(Part 1 in a 6 part serial fiction story by author C. L. Wells)
When Senator Xavier Sanford woke up, the first thing he noticed was the pounding inside of his head. He didn’t think he’d had that much to drink last night at the fourth-of-July celebration.
A glass of water would be a godsend right now.
He opened his eyes slowly, but the morning light that would normally seep in around the closed curtains of his bedroom was absent. It must still be the middle of the night. Reaching over to the bedside table for his phone to see what time it was, he felt nothing but air.
Where am I?
A horrible thought briefly passed through his mind. Had he had far too much to drink last night, possibly made a complete fool of himself at the party and been too wasted even to catch a cab home? He tried to recall if Bob Guthrie — one of his biggest supporters, and the man who had hosted last night’s party — had offered to let him sleep it off in one of the guest bedrooms, but the thoughts just weren’t coming back. The last thing he remembered was that cute intern he’d come to the party with, Shareese, smiling at him as fireworks went off in the background.
Please, God, no!
He slowly moved his left hand towards the opposite edge of the bed, hoping he didn’t feel another body lying next to him. A stupid move like that could end his career. He was old enough to be her father, for goodness’ sake. Relief washed over him as he felt no one.
Details concerning his current whereabouts unknown, he still needed that glass of water, and the pressure on his bladder was becoming more pronounced by the minute. He steeled himself against the throbbing inside of his head as he raised himself to an upright position. Still nothing but pitch blackness. He waited for his eyes to adjust, to see something… anything, but the scene before his eyes remained unchanged.
He threw back the covers and slowly placed his feet on the floor. As he did so, a small night-light came on at the far end of the room.
Where is this place?
When he stood up, he was temporarily blinded as several overhead fluorescent lights came on, illuminating the entire room. As his eyes adjusted to the light, he observed his surroundings. It was obviously not a bedroom in Bob’s house. The room was about eight feet wide by around thirty feet long. The ceiling was approximately twelve feet high, and everything — floor, walls, and ceiling — was covered in rough plywood.
He spied the outline of a door and began walking briskly toward it. He searched in vain for a doorknob or latch of some kind. Panic began to set in. He was trapped. There were no windows, and no way to open the only door he could see.
Looking around again, he quickly catalogued everything in the room. The bed, a table and chair in the middle of the room. A large-screen TV mounted to the wall just to the left of the door, and a toilet in the corner.
He backed away from the door, searching for anything that would give him hope that he wasn’t actually being held prisoner. He bumped up against the table, and it didn’t budge. Looking down on the floor, he saw that it was bolted in place. A quick scan confirmed that the chair and bed were bolted down as well.
Turning around and looking up at the TV, he then began scanning the area where the wall met the ceiling, finally spying a small black object in the corner, which he assumed was a camera that his captors were using to watch him. He addressed the camera as he cried out.
“What am I doing here?! What do you want with me?!”
He waited for a reply, but nothing happened.
My cell phone.
He began feeling around the pockets of his clothing for his phone. Maybe his captors had missed it. A quick pat-down, however, revealed no cell phone, as well as the fact that his wallet and keys were also missing.
“Good morning, Senator,” said a deep computer-altered voice.
“What in God’s name am I doing here?”
“Sit down, Senator.”
“Sit down in the chair.”
The voice was calm, almost emotionless. He turned to look at the chair in question.
“Okay,” he said as he walked around the table and sat down, looking back up at the camera expectantly.
“Good. You see how this works. I knew you were a smart man.”
“I did what you asked. Now, will you tell me what you want from me?”
A picture flashed up on the screen, and fear gripped Senator Xavier Sanford’s heart. It was a picture of his daughter, Camilla.
“What have you done to Cam?! Please, whatever it is that you want from me, leave her out of it.”
“Your daughter has been having trouble with a stalker for about a year — a man by the name of Joshua Pendleton,” the voice said. “You’ve moved your daughter to a high-security apartment building and even had a restraining order put on the stalker, but he’s still free. In six weeks’ time, if you don’t do exactly as I say, that same stalker is going to break into her apartment and strangle her to death.
“And just in case you have any doubts that we can make that happen, I have a little demonstration prepared for you.”
The image on the screen changed. It now showed his daughter’s apartment. Her bedroom, in fact. He recognized a lamp that he had bought her as a house-warming present. He watched as a man came into the empty bedroom and turned towards the camera, smiling as he waved.
As he came closer to the camera, Xavier could see who the man was.
It was Joshua Pendleton.