(c) 2000

Chapter Three


Jeff Strand

    The man sighed and shook his head. "I don't know. What have your other

    clients done when they've been fleeing high-tech invisible soldiers? Or is

    that protected under client-attorney privilege?"

    Well, at least he wasn't too panicked to be a smart-ass. "You don't have any

    kind of plan?"

    "Not yet. I will soon."

    "Do you at least have a name, or should I just refer to you as The Lunatic

    Who Is Ruining My Life?"

    "Lunatic works for me."

    "How about Lou for short?"


    "Fine. Listen, if you don't have a plan, I've at least got a good start.

    That shredded leg of yours needs some kind of medical attention."

    "No, no hosp--!"

    "Let me finish," Lynn interrupted. "I'll take you to see my sister."

    "Is she a doctor?"

    "No. But she lives close. We can at least get some antiseptic on it and

    wrap it up. That might keep you conscious for a few more minutes, anyway."

    "Do you love your sister?" Lou asked.

    "Of course."

    "Then you'll want to stay far, far away from her house tonight. Remember,

    they have air support. They'll find us."

    Lynn looked up into the night sky, which was empty except for some clouds.

    Her eyes widened. "You don't mean...?"

    "No. Invisible planes are still just a Wonder Woman trick. But they could

    show up anytime."

    "Okay, fine, but we need some kind of plan. I'm pretty sure you're not

    allowed to kidnap somebody without a plan. It doesn't have to be a good

    plan, or even a mediocre plan, but we need to do something besides sit here

    and go crazy."

    At that moment the passenger-side window shattered, spraying safety glass

    everywhere. As Lou spun around, his door flew open and his head jerked

    backward as if he'd been punched. His gun dropped to the floor. His right

    arm suddenly stretched out, like somebody was pulling on it, and within

    seconds he was dragged out of the vehicle.

    There was nobody in sight. Lynn may have had her doubts about nanotechnology

    and fiber optics and whatever else Lou had been babbling about, but unless he

    was one doozy of a good actor there was something invisible about there.

    The driver's side lock popped up. She dove for the gun as the door opened

    and a hand clamped around her ankle. It wasn't flesh, it was cold metal, and

    as it squeezed--hard--she let out a gasp of pain.

    Through the open passenger door she saw Lou, his arms extended behind him,

    his legs sliding rapidly through the dirt. As he struggled, his legs lifted

    into the air so that he appeared to be floating. It was almost a comical

    sight, until she saw the sudden splatter of blood from his nose.

    She grabbed the gun, twisted herself around, and pulled the trigger. She

    cried out as the bullet ricocheted off her assailant with a clang and tore

    through her upper arm. Her fingers went numb and the gun fell out of her


    She struggled as violently as she possibly could, but Lynn couldn't stop

    herself from being dragged out of the vehicle. Then a thought occurred to

    her: Scream for help, you idiot! Who are you trying to impress?

    She was yanked to a standing position and then bashed against the side of the

    BMW. Her scream was cut off as a cold metal hand slammed over her mouth.

    Biting it would probably just earn her a trip to the dentist, so she tried

    her next self-defense trick, a knee to the groin. Her accuracy was dead-on,

    or at least that's how it felt, but unfortunately it didn't seem to do

    anything but bang the hell out of her knee.

    Lynn immediately ceased her struggle as she saw a gun--a machine gun, it

    looked like, though she'd only ever seen them in movies--floating toward her.

    It stopped about six inches from her face.

    "Please stay calm," said a male voice. It was a low voice, almost soothing.

    "We won't kill you if you don't force us to. But we won't lose sleep if you

    do. Do you understand?"

    She nodded.

    "Good. We're going to take you to our van. Please don't struggle or make

    any noise."

    "What the hell...?"

    The machine gun swung around toward the voice. Out of the corner of her eye

    Lynn saw that it was a middle-aged man, dressed in a business suit, staring

    in amazement at Lynn and the floating weapon.

    The burst of machine gun fire only lasted a second, but Lynn had no doubt

    that he was dead before the first drop of his blood hit the ground. Seconds

    after his body fell, it was lifted into mid-air and disappeared behind one of

    the SUVs.

    "I'm sorry you had to see that," said the voice, as the machine gun barrel

    swiveled back towards Lynn. "Now will you do something for me?"

    Lynn was too petrified to even nod.

    "It's very simple. Just inhale."

    Lynn did so, involuntarily. She instantly began to feel dizzy, then within

    seconds everything faded away.

    * * *

    She awoke in the back of a moving van. Her hands were bound together by some

    odd-looking metal cuffs with a blinking red light on them, and her feet were

    bound the same way. Lou sat on the other side of the van, hands and feet

    also bound.

    "Welcome back," he said. He had a large patch of gauze taped over his nose,

    giving him an amusing nasal voice.

    Lynn quickly glanced around the back of the van. There was a black curtain

    that hid the driver and any other passengers up front from her view, and the

    rear window was so heavily tinted that she couldn't see out of it. Besides

    herself, Lou, and what looked unnervingly like an occupied body bag, the back

    of the van was empty.

    "What are they going to do to us?" she asked, trying to keep from being sick

    to her stomach from tension.

    Lou shrugged.

    "Well, I bet they at least have a plan."

    He gave her a sad smile. "I don't suppose saying I'm sorry for kidnapping

    you counts for much at this point."

    "No, I'm thinking it probably doesn't."

    "Just thought I'd check. When we get out of this, I'll take you out to

    dinner. Someplace classy. Have you ever been to Genevieve's?"

    "Do you really think this is the most appropriate time to be asking me out on

    a date?" asked Lynn.

    "Just trying to keep things optimistic."

    "Well, not to be rude, but the idea of a date with you is actually kind of


    "Okay, so, when we get out of this, I'll be out of your life forever. Does

    that cheer you up?"

    "Very much so."


    The van stopped. A couple minutes later, the curtain opened, revealing

    nothing. But somebody leaned down next to her, and everything faded again.

    * * *

    When Lynn woke up this time, Lou was nowhere in sight. She was in an

    uncomfortable chair in a small room that was so brightly lit that it was

    painful to keep her eyes open beyond a squint. There were several small

    carts in the room, but at this point she couldn't tell what was on them. Her

    hands and feet remained bound by the metal cuffs.

    A figure stepped in front of her. A man in his seventies or eighties, it

    appeared, dressed in a white surgical uniform. The very fact that he was

    visible was quite a relief, though her sense of relief vanished as soon as

    she saw the scalpel in his hand.

    "Good evening, Lynn," he said. His voice was nowhere near as soothing as

    that of the invisible was a pained rasp that sounded like he had

    shards of glass in the back of his throat.

    "Where's Lou?" she demanded.

    The man frowned. "Lou?"

    "Sorry, not Lou, I mean the guy I was with."

    The man nodded his understanding. "The guy you were with is

    currently...being hurt."

    A door opened behind Lynn, and she heard footsteps as some other people

    entered the room.

    "My real name is my own little secret," said the man. "But you can call me

    The Surgeon." He leaned right down next to her face and spoke in a

    confidential whisper. "You're not going to like me."

    Chapter 4 by Carol Givner