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I lie naked on the makeshift crucifix. Along the underside of my arms, down my spine, against the back of my thighs, I can feel splinters from the rough-sawn wood prickling my tender skin. My arms and ankles are bound to the crucifix with clothesline. I try to inhale a breath of the damp air, but my lungs feel oppressed, as if a heavy weight lay on my chest. My heart pounds against my ribs. He straddles my shivering body. My captor. A monster like no other. For an instant his wide-open eyes glance at my breasts. I cringe at the thought of him touching me. Then, he studies my face, searching for something; I don't know what. Perhaps he wishes to taste my fear, sip it like fine wine. I try to convince myself that this is a nightmare, that all I know about life and death and reality will exist when I awaken. But I will not awaken. I look into his eyes and see not a man, but my executioner. I no longer sob, or ask for mercy. My plea only serves to inspire and excite him. And I will not give him that satisfaction.
So this is how I will die.
I turn my head slightly and see my daughter lying on the bed. She sleeps peacefully, unaware that she will never see me again. He promises not to harm her if I do not resist, but I find little solace in his pledge. He is holding a hammer in one hand and a shinny spike in the other. I cannot imagine the level of pain I will experience when he drives the cold steel through my wrists and feet. If God is truly merciful, maybe He will lead me to a sanctuary of unconsciousness and spare me the agony.
Why does he hesitate? His pause only serves to further torment me. But yes, this is part of his game.
I fear death of course, the unknown, but the true terror lives in my still-alert mind. No one will recall my name. Linda Cassidy will be remembered as an obscure woman who made a poor choice when her car broke down. My life, all of my accomplishments and contributions to my family will fade to oblivion.