Part I: Laura's Long Afternoon
Flipping through the pages of a slender book, Laura rested against the bole of a huge oak, relishing the warm sunshine. It was a poetry collection by Sylvia Dann, whom Laura had never read - in fact, she had only discovered poetry within the past month - but was enjoying very much. One week past her eighteenth birthday, headed for NYU in the fall, Laura was on summer vacation.
She wore a paisley print sundress and white sandals, no hosiery. She absentmindedly raised the sundress high on her thighs, spreading her legs to enjoy the freedom solitude brings. Her legs, long and shapely - though a tiny bit thin - were nicely tanned. Before leaving the cabin, she had seriously considered removing her panties and brassiere, feeling a summer afternoon in the Adirondack's nature's wish she be unencumbered. Upbringing won out. She had removed her brassiere to enjoy that subtle pleasure, but had kept her panties on. They peeked now from between her thighs, cool and satiny white, soft against what lay beneath.
"'Soldier by Night'," Laura read.
It was the fourth poem in the volume, and so far its longest. She skimmed through the dozen or so pages, then began to read:
Tell me not about flags!
I care not.
Tomorrow brings flowers and steam afloat like misting dreams,
the sun a yellow haze behind gun-black soot.
The dawn, a remembrance of yesterday's dawn, gone forever,
light in my dreams but in reality dark.
Laura's blonde, shoulder-length hair was swept back from her forehead under a plastic headband, tucked behind each ear, casually falling against the nape of her neck. A smaller, colorless plastic barrette kept order above each eye. She occasionally brushed away a strand dislodged by the breeze, either with her hand or by blowing at it from the corner of her mouth. Her white flats, pop-eye bright in the afternoon sun, dangled loosely from her toes. They bounced along with whatever song played in Laura's head. The only sounds were the whir of insects, an occasional trilling bird, and the scamper of small animals through the bush. Minutes crept by. A shadow crossed Laura's legs.
Engrossed in a particularly difficult passage, it took a moment to register that someone was with her. She looked up, startled, discovered a boy of about ten. She immediately snapped closed her legs. "Hello," she said, smiling shyly.
Dressed in - of all things - a brand-new cowboy outfit, the boy was a miniature Roy Rogers. He sported a pair of low slung, imitation ivory-handled pistols on either hip, an immaculate black cowboy hat tipped back at a cocky angle, and a tasseled shirt. His appearance was unsettling rather than ridiculous. He eyed Laura with suspicion.
"I'm Laura," she said, uneasily. "I'm staying over there." She pointed across the small clearing to the line of trees opposite, where unseen behind the foliage was her family's summer cabin. "Beyond that other grove." She raised a hand to her brow to block the afternoon sun. "And who are you?"
"Bruce," the boy answered. His voice was stronger and deeper than Laura would have expected. He said nothing else, only continued to stare. With a tiny start, Laura noticed the coiled rope in his right hand. He slapped the rope against his knee.
"You live around here?" she asked.
The boy nodded. He pointed with the rope toward a cabin at the bottom of the hill, just visible through the trees. So he was vacationing also.
"Well, Bruce," she said, trying unsuccessfully to come up with something intelligent to say. "That's quite an outfit you've got on."
The boy's scowl deepened. "What's that mean?" he demanded.
"Nothing," she said, trying a conciliatory tone. "It was a compliment." She felt the first small ripple of fear.
The boy looked away in sudden disinterest. "You seen my dog?"
He grumbled, implying Laura was less than quick. "My dog. Tonto. He came in this direction."
Taking the opportunity to discreetly lower her dress, Laura looked around." Sorry," she said. "I haven't seen anything. What's he look like?" "Big," the boy said. "Black. Kind of a white band around his head." The boy circled his own head with a fingertip. An Indian headband, thought Laura. Hence the name.
The boy abruptly squatted and peered at the book's cover. "What's this?" he said.
"Poetry," said Laura. She was afraid, having the boy this close.
"It's not mushy," she said. "It's romantic."
The boy made a face. Casually, he reached out and took Laura's left hand, turned the pages outwards, as though inspecting them would reveal the secrets inside.
"I could let you have it when I'm finished," Laura suggested. She did not like his hand on her wrist.
The boy read, silently moving his lips, his expression growing perplexed. He shook his head. "I don't get it," he said. "Who's Daphne?"
"She's lost in the wood with one of the soldiers. She's trying to explain her fear of the war, but the soldier is only interested in getting back to his comrades."
