The Recreation of Meaning

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CHAPTER EIGHT

In hindsight it may have been wiser to swiftly vacate the room, but my feet were paralyzed from the shock, and Thomas was still avidly trying to find a pulse, poking around in the dead Myers’ neck.

The door to the bathroom opened and a woman dressed in all black leather was sliding on a pair of disposable blue plastic gloves. She was well-toned and had long blonde hair, and her jaw looked like it could crunch walnuts. She caught sight of us and a flash of deliberation sparkled across her eyes. I should’ve been scared, but I was thinking the same thing that Thomas stood up and carelessly blurted out.

“How did you go to the toilet wearing that thing?”

With lightning speed the lady stepped forward and back fisted me in the face. I was immediately disoriented and struggled to get my arms up to protect myself from any further attack, but they were easily manipulated out of the way and the lady’s hand found its way into my neck and I buckled to the floor.

Through blurred eyes I saw Thomas leap towards the lady swinging something from out of his jacket pocket.

He had another pair of nunchuks!

I struggled to hold my head up and watch the drama unfold before me, but managed to catch sight of Thomas cracking her across the head as she fell backwards into the bathroom. Some men wearing the same attire as the receptionist appeared in the doorway and rushed Thomas. Arms flailed and merged into a kaleidoscope of limbs. I heard one of the men scream, but I could no longer hold my head up. I didn’t even feel it hit the ground as I fell unconscious.

When I awoke the world was dark and gently rocking from side to side. Vague memories of a blonde lady washed over my mind’s eye, and I remembered being knocked to the floor. I jolted and attempted to sit up, but my head rebounded off something hard. I kicked out with my feet, and they too met solid resistance. I couldn’t straighten my legs. My body was curled in the fetal position. I felt something tied around my head, covering my eyes, and my first thought was to take a deep breathe to make sure nothing was covering my mouth. There wasn’t.

“Help!” I spluttered, trying to arrange my body into a good position to yell. “Help!” I bawled at the top of my lungs.

“It’s no use,” said a voice beside me. “I’ve been yelling for over half an hour. They just turn the music up.”

I squirmed towards the voice. “Thomas?”

“Yep. It’s me.”

I could feel his breathe on my face. “What happened?” I squeaked. “Where are we?”

He sighed. “In the back of a dark blue Nissan Maxima. I didn’t catch the year, they bundled me in too fast.”

It suddenly hit me that the gentle rocking was the car speeding down a highway. “Oh my God, Thomas! What are we going to do?” I panicked, and kicked out again at the back of the seats.

“I’ve been thinking about it while you were sleeping, and…”

“Sleeping!?” I cut him off. “Somebody knocked me out!”

I felt Thomas’ hand on my shoulder. “It doesn’t matter, Matthew. Stay calm. Like I was saying, by my calculation there are only two people in the car with us. I don’t know where the others went, but I don’t think they followed us.”

My lips quivered and there were tears on my cheeks. I raised my voice. “What others? What happened?”

“Well, Blondy, who I believe is in the car with us, Kung Fu’d you in the neck and you immediately went down. I had recently tucked a pair of nunchuks inside my jacket after I had retrieved them from my case when you were in the shower.”

“You had another pair in your suitcase?” The bottom of the car jolted down and immediately sprang up and hit me in the side of the head. I saw stars again.

“Yes, for emergencies,” Thomas replied.

“Why do you even have nunchuks?” I asked, confused.

Thomas exhaled in exclamation and flecks of spit hit my face. “Because, they’re awesome! I’ve been practicing for about five years along with my Kung Fu. Although, traditionally of course, nunchuks accompanied the Japanese arts.”

“Thomas,” I cut in, desperate. “I think you’re getting off track. I went down and then what?”

“When she hit you I felt this rush of rage like I’d never felt before. So, I flung out my ’chucks and caught her in the head. I was trying to figure out if she was getting up again, but was grabbed from behind. I struggled and kicked, and managed to bite the guy’s arm who was holding me. He let go and I punched him in the nose. I think I broke it. But there were three others. I went for the one nearest me and tried to use him as a projectile into the others, but Blondy got up and punched me in the kidneys. I went down and a pillowcase was pulled over my head. Then they started kicking me until I stopped squirming.”

“Bledy hell, mate,” I said, impressed by his resilience. “Are you alright?”

“Just a bit sore.”

A police siren wailed outside the boot. It sounded like they were right behind us. For some stupid reason I yelled again, but our kidnappers pushed down the accelerator and the car roared forward.

The noise was deafening.

The car swayed violently and I slid into Thomas, and for only a few seconds the siren faded, but then it was back with us, right on our tail. I could hear the drivers yelling at each other, and wondered what on Earth could be so important that they had to argue in the middle of a police chase.

Thomas shouted over the siren. “Can you move your hands?”

My arms were behind my back and I had assumed they were restrained. The warm and liberating sensation of hope buzzed through my body when I lifted them and I also realized my feet were free. “Yeah!” I shouted. “You?”

“I’m fine just cramped,” he replied. “Head is sore when they slammed the back of the car down on me.”

