This story is by Roy Lord and was part of our 2017 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the Spring Writing Contest stories here.
Just an average looking guy putting an average looking briefcase in the trunk of a darkly tinted Lincoln Continental.
“Is that him?” Jack asked.
“Maybe”, Ollie shrugged, “Can’t tell for sure cuz he’s wearing long sleeves.”
“Looks like him, man. Right car, right place.” Jack pushed him, “C’mon Ollie, you know it’s not safe to stay out here too long.”
“But it has to be the Right Dude! You remember how pissed Fagin was when Tony n Wade snatched the wrong dude? I like my face the way it is now Jack. I’m bettin that’s why Twan and Z never came back.”
“True dat. They was freelancing tho,” Jack said, “don’t be a pussy, man. We can check his arms after we snatch him. Cool?”
“Okay, okay. Let’s do this. I’m tired of this shithole.”
As the man walked to his door, they raced across the street.
Ollie snatched the passenger door open as Jack jumped into the back seat and slid behind the driver.
As he put a rusty paring knife to his throat, Jack whispered, “Nice ride. Hands on the wheel fool.”
“Check his arms Ollie.”
“It’s about time you fellas showed up”, the man said, “Do you have any idea how many times I’ve put that case in the trunk? Boooring!”
“Shut up and pull up your sleeves”, Ollie said.
“Well, Lefty here told me to put my hands on the wheel and he has this big ol katana at my throat. I think he wins.”
Ollie yanked up the man’s sleeve. And froze.
“Hey! Yes or no?”
“Umm, yeah. It’s him.” Ollie blinked and sat up straight, “Keys and the briefcase dude. NOW!”
“Let’s see, the keys are in the ignition and the briefcase is in the trunk, member? Joo member! Joo watched me from the alley.”
Jack increased the pressure on the knife and said, “Lucky for us you have nice dark windows, smartass. Looks like you’re our driver bitch.”
“Yeah. So wipe that fucking smile off yo face n drive douchebag”, Ollie nodded.
“Ewwww. You kiss your mommy with that mouth?” the man said.
“Keep it up smartass and I’ll slit your throat!”
“Please don’t. Do you have any idea how hard it was getting Antoine and Zachary’s blood off these leather seats?”
Ollie snapped, “Shut your fucking mouth and drive asshole!”
“Not until you fasten your seatbelts. Safety fir-”
“He said drive!”
“Would you please remove that toy from my neck Lefty? I need to put on my seatbelt and check the mirrors.”
“Yo man, you’re starting to get on my nerves.”
“C’mon Ollie let’s just do him and take the case.”
“Stop it man. You know Fagin wants him brought in.”
Ollie leaned toward the driver, “Just drive bitch and don’t try anything smart.”
With eyes crossed, the man fumbled with the radio and wiper switches. “Duuuh. Okie dokie. Ummmmm, how dooz yer start this thang?”
The knife jerked as Jack screeched, “Shut your hole dammit and drive!”
The man calmly turned to Ollie ignoring the cut on his neck, “Please fasten your seatbelts.”
“Dude!! Fucking GO! Do you wanna die?” asked Ollie.
“No. And I don’t’ want you to either. Please. Fasten. Your sea-”
Ollie slammed the dashboard. “Now!”
If anyone had been in the area at that time, they would have thought it strange that the car with the blackout tint seemed to burst with a light so bright that the image of three people was momentarily frozen on the windows like an x-ray.
Slowly, the Lincoln pulled away from the curb and drove away.
Ollie, hands and feet bound with neon green ropes, moaned and raised his head slowly.
“There he is. I was beginning to worry I hit you too hard” the man said.
“What the hell?” Ollie looked around. Damp, craggy walls seemed to glow with no obvious lights anywhere. “Where are we? Where’s Jack?”
“Jack didn’t make the trip. He was not worthy.”
Ollie pushed back against the stones, still looking for Jack.
“Your boy Jack made quite a mess but you took it like a champ. More like the victim of a champ, what with you passing out.” The man nodded, “No blood though. I knew you were the one.”
“What is this?” Ollie whimpered as he looked around the cave that seemed to be glowing.
The man rose and gestured toward an opening to Ollie’s left, “This is number 342. Not exactly sure where or when but you gotta admit it has a bit of a Batcave feel to it don’t you think?”
“Damn, I forgot y’all don’t have movies in this world.”
“That’s not important now though”, he continued, “The IMPORTANT thing now is that I’ve been looking for you and I have a few questions for you, Oliver.”
Looking defiantly into the man’s eyes, “I think you got it backwards dude. We were looking for you. When my Family finds us, you’ll be the one answering questions.”
“Oh Oliver, they won’t find us and they are not your Family. I do like your spunk though.”
“Fuck you man. You think I’m scared of you dick?”
“There’s that potty mouth again. What would your parents think? Oh right, you don’t have parents do you, Oliver?”
Ollie’s head jerked back as though he had been slapped.
