"I just wish I had the chance to go back and tell my parents I loved them," Emily said softly.
"You know," James said wryly. "If I had to spend my last few days locked in a cage, on a hard stone floor, with hardly anything to eat, little to do-"
"Get to the point," Emily interrupted.
"I'm glad I have you with me," James finished with dignity. Emily sighed and grabbed onto his hand, shuffling closer to him. Seconds later, Maude burst through the door, bathing the dim, fire-lit room in light.
"Breakfast!" Maude chirped, waltzing towards the cage.
"Joy," Emily whispered sarcastically.
"You're in a good mood," James directed the comment at Maude, who smiled passively.
"Are you feeling any better today, Emily dear?" Maude asked in a sugary sweet voice.
"A bit," Emily replied, while Maude took the keys off their hook.
"Ready to finally eat something? I don't want you to starve now, dear; you've hardly eaten a thing these last few days!"
"Yeah, I'll eat something," Emily lied hopefully; the last thing she wanted was to be force-fed by that disgusting woman. "I'm actually quite hungry."
"Good," Maude said approvingly, as she placed a plate of toast and two glasses of apple juice in front of the teenagers, and left, locking the cage door firmly behind her. James took a slice of toast, and then looked at Emily expectantly.
When Emily shook her head, James sighed with frustration. "I thought you said you were hungry," he cried.
"I lied," Emily said simply.
James took a sip of juice and then glared at her disapprovingly. "At least drink something. If you get sick again, it's me that has to put up with you!" he pointed out.
"Maybe in a minute… I hate apple juice," Emily admitted.
"Well… while the food here is gourmet, and the service excellent, we might not be able to do much about that," James shrugged, and then stared into space, his face lit up by the flickering flames.
Emily realized he was right, and she grabbed the glass in front of her.
"Leave it!" James shouted suddenly, causing Emily to jump.
"What?" she asked in confusion.
"Don't… leave… shit," James breathed groggily.
"What's wrong?" Emily demanded, grabbing onto James' shoulders as his head lolled onto the side, his eyes closed.
Emily froze for a moment, fighting panic, as thoughts filled her head. There must have been some sort of sleeping solution in the juice, and that meant they were meant for her as well. Suddenly, she knew what that day was.
Struggling to control her breathing, she studied James' unconscious form. His face didn't even twitch when she reached out to brush a strand of black hair from his tightly closed eyes. His lips were slightly apart, and Emily noticed for the first time the light dust of freckles on his nose.
Her heart pounding, she looked up at the counter near the cage, where Maude kept the keys. In her confidence that the teenagers would be unconscious before too long, Maude had left the keys near the edge of the counter.
Emily paused for a moment, calculating, then she hurriedly pulled off her jacket with shaking hands. Glancing at the door nervously, she then carefully removed James' jacket, and ties the hoods of the two together as tightly as she could.
She took a deep breath, and rose to face the counter. Holding all four sleeves together, she stuck her right arm through the bars of their prison, and swung. It missed. Shaking, she pulled back again and swung the jumpers towards the counter, and they just clipped the edge.
Feeling panic take over her, she swung again and again in a frenzy, until suddenly, the material made contact with the keys, pulling them off the counter.
They hit the floor with an echoing clunk. Emily froze for several moments, breathing deeply and staring fixedly at the door. When nothing happened, she reached towards the keys and began to try them in the lock, just as the door creaked open, and Maude entered, a furious look on her wrinkled face.
Emily let out a cry of terror, and shoved the next key into the lock, her hands shaking so much she almost missed.
The lock clicked, and Emily burst out and ran, putting the cage between her and Maude. Maude narrowed her eyes and walked towards her slowly, like a lioness stalking her prey.
Emily backed away, and turned the corner, until she was side on to the door of the room, and Maude was at the door of the cage. Maude laughed softly.
"You walk out that door, and you'll be deserting your little boyfriend," she hissed. "I'll slit his throat; he'll be dead in less than a second."
Emily smiled cockily. "Do it. I don't care. Don't you understand how fast I can move?" she asked. "Take one step inside that cage, and I'll lock you in. Who cares about him, as long as I escape? He was a bastard most of the time anyway."
Maude paused and studied the girl, and then smiled again.
"Emily dear, you can't escape. Come to me now, and I'll give you drugs to put you to sleep. Annoy me, and I don't think I'll bother. You don't want to skip the sleeping pills, dear, trust me." Maude was walking towards her slowly, and Emily was backing away until she was too far away to run through the door easily.
