I was flipping through the pages of the textbook when the door at the top of the stairs opened. Oliver came down carrying a pillowcase. Something was inside the bag and fighting to get out. There was a meow.
“It’s good to see you’re still studying,” he said. “This won’t take too long, and we’ll head out.”
“I’m not going to,” I said. He raised an eyebrow. “I was thinking, and you yourself do not kidnap people. You won’t kidnap my family because you don’t have your connection anymore.”
“I don’t kidnap people, but I can figure it out,” he said. “I have your address, keys, and sedatives. I’d be able to sneak into your home in the middle of the night and sedate them before they would even be able to scream. Now, do you want to test me?”
I shook my head. I tossed and turned all night thinking about what Oliver had told me. I thought I found a loophole, but I seemed to somehow forget that he was unhinged.
“Good, now go get changed and put on something pretty,” he said.
I looked at myself. I have yet to get changed and was still in my pajamas. My hair was tossed up in a bun on the top of my head.
“If you aren’t ready by the time I am finished I will be coming in to help you,” he said. “So, I suggest you get ready first.”
He went down the hallway carrying the sack. I went down the other hallway and hopped into the shower. I braided my hair after and slipped on a dress. I searched through the dresser and found a cardigan.
I sat down on the floor and stretched my legs. I used to do this before every run. I was going to run as soon as Oliver let me out of his car.
I got up off of the floor when I heard Oliver coming down the hallway. Oliver walked into the room, and his eyes scanned my body.
“Not bad,” he said. He held his hand out. “Come on. Let’s go.”
I bit down on my lip to stop myself from shaking as I raised my hand. He laced his fingers through mine. I stumbled as he pulled me closer to him in a jerky motion. It took every part of me not to push him away.
“Don’t try to do anything stupid,” Oliver said. “You’ll regret it.”
He pulled me up the stairs and outside. The sun was setting, but bits of sunlight were poking through the thick pattern of leaves in the trees. Oliver opened the passenger’s side door of his car and shoved me in. I was tempted to start running, but I knew that I needed to be smart and wait.
He reached across me and fastened the seatbelt before slamming the door shut. He got into his side and passed me the sunglasses.
“Don’t say anything until I tell you to,” he said as he pulled out of the driveway. “I’ll find who I want to get and you’re going to bring them outside.”
“What if I can’t get them to go outside?” I said.
“They will,” he said. “Trust me.”
I fiddled with the hem of my sweater as Oliver drove into a small town. There was a row of small shops with the lights off, but I could see a few posters and mannequins in the windows. The street lamps turned on as the sun continued to set. Oliver pulled in behind one of the stores to an empty parking lot.
“Don’t say anything,” he said once again.
I stepped out of the car as he did. I was tempted to start running but I saw no people on the little downtown street. I needed to wait until I was surrounded by people.
Oliver did not keep a hold on me like he normally does. I walked beside him as he came around the side of the store. A few people walked by us holding hands. I was about to take off running when he grabbed the crook of my elbow and pulled me into one of the stores.
I looked around to see that it was not a store, but a cafe. A chalkboard had the menu written across it. There were a few couches forming a square, and a series of tables were surrounding it. A man was sitting on the stage tuning a guitar. What looked like Christmas lights were hanging behind him.
Oliver ordered a coffee and a hot chocolate. He passed me the hot chocolate and I followed behind him as he sat at one of the tables in the back corner. The man on the stage started singing a song with horribly written lyrics.
Oliver reached into his pocket and pulled out a small clip. He pulled back my cardigan and placed it on the top of my dress. He covered it up with my sweater.
“It’s a microphone,” he said. “You tell anyone your name or try to get help, it will not go well for you. I did not bring you here without a backup plan.”
My hand shot up to my chest. I couldn’t feel the tiny microphone under my sweater.
“Don’t take it off either,” he said. “I’ll come over right away.”
Oliver let out a deep breath and I watched as his shoulder relaxed. He surveyed the group of people as he brought the cup up to his lips.
“Beth and I had our first date here,” he said before he took a sip.
