critchat: Story Critique

A writing podcast that critiques short stories, books, and other media.

He came into the room, and she was there. Furious, he demanded to know why.

His raised voice - not to mention the sudden silent entrance from behind - startled her. Stammering, she tried to find words and a reason at the same time.

He cut her off, ignoring her cringe and the whine about just wanting to talk to her mother as he stomped over to the desk. When she tried to get in his way he roughly pushed at her, making the chair roll back with a jerk. Although she couldn’t see it, his sneer was audible in his voice as he picked apart what he found on the screen. She was stupid, he pointed out, as he’d done many times before. She and her sisters all were, that was why they needed to obey him and just do what they were told. But of course, being stupid, they repeatedly forgot that and need to be reminded.

She heard the promise of punishment in those words and dashed from the room, chair tumbling over directly into his path as he lunged to grab her. He fell over it, shouting that she knew she couldn’t get away from him. From farther into the house came the sound of a door slamming open and then shut, and he rolled his eyes as he disentangled himself from the chair and stood up, straightening his clothes. Stupid, like he’d said. Wasn’t like she had any way to get away from him, but she still ran anyway. Turning back to the computer, muttering to himself about how she’d gotten into his locked office in the first place and making sure the lesson against disobeying would stick this time, he deleted the words on the screen and then canceled the email. To her mother, of course. Stupid. He blamed her mother for it, filling her stupid head with ideas about education and careers and choices. Thank goodness he’d caught her before that nonsense could go any further, before she’d become ruined and damned like so many others. He’d have to step up the search for a proper husband. First, though, he checked to make sure no other emails had been sent - they hadn’t - and emptied the trash so that no trace of the nearly-sent one would exist.

Had he looked in the trash folder before doing that, he would have seen another email, this one deleted from the Sent folder mere seconds before he’d come into the room. It was addressed to the police in another state. Multiple other people had been copied, and a blurry photo had been attached - his own profile photo from one of his website accounts. This man kidnapped me right after my high school graduation, the email read. I’d never seen him before. He says he’s my father, but he says that to all of us. There are five of us now. He married two more girls off right after I got here, we think he’s selling us to men he finds online. The places I found in his bookmarks and history are scary. We’re afraid to stay, but even more scared to run. He has us out in the middle of nowhere, it’s swampy and there are alligators and lots of birds and other wildlife. He gets in and out with a boat. We may be in Florida somewhere. Please send h