This series is written by Leslie Moore and edited by Eric and Dee Sylvan. Graphics and formatting by Dawn Natelle
Tasha looked at the buzzing phone. "It's Bruno. Are you going to answer it? Don't you want to talk to your brother?"
Amos had an angry look in his eyes. "No. I don't! And just shut up! I've got to think about all of this. Bruno's no help! I don't think anyone can help." He shook his head like a dog drying off. He had one hand on the steering wheel and the other hand on a .38 caliber Police Special revolver which he waved as he talked.
They were driving on NJ-73. Tasha knew that because she had seen the sign more than four times. They would drive on NJ-70 for a while and then 73. That meant they were aimlessly driving in the Cherry Hill area less than ten miles from Philadelphia. They'd been going in circles.
Tasha was sitting as far away from Amos as her bonds would let her. Her hands and feet had been tied securely with two sets of police style plastic restraints. Then, to keep her from throwing her body around the car, Amos had used duct tape around her chest to hold her down on the leather bucket seat.
Tasha kept talking, trying to get through to him. "Can I do something? Do you want to tell me what's the matter? I'm here and I want to help you."
Tasha was completely and overwhelmingly frightened for her life. She'd been trapped in this car driving the highways of New Jersey with a screaming madman waving a loaded weapon for what seemed like hours.
Amos took his eyes off the road and looked at her. "You can't help. You're the problem. You're just one big tease. I tried to talk to you. I even gave you some magic to help you love me more. Nothing seemed to work. If you loved me as much as I loved you, things would be different. And now everything is fucked! Nothing is going as planned. Nothing is working right. You were supposed to love me, and want me, and live for me. You were supposed to love me the way Bruno loves Zoe. This is all so fucked up. Maybe we should just both die together. We could die together the way we're meant to be. Romeo and Juliet. That would solve all our problems, wouldn't it?"
Amos pulled over for about the tenth time, steering the car onto the shoulder of the road. He put the car in park and held the pistol in two hands. "Yeah. Let's do it. We'll put our faith in the fates." He emptied the six bullets out of the gun into his hand and slid one cartridge back into the cylinder. Tasha's eyes grew huge and her jaw dropped. She could see the empty places and the one bullet in there, too. Amos pushed the cylinder back into the frame with a loud click, spinning the cylinder as he did.
Staring straight into her eyes, he raised the weapon and pointed the barrel to his forehead. When Tasha didn't say anything, he pushed it so hard against his head, it was making his skin turn red. "I'll go first and if I don't die, you're next."
He stared straight into her eyes as he pulled back the hammer with his thumb. It got so quiet, Tasha heard the cylinder rotate and the firing pin lock back into place.
Each time they stopped, he had threatened her or himself. He'd ranted and raved like a madman. He'd cursed and occasionally slapped her face. Her cheek and lip were swollen and bruised from his hand.
But each time he'd raved out of control, each time he hit her, he'd start to cry and apologize saying how much he loved her and how sorry he was. He'd try to kiss her and she'd pull away in fear.
"You don't understand," Tasha had said as she'd try to explain. "I'm sorry you feel this way. I just don't like guys. I want to be your friend, but not a love relationship. I can't have a boyfriend. I'm just not built that way. Why can't you understand?" She was trying to tell the truth but was afraid if she said too much, he'd do something terrible, maybe even kill her.
Now, with the gun cocked and ready to fire, Tasha started crying, sobbing hysterically. "No," she said. "Don't do this! Please Amos, we can talk, we can try. I will listen. I don't want you to die. I don't want to die!"
She couldn't watch and turned away. As the tears rolled down Tasha's face, Terry flashed back to the beginning of his day.
He'd squinted to see the digital readout on his nightstand clock. It was 8:30 am, a perfect time to get up and out of bed.
After playing at The Rendezvous, last night's diner discussion had run late into the night. Between hamburgers and fries, there was so much new stuff to talk about. Signing with a big record company, renting a house for rehearsals, flying to Atlanta, New Orleans, and North Carolina, maybe an album in the works and then a tour, and promoting their single online.
The best thing for Terry was the house. They were going to go see it this afternoon. Terry was excited because there'd be a quiet place for him to write songs. He hoped to write more songs with the Wildcats. Maybe they'd become 'our' songs with 'our' Wildcats.
