Ransom a Loner

Lionel

Claudia called to me, so I answered.

 Daniel talked to me, so I ignored him.

 The doctor dropped the news… I tried to forget about it.

 Claudia, not able to walk? Just the thought of a human
being having that simple liberty taken from them was enough. Tragedy always
seemed to strike me, and it glanced off… but when it hit a friend of mine, it
felt ten times worse. It hit me straight in the heart… and I was too stunned to
stand up.

 She was crying now, shaking her head in denial. The facts
were there, and she was just told to live with it. Imagining Claudia rolling
around in a wheelchair for the rest of her life was in itself too hard to
picture, even in the most creative of minds.

 The doctor kept describing to her the details of her
condition, but my ears weren’t working, and neither was my voice. It was as if
everything in my body had become numb… I couldn’t cope with her hurt, and not
when the pain was always there… forever.

 Claudia finally spoke. She took a deep breath, set a firm
facial expression, and nodded towards the door. “I… I’d just like to have some
time… with myself. I’d like it if you could leave… please”.

 Daniel and I both looked at each other; we despised each
other, of course, but we both understood the situation well enough. I waved my
hand out the door, and the two of us departed. I took one last look at Claudia,
one tear-streaked look. And she met it.

 “I… I…” Daniel struggled to say something, but I tuned
him out. I wasn’t in the mood to be hanging around him now, or with anyone. I
needed to sleep before I destroyed myself over this… I didn’t even know if I
should sleep. I might have nightmares of her crippled for her entire lifetime,
mooching off of everyone because she can’t do anything otherwise.

 I quickened my pace, walking off away from him. I thought
I heard him call me back, but I must have neglected his request and continued
on my way. Before I knew it, the hospital doors were swinging behind me as I
blew through them. Sniffling from what little crying I had done out of the
building, I searched for my car.

 Would she be able to do anything? Could she ever be the
same? Events such as this could scar a person, destroying their personality.
Claudia was happy, cheerful… I sadly believed it would change to sadness and
remorse. She was bothering my hand with whatever could happen to her… whatever
she goes through, she’ll go to Daniel. I confessed to her first… she should
remember that day. Just one kiss is all it took to forget me I guess.

 I decided to stop before I became more bitter about the
situation than remorseful. There was only one elevator at our school… how would
she get around? Not only that, but the hospital bill was soaring in terms of
money. I asked Claudia if I could help her pay for it, and so did Daniel, but
she refused both of our offers.

 I flipped out my phone. Charles hadn’t been notified of
the surgery following the accident, so I assumed it would be nice enough to bring him in on what’s
going on. It was just going to be a simple text giving him the basics… but I
never finished.

 A hand clasped onto my mouth, preventing me from
screaming. My struggles were held back by a strong force, my arms soon pinned
hard behind my back. As I reared back and kicked, I was slowly dragged towards
a maroon mustang. I recognized it instantly. It was the last thing I saw before
something hit me on the head and darkness consumed me.

 When I woke up… surprisingly enough… I was in an entirely
unknown environment. It was a room obviously. I was situated in a wooden chair,
and I could feel my hands tied firmly together behind me, and my legs too were
restrained. The walls were dark gray and peeling… my God… where was I?

 This was a kidnapping… I was captured. As my heart began
to race, I thought back to the last thing I witnessed. My phone, a figure
grabbing me… and the car. It wasn’t a regular car… it was a maroon mustang… the
very same car owned by…

 Craig Johnson!

 If I could, I would scream bloody murder. Was this
revenge? Did anyone know I was missing? What’s going to happen? The questions
came, giving me a bigger headache that I previously had. My heart was about to
blow up… it was a kidnapping… I was kidnapped…

 The lone door at the corner of the room creaked open
slowly. The ugly, well-built figure of Craig Johnson filled the room, a crazy
grin on his face… crazy grin? He never smiled with his teeth. That’s when I
noticed what was in his hands; pills.

 “Having fun… oh we’re all having fun today” he muttered
as he approached me. “You’ve witnessed it all… why don’t you tell me Loner?”

 It took a while before I realized I was asked a question.
I had no chance of answering it, what with the cloth on my mouth blocking my
speech. I was forced to breathe through my nose.

