Thirteen Nights -- After the Crusade
Author of Thirteen Days
Monday, March 08, 2004 -- Scratchy, Heavy and Smelling of Mothballs
I can't tell you what happened after the car accident or what had happened to everyone that had been inside the car at the moment of impact with the tree because I just don't remember any of it. Actually, my first conscious moments after the accident were to question if what had happened was real or just another of my all too realistic dreams.
Without opening my eyes, I stirred restlessly in that moment of twilight that exists between sleep and awake. I started to realize that I was experiencing feelings as if I were suffocating which made me wonder if I was still trapped in the car. Then, halfway awake, I somehow remembered the times when I had pulled my blanket up over my head while sleeping, however what was over my face now did not feel at all like the new, soft sheets of my new bed. What covered my face now felt more like rough wool—scratchy, heavy and smelling of mothballs.
"This has got to be part of a bad dream?" I thought to myself as I tried not to vomit from the over powering smell of mothballs.
I tried to reach up and pull the covers from off my face, but found that I could not lift my arms or hands out from under my back. Next I tried to move my legs, but found them unresponsive as well, almost as if someone were sitting on them. I began to feel truly frightened and started to battle against the fabric as it continued to scratch and grate at the skin of my face.
"Mom! Mom!" I made an effort to call out in desperation, but something, or someone came down heavily like a clamp over my throat, so hard that not much more came form my voice box than a small strangled gurgle.
"That'll be enuff o' `a'!" a man's voice, low, harsh, and menacing, snarled close to my left ear. "If yur norrz what's gran' for yur, you'll keep yur gob shut teight. doa 'a' 'n don't try summa' smart 'n yur won't gerr 'urt ... much. There was a pause while the man laughed and then snarled, "Yur gerr `a' lad?"
Despite the very thick accent, I most assuredly did get that, and made an attempt to nod my head. For the effort I received a rough shake along with a reminder, "Well, sithee dooant fa'get it!" the man snarled again.
I gasped in several breaths of the foul smelling blanket after the man released his grip on my throat. I then felt the coarse wool blanket pulled down to cover my whole body, scratching against my naked flesh in the process. It felt as though a rope was jerked around my waist and tightly knotted; making certain that I was firmly imprisoned.
"Doc, yur gerr t' feet `n ahl gerr t' shoulders." the man ordered. "Grab t' lantern `n then let's gerr art o' `ere; dis place gives us t' creeps."
"Wha' abaht orl dis stuff?" the man addressed as Doc asked. "Ain't we gonnear tek enny cleeas for `em?"
"Dooant be eur jackass," the first man growled. "Wha' mecs yur think `e'll be needin `em wheear `e's gonneur?" He gave a sour laugh.
"Well, `aooen `e won't, bur `e'll need booits, Madam M will want `im ta av booits!" Doc whined, "Why can't we tek t' stuff? Ah mean just i' case?"
"Oh, orl roeight den," came the grudging reply. "Put t' booits on `is feet sa thee dooant drop `n mek eur racket; `n t' rest on top o' `im, bur be sharp abaht it."
I felt shoes being roughly shoved onto my bare cold feet and whoever it was must have been having a hard time while my feet were bound because he nearly twisted my left foot off in his attempt. Something heavy and soft, understood to be my clothes was thrown down on top of me but the last I can remember before waking up covered by the wool blanket, I was naked and my soaking wet clothes were lying on the floor of bull's car. My shoes felt loose on my feet and I figured they hadn't taken the time to fasten them properly before my ankles and shoulders were grabbed, and I was swung from wherever it was I had been lying. Moments later I felt myself being carried down a set of very squeaky, metal sounding stairs.
Even if the blanket over my face were not all but shutting off any air, my heart was thumping so hard from freight that I could hardly breathe anyway. And as for crying out, had I dared, who would have heard my muffled voice, and I am sure if I made so much as a peep I would regret it soon enough. There was nothing I could do but allow myself to be carried away as if I had no more voice or life than a sack of potatoes.
I knew when we were outside, because I felt the wind biting my nude flesh through the blanket that was wrapped around me and I heard the crunching sound of the men's boots grinding heavily down into gravel. When the crunching sound stopped, it was replaced by a sort of deafening silent, except for an occasional cursing as the two men stumbled on a rock or bare root in the darkness until they suddenly stopped dead. I only knew it was dark because the man called, Doc, made a comment about not being able to see.
