Short Stories

The Virus Part 1

Henry took a breath and gagged on the strong smell of ammonia. He attempted to get his bearings, fighting the throbbing of his head. The blurry image of a man shutting a steel door was the only thing he saw before hearing the thunk of a large latch. Light rays pierced the dark room from windows near the ceiling.

The smell of mold and urine hung in the damp air. Nausea swept through his body, and he fought the urge to retch up his lunch. Henry attempted to stand to see if he could look outside. Staggering towards the wall, he grabbed the window ledge and tried to pull himself up. A stomach cramp dropped him to the floor, and his midday meal forced itself from his body.

Henry pushed himself back to the far corner of the room and tried to get oriented. The cinderblock walls were cold and wet on his blue business shirt. 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 headache, and the nightmare would cease.

He awoke to the clank of the steel door opening. An olive-skinned man with a long black beard and wavy hair walked into the room. He placed a chair he was carrying in front of Henry and sat down.

The stranger said, “I’m glad to see you’re awake.”

He’s American, thought Henry.

Another man walked in with a chair and slammed it down.  He lifted Henry roughly to his feet, shoved him into it, and walked out.

The man smiled, and Henry felt a chill down his spine. The stranger said, “My name is Samir. I’ve been waiting a long time to speak with you, Dr. McCray,”

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.

Henry stammered, Mr. Samir, I am afraid there has been a mistake. My name is Henry Davis.”

A frown replaced the cold smile from Samir’s face. Without a word, Samir stood up, went over to the door, and beat on it with his fist. It opened, and he disappeared. The lock shuttered with a clang.

He waited to see if anyone would return for the chairs, but nobody did. Henry remembered the gum he had in his front pocket, but when he checked, all his pockets were empty.

He tried to piece together what was happening. How could they mistake me for somebody else? Didn’t they check my wallet? Who is Dr. McCray, and why would they want to kidnap him?

The growling of his stomach interrupted his thoughts. 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 except for the chairs. Henry looked up at the window. He made his way over to the wall with the chair, climbed up, and peered out. High weeds blocked the view from the sealed glass. To make matters worse, the window was too small to fit through, even if he broke the glass. Henry sat back down on the chair and listened. The silence was deafening.

The room was dark when Henry woke up again. His eyes adjusted to the faint light coming from the windows. The dim light created strange shadows that played upon the dirty walls. The silhouettes seem to slip from the walls and glide along the floor. Henry pulled his knees up to his chest.

Muffled sounds of men yelling dispersed the quiet. A small explosion burst open the steel door. Henry’s hands went up, and a flashlight blinded him. Someone lifted him off the chair and quickly pulled his arms behind him, strapped his wrists together, and pushed him back down into the chair. A flashlight remained in his face. Henry could hear boots walking outside the breached door.

A man shouted, “Take that light out of his face. What’s wrong with you? He’s our victim.” The light disappeared, and Henry’s world went completely dark. A stranger held a flashlight under his face, and it reminded Henry of how they told ghost stories as kids.

The illuminated stranger 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 moment to debrief.” A portable lantern lit up the room.

The FBI agent put the lantern on the empty chair. “Mr. Davis, I’m Agent Abel Williams. I have a couple of questions for you.”

Henry said, “Okay.”

Agent Williams 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.”

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 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?”

Abel answered, “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 cold water washed over Henry’s parched lips and down his dry throat.

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 said. “We found your wallet where they abducted you. 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. 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-tock.”

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.

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