Authors: Bree Bellucci
“Fire her up, baby,” Charlie said, wrapping an arm around
Addison, “Let’s go home.”
A sharp knock on the driver’s window made the four friends
jump out of their skins in unison. The sudden, bright glare of a flashlight
seared through the foggy glass. Addison whipped around and noticed a pair of
headlights shining behind them. When had this other car arrived?
“The cops?!” Grayson uttered, “We’re so screwed!”
“Just be calm” Anna said, “I just cry and get out of all
kinds of tickets. Watch.”
Anna rolled down her window and squinted into the bright
light. No one could see beyond it to the figure beyond the window, and his
silence was eerie.
“What are you doing out here?” said a stern, bass voice from
behind the light. Anna giggled girlishly at him.
“We’re just enjoying the view,” she said, “It’s a little
tradition for me and my friends. But we were just leaving, officer!”
“Is that booze I smell?” he demaned.
“Uh, no...” Anna chirped, the worry shining through her
voice. Addison saw out of the corner of her eye a second flash light on the
passenger’s side. All around the car, dots of light were springing up, blinding
the four friends in the car.
“What’s going on?” Charlie called.
“Get out of the car,” the voice outside demanded. The locks
on all four doors sprung open at his touch of the button. The four doors were
wrenched open simultaneously, and dozens of hands reached in to wrestle the
occupants out of the car. Addison felt greedy fingers close around her legs and
rip her from Charlie’s arms. She was pulled into the cold night as her screams,
and those of her friends, were carried away on the winter wind. She felt her
body being carried away, and was tossed unceremoniously onto the cold floor of
a waiting van. She heard the others being thrown in afterward, the roar of an
engine, and they were speeding away. In the dark, the friends grappled for each
other. They collapsed into a terrified heap, wondering what horrors they were
soon to face. Addison found Charlie’s hand a squeezed it tight.
“It’s OK, he murmured, “We’re going to be OK.”
But she could hear in his voice that it was a lie. And they
all knew it.
“Is anyone hurt?” Grayson asked in a quiet, desperate voice.
“I...I think I broke something...” Anna moaned, the pain in
her body radiating through her voice. In the pitch blackness of the van, they
couldn’t tell their limbs apart. With grasping hands, they reached out to Anna.
“What the fuck is this?” Addison said, her voice shaking,
where are we?”
“I don’t know,” Charlie said, “I thought it was the cops
telling to get moving at first, or arrest us for being wasted, but—”
A shrill cry rose from Anna’s throat, piercing the hearts of
her friends. She was badly hurt, they could feel. Her leg had been twisted
under her body as she fell, and something was cracked and crunched as the van
jostled them against each other. Anna needed a doctor, and they all needed some
answers in a big way. But it seemed like they were all out of luck.
“What’s happening?” Anna muttered, deliriously. Grayson
found her in the dark, cradled her small body against his own.
“We don’t know,” he whispered, despondently. “We were all in
the car together, waiting for the booze to get out of our systems, and some guy
stopped behind us. There were so many people...Just, out of nowhere! Where did
they even come from?”
“Were they following us from the start?” Addison wondered
aloud, “Did they follow us to the beach and then just wait there for us to come
back to the car? Do you think that’s it?”
“I don’t know what to think,” Charlie moaned, wrapping his
arms around Addison, “Who could they possibly be?”
“I have no idea,” Grayson said, amazed, “Who in the world
would do something like this, and to us? We’re nobody! It’s not like we have any
enemies! It’s not like we’ve got parents in the Mob or the UN! This is just
some random act, I bet you anything. Just some mindless fucking voilence.”
“Violence?” Anna said softly, “Do you think they’re going to
hurt us Grayson?”
“I think that there is a very good chance of it, Anna,” he
said gently, “I don’t know who, exactly, took us from our car. I’ve heard about
gang initiations that start this way. New members go out and kill or kidnap
people to earn their spot in the gang. It’s sick, is what it is.”