The boy grunted. "You can't get lost in the woods." He looked around, as though checking his beliefs. He suddenly looped the rope around Laura's left wrist and hitched it into a knot. He drew the knot tight.
Laura tried not to sound frightened. "What are you doing?"
"Tying you up," he said.
Laura was amazed at his boldness. And his calm.
"Suppose I don't want to be tied up?" she said, trying to sound light, yet disapproving at the same time.
"You don't want to play?" He looked as though "no," would be a slap in the face.
Laura swallowed. What had she gotten herself into?
"Well, just for a minute," she said, doubtfully. "And not too tight, okay? I have to finish reading this poem."
Bruce said nothing. Taking the book, he stood and walked around the tree, pulling the rope, and with it Laura's left wrist, along with him.
"Ow!" she said, having to twist sideways. "Not so hard!"
The boy appeared at her right side, book in hand.
"Well?" he said.
He gave her a disgusted look, took her other wrist.
"Wait a minute," she said. "I don't like this." She pulled free of the boy's grip and took back the book, lay it beside her on the grass. She was about to extricate her other arm when the boy simply stole back her wrist and bound it behind the tree with a quick flip of the rope.
"Hey! Ow! That hurts!" The rope tightened more. "Bruce! You're hurting me!"
The boy grunted and Laura's shoulders were pinched firmly against the trunk. Almost frantic, she tried to pull free. She could not.
"This is not funny!" she cried. "Let me go!" Already, a terrible strain grew in her shoulders. "It's too tight!" she cried.
"It has to be tight," the boy said, as though technique were the important factor. "You can get loose if it ain't tight."
Laura tossed her head to the right and a soft mass of hair fell over her eyes, obscuring vision. She tried to shake it away, unsuccessfully. "Could you get the hair out of my face? Please?"
Bastard! She gave a quick, hard yank on the rope but felt no movement at all. "It's too tight!" she repeated.
The boy muttered, something Laura did not catch.
The boy muttered again. He came around the tree to stand before her.
"You need to let me go," Laura voiced slowly. "Right now." Panic was a small, quick animal scurrying in her gut, and it had very sharp claws. She shifted her agonized shoulders against the bark and one ridge dug into her like a finger.
"You ain't all tied up, lady," Bruce said, unexpectedly.
Laura grunted. "I'm not? I sure feel like I am." She tried seeing through her hair, saw only the left side of his face. "What are you planning to do?" she demanded. Immediately she regretted asking.
"Lots of things," the boy said. His eyes clouded like a hot summer afternoon. He reached back and removed a large red bandana from his hip pocket and wiped his face. He had begun to sweat. Then he folded the bandana neatly into a gag.
"Now wait a minute!" Laura cried, twisting against the rope. Could she get free if she really had to?
If I really have to? What's this, if not really have too?
She looked at the red scarf. "What are you doing with that?"
"No! Oh, no, you're not." She pulled forward and twisted side to side. "This had gone far enough. Untie me right now!"
"I am not a little boy," Bruce said, glaring at her hotly.
Laura blinked. "I didn't say you were."
He leaned forward until their noses almost touched. Cowed by his anger, Laura became still. Very carefully, she said: "I'm sorry if you think I offended you, Bruce. I didn't intend to. But really, my arms are beginning to hurt and I have to go pee. Please untie me."
Before she could react, the scarf was jammed forcefully into her mouth.
"Shut up," the boy said. The words were said in an almost offhand manner, making them all the more scary.
The boy unexpectedly removed the scarf and she gasped in air. "Thank you! I knew you'd see reason. Now, let me go and we can play this game some other time!"
Laura tried another tack. "Listen," she said. "It's going to be dark soon. Untie me and I'll help you find your dog. What's his name again?"
"Bruce. You have to let me go."
The boy stood back, rubbed the palm of his right hand against the butt of his pistol. His eyes, dark as a thunderstorm, were fixed on Laura's chest. Again, out of nowhere, he said: "It's not good to lie."
How do you reason with instability? she thought. And this boy was definitely unstable. Was he dangerous as well?
She thought maybe so.
"Okay," she said. "You win. You're in charge. What do you want to do?"
The boy stared. His stormy eyes (did they actually seem to flash?) roamed her face, then up and down her body, then to her exposed legs. (Thank God her panties were on, she thought.) He reached out to brush hair from her eyes, then stopped.
"No, please," she said, leaning forward. "Put it behind my ears." She raised her face to make it easier. "It's so much better if I can see."
The boy didn't move. He stared at her chest.
