I stumble through the opening, my mind racing, dreading what I will find the other side. As I catch my footing, I look around and find myself surrounded.
Despite knowing is futile, I still search frantically for an opening. A way to escape. My eyes dart from torch to torch. Hooded figure to hooded figure. I can see Danny appearing out of the darkness.
That is one moment I will never forget. Turning to get a glimpse of my second captor, I had never for a second imagined it to be my best friend.
As I had virtually breathed those words, it hadn’t been a beg for him to not do it. Hadn’t been an attempt to get through to him. It was more my emotions running wild as I tried to convince myself that it wasn’t true.
I try to shake that image from my mind as I see him getting closer. Maybe I can talk some sense into him.
Maybe, just maybe…
Fuck! What the…? My shoulder suddenly snaps back. I hear myself yelling. Not due to pain, more due to the shock of it. Did Danny just stab me? If he did, why can’t I feel anything? I’ve been stabbed before. I know the agony of a blade passing through flesh, so why can’t I feel it now?
I look at Danny. He can’t even make eye contact.
Maybe Danny doesn’t know it hasn’t worked. Or maybe he does. Either way, I better go along with it. I stumble backwards, not taking my eyes off Danny. After a moment, I decide to glance down and see the blade protruding from my chest. I can see blood. Well, not my blood, but it certainly looks convincing. Hopefully convincing enough. I think back to what Danny told me once, when he was discussing his ketchup trick.
“Now the thing is, you hafta make it real. Ok? You wanna be convincing enough without being TOO melondramatic.”
“It’s melodramatic.” I had corrected him.
That’s what I have to do now. Be dramatic without being too over the top.
Here it goes.
I drop my torch to the ground and hear it smash. Good start. Ok, now I should let my knees give out. That’s pretty easy to do, seeing as I’m still in a state of shock from the events that have just unfolded.
I can feel my knees hit the concrete hard. Ouch. But I can’t show the pain. That’ll end the game here and now. I flop my head down to look at the floor. I can see Danny’s boots at the top of my vision. I want to glance up at him, read his facial expression; see what emotions he’s showing. I want to know if this is his plan. But I can’t. I have to keep up the charade and pray that they don’t conduct an impromptu burial here in the castle. I really hope that doesn’t happen; I’ve always had a fear of being buried alive.
Now onto step two. I have made it to my knees without anyone suspecting anything. One last movement and I’ll be “dead”. I slowly keel over, falling forwards and to the side slightly. My right shoulder hits the floor and I let myself roll lifelessly onto my back. I close my eyes and begin to concentrate on my breathing.
I can hear the mumblings of the NWA around me. I hear footsteps getting closer.
“You did good, Danny.” I hear Frank say, almost like a whisper. “Now let’s get rid of him and we can finish the preparations for tomorrow.”
Suddenly, I can hear more footsteps around me.
… Ohmygodfuckpleasedontletthisbehappeningohmygodno …
My thoughts are all muddled. I feel hands hook underneath my arms.
“No!” that’s Danny’s voice. Wait, what? “Don’t touch him!”
“Don’t touch him…”
“Danny, what are you doing?” Frank has pretty much read my mind. Maybe this is an indicator that Danny knows I’m not dead. Maybe he really is trying to save me. I can hear Danny whispering to his father and for a few brief moments, I stop controlling my breathing and start holding it.
“Alright, Danny. Just get it done.”
What’s going to happen now? All sorts of scenarios have started playing out in my head. I can’t think like that though. It’ll only make me panic and break my cover. All of a sudden, I feel one hand scoop under my back and another under my knees. I’m being lifted. I make sure my body remains completely limp. I can tell that it’s Danny holding me. Thankfully, the momentum of his walking allows me to breathe a little more normally without fearing detection.
We walk for a few moments before I hear something.
It’s Danny’s voice.
“Don’t worry, Nick.” he’s whispering. “I’m gonna save you.”
I almost smile at these words. It sounds almost like Danny had heard that line in a film and was simply waiting for an excuse to say it. I want to let on to Danny that I know and that I’m grateful, but I don’t want to take any risks; I merely remain limp and hope that he knows. Danny fumbles around, almost dropping me in the process, and after a few seconds, I hear a car boot open. This is going to be a fun ride. I can feel myself being lowered into the boot and before I know it, I hear it shutting again. I open my eyes and let out a long breath.