“Gangs?” Anna said, her voice trembling, “But...Why us? I
“There’s nothing to understand,” Charlie said testily, “Stop
“Charlie!” Addison scolded, taking his face between her
hands, “Don’t lash out at her! She’s hurt, she can’t focus. We need to keep
level heads in all of this. That’s the only way that we’re going to make it
“Level heads?!” Charlie exclaimed, “How do you propose we do
that, Addison? We’re probably being carted off to our deaths right now, and all
you can talk about is being reasonable!”
“It’s the only thing that’s going to help us, Charlie. We
have to be reasonable. It’s our only weapon right now.”
“That is just like you,” Charlie said contemptuously, “Just
letting reason run the game, instead of ever trusting your gut or your heart.
You never once give anything a chance except your brain, do you? Not even me.
Not even when we’re—”
“Don’t start with your relationship bullshit right now,
Charlie!” Addison cried, “In case you haven’t noticed, we have somewhat more
important things to worry about right now!”
“Anything would be more important to you than me!” Charlie
said coldly, “Just say it! You don’t care about me one bit, and you’re going to
be the person I die with!”
“No one said anything about dying,” Addison said, “We’re not
going to die. Whatever this madness is, we’re going to make it out alive. You
can mark my words.”
“Then will you go out with me?”
“For God’s sake...” Addison groaned.
“Guys?” Grayson said softly, “I don’t think...Anna’s not
“What?” Addison cried, lurching across the back of the van.
She fumbled in the dark until her hands found Anna’s body. The girl had lost
consciousness, the pain in her battered leg too much for the rest of her waking
mind to bear. Addison grappled in the blackness to find her friend’s neck,
rested her fingers against the jugular vein. A faint, subtle pulse was there,
beating in time with the bouncing van. Addison let out a little sigh of relief.
If nothing else, they were all alive. For the present moment.
“She’s just unconscious,” Addison told Grayson, “We’re OK.
We’re all going to be OK. This is probably just some stupid prank, and it will
all be over as soon as whoever’s up there has had some fun. Hell, we’ll
probably end up on Youtube or America’s Funniest Home Videos at the end! I’m
sure we’re just blowing things out of proportion because we’re scared. Crazy
shit never happens to people like us, you know? We’re going to come out of this
fine. We’ll probably laugh about it somewhere down the line! Don’t you think,
The boys were silent, and Addison felt their scared,
skeptical eyes on her face. She knew too that what she said was probably
bullshit. More likely than not, they were in serious trouble right now. She
silently cursed herself and her friends for being so stupid, leaving themselves
vulnerable in the deserted night like they had. After so many carefree years of
tempting the fates, they were finally going to pay the price. Perhaps even the
ultimate price, if the fear in Addison’s gut was to be trusted. She realized
with a jolt that she probably would die with these people, her friends.
Well, she thought, I couldn’t ask for better company.
They raced along for what seems like a day, a week, a month.
Time ceased to have any meaning as they jostled along, taking turns falling
into light slumber. Anna’s condition only worsened, the pain escalating into a
constant state. They each had their time to cradle her, to tell her that
everything would be OK. Her leg, she said, was throbbing, each bump in the road
a knife into her flesh. The limb must have been broken, or at least fractured.
As the minutes and hours surged onward, the conversation
between the friends ceased. There was no energy to be found for speculation,
condolences, or petty fights. Even hot-headed Charlie lost steam for his
outrage against Addison. There was nothing between them except a heavy silence
that had descended upon the backseat. One by one, they began to realize that
they were facing mortality that evening. How could a night that began so
innocently, in such easy spirits, turn out to be so horrific? Each of the
friends wondered and hoped independently that they’d fallen asleep on the beach
and were dreaming. But in their hearts, each knew that everything happening was
as real as could be.
Addison was at a loss. Why had this happened to them? They
hadn’t been doing anything wrong that night, but even if they had, it wouldn’t
have explained this surreal turn of events. Who in the world was up there,
driving the van? Who had gone so far out of their way, past the limits of the
law, to apprehend her and her friends? Surely, none among them had any enemies.