He'd been alone when he awakened this morning. If Lisa were home, he'd have heard her talking on the phone and playing music in her room. The small house didn't afford much privacy or separation. He lay there thinking about his day and fondling himself through his satin, shorty pajamas. He mentally went over the day's schedule ahead of him.
He had an appointment with his counsellor, Grace Goldman, this morning at eleven. The trip was going to be easy. No Uber, no bus, and no train to ride. Amos was coming by to give him a ride. After he saw Grace for an hour, he and Amos would go out to lunch. Amos even promised him a ride home. In the afternoon, the Wildcats were going to see their new practice house. And then it was home for dinner, a shower, and then they'd head down to The Rendezvous. The icing on the cake would be playing tonight. Playing had to be the best thing that ever happened to him and Terry was loving his life. This was so much more fun than going to classes at his old high school.
The only thing he missed about high school were his friends. All his guy friends thought he was on the West Coast and they'd stopped texting. It was impossible for Terry to pick up the phone and call anymore. His new voice was almost a half octave higher. Maybe that surgery had been a bad idea for Terry, but it was great for being Tasha. His voice was a lot like Lisa's whether he was talking or singing. It was definitely a woman's voice, not a teen-age boy's voice.
There'd be too many questions to answer if he called his friends up. He didn't do well at lying. So, really, the only friend he had left was Jenn. Their relationship had gotten so much better that it made up for having a lot of friends. And Terry never imagined that they'd be fooling around the way they did.
Jenn said it was no big deal to be exploring with each other. She reminded him they were both eighteen and could make those sorts of decisions on their own. It was a win-win situation for Terry. He was learning an awful lot about adult things.
And speaking about learning, he was looking forward to seeing his counsellor. It would be an opportunity to talk to Grace about how he was feeling. The past month had gone by so fast. He'd made a lot of decisions along the way. He wondered every day about his elective surgery and seeing the doctor and taking the pills. Everything had changed so much in the last month. Besides the fact that he'd become Tasha on the outside, things inside his head felt like they were changing, too.
He wanted to talk about this whole experience to someone. The future scared him a lot. He hoped that Grace would be able to help him find his way through all of this. She seemed so nice.
At the bottom of the list was lunch with Amos. Terry wanted a friend, just a friend. But, it seemed like Amos was interested in Tasha and wanted to be more than friends. Everyone warned him to stay away from those kinds of relationships. Terry knew that Amos was going to be more than disappointed when he found out the story behind Tasha. He might get angry. Terry had decided not to tell Amos about his evolution from Terry to Tasha. He figured if they had no more contact, then he'd just forget about Tasha and move on. So, it would help to make this a one and done lunch date. No more time spent together alone. Terry didn't want to use the word date because he didn't want to date Amos or any guy.
He was afraid Amos's expectations would result in a big blowup. So, he knew he had to break this off and the sooner, the better. Terry needed to get some distance between the two of them. He didn't want to share the truth with any guy until he knew him better. So, this needed to be the end of it. Last lunch, last time, goodbye Amos.
But, it hadn't gone that way. They never had lunch and they'd never talked. After Amos drove them past the 30th Street exit without slowing down, and then sped up past the Vine Street exit, Terry realized they weren't going to stop in Philly. As Amos drove over the Ben Franklin Bridge into Jersey, Terry tried to protest. That's when Amos pulled out the pistol and pointed it at him.
They'd pulled over and Amos had him slip the plastic restraints over his shoes and leggings. Then, he pulled them so tight across his calves, Tasha cried out in pain. When she was scared, her vocal range grew high and shrill like a little girl. She hated her voice when she shrieked. And shriek she did as Amos held the gun in her face and slipped the second pair of restraints over her wrists. Her protest only made Amos tighten her forearms restraints. Tasha tried to spread her arms as he slipped the plastic loops over her wrists. Her resistance only made Amos more determined.
The most humiliating thing was when Amos had taped her into the seat. He'd pointed the gun and said it would be just as easy to shoot her right now if she didn't cooperate. Just to show her who was boss, he'd looked her in the eyes and grabbed her breasts, daring her to say anything. Cupping them both with his hands, he pushed Tasha back into the seat. As Amos felt up her breasts, grabbing them and giving them each a hard squeeze, he wrapped the tape around her under her breasts and around the seat several times. Finally, with the leg restraints, the arm restraints, and the duct tape, Tasha couldn't move.
