Seven, eight ... gonna stay up late (Rebekka Franck #4), Page 2Willow Rose
But where was she? She wasn't in her tent; she thought and felt underneath her body. It felt like she was lying on some sort of plastic. It wasn't her air mattress, and it certainly wasn't a bed. She couldn't be in a hospital.
"I have to get out of here," she said and tried to sit up. Her head hit something hard that forced her to lie down again. What was that? She moaned and touched her forehead. Then she reached up her hand and touched what it was her head had hit. It was like a ceiling; she thought and patted along it. It felt just like the floor she was lying on. Could she be in some sort of bunk bed? Had that creep taken her somewhere? Had he taken her back to his place or something? Amalie shrieked at the thought of what he could have done to her while she had been unconscious. Who the hell did he think he was? Didn't he know who she was? She could destroy his life for doing this. Her father would make sure he was properly punished. For many that was a fate worse than death.
Amalie tried again to sit up, but it was impossible. Then she turned her body with the intent of sticking out her legs and crawling out. But her arms and legs hit a wall as well.
With her heart pounding in her chest she turned to the other side, only to hit another wall of plastic here as well. Slightly panicking, she tried to slide with her feet first, but they too hit a wall right away. Then she stretched her hands upwards above her head. Her hands hit yet another wall of plastic.
She began gasping for air while patting the walls surrounding her very close to her body. Then she screamed.
She kept patting the plastic until she realized it surrounded her completely, without an opening anywhere - at least not one that she could find. Then she put her hands on the ceiling and tried to push it with all of her strength, but it didn't move at all. In desperation she began hitting it with her clenched fist, trying to smash it, and then kicked it while screaming, but nothing helped. She gasped while panic grew inside of her. The realization felt catastrophic.
She was trapped.
He listened with pleasure to the screams coming from the basement of his three story house in Hellerup overlooking the ocean. A smile was planted across his face. She was awake. Allan licked his lips to moister them, while he sat in the black chaise longue designed by Le Corbusier with his iPad in his lap. He turned up the music from his B&O and enjoyed the tunes emerging from his built in speakers. This was indeed a great moment, he wrote on the iPad with the five hundred dollar Balenciaga iPad folder made from vintage lambskin that his annoying boyfriend Sebastian had bought him on one of his trips to Florence.
Have fun and enjoy the ride, a man calling himself Michael Cogliantry answered. It wasn't his real name, Allan knew that much. Like himself they all used aliases.
Oh I intend to, he wrote back.
Don't forget to post pictures and tell us all the dirty details, a guy who called himself Karl Persson answered.
I will, Allan wrote. She is still screaming.
Ah, that's the best part, Cogliantry wrote. I love it when they scream like that. I love listening to the desperation in their voices. How I miss it.
Why don't you go out and get a new one for yourself? Allan asked. It's been awhile. You must be getting thick behind the ears. Lol.
I am. It's like I'm itching all over for the thrill. I badly need to kill again soon. But I have to lay low. At least for a few months more, he answered.
You don't think the police still suspect anything? After they grabbed the ex-boyfriend for killing her? I honestly think they have moved on by now, Allan wrote.
Yeah. You might be right. But they came to my door, remember? Scared the shit out of me. Asked me where I had been on the night she disappeared.
That's what you get from picking a girl from your neighborhood, Persson wrote. You don't shit where you eat, remember? That's the first rule. You don't mess with the rules, man.
I got to go, Allan wrote. She just went quiet.
Losing strength already? Persson wrote. Good luck, Einaudi.
Thanks. Will be posting again soon, Allan wrote, and then logged off. He raised his head from the screen and looked at the painting on the wall, made by the artist, the real Fred Einaudi himself. It showed a boy above a lake looking down at the body of a dead girl floating in the surface while he was trying to poke her with a stick. The title was the mermaid, and visitors to Allan's house thought that was what the painting was all about, but Allan knew the girl was no mermaid. The title simply referred to what the boy thought it was, but in reality she was as dead as they come. She was never going to swim anywhere again. Allan chuckled to himself remembering the first time he had drowned a girl. That was what he enjoyed so much about this painting and why he had desired it so much the first time he had seen it in an exhibition in New York that he was willing to pay the enormous sum the artist was asking. He had been that boy once. The first time he had killed. And the painting reminded him of that beautiful time when he had stared at her floating dead body in the water, looking back at him with her empty eyes. She was nothing, meant nothing to him before that second. But once she was in that water she was eternalized in his memory as the one who took his virginity. That's why he bought the painting, and that was why he used the artist's name on the chat. It seemed appropriate somehow. Like there was a supernatural connection between him and the real artist. Allan was after all sort of an artist himself. At least that was how he viewed himself. They all did.
