When things change from bad to worse within seconds
"The Writer's Baker's Dozen Contest"
Day 1: Action/Adventure - Prompt - The Subway Encounter
I looked at the man laying at my feet, the package he handed me held tightly in my hand. The pool of blood grew and extended to my shoes, yet I felt no inclination to move. The wind the train created stirred my hair and brought me to my senses just enough to enter it, leaving bloody footsteps behind. My heart raced.
What just happened, I thought, and what am I supposed to do now?!
"Miss? Are you okay?" A man who appeared to be in his forties shot me a curious look, first at my face, then at my shoes. He raised a dark eyebrow as he waited.
"Uh, yes, I'm fine. I... must have stepped into something." Tucking my legs under the seat, I gave him a weak smile and hoped it'd be enough to stop any further questioning.
"You sure? You are shaking." He leaned forward as if in confidence and I tightened my grasp on the brown package I still held in my hand.
"Yes." I said, trying to be more convincing. "I had to run to catch the train, is all."
The man's expression told me that he didn't believe me but he dropped his interrogation, and I sighed in relief.
Now what, now what, now what?!
I felt the panic rise in me and my own voice telling me to leave the mystery package on the seat of the train and not to look back. How could I? What if it contained something important? With that in mind, I decided to check its contents as soon as I was alone.
At the next train station, the stranger across from me gave me one last concerned look before getting up and exiting. I could feel the relief sweep over me, although short-lived, as two men in black rain coats entered and sat down few seats away. Paranoia coursed through my veins.
Were they after the package?
Without a single thought, I jumped up and squeezed myself through the half-closed doors of the train, just in time to see the men try to do the same. I stood there, clutching the unknown materials to my chest, staring into the black nothingness of their shades, until the train departed.
Alone in the quiet, I didn't dare take the mystery home with me. It's now or never. With trembling fingers, I unwrapped the paper and found myself staring at multiple pages of coding, all rolled up. Oh, no! I must have said the words aloud because the echo filled the empty subway, sending unwanted shivers down my spine.
On the last page I saw a phone number, no name. A payphone, a ratty, old thing covered in graffiti, graced the blank pole in front of me, as if conjured. My mind connected the dots slowly, yet I hesitated.
"Get it together, Catherine!" I said under my breath and inhaled deeply, trying to calm my nerves. As I looked for some change in my purse, I found everything but, even an old bubblegum stuck in its old wrapper, just no quarters. Look in your wallet! Rolling my eyes at my own inabilities, I grabbed the thing and checked it. Voila!
With three quarters in hand, I dialed the unknown number, absently wiping the perspiration of my forehead and ignoring the slight tremor of my fingers.
"Hello? Jerry? Where the hell have you been?! I've been calling your cell like crazy! Did you get it?"
"Hello?" The twenty questions caught me off guard and nervousness showed through.
The sound of the man's voice changed quickly from concern, to anger, to doubt. "Who is this? And where did you get this number?"
"Um, Jerry? The guy with the package... He's... dead." I heard the man groan and mumble something incoherent. "He handed me this. What am I supposed to do?"
I glanced around the empty hallway to make sure I was still alone.
"Oh, man! Where are you? I need that package. Can you meet me somewhere?" An impatient man, but I didn't feel the need to hang on to this ticking time bomb any longer than I had to. Once I told him my location, we agreed on the near by Subway that's open past Midnight. How ironic, I thought.
I exited the train station, secret papers stashed deep in my purse and headed for the food place. As I rounded the corner, I notice the same two guys who tried to follow me and I stopped. My heart pounded in my ears and my knees felt weak. Sliding back into the shadows of the night, I watched them, hoping they'd leave. Karl, the guy I called, would be at the restaurant any minute and I tapped my foot, hoping for some revelation to get this nightmare done and over with.
A chubby guy, somewhat shorter than me, crossed the street and I knew it was him. I wanted to yell at him, whistle, something, anything, just to get his attention but I knew I couldn't. Neither could I reveal my presence.
Before the man opened the door a gunshot could be heard and. in the next second, Karl lay on the dirty ground as well. A small, involuntary scream escaped my lips. One of the raincoats heard me and made his way toward me.
Fear rooted me to the spot. The echo of the guy's shoes kept inching closer and my brain finally jump-started my legs into movement. Few strides later, I was held in a tight grip, a handkerchief on my mouth. Instinct made me fight him, but within a few seconds, everything went black.
I woke up sitting in a chair, hands tied behind my back, a single light directed straight at me. Just like in the movies, I thought, before my memory came back.
"Who are you and who do you work for,?" a distorted voice asked.
This is not happening!
What a way to start a vacation, I thought, before letting out a hysterical laugh.
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