Michael hit Sam with a backhand to the lips. That got the fuck’s attention. Sam’s head popped up and he looked frantically around the room, at first appearing to not remember where he was. When his gaze lowered to the zip-tied stump resting on his lap, he started freaking out a little. His eyes grew so wide Michael was afraid the man’s peepers would just roll out of his head. Sam opened his mouth to scream, wail, or both, but no sound came out – most likely because as soon as that giant mouth opened, Michael put the blade of the machete against Sam’s throat.
“You really, really don’t want to make a scene,” Michael said. Sam closed his mouth. Michael removed the blade. Teary-eyed, Sam stared at the stump at the end of his left arm.
“What… what… what did you…”
“Me?” Michael said. “Naw. I didn’t do that. You did, Colonel.” He put the blood-stained machete back on the table, picked up the bolt-cutters. Holding the bolt-cutters in both hands, he stretched his arms out until the rusty blades were inches from Sam’s face. “And I just can’t wait to see what you do to yourself with these!” He said, snapping the blades shut. Sam emitted a feeble yelp and began pulling at the cuffs that bound his right hand to the steel table. Michael smiled. “Awe damn,” he said. “And here I figured your toes would be next.”
Sam wasn’t a weak man, but he was in a weakened state. When Michael pinned his remaining hand onto the table and slid the blades of the bolt-cutters over his thumb, all of his remaining fight seemed to drain out.
“Okay!” Sam said. “Ok, Michael. You win.” Michael loosened his grip on the cutters, but didn’t remove them from around Sam’s thumb.
“I win?” Michael said. “Great! What do I get?” Sam took a couple deep breaths, used his free forearm to wipe the sweat from his brow.
“You’re right,” Sam said. “I was there.”
“I know,” Michael said. He regained his tight hold on the cutters, pinched the blades just a little more against the base of Sam’s thumb.
“Wait, wait!” Sam said. “I’m not finished.” Michael loosened his grip again, but just a little.
“That right?” Michael said. “Well then – I’ll just back the fuck off. I just have to hear this shit. Please, Colonel – enlighten me. Tell me some shit I don’t know.”
“I was there,” Sam said. “But I swear – don’t know where she is.” Michael’s eyes narrowed. His grip tightened on the cutter’s handles. Sam grunted a little as the blades bit just slightly into the meat of his thumb.
“You sure?” Michael said.
“Yeah,” Sam said. “I swear, Michael. If I knew where she is, I would’ve told you.” Michael smiled.
“I know,” he said. He gave a little shrug. “Don’t care.” Sam’s face turned pale white. “Now,” Michael continued. “Where were we? Oh yeah, that’s right.” He pulled the handles fast and hard. There was a small crunch as Sam’s thumb separated and landed beside the screaming man’s mutilated, twitching hand. “This isn’t going to work,” Michael said. “Can’t have you screaming and fucking up my concentration.” Michael picked the ball-gag off the table, dangled it in front of Sam’s horrified face. “I mean – we still have fourteen little piddy’s to go.”
Michael scrambled out of bed and rushed to Jessica’s room. He threw open her door, but she wasn’t there. The shock immobilized him for a moment. All he could do was stare at the empty bed, messed-up covers, unicorn curtains billowing, riding on the wind that blew through the open window.
Her voice broke him from his shocked trance, got him moving again. It came from just outside the window, which faced the back of the house. He went down the stairs, skipping them two and three at a time. Then he rushed through the kitchen and out the back door. He could make out maybe four or five figures standing behind a large vehicle. It was hard to see anything. A spot light of some kind was pointed at the house, flooding the backyard with an intense white beam. Michael called to her, but she didn’t respond. The light made him dizzy. The figures behind the vehicle seemed to begin dancing on the air, swaying, almost undulating on an ocean of bright. Then, suddenly, the light went out, and there was only darkness, littered with large red and purple spots. He squeezed his eyes closed, tried to clear his vision. The spots remained. He called out to her the dark and was answered by the sound of the vehicle starting up. He started towards the sound, but a hard knock with a blunt object against the back of his head sent him face first to the grassy earth. He went down, but didn’t lose consciousness. Finally, he heard her. She cried out for him again. Like the devil’s eyes, two red taillights lit up the ground. He looked up as a bunch of the figures scrambled into the back of the vehicle and closed the double doors behind them. The last figure went to the passenger-side door and opened it, the cab filled up with light. The figure climbed into the passenger seat, closed the door. But just before the light in the cab went dark, Michael saw a familiar reflection in the driver-side mirror. He growled at the pain in his head, began crawling to the vehicle on all fours. He didn’t even get close. The vehicle sped into the back alley-way behind Michael’s house and vanished, seemingly instantaneously.