 “This is nothing… this is…” a few pills entered his
system, “this is a reunion. Just imagine yourself at a reunion, with all your
friends. I’m there too… pink rainbows and everything else!” With a joyful laugh
uncharacteristic of him, he sat down on the floor next to me. A gun protruded
from his pocket.

 “You can hear me, can’t you?” he asked me. He stood up
and slapped me across my face. “Then why can’t you talk back!?”

 He finally took notice of the cloth that covered my
mouth. “Ah, stupid me. I should’ve just removed this beforehand. Stupid, stupid
me…”

 As soon as he tore the cloth off of me, I started
shouting. “Who do you think you are, Craig? A madman? Look at yourself! You’ve
gone crazy!”

 Craig glared at me and responded quite calmly. “I’m not
crazy. These pills… they strengthen me if anything. They give me a breath of
life”. He took a deep breath, then sat back down. “You see, ever since you
decided to kill yourself… ever since that day… I’ve been a villain to everyone!
It’s not like I stabbed you”.

 I shook my head. “It certainly felt like it to me. Maybe
next time you should consider not screwing someone’s life over and seeing what
happens!”

 “I won’t let you keep shouting” Craig replied icily, his
hand moving towards the gun. I turned away, breathing heavily. If Craig was
overdosing and was still as evil and cruel as before… he would shoot me. He was
crazy enough to do it.

He smiled and slipped the cloth back over my mouth, much
to my dismay and struggles. He slapped me again, and walked out of the room.
“You’ve been gone for a few hours I’d say… best make the phone call. Why would
one ransom a Loner? I don’t even know!” He took another few pills from the
canister. “It’s gonna be fun!”

 The door slammed behind him, and I was alone in the
darkness of the room once again.

 I think I started crying. I knew how these situations
worked… once the money rolled in, the hostage had his head blown into bits.
With Craig seemingly unstable on drugs, I had no way of knowing what exactly he
would do.

 One option presented itself to me; escape. He was
overdosing, so for all I knew he wasn’t up to his full strength or wasn’t smart
enough to use it. I felt the bonds that held me tightly and looked around the
room for something that could break them. Some sharp, metallic pillar stuck out
nearby my chair. If I could just get over there, I might be able to release
myself.

 ‘I am not ready to die’ I thought to myself. I began
rocking back and forth, and to my joy, the chair moved in the direction I
needed it to go. I might have some hope if I could overtake him when he came
back in the room.

 In no time at all, the pole rested behind me, and I was
hard at work destroying the ties. I felt a sharp stinging sensation, and the
faint feeling of blood exiting your body. Ignoring this, I continued my antics.
My hands were moving around more than they used to, so it was obviously
working.

 With a ‘snap’-ing sound, my arms shot up in the air,
finally free. An ugly cut was on my right hand, blood pouring out of it. I
couldn’t worry about it now, so I stood up and hopped to the pillar to release
my legs. After a minute or two, my body was under control.

 I hid beside the door, right behind its arc. When Craig
opened the door, it would hide me from him, and I could surprise him or at
least make a run for it. In short, my chances of escaping this situation got
higher.

 “Oh yes, why don’t you come fetch him? I’d like my money
first, and I won’t do anything without it” I heard Craig speak. He was calling
the police without a doubt. I knew how this probably ended for me… but did he
know what happened to him?

 The door swung open, and Craig entered. “I’ll give you
proof of life when I get my money!” he shouted. With a ‘click’, I heard his
phone turn off.

 “What the-“

 I jumped on top of him, bringing him down to the ground.
I punched him quickly, not allowing him to counter. However, his brute strength
got in a good blow to my head, but it pushed me in the direction of the open
door. Without thinking, I ran out of it.

 A hand snatched me just before I leaped through the
window. “You’re going nowhere until I see some money in my pocket. Are we
clear?”

 However, the sound of sirens entered the scene. With a
loud curse word from Craig, he dragged me back into the room I was kept in. He
returned with new ties and bound me back to the chair, placing it far away from
the metal pillar as though he knew that was what I used.

 Suddenly, he changed his mind. “I’ll bring you up to the
action. Let’s see how those little police boys fare against me”.

 “You’re crazy” I spat as he dragged me along. “You won’t
get out of this situation”. He looked over at me, and his eyes showed sadness. “You
think I’m completely drugged… stoned beyond assistance. No… no I’m not.  I’ve seen life as it is, Lionel… like you
have. Suicide though, is not how I shall leave this world!”

