Tag Archives: kidnapping

Mirror Man – Friday Fictioneers

copyright Janet Webb

copyright Janet Webb

 

Mirror Man

I spent eight months imprisoned in a bathroom. Food was pushed under the door.

Pancakes mostly; maybe some deli ham.

The only company I had was the man in the mirror. “Why? Why?” I screamed at him. He never answered, just childishly mimicked my every move.

Finally I really examined the door. It was locked from the inside.

That deepened my concerns.

Outside, I found a house with a woman living in it. Her wedding ring matched mine.

“Why?” I shouted at her.

“You made me,” she said, cringing.

No, not me. It was that damned man in the mirror.

 

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Mommy’s Little Miracle – Friday Fictioneers

I’m quite late this week, but I’ve been pretty busy. Still, the end is in sight: two more days until we move. Things will still be hectic, but at least I won’t have all the packing and cleaning I have now.

copyright Mary Shipman

copyright Mary Shipman

Mommy’s Little Miracle

Swish, swish.

Pastel colors brushed onto old, warped walls. The pungent smell of new paint mingled with the lusty cries of new life in the next room. The last few days had been a whirlwind of activity, a maelstrom of emotions: anticipation at the hospital, a few moments of fear and now, pure elation.

She had long given up on having a family, but now here he was, her little miracle.

Well, almost hers. Her eyes flicked to the TV news. A few more months. When she had outlasted the searches and the Amber alerts, he would be hers forever.

 


What They Said

Zack loved gossip the way a dog loves other dogs’ poop. He was attracted to every filthy little scandal and when he came across gossip, he couldn’t help adding his own details.

Not that he would ever take credit for anything. It was always ‘they’. “Hey, they say Brad got arrested last night,” he said. “Drugs, I think.” Brad was the school’s top student and it didn’t matter that he had only been spotted going on a ride-along with his cop uncle. The gossip was much more exciting.

gossip

Zack never made anything up. It wasn’t a lie after all, he just took what other fundamentally untrustworthy gossips said, added his own embellishments, and passed it along. But then came the week when nothing apparently happened. Brittany had no news for him; nobody threw up in gym class or got caught making out behind the gym. Helen had nothing either, or Gary, Phil, Victoria or Nell. Even Kyle had nothing new to tell him and Kyle was like a walking tabloid without the ads.

He was starting to get the shakes as gossip withdrawal hit him. He had his own people coming to him, asking what the new story was. That was when Zack decided to make something up, something totally new and so juicy that it would go viral. But who would it be about?

The principal, he decided. The principal was a retired army captain and quite strict. The story didn’t even have to be believable, just sensational. Credibility had never bothered gossips before.

He worked out the exact story and started it the next day on the bus. “Hey,” he said to Kyle, who was sitting next to him. “Did you hear about Principal Brown? They say he was caught smuggling rabbits full of drugs into the country, him and a female Lebanese spy.”

“Wow, where did you hear that?” Kyle asked, with a look of jealousy that he hadn’t heard it first. Zack just shrugged.

“Oh, you know. It’s just what they’re saying.”

Once Kyle had his teeth in the story, it didn’t take long for the whole school to hear about it. It was so successful that Principal Brown even came on the intercom before the last period to assure everyone that he had never smuggled drugs and that he was not the leader of an international spy ring (the story had grown slightly during the day). Zack was feeling good; this was the sort of thing the local news might even pick up.

He was walking home after school, when a helicopter appeared out of nowhere and picked him up with a giant claw and whisked him away. This was unexpected.

The next thing he knew, he was sitting in a dark room, in a single pool of light.

“Zack Bandersnatch, you lied,” a voice said out of the darkness.

Zack scanned his recent history for lies, trying to think of what this person was talking about. It was a rather large list to narrow down. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said at last.

“This morning you told Kyle Pudgybottom a rumor about your principal,” another voice said and Zack suddenly realized there were more people in the room. “You said, and I quote, ‘they say he was caught smuggling rabbits full of drugs into the country, him and a female Lebanese spy.’”

“They might have said that,” Zack said.

“No, they didn’t,” a third voice said, much deeper and resonant, “because we are They!”

Zack was a bit confused by the pronouns and didn’t say anything. There was an awkward silence. “What I mean,” the third voice continued, “is that whenever people say, ‘they say’, they’re referring to us. We start all rumors, so don’t go starting your own.”

Zack thought about this. “Why not?”

“Because it’s our job!” one of them snapped. “People don’t go around saying ‘Zack says’ all the time; they say ‘they say’ and they are us and we are them.”

