12 Jan

The Stranger

Areeba Yousaf




Pushing a few strands of my dark hair out of my eyes, I glanced at the wall clock in the dim lights “1:35 AM”

Sighing, I stood up. Half an hour! I thought.


The thick air smelled of cigarette smoke and alcohol. I turned to face the bartender next to me and said,” These lights are giving me a headache. I’m going to the restroom for a while.” I ran up the stairs to the restroom. The little room was full of mirrors lined along the side walls with a chair in front of every mirror. These were the mirrors for the girls working here. I dragged a chair in front of my mirror and sat down. I leaned back on the chair and closed my eyes rubbing my temples with my fingers. I felt someone patting my shoulder; I pried my eyes open and saw Lydia. She was staring down at me,” Aren’t you supposed to be working Juliet?” She asked me sitting down in the chair next to mine. I rubbed my eyes with the back of my hand,” I needed a break so I came up here. I’ll be going down in a few minutes.” I didn’t ask Lydia why she wasn’t working because I knew her shift was over. I looked up at her,” Lydia? Are you going home now?” I asked her. She nodded and sat down again,” Oh Juliet I almost forgot to tell you, there was a man downstairs he came up to me and offered me fifty dollars if I answered some questions.” I gave her a questioning look and she shifted in her chair,” He said he was writing an article about young women who work in clubs.” I shook my head,” But Lydia, fifty dollars still aren’t enough for giving away your personal information, you know.” Lydia ignored my question and asked me for the keys. We both lived together in an apartment. Our landlord had been visiting frequently asking for his pay. We both worked here for our independent living because we ran away from the orphanage when we were 18.


When Lydia left I glanced at the small alarm clock one of the girls had, I had to go back to work now; I thought. Suddenly the door opened and an old man maybe in his fifties walked in. He stared at me for a few seconds,” Excuse me? Would you mind if I asked you some personal questions? I will give you fifty dollars right away.” I shook my head and stood up,” No, fifty is not enough for me. I live with my co-worker and we have to split the rents every month.” He smiled,” Seventy five?” I shrugged,” I don’t think it’s enough still.” His smile widened and he sat down on a chair,” You’re the first one to turn down my offer of fifty dollars. I will pay you a hundred dollars.” I thought about it and nodded, “Okay.” I said. The old man leaned in his chair and held out a hand,” I’m Charles and you are?” I shook his hand gently,” Juliet Miller” He rested his head on the back of the chair,” Okay so Juliet, Why do you work here at such a tender age?” I smiled and took in a deep breath,” My parents died in a car-crash when I was 9, the police took me to the orphanage because I had no relatives that I knew of. I lived there for more than four years, then they found me a few foster homes but none of them kept me.” I stopped and looked at his questioning glance,” Why?” He asked me. I let out a nervous giggle,” Well I was never a good girl you see. I stayed late at nights so they kicked me out.” Suddenly Charles stood up and shook my hand,” Thank you Juliet.” I shot him a questioning glance,” You wanted to ask just a single question? For Hundred dollars?” Charles shrugged,” I got all the information I wanted.” I nodded and stood up to leave, as I reached the door he coughed and said,” One more question. Are you a vegetarian?” The question took me by surprise. I sighed and shook my head letting him know that I was not a vegetarian.


