Matthew J Croutch
Copyright 2021 All Rights Reserved
Never trust anyone with a gun to your head. Unless they are holding your five-year-old daughter hostage somewhere and that her life is in their hands. Then you have no choice. He did not know who his kidnappers were but he knew what they wanted. He had a unique talent that he had never wanted in the first place. He was one of a group of people that could astral project; their spirits could leave their bodies at will. When he left his physical body, he could travel wherever he wanted. However, he also had the unique ability to control a person’s brain; to the point of shutting it down and killing them.
Since his daughter was connected to an explosive device and he had no idea where they were holding her, he could not simply kill them. Should any of his kidnappers fail to check in on time, anyone of the remaining could detonate the bomb.
“Just tell me what you want. I just want my daughter back. I’ll do anything you want.” Frank appealed to them.
All three of the men in the room wore plastic wolf masks. The only way to distinguish between them was by the sound of their voices. The apparent leader knelt to meet Frank at eye level. “Good. I don’t like to make this harder than it needs to be. We know about your talent. We plan to use it to send a message to the world. You, there! Turn on the TV!”
The second man, who was larger, turned the TV on and then switched it to a news station while the third man stayed by the door, rolling a cigarette. On the TV there was a meeting at the UN where the President of the United States was meeting with the President of China. Frank’s heart sank. He guessed that he was going to have to assassinate one of them, but he was not sure which one.
“You see this meeting on TV?” The Leader once again spoke. “I want you to kill those two bastards in that room. Do you think you can do that, Frankie?”
“Are you out of your damn mind?” Frank yelled. “Do you want to start world war three? Besides, that takes a lot of energy. I could die trying.”
The Big Guy walked up to Frank and punched him. The Leader, and speaker, prevented his partner from speaking to Frank or hitting him further by shoving back, yelling, “Back off!”
“Frank, I want to make this clear to you. You don’t have a choice.” The Leader calmly said, “You’re going to kill whomever we tell you to; your daughter’s life is in our hands.”
Frank knew that he had no choice but to do this. He just wanted to go back to his apartment with his daughter. “You promise to release me and Rose when I do this.”
“Sure, Frankie.” The Leader cooed at Frank insincerely.
That was the answer Frank expected. While he didn’t like doing this, he knew he was