The sound was hypnotic after a while. Like a metronome set against the constant white-noise of the cars engine, and the steady whoosh of the air rolling by.
The two occupants of the late model American-made vehicle where each lost in their own thoughts as the automobile made its way down the darkened road.
The driver, Limon, had his jaw set in determination. He had the look and feel of a man who, after countless attempts, was finally resolved to finish something. That nagging something that a person knows they should do, are meant to do, but dont have the balls to do. His eyes watched the dull grey wash of concrete roadway flooding by beneath the car in the faint light of an almost-new moon. The headlights barely casting enough light to keep the vehicle from careening off the the of the road in the dangerous switchbacks leading up to the pass.
The other occupant of the vehicle had a much different thought process rolling through his mind. His was one of calm calculation. The handcuffs were tight, and the double-locks had been set. His ankles had been thoroughly tied with, he couldnt tell what, although it sounded quite a bit like duct tape when he worked his legs back and forth to test their strength. His brain rebelled furiously against the inside of his skull right where the heavy object had been used to knock him senseless, and the trunk, while larger than a compact car, was by no means comfortable.
The car rolled on in silence for the better part of an hour before turning off the concrete road and onto a deeply-rutted, dirt affair that had Dave bracing himself against the walls of the trunk to keep from bashing his head into them. As the car navigated a tight corner, something heavy and metal slid against Davids hands. He quickly realized what it was and, despite the fact that he knew it wouldnt help free him, gripped the tire iron tightly with his bound hands.
It was difficult for either of them to tell how long the trip up the ill-maintained dirt road lasted, Limon because the digital clock int eh dash of the car had long since ceased to function, and David because the utter darkness of the trunk and constant jostling of the car itself prevented any form of temporal reckoning. Eventually the vehicle squealed to a halt in front of a dark, dilapidated, wooden shack.
Limon switched the engine off, took the sort of deep breath that can only be taken by a person working up the courage to follow a dream, then stepped out of the car and made his way around to the trunk. Holding the flashlight at the ready, he keyed upon the trunk lid and switched on the light, shining it directly into Davids eyes.
The light was intense, must have been one of those super-bright xenon bulbs. It seared into his retinas, and made the lump on his head throb painfully. Before he could do anything about it, he felt a pair of strong hands grip him by his lapels and yank his thin, athletic frame bodily out of the trunk. His feet touched the ground, and after a moment, found purchase. David looked around quickly to get his bearings, then clenched the tire iron tightly and spun his body around with as much force as he could muster.
The tire iron connected with Limons groin and his testicles screamed out in chorus, dropping him to his knees, hands clutching at his wounded genitals. Ow! Mother fucker! His tenor voice came out as an unsteady soprano. He realized a moment too late that he was still in danger, and looked up just in time to see the flash of the dark steel in the wan moonlight.
The second spin drove the tire iron solidly into the hurting mans skull, driving him to the ground with a rather satisfying thunk noise. David knew the man was still alive, unless his quiet gasping was some sort of pathetic death rattle. But he also knew that he was going to get very far while still bound, so he fell forward, driving his knees into the mans back. This produced another satisfying gasp from his target as he spun around, sitting on the mans back, fingers frantically patting him down for the keys to the cuffs.
Limon felt the mans weight fall on him and almost threw up. This wasnt going right at all. His captives probing hands quickly found the keys to the cuffs and within seconds, almost as if hed practiced it a thousand times before, the handcuffs were off. Next he heard the sound of the duct tape tearing, then the weight of his body lifted. This was definitely not going the way he had planned it.
David tore the tape between his legs and decided that his odds were better on the run than standing and fighting this unknown adversary. The blow to the head could buy him a good ten minute head start, and in this kind of light, his training could easily make him invisible to this amateur. He stood up and bolted past the car, heading for the silhouetted tree line near the rough road. The idea of taking the car passed through his head, but two thoughts shot it down, first, hed have to go get the keys from his captor, and second, anyone whod ever driven a car in reverse would know, driving a large car, in reverse, down a rough, pitted, dark, dirt road in the mountains, at high speed, was a surefire recipe for disaster. No, the forest would buy him time instead of injury that would surely be the result of an attempted, speedy get-away in the car.
