CONTENT WARNING: Contains violence, physical harm, reference to sexual themes and encounters, profanity, negligence, and mental health issues.
It’d been three days and no word—no trace or inkling of him. It’d been a whirlwind of constant worry and frantic calls to our friends and family. He wasn’t the type to just… run away. There was something else, but no one believed me. Three days of pacing our living room with my unresponsive phone in my hand began to twist my stomach further and further into unbreakable knots. I’d sent over thirty messages and called more times than I wanted to count.
It was true that Ryker could be unpredictable. However, he’d never left me without a hint of his whereabouts. In fact, I was the only one he permitted to have that knowledge. I was the only one he trusted. To the rest of his family, Ryker was a lost cause. His late teens sent him spiraling into the deepest of drains without hope of pulling himself from the gutters. The depression had taken him away for years, but he’d gotten better the last few months.
There weren’t anymore late nights with mystery men and empty moments of time never to be retrieved from the lost memories. Victimized by society, Ryker was always destined for that darkness. As his best friend, I stood by him through it all. I’d pulled him from side streets, dragged him home from seedy bars, and held him through his sobbing apologies. Every apology he gave me, I believed. He never asked for my help, and he never expected it, but he needed it. Every rescue, every use of the spare room that eventually became his permanent residence, every free meal and fresh coffee, I was thanked for. It was genuine, and I never felt used.
From his family, I received judgement for choosing to care rather than toss him aside like they had. Over the years, he’d promised them to be better, to feel better, but the rejection and doubt only kept him sinking. Ryker had always cared in those years what his family thought about him, even though he’d play it off during the times he allowed me to see a glimmer of his true personality. I always thought their dismissal contributed to his descent into his own Hell more than anything else.
There were things about him, I was sure, I’d known that the rest of them hadn’t. To me, it shouldn’t have mattered. It was easy to see that being casted out so quickly pushed him down. In the last few months, though, he’d begun to realize his worth. The nights out had dwindled, the suspicious texts of an address but nothing else had ceased, and he was working happily at our corner coffee shop. Each check he’d received after they became consistent, he’d hand me a little less than half, and give me a reason as to why.
“Here,” Ryker would say, “for that time you…” and add an occurrence in which I’d kept him from sleeping on the streets.
I always took it despite my beliefs that his pulling himself together was enough. Progress made his smiles brighter and his hopes return. He was finally walking into the light after hiding in the darkness for so long.
Now, his phone was off, and none of his usual spots had seen him. None of his family cared enough to ask around their area. The idea of him wandering those parts was a long shot, but I thought of everything. Still, after my own drive through his family’s area, there wasn’t anything…
I missed Ashe more than anything. It’d been three days of being tied up to a chair and gagged with an old rag. I was sure that he was pacing the house a fucking mess! He was the only one to give a damn or two about me, and there was a chance… a very slim chance that my disappearance might’ve triggered his loss of care for me. Of course, it wouldn’t be without cause, because I’d been such a piece of shit for years.
I’d stolen, cheated, and lied for things I never thought I’d want. An extra long night at that bar had been all it took. I did my best not to remember what had happened to me after that, but it was event that tipped my ladder downward. The only one to know about it was Ashe, and there were times I swore he took care of me because of it. He was always nice when he brought me home.
Even when he was exhausted and half sleeping when he dragged me into the spare room, he’d always say, “try again tomorrow.”
Truth be told, I did. I tried every day to keep my shit together, and Ashe was the reason for it. Just like everyone else, he could’ve kicked my ass to the curb, but he hadn’t. For the years I pulled my crap, he stood by me, carried me home, made sure I had hot food and a bed, and somewhere safe to go to.
Now, I was stuck in a mossy basement with no clue as to where the basement was or to who it belonged. I tried multiple times to wriggle my wrists free from the ropes as I thought about Ashe looking for me. The idea of him sobbing with his head in his hands over me made me wince with an emotional pain. I didn’t deserve him as a friend, and he didn’t deserve to find me dead. I knew how it would look if he did—a tragic story about a troubled teen that did everything he could to get himself together only to die in the pit he threw himself into.
Ashe wouldn’t be able to accept that. He’d spend the rest of his life wondering if the news and tabloids had gotten it right. For his sake, I had to keep myself together. Then, the creak of the basement door caught my attention away from the thoughts of Ashe searching for me. The man who entered made my eyes widen and my shins shake. He was the start of it all.
On the fifth day of Ryker being gone, I’d given up on sitting and waiting. There was something wrong. I wasn’t sure what it was, but it wasn’t good, and time was limited if it hadn’t already run out. Each neighbor, from door to door, I asked about him. I showed pictures of us together on my phone. I told them that he’d been missing for days. Most times, there was a frustrated silence and a slam of the door in my face.
‘Maybe, I’ve lost him… After everything he’s worked so hard for… I’ve lost him,’ I thought as another wave of tears left my eyes.
I walked through two miles of houses despite the doubt. I knocked on every door, stranger to me or not. I flashed the phone each time with an increased amount of desperation at the shakes of their heads.
‘Please,’ I begged internally, ‘please, someone help me! Help him! Please…’
At the last house, there was a weakness in my arm from the repetitive knocking. The woman stood in the door, and her smile disappeared instantly at my worry.
“Is everything alright? What can I do for you?” She asked.
“My best friend is missing,” I said with a croak.
Her door opened wider at the news.
