The Island, Part 2
The man’s face was dark – menacing. Marnie frowned while she studied his features. The man was taller than Marnie’s dad. He had black hair, a broad, flat forehead, bushy eyebrows, black eyes, and a huge mouth. Marnie decided that the man had fat lips. His earlobes were fat, too, but the man was thin – wiry was what her mother would say. As she studied the man, Marnie became agitated – sad – angry. She saw something evil in him. She also felt sorry for him. She sensed a terrible pain in her right knee. Her head began to ache, and her left ear buzzed. When her vision grew fuzzy, and her stomach started to turn, she knew that these were the man’s symptoms – not her own.
Marnie knew that she was an empath. Her mother told her she was. Her mother also told her that if she was ever to experience what she was now experiencing, she needed to focus on something positive – something nice – focus on anything but the person causing her to feel bad. Marnie glanced in Tom’s direction. His eyes met hers. Marnie felt panicked – terrified. She turned her attention to the pond – calm washed over her, and her courage returned. She took a step forward, crossed her arms, and scowled.
“Hey! What are doing on Mr. Barnes’s island? Did you hurt Mr. Barnes?” Marnie asked. She held her head high, straightened her shoulders and planted her feet firmly.
The man stared down at her – eyes empty.
“Can you talk?” Marnie asked. She studied the man – her scowl slowly disappearing. “Hey! Why are you so grumpy? You know, you should get some aspirin for your knee and your head. It must hurt an awful lot. You might not be grumpy if you had aspirin. Maybe Mr. Barnes has some at his house. Maybe you should go check.”
Tom nudged Marnie. “I don’t think he wants to talk to us. Maybe we should go find Sam.”
Marnie nodded. “Yeah. Let’s go find Sam.”
As Marnie turned to walk away, the man grabbed her hair and pulled her back. Marnie screeched.
“Ow! Ow! Let me go! Tom! Run! Run! Find Sam!” Marnie screamed, and swung her arms wildly. “Let me go! Let me go! Ow!”
Tom faltered, stared wide-eyed at his friend, and then raced off in the direction of Sam’s friends on the other side of the island.
The man grabbed Marnie’s arms, and then tightly clasped a hand over her mouth. Marnie twisted to free herself, and stomped down hard on the man’s foot. He held tighter. Marnie kicked back, and connected with the man’s knee. He yelled out in pain.
“Argh! You little bitch! I’m going to kill you!” he shouted, his grip on Marnie tightening.
Marnie turned her head sharply, freeing her mouth from the man’s rough and grimy hand. She sucked in a deep breath, threw her head back into the man’s nose, and then bit down hard on his thumb. The man threw Marnie roughly to ground, and as Marnie scrambled to get to her feet, he slapped her hard across the face. Marnie saw stars – her ears buzzed, and she fell backward into the reeds.
Sam stopped on a cedar-covered path. The humidity had crept up. He tugged his t-shirt away from his damp skin, lifted the hem and wiped sweat from his face. The soft breeze from earlier in the day had faded, and the buzz of mosquitos and flies filled the sticky air. He wished that he hadn’t taken a short cut through the woods, but had rather walked the pebbled shore of the pond. Swatting a mosquito away from his ear, he narrowed his eyes, and turned his head from side to side. Sam was certain he had just heard Marnie screech. Cupping his hands to mouth like a megaphone, he called out to his sister.
“Marnie! Marnie, are you okay? I’ll be right there!”
Marnie didn’t answer. He called out again.
Tom stopped running along the pebbly path, and turned in the direction of Sam’s voice.
“Sam! Over here! Sam!” Tom shouted – desperation in his voice.
“Tom? Tom, is Marnie with you?” Sam shouted, panic rising in his voice.
“The bad man has her! The bad man grabbed her hair! She sent me to get you!” Tom screeched. His fearful shout sent chills up Sam’s spine.
Sam raced in the direction of Tom’s shouts. Running as fast as his legs would carry him, Tom ran toward the sound of Sam’s voice.
“Sam! Where are you?” Tom puffed out his words.
“I’m here, Tom!” Sam shouted in reply. Sam could see the top of Tom’s head bobbing and weaving through the thickets and brambles of the overgrown woods – and then he didn’t.
Tom took a sharp turn around a boulder, heard Marnie screech, turned in the direction of her cries, and collided with Sam.
Marnie kicked and pushed the bad man away from her. She scrambled back through the reeds, and into the pond. She held her breath and dunked herself under the water, hoping to escape the bad man. Marnie awkwardly swam in circles, before coming up for air. The bad man grabbed her hair and pulled her up out of the water. Swinging her around until she was huddled on his hip and under his arm. Marnie twisted violently. She screeched, kicked and punched as she thrashed.