I tightened my fingers around my mug. The warmth spread through my hands. My knee bounced under the table. Oliver watched the people filter in and out of the cafe. The sound of the singer’s poorly tuned guitar was ringing in my ears.
Oliver put his hand on my arm and gestured over to a table. A boy sat alone at the table. He was leaning forward with a book in his hands.
“Him,” Oliver said. “I want you to bring him outside. The closer to the car the better.”
“I can’t,” I said.
“Yes, you can,” he said.
“How do you plan on me doing that?”
“Well, I know that you’re not afraid to make a move on a boy.”
He motioned for me to stand. The chair dragged across the floor as I stood. Oliver tapped his chest with his finger to remind me of the microphone.
I weaved through the few tables and over to the boy. He did not look at me until I pulled out the chair next to him. He raised his eyebrows as I sat down.
“Hi?” he said, but I could hear the question behind his voice.
I was never good at making the first move. In the past, I always had alcohol to convince me that I was doing a good job.
“What are you reading?” I asked.
The corner of his lip tugged into a smile as he closed the book and flipped it over. A few curls of his blond hair were poking out from underneath his toque. Black tattoos were sprawled across his bicep. His ears were stretched, and he pulled on one of them.
“Slaughterhouse Five,” he said.
“That’s like the World War Two book in space, right?” I asked.
“Kind of.” He chuckled. “You’ve read it?”
“Yeah, back in high school.”
Every ounce of my sanity was telling me to beg and plead for this man to help me. If Oliver’s microphone was not on me, I would have. I didn’t know how sensitive this mic was, and if it could even pick up any sound through my sweater.
“What is your name?” he asked.
“Jillian,” I said.
It was my middle name. I doubt Oliver knew that.
“Colin.” He held out his hand and shook mine. “Do you normally wear sunglasses at night?”
“Yeah.” I shrugged. “My eyes are a bit messed up.”
I noticed a pen was sitting against Colin’s novel. I grabbed the pen and an old napkin he had. My hands shook as I scribbled out a message across the stained paper. Oliver is definitely watching me do this, but hopefully, I could leave behind a message before Oliver pulled me out of the cafe.
I spun the napkin around to face Colin. He furrowed his eyebrows together as he held the napkin closer to his face. He looked over at me.
Please, I mouthed.
I jumped when a hand touched my shoulder. I looked up to see Oliver towering over me.
“There you are, Jill,” he said. He was listening in. “I told you to wait for me.”
Oliver reached and snatched the napkin out of Colin’s hand. I listened to him click his tongue and his fingers curled into my shoulder.
“Jill, you told me that you were feeling okay,” he said.
“My name is not Jill,” I said. I pushed his hand off of me. “My name is Diana Slater. This man kidnapped me.”
The singer was still in the middle of a song, but we had caught the attention of the people at the surrounding tables. How could Oliver be so stupid to think to bring me out into a public space?
“I should have never let her watch the news,” Oliver said. He pulled out a small identification card. “My name is Dr. James Leigh. I’m a psychiatrist that Jill’s parents hired for me to work with her privately.”
“What?” I twisted around to face him.
“I’m sorry, son,” he said to Colin. “Jill is quite delusional.”
“No, I’m not!”
I turned back to face Colin. The singer had stopped, and he was focused on our conversation. I ripped the sunglasses off of my face. Colin gasped and leaned away from me in the chair. Oliver scoffed.
“I thought I got rid of your contacts,” Oliver said. He grabbed under my arms and tried to pull me up onto my feet. “Let’s go home.”
“No!” I screamed as I ripped my arms free. “Don’t touch me!”
The entire cafe was frozen in place as they watched this all unfold. I shook my head. A few warm tears rolled down my cheeks.
“Please!” I screamed as I ran to the other side of the table. “Please, someone call the cops. This man has kidnapped me.”
“Jill, calm down,” Oliver said.
“Someone call the cops!”
“Please don’t call the police,” Oliver said to the cafe. “I’d rather bring her home to her mother. If you call the police they will bring her to the hospital and that’s a horrible environment for her to be in.”
