to me anymore.
Once finished, he pulled his pants up and looked straight into my eyes. “That was fun, wasn’t it?” He smirked at me, then his face fell into a fake pout when I didn’t smile back, when I gave him nothing in response.
“Oh, come on. Don’t try to pretend you didn’t want this,” he said in mock offense.
He peeled his body off mine and looked out the window, making sure no one was around us before he made his descent back into whatever door to Hell he just entered from.
Once out of the car, he turned back toward me, smiling again. “I’ll see you around, whore,” he spat.
It was a promise.
The back door was left wide-open, exposing my bloodied bottom half to whatever was outside. I didn’t care, though, because if someone saw me, that meant they saw him and knew what had happened.
I lay out for a while, lost in time while I tried to find some shred of humanity inside myself to muster up sadness or anger—any emotion, really—but came up short. My innocent conscious never returned down to my body to meet with the tough survivor that replaced her, and I felt a whole lot of nothingness.
White clouds fell from my mouth with every shallow breath I took in the cool fall air, grounding me in the moment. They indicated I was awake; that the horror I’d just experienced wasn’t a dream, but my new reality. I felt hollowed out, yet somehow, I was being reminded I was still breathing, still surviving despite the darkness that surrounded me. There was no denying that the naive girl who left the bar tonight was dead and gone, and in her place was a completely different woman.
Eventually, I pulled up my pants, ignoring the dried stains that now spilled onto my upper thighs, and grabbed the coat from my trunk to cover up the mangled shirt I was wearing. I couldn’t button it anymore, but it was large enough to pull across my body anyway. If Mom and Dad were waiting up, I didn’t want them to know what had happened to me. My own mind still hadn’t even caught up enough to realize what I’d just gone through—there was no way I could explain it to them.
After an uneventful drive, I arrived home with no other issues. To my relief, my parents were both sound asleep in their room, unaware of the horror their daughter had just experienced. I started a scalding hot shower and stepped under it, waiting for the tears again but nothing came. In a daze, I scrubbed my skin raw, desperately trying to erase every sign of him from it. It was no use. He had crawled inside me and destroyed me from within—there was no scrubbing the damage away.