I knew my minutes were numbered when I felt a knife at my throat.
To be fair, it wasn’t the first knife that had ever found itself at that position, but it certainly held the honour of being the first to surprise me. I moved my head down to bite the blade and rip it out of the hand that was threatening me, but the knife moved down, too. I bit at nothing, and the grinding-clacking noise echoed throughout the room.
“No need to be so feisty,” a voice said from behind me.
I could hear that the person holding me hostage was enjoying every moment of it, as their tongue slid from syllable to syllable beneath a playful grin so wide I could hear it on their face. I was barely a few paces from my desk and my keys were on the floor.
“What do you want?” I decided to play along with their game, realising that they wouldn’t let me do things my way. Pity for them. If I had to play their game, I was going to have to play dirty.
“Now, now, why are you in such a rush?”
The voice was dripping with venomous joy.
“There’s no one else here, and there’s no one waiting for you at home. We have all the time together that we want, William. All the time… in the world.”
The knife was pushed closer towards my throat. This was new. I didn’t know what to do.
The person pushed me down, forcing me to kneel, and I could feel their free hand, gloved, unbuttoning my shirt. I felt the breeze of the air-conditioning that I forgot to turn off. It was the least of my problems, but it was all I could think of. I felt my guts tying into a ribbon and was strikingly aware of the contents of my stomach. Each breath I took had to force its way past the toll gate – the knife.
The hand found its way to my holster, and chucked the gun aside, along with my second planned course of action. I suddenly felt naked. Unsafe. After unpreparedness, after discomfort, and after uselessness came the feeling of being absolutely unsafe. They began tapping their fingers rhythmically on my shoulder.
“Whoopsie-daisies! You must have dropped your gun, too! What a shame that it isn’t loaded anymore.”
As they picked up my gun and took out the magazine, I began to realize that the knife wasn’t at my throat anymore. I couldn’t move. The paralyzing animosity of their voice made me forget about everything I was feeling and I started thinking only about what I had done to deserve this.
I heard the magazine fall to the ground and clang, snapping me back to reality. My face was wet and my vision was blurred. I rolled to the side and, after what seemed like an eternity, I remembered to use my arms, so I grabbed my keys. I ran to hide behind one of the desks and caught a glimpse of my attacker’s hair. It was bleach white and too long on one side. I couldn’t see their face, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to.
I scurried around, searching for a position where I couldn’t be attacked from behind. No surprises. Not anymore.
I was careful to hold my keys in a way that they did not jingle around. I couldn’t afford for my assailant to hear me. It’s bad enough that they had the upper hand. I went to the furthest-most desk and hid underneath it. I unlocked the wheels and held my breath the best I could. I knew it was only a matter of time until I was spotted again, and I wanted to be prepared. When they were to see me again, it was important that they didn’t notice that I had seen them. I needed to figure out what kind of person this was. Waiting, I felt the carpet against my bare chest.
“Why don’t you come out and say hello?”
I could hear each step they made as they called out to me. It was almost clear to me what kind of strategy they were using, but there was one more factor I needed to know. I couldn’t risk it until I was ready. I needed to make sure that they were not the type to jump in without looking, but instead the sly type, so that I could prepare myself. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to purely outrun them. Adrenaline can only take you so far, especially when you’re on the 28th floor.
I have never been particularly religious but I began to pray. Pray that something or someone out there was going to come up and save me. Pray that any of those cliché movie endings with a knight in shining armour or a random passer-by with a knack for scaling tall buildings was going to come true. Pray that this is just some cruel joke. I knew, deep inside, that nothing was going to happen to me, because this was real life, and in real life, people didn’t kill for no reason.
I went through my bucket list in my mind, checking off everything that I had done so far, and realized I was only half done. I went through all the favours I still owed my friends, I went through all the movies I was looking forward to in the next year. I racked my brain for every reason I had to live so that when that bastard showed up I was going to show them exactly what happens to people who mess with me.