They were just a few college kids, and had never hurt anyone in the world. So
why were they being so brutally punished? Was this a prank? Or was it a death
Eventually, they stopped even thinking about possibilities,
or even hope. As the void of empty time swallowed them up, it was all each of
them could to do to let their bodies and minds go absolutely numb. Even Anna,
in her pain, seemed to lapse into a state of unfeeling. It was the only way
they could preserve themselves, and their sanity, in the face of such horrific
odds. It was like falling asleep, only instead of dreams, the friends found
emptiness instead. It was still preferable to fear.
From deep within their individual trance-states, the friends
felt something miraculous and terrifying. The constant motion that they’d been
riding for who knew how long was changing. What was this sensation, they wondered?
It was like that horrible moment for ocean liner passengers when the engines,
so ubiquitous and ever-present, stop short. That’s what it was, the realized.
The car was finally slowing down. Incrementally, their velocity began to
decrease, the friction between the car and road shifting. But if they were
slowing down, that meant that soon they’d be meeting their abductors.
This knowledge shook the friends from their waking sleep and
back into each others’ arms. They huddled together in the darkness, limbs
thrown and hooked around each others’ bodies. As hard as they could, they
struggled to become one, united against whatever aggressor was on the other
side of those van doors. Despite their exhaustion, their fear, the
inevitability of their fate, the friends did their very best to remain united
to the very end. It was the only thing that they could do. In that moment, in
that horrible moment, they were the world to each other, the most important and
only thing that mattered.
As they clutched at each other, bending their bodies to
cover Anna’s whimpering form, they felt the van grind to a halt beneath them.
They swayed as the breaks were applied, drawn along with the inertia of the
vehicle, that motion that had carried them god knows how far away from home.
Addison could hardly remember what that word meant, “home”. Surely, she’d known
of it before, but she couldn’t for the life of her place it within the same
realm that she currently occupied. Too much had already transpired, and she
knew that it was just the beginning.
A heavy silence, deeper than the one they’d been cloaked in
all this time, began to suffocate the friends. Without the roaring of the
engine, the ambient sound of paving racing so close to their bodies, every
sound they made was amplified. Every sniffle, every sigh, every moan rang out
in the van like a symphony. But from the front of the van, and around it, there
was no sound to be heard. Pure, crisp, deep silence. It was far more terrifying
than any loud, shrieking cacophony could have been. The suspense, the anxiety,
were unbearable to the friends.
Finally, a rustling sound from beyond the van asserted
itself in the silence. The friends tightened their grips around each other,
drawing in like a single organism. The rustling congealed into footsteps, and
many of them. All around the van, they could hear people assembling. It was
just as with their abduction in that faithful old car of Anna’s, where they’d
just been enjoying each other without a care in the world. How ridiculous it
now seemed to take advantage of freedom so callously. How shameful to take
freedom for granted and still be hedonistic little freeloaders with one thing
on their mind.
But the thrust of self-criticism was cut short in their
collective mind as the lock clicked in the van door. Their eyes shot toward the
spot where the sound had emanated from. There, a crack of light, or of a paler
shade of dark, ripped open the blackness. The crack grew into a chasm, which
became a gulf. It wasn’t bright beyond the door, but anything was brighter that
pitch darkness, and the friends squinted toward the point of entry. They needed
to see what lay beyond and were terrified to know once and for all.
No one spoke, beyond that threshold. The friends could sense
people standing all around them, but nobody budged from their places around the
van. The suspended moment stretched on, excruciatingly. Finally, a dark mass, a
body, made its way closer toward the friends. They recoiled collectively,
scampering toward the back of the van. This mad dash incited the worst sound
any of them could have dreaded to hear: a single, barking laugh. This was sport
to whoever was beyond the van, and that was something to be feared, indeed. The
laugh spread from one figure to the next, until a chorus of voices rose up in
laughter all around them.
Riding the waves of laugher, the figures closed ranks. They
climbed up over the lip of the van and took hold of the friends, tearing them
from each others’ embrace. A dozen people at least fell up the foursome,
wrapping limbs from limbs, prying the friends from each other. In their
weakened states, they could do little to protest. They were carried away, each
alone, out of that horrible van. Addison felt four sets of hands grasp her
body, hoist her into the air. They were carrying her away. As she cleared the
van, she looking up and caught a brief view of the sky.