by Sir Various
Captive, a young man tries desperately to escape both his captors and his memories. Rev2
|Author's Note: This is the entry-level draft for a workshop project. This will change over the next 8-weeks, developing into a stronger and more cohesive product. During your review of this, please take this into consideration. Please let me know any thoughts and criticism. This is Revision #2. Thanks!
I woke up in the trunk of a car, bound and gagged, with no memory of how I got there.
I tried kicking the trunk open with my legs, but the tight duct tape and cramped space did not give me much advantage. My claustrophobia had set in, and only the thin streams of light from the seams kept me sane. The tape over my mouth and nose restricted my breathing, and it didn’t help that I was hyperventilating. I was dizzy with the limited oxygen, and woozy with the aftereffects of some sort of sedative. That combination played tricks with my mind; I seemed to hear my mother’s voice in between the jerks and clangs of whatever road my captors drove.
Calm down, Jake. Breathe deep. That’s a good boy. Breathe in…
Her phantom words soothed me, and I did breathe better. Shallow and even, that was what I needed to do. I needed to think…plan. I was a good planner, always had been. A good plan always starts with research. I liked to research. Reading books after school at the library, the big tree behind the house that had…
I shook my head. Still not enough oxygen; I couldn't focus. I felt a slight warm draft from the seam of the trunk lid. I noticed that the lid wasn’t shut completely; I filed that away in my mind for consideration later. Maybe I could take advantage of it.
My thoughts were sluggish, but I realized I could breathe better if I was closer to that tiny opening.
I pushed with my bound legs against the side of the dark wheel well, and the effort moved my head closer to the opposite wall. It was difficult and awkward, but I managed to shove my uncooperative shoulders closer to the seam.
The air was not fresh, but it was still more revitalizing than the stuffy air that trickled into my lungs before. My head cleared some as I took in precious breaths. I could see a bit of the road, just a blur of gray. I noticed the car rode smoother now, so we were on a highway or interstate now.
Stop your running, boy! Running is for cowards! Get back here and stand up for yourself! Jacob Michael!
Still a little lightheaded, as it seemed my father was now rattling off his old sayings to me. His voiced seemed real, and I flinched the same way I flinched when I was a kid. Dead now, he had a very good point: I needed to fight.
Dead now… I almost missed that fleeting thought. My father is dead…dead because of me. Just as quick, that thought was gone, and I began to feel fear.
Worried, I shook my head, and shifted back to my current problem.
My hands were free, despite taped at the wrists. I flopped and rolled my body around, feeling for what was available in the trunk. The small space didn’t give me much room, but I didn’t find anything within reach. I had a small headache now, my body’s desire for air coupled with lingering sedative made the air seem to pulse from the throbbing in my skull.
I almost gave up right then. It would be much simpler to lie there, perhaps living long enough for my captors to arrive at their destination. I was not sure why I was kidnapped, although it must be related to my father’s death. So, I must be riding to my own death. At that moment, I felt like it was inevitable. I closed my eyes. Aided by lingering drugs, my thoughts drifted…
“Lay there boy. Lay there and cry like a goddam little girl. Why do I waste my time with you…?” I shielded my face from his blows, my back aching from the new bruises. Mom sat watching silently, crying, her face pristine but I knew she had bruises, too. John Sanderson, Senator and Presidential-hopeful, kept our faces and arms unmarked; his career would shatter if the world knew his evil. I did cry, but my anger overshadowed the pain. Fear had left a long time ago, and now I bore it, letting the rage grow. My time would come. Almost in slow motion, my father raised a fist again, and I looked up at the devil and screamed…
I jerked awake, roaring the epithet in the dim darkness, my bound mouth muting the words but not the spirit of them. I kicked my bound legs, lashed out, my body twisting in my tantrum, the frustration and fury assaulting the trunk. My frenzied assault assailed the lining of the trunk, tearing the cloth padding off. Even the metal supports of the wall and the wheel well were denting under my onslaught. Every ounce of my emotion poured into my legs, yet I accomplished little beyond exhausting myself.
I relaxed, drained. Once again, even in death, my father provoked me to waste my energy. My bruised heels were now a testament to my bruised memories, and I was still trapped. However, I would not give up like a coward. I would not give him the satisfaction.
Wait. The latch.
A portion of the trunk latch was exposed. In my fury, I had exposed the frame of the lid, and the lid itself was bent around the center near the latch. I stared at it for a moment, and then I tried to thrust my mouth towards it. I didn’t make it close. My head struck the stripped and exposed metal of the lid, and I fell back, crying out in pain.
