Parked in place
“It all starts at 7pm, Graham. The venue fills fast. Gotta snag our seats before those potheads grab ’em, man! Three hundred dollars each! You’re wife and me will be there a little after the first set!”
“Got it, bro. I got it! Am headed back now, Chen. Could take me a bit. Traffic.”
“Just grab our places, dude. We’ll meet you. It’s their last show!”
“Yeah, so you keep telling me. Hang up so I can drive, crack head.”
“Right, jack ass!”
After an inside chuckle, I threw my cell phone onto the passenger side seat and disciplined my blue eyes on the long road to Newark. My trademark smirk crossed my face. Chicks loved when I did that. However, no chicks drove on this road to see this grin today. Damn shame too. Could have been tit-flashed at least a few times by now. My thin red lips quivered at the thought and appropriately tuned into getting to my destination. Directions to this concert played in my head again, assuring myself how good I am with getting somewhere when I know my exits and crossroads ~ provided no females flashed me.
My brief look into the rearview mirror had my imaginary sense of “right and wrong” talk back to me.
Yeah, and the Misses might throw you to the curb if she knew what you were looking for while you travel alone.
“So sue me. My sense of adventure isn’t dead, ” I half justified to my own reflection.
The afternoon sun accompanied me down Route 66, eastbound. I think my broken GPS identified this road by that number. It didn’t matter. I knew my way, even though the damn thing broke twenty miles back. Nary a sign shown itself for miles. I shrugged and kept on.
The afternoon wore on in my 2015 convertible Dark Blue Mazda 3. The hotness built up inside my car revived the forever stink from many months of alcohol drenched car parties. But after another hour, this solo mission invited a new brand of boredom.
Road rolled underneath my blue hunk of metal for what seemed like an eternity. And that familiar irritation crept inside my nerves. The sensation of a second wind was about to enter my veins or could I be sustaining pure exhaustion? Pulling back-to-back nursing shifts at my hometown hospital created either a new adrenaline rush or a reason to sleep.
I managed to survive three crazed drivers cutting me off in the fast lane and decided to slow down into the far right.
Slower travel drugged me into a half-awake stupor. A power nap screamed my name. I’d have enough time. A half hour should do me well.
I eased my car to the side of the road for a few minutes, which seemed like a sensible decision. Once parked, I threw on the emergency brake because of the slight angle of the embankment. The power windows worked for once and before raising them up, allowed me to pull in the collapsible left-side rearview mirror. All windows sealed up and created that inner ear pressure pop. The engine eased into a welcome silence. My back seat never looked so good.
After stretching out on that plush blue fabric, it didn’t take long for slumber to set in.
When I woke up, my Mazda was moving.
It was moving!
And voices filled my car.
“You two are in the wrong car,” I exclaimed.
One drove, the other carried a monologue.
Neither acknowledged me.
“Excuse me, people. This is my car you’re in, guys. “
Still, they refused to even look in the backseat.
How did they break in?
My eyes scoured the car for vandalized entry points.
All seemed normal, except for those two travel hoarders.
They laughed and continued on as if I resembled a noiseless ghost or something.
“Party’s over! Get out!”
I kicked the back of the passenger seat.
He noticed and said, “You’re coming along. Best to keep it down.”
“What? Oh no, I’m not. You’re invading my property, asshole. Park this car or my foot will slam more than the back seat.”
“Your trite threats mean little. Shhh,” his words shot back like bullets. His finger pressed against his lips, accentuating his blunt directive.
My mind screamed, desperately factoring the weightlessness of my own threats.
If I kick or punch the driver, the car might sway and collide with traffic. Crap. My car needed alignment service and I skipped it to save up for this damn concert. I don’t want to die from negligence.
“Drive to where ever you’re going. Leave me and I’ll be on my way. You’re forgiven the fuel cost. Deal?”
My offer was received in silence again.
What the hell?
I kicked the back of the passenger seat again.
“Hey, people will start looking for me. My next shift is in thirty-six hours. Get where you’re going and bail. I’ll take my car back. No questions.”
The putz in the front passenger seat turned to face me again, “Hmm, he wants revenge on you. I know he doesn’t know about your extenuating circumstances. Most curious this is becoming.”
“Hey Yoda, who wants revenge? Drop the creep-out act and pull over!”
They refused. One of them pressed what looked like a garage door opener.
Something stung the back of my neck before my hands had a chance to choke the life out of the driver.
The next time I awoke, I was in a strange half-sized auditorium. Unusual sex shows were going on. Naked women walked over to seated men and simply talked about their bodies like they were accessories on a store shelf. No one was having sex. All of the women were naked or in G strings, with their hips held against the man of their choice. The men remained stone-faced. I should have been aroused. But something was odd. Too many of the men seemed robotic.
