Simon stared at Gabby in horror. They’d left earlier that morning to go hiking. They were several miles in when Gabby pulled her hunting knife that her dad gave her a few years back out of her backpack. They’d been going out for a year and a half and went hiking all the time, so he’d seen it before. She liked to carry it at almost all times because she had a tendency of being extremely paranoid. He’d gotten used to it.
That day was different, though. That day, Gabby was holding his hand as usual, and she was laughing at whatever stupid joke Simon had told her before. That, her laugh, her smile, made him feel so good. Until her hands slammed into his chest, knocking the breath out of him and pinning him to the tree. The grin slid from his face, taken over by confusion. Her eyes were full of anger. None of this made sense to Simon. They were happy. She had just been laughing. None of this made sense. They had been happy for months. Where did this sudden anger come from? Where was the violence coming from? He didn’t know.
“Gabs?” He didn’t understand. Gabby stared at him with wide eyes. Her eyes looked crazed. He wondered how much of her was thinking locically. She was a logical person, but this was not logical. It didn’t make sense.
“Stay. You stay right there.” Her voice shook, which would’ve given Simon hope because it would suggest she wasn’t sure, but this unsteadiness made him feel sick with uneasiness. This shaking was excited sounding, eager. Maybe he could get away. He was bigger than her, he could easily overpower her and run if he couldn’t talk her out of acting crazy.
She let go of his shirt. This was his chance. She pointed at his chest. Her finger shook. Simon prepared his legs to run the way they had come. What about her, though? How would she get out? The thinking stole his chance away. He was worried about the safety of the girl he loved who was now looking and acting crazy and it made him lose his chance to run.
His eyes had been on Gabby’s face and was lost in his thoughts, so he had gotten distracted. When his eyes refocused on her, she had the knife in her hands. The sight made his breath catch, but he took comfort in knowing he could still get away. Until she pressed the blade to his throat. Simon froze, shocked. The cold metal bit into his flesh.
“Don’t move. I’ll push if you do.” When she was satisfied that he wasn’t going to move, she dropped the knife to her side and crouched to yank something out of her backpack again. She pulled out a tope this time. This was his time to run, while she was still crouched down.
Simon pushed himself off the tree, bouncing forward before something could happen. He’d only taken a few steps when he came crashing down to the forest floor. He wasn’t able to get his hands out, so he landed primarily on his face. The feeling of rope leashed around his ankles caught his attention. Gabby stood above him, tattering about his choice. She hauled him to the nearest tree and started to tie the rope around him to the tree.
“Gabby, what are you doing? Please,” his words were cut off by a bubbling jolt of laughter that poured out from between her lips. Her laughter was loud and maniacle. She sounded mad and completely unstable. Simon pulled against the tope that wound around his body. He was starting to panic now. That laugh was bone chilling and made him terrified. She slapped him, hard. His head reeled back, cracking against the tree trunk. His body stilled.
“Now,” she said, “we need a little reminder of how to behave ourselves, it looks like.” What kind of reminder could she give him? She grabbed his hands and held his fingers. He tried pulling his hand away, but she only held on tighter. She pulled his arm further towards her, staring at his fingers. Simon’s gut clenched in terror as Gabby held his fingers in one hand and reached for the knife with the other.
“Yes, this works. This is good,” she was muttering to herself under her breath. Gabby grabbed his ring finger, dropping the rest. Was she going to chop it off? The thought made Simon sick with fear, but he thought he could handle it if he was free after. He knew that was probably wishful thinking, though.
Gabby brought the knife up to her face. This wsn’t what Simon was expecting. She stared into the metal as if it held the secret of her existence. Then she brought the blade down on his finger. He couldn’t help it— he screamed. His finger lay on the ground, discarded for the moment. His hand was gushing blood, spilling into the dirt at his feet. Simon panted, fighting for breath. He wanted to curl up around his bleeding hand and protect it.gabby smiled at him.
“Now you can never leave me.” She scooped his finger up from the ground and brought it up to her eyes to inspect it. When she was satisfied, she nodded and slipped it into her pocket. Simon was still too overwhelmed by pain and shock, he barely acknowledged what she just did with his finger. He was able to think it was weird and creepy, but not much past that.
“I’ve got your finger. No one else can have you. You’re mine. You’ll be mine forever.” She started laughing again.
“I love you, Simon. I love you so much. You make me feel like there’s fire in my blood. I wish I made you feel like that. I wish you knew how I feel.” Simon was getting a very bad feeling. There was no way this could end well. Gabby reached into her bag again. When she took her hand back out, she was holding a lighter. He was right to feel uneasy at the mention of fire. This was not going to end well, no matter what.
“Gabby, please, think. You don’t want to do this. This isn’t what you want.” Simon forced each word out. His eyes burned from the tears he let out.
“Yes I do. You need to know how much I love you. I need you. You can never leave. Be mine forever.” She had lost her mind. Simon didn’t know if she’d always been this crazy and just did an amazing job at hiding it, or if today was just the day she snapped. Simon supposed it didn’t matter much because the outcome was still the same.
She knelt in front of him, staring into his eyes. Her eyes were wild and wide open. They were bright and gleeful, like a child’s. She looked excited to set fire to Simon’s world in the deadliest way possible.
“I love you, Simon,” she whispered. She touched the lighter to the base of the tree behind him.
Simon screamed when he heard the pops start. And then he felt the heat. It burned. He saw Gabby staring at him through the tears that began to flow down his face. The flames grew, and the hear intensified. The flames hadn’t quite touched him yet, but the heat was unbearable. Gabby kept staring. Simon was pleading. The wood popped again, and this time his skin wasn’t saved. The fire seared across his left arm, drawing another scream from him. He felt the flames growing. The next pop sent another scream out, this time scorching his face. He could feel his skin blistering and cracking. Blood started to flow from his body where the worst burns were so far. Gabby was gone by then, she must’ve left to save herself. The flames engulfed Simon, and he drown in his own screams.