T is for Third Times a Charm
Today I present to you the third and final segment of a story I started HERE and continued HERE. Enjoy. **Warning - A bit of rough language ahead**
The edges of the blanket obscured whatever she was seeing from Ted, so he took a step closer. Cradled in her arms, unclothed, with a cell phone taped to its chest with a single piece of black electrical tape, was a very life-like plastic doll.
“Ted?” Cami said without looking up.
He couldn’t take his eyes off the play toy, unsure of how to react. Is this is what shock feels like, he thought to himself. What type of demented individual could play such a cruel, irresponsible joke? He looked back to Cami’s face and although her expression was still frozen, her eyes had become unfocused and filled with tears. That’s when the full-weight of what had just happened dropped on him like a load of bricks and a white hot rage started to flow. Soon the emotion was beyond anything he had ever experienced before. He imagined himself with hands around the throat of whoever was responsible for this, slowly squeezing their life away.
A gruff voice startled him out of his fantasy. “Hey, what the fuck is going on?”
A short man, stout in nature with a slight gimp in his step was heading towards them from the direction of the red cab truck. Outrageously dressed in a black western shirt with embroidered red roses and white skulls on the front, dark jeans held up by a wide belt with a flashy buckle, white cowboy boots, and it was all topped off by a black cowboy hat with a white band that matched the boots.
Ted was about to respond when another voice called out from the opposite direction.
“This better be good. Some ‘sum bitch almost got my ass kilt!”
Ted turned around and spotted the Gerber Foods driver also moving in their direction. This one was a lot older, on the tall side dressed simply in a plaid shirt and jeans. He had an angular face that was mostly covered by white stubble and long straggly hair held in check by a dark blue handkerchief tied around his head.
“You’re not going to believe…” Ted started to say when suddenly the cries of a young baby filled the air. Cami jumped when the sound started, almost dropping the doll which had also begun to move its arms and legs. He moved in closer and realized that the howls of the baby were coming from the cell phone and the LED screen now displayed the words CALLER BLOCKED. His anger came rushing back and he snatched the phone off the dolls chest.
As soon as he pressed the answer button on the phone the baby’s cry went silent and the doll went still in Cami’s arms. Looking at his wife’s confused expression; Ted tentatively put the phone to his ear. “Who is this?”
“My name is really not important, but you may call me Hoover,” came the odd sounding answer. Although Ted could tell a person was speaking, the voice was being disguised by some sort of electronic interference. It reminded him of those creepy cancer commercials where the speaker was forced to speak through a device pressed against their neck. “And your name isn’t important either, so let’s just call you Mr. Good Samaritan for now, or Sam for short.”
“What kind of sick joke are you…”
“Sam, I don’t mean to interrupt -- but the next sixty seconds are vitally important for you and your wife, so I need you to listen very carefully to what I have to say, understand?”
Ted was taken back. He half-expected to be talking to some pimply faced kid or some bored college student playing a sick prank, but definitely not this.
“What?” was all Ted could think of to say.
There was a brief pause before the electronic voice continued. “I understand this is a lot to take in Sam, but I need you to focus. To demonstrate just how imperative this is to your future, I need you to do something for me. Do you see Willie Nelson heading your way?”
All of the anger quickly disappeared from Ted’s body, replaced instead by a creeping fear. He now knew two things that brought about his sudden change. The first, whatever was going on, it was no prank. But it was the second that bothered him the most. Glancing at the long hair truck driver who looked remarkably like Willie Nelson, Ted knew that whoever was on the other end of the phone -- was watching them. “Listen, Hoover, I’m not playing any mind games. I’m going to take this phone…”
“Sam, look at Willie, it’s really important,” was the reply, in the same cool electronic tone.
Ted reluctantly turned so he faced the long-haired truck driver directly. Suddenly the man appeared as if he had walked face first into an invisible force field, his head rebounding backwards. At the same time a dark spot appeared in the middle of his forehead and a crimson mist burst from the back of his head, creating a deadly halo. The driver crumbled to the pavement in a lump.
Instinctively Ted dropped to a crouch, grabbing his wife’s sleeve and pulling her down with him. He then turned 180 degrees and scanned the open countryside, looking for any indication of where the shot came from. There wasn’t a sound that accompanied the shot, which Ted’s military experience told him was either taken from a very long way a ways or a silencer was used. Whatever the case, all he could see looking back at him now was sporadic patches of tall grass and lots of small bushes, everything swaying back and forth against the wind.
The phone in his hand, which he had let fall to his hip when the driver was shot, was making noise again. He slowly brought it back up to his ear.
“Do I have your full attention now, Sam, because we need to go over some rules?”
So that’s it. What are these rules Hoover mentions and his plans for Ted and Cami? Do you believe the couple was selected by chance, or purposely singled out? What role will the bizarrely dressed truck driver play in this drama? Would you want to continue reading to find out?
The three segments I posted during the Challenge together comprise the first chapter of a WIP entitled THE BABYSITTERS. I’ve been toying around with it for over a year and I’m trying to decide if that should be my next serious project. Opinions?
Did you know I was holding a contest during the A-Z Challenge? You can read all about it HERE.