Once the lights dimmed, I caught the faces of my two captors in the front row.
Had they forgotten about me?
No one tended to me at all.
They snagged a ride and did a hush-hush kidnapping all without incident? And to go to a creepy sex club?
I hadn’t a mark on me but I remembered that sting to the back of my neck.
What the hell was that?
For now, it didn’t matter. I could obviously leave. No cuffs or restraints held me back.
I left. The evening drew on with an early darkness, causing deep shadows among the parked cars and land fixtures outside of the adult venue. I casually walked away, silently searching for my Mazda. The moonlight caught the white backgrounds of several license plates as I searched.
Somehow I found my car marker, H78 TT67.
Miraculously, the doors were unlocked. I got in. Except for one thing, the steering wheel was gone.
My eyes widened in shock.
I couldn’t understand what was happening.
My car wasn’t a hybrid or a remote Google Car.
I rubbed my eyes, smacked my own face and soaked in the smarting sensation on my own cheeks. My attention turned to the inside of vehicles on either side of me.
The steering wheels were removed too!
I got out of my van and looked into every car in the lineup. Same thing.
What kind of club is this? What’s with these cars?
At this point I had enough to attempt to comprehend. So I ran off.
And I ran some more.
Escaping mattered more than anything.
Soon my legs tired and I had to catch my breath.
I elevated my gaze during my panting and a small normal looking neighborhood stared back, quiet and undisturbed.
Everything seemed in place in the dark of night. Trees situated in front of quaint homes with front walks and driveways all lined up perfectly, like a rigid military platoon. Shadows casted evenly from the steady moonlight. Smack in the middle of all of it was a black paved road with matching long yellow painted rectangles dividing the lanes. One or two modest speed bumps decorated the fading road into the blackness of night. A block of houses was all my eyes could register in the intensifying darkness.
A few lights in far off bedroom windows flicked on and off, indicating life on this otherwise desolate path.
Once entering into this new area, I thought about my wife. She must be worried sick. Or maybe she bailed out of the show and decided to search me out.
But how could she know where I landed up?
I had to find a phone. My cell phone was taken during this strange ordeal. So one of those homes up ahead would have a landline phone for a thirty-second call at least. A keen ability to be silent couldn’t be more important or the neighborhood might erupt with an authoritative fury. Those stoic blokes back at the club waiting to achieve a hard on might get impatient and return home to their naïve wives early. I have to move fast.
I stumbled my way from home to home as quietly as possible, assessing my easiest entry somewhere on this lot. My smartest choice seemed to be a quaint two-story home shrouded in moonlight dispersed by the surrounding trees. The entrance up to the door was concrete. My noiseless approach was critical and soft walking got me to the front door.
For some odd reason, the front door was open, in this day and age? Really?
I walked in slowly, peering around the dark hallways on either side of the center stairwell sensing no one in sight. The stale air suggested no one was home. That possibly meant the place was abandoned for a bit.
Finding the kitchen would probably lead me to a landline phone. My silent footsteps led me to my salvation. There it was, pleading for attention. I picked it up and checked for a dial tone. Pressing buttons seemed too loud. Answering machine. Dammit. Not even a greeting. When did my wife change it?
Ignoring my surprise, I left a message saying I was ok but unsure about where I was. The brief recording time cut me off and that was that.
Would she have the wherewithal to have the call traced by the authorities and find me?
Thinking for a moment longer I tugged at the details of my kidnapping experience. The passenger in said someone wanted revenge on me.
Immediately after pondering this mystery, a sinister presence filled my bones. Or was it fear creeping inward? My eyes darted every which way, intending a swift exit.
My frustrated mind triggered a strange memory. It persisted around an old woman strangling me. Nothing like that happened recently; at least I don’t remember anything like it. A headache came on, much like the one I sustained during my kidnapping, just before I blacked out.
I rubbed my temples hard, re-focusing myself on my escape plan, trying to figure out my next move. My neck tingled again.
The heavy silence descended again and everything went dark.
BEHIND A WALL IN THE SAME HOUSE
“You won’t do that to her ever again, nurse boy. ” Jack remarked at the hidden cameras following Graham’s every move.
Deep inside the same home where Graham lay unconscious, another man was hidden, manipulating a laptop along side a cell phone. It rang.
“Is our subject under control yet?”
“Not yet Mr. Harlow. We’re triggering the sweat soluble subcutaneous chip with various transmissions. Some conditioning is showing.”
