I sighed, my limbs giving in to the ridiculously strong duct tape. It’s no use. He wasn’t going to do anything to me anyway. If he was, he would have by now.
He smirked in the corner, satisfied with his work.
I wanted to spit at him, the nerve of that smirk. But I didn’t. I couldn’t, not with the duct tape slapped across my mouth.
“Feisty one, aren’t you?” He said, unscrewing a reused water bottle cap.
I glared at him.
“I’m glad I was here. My brother wouldn’t have known what to do with you.” He raised the bottle to his lips, the warm but refreshing water flowing down his throat.
My mouth felt extra dry in the late summer heat. The cool floor of the cave helped a little with the heat part. But there were still beads of sweat threatening to drip over my hairline. My heart was just beginning to slow down it's ridiculous pace when a figure appeared.
Both of our eyes flew to the opening of the cave. Another boy stood there, about the same age as the original kidnapping one, maybe a little younger. But they looked exactly alike.
The Kidnapper stood up. “Look what wandered in when you were gone.” He said, referring to me. His thick muscles were very intimidating, and made him appear to be years older than his twin.
Skinny was very confused. “Who’s she?”
“I found her snooping around in our stuff.” He crossed his arms across his chest. I wasn’t snooping. I was bored. So I found a cave in the woods behind my house and got curious. Is that a crime?
Maybe it is when you volunteer to do it.
Skinny huffed. “So you tied her up?” He asked sarcastically, referring to my wrists retained by a thick, black wire.
“Along with a strip of duct tape.” The Kidnapper finished, proud of his work. I wanted to spit again.
Shaking his head, Skinny made his way over to me, mumbling under his breath. “You can’t just tie somebody up like this, Kyle.” He knelt down in front of me, even though I instinctively leaned away. “Excuse my little brother.”
“Only by, like, 3 minutes.” Kyle whined like a child. “And you can’t untie her!”
Skinny rolled his eyes. He started picking at the edge of the duct tape on my mouth. He pulled slowly, wincing at the thought of ripping tape from my skin.
“Mm hmm hm mhm.” I tried to say “just rip it off” but it came out as nothing understandable.
He pulled his hands back, trying to decipher my mumbling.
I shook my head, tugging my combined wrists from behind my back. I motioned towards them, hoping he understood.
“Oh.” He removed the wire from my wrists. It left a dark pink ring on my skin.
After rubbing my wrists, I ripped the tape from my mouth without putting much thought into it. I bit my tongue to keep from yelling, touching the tips of my fingers to the sticky residue on my top lip.
“You okay?” Skinny asked me.
“I’m fine.” I snapped, but instantly regretted it. Skinny was nice to me. And he really wasn’t that skinny. More average-like, compared to his brother. He looked to be my age, seventeen-ish.
Kyle stormed over to us. He thumped Skinny’s head. “Why did you untie her? She knows we’re here now! We can’t just let her go!”
This caught my attention. Skinny rose from the kneeling position to calmly face his brother. “She doesn’t know anything, right?”
Kyle lowered his voice. “No, but she knows where we are. What if she brings the cops?”
“Cops?” I asked, not expecting the authorities to be involved.
Skinny ran his hand through his hair, the dark brown strands sticking up from the sweat gathered on his forehead.
What have I gotten myself into this time?
“What were you thinking?”
“I wasn’t just going to chase her away! She’d bring the cops, like I said!”
“Well now she’ll definitely bring the cops because you mentioned it.”
I scoped out the fairly large cavern, realizing that with a few lucky dashes I could escape. I didn’t know how far the entrance was, and I wouldn’t be able to see anything, but I could make it.
“So what exactly is your plan?”
“I don’t know, Bryce, how the hell am I supposed to know?”
“It seemed like you had it all laid out when I got here.”
I felt like a deer in the headlights when both of their heads turned in my direction. Their eyes matched as well ; a deep emerald green tore into my soul. It was almost hypnotizing.
“What’s your name?” Bryce asked me, his tone less harsh than when he spoke with his brother.
I switched my eyes back and forth between the two, but stayed silent.
“She won’t answer now.” Kyle decided, stepping away with his arms folded.
Bryce continued to watch me, chewing the inside of his lip.
