My brain felt like an old TV – one that can’t quite get a signal and only shows grey fuzz. I tried to open my eyes, but my eye lids were very heavy. I felt like I was floating… no, I was falling. The wind whipped my clothes around my body, and I could feel the sleeves tightening around my wrists. I turned around and looked down – ground. I jolted to a stop, slamming into the hard dirt. Instantly I was surrounded by a herd of wild, frantic horses. They were pawing and rearing, their over-sized hooves coming uncomfortably close to my body.
I tried to stand up and run, but was kicked back to the ground. I could hardly breath. I gasped for air and flailed my arms around, hitting whatever I could. I tried standing again, and managed to get away from the herd; but only to run straight into the face of the stallion. He reared up, pawing the air, then lunged…
I dared to look up at the man sitting next to me. “Where are you taking me?” The balaclava clad guy didn’t answer – he just fingered the safety on his M4. I went back to looking down at my mud-stained boots, and listening to the rhythmic pounding of the helicopter blades. I figured that, since we had been flying for at least 5 hours, we were probably pretty far out into the middle of nowhere by now.
15 minutes later, when the helicopter slowed and descended to the ground, I found that my figuring had been correct. I climbed out, due to the prompting of the guy with the M4, and looked around. There was nothing to be seen but sparse patches of grass and clumps of half-wilted trees for miles around. I turned to the guy next to me, the confused look on my face asking “what now?” For the first time in the whole five hour trip, he spoke to me.
“You… we… how do I explain this?” The man paused, thinking about how to word the bad news that he was all-too-happy to share. I imagined a smile spreading across his face under the black balaclava. “We, of course, took you hostage. We threatened your family that if we weren’t given $25,000 dollars before the end of two weeks, we would kill you.”
“Two weeks is up.”
I nodded again, knowing all to well what was about to happen, but hoping against all odds that it wouldn’t.
“However, we aren’t cold-blooded murderers.” The man stepped closer to me. “So, we’re giving you a chance – to live. If you can find your way out of this blasted, forsaken country, you go free. If not…” The man chuckled as he and his goons climbed back into the helicopter.
I watched as the helicopter lifted from the ground and moved off towards the horizon. The pounding of the roters grew increasingly quieter. Before too long all was silent. No, actually; it wasn’t. I thought I could hear the roters pounding behind me, now. I knew it couldn’t be true; that it was just my mind playing tricks. I turned anyway – just in time to come face-to-face with a herd of horses, running wildly, whinnying, and bucking; and apparently angry with their unexpected visitor – me.