Every once in awhile I get an idea in my head and I just have to write it out. I’m not a novelist, and I really don’t expect that to change for a variety of reasons. With that said, what you will find below is the start of a story – perhaps a novel – that I played around with some this weekend. I will probably write some more, but I doubt it will reach a point where it is ready for publication. I hope you enjoy.
It’s Tuesday. It doesn’t matter what month it is, the season, or what the weather is like. It’s just Tuesday. There’s nothing special about today. It could have been Wednesday or Thursday, or any other normal day of no particular significance, but it’s Tuesday. Nothing is supposed to happen on Tuesday, not this Tuesday or any Tuesday, but it’s looking like this is the day that I am going to die a violent, painful and bloody death.
These are the thoughts that have been rattling through my head from the time that van – that typical, non-descript, panel van – screeched to a stop just a little too late, striking me on the sidewalk and knocking me to the hard concrete and hooded men yanked me to my feet and hurled me into that van.
Fast-forward to the present and I find myself bloody, battered and dumbfounded. Tied down to a metal chair like some superspy movie so tightly that I haven’t been able to feel my arms and hands for at least an hour now, which might be a blessing as I’m pretty sure I have a couple broken fingers – the first broken bones of my life. It probably doesn’t matter, though. I probably wouldn’t even notice that pain after the body blows I’ve taken and the punches to the face.
It has to have been a couple hours at this point. To say that I am panicked is a ridiculous understatement. They took me, they brought me to this crazy place, and they’ve beaten me. They haven’t said a single thing. My best guess is that this is one of those crazy gang initiations that you hear about. Like when someone gets punched out at random, or that thing where you see a car with their lights off at night and you flick yours at them and they drive you off the road and shoot you. I’m going to die!
What else could it be? I’m just a guy, like anyone else. I’m thirty-six, and my job as a network administrator, making a moderately good but not amazing living. Jesus! I work for a damned real estate agency. I keep to myself. I’m polite and nice. Nobody has any reason to do this to me.
Tears stream down my cheeks, blood and mucus is smeared across my shirt. I’m a quick study, and I’ve learned to keep my head down after throwing up all over myself when I choked on that combination. James Bond I am not.
I hear the door open. They’ve left me alone for awhile, but the respite is over. In the back of my head I’m counting the seconds and at eight the door slams shut. The sound is sharp and loud, with a hint of a clang. Guessing it’s metal. Guessing the wall it is in to be bare brick, like the one wall in front of me that is close enough to see in the sparse light.
Foot steps slap against the dirty concrete floor. I know this is the sound of running shoes now. Sounds like two this time. I’ve never considered this sort of thing before. It was never particularly important to know how many people were behind me based on the footfalls. Like I said, I’m a quick study. Not that this knowledge is likely to be very helpful to me.
Fuck! Rhymes with ‘thock’, the meaty sound that accompanies the solid punch that crashes into my cheek and jaw, causing a bright flash then murky darkness as I nearly slip into unconsciousness. Then the pain. I am sure I can feel the impression of every knuckle that collided with my head, a sharp pain in my neck might be whiplash and I spit a tooth before unceremoniously vomiting again. I rather wish that shot had knocked me out and given me a break from the pain. OK, fuck doesn’t quite rhyme with thock. Close enough.
“Where is the custodian?” the smaller, nicer one – nicer, based on the fact that he hasn’t hit me, yet – asks.
I have no idea what in the world he is talking about. The janitor at work? I want to redirect this situation, maybe if we can get to a discourse all of this can be cleared up and I can go back to my boring Tuesday. I need to hurry up and get this started, so I lift my head and start down that road, but all that comes out is an infinitely diplomatic, “Wh-what?”
Yeah. I’m going to die today.
“I said where is the custodian?” small guy said loudly, with an edge to it that pushed him further away from the nice moniker.
I replied quickly, hoping that what I had to offer would satisfy, “We hire a service. They come in and clean the office four days a week. I don’t really know who they are – what the company is called. I saw one of them once, he was Mexican, well… hispanic or I don’t know. Like… Someone who -”
A curt nod from the short one and the other guy slammed his fist into my head again cutting off my blabbering. The impact to my ear was such that it throbbed immediately, deeply. I felt like I had a horrible sinus cold and it was affecting my hearing.
I am vaguely aware that they are speaking with each other, but can’t quite make out the low voices until I loll my head toward them to catch bits and pieces of their hushed conversation.
“…he doesn’t know?”
“He’s the chosen one! Of course…”
Was that the little guy or the big one? I’m not sure. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t matter. It’s all coming together now. These guys aren’t part of a gang. It’s worse. They’re religious nutters.
“We’re not getting anywhere with beating him, though,” says the big guy. Turns out he may be a meathead, but he’s the one with brains in my humble opinion. I’d like to chime in with my agreement, except that it seems unlikely to be welcome.
“He won’t be any good to us, and the new one won’t be ready if we don’t go ahead and kill him now,” he goes on. I’d like to change my vote and go with continued beatings, thanks.
Shorty snaps back, “I know that, David! Fuck! We all know that, but we have to find the custodian, too.”
That’s when things go from Quentin Tarantino to H. P. Lovecraft.