Written by: Emily Der Arakelian

When he came to, his vision was blurry. His eyes adjusted to the darkness around him, and his heart began to race. He recognized the objects surrounding him; cardboard boxes of various sizes, crumpled snack wrappers, there was even an abandoned shoe in the corner. Although the objects were familiar, his situation was completely unexpected. He’d never seen this small room before, yet he sat in the middle of it at a metal table and chair set.

           He tried to stand, but he only slammed himself back into his seat. His feet were chained to the ground. He felt around his seat for some kind of switch, or a key, but only felt the cool, grimy metal of his chair.

           He tried to remember what led up to this moment, but his mind was almost completely blank. The last memory he had was of his wife holding his daughter in her arms as he kissed her forehead before they left the house for the day. He tugged his legs against their restraints, but he could barely feel them as it was. His breathing picked up as he attempted to assess his situation.

           The room suddenly lurched left, and had his hands been cuffed as well, he would be lying on the floor. With what little feeling he had in his legs, he felt the floor beneath him rumble and jump. His table and chair, firmly nailed to the floor, stayed put. The room lurched again, and it felt as though it had picked up the pace, wherever it was going. Everything in the room, besides him and his dining set, slid around the small room. A small box fell off the top of a pile and hit him across the face. As the box slid to the other end of the room, he noticed the corner of it was splattered with red. He felt around his face for the first time and felt the warmth of blood from his freshly split lip before he saw it drip onto his shirt.

           Why he was being held captive is a mobile, small room, he didn’t know, but he was going to get himself out. All around him, everything was just out of reach. He assumed the boxes were all empty, since the only noise came from the jangling of the chains holding his feet back. He tried yelling, but only a pathetic excuse for a whimper came out. His hands went to his throat, where he noticed for the first time were bruises. Looking down his arms, he saw more. His stomach and chest were a sunset of blues and purples under his shirt. He could only imagine what his face looked like. He closed his eyes and tried to regulate his breathing. He bent down and tugged on the chains again, but it was no use.

           The floor stopped rumbling as he slowly started to regain feeling in his legs. He heard a muffled conversation coming from outside and the sound of footsteps on gravel. The doors of the box truck to his left opened, and he recoiled at the sunlight flooding in.

“Look who’s awake,” a man spoke.

“Mike. Car,” a second man said. The doors slammed shut and he tried once again to scream but his throat only cramped in response. The doors opened again and the man, Mike, stepped into the truck and grabbed his face by his chin, turning him towards the light. He felt his fingers squeeze his chin, creating more bruises. He tasted blood fill his mouth. Mile grinned down at him. His mouth was full of pearly white teeth and his eyes gleamed. “Remember me, Pretty Eyes?”

           He squinted and attempted to focus on the man. He didn’t know if it was due to his lack of memory, but he didn’t. He shook his head, as much as he could have while still in his grip, and the man laughed.

           “Look at him. Pathetic. Come on, sit up straight.” Mike grabbed him by the shoulders and repositioned him on his seat. He tried to speak but could only groan. “Hal, hand me my gun.” He heard the clinking of the gun as it transferred from one man to the other. He felt the cold metal press against his temple, but could only make out the sunlight glinting off the slide, too scared to turn his head to get a good look at it. “This is what you get, Gideon. Can you understand that? Next time one of your buddies tries to play one on me, they’ll have you as an example of the consequences.”

           Mike turned the chair to face him and he could finally see the stretch of road behind the truck. An empty highway in the middle of nowhere was his best guess at his location. He no longer heard Mike yelling threats at him. His threats and insults sounded like they came from far away. He heard the wind whistling through the grass and the creak of the back door on rusty hinges. He thought of his daughter, who had just started walking, and would only get to remember him through photographs. He thought of his wife, who was at work and relying on him to cook dinner tonight. His eyes lazily refocused on Mike, who was pressing a gun to his head with a smile stretching his lips, and hoped that whoever this Gideon was, he was appreciating his freedom.


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