Henry woke up gagging and coughing to the strong smell of ammonia. He attempted to get his bearings through the throbbing of his head. The blurry image of a man shutting a steel door was the only thing he saw before hearing the click of a latch and the thunk of a deadbolt.
Henry sat for a moment and attempted to breathe in the fresh air, but the only thing his lungs managed to find was the distinct stale odor of black mold. Nausea swept through his body, and he fought the urge to retch up his lunch. The sun filtered through four small dirty windows at the top of the wall. He attempted to stand to see if he could find a way to look outside. His first attempt failed with his stomach and head finally forcing his midday meal from his stomach.
Henry pushed himself into the corner of the room and tried to get oriented. The cinderblock walls were chilly on his back. He ignored the mold that meshed with the white paint and pressed against his shirt. The room was cool, but not cold. He guessed he was in a basement, but where, and why? Every thought seemed to increase the pain in his head. Henry closed his eyes and prayed the pain, and the nightmare would cease.
He awoke to the clank of the steel door opening. A man walked in with olive skin, a long black beard, and curly black hair that fell to his shoulders. He placed a chair he was carrying in front of Henry and sat down.
“I’m glad to see you are awake.”
He’s American, thought Henry.
Another man walked in with a chair and slammed it down to the left of Henry. He lifted Henry roughly to his feet, shoved him into it, and walked out.
“My name is Samir. I’ve been waiting a long time to speak with you, Dr. McCray,” he said with a smile.
Oh no, thought Henry, They’ve mistaken me for somebody else. If I lie, they will find me out and kill me. If I tell the truth they may kill me. Although I’ve seen nothing, so they might let me go.
“Mr. Samir, I am afraid there has been a mistake. My name is Henry Davis. I have never met a Dr. McCray.”
Samir’s expression changed at once. A frown quickly wiped the smile from his face, and a piercing stare came from his eyes. Henry could not tell what he was thinking. Without a word to Henry, Samir stood up, went over to the door and beat on it with his fist. It opened, and he disappeared. The sound of the lock slammed shut on Henry’s hope.
He waited to see if anyone would return for the chairs, but nobody did. Henry checked his pockets for his wallet, but there was nothing. He tried to piece together what was happening. How could they mistake me for somebody else? They must have read what was in my wallet. Who is Dr. McCray, and why would they want to kidnap him? The growling of his stomach interrupted his thoughts. I am famished. The feeling quickly left him when he recognized part of his lunch on the other side of the room.
Still, he was thirsty. There was nothing in the room save the two chairs and mold. Henry looked up at the window. The chair, he could look out using the chair. Mr. Davis made his way over to the window with the chair and peered out. All he could see was high weeds blocking any view that might exist. He sat back down on the chair and listened. The silence was deafening.
Henry wasn’t sure when he finally allowed himself to nod off in the hard chair. With his work schedule he would typically welcome the opportunity to sleep, but not in this place. The room was now dark except for a faint light coming from the windows. He assumed there must be a streetlight nearby. Still, it only allowed for strange shadows to play upon the dirty walls. A chill ran through his spine, and it was not from the cold.
Muffled sounds of men yelling dispersed the quiet, and then a small explosion burst open the steel door. Flashlights blinded Henry. He closed his eyes and held his hands up. Someone lifted him off the chair and quickly pulled his arms behind him and strapped his wrists together. Then the sat him back down. A flashlight remained in his face, but he heard the boots of men leaving the room.
A raised voice spoke. “Take that light out of his face. What’s wrong with you guys? He’s our victim.” The light disappeared and Henry’s world went completely dark. Another light switched on. The man held it under his face, and it reminded Henry of how they would tell ghost stories when they were camping.
The lit head spoke. “Hi, I’m detective Bruce Sanchez. Are you Henry Davis?”
Henry nodded, and a voice from behind Bruce spoke up. “Not yet, Detective. I need a quick debrief.” A portable lantern popped open, and the room went white until Henry’s eyes adjusted to the light. There were three men in the room. Two with FBI jackets and one in civilian clothes. He did not have to guess who the detective was.
The FBI agent put the lantern on the empty chair. “My Davis, I am Agent Abel Williams. I have a couple of questions for you.” Henry nodded.
“Good.” said agent Williams. He pulled out a pad and pencil. “First, how did they treat you?”
Henry shrugged and replied, “Considering they knocked me out and kidnapped me I guess okay. I’ve had no food or water since they took me though.”
Agent Williams pointed at the other FBI agent. “Get those straps off his wrists and go get this man some water. My apologies, Mr. Davis. I’m afraid we’re on a clock here, and I got ahead of myself. Now, who did you talk to?”
Henry stretched out his shoulders, rubbed his wrist, and the said. “A man named Samir.”
Abel nodded his head, and said, “Good, good. He’s our guy inside. I’m glad to hear he was doing his job. Did you speak to anybody else?”
Henry shook his head. “No, just Samir. He thought I was a Dr. McCray. When he found out I wasn’t, he just walked out. What is this about?”
“I’m afraid that’s classified. I can tell you that Samir got us your location as soon as it was safe to do so.”
The other agent returned. The cool water from the plastic bottle tasted like an elixir of the gods to Henry. He sipped the water, careful not to upset his stomach. With his thirst quenched, he asked, “What about my wallet? They have all my information. What’s to stop them from hunting me down, or my family?”
Agent Williams crossed his arms and was silent for a moment. “I’ll let the detective explain that. Bruce, why don’t you tell him what your men found.”
Bruce finally spoke. “We found your wallet where they abducted you. We figured out that was the scene after locating a nearby building’s security camera. You took a pretty bad whack. Honestly, we assumed you were dead. That’s usually what happens when the identification is removed from a kidnapping victim. I believe you owe your life to Samir.”
Agent Williams jumped back in. “So you see, your information is safe. I believe your family is waiting at the hospital for you to arrive. The detective will take you there. Okay John, get the team. We have two hours to stop this, tick-toc.”
With that, Agent Williams shut off his lantern and left. Henry stood there the dark with Detective Sanchez. “Let’s go Mr. Davis. Your ordeal is over.” Henry followed the detective and his flashlight out of the darkness.