This was created from a random prompt. And it’s first draft status, so don’t mind all the chaos. I even have someone named “queer person”. Sh… That’s a real person. *looks away*.
These 10,000 words don’t count for Nano, fyi…. And I did the entire 10k in 7 hours. With breaks. Because why not?
I didn’t do naked. How would you feel waking up tied up next to a famous person? I leave this open ended. You never know who did it. Unsolved mysteries suck.
Waking Up Bound
Startled awake, I cough. Where am I? How’d I fall asleep anyway? I tug at my hands wanting to stretch and find them bound. And not in a good way. I don’t mind rope in bed, but there has to be consent. I never consented to this binding.
I shift to see what’s around me.
People? I blink a few times recognizing faces in the mess…
Celebrity knowledge comes to the forefront of my mind. These people look more human without the globs of make up and photoshop skills.
Still… This our first meeting and everyone is tied up.
Pretty sure they’d never accept being in this sort of dungeon with a random newbie that is me.
Sorry about the jokes. I’m a little weirded out by the situation. I cough again. I test my legs- also bound together. I shift and contort glad whoever did this wasn’t aware I have a level of flexibility that gets me out of tight places. As I’m shifting I bother my sleeping partner. “Sorry.” Not gonna stop until my hands are in a position I can work on the rope with my teeth though.
“Ugh…” Grunts and groans then lead to Korean. I offer a nervous chuckle as they come to with the same realization I did only a few seconds ago.
“English please.” I say between biting at the rope. My arms hurt from the strange stretching and contorting, but whatever. This thing needs to come off. I sigh realizing I don’t have strong enough teeth.
“Where the fuck are we?”
“Good question.” I scan the group. A low groan has me realize others are waking up. Will that matter? We’re trapped. I don’t see a door or exit. Where are we, how’d we get here, and why are we here? I’m pretty sure the rest of the group are celebrities. I’m a no name even if I have a public profile. Did I piss someone off on Twitter again? Fucking Twitter.
“You don’t know?”
I hold out the bound wrists. “I didn’t come willingly.”
I can only assume the new string is cursing. That’s how I feel. I look at eyes peering my way. “Hey, hey, can I try to get your rope off?” I reach over to my trapped new friend. He shifts to offer the tied hands. This works out better. I can wiggle my fingers and find an end. Then maybe I can start unraveling more than just rope.
Like ‘Where the Fuck are we?’ and ‘How the fuck do we leave?’ I kinda wanna work on those mysteries.
Someone calls out to another celeb as if fan level excitement. I chuckle realizing even celebrities have favorites.
As I work the rope, my partner ask, “Introductions?”
“I’m Cat Hartliebe by public name.” I glance again to the group. “Since this seems celeb group. Not sure how I’m included.”
“GD.” He nods a little. “Or Kwon Jiyong.”
“Real names not stage, huh? Cat either way. Catherine Gillette. Not sure why or how or where. I got no details. Although if they’re spotting me in the crowd… I’m limited notice. Compared to the rest of you guys anyway.” I tug as the rope loosen and releases his hands.
“Return favor?” I hold up my bound hands. I glance at the now half awake group of public figures. “All entertainers seems like. Musicians, singers, actors, authors, podcast stars, youtubers, etc.”
Jiyong glances to the group with a nod. “No politicians.”
“So basically people that get idolized.” And how am I here? I don’t belong in this group. As much as I wish I could be counted in the big names, I’m a nobody.
“GD!” Someone spotted my new friend. He grins while switching from my now freed hands to his feet. People are slowly getting unbound by helping allies. We can’t fangirl right now even if a few calls out say people want to.
Now that I can stand I look about the enclosure. Not a lot of light. Enough to see faces of these famous people and the basic interior. I check pockets. Nothing. “Damnit, I never go anywhere without at least a pen and paper.”
“Or phone.” Jiyong seems as concerned. “Now what?”
I have no idea.
“There always has to be a way out.” That’s a mystery writer. “Floor, walls, or ceiling.”
I nod. We got in here somehow. Which means we can get out. It has to be possible. “Anyone have anything? Pen? Knife? Phone? Lighter?” It seems whoever put us here took all out things.
“Knife.” Someone holds up a small pocket knife. “Kept it in my boot.”
“Metal?” I call out. Several pull forward metal pieces. “Paper or wood or something we can burn. Maybe light will help.”
“Our clothes?” Jiyong holds out his shirt.
I stare at him. “I’m not stripping.” He chuckles removing his outer layer. He has an undershirt. A few others copy- ones that had on multiple layers. Soon we have a pile that can be lit on fire. I hiss thinking if this place is truly enclosed, smoke would be bad. I notice several other concerning faces. Still light is helpful. If the smoke sits, I’ll have to douse it.
While several work on creating a small fire, I reach for our walls. I try to feel out what the material is. Wood? I tap it. No. This is sheet rock. That would suggest house. Maybe a basement?
I look up at the ceiling. It’s far enough away I wouldn’t be able to see if there is a slight change to show an opening. We could be trapped like that. It’s reasonable.
I try to find something different about any of the walls. Changing my height doesn’t seem to do it. Several others are following my path or decided similar to me. There has to be a way out. The wall doesn’t seem to be it though.
Where is air moving? That would help.
“All the ropes are over here right?” Someone calls out. I hope they found mine. I just set it aside with Jiyong’s. I think he’s helping with the fire. Oh well. Not like we became fast friends because we’re trapped or anything.
“Got it.” A flicker of a fire catches one of the shirts. I watch as the glow reaches something better. I sniff looking for the smoke. Will it settle or escape?
“Follow the smoke trail. If it’s staying with us, we can’t have it here.” I’m not the only one with that information. Smoke can kill. It’s more dangerous than fire.
I don’t smell the smoke. A quick glance up has me seeing the ceiling better. I move just a touch and spot an area that’s off. And the smoke is heading there. Air movement. Escape. I point it out. “We may have our escape option.”
“Human pyramid.” Someone else calls out. Several move forward and get into position.
I glance to see them building a quick ladder with the items. It’s poor quality all in all, but we have talents besides entertaining the masses. We have to. We do serious self care.
