Tony woke up with a start. It was dark and he found himself lying in an awkward position. It took him a few moments to remember that he was in the backseat of a car. He had been sleeping as it was his friend's turn to drive. But, right then, there was no sign of his friend, David.
Tony peered out of the window. From the dim light from a far away streetlight, he could make out that the car stood by the side of a muddy road. The road was deserted and it was very quiet.
He looked over to the other side and saw a couple of shops far away.
“Where the hell is he?!” grumbled Tony regarding his friend as he sat up and massaged his cramped up neck. His eyes fell on the ignition and noticed that the key was still in it. He also noticed that the right front door was open. Right then, he could picture in his head someone mercilessly pulling David out of the car. Tony felt his heart start to beat faster.
He lunged himself over the front seats and started to feel under the seats. It wasn't there. The bag with the cash wasn't there!
It all came back to him. Earlier that evening, they suspected that a car was following them. But then they thought that they were just being paranoid. But now it seems it 'must' have been 'them.' They must have been following their car until they felt they were in a safe deserted place to make a move. A place like the one he was at then.
May be the only reason Tony was still alive must be because David didn't tell them that he was asleep in the backseat. “Bless him.” Tony whispered.
But what about David? Did they kill him!? Tony began to panic. May be they beat him up and left him for dead. May be he is gravely injured and lying somewhere close-by hoping that Tony will wake up soon, find him, and take him to a damn hospital!
Tony quickly jumped out of the car. He began looking around for any dark patches on the ground that might be blood. May be it will lead him to where David was. The dim light was making his search difficult, but he persisted. After several minutes of searching, he couldn't find any traces of blood, and he gave up. May be David escaped before they could catch him!
Tony pulled out his cellphone to try and call David, but the phone displayed that there was no network available. He felt frustrated.
The shops! May be they have a pay phone.
He quickly made his way toward the shops. All he wanted was to hear that David was safe. He didn't even care about the money anymore.
His hands had started to shiver and he felt severely short of breath. He must be having another one of his panic attacks.
Getting closer, he noticed 3 shops. The one on the extreme left was a supermarket. The others looked like restaurants or coffee shops; he wasn't sure. He noticed few people standing outside one of those shops and smoking. For all he knew, one of these men might have killed David and taken the bag.
Tony slowly put his hand in his jeans pocket to make sure he had his knife with him. It was his only protection.
Finding a payphone in front of the supermarket, he fished for a coin in his pocket, and upon finding one, struggled with his shivering hand to slip it into the slit. But then he realized there was no tone. The phone was broken. He slammed the phone, cursing. He noticed another phone in front of the shop next to the supermarket. He began to walk towards it. And that's when it happened.
Between the 2 stores was a dark alley. As he passed by, he heard some noise coming from the alley. He stopped and squinted into the dark space. Was it a severely beaten-up David trying to call out for help? Tony stood still, carefully listening. He cursed himself for forgetting to bring his prescription glasses along with him. May be he could have seen better. Suddenly, he heard another noise.
“David, is that you?” Tony said finally.
Tony began to slowly walk into the alley. Darkness engulfing him.
“Speak up, man!” he tried again.
He heard what sounded like something tiny scurrying away.
Tony took out his phone and tried to look around with its dimly lit screen. All he saw was a lot of garbage and nothing that looked like an injured, helpless David.
He cursed again and turned around to leave, and that’s when he saw someone walk into the alley towards him. May be it was the shadow on the man's face and the dim light behind him, but the man seemed frighteningly huge. He had on what looked like a huge leather jacket. The man stopped a few feet away from Tony. Tony found that his panic had hit sky high and he found himself rigid and unable to move. His heart thumped against his ribs. He stared at the man and slowly willed his hand into his pocket grabbing hold of the knife. The man followed suite and put his hand into his pocket too. And the next second, almost as if by instinct, Tony lunged forward at the man and stabbed him in the stomach. Both of them fell to the ground. The huge man immediately went limp upon hitting the floor losing his consciousness. Tony noticed that something fell out of the man's pocket. His eyes had adjusted to the dim light by then and he could make out that it was a fucking lighter. Almost in sync, he heard the faint noise of his car's engine firing up far away. He quickly crawled to the edge of the alley and saw that his car's headlights were on. Someone was for sure in the car and was about to drive away. His only way out of there.
Feeling even more panicky, Tony took to his heels. He almost hit another leather jacket wearing guy who was walking out of one of the shops. Tony instinctively buckled avoiding an imaginary punch from the guy, but all that the guy did was to look irritated and shout,
“Watch it!! What's wrong with you!?”
Tony heard more noises around him and looking around realized that there were a whole bunch of leather jacket wearing guys who had just walked out of the shop beside the supermarket. He saw them head to their bikes on the other side of the supermarket. They were probably bikers who had stopped for dinner.
Tony turned around and ran as fast as he can towards the car.
As he reached close to the car, that someone in the car opened the door. But Tony hesitated to get in. The car's interior light was busted, and he couldn't see who it was that was in the car. As Tony stood confused, David's voice came from inside,
“Dude, what the hell are you doing outside? I thought you were back here sleeping!”
Feeling a wave of relief, Tony quickly got into the car beside him.
“Where the fuck were you???!! I thought they killed you!”
“Com'on dude, we are like 1000 km away from there. They are never going to find us. I went to get us some dinner.”
Tony breathed a sign of relief. He tried to hold his breath hoping that his breathing would slow down. Then remembering about the bag asked,
“Where's the money!???”
“Under the back seat. Needed some leg space when I stopped to smoke, so I put it under the back seat” said David.
Tony checked under the back seat and sure enough the bag was there.
David looked at Tony concerned. Tony was sweating profusely and continued to be short of breath.
“I think you are having a panic attack. Here, have a sip of this.” David said handing Tony a bottle of water.
Just then, their attention was diverted by the loud commotion from the bikers in front of the supermarket. They must have just found out that their friend had been stabbed.
“Start the car and drive!” Tony shouted.
“What happened? What did you do??” David said sounding frightened.
“There's no time to explain! Just start the fucking car!!”
- Rejo John
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