When he was done, he squeezed her boobs more until he got bored. Then, he tried to kiss her. Tasha pulled away and turned her face. She was determined not to give him the satisfaction of reacting. He slobbered all over her, but she bared her teeth and tried to bite him. That got her a hard slap on the side of her head that left her dazed. Amos continued to grab her breasts, but he never suspected he was feeling up padded silicone falsies.
Then, once she was securely taped in place, they started driving around for what seemed like endless hours. When they stopped for gas, the dash clock said they'd been driving for five hours. They'd had to stop for gas, but the tinted windows had prevented the man from seeing inside the car when he pumped their gas. Amos had laughed. "You're not going anywhere now. And you'll get nothing to eat or drink. Not until we get where we're going. Then, I'll feed you all the powders and pills I want, until you're begging me to fuck you. Until then, you're just going to have to tough it out."
Terry seemed to fade in and out. He was so frightened that he had trouble focusing and concentrating. He didn't even hear Amos talking to him now. He'd withdrawn inside his own mind.
Amos turned and screamed in her face. "What are you doing, Tasha? Are you ignoring me? I'm going to pull the trigger and you're sitting there glazing over. Is this boring you?"
Terry was frozen in his seat. Words escaped him. What could he say?
Now, everything he knew had gone to shit. Nothing in his eighteen years prepared him for this. He'd never been so frightened in his whole life. He was scared because he was going to die.
"Arghhh!" Amos turned the gun away from his forehead, pointing her way. He screamed loudly and pulled the trigger. The firing pin fell forward with a loud snap connecting with the casing igniting the powder. In a millisecond, the pistol fired. The bullet flew out the barrel straight out and by Tasha's face. It shattered the passenger side window, sending the safety glass outward in a million pieces. She was taped so securely back against the seat she felt the heat as the bullet passed by when the gun went off. The noise and the superheated gases from the gun overwhelmed her and she screamed loudly.
Tasha convulsed and vomited. If Tasha had anything in her stomach, it would have all come up. Instead she felt the hot stomach acids burning her throat and filling her mouth. It poured out her lips and on to her chin even as she tried to swallow it back down.
Amos was as shocked as she was that the gun went off. He never thought the bullet was ready to fire. As the gun fell on the console between them, the noise had deafened them both temporarily. But, it only seemed to enrage him more. "Tasha, I'm this close to death and you're only interested in yourself. You're an ignorant pig cunt like all the rest of them."
He pulled back on the highway and continued driving. The April air blew into the car's shattered window, blowing cold air on Terry's face, clearing the hot gases and distracting him from the burning sensation in his mouth and down his throat. He couldn't find any words to say to comfort Amos. Terry was at a loss. He was so upset and frustrated, he wanted to scream and tell Amos to go fuck himself.
When they finally stopped, it was night time. Terry woke up. He had fallen asleep somewhere along the way because now it was dark out. He had no idea where they were. Terry watched Amos get out and walk to the front of the car. They were in a driveway. In the glare of the headlights, he pulled the garage door up.
Amos came back and glared at Tasha. His face seemed to become more twisted and crazy as the day went on. "Well, look who finally woke up. Did you have a nice nap, Tasha?" After he drove the car into the garage, he pulled the door down and then walked over to her side.
He opened the passenger door and pulled out a knife. Amos cut the duct tape holding her to the seat. Grabbing her roughly by the upper arm, he dragged her out of the car bumping her head against the doorframe. When she cried out in pain, he slapped her. "Shut up, cunt, shut up. You're totally useless. You can't even beg for your life. Instead you just sit there waiting to die. You deserve to die. And you will!"
With her hands and feet restrained by the cuffs, she couldn't walk and instead was half dragged up three steps to the house. Once inside, she was dumped on the floor while Amos pulled all the window shades down.
When he finally turned on the ceiling light, Terry looked around at a simple kitchen that smelled damp with salt air. They must be near the ocean, he thought. They must be down the Jersey shore.