The person at the top of the pile goes to work seeing if there is a ledge. Shortly the knife is in their hands as they work into the sheet rock. Something comes free. But it’s basically a hole in the ceiling. And wooden floorboard above.
“Need someone stronger. I can’t push it.” The top of the pile calls out. The pyramid switches out who is there. These are the ones who work on stage. They need the strength and stamina to handle it. And that helps us right now.
“It seems locked in place.” This person also struggles. At least we know its an exit point. Just… Not one right now. “Suggestions?”
I go back to the wall. It’s sheet rock. “We’re probably in a basement.”
“Talk about expected place to hide celebrities.” Another writer chuckles. “I feel like I wrote this story.”
I chuckle thinking of the several stories that match up far too well with this scenario. “I’m only listening if the characters got out in the end. The rest of us murderers need to pretend we wrote nothing.” I nod checking the wall again. “Anyone see another way out?”
“No windows.” Someone calls out. “Has anyone checked for the lower area of the walls?”
“I’m really thinking basement. We can try to get through the sheet rock. See if there is a way out.” Another calls.
I look to the edge of the wall where it meets the ceiling. “We’re probably seriously blocked in if it’s exterior wall.”
“Anything is easier than a padlocked ceiling.”
That’s true. Someone starts attacking the one wall. I think it was chosen at random.
Why are we here? I move to the side and sit down. I try to keep distance from all things that are active. There’s a group of us just resting. Talking about what connects us. How? Why? “Hey.” They tap me on the shoulder. I turn to them. “Are you queer? LBGT+ in some way? Even if it’s just an ally?”
I nod glancing at the room. Could that be what connects us? “Yeah. I’m queer.”
“I’m going to check a few more people.” They get up probably to hit the people that aren’t known to them yet.
The other person chatting says, “I know most of these celebrities. Some don’t let others know too. Whoever did this knows us better than the normal media.”
I scan the group. I wouldn’t think queer at first, but as I glance about… Yeah none of the known homophobes are here. There’s even some known nonbinary and trans in the group. Add that to… “Wow… Yeah. That looks correct.”
I glance to them. “No idea, but there’s thousands of groups who hate us for being true to ourselves.”
“Rest sounds good.” Jiyong drops down next to me. “Any plans?”
“For escape? You can see if they got the ladder attached to try leveraging the roof latch off. Or see if those trying to bust down the wall manage. We’re trying to figure out the who. You’re queer right?”
“Nothing but queer and allies in the group as far as we can tell.” They scan the group again.
I nod looking to the hole in our ceiling. The smoke is still going that way. It makes me think basement. “We’ll know if we hit the outside air. The smoke would head that way.”
“I’m just glad it isn’t stagnating.” Jiyong stretches. His eyes watch the wall busters. “Hunger, thirst, bathroom… Shocked no one needs that enough to cause problems.”
I nod. “They didn’t even leave me any extra pads.”
“That sucks.” The queer person comments. “We’re going to have someone need something soon.”
I shrug. “I think most are used to it. We do our thing for long stretches of time ignoring our basic needs.”
“We’re fucked up.” The queer person nods though. “Same. And the room would agree. Hours ignoring growling stomachs or screaming bladders.”
“I need to get the words down before they escape.” I sigh thinking of those nice moments before a computer. “I’m glad I don’t have a story beating me up right now.”
Jiyong relaxes with us. “Kinda glad I’m not in the six hours of dance practice.”
“Wish it wasn’t a switch out for here.” Queer person nods. “Alright, I’m going to see if anyone has basics like pads or tampons.” They glance at me. “Either?”
“Tampons typically don’t fit right. But I’ll take anything if it limits the mess of blood.” I nod as they move about chatting.
“Now that I’m thinking about it…” Jiyong glances around. “I would love a bathroom.”
“Don’t think about it.” And the thought of teasing come up. Fountains. Rain clouds. Sprinklers… It’s like a poem appearing in my head. All of wish reminding me I haven’t peed since before this entire event. “Damn you for bringing it up.”
“Sorry.” He fidgets again. “I wish the actions up until now have left us with more answers.”
I glance to the ceiling. “We’re trapped by someone for some reason. Probably because we’re queer. This is probably a basement. I doubt the person who did it knows a lot about kidnapping. Zip ties work better than rope.” I glance to the items. The ladder is managing strength, but no one has managed to get it attached to anything. “Whatever they used to knock us out didn’t zap our strength or mental functioning. We aren’t completely trapped since the air can escape. We’re a smart group. We’ll get somewhere soon.”
We sit in silence as someone works on the wall. Chips are coming off. The sheet rock is almost out of the way. But it doesn’t look to lead us anywhere. “Concrete!”
“Foundation.” I look to the ceiling. That’s gonna be our way out. “Can you break down the wall near the ceiling anyway? Perhaps they’re covering a window. It’s fire code.” I call out. Several nods have them making quick work. Someone explains where the windows should be in relation to the ceiling. If there is a window or another basement room we’ll find it soon.
“Ladder leveraged. Who thinks they can break through the ceiling?”
I glance to see a few offer up assistance. They’re take turns working as a group.
Queer person drops next to me and hands off a pad. “Not sure where you’d change though.”
“Thanks.” I hold on to the pad glad it’s an option. “Anyone else need one?”
“No one as far as I checked.”
I nod watching the different actions. “Even if we managed to get out, what then?”
“Whatever place we’re connected to should have a phone or something.”
“Imagine wandering the woods.” Jiyong comments with a shiver.
I shake my head. “Don’t suggest it. Not without marking a trail. If upstairs has a full fridge and functioning bathroom I wouldn’t mind the circumstances as much.”
“I always wanted to try an escape room.” Queer person comments hugging their knees. “Now I don’t wanna.”
“Escape rooms are fun.” I scan the place again. “Nothing like this. More puzzles than action.”
“Done them before?”
I nod. “Was fun.”
Jiyong gets up. “I’m not even sure how to help right now.”
“Then sit down and stay out of their way.” Queer person taps the floor near us. “We can use our energy after they waste theirs. Only so many people can be active at once.” Jiyong nods sitting back down.
