Chapter 4

Written by: Donna McTavish

“Don’t move and you won’t get hurt.”

The voice dripped into my ear like poison.

The fingers on my skin pressed a little tighter and then suddenly he let go. I staggered forward, gasping. There was a cruel laugh, the scraping of a door, and his hands grabbed my arm and dragged me inside.

Chairs were stacked on the tables and the coffee machine behind the counter gleamed in the dim light. I knew Amy’s. Marty and I used to come here when we first met. The coffee was good. A sob rose in my throat as I remembered. I realised how stupid I was to have come here.

It was Mario who stood in front of me. He grabbed a chair and dropped it on the floor.

“Sit down, Sarah. I want to know everything.”

His voice splintered my brain into a million pieces but I kept my eyes down and tried to think.

This wasn’t the voice on the phone.

“I’m getting impatient, Sarah. Talk to me. About your project.”

He was trying hard to keep his voice calm. I raised my head and saw the muscles in his cheek flex as he clenched his jaw. My eyes flicked across the room towards the door and, for a fleeting moment, I wondered what had happened to the man on the phone.

“No one is coming, Sarah. We’re alone and we have all the time in the world. Now talk.”

“I - I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

The palm of his hand caught me off guard and I crashed sideways catching my head on the corner of a table. My phone flew out of my pocket and clattered on the floor. I could taste blood and as I lay there, curled into a tight ball, waiting, I heard the door open and a gust of cold air stung the broken skin on my face. I saw a pair of trainers and the frayed dirty hem of blue jeans. Then everything went black.

Even before I opened my eyes, I knew that I wasn’t at Amy’s anymore. I could hear the slapping of waves and, for a moment, I imagined I was back in Muriwai, safe in my house. It didn’t take long before the horror was real again. I was in a small cabin lying on my back propped up on a lumpy squab. There was a wooden hatchway in front of me held shut by two large brass bolts. There was a square table covered with a tangle of cables anchored in the middle of the floor and my phone sat on a bundle of papers beside a bunch of keys. Through the small window I could see a forest of masts, their silvery tips poking into a blue sky. On the opposite squab Mario was poring over a laptop, smiling as he stabbed at the keyboard. When he snapped the lid closed and glanced in my direction, my skin crawled with fear.

“Now Sarah, talk.”


The voice dripped into my ear...Oh I wish I had thought of that one. What a way to open a chapter. I hate Mario and this is so well written I can see him and want to punch his lights out. Lots of description and the part of Sarah is played so well we feel sorry for her. Yes, this works well. Loved it.
I agree with Ray. Mario is now full of menace and Sarah is in deep trouble. You have the reader feeling exactly what you want him/her to feel - support for the protagonist and intense dislike for the antagonist. We want Sarah to come through. I hope she does. I read on to see how events unfold so my chapter can start bringing things to a believable climax. As I have already said, the standard is terrifyingly high.