I left the club at 2:00 AM and walked down the pavement towards my apartment thinking about the last question Charles asked me. “What does being a vegetarian has to do with being a bartender?” I thought and as I reached the turn in the road, I heard a car coming behind me and then I heard someone call out,” Hey? It’s pretty late. Not safe at all. I can drop you wherever you want me to.” I recognized the voice as Charles’s. I looked over my shoulder and kept walking. Charles truck was slowly driving right beside me on the road. He popped his head out once again,” Come on now don’t be afraid.” I rolled my eyes and looked over at him,” No I’m fine. Maybe you should stop bothering me, Thank you.” I kept walking as I heard a door close shut. I squeezed my eyes tight and mumbled to myself,” Please don’t come out after me.” But, I felt his cold fingers grab my elbow. I pushed him back as hard as I could and ran as fast as my legs would allow me to, but my luck ran out and I stumbled on a rock and fell face flat on the hard concrete. Charles came and stood beside me, his shadow falling on my face. I saw him reach into his pocket and he brought out something and I gasped in pain as he took out an injection and buried it deep in my neck. I felt my body numbing instantly out from whatever he injected me with. I tried to shout and scream but only some pathetic noises came out. I tried to move my hands and feet but in no vain. Charles carried me on his shoulders and tossed me in his pickup truck. I rested my head against the cold window and closed my heavy eyelids, drifting away from everything.




I opened my eyes, my eyelids felt heavy and my throat was dry making it feel like a hundred needles were being pricked in the inside of my throat and chest. I sat up in the bed and looked around.

It was a small but clean room; it had another door in the far corner which I figured must have been the bathroom door. There was a small dressing table in the corner right next to a curtain-ed window.


I ran to the window pushing back the curtains and looked out, but my heart dropped in my chest when I saw thick heavy metal bars covering it. I tried to shake it with tears dripping down my chin but they wouldn’t budge, and then I heard a door creak open behind me…

I stepped back when I saw the old man come in. He stayed exactly where he was and cleared his throat,” I don’t mean to hurt you, Calm down!” I felt the heat rushing up to my face,

“Who are you? And where am I?”

He smiled,” I told you I’m Charles and you’re in the middle of nowhere.” I felt the tears burning the back of my eyes and my voice grew heavy,” Then why have you brought me here?”

“I’ll tell you everything. Sit down.”

I sat at the end of the huge bed. Charles took a deep breath,” Look, you’re not the only one I brought here; I bring a new girl every year. Oh! You must be wondering what for? Well, I had a son, he died on his birthday. So, I just bring you girls in to celebrate his birthday with me. You see I’m so lonely.” I stared at him with my mouth wide open. “He has to be mad.” I thought, and with that I spat at him and ran to the door but he slapped me with all his might and everything went black.

When I woke up I tried to move but I felt my hands restrained to the bed posts. My arms were sore and the rope was cutting into my wrists. I shifted to get in a comfortable position and a pain shot through my spine. The door opened and Charles came in with a pair of scissors. He gently sat on the corner of the bed and fumbled with the ropes,” Look Juliet I don’t want to hurt you and maybe you should stop making me angry at you. You have to get comfy here. Don’t worry it’s just a matter of 7 days. A week.” I looked up at him,” What? Will you let me go after that?” Charles smirked,” Oh yes, sweetheart just a feast at the end of the week on his birthday and you’ll be free to go.” I closed my eyes shut and took in a deep breath. I felt tears trickling down my cheeks. Tears of joy. Just one week. Surely I can survive that. I thought. Charles got up,” Well now we’ve got to change your look here. My boy Jimmy never liked girls with long hair.” I glanced back and forth to Charles and the scissors and backed away,” No, please. This is the only thing that reminds me of my mother. Please don’t cut them. I beg you; I’ll be a good girl. I won’t spit at you. I promise. Don’t cut my hair Charles please. I’ll keep them tied up all the time.” Charles grabbed a handful of my hair and snip snap. I saw my hair falling on the floor and disbelief took over all of my emotions and I sat there, tears dripping down my chin, while he cut all my hair.

