Her mind woke up before her body. It instructed the nerves to open her eyelids, but they ignored the command. Paralyzed in both fear and limbs Tess tried to concentrate on her breathing; it at least seemed rational. Wherever she lay, she didn’t know the place; her nose would have remembered the stench of incense, she didn’t associate with hippies. Her father told her once that they all hid from human nature, ignoring the burning desire for violence that pulse in our veins, they lie to themselves he stated as a matter of fact, and there seemed no reason to doubt him.

As her body caught up and pain tingled up her legs her brain spit out a memory. The car, the man, named Jonah, the police officer, the rag. But why would an officer tell her she needed saving yet leave her in the very thing she needed saving from? Tess doubted very much that the Man in Blue took his oath to protect very seriously, that, or he misunderstood said promise. It would be harder to escape now. Once you leave the world and enter into your captives layer, the likelihood of survival plummets. The late night True Crime shows taught her that. The information seemed useful when tucked into your own couch, but pointless now.

Her eyelids slid upwards to reveal the first image of her cell. It looked like the bedroom of a grandmother, doilies spread on oak furniture, and frilly pink curtains. Tess scanned the room for signs of technology. She found none. How inconvenient. Despite her faint state she needed to look out the window. Bars, nor boxes blocked out the sunlight, could her escape route lay above her head?

As soon as she started to shift the bed creaked and she heard footsteps approach the door. A key slid in, and a young woman entered no older than 15. She looked like the wives of the FLDS, the ones that all shared one husband. They couldn’t have traveled that far, Tess thought, those people lived in Texas and Utah. The girl smiled and bellowed, as if she wanted someone else to hear, “You woke, let’s get you in some civilized clothes.” The door clicked behind the girl, and she caught Tessa’s eye. Almost imperceptibly she shook her head, wiped her hand down her face crossing her mouth and for a brief second made the shush signal. “Welcome home. I am so pleased for us to meet,” the girl started as she went into a closet and began shifting through homespun dresses, “Aw, blue should make your eyes look lovely.”

She then walked over to Tessa and reached for her hands to pull her into a sitting position. The girl was trying to help her, and Tess didn’t know what else to do; the signals alerted her that someone could see into the room, so she took her hands. A piece of paper pressed in-between her left hand and the girls, and Tess concentrated on containing her surprise. “Oh goodness, you don’t look so good,” the girl exclaimed, “we are moving you along too quickly. Best to rest.” Tessa nodded and tucked the paper into her hand allowing the girl to cover her body with another blanket. “I’ll come check on you in a while, if you need me, call out for Mindy.”

After the girl’s hasty exit Tessa turned on her side and unfolded the paper under the covers. She closed her eyes to slits as if she was sleeping and read the scrawl.

Above all else play along, it will go easier for you. DO NOT try to escape. Your life depends on it.

Tessa didn’t know how else to hide the incriminating note, so she chewed it up and deposited it inside her gut.

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