April 16th, 2018. 04:22.
Whilst maintaining a bead on Joe she peered into the bathroom, taking note of the too-small-to-fit-through window. Danika was stalling. She suggested, “Perhaps you should wash up first? You know, take a minute, splash some water on your face?”
At this point, Joe was seething. His expression a glare. Every inch of him wanted to run for the door, or try to wrestle the gun from Danika. But he couldn’t risk it. So he kept his hand outstretched, holding onto the woman’s coat with as few fingers as possible. Then as she was about to accept it, he dropped it onto the floor.
Danika arched her brow and asked without so much as opening her mouth, What the fuck?
After a moment Danika sighed, “Okay, just...”
Then she motioned with her gun for Joe to use the lavatory. Whether he wanted to or not. As Joe presumed, Danika still needed more time to prepare her fiction.
Ere Joe stepped inside, Danika interrupted, “Wait wait wait! I almost forgot.”
Joe thrust his hands into the air and held them at eye level while Danika turned around, grabbed the fire extinguisher by the entrance and smashed the bathroom door knob with a punishing blow. She did so with such force the door frame cracked and splintered and the other half of the handle tumbled to the ground. The dented aluminium opener bounced on the linoleum a few times before Danika kicked it out towards herself.
Finally realising exactly what had transpired, Joe looked on with an expression of slackjaw. By the time Danika had replaced the cylinder on its hook and pulled her weapon back out of her holster, Joe was unable to react.
Not another word went by and Joe closed the door behind him. That is, what could once be considered a door. Now it was a flap or a rudder of some kind with a gaping hole in the side for either Joe or Danika to peer through.
All things being equal, Joe went to the sink, took off his glasses and ducked his head down low. He plunged his hands deep into the basin and then rinsed his face. As water dripped down and off his stubbled chin, he thought about Jamie once again and her unknown fate. To the extent that he was fighting back the tears.
He coughed and cleared his throat. Over and over again he rubbed his visage until he was composed, and could think rationally. You need to get out of here; you can’t help Jamie otherwise, Joe said to himself. Assess the situation. Come up with a plan. Finally, he patted himself dry, and hung the off-white towel back on the rack.
In the mirror, Joe looked himself over. Danika, or whoever she was, had changed his shirt for some reason and his coat was gone. There was a gash on his brow, and a lump on the back of his head. His palms were skinned, his knees were sore. And when he lifted up his shirt he saw a small puncture wound. Right above his heart it was red and swelling and whenever he touched it he could feel it sting. Carefully, he let the tee roll back down. What could have done that?
When he checked his pockets, his wallet remained, but also… my phone! How could she have neglected to confiscate that? He retrieved it, and turned around so that his back was to the door. Stealthily he drew the mobile from his pocket so Danika couldn’t see but of course... it wouldn’t turn on. Apparently the battery had died.
“Fuck,” said Joe under his breath.
Quickly he looked about the room. Along with an escape route, he searched for anything that he could use as a weapon. But the bathroom window was too small, and didn’t open wide enough. And Danika would of course be watching the door. As for tools, there wasn’t much. Towels, soap, a hair dryer… he could pull down the shower curtain rod. But he reasoned he would make too much noise, and wouldn’t have it down quick enough before Danika stormed the lav. Essentially, he had nothing.
Nevertheless, Joe shoved his mobile back into his trousers pocket. He took a deep breath, and stepped back into the motel room proper.
“Feeling better?” asked Danika.
Joe glared again.
“Nevermind. Of course you’re not. That was a stupid question.”
“What’s going on? What do you want from me?”
“I already told you. I don’t want anything from you. You tagging along complicates things for me.”
“Then why? Why am I here? Because I’ve seen your face?”
Danika snorted and muttered, “Sure, I guess that’s one reason.”
“Look, I get it. You’re in trouble. But I promise... if you let me go now, I won’t tell anybody what happened.”
