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The black cloth bag was ripped off of my head and bright light from an overhead lamp blinded me. The light was very painful after having the bag on my head for so long - it didn’t help that it was directed straight into my eyes. As my eyes adjusted I noticed the shiny handcuffs binding my wrists to the cold metal chair in which I was sitting. Looking down over my right side I saw that each leg of the chair was bolted to the concrete floor.
A small metal table was bolted to the floor. At it sat a man whose face was barely visible in the circle of illumination cast from the lamp. He was looking down at some pictures that were clipped to a sheet of paper that he had laid flat on the table. The pictures were of me.
“Where am I?” I muttered, blinking sleepily as my eyes adjusted to the light. The man didn’t react. “Come on man. Where am I?” Still nothing. “Answer me damnit!” I shouted, baring my teeth.
The man glanced up from the file. “You have some information I want,” he said slowly, taking his time to speak every word clearly. “Do you feel like talking?” He was still sitting in shadow but as my eyes continued to adjust I could see that he was wearing glasses.
“Who are you man?” I was getting nervous. “What are you talking about?” Suddenly he jumped forward until his face was about a foot away from mine. The light pouring down from the overhead lamp cast shadows down his face, giving him a very menacing look. The sudden action made me gasp as I tried to burrow myself as deep as possible into my chair.
“Well maybe with a little persuasion you’d figure it out on your own,” he seethed, punctuating every word with so much force that I thought it would send me through my chair. “Take him away!” He shouted at the mirror on the wall to my right as he slapped the table. I was in deep. How deep? You couldn’t possibly imagine.
One day earlier.
“Mr. Johnson!” I snapped awake to see my boss standing above me.
“I-I’m sorry Mr. Avery,” I stammered wiping the drool off my cheek. “Won’t happen again sir,” I said panicking as I wiped the puddle off of my desk with a Kleenex from the box on my cubicle shelf.
“You’re darn right it wont happen again,” he said forcefully. “I’m not paying you to sleep. Do that on your own time.”
“Yes sir.” As Mr. Avery turned to go, he stopped as if he wanted to say something else, then shook his head and walked away. I looked at my computer screen. This was the second time I had fallen asleep at my desk this week. But who could blame me? Mr. Avery was a slave driver. I was required to work from 8:00 in the morning until 10:00 in the evening. It was too much time for me to be working spreadsheets. But it was what I was being paid to do. Be an accountant.
When the clock finally spun over to 10 I leaned back in my chair, rubbed my eyes, and stretched. I was free. It was time to go to my lonely apartment in Northeast Portland. The best part of it was that it was Friday night. I had the entire weekend to catch up on those precious hours of sleep.
Robbie Jeffers was waiting for me in the break room when I went to clock out. “You keep that up you’re gonna lose your cover,” He taunted. He was a peculiar character, but he is my best friend. He was entertaining.
“I know Rob,” I said yawning. “That job last night just left me wiped. Anything from operations?”
“Nothing yet man,” he replied as he punched my shoulder in slow motion. “I know you can’t wait for the exciting stuff.”
“Oh you just know me don’t you?” I said sarcastically. He and I were operatives for a company that was not tied to any government in particular, like mercenaries. We had been working together for the past five years. I enjoyed the travel. I could be in one place one moment and on the plane to somewhere on the other side of the planet in the next. “Hey what do you think about hittin’ the club tonight?”
“Sure man,” he replied cheerfully. “Sounds like a good time. I’ll meet you there in a half hour, ok?”
“You got it Rob, see ya there.” I walked out of the room and exited the building. As I walked out to my car I kept thinking about meeting Robbie. It was going to be a blast. I needed to unwind and that was exactly what we had planned. We’d probably go up and buy some drinks, find some chicks to dance with for a while, then see where the night took us from there.
Suddenly, in the window of a nearby minivan, I noticed the reflection of a dark figure sneaking up on me. I quickly turned around just in time to see the butt of a rifle coming down on my face. Then there was just black.