Amos came over and dragged her to the radiator over by the side wall of the old kitchen. There he wrapped her hands with duct tape to the radiator. Tasha pulled against the winding tape as hard as she could to create space between her arm and the radiator. Amos never realized what she was doing. He assumed she was pulled down tight to the pipe.
"I'm going to get a shower."
When he left the room, Tasha slipped her arms out from the tape and silently crawled over to the cabinet drawers. Standing up, she searched each kitchen drawer for a weapon. "I'm not going to die quietly. Fuck him." Looking through them she found a serrated, pointed steak knife to saw through the restraints and free her feet. Then she could escape.
It was a good plan, but Amos's shower ended quickly and she hurriedly tucked the knife into her bra. The sharp point might have cut her flesh if they were real breasts. She returned to the radiator and slipped her arms back in the tape restraint.
Amos entered the room, still wet from his shower. He'd wrapped a bath towel around his waist and put his dress shirt back on. It was wet from his shower. In one hand, he held his knife and the other hand his gun. Tasha had scurried back in place. She sobbed and looked up from the ground as Amos dripped water on the kitchen floor.
Then, the humiliation began. Amos pulled his towel off. Other than his damp shirt, he was naked. Tasha couldn't help but notice that he was already erect. It bobbed as he crossed the room. He set the gun on the counter. He reached down. In one hand, he held his knife as he pulled cruelly on her elbow. The blade cut through the duct tape and then her arm restraints. He dragged her across the wet floor to the center of the room and the kitchen table. He let her go and she collapsed to the floor curling up into a protective ball.
Amos growled as he put his knife down and picked his gun up. He stood so he cupped his balls and his member in one hand and the gun in the other. "Now, you have a choice. You can suck me or die."
Tasha moaned and her mind went blank.
A strong voice carried across the room. "No, you have a choice, Amos. You can put your hands up or die."
Jessica Jade had driven directly to the address the realtor gave her for Amos's beach rental. She stood in the dark doorway, a pistol in her hand. She was almost invisible but Amos could see her vague form turned sideways to him in ready firing position. Both her arms were outstretched and holding her weapon, her elbows slightly bent. Her legs were spread to steady herself, ready to shoot.
Bruno had talked to Amos's office manager in Cherry Hill that day. Amos had told his manager he was taking an early weekend to take his new girlfriend down the shore. They'd be heading to his beach house in Sea Isle City.
While Amos drove around the countryside ranting and raving, Jade had parked her SUV around the corner from the address in Sea Isle. The house appeared empty. The whole beach town was sparsely populated this early before the summer season. The street was empty. No people appeared. She watched for his approach.
She had walked around the empty block with her duffle on her shoulder. Tall and lean, dressed all in black, she had a military air about her. Short leather jacket, tight black jeans, and work boots, her hair pulled back in a long single braid, she almost disappeared in the twilight of the setting sun.
Jessica Jade slipped across the shared alley to the back door. Picking the simple lock and gaining entry, she'd walked through the kitchen and searched the house. It was a small three-bedroom rancher. After walking through the whole house, she chose a back bedroom. It had a large closet where she stashed her gear.
She sat inside the empty bedroom waiting for the opportunity to free Terry and take Amos out. Her timing couldn't have been more perfect. She heard the car, the garage door, and then the yelling. She listened to the shower and got into position to watch. She needed to be close to him for her plan to work.
He was distracted, screaming at Tasha, as she slipped into the kitchen doorway. She estimated she was ten feet away. She got in position, turned her gun safety off, and spoke. With the gun safety off, the audio and video recording began.
Amos looked across the room at the tall figure in the dark shadows. He reached down, grabbed Tasha, pulling her up. As he did, he pressed the gun barrel against the side of Tasha's head. "Fuck you, bitch. I don't know who you are, but you have ten seconds to drop your gun or this cunt dies and then, you're next."
Tasha figured it was all or nothing. Reaching up into the left side of her bra with her right hand, she pulled out the steak knife and blindly stabbed backwards as hard as she could. She couldn't see where it struck, but it must have made an impact, because Amos screamed and released her arm.
