The little boy ducked under the guard rail on the side of the road and began sprinting down the grassy slope on the other side. He actually looked like he was trying to get away from me now. Shit, if anyone saw us, it would look like I was the one trying to kidnap him.
For once I was glad it was the middle of the night. He slid down the rest of the hill and darted into a concrete drain pipe. I was finally gaining on him, and before he made it out the other side, I managed to wrap my arms around his waist and hold him still. It was dark in here. The streetlights didn’t reach this far down. All I could see was the terrified little boy and the surrounding concrete.
“Let go of me! Let me out!” he screamed.
“What are you talking about? You’re the one who told me to follow!”
“No I didn’t! Let me go.”
“Do you promise not to run away?”
“How could I? The door is locked, so let me go.”
The door? What door? I let him go, and he collapsed to the ground. He crawled over to the wall and pressed himself there, glaring fierce little daggers at me.
“Tell me how you got out,” I demanded. I took a step toward him, but stopped when he crawled farther along the wall. He must be traumatized after what he went through tonight. I shouldn’t try to push him.
“I was just trying to get home. I’ve never been here before!”
He buried his head in his arms, sobbing. I knelt down and took another step forward, trying to appear as least threatening as possible.
“Leave him alone, you brute!” A woman’s voice. Someone was here? I jumped backwards and my back rammed into something. I flailed in the air to keep my balance and hit a switch with my hand. A light turned on. Who would put a light in a drain pipe?
But I wasn’t in the drain pipe. I was back in the basement. The concrete walls—the boy cowering in the corner, the woman with the bloody eyes standing over him. Even my date from earlier tonight was here, only now his eyes were hollow and weary, his skin gaunt and tight. It looked like he had been down here for a long, long time. The only one I didn’t see was the college girl.
“Okay—what the Hell is going on?” My whole body was starting to shake. The way they were all looking at me, it was like they thought I was the Devil. But I was a victim too! Why didn’t they see it?
“Weren’t we enough for you?” the woman asked. “Why did you have to bring a little boy?”
“The boy was already here! He was here before me!” I screamed. I must seem even more like a monster for screaming, but I couldn’t help myself.
“Don’t let her hurt me,” the boy cried.
“I didn’t—I didn’t do any of this. It was him!” I pointed at the man.
“I knew you’d be back,” he said, winking. This was all still a game to him. “The boy wasn’t here until you brought him. I just gave you a glimpse of your future.”
“But the other girl my age–”
There was no time to finish my question. He was on top of me now, pinning me to the ground. He pressed my face into the concrete and put his knee in the center of my back. I screamed as he pulled my arms behind me—then the searing pain in my hands. I couldn’t see what was going on, but it was easy enough to imagine the nail sealing them together. I had already seen what was going to happen, I just didn’t know it would be happening to me.
I got out three more times since then. The first time he let me go—I was free for about an hour. I hitch-hiked and drove as far from town as I could get. It wasn’t until we stopped that I realized my driver was wearing a mask—that he was the same Devil I met on Tinder. We were back at his house, and he dragged me back down into the basement.
The second time I escaped while he was sleeping. The door was unlocked—which seemed too easy to be real. I was right. I went to the hospital to get the nail out of my hands. I told them not to put me under, but they insisted on using anesthesia during the surgery. When I woke up, I was back in the basement. The nail was gone, but it looked like it was roughly pulled and I didn’t have any bandages, so I’m not sure if I ever really made it outside.
This time I stayed in the house. I went upstairs and found a phone and a computer. I tried calling the police again, but the line didn’t go through. Now that the nail is out, I’m able to write this to have some record of what is going on. I don’t know if this is real or not, but I want to have something I can check to see if I ever got out of that room at all. I don’t know exactly where I am—somewhere in the Houston suburbs. He’s going to come for me again soon, and I’m going to wake up back in the basement.
He says he’ll let me out again if I return with more people, but I know I’ll only end up back here with them. Right now I’m strong enough to resist, but sooner or later I’m going to break and do what he says. I don’t know how to warn you, but I just want you to know—if you meet someone online and he seems too good to be true, then he probably is.