“Smoke shift.” Someone calls out near the newly broken wall. “Check for a window near by.”
“That sounds good.” Queer person says. We’re watching and waiting.
The light shines in on us once the window is in view. Those near the fire keeping it working start douse it. Stomping will kill the fire. The extra smoke clearly move to the newly found window.
A few well placed punches and two newly bloody knuckles has the window broken open. Once the window is pretty much fully available, they wrap up the broken edges with cloth for protection. “Let’s go!”
The rope ladder is moved from the ceiling to the widow in no time. Soon people are climbing out of the place.
I step into a lawn.
Trees. In all direction. I sniff smelling the trees that are in all directions. Plus smoke. Our smoke. Damnit. I glance at Jiyong. It’s like he knew. I shake it off. It was a wild guess. The middle of the forest is a good place to keep people. A few people walk around the little cottage we were below. Soon a window is smashed open and the door allows us in.
The upstairs of the cottage has a functioning water supply. The bathroom has a line form. I can wait. I’m not the only one checking out the kitchen. Empty.
Fucking empty kitchen.
“Not even cups. Or pots. Or pans.” Queer person sighs closing a cabinet.
“I wonder if the ground is clay based.” I glance out the window. Manicured lawn means nothing though. Making clay items by soil isn’t easy though. It’s insanely time consuming and messy.
We go on a hunt for anything in the house. There’s basic furniture, two bolted down bunkbed rooms. I could see eight or ten people managing to sleep in one of them. Should be enough space for everyone if we’re used to cramped corner. Which is likely.
A few chairs and couch are also bolted down in the living room. No electricity as far as we can tell. No sockets even. No heating vents- glad it’s not freezing outside yet. We have running water. There’s a well. No guarantee it’s a safe well.
“Nothing?” I wish we found something, but everyone seems uneasy by our circumstances. I walk back outside. I’ll need to join the bathroom line soon. Hope there is toilet paper at least. Bah. Even if there was, it’ll probably run out.
“Know the trees?” Queer person questions me.
“Maple.” I point one out. “Oak.” Another. “Birch.” I frown thinking of them. “We’re in a typical forest in the Mid Atlantic Eastern United States.”
That gets me blinks. “What?”
I shrug. “I have a science degree. I was planning a masters in dendro.” I step back trying to gauge the land’s form. “I may be able to find a stream if I follow the forest’s pattern.”
I nod looking at them. “But that’s useless if the forest is chaos.”
I tilt my head looking at the trees. “There’s probably cherries, walnut, and apples in there somewhere. None of them are nice to collect or eat. Let’s go see if there are any blueberries.” I step closer to the tree line.
Jiyong comes up behind me. He captures my arm before we can walk into the forest. “Did you get the bathroom?” I shake my head. “Go for it.”
I nod to them and head for my business.
Someone’s clothes are being used as a washcloth. Toilet paper’s gone. Wash yourself using the shower and the clothes. No soap. Ew. I shiver going pee and changing my pad. I roll it up best I can and shove it into the trash. Not the best circumstance, but at least I’ll be safe.
I rub my hands with the running water. It’s strong which helps, but we need soap. “Dogwood leaves for brushing teeth.” I recall my teacher’s words. There’s probably one out there. And several other types of leaves that can be used well enough.
And sassafras. We can make up a tea. “Do we have gas?” Nope. We’re going to need firewood. Great. I spot a small area for firewood collection.
How long will we be here?
Shouldn’t our capturers visit?
I step back into the sunshine looking for a trail. Nothing. I’m not used to this environment to pick out a proper knife like item. I’m used to shells and quartz. This isn’t my normal territory.
A group are near the tree line. Queer person spots me. “We waited for you. I think that’s everyone. Let’s go.”
“Randomly?” I question.
“No.” Queer person calls out. “Stay withing calling range of another.”
I’m reminded of the idea of a whistle. That was expected in these type of trips. It sucks to have little supplies.
Still I know what a blueberry bush looks like and it will offer food we can eat.
“Poison Ivy!” Someone found something they don’t like. Not surprising it’s here though.
“Highland blueberry bushes!” I run my fingers over the bushes. “You’re looking for no more than thigh height plants!” I look around. Low land ones are as tall as a human.
“Catalpa.” I pull down a leaf and turn it into a small bowl. That should hold my blueberries.
“What’d you find?” Jiyong comes over. I didn’t notice him join the search. I show off my boat of blueberries. “Cool.”
“Blueberries are natural for the area.” I scan a little more. Wintergreen is too. Still… Hot tea is… Finding the wintergreen is easy enough. We can use it fresh. “Are people on firewood hunt?”
“Yeah. I’m checking on food stocks as they come.”
“Take that one. I’ll create another boat.” I pull down another leaf and being my collection. Jiyong walks onward with my boat of berries and leaves.
While collecting I spot grapes climbing a tree. Another boat and another collection. This won’t amount to much.
We need an escape plan. A direction.
I take my items back to the cottage and recheck the surroundings of the cottage.
No trails at all? Not even for a bike or person? There has to be at least a deer trail. I grunt annoyed by nothing. Then I look up.
Sky. Helicopter. The grassy lawn is big enough.
We came by helicopter? And just left here? To die?
I shiver. Those thoughts are bad. I double check the zone. The grass is definitely stamped down. Helicopter makes sense. There’s too many questions. Escaping the basement is only giving us a chance to survive.
“I feel helpless.” I look at the sky. We have shelter. It’s not cold yet. And someone will notice the missing celebs here. The world will be on a hunt for them. It can’t be long before we’re found. We just need to live that long. There’s running water. “Earthworms are safe and nutritious.” I comment digging my hands into the dirt. I just can’t bring myself to do that.
I go back into the forest and collect wintergreen leaves. That will calm me. The smell offers comfort as I collect. Tea will help several.
I spot a decent sized rock judding out of the ground and dig for it. Hand sized. Nice. What to do with it? I pocket it and bring my collection of mint back to the cottage.
Someone started a fire outside of the place. Rocks surround it as several small twigs and sticks are on fire. Glad that was figure out. I look at my leaves. We need cups and bowls and pots and pans. Something to cook on and with.
