My Only Witness
A young woman finds herself in a fight for her life as she flees from the infamous, Ted Bundy, in a remote Utah forest. Her only witness, a barn owl, watching from a nearby tree.
The cracking of sticks and the crunching of leaves were the only sounds as I barreled through the dark woods. It was a frigid, November night in Utah, and I had nothing but my short, silk night dress and thin windbreaker on. I had kicked off my slippers when I first jumped out of the car, and my bare feet were raw from the rough earth. Nothing hurt though, it was as if my sense of pain had vanished when I began to run. I didn’t even feel the sting of the thorns and branches cutting my skin as I plowed through the brush.The only thing going through my mind was that I had to get away. Away from him. My mind was thick with confusion, desperation, and above all, fear. My foot caught hold of a tree root, and I hit the ground with a heavy thud. I crawled behind a large oak, and lay on the cold, mossy ground, trying to catch my breath. Was this a dream? How did I get here? Who was he and what did he want with me? The events of that night spun through my head like a film reel.
I was settling into bed in my second floor apartment when I heard it, the faint grumbly voice coming from the parking lot below my window. I tried to ignore it, but after minutes of listening to curse words and the banging of car parts, I decided to investigate. I peered through my window down at a man trying to lift something heavy into the trunk of his car. He was clearly unable to lift it himself, although he tried over and over. I debated with myself whether or not to go down and offer my help, but the pathetic sight of a human struggling eventually won out. I grabbed the first jacket on the rack by the door, slid into my slippers, and hurried down the steps of the building to the front door. I shivered as the cold night air hit me, and I could see my breath. The man in distress must’ve seen me come outside, “Excuse me, ma’am! I uh, I hate to ask, but, could you help me out for a second?” he asked in a pleasant voice. I smiled and walked over to him, my arms crossed tightly around my body. As I got closer, I noticed he had one arm in a sling. “You really tried to lift this thing by yourself?” I asked, truly baffled as to why he was attempting to lift it with a broken arm. The man shrugged, “Yea, figures I would injure myself moving furniture and then try to do the same thing again with one less arm,” He chuckled and held out his good arm, “I’m Ted, by the way.” I curtly shook his hand, not wanting to share my name with a stranger. He then shifted toward the piece of wrapped up furniture that was awkwardly hanging out of the back of the car, “I really appreciate your help. I would’ve been here all night. Maybe if you could come around this side…,” he motioned for me to follow. I skeptically walked over to the other side of the load where he was standing. “So, right here?” I asked, bending down to grab the bottom. “Yes, perfect! Alright, I’ll go around to this side and on the count of three we’ll lift,” he said as he shuffled back toward the other side. I couldn’t see him anymore from my squatted position, and waited for the cue. I could hear him call out from behind the other side, “Ok, ready? One…Two…” I tensed my muscles in anticipation for the “three”. To my surprise, however, I was startled by the splitting pressure of a heavy object against the back of my head. I fell against the concrete, my vision going in and out. I felt the warm trickle of blood on my forehead, and could just make out someone standing over me before the darkness swallowed me.
The rest of what happened after that was a hazy blur. I woke up in the backseat of a car. I could feel the bumps of the tires driving over gravel beneath me. My head was pounding and I could smell the blood from my open wound. I vaguely remember reaching for the door handle and hurling my body forward. I hit the ground, kicked off my slippers, and began to run. My instincts took over and before I knew it, I was there, hiding behind the oak tree. As I hid, I held a shaky hand over my mouth to stifle the sound of my gasping for air. For the first time that night, I noticed the salty sting of tears escaping my eyes. Where was I? Where was he taking me? I had so many questions, but forced myself to push them aside. I had to survive. Whatever was happening, I had to survive.
I wasn’t sure if he was still following me, or if he had even chased me into the forest. I just ran and ran until I couldn’t run anymore. As quietly as I could, I rolled onto my belly, and pulled myself around the tree trunk to look. It was dark, but the full moon was bright enough to illuminate the shapes of the trees and bushes. A thin mist had settled on the forest floor, and weak gusts of wind swayed the branches of the trees creating a quiet rustling. It was almost like a melodic whisper. All was still and calm. I stayed frozen in place, not wanting to make a sound. I was mustering up the courage to get up, when a loud SCREECH sent shivers down my spine. I flipped around in the direction of the sound, terrified at the thought of what I might see. To my relief, however, there on the low-hanging branch above me, was the white face of a curious owl.
I lay there, under the tree, staring up at the beautiful creature in disbelief. I had seen owls like this before, on my grandfather’s farm as a kid. Barn owls. My grandfather used to point them out to us at night when they would perch in the rafters of the barn. It was a pleasant sight, a familiar sight. The bird’s sweet, almond eyes stared down at me with pity, as if it knew I was in trouble. “Grandfather? Are you with me?” I thought to myself. I was in a sort of deep trance. The eye of the storm, perhaps, in the midst of my nightmare. But all eyes pass, and I was snapped back to reality when I felt the chilling grip of my assailant pull me from my hiding spot.
I was dragged backwards a few yards into a clearing. He’d found me. I couldn’t believe he’d found me. He was yelling things at me as he pinned me down, tightening his hands around my throat. I struggled to free myself, but it was impossible. I couldn’t move and I couldn’t scream. His body weight had me completely incapacitated. In the haze of it all, I could hear the screech of the barn owl, still calling from the safety of his branch. Over the man’s shoulder, I could see him, watching me. My one witness. The only one who would know what happened to me. As the world began to melt around me, and the light of the moon receded into space, I held on to the face of the owl, and in the twilight of my last gasps for breath, I was there, on grandfather's farm, watching the owls in the barn.
About the Creator
Hey guys! My name is Jenna and I'm a twenty-something post-grad living in the DC area! I mostly write for fun and it's always been a hobby of mine. I hope you enjoy my stores and that they bring some excitement to your day!
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