Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Ghosts of Our Minds

Check Wordfull Wednesday for other's worst fears. This post is also entered in Scribbit's Writeaway contest.
The ghosts of our past are often the most powerful to overcome. They tend to gain power with age, perhaps haunting us for a lifetime. Even though I feel I've grown out of this fear of the dark - of something waiting out there for me as I've gotten older, I still leave the hall light on and double check the locks when Mr. O's away.

One October Night

"Don't worry, I'll close up. I just have a few more minutes on this document and then I'm through. I'd leave with you, but I know you need this first thing in the morning," she said.

"Are you sure?" He sounded a bit tentative, but he was anxious to get to his meeting and then return home to his family.

"Yeah, just leave me the keys and I'll see you later."

He dropped the keys on the desk, next to her keyboard. She barely glanced up as he left. "Lock the door after I leave," he reminded her. He was still protective of his daughter.


He left and she continued tapping at the keys. She started to feel a little uneasy, and heard a noise somewhere at the back of the office, near the workshop.

For a moment, she felt anxious - her heart raced and her eyes flicked across the room to the glass door. Pushing back from the desk, and brushing away her fears like so many strands of stray hair, she strode to the door and slid the deadbolt into place. Briefly glancing outside, she felt satisfied that all was secure, and returned to her desk to put the finishing touches on the letter she was composing.

"I'll just shut down the computer and file these few documents," she thought to herself.

That done, she grabbed her purse and keys. She shut off the lights and noticed how dark it was outside, how still and vacant everything seemed. The business park was very different at night from the hive of activity it was during working hours.

Now it felt isolated. It didn't help that it was tucked away on a side street near the freeway in the industrial part of town, or that there was only the lone street light flickering in the parking lot. Not even the moon was out tonight. She gave an involuntary shudder, and stepped out.

It felt like she had stepped into another place entirely. The ground was moist. The air chilled, thick with humidity from the recent rain and something else she couldn't place. Turning to lock the office door, she felt the hairs on the back of her neck prickle and stand on end; she had never felt that sensation before.

She quickly glanced around, telling herself that she was imagining things. But no, her hands began trembling violently, and she dropped the keys.

"I've got to get to the car," she thought as she knelt, scrambling for the keys.

The feeling of darkness, of evil was tangibly thick, bearing down on her. Her heart began to race, her breathing quickened. She found the right key, forced it into the lock, and turned it - securing the office.

Surveying the lot, she walked towards her car. "I'm just letting the dark get to me. There's no one out here," she thought as she unlocked her car door, pulled it open and sat inside.

As was her habit, she left the door open while she set her purse down on the passenger seat. The sound of running footfalls pounded the asphalt and she knew that her instinct had been right.

It was too late to close the door.

He had been crouching just behind her trunk, watching her through the office window, waiting for her to leave.

A gloved hand closed in on her mouth, and a mustached lip close to her ear whispered roughly, "Move over, we're going for a ride."

It was a dirty, white cotton glove. The kind a woman or a child might wear. Or maybe even that harried, white rabbit in Alice's story; it was, most definitely, not a man's glove. It seemed so out of place with the ski mask, tattered sweatshirt, baggy jeans, and the overwhelming stench of gasoline and mechanic's grease.

The car was a two door, sports coupe with a manual transmission. The hand brake made it impossible for her attacker to push her into the passenger seat so he could drive. He ordered her to lean forward so he could climb in behind her, all the while keeping a tight grip on her.

As she leaned forward, she realized that her keys were already in the ignition. She turned the key, but with all the adrenaline coursing through her body, her wildly shaking foot couldn't keep the clutch in, and the car lurched forward smacking the man's head against the door frame. He shouted curses at her.

"We're going for a walk," the man hissed at her, his nose just inches from her face. He grabbed her hair and smashed her head down, hard, against the hand brake as if telling her not to do something so stupid again.

"What do you want?" she asked, praying that she could give him money or her engagement ring and he would just retreat into the bushes - disappear from the night.

In no uncertain terms, he let her know that money and diamond engagement rings were the farthest thing from his mind. It almost sounded like he was trying to be seductive, and the taste of vomit roiled in her throat.

In her head she screamed, "No!" She reached over, punched at and grabbed between his legs, twisting for all she was worth.

"Ohhhh, you like that," he purred.

