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Kathleen opened her eyes to a white ceiling, white walls, and no windows. The strong smell of antiseptics may have woken her up, or perhaps she was still dreaming. 
She wasn’t sure of anything anymore as she lived in a haze lately. Her throat was parched, her thoughts muddled. 
She felt despair engulf her when she recalled the reason she ended up in that place.
It took weeks for Jason to finally locate Kat and free her from that nightmare place. He was seething. He is going to do whatever it takes to protect Kat and keep her safe. 
Bring justice to the one that hurt Kat was a bonus.


Chapter 1

Kat

Kathleen opened her eyes to a white ceiling, white walls, and no windows. The strong smell of antiseptics may have woken her up, or perhaps she was still dreaming. 

She wasn’t sure of anything anymore as she lived in a haze lately. Her throat was parched, her thoughts muddled. 

She tried to move her arms but found them restrained to the bed. The same happened to her legs. In an attempt to control her growing panic, she drew a deep breath and released it with a slow exhale, then repeated. Still, the panic continued growing.

She vaguely remembered being in an out of a stupor a couple of times and was desperately trying to keep conscious. If she could only clear her mind, she may figure out what was happening to her.

She was still focusing on keeping her eyes open when the door suddenly opened. A middle-aged nurse came into her room carrying a tray.

“Good morning, Miss Johnson! How are you feeling today?” she cheerfully inquired while depositing the tray on a nearby table and filling a syringe.

“Pleas, … please can I have some water?” Kathleen pleaded with a feeble and raspy voice.

“Of course, Miss Johnson! Here you are,” the nurse offered her a glass of water, placing the straw between Kathleen’s lips. 

Kathleen eagerly drank the water enjoying its coolness and the immediate relief it provided to her throat.

“That’s enough for now Miss Johnson. We don’t want you to drink too much at once,” the nurse admonished and retrieved the glass and straw from Kathleen’s mouth.

Kathleen instantly missed it. She could drink a gallon so thirsty she felt. But perhaps the nurse was right, as she felt her stomach start to ache a bit.

“I’m going to give you this medicine now.”

“Please, wait a minute!” Kathleen pleaded. “What day is today? Why am I here?” she asked.

“Today is September 1st, and you’ve been here for almost four weeks. I’m sorry, but I’m not allowed to answer further questions Miss Johnson. You’ll have to wait for Dr. Williams to arrive. I’m sure he can answer all your questions.” 

“When is he going to arrive? Why am I here?” Kathleen asked. She did not remember him, or any other member of the staff for that matter. This was the first time she felt lucid enough to even ask questions.

“He’ll be here in a couple of hours,” the nurse informed while adjusting the medicine level on the syringe.

“What is it that you’re going to give me?” Kathleen was afraid the nurse was going to pump her more tranquilizers. She was sick of them. She needed to regain her mental capacities and think clearly again. She couldn’t ask the doctor any questions if she was unconscious.

“Oh, this is just a mild tranquilizer. It will make you feel relaxed.”

“Please, I don’t need it. I already feel weakened,” she pleaded with the nurse.

“You’ll feel even better, then!” the nurse exclaimed as she injected the tranquilizer into Kathleen’s IV.

Kathleen head away from the nurse and stared at the wall, feeling weakened and defeated. For a second, she contemplated the idea of dying and it had an allure that frightened her. 

She needed to get out of this place. She couldn’t remember exactly what has happened to her that made her end up here. 

Kathleen tried to concentrate on remembering, seeing through the haze that filled her mind, but it was no use.

The tranquilizer injection was not helping matters, as she drifted off to sleep once again. 

Next time Kathleen woke it was to an empty room. She couldn’t tell how much time she slept this time. There was no sound coming from the corridor, so she figured that it might be late at night.

Her head was a bit clearer now. She kept quiet and tried to focus her mind on the last thing she remembered since arriving at this purgatory.

