Chapter 21 — Abduction
Jeff didn’t have a good track record with crazy people. From day one of the zombie apocalypse, he’d had his fair share of run-ins with the insane.
Gary—or perhaps it was ‘Frank’ now— raised a calm hand. “We have a special on energy drinks today, you look like you could use a pick-me-up.”
Special? “Wait a second, you’re selling stuff? Did you miss the memo? Money doesn’t mean anything anymore.”
Gary lost his smile. “Doesn’t mean anything? This is a store. Are you telling me you have no money?”
“Of course I don’t have money. Who has time to carry around useless green paper?”
“I see. That’s problematic. Do you have a Turnpike Express pass?”
“No,” Jeff said.
“And you drove here?”
Why the hell does he care? Jeff drummed his fingers on his assault rifle. I shouldn’t just shoot the guy cause he’s crazy.
Garry narrowed his eyes. “I’ll take that as a yes. You see, this is stop thirty-five on the greatest roadway in the world. In order to get here you can only gain access through a toll booth. Not to mention to leave you would need to pay no less than three dollars and seventy-five cents. If you have no money and no pass that means you’re a thief.”
“Hey now, if I had the option to pay I would have. Have you looked outside recently? Society has collapsed, there’s no functioning toll booths left.”
Gary slammed his hand on his counter. “Then, as a law abiding citizen you should have filled out the form sitting at the booth. That’s no excuse to break the law.”
This guy is crazy. Can’t bargain with crazy people. “Well, sorry you feel that way. I’ll just see myself out. Good luck selling your goods.”
Gary picked up a phone off the hook. “You’re not going anywhere, bandit. I’m calling security. Kathy, I have a code seventy-one.”
Jeff turned to leave. I’m not gonna kill someone for supplies. They’re his after all.
“I said, you aren’t going anywhere.”
A metal tube popped out from the ceiling and tilted towards Jeff. He readied his rifle but recognized it as a camera. Glancing back, he noticed Gary was gone.
Jeff hurried to the front door and pressed a shoulder against it. It was locked. He backed away, raised his assault rifle to shoot out the glass and froze at the sound of a click.
Wait, that’s not a gun—
A jolt of pain shot up Jeff’s spine. His arms went limp and the numbness spread to the rest of his body. His vision blurred, surrendering to blinding white light all around him. So this is it… this is how I die.
His consciousness slipped away, he barely felt his face hitting the polished floor– then nothing.
Words came to him in the darkness. “In the world of Turnpike Service, there’s only two kinds of people. Customers… and Ingredients.”
It hadn’t been the first time he’d been knocked unconscious. It brought back memories of school bullies who did the sort of thing for fun. Ironically, this wasn’t too different. Knocked out over lunch money.
His consciousness blinked in and out, catching glimpses of rooms he didn’t recognize. Dull pressure pressed on his bottom and legs. Someone was dragging him. They hadn’t killed him– that was something at least.
Jeff slipped away again. His head felt heavy and his teeth floated. A Tazer, that’s what the noise was. He electrocuted me.
Time slipped away and he became dully aware of a cramped discomfort in his back. His arms were bound behind him and his cheeks stung.
“…wake up!” Harriet’s voice came through the haze and her blurry image followed. She stooped over him wearing a loose fitting button up shirt. It was hard to keep his head up, so he settled his gaze on the spot below her neck. The top of her cleavage poked out.
His cheek stung again this time enough to make him yelp in pain.
“You bastard,” she said. “You left me alone! Cuffed and vulnerable!”
Her words didn’t make sense. They sounded delicate… not like her at all. Jeff looked up and the stinging on his cheek worsened. He flinched. “I’m awake… just stop hitting me. I’m not into that.”
“Not like you gave me much of a choice your perverted son of a bitch, payback sucks huh?”
“Perverted?” He squinted against the low light of the room. “What are you…”
She slapped him again, hard. “Don’t play dumb. You’ve been doing this for weeks. Having your way with me, I should cut your fucking balls off.”
That snapped him out of his delirium. “I– I didn’t do anything like that! Harriet? What’s gotten into–”
She shut him up with another slap.
“Despicable.” A familiar voice said, but there was something off about it. They spoke in a weird sort of falsetto. Gary? “Good thing I put him down, huh miss? You just take as much time as you need. I’ve called the police.”
“T-thank you.” Harriet moved aside, revealing Gary– well it was him, but he wore a blonde wig and a security guard hat and jacket. “Kathy” was on the badge.
Jeff clamped his mouth shut, he didn’t want to get slapped again.
Harriet balled her hands into fists. “Could you leave me alone with him? I want to know… I want to know why anyone would do this to me.”
‘Kathy’ nodded, stood and tilted ‘her’ hat. “I’ll be in the hall just scream if he tries something, the walls sort of thick so make sure you do it loud.”
Gary left them alone and as soon as the door snapped shut she put a finger to her lips.
Oh! Was she acting? Jeff looked away, doing so made his cheeks and neck hurt. “Sorry for getting us in this mess. I shouldn’t have left you alone, but you looked like you were sleeping well.”
“Well, I’m not gonna apologize for beating the shit out of you. Half of that was real frustration. For fuck sake, I could have died! Zombies could have come by then what?”
“I’m really sorry. Look I did try to wake you… with a kiss.”
She kicked the chair hard, inches from a very painful kick in the nuts.
“Thinking with your dick. That’s why you’re in this mess.” She lowered her voice. “Act like I actually kicked you in the junk– or I will.”
“Agh!” Jeff hammed it up. “S-stop it! Oh god, whyyyy?”
Harriet pulled close and hugged him. She spoke in a low tone. “We’re stuck here. This guy has the place rigged with turrets. You were screwed the second you pulled into the lot, so don’t beat yourself up over it. They’re on auto now, so I can’t just take him down. We need a plan B.”
Jeff found it hard to focus, between a pounding headache and her embrace. He realized he’d need to keep up the act, though. “L-look! I’m sorry! I’m just desperate and lonely and you’re hot as hell alright. Just let me goooo.”
Harriet smirked and kissed his ear. “Good. Lucky for you, I have a plan. This place will be easy to take over if there’s a lapse in power. The lines run north, we sabotage that and we’re golden.”
“So how are you gonna do that?” Jeff let out a noisy cry– all acting. Harriet’s hug left him feeling hopeful. More than anything, he was happy she was safe and alive. “I can’t imagine I could help much.”
“Not likely, Julius thinks you kidnapped me.”
“Yeah… that’s what his nametag said. He said he’s the place’s janitor.”
“Alias, Gary the burger guy, Frank the gift shop guy and Karen security guard… girl.”
“Don’t judge, maybe he… she… whatever is gender queer.”
“In this case, I think he’s just fucking nuts.”
Harriet smiled at that. “You sit tight. I’m gonna take a look around.”
“W-wait!” Jeff leaned forward. “Something he said… makes me worried. I think this guy might still try to kill you.”
“Oh, I trust him as far as I can throw him.”
“You’ve… got a pretty good arm.”
Harriet chuckled. “Bad example. Anyway, I’ll be careful. The guy could have just killed me while I was cuffed in the car. I need to use that to my benefit.”
“Ugh… you’re not gonna butter him up are you?”
Harriet kissed him and gave him a pat on the cheek. It still stung. “Don’t worry. I’m still your girl Jeff, no matter how much you try to get rid of me.”