Then he left, locking the door behind him. I always hated closed doors and being in a room alone with the door locked from the outside gave me chills and scared me. I had to let him leave the door unlocked. So I thought of a plan…



The next time when Charles came in with my food, I smiled at him (according to my plan I had to be nice to him and act happy)

“Juliet, I hope you like steak.” He chanted. I smiled and he put the plate in front of me. I cut the meat with my fork and put a piece in my mouth and nearly gagged. The meat was super chewy and was unlike any other meat I had ever eaten. The taste was different and un-tasted for me. I thought about asking Charles what kind of meat it was but I assumed it was a deer or some other animal I have never eaten. I asked him,” Charles? How did your son die?” He shook his head,” He was out celebrating his birthday and got in a terrible terrible accident.” I crawled a little closer to him,” Charles? Why do you lock the door behind me? You think I’ll run away? I promise I won’t please just leave the door unlocked. You can lock the main door though but not this one. I feel scared in here alone.” Charles stood up,” No problem, you can’t run away even if you try to.” He laughed and I felt the claws of his smile digging deep in my heart.

He left the room and I cautiously followed him out. There was a steep staircase right ahead and nothing else. The walls were covered with pictures. I went up to one. It was a picture of Charles with a woman and a little boy. It might have been his wife and Jimmy. I wondered where his wife was but I was scared to ask him because I didn’t wanted him to be mad at me for asking so many questions. I made my way down the stairs. It was a vast lounging area with some chairs and a table in a corner and a small but clean kitchen in the other corner. The wall was full of nails supporting different things like a torch. A hat. A keychain. A pocket knife. Nail cutter. Charles was in the kitchen then he came out and put on his hat and then he turned to me,” Ah, Juliet. I’m going out for a while. There is meat in the fridge. I hope you can cook and not disappoint me. I’ll be back in a few hours.” He turned around and left. I ran up behind him and turned the knob of the main door but he had locked it. Tears ran down my cheeks. “I have to run away or I’ll turn into a psychopath like him” I thought, I have to escape, there has to be a spare key around here somewhere.

Immediately I run to the kitchen opening every drawer and cabinet. “Nothing.”

I run to the room Charles keep me in. I yanked open the drawers of the dressing table. The drawers were empty except for some mothballs and some old jackets and a hairbrush. The other drawer had a silver chain with a dragon on it. I felt my heartbeat racing as I walked towards my last hope. CHARLES’S ROOM. I opened the door and stepped in. There was a bed in a corner with a tangled mess of sheets resting on it. A few books were lined across a shelf. There were no beds or dressing tables. I ran to the bed and looked under the mattress, finding nothing under there I bent down to look under the bed. I saw a box there and pulled it out and opened it—-

A gasp escaped my mouth as I let go of the box making it clatter on the bed. The box was full of teeth. Human teeth. The ones down were slightly yellow but the ones on top were white, with the bile rising in my throat I hoped they weren’t real. I had to put the teeth back so Charles won’t know I was going through his stuff. I picked them up one by one and put in the box and ran back to my room. My legs felt hollow. I sat resting my back in the door and moved back and forth,” I CAN’T LET HIM GET INTO MY HEAD. I CAN’T LET HIM GET INTO MY HEAD.” I screamed and closed my eyes for a while.

After sometime I collected myself and went down to start cooking. My heart felt heavy. I absently ran fingers through my hair like I always used to do. I opened the freezer and took out a packet of meat and fried it. Then I set the table and waited for Charles.

I heard a click, and Charles came in. He inhaled deeply,” Ah ! Seems like you did a nice job cooking eh?” I faked a smile,” Yeah, I fried it.” Charles sat down and wolfed down his food. I wasn’t hungry so I just sat and stared at him eating like an animal, after finishing he came and sat beside me,” Juliet, I have something to groom you some more.” I flinched, I remembered the last time he cut off my hair. I felt my own tears choking me. Charles took something out of his pocket and set it on the table. I kept looking down at my feet not daring to look up at what he presented, but curiosity took over me and I fluttered my eyes up and my jaw dropped in surprise?


I felt like bursting out laughing real hard. Charles gestured me to put my hands on the table. I did what he said. He opened the bottle and applied nail polish on my nails carefully. It reminded me of my father. He used to paint my nails too though I was a baby back then but I still remember it. I couldn’t help feeling a little bad for Charles being all by himself everyday. When Charles painted all my nails he got up and ordered me,” Go sleep now Juliet.” I nodded slowly and made my way upstairs.