“Or what?” Zack asked. He had liked making up his own rumors and didn’t want to be pushed around by a faceless gossip oligarchy: a gossigarchy.

“Or we’ll start one about you,” one of them said. “We know just how to do it. It could even start out innocent, like you were studying late in the library. 24 hours later, people will be saying you were making out with Mrs. Vermicelli, the librarian, in the history section.”

“You wouldn’t dare!” Zack said.

“Oh, that would just be the beginning. Everyday there would be a new scandal about you. You would never be able to go outside without being laughed at again.”

“Fine,” Zack said. “What do you want from me?”

“Don’t start rumors,” one said. “That’s our job.” Then a large crane came out of the ceiling and Zack was again unceremoniously hauled away.

*        *        *

I’d like to say that Zack learned his lesson and became a perfect boy, but of course that didn’t happen. Two weeks later, he slipped up and started a rumor about a girl he secretly liked. Sure enough, the next day, the school was abuzz with a rumor about him and the librarian.

Strangely enough, after the initial shock, most people didn’t care. He got a lot of jokes about studying late in the library, but if anything, it all made him more popular. The next rumor was worse. They began to say Zack had peed himself in swimming class. But Zack just shrugged his shoulders and made up a rumor about himself, about how he had been short-listed for a Pulitzer Prize for his history essay on Napoleon. No one believed it, but it increased his fame. Soon the rumors about him were flying and he was the most famous boy in the school.

After Zack graduated, the stories only continued to grow until he was referred only as That Boy. “Remember That Boy?” students would say. “That Boy who won the Pulitzer, peed in the pool, shot his math teacher with a paintball gun, got blasted into space in science class, sold nuclear secrets to the Syrians, saved a group of tigers from a forest fire, kissed all the girls in school, poisoned the cafeteria food, hacked into the Pentagon, and came to school in a kilt that one time. He was quite a kid.”


The Reality Gun

I woke up in what looked like a lab. Which was weird, since I’d fallen asleep on my couch watching reruns of the X-Files. A young woman bent over me and smiled brightly.

“Good morning, Mr. Churchwater.”

“Where am I?” I asked.

“You’re in a secure location.” That was a bad sign.

“How do you know my name?”

“Everyone knows the name Gregory Churchwater,” the woman said. “You’re the most famous hostage negotiator in the world.”

I smiled to myself. Heck yeah, I was. Time Magazine had named me their Negotiator of the Year three years in a row.

“The thing is, Mr. Churchwater, you’re too valuable a negotiator to waste your time with bank robbery standoffs and small time stuff like that. So we decided to kidnap you and freeze you cryogenically until a really big threat came along that no one else could handle.”

I was still trying to get my bearings and understand fully what she was saying. “You mean the government kidnapped me?”

“Yes.”

“Which one?”

“All of them,” she said. “Well, at least 183 of them. They formed the PCP: Protect Churchwater Pact, just for that purpose”

“You could have just asked me instead of kidnapping me.”

“Oh, you know you would have talked us out of it,” she chided, with a you-should-know-better smile.

I sat up, my head spinning. The room was all white and Star-Trekky. “The last thing I remember, it was May 6, 2018. You mean I’m in the future now?”

“Yes, you are. We have a huge crisis that is threatening the universe in a fundamental way.” Her smile never changed as she said this and I wondered if she was an android.

“What is the date today?” I asked. To think, all my family and friends could be dead now.

“It’s June 20, 2018,” she said. “Frankly, if we’d known, we wouldn’t have bothered kidnapping and freezing you. But that’s hindsight for you. Now, Dr. Grimsword will tell you about the threat.”

A young man in jeans and a T-shirt walked in. He saw me staring at his clothes and glanced down. “Casual Friday,” he said, apologetically. “If I’d known, I’d have worn a tie. But that’s super-villains for you.”

“Super-villains?”

“That’s why we woke you,” he said. “There’s a scientist named Igor Paintspackle Wong who’s holding the whole world ransom. He has built . . . a reality gun.”

This is not a reality gun but it came up when I did a Google Image search. It is apparently the scariest MRI in the world.

This is not a reality gun but it came up when I did a Google Image search. It is apparently the scariest MRI in the world.

Dr. Grimsword stopped with dramatic effect. “Which means,” I said slowly. “That it’s real?”

“No, it’s a gun that destroys fundamental aspects of reality. To demonstrate it, he blew up 5+3=8. We’re not sure how he did it, but now, 5+3 just comes back as an error. On a computer, on paper, even on your fingers, doesn’t matter. Just try it.”