Gulping, Laura looked down. Strapped as she was to the tree, her small breasts rode high and jutting, like hillocks through the front of her dress. They resembled exclamation points.
"Don't be naughty," she said, both embarrassed and fearful. The boy continued to stare. Laura squirm uncomfortably. Like a bright neon sign, the word "Rape" flashed in her mind. "Can we stop this? Please?"
The boy's eyes dropped lower - and widened. Alarmed, Laura glanced quickly downward and almost groaned. Her ministrations had worked the hem of her dress back up her thighs. Her crotch and white satin panties was again exposed and she slapped her thighs together.
"Don't even think about it," she said hoarsely. Her face radiated heat.
Bruce licked his lips and a rush of apprehension swept through Laura's gut. Things had spiraled completely out of hand.
"Let me go, Bruce."
Through her obscuring fall of hair, the boy looked into Laura's left eye. "I'm not nasty," he said. I'm not going to rape you."
Laura shuddered convulsively. "Let me go then," she whispered. "This will be our little secret. No one has to know."
Without saying a word, the boy rose and searched the surrounding ground with his eyes. Moving five paces to the next tree, he stooped and worked loose a half- buried rock. It was the size of a hamburger pattie, caked with loose earth and mold. He hefted the rock in his palm, turned and looked at Laura. His eyes were stone cold.
"What are you doing, Bruce?" Her voice cracked with fear.
The boy smiled frostily. "Nothing."
He returned and pressed Laura's head back against the tree, cleared her face of hair.
"No!" she cried, jerking back and forth convulsively. "Don't you dare!"
The boy took her head firmly between his hands, jammed it against the tree, and growled: "Hold still." The rock ground into her right temple, spilling soil into her eye.
"Owww! Bruce! That hurts!"
The boy groped for her mouth.
"No! Don't do that!"
The rock was forced against her lips, hard, and Laura clamped tight.
"Open," the boy said. He ground the stone on her lips.
Twisting her head sharply away, Laura took a lung full of air. "You are not putting that thing in my mouth!" she screamed. The boy dragged her face back around and Laura screamed again, "Damn you!" but Bruce had a fistful of hair and her head was yanked violently back. She had no choice but to open up.
"Immmnnn!" She kicked with both feet but managed only to lose her shoes. "Immmnnn!"
"There," the boy said, stepping back. "Much better."
Laura cried out and kicked at him, but the boy backed further away. Lodged against the roof of her mouth, the rock threatened to cut her palate; it covered her tongue with earth. She kicked out again, struggled violently as the boy secured the red bandana around her head, cinching it over her mouth. Then he tied it behind her left ear in a big knot. Then he stepped back.
"Mnathurd!" Bastard! She breathed through her nose, shaking.
The boy sat down.
Trapped like an animal, at the boy's mercy, Laura pleaded with her one seeing eye. "Mmmnnnnmmm!" she begged.
Eying his handiwork, the boy stood up. Laura watched through her hair as he disappeared around the tree, then winced when the rope drew tighter. Her hands must be blue. They were certainly numb. She worked her fingers to restore circulation but felt only a cold, tingly ache. He came back around.
The boy grinned.
"Et-ee-ohh!" Let me go!
Drool leaked from the corner of her mouth. She wiped it against her shoulder. The front of the boys pants were right before her face and as they stirred ominously, Laura wondered if she would be raped. Exposed and taut over her crotch - she felt herself etched like a relief map against the thin material - her panties were the only protection she had.
The boy considered her at length. Laura sensed conflict. On the one hand, he was still a child, not yet into puberty, but she also knew her eleven-year-old cousin got hard-ons. Strong ones for his tiny size, embarrassingly strong. He had already deflowered two little girls in his neighborhood. Though it was questionable if a ten year old could sustain an erection long enough to commit rape, her age-ripened body was a blatant invitation. That alone might sustain him.
Laura crossed her legs but it didn't help. The material only pinched seductively, drawing attention to her crotch like a road sign. Worse, her traitorous nipples had grown hard, and though camouflaged by the colorful material, they popped suggestively out. For perhaps the first time in her short life, Laura wished to be ugly.
"You look uncomfortable," the boy said.
Laura grunted. Of course she was uncomfortable. She was tied to a tree.
Saliva ran down her chin, dropping to the front of her dress in a fragile string. She pleaded again: "Et-ee- ohh!"
"You should try to relax," the boy said. "Stretch out your legs, stop pulling on the rope." He began to rub her shoulders. "Better?"
