Sharon’s note: Sometimes you have to make a choice between something you want to do, and a friend. Sometimes you choose wrong. Warning: Bad things.
I was missing time from Friday night to Sunday morning. Ruben was missing an entire week, from Monday to Sunday. That wasn’t the only dissimilarity. People had seen him during his missing time, and had he only disappeared off the map since the same Friday night I had. While he had also had a headache Sunday and Monday, but no nose leech had appeared. The headache had gone away without incident.
He also didn’t have my phone.
“So why did you want to meet?” Katy wrinkled her nose. “You could have said told us over the phone that you had nothing to say. You had my number, and it would have saved everyone the drive.”
“Because I didn’t want to say anything over the phone, in case it wasn’t safe.” He leaned forward so he could lower his voice.
“What are you talking about?” Katy looked horrified. “God, you’re a conspiracy nut on top of everything else.”
I didn’t say anything, because as he mentioned things not being safe, my eyes happened to drift across the street. There was a black van with windows too dark to see through parked next to Katy’s car. It was the same one that had nearly hit us earlier.
I jumped when Ruben addressed me directly. “You see it, don’t you? The van? One’s been following me since Sunday. I’ll bet one’s been following you too. Something’s going on.”
“That’s ridiculous.” Katy scoffed. “There’s more than one black van in the city. You. Are. Crazy!”
Ruben shrugged. “Maybe, but there’s something going on.”
I spoke before Katy could. “I know. I . . . I’ve seen some things. What do you think we should do?”
A mischievous grin split Ruben’s face. “I have one more lead. A friend told me before I came here, that last Tuesday, during the time I’m missing, I went out of town to visit a guy. It had something to do with the legend I was researching.”
“What legend were you researching?” I leaned forward, eager to finally get somewhere.
“I don’t know.” He admitted. “Not only can I not remember, all my notes are missing. My computer turned into a brick and anything on paper is gone too.”
“This is nuts. You’re both crazy. There are no people in black vans running around, stealing stuff for your blog. You probably were just high off your ass, and gave whatever you had to Beth, so now neither of you remember. I am so done with this. Come on, Beth. We’re leaving.” Katy got to her feet and walked a good two yards before she realized I wasn’t following her. She said again, “Beth, come on.”
“Sorry.” I shook my head. “I’m staying to figure this out.”
Just staring at me for a moment, Katy seemed split, but I wasn’t surprised when she spun silently on her heel and walked away. We hadn’t been friends for months, after all. That was my fault. Too much partying, and a stupid night with her boyfriend that had cost her both of us. I’d never been anything but trouble to her. That was my fault too.
“So, what do we do?” I asked Ruben again, not having a right to the sinking feeling in my stomach as I watched over his shoulder.
Ruben replied, but I didn’t hear, because as Katy approached her car, the door of the black van started to open. The rolling side door was on the opposite side of the van from Katy’s car, so as she walked between, she wouldn’t have seen. An arm all in black reached out of the door and grabbed the top of the van. A second later a body was hauled up, looking like a zombie swat member as to crawled across the roof of the van.
“Hey, Ruben . . .” I began, interrupting whatever he was saying, but everything that happened next went so fast, I never found out what I was going to say next.
Another black form shot out of the passenger door of the van just as the first skittered across the roof like a lizard. The first grabbed Katy by the arm, and hauled her up and away, dragging her across the top of the van then inside in less than two seconds. The second form grabbed the keys from where Katy dropped them, and hopped into her car. Both vehicles peeled out, almost in sequence, and rushed away, tires screaming.
Shooting to my feet, I screamed, “Katy!”