CHAPTER TWENTY FIVE
Brian didn’t know how long they were travelling for. He seemed to sit cradling Sammy for hours on end. At one point, the van stopped. After a few minutes of silence, the doors were opened and Carl’s weasel like face appeared.
“We don’t want you to die of starvation on us,” he’d muttered, tossing them a packet of sandwiches and a can of coke. Then the journey had continued. The waiting was the worst thing. Waiting for Carl and Dustin to take them to… wherever they were taking them.
Brian opened the sandwiches and gave one to Sammy.
“Not hungry,” Sammy whispered.
“You’ll need your strength for when we escape,” Brian said, gently. “Come on, eat.”
One of Sammy’s tiny hands closed about the bread and Brian heard him chewing in the darkness. He handed him the second sandwich.
“No, you have it,” Sammy said.
“I’m okay. I ate just before they arrived,” Brian lied.
Sammy took the sandwich and broke it in half, before giving some to Brian. Next, Brian opened the coke and made Sammy drink as much as he could before downing the rest himself. Unfortunately, the fizzy drink did little to soothe his parched throat.
Eventually, the van rumbled to a halt again. Sammy held onto Brian’s hand. The doors were wrenched open and Brian squinted as the harsh sunlight flooded him and Sammy.
“Out,” Carl said.
Brian slowly clambered out of the van. He reached out and pulled poor, trembling Sammy into his arms. Shakily, he stood up on his stiff legs. They were in a car park outside a sleazy looking motel.
“Where are we?” Brian asked.
“We’ve been all driving fucking night,” Carl said. “We’re spending the day here. We’re in room forty seven. I warn you, any tricks from you and…” He punched Brian in the stomach. Brian moaned and almost doubled over with pain. He struggled to keep hold of Sammy and stared up at Carl and Dustin, fearfully.
“There’s plenty more where that came from, Backass Boy,” Dustin warned.
Brian nodded weakly. He could hear Sammy’s quiet sobs as he held him.
“Glad you understand,” Carl said. “Now act normal, all right? Up the stairs.” Carl jerked his head in the direction of a rickety staircase to the left.
Brian tried to ignore the crumpling pain in his stomach and made his way towards the stairs. He wanted to scream for help. He was terrified. He could feel a lump in his throat and the tears in his eyes, which he desperately had to hold back for Sammy’s sake. However, he had seen the gun in Carl’s hand as he had ordered them out of the van. He knew that Carl could and would shoot him if he ran two steps. Besides, he couldn’t do anything too rash in case Sammy got hurt.
He swallowed his fear and blinked his watery eyes to prevent the tears from coming. He clambered up the stairs awkwardly with Sammy and accompanied by his throbbing stomach. He stopped when he reached the top.
“Straight ahead,” Carl said.
Brian did as he was told, praying that they would bump into someone – maybe he could give them a sign that he was in trouble… but, to his despair, there wasn’t a soul in sight.
Dustin suddenly grabbed his shoulder, making him jump. “This room,” he said, gruffly.
Dustin unlocked the door and shoved it open. Then he pushed Brian inside. He looked about him. It was only a small room. The walls were grubby and there were two small beds in the centre. He heard the door click shut behind them. Once again, they were trapped.
“Turn around,” Carl ordered.
Brian complied. Carl had a gun pointed at him. Sammy gave a squeak of fear and buried his head in Brian’s jersey. Brian put a hand on the boy’s head to shield him from the sight of the gun.
“I don’t trust you,” Carl said. “You may be as wet as a blanket but I don’t trust you to behave yourself.” Carl pulled out a long, thick piece of rope from his pocket. “Put Sammy down.”
“H – how d – do you know my n – name?” Sammy stuttered.
“Shut up,” Carl snapped. “Put Sammy down now or I’ll tie him up as well as you.”
Sammy’s eyes were full of terror and, as much as Brian wanted to keep hold of him, he could never subject such a sweet little boy to the horrors of being tied up as well as kidnapped. Sammy clung to Brian. He could feel his fingers digging into him.
“It’s okay,” Brian said. “I’ll still be here.” He pushed his sob back as he slowly released Sammy and pried his fingers away from him.
Carl pointed to a chair with the gun. “Sit.”
Brian did so and tried his hardest not to wince as Dustin yanked his arms behind the chair and tied bound them tightly to the back of the chair. Next, he tied Brian’s feet up. Sammy was crying and the sight of his distraught face made Brian long to cuddle him close and protect him… but he couldn’t.
“Be quiet, Sammy, or I’ll put some bruises upon your friend’s face,” Carl warned, placing his gun in his pocket.