Laura grunted. If it weren't such a welcome relief, she would have kicked him in the shin. Instead, she tried letting the muscles in her shoulders relax, take the strain out of her arms.
"I thought so. You could even, you know..."
Laura shuddered. Perhaps she should extend a balm, satisfy some of his adolescent need. In exchange for freedom. Dangerous, but her jeopardy was already high. She uncrossed her legs, raised her knees, and let them drop halfway down.
The boy nodded and slowly smiled.
Though unnerving, Laura realized this new position helped. Pulling her heels in toward her buttocks, she pushed against the tree, raising herself up. This helped her shoulders even more. It also left her crotch thoroughly exposed, starkly outlined against the white panties. She squeezed closed her legs.
The boy gulped and dug deeper with his fingers. Squirming, Laura closed her eyes. For just a moment she had a rush of hot pleasure, a sudden traitorous bloom, then she clamped down on that feeling hard. Oh, no you don't! He's not getting a reaction from me! She reopened her eyes.
The boy looked down. "What?"
"Ah-aa-oo-oh-eee." I have to go pee.
The boy shook his head.
Of course you don't understand! Laura thought. Take off this gag!
The boy did nothing. For a youngster, she realized, he was quite attractive. None of the puffy fullness of other boys, no straight up and down physique. His face was strong, willful even, and there was nothing childlike in his eyes. Crazy, yes, animalistic, but not childlike. Then, with dismay, she realized her legs had fallen wider and the boy's stare was locked on her privates.
Was she beginning to like this?
The boy moved away, shivering. Through her one eye Laura saw he breathed hard and his heart pounded visibly against the shirt. He shivered again. Then he sank to his knees. Laura sucked air through her nose and backed away. "Nnnnmmmmfff!" she pleaded, shaking her head. Hair obscured her vision completely, but shaking it fiercely away, her right eye cleared.
"Nnnnummpfff!" she repeated.
The boy moved forward, captured her ankles. She kicked them loose. "Aw-ihh! Ah-eee-oo-oh-eee." Stop it! I need to go pee.
The boy laughed
Laura shook her head again, lost vision again. Banging against the tree brought it back.
The boy barked at her sharply: "Don't do that!" He pushed back the right side of her hair, inexpertly tucked it behind the ear. "I told you I wouldn't hurt you. Don't hurt yourself!"
Laura grunted, plaintively.
"Whatever it is - no."
Placing her left leg outside his right thigh, the boy reached out and touched her panties. He wants to see under them, Laura thought, touch me right there. She drew her knees together, shifting to the side, butting Bruce in the stomach. The boy grunted his surprise. He took each knee in one hand and though she struggled against it, spread them easily apart. He was very strong.
"Ummpfff!" She shook her head furiously, eyes begging him to stop.
The boy ignored her, opened her legs wider, and Laura shifted in panic. She got her left leg free and planted it squarely in the boy's chest. With a panic-driven push she sent him sprawling backwards, somersaulting, coming up hard against the base of the next tree. He whacked his head hard. He lay there, stunned.
Panting through her nose, Laura struggled terrifically against the rope.
"Ungh," the boy said, half-rising. He looked skyward with swimmy eyes, fell back on one elbow. "Ow," he said, holding the back of his head. He removed it and looked at his fingertips for blood. He looked at Laura. "That hurt!"
Laura grunted, belligerently.
The boy blinked. "What?"
Laura grunted the noise again.
Sitting up, he grasped his knees and said sarcastically, "Oh. I see."
A rivulet - no, a river - of sweat ran down Laura's cheek and plunged to her chest below, soaking the point over her left nipple. Another river rolled down her throat into the open top of her dress, down between her breasts and to her stomach. Perspiration wrapped her like clammy dew. Her armpits were soaked. It was insufferably hot.
"You kicked me," Bruce said. He looked at her, shaking his head. "I ought to kick you back."
Laura tried to display regret, but with most of her face buried under loose hair, the boy saw nothing.
Laura shook her head. "Nmmnnnmm."
"You sure as hell are." He got to his hands and knees and crawled back. Taking her left ankle, he sat back on his calves and put her foot in his lap. He smacked the top of it hard.
"Kick me again and I'll really hurt," he said. His voice wasn't the voice of a young boy. He sounded like her father. "Give me your other foot."
Hesitantly, Laura lifted her right foot and placed the heel in the boy's hand. She whimpered quietly. He removed a second bandana - this one blue, showing his disregard for either side of the Crips-Blood feud - and wrapped it around her ankle. He knotted it, leaving the other end loose. Laura understood why.