Limon heard the mans feet crunching down the loose dirt drive and knew he had to do something. He dragged himself to his feet, staggering under the pain between his legs and the throb of his head. He hefted the aluminum body of the flashlight, its four D cells adding a significant weight, and hurled the object with all his strength.
He was going to get clear. He only had another twenty feet to go, then the trees and the darkness of night would allow him to disappear. He could smell the pine sap as he drew near the tree line, nearly there. Then his head rocked sharply forward under the sharp blow of a heavy object. His world spun as his head went to ground and his feet tumbled over top of him, and his world went suddenly dark.
Limon grunted under the exertion of dragging the smaller man across the washed-out driveway and into the rickety cabin. Not wasting any time, or taking any chances, this time, he immediately propped the man up into a chair, and re-secured his hands behind his back with the handcuffs. This time, he was careful to thread the chain of the cuffs through the vertical supports on the back of the chair. Then he broke out the duct tape again and thoroughly wrapped it around the mans legs, securing them to the front legs of the chair with several layers of tape. He was just finishing up when the man started to come around again, with a series of painful moans and groans.
Davids world came back in a series of painful realizations. First was the realization that he had been immobilized again, much more effectively this time. Next came the realization that his head hurt on the other side now. A loud, banging pain that threatened to make his next few waking hours entirely more uncomfortable than they really should need to be under the circumstances. Lastly, was the realization that he was not alone. He opened his eyes slowly, then raised his head to find himself looking into the eyes of the man he could only assume was his captor. The man was large, possibly over six and a half feet tall, although it was hard to tell with him folded into the chair like that. He was stocky, but not overweight, and had an unkempt mass of dirty blonde hair that partially concealed his off-colored eyes. One was green, and the other brown, but they both bore the look of resolute certainty that told him he was in for it if he didnt think fast.
As the man came around, Limon stared at him. Trying to ignore the throbbing in his head and the sharp ache in his balls, without much success. His victim woke up slowly. Or maybe he woke up quickly and was pretending to do so slowly, to try and lull him into a false sense of security. He seemed alert enough that he could be taking in his surroundings, trying to get his bearings before revealing any of his cards. Not that he could be holding much in the way of a poker hand. FInally he lifted his head and looked directly into Limons eyes. As they locked their gazes, Limon suddenly realized that hed forgotten to tape the mans mouth shut. Fuck! He chided himself as he reached for the roll of duct tape on the nearby table.
The flashlight? David spoke as his unknown captor reached for the roll of tape on the table.
What? Limon swiveled around to stare at him.
You threw the flashlight at me didnt you?
You hit me with a fucking tire iron! In the nuts!
Serves you right. Amateur. You left it in the trunk with me.
Limon blinked at him, trying to figure out what had just happened. What?
All Im saying is that youre obviously an amateur. No serious kidnapper would lock his victim in a trunk with a weapon like that. So how long have you been trying to build yourself up to this? Ten years? Twenty?
Limon blinked again. Taking a moment to choose his words. Im not kidnapping you.
Oh. David shrugged as he casually cast his gaze around the interior of the two-room shack. It couldnt have been much more than three-hundred square feet, plus what looked like a four by six mud room. So what made you think I would be an easy person to kill?
What? Limon was still half-reaching for the roll of tape, although it appeared as though hed forgotten that fact, his left arm still levitating in open air half way between the chair and table.
Well, you said you arent kidnapping me, so I can only assume that the next most logical reason for this is to kill me.
Who are you?
Thats your second mistake.
So, youve been planning this for years right? Probably even practiced the murderous act on a couple animals when you were younger? A rodent you bought at the pet store, then something bigger like a rabbit. You liked the blood. The feeling of the hot liquid running down your skin as you watched their heart empty their veins in a matter of moments
Then you moved up again. Cats, dogs, lots of dogs. Buried them out in a field, or under a tree somewhere where no one would ever think to look.