My head was ablaze now, pinpricks of pain inside my head from exertion, and a bonfire of more agony overshadowing it on my skull. I knew I was on to something, however. Once I felt I could move without passing out, I wriggled to the latch again, angling my face toward the exposed latch. This time, I reached it, and I hooked the edge of the tape and pulled it down. I worked at it, cutting and scraping the tape away. The image of my twisted form, my head rubbing the inside of the trunk, threatened to make me giggle, but I suppressed it, knowing if I gave in, I would go mad.
Finally, I freed my mouth, scraps of the tape hanging in shreds from my lips and cheeks. I breathed in deep, the stuffy air like succulent pleasure into my lungs. I closed my eyes and relaxed, letting my head clear.
It was short-lived, however. I felt the car slow, then turn and bounce across something rough. I moved back to the seam. I could make out trees and shrubbery, and the plumes of dust the tires left. We had moved on to a dirt road. I felt a clock ticking in my head, and I knew my opportunities were growing less and less by the minute. I would either die, be sold to a terrorist group, or ransomed if I made it to my captor’s destination.
I needed to act. Now.
I flipped over and brought my wrists up to the warped metal and latch. Rubbing fervently, the metal cut the tape fast, and I brought my chafed wrists around to pull off the tape around my ankles.
The car should have a release latch; most cars after 2002 have one. I looked for it, but in dismay, I saw I had damaged the metal release latch, the thin bar bent and distorted against the dent I had put in the lid.
Pulling on the carpet, I looked for a jack or crowbar, hoping to pry open the trunk lid, or the latch. The hollow where they normally were stored was empty; even the spare tire had been removed.
The captors had prepared, of course. I should have known that. I was too valuable to leave to chance.
They underestimated me, however.
Since this was a newer car, it would probably have a trunk release from the front. I felt around a bit, on the driver’s side, and after a minute or two of fumbling I found it: a cable. My kidnappers had missed it, and I silently thanked my father’s legacy for the tip.
It was difficult to tug, but I kept at it. Pulling towards the front, my grip would slip, but I could feel the cable move. Finally, my fingers raw and bleeding, I felt it catch and the trunk lid unlatched. I grabbed it before it could fly open, gasping as my sore fingers sent sharp stabbing pain into my hands.
The car slowed to turn onto an even rougher dirt road; I waited for an opportunity to slip out. The car hit a small dry rivulet that jerked the rear of the car upward, and I had my chance. I leaned forward and dropped out of the car, my forward motion pulling the lid down enough to re-latch.
The dust was choking, and I coughed, blind for the moment. Nevertheless, I stumbled into the crisp dry brush and fled.
I heard the squeal of the car’s dusty brakes, the slam of car doors, and the chatter of a foreign language.
It startled me that I recognized the language, and a rush of memories halted my escape.
“I don’t care how risky you think it is, I’m paying you a lot for this.” I glared at the clean-shaven Russian, his face masking the ire I was sure he felt. I shouldn’t be so harsh with him; this really was going to be a difficult, if not impossible, job. This was delicate; with my father’s inauguration parade protected so well, only I, the President’s son, had the connections to get them through.
The Russian, Alexei, asked his question again with his thick accent. “You say it is possible. I know who you are. How will you get rid of your guards?”
“If I told you, this plan won’t work. Trust me, you’ll know when. Just grab me no matter what happens, and make sure everyone sees it.”
“And the President? Secret Service…is…difficult problem.”
I sighed. “Put Piotr anywhere he can be heard, like I said. That’s all, just the sound. When he fires the shot to distract the guards, that’ll be your chance.”
“Very well, zvezdá.” Alexei grinned, and for a moment, I was afraid.
“Just make sure it looks good,” I said, averting my eyes from his eager gaze. “I only want to embarrass him.”
Alexei just kept grinning.
The memory hit me hard and I stumbled. Faked my own kidnapping? And my father…
What have I done? Piotr, Alexei…they set me up, used me as an opening…
There was no time to ponder. The Russians would already have found the empty trunk. I sprinted as hard as I could down the dirt road back to the highway. My bruised feet were more damaged than I thought, and I could not keep up the pace for long. Damn my temper, and damn my revenge! I had to slow. I rushed into the trees for cover, but I made my way toward the highway still. Overland it would be slower, but they didn’t know which way I went or how long I had been out of the trunk. I hoped that would buy me some time, but I knew how well trained these mercenaries were. They would know how to track.
