Chapter 3 of “Code Red” is here! There’s now a Short Story button on the menu bar with the previous chapters. Or just click here for Chapter 1.
Although chapters 1 and 2 had very subtle clues as to which geeky universe this is a fanfiction of, it will become apparent to astute nerds in this chapter. And by chapter 4, I promise anyone not living under a rock will know 😉
As always, enjoy!
Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God…
With her mouth gagged, Abigail Green was forced to breathe the dank loading dock air through her nose. But stale garbage and stuffy air was the least of her concerns. The man with the jet black ponytail had tied her hands behind her back before buckling her into the back of the van.
“You ready to roll?” the man said from the driver’s seat, laughing. “Oh, right. You can’t talk.”
Abigail tugged her aching wrists futilely, twisting her hands to try and free them from the binding. Breathing shallow and quick, the woman felt her mind start to tingle with lightheadedness. The van rumbled into the night, turning abruptly every few minutes.
Oh my God. This is it. I’m going to die. Why me? I’m … ordinary. I don’t have gobs of money for a ransom. Maybe they meant to kidnap someone else. Someone wealthy, or a criminal.
Abigail shook her head at the wistful thinking.
Even if they kidnapped me on accident, I’ve already seen too much. I’ve watched enough CSI to know they’ll kill me either way.
Something about the moment felt unreal. Abigail had never thought much about dangers like kidnapping. Her fears in life were things like infertility and loneliness, not sinister pony-tailed men kidnapping her. Hot tears formed in the corners of her eyes.
I wonder how long it will take for him to realize something’s wrong… I’ll never be a mom… We’ll never —
Abigail’s rueful thinking was interrupted abruptly by the van screeching to a halt.
A door slammed. The pony-tailed man opened the back doors of the van, but the air that came in was sterile and cool. Faint chemical smells wafted into the van.
We’re indoors. A … hospital?
Abigail sniffled, her chest shaking.
“Time for fun!” said the pony-tailed man as he unbuckled the woman and hoisted her to her feet on the concrete. Leaving her blindfold on, the man reached to her mouth and yanked out the gag.
“Just tell me what you want from me,” the woman spat. She was still blinded, panting. Her voice sounded more weary than panicked. “When are you going to kill me?”
“Kill you?” the pony-tailed man asked with a laugh. “Why on earth would we kill our newest team member?
“This,” he waved a tan hand over her blindfold and tugged on her tied wrists, “this is all simply a precaution. You understand, no?”
With that, the man chuckled darkly and pushed Abigail forward.
Abigail listened as her Louboutins clicked against the hard floor. The silence was punctured only occasionally by a clinical beeping, steady and rhythmic.
There’s no one else here…
“Up we go!” said the pony-tailed man, half lifting, half pushing Abigail onto a stiff leather seat angled at an incline. The man pinned her down with a strong arm as he untied her hands. He used his other hand to wrangle her thin wrists into clasps on the chair’s arms.
“All comfy now, are we?” he asked, grinning.
Abigail made no move to speak. The woman pursed her lips and took a deep breath. Don’t give them what they want. Don’t resign.
“Ah, silly me! You can’t even see! Here, let’s do something about that, shall we?”
Hot white light blinded Abigail’s eyes as the man ripped off her blindfold. The woman blinked, trying to get the pony-tailed man’s dark face into focus. His eyes were like pools of black ink leaked from a fine pen, jet black just like his smooth hair. The man’s face was dimpled, perhaps from so much smiling. As he tightened the straps around her wrists, Abigail could see his biceps flexing in the clean light, even underneath the security guard’s uniform he still wore.
“What … where?” the woman stuttered.
The pony-tailed man grinned broadly, paused, then grabbed her slim face in one hand, squeezing on her jaw. He laughed.
“What’s the matter, Red? Cat got your tongue?” he asked, chuckling harder now. Abigail squirmed in pain.
“Stringfellow!” a voice bellowed from the back of the room, a door slamming behind it. “Let go of her at once!”
“Yes, sir.” For the first time all night, the pony-tailed man did not sound jovial. As if on a cue rehearsed many times, the burly man strode off with a quiet that belied his energy.
Abigail cocked her head up, watching as a tall, slender man wearing a white lab coat approached her chair. He bore no signs of physical strength, but something told her he was even more dangerous than the muscular pony-tailed man. Wiry and pale, he had thinning brownish grey hair and large, rounded glasses held up by a pointed nose. A nose which was so pointy that it reminded her of someone.
“You’re…” she began a question, but didn’t know how to finish it.
“Introductions in a moment, please…” he said. The man reached over to a slick black touchscreen panel. Upon resting his thin palm on the panel, the screen came to life, flashing a kaleidoscope of numbers in rapid succession before coming to rest on a virtual keypad. A few swift keystrokes with nimble, bony fingers, and a loud beep came from the machine.
To Abigail’s left, a panel she had previously ignored revealed a slit in the middle of it, whooshing open swiftly. A mechanical claw extended from the newly opened door. It in was clasped a shiny silver cube. The most astounding shade of pewter imaginable, almost … neon, if it were possible for pewter to be neon. The edges glowed a faint blue light, pulsing with the rhythm of a heartbeat.
“You are impressed by my toy, I take it?” the man in the lab coat asked. He pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose.
That pointy nose, those grey eyes … he looks like … Abigail strained to think.
“Greg!” she burst out.
The thin bespectacled man smiled for the first time. “Very good guess, very good guess indeed Miss Green. I see my rotund brother and I bear more of a resemblance to each other than I’d perhaps like to admit.”
The scientist stretched out his arm to shake Abigail’s confined right hand. “George Tarleton. Pleased to make your acquaintance. My dear brother your boss has told me quite a lot about you.”
The woman’s green eyes widened. Tarleton never mentioned a brother.
“Now,” said the man matter-of-factly, “Let me show you my toy.”
Pulling elbow length black gloves onto his hands, George Tarleton reached for the beaming pewter cube and lifted it gingerly.
“This, Miss Green, is a Cosmic Cube.”