Donovan's eyes shot open and he gasped in swaths of cold air, his chest flaring as he swung back from his slouched position. His back and head hit something solid causing stars to dance in his vision. Once they subsided, he was surrounded by darkness. Streaks across the sky gave a momentary glimpse of his surroundings, a small clearing in a wooded area. Thunder rolled further off in the distance. That, along with the damp musty smell surrounding him, lead him to assume that the storm was just passing.
A second, more pungent smell wafted and it immediately caused Donovan to first seize up, and then to become frantic. Oh, fuck! Despite the throbbing pain in his chest, he bolted to his feet, slipping from the muddied ground and almost falling over. He felt his foot pushing against something in his slide. His gun. Donovan swiftly picked up the mud and grass streaked piece and pointed it into the blackness in front of him. Into the woods he couldn't be certain were empty.
What the fuck was that... thing? He tried focusing his eyes, acclimating them to the dark, trying to find whatever manner of creature had assaulted him. Came at him like a wild animal. Used his very own... He ran his free hand over the front of his suit, fingers brushing against two holes in his jacket, only inches apart. I love this fucking jacket... In each, embedded into a Kevlar vest, were the remains of two slugs. He sighed audibly into the night, welcoming the deep throbbing he was experiencing rather than condemning it.
Another flash revealed the immediate area to be barren, with the exception of his hat near where he had been slumped against a tree. He cautiously walked over to pick it up, returning it to its rightful home, eyes darting back and forth, scanning for movement the entire time. What the hell is going on here? There was no sign of the young boy anywhere, but he knew better than to know he just up and walked off. His spine was clearly shattered.
Kids weren't really part of his forte, but as he had explained to the boy, the circumstances surrounding the contract with his client took precedent. Besides, I was doing him a favor. He was in a hell of a lot of pain. There was sound reasoning there. Put the kid out of his goddamn misery, to make him suffer would be sick and twisted. Plus the money, the real motivator, dictated he be thorough. Thoughts of whatever, or whoever rather, assaulted him deciding to drag the young man off into the woods made sense. He had witnessed an unbridled savagery. I'm lucky to be alive.
He contemplated the possible scenarios, as he picked up his gasoline can and went back around the tree, a car smoldering behind it. None of them ended well for the cripple. I tried, kid. He was about to run back to his car when something grabbed his attention. The Impala's driver side door was open. Not just ajar, but fully abreast. Pointing the gun ahead of him again, he took a wide path, until he could see inside the car.
Empty. What the fuck. Moving closer he could verify that his eyes weren't playing tricks on him. There was no body in the car. No charred remains of the woman he knew he had set ablaze. There was suddenly a faint light revealing more. Signs of someone being dragged out of the Impala. Or crawling out. Wild speculation about who had attacked him flooded his mind. But there was no way. No fucking way. That's impossible. He knew that was most certainly impossible. He tried to recollect the image of the figure, but it was all a blur. But that smell. So close and right in his face. Flesh and hair. He shook his head in disbelief.
Too much time was passing. I need to get the fuck out of here. He resolved to piece together the puzzle on the road, getting away from the scene that was turning out to be straight out of a horror flick. Too many questions. He set off to his car, once again, when he heard someone calling down from the road.
"Hey, are you okay down there? I called..." There was a loud, echoing crack, and the newcomer's head snapped back, body going limp and tumbling down the embankment. A car's headlights casting a soft glow where the man once stood, barely registering below.
"You stupid son-of-a-bitch!" Donovan shouted at the man. Acting on adrenaline he had dropped the gas can and took aim, never hesitating. What the hell... "What the hell were you thinking? Coming out of nowhere like that?" While shouting he began thrusting his revolver in the direction of the totaled car behind him. "Do you have any idea what the fuck is going on here?"
Frustration was building inside of Donovan. At the crazy situation that had already transpired, at the one that just took place. Missing bodies. New bodies. Too many questions. Many of them his own.
"Who did you call, Slick? The police? An ambulance? Your fucking mother?" He had to get a grip, he had to get out of there. He picked the gasoline can back up and ran over to the body of the stranger. The man was facing him, but his body was twisted oddly from the fall. He appeared to be in his mid-thirties, scruffy, and wearing simple jeans. An old white and blue unzipped windbreaker to protect him from the chilly breeze. The new proud owner of a bloodied tattoo smack dab in the middle of his forehead. I've always done my best work under pressure.
Joking aside, he tucked his gun in its shoulder holster, hefting the body over him. Donovan utilized what little remained of his adrenaline rush. The climb wasn't particularly hard, the embankment being more of a gradual slope, but carrying an extra hundred and fifty pounds up wet terrain wasn't exactly ideal.
Reaching the road, his fears were confirmed. His car was gone. Someone else had to be involved, it was the only logical explanation. Maybe his client had others working the same case. That son-of-a-bitch. It was something. Something he had to hold on to in order to simmer his mind from believing all the macabre alternatives everything seemed to be pointing to.
"Looks like we're taking your car, buddy," Donovan said as he shifted the body on his shoulder. A quick walk to the stranger's car — bringing an arm up to shield his eyes from the headlights — an inspection of the inside panels of the driver side door and the trunk was open, ready for delivery. Surprisingly it was completely empty. It's the little things. "Easy does it, man, I know this isn't very flattering, but we're out of options. I need to get the fuck out of here."
After slamming the trunk shut, Donovan slid into the driver's seat, heeding no mind that his mud-slicked suit would potentially ruin the upholstery. He disengaged the parking brake, reversed to straighten the car out on the road, and took a look into the rear-view mirror. Flashing lights off in the distance. Ones on the road, not the sky. Taking the cue, he shifted into drive and slammed his foot on the gas.
As Donovan sped away, he tried to make sense of the night. He had no doubt that whoever else had shown up, likely more than one, were long gone with his car and they knew he couldn't just call it in. But who? And why take the bodies? There were still too many questions. He vowed that someone was going to answer each and every one of them.
One way or another.
Thanks for reading! What did you think of the piece? Constructive criticism welcomed!