He didn’t know who he was, nor where. All he knew was that he was in agonizing pain, especially around the head and neck area, and he was exorbitantly uncomfortable; and not just because of the excruciating pain. He was slouched over in an awkward position, and when he tried to get up, he bonked his head a good one. He was in total darkness, a world of oblivion, and with each breath the stuffy air seemed to get hotter and hotter and hotter.
The smell was familiar; he figured it to be a mixture of old tires and dirt; or the smell of an old-fashioned car or (“Oh my God”) that of a trunk of an old car used to haul those things at one time. But there was another scent that was rancid. What was it? While he could see nothing, he could hear muffled voices. “What the heck is going on here?” he thought to himself. He wanted to yell, but what if he were in hiding? What if he had jumped into the trunk of an old car to get away from someone who had been chasing him? But who? Who would want to hurt him? And, more to the point, “Who the hell am I?”
All of this engendered consternation and caused him to become panicky, and then as time moved on and his situation not improved upon, this panic abounded. He wanted to get out. He wanted to scream, but, for the love of God, he dare not scream. He wanted to kick with all his energy the trunk of the vehicle open, but when he tried he realized he couldn’t move his limbs. He thought that if a chicken could reason it might feel as though he did then, as it awaited the coup d’etat of the farmers axe.
Who were the owners of the muffled voices? Was this help to be, or inauspicious fate pent on keeping him in this unpropitious state. Hell might be a better place for him, for then he would at least know his fate; and know where the hell he was. And he would know the cause of his pain, and the reason he was suffering so. For what would be the reason he was in the state he was in now? Was he an indigenous felon pent on using clever artifice in an insidious act to destroy his own country? What ever that country might be? Or was he the protagonist caught up in the web of a venomous scheme of some unknown miscreant. His mind conjectured a hundred such scenarios. Ideas rolled around in his head like farts in a whirlwind as he strived to place a who, a what, a where, a when, a why and a how to his predicament. As it were, he could muster no answers.
Hate, rage and apprehension were defeating him now. These emotions were so strong that he had all but forgotten the pain. It was a mind game now. He was torturing himself with his own thoughts. His dilemma was worse than that of a prisoner fettered and cast into solitaire. He was a useless slap of skin; a total waste of time and space. Whatever time he had spent on this planet was life wasted and without purpose. He figured he must have been forgotten, like a child’s rag doll once that child grows old. Yes, he was the childhood rag doll of an old lady. He was in an old musty, dusty attic with old tires stored and rotting. He was in a box and he was helpless to escape because the lid was locked. He was in agony because he was in need of repair. He was a forgotten memory, and had no memory himself because the last time something worth remembering happened so long ago. Thus he had no memories to even help to rot away his mind; so he rotted it with pessimism; he rotted it with a bunch of fictitious crap. He rotted it with hate at what he had become, rage to escape and, yes, fear of the unknown.
Oh, then he must have been a pessimist in his past. Or, better yet, he was the villain he had conjured up in his mind (when was it) minutes ago, hours ago, days, weeks. How the hell long had he been trapped in this car, this box, this...? What? There were no answers and there were no answers to be, or so he surmised. So he must make up his own reasoning. He must have been a journalist intent on destroying the profession he had been born to do. Why else would he think up all these damn questions? He must have written an article that destroyed the career of an evil politician, or (better yet) a very popular politician with a twisted scheme. Or was it some other public official? Or no public official at all.
Or perhaps it could be... Hush! He heard the shuffle of feet on the macadam. Macadam? Was he having a memory? Did something happen on macadam? Was his job laying it down, or did he have his face stuffed up against it moments before he was... There was a rattle of keys and a clicking sound. Then there was daylight, which overwhelmed him. He shut his eyes and then blinked trying to adjust to the light. He heard two distinct voices, but couldn’t concentrate enough to determine what they were talking about. Finally he squinted, and saw the outlines of two men; but everything was a blur. The two figures lifted the limp, bound and gagged body from the trunk and let it flop to the ground with a dull thud and a barely audible “humph” as the wind was knocked out of the prisoner. The pain was unbearable, but too bad; nobody was around who cared or even noticed. The two figures lifted the wounded man, who was in agonizing pain but presumed to be dead, about two feet before one of them said something like, “Oh, he’s too flipping heavy,” and proceeded to drop the body so its top half smashed onto the macadam. Its lower half dropped half a second later.
The pain didn’t matter. He was trying to will himself awake so he could figure out how to get out of this circumstance, but was, at this point, just barely able to move his fingers. One of the figures grabbed him under the armpits and dragged him for what seemed to the prisoner a long distance, and then dropped him (again) bonking his head (again) against the macadam; which knocked the wind out of him. One of the figures may even have heard an audible “humph” with this effort, but he didn’t care at this point. The whole matter would be out of his hands in a few moments. The prisoner, whomever he was, heard a door squeak open, and then he was shoved feet first through the door and down a slide where he landed at the bottom with another dull thud and an “oomph” for emphasis. Incisive pain raged through his ankle up to his spine, an effort to roar ravaged in his throat, but all that came out was that muffled groan. However, this time he did managed the strength to keep his head from hitting the ground.
