t last, the American monsters were asleep.
The lights still blazed overhead, but Juliette could hear both of them snoring like pigs. The bed above sagged in the middle so low to the ground that she and Darrell were forced to opposite sides of their hiding place. If one of the disgusting snorting hogs had needed to reach under the bed for a dropped nipple clamp, perhaps, he (or she: the woman seemed the worse of the two) would surely have discovered Juliette and Darrell cowering there.
But they’d had desultory sex with no climax, they’d tossed and turned and muttered, they’d farted and fought, and now, miraculously, they were asleep. It was time for Juliette and Darrell to escape.
Darrell had kept his eyes squeezed shut for much of the ordeal, but now Juliette snaked her hand over and tapped him, pointing over her shoulder to signal that they should make their break.
She was astonished to see him shake his head no.
No? NO???? Was the boy an idiot? Did he plan to lie there all night, perhaps get up in the morning and cook the druggie murderers above them some breakfast?
But he was still shaking his head, looking terrified.
She made a face that was meant to signal, What the fuck? But his only response was to keep shaking his head and to look even more scared.
There was no arguing. And she certainly did not plan to lie trapped beneath the monsters’ bed one second more than she had to. Let Darrell be too frightened to move. She was not going to let him keep her imprisoned there with him.
With a little Heidi Klum wave and smile, she slid back and got swiftly to her feet. God, that light was so fucking bright. She couldn’t believe she was standing there fully exposed in the room, the monster couple — not so very large, now that she was looming above them — curled back to back beneath a rag of a blanket.
They looked like male-female Siamese twins, same pasty skin, same inky tribal neck tattoos, same messy hair and pierced nostrils, ears, lips. She had the urge to throw a large pot of water on them, or to turn out the lights and jump like a boogey-man screaming from the corner.
The guy with his scraggly graying beard shifted and she jumped back, suddenly scared. If he opened his eyes, even for a second, he’d see her standing here, plain as day. She had to get out of here right now.
Tiptoeing as quickly as she could to the door, she felt more frightened than she had been all along, imagining their eyes at her back. But then she was outside, free, the still-dark woods all around. All she had to do was run and she’d be away from them forever. They’d never find her out here, among the miles of trees. Even if they tried coming after here, she was younger, and stronger, and faster, and more agile than they were.
But the thought of Darrell still in there shivering beneath the bed tugged at her like a chain. Goddamn him, why did he have to be so bull-headed? And such a wuss? Why couldn’t he just have come with her?
She should have turned off the light. That would at least have given him the cover of darkness, which probably would have made him brave enough to leave. But what if flipping off the light had woken the monsters? They would have been confused, might have rushed to the window or the door. But they wouldn’t have looked under the bed and maybe Darrell could have made his escape while their attention was diverted.
He was so stupid: Didn’t he realize he was going to have to get out of there at some point no matter what? That the longer he waited, the more chance there was that they were going to find him?
Juliette didn’t dare go back in and fiddle with the light now, not when she was already safe outside. The monsters’ car was there, but she had no idea how to hotwire a car, much less drive one. She could run through the woods, get to civilization, call someone to come back and save Darrell. At which point he might be dead.
Heart practically choking her, she edged closer to the house, moved the garbage can back to the window, climbed up as quietly as she could. There they were, still sleeping. In the glaring light, she could even make out Darrell’s shoes under the bed. Why oh why couldn’t he have come with her?
She imagined, so vividly it was as if it were actually happened, that the monsters opened their eyes and saw her at the window. She saw them jump up, rush over to the glass, lean out into the darkness. She’d have time to jump down and rush to the woods. Would they come outside and look for her? Would Darrell have time to escape then?
Very gingerly, very quietly, she climbed down and gathered as many rocks and sticks as she could, filling the pockets of her old man pants. Then she climbed back up on the can and pushed in the window.
Breathing the same air as the monsters, as poor paralyzed Darrell, emboldened her.
“Ooooooooo,” she called in an eerie voice, like an owl, or a ghost. And then, louder, “Oooooooo!”
She saw Darrell’s feet shift and knew he’d heard her. She wanted to laugh. Don’t be nervous, you silly boy, she thought. I’m going to get them away from you and then you’ll be free.
With another warble, she reached in her pocket and lobbed the first stone, which hit the wall behind the bed and fell nearly soundlessly on a pillow, a miliimeter from the female monster’s head.
“Yi yi yi yi!” Juliette whooped. She grabbed and stone from each pocket and threw two hands at once.
This time she hit her target, both targets, and as the monsters both bolted upright, Juliette shrieked and leapt down from the can and dashed toward the woods.
“Hey!” she heard from the window. “Who’s out there?”
And then more shouts, and curses. The trees were rushing past her, the leaves swishing against her ankles.
Then she heard shots. She hadn’t counted on that. A bullet pinged against a tree nearby. She ran faster. It was so dark. They were too far behind to catch her, but she could hear them shouting, knew they were in the woods too.
She’d have to try to keep running. Or find a place to hide until she knew they were no longer on her trail.
At least the cabin was empty now. She imagined Darrell finally coming out from under the bed. Heading back down his precious road, maybe even managing to take the car. Finding help. Saving her, as she’d saved him.