I still have no idea how many days later I awoke. So much for my time-keeping system. Felt like weeks, honest to god weeks.
Those first moments of dawning consciousness were like being nudged awake after the deepest, purest sleep of my life. But before my eyelids could even part: pain. Muscles ached. Every breath stopped short by needles in my lungs. The skin of my face was a fire just over the horizon, a blaze of anguish raging behind a veil of sedation.
My eyes opened but there was only darkness. I reached up to my face (spontaneously clutching at injury as we all do) but instead of flesh my fingers brushed against a rough, papery texture. Through the drugs and the pain and the lingering sleep in my head it dawned on me: some sort of bag was over my head.
I removed the hood, bag, whatever it was these people had covered me with. The skin of my face rebelled at the friction of fabric against it, the pain muffled and distant but still there. My senses were returning casually. I surveyed my surroundings.
The room looked familiar. Ah. My cell. The ceiling above my cot, where I lay beneath an array of draped clear tubes. A silver stand looming over me supporting a bag of some clear liquid. The air bore a heavy scent: sweat and blood and rubbing alcohol and iodine and others–the thousand intermingling smells of hasty, amateur medicine.
Gradually I coaxed my body up, groaning and hissing as I lifted myself and sat on the edge of the low bed. There I rested, hunched, taking shallow breaths and inventory of my situation. A thin layer of dust circled the room and collected in the corners. Around me, the same dust was swept haphazardly away by a multitude of scuffed bootprints, revealing a grey concrete spotted by oily stains. My torso was wrapped in yellowed bandages pressing a pillow of red gauze to my left side. Judging by the pain, the wound beneath was dramatic.
Tenderly exploring the skin of my also-injured face I found bandages stuck to the lower left side of my chin. I worked my jaw open and shut, side to side. It clicked and ached and that clicking and aching reached into the pathways of my brain and surfaced with the remembrance of a gun.
A rush of dreamy memories was upon me. Lying on my back, squinted vision filled and burning with overhead light. Tiny scalpel flickering reflected light into my eye. Surgeries. Doctors in a facemask and one… and one wearing a sweatband? A man in a suit. Manilla Man. My mind’s flood gate opened wider: the gun, my grab for it, the fistfight and gunfire and a graph drawn in MS Paint. Me doing some incredible kung fu shit and escaping this hell. This hell I was kidnapped and thrown into.
“OK, OK,” I said. I could dismiss that last bit about my badassery as one hundred percent dream, but the rest was finally back to me, and more than ever was clear to me now. “I should be dead,” I whispered. And then I smiled. I should be dead is a hell of a thing to be able to speak in truth. They should have killed me. But they didn’t kill me. In fact they spared me at great expense.
Voices. Down a hall and fast approaching, “…nother two hours at least,” someone was saying. I swung my body back into bed, wrenching something in my left side and finishing my spin in a collapse of pain, gagging back an instinctive cry. The voices rounded the familiar corner just as I spotted a pair of gauze scissors on the metal tray by the bed. I reached for them and my hand fell to my side as in walked three men.
I shut my eyes. “We’ve lost a lot of time because of you,” someone said. Was he talking to me?
“You’re blogging again today, my friend,” he said. It was the Manilla Man and he was talking to me. That’s when I remembered the bag. I had tossed it aside and forgotten about it! I was lying here faking sleep and he knew it! “And when you’re done we’ll have everything we need out of… ” his voice trailed and in that instant I opened my eyes. There he was to my right, not looking at me but looking down at the floor by my head. I drew my right hand way back, scissors pointed down.
“…aw come on guys, you have to have the bag on his head or we won’t get to call him–” my scissor-wielding fist pounded into his back, plunging the scissors much much deeper than I thought they would. The yelp he made is untypable, some sort of a gagging baby-scream ending with a question mark.
Just behind the collapsing Manilla Man, the two runners and their thug stood wide eyed in blue medical scrubs. One hung his mouth open and emitted a “Whooaaaaaaaaa.” I climbed out of the bed but the obviously against-me odds were like a hand against my chest; I stood with the backs of my legs against the mattress.
The suited dude was bleeding all over my feet, clawing at that spot that’s impossible to itch or get a pair of scissors out of. He rolled over and would you believe that. Nobody saw it coming either. I just knelt down and pulled his gun right out of its holster.
I had to shoot twice at the big guy because shooting a gun is nothing like in the movies and the first one went way high. He fell backward clutching his sternum. After that I just pointed and fired until both he and one of the runners were a heap on the floor. I aimed at the last one who now cowered in a corner behind a little rollaround table he did not fit behind at all.
“What do you want with me?” I asked him, watching the entrance and getting ready to leave.
“Please dude, don’t kill me please,” he whimpered.
“What do you want with me?” I repeated. My mind was made up: if he didn’t answer again this time, I was out of here without the answer to all this crazy shit. This was my chance to escape.
“I’ll tell you man just please let me go let me live please man please,” he kept repeating himself, overwhelming me with pleas for his life. It made me want to shoot him in the face just to shut him up.
“Okay! ” I barked. “Get the fuck out of there, come here.” I coaxed him out with the gun’s aim and stood him in front of me at the gate of the cell. I hastily chose my commands. “Lead me out of here. If we see anyone else or you make a sound I’ll kill you.”
He walked left out of my cell, a few paces and then turned left again. Ten paces later we were at a set of stairs leading up to a large rectangular metal door. My hostage stopped and looked back at me. It’s amazing what a glance and a nod with a pistol can communicate. He climbed the stairs, pulled back two metal sliding posts and pushed open half the doorway, the door-lid slamming open on the other side.
It was daylight. The sound of cars. I couldn’t believe how close I had been to the exit all this time.
My hostage and I climbed out and I found myself in the exact spot I had been kidnapped from, less than a mile from my house. “We’re walking back to my place,” I said to the mother fucker I had at gun point in broad daylight. “Start talking.”