A few people nodded and my heart sank in my chest. I turned and ran. I knocked into a few tables as I headed for the door. Oliver called out my fake name as I left the cafe.
My chest burned as I sucked in a breath of the cold air. I don’t know how long it has been since I was kidnapped, but my body was already out of shape. The muscles in my legs ached and I was panting for breath. The street was empty, and there was only a few people filing into a bar. I shuffled into the line. I stood out among the girls dressed in skimpy clothes.
I squinted and looked down the street. I couldn’t make out any of the faces. I shifted my weight from foot to foot. A large bouncer was standing at the doorway. His black shirt looked like it was barely containing his muscles. He was checking the IDs of drunk girls who were struggling to stand straight.
“ID,” the guy said.
The bar was dark and the music was thudding in my ears.
“I don’t have one,” I said. “Please, you need to help me. I’ve been kidnapped. My name is Diana Slater.”
The man’s jaw dropped. He leaned in closer. He must have noticed my eyes.
“He’s a surgeon,” I said. “He forced me to have an eye transplant.”
“What-” he started.
“I need your phone,” I cut him off. “I need to call the police.”
I looked over my shoulder to see Colin weaving through the line of drunk people. The bouncer pulled his phone out of his pocket and I snatched it out of his hand.
“You can’t call the cops,” he said. “If you do, they’ll bring you to the hospital.”
“You’re the surgeon?” the bouncer asked.
“No,” he said. “There’s no surgeon. She’s just very sick. I am trying to bring her back to her psychiatrist.”
“That’s a lie!” I yelled. “He did this to me. Doctors from all around the world do this and they meet in the Caribbean for this dinner.”
The bouncer looked over at Colin.
“Where’s her doctor?” he asked.
“No!” I screamed.
How could this be happening? How could Oliver’s story actually be working? I darted from the door, but Colin wrapped his arms around me. I tried to pry him off of me, but he was much stronger than I had anticipated. I bent my knees and tried to slip out of his grip. Colin bent his knees too, securing me in his hold.
“He’s outside,” Colin said.
“I’ll help you bring her to him,” the bouncer said.
“No! Please!” I screamed.
The bouncer grabbed me from Colin. I pounded my fists into his chest as he pushed me out of the bar. My fists felt as if I was beating a cement wall.
Oliver was standing outside of the bar. He motioned for the bouncer to bring me around to the back. I thrashed around in his grip. He followed Oliver around to the small empty parking lot.
“Can you hold her still for me for a moment?” Oliver asked. He lifted the hem of my dress and jammed the needle into my thigh. “Thank you for your help. I’m sure she told you that I am some kind of twisted surgeon, but I’ll assure you that I am not. She is very sick.”
“That’s okay,” the bouncer said. “Will she be okay?”
“Yes, she’ll calm down,” Oliver said. “Sorry for all of this. You can go back to your job.”
The man nodded his head and let go of me. Oliver watched him as he returned to the bar. I wiped away the few tears that slipped down my cheeks.
“Get in the car,” Oliver said.
“No.” I turned to face Colin. “Please, you have to believe me. He’s going to kidnap you too.”
“Colin, can you do me a favour?” Oliver asked. “I’ve thrown my shoulder out and the sedation will soon take effect on her. Can you get her into my car?”
“Yeah, of course,” Colin said.
He grabbed my arm and I pulled away.
“No,” I said. “I’m not getting into that car.”
Colin used his chest to push me forward. I dug my heels into the pavement, but he was still able to push me. Oliver opened the door to the backseat. I twisted around and he grabbed my wrists. He pushed me down and pinned me against the seat.
“Please!” I yelled. “He’s going to do to you what he did to me.”
Oliver came up behind Colin. He forced a rag over his mouth. Colin let go of me and grabbed Oliver’s wrists. His eyes rolled into the back of his head and fell onto me. I rolled to the side and stumbled to get out of the car. Oliver grabbed his legs and forced Colin further into the car. He slammed the door shut. He grabbed a fistful of my hair and pulled my head back.
“You did perfect,” he said.