The sunlight filtered through my bedroom window. I yawned and got up. The door opened and Charles walked in with a bowl in his hand and turned to me,” Eat the cereal like a good girl and cook like yesterday. I’ll be back in a few hours.” I sat down and ate the cereal quickly and walked downstairs. I knew that Charles always locked the door before leaving but I still walked over and turned the knob, I shrugged when I found it locked and turned around ready to start cleaning but I stopped suddenly. I thought I heard a cream. I carefully stepped on the side and the floor groaned and creaked again. I got down on my knees and ripped off the carpet from the floor and surely, there was a little wooden door with a metal handle probably going into the basement. I pulled at it and the door reaked open….

I took in a sharp breath as a horrible smell hit me. I covered my nose,” Maybe something expired in there.” My muscles twitched with excitment as I grabbed the torch and walked down the stairs carefully. I flicked the torch around and I nearly passed out……

The room was pitch dark but with the help of the torch I saw dead bodies around. Piled up on each other. The thick smell of blood hung around the air. My arms and legs felt like jelly, I grabbed the wall so not to collapse. I was too shocked to cry or scream or even blink. I moved towards a body and saw her face carefully. Blood was dried up on her face, around her eyes and lips, then I saw a small card attached to her wrist with a thin thread. I picked it up. It was rusted and covered with dried up blood. I could only make out a few words..

“Chris—a B-i–leiy”

Jim-y’s b-r-hday



I blinked hard,” Christina B-i–leiy? Jimmy’s birthday 2012 ?? I rubbed my forehead thinking what it might mean.. and then the truth sinks in. I ran up to another girl and tea her card…

“Skye norm–”

Jim-y’- b—hday



I gasped and blinked back tears as I ran up to another one but her card was un-readable. She must have been here for a long long time. I backed away to run upstairs but then I noticed a large cutting board in the car end. I walked over to it and bent down to get a closer look.

There was a huge cutting knife and blood all over it, walking down further I found a deepfreezer. I found it quite unusual, I gulped and pulled it open.

“Freezed pieces of meat.”

Freezed human hands and other horrible organs. I let go of the door and I ran upstairs choking on my tears I ran in my bathroom. Bending over the sink I put two fingers in my throat and let out a belch. I wanted to clean my stomach, from the human meat he had been feeding me,” He turned me into a cannibal” was all I could think about. I went in my room and sat on my bed,” Okay, so he was lying about letting me go after his birthday. He will kill me and lock me up and probably feed my meat to some other girl.” I felt sick at the thought. I can’t just become a victim. I have to do something. I slapped my cheek,” THINK OF A PLAN JULIET!!!” I shout at myself. There was no key in the house. He might me keeping one in his pocket. It had been 5 days since I’m here. It meant that I only have 2 more days to escape or I’ll literally be dead meat. I laughed at my own pun and shook my head at the seriousness of the situation and a “not-so-serious” me.

So now I had a plan and I couldn’t wait to apply it on Charles.

I got up with some confidence and went to cook. I pulled open the freezer and took out the only packet of meat left. I pushed it down the window bars into the forest behind and cooked potatoes instead. When he came I kept and eye on his hands. He unlocked the door and put the key in his trouser pocket, then he washed his hands and sat down,” Juliet? Where is the meat?” I gulped, my throat scratchy,” We ran out of meat Charles.” He stared at me and I stared down at the potatoes, thankfully he started eating. I stood up,” I’m going to go have some rest now.” I said and stood up but according to my plan I turned around and sniffed,” Have you been around a fire?” He looked at me incredulously,” No” he said shortly. I twitched my nose again,” You smell like you’ve been around burned wood for a long time.” He sniffed his shirt,” I don’t smell anything Juliet !!” I rolled my eyes at him,” Charles !! This smell is giving me a headache. Please go take a bath !!!!!!!!!!” I almost screamed at him. He looked at me with a blank expression,” Okay, but I need you to go to bed first.” I knew why he said that because he had to take off his clothes and the things in the pockets have to be safe from me. I turned around and stalked up to my room and shut the door behind me and waited. An hour seemed to have passed when I heard his door close and the sound of water falling. “Yes yes yes. He thinks I’ve long dozed off” Now I had to do what I planned. I went into the hallway and slowly opened his door. My heart was thudding so heavily I was scared he might hear it. I stepped in. His bathroom door was closed and I saw his trousers hanging on the peg. I ran up to them without making a noise. I searched his pockets and with my shaking hands I took out the key. I turned around to leave… and then I heard the bathroom door creak open.