“We’re going to be alright, Thomas,” I said, confident now that I knew we were not bound up and the police were obviously on to our captors.

The car continued to roar down the road, and the rough swaying told me that they were weaving in and out of traffic with the police still at their heels. However, after a few more minutes the car jerked to the left and Thomas and I hit the roof of the trunk.

“Argh, fuck me!” I yelled, and was perched to cuss again when the bouncing continued and it was all I could do stop my head slamming into everything, including Thomas.

“I think we’ve left the road,” Thomas yelled.

The perpetual jerking of my neck was in agreement. “Thomas? I don’t hear the cops anymore. I think they may have lost them.”

There was a crunching and snapping noise now, outside the boot, and many stones were flying up to sting the paintwork.

“Matthew, if we stop and that trunk opens, you must fight. And don’t stop until we’re free.”

In spite of the circumstances, I felt estranged from Thomas. He was behaving so calm and collected. Still it was good advice, and I pushed myself to get psyched up and ready to fight.

The siren was back behind us. “Yes! They’re back!” I said, wedging my arm between my head and the roof of the boot.

The car then lost traction and slid dangerously out of control. I knew we had spun at least one full three-sixty. Our captors were screaming in the front seat. “Turn into the skid!” I heard the lady yell. The driver’s reply was muffled.

Without warning, a sharp force struck the right side of the car and I heard the metal crunch. Seconds later, the left side of the car hit something solid and Thomas sailed straight into me and our heads connected.

The world went silent for a second time.

There was a dull radiating pain eclipsing my head when I awoke, and the epicenter was a throbbing sore spot on my forehead. I grumbled, and half wanted to go back to sleep. I knew something very bad had happened, and desperately wanted to entertain the child-like idea that if I closed my eyes and wished hard enough I could wake up in my chair at home.

Recent memories of the chase immediately assaulted my mind, and so I did a quick body check to see if I was okay, straightening my limbs and checking for mobility. Apart from having taken one hell of a beating, I just felt sore all over, and cold, really cold.

“Thomas?” I said, staring into the darkness. “Thomas are you okay?” I croaked. I pulled the now loose piece of cloth from my eyes.

A deep groan cut through the silence. “My head really hurts from having collided into you, and I think I’ve been slipping in and out of consciousness, but otherwise I’m fine.”

A gust of cold air caught me across the face. “Is the boot open?” I asked, turning onto my back. I pressed my hands to the boot door and pushed. The metal screeched and gave way an inch. More cold air flooded into the boot space and I shivered, kicking the back of the seats.

Thomas squirmed in the dark. “Can you get your feet against the boot door?” he asked.

I pulled my knees up to my chest, but my feet would not rise up to the door. “No,” I said, “but I can put my hands against it.”

“Okay, push,” Thomas instructed, his voice strained.

We pushed hard together and the door creaked and crunched, but it didn’t want to budge. Thomas began to kick, and I wondered what kind of position he was in that allowed him that kind of flexibility. It worked, however, and the boot door flew up and remained open. The cold air swooped in and engulfed us both. I grabbed and rubbed my shoulders and looked straight up to see a beautiful starry night.

“Thank God for that!” said Thomas, relieved. “Let’s get out of this fucking car.”

We were surrounded by pitch darkness, although the shapes of trees etched out of the night. Thomas rolled out of the boot straight onto the ground with a thud.

“Ice!” he yelled. “We’re on ice.”

My internal monologue felt like it was forcibly changing tracks. Robert Myers. Works for Daeva Pharmaceuticals. Is interested in buying our inhaler delivery system. And now he’s dead. Dead dead dead. And we’re going to freeze to death.

“They hit a tree on the left side. I think that’s why they stopped after the skid.” Thomas had pulled himself up to his feet and was edging around the vehicle. “The driver’s door is open.”

I sat up and looked around, wishing I’d put on more than just a t-shirt. “Where are the people who kidnapped us?”

“There’s no one in the car, Matthew. They must have fled.”

I pulled myself out of the boot and immediately fell on my butt. “Ow, my arse!” I yelled, annoyed. “Fucking business trip.” I pulled myself up and turned on my heels. The tree had slammed into the back left passenger door.

“It looks like someone slammed into the car from the right,” said Thomas, who was now on the other side. I guess that was the police. They must’ve ploughed them into the tree.”

“Where are they now?” I wondered, feeling let-down.

“I have no idea.”

“Should we stay here?”

Thomas yanked open the back right passenger door. “There’s a blanket in here and we’d be shielded from the cold.”

I strained my eyes to pick something out of the darkness, perhaps an artificial light indicative of human habitation, but there was nothing. The cold was biting into my arms and my shivering was now bordering on convulsions.

“Okay,” I said. “Let’s get in the car.”

I held onto the vehicle to guide myself around to the passenger door and ducked in onto the back seat. Thomas followed me in and slammed the door. He threw the blanket over us both and huddled up next to me.

“Jesus, Matthew,” he said. “You’re freezing.”

I didn’t have the wherewithal to reply. I used my last remaining strength to focus on a picture of my armchair, and I held onto it until morning.

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