“Oh please,” Danika scoffed. “How often do you think that spouting that kind of bullshit has ever helped a hostage out of a situation like this?”
His abductor waved her gun again, and directed Joe to sit on the bed. Joe obliged.
“Listen up, Prof. I’m doing you a favour, alright? I’m making up for laying a hand on you. If you ever want to go home again, you need to stick with me.”
“How? How in the fuck are you doing me a favour?”
“You’re in the future,” Danika growled, “When I touched you— in order to prevent you from being shot at, by the way— I inadvertently pulled you through time with me. Now I could just abandon you here, and let you fend for yourself but unfortunately I was born with this thing called a conscience.”
Joe laughed, “Oh yes! The future! I forgot we were in the future. It’s a very nice place, but… it does look an awful lot like the time I came from.”
“I already told you we’re only a couple of weeks in the future.”
“Riiiiight. Well, I appreciate you not abandoning me a couple of weeks in the future. Thank you so much, time traveller. So whenever you’re ready, you can bring me back to the past, and then we can go our separate ways.”
The sarcasm oozed from Joe’s lips. When it came to a concept so inconceivable, one could not expect anything less from the man. Cynicism in one breath and mockery in another. To antagonise one’s captor however, was another matter.
Smirking and huffing, Danika slowly strode up to Joe. Presumably to better see the contempt in eyes, and threaten him directly. As she did, she dragged a chair over the hardwood with her free hand. The two back legs of its wooden frame scratching and scraping loudly against the floor. Finally she propped the seat alongside the bed and directly in front of Joe and sat down. His knees touched her bare legs.
For a moment Danika stared at the man and smiled soundlessly. Then without warning, she lashed out. Leaning forward, she made a jab and struck Joe in the side of the face with the grip of her pistol.
Swearing, Joe recoiled. And, for a moment, he rolled on the bed holding his face.
“Easy fuckwit. Let’s dial the volume back a bit shall we? We don’t want to wake anyone up.”
“You cunt,” Joe repeated more calmly.
He covered his eye with his hand, applying pressure to the wound. Without a doubt, there would be a big black bruise before morning. But in the meanwhile, a trickle of blood ran down his marred mug. From a cut just under his eye socket.
Eyes closed, Danika drew in a long deep breath and sighed, having supposedly cooled off. Accepting Joe would never believe her, she said aloud, “Okay… Okay. You don’t believe me yet. But you will, Joe. You’ll see it first hand.”
Reaching into her bag, Danika produced a set of silver handcuffs. Professional grade handcuffs by Joe’s reckoning. Which Danika threw into Joe’s lap.
“Put those on,” Danika ordered.
“And just one hand if you don’t mind.”
The gash on Joe’s eye had begun to clot by then. So he lowered his hand and put the cold metal around his left wrist. He closed the toothed ratchet so that the restraint became tighter and tighter against his skin and he could no longer slip through the bracelet. Muttering and complaining the entire time.
When Danika swung her arm out again, Joe assumed she might wallop him a second time in as many minutes. He flinched of course but rather than hit him, she grabbed the other cuff and locked her own wrist in the manacles.
Joe looked up puzzled and his captor replied, “I haven’t slept for about 28 hours—”
“Ah well, I haven’t even packed a toothbrush.”
Danika ignored him and carried on, “—and I need to make sure that you stick close during the night.”
“Whoa lady! You’re obviously disturbed. I don’t want to get intimate with you. Why can’t one of us just sleep on that futon—”
“Shut up already! I don’t give a flying fuck what you want! Don’t you get that yet?”
Despite how much Joe wanted that evening to be a dream, everything around him seemed to feel real. Despite how much he wanted to be free, he was handcuffed to a crazy woman. And despite how much he wanted her to be kidding, Danika clearly wasn’t.
Danika had begun climbing into bed next to him with her boots and her clothes still on. Her purse in hand and her gun pressed squarely against Joe’s skull.
“Lie down,” she said, “and make yourself comfortable.”