I came to as I was being cuffed to the cold metal chair. A man yelling at me, intimidating me, and spitting in my face seemed like a great way to wake up. “Take him away!” He shouted. Oh well, so much for the club. Instantly two men detached me from my chair and started dragging me down a partially illuminated hallway toward what I could only imagine would be a dark hole for me to rot in until I decided to talk. It wasn’t going to come easy though. I had been trained to withstand torture. The hallway was about ten feet wide and the only lights were about twenty feet apart. My shoes squeaked on the white linoleum floor as they dragged me. As we passed by a window I stole a glance out and saw that it was dusk. It hadn’t been long since they took me. This meant that they couldn’t have taken me far.
As we crossed another window I saw two very bright lights. The men who were transporting me stopped to look at them. They both had confused looks on their faces. Suddenly they threw me further down the hall as a black SUV blew through the wall. Bits of rubble flew at me and the once clean hallway was smothered in a cloud of dust. The SUV had definitely taken a beating as well. Smoke was rising from the crumpled hood and the windshield had blown out. The damage didn’t seem to be that bad though. Probably because around the front of the vehicle was steel reinforcement, heavy-duty brush guards and what looked like the remains of an oversized battering ram.
The driver side door opened up and all I could see through the dust was a dark figure step out of the car and climb over the hood. As the driver jumped off of the wrecked vehicle, he dusted off his suit and kick one of the men that had been dragging me. The guard was lying unconscious on the floor and had an oozing head wound.
“Sam, you need to come with me now,” He said while opening the back door of the SUV and gesturing for me to go through. The shock of the whole situation paralyzed me. Looking up I saw through the flickering lights that the man playing my savior was Robbie Jeffers. “Now,” He said more firmly as he picked me up by my shoulders. “This ain’t your desk, not a good time to be sleepin.” From down the hallway I could hear people shouting and running.
For some reason the most intelligent thing I could say while he maneuvered me into the back of the truck was, “Um… Eh… Oh… Uh.” The back of the vehicle was completely gutted. The interior consisted of a driver seat and a six-point restraint setup to ensure that the truck was “death proof.” As Rob directed me further inside I saw why. The rear doors were flung open and red light from the taillights of another black SUV flooded the one we were inside. This one was an escape tunnel. It was a portable door.
“Hurry up and get in,” I was directed. Numbly, I did what I was told. Rob pushed me over to the middle of the back seat in the new car. I saw him throw something into our way out as he got in. “Go go go!” He shouted at the driver. We took in a cloud of smoke and burning rubber. Looking back I saw men climbing out of the crashed SUV. I saw some of them draw weapons as a fiery explosion sent them flying.
Robbie handed me a gun as two black cars appeared behind us. “Stop daydreaming and shoot back!” Robbie instructed as machine gun fire hit the bulletproof glass in the back window. Instantly I was out of my stupor. Rolling down my window I looked back and picked out a target among our pursuers. I leaned out of the window and started blasting, aiming for the ground beneath the enemy vehicles. My goal in doing this was to disorient them with bullets ricocheting through the floorboards.
“Yee-ah! Score one for Sam,” I exclaimed after the car I was shooting at lost control and slid sideways into a parked car. I leaned back into the Suburban and ejected the magazine from my pistol to replace it with a fresh one. Looking back I saw Rob’s mark run headlong into a street lamp. “Oh nice one Robbie.”
“Why thank you Sammie,” he said as he ducked back into the car and put on his seat belt. After studying me for a second he said, “You ok?”
“Yeah I think so,” I replied. “That was a heck of a stunt you pulled with that Suburban back there. Are you ok?”
“Don’t worry about me. You know I’ve done that sort of thing before.” He made it seem like it was no big deal that he had just had a head on collision with a wall. The entire time we were in the car was spent in silence and intermittent looks out the back window to see if we were being followed. I was glad to have been picked up before things got too hairy.
After driving around for about fifteen minutes we came to a stop at a small house. “This is a safe one of our safe houses,” Rob told me. “You need to stay here for a while.”
“I know procedure,” I said, getting out of the SUV. “Stay put, get debriefed and then go home. Maybe our next job will be to find out who that was who took me.”
“That would be cool,” Robbie said contemplatively.
I spent the next week in and out of the debriefing room and going over the events of that crazy evening in my head. I had so many questions. Who were those people? What intel did they hope to obtain through me? And most importantly, how did they know to grab me? These and many more swirled through my head. I hoped to have answers to them. I hoped even more that I would be chosen to go find out for myself.