Friday, December 09, 2011

"Just Another Christmas Story" Part 9

            Caleb handed his money to the cashier and turned to look out the window at the other car filling up at the pump. The girl pumping the gas was talking to a man. He gave a wave a turned to walk away. Caleb turned away from the window to take his change from the cashier, and when he turned back around a black van was pulling out of the lot. It could have been his mind playing tricks on him, but he could have sworn that it was the same van that he had seen last night.

            With a shake of his head, Caleb put his money back into his wallet and headed out of the store. Now that the van was gone, it seemed ridiculous that he had thought that it was the same one. The chances of that were…well, he didn’t know, but they couldn’t be good. He walked back to his car and headed around to the driver’s side. The cap was missing from his gas tank; odd, he was sure that he had put it on before he went to pay. Quickly he replaced the cap and opened the door.
            A sound stopped Caleb dead in his tracks. It wasn’t loud or obvious, just…out of the ordinary. He straightened and looked to his right, toward the store. Nothing appeared to be out of the ordinary, and he was about to get into his car when he saw a flurry of movement from the other side of a gas pump. He wasn’t sure what it was, but it almost looked like someone was fighting.
            Caleb jogged toward the struggle. As he rounded the last pump between himself and the commotion, the first thing that he noticed was that the car there stood empty with one of the doors hanging open. That was odd considering one of the passengers had never even gotten out. A figure straightened from behind the car; Caleb couldn’t tell who it was or even its gender because of the baseball cap and hoodie that it wore.
            “Hey,” Caleb called to the person who turned to face him. “I saw some commotion,” he continued as he rounded the car. “Any idea what’s going on?”
            The hooded person appeared about to answer when a sudden motion near the car parked by the store grabbed Caleb’s attention.
            “What is…” Caleb never finished his question. As he turned back to the person in front of him, he saw too late a fist coming in from his left side; the blow caught him under the jaw.
            Caleb went down hard, his vision blacking momentarily. When he could see again, he staggered to his feet and moved as quickly as he could toward the car to which the hooded figure was now retreating. As he moved, he became steadier until by the time he reached the car, he was reasonably oriented. His assailant was just getting into the car, so Caleb grabbed him by the collar and jerked him back out.
            “What’s going on?” Caleb demanded. The hooded person swung at Caleb again, but this time he was ready. Easily ducking the blow, he came up with a powerful blow to his enemy’s stomach. The person doubled over but kept his balance, so Caleb put him down with a blow to the side of the face.
            With the person now on the ground, Caleb was about to pull back the hood and reveal who hid behind it when he heard a grunt and some frantic scratching from the other side of the car. In a flash he was around the vehicle. Two girls with bags over their heads lay on the ground. One was unconscious while the other struggled with a second hooded kidnapper.
            “Take your hands off of her!” Caleb yelled. The kidnapper looked up, and Caleb thought that he could distinguish some of the features of this one. This was definitely a man, but that was all that he had decided when he heard from behind. He spun around just in time to see a large piece of wood, possibly a baseball bat, rushing towards his face. He went down hard, unable to move at all for several minutes. All that he could see was the dirt, but his ears heard several sounds: the trunk opened and closed, a woman’s voice, doors slamming. Gravel rained on him as the wheels of the car sped to gain traction.
            Caleb blacked out.

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