But he too had broken the rules now, hadn't he? That was why he had left the chat in a hurry. It wasn't because the girl had stopped screaming, no she was still at it much to his pleasure, since the feistier they were the funnier it was to kill them. No it was because of what one of them had said. Allan knew it was bad to pick someone that close to you, someone who might know you. He had played it very safe for years and years and never made one mistake. He couldn't tell the others about it, they would think he had lost it. But he knew that he could easily do this without endangering himself. He knew he could. He was the best at everything he did, especially killing. Superhuman even. This one wasn't random, it wasn't just another one. She was nothing like the others. She was special, and this was something he needed to do. Yes, he was probably going to break some of the rules from now on, but so be it. It was something he had planned for a long time, and he had been thrilled to realize that the pretty little thing hadn't recognized him when he stared at her in the tent at the festival. She didn't know who he was. After all it didn't matter.
She would be dead soon anyway.
"We're here to see a lot of naked people," the young man with the cap said. His friend standing next to him nodded.
"It's true. It's only here on Roskilde Festival that they have a race like this. It's a tradition. We've been standing in this line for forty minutes in order to see it. You have to get here early to get a spot in front," he laughed boyishly. "The best view is in the front."
I wrote his comments down on my pad along with their names, then Sune took their pictures and we left them. There were only a few seconds till the annual naked-race was about to start at the festival. It was always a fun event that the entire media covered with lots of pictures of the naked people racing each other to the finish line. Even TV crews were in place, ready to broadcast video of the naked contestants all over the country. It had been going on for fifteen years now, and was arranged by the festival's own radio station that was only on air once a year during the four days of the festival.
This was day three. It was Saturday and as tradition had it also the day when hundreds of festival participants took off their clothes and ran across the mud stark naked. Thousands of spectators would cheer them on. It didn't matter what they looked like, the runners came in all sizes and shapes. It was quite a show and so very, very Danish, I thought to myself as the white bodies wearing nothing but boots ran past me splattering mud into the air and Sune took a series of pictures. The winners were announced and displayed on the podium
while the crowd cheered happily. One man and one woman. I chuckled while I wrote down the two winner's names on my pad. Their pictures would probably be on the front page of the newspaper, since nothing much else was happening in our small country at this time of year.
We went back to the media-center to write the story and send it. The room was soon packed with journalists who came to do the same. Radio people were editing their pieces, reportages and sending them home, the TV crews worked their equipment with precision. It didn't take me more than half an hour to finish it up and send both article and Sune's pictures back to Jens-Ole, who was sitting at the editor's desk at our main office, waiting for something to happen, waiting for the perfect story to break, so he didn't have to display two naked people winning a race for the third year in a row on the front page. I pressed "send" and looked at Sune.
"Now we just have one more thing to do before the big concert tonight," I said and got up from the chair. I grabbed my laptop and put it in my bag. We had promised the paper to report from the Springsteen concert that same night. He wasn't doing any interviews this time, his manager had told everybody, but we had been allowed to write a piece about his wife, Patti Scialfa who was also playing guitar in the band. She agreed to do a brief interview. So now we walked towards the huge Orange stage where they were going to play the same night. She had agreed to meet us there so we could get some nice shots of her and her guitar.
I noticed the posters for the first time while walking across the area in front of the stage, where thousands of people would gather in a few hours to the biggest concert of the entire festival. Everybody was going to be there, that was for sure. People wanting to be in front had already arrived; some were sitting on the ground smoking cigarettes, talking, drinking beer, and waiting. I passed a group of young punk girls dressed in black, sitting on the muddy ground. That was when I noticed they were each holding a piece of paper in their hands, intently reading it. I didn't think more of it until a few seconds later when two men passing us were holding the very same pieces of papers while talking loudly.
" ... Happens every year, you know."
"... probably just passed out in a tent somewhere."
They looked at the paper, and the photo displayed on top of it.
"Good looking, though," the one guy said just before he crumbled the paper up and threw it through the air.
I kept walking while suddenly noticing everybody around us holding the paper posters in their hands. As we walked on I spotted a girl in the center of area, right in front of the stage. She was handing out the papers while talking. There was something about her that made me stop, something in her frantic way of pushing the pieces of paper at people. It was an air of desperation that drew me towards her.
As I came closer, she looked at me, then handed me one. "Please, help me. I'm looking for this girl," she said and pointed at the picture. A beautiful blond girl about the same age as she was stared back at me. What were they, fourteen? Fifteen? "She disappeared Thursday night and hasn't been seen since," the girl said with shiver in her voice. "Her name is Amalie."
I looked at the girl handing out the papers. She was biting her lip. "What's her last name?" I asked. "It doesn't say."
The young girl stared at me, and then shook her head. "I'm afraid I can't tell you."
"She is very young and so are you, have you contacted her parents?"
The girl shook her head heavily. Then she smiled insecurely and turned her back to me. She started walking away. I followed her. "Hey. I was talking to you," I said. I caught up to her and grabbed her shoulder. She tried to walk faster. "Hey. I'm a journalist. I might be able to help you," I added. "I could put her picture in the paper and write a small note about her disappearing. Have you contacted the police?"
The young girl stopped walking. She turned and looked at me. She grabbed my paper and pulled it out of my hands. "Just forget it," she said shaking her head. "I'm sure she just found some guy and stayed with him."