He flopped down onto one of the beds and threw a pillow at Sammy. “You can sleep on that,” he said. “I’m warning you, any noise at all from either of you, and I let Dustin have a go at bashing the Backstreet Boy.”
Dustin leered at them both. His muscles bulging. A bleeping tune suddenly emitted from Carl’s pocket. He sighed and pulled a red mobile phone from his belt.
“Hello?” he said. “Oh, it’s you. Sure we got them. No, no problems. The Backstreet Boy put up a bit of a fight but it was pretty pathetic.”
Brian stared at Carl, curiously. Who was he speaking to? He strained his ears, but couldn’t hear the voice on the other end.
Carl continued his conversation. “Yes, he’s okay. What about the other one? You want us to take care of him? Or do you still want him alive? Oh, all right. I was just asking. We’ll be there tomorrow morning.” Carl hung up.
Sammy placed his head by Brian’s feet and Brian felt the familiar, icy fingers of fear all over him. Were they going to ‘take care’ of Sammy?
‘I won’t let them hurt him,’ Brian promised himself. ‘Never.’
“Everything okay?” Dustin asked.
“Yeah. He wants them both alive.”
Brian breathed a sigh of relief. They were at least safe from fatal consequences – until they reached their final destination, anyway.
“Sweet dreams,” Carl said, nastily to Brian and Sammy.
Brian bit his lip to stop himself from saying something that would probably get them into even more trouble.
He struggled slightly to free his arms, but he was bound too tightly to the chair. Sammy pressed closer to his legs and his touch was a small comfort to Brian.
The night passed slowly and uncomfortably. Brian dozed slightly but knew that he didn’t get much sleep. He forced himself to remain awake as much as possible in case Sammy needed him. He couldn’t do much when he was tied to a chair, but being alert made him feel a little less hopeless.
Sammy slept quietly by his feet. Every now and then he would stir or fidget. Brian listened to his friend’s steady, soft breathing.
At around dusk, Brian awoke from his light doze to hear a slight scratching sound by his feet. He looked down to discover Sammy trying to untie his feet. Carl and Dustin snored noisily.
Sammy looked and saw Brian’s open eyes. “If I untie you, you can get the key and we can escape,”
“Sammy, don’t. if they see you untying me… they have a gun, it’s too dangerous,” he said, gently.
Sammy struggled with the knot for a moment longer. “It’s too tight. I can’t undo it anyway,” he said, helplessly. “Daddy? I’m scared.”
“We’ll get out of this,” Brain said, keeping his own fear out of his voice. “The other’s will be looking for us by now.” I hope, he added, silently.
Carl suddenly snorted and yawned. Sammy lie back down upon his pillow. Brian saw Carl glance at his watch and moan. He sat up, glared at Brian to check he was still tied up, and poked Dustin roughly on the shoulder.
“Dustin! Get up, you lazy bastard!”
Dustin gave an extra loud snort, but didn’t stir. Carl seized the clock from a table and set the alarm. He placed it right by Dustin’s ear as it began bleeping loudly.
Dustin sat up abruptly and looked about him in a dazed sort of way. “Uh? Wha?” he said, vaguely.
“Time to get moving,” Carl said. He glanced at Brian and Sammy. “We have a delivery to make. I’ll check us out, you get those two back into the van.” Carl stood up.
Sammy yawned and sat up, pressing his head against Brian’s knee. Dustin lumbered over to them and pulled a knife from his pocket. Brian felt a shiver of fear pass over him and Sammy clutched his leg tightly.
Dustin hacked the ropes away and then put the knife away. Brian closed his eyes and gave a gasp of relief. He could feel a trickle of sweat on his forehead.
He rubbed the rope burns on his wrists and then was pulled to his feet by Dustin.
“Right.” Dustin checked his gun. “No noise and no trouble.”
Dustin dragged Brian out of the door and Sammy grabbed one of Brian’s hands. Brian could feel how clammy Sammy’s hand was. He squeezed it as they were led back down the steps and to the grubby, white van.
Brian looked about in vain, searching for anyone else, but the place was deserted.
Carl came dashing up to them while Dustin let go of Brian just long enough o unlock the van doors and pull them open.
A sudden thought hit Brian. “Were you the ones chasing Sammy and his mother that night?”
“Us?” Carl said. “No, that was somebody else. We’re taking you to meet him. He was the one who tried to shoot you as well.”
“Shoot us?” Brian said, a coldness invading his body. “T – that time in the shop? The bullets were aimed at me and Sammy?”
“No, they were aimed at you,” Carl said, simply.
“No more questions! Shut the fuck up and get in the van!”
Brian gulped. Things were sounding grimmer by the minute. He clambered inside with Sammy and the nightmare continued.