As this was happening, her first thoughts were of her sister and how she had to do this for her, she had to fight. Fight so she would know that some things are worth fighting for. Some things are even worth dying for, or at least not going down without a fight.

She thought of her fiance and how she wasn't going to let this horrible, pathetic man rob her of a life with him. She wasn't going to let this monster reduce sex to an act of violence.

She turned in her seat and smashed out with her foot trying to kick him in the crotch. More shouted curses from him, and he grabbed her foot, catching it just short of her intended goal. She pulled back and her shoe slipped off. He made a grab for her other leg and yanked her free of the car. Her back scraped the frame of the car as she landed with a hard thud on the wet asphalt.

She scrambled to her feet for a better fighting position, one that would leave her less vulnerable to him. They fought next to the car while he told her his plans, what he had in store for her.

It only served to strengthen her resolve.

Every time she reached out, connected, inflicted pain it only served to arouse him more. His hands grabbed at her, roughly feeling her up. He was intent on getting his thrill now, never mind dragging her off to the bushes.

She tried to get a good look at him in the washed-out fluorescence emitting from the street lamp. He was husky, a round gut filled out his blue sweatshirt. Thank God, he wasn't in any kind of physical shape, at least she might have a chance against him.

He was only a few inches taller than her. The wiry, red hair of his eyebrows and mustache couldn't be contained, and escaped the openings of his navy blue ski mask. His eyes were a dark brown evil, and glossy - probably due to a beer or two.

This was her own personal fight with the devil and he really wanted her.

At one point she reached for his mask. She could've pulled it off, but somewhere inside of her came the very stern warning, "No!" She obeyed the voice, and dropped her hand continuing to grab, twist, pull as he tried to force her off to the back of the parking lot.

She escaped his grasp but he stood there panting, blocking her way of escape. One more kick. Wild, desperate grabbing at his chest pinching, pulling, anything to get out of there or at least delay his plans. He stepped back, and turned away uttering the words, "You're not worth it," and grabbed for something up his sleeve.

This was her chance, she ran for the car - the door was still open from when he'd pulled her from the car. She slid into the driver's seat, slammed the door shut after her and locked it. Safe!

But not quite. She tried to start the car, all the while offering her thanks to God, pleading with Him to get her out of here, to please God, just let her leg stop shaking so she could keep the clutch in and escape from here.

The man was still out there, he threw himself against the car window, taunting her. Finally, the car started, she jammed it into reverse and sped backward. She put the car in gear, the engine screaming as she sped towards the side street.

As she reached the stop sign and turned onto the main street and out of the business park, she caught a glimpse of headlights in her rear view mirror.

She thought, "If I can just make it to the corner gas station, I can run in and have them call the police. I'll be safe then." The headlights that had been in the distance loomed closer. She thought she could make out the shape of an old truck. Her pulse quickened, and her heart felt like it was beating out of her chest. Was he following her? Was the nightmare not over yet?

A quick change of plans, and she sped towards the freeway on-ramp, she was sure she could lose her pursuer there. She drove faster that night than she ever had. She noticed the exit of her future sister-in-law coming up, and thought she'd just get off and call the police from her house. Those same headlights came barreling up from behind, and were very nearly on her bumper.

She panicked and at the last possible moment, veered back onto the freeway again. Looking in her rear view mirror, she was satisfied that the truck had exited and was no longer behind her. An overwhelming sense of relief filled her, and the enormity of what just happened, what could have happened, hit her, and the sobs came pouring out - great, racking sobs. It was unbelievable what she had just escaped, and she had no idea how she was able to push the clutch in to shift - she was shaking from head to toe. Over and over again she was thanking God aloud, her voice shaking right along with the rest of her.

She sped on towards home. The speedometer hit 90, and her only thoughts were, "Home, I've got to get home." Traveling 35 miles in 20 minutes, she pulled up outside her house. It was all lit up and the prospect of her family held a promise of safety. She had only twenty feet to go to end this horrible night.
Twenty years later the specter of that night still looms, and under the right conditions her heart still races as her body remembers.


Bobbie said...

how horrible... your writing was amazing.. my heart was beating fast too... prayers to you that your fear may be allieved

Mommymita said...

Excellent writing and that experience certainly causes more than just fear...even for the reader.

