No, this story has no base in reality. Sometimes I really surprise myself about what I write. This is one of those times.
“You ain’t ever caught a rabbit and you ain’t no friend of mine.” Elvis Presley said it, but Travis lived it. He had been a hunter since he was knee-high to a crouching puma. Lizards, grasshoppers and crawdads became his first prey: unsuspecting victims of his cruel tortures. Decapitation and amputation of limbs were not beyond his capability, and actually preferred over methodical killings. He had no inclination to truly think about his actions. Habitual brute force had been passed down through generations of instinctual assassins. Really, he couldn’t help it.
My dad encouraged me to go with Travis when I was only twelve. Essentially, passed off to the closest thing to a son he had. I became a slave and an outlet for his physical pleasures. A shell of a girl, I toughened my soul. Only shielded by faith and superstition, I managed to survive. Trinkets of luck pulled me together in the toughest times. Hidden in an old shoebox, my charms included coins from far off lands found in the road leading from the city, a rusted horseshoe, my mother’s rosary, several four-leaf clovers each taped to a royal playing card, and a lucky rabbit’s foot caught by my father, stained pink because it was my favorite color (although, I knew it was most likely from blood of the poor thing’s demise).
At fourteen, I tried to escape in the back of a pick-up truck headed for the city. But the truck was owned by the general store manager, who definitely caught a few rabbits in his day. His dumb luck became my ill-fated failure. My face shimmered bright pinks and reds that evening. The darker shades of purple, black and blue took their time to reveal. My charming friends provided shining hope during the healing.
As my face healed, I kept my head low and stuck to the misguided routine: cook breakfast, clean house, prepare lunch, wash clothes, bake dinner, satisfy Travis, pray, sleep. Something had to break. Something had to change. It was me.
Click. Click. Boom! sounded the start of my freedom. The first click was only in my head. It was the sound of a light being switched on. Voices screaming, “I am not a helpless creature ripe for torturing. I deserve to live and it is time to set me free.” The second click was the opening of the door to the back. The boom was the subsequent closing of said door.
Click. Click. Boom! echoed in my head as I ran, heart pounding and feet frozen from the lack of footing in my pajamas, through the darkened paths of the forest behind our house. Without prior thought of grabbing a change of clothes, or even shoes, my spontaneous self-release relied on that faith and luck for success. Leaping over the snow drifts, I found myself feeling like the hunted.
Click. Click. Boom! Shots rang out behind me as I felt the wind sinking deeper in my skin and my fingers turning a paler shade of blue. Ducking behind the nearest tree to catch my breath, I held my gaze towards the light growing in the distance. As the train whistle blew, I felt a warm stream pouring from my stomach and then from my chest. Click. Click. Boom! Lucky bastard.