I held up my hands, five fingers and three. “Damn,” I said mildly. “That’s really weird. I’ve never seen an error on my fingers before.”

“Hawking is working on fixing it. In the meantime, just switch hands. He didn’t mess with the communicative property.”

I switched hands, three fingers and five and sighed with relief. “So, where is this guy now?”

“He’s in a coffee shop in London,” Grimsword said. “Now he’s threatening to destroy the concept of beauty.”

“That’s pretty fundamental,” I said. Being groggy made me say obvious things. “So, we’d think beautiful people looked ugly or something?”

“No, we wouldn’t even know what beauty was,” Grimsword said. “As you can imagine, the film and modeling industries are in a panic. The only group supporting it is UGGO, the Unattractive Girls and Guys Organization, although we suspect they’re only doing it for the free publicity.”

“Alright,” I said. “Get me a cup of coffee and get this guy on the phone.”

A few minutes later, the phone was ringing and I was slurping a little life-giving caffeine into my mouth.

“Hello?”

“Hey, is this Mr. Wong? This is Gregory Churchwater.”

“Oh, it’s you,” he said. “I was wondering if you were going to call. Don’t even try to talk me out of it.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it,” I said. “Sense of beauty? Who needs it? Fire away, I say.” I saw Dr. Grimsword give me a look of alarm, but I had a brutally effective reverse psychology. I once told a terrorist that if he didn’t kill every hostage he had in five seconds, I was going to shoot them for him. He gave himself up three seconds later.

“Don’t you want to know my demands?” Igor Paintspackle Wong asked.

I sighed. “Fine. Get it over with.”

“I want to win a Nobel Prize,” he said. “I have been nominated for an award six years in a row and never won. Do you know what that’s like, to always be a nominee and never a winner.”

“Here’s the problem with that,” I said, stopping to take another sip of that glorious coffee. “If we give you a Nobel Prize now, it sets a bad precedent. What’s to stop some other mad scientist next year—”

“What did you call me?”

“What? You sound angry to me and you’re a scientist, so you’re a scientist who’s mad, right? Anyway, as I was saying, other mad scientists will get the idea it’s okay to hold the world hostage to get an award.”

“Well, then kiss beauty good-bye,” Wong said. “And it won’t stop there. Every day until I get my Nobel Prize, something else goes. Tomorrow it’s the concept of humor, then fashion, then justice, then pi, then being on time, then—”

“Yeah, I think I got the picture,” I said. “Listen, I hesitate to do this, but I think there’s something else I could interest you in. There’s another prize, much more exclusive than the Nobel Prizes, called the I.G. Nobel Prizes. The I.G. stands for “Intense Genius”, by the way. They don’t even award them every year, it’s that exclusive. I think you could win one for this reality gun of yours, if nothing else.”

There was a pause. “You really think so?”

“Oh, I know so,” I said. “You’re more than qualified. Look, let’s do this: you go get yourself another cappuccino and I’ll contact the Ig Nobel Prize people and see what we can set up, okay?”

“Okay, sounds good,” Wong said. “You know, I thought you were going to be mean, but you’re really nice.”

“Yep, that’s me,” I said, then hung up the phone. I turned to Dr. Grimsword. “Now, you get a contract agreeing never to kidnap me again or I’ll call him right back and tell him what the Ig Nobel Prizes really are.”

He nodded in defeat and left. “And get me another coffee!” I shouted.


Alone on a Boat – The Final Chapter

Hi, everyone. Here is the 13th and final chapter in our continuing collaborative story, Alone on a Boat. It was put on hold for a few weeks since Sharmishtha had some unexpected, terrible flooding. If you’ve been following along, you can read all the chapters, including the previous one on her blog.

Or here’s the synopsis: Angelique is 20 years old and sailing solo around the world. Two men kidnap her in the Indian Ocean and bring her to an island where there is an ancient Indian temple. They get killed by monsters but she escapes and meets an old man, John, who brings her into the temple, which is full of treasure. Her father arrives the next morning because of a distress beacon she activated. He sees the treasure but before he can go in, Angelique is transported into the temple alone and confronts a naga woman. Because of Angelique’s honesty in not trying to take the treasure, she is rewarded with a nagmani, a naga’s third eye, that will take her back to the temple if she needs to go. Her and her father go back to the boat but he sneaks out at night to go find the treasure. She goes after him and finds him in an altered state, imagining he is at the temple and taking jewels, when he is only in the jungle.