Limons hand dropped to his side. His mouth was agape, his mind in shock. How could this man know so much about him?
You thought you had this pretty well planned out. But you forgot a couple little details
left the tire iron in the trunk after you brained me with it and struggled getting me into the trunk. An unconscious body weighs more than an alert person. It doesnt make sense, but its true isnt it? Then you drove up into the mountains, to get away from the lights, and the neighbors, but you didnt think about the fact that only highway 40 is paved with grooved concrete and has that many switchbacks. You turned directly off the concrete onto a dirt road, which means someone saw your car take the turn. And judging by the state of this shack, and the driveway we cam up to get here, this is the only destination on this particular stretch of forrest road. That makes you much more traceable.
Who the fuck are you?
Corporal David Gibson, US Army Rangers. He decided to leave off the mention of his wife and kids, thinking that the man would be more impressed with his technical understanding than any humanitarian appeal he may try to make.
Exactly. Rule number one, ALWAYS know your target!
So after I kill you, The Army Rangers are going to come looking for you? Limons voice was a contradiction of certainty and worry. He was certain that this man was going to die by his hand, but the thought of having to evade a platoon of Army Rangers scared the hell out of him.
Hard to say. Im retired, six months now. But I keep in touch with my old unit, so they may
It doesnt have to be that way you know?
Im not letting you go. I grabbed you off the street and youve seen me, and my car!
See! Now youre thinking!
And you hit me in the fucking nuts with a tire iron!
That was your own fault man. But it isnt a mistake youll ever make a gain is it?
Anyway, thats not what I meant.
About it not having to be that way.
You dont want me to let you go?
Of course I want you to let me go. But I dont expect you to just do so.
So what ARE you saying exactly? Limons face was suspicious.
I propose that I buy my freedom from you.
Work with me here man. Whats your name by the way? David raised a curious eyebrow at his captor.
STOP!! David cut him off with a shout that made his head throb in pain.
Dont tell me your name!
But you asked!
I know I asked Limon, but you shouldnt be giving your victims any information about you, or anything else for that matter.
But Im going to kill you. Who the fuck are you going to tell?
You dont know that.
That youre going to kill me, Limon. Anything could happen. He paused for a moment, his head tilted to the side. Your names really Limon? Like a lemon-lime soda kind of limon?
Limon eyed him seriously, he different-colored eyes both explaining the ferocity of his mood. Yes.
Your parents named you Limon?
Visions of his father beating him for asking about that very subject when he was a teenager flitted though his head briefly before Limon responded again. Yes.
No wonder you want to kill people man. Davids tone was sympathetic. Anyway, you never know what might happen man, there could be a landslide, or a bear attack, or the sheriff could come calling
Limons head jerked around toward the door as if he expected the sheriff to come barging through it any second.
Take it easy Limon. All Im saying is that number one, you dont ever, EVER take a chance on someone getting away with personal information. The only way to assure that, is to not divulge any personal information. And two, you NEVER know what might happen. You can never account for all of the variables, so you have to pad your account by making sure that when the unforeseen happens, the damage is as minimal as possible.
Limon relaxed a little, turning away from the door and nodding in understanding. OK, so know my victim, and dont tell them anything about myself. What else?
Well, this shack for one thing. Like I said, I figured out where we are in no time. That means others could as well. Rule number three, location, location, location! If you have to drive an hour to take them across the street without fear of them figuring things out, then do it!
Limon was actually leaning forward in his chair now, listening intently to what David was saying. Eagerly absorbing each little tidbit of information.
For his part, David was at once pleading for his life, and trying to minimize the damage this monster in front of him might do. His turns in Afghanistan, Iraq, Saudi, and a half dozen other war-zones had taught him that monsters were everywhere. You couldnt change it, and you certainly couldnt kill them all. But if you could get one working for the good guys
Before long, the flashlights were replaced with lanterns, and the men kept talking, long after the sun came up again, long after Limon had untied David from his chair.
If there was one thing that Limon had learned as his father had beat him again and again, closer and closer to death each time, it was that monsters were everywhere...