The Cell

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic
Alex is young and full of life. Others consider him a perfect weapon to introduce their subtle brand of terror.

Submitted: July 21, 2017

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Submitted: July 21, 2017

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The Cell

 

In 2017, Alex Ramos was growing up in Veracruz; he was a good-looking young man. Family and friends all said he could be a movie star. Alex was as handsome as they come. Bright as well, he attended El Colegio de Veracruz during the evening and had a small job during the day at a fish market located equal distance between school and his apartment. He had a multitude of friends. The guys always stayed near because there was always an excess of young ladies trying to meet Alex. They would take any left over’s. Alex never thought about it and considered himself quite ordinary.

Friday nights found Alex at the bar along the seashore. He didn’t drink heavily but enough to get loose, free up minor inhibitions, and have a real good time. It went without saying that he would wake up in the morning with a girl that shouldn’t look that good. His morning guests came right out of the movies. If they looked that good at seven in the morning, you could only imagine what they looked like the night before.

Alex was not religious, but would not be considered a pagan either. He was kind, considerate, certainly not elitist, but he knew how to enjoyed life to its fullest. The neighbors, coworkers, family, and schoolmates admired him greatly. However, others considered his attributes to be an example of western decadence, but this might well serve their unscrupulous purpose nonetheless.

 

**************

 

Jose Alverez picked up the mail at the post office around 6:00 PM, on his way home from work. Several letters and a small box were inside the mail receptacle. The box was small enough that you might think it would have held a ring or some other jewelry. He took his mail and proceeded home.

Jose thought back to his visit to Pakistan and the camp where he had stayed to receive his training. It was summer, hot with monsoon rain. Jose had never felt so damp. Every day he was there it rained. He was somewhat sick of cleaning his assigned AK-47. If it were not kept clean and oiled, it would malfunction and his peers, who were assigned to him in the tent, would beat him. The food was mediocre, but the camaraderie was beyond compare. Everyone was of a single mind, 'the downfall of western civilization and praise to Allah.'

At home, with the door shut, he checked each room to make sure he was alone. He discarded the letters as if they were trash mail. Slowly examining the small box, he realized it had not been postmarked. It was placed, purposefully, into his mailbox. It had never gone through the regular postal system. He slowly removed the brown paper wrapper from around the small square. Setting the clean white box down on the table before him, he held it steady with one hand while the other carefully removed the lid. Inside a small vial was held gently, surrounded by a cloud of white cotton. It was certainly the package, for which he had been waiting.

 

**************

 

Alex had finished studying and thought about the upcoming tourist season. Spring break was as big of a deal for him, as it was for the American tourists. Although he had no extra money for travel, he never had to go to the parties. The parties would always travel to him after all this was Veracruz and the southern beaches were beautiful. It was warm, it was sunny, and the taverns, music, and beaches were ready. Soon students from around the world would flock here by the thousands. The young men and women would frolic wildly night after night.

 

**************

 

Jose let the three other people into the house. Music played in the other room, loud but not too loud, enough to cover their conversation and at the same time divert suspicion. They went over and over the plan. One would drive, one would push, and the other two would help drag. They would then drive to the empty farmhouse. The appropriate vehicle had already been selected and would be rented the day before.

When they were sure of every detail, they laid out their carpets making ready for prayer.

Jose, when the time from his job permitted, would observe the location. He would observe who was near, who would be around, and who would not. The timing had to be perfect. He was casual looking as he stood on the corner watching. No one thought he was suspicious. There was a timetable to keep, and time was running out. He had never done this before; he had to make sure all went as planned. He decided it was time.

He would rent the van tomorrow.

 

*************

 

On Wednesdays, it was Alex’s turn to clean and sweep the front of the market. He would open the store long before any one was up. The cleaning was done every day, but the owner had quickly come to trust Alex and decided Wednesdays was a good day to sleep in, and so gave Alex that duty. The front of the store was necessary to keep clean. It kept the customers coming back. It was 5:30 AM when Alex would arrive at the fish market. It had been that way all through the spring and into the summer. Every Wednesday Alex would arrive and every Wednesday, at least for the past few weeks, Alex would see the young man standing on the corner smoking a cigarette. Suspicious at first, but after a week or two he thought nothing of it, and the other young man became just part of the scenery of the neighborhood.