Alone on a Boat – Part 13 (The final chapter)

By mid-morning, John and Angelique had gotten her father down to the shore. He came willingly enough, but often stopped to pluck imaginary gems out of the air and store them in his bag.

“Do you really think he will be okay?” Angelique asked.

“I hope so,” John said. “Get him far away from here and then see. It may take a while. I’m not sure; I’ve never seen this sort of thing before.”

“Thank you,” she said. “You saved my life. I’ll never forget you.” He smiled and held out his hand but she moved past it and gave him a hug.

“Come back sometime, if you can,” he said. “I will still be here, I’m sure.”

John helped her get her father onto the ship, then she brought him back to the shore. He stood waving as she pulled up the anchor and set the motor to bring them away from the island.

Her father was now lying on the bed, and was asleep when she checked on him. He continued to sleep all day and she checked several times to see if he was still breathing.

She made supper and went into the bedroom. “Dad, Dad, it’s time for supper.” She shook him gently, but there was no response. Was he in a coma? After a few minutes more, she went up on deck and ate supper by herself.

She had sailed solo for many days, but never had she felt more frightened and alone than at this moment, with her father unconscious inside. What if he never woke up? What could she do? What would her mother say?

The sun went down, extinguishing itself in the waters of the Indian Ocean. Angelique lay down and looked up at the millions of stars shining above her.

She looked down and saw that her shirt was glowing. She pulled out the nagmani. It was glowing with a reddish luminescence that grew brighter and then suddenly faded back to black.

There was a noise from the cabin and the door opened. Her father stood in the doorway.

“Are we on the open sea?” he asked. “Weren’t we on an island?”

“We were but we left,” Angelique said, going to him and giving him a hug. “You’ve been sleeping for hours.”

“I feel pretty tired. What happened? The last thing I remember I had taken a helicopter to come find you and I remember something about being on the boat.”

“Well, that’s passed now, Dad,” she said. “We’re heading for Jakarta; I can drop you off there, if you wish, or you can stay until Singapore.”

He nodded. “Either one is fine. I wonder what the name of that island was? I’d like to go back there sometime.”

A stab of apprehension went through Angelique. “I don’t know, Dad,” she said.

“Well, whatever. I’m so tired for some reason. I think I’ll go back to bed.” He went back in, closing the door.

Angelique leaned back and looked up at the night sky again. The stars seemed to be smiling down on her. She was happy now. She was ready for the next adventure.

Alone on a boat


Alone on a Boat – Part 11

Sorry this story is so late. Usually I post my chapters of this story on Mondays. However, this weekend was adventuring on a remote island (not unlike our heroine) and was unable to post it.

If you’re behind on the story, here’s all you need to know: Angelique is 20 years old and sailing solo around the world. Two men kidnap her in the Indian Ocean and bring her to an island where there is an ancient Indian temple. They get killed by monsters but she escapes and meets an old man, John, who brings her into the temple, which is full of treasure. Her father arrives the next morning because of a distress beacon she activated. He sees the treasure but before he can go in, Angelique is transported into the temple alone and confronts a naga woman. Because of Angelique’s honesty in not trying to take the treasure, she is rewarded with a nagmani, a naga’s third eye, that will take her back to the temple if she needs to go.

Sharmishtha has posted all the previous installments here.

Alone on a Boat – Part 11

Angelique slipped the nagmani medallion into her pocket. “Nothing much. Where did you guys just go?”

“Where did you go?” her father said. “Suddenly you disappeared and then a moment later you were back, blinking in the sunlight. This is the craziest place I’ve ever seen.”

He turned back towards the temple doors and Angelique saw that same look of entranced greed in his eyes.

“Let’s get back to the boat,” she said quickly. He turned towards her and after a moment of thought, nodded.

“Yeah, that’s probably best. I’ll send the helicopter back to Phuket once we find it and determine that everything is okay. Then, if it’s okay with you, I’d like to sail with you for a while. Just until we make it out of this area. You can drop me off in Singapore or Jakarta if you want. Is that okay?”

“I’d like that, Dad,” she said. He nodded and went to talk to the pilot.

As soon as he had gone, John stepped up next to her. “I see that you received a nagmani. You are truly favored, but guard it carefully. Do not let it out of your hands.” He threw a meaningful glance over at her father.

Angelique’s father came back and they said good-bye to John. He did not want to go down to the beach with them, but shook their hands and watched them climb aboard the helicopter. Angelique saw him quickly move back into the jungle as soon as they were airborne.