Good luck in Scribbit's Writeaway contest

Anonymous said...

Scary. I don't know if I ever heard the chasing you in a car part of the story. How scary. YOu are one tough girl and I wouldn't want to mess with you. I always pray that I won't freeze in a case like yours, abd that I would have the guts to fight. Kel

b. said...

This is really good...(the writing--the experience is horrifying!)

My heart was pounding!

Lots of experiences have made you one tough cookie...

Chocolate on my Cranium said...

This is one thing I pray my girls will never have to experience. You are definitely one tough woman to fight back and fight hard and very lucky to escape when you did.

The writing was phenomenal!

DesertHen said...

Wonderful writing, Terrible experince!!

I'm so glad you are safe!!

Sonja said...

Exceptionally well written and frightening. I'm so glad you were able to keep your wits and escape, but I'm truly sorry that you had to experience that.

Unfortunately, this fear is deeply rooted in every woman.

Heffalump said...

I remember when you first wrote this on your other blog...I didn't realize it was a real experience for you.
I have this fear. When I go shopping after dark I take the cell phone with me and call D when I am almost home so he can come out and walk me in from the driveway.
Last night I forgot to take the cell with me, so I was hurrying in from the car, with the baby seat and my shopping bags in hand and as I came around the van D was standing there. He had been watching for me, but I didn't hear him come out from the house so I about had a heart attack as all I saw at first was a guy dressed in dark clothes standing where I didn't expect to see anyone.

Mrs. Organic said...

Thank you for your comments - reading over this post still gets my heart pounding.

Ratliffs said...

Wow. You had my heart going from the get go. I too have had a similar experience, and knowing how it felt to go through something like that, makes me even more fearful that it will happen again. I too can hardly stand to be left alone over night.

The Family G said...

I remembered the basics of this horrible experience from when it happened, but your writing up made it so real and terrible. I never realized how long the battle was and that he chased you in his car. Did they ever catch him? Did you ever work at that office again? Do you carry a tazer now? I think I might.

Kim N said...

Wow, this gave me goosebumps. I had to turn around and make sure my back door was when I was halfway through reading it. You are amazing. From the life experiences you have already shared I knew you were a fighter, but this showed it in a whole new way!

Mrs. Organic said...

Mr. O and I were engaged at the time of this story and he bought me a stun gun the very next day. It kept discharging in my purse and never worked. We exchanged it three times with the same result. We decided to return it.

I know that if my car hadn't been locked (which I never did before meeting Mr. O), that my attacker would've already been in my car. Thank heaven for tender mercies!

As far as I know he was never caught, but he did rape a woman in the office across the street. I only worked there a few more weeks before switching jobs.

Scribbit said...

Okay that is terrifying.

And they never caught him? Don't you wonder what happened? Scary.

Terri said...

Corrie I know you have written about this before but with much less detail. It occurs to me that this second writing with the added details is still part of the healing and "letting go of the terror of it" process. Interesting to see how things that we go through in life help to prepare us for the rest of our life. You can not argue ever that you can't do hard things and survive--for you have, over and over again. This whole situation that you wrote about had nothing to do with the man who would try and usually did accomplish such a thing (the police were not even interested in taking a statement about the event because he did't actually succeed-----no one would agree on whose jurisdiction it was!!!!!!!!) It was about you learning so many important things about yourself. It was a beginning of your knowing that when tough things come up in life "you will not surrender"--You are evidence to others that it is worth the fight! I love and appreciate who you are and your willingness to help others---and hopefully this experience will have a little less power to disturb you as you write about it and see it for the stepping stone it has been for you. Maybe even bee's (pesky things that you have no control over)will quit being so terrifying to you one day.

Emma J said...

I can only say amen to Terri's comments above. I remember you telling me about this early on - I knew then that you were as tough as you were lovely. Being willing to fight for things that matter - that's what virtue is.

And reading through your blog (Cancer-Shmancer and all the efforts that have gone into helping Tyler) I see that you have over and over fought the devil that wanted to bring you down. You don't give up. You are a great woman.

Nancy Face said...

Oh my gosh, that is the most frightening experience I've ever read. It makes me feel so proud of you...that you fought so hard and didn't give up, and triumphed over that horrible man's evil intentions.

Fig said...

This is beautifully written and terrifying. You ARE a tough cookie.