Something squeaked like a car door being opened, and I felt myself being hoisted up and tossed onto a hard corrugated metal floor like those in the bed of pickup trucks. Moments later I heard one pair of heavy boots against the metal and then a second pair as they brought their owners up to where I lay.
The two individuals dropped down with a grunt, their boots carelessly kicking into me in the process. I heard a door slammed shut, the grind of a car's starter, the roar of an engine coming to life and the wheels beginning to roll as the van, for that indeed is what now imprisoned me along with these two strange men. Being virtually blind thanks to the blanket my hearing seemed to be much keener as I noticed little things such as when the vehicle we were in began to roll forward slowly, then hastily picked up speed. A heavy thud that caused my body to bounce and crash back to the floor told me that we had just gone over a speed bump.
"Should we un-wrap 'em?" the voice I recognized as belonging to the one the other, called Doc, had asked.
"Wha' does yur av i' yur brains should be?" came the reply. "The lad s not blin', is `e? Jont `im knowin yur if `e ivva sees yur agin?" The voice paused briefly. "I dooant think sa, if yur norra what's gran' for yur. Onnrooad, I'm goan try ta gerr um shut eye It is eur long ride back' let wee `ope we gerr theear afowa daybreyt."
With more deep grunts, my traveling companions arranged themselves for sleep, their boots digging into me with no more concern then if I had, in fact, been a sack of potatoes. In no time, their snores thundered over my head, a hideous accompaniment to the droning hum of the engine and the near rhythmic thumping of the tires as they rolled over the cracks in the road. I realized that if the two men that had taken me were both sleeping then there must be someone else driving the van.
By obeying what I had been ordered to do, which was to keep quiet, I had learned that I was being taken to someplace far away; far enough that my two captors felt they had time to sleep. But to what special place was I being taken to—and by whom? And most curiously and perhaps most frightening of all—"Why? Why? Why?" I said though not loud enough that my captors would hear over there own snowing.
The questions whirled crazily in my head as I lay on the floor of the van, my body aching and bruised as I was pitched back and forth white the van swayed over potholes or what I guessed must be highway construction.
Thump! Thump! I groaned loudly as the tires of the van hit a large pothole, but my moaning was lost in the thunderous snores of the two men and the roar of the engine.
I am not really sure, but I think I might have dozed off for a few minutes; actually being wrapped up inside the wool blanket made the passage of time impossible to measure. Yes I supposed I had slept and now that I was awake my brain began to push questions out again, "Who were these villainous men who had stolen me away and felt it necessary to keep me bound and sightless?" All I really knew of them were their voices, and those I had heard through the thickness of the rough wool blanket that engulfed my head. One voice, the one belonging to the man who appeared to be the leader of them seemed unnaturally deep and gruff, as if he were trying to disguise it. But why bother to disguise it if it belonged to no one I knew anyway? Or—or was it possible that I did? If so, who of the people I knew was the owner of that voice?
Names, first one, and then another, leaped into my head, each dismissed as too improbable to consider. Actually, aside from my social studies teacher and possibly Runt, I couldn't come up with any real enemies that I had that weren't already incarcerated, dead or that I hadn't already made peace with like Bull and Tater.
But I had no sooner had that thought, then I stiffened, drew in my breath with a sharp gasp; for a name that had lain there in my head all along, silent and sinister as a snake coiled up on a forest floor, suddenly struck out at me.
"Segal!" I whispered.
I began to put the pieces together in my mind. Segal—so new to my family setting and he would have little loyalty to my parents. Segal—who had made little pretense of having much use for me. Segal—who was last seen leaning over me on that cavern as Officer Mecums attempted to stop him from taking me away, probably to kill me so I couldn't tell anyone about him. For some reason it had made my skin creep every time he would look my way, but I had honestly thought he was a body guard my parents had hired; I never would have guessed him to be so evil.
"But Officer Mecum's had called him detective ... oh what was that name she used? Oh yeah, Thomas; she had called him Detective Thomas Segal and dad had called him Tom at the door." I was still whispering aloud, so caught up in my thoughts that I was unaware of the fact.