"But you don't think she would ever do that, do you?" I asked. "You're her best friend and you know she would never do anything like that, right? You wouldn't be out here with these homemade posters, if you thought that, am I right?"
The young girl sighed deeply, then bowed her head and shook it slowly. "She said she was just going to the restroom. I knew she was drunk, but we all were. I thought she would be back. She had been looking forward to seeing The Mew. When she didn't come back I began searching for her, we had promised to stick together. We always make a deal to stick close together and never go with anyone. I was mad at her at first for breaking our deal, but when she didn't come back to the tent all night, I became scared that something had happened. I searched for her all day yesterday and today, passing out these posters. Someone that I know in the festival's radio station helped me make them and print them. I keep checking my phone thinking she is going to call soon, but ... " The girl turned away from me. "The festival is closing tomorrow and if I haven't found her then ..."
I grabbed both of her shoulders and turned her. "Look at me," I said. The girl lifted her head and looked me in the eyes. "I can try and help you, if you'd like. My name is Rebekka Franck. I'm a reporter at The Zeeland Times."
The girl sniffled. "I'm Camilla."
"Okay, Camilla. Now tell me, why haven't you called her parents yet? Is it because they don't know you're here?"
Camilla sniffed and nodded. "They would never let us go. They'd kill us if they found out."
"Okay, so that's why you're trying to find her on your own first. I get that. I know that people disappear from the festival every year and once the festival is over they turn up again. Most of them have just been too drunk and then fallen asleep somewhere. It happens. But they are not as young as you two. How old are you?"
"And your friend ..." I stared at the paper and read the name. "Amalie? Is she fourteen too?"
"Okay. Well you're not the first fourteen-year olds at this festival, but you are definitely among the youngest. Is it your first time?"
"No, we were here last year too. But nothing like this has ever happened before."
"Have you thought about having the festival radio broadcast an alert for people to look for Amalie?"
Camilla nodded. "They say they need her last name for it, and I can't give them that."
Camilla exhaled deeply. "It's complicated, okay. Let's just say that I'm afraid the entire hoard of press will come running after me. It would be all over the news."
She was still screaming. Amalie scratched her fingers at the slippery plastic and felt how they had begun bleeding. Then she clenched her fist again and began hitting the thick plastic. She continued until her hands became numb and she couldn't feel her fingers. She tried to use her nails to grab a hold of an edge or a crack or at least something to grab on to. There had to be an opening somewhere, where she had gotten in, she thought and searched frantically. But she found nothing. No cracks, no sharp edges. It was all smooth and so very, very close to her. When she could feel her fingers yet again, she started scratching with her nails. Blood dripped in her face and hit her lip. She recognized the taste from her childhood. Her fingertips were hurting badly and the pain forced her to stop. Then she opened her mouth and let out another scream. Her heart pounding, she screamed until her voice became hoarse and she almost lost it.
Then she stopped. Breathing heavily she tried to calm herself down and use another weapon. Her brain. She began to think.
The darkness still surrounded her and Amalie had lost track of time and space. She knew she had been attacked Thursday night, but how long had she been unconscious? A day? Two days? How long had she been lying awake staring into the void, the darkness, seeing nothing, just feeling her way around and screaming and kicking? She didn't know. All she knew was that she had gone from utter panic, knocking, kicking, screaming to finally calming herself down, trying t
o think of a way out. But the panic was still there, wasn't it? It was lurking underneath the surface constantly. She tried to control her breathing again, not thinking about the hard plastic surrounding her, just imagining herself in open places, on her father's yacht, out on the open sea, breathing in the fresh sea air. That was when a thought occurred to her. If she were in fact in a closed box of some sort as she suspected, and then she would eventually use up all the air, wouldn't she? The thought brought the panic back. The feeling of suffocating overwhelmed her and she gasped for air. But that was just it, she realized. There seemed to be air enough for her. That meant that there had to be an opening somewhere. The air had to come in somewhere.
Amalie began patting the plastic above her meticulously. Putting one hand next to the other and by that way covering all of it eventually. She took in a deep breath. It smelled like old urine. But it also confirmed her theory. Yes, there was indeed enough air, no doubt about it. She wasn't supposed to suffocate. She was supposed to be able to breathe. Her fingers examined the ceiling but found nothing, then she moved on to the sides. First the one to the left. After a few seconds she felt something close to the upper corner. She put both of her hands on it and felt it closer. It was a hole. A circular hole in the plastic big enough for her hand to almost fit in it. But it didn't lead outside of the box, she realized as she tried to push her hand through it. It seemed to lead into a tube of some sort. A tube going upwards. But where? She speculated while examining it more closely. Where did it end? What was on the other side of it? And most importantly, who was?
What were their plans with her? Why had they put her in this awful thing? They were determined to keep her alive, but why? For what? Money? Her dad would pay them in a heartbeat. Of course he would.
And afterwards he would hunt them down like the beasts they were.