I was placed in sadness
I was placed in darkness
I was placed in fear
Trapped in a place called despair
From “Trapped In Despair” by N.S. Collette.
~ 5 ~
Left in the Dark, Struggling
Brian couldn’t recall the last time he had ever felt this hungry, thirsty, scared and abandoned. He had been in the same position in the van for well over half a day. His left arm pretty much was numb from the hand all the way up to his shoulder and now that area between his shoulder and his neck was tingly with what felt like the beginning of pins and needles. Every time he struggled to get his arm loose, he felt that he was only making things worse so he basically stopped moving about an hour ago, just resigned to the fact that he was going to die inside this van staring up at AJ as if he was some kind of suspended angel.
He wasn’t sure what was taking Nick and Howie so long to get help but he was mad. Leave it to them to get sidetracked or something. Knowing Nick, he was probably talking to Lauren and lost track of time forgetting about the three of them altogether after all, as long as it didn’t affect him...
He paused, hoping that maybe his cousin wouldn’t’ answer and actually got angry when he heard a “Yeah?” in reply. That was the other thing he didn’t understand, why on earth Kevin wasn’t also trying to get some help. Surely they couldn’t have been that far away from the main road. Maybe if he had bothered to try, he could have easily flagged down a car. He swore he saw lights, although from his position it was hard to see very much at all. It was almost pitch black inside the van now.
“What’s wrong, Brian?” Kevin asked when his cousin failed to answer the first time.
“Still no sign of them or anyone else?”
“I thought I just heard a car pass by.”
“You did, but they didn’t stop. No one knows we’re out here.”
“Don’t’ you think maybe you should go stand in the middle of the road or something?” His words were biting as they came out of his mouth, dripping with anger and impatience.
There was a short pause, “I can’t.”
Again another pause, “I am pretty sure my ankle is broken. I can barely stand let alone make it up the hill. If I could, don’t you think I would have tried by now?”
“What did he say?” AJ’s voice from above asked. He sounded hoarse and tired.
“He thinks he broke his ankle. That’s why he hasn’t been able to go for help.” Now Brian felt horribly guilty for doubting his cousin, just like he did about Howie and Nick. He was sure they hadn’t really forgotten about them either.
“Nick and Howie are dead.” AJ tended to say whatever crossed his mind, which is one of the things that made him endearing at times and completely annoying at others. “Something had to have happened to them. They’ve been gone too long.”
“AJ…stop.” Brian tried to sound reassuring but honestly, he wasn’t so sure himself.
“How are you two doing in there?” Kevin asked now sounding a bit concerned because of Brian’s mini outburst.
“Not so good. We’re hungry, thirsty and pretty achy. What about you? I’m sorry about your ankle. I wish you had mentioned that earlier.”
“I’ll survive.” He said, not sounding very confident.
“I have been looking around the van for something we could eat, but the only thing out here is grass. If worse comes to worse, I’ll pick some and pass it to you.”
Brian tried to smile, “Hey, if it’s good enough for cows…” even though he knew there was no way for Kevin to get anything into the van anyway, unless he were able to climb up to the top. Not with a broken ankle though. Just that thought made his stomach grumble as he swallowed trying to keep his throat wet.
“Everything will work out, Brian. I’m sure help is on the way.”
“Think anyone else noticed we were gone by now?” AJ asked his friend.
Brian was hoping that by now his wife would have realized something was wrong when he didn’t do a check in. They were supposed to meet up for dinner. He was sure it was way past dinner time. “I hope so.” If only he were able to reach into his pocket to check his phone, he was certain there were probably about ten missed calls from her alone. Not that his cell would work anyway…
“What time is it, do you have any idea?” He called out to Kevin, not really sure he wanted the answer. It was one thing to just think you were stuck for hours but it was another to have proof.
“Just past 8.”
“What time is it?” AJ asked.
“He said it’s after 8.”
“Shit, I don’t know how long I can do this, Brian. I can’t feel my fucking legs anymore and this God damned seat belt is ripping me in half, at least that’s what it feels like.”
Brian really sympathized with AJ but at the same time wanted him to just shut the hell up. He had been doing nothing but complaining ever since they had ended up in this situation and his overly dramatic attitude wasn’t helping either one of them. It was important for Brian to keep his spirits up if he was going to get through this. AJ was just bringing him down.
