The constant dripping of water gradually broke through Gabi’s fogged brain. She was sitting in a chair. Her hands were still tied behind her. Her ankles were now strapped to the legs of the chair. She wretched inside her mouth that was securely taped closed. She had been stripped down to her vest top and underwear.
There was a dim light cast by a solitary bulb hanging from the ceiling at the opposite end of the dark room. The floor was bare concrete. The walls were covered with metal shelving and glass tanks. Through the murk she could make out movement inside the tanks, water was sloshing around inside them. From the other end of the room she heard footsteps approaching. Peering ahead she saw Dag Moen clearly for the first time.
He was young, that was the first thing that struck her, barely out of his teenage years. And handsome. A classical chiselled and toned jaw. A shock of shoulder-length dark hair covered his face until he brushed it aside. Something in the eyes chilled Gabi. The handsome face changed to sneering malevolence as he leaned over her. He ripped the tape from her mouth. Gabi fought back the urge to scream out in pain.
‘Finally. I have been waiting for you to wake. Perhaps I kicked you too hard.’
‘How long have I been unconscious?’
‘A few hours,’ Dag Moen shrugged. ‘It makes no difference. No one will get here in time. No one knows where you are.’
‘Where am I?’ asked Gabi. She tried to think. Keep him talking, keep him engaged, keep him calm. The tanks on either side of the room continued to provide gentle lapping water sounds.
Moen seemed happy to talk. ‘We’re underneath the Kristiansand Zoo. The aquarium building to be exact.’
Gabi remembered happy childhood visits to the zoo and fairground. ‘Why here?’
‘For some privacy. I used to deliver to this place. I always thought it would be ideal if I ever needed to hold someone against their will. Interesting though, don’t you think? Above us, families are going about enjoying the spectacle of the caged animals. The humans are free to come and go as they please. They give no thought to the cruelty of confining the creatures to tanks. And if they could see behind the surface sheen of the place, what would they think?’ Moen gestured to the tanks along the walls. ‘Would they care about these poor creatures trapped in a basement, with no space to roam as nature intended?’
‘Are you comparing yourself to a trapped animal?’
‘More like the rotten underside of humanity. In the shadows, underneath the personalities everyone puts on when they leave their house each day. What really exists? I knew I was different growing up. My mind wasn’t the same as the other children.’
Moen tapped the side of his head with something metal. For the first time Gabi saw he was holding a handgun. ‘Then I learned the truth. My mother, the one person I trusted completely in the world, had kept some letters in the attic. Letters between her and her brother. My father. My whole life I had been lied to. I had been told my father died at sea, swept from a ship he worked on.’
‘So you decided to kill the people who had locked your father up?’ Gabi said. ‘Why the alphabet?’
Moen laughed. ‘I have always liked puzzles and order. Asperger’s syndrome, you see. Just a little fun. I have no intention of going through every letter. Just something for Sand to waste his time on.’
‘Asperger’s syndrome doesn’t make people murderers. You are just hiding behind that as an excuse. Your father was nothing more than a sick murderer and rapist.’
She realised too late she shouldn’t have said it. Dag Moen reared back, a loud chilling laugh left his mouth. He raised the gun at Gabi’s head. The gun exploded twice in quick succession. Instinctively Gabi shut her eyes. She opened them as the shock of cold salt water poured over her head. The bullets had smashed into a water tank behind her head.
She felt a cool, spongy, wriggling object on her neck. Then another across her shoulders. She felt the strange sensation as suckers latched onto her skin, pinching and stinging her. A tentacle wrapped around her neck and she toppled backwards as a weight gripped onto her. She slammed onto the concrete floor. The fall broke the grip of the tentacles. She watched as an octopus dragged itself across the floor searching for precious water. It flopped around, lost and confused.
Dag Moen stood over the dying octopus. He fired his gun into it at point blank range. The blubbery mass exploded into fragments. Some of it hit Gabi in the face. Moen stepped over it and straddled Gabi, the gun pointing straight down at her face.
‘My father understood the basic nature of humans. The basic evil. We are nothing but expendable vermin. You are no more worthy of living than that octopus. I take no joy from killing you, your death is just a necessity. When I kill Anders Sand, then I will take my pleasure and my father’s revenge.’
Gabi watched Moen’s fingers squeeze the trigger. The world seemed to move in slow motion. She pulled her head back as far as she could, an instinct that would make no difference at all, but it was all she had.
The door was thrown open with a bang.
‘Police,’ a voice shouted. There were several gunshots in quick succession. Gabi used all her might to throw her body to the side. She felt a bullet hit her shoulder as Moen’s gun rang out again.
Then there was silence. Smoke from discharged weapons hung in the air. Footsteps ran past Gabi. Staring at the ceiling, a familiar face came into view.
‘Get a medic in here,’ Sand shouted over his shoulder. He looked down at his partner. ‘We got you, Gabi. Don’t worry, we got you.’
‘Moen?’ Gabi asked.
‘He got out another door.’
‘Don’t wait here,’ Gabi told him. ‘Get after him.’
Sand nodded and disappeared. Another officer arrived and put pressure on the bullet wound in Gabi’s shoulder to stop the blood flowing from it.
This is part fifteen of my A to Z Challenge 2017. More information on the challenge, and other stories and blogs taking part in it, can be found HERE.
Throughout April I hope to publish a section a day, relating to a letter of the alphabet, which in the end will make up a continuous story, all based round the objects found in this children’s jigsaw:
Other entries in the challenge, and a version of the final complete, joined up story can be found here: A TO Z CHALLENGE 2017.