“This isn’t a game, Jack. Make it work fast. Submitting the men in this town is of paramount importance. This male nurse who abused your sick mother isn’t supposed to be your play toy. She did well by grabbing the back of his neck to introduce the sweat soluble receiver chip. Your men enabled it when they were driving this beatnik to us. Now, finish this test and make the results stick. We need him in full submission. Then he will be tested against his instincts. Finish this!”
“Yes, Mr. Harlow,” Jack confirmed reluctantly. He was enjoying issuing this torture. He begrudgingly increased the radio frequency that would shut Graham’s resolve down. He typed in a powerful Bluetooth enabled command and hit “send.”
IN THE KITCHEN, ONE HOUR LATER
After rubbing his temples, blacking out and reviving himself, Graham relived his entrance into the home and paused in-between rubs upon his temples.
Why is this home so familiar? I have been here before, right? I swear I already called my wife. Why would I risk being found out so recklessly?
“Hey! Someone is manipulating me in here. Really? Someone thinks I’m stupid. I’m gonna find you, you shithead. Now, where are you?”
Graham neglected being quiet and started ransacking the house he was in, determined to find who was doing this to him.
Jack picked up his cell phone and speed-dialed.
“Mr. Harlow. Mr. Harlow! We have a problem.”
“What is it, Jack? Forget the password to the highest frequency transmission? I told you it’s…”
“No. The nurse man. He’s…he’s searching the house. He’s onto us.”
“How should I know? I jacked up the frequency and blasted his neck with the transmission, just like you said!”
“Your transmissions are supposed to work, just like on every single man in this town. Re-transmit you idiot! And do it right!”
“I did, Mr. Harlow ~ three times!”
“Then there is a flaw in the subcutaneous receiver in your nurse boy. You know what this means, don’t you?”
“Yes, but she’s getting better! Ever since I pulled her away from that town’s hospital and that abusive male nurse, she’s rebounding rather well. Not her! We must find another way.”
“No, Jack. We need her. Now do it. Or you’re next!”
“I’ll bail on this mission of yours, You can’t stop me!”
“Is that so, Jack?”
Two burly men walked up behind Jack, holding his shoulders tight. Something extremely sharp jammed into his kidney section.
“Alright. Alright. Cool it. Just cool it. I’ll get her to do it.”
Jack begrudgingly obeyed and typed in another set of Bluetooth commands targeting his mother’s subcutaneous receiver.
In the crazed minutes that passed, Graham groggily made his way to the front door of the home, intending on finding his way out, instead of finding his manipulator.
Fuck this whole thing. I’ll return to my car and figure out how to drive it.
The headaches and blackouts teased his senses, never committing him to the full torture of either.
“Something just doesn’t make sense, who’s doing this?” Graham whispered to himself, while rubbing his head for focus and attempting to get to the door.
The doorway that led to the front door seemed too small, given his scattering vision in the dark. But the figure appearing in the doorway was undeniable.
Whoever it was, held a giant syringe.
The scraggly hair, distorted gait, and grippingly ugly features gave off black energy, which sent Graham into a panic. He tripped backward in a flurry and into the kitchen table, trying to find a way out. His headaches returned with a vengeance, making him squint hard and lose sight of his escape. The chairs made loud scraping sounds against the floor as he scrambled against them for safety. The blackout he felt coming on pulsed inside his brain. And the figure bore down on him fast. Graham shot his arms and hands upward, blocking the attack. The syringe quivered mere millimeters from his chest.
The figure spoke while pressing down on him.
“You abused me for the last time!” it whispered harshly, finishing up with, “Why does a woman always have to finish what a man fails to complete? If you meant harm, you should’ve killed me dead!”
Graham held his unidentified attacker off as much as he could.
“You?” was the final word Graham uttered before his world went black.
INSIDE THE SEX CLUB
“There, there, young one. Look at my silky skin. You want a taste?”
Graham stared blankly at the nude gorgeous twenty-something who had little clue about his recent troubles.
Inside his head, all events up to this moment replayed itself over and over again. He couldn’t speak or move a muscle.
In the back of the club, Mr. Harlow slapped Jack on the back in congratulations.
“Good work. Now we can reprogram any male tourist, submit each and further our female-empowerment agenda. The new establishment pays us well to keep progress moving along. Keep perfecting your transmission techniques Jack. Your mom should live a long, healthy life now.”
Jack stood there, smiling at his handiwork.
“Time to figure out a way to implant subcutaneous transmitters in men beyond city limits.”
Jack walked out, thinking hard.
Yes. Yes! I know exactly how to do it!