How sure are you?

Submitted into Contest #74 in response to: Write a story that takes place across ten seconds.... view prompt

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Fiction Adventure Suspense

“Hey! Wake up. Your food’s here”, barked an irritated voice.

I was on the floor and slowly opened my eyes to look up at the equally irritated face looking down on me. I sat up unsteadily against the wall and tried to subside the incessant throbbing of my head.

As I held my head in my hands, my eyes fell upon something written on my arm: The number 10. That’s when it struck me, where the hell am I?

“Didn’t you hear me? Sit up and eat your food quickly”, barked the same voice again, more irritated now, while shoving a plate towards me filled with things which might have looked like food a few weeks ago.

“Where…am I?”, I asked him, struggling to get the words out of my surprisingly parched throat.

All my question did was to annoy my companion even more.

He picked up my plate and was about to slam it on my face when another hand caught it mid-air. His expression turned from irritation to that of horror as he realized that it was my hand who stopped him.

I head bashed him and he stumbled back, mixed with hurt and shock. I got up and put him down with a swift kick to the head and he was out like a light. Whoever my captors were, looks like they were unaware of my military background.

I glanced around quickly to get a lay of the land, but there wasn’t much to look at. I appeared to be in some kind of cell and the foreign dialect of captor gave me the distinct impression that I was no longer in the states.

My head still hurt and I had a feeling that I was drugged very recently, but I knew that I had to get out of here. I gave another look to my unconscious companion and slowly crept out of the cell. All I could see outside was a small corridor that led to a flight of stairs. Ensuring that there was no one else, I made a run for the stairs and quickly climbed them. On the upper floor, I saw two rooms which looked like some kind of offices. I glanced inside to see two guards talking to each other with coffee cups in their hands.

“Must be their cafeteria”, I said to myself. The other room seemed empty on the inspection so I went inside to look for any information. It appeared to be their file storage of this place. My eyes immediately fell on a cabinet labelled ‘Patient records’. So was this a Hospital?

I opened it to see a bunch of files, all of which were numbered. Then I remembered the number 10 on my hand. I looked for the file number 10, found it and opened it to find my entire life history jotted down. My childhood records, my family history and contrary to my earlier assumption they had everything about my military career as well.

I was fumbling through the pages when a photo fell out of the folder. I picked it up and saw the smiling faces of myself, my ex-wife and our 5-year-old daughter, my sweet little pea. Jane and I split about 4 months ago and she had almost immediately started to see a guy named Makris. He was a trust fund billionaire and they used to travel around the world, due to which I never got enough time to spend my little pea.

I had to get back to them, so I needed to know how I wound up here in the first place. I skimmed through the rest of the file to see a medical evaluation report, contents of which left me dumbfounded.

‘PTSD caused by long military tours overseas. A threat to himself and his family.’

This was a load of BS as I never had any symptoms of PTSD nor had I displayed any signs of violence. Someone had forged these documents and admitted me in a mental hospital, but why?

My reverie was broken by noise in the corridor outside and I stuffed all the documents back in the cabinet and hid behind the cupboard quickly. I watched from the shadows as a man draping a white coat walked in the room. I thought I was well-hidden but the guy immediately froze as he walked in and ran towards his desk. Before I could realize his plan, he pushed a button on his desk and a sharp alarm went off throughout the hospital.

I knew I only had a few seconds to act, so I sprung up and dashed out of the room. I had no idea where I was running to; I just ran down every flight of stairs I could find to get out of there. I trusted my gut to believe that it was not a basement but an isolated tower. At last, I saw a big door which looked like it could be the main entrance but four bulky guys were guarding it, who started to run towards me as soon as they spotted me. I could also hear voices coming down the same stairs I made my way down from. I looked behind me and saw a huge glass window and made a split-second decision.

I ran towards the window at full speed and with all my might hurled myself towards the window. It broke on impact and I fell about 10 feet before hitting a tarp which broke my fall.

I knew I was cut in many places but the adrenaline rush helped me get back up on my feet. I looked up at the window to the faces of my captors who did not seem to want to follow me down. I looked around and saw a bustling crowd and sort of a market place. I gave another look to ensure no one was following me before disappearing into the crowd.

Once I was sufficiently far away from that place, I decided to sit someplace and gather my wits. If I had any doubts about my whereabouts earlier, the large statue of the welcoming arms of Jesus Christ had cleared them. The bad news was that I had no idea how I got here but the good news was I knew someone here who could help me get back.

About an hour later, I knocked loudly on a door in one of the worst parts of Rio. The door was opened about a minute later by a Portuguese woman in her late 60s.

“Samuel?”, I asked her.

She gave me a look over before moving aside to let me in. She led me to a small room which honestly looked no better than my hospital cell from earlier.

“Well, I’ll be damned”, boomed a voice behind me.

I turned around to see the smiling face of my old military buddy.

He grabbed me in a bear hug before I could say anything.

“It’s good to see you too Sam”, I said when I was finally able to breathe again.

He gave me a look and said, “Well don’t get me wrong brother, I am happy to see you. But honestly, you look like sh…”

“SAMUEL. LANGUAGE.”, screamed a voice from the other room.

Sam burst out laughing at that and said, “Don’t mind my landlady, she’s a devout Christian. So what brings you to Rio?”

I took a seat and said, “Actually that’s what I am trying to find out as well, and I need your help”

I narrated the whole story from this morning to Sam and he listened very attentively. When I was done, he only said one word, “Makris”.

“Huh? What do you mean?”, I asked him, confusion growing by the second.

“He’s the one responsible. He wants Jane and your daughter all to himself, don’t you see?”, explained Sam.

