The Krinar Captive

By: Anna Zaires

Chapter One

I don’t want to die. I don’t want to die. Please, please, please, I don’t want to die.

The words kept repeating in her mind, a hopeless prayer that would never be heard. Her fingers slipped another inch on the rough wooden board, her nails breaking as she tried to maintain her grip.

Emily Ross was hanging by her fingernails—literally—off a broken old bridge. Hundreds of feet below, water rushed over the rocks, the mountain stream full from recent rains.

Those rains were partially responsible for her current predicament. If the wood on the bridge had been dry, she might not have slipped, twisting her foot in the process. And she certainly wouldn’t have fallen onto the rail that had broken under her weight.

It was only a last-minute desperate grab that had prevented Emily from plummeting to her death below. As she was falling, her right hand had caught a small protrusion on the side of the bridge, leaving her dangling in the air hundreds of feet above the hard rocks.

I don’t want to die. I don’t want to die. Please, please, please, I don’t want to die.

It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t supposed to happen this way. This was her vacation, her regain-sanity time. How could she die now? She hadn’t even begun living yet.

Images of the last two years slid through Emily’s brain, like the PowerPoint presentations she’d spent so many hours making. Every late night, every weekend spent in the office—it had all been for nothing. She’d lost her job during the layoffs, and now she was about to lose her life.

No, no!

Emily’s legs flailed, her nails digging deeper into the wood. Her other arm reached up, stretching toward the bridge. This wouldn’t happen to her. She wouldn’t let it. She had worked too hard to let a stupid jungle bridge defeat her.

Blood ran down her arm as the rough wood tore the skin off her fingers, but she ignored the pain. Her only hope of survival lay in trying to grab onto the side of the bridge with her other hand, so she could pull herself up. There was no one around to rescue her, no one to save her if she didn’t save herself.

The possibility that she might die alone in the rainforest had not occurred to Emily when she’d embarked on this trip. She was used to hiking, used to camping. And even after the hell of the past two years, she was still in good shape, strong and fit from running and playing sports all through high school and college. Costa Rica was considered a safe destination, with a low crime rate and tourist-friendly population. It was inexpensive too—an important factor for her rapidly dwindling savings account.

She’d booked this trip before. Before the market had fallen again, before another round of layoffs that had cost thousands of Wall Street workers their jobs. Before Emily went to work on Monday, bleary-eyed from working all weekend, only to leave the office the same day with all her possessions in a small cardboard box.

Before her four-year relationship had fallen apart.

Her first vacation in two years, and she was going to die.

No, don’t think that way. It won’t happen.

But Emily knew she was lying to herself. She could feel her fingers slipping farther, her right arm and shoulder burning from the strain of supporting the weight of her entire body. Her left hand was inches away from reaching the side of the bridge, but those inches could’ve easily been miles. She couldn’t get a strong enough grip to lift herself up with one arm.

Do it, Emily! Don’t think, just do it!

Gathering all her strength, she swung her legs in the air, using the momentum to bring her body higher for a fraction of a second. Her left hand grabbed onto the protruding board, clutched at it… and the fragile piece of wood snapped, startling her into a terrified scream.

Emily’s last thought before her body hit the rocks was the hope that her death would be instant.

* * *

The smell of jungle vegetation, rich and pungent, teased Zaron’s nostrils. He inhaled deeply, letting the humid air fill his lungs. It was clean here, in this tiny corner of Earth, almost as unpolluted as on his home planet.

He needed this now. Needed the fresh air, the isolation. For the past six months, he’d tried to run from his thoughts, to exist only in the moment, but he’d failed. Even blood and sex were not enough for him anymore. He could distract himself while fucking, but the pain always came back afterwards, as strong as ever.