Rain slowly floated up toward consciousness and struggled against her restraints. She tried to force her eyes open, but all she could see was the blurry white ceiling above her.
She moaned and turned her head to the side. She tried to spit the gag out of her mouth, but she couldn’t.
She sniffed the air. The room smelled as if it had been cleaned recently. She listened for sounds but all she heard was the hum of the air conditioner. As her vision cleared, she realized she was lying on a bed in a hotel room.
Then she remembered Julia’s visit to the hospital, her pressing down on her neck in a way that made her blackout, and then ultimately nothing. Her heart began to race as she struggled even harder to break free.
“Shhh. Calm down. Relax,” she heard the doctor say.
Her head snapped in the other direction. How amazed she was to find the doctor looking so damn ordinary. No one would ever suspect just by looking at her almost slight frame that she’d just choked a patient into oblivion and kidnapped them.
“If I remove the gag, you going to stay quiet?”
“I mean it, Rain. One word that is above a reasonable volume and this thing is going back on. Got it?”
Rain nodded again.
The doctor gently removed the gag and Rain said, “Wh-what are we, in-in a hotel?”
“I said just relax, Rain. Everything’s going to be just fine.”
“You knock me out, you kidnap me, and you think everything’s going to be just fine?”
The doctor came closer.
Rain looked into her deep muddy eyes and a chill ran through her. In those eyes was an intense hatred and anger that scared the crap out of her. “Why are you doing this? Someone had to have seen us. What is it that you couldn’t have told me in the hospital that you feel you could only tell me here?”
“This isn’t about what I can tell you,” the doctor said as if she was silly enough not to know better. “This is about you and me.”
“There is no you and I, in case you haven’t noticed.”
The doctor looked around her and then back to Rain. “Looks like just you and I to me.”
Rain began to scream but the doctor’s hand clamped down on her mouth a split second later. “I should have known you wouldn’t behave,” the doctor said, picking up the gag and shoving it back in Rain’s mouth.
Rain tried to shake her head from side to side as fast as she could in order to prevent the gag from being replaced.
“Stay still or I’ll knock you out again, and the longer you’re out cold, the longer it takes to get things done.”
Rain hated to think of what things needed to be done, so she simply allowed the gag to be stuffed back into her mouth. She coughed and tried not to choke by breathing steadily through her nose.
Once the doctor was sure that the gag would remain in place, she sat on the edge of the bed beside Rain and said, “You know the cops think I killed your husband.”
Rain stared at the doctor.
“I’ll be honest with you, Rain. They’re right. I thought I could count on you believing it was whoever the woman was that was tormenting you back east, but thanks to some damn illegal immigrant, my husband’s gun has been recovered from the river.”
Rain felt a deep sense of rage well up within her. She was no longer scared. All she felt was red-hot anger like never before. She wanted to strangle this woman with her bare hands. Now! The only problem was that her wrists were still bound along with her ankles.
Too mad to think things through, she raised her arm and clubbed Julia on the head with both fists as fast and as hard as she could.
The deranged doctor jerked away. She might as well have punched the mattress.
“Damn you!” the doctor shouted in a tone that was hopefully loud enough to draw some attention. “You really don’t give a shit about anybody but yourself, do you? I have done so much for you, sacrificed so much, and this is how you show me your gratitude? We could have had a fantastic life together, Rain. We could have done so many things together despite our age differences. You would never again have to worry about money. There’s so much I could have given you that your late husband could never have,” She said sternly as her eyes blazed into Rain’s.
Rain continued to stare at her, rage present in her eyes.
“Instead of appreciating the help and the attention I was willing to give you, along with so very much more, you run around telling people that I’m smothering you. How is offering someone a place to live and providing food for them and getting them what they need and even want smothering them? I would never have thought that you of all people would be so ungrateful and selfish. What would you have preferred, Rain? Would you rather be on the streets?”
Rain came to realize that if she stood a chance of breaking free of the west coast madwoman, she was going to have to be everything and anything Julia wanted. She tried to speak, but she could only make unintelligible guttural sounds. Her efforts weren’t appreciated anyway.
“You shut up,” the doctor said. “You’ve done enough talking these last few days, haven’t you?”
Rain nodded her head vigorously, hoping she would understand that she was willing to go along with her.
“Oh, yes you have. Your accusations may be right on, but that’s not the point anymore. Whether or not I killed your damn husband doesn’t matter now. All that matters is you and I. I’m not far from sixty years old. Longevity runs in my family, Rain. Do you really think I want to live my last thirty years all alone? You’re younger and you may find somebody else someday, but who am I to find? Huh? Who am I to find but somebody who may only want me for my money? I thought you and I had something special going.”