 “This is suicide!” I screamed at him, his logic puzzling.

 The phone in Craig’s hand rang. Instinctively, he walked
over to a window and parted the curtains aside. I noticed the police cars
surrounding his residence, and a new feeling of hope engulfed me. They were
cops, they knew what they were doing.

 “Darn, they got here fast…” Craig muttered, holding the
gun close to him. He dragged me back into the room he had held me in
previously. No matter what was going on, what with his situation even more
dire, he showed no signs of stress. It almost looked like he was… enjoying
this.

 I was terrified. The action of bringing me back into this
room seemed to be like an execution; the police were here, closing in, so he
was going to cut his losses. However, he did nothing but leave the room only to
return with a camera.

 “What’s this for?” I asked, becoming nervous. Only Craig
would want to see my death on video so he could watch it over and over again.

 “The doctor told me it would be a good idea to write a
book, so I did something like it… he thought it was a good idea”.

 “Doctor?”

 He took a deep breath, sitting on the floor as he did so.
“Listen… it was ever since he nearly died my life flew upside down and crashed…
right down on top of me… and it killed me. I felt depression…”

 “Did-“

 “Samantha left me… she felt sorry for you… and even
though she was as guilty as me, she put all the blame on me! Look where I went
because of that!”

 I laughed. “She’s gonna burn under the Earth one day, and
you’ll be there too Craig”.

 He shook his head. “No… I’m going down a saint… the pills
gave me the light I needed. They were meant to make the depression go away… and
they worked so well! So well! So well… greatly. They showed me I needed action.
You saw the need for action… didn’t you?”

As crazy as it was… I was starting to understand Craig’s
logic. Crazy Craig holding the gun and chugging down pills like his job made
sense. That in itself made no sense.

 “You tell me Lionel if this sounds familiar to you… a
life full of crap, no forgiveness, the only thing left to do… action. Just tell
me, yes or no… does that sound like anyone?” He gestured dramatically across
the room. “Does that sound like anyone in this room?”

 “It’s me, I know… but your life had been perfect before
then!” I countered.

 He disagreed. “Lionel, your life was bad suddenly at one
part. So was mine. Think about it…” Craig rattled the pill canister, and
hearing many pills still remained, took a few out and swallowed them, his crazy
smile reappearing.

 I thought back… and it was Daniel. If it started
suddenly, then it started with him. He moved in one day, and I was happy to see
my old wingman back by my side. All he did was decimate any hope I had of going
out with Claudia. Look how far he took that relationship! She can’t even walk
anymore…

 Craig turned on the phone, setting the video recording
supplies aside. “So, you’re finally here. I was starting to get lonely in my
little fortress of solitude… of course, I’m not alone here”.

 I could hear the police officer on the other end of the
line. “Listen, this is a delicate situation, kidnappings. We need to know
whether or not Stephens is still alive or not. Proof of life is required if you
wish to earn your ransom money”.

 “You wanna hear him?” Craig asked the man in a jokingly
manner. “The money’s coming first. I don’t care what you require, I want to see
my money!”

 The phone was turned off and chucked out the door. “They
don’t know how I run this show”. He pointed the gun at my head, laughing. “I
told you that I’m going to die a saint… a hero. I’ll regain my pride, my old
life in one moment!”

 It was my turn to laugh. “Craig, I understand you
perfectly… it’s him, you know, not me. I wouldn’t be a problem to you if it
wasn’t him… do you know that?”

 Craig laughed back, and he leaned on the wall, slowly
sliding down it. “I’m drugs man, and I don’t even understand you…”

 I laughed in response. “No, no… him… the wingman…”

 “British kid?”

 “Nah, nah…” I felt drugged myself, “it’s Daniel, man.
He’s created the problem. If he never returned, it would be Claudia and I…
forever!” I cried the last word. My emotions were making me feel crazy, and
almost as much as Craig.

 “Oh yeah… I beat him up one day. That was a fun day”
Craig said drowsily.

 He brought the gun down, no longer pointing at me, but at
himself. “You know what, why don’t we both put down the agreement right here.
You had a knife, I have a gun, I’ll be dead before you know it”.

 I shook my head. “No… if you go out there… see… you
sounded smart enough… you’ve even made me see what needs to happen!”

