Happy Birthday

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: August 10, 2018

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Submitted: August 10, 2018

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Happy Birthday

Bernard Walters was rich. He was an important person, someone that mattered. He might not be famous but he knew a lot of people that were. The area of finance was a mostly anonymous one and that was the area that Bernard worked in. ‘Worked’ in the loosest sense of the word – his position was senior, and most of his work revolved around entertainment of some sort.

Of course, all this entertaining had not been the best thing for his health. Bernard knew that he both drank too much and ate too much of the wrong food. He had gone up in clothes sizes three times in the last year. It hadn’t bothered him, he hadn’t cared – right up until two days ago when he had visited his doctor.

“You must go in for treatment straight away, Bernard. The test results are bad. Your heart could fail on you at any moment.”

Bernard had said fine, okay; but only after his sixty-fifth birthday. His wife Elaine knew nothing of his health problems. They had been married for ten years. She was fifteen years his junior and had kept herself in shape. Sometimes Bernard found himself worrying that she might be embarrassed by the way he had let himself go, but if she was she never showed it.

He would tell her tomorrow. Today was his birthday and they would celebrate, Bernard was sure; although it was strange how Elaine seemed to have forgotten all about it...

He made his way towards the Reserved parking spaces, where his brand new and rather large Mercedes waited for him. A van of some sort was approaching him, going way too fast, it’s brakes squealing as it took the corners.

“Hooligans,” Bernard muttered, then turned to climb in to his car.

The van stopped, doors swung open and Bernard suddenly found himself with his arms pinned behind his back, a bag being pulled over his head. He was about to shout, to call for help, when he felt what was almost certainly a gun being pushed hard in to his back.

“Don’t even think about it,” a voice instructed from behind.

“Just come along nicely, no struggle, no fuss, and everything will be fine.” Another voice, kinder. And yet, Bernard thought, the one who seemed the nicest was the one that sent chills racing down his spine.

Bernard felt himself being pushed into the back of a vehicle. He had been wrong; it was not a van but a car of some sort. Someone climbed in to the back and sat next to him, pushing the gun between his ribs. The engine started up and the car pulled away.

So he was being kidnapped; held to ransom. Why, on his birthday of all days? They were rich. Elaine would pay and he would be swiftly released, allowed home. The bag over his head was making it hard for Bernard to breathe through; he felt a tightness across his chest, down his arms. He needed to make himself calm down.

“Where....where are you taking me?” Bernard managed to ask. The act of speaking made him feel a bit calmer.

“You have an appointment,” answered the kinder of the voices.

“Someone wants to see you,” said another. “Someone who always gets their way.”

A third person, the driver Bernard presumed, sniggered from the front of the car.

Sent by someone lower down the corporate ladder, maybe, or a disgruntled client. Bernard was convinced that he had heard them before.

“Who....who are you?” he asked.

“You’ll find out soon enough. For now just keep your mouth shut and enjoy the ride.”

The car journey continued in silence, broken only by the occasional cough, the odd whisper too quiet for Bernard to understand. Perhaps someone would see him, a man sitting in the back seat of a car with a bag over his head. They’d report it and the police would rescue him. No, that was too obvious a risk; the vehicle must have blackened or reflective windows.

Bernard tried to ignore his increasing discomfort. He could feel his heart pounding and pounding, way too fast. He had to find a way of calming himself down. He had to get a grip.

Elaine would soon be missing him. She’d try to call his office, then his mobile. When she got no answer, no response at all, maybe she would phone the police. Then again, she was quite used to him returning home at all hours so that might not happen for quite some time.

The car was slowing, pulling to a stop. Bernard tried to ease the unpleasant tingling sensation that was dancing its way down his arms and legs. He tried to deepen his breathing which had got so shallow he was almost panting.

The door opened and Bernard was pulled from the car. He was pushed through a doorway, ushered down a hall. The floors, he noted, were carpeted so he had not been taken to a warehouse or something like that. Maybe there was some comfort to be gained from that but still Bernard found that he was unable to stop shaking, panting. He needed to breathe.

Bernard was lead through another door, into a room of more whispering, a shuffling of feet. He thought for a moment that he heard Elaine but he couldn’t have done – could he? His mind was playing tricks. There was a cold sweat breaking out on his forehead, on the back of his neck. The tightness was increasing and his heart was pounding.

Suddenly the bag was whipped off his head and Bernard found himself in a brightly lit room, with champagne and crystal and Elaine standing before him. Friends and family standing together, smiling and laughing.

“Surprise!” Elaine came forward, holding out her arms. “Happy Birthday, darling!”

Did she realize that something was wrong when Bernard opened his mouth to speak but did not make a sound? Or was it the discolouration of his skin as his heart pounded too fast before grinding to a halt? As Bernard clutched at his chest, dropped to the floor, the last thing he was to hear was his wife’s scream.

 

 

 


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