“My brother is going to hurt you! My father is going to kill you!” She cried.
The bad man swung Marnie around and held her under her arms until they were nose to nose. He glared into Marnie’s face – and Marnie glared back. She narrowed her eyes, and scrunched up her nose.
“You stink! You smell like you haven’t brushed your teeth!” Marnie yelled.
The bad man’s expression didn’t change. Marnie looked into his eyes – and they seemed to be as dead as Mr. Barnes’s eyes, but Marnie was certain this man wasn’t a ghost. A ghost wouldn’t be able to pick her up or slap her. She was sure of it. Marnie’s eyes widened. She saw something in this man – and it wasn’t good. Marnie saw evil. Pure evil! A cold chill inched up her spine, and goosebumps popped out on her arms and legs. The top of her head began to tingle, a sure sign something bad was going to happen. Marnie twisted so that the bad man would release his grip. His grip tightened, and a menacing sneer appeared on his unshaven face. The bad man’s fingers were like the vise grips her father used to twist off the top of an old wood glue bottle. Marnie winced with pain.
“I’m going to have fun killing you, little one. I’m going to bite off your fingers one by one, and then I’ll bite off your toes, and then your ears, and then your nose. ” Licking his lips, the bad man pulled Marnie closer. Their noses were barely touching. Marnie could see the evil growing within him. She knew he would do exactly what he was telling her he would do.
Marnie summoned as much courage as her fear would allow. “You better put me down!” Marnie shrieked, and then kicked out hard, connecting with the bad man’s stomach.
The bad man shook her, throwing Marnie’s head back violently. When her head snapped forward, her forehead smashed into the bridge of the bad man’s nose. Marnie heard the bones crunch, and twisted to free herself – again. Blinded by pain, the bad man dropped Marnie, and put his hands up to his nose. Marnie pulled herself up, and knelt on the pine needle carpet of the woods. She watched with morbid fascination as the bad man growled with pain – then he put two fingers along either side of his nose and pushed his nose back into place. Blood dripped from his nose to the ground. Eyes wide and mouth agape, Marnie read the man’s thoughts. She scrambled to her feet, and just as she was turning to flee, the bad man lunged forward.
“I’m going to kill you!” he wailed.
“No you are not!” Sam Reilly roared, as he swung Tom’s rusty crowbar at the bad man’s head.
Tom raced to Marnie’s side, and pulled her out of the way of the bad man’s grasp. The bad man hit the ground with a dull thud – a loud groan escaping from his throat.
Sam Reilly stood over the bad man, the crow bar raised over his head. “I swear I will kill you if you get up! Don’t you move! Don’t move! I’ll smash you again!”
Sam glanced up. “Tom, I want you to run to the other side of the island and get my friends. Run as fast as you can!”
Tom simply nodded and ran.
“Marnie, open your bag. Let’s see what we have to tie him up.”
The bad man groaned, rolled over, and reached for Sam’s leg. Sam smashed the crow bar down on the bad man’s hand.
Hearing the crack of the crow bar, Marnie’s head popped up from inspecting the contents of her bag. Her eyes welled with tears – partly from fear – partly from frustration. She could find nothing in her bag with which to tie up the bad man.
“I can’t find anything!” Marnie whined. She stood and tipped everything out of her bag, and sat on the ground to sift through the contents. “I don’t have anything in here…”
The bad man grunted, and lurched forward – reaching for Sam’s ankle.
“Sam! Look out!” Marnie shrieked.
Sam swung the crow bar down hard, hitting the bad man’s forearm. The crack that followed the hit was sickening. Falling back in pain, the bad man lolled his head to one side and glared at Marnie.
Marnie rolled her nose, and put up her fists. “I’ll take a swing at you next! You’re a bad man! You’re evil! My brother’ll whack your other arm if you keep moving around and trying to grab him!”
The sound of thundering feet, breaking branches and rustling leaves turned their attention toward the woods. A moment later, Sam’s friends skidded to a halt in the clearing. Tom, red-faced and winded, trailed behind them. Marcus, a young man of about 13, stepped into the clearing first. His dark brown hair was flat to his head – either from sweat or from swimming. His wet, navy blue swimming trunks suggested the latter, but the redness of his cheeks suggested both. His hazel eyes widened when he saw the bad man sprawled on the ground groaning under the threat of the raised crow bar in Sam Reilly’s right hand.
“What the hell! Sam, what happened?” Marcus asked, disbelief and confusion clouding his features.