“Well… Even if we can’t make tea, we can still chew the wintergreen.” I take a bite and sit down.
“Wish there were marshmallows.”
That would be nice. How long before tensions get too high and a fight breaks out? I look at the sun setting. How long have we been here? I touch the growling stomach. I haven’t eaten enough. Ugh.
“Are acorns safe to eat?” Queer person dumps a pile of acorns next to me.
I look at the pile. “Well… Technically, but… It’s a process. I mean if you think we’ll be here for a week, we can make them work.”
“I hope not.” Queer person drops next to me and picks up one of my leaves. “Mint?” I nod. “A normal flavor.”
I nod. That’s the feeling. “I was thinking earthworms are safe to eat and readily found.”
“I can’t say if that’s more or less appealing than the one trying to get us to eat dandelions.” Queer person frowns at me. “I know food is required, but…”
“It’s not appealing.” I agree there. “The typical black ants of the area should be safe too. Crickets and grasshopper as well.”
“Rabbit sounds better.”
“Harder to capture. Same with squirrel. And both need to be cooked. The bugs can be eaten raw.”
Queer person creates distance between us. “No.”
“That’s what I always told my professors. Still doesn’t change the fact it’s safe to eat.” I shiver. “I think hunger sounds better.” I look at the acorn pile. “We could probably use the acorns to draw out a squirrel. If anyone has trapping knowledge. Rabbits aren’t that hard and should be common enough as well.”
“Not my skill set.”
I stretch wanting to have some answer to this. “Ugh. We don’t have soap or cleaning products or blankets or pots.” I look at the soil. It’s clay enough, but that’s like saying we’ll be here a week from now. Like wasting the time on the acorns. “Fuck it.” I get back up and move back to the tree line. It takes a little while, but I collect some vines. I’ll weave. A basket would be useful for collecting at least. And if I use a strong large enough leaf, it can be almost water proof. Or least the berries won’t escape.
I sit down before the fire and weave. It’s not my absolute first time making a basket, but it feels like it. And the result sucks. But I keep going collecting vines to stay on task.
The moon is overhead as I sit before the fire and weave. Two others copy my moves with skill they picked up over the years.
Having Jiyong sit down next to me calms. To think this started with me being tied up next to him. “Baskets?” He lifts one up and reviews it.
“Yeah.” I frown. “I think I need to go on a hunt for a stream. A proper stream and I may be able to clay bake these guys and make water proof bowls. Not fireproof, but it’ll be something.”
“This is the strangest event in my life.” Jiyong looks to the cottage. I can hear singing. “We’re a random collection of people and we’re just getting along.”
“Being hopeful.” I nod. I put down my newest attempt. It still sucks. Would work well enough though. “We’re staying busy. We’re trying not to think about it. No one is trying to jump being the leader. We’re let do as we wish.” And everyone is trying to do something. We don’t want to just sit here and wait.
“Working for a group… Having this type of teamwork… It’s…” He shakes his head looking at me. “We don’t all speak the same language. Everyone has a working knowledge of English, but not everyone has a full grasp of it. We don’t live the same lives. We’re from different areas of the world. It’s…” He shakes his head again. “Weird to think we’re just managing to live together after being thrown through hell.”
“I expect a fight soon.” I close my eyes. “But if we are all queer… We’ve been hit with less considerations than most. We’re constantly in the public eye, so acting out is dangerous. We’re all just keeping busy and trying not to fuss.”
“Because that normally leads to the best options.” Jiyong nods. “Did you eat?”
“Come on. Someone found several mulberry trees. We got quite a bit.” Jiyong drags me into the kitchen where the different food items are available. The options aren’t very great. I pick at the dandelion leaves chewing until swallowable before moving on to some mulberries. I’m used to them. I’m not thrilled with them, but it’s edible and workable. It’s something.
“What’re the plans for tomorrow?” Jiyong questions staring at the table. There isn’t a lot of light here. Enough that I can see what’s what, but I couldn’t say what face Jiyong is making. “Try again? Search again?”
I frown thinking of it. I’m going to have trouble with the bleeding concern. I can’t change a second time. And what’s the likelihood someone else will start bleeding? “Someone will find us. We exist. We’re out in the open. Someone is searching for most of us. It’s impossible we won’t be found.”
“No one would be searching for me here.” Jiyong motions outside. “How did I get here?”
I don’t know. “This is closer to my home, but it’s not anywhere near my home. I can’t even say if we’re in my state anymore.” I sigh. “Did you want to find a place to just rest?”
“I don’t want to think about those arrangement either.” He grumbles. “Two bunk bed rooms. Who goes where? Several people will need to cuddle together. I…” He rubs his face. “I don’t know anyone that well.”
Obviously. Or you wouldn’t be finding me multiple times. The living space has no one anymore. Everyone’s gone out to the fire. Or to bed as I glance in the rooms. There’s no gender line here. Better than the basement floor.
“I bet several will try to stay up.” I stare out the window at the fire.
“Did that before. Rather not do it again.” Jiyong stares outside with me. There’s chatter. Several play with the baskets. Using it as hats and bowl for items. If it handles that, we won’t worry about them holding food tomorrow. “So what? We just wait for transport?”
“Saviors. Or capturers.” I look to the sky. “Lack of trails and the big grassy area has me think it’s flight in and out.”
“We were knocked out when they flew away.” Jiyong turns from the window to sit down on the couch. Everything is bolted down.
I drop into the spot beside him. “Maybe that’s what woke me. I remember being startled awake. Almost like a nightmare. Could’ve been the sound of a helicopter leaving.”
“None of this really makes any sense.”
“Agreed.” I rest against the couch. It’s not uncomfortable, I guess. I’ve sat on worse. “And why am I here? How’d I get included? The rest of you are big names. Names everyone knows.”
“Then your name is more important.” Jiyong looks me over. “Because the capturer knows you. Knows all of us.” He chortles. “Who doesn’t know me?”
“Anyone fangirl you?”