My only chance was the highway.
If I could reach it, I could flag down a car, and they would recognize me, hopefully. I pushed hard, favoring my bruised legs. I did not bother with stealth, there was no time now. The branches of the rough summer trees moved easily enough, and the brush was sparse enough to let me pass readily. At this rate, I would reach the highway in just a few minutes.
I burst from foliage, and crawled through the property barbwire, then sprinted to the busy highway. I knew they would not hesitate to gun me down now, especially since they already killed the President. I sprinted to the median and waved my arms to anyone and everyone. No one stopped of course, not for a crazy kid. So, I waited for a lull and then moved to the far lanes, standing in the middle of the road.
The first car honked as it swerved around me, but a late-model Chevy stopped. The driver was an older man, and his passenger was a middle-aged woman. As I rushed toward their vehicle, I saw two men crawl from the brush across the lanes I crossed. The driver saw them as well, but his passenger stared at me, not noticing the Russians. Traffic was beginning to build up behind them, and the far lanes slowed to a crawl as well. The woman exclaimed something sharply to the driver, and he looked at me, then motioned for me to get in. I slid in next to the woman, and the old man floored it.
As we drove, the couple remained quiet, although I knew the questions would soon come. I did not have long to wait.
“Son, what was that all about?” The man glanced at me as I shook from the residual adrenaline. I didn’t answer, knowing whatever I said would just raise more questions.
“Arty, look at him! The poor thing is shaking.” The woman rubbed my shoulders, concerned in her hen-like mannerisms.
“Let him be, Janet. He’ll talk soon enough.” Arty’s words were firm but soft.
Janet pulled away, and then leaned in to her husband, whispering loud enough for me to hear. “Arty, why did you pick him up, that’s not like you.”
“Hush Janet.” His tone was even more firm, and she sat back, stiff with apprehension now, avoiding looking at me.
I closed my eyes and rested, lulled by the drone of the highway. The radio played the top headlines; predictably, my name and that of my father’s, were the top stories. The anchor filled in some of the blanks I had in my memory. My father, newly elected, was shot at his inauguration parade, and a couple of Russians had been apprehended. In the resulting chaos, I had been taken, resulting in a tense standoff with Russia and a massive search after a nationwide air and sea lockdown. As the radio educated me on recent events, my memories were still vague to the specifics. I knew one thing for sure: the Russians had manipulated me, and I gave them the access they nee---
--and a violent impact from the left jerked the truck sideways. Janet screamed and I saw her face contort into spasmodic terror. The truck spun around and I saw a black SUV slow, the grill guard bent back from the impact. I turned and saw Arty’s head loll, blood and glass glazing his face in a brutal mask. I reached over to grab the wheel, Janet’s shrill voice piercing through the blurred chaos. I heard the roar of an engine; a second SUV struck the damaged truck from the opposite side, forcing the Chevy over. We tumbled, the world losing any sense of focus, a jumbled mass of paper, glass, and blood inside the cab, the sound of metal and asphalt a cacophony. Janet’s shriek was cut off, and we rolled to a crumpled stop.
I hung from the seat restraints, watching through blurred vision suited men –Secret Service-- exit the black SUVs.
I picked up the newspaper my mother handed me. The headline read, RUSSIA DENIES INVOLVEMENT, BLAMES TERRORIST FACTION. I sipped my tea while I read the article, my mother waiting in patient silence as she watched the ocean waves wash the Rio shore. The Russian “kidnappers” had been spotted on a highway leaving D.C., although they had died during apprehension. The article bemoaned the loss of not only President John Sanderson, but his son Jacob Sanderson. Christina Sanderson, the First Lady, had sequestered herself in grief, and the country rallied in their own grief, the ignorant masses deceived into unity. I threw the article down in disgust, upset at the martyr my father became, as well as the feeble but now-accepted lie that wasted the lives of Arty and Janet, innocent until I made them traitors merely by flagging them down.
My mother looked at me, but didn’t say anything. Exiled, we were still prisoners of a sort, banished by our government to hide my involvement in giving access to the Russians for the assassination. She had not spoken to me much, and I feared that when I killed the devil, she might have broken.
“I didn’t mean for it to happen,” I said, breaking the silence. “I wanted to embarrass him, not kill him.”
My mother smiled at me then. She understood. She placed her hand on mine on the white table. Together we watched the endless ocean.