 

*******************

 

It was 3:00 AM Jose and the others met for the last time. They went through the plan step by step. Questions were still asked. Were they doing the right thing? Is this really the right time? He answered their questions easily as he had been taught. He reminded them that each member of the group must remain calm, and practiced. Everything would be over in only a few hours.

Jose was on the corner having a cigarette. The same way he had for the last eight weeks. Alex was trying to wash down the sidewalk in front of the fish market. The dark colored van pulled up in front of the store, partially blocking the sidewalk. Alex turned off the hose and laid it down. He was going to ask them to move so he could finish. As he approached the side of the van, a black hood came down over his face, the doors to the van burst open, and the two men inside grabbed him and pulled him in, throwing him to the floor. Jose climbed in after and shut the van doors. They bound Alex's hands. The driver pulled slowly away, trying hard not to accelerate and maybe look too conspicuous.

Alex struggled in vain; he was securely bound, lying on the floor. Being jostled by the ride of the van, he knew they were traveling out of the city. His abductors for the entire trip were saying nothing, but Alex was sure he was being kidnapped for ransom. This started to bother him knowing no one in his family could come up with any money. He thought about what would happen to him when they found out his family was poor. Just then, the van came to a stop.

Alex blindfolded and tied was escorted into a barn and restrained to a chair. When they took off his hood, he saw four men standing around him. They were all wearing masks. The tallest of them looked straight at Alex’s uncovered face and then at a picture he was holding. The man threw up his hands and began pacing back and forth ranting how they had made a mistake. An argument ensued between the men. If not for Alex’s fear, he might have caught on that the entire argument was scripted. "We took the wrong man," one of the men said. "What do we do now?" said another. "Maybe we should just kill this one," said yet another man.

The tallest man, the one who did most of the talking, put the hood back over Alex’s head. Alex felt hands gripping him around the head and neck. He was sure he was going to be murdered. The smell of the ether was the last thing he remembered.

Jose took the vial from his pocket and stuck the needle of the syringe into the rubber end of the tiny vessel. Jose injected Alex's arm with a dose. They would return Alex to the city, and he would never be the wiser.

 

**************

 

Alex woke up lying on a park bench near the water. He lifted his head slowly to see two policemen walking toward him. As Alex straightened up, he realized how sore his arm was, but it became the least of his worries. He tried to explain what had happened to him and the police told him they had heard much better stories from other vagrants who slept overnight on the beach. They insisted Alex move on. Alex realized he wasn’t too far from the fish market and headed toward it.

He tried to explain to his boss what had happened. The boss was as incredulous as the police had been. However, Alex was an excellent employee so far, and the boss let it go as poor judgment. He had only been gone for two hours. Time enough his boss thought to fool around with some young lady. Although it seemed pretty early in the morning for an encounter the boss considered Alex's looks and chuckled to himself, "If only to young again," he said. "OK, now get to work," he finished.

Alex just tried to remove it all from his mind. As he got back to work, the upcoming beach parties overcame the thoughts of how strange the day had started out. He absentmindedly rubbed his arm as he continued hosing down the cement.

 

**************

 

Jose justified to himself all that had transpired. He also had misgivings about the timing. He had thought this would be too late in the year. He thought this would not be very effective. But, in Pakistan, it had all been explained to him in straightforward terms.

The American culture, complacency, religion, and vanity would all blend to lead to the infidel’s demise. The virus, carried by the victim, would be transmitted by the satanic lifestyle that approached. This decadent “spring break” as it was called would be the beginning. Yes, it was late in the flu season and contamination would slow down, but it would return in the winter. The infidels would think their agencies had cried wolf and when the infections started up again during the next flu season, they would be ignored. Then it would be too late. Their vanity would keep them from wearing masks, and their religions would keep them shaking unwashed hands and drinking wine from the same cup. They would gather in groups and party and exchange body fluids because they have no control. Jose thought about the small part their cell had played in the holy jihad and smiled to himself as he drove home.

 

************

 

A few days later Alex headed down to the beach. It was warm, the sky was blue, and the first of the college students had arrived. He saw the first two girls; their bikinis were so small he wondered why they wore them at all. He waved at them, and they immediately changed direction and headed straight for him. He knew this was going to be a great week. He thought he was getting a little case of the sniffles, but at least his arm didn’t hurt anymore.

The End


© Copyright 2017 J. J. Smiley. All rights reserved.

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