“Well he certainly has the means”, I mumbled, more to myself than Sam.

We were both quiet for a few minutes, pondering over the situation.

“I have to get back Sam. If Makris is capable of this, I can’t leave my little pea with him”, I told Sam, who was still lost in his thoughts.

He finally sat up straight and said, “If you really want to confront him, we will have to sneak back into the states. I do know someone who can help, let me make a few calls”

He went out of the room as the lady from earlier appeared with a plate of mashed potatoes. She kept it on the table and left without a word. I was famished and gobbled up the entire plate within a matter of a couple of minutes.

I was taking the last bite when Sam returned with a smiling face. “There’s a Cargo plane leaving tonight. We will land in states by midnight”, declared Sam.

“We?”, I asked him with my eyebrows raised.

“Do you really think I am leaving you alone after everything that has happened?”, said a grinning Sam.

I could only smile and nod as I knew I am going to be forever indebted to him.

The plane ride was surprisingly short and before I knew, we were back home. We took a rental car, paid in cash, and made a beeline for Makris’ mansion.

We parked a couple of blocks away and made our way on foot. We reached his mansion and it was eerily quiet. I had assumed Makris to be a rich party freak but maybe I was wrong.

The security was surprisingly lax for a billionaire, as all I could see were two guards at the main gate and a few CCTV cameras. Sam quickly found a wall which wasn’t covered by any camera and we stealthily scaled it and went inside.

Once we were inside the house, we quickly looked around for Makris’ bedroom. I just hoped not to find Jane with him as I didn’t want to do what I was about to do in front of her. Once we had identified his bedroom, obviously the one with the most ornate door, we crept inside. But it was not at all like I had expected.

As soon as we were inside the room, the lights flicked on and half a dozen armed men were pointing their automatic rifles at us. Makris was sitting in an easy chair, sipping wine from a glass.

He gave me a smirk before saying, “Why don’t you take a seat, and then we can talk.”

I looked around at all the rifles pointed at us and gave Sam a look before I sat down.

I had a simple question for him, “Why?”

He laughed at that, almost snorting out his wine, before saying, “Isn’t it obvious? I wanted your life.”

I was confused. My life? He was a billionaire; he could have anything he wanted.

Before I could reply, he continued, “I have been neck-deep in parties, girls and everything nice that money could buy, for all my life. It was only after I met Jane that I was hooked to the normal life of a married guy. Now I want a wife, a child and every other boring thing that people dream of.”

He got up and went to refill his glass as he said, “But lately, Jane was starting to have feelings for you again and your daughter keeps on rambling about you. I realized that the only way to keep them permanently was to get you out of the picture.”

As I listened to him, it started to dawn on me how much had I underestimated him earlier.

“But why the mental hospital?”, I asked him as I looked around for ways to escape.

“Call it my good nature or a soft corner for Jane. I thought that it might be easier, but clearly, I was wrong”, he said, as he pointed towards me.

As I was listening to his words carefully, another horrific thought crossed my mind and I asked for the second time that night, “Why?”

“Haven’t I answered that already?”, asked an amused Makris, thinking that I had lost my mind.

“I wasn’t asking you”, I said as I turned my head towards my old friend Sam. “Only you knew about this plan Sam. So, how much did you take to sell your soul?”

“Nothing personal my friend, but the amount was enough for me to live on a white sandy beach without having to work another day in my life. Frankly, I was willing to kill you right back in Rio, but Makris agreed to pay extra to bring you back here so he could do the honours himself”, said an unapologetic Sam, grinning widely.

“Which brings me to the finale of the evening”, said Makris as he pulled out a gun from his bed stand and pointed it at me, “Sorry for lack of foreplay but I have got a breakfast date with Jane, so I need some shuteye”

He cocked the gun at me and the vision got blurry now because tears were streaming down my face. The last thing I heard before everything went dark was,” Don’t worry, I will take good care of Jane and your sweet little pea”, followed by a loud bang.

----------------------------------------------------------------

“Hey, he’s already been fed.”, said the older Ward boy to his newly joined young colleague. The plate slipped from his hands and fell on the floor with a bang.

“Sorry, I was distracted by this patient. I was trying to feed him but he looked like he was in some other world entirely for a few seconds.”, said the young fellow.

“About 10 seconds you mean?”, asked the older man as his colleague picked up the plate and followed him out of the cell.

“Yeah, give or take. How did you know?”, he asked curiously.

His older colleague gave a wry smile and said, “He is a very old patient with advanced schizophrenia. He has bouts of hallucinations which lasts for about 10 seconds each but in his imaginations, he goes through a much longer time.”

“Wow. I didn’t know this could happen in schizophrenia. What does he usually think about?”, asked the younger man to his colleague.

The older man shrugged and said, “I imagine it is about leaving this hospital. He hasn’t been out in 20 years. It could also be about the mashed potatoes and peas you were trying to feed him. It could even be related to the marine tattoo he might have seen on your arm. I am not really sure.”

His colleague was amazed. “And he goes through all that in 10 seconds? Is that why he has 10 tattooed on his arm?”

The older guy gave another wry smile and said, “No, that’s just his cell number. But fate has a very funny way of arranging things, don’t you think?”

December 27, 2020 16:03

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5 comments

Loved the story a lot! :)

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Palash Jhawar
18:20 Jan 17, 2021

Thank you very much Laila!

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Of course, Palash!

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Shubham Kothari
02:48 Dec 28, 2020

Nice ending....good twist!!

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Palash Jhawar
18:19 Jan 17, 2021

Thanks!

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