This picture sparked an idea that became this short story.
Her hand trembled, hesitant to pick up a key. If it were the wrong one, she would be held hostage for another month. Her hand hovered over the tabletop covered in keys. Ever shape and size, old and new, which one would release her?
“Hurry up and take one. I don’t have all day.”
She turned to see him glaring at her the knife in his right hand and the end of the chain in the other. With a silent pray, she took one key and gave it to him. He bent down to insert it into the padlock. She willed it to fit with all her might.
There was a click. The padlock sprung open. I’m free? Please let me be free. Is it a trick?
“Well, there’s a surprise, you found the right one.”
He pulled at the chain making her stumble and kneel at his feet. She held her breath waiting for some sort of punishment, but he unlinked the chain from the padlock and pulled it away from her ankles.
“Go on then, run.”
Her dazed mind held her still for a moment. He pushed her towards the door. The sunlight was bright, the air fresh. She looked up to see acres of forest before her.
“Find your way and no telling or I’ll bring you back.”
She ran, stumbling over tree roots and rocks. Freedom. She was on her way home. The bullet struck the back of her head. No more fear, no more pain. He dragged the body to the pit and kicked it into the depths.
He would drive eastward tomorrow and pick up another hitchhiker.