The Following Ficlet Takes Place Between 9:00 PM and 10:00 PMMature

9:00:07 PM

Dr. Reeves was at his desk when he heard a noise downstairs. He reached into a drawer and pulled out a gun. He walked to the closet and popped a loaded clip into the gun.

He slowly walked downstairs, leaving his sleeping wife in bed (he snuck sleeping pills into her Vodka tonic an hour ago, so he wouldn’t have to watch her suffer).

When he got to the front door, he saw it. Someone had slipped it under the door. He knew what it was before he opened it.

A ransom note.

WE have Your SON ! We know EXACTLY how much $ is in your 7 BANK ACCOUNTS and what STOCKS you hold at this very moment. It will take EVERY penny to SAVE your son.

UNMARKED bills. Bring the $ to MISSION BEACH at precisely 10:00 AM. NO POLICE . NO TRICKS . OR your SON eats it!

They attached a photo of Jason, arms tied behind his back, a bag over his head. Just in case he didn’t get the point, they attached another photo. Of Jason smiling stupidly as a masked assailant held a gun to the back of his head.

“Damn it!” he said.

9:13:37 PM

Exclamations muffled by burlap were emanating from the small room down the hall. Marcos, who no longer trusted Victor with anything, decided to check on the brat himself. He approached the door, trying to make out Jason’s incessant buzzing.

He unlocked the door and approached the little wannabe Jack Bauer.

“If I take this off, kid, are you gonna speak at a reasonable volume level?” he asked.

Yez zye wheel! came the muffled response. Marcos lifted the burlap sack off Jason’s head as Jason continued his, no longer marbled, conversation, “I will not yell if you take the sack off! I can’t breathe! And I need to talk to you about your demands!”

“You promised you wouldn’t yell,” Marcos said, delivering a light backhand, since it was a kid, after all.

Jason glared at him, eyes cold as ice. “That all you got!? My people will find me. And you will be brought to justice or I’m not Jack Bauer,” he threatened.

Marcos replaced the burlap sack. “Lucky thing for me, kid. You ain’t Jack Bauer.”

9:18:41 PM

This was insane. The ransom note demanded every asset Reeves had, including his stock investments. By 10 A.M.

Impossible. Even with the time difference between New York and California, even if Reeves put in the sell orders right at the opening bell, it would still take at least another day for the trades to settle and for him to cash out. By then it would be too late, by the kidnappers’ reckoning. They really had not thought this out at all.

Unless, Reeves realized, it wasn’t about the money. Unless someone had kidnapped Jason to get to him. Someone with an axe to grind.

Reeves resolved to figure out who that someone was. He was not going to give up any ransom.

But he had less than thirteen hours to do it and get Jason back. Reeves picked up the phone and began dialing.

9:20:08 PM

This was child’s play. Jason realized that sensory deprivation was one of the more effective tools for breaking a prisoner and extracting information. Immobilize the subject to reduce the sense of touch, then cover the head to diminish the other senses. Several hours of this, and the prisoner’s mind was numbed and pliable enough to accede to any of his captor’s demands.

But Jason also knew his senses were not completely deprived, and if he could keep his focus on some stimulus he could keep his mind sharp and resistant to control.

Sight, sound, smell and taste weren’t of much use to Jason, with the bag over his head. That left touch, and Jason kept his thoughts on the pain in his wrists from the plastic zip ties biting into them.

Jason also looked within himself for stimuli, and found it from the thundering sound that echoed in his head and gave him confidence he could control this situation:

Cha-chung… Cha-chung… Cha-chung… Cha-chung…

9:47:42 PM

Randall entered the Starbucks and made a beeline for the table where Sara was working on her laptop.

“Chloe,” he began, “Anything on Victor Menendez?”

“Plenty,” Sara answered, swiveling her laptop to show the first ten of 1.2 million Google hits. “Not much useful, however.”

Randall produced a piece of paper from his pocket and unfolded it. “What if you crosscheck it with Guillermo Rojas?” he asked, reading the paper.

“Where did you get that name?”

“From this rental agreement I recovered at the scene,” Randall handed her the paper. “It’s also got an address I need you to locate for me.”

Sara pulled up Google Earth and punched in the address. “It’s across town, at the waterfront,” she said.

Randall frowned. “I’ll need backup on this,” he said. “Where’s Edgar?”

“Not back yet,” Sara explained, “but you know Edgar.”

“It’ll have to be you then. Let’s go.”

“You two aren’t going anywhere except home!” Sara and Randall turned. Their parents were blocking the entrance.

The End

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