Darren was having a bad 24 hours.
It had all started last night. He'd been set up on a date by another intern, Sally, whose pants he'd been trying to get into for awhile. The date had started promisingly. The girl Darcy had a rack that belonged in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition. And she didn't talk much, something Darren liked in a woman.
It had gone to hell pretty quickly. Darcy turned out to be some femi-nazi who couldn't take a joke and stormed out. Darren had been about to give her a piece of his mind when some crazy dick had actually shot him with an arrow. His Armani suit was ruined and it had taken a call to the police and half an hour of waiting until someone came and dislodged the arrow, explaining that it wasn't actually about to sever a vein. Meaning Darcy-the-bitch had lied before she ran off.
Darren had grudgingly made his way home. He'd tried flicking through his booty call list but for some reason his phone kept dropping out on the call. So shitty reception meant he had to sleep alone. And in the morning, his hook up potential was not looking good thanks to a shiner of a black eye. He'd obviously hit the wall pretty hard. Darren contemplated getting in touch with a personal injury lawyers as he got ready for work. The thought perked him up a little
Then things got worse again. He tried to withdraw some money and the machine ate his bank card. He moved on to another ATM. His credit card went. Giving up, Darren just went straight to the coffee shop and persuaded the cashier to let him pay by Amex. He swiped the card. Despite his limit having a lot of zeroes, his card was rejected. He tried every single card left in his wallet and they all rejected. The barista refused to hand over the coffee for the $1.25 Darren had left in his pocket. Something about previous lack of tips meaning no free rides. God, the 99% could be such babies.
So without caffeine and too early for the banks to open, Darren skulked to work. Things hadn't gotten any better there. A virus had apparently hit they computer system, though apparently Darren's files were the only ones to take any serious damage. With sweat pooling on his brow, Darren hurriedly starting rebuilding the financial report that Senator Woodman expected by 11am. The deadline passed and the Senator very begrudgingly gave Darren an extension until 3. Darren worked feverishly. He'd tried to sneak out to the bank around midday, desperate for something eat or drink, but the Senator's secretary had noticed and given Darren such a look he's scurried back to his desk.
Darren did manage to take five minutes off for a cup of the hideous instant coffee available in the lunch room. One of the college-aged volunteers was finishing her lunch and stopped by the sink to rinse her plate. She was cute – if a bit punk-rocker in style and hence not normally his type – but Darren was itching for anything with breasts by then and figured maybe his darkening black eye would be some kind of a turn on for her. But he'd barely started with his killer smile before the girl had glared, snapped in a low tone for him to stay the fuck away and stomped off. Darren had been too started to even response. He'd muttered about white trash on the way back to his seat.
After busting his balls to get it done, Darren had handed over the report to Senator Woodman. However the Senator was deep in conversation and had waved Darren out of his office, slamming the door shut behind him. Dejected about the lack of appreciation, Darren decided to quickly check Facebook and maybe try messaging some of the girls he hadn't been able to reach last night. When he logged in though, his message box flagged 68 new messages and his friends list seemed considerably smaller. Clicking to read the first message, it was a list of profanities from Carly. Who had apparently found out about the time that Darren blew off Carly for a hookup with Melinda. With a few more clicks, Darren realised with horror that somehow almost every incriminating photo, text and email that he'd expected to stay private were now plastered over his Facebook profile. There was even a link to a domain called DarrensWikiLeak, for anyone wanting to trawl through the whole archive. Suddenly the response from punk girl made a whole lot more sense. As did the looks he was getting from pretty much everyone in the room. Grabbing his jacket, Darren hurried home.
The evening hadn't gone much better. He still wasn't able to dial out successfully, however the phone managed to receive the call when his father rang in a rage about some comments Darren had made after mother had refused to pay for the repairs to his car. And when his best friend called about the time that Darren had slept with his friend's fiancée... crystal clear reception. Darren turned his phone off after that.
When Darren finally crawled into bed, he found he was tossing and turning and slowly starting to itch. He lifted his sheets, looking for bed bugs but found nothing. But the itch was getting worse so Darren climbed out of bed, flicked on the lamp and went for the shower. The hot water wouldn't start so he was forced to stand there with an icy torrent beating on his skin. The itch only lessened but he couldn't stand the chill and gave up. Wrapping himself in a towel, Darren was cold, sore and miserable when he stepped back into the bedroom. But what he wasn't ready for was the sight of a man dressed in black sweats, sitting in the corner chair with a deadly looking bow and arrow pointed straight at Darren's heart.