"Since you're so willing to use these," he said, "I better to get them out of the way." The boy smiled. "Remove temptation."
On the verge of panic, Laura shook her head. "Nnnnnuuuhhh!"
Ignoring her, Bruce tucked her left foot against her thigh and secured it in place with the free end of the bandana. She groaned loudly.
He moved to her right side and felt behind the tree for the rope's loose end. He used it to secure her right ankle to her thigh. Contorted into nearly impossible angles, her thigh muscles screamed. Panic threatened to overwhelm her.
Bruce wiggled her right toes. "Comfy?"
Laura screamed. Saliva in ropey strings hung to the front of her dress, each movement making them wiggle. She felt sick. She swallowed around the stone, fighting a gag, knowing she could not vomit. She would choke to death.
And goddamn it! She had to pee!
The boy forced her right leg farther back, making her thigh muscles threaten to tear. She screamed in pain.
"Hurt?" he asked again.
Laura whimpered helplessly. The boy released her leg.
"Don't hurt me and I won't hurt you. Okay?"
He moved forward and again massaged her neck. Laura worked her shoulders against his hands, trying to ease the pain, unable now to feel her arms. The were numb right up to her armpits. She shifted forward, dug in her heels and lifted herself. It didn't help. Her thigh muscles quaked. She whined plaintively.
"Forget it. You're not getting free."
The boy stared at her stretched white panties, at the bulging lips behind, at the small wet spot that had developed. He surreptitiously rubbed the front of his pants. The remaining free length of the rope was by his foot, maybe six feet in length, and he casually picked it up and wound it in a coil. "Sorry," he said, as though suddenly contrite. "But I have to do this."
Laura closed her eyes. This was it, then. Rape. She knew it and he knew it. Her only hope was someone happening by and she glanced furtively in both directions. The boy caught her look and looked around himself. He shook his head.
"No one here but you and me." He tapped the rope against his thigh. "We've been coming here for years, and I know every cabin around. The Meyerson's - " he pointed west, through the trees, " - are the closest cabin, but they don't get here until the last week of July. The next closest cabin is three miles away." He grinned. "Can you be heard three miles?"
Laura thought more like three yards.
"No one's going to help you," he said.
Laura objected past the rock. Her parents would.
"I checked before I left," the boy said, reading her thoughts. "No parents, no car."
No salvation there either.
Laura's mom and dad would be gone all day, maybe the night. They had taken Jeremy, her younger brother, down to Utica for his twice-weekly kidney dialysis. One hundred and ten miles from Racquet Lake, plus three long hours hooked to the damned machine, they might as well be in China. Often, Jeremy was so weak afterwards her parents simply checked into a local motel and spent the night. And since there was no phone in the cabin, Laura went under the assumption they would see her tomorrow. Until now, she was glad for the time alone.
Bruce reached out and placed his hand over the flat of her belly. Laura looked down, shaking. An embryo had recently grown there, but no more. Careless sex on a careless April night, performed by a careless boy and girl. She thought about the procedure that emptied her womb and how much less terrible that ordeal now seemed. She wished she were back on the table, heels stirruped, vagina open, waiting for the doctor. Maybe this was her punishment; God's payback.
A large wet spot had formed over her left breast, revealing the outline of her aureole and the small stiffened nipple. The boy stared at it, as though mesmerized. His huge erection swelled the front of his jeans. He licked his lips.
At least his attention is away from my crotch, she thought, though he had not yet removed his hand. Somehow, she felt, being touched there, where life had originated and had then died, seemed more unnerving than being touched below. She shifted again, pulled back against the tree, looked into his face.
"You've had sex, right?"
Laura looked uncertainly with her one eye, then nodded.
"You like it?"
She remained still.
"I said I wouldn't hurt you."
Laura nodded slowly.
"With the right guy?"
She nodded again.
The boy looked thoughtful.
"How many times?"
The boy grinned. "None of my business?"
The boy laughed out loud. He removed his hand and put it on his thigh.
"You'd like to kick the shit out of me, wouldn't ya?"
Laura hesitated, then nodded yes. She made a sentence long on undecipherable words. The boy laughed again.
"Well, maybe you'll get your chance," he said. He looked into Laura's eye. "Can I touch your breasts?"
Laura became still. Finally, lowering her gaze, she shrugged permission. At least he had asked.