She fell away from his grasp and tumbled to the ground. As she hit the ground, she heard a loud snap and saw two strings race out of the woman's pistol and lodge themselves through his shirt and into Amos's stomach. The instant they made contact, he started convulsing and fell over face down to the ground, still shaking as he passed out.
The next thing Terry felt was the snapping sound of his bonds being cut free as he was helped to his feet. He looked up at the tall woman who had fired the taser at Amos. She smiled at him.
"Don't worry. Amos can't hurt anyone. He'll be incapacitated for at least thirty minutes. That'll be plenty of time for us to clean up this mess and get out of here."
"My name is Jessica and your friends wanted me to help bring you home. You're safe now.
Terry stared at the inert form lying on the kitchen floor. He watched Jessica kick Amos's pistol across the room. She fired a second set of Tasers into his chest from the same weapon. She turned and smiled. "See. He's out cold."
Jessica wasn't done. She needed to see what damage the kitchen knife had done. Amos was still quivering from the voltage running through his body. The electrical shock was designed to incapacitate him without permanent damage. Jessica didn't want to leave any trace of her presence behind when she called 9-1-1.
She carefully put on the heavy rubber gloves from her duffle and grabbed Amos's arm, turning him over on his back. He flopped over, his eyes still rolled back in his head. She reached down and carefully pulled out the four barbed electrodes. She looked towards the knife still stuck in his scrotum.
Terry's swing had been an arc across his body at waist height. The downward swing had plunged the knife into Amos's naked body striking him in the groin area. Amos was still impaled on the knife, his falling forward and convulsing increasing the impact and the damage.
Jessica had trouble evaluating the results of the knife cut. The area was completely covered in blood. But, she knew he'd live long enough for the rescue team to arrive.
Jessica turned to Terry and looked him over. He'd gotten to his feet and moved away from Amos, leaning against a counter. Returning to her duffle, she removed an instant cold pack and a towel. She wrapped the cold pack in the towel. Banging it against the edge of the cabinet and by breaking it in half, activated it. She held it out to Terry.
He took the cold compress and held it against his bruised face. "Thanks," he said, trying to smile. As the compress touched his skin, Terry winced.
"Hey. You think you can walk around the block?"
Terry nodded picking up his shoes in his other hand. He glanced over at the inert form on the floor. Amos was almost naked, his shirt barely covering his chest. The knife was still stuck deep in the center of the bloody mess of his crotch. It hurt just to look at it. Terry shivered involuntarily.
Jessica slung her duffle onto her back and the strap over her shoulder. In the darkness of the empty street, she guided Terry out of the house. They walked back up the alley and around the corner to her SUV. Terry climbed up into the passenger side, the street lamp across the street the only light. He sighed as he leaned back, closing his eyes.
Jessica made him comfortable, wrapping him in a blanket. Tucking it around him, she helped him fasten his seat belt. Handing him a bottle of water, she said, "Hang in there for five minutes. I want to go back in and clean up any presence we made in the house and his car. I'll wipe down everything and be right back."
Terry watched her take the duffle off and set it on the back seat. Jessica reached into the duffle and grabbed a spray bottle and a towel. "Bleach," she said. She went back up the alley and into the house.
Terry closed his eyes and tried to figure out what had just happened. One minute he was waiting to die, the next minute he'd stabbed Amos with the knife he'd hidden in his enhancements. Now he was sitting on the leather seat of a fancy SUV. As the tears ran down his face, he smiled. He was safe, thanks to this stranger named Jessica.
She returned five minutes later. She checked to see he was okay and started the Land Rover. "My name is Jessica Jade and I'm taking you home. We have a two-hour drive. I've going to make a phone call and I want you to sit quietly, okay?"
Terry nodded. He then listened while Jessica pulled out a flip-phone and called 9-1-1. "Hello, Police. I'm walking my dog at 43rd and Landis. I hear a lot of screaming and shouting coming from 4316. I think someone's been hurt. Please hurry."
She turned and smiled at Terry as she wiped the phone off, then threw it out the window as they crossed the bridge out of town. "There. That takes care of that. Are you hungry?"
Terry shook his head. His stomach was doing flip-flops. "I need to pee, please."
Checking her rear-view mirror, Jessica pulled over on the causeway shoulder. The engine motor and the tires on the gravel were the only noise for miles. She turned off the headlights. They were all alone. "How about right here by the car? Will that do?"