"Drugs will make sure that you don't feel the cut of the axe when I hack off your limbs, and that you aren't conscious when I draw out your insides-"
In one fluid motion, Emily dropped to the ground and grabbed the jumpers, thrusting one end into the fire, and then brandishing it towards Maude.
"Be careful with that, you stupid girl!" Maude snapped, eyeing the flames warily.
"I'm not planning on being careful with it," Emily replied, holding it in front of her as she walked towards Maude. For a moment, it seemed to work, and Maude took a step back. Then, suddenly, something came over the old woman, and with a cry she lunged towards Emily, knocking her to the ground, and knocking the flaming fabric out of her hands.
Emily cried out in pain as she slammed onto the floor, and the wind was knocked out of her. She tried desperately to kick Maude off of her, but she was too strong. Maude pinned her down with one hand, and reached for the knife she kept on the countertop.
With a sudden rush of instinct, Emily bit the hand that held her down. Maude let out a yelp of surprise, and drew it away. Taking advantaged of the moment, Emily grabbed Maude's head, and smashed it hard against the side of the counter. Maude fell limp, and without stopping to think, Emily shoved her head in the fire.
As Maude's head grew alight, and the smell of cooking flesh filled the room, Emily froze, unable to move or think. Then suddenly, as realization dawned on her, she began to scream hysterically, and she scrambled as far away from her as she could get, before she realized the heat on her back. She flipped around to face blinding flames that were quickly spreading around the room.
The jumper… she'd dropped it when it was alight.
Forcing the thought that she'd just committed murder out of her head, Emily scrambled back to the cage and grabbed James. He was still out cold. She attempted to drag him a short way, but soon discovered that he was simply too heavy for her. She wasn't about to leave him, however, and she continued attempting to drag him out of the cage, but to little avail. It soon became clear to her that the flames and smoke were spreading much faster than she could move him.
I wonder what will come first, she thought dimly. Will I get burnt, or will I suffocate from the smoke?
The smoke, she decided within moments; it was growing so thick so rapidly Emily could hardly draw breaths in. She dropped her head and began to hyperventilate, just as a pair of arms grabbed her and pulled her upright. A piece of cloth was placed over her mouth, and she was led out of the room forcefully.
"Where's James?" she choked to the unfamiliar man when she regained her breath. Just then James' father burst through the door to the basement holding James easily in his arms.
"Is he breathing?" the unfamiliar man asked urgently, walking towards Mr. Hope. He nodded, his face pale.
"Just. He must have inhaled too much smoke; he won't wake up-"
"He was drugged," Emily explained.
"What-" Mr. Hope started, but the strange man cut him off.
"Let's get outside first."
The cold hit Emily sharply, and she wrapped her arms around herself, keeping close to Mr. Hope, and not taking her eyes off James.
"I'm Rob, the forest ranger, by the way," the man introduced himself, while offering Emily his jacket. She accepted it gratefully.
"You two have been worrying your parents quite a bit," Rob said, at the same time Mr. Hope whispered, "What happened?"
"James fell in the river, so we went to her house for help. She abducted us, and tried to kill us," Emily replied impatiently. "What took you guys so long?"
"We've been searching every day since you left; all the rangers and police in the area have been searching. You've made the news, trust me, we've been
looking. But not once has anyone come across this house."
"It's because she died," James whispered into the dark. Emily rolled over to face him, blissfully happy to be back in a real bed for the night.
"What is?" she questioned sleepily.
"They found the house as soon as she died. She had some sort of spell on it," James whispered.
"You don't honestly believe that, do you?" Emily scoffed. "There's no such things as spells.
"Well, how do you explain it?" James demanded. "Why couldn't they find us? Why was she so strong? How did she know we were coming that night?"
"Did you forget? The forest told her," Emily replied softly, reaching across the space between the beds to grab his hand. James held it back, and began to stroke the back of her hand with his thumb.
"By the way, Emily, what school do you go to?" James asked suddenly.
"Sacred Heart, why?" she replied, surprised that she had never mentioned it.
James smiled knowingly. "I thought it would be," he replied.
"Because, that's the school I'm moving to next year. Mum and Dad want me to spend year eleven and twelve in a private school. I think we'll be seeing a lot more of each other from now on."
Well, the end! I hope you liked it! Please R&R, and, if you would, please include you favourite quote from the story!!