Few people have ever dared to mess with me, as I have always made it clear when I mean business. I have cut off the problems whenever they happened, and toxic friends were pushed away. I had burned more bridges than many people ever had, and it was worth it. So if this piece of shit seriously thought they were going to –
They dragged me out from under the desk by my feet and strapped my arms above me to the desk chair with zip ties. I thrashed violently with my legs, but they sat on them, and I was defenceless.
“Did you really think I wouldn’t find you? Where’s the fun in that?”
I finally saw my attacker’s face. I couldn’t tell where I knew this man from, but I knew. He pulled out the knife that I was now intimately familiar with and began to make himself more comfortable.
He turned the knife a few times then brought it closer to my skin. The blade danced across my chest, light enough to not leave a mark, tickling me, driving me closer and closer to insanity as I wished he’d just kill me and be done with it. The pain wasn’t in the knife on my chest, the pressure on my legs, or the blatant joy in his face. The pain was in my heart leaping out of my throat with every pulse, the shame of not being able to get away, the idea of what came next.
Slowly but surely, the blade made its way down south.
“Time for the final prize, I’d say!” my attacker exclaimed with a toothy grin.
I pushed my hip up so that the blade nicked my skin. A red trail lead from my belt to the carpet. He looked back up at me, then licked his lips, bringing his head down to the wound.
“NO!” I finally managed to shout, but it wasn’t hard to see that he didn’t hear what I said. He looked back down and began to take care of my belt. In that moment, I forgot that I was zip-tied to a chair, and I brought down my hands on to his head, bringing the whole weight crashing down on him. His knife clattered to the side and he looked back up to me.
“I thought we were having fun, William! Why couldn’t you just feel the room?”
For the first time, he was no longer smiling. The biting sarcasm in his tone made the blood rush to my head, and he stared directly into my eyes, a lion staring at a gazelle. He was still sitting on my legs, so I twisted and shifted my weight until he was lying on the floor next to me. I picked up the desk chair and ran towards the elevator.
I could hear every step he made behind me, slowly trying to regain his balance, so I ran around him and found the nearest scissors. They were on the desk next to mine, next to the monitor. I needed to loosen the zip-ties at least a little bit. I grabbed the scissors with my left hand, my bad hand, and proceeded to weaken the zip-tie as well I could see. I saw that he was beginning to regain his composure, so I put the scissors into my right hand and cut open the zip-tie on my left hand completely, then continued to slowly cut into the zip-tie on my right hand.
It was not going well. I saw my attacker approaching me and while I could feel the zip-tie giving way, it wasn’t quite open yet. I looked at it and saw that it was very loose, so I realized that it would have to do. I tried to slip my hand out of it, but it still didn’t work. I ran around my attacker a few times, trying to position myself between him and the window, so that he would die too if he tried to take me again. When he tried to take me again. I felt my wrist begin to chafe and I knew I had to do something soon. As my attacker got closer, I saw that he was beginning to circle around me, to make me run back towards the elevator. I ran every possibility through my head that I could imagine in the span of five seconds, when suddenly, he started running towards me.
I started running towards him, then crouched down to the floor. The chair slammed onto the carpet and I managed to wind him with it. I knew I wasn’t done, and I knew I was going to have to take a risk somehow, so I decided I was going to take a massive one. I ran towards the window and pushed the chair out of the window, with him still on it. As the window shattered, the chair flew out, but my attacker kept holding on.
He knew that I was also attached to this chair. I was doing everything in my power to make sure only my arm went over the window sill, as my feet pushed against the wall. Any more and I was going to fall out, too. What my attacker didn’t know, was that I had almost cut off the zip tie on my right hand, and just as his hand reached the top of the chair, I felt weightless. My arm was free. He fell to his death, a hundred meters of silence as I sat in front of the window sill in a puddle of glass. My right arm was bleeding from the glass, and lower abdomen hadn’t stopped bleeding.
I lay back and cried. It was over.
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