Terry nodded. He climbed out. He pulled down his leggings and underpants. He reached inside his latex vagina and pulled out his penis, squatted, and peed. He realized he looked like a girl peeing but he didn't care. His bladder was full and it was a simple act. He didn't care what anyone thought. He was emotionally exhausted.
Getting back in the car, he wrapped himself tightly in the blanket. "Thank you. Thank you for everything. I thought I was going to die back there."
Jessica turned, nodded, and smiled. She put the car in gear and headed back towards the parkway. She turned the lights back on and accelerated. "A lot of people back in Allentown are waiting for you to appear. They care an awful lot about you."
Terry had a chance to study his rescuer in the dash lights. She was tall. She had long dark hair pulled back in a single braid. It didn't appear that she was wearing any makeup. She had a silver stud in each ear. She sat straight, eyes forward, occasionally checking her mirrors as they cruised along the highway. Her lean body appeared strong, her manner confident and in control.
Terry started talking. "I don't know what happened. I was getting a ride into Philly. I was going to see my counsellor, Grace Goldman. The next thing I know, Amos pointed a gun at me. I was restrained and then driven all over South Jersey. Amos screamed and shouted all afternoon like he'd lost his mind."
Terry's teeth started to chatter and he pulled the blanket tighter. He couldn't hold the cold pack any longer, setting the towel and ice pack on the floor. "I'm sure he would have killed me when he found out that Tasha wasn't real. Then I realized he was going to kill me regardless of anything I did. I was sure I was going to die."
Jade glanced at him. She smiled. "It's over, Terry. It's over. He can't hurt you. He's far, far away. He'll be held by the police for questioning. They'll check him into the hospital. He might need more than stitches. I don't know. Then, his doctor gets him back on his medications and calms him down. But, he's not getting out. My Taser records audio and video. We've got him threatening to kill you. Don't worry about him anymore."
"How can you be sure?"
"Bruno and his parents will make sure he's institutionalized somewhere where he can't hurt anyone. And your steak knife made it hard for him to think about raping anyone."
Terry shook his head. "I'm going to have nightmares about this for years."
Jessica Jade looked him in the eyes. "No, you won't. You handled this the best way you could. You had the steak knife. You struck him at the perfect time. And your target was the best one. It was not a life-threatening wound, but one that will scar him for life."
Terry woke up when they turned into the neighborhood. It was late at night but the Nelson house was all lit up. As Jessica parked her truck and helped Terry walk up the driveway, the door opened and he saw his mom and all his friends pour out the front door. He was hugged and embraced and kissed. He felt good. He momentarily forgot the day and melted into everyone's loving arms.
When he turned around to thank Jessica, he realized she was missing from the crowd. And her Land Rover Discovery wasn't at the curb. There was no sign of the dark SUV. Conor whispered in his ear. "She's gone for now, but she'll be back to check on you tomorrow when it's quiet. She promised. You're under her protection now. Don't worry."
It was late and after a short time, Amy insisted that everyone go home and get some rest. She told the crowd that Terry needed to sleep and she and Conor would watch over him.
Bruno had been on the phone with his parents and Amos's doctor. Amos had been taken to the Emergency Center in Atlantic City. He'd remain under guard until he was released to his doctor's care. The institution had been contacted. Once he'd recovered from the surgery to try to repair the steak knife's damage, he'd be locked up.
When Terry awoke he was still in yesterday's clothes. He was under the covers in the darkened room. The clock said 6:00. He'd slept through the night. He got up to pee. As he passed the mirror, he looked at his face. His jaw line was bruised and he had a black eye. His head and face ached, but he didn't feel like he had a concussion or any permanent damage.
He turned on the shower as he took all his clothes off. As he inspected his body in the mirror, he noticed that his left breast form had a deep knife cut into it. He smiled. They were good for something after all.
He stepped into the shower remembering to start out with cream rinse. It was a new day and he was looking forward to playing at The Rendezvous tonight. It was their last weekend and he was looking forward to every minute.
As he scrubbed, a new tune ran through his mind. He hummed as he searched for a lyric. The warm water soothed his body and he relaxed. The tears washed down his face.
The next episode will be posted next Friday.
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