“Mildly. But we get it. As much as there’s this ‘oh my god- oh my god’ desire, this isn’t the place for it. And having someone do that it’s…”
“Not as much fun as it sounds.”
“Yeah…” Jiyong shifts to stretch out. “Ugh. Sleep should help. Where to try?”
“And no blankets.” I whine. I look at my clothes. I didn’t have layers on when they took me. I can’t even recall where I was before or what I was doing. I hope my computer’s okay. “I hope my files are okay. I’m pretty sure I was walking home from the cafe. I had my backpack with my computer. It had all my data… If I have redo everything…” I knock my forehead. “Back up your data, Cat. Three times a day in three places preferably using the internet.” I grunt realizing all yesterday or today’s work or whenever that was is…
“Don’t think about it.” Jiyong pokes me. “Nothing you can do about it right now.”
I pull my arms into my shirt. Makes for a little more coziness. I tuck my legs up and under me. “I wonder if I can even sleep.”
Jiyong gets up and taps my knee. “Come on. A bed. If we pick the same no one else can join us.” It’s two to a bed max. Small space.
“The same?” I look at him.
“Just come on. It’s for sleep. I’m trying to build a small comfort zone for myself.”
“You trust me?” I get up slipping my arms out of my shirt to follow.
“Did you try to get in my pants?” Jiyong scans me.
I stare at him. “No…?”
“Good. Because a few here have.” He moves into one of the bunk rooms. “Pick.”
“What if I said I’d want to get in your pants?” I don’t like this direction.
“That’s nice to know.” Jiyong motions to the options. Only one is taken. They’re already snoring. “Pick.”
“But if I… I don’t wanna attack you.”
“Doubt you would. Doubt I’d mind in the long run. Pick.” He glares at me. “Get in a bed.”
I shiver, but pick one out of the way. Once I am laying down, Jiyong climbs in besides me. “You’re crazy.”
“No.” He shifts closer to me. I glance to see the edge being his side and dangerous. I shove myself against the wall. “My therapist says I have reasonable responses to my interactions with the world.”
“I apologize if I try to get in your pants.”
“Sh. We’re sleeping.” Jiyong comments. “Don’t freak out if we’re cuddling by morning. If we get cold, we’ll reach for each other.”
“Sure…” I look to the wall. I don’t think I’ll sleep easy in this circumstance.
“Cat?” His eyes flutter open so I can see them. “Do you regret stepping into the limelight?”
I look at him. “I stepped forward because I had something to tell the world. I stepped forward even though it looked terrifying because people said I tell it well.” I shiver thinking of it. “And I never thought I reached anyone.” I motion to the chaos. “But I must’ve because I’m here.”
“I’ve always loved being on stage and entertaining others. I loved dancing and singing.” He shifts letting his eyes shut again. “I don’t regret it. Most of the time. Being stalked… Being attacked… Being captured…” He sighs.
He chuckles. “The stage is my mistress.”
“She’s a fickle one isn’t she?”
“And cheats often.” Jiyong chuckles. “I hope you can sleep beside me. I know the chaos is unsettling, but there has to be hope.”
“Why keep pushing forward if there is no hope for the future?” I close my eyes trying to just relax. Forget the circumstances. Forget everything. “I just wish there was a blanket.”
Jiyong pulls off his outer shirt. He really had layers on today. That was luck on his part. He moves in close enough that I can feel his heat before he drops the shirt over us. “It’s something.”
“You didn’t have to…”
“As if you’re the only one who wants a blanket.” He moves a touch closer. This is the weirdest situation ever. “I’m gonna dream about someone saving us.”
“Considering I always wished to be in bed with you… I hope they don’t save us any time soon.” I try shifting away, but the wall is right behind me. I’m trapped.
Jiyong’s eyes open a touch to see me again. “So you are a fan.”
I laugh nervously. “Creepy follower in love with you? Yeah. So… Different beds before I attack you?”
“Good to know.” He closes his eyes. “Most try jumping me when I’m not looking. Instead when you accidentally woke me up, you apologized. Lips were readily available. I couldn’t stop you. Not really.”
I stare at him. “But we were bound by rope.”
“You’ve had that happen before? Sexually assault while bound? That’s horrible.”
“Some people suck.”
“A lot do, I’d preference if they asked for consent first.”
I glance to the wall. What can I say to that? “Sorry.”
“It wasn’t you. I am readily available to attack- again- and you’re trying to slip away.” He reaches out to pull me against him. The warmth is calming. “Which is better than the other option. Now relax and sleep. I’ve slept with friends before.”
I cover my face. “I’m going to be horny all night.”
“Glad it won’t be just me.”
“Don’t tell me that.” I whimper.
How does one sleep with a random stranger? Even if I have crushed at him from a distance for a while now. A long while now… How’d this happen?
A wake up to chirping birds. A glance to the window has me aware of the early dawn. Not that we have real time here. I shift a little finding my bed mate still asleep. We’ll close enough to feel each other’s heat. And that probably made the night easier. Sitting up, I look at the rest of the room.
Others are sleeping together. A few are by themselves. Several snore. What would media do to get this picture? I flex my hands reviewing how I can get up without disrupting my bed mate. I got the wall. I’m kinda trapped. If I climbed over him…?
“Good morning.” He’s awake. Fail. He looks at me and then at the window. “No midnight savior huh?”
I shake my head and wait for him to get up so I can copy. “I really hope I don’t regret not working on the acorns last night.”
“How long does it take to ready them to eat?” Jiyong follows me out of the bedroom.
“A week?” I question. “I’m going on a hunt for a stream. That will matter.” We walk into the kitchen where several are going over the food options from yesterday. Everything is getting washed and reviewed. We grab up a handful of food before heading for the bathroom line.
“Shower?” We’re questioned.
I look at myself. “I’m bleeding.”
“If you wish to shower while people are waking up, you may have others walk in on you to pee. You have to accept that or wait.”
I nod. Not sure which I’d prefer. “I can wait.”
“Can’t wait to get back home and take a long drawn out bath.” Jiyong holds his hands up. “Soap. Bubbles. Hot water.”
“Mmmm. That does sound good.”