 He laughed hysterically. “Come on, I kidnapped you! This
isn’t a fun experience for you!”

I disagreed. “It was scary, no doubt about it… but it’s
different now. The tables aren’t turned, Craig, they were moved entirely. If
you got out there, your hands raised, put the gun on the ground… you’ll walk
away from this. You want your life back, you’ll get it!”

 I could hear footsteps racing up to the doorstep,
commands being shouted from beyond the walls.

 I pointed in the directions of these sounds. “They’re
coming Craig, just give up the gun, put your hands up, and walk away from
this!”

 He just walked outside the door, leaving it open. He
tossed something towards me; a bouncing ball. For whatever reason, it seemed as
though he wanted me to keep it. He started laughing, standing right in the way
of the door.

 “What is this for?” I asked him.

 “It means something” he said. There was a defiant sound
to his voice; it was clear, none of the effects of the drug intervening to make
him insane momentarily. He meant what he said.

 While I wanted to try and stop him from doing this, I
didn’t feel like it; he still was, all in all, a criminal, and should be
treated accordingly. There was just a small, nagging feeling of not liking how
this was going to play out. I hated Craig… but yet he made so much sense in the
past hour, more than the most educated man in the world. My emotions were in a
flux one again.

 The crash of the door rang throughout the house. Craig’s
laughing still persisted through the calls of men telling him to drop his
weapon. Suddenly, the sound of gunshots came on top of the previous noise.
Craig’s body flailed around like a ragdoll. He fell flat on the ground and lay
still.

 One of the policemen noticed me tied up in the dark room.
Within a few minutes, they were able to free me and take me away from the
house. When I stepped outside, I was greeted with the darkness of the early
morning. Barriers were lined up around the house keeping the multiple citizens
away from the perimeter of the house.

 I sighed, hoping that things would get better soon. I
didn’t know where to go now that I was free, so I searched for any familiar
faces in the crowd.

 Charles was right in the front row.

 I must have been a curious sight; I was red around the
ankles, wrists, my right hand was bleeding, my clothes were ruffled, my face
was scared, and a bouncing ball rested in my left hand.

 But I wasn’t alone. That was one comforting thought.
Absent-mindedly, I played with the bouncing ball as the police men led me to a
SWAT vehicle to give a quick statement to them on what had happened. It was an
easy summary. Afterwards, I sat down on a nearby bench bouncing the ball on the
ground.

 It burst open, revealing a key.

 Startled, I leaned back a bit, then once the shock passed
over, I recovered the object. Whatever it was, it was something close to Craig
Johnson, and he wanted me to keep it. Sadly, if it opened anything, it was
probably in the house he held me in.

 I saw Charles rushing towards me, looking genuinely
worried.

“Held hostage? Your bloody kidding me… are you alright?” he asked me,
breathless.

 I nodded. “I’m okay. I got out of it better than I could
have. The same can’t be said for Craig…”

 “I knew he was a natural-born criminal scum” Charles
said, slamming his fist into his hand. “The day he came on Earth was the day we
all vomited”.

 “It just doesn’t sit right with me… his death” I said,
half-regretting saying these words.

 Charles glared at me. “Mate… he tried to kill you… twice
if you count emotionally scarring enough to do… that one thing”.

 “They gunned him down like a thug, Charles” I snapped,
rather out-of-character for me. “He wasn’t Bonnie and Clyde… they just shot him
down”.

 “People like him get what they deserve in the end”
Charles replied.

 I pulled out my phone, running through my contacts, which
was the start of something. “He made sense though, Charles… he talked to me,
and I understood. I know he was on drugs… but I could hear his reasoning”.

 “Mate, don’t tell me you’re listening to Craig Johnson of
all people! And even when he’s stoned!” Charles exclaimed, angry over the
subject.

 “He was right about something, Charles… you didn’t hear
him. He knew my situation, which was like his life currently… he knew action
had to be done, so he did. Action has to be done, Charles”.

 “For God’s sake, don’t kidnap a man!” Charles said
incredulously.

I shook my head as I located Daniel in my contacts. “I
won’t. Rather, I’ll just leave him alone to himself. I’ve gotten tired of him.
Craig showed me what I should have done long ago”.

 I pressed the erase button. The ‘Are you sure?’ pop-up
appeared, and I hit ‘Yes’.

 Goodbye Daniel.

The End

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