A thin circle of blue light
below broke through the utter darkness surrounding Chad as
consciousness returned in ragged bursts. His fingers probed
the cut on his forehead. It had finally stopped bleeding.
His head ached tremendously but he didn't think he had a concussion.
His hands explored the curved,
cold walls that encased him, searching for an exit. A couple
inches of movement hampered his search on all sides except
above his head. He dared not move quickly, for sudden movement
swayed his prison. The air was thin and his breathing labored.
He sighed after taking a deep
breath of air tainted by old diesel fuel.
"Why'd I have to be the
one the blob hit?"
* * *
A crisp New England breeze
brought the musty smell of fall to Chad's nose as he mounted
the ten-speed in his gravel driveway. His wife stood next
to him in her tan, rumpled chemise, shivering slightly, auburn
hair fluttering in the breeze.
"Please, Chad, don't
go, " said Jenny, her eyes puffy from crying. Absently,
her hands caressed the slight bulge in her abdomen. "We
"I'm sorry you fought
with your mother again, but what do you want me to do about
it?" Damn emotional woman, Chad thought. I
always ride my bike in the mornings. Always. A
little argument between Jenny and her mother wasn't going
to change his routine.
"I'll be back soon, I
promise. Now go back inside and try to relax."
With a backward wave, he pulled
out of the driveway and pedaled down the narrow country road.
Soon, only the sound of his tires running over fallen leaves
and clicking gears interrupted his thoughts as he enjoyed
his daily ten-kilometer ride.
Ancient red oaks flashed by
on both sides, their remaining leaves a deep, rich red. Wisps
of sandy brown hair peeked through his helmet. It's going
to be a great day, he thought. My tenure finally granted.
God knows it took them forever.
"Yes!" he shouted,
punching both arms into the air, steering by momentum as the
sun stabbed through the forest in dazzling columns.
Chad was getting into the
rhythm of his ride five or six kilometers out when he heard
the sounds of an approaching vehicle. He pulled over to the
side as far as he could but there wasn't much room. The forest
grew close to the road this far out.
The rumbling grew louder too
quickly. Chad glanced in his handlebar-mounted mirror and
saw a dark colored pickup rapidly approaching. A foreboding
feeling made him shudder. The truck drove erratically, slowing
down then speeding up, driving from side to side.
The pickup slid alongside
Chad. He managed to get a quick look at the driver. The driver
appeared to be in a stupor and didn't notice Chad on his bike.
"Hey! Watch where you're
driving, jerk!" yelled Chad.
The pickup slowed down, allowing
Chad to pass, then pulled up behind the bike, weaving back
Chad could either steer into
the woods and risk collision with the trees or allow the truck
to hit him. He chose the woods.
Before he angled off, the
pickup sped up and veered straight towards him. He had only
a moment to react before the front end of the truck slammed
into his back tire.
The force of the collision
flung Chad and his bike into the trees.
* * *
returned to Chad. A wave of nausea passed before his head
cleared. One eye felt sealed shut by something, probably blood.
Motes of dust gently floated within shafts of sunlight that
peeked through the sides of a door in front of him. Even before
he felt the tight ropes that bound him firmly to a chair,
the smell hit him.
The stench of death. An overpowering,
thick smell that gagged him.
Gradually his eye grew accustomed
to the dark. An old rake, a rusty lawnmower, and a broken
shovel were to his right. Next to the door, he could make
out shelving that contained various containers and what looked
like old cans of paint. He could make out several large cardboard
boxes off to his left. Printed on one side he could partially
make out "weather." Straining as far as he could
to behind him, he barely made out the outline of another door.
The last thing he remembered
was a truck running him off the road and into some trees.
Trying to ignore the pain, he strained to see if the ropes
gave at all.
The door before him suddenly
opened, blinding him. Blinking back tears in his one open
eye, he saw a tall figure framed in the sunlight. The door
quickly closed. The stranger took a few steps and with a tug
clicked on a single light bulb dangling overhead.
a young, overweight figure scratching at an ample belly that
protruded from below a dirty, white T-shirt two sizes too
"What's going on? What
happened? Why am I tied up?" asked Chad.
"Y-you had a l-l-little
accident. It w-wasn't my f-fault. I wasn't f-feeling too well."
He couldn't stand excuses
from his wife, and he certainly wasn't going to take any from
a teenage punk. "Untie me right now," said Chad.
The large figure ambled over
to a dusty workbench and leaned against it, brushing aside
a stray lock of lank, sweaty, chestnut hair.
"Wish I c-could, I really
Chad rasped, "Sure you
can. Just untie me and"
"b-but you've put
me in a b-bit of a"
"let me go you
son of a"
"S-shut up!" bellowed
the sweating teenager, springing forward with surprising speed.
Lagoon-blue eyes, one eyelid twitching, riveted Chad in place.
"Shut up," he said in a softer voice.
Stepping back, he leaned against
the workbench and watched Chad. "Y-you see, you pr-present
me with a bit of a pro-problem. I've g-got a DWI and I c-can't
get another. If I let you go, you'd g-go straight to the p-police."
"You're damn straight
about that!" said Chad.
"You know, for a per-perfesser,
yer not too bright."
"How'd you know I teach?
Have you been following me?"
The large man shook his head.
"Look, just let me go.
You can keep the wallet."
His abductor continued as
if he hadn't heard a word. "My dad'd kill m-me if I g-got
into trouble a-again. I dropped outta s-school my l-last year.
I c-can't do nothin' much 'cept weld and no-nobody'd hire
me. My d-dad would n-never let me op-operate on animals l-like
he does but I t-try in my own l-little hospital. He said he'd
p-pack me off to mil-military school if I screwed up a-a-again.
See? I c-can't let you go."