Putting down the coiled rope (Laura knew he intended tying her head to the trunk if things went badly) he reached out and placed a tentatively hand over each breast. They seemed to fit his palms exactly. A quiver ran up her spine.
"They're really soft," the boy whispered. Laura raised her eye. He laughed. "They're really firm."
Incredibly, Laura had a reaction. A thrumming began in her chest, then one in her lower belly, then one in that most sacred of places, between her legs. Heat baked her face.
"How old are you?" he asked. "Sixteen?"
Laura shook her head.
He continued in the wrong direction. "Fifteen?" Then: "Seventeen? Eighteen. My sister's twenty," he said. "Susan." He nodded toward the bottom of the hill. "She's probably asleep. Sleeps all the time. Laziest girl I ever met." He brushed aside Laura's hair and wiped away the strings of saliva. The hair fell immediately back in place but her saliva flood seemed to have stopped.
"Want me to do it?" the boy asked.
Laura looked at him with her left eye. She once had unfulfilled dreams, wonderful pictures of how the first time would be. He'd say gentle things, touch her gently, say he needed her touch. They would hold hands and kiss, making Laura feel alive and heated and a wholly equal partner. Instead, she got banged in the back seat of a Dodge.
Now some stupid kid in a cowboy outfit wants to know if I want to do it.
He removed his hands from her breasts. "I take it that's a no."
Laura shook her head and indicated to put his hands back. Why, she didn't know. He replaced them and Laura moved herself slightly forward under his touch. Her nipples swelled. She closed her eyes. The sunlight on her hair made a golden glow against which her face felt bathed. The stone pressed against her soft palate, but the gag reflex had eased, and she simply pushed it forward with her tongue. The worst of the taste had gone. If only her jaw didn't ache.
She groaned and arched her chest forward and he embraced her with care. No - he caressed her. She took a lung full of air and then his hands were undoing the straps of her dress, and then they were unbuttoned, and he lowered the dress and let it rest against her tummy. Her breasts were bare. Her nipples responded by growing even more.
"My, God," the boy whispered, letting out a hiss of air. Then: "They're beautiful."
Laura opened her eyes. The boy stared as though finding a chest of gold. She needn't look to know how high she jutted: They threatened to pop off her chest. Her nipples pulsed, throbbed with urgent desire, needed to be touched and held and pinched.
"Can I hold them?" he asked.
She had never wanted anything more. "Mnuummph."
The boys eyes were wide and starry and his hands twitched." What?"
"I'm sorry," he said, fumbling at the gag. "I'm having a hard time not doing what I said I wouldn't do." He licked his lips. From his expression, he had lost the fight already. His erection, eight inches long, maybe nine, formed an alarmingly big rise beside the zipper. It was the largest erection Laura had ever seen. It was not that of a boy.
"I'm trying!" the boy said. His face was scarlet and shiny with sweat. "It's tighter than I thought."
Laura shook her head. Sounds gurgled in her throat. Her body seemed to vibrate and what she wanted was to be let go and then do it.
The boy gave up and lowered his face to Laura's chest, kissed the skin right above nipple. His tongue played over her skin, tasting it; he put his hands back on her breasts.
Laura shut her eyes tight. I am not doing this! she thought, pushing her chest up to him.
There was a sudden loud snap.
Both Laura and the boy jumped, looked to their right. The underbrush stirred and Bruce whipped his hands off her breasts, and fell back. As though it were real, he gripped the pistol on his right hip.
Laura strained to see.
"Stay here," the boy said, rising. (Both missed the irony.) He moved to the tree line, hand still on the gun butt, and there was another crack!
"Who's there, dammit!" He yelled. Then, crazily, "I have a gun!"
The sound came closer and Bruce backed away. Too loud for a dog, Laura thought. In woods, dogs moved with stealthy quiet.
A final loud crack and Bruce hissed, "Shit!", then took off running, bounding out of sight into the opposite trees. Laura's heart trip-hammered as she shouted after him.
She twisted against the rope, craning to see, and the bandana and the rope securing her ankles threatened to break her in half. Was it a bear? A lion?
This last was not only the choice most likely, but also the most dangerous one. She might be raped. Worse, she might be killed.
Holding her breath, Laura whimpered, forced herself to remain calm. She worked her wrists and feet against the bonds, then something touched her right shoulder. Laura screamed. Throwing her head to the right, she brained herself on the tree and stars exploded before her eyes. Dizzy and unable to breath, she felt the light slipping from of her eyes, and falling toward oblivion, the last thing she saw were the slit yellow eyes of a demon.