It did not take long to find the boat. It was anchored by itself in a small cove a few kilometers away. Angelique was a little wary about climbing down the swaying rope ladder to the boat below, but her father went first and held it steady at the bottom. Finally, when they had searched the boat and concluded that everything was safe and normal, her father waved the all-clear to the pilot and the helicopter flew off, disappearing over the crest of the island.

“Shall we take off right now?” Angelique said. “It’s still early morning; we can make it a long way today.”

“Let’s just take it easy today,” her father said. “You’ve been through a lot and it might be nice just to take a day here and relax. Go swimming if you want. It’ll give me a chance to look over the boat too and make sure those guys didn’t mess with anything. If they did, it’s better to find it here than out there on the open water.”

“I guess that’s true,” Angelique said. She did not want to spend another day at that island, but her father had a point. She relaxed and did some swimming while he tinkered with the engine and the various instruments. That evening, they had a fire on the beach and watched the stars from the deck of the ship.

Angelique woke up in the middle of the night in a panic. She had had a nightmare about things crawling over the side of the ship and into her bedroom. She had reached for the nagmani, but it had burned her hands.

Now, she sat in the dark, listening for her father’s breathing. He had taken the fold-down bunk on the side by the door.

She could hear nothing. After a few minutes, she turned on her penlight and shone it towards him. The bunk was empty.

She went out on deck. “Dad? Where are you?” There was no answer. She searched the whole ship, from bow to stern. He was not there. She was alone.

(to be continued on Friday on Sharmishtha Basu’s blog)

sailing alone


What would you do if you were “Alone on a Boat”?

Today the 10th installment of “Alone on a Boat” came out . It is a collaborative story between Sharmishtha Basu and myself. Please read the latest chapter (and all the previous ones) here at Sharmistha’s blog:

Our heroine, Angelique is quite a spunky girl. We know this because she’s 20 and sailing around the world by herself. I’m curious what you would have done in her situation.  Take my quiz, then find out how close you are to Angelique.

copyright Sharmishtha Basu

copyright Sharmishtha Basu

1. You are sailing your boat and see a man floating in the water, clinging to wreckage. Do you:

  1. Pick him up (I only pick up hitchhikers in the middle of the ocean)
  2. Throw at Coke bottle at his head as you sail by (Shipwrecked? Ain’t nobody got time for that)
  3. Call the police and hope they find him in time (I want to help, but not THAT much)
  4. Pick him up, then hold him for ransom (Money, money, money…)

2. You are kidnapped by two men who have you tied up in your bedroom. Do you:

  1. Take a nap (Getting kidnapped is tiring)
  2. Cry and act helpless (Yay, I’m a damsel in distress!)
  3. Get the distress beacon from the bedside table (I’m a Lara Croft wannabe)
  4. Tell them your father is rich and will ransom you (Money solves all problems)

3. Your kidnappers have taken you to a jungle temple and you’ve just seen them get eaten by a huge monster. Do you:

  1. Scream your lungs out, alerting the monster to your occasion.  (WWABGIAHMD: What Would A Blond Girl In A Horror Movie Do?)
  2. Take a nap. (Hey, that was a long hike through the jungle)
  3. Run away (Duh…)
  4. Grab the kidnapper’s fallen machete and go Bruce Willis on that monster (I’m sick of these **** monsters in this **** temple!)

4. You come across a strange man in the woods who says he’ll help you. Do you:

  1. Kill him. (Don’t mess around: I believe in Stranger Danger)
  2. Go with him. (You’re desperate. Gotta take the chance).
  3. Tie him up and leave him as monster bait (Better him than you)
  4. Ask him if he has a phone so you can call someone else (I need help, but I’m picky)

5. You find yourself in a temple filled with gold and gems. You’ve been warned that if you steal anything, you’ll be hunted down.

  1. Get your running shoes on, grab the biggest gem and and start sprinting. (High school gym class, don’t fail me now)
  2. Make a note of the temple’s coordinates to come back later with dynamite. (With Lara Croft AND Indiana Jones)
  3. Take a nap (Treasure makes you sleepy)
  4. Don’t take anything (Are you crazy? You saw the kidnappers get slaughtered)

 

Okay, tabulate your answers. Angelique’s actions were: 1, 3, 3, 2, 4. If you chose any of the other choices, you are most likely sociopathic, insanely greedy, or possibly narcoleptic.

If you haven’t read the story yet and want to catch up, click here.

jungle night

 

 

 

 

 


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