Page 25 of Pleasure Island

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But, still, more and more often, I’ve had the feeling that someone is hiding.

But I have no choice. I either have to walk through the woods or camp out at school tonight. My dad will already be half-drunk by this time of the late afternoon and my mom will be at bingo, probably. Or a bar.

I’m an only child. An afterthought, or not even a thought at all. I don’t have one of those families that people would envy. I can’t wait until I finish high school so I can get the hell out of Dodge. I’m going to travel the world, and live by the beach, maybe, so I don’t ever have to walk through the woods again as long as I live.

I walk deeper into the dark forest. I’m used to how spooky it is. It never gets less spooky. I try to hurry, but it’s dark and I don’t want to trip.

I’m about halfway when I get that feeling again.

The prickling awareness that someone is following me.

I look behind me, but I can’t see anyone. The darkness is murky.

But then I hear the snap of a twig.

My instincts reel with panic.

Someone’s here.

Someone’s getting closer.

I try to run, but before I can get very far, I trip over a root and fall to the ground.

And then, someone is on me. I feel the vice-grip of inhumanly strong arms, like a hug. I try to struggle but he’s far too forceful. I can smell him. Woodsmoke and autumn leaves and a hint of whiskey.

I want to scream but a damp cloth clamps over my mouth and nose. It smells like alcohol, or something similar.

If only I could cry for help!

But it’s too late.

He’s taking me.

And the world, all of a sudden, goes dark.

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