She remembered feeling happy, she was smiling at her friend Alice, they were chatting about something. What was it? It was something about Alice and her boyfriend Tom. Alice was showing her a ring, a diamond ring. Oh, that’s it! Alice got engaged to Tom. She remembers!

But then something happened. It was her phone. It was ringing. She recalled opening her purse, retrieving her phone, and saw her stepmother’s contact number displayed on the screen.

She remembered answering the call. Her stepmother was frantic, speaking too fast for her to follow.

Then she heard those terrible words “Your father is dead.”

She dropped the phone, next she was falling to the ground. 

Alice was shouting at her, trying to hold her, and everything went dark.

Kathleen was panting, sweating, and trying desperately to dislodge her restrains on the bed, as she fully understood what this memory was about.

“Oh God, oh God, oh God…” she couldn’t stop chanting.  Her dear, beloved father was dead. 

She tried to slow her breathing, she needed to keep sane and conscious otherwise she would never leave this place.

“Oh Daddy, are you really gone?” She felt her tears running down her face and wetting her pillow. She never felt so alone.

“What am I going to do? How will I get out of here?” Those were the questions running around her head. For she had no family left. Her mother died when she was four years old. Her father was everything to her. And now he was gone.

She remembered then her stepmother Carol. It was Carol who handled her father’s funeral. Kathleen was so devastated by grief, she couldn’t stop crying. 

Then Carol gave her a pill to calm her nerves, and Kathleen was on a stupor during the ceremony with Alice by her side supporting her and even now she couldn’t recall the details. 

She vaguely remembers Alice insisting on staying with her after the funeral, and Carol assuring Alice that Kathleen would be fine. But during the whole conversation Kathleen was emotionally detached. It was as if she was not even present, and it was all a dream, or a nightmare. 

She felt very much like the same way as she was feeling at this place. Detached. In a haze. A very thick haze. Was she going insane? Was she dead?

As time passed, she felt a bit more like her old self. Maybe the medication was wearing off. Maybe she was becoming more resistant to it. 

Either way, she was starting to feel now. She wasn’t sure if it was a good thing, as pain and despair devastated her. She started to tremble, her head was aching, a cold sweat broke out, and the only sound in her room was the sound of her rapid breathing, as she was almost hyperventilating.

She started to pray to whoever was listening to please help her. She wasn’t much of a believer throughout her life, but now she didn’t have anything left. 

She thought about Alice. Did Alice know that she was in this place? If she did, surely, she would come to see her. Then, she thought about Jason. Did he know what happened to her father? Perhaps he was away on business and oblivious to what was happening to her. She closed her eyes at that thought. She couldn’t afford to think of Jason now.

Instead, she prayed for a miracle, for getting out of this place, and recovering her sanity.

And that became her new routine. She slept, she didn’t know for how many hours, then a nurse would come in, bathe her, feed her, and give her more medications. 

She dreamt again about happy times, but the difference is that now she was less confused and could retain the memory of what’d happened before every time she woke up.

She never saw the doctor. He probably came in while she was sleeping. She thought she felt a presence next to her, a light caress on her hair. But she was not sure if it’s actually happened or if it was only a trick of her mind.

She was so tired of this, she would welcome death if it came for her.

This time Kathleen woke to the sound of voices at the corridor. Angry voices. She didn’t recognize any of them, but one of the voices was gruff. It was a lowest, menacing and cold voice.

She couldn’t decipher what they were saying and decided to keep her eyes closed and pretend she was still asleep.

The voices were getting closer to her door and now she could clearly hear the gruff one saying, “Dr. Williams, you can do whatever you want, but I’m taking her with me right now.”

“Mr. Mohren, you have no right to do that,” the doctor sounded outraged by the man’s suggestion.

“You try and stop me,” even Kathleen could hear the threat in his voice. They were talking about her! The doctor clearly said Mr. Mohren. She heard him. Would that be true? Had Jason come to her aid? 

It couldn’t be, could it? She hadn’t seen Jason in a long time. How would he know where to find her?

The door to her room opened then, and the altercation moved to inside her room.