I shifted in my seat, uncomfortable and self conscious.
After another moment or so, Bryce made his way over to Kyle. He was whispering, but the walls of the cave allowed me to hear.
“Maybe we should just let her go.”
“And then what? Run away again?”
“Maybe she’ll keep a secret if we ask her to.”
“You’re going to trust a complete stranger?”
The surprise factor of being kidnapped was wearing off, and my blood was starting to run cold. I wasn’t sure I could get out of here. What would happen? Would they find me? Or would I be dead?
Kyle marched himself into my personal space and yanked on my arm, pulling me upwards into a standing position.
Bryce punched his shoulder. “Knock it off.” He grumbled, shoving Kyle’s fingers away.
Kyle ignored him, making sure I was paying close attention. “You’re staying here. Don‘t ask any questions.”
My stomach dropped to my feet. I looked to Bryce as if he could save me, but I barely knew him, which meant he was on his brother’s side.
“Just until we know we can trust you.” He said. “And then you can leave.”
Kyle put on a baseball cap. He mentioned something about tying me up again, but he left too soon for me to completely understand.
It was then that I got a closer look at the cave. There were two mattresses pushed neatly into one side of the dark walls, and along the other were cardboard boxes. They were filled with odd things, like shampoo and soup and cereal. One had a bunch of picture frames in it, and another was almost overflowing with bath towels. It was like they lived here.
They weren't bluffing.
Bryce sighed, taking a seat on one of the mattresses.
“Why is all of this here?” I asked quietly, ignoring what Kyle had told me.
Bryce glanced at me cautiously, like making eye contact would cause me to lunge at him. I assume he didn't expect me to speak.
"It's complicated." He settled with a simple answer.
I was quiet, worried that I was being too straight forward. They told me to be careful of that. Oops.
I watched him lean to stick a hand in a cardboard box and pull out a wrapped granola bar. He crinkled the plastic, catching me staring.
Bryce tossed a granola bar in my direction. I stared at it for a second.
"It's not poisoned." He muttered.
I reached for it willingly. "I know."
That seemed to have broken the ice. “So how bad was it?”
I stared at him, unsure of what exactly he was asking.
“Did he hurt you?”
I picked at the wrapper on the bar. I felt sore in some places. But I guess it's normal to feel sore when you've been wrestled to the floor, more specifically a sheet of rock. “No.”
He stared back at me like how I stared at him before.
“What?” I demanded.
“Why aren’t you freaking out?”
I took another look at my surroundings. “Should I be?” I asked, realizing I wasn't a very good actor.
Bryce shrugged, looking around with me. “I don’t know, you just got kidnapped and are being held prisoner in a cave by two people who are clearly trying to avoid the cops. You tell me.”
I liked his sarcasm. It fit him well. Unlike his brother, who’s sarcasm is just frightening.
“I have a boring life,” I said, nibbling on the granola bar. “I need some excitement.”
Bryce laughed. I watched the way his lips smiled sideways. “Kyle is exciting, all right.”
I realized after a few nibbles I wasn’t really hungry, but I didn’t want to waste a whole granola bar.
“Do you want this?” I held it out.
“It’s not poisoned.” He promised again.
“I know, I’m just not very hungry.”
Bryce pursed his lips. “Save it for later.” He decided.
I rolled up the wrapper and set it down beside me. Then I hugged my legs close to my body. I began to question whether the granola bar really was poisoned.
“I’m sorry about all of this.”
I just shrugged, blowing it off. “It’s my fault. I’m too bored for my own good.”
“Yeah, but you shouldn’t have to…”
I watched him as he trailed off, changing his sentence.
“I’m not going to tie you up. Kyle is psychotic.” He said.
“I was hoping to avoid that duct tape.”
We were silent for a few seconds. I didn’t realize how quiet it could be in a cave. It was dark, aside from two oil lamps lighting the dim area. I couldn’t tell if it was day or night, hot or cold. It was strange. Very eerie.
I distracted myself. “My name is Penny.” I said. Bryce glanced at me curiously. “You know, if you’re still wondering.”
He sideways smiled again. “Bryce.”
As if I didn’t already know. “Nice to meet you."
I was supposed to be playing dumb. I hoped it was working.