Woah I didn’t know you can take a shower so fast. Damn you super human. I hope I’m faster than your old bones though.


Without a second glance I ran straight in the hallway and flew down the stairs. I heard him shouting behind me and he picked up a huge knife from the kitchen counter. I panicked and threw the key right in the lock and turned it furiously. No luck on the first time. I glanced back and my heart drops when I saw Charles advancing towards me with the knife in his hands and his eyes looked… well… RED WITH RAGE !!! I turned it again and managed to open it. I stepped out in the open air when Charles threw the knife which I tried to dodge … but I failed miserably as it went deep in my left shoulder. I jumped and moaned loudly but kept on going. I ran and ran and ran not knowing where to go. I ran past thick trees scraping my face with the branches. I fell thrice but got up without major injuries. I glanced back and sighed as I saw that he was not behind me anymore. I was still too shocked to stop so early. After sometime I stopped and sat down on the weed and grass in the middle of the forest. I grabbed the knife sticking out of my shoulder and tugged it, yelping in pain. I pulled it out and let out huge Ahhhh!!! the pain was unbearable. The knife had gone through my shoulder bone and had dislocated it. Thick red liquid was flowing freely through the hole it had made. I got up covering my wound and walked weakly. I kept walking and walking and when I stopped I saw traffic lights around. I collapsed on the hard concrete and crawled my way to the middle of the road and then my spirits got real low and I closed my eyes. I had never encountered such an experience in my life before. I had never thought about dying before but now it felt like I was about to leave the world. I thought about my parents and Lydia. I tried to speak but no words came out of my dry mouth. My mouth was filled with blood and I was choking. I looked up at the sky and closed my eyes, my lungs felt heavy and my breathing erratic.




I opened my eyes in a plaid white room. There was sounds of beeping around me. It was a hospital room. A smart looking police officer sat beside me chatting away with a nurse. I opened my heavy eyelids and looked at both of them. The police officer immediately came closer,” Juliet Miller? Are you?” I nodded weakly. The officer scribbled something on a piece of paper and she looked at me again,” You were reported missing almost 5 days ago.” I looked up at her,” Who reported?” The officer read a small piece of paper and said,” Um… Some.. Lydia Asher.” I smiled at the name of my only friend. The police officer asked the nurse to leave and then she came near me,” Okay Juliet, I need you to tell me everything ! Who did this to you? What happened the night you were kidnapped?” I sighed shakily and held back tears. I told her each and everything slightly sobbing when I told her about how he fed me human meat. When I finished the officer’s eyes were as wide as a volleyball,” Do you mean Charles Carter?” I frowned,” I don’t know his surname.” The police officer got up,” He has escaped two times before too. He kills girls for his son who died in a car crash on 10th July 2007 near County bridge. We will take care of him. Don’t worry and heal well. Get some rest honey.” She flashed me a perfect toothed smile and left. I could still hear her words echoing in my mind. “10th July 2007″ the day my parents died in a car accident near County Bridge.” My head throbbed. I had never seen a greater coincidence. They had died together, my parents and Jimmy, hitting their cars accidently. Leaving us both all alone in this world.






« »