Gas Mask (Part One)


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  It’s four fifty-five in the afternoon and I cannot resist temptation to watch the clock as my final five minutes commence it’s countdown. An image in my head appears as I tap my BIC pen against a pile of paperwork while having a staring contest with the clock. I picture myself in the next five minutes bursting through those damn doors and screaming freedom at the top of my lungs after being a prisoner in this office for the past seven hours and fifty-five minutes. 

“Four minutes to go.” I whisper under my breath and by then I’m eliminated from the contest after blinking whenever the clock hand moved.The last few minutes are unbearable to watch so I reach for my computer mouse, save the head melting article I had been writing up about, log out of my computer and pack up my belongings. I peak up past my glasses that are placed firmly on the bridge of my nose to be alarmed that it was finally five o’clock and I take a stand from my swirly chair which had made my buttocks numb from sitting on it for hours. I tuck my chair underneath my desk and motion past my colleagues cubicles and make a run for it towards the door before anyone notices me making an exit. I did it, I made it to the exit and just as I reach for the door handle a force stops me from doing so. “How’d the research go Han?”Damnit why me? Why does it always have to be me whose stopped just as I’m about to get my freedom? I roll my eyes while I’m still facing the door and slowly give myself a turn so I’m facing a masculine man with a thick dark beard that is neatly groomed into place and what seems to be an expensive suit that is perfectly fitted for his body, my boss Derek. Me and a few colleagues had a few conversations about Derek and how he’d be the kind of man a woman would wait for walking through the door and making his entrance by saying honey I’m home after a long day at work. I have always pictured him a family man whose fully committed to his marriage and children“It went well.” I replied trying to keep the conversation short because all I can think about it getting home.

“Is that all? Aren’t you going to inform me about the missing persons case and whether or not you dug any new information out?” 

Damnit all I wanted was to escape from this place after finishing my shift and now I’m being pestered with questions which is holding me back

“Derek I have an important appointment to get to” I lied. “Can I get back to you within the next hour or so?”

Derek stared into my soul with his grey eyes as if he was trying to tell whether or not I was lying or telling the truth and it was quiet intimating. For a split second my heart stopped as he used his index finger and thumb to straighten out his mustache. 

“You better get going then” he smirked “I wouldn’t want you to miss that appointment now would I?” 

I tossed the strap of my bag over my left shoulder, give Derek a smile which lead my lips to a twitch and turned towards the door to exit.Phew that was a close call I thought as I walked down a crowded street and made my way towards home. It’s about a fifteen minute walk from the office to my house but it can be enjoyable sometimes depending on the weather. I open my bag in search for my iPod and headphones then something ever so small catches the corner of my eye. A white van with terrible paintwork driving at the pace I walk at. It’s probably just a work man on his way home from work like myself but I keep my attention diverted towards me and pick up my pace to see if the van picks up any speed. I begin to panic a bit but surely it’s nothing to worry about I mean I’m in a street bunged with people. The van then catches my attention again as it drives at the pace I’m walking at and fear strikes my heart which is now pounding against my rib cage. I give up the search for my iPod and headphones and place my bag down which causes it to slightly bounce off my right hip due to walking in a quicker motion than I normally would. I soon realize that the mysterious van that was suspicious of following me had disappeared as I looked to my left to check for oncoming vehicles before crossing the road. The panic settles and I can now say I’ve felt the expression of what the calm after the storm feels like. I come to the quiet one way street that I normally walk down everyday to get to my house and as usual there’s no vehicles about and not a single living life form in sight.

 “Oh I cannot wait to see what Lady has been up to all day. I cannot wait to see the excitement on her face when I open the front door” I talk to myself as I picture Lady jumping and being clumsy. 

Lady is my three year old Yorkshire Terrier who is my best friend. I rescued her from the dog shelter when I saw the add on Facebook and went straight down to adopt her after reading her story. How someone can commit such horrible actions towards animals is beyond me, either you love an animal and get one or hate them and don’t get one, it’s that simple. Anyway Lady would normally sense when I’m near home and would sit at the living room window waiting to see me approach from a distance. When I get to the door and open it she would spring up to my waist with excitement and run into the kitchen, grab her squeaky toy for me to throw for her to catch. She’s an remarkable dog and I love her. At the end of the one way street is my house and right about now Lady is most likely sitting at the window and the thought makes me laugh out loud. Of course as my house becomes visible I see Lady sitting waiting patiently at her spot and as I get closer I catch her attention and she begins to go nuts with excitement which puts a massive grin on my face as I skip up the lane. I quickly notice that Lady has paused at the window and is remaining stiff as if she’s turned into a statue. As I get closer to the gate Lady begins barking rapidly which isn’t like her at all. She never barks unless the postman comes along or we are out on a walk and someone walks forwards us with another dog. 

“Lady what has gotten into you!” I shout as I get to the fence of my garden. 

I reach out and grab hold of the lock on the fence to open it, take one step in the garden and next thing I am pulled from behind which gives gravity full advantage to suck me down. My head smashes against the concrete with such force that I instantly feel the warmth of bloody soaking my scalp. I am winded with the impact of my back hitting the ground which I lay agonizingly on. My ears ringing but I can still hear Lady barking but louder than she was a glimpse second ago. As I lay here I can do nothing but look up at the grey sky watching the dark clouds defeat the light and that’s I’m met eye to eye with a masked man who stands over me watching me suffer at his feet.

“What do you want with me?” I ask but he remains silent.

“Why did you follow me?” 

“Why did you pull me?”

“Who are you?”

“Where you following me in the van?”

The masked man grunts and walks out of my sight as I remain on the ground. I could get up and make a run for it but I feel nothing but pain. It’s almost as if a weight has been set on my chest preventing me from getting up onto my feet. Where did he go? What’s going to happen to me? Is he still here? Suddenly my entire body is being swung around in the opposite direction than it was and I’m being dragged across the ground. Stones and the concrete scraping against the bloody wound at the back of my head makes me weep in pain as I fear this is what death and torture feels like. My legs are levitated in the air and suddenly my lower back begins to lift from the ground too until my upper body is the only part remaining on the ground. My legs are dropped unexpectedly on what seems to be a wooden surface and that causes the center of my back to strike a pain, almost as if my spine had just been snapped in half. My heart kick starts itself after a thud occurs to my right which allows me to find the strength to turn my head to discover a pair of polished black steel-toe-cap boots and then they disappear. A set of hands are placed under my head and that’s were I am now being lifted from. Once my upper body is lifted from the cold and stoned ground, I am slid into a place with a wooden surface and I come to delight that I still have feeling of my lower body whenever I feel myself curl my toes. I find the energy to turn my body round and my head bangs against something metal. I use my hands to push myself up against the metal object to set eyes on Lady who is scraping the living room window with her nails while barking viciously. I come to realization that I have been placed in the back of a van, the white van that had been following me but yet I didn’t take any form of action simply because I was stupid enough to think it had just disappeared after following me for a good solid ten minutes. As I stare up at Lady, the masked man diverts my attention to him as he raises each arm so his body is shaped like a ‘Y’. I cannot bare to take my eyes off him but then next thing he lets out a grunt and uses his arms strength to slam the van doors shut leaving me in darkness with fear and unanswered questions.

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