Marnie hopped to her feet, pointed the man sprawled on the ground, and yelled, “That bad man was trying to kill me!”
Marcus glanced in Marnie’s direction, and then back to Sam.
Sam’s other friends, 2 tall, lanky boys; 1 short, skinny boy; 2 stocky, medium height boys; 1 tall, willowy girl; and 3 petite girls, stepped into the clearing and stared down at the bad man. Their ages ranged from 11-14. The disgust on their faces ranged from “Holy crap! Sam really messed this guy up!” to “Oh my god! This man is grotesque!”
The bad man’s right arm had a huge goose egg and a nasty bruise rising up on the forearm, and his left hand seeped blood, and from the looks of it, it was broken. His nose was a slightly askew and bulbous, and dribbles of dried blood splotched just beneath his nose, on his lips and chin. His light grey T-shirt and jeans were grubby with specks of dried blood dotting the fabrics.
Sam relaxed his stance – but just a bit. He kept the crow bar raised – his eyes laser focused on the man lying in the dirt just a few inches away.
“Marcus, can you please go to my house, and ask my parents to call the cops? Can someone go get my father, and bring him here with some rope?” Sam asked – no emotion in his voice. “The cops are going to take forever getting out to the island. My dad can help. We can tie this guy up, and then wait for the cops to arrive. Oh, you might want to tell to send paramedics, too.”
Still staring down at the bad man, Marcus nodded blankly. “Yeah. I can go. I have my father’s boat tied up on the other side of the island.” Marcus turned to run back to his boat, snapped his fingers and turned back. “You know! I’ve got some tow rope in my boat. We can use that to tie up this guy.”
Sam glanced up. He clenched his jaw, and nodded. “Thanks, Marcus.” Sam turned to the tall, willowy girl. “Stephanie, can you please go to the boat with Marcus, and then bring back the rope? I want to get this guy tied up sooner rather than later. I don’t trust him.”
Stephanie smiled. “Sure, Sam. I’ll do that for you, Sam.” She blushed, and then she and Marcus raced through the woods to Marcus’s boat.
Distracted by Stephanie’s smile, Sam relaxed and lowered the crow bar to his side. He really liked Stephanie. He had been planning to ask her to accompany him to the Creekwood Summer Festival Dance that was coming up next weekend.
“Sam! Look out!” Marnie screeched.
The bad man kicked Sam’s legs from beneath him, and then he weakly grabbed the crow bar with his mangled left hand. Marnie scrambled to get to her brother, but she stumbled on another tree root. The bad man scooted across the ground on his backside, and wrapped his right arm around Marnie’s throat, while still gripping the crow bar in his left hand as tightly as he could.
“Don’t move! Any of you! I’ll break her neck! I will squeeze the life out of her! One squeeze of my arm, and I will break her neck!” the bad man rasped out.
“Let me go!” Marnie screeched. She kicked and punched, and the bad man squeezed her neck tighter.
“Don’t fight me! I will kill you! I’m going to kill you anyway, but I’ll kill you quicker if you fight!” the bad man threatened.
The bad man scooted in his backside across the mossy ground until his back was against a large cedar tree. He planted the edge of his boots into the ground, and using the tree as leverage, he pushed himself up onto his feet. Marnie’s neck still firmly trapped in the crook of his right arm, he stood and weakly took a few backward steps away from Sam and his group of friends.
Tom sank down, and sat on the ground. He closed his eyes, and covered his face with his hands. He whispered, “Annie, please help my friend. Please help her.”
Sam took a threatening step forward.
The bad man grinned and squeezed Marnie’s neck.
“Argh! You’re hurting me!” Marnie squeaked out. Tears ran down her crinkled and frightened face.
Sam took another step forward.
“Not one more step!” the bad man growled. “I will snap her neck like a twig! Not one more step!”
The roar of a boat engine echoed as it rounded the island. Sam hoped that it was Marcus racing toward the Reilly’s dock.
Sam scanned his group of friends. Stuart and David Bennett were both glancing back and forth between Sam and Marnie. Stuart was Sam’s age. David was just a year older than Marnie. Stuart put his hands out flat to the ground as a sign for Sam to stand down. Sam nodded, and then retreated a step.
“Good boy!” rasped out the bad man. He walked backward into the woods dragging Marnie with him. Tears streamed down Marnie’s face. Her mouth was moving, but they couldn’t hear what she was saying.
Sam turned around searching for Tom. Tom was creeping through the woods.
“Tom!” Sam shouted. “Tom! Get back here!”
Tom stopped for a moment. He turned, made eye contact with Sam, shook his head firmly, and then darted off into the woods – trailing the bad man and his friend
…to be continued