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Emily had given up holding back the tears. She was barely aware of them as they followed the path that had etched into her cheek. Every ounce of her screamed to stay strong but he had constantly found new ways to hammer down her walls. She felt weak in his solid and forceful arms. They wrapped themselves around her waist and squeezed to force her limp body to stand.
"It's time." He whispered in her ear.
She flinched at his words and her stomach turned; she knew what he meant. This was the end. She looked over to the toured body that lay unmoving and slouched in the chair. She knew Kelly would not have stayed unconscious long. She felt like there wasn't enough time for her to reclaim herself to do anything or think of a realistic plan.
"I should have done it this way all along, it has been so much more fun." He mused.
She could only cringe as his rancid breath brushed over her face. She tensed her body as he began to move her and his response was to simply tighten his hold. She let out a whimper as the air was pressed from her. She was useless to stop him, and he knew it. He couldn't help but chuckle at his power and easily dragged her behind the chair.
"This is going to be fun," he whispered and adjusted the large hunting knife that he clutched in his free hand.
Emily squirmed again when her eye caught the glistening blade.
"No, please," she begged, "don't do this. Please, you've done enough to her."
"You just don't get it do you?" He half laughed. He forced the knife into her hand and gripped it tightly in his.
His lips were close to her ear again. "It's about you."
The stubble on his cheek brushed along her face sending uncontrollable shivers through her. She tried to release the handle but his fingers were wrapped around hers with a bone crushing force. He moved them forward until they were directly behind Kelly. She squeezed her eyes shut when she caught the reflection in the mirror across from them.
"Oh no you don't." He growled, and when Emily refused to raise her lids he tensed his arm sending a shooting pain through her body. Her eyes shot open at the surge, and when they finally focused they locked with Kelly's. Emily felt her heart tear at this girl's continual torture and now eminent end.
His laugh haunted her. His mercilous stare bore into her and greedily soaked in the agony he created. Every slice of the knife he had performed on this woman was a cut deeper into her soul. Her mind echoed the screams, the pleading and the blood. It became clear; she had failed. There was nothing she could do to stop this monster.
She tensed her arm muscles as he began to bring her arm and knife to the front of Kelly.
"I want you to feel the blade cut through the flesh, one layer at a time. The blood and agony will forever be your punishment."
She saw in Kelly's eyes that she had given up and was waiting for the end. Emily tried to swallow the bile forcing its way up when she realized that she was going to be the reason this girl died. The blood would be on her, her hand making the final cut.
All those people she had felt like she maybe made a difference for didn't matter. She spent a career being that person that got into the heads of these heartless creatures to stop them, and all of those they had taken down didn't matter either. All that did was this girl's life, and it was in her hands. The unwavering strong voice that was once her own cried out for attention. It yelled at her not to give up. Emily couldn't ignore it and started to feel the fight begin to bubble up again.
"NO!" Emily screamed and pushed back against the wall of a man holding her.
She used his body for support and fought to resist him. She ignored the pain and continued to move every muscle in her body.
"Hold still!" He roared and struggled to hold her.
Emily ignored his demand. She pushed herself harder to find a way to be released, and if nothing else drop the knife. With all her strength she tried to push outward and straighten her arm. He tightened his grip and strained to bring the knife back to its intended target.
Emily bit back the cries that wanted to escape when the pain flashed in violent bursts. She felt like her fingers were about to break from the intensity of his grip.
She forced her focus to not let him win. She knew he would not be satisfied if the slit of his last victim's throat was not as precise and straight as all the others.
Emily believed that her only hope now was that he was not following his usual routine by forcing her to perform the final act. He was not prepared for the struggle and his focus became lost on just keeping her in place. He cursed at her and anger filled his voice. His pain inducing tactics were not working, and she could feel his frustration begin to reach a tipping point.
She threw her head back and found success when it met his jaw. His grip loosened from the shock of the pain. As his hand released hers the large blade dropped to the dirt floor. With both hands he grabbed her arms and yanked them back before he shoved her to the ground. Emily gasped at the sudden collision with the hard surface. As he moved to grab her again she lunged towards where the blade had finally come to rest. She didn't hesitate to flip around and plunge it into him.
He fell over gasping from the pain. His hands went immediately to the wound and stared at the protruding handle.
Emily looked away and over to Kelly. She had been watching the battle through half raised lids. Emily pushed herself onto her knees and crawled over to the chair. The leather straps proved to be a difficult and unexpected obstacle. The hand he had squeezed the life from could not grip the binds. She worked with her left frantically pulling to release the straps. As she tugged she kept one eye on the man. She felt some contentment that he was consumed with his own peril. After he slowly removed the knife from his body his eyes were back on them. She knew at that point that she had to move fast. Finally, she found success to release the restraints.
His movement caught Emily's eye and her attention went back to his actions. He slowly pushed himself off the wall and attempted to take a step towards them, but just as fast he was hunched over from the pain and went to his knees. He muttered breathless curses at her and moved back against the wall to ease himself back to an upright position.
Emily saw her chance and pulled Kelly up. "Do you think you can walk?"
"I don't know." The blonde replied weakly.
"You have to try for me. I don't know if I can carry you."
The young girl nodded and with Emily's help she stood up on her shaky legs. They refused to hold her and gave out. She cried out in pain and both of them were pulled down with her weight. Emily was back on her feet before her body could respond to the fall and reject her mental fight to get them out.