Rain nodded, hoping she was convincing the doctor that she regretted her resistance and now had an interest in remaining with her.
“I thought you loved spending time with me. You even told me you did.”
Again Rain nodded as adamantly as she could.
“Yeah?” asked the doctor. “How do I know you’re not just playing me now?
“I thought you enjoyed our chats.”
Rain nodded yet again.
“I thought you liked spending time with me in the garden, even if gardening may not be your thing.”
Rain kept nodding.
The doctor put her face in her hands. Then she rose up and appeared to be lost in thought. Her back was turned towards her and just when Rain was contemplating springing up from the bed and throwing her bound arms around her neck and choking her, the doctor turned around to face her.
She’d lost her chance thanks to her hesitation.
“So, what do we do, Rain? We can’t go back to my place. Might as well get out of the country while we can. Let’s go someplace warmer in the winter, like maybe the Caribbean. What do you think?”
Rain wasn’t sure what would be the right thing to do and so she simply stared at the doctor. Julia soon approached her once again, sat beside her and said, “What do you want to do?”
Rain motioned toward her gag with her bound hands.
“How do I know I can trust you this time? If we’re going to have a life together, we need to know we can count on each other.”
Rain nodded vigorously and the doctor stripped the gag from her mouth once again. Rain coughed. “Water, please.”
The doctor started to get up and go into the bathroom to retrieve a cup of water but then hesitated to leave Rain alone. “Come with me, but here’s the deal. If you ever scream out again or do anything to prove that I can’t trust you, you’re dead, okay? I have absolutely nothing to lose at this point, Rain. If I’m not going to be able to have you, then I have no problem at this point with killing you and then myself because I’ll be damned if I’ll spend the rest of my life behind bars or alone.”
Rain felt a sinking sensation in her stomach. She thought that the doctor’s obsession with her meant that she would do everything she could to keep her with her, which meant keeping her alive. Now the rules were either shut up and comply or be prepared to die. She now knew that she couldn’t act in haste. She would have to actively think through anything she might do to break away. Acting spontaneously and without thought would only get her killed. She knew that now. Doctor Linden wasn’t just a lonely widow, she was a deranged psychopath who would first kill to get what she wanted, and then kill out of sheer spite.
“You going to be quiet and follow me?”
“Yes, Doc,” Rain croaked softly. She quietly followed the doctor and drank a glass of water as the woman studied her, an evil look present in her poopy brown eyes. It was a look that chilled Rain to the core. “What are we going to do from here?”
“I just told you.”
“So what does that mean? Do we go to the airport now?”
“Something like that. I still have to work out the particulars.”
“What particulars besides the fact that I have no passport with me?”
“That one’s easy enough, but you still need thyroid medication, don’t you?”
“I do, but what about you? Do you need medication?”
The doctor nodded. “Yep. Got high blood pressure.”
“Do we have to stay in this room much longer while we figure it out? I’ll go stir crazy in here before long.”
“I don’t know, Rain. I need to map out the details first before I can tell you what they are.”
“But aren’t they going to be looking for us?”
“Of course, they’re going to be looking for us,” the doctor said as if that was the most ridiculous question she had ever been asked. “Come on, Rain. We’re fugitives now.
Wrong, Rain wanted to say. You’re a fugitive. Instead, she said, “We should go to Puerto Rico. I sailed there in 2006 after I won a Caribbean cruise and it was gorgeous as hell. The Bahamas are nice, but Puerto Rico was one place you could really fall in love with in a heartbeat and…”
A knock on the door suddenly sounded and both women nearly flew out of their skin but for very different reasons.
“Not a word,” Julia hissed at Rain.
If looks could kill Rain would have been dead on the spot.
The doctor strode over to the door and peeked through the peephole. “Yes?” she called out.
“We didn’t order any room service,” the doctor called, now very suspicious.
“You didn’t place an order for Buffalo wings and fries?”
“No, we didn’t.”
“Well, do you want some anyway, compliments of the house?”
The doctor hesitated a moment and then opened the door. A petite Asian woman was holding a tray in her arms. “This is kind of heavy, so perhaps you would be interested in this until I can find out who screwed up the order? Like I said, it’s on the house.”
“Yeah, okay. Thanks,” the doctor finally said. “You can place it right there on the table.”
Without thinking, as soon as Rain had a clear shot of the door after the woman had stepped far enough into the room, she ran out of the room screaming. Then she heard the room service girl start screaming as well, followed by a couple of loud, deafening pops and a searing pain in her left shoulder.
She couldn’t have told anyone what happened next because everything went black.