“Wanna join?” He chuckles. I blush. He didn’t take my words last night to heart. “I’ll probably want a hotel closer than that. Just so I can bathe properly. Not that this isn’t decent in its own way.”
“I’m happy with running water.”
“Exactly.” He reaches the bathroom first. “Alright. See you in a few.” He walks in leaving me on line. I yawn stretching. He doesn’t take long to let me accept the bathroom. I pee looking at the blood and my full pad. This sucks. But there’s little I can do. I’ll just hopeful the pad isn’t as full as it looks. Or it’ll dry enough. Or I’m done with the heavier bleeding. Or we get saved ASAP.
Jiyong scans me when I escape. “No shower?”
“Were you thinking you’d catch me naked?” I review him.
“Offer a level of guard.” He shrugs. “What are our plans for today?”
“I want to try and find a stream or river. It will matter as we move forward. Water means civilization.”
I nod. “And I have found water and streams from random positions in a forest. Actually, my senior project to graduate college required me to learn.”
“Impressive.” Jiyong walks with me back to the kitchen. “What’s for breakfast?”
“Spring salad and fruit salad.” They offer. It’s just a pretty name for the tossed dandelions and clover that was picked. The fruit salad is mostly mulberries. I’m not saying it’s not a nice offering. It’s something.
“I hope I find a real stream.” I force myself to put food inside my body. It’s something.
“Fish!” Jiyong agrees my desires. “We can easily make up a net with our supplies.”
“If you’re going into the forest passed the view of the cottage you need to be in a group of at least three and clear cut a path for easy reach.” One of the kitchen staff offers. “Do either you have basic first aid training?”
“Some.” I offer. Jiyong looks to have something too. We’re not going in blind. “I’ve been in forests my entire life. My forests are similar and I do have some survival skills out here. I’m probably better than most.” I shrug.
“It’s just knowledge. No one seems to have confidence with medical concerns. Basics and first aid are it.” They frown. “No EMTs hiding in our group.”
“No nurses or doctors.” Jiyong returns the frown. “Luckily no one is injured.”
I look outside. “If I spot anything I know works out well as an antiseptic, I’ll bring it to others attentions. I’m not used to these forests though. Just similar.”
“Thanks. Let us know if you find anything.” They offer a wave as we leave the kitchen.
“A third, huh?” Jiyong scans.
“You two are the cutest.” Queer person drops arms around our shoulder. “When I saw you two cuddled up together on the bed, I wanted to snap a picture.” They squeeze us closer. “Media would have a field day with our trap.” They sigh walking with us outside. “I think there are a few couples coming out of this.”
“Probably more flings.” Jiyong sighs. “I don’t care as long as it’s not in my range.”
Queer person releases us. “Are you two…?”
I shake my head. “It’s not like we live in the same world.”
“We’re all on Earth.” Queer person grins. Then gulps. “I hope so.” They shiver. “Don’t let the horror authors tell the stories around the camp fire.”
Jiyong laughs. “Why would you…? They profit offer of fear and scaring others. Why would you…?” He waves it off. “Come on, we need a third to go on a hunt for a river.” He licks his lips. “And fish.”
“Let me get a basket.” I drop by the fire where my collection of baskets are. “Making paths are easy. Just literally destroy everything. Stomp down the underground. Break the branches. Uproot things as necessary.” I comment as we start into the forest. “We have to prove our path, so drag your feet even.”
Queer person nods. “So be a white person.” Jiyong covers his mouth looking to me. Yeah I know what I look like. “Sorry. That was mean wasn’t it?”
“Yes. Exactly. Be a white person. I’d even say throw empty beer cans to mark the trail, but that’s not an option.” I chuckle back.
“Can I manage?” Queer person stomps their feet breaking up the undergrowth.
“Let me go first though. I’m looking for options.” I slip into lead picking the path and trying to find items to return with.
“I wouldn’t say you’re a typical white person.” Queer person comments while breaking a branch.
“Nope.” I rub a tree as we come to it. “Some of my ancestors have been here a bit longer than that.” I glance to queer person. “And many whites try to disrespect and disregard me because of that. Hard to notice unless you know to look. They seek any reason to hate you.” I shake my head. “I always felt safer away from them.”
“That’s white people.” I nod picking up some wintergreen. The mint helps. Several seemed calmer after chewing it. “I can feel we’re moving closer to water.”
“How?” Queer person just stares at me.
“There’s a gradient.” Not that it’s easy to tell. “Water moves downhill. Always did. Always will. We just need to follow it and we’ll get a stream which will turn into a river.” I glance behind us. “Considering there were highland blueberries, we’re far without being too far from wetlands.”
“Lead away.” We keep walking slowly making sure our trail is noticeable. We also need to watch the time. Although hunger will probably remind us to return first. “I asked yesterday if you’re queer. Care to explain in more depth?”
I glance at them. “It’s taken a while to figure out. And I wonder if I’ve managed.”
“A normal feeling.”
I nod. “I fall under the umbrellas for trans, non binary, asexual, and pansexual.” I smile at them. “Pansexual was the first I identified with back in college.”
“Lack of words, right?”
I nod. I glance to Jiyong. He didn’t want to answer the question about being queer. “I’m genderfluid. I wish I was given the language as a child. To know my gender desires, switches, and fluidity were all normal. As if my gender didn’t have to fit the box they handed me.” I sigh. “Whites are even worse with the gender ‘rules’. ” I huff.
“Their rigidity is trouble.” Queer person responds with a nod. “Hurt a lot of us in a lot of ways.”
“Ruined cultures and destroyed history because whites have a superiority complex. More like genocidal maniacs.” I exhale trying to relax. I need to stay focused to find the slope. It’s not easy to see. “Genderfluid marks me as non binary. I have felt both dysphoria and euphoria associated to gender.”
“Nothing feels better right?”
“Or worse.” I shiver. “Yeah. My gender feels to matter more to my sexual interest than other people’s gender. Thus pansexual suits. And that’s pansexual, pan romantic. Both have caveats.”
“The asexual note.”
