Comfort Food

By: Kitty Thomas

No reply.

He placed his fingers on my lips, gently silencing me. He had no intention of answering the question, and I had no power to make him do so. He knelt on the ground beside me and I heard the knife as it cut through the ropes binding my legs to the chair.

I had the urge to kick him in the face, but I didn't. If I kicked him, I was escalating the situation to real physical violence and he would no doubt retaliate. This wasn't someone with gentlemanly scruples. Before I could make a solid decision against kicking him, my chance slipped past me, as he moved behind me.

He sliced through the ropes around my wrists. I hadn't realized how much they'd cut into me, but they burned now that the air hit them. He came back to stand in front of me, bringing my arms around with him, placing my hands primly on my lap like I was a posable doll. I could barely feel myself breathing.

I have a deep and abiding fear of knives. Honestly, I don't know many people not afraid of knives. For most, a knife is scarier even than a gun. If someone kills you with a gun, it can be quick, painless. Knives don't offer that possible luxury. They are intimate and violent in a way a gun could never hope to be.

Despite my hands and legs being free, I still didn't fight back. He had a knife, and I was blindfolded. It didn't take a mathematician to work out those odds. Before I could reach up to remove the blindfold, his hands were encircling my wrists, rubbing them, as if he were actually concerned he'd hurt me.

But I knew that wasn't the case. Anyone who drugs you, kidnaps you, and locks you in a cell doesn't care if they hurt you. Maybe he just didn't want to hurt me, yet. In one quick movement, he ripped the blindfold away.

Although the scrap of dark fabric hadn't been pleasant, it had acted as a sort of safety, a filter. Now there was nothing between us. I looked into the coldest, blackest eyes I'd ever seen, fathomless pools of something I couldn't quite recognize as human. There was an otherness about him, something that made him different from me, from anyone I'd ever spoken to before.

I expected him to start the verbal threats now that the mystery of my captor was over, but he didn't. He just stared. I was his science project.

In another situation I would have found him attractive. He was muscular, had a firm jaw, great hair, not an ounce of body fat. I imagined this was what Ted Bundy's victims felt at some point, that it was utterly impossible he could want to hurt them and be so beautiful at the same time. The unbelievable shock someone so attractive could be a predator.

Why would he have to be? Didn't women just fall at his feet automatically? I had the sudden bone-chilling terror that this man wanted something he couldn't get from a date, perhaps my body chopped up in little pieces and arranged in neat white paper in the freezer. I shuddered at the thought and quickly tried to block it out.

Monsters aren't supposed to be beautiful. It's the rule. The Hunchback of Notre Dame was ugly. Frankenstein's monster was ugly. Nosferatu . . . ugly. Ugly was in the rulebook. And yet the man kneeling calmly before me wasn't ugly. Not on the surface. Look anywhere but into his eyes and he was the man women fantasized about from puberty onward.

He stood and backed away from me then, his gaze pinning me to the chair. He wasn't holding the knife in a threatening way, but he still held it. He started toward the door, then thinking better of it, he turned, came back to me, and pulled me out of the chair. I was almost to the begging point again, but he wasn't interested in me.

He stacked my chair on top of the one he'd been sitting on, folded the card table, and took the bowl and spoon.

I could have spent hours, days even, berating myself for not at least trying to run past him for the door, but I was glad I didn't. There was a combination keypad on the wall. Leaving required a retina and thumbprint scan. Whoever had me, had some discretionary funds. Maybe I was part of a secret government study.

The door shut loudly behind him, and I was alone in the cell with nothing but the clothes on my back. Concrete floor, concrete walls, unknown ceiling composition, all gray. A toilet sat in one far corner with no lid and there was an odd drain in the floor a few feet from the toilet. It was like prison without bars, or windows, or a bed.

I didn't know what time it was or why this mattered to me, but there was something disconcerting about not knowing whether it was day or night. When would I sleep? Not that it mattered. There was nothing to do but sleep.

In the movies, there's always a way out. It doesn't matter where the bad guy traps you, there's a way out. You can pick a lock, or use some kerosene, a match, and some sort of fuse and make a bomb to blow the door off. You can crawl out through the ceiling tiles, or smash a window, or find some weak point in the wall and start chipping away at it with a sharp tool you just happen to have in your pocket.

My cell was a fortress. It made the movies seem very contrived. It really isn't that hard to create an inescapable fortress if you stop to think about it. All you need is a solid floor, walls, and ceiling, and one exit using fingerprinting and retinal scans.


I once read somewhere that predators conduct something called the interview with their potential victims so they can determine if their intended prey is worth the risk. Of course they don't call it the interview, that's criminal profiler talk.