“Not a word,” the man said, his breath moist on my ear, as he guided me through the crowd toward the warehouse door. He had removed his hand from my throat, but the gun remained pressed against my back. I craned my head as we went, trying to catch Meredith’s eye before I disappeared. It had only taken an instant for us to be separated and the man to intercept me, though it felt as though minutes were passing with each breath. I caught sight of Meredith as we came to the door, frantically scanning the crowd trying to find me and I opened my mouth to call out to her.
“Don’t even think about it,” the man said, grabbing my arm and brutally wrenching it, causing me to gasp in pain.
He shoved me out the door just as I thought I saw her catching sight of me with my assailant, a look of horror on her face. That was the last I saw of her, for as we stepped outside the back door to the van was thrown open and two others emerged, seizing my arms and dragging me within. The first assailant shut the door behind them and got into the front passenger seat just as the van started to drive away.
The sudden motion of the van sent me tumbling forward onto my stomach and one of the two kidnappers jumped on top me, pinning me to the floor of the van as the other tightened a plastic zip tie around my wrists. When I was secured to their satisfaction they sat on either side of me watching with some amusement as I struggled to turn myself over. I ended up with my back against the metal divider that separated us from the front of the van, creating a rear compartment sealed entirely from the outside world. There were no windows and the only light was provided by a square bulb at the center of the roof. It was also the only furnishing, the walls and floor bare metal.
The van took a left and then a hard right and began to pick up speed, spilling me onto my side in the process. After I had righted myself again I turned my attention to my captors. One was a woman and the other a man, both blank-faced and nondescript. By the set of their shoulders I guessed they were capable of handling themselves in a way I clearly was not. Neither of them so much as glanced at me, nor did they say anything to each other.
I tried to think of somethingto say to break the silence, perhaps draw them out and determine who they were. I had to assume they were a new entrant to the field of those interested in my lost self. The look on their faces told me that conversation would not be advisable, and nothing came to mind that would lead to any fruitful discussion on the matter of my kidnapping, so I kept my counsel for the moment. The van took some more turns, but I stopped paying attention, having no sense of what direction we were going.
Our journey did not last long, no more than fifteen minutes by my best estimate, each more agonizing than the last. The grim silence and emotionless expressions of my assailants felt more and more ominous as my mind, left to its own devices, began to imagine the increasingly elaborate torture I was about to be subjected to. The woman, perhaps sensing my growing distress, looked at me from the corner of her eyes and smirked, the mocking grin vanishing when the man saw it and glared at her, both resuming their stony countenances. I had a sudden, desperate urge to urinate, my bladder aching and my legs trembling as I fought to keep control of my body and avoid that final humiliation.
I was so focused on my fear of soiling myself I failed to notice the van had come to a halt, until the woman got up to the open the door. The man dragged me from its confines, not caring when I hit my head on the roof. We were parked in an alley outside a bland suburban office building whose windows were dark. I thought about crying out to see if anyone was nearby who might help, but both the man and the woman seized me firmly by the arms and the thought made me cringe, knowing they would not hesitate to inflict some damage upon me. The driver and the man who had taken me from the market fell in behind, no one speaking as we entered via the loading dock, someone inside buzzing us in.
As with the van, the building’s interior had been stripped bare, even the doors had been taken from their hinges, leaving only empty rooms and bare walls. There was the odd bit of refuse inexplicably left behind that hinted at the former life of the place: a pile of keyboards in a corner here, a cubicle wall in the middle of the floor there, and a box full of pens and staplers thrown at random in another room. These accoutrements of a mundane past only added to my growing sense of horror as we moved into the center of the building near the elevators, which stood open-mouthed and leering at our passage.
The wrongness of the place was confirmed as we came to a room that did have a door. It was heavy looking and impenetrable, having clearly been added after the building had been gutted, no doubt by its present occupants. A keypad was mounted on the wall beside the door and the woman punched in a code, the buttons producing odd tones as she pressed them, to unlock it. Air hissed out as the door slid open and I was dragged within.
The atmosphere in the room was of a hospital, arid and sterile. The floor, the walls, even the ceiling, had been covered with what appeared to be a thin plastic sheeting. However, it did not feel thin or plastic as I stepped on it, it felt as though I was stepping on nothing, an absence. That sensation, eerie and indescribable, was soon forgotten as I noticed the operating table at the center of the room. I went stiff at the sight of it and my two keepers had to drag me to it.
They forced me to sit on its edge, holding me there as I tried several times to get up. It was very thin, made from a kind of plastic that was almost translucent, contoured to match the shape of a body. It was designed to be laid upon face down, with metal restraints ready to be snapped in place over the arms, legs, waist and neck. There was a crank mechanism at one end, apparently allowing the table to be flipped so that either side of the patient could be accessed with ease.
“Breath. Slowly.” the woman said to me and I realized that I was hyperventilating, my whole body shaking in terror. She and the man looked on unconcerned as I struggled to regain my equilibrium, their arms crossed over their chests, ready to respond to any aggression on my part in a moment. Behind them was another man, the driver, or the one who had caught me in the market, the fourth person not joining us in the room. He busied himself at a nearby counter, which I had failed to notice earlier, drawing some fluid into a needle.
“I’ll need you to take your clothes off,” he said, as he tapped at the needle to get an air bubble out. I did not respond, staring straight ahead, hearing the words but not understanding them, a catatonia seizing me.
“Very well,” he said and waved a hand at my two keepers. They took hold of me again, forcing me down on the table. I fought against them, a frenetic energy seizing my body, which still felt numb and distant from my person. They kept me in place as the man injected me, reflexively patting my arm where the needle pierced my skin. I continued to struggle, kicking out blindly, trying to strike one of them, but they avoided my blows with ease until I could feel my body beginning to slow, my control of its functions slipping.
Blackness descended over my eyes, like a blind being drawn across them, and a loud hum rose in my ears. I lost all feeling in my body not long after, though I could still somehow feel the man who held my arms recoiling from me and hear as he said, “Damn it, he’s pissing himself.”
I wanted to laugh, but oblivion seized me.
This is the tenth part of The Forgotten, a science fiction thriller. A new section will be published here every Thursday.