Anger boiled within Chad like
a furious hornet's nest. Between parched lips he said, "You
little man! How dare you keep me here. I'm a respected
man at Boston College. You cannot get away with this. I'll
make sure the police put you away for the rest of your life.
Now let me go!"
Chad tried to shout. Fresh blood coursed down his forehead,
across his bruised face.
His captor sadly shook his
Chad yelled as loud as he
could in his weakened state. "Help! Someone help me!"
The large man lurched at Chad
but didn't hit him. Chad continued yelling. His captor turned
and hurried out the door, making sure to lock it from the
outside. For a minute, Chad continued to yell, but his injuries
quickly tired him. His head slumped forward as he rested.
A dull pounding hammered in his head.
Several more minutes passed
before he heard the door unlocking. The blob, as he thought
of his tormentor, came back carrying a syringe and a glass
vial. He deftly filled the syringe. Chad could barely make
out the word Telazol across the bottle.
"I-I'm sorry, but I don't
h-have a c-choice," said the blob.
"No, please no."
Unnoticed by either, Chad's bladder let loose.
His pleas trailed off as the
needle slid inexpertly into his arm. Chad struggled as much
as he could, but he was tightly bound to the chair. The drug
burned hotly as it entered his arm. Darkness slowly descended.
* * *
A small ribbon of saliva trickled
down Chad's chin as he awoke. The muscles of his face and
neck twitched slightly. "Preston, I told you not to be
late to my class again!" he mumbled. His eyelids fluttered
wildly for a few seconds.
Then the smell abruptly brought
him back with a jolt. The stench of death was overpowering
and he started gagging. Bile lurched upwards in waves and
dribbled down his chin. After a few moments his head cleared
and his retching stopped, though the smell continued to pull
said the blob from somewhere behind him.
"Water," Chad managed
with a whisper.
He looked around as best he
could. He wasn't in the same room anymore. Directly in front
of him, he noticed three old fifty-five gallon drums sitting
next to a dull red tractor. A large quantity of metallic-gray
material trailed strands of thin rope draped over the front
of the tractor. Three long cylindrical tanks lay on the dusty
The blob shuffled around his
side and stood in front of Chad. "Open yer m-mouth."
A steady stream of water shot
into Chad's mouth from a sports water bottle. He greedily
drank as much as he could before the bottle emptied.
The blob wore some sort of
full-length thick apron, a pull-down mask made of a dark plastic,
and a set of thick gloves.
"I g-gotta get back to
w-work. Not m-much time left." The blob disappeared behind
Chad taking a barrel with him. A loud hissing noise followed
several scraping sounds.
As Chad's eye adjusted to
the dim light, he noticed something he hadn't before: the
source of the grisly smell.
A long table rested against
the wall to his left. Staked down and brutally sliced open
were the bodies of several small animals. He saw cats, a couple
of squirrels, and what looked like a doe, their internal organs
haphazardly scooped out and left to rot next to their bodies.
The severity of his situation finally hit him. He'd never
really been scared before in his life, but he was bone-scared
The hissing stopped. The blob
reappeared and smiled as he saw what occupied Chad's attention.
"D-do you like my little
Fighting back more retching,
Chad replied, "You're sick."
"My d-dad m-makes lots
of m-money fixin' up animals. O-one day I-I'll show m-my d-dad
that I c-can do the same th-thing." The blob gathered
up the gray material and dragged it behind Chad.
"Please let me go. I
promise I won't tell anyone. I don't even know where I am.
Just let me go."
A long moment passed before
Chad heard the rustling of the material and ropes.
"I knew I'd g-get myself
in t-trouble one day. I've b-been planning what to d-do when
the t-time came. I've already d-dumped yer bike in the lake.
Everything's almost re-ready. I don't w-want to do this, b-but
I have to."
A deep weariness overcame
Chad. Oh Jenny, what am I going to do? What are you
going to do? I've treated you so poorly, he thought. If
he didn't make it back, she'd think he ran out on her like
her family always told her he would.
"If you won't do it for
me, then do it for my wife. She'll think I left her,"
The blob grew silent. Chad
thought that maybe he'd penetrated the psycho's head. The
blob walked in front of Chad and leaned against the tractor.
A soft sigh escaped his lips.
"I-I'm really sorry, but I c-can't let you go."
Anger started to rise in Chad's
throat, but he forced it down. "Look, I understand, really
I do. But my God, you don't understand! My wife's pregnant.
She can't raise a child by herself," he pleaded. "Please
let me go."
The blob closed his eyes and
hung his chin on his chest. His breathing came raggedly. He
lifted his head and looked straight at Chad. Tears slowly
flowed down his grime-covered face. He sadly shook his head
and walked over to the table.
He came back with another
"I-I have to d-do this."
"No!" Chad cried.
Shaking so violently that he tipped over his chair this time,
Chad fell to the floor. His fall was broken by a large mound
of cloth behind him. With a quickness that betrayed his size,
the blob knelt down and stuck Chad with the needle again.
Before losing consciousness
again, Chad could hear a different hissing sound; perhaps
the sound of a tire or balloon being inflated.
* * *
Encased in his metal prison,
Chad figured out what the blob had done. It was insidious.
There was an intelligent mind buried under that grotesque
He could only guess from what
he'd seen, but it all made sense. The blob must have taken
three fifty-five gallon drums, cut the top and bottom off
one and then welded all three together. He'd tied a large
number of weather balloons to the top drum and inflated them
with helium. Sky-blue light peeking through the edges at the
bottom revealed a hinged floor.
His prison drifted high in
the sky, probably floating miles above the landscape. Chad
knew it would be only a matter of time before the bottom dropped
open beneath him.
A slow, primal scream built
deep within his chest, searching for escape.