“I will not allow this. You are not a family member neither her guardian. You have no right to be here Mr. Mohren.” Dr. Williams insisted.

“Kat, please wake up,” she heard Jason urging her tenderly. She was impressed by the instant change in his tone, when he spoke to her. 

She decided to open her eyes now and was greeted by dark grey eyes and a handsome masculine face she hadn’t seen for years.

She pushed aside the turmoil of feelings she felt at seeing Jason and concentrated on what he was saying.

“I’m taking you out of this place. Are you alright? Are you injured?” he asked as he released the ties that were restraining her to the bed.

“Mr. Mohren, I’m calling security now,” Dr. Williams warned as he picked up his phone.

Jason moved fast, and, in an instant, he was face to face with the doctor, who cautiously took a step back. 

“I’ve already called the police, Dr. Williams. They are arriving any minute now. If I were you, I would take the opportunity to flee before they arrive. I’m shutting down this place. My lawyer is outside waiting for the police to arrive. We have enough evidence to put you out of business and inside a prison cell.”

The doctor paled and hastily left the room.

Jason returned to Kathleen side and resumed freeing her restraints. His hand was not so steady as his voice was, and he was taking deep breaths.

As soon as he finished freeing her, Jason looked at Kathleen, and asked, “Are you ok? Can you walk?”

“Are you really here,” she asked in a tremulous voice and tried to reach him.

“I’ve got you,” he reassured her as he carefully disconnected the IV from Kathleen’s arm, gathered her in his arms and walked out of the room. He walked through the long corridor of that horrible place and heard the sirens when he reached the reception area.

“You’ve got her,” blurted out a relieved Noah, his friend and lawyer. “The police have just arrived. They are going to comb down this place for any evidence and documents they can get. We already know they don’t have the necessary licensing and certification to run a business like this one.” 

“Let’s get into the car. I need to take her to a real doctor. She’s frail and confused.” Jason urged him in a concerned tone.

That got Kathleen’s attention, “No doctor, please, please, don’t.”

“Shhh. Don’t worry Kat. I’m here.” Jason murmured trying to placate her, “I’m so sorry it took me this long to get here,” he added whilst trying to avoid her gaze.

“It’s not your fault,” Kat whispered. 

She knew Jason well enough to figure that he was probably blaming himself for not being around when all this had happened.

He shook his head, and gently deposited her in the car seat. 

“How did you find me? What’d happened?”

Jason fully met her gaze and after staring for a few seconds, asked: “What do you remember?”

Kat sighed, and tears clogged her throat when she answered, “Dad is gone.” She took a deep breath and continued, “I remember I was talking to Alice when Carol called and told me about dad. I fainted. I couldn’t stop crying, so Carol gave me a pill. After that, everything got hazy and dreamlike. When I woke up, I was in this place. I don’t know how I got here.” 

Jason nodded and looked straight ahead, his lips a thin line. Kat could tell by his posture and tension that he was seething. 

“How did you find me?”, she insisted.

He tilted his head to the right, snorted and stated “Alice couldn’t reach you after the funeral. She went to your apartment, but you were not there. She called Carol, but she didn’t answer. So, next, she went to Carol’s house, but there was nobody home either. A neighbor told her that he saw Carol putting some bags in the trunk of her car and driving away the day before. Alice was extremely worried about you. So, she went to the police and filed a missing person report.”

“Oh my God!” Kat exclaimed astounded by the events described by Jason.

“Alice called me after she went to the police. She got the impression that they would not give the priority the situation demanded.” 

“I was in Germany and got the next flight home. I’ve also called in some favors and by the time my plane has landed I had what I needed to start looking for you.”

“And what was that?” Kat urged him to continue, her breathing started to get a bit labored.

“Kat, I promise I will tell you everything, but we need to get your strength back first, ok?” Concern was clear in his gaze.

“I’m fine.” Kat stubbornly insisted. 

“No, you’re not. But you will be soon. So, let’s focus on that for now.” 

 
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Author

S. A. Santos

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