HE was standing right behind her! For a moment she stood completely still as her mind tried to absorb the fact that the man, himself, was standing in her laundry room breathing down her neck. She automatically put her hands to her waist and hooked her thumbs under his hands. His HANDS?? Plural?? She gave the left one an exploratory squeeze and felt it grasp her hip tighter for a second. She felt his chuckle at her back more than she heard it.
"Yes, Clarice, it’s still there. You didn’t think I’d part with my hand did you?" he said, knowing even as he said it that it was exactly what she had thought. She had closed her eyes as the cleaver came down over her own wrist, and when she opened them again he was gone, leaving the counter covered with blood. What else was she supposed to think?
These thoughts reminded her of just who was standing behind her. She had to do something she had to act, but there were no handcuffs at hand this time. Whether he felt the subtle tensing of her muscles or noticed her draw a large breath, he moved before she was conscious of deciding on a course of action. His left arm slid around her waist as his left hand clamped firmly over her lips.
"Clarice…" he tisked. "You wouldn’t want me to have to deal with Miss Mapp, now would you?" Clarice didn’t really want to think about what constituted the action ‘deal with’ around this man, but he was right, she couldn’t involve Ardelia in a dangerous situation. She was going to have to do this on her own. She slipped her right foot between his in an effort to try to hook her arch around his ankle and trip him. Again he seemed to anticipate her, and he lifted her off her feet against his chest, before she could get a solid stance.
"I see you are not going to be agreeable about this," he said more to himself than her. Indeed, he ignored the muffled growls and squeals that were coming from under his hand, as he reached around her, into his coat pocket and pulled out a small syringe. When Clarice saw it the muffled noises doubled in volume, and she began to squirm and twist in an effort to escape his iron grasp. He took a step forward and pinned her against the wall, none too gently.
"You begin to try my patience, Special Agent Starling," he hissed, as he administered the powerful sleeping medication. Not a great amount – he only wanted her to sleep for a few hours. Within seconds, she had slumped against the wall. He turned her around and bent down to grasp her behind the knees. He stood effortlessly with Clarice securely held over his shoulder. Not the most dignified position, he thought to himself, but he needed at least one of his hands free in order to navigate the series of doors between him and the car. As the dark figure glided silently from the back door, the little radio continued its static broadcast to the hum of the washer.
When Clarice awoke, she was in bed, but she couldn’t remember how she’d gotten there. It was as she rolled over and found her wrist handcuffed to an antique, bedpost, that the memory of what had happened came crashing back to her.
SHE HAD BEEN ABDUCTED BY HANNIBAL LECTER!!!!!!!!
It took her a moment, to quell the panic that set in and she carefully searched the shadows of the room for any sign of her captor. She breathed a sigh of relief when she discovered the room empty, but he wouldn’t be far away. She tugged frantically at the handcuffs but there was no way she could get the other half over the brass knob of the bed post. She was stuck! As she looked around the room again, she noticed the letter sitting on the bedside table. It was addressed like all the others, with just her name in his familiar writing. She picked it up, took a deep breath before she slit the envelope open with her finger, and tried to prepare herself for the doctor’s latest bit of wisdom.
I hope you had a pleasant little nap. You’re going to need it. I told you once that you needed to get more fun out of life, and I’ve come back to make sure you take your medicine. You noticed when I came to pick you up that I am still in possession of both my hands – please don’t be concerned, as I know how you feel about any creature that is harmed - even me, eh? Did I make it on to your list of lambs that night Clarice? Did you hear that cleaver in your dreams? I think you did.
Now on to the reason for your current position. You will have discovered that you are handcuffed (I thought it rather appropriate) to a rather heavy piece of furniture. The reason for this is simple – we’re going to play a game. Everything you need to get back to your charming abode (and your dancing?) can be found in this house. To win the game, all you need to do is get home. I, however, am also in the house. I trust I needn’t explain my role in this game. What are the stakes? I hear you ask – well they are very high for both of us, but when haven’t they been? Besides the prize is what makes it all worthwhile. Perhaps you’ll get another chance to silence the sounds of your dreams.
Well then, let the games begin!
P.S. If you go looking for cobwebs in shadows be sure to take a broomstick. H.
Clarice pulled her knees up to her chest and rested her head on them. She couldn’t keep doing this; she was tired of trying to get a step ahead of the man who seemed to be perpetually in the lead. As much as she might like to, she realized that she couldn’t just sit there. He would think it rude of her not to participate in something he had obviously taken trouble to set up. She glanced over the letter again. What did he mean when he said she’d get another chance to silence the sounds of her dreams? Was he going to kill some new victim unless she won the game? And why did she have to get home? Oh, my god, Ardelia! Was he going to go after Ardelia, if she didn’t get home first? She couldn’t let that happen! She tugged frantically at the handcuffs again, and again had no effect. She growled her frustration.
Downstairs Lecter looked up from his reading as his exceptional hearing picked up the sound of a very angry growl. She was awake! Goody, goody!
Starling sat with the letter in her hand and almost broke into tears. There was no way she could get free in time to save Ardelia. She looked at the letter and cursed the man who had written it. He thought this was a game! How dare he fool with people’s lives like this? Who was she kidding? The man was a sociopathic cannibal, fooling with people’s lives like this was his hobby! All right, she’d just have to play the game. She looked over the letter again, knowing that there must be a clue there somewhere; she just needed to think. Think! The postscript was rather odd: ‘If you go looking for cobwebs in the shadows be sure to take a broom stick.’ What did that mean? Why would she need a broomstick? Whenever she saw that word, she thought of the Disney movie bed knobs and broomsticks. Bed knobs? Bed knobs! The movie where the bed knob screwed off the post so the little boy could put it in his pocket!
She flipped around so she was sitting on her knees facing the wall and tried to twist the bed knob at the top of the post. It was tight and took all of her strength to twist, but once she got it turning, it came off quite easily. She slipped the ring of the cuffs off the post and swung her legs off the bed. She had to get out of this house now! As she stood up the bed knob rolled ponderously to the edge of the bed and then hit the floor with a loud thunk. Clarice glanced at the door with wide eyes. She needed to move right this instant, and she bolted for the door.
Lecter looked up at the ceiling as he heard a loud thunk, from the floor upstairs. His girl was quick; there was no denying that. He smiled as he closed his book and blew out the candle he had been reading by. This was going to be fun… maybe even better than fun.