How They Really Feel

By
On a warm, starlit evening in downtown Chicago, Mark was walking down the sidewalk from work. With his eyes fixed straight ahead and a chin held up high, his presence was unmistakably clear in the crowd of people. As black venetian shoes traversed the runway of pavement, a big brown briefcase hovered by his side. The briefcase, populated with plain and professional papers, contained official documents known only by him. His feet moved faster than others around him since there was another matter to attend to in the evening. Observing the people around him, Mark aimed straight through the crowds like a car on a racetrack. This environment was not new to him; his office in the area demanded his proficiency of navigation. As Mark continued toward the subway a few blocks away, he decided to take a different route. Hoping to reach his destination before half past six, he turned a corner and went through a silent alley. Poorly illuminated by the flickering of sparse neon lights, Mark braced himself for unseen things that could block his path. As the initial minutes went by, he had a positive feeling about making this choice. But, as quickly as that feeling came, Mark began to hear noises other than his feet hitting the ground. Little clangs of metal and thuds of boxes increased in frequency, making Mark want to dart his eyes behind him. His senses were in the watchtower, trying to determine the location of the foreign sound waves. The pace of walking slowed, and Mark started to sweat and breathe heavily.

In the abyss he yelled, "Who's there?" but a response did not reach him.

Suddenly a thunder of force struck him in the upper back. He tasted the dirt on the ground and fell into a different world. As blurriness converted into clarity, Mark's eyes were widened when looking at the different place that he was in. He saw a dank, drury square room with stone walls covered in grime. Odors of garbage and sewage permeated his nose and he could almost taste rotten food in his mouth. In the distant corner, a tiny rat burrowed its way through all sorts of miniature holes in order to get the next meal. Squinting his eyes, Mark saw some sort of chair in front of his barred-in cell, looking like a post for one of the guards. With these sights, sounds, and smells, Mark could only shake his head at the situation. Within these walls, his entire scope of hope and freedom seemed to be suppressed. With no phone and briefcase, Mark knew that only a confrontation would give him the chance of survival.

With the hard ground causing a sharp pain in his back, Mark raised himself up in the middle of the night. Across from the entrance to his cell, he perceived a face that was ever so slightly illuminated by a crimson light. The face, staying as still as a statue, had eyes that were only fixed upon him. Mark, with his head jerked back by the imposing sight, adjusted to a position where he could easily jump to his feet. Tensions rose. An eery, deep voice crept under the bars from the face, gathering right by him as if the person were sitting right next to him.

"You were a fool to walk down that alley," exclaimed the face.

Mark replied, "Who are you?"

With an additional light turned on, his identity was revealed. He was a young man in his mid-twenties with brown hair and an imposing 6' 2" frame. He had a curved scar on his right cheek and a ring in his left ear. Dressed in a dirty, white sweater and black jeans, his presence displayed a roughness that Mark could determine was completely genuine. Then, with a sudden realization, Mark recognized the person before him: one of the top most wanted criminals in Chicago.

"I remember seeing you on the news quite a bit," stated Mark.

"Ha! It feels good being famous. I'm glad that I'm fulfilling my life dream!" exclaimed the criminal.

At this moment, Mark felt a sense of being overwhelmed. His eyes drooped and he had an expression of heaviness. The conflict inside was brewing, torn about deciding his next action. One side of the mind considered fists, feet, and combat. The other side considered calm speech and reasoning. The silence was broken.

"The money in your briefcase amounts to a large sum, but I know that the company you work for contains more of it. If you tell me the access code to the money vault, then I will let you go with all of your possessions," explained the criminal.

Mark thought about his life and how it would be affected by the decision made right here. Both paths would lead to pain, and at this early time in his life, he would not jeopardize his conscience. Then, a path to freedom pierced into his vision. At one end of the cell, there was a small rod. His plan of action was to lunge toward it, grab it, and make a vertical swipe across the head in the hope of causing the criminal to lose consciousness.

Mark responded, "I can't comply to your request, criminal. Your supposed success will be turned into defeat!"

Mark's eyes locked with the criminal's and his heart jumped into his throat with a thud. A bead of sweat rolled down his neck. The criminal's mouth turned into a slight frown and he cracked his knuckles. Suddenly, Mark lunged like a cheetah toward the stick. With the rough splinters in his hand, he struck the criminal faster than a speedboat. The criminal fell to the ground, and Mark took the keys from his pocket. Getting out of the cell, he retrieved his briefcase and took a string and bound the criminal's hands with a tight tug. Silently, he pulled the criminal like an animal out of the lair and into the ocean of people. The police station soon contained the two men, and after Mark gave the criminal over to the authorities, he gave one final glare before stomping out and slamming the door.





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