Excerpt of Don't Tell, Don't Die by Cheryl Wright
10am Monday – In the Back Streets of the City Business District,
Kareena Ellis looked at her
She was dazed, confused. Out of
breath. Where was she, and how did she get here? She recalled sitting at the traffic lights, waiting for them to change, but
nothing more. What could have happened that her memory was so
Checking her watch, Kareena saw it was
mid-morning, but that didn’t help. Her brain was foggy, and her head hurt trying to remember.
She touched her hands to her face. Wet.
She glanced down. Blood covered her
hands. Was she in a car accident? If that were the case, where
was her car? She shook her head trying to clear the fog. That just made her head hurt more.
In the distance she could hear shouting. A
vision flashed across her mind. A man with a gun. A big
man with a gun.
She shuddered at the
More shouting, only closer this time. She
turned, saw a figure running toward her. He held a gun, just like in her vague memory. The gun was pointed at
her. She did the only thing she could do, given the circumstances. She ran for her life.
As she ran, her mind began to clear. Another
flash of memory – this one of a man lying dead on the ground, and the man with the gun standing over
him. Kareena stumbled.
Shouting, somewhere close behind her, but she
wouldn’t stop, wouldn’t look back. The vision of the gun was
implanted in her brain. Why did she keep seeing it? What was the
significance to her?
She rounded a corner, kept running, trying
with all her might to go faster. Faster. Faster.
Her breath was leaving her, she couldn’t
continue. Was sure she would be killed, but for what?
Another flash, this time the man with the gun
was staring at her. His expression was shock, then anger, then
finally, determination. He ran toward her but she was too quick
She knew the area well, and hoped he
didn’t. She knew her life depended on getting away from this gun
With the fog clearing, Kareena finally
understood her situation: escape or die.
* * *
Kareena woke up in the room alone. She was
lying on some kind of table. The room was totally dark. Frightening. Not knowing where she was, and finally
realising the depth of her predicament, Kareena panicked.
She was being held hostage. Why hadn’t they
just killed her and be done with it? It took all her effort to
not hyperventilate. She had to keep her wits about her for what lay ahead.
She tried to recall what had happened, how
she’d arrived at this place. Her head hurt, her brain was foggy again; she reached up and touched her
throbbing temple. The wetness startled her. When she
looked down, her fingers were covered in blood.
She stared at them. It was all starting to
come back now; the sledgehammer, running, then...
The beautiful eyes, the gentle hands. How
could she forget? His black wavy hair, his... She shook her head, trying to erase the memory. It only made her head hurt more.
The door suddenly opened and he stepped into
the room. Kareena heard her sharp intake of breath. She was panicking again – her breath now coming in short
Reluctantly, but out of the necessity for
self-preservation, she moved her eyes toward the doorway; there were two of them. She had to get out of this
torture chamber. She would take them by surprise – flee before they realised she
was even awake. It was the only way she would survive.
The two men stepped further into the darkened
room, the only light came from the open door. Kareena lay as still as she could, trying desperately to
suppress her quickened breathing.
They were nearly there, only steps away.
Now! She leapt from the table, and made a mad dash
for the door. Her body screamed with pain, but she pushed on.
“Whoa! What’s the hurry?” Two gentle hands
caught her, stopped her escape.
Kareena could feel hot tears stinging her
eyes. This was the end. Why did she tell the police?
Because she had to – no ifs or buts. She witnessed
a murder, and she had to report it. End of story.
End of her.
* * *
Her legs were like jelly, her heart was
beating so fast she was convinced she would faint.
Now she remembered. She’d fainted, right into the arms of a stranger. The one holding her now.
She felt a light spattering of sweat just above her lip.
Don’t faint. Don’t you dare! Kareena told herself over and over in her
head. If she was going to die, she decided she wanted to see it
coming. To face her killers.
Defiantly, she stared up at him, brushed back
her mussed up hair with a shaking hand. She would not show any fear.
“Doc’s gonna take a look at you,” he said
quietly. He held her gently, not rough like she’d expected.
“Huh?” She was confused, totally
confused. If he was going to kill her, why would he call a
He looked as puzzled as she felt. “You’re
hurt; I called the doc.” She sighed – he must have heard it. Hell,
that sigh could probably have been heard three blocks away.
He led her back toward the table, the massage
table – she could see it now, even in
the limited light.
“I, um,” She wanted to explain, but what
could she say? Someone tried to kill me, and I thought you were one of them? Yeah,
“I’m sorry, but I’ll have to turn on the
light.” He looked at her questioningly. Kareena nodded, and flinched with the pain that shot through
He turned and walked over to the light
switch, at the same time shutting the door. She cringed as all sorts of scenarios ran through her head, all
of them feasible. No matter what, she was dead. She cradled her hands and prayed. Tears ran down her cheeks.
I’m sorry, Mom, she whispered.
He approached her, frowning. Kareena took a
good long look at him. He was around six-two, big compared to her tiny five-four. There was no way she could
win this fight.
“What’s your name?” he asked gently, as he
led her to a chair in the tiny room. He sounded kind of
apologetic, as though he didn’t like questioning her this way. But still she felt annoyed. Like he had no
“Kareena Ellis.” She bit her lip the moment
the words were out. Idiot, you shouldn’t have told him!
He held his hand out to her; his big hand,
his soft and gentle hand. Had she gotten it all wrong? This
didn’t seem like the sort of thing someone would do right before they killed you. Gingerly, she extended her
hand. Her wildly shaking hand. Her hand covered in
“Mason. Mason Bradshaw.” She grimaced as he
shook her hand. “Damn. Sorry, Kareena.” He pulled his hand away. His soft, warm, and comforting hand. “Doc,
take a look will you? I think there might be some glass in there.” He looked at her apologetically. Mason
eased her back into a nearby chair, and the doctor opened his bag as he squatted in front of her.
“What happened – car accident?” the doc asked
in a reassuring voice – the kind of voice you would use on
little old ladies when they were hysterical. Was she hysterical? She didn’t think so. Not yet
Kareena licked her lips and glanced up at
Mason. He had kind eyes. Kind eyes and soft hands. Right now, she didn’t know if she could trust him or not.
“Kind of?” the doctor asked. He stared
straight into her eyes. Reassuring voice, prying eyes.
She looked at Mason again. “Someone...” Her
voice came out as a whisper. She cleared her throat and tried again. “Someone,” much better, but still not
strong enough. She licked her lips – once, twice, three times. How
did you actually say this? “Someone tried to kill me.”
The doctor stood up abruptly. The two men
stared down at her.
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