“Jessica!” Michael yelled. The fell forward, his face-planting the soft wet grass. Then he lost consciousness.
By the time Triphanie finally opened her eyes and found out their daughter was gone, Michael was already talking to the first of many police troops that came that night. It was good that the police sent so many officers. They needed at least five of them to keep Triphanie from completely losing her shit. A paramedic duo also showed up, bandaged up Michael’s head, told him they were ordered to take him to the county hospital. Michael declined the ride, signed their wavers, and spent the following couple hours or so answering the cops’ many questions, a lot of which seemed aimed at Michael himself. They asked him what time he put Jessica to bed. They asked him what time it was when he first heard her scream for him. They asked him if he got a good look at the vehicle or persons involved. Michael told them what he could, but he could tell they were suspicious. He told them he saw more than one perpetrator, but he didn’t see their faces. And as for the make, model, license number of the vehicle, their guess was as good as his. After the patrol cops finished with their questions, a couple detectives asked him the exact same ones. When they finished, they gave him a business card, told him that they were required to pitch the case off to the feds and that a couple agents would be reaching out – probably by morning. But, if he heard from the kidnappers before then, give them a call and they’d come running.
It was all very hard to go through. Michael just wanted the cops to leave. Knowing what he knew, he suspected at least a couple of them were in on the whole thing. He couldn’t trust any of them –especially the feds. He’d have to do it himself – somehow.
Triphanie was, of course, no use to anyone. Her nerves were not only split, they were frayed and burned at the ends. Once the police circus wrapped up and all the clowns went on to the next bullshit job, Michael led his wife back into the house, poured her a drink. They sat in the kitchen, him staring at her – her staring at his phone.
“Do you think they’ll call,” she asked.
“I dunno,” he said. “Anything’s possible, I guess.” She drained the last of her rum double, held the glass out. He dutifully refilled it.
“What about the feds?” She asked.
“What about them?”
“Will they find her?”
“No,” Michael said. “I don’t think they will. But I will.”
After about an hour with no calls from the kidnappers, cops or feds, Michael carried his intoxicated wife to their bed for the second time in under twelve hours. He covered her, kissed her gently. Then he turned to go, but she grabbed his hand.
“Stay with me,” she said. “I don’t want to be alone.” Michael kissed her again, ran his fingers through her long blonde hair.
“I can’t,” he said. “I have to find her.”
“Will you?” she asked. “Will you find her?”
“Yes,” he said. He went to the door.
“Michael?” She called after him. He paused in the doorway, not turning around. “You promise?” She asked.
“I promise,” he said and closed the door.
Michael was actually a little more than proud of his old friend’s stamina. It wasn’t until he clipped off the middle finger that Sam passed out again. Thankfully, the screaming was subdued by the ball-gag. Michael was thankful for that. All that screaming kind of ruined the fun. He was about to smack Sam back awake when he saw the first red and blue lights glowing against the outside of the white window blinds. He pulled out his phone, checked the time. He looked at Sam, who was still unconscious.
“You sneaky little fuck,” he said “You really do have a GPS up your ass – don’t you?” Oh well, he thought. Not a big deal. Just have to push my schedule up a little; that’s all. And, looks like good ole Colonel Sam will get to keep his last two fingers after all. Michael went to the bag on the floor, pulled out a couple items, then looked back at Sam. The big man hadn’t stirred. Michael was relieved he hadn’t woke the Colonel. He had to get ready for what came next and he didn’t need a screaming fat man making his headache worse while he did it. From outside, he heard the chirping of one of the police sirens. He went to the blinds, peeked out. There were at least four patrol cars in the lot far down below. He knew that soon enough, many more would show up. And they’d bring lots of men, guns, maybe a few dogs. Michael was also fairly sure a helicopter would be on the menu at some point – as well as a sniper or two. The only problem was, the police didn’t know they needed all that shit yet. Michael picked up the rifle from next to the window. Yup, he thought. This shit is definitely making the news. He looked back at Sam. “Ready for your fucking close-up, asshole?” He said, then he chambered a round, aimed the rifle down at the parking lot.
“Here… we… go!” he said and pulled the trigger.
TO BE CONTINUED…