She could hear his heavy breathing but refused to turn around. She put all her strength into putting distance from him. Kelly dragged her feet and groaned in the pain each step caused.
"We're getting out. My team is out there looking for us. They'll find us." She whispered.
The words were to encourage Kelly but they felt like a half lie. She had to convince herself that it would happen. She knew the team was looking, but she had no clue where they were and even if they were looking in the right place.
When she reached to top of the small incline of makeshift stairs Emily adjusted herself to push the hatch open. It easily lifted and a layer of leaves and branches fell into the open space.
Kelly was nothing more than dead weight on the verge of losing consciousness again. It was an effort to walk and move. Emily hoped the adrenaline lasted long enough this time to put some real distance from him or at least find a place to hide. Emily looked around the thick branches unsure of which way to head. Taking another step Kelly's knees suddenly caved and she went down in one solid heap. Her weight tugged at Emily and she lost her balance and when she moved to regain it she tripped over the unmoving body on the ground. She crashed down hard; her elbows and forearms took the brunt of the fall. She ignored the immediate sting and pain that shot up her limbs. She pushed herself up and glanced back to where they had escaped. She expected to see him emerge, but felt some relief when he didn't. The opening itself looked like an unnatural hole, but closed it would have been easily camouflaged by the surrounding brush.
She turned herself back over and rolled Kelly with her. She cringed at the mangled body in front to her. She peeled off her shirt and haphazardly covered her freshly bleeding ripped and torn flesh. The brisk morning air stung her bare skin, but she welcomed it to the stale dead air they had been forced to endure.
She wrapped herself around the girl's thin frame in an attempt to stop the bleeding. She felt the warm liquid on her skin as it quickly soaked through the thin material. Time was running out for her and a silent panic began to make itself known in Emily. She got them out but now what? She knew they couldn't stay there. He would come for them and where they lay only feet from the opening they were easy targets. She could make progress when Kelly was awake and able to make an effort, but no way she had the strength to carry her now. Emily wasn't even sure if dragging her would do any good, it might even make her injuries worse.
Emily looked up to the sky through the canopy. The new day was dawning. The sun was cresting over the tree line and caught itself on the leaf-laden branches. Her heart began to pound harder when she heard the crackling of dead leaves and the snap of branches. Her eyes searched frantically around them, and she held her breath as she listened. An array of dark forms began to appear in all directions. Emily felt relief flood over her and she called out to them.
Their familiar faces came into focus and when they confirmed contact their pace picked up.
Derek skid to his knees as he reached her. His hand went to touch her but hesitated as his eyes scanned her bloody body and then to the one beneath her. He yanked his jacket off and flung it over her shoulder.
"Are you okay?" He finally said breathlessly.
Before he could say another word she was pointing to the hole in the ground.
"He's down there and injured." She stammered.
Derek hesitated as he took her in. She saw his debate to stay with her or get the bastard. She made it easy for him. "Get him already."
He nodded and rose and made his move towards the hole pointing his gun into the abyss below. He straddled over it and waited impatiently for a few of the officers to back him up before descending into it.
Aaron took his place next to Emily, but she did not acknowledge him until she saw the last body disappear below ground.
"Where are you hurt?" He asked.
Emily felt the weakness begin to make its statement and all she could do was shake her head, and look down to the woman below. She was swiftly moved from her post as the medics began to take the initial steps to save Kelly's life. Questions were thrown at Emily but she struggled to answer. Was she hurt? She couldn't remember. She knew she wanted to crawl out of her skin to escape the mud and blood that consumed her, but it had already seeped into her pores and hooked in.
A gust of wind blew and as it swept past her she felt the chaos begin. She didn't know where to focus her attention. The words coming from the medics worried her. She heard Hotch's questions but she couldn't concentrate on what he was trying to ask. Her heart stopped when one word suddenly came through crystal clear.
"What?" She asked to no one in particular and pushed herself to try and stand. She swayed to the side when her head spun from the quick movement. She tired to shake Aaron's strong grip that appeared to help hold her steady.
The word was there again drifting up from the ground. She looked back to Hotch, "What does he mean it's clear?"
"Emily." Was all he could say.
His soothing tone did nothing and her frustration took hold. She twisted and pulled to free herself from him.
"Whoa slow down." He responded and brought her in tighter. All her body allowed her to do was collapse.
Aaron caught her weight and lowered her slowly to the ground. He continued to speak but to her it was distant words. She needed to hear from Morgan what the hell he meant. She tried again to pull away from Hotch but failed and resigned to watch from her knees.
She caught Derek's eyes as he emerged. His face was filled with the horror that was found below. At that moment Emily wasn't concerned with the nightmare that had occurred. Derek was supposed to have his grip around the monster's shackled arms, but he came up empty handed.
He shook his head in confusion. "No one's down there."
"It can't be." She blurted out past the tightness that had suddenly clenched her throat.
"There is something that looks like a collapsed tunnel, but-" A burly officer added as he appeared from behind Morgan.
Emily shook her head in disbelief and looked down and saw her blood stained body. The tremors began to wrack her and she no longer felt the supportive hands on her shoulders. The blood rushed from her head and the world began to spin out of control. All she could do was close her eyes to it and hope it might right itself when she emerged again.
Uh oh! Safe but for how long?
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