"Officer Mecums knew him, she must have known he was bad, that he was a dirty cop and had followed him just has he had followed Bull, Jamie and I to the barn and down into the cavern, deep underground.
Thrump! Thrump! Thrump! Those tires hitting the cracks in the road drummed out their ominous song.
But then I came back to the same question—"Why?" What did Segal, if it were, in truth, him, intend to do with me? Murder me? Well, he could have done that back in the cavern easily enough and just before he and Doc carried me out to the van, did he not all but say that I would not need clothes where I was going?
A voice inside my head asked, "Then why did they bring your clothes?"
I answered in a hushed whisper, "Maybe they think they can sell them?"
"No that's just stupid Simon!" the voice inside my head retorted.
I lay quiet for sometime contemplating all these questions when a single word flashed on the movie screen within my mind, "MURDER".
It reminded me of a horror movie I saw a long time ago where this little boy kept righting the word backwards on the walls and doors, "REDRUM". It has been so long ago that I can't even remember anything else about the movie other then that small part.
"Murder huh?" I asked myself.
Yet what did Segal have to gain by murdering me? Simply not liking me was hardly a reason for risking the electric chair. No, there must be another reason, and what other could there be than—money.
"Ransom?" the voice in my head offered.
"Yeah, that must be it." I answered back, "I am to be held for ransom."
Thrump! Thrump! Thrump!
I was shivering uncontrollably, because after all, all I was covered with was a blanket that was now wet, and my body seemed to hurt all over and the familiar feel of pressure within my bowels grew in intensity as the moments passed. It seemed that it hardly mattered that I might have to wait until the end of my journey to be able to poop and heck; I might never even get to wherever it is that I am going alive.
"What if I did make it there alive?" I asked myself, "What then?"
Perhaps I might not have such a long wait after all; surely Officer Mecums had reported in already ... and then I had a horrible thought that made the blood in my body nearly stop flowing, "What if she's dead like that huge man Oloph?"
I felt myself beginning to cry and fearing I might awaken my captors I managed to stop any tears from flowing before they started.
"I supposed dead or alive, kidnapping would naturally be the first thing suspected, right?" I thought to myself, "No wait, I left the house on my own, they would know that because the house alarm was turned off and I had left the backdoor unlocked. Mom and dad would know I hadn't run away because I hadn't taken anything that was important to me like my e-journal, clothes or anything else for that matter."
I laid thinking for a moment before saying to myself, "But I bet, if Officer Mecum's is dead the police will think I had run away."
If only I had left my clothe there on the walk bridge in the park, or maybe if my captors had left them behind instead of tossing them on top of me before carrying me away then maybe, just maybe kidnapping might still be suspected; because I would hardly be expected to have run away on such a murderously cold night in no more then my birthday suite. However, there are shoes on my feet, and all the rest of my clothes were no doubt, on the seat by the two villains. So it seemed that the police would be hunting for me in the wrong places until they received some notice from the kidnappers demanding the ransom. And undoubtedly that would not come until they we reached our destination.
"It might be a very long time before I am rescued, a very long time indeed." I said to myself, "And what is going to happen to me during that time? Where am I going to be kept? And what new terrors can I expect?"
"Run away! Run away! Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!" I thought, "They are going to think I ran away!" The words drummed on and on through my aching head. "How could I have been so stupid? How could I have done such a dimwitted thing?"
Despite my best efforts to keep myself from crying the tears began to flow down either side of my face and I softly moaned, "I should have call the police and told them where Runt was hiding and where Tater and Mikey had been taken?"
As I wept beneath the scratchy, heaving and mothball and pee reeking wool blanket, my thoughts drifted to Tate, Mikey and the two boys that had been in the car with me when we crashed. I couldn't help wondering what had happened to them; were they taken captive again too? And what of my brother, Jamie? I am sure we missed him with the car, I am sure of it!
I was full out crying now all the while trying to keep from waking my captors or alerting the driver and having him or her rouse them.
As I balled uncontrollably I felt another twinge within my bowels telling me that I didn't have long before I would not only be lying in a cold, pee soaked blanket but I would also be covered in my own waste!
"Stupid! Stupid! Dumb-witted! Pinheaded!" I began murmuring though my tears over and over again but no matter how many things I called myself or how many times I repeated them, nothing could undo my actions or how I was feeling.