He managed to a sitting position and realized that he could now move his head, fingers and arms. But he still hadn’t regained the ability to move his legs. He looked quickly about the capacious room and noticed a pool of water on a cement floor with several bodies lying on the right side of this pool; obviously the end of someone‘s repugnant act. “How long had they been there? Did they come upon this room by the same fate? If so, what was that fate?” This thought process reminded him again of his raging pain. And then the smell overwhelmed him: The strong musty smell of the dungeon, coupled with the smell of rotting, dead bodies. It was as though this whole affair were a nightmare: “What the hell?” he thought, as a warm, tingly sensation of fear flushed through his body as he thought this might be his fate and his final destiny to die and then to rot down here until there was nothing left but ossified bones with a gold wedding ring lying near the remains of the left hand -- which would be the same fate as those other bodies, minus the gold ring. They were dead, he figured based on the smell; for he noticed no movement. Was there blood? He couldn’t tell; he couldn’t focus. But, then, what the hell could he tell anyway in his stunned and feeble state. He might be here years, perhaps, until some happy kids come wandering about these parts and find joy in breaking into this barn or shed or warehouse (or whatever the hell it was), and enjoy sliding down that slide -- the shoot -- he was forced to slide down to meat his eternal fate, and come upon the bodies with their flesh rotting, smelling rancid and full of white slimy maggots. But, in thinking of all this, he forgot that he should have been trying to escape. Before he had a chance to look around and back up the shoot he heard a door slam and, moments later, a car drive away. He was left in pitch darkness again.
Then, just as he figured he was going to be left to die (if that wasn’t what he was already supposed to be) he heard a door open on the other side of the room and a light was turned on. The two figures were a blur, but he watched as the two blurs walked around the other bodies and toward the prisoner. They were taciturn as they set the prisoner’s hands and feet free from the shackles that bound his limbs. One of the men grabbed him under the armpits and helped him to his feet. The prisoner was surprised he was able to use his legs. Within a few minutes he had enough strength to stand on his own, and when he could do so he turned and looked at the faces of the two men. Their faces didn‘t ring a bell, but he did think he was pretty sure they were not the same two men that gagged him, beat the crap out of him, strangled him and left him for dead in the trunk of their car. How the heck had he survived all of that? Was it with the help of God? Was it simply not his fate to die at that time? And how the hell could they not have known he was not dead all that time? Was it the drug?
Sure, he had been drugged. But what was he doing that required someone to drug him? Why had he been beaten? Was he beaten before or after the drug? These and other questions raced through his mind, but then a tap on his back by one of the men brought his mind back to the present He realized that the two men were people from his past. Who were they? Well, you can’t expect him to remember everything. What was it? Sure, he figured it would come to him in time, perhaps when his sight came fully back (when the drug loosened its grip on his mind).
“Are you all right, Art?” One of the men asked. When the feeble man nodded that he was fine (which he clearly wasn’t) one of the shady men (he couldn’t tell which) said, “Then we’re going to help you out here. We’ll get you out of this situation.” Then the hostage, who had just realized his name was Art, replied, “What’s going on here?” He had thought about asking, “Who the hell are you?” but decided against it. But it didn’t matter either way, for his voice was barely audible. To these two young men it sounded like moans and groans from the severely wounded old man.
"Things worked out a bit unexpectedly, but everything works out as planned in the end. Don’t they?" Said one of the men. Art wondered why these men were here. Why would they want to be around all this carnage, and the smell of rotting flesh? Surely they didn’t know he would be here at this location at this time. Did they? Surely they had to be bothered by that fetid smell; perhaps they had a direr task at hand that caused them to not think of the smell. Or, perhaps they had worked around such carnage before and were used to it, if that were possible. Art, anyway, knew he could smell the rotting flesh, so he knew it had to be there. But, then again, by now his nose and sinuses were so swelled up he may have lost all sense of smell and was just imagining things. That might be it. Forgetting about his surroundings, and the people in it, Art wondered what the plan was, and what he had to do with it. Either way, he was relieved to know he was among people who weren’t trying to hurt him.
Then, both these men stood by Art’s side as a third man entered the scene. Things were still a bit cloudy, but our prisoner was able to sense an eminence of evil radiating from this man. He had wondered if he had had contact with him in the past. This man, whoever he was, pulled out a gun and, as he went to pull the trigger, was bumped from the side by one of the perceived good guys. A shot was heard, then plaster fell from the ceiling.
“You ass!” someone shouted. One of the good guys had the one with the evil eminence by the wrist trying to wrest the gun from him. The gun fell to the ground and there was a discordant clashing of knives. Art felt confident now that this evil man was going to die and Art would be able to walk away and, hopefully, piece together the events of the past few days. Then, even better, piece together his life.
Then a flash of joy reverberated through his body as he saw the perceived good guys had succeeded in disarming the perceived enemy. There was discussion among all three men, something about the bodies. And then all the memories came rushing back to Art as though they were being injected into his veins. He realized right then that he was the cause of all this horror, and he had now become trapped in his own malicious game.
Art bent down with much difficulty and picked up the loose weapon from the cold, damp floor. When he looked back at the battle he noticed that the officer had a gun in his grip again, and had it pointed at the other two. Art figured they had forgotten about him, so he expeditiously gripped his newly discovered weapon and set to drive it into the head of the man with the gun. But, to his dismay, one of his perceived friends took notice of this, turned, and drove a knife into Art’s abdomen once, twice...
His world spun away.