"Sit," the man said in a voice that tolerated no argument. Darren trembled and lost his grip on the towel. He bent forward to retrieve it. "Sit," the man said again and the threat in voice meant Darren left the towel pooled on the floor and dropped his ass onto the corner of the bed. He tried to awkwardly cover himself with his hands.
"How's your day been?" the man asked. His tone was suddenly calm, though the arrow he aimed didn't waiver a fraction.
"Ummmm," Darren coughed. "You see, I've had better..."
"Don't bother. I know." Still the voice was calm, even as he cut Darren off. "First. The powder we used to wash your sheets will stop burning in a day or so. The good doctor who whipped it up in his lab was concerned you'd waste a good nurse's time about it, so don't go the hospital or anything. Nothing's going to stop that itch." Even as he spoke, Darren felt the beginning of a tingle beneath where his hands were cupped.
"Second." The man continued. "Your cards are working again. But I hear your family cut off your trust fund. Shame about that."
Darren's heart stopped beating of a second. The money? Gone. "You're bluffing..."
The corner of the man's mouth tilted up in a smile. "No. I'm not. We've left your internet on so you can check your bank balance."
With a spluttering rage building, Darren stood with his fists clenching. "I am going to destroy..." And in the blink of an eye, Darren found the man had moved from the seat to standing just inches away. The arrow tip now pressed into Darren's chest and the man stood eyeball to eyeball with him. Any hint of a smile was gone and with a sinking feel in his stomach, Darren was sure he was looking at the face of a stone cold killer.
"I told you to sit," the man said in a voice so low that Darren only just heard the words. Not breaking eye contact, Darren slowly sat himself down on the edge of the bed. The man lowered also, settling into a crouch with the arrow still nestled against Darren's chest.
"Third," the man finally said. "There was a woman last night you were with last night. Darcy. Ring any bells." Darren by now was too scared to speak, so he just nodded. "Good. Remember when you grabbed her by the arm?" Another nod. "And when you dragged her around like a rag doll. Remember that?" Darren coughed, his mouth getting dry, and hurriedly nodded. "Want to let me know what you planned to do after that?"
Darren's brain froze. He remembered very clearly what he planned. He'd already envisaged the satisfaction of smacking the girl across the face, forcing her to shut up. But looking at the cold eyes behind the arrow pointed at his heart, Darren wasn't sure of the right response.
"Five seconds to answer."
"I... I just wanted to talk to her... to just..."
The man drew the bow tighter. "Try again. This time, no bullshit. Tell me what you were going to do to Darcy."
"OK!" Darren almost choked. "I was going to hit her. I wanted to make Darcy pay for what she said."
Silence filled the room. Darren's heart fluttered and even the raging itch faded in his awareness as all he could consider was his impending death.
"I know," the man finally said. "Wasn't exactly hard to guess after seeing some of the police reports filed on you. Parent's money couldn't wash away all the records." He lowered the bow and carefully placed the arrow on the ground. A wave of relief washed over Darren.
"I..." Darren was cut off as the man sprung forward and with one hard kick to the stomach, he'd knocked Darren off the bed. Darren fell hard on his wooden floorboards, landing on his back and the air whooshing out of his lungs in a rush. But before he could catch his breath, the man had taken his hard black metal bow in both hands and shoved it against Darren's throat. Desperate for air, Darren struggled but the man was like iron. Unmovable.
"Before you pass out, I'm going to explain something." The man hadn't even raised his voice, though the shudder of muscles in his arms suddenly made Darren question just how much restraint the man was showing. How much he might actually want to press down on Darren's throat until it snapped. Darren froze. "OK. Good to know you're paying attention." The man lowered his head, pressure still on the bow as he looked Darren square in the face. "Hit another woman and I will cut off your dick and feed it to the crabs in the harbour. And if you ever come within thirty feet of Darcy... if you ever even think her name again... I will come back here and kill you. Understand?"
Darren whimpered out a feeble yes. The man seemed satisfied and released Darren from the choke hold. Darren gasped for breath, the sudden rush of oxygen dizzying in relief. Then, looking wildly around the room, he realised the man had already disappeared. Coughing and wheezing, Darren dragged himself to his feet and stumbled into the living room, looking for his phone. But just as he picked up the handset, something caught his eye. Finger hovering over the buttons, Darren saw an arrow embedded in his front door. Very cold, sore and scared, Darren slid the phone back down and crawled onto his couch, where he curled into a ball and stared at the door until morning.