I nod pausing a moment to make sure I’m headed in the right direction. The blueberries are taller but not head height yet. That’s a good sign. “I’m grey sexual and demiromantic. Meaning there are few people in general who set off my desire for sexual relations. My demi is special. I have no one who doesn’t fit. Literally if I build a relationship with someone, I get romantically attractive to them.” I stop to stare at queer person. “It’s not fun. I have romantically fallen for every single friend I ever had. It sucks.” I growl at the direction were headed.
“It’s nice to be aware though right?”
“Yeah. I’m aware that I start developing stupid feelings for everyone.” I pout. “Hetero females are a pain too. Because I’m allowed to do various romantic like things and they just let me.”
“Because you look female.” Jiyong comments.
“Yeah. I’d say about a third of the time I’m trapped in dysphoria. You can tell from my word counts more often than not. I refuse socialization when dysphoria hits.”
“A lot of us do that.” Queer person nods. “Write out the pain and agony.”
“Let yourself live out the life you wish for.” I run hands over my body. “This works well enough, but it’s not always what I want to see or feel.” I sigh pushing pass blueberries more my height. “Watch your footing, we’re close.”
“I don’t hear anything, though.” Jiyong comments following.
“Not all streams are loud.” I pause as my foot tries sinking in. I scan for a solid patch, but it looks like we’re hitting wetlands without a stream. “Hm…”
“Trouble?” Queer person stays back.
“No footing. We’ll just start sinking. I don’t think we want to tempt that.” I glance about. “There’s a little ledge there.” I move back and climb on to the little ledge above the wetland we’re near. I hug the tree making this ledge possible. It gives me a view of… wetlands. Not a stream. I look far enough along and spot actual water. But it’s not really moving. “Hm…”
“We’re not going to be able to fish here.” I look to my two allies for the walk. “There’s a stream. It’s not really running. We’re just in low lands. We’re going to have to move further down to get to something usable.”
“So no fish.” Jiyong sighs letting his head fall.
“Not yet.” I look at the water. “And given the type of water here, they’d be more minnow size than anything.”
“I guess that means it’s time to head back.” Queer person thumbs the way we came.
“Yeah.” I move back into position and scan my basket. I have various wintergreen leaves and blueberries from our walk. Better than nothing. “I wish I knew where we were.”
“Let’s see if anything happened while we were gone.” Queer person breaks into the grassy area first.
Not much is happening. Hopelessness is setting in. Or hunger. And fighting is likely. It’s tread lightly and work with who feels up to it. I bring my basket inside. “I found wetlands.”
All eyes go to me.
“I can go out and try to reach the water. Doubtful we’ll get much in the way of fish or animals.” I frown. “Frogs probably are a good bet.”
“You made a trail?”
“Yup. When blueberries reach head height the footing will start giving way.” I nod placing my basket before them. “I collected more wintergreen and blueberries. Not a lot since we weren’t focused on that.”
I nod leaving my basket to the kitchen staff. It looks full. I move to collect another basket and start on my walk again. If I sit still and think, I’ll turn to hopelessness too. I can’t do that again.
“Off and moving again.” Jiyong carries a basket this time for my walk. I glance to see queer person isn’t following.
“Going to collect mulberries. Maybe more wintergreen. Something to stay busy. Annoying the trip in didn’t lead anywhere. Where are they people who caught us? Where are our saviors? What’s the closest road?”
“At least it’s not an island in the middle of no where.”
I nod. This is a mainland forest. Close enough to my home that I can guess how it functions. Even if we stepped away the concepts are the same. I just wouldn’t know the plants at all. “Mulberries are something to keep us fed. And they’re easy to pick and handle.” I show off the dark color. “I should see if there’s other fruit trees. Maybe a persimmon. Doubtful they’d be ripe yet.”
We pick mulberries in general silence. Is he trying to keep a blank mind or is his thoughts moving?
By now even my family would question where I am. There has to be search parties. I glance to the sky. They won’t do that for me.
I find myself with a full basket in no time. I glance to Jiyong. His is almost full. “I’m glad these are here. We won’t starve.”
“I’m looking forward to a bunch of different meals.” He looks over our baskets. “Back to the kitchen?” I nod. This is just calories. That’s all we’re doing. “How long?”
“Before they find us?” I grimace. If we were near people, if there was a trail near us, if we were under common flight paths… “Soon.”
“Would you mind if I contact you after this?”
I smile at him. “As if I would. How can anyone say no to your sexiness?”
“You’d be surprised.” Jiyong looks away.
We hand off the mulberries. They thank us but you can tell they’re sick of mulberries. We’re used to more options. And I wish I found them. Even if we got to the water it would be unlikely we’d get fish today. And how would we cook it? Hot rock in the fire? Probably.
I move back to the forest this time without a basket.
“What now?” Jiyong is still following. Probably out of nothing better to do.
“Firewood.” I point back at the fire pit we have. “We’ll want it to last. If we can draw attention with smoke or a visual, we’re more likely to be found.”
‘That’s true. Alright. Let’s find some.”
This time we stay close to the cottage. Skirting the area we find plenty of branches that have been broken before we got here. Once our arms were full we walk the wood back to the fire’s pile. I scan it and go for more.
“You don’t have to keep going.” Jiyong follows. Is he worried about me?
“I know.” I sigh going about the work. I’m probably picking bad wood too. I wouldn’t trust myself with this job. “Do you think people are ready to eat bugs?”
I’ve collected what items we’ve found in the general area. “Maybe I should double check the blueberries on our trail.”
I turn to him. Our arms have firewood. “I don’t want to stop. I don’t want to think about what’s going on right now.” I close my eyes willing the tears to stop. “I’m a no name author. How did I get dragged into this? My biggest fan? My child. They’re at home probably losing their mind because I never made it home. It’s been two days. Who’d ever thought I’d be caught up in this? Even if media is on blast for all these famous entertainers, I would not have been connected. No one would think I belong here.” I motion to the cottage. Tears stream down my cheeks. “Why?”
“I don’t know.” Jiyong steps closer to me. “I don’t know anything.”
“I can’t expect you to.” I huff trying my best to ignore the tears. I can’t stop crying. But I can cry and work. “Where are the capturers? Were they trying to kill us?”