“I’m sorry. That was rude” the man said, “Needless to say, I know more about you than you do me.”
“Let’s start over. Hello, I’m Remo. I’m an orphan too and I’ve been searching for someone special like you.”
“Aint nothing special about me, man.”
“Oh, but there is, Oliver. Unfortunately, I’m not the only one who’s noticed. Which is why we can’t stay here too long. So let’s get started, shall we?”
“Screw you. I aint saying nutin till you untie me and tell me where we are.”
“Like I told you, Oliver, I’m not sure where we are and untying you is not an option right now. It would not be prudent after your little outburst earlier. You nearly zapped me the first time you woke up here.”
Smiling, Ollie replied, “Then answering your stupid questions is not an option either. My Family will be here soon and they can tell you where we are as they’re beating you down jerkoff.”
“Anyhoo. Question number one – How long have you been in the city?” asked Remo.
“No thank you, not hungry. You however look like you haven’t eaten in days and you must be tired of sleeping on a cold floor crowded in that old factory.”
“We’re doing a lot better than most around here. We run this city man.”
“Oh please. You don’t run anything. You do what Fagin tells you to do. And from what your cohorts told me, eventually, you do it to keep from having your face chewed up, or worse.”
Ollie couldn’t look at him as the memory of Tony’s muffled screams echoed in his mind. Who knew grasshoppers bit? “I don’t know what you’re talking about”
The man knelt in front of Ollie, “You look a little queasy there. I get it. Who would want to remember something as sick as that Penalty Helmet.”
“Question number two – If I could offer you a better life. A safer life. Would you take it?”
“Have you seen how life is out there? Shit, nobody’s safe out there alone. I’m doing just fine with my family. Look how easy we got to you. At least we’re alive and safe.”
“Oh yeah, you seem real safe right now. Seriously Oliver, you know you want more than just surviving. You KNOW you’re different. You can feel it, right?”
Ollie motioned to Remo’s arms with his chin, “Don’t look like you been too safe out there. Those are some horrible looking burns on your arms there mister.”
Smiling, Remo raised both arms, rotating them, “These aren’t burns, Ollie. I call them Power Residue and they don’t hurt a bit. Heck, you didn’t even notice yours, did you?”
“What are you-“, Ollie’s eyes widened as he looked at his arms. The rope around his wrists seemed to wind up his arms, UNDER his skin! The raised skin was purple and black. “What did you do to me? How the fuck did you put the rope IN me? You sick bastard!”
“Bastard? I take offense to that, Oliver.”
Remo jumped up, a samurai sword raised over his head in striking position. A strange glow went up his arms and onto the blade.
Ollie squeezed his eyes shut. He felt the air from the sword coming down past his cheek and then his hands flew apart as the rope fell from his wrists.
“Open your eyes for god’s sake Oliver”
Looking up, Ollie saw the man standing at his feet, empty handed.
“There, does it look like I shoved rope up your arms? Geez, what kind of sicko would do something like that? My name’s Remo, not Fagin, member?”
Inspecting both arms, Ollie felt the raised areas. They felt warm but there was no pain. “What is this then?”
“Not sure. They show up when you use your power. Usually, they go away in a week or two.”
“I haven’t had the opportunity to rest thanks to you and your buddies. Antoine and Zachary had me using it quite a bit before I got the full story on your boss slash daddy figure.”
“He’s not my Boss or my daddy. He takes care of us. He’s our leader.”
“Huh. So where does the Punishment Helmet fall under the taking care of you part? With leaders like that, who needs enemies?”
Ollie continued inspecting the strange lumps on his arms, ignoring the last comment.
Suddenly, the sword flashed by Ollie’s arms and sliced the ropes around his ankles. He caught a glimpse of the katana going behind the man’s back as the ropes fell away.
“Get up Oliver. Time’s getting short. You need to decide now, are you ready to fulfill your destiny or do you want to go back to just getting by?”
Ollie dug in his heels and slid up the cave wall coming eye to eye with the man.
“Destiny?” he asked, “I got no destiny. There’s nothing special about me.”
“I told you, you ARE special. You just need to learn how to use the Power you’ve always had.”
Looking at his hands, an image of his fingertips glowing flickered through Ollie’s mind.
“Damn near took me out the first time you came around,” the man said, “So I popped you on the head before you zapped me. Glad I brought along the ropes.”
Ollie rubbed the knot on the back of his head.
Gently placing a hand on Ollie’s shoulder, “If you can trust me, just a little, I’ll help you get started. Okay?”
Shaking his head, “you’re crazy.”
“I’ve heard that before. What have you got to lose though, Oliver?” Remo asked quietly, “They’re coming. Please. Let’s go.”
Ollie shrugged, “Why not? Where to?”
“More like When to” Remo grinned, “Follow me.”
As The Retributes moved in, Remo and Oliver ran towards the back of the cave and vanished in a blinding light.