“Give me the keys,” the first man demanded. I handed him the keys and buckled up. He started the car and we left the parking lot.
“Where are we going?” I asked.
“On a little adventure,” the first man said, “You always said you wish you could take a real adventure.”
It was true, of course. I had often said that I wished the real world could be as exciting as the worlds in the stories I wrote – even if only once in a while. How did these men know that? Who were they? “I suppose it’s a surprise?” I said.
“Of course,” the second man now answered.
We merged onto the interstate and headed south. For the next hour, we sat in relative silence. The men would make only occasional comments to each other about billboard ads, the aesthetic conditions of the median, and about a movie they had seen together recently. I hadn’t heard of it. They were pleasant, but did not seem in the mood for much conversation, content to keep quiet. Among the items I had bought were a new notebook and pens, so I took them out and began to write, recording my adventure.
It was after we had been riding for an hour that I heard sirens. The man in the brown coat had been driving much faster than the surrounding traffic. He pulled over and gladly handed over his identification. “Thank you, sir,” the officer said. He looked over the two men in front and then looked at me. Handing his license back to the man in brown, he said, “You know the speed limit is fifty-five through here?”
“I didn’t notice,” the man in brown replied, smiling.
“It is, and I measured you going ninety-five. Can I ask where you’re going in such a hurry?” the cop asked.
“I’m afraid it’s a surprise – for him,” the man in brown said, pointing at me.
“Hmmm. Well, if you don’t slow down, you’re not going to get there at all, understand?” the cop posed.
“Absolutely; I’ll pay more attention,” the man replied.
“Have a nice day,” the cop said and returned to his car.
The whole time I had not noticed that I had held my breath. Indeed, I had forgotten that I was even a participant, rather than just observing. Now I quickly returned to my notebook, recording the encounter. Why hadn’t I alerted the cop to my predicament? Well, these men – whoever they were – had not made known any intention to hurt me or explicitly denied me my freedom, but I suppose the real reason was that I could not let go the possibility of a true adventure. How many decades might it be before I had another opportunity? We stopped for snacks and gas before continuing on our journey. “Who are you?” I finally asked.
“I’m Frank and this is Gus,” the man in brown said.
“How do you know me?” I finally asked.
The Frank laughed. “Never mind about that. We’ll all get to know each other soon enough.”
It was another two hours before I was driven near a storm drain outlet by the river and told to get inside. Since the men were also entering, I did as they said. Suddenly, I found my wrists shackled to the wall. “Hey, what are you doing?” I protested.
“Oh, we’re going to kill you,” Frank said, “Well, not ourselves, actually. See, this storm drain fills up almost to the top after a big storm – and the weatherman says there’s one coming. We’ll come back and dump you in the river tomorrow.”
“Why?” I asked.
“We’re serial killers; it’s what we do,” Gus said.
“But why me?” I asked.
“Oh, we just chose you at random,” Frank answered.
“But why not kidnap me? Why the talk of going on a real adventure? How did you know that would work if you chose me at random?” I asked. My mind was reeling; it was all I could come up with.
“We used to,” Gus answered, “But then we realized that everyone likes to be surprised with a mysterious adventure. It’s more fun that way.”
The men walk out of the storm drain exit. “Wait!” I said. The men turn to look at me, but I had nothing more to say.
“We’ll leave your car here,” Gus said.