“I just want to kiss my daughter.” AJ was on the verge of tears and that got Brian going again. He had cried about three times already, more in one day then he could recall doing in a month. He just felt so helpless. It was his nature to be able to problem solve himself out of pretty much any situation. Always keep a level head, close your eyes and pray for answers and no matter what, the solution would soon follow. This time no matter how many times he closed his eyes and cleared his mind to pray, nothing would come. His fate was left purely in the hands of Nick and Howie.
He once again felt just a small surge of anger at the thought of the two of them walking slowly along the road, maybe afraid to stop a car because they would be recognized. Something had to be happening like that. If he had been the one to get help, they would be home by now.
“It’s getting cold and dark in here.”
Brian rolled his eyes at AJ’s whiney voice.
“Well, that’s what happens when it’s night, AJ. It tends to get dark and cold.”
“Jesus, you don’t have to be an ass about it.”
“Sorry, I’m just…”
“I know… me too, bro.”
“I wish there was a way I could get in there.” Kevin had been trying to get himself into the van for about the last two hours. Slowly moving his legs in and then trying to shove the rest of his body through the small opening of the window, but once he got halfway through he would get himself stuck and have to jimmy back out. “How Nick managed to get out of there, I’ll never know.”
“Velocity is a funny thing I guess. Size doesn’t matter when you are rolling down a hill at a fast speed.” Once again, Brian hated the harsh sound of his voice when he said that.
“How could he possibly be okay?” AJ asked.
That’s when Brian closed his eyes and envisioned the only possible scenario for the hold up. It was clear that Nick wasn’t okay and had dropped dead while trying to get help. Once again he felt himself start to cry, because he was convinced one or both of his friends were dead. They had to be. If help didn’t arrive soon, the three of them would be dead too.
AJ started stirring above. It seemed like every hour or so he would get a burst of energy and squirm around, hoping that the seatbelt would give and he would come crashing to the ground.
“Be careful AJ, you don’t want to hurt yourself.”
The last time he had tried, he was swinging his feet so much that his shoe fell completely off his foot, missing Brian’s head by mere inches.
“I think I loosened it the last time.” He reached around trying to get his body out of the top part of the seatbelt while Brian watched. He considered this his hourly form of entertainment despite the fact that it was too dark to even really see anything at all.
“Is he trying again?” Kevin asked from outside. It sounded as though he was shivering.
Brian hadn’t really thought about what his cousin was going through being stuck outside in the cold and dark, all alone. At least he and AJ had the cover of the van to keep them warm and most importantly away from any kind of creatures that were lurking outside.
“Yup, he thinks he loosened it the last time.”
“Didn’t he say that the last time as well?”
Just then, Brian could have sworn he heard howling off in the distance, “Kevin, did I just hear…”
“Yeah, it’s been happening ever since it’s gotten dark.”
“That’s the first time I heard it.”
There was a long pause, where all that could be heard was the sound of AJ grunting as he struggled to free himself before Kevin finally answered, “That’s because they are getting closer now.”
A chill ran down Brian’s almost numb spine, just picturing his cousin helpless outside while wolves slowly made their way towards the van. “Is there anywhere you can go to keep yourself safe?”
“Safe from what?” AJ stopped wrestling with his seatbelt.
Brian wanted to just lie to his friend because honestly he didn’t want to deal with the aftermath but another sound of howling kind of made things clear. “Was that a fucking wolf?”
“Well that sounds about right; I mean why the hell wouldn’t there be a fucking wolf in the picture. That’s the only god damn thing that was missing!”
“AJ, please…” Brian took his free hand and rubbed at his eyes. He was starting to get a headache from the stress of the situation.
“I think my best bet would be to get on top of the van, but I can’t so, I guess I’m just going to have to tempt fate.”
Brian was kind of glad that AJ couldn’t hear Kevin and Kevin couldn’t hear AJ but he wished he couldn’t hear either one of them right about now. There was too much to worry about at the moment and once again no answers coming from up above. The only thing coming from higher up was a string of profanity.
“FUCK FUCK FUCK!! THIS FUCKING THING!!” AJ stopped his struggling and broke out into sobs.
“We’re going to die, Brian. I can feel it in my heart….”
“AJ, please stop. We will get through this.”
“How? There’s no one to help.”
“I want to just be able to see my wife and Ava one last time.”
As much as he wanted to be there for his friend, he just wished he would shut the hell up. Brian had to believe they would make it because if he gave up hope…no, he couldn’t give up hope. “You will! Now sitting up there and crying about it won’t help. Try your belt again.”
“It’s no use, Brian! The metal is bent.”
Brian continued his own struggling at that point, trying his best to get his arm free so he could get everyone out of this mess, stopping only briefly when the wolves began to howl, louder than before.