“Left for dead.” I close my eyes just trying to weigh everything. “I want to believe we’ll be saved.”
“Best to believe that.” Jiyong pats my head. I lean into it needing that. I didn’t know I needed that. It ends up a hug as I cry into his chest. I look up at him after a while to see he’s crying too. “What else is there?”
I take a deep breath. To calm. To stop the tears. I pick up my dropped wood and begin my trip back to the fire pit. I’m not the only one breaking down.
Two days… I drop on to the grass and stare up. Where’s our enemies or allies? What is going on beyond this little patch of earth? “I feel so useless.”
Jiyong sits next to me. “Same. I’m kinda following so I have a job.”
I look to him. “You look at me as safe.”
“And knowledgeable. I’m noticing many of the authors seem to carry this vast array of knowledge. Some of it weird. Others terrifying. And many are like you, random and half useful.”
I exhale trying to just accept the circumstances. “I hate not knowing. I never go into a story knowing any details. I like just letting a story take me somewhere. But in life? I need the plans. I need to know where I’m going how I’m getting there and what should I expect.” I motion around us. “This is…”
“Thus the work.”
I nod. “I have control there. On some level.” I frown. “The food will offer us our survival. The wood will give us fire. The trail may grant us water if I work on it some more.” I look to the sky. It’s too late to just wander the forest. “It’s time for a meal and just rest.”
I look at the fire pit. People are gathered but its not lit yet. Someone will. Not me. I didn’t pick that job. “How about we gather some more dandelions first? We can collect the flowers and leaves.”
“You did earn your meal.”
We take up another basket to fill. The two of us together fill it. Then we bring it in for the meal. While they clean our new leaves, we take up some of the berries. It’s not a good meal. But it’s food and we’re hungry.
“We’ll need a net for the fish.” Jiyong comments as we eat.
“At least the size we’ll catch will be completely edible.”
“Bones and all.”
I nod getting more willing to find earth worms. That’s horrible. “Where’s the white savior in this story?” I stare at the window. “Books are all wrong.”
Jiyong grins at me. “Have you written a white savior?”
I shrug. “Someone who was clearly white and clearly a savior?” I try to think of one. “Not really. I mean I had several who wished to be and did things that would suggest, but they also landed on their face a lot, so…” I shrug again. “I can’t even say what I want to do right now. I mean I would love to get my hands on a keyboard.”
I nod. “I’m itching to write. Not sure of the story, but it’s been too long. And it reminds me of my lack of knowledge with my work.” I sigh.
“Come on.” Jiyong takes me into the one bedroom and puts me back in our bed. “Rest. You’re tired. I’m tired. Everything is falling apart.”
“Yeah.” I try to just relax. Try to just let everything be. Not sure how that’s possible. But with the weariness, sleep is easier than it sounds.
A loud whirling whomp noise has me jolting awake. Jiyong’s eyes widen hearing the same. That’s not in my dream. I listen to the landing and chatter. People.
We rush from the room and outside.
EMTs are about checking pulses and people. They were expecting a worse state. I drop to the ground and cry. Not that I’m in a rush to get on the helicopter. Jiyong stands at my side as people are ushered into the waiting flight. Only one can land at a time. Not everyone can fit on one. Most concerning group first. It’s more the ones who race to flee the cottage life.
I can wait. The end of this event is in sight.
Jiyong takes my hand. He squeezes it as I stand up. His smile says a lot. It’s over.
We climb on the second helicopter shortly after it lands. We’re not the last ones leaving. I can’t say no when they start ushering us. They want to move everyone to safety as soon as possible.
We’re taken to the hospital. I forgo treatment and call for a ride home. The Uber is expensive, but worth it since I can hug my child all the faster. All my things were there. The search is called off. They- whoever they were- took just me and left my bag?
What exactly happened?
My name is listed on the television when it explains the collection of entertainers kidnapped and left for dead in a cottage in the middle of nowhere. My name is listed there under famous people. Not sure how or why I made the list. Should help narrow down the suspects considering how I’m a less known public figure.
I gain a quick shower and put on a new pad. I’m not well. But a hospital would make it worse. They don’t know how to help. I settle in my bed curled up with my child. I’ll probably wake up in a few hours hungry. And that’s okay. Everything is okay. Because I have what really matters with me.
Two days later, I open my email. It’s full of nonsense. Famous, huh? Most of it is complaining how I didn’t deserve to go with them. How I’m a nobody. How I should stop acting so high and mighty.
In what way?
I push it aside. All my media accounts have been blasted with mostly hate. I wonder if they read any of my work or just hate me for existing on this planet.
I pull open the instagram message with GD. My mind flips back to him just trying to exist in such a horrible situation. His fears were different than mine. “Sorry for fleeing.” I type it out and send. I scroll back at all the random messages I sent. And he had no idea who I was.
I put the phone down. I weigh the options of shutting down my medias. I shake my head. Negative media is better than none. This may get me notice as an author. I’ll perhaps make enough to support myself and child. I’ll be able to live properly not struggle as I always have.
I’m tired of struggling.
-Ding- My phone draws my eyes.
The message shows on the screen. ‘Your apology is unacceptable.’ I just stare at it. Before I do anything another pops up. ‘You really did have interest in me. I should’ve kissed you when I had the chance.’
What? I blink staring at this. I go back into insta and stare at the messages. “I’m dreaming.”
‘If you are, please don’t wake me.’
I stare at the quick response. Of course it’s a quick response. He just answered. “Are you back in Korea?”
‘Yup. Not that long ago actually.’
“I’m glad you’re safe.” It’s soothing to think of the procedures being over and the flight is over. He’s back where he belongs.
‘You still owe me a joint bath. I’ll collect soon enough. For now, I need a nap. Chat tomorrow?’
“Your tomorrow or my tomorrow? We’re on opposite sides of the world.”
‘I’m messaging you when I wake up.’
“Okay.” I stare at the message. He doesn’t respond. It just sits there lacking. I must be dreaming. I put the phone back down. I’d rather pretend the entire event was a horrible nightmare.
Let me wake up tomorrow and have everything back to normal.