My hands and feet were bound with duct-tape and I was thrown into the trunk of an elderly Cadillac. My only solace was that it was a rather large one. As the car bumped along some poorly maintained road, I thought about the situation I was in. I was going to need a lot of luck to get out of it; thankfully, I didn’t think that would be a problem.
The trunk wasn't latched properly, so dim light filtered in through the crack left by the decaying rubber runners and general wear. I was able to take in my surroundings, small as they were. We hit a vicious dip in the road and my head connected with the top of the trunk, gouging out a chunk of my scalp, but denting, and breaking, a part of the flimsy metal. I rolled over onto my back and strained my arms up against it. From there, it took a few quick, painful strokes, to sever the tape that held me captive. Once my hands were unbound, I went to work on the tape securing my ankles, wiping a thin stream of blood from my eye as I did so. Soon I was free and spent the next few minutes massaging some feeling back into the different parts of my sleeping body. After that, I went about plotting my next few moves.
I knew I needed a weapon, and thought I knew where I could find one. I squirmed as close to the seat backing as I could and hooked my fingers under the false floor, prying it up. Keeping it elevated with one shaking hand, I slid the other into the hole and felt around. My hand passed over a couple bundles of cash and a bag of what I assumed was cocaine, before I felt the greasy, cylindrical metal across my palm: the tire iron. I extracted it and waited.
Eventually, the car came to a stop. I heard both the driver and passenger doors open, then slam shut. I heard two voices come around the back of the car. I got into the best position possible and waited to pounce.
“...luckiest bitch I ever seen.”
“That’s why the boss wants her. Said she’s like some kinda superhero or something.”
The keys jangled as they were inserted into the lock. The trunk popped open and daylight flooded down on me. I could barely see, but made my move all the same. I launched myself, but since I’d been cramped up for the last hour or so, my legs gave out as soon as I applied pressure. Instead of bounding forward and attacking my kidnappers, I folded like overcooked spaghetti. The tire iron in my hand slipped out as I crashed over the bumper and headed for the pavement, skull first. Before I slipped into unconsciousness, I watched the twist of fate unfold in front of my blurry vision. My weapon landed sharply on one of my assailant’s feet. He pulled the trigger of his drawn pistol and the bullet punched through his partner’s abdomen. The second assailant, startled by the loud and enormous pain he was now sporting in his body, instinctively pulled the trigger on his pistol. The bullet took off the top of the first assailant’s head, and all three of us collapsed on the ground together; one dead, one dying, and one with a concussion.
I slipped down into a blank world and was greeted by a woman, far off in the hazy distance. She beckoned me with an outstretched hand. I knew immediately who it was; after all, I did have her likeness tattooed on my left thigh. As I drew closer, I saw that Fortuna had an angelic aura around her, but beneath her eyes I sensed a strange malice that would consume anything she wished. She wore a white toga with one breast exposed. The toga flowed around her like water and trailed out so far that I could almost touch it from where I was. I knew it would be my guide. Tucked into her makeshift belt that held the toga together were the scales of justice and a hammer. At one point the hammer was tiny, like a craftsman’s tool, while at other times, it grew to the size of a ten-pound sledge.
Fortuna bade me forward and I followed her farther down into whatever realm I’d reached. I followed her past half-formed monsters and scenarios from my subconscious. I briefly saw the botched assault unfold, only this time, the bullet took off the top of my head. I shivered and continued.
She led me past a table to a chair. I sat down, while she remained standing. Once I was comfortable, she began to speak.
“You have marked yourself with me.” It was a statement, yet I nodded all the same. “Because of this, I will always help you, when the scale dictates.”
She withdrew the scale and placed it between us where it hovered on empty air. I saw that it was no longer balanced. One side had dipped slightly.
“This,” she said, pointing to the lower bowl, “is your bad luck. Right now, you’re being dragged inside and placed on a chair by those to whom you owe a great debt. They are not happy, and because your bad luck currently outweighs your good, they will not use duct tape like those last fools. To escape, you must use both the good and bad luck to your advantage, much like in the trunk.”
She looked at me with her pale grey eyes. I felt myself shrinking under her gaze.
“Do you understand?” she asked finally.
“Good. Now WAKE…”
“...UP!” someone screamed as cold water doused me. I coughed and sputtered as I inhaled a lungful of water and spat it back out, coming to my senses. In front of me was a fat man in a cheap suit. Beside him stood another man, equally as fat, but better dressed. He wore an open-throated khaki shirt and slacks. I was naked.
I struggled to move and found myself handcuffed to a metal chair. The manacles dug deep into my wrists. I could feel them beginning to chafe and burn as I worried my left wrist against them, allowing the metal to bite deeper into my skin, to cut me more, to draw blood. I looked around the room as I slowly, deliberately did this.
We were in a brick room. Mine was the only chair, but there was a table off to my right. On it lay a plastic bag, a roll of tape and an Exacto knife. I knew which instrument I would need to survive.
The two men stood close to me, the man in the cheap suit holding a now empty metal bucket in his hands. When he saw that I was awake and looking around, he cast it aside so it rolled over and clanged against the table. Neither of them had a weapon on them that I could see. I assumed they did, but they weren’t drawn. Just my luck.
