He opened his eyes, felt the cushioned crunch of pine needles under him. The trees rose into a entwined lattice above eclipsing much of the sky to him. Lying mingled in the acrid scents of the pines and rich earth he felt accosted by both almost tasting each on his tongue. His hand rose to scratch his cheek. He wasn’t bound anymore. He sat up, rubbed his wrists, stretched down his legs to massage his ankles and absorbed his surroundings. The forest. They told him to make a choice. He did and they honored it to his surprise. The surprise was walking up at all.
The first time, he’d regained consciousness to a hollow drip echoing off white-tiled walls. He was tied wrist and ankle to a wooden chair for some time given the numbness in his limbs. Water dripped to a slow, steady beat in a porcelain sink hung from the wall. Two faucets – one for hot, one for cold – crowned by cross-shaped handles drooped over the edge of the sink. It reminded him of an ancient, roadside motel from years ago set amidst his first, solo road trip. Is that where he was now? In some run down motel in the middle of nowhere? Everything’s been dark since he was siezed from behind, fabric held firm over his mouth and bodily thrown into the trunk of a car, or so that’s the impression his mind created for him.
“Hello?” he said with a croak, his tongue, dry and ungainly, filled more of his mouth than usual. He heard a metallic creak and a thud from outside before the door swung open. A hand was over his mouth again. The figure beyond blurred until all was dark once more.
The second time he was shaken and slapped awake. Reflex called his hand to cover his face but he was still bound, not to chair any longer. His body hung limp straining against the bonds that held him upright tied to a metal pole. Asphalt, faded, cracked asphalt, reminding him of some old tether ball court. He was outside. He could feel a cool air on his warm cheek where he’d been hit.
“You have a choice,” a deep voice said.
He was slapped again.
“They are three,” he was told.
A hooded figure knelt in front of him. His head was tilted up by his chin. “Can you hear me?” he was asked. A rasp of a grunted from deep in his throat. “Bring him water.”
A hand filled its fist with his hair, wrenched his head back and spilled water over his face. He gulped what he could, what made it into his gaping mouth. It was warm but it soaked into his dried tongue and soaked his throat all the same. He coughed and his head was dropped.
The figure knelt to him again. “You can speak now?”
“Yes, “ he said with effort.
“You have a choice. They are three,” the figure said again repeating itself as if it were reciting a script. “You understand?”
He managed another, “Yes.”
“You are released soon.”
Relief rushed through his body.
“But three choices you have to where you are released.” Two gloved fingers and a thumb thrust themselves up to his face. “A island.” One finger curled into the palm of the hand. “A building, locked.” The second finger fell. “Or middle of forest.”
He focused on the thumb. He didn’t understand. “I will be dumped on an island or in a locked building or somewhere in a forest?” he questioned the figure too afraid to ask aloud. A blow reverberated through his head as he was hit from behind. “Three,” he blurted out. “Nu-number three.”
“Forest,” the voice said but not to him. He heard heavy boots recede away as the hand enveloped his mouth and nose again wiping darkness across his vision.
“It is your choice,” he heard it say once more.
He found his way to his feet taking in his surroundings. Wind passed through the tops of the trees swaying the latticework they formed. He strained to hear any sounds that could provide a hint for which way he should start walking. Nothing. No car passing along a distance road. No rush of water taking him to a river or stream. Not even a bird.
“Where am I?” he asked himself. “In a forest. In the middle of nowhere,” he answered his own question.
Above, the trees obscured the sun and sky. There was to be no help there. Turning slowly about the spot he’d woken, he spied a suggested rise of the terrain in one direction. He started off, following the rise and hoping for a view from above and a plan to get home. He stuffed his tie into his shirt, pulled his suit jacket tight around his chest and began his hike cursing his situation, being kidnapped and left to trek back to civilization in nothing but a cheap, warehouse business suit.
“It is your choice.” The voice lingered, following along beside him
Inspired by January 19th’s Daily Prompt
- Captive’s Choice | Momma Said There’d Be Days Like This
- Miguel Learns To Like Himself (short fiction) | The Jittery Goat
- Daily Prompt: Captive’s Choice | The Daily Post | L5GN
- Captive’s Choice | Shetall says
- It was a simple choice. | Life is Weird
- Strange Forest | The Seminary of Praying Mantis
- Fresh | The Land Slide Photography
- Ain’t Easy Being Bitch
- Captive’s Choice | THERE’S A HELL OF A NICE UNIVERSE NEXT DOOR
- Kidnapped | Breathing Space
- Captives Choice | Short Story Sally
- Daily Prompt: Captive’s Choice | Delicious Ambiguity
- Towers of Canaries | field of thorns
- No Victim | My Little Avalon