“If you could just tell me… if you’ve seen him.” I had a desperation in my voice that made her eyebrows raise.
She stayed silent until I managed to shakily open my phone.
“His name is Ryker. He’s about six feet tall, and he’s been missing for five days now. No one has seen him, and I’m just trying to get an idea. That’s all. I just need an idea."
The woman studied my phone for a moment before she said, “that’s the boy who works at the coffee shop. I know him. He’s always giving me fifty cents off my coffee for being a nurse. He’s missing?”
“Yes, Ma’am. I’m worried he’s in danger. Do you happen to know anything about it? Anything at all?”
“Well,” she pressed her pointer to her chin, “I remember him leaving the shop with me the other day. He told me something about his friend not liking when he worked super late. We made it down Hadden Street before we parted ways—Hadden and Dentz at the stop sign. I couldn’t tell you what happened after that. I hope you find him. He seems like a good kid.”
“Thank you!” I gasped with relief.
She nodded once and I rushed down the steps.
Finally, I was getting somewhere! I had a starting point!
I spat blood out onto the concrete, and I could barely see out of my left eye. I’d been cracked in the skull a few, good times by the bastard that had just slammed the door behind himself. My head was throbbing, but I deserved it. This was karma at its finest. My occasional sleeping around for extra cash from time to time had finally caught up to me. No one knew about it—not even Ashe, I never had it in me to tell him, because he worried enough about me over the years. I knew the idea would send him over the edge, and I couldn’t stomach that.
I hoped Ashe was still looking for me. I was on the sixth day of absence, and I’d started to take a fair amount of beatings for my… leaving of that life. Again, it was karma, and she could be the cruelest bitch around. To me, as the burns of friction stung my wrists from the ropes, she was doing just that. I groaned and growled as I swallowed back the tears. I rubbed and rubbed my wrists. The ropes around them were beginning to loosen, which gave me a motivation to get the hell out.
After leaving the corner of Hadden and Dentz, I was snatched, forced to inhale chloroform, and woke up in the metal chair I was confined to. However, I was sure, as the range of movement was more forgiving, I wouldn’t be stuck to the chair for long. I’d defend myself, and I’d get free. I’d run home to Ashe—to where I was safe, and all would be right with the world.
I hissed and gritted my teeth at the final shifts of my skin. My restraints were no more! I reached down and started to tug at the bindings around my ankles. For once, I could save myself instead of being rescued! I’d give Ashe any explanation he wanted when I hit that doorstep so long as I found it again. Through the years, I’d been grateful for his existence and continuation of being in my life. As I jumped from the chair, I thought about all the parts of him I’d taken for granted. That was why I insisted on him taking my money—because I was sorry for everything. The offering of my money was a way to atone.
I shuffled quickly to the basement door, and it was surprisingly unlocked as I yanked it. I swung myself through it and down the hallway. Somehow, the narrow passage was more off-putting with its flickering, overhead light. I shook my head and shoved it off before racing through. Then, I found the bottom of the stairs. What happens if I’m caught? Will he kill me?
From the corner of Hadden and Dentz, I headed through the side streets. As I had done at the neighbors’ houses, I threw Ryker’s picture in peoples’ directions. I told them our situation, but I received empty rejections in return. Unfortunately, it was what I was expecting. The area beyond the crosswalk was sketchy, but I had to try. Ryker would have tried as hard if it was me.
I crept down the last section near the street corners I was given and blinked when I noticed the smashed phone near the brick wall—Ryker’s. It was useless. Even if it held a charge, it was too mangled to work, so I didn’t bother. I kept moving but with a quicker pace as I noticed a warehouse nearby.
After I was able to find my way in, I called out his name.
“Ryker! Ryker, man, are you in here? I’m not mad. I just want you to come home! You’ve got me terrified!” The only noise to be left behind was the echo of my voice, but I refused to give up.
The first floor was a mass of open space, and I found that I was breathless from the jogging and climbing to get into the place. I slid down the pillar closest to me and threw my head in my hands. Where was he? I felt myself crying as I clutched my hair. I was starting to think he was dead, and I wouldn’t know what to do if it was true. He tried so hard to be better, and this was the thanks he got?
Then, frantic footsteps alerted me. They pounded the floor of the warehouse with an urgency that made me stand to my feet and look around. It came closer, and as it did, they sounded more and more hesitant—like the broad area was disorienting. I took a chance. It was all I had left.
“Ryker! Ryker, is that you?” I shouted.
The footsteps halted when my voice reached them.
“Ryker?” I tried again.
The footsteps grew closer and followed the direction of my echo.
“Ryker, if that’s you, please say something!” I called out with my hands cupped around the sides of my mouth.
Then, the pace quickened again with certainty until we stood about ten feet apart. His eye was swollen over, his forehead was oozing blood, and his cheek was purpled over with bruises, but he was alive! He ran at me, and when the distance between us was closed, he grabbed me, and hugged me as tight as he could.
“You really didn’t give up on me… You really looked,” he whispered weakly.
I twisted the back of his shirt in my fingers as I hugged him back. “Of course, I looked for you, Ry!”
“Thank you,” he mumbled into my shoulder, “thank you for never leaving me.”
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your actually a good writer though...just don't use those italics, this is violent from what I've skimmed through, I like it
The Italics are used to emphasize emotion, so they are necessary for this story
I love it. Wide imagination. Well done!