“Where is my money?” Khaki Shirt spat in my face.
“The two-hundred grand you stole from me.”
“Well, I obviously don’t have it on me,” I said, panting. I continued to dig the metal into my wrist. I could feel slick blood beginning to run down my hands. I was worried about cutting into the vein, but not that worried.
He lashed out and struck me on the side of the face with the flat of his hand. A thick ‘POCK’ sound filled the room and died away. I screamed out; not from the slap, but because I’d dislocated my thumb by slamming it against the back of the chair. With my blood flowing freely, I was able to use it as a lubricant and slip my hand out of the manacle.
“You don’t ever want to be coy with me,” he said. “You keep up like that, and you’ll be lucky to ever see the sun again.”
“I don’t think that’s gonna be a problem,” I said through a mouth that was beginning to feel too big for my face, the skin already stretching and tightening. I forced myself to smile all the same.
“You think this is funny?” he asked me as I ratcheted the metal through the now empty cuff, leaving a small portion poking out.
“Nah. I was just trying to picture you as a pirate.”
His face screwed up and his body tensed. He was going to strike me again; I wasn’t going to give him that chance. I lunged up and out, whirling my hands around. I brought the protruding piece of metal towards his face. It dug into his left eye and he immediately screamed and began to fall backward. He wrapped his arms around me and pulled me down with him. It was violent and fast and I kicked my legs out, although they were still shackled to the chair. The fall bent me at a weird angle, so I resembled more scorpion than human. Lucky for me. The chair, loosely attached to my ankles, flew up and struck Cheap Suit in the mid-section. He doubled over and collapsed on top of us, effectively driving the piece of handcuff farther into Khaki Shirt’s eye, and ultimately, his brain.
Now I only had to worry about a single assailant. He rolled off, still clutching his belly while making a sick, sucking sound. He eyed me crawling toward the table and wearily got to his feet. I crawled faster. He attempted to follow me, stumbling along like a drunken baby; still, he closed the gap with surprising speed. When he was within grabbing distance, I whipped my legs around, hitting him in the shins with the chair. He collapsed to one knee while I grabbed hold of the table and got up onto mine. My hands fumbled along the rough wood until they touched plastic. I grabbed it and swung down to face my adversary. One hand rubbed his left shin while the other was reaching inside his suit jacket.
He withdrew his pistol faster than he’d moved and fired off two quick shots. Knowing what he’d intended to do, I flopped onto my back and pulled my legs close to me, clutching the chair in both hands; I was using it as a shield. It was better than nothing.
The first bullet punched through the chair and entered my left shoulder. The second split the chain holding me prisoner, ricocheted off the leg and careened off on at crazy angle, hitting the wall and sending puffs of brick dust into the already dusty room.
Knowing I had little time, I threw the chair and it struck my captor in the face. He howled in pain. While he was temporarily blinded, I got to my feet, holding the plastic bag out in front of me. When he dropped his hands, I did it.
I pulled the plastic over his head and twisted so I was behind him. I sat down hard, crossed the ends of it and began pulling with all the force left in my body.
His reaction was immediate. His gun clattered to the floor and he began throwing wild punches over his shoulder. None of them hit me, thankfully. When he realized he wasn't making contact, he switched his tactics. He shoved his head back with such violent force that it shattered my nose on contact. I cried out and used the momentum to fall onto my back, pulling his head down with me. I strained, the pain in my left arm explosive, yet held on. I knew this was my last chance to finish him. He pushed back even harder, but his head was now resting against my chest. I’d never been happier to have almost non-existent breasts.
He continued to struggle, but was losing steam. I heard those same sucking noises, only this time, they were muffled.
When he stopped, I used the last of my strength to pull the plastic even tighter. After a few moments, I relaxed and pushed his limp, cellophane entwined head off me.
When I’d sufficiently caught my breath, I rolled him out of his suit jacket and draped it around me. I took the Exacto, cut a strip from his shirt and used it to bandage my left wrist. After that, I cut away a large clump and stuck it over the hole in my shoulder. Then, I started rummaging through his pockets. I found his wallet, which I plucked the cash out of before casting aside. I reached out and collected his revolver before getting up on shaky legs, reeling from the exodus of adrenaline, and walking over to Khaki Shirt. Digging through his pockets yielded nothing but a condom and some hand sanitizer. I used the hand sanitizer then tossed it into the corner.
I left the enclosed room and was greeted to a large, empty warehouse; well, almost empty. Tucked into the corner, like all useless garbage, were the two bodies of the unlucky men who’d originally kidnapped me. I found what I was looking for in the first pocket I checked.
I left the warehouse and walked toward the car that had transported me here. The doors were unlocked, and I slid in, placing the pilfered key into the ignition. I turned it over and was greeted with a blast of relatively cool air. I sat back, closed my eyes and thought about my situation.
There were unknown amounts of cash and cocaine in the trunk; along with another two-hundred grand stashed away under my mattress. I was also wounded, blood-encrusted, and near naked, but very much alive. My first stop would be my safe house, but after that was anyone’s guess. I’d heard Costa Rica was nice this time of year. With any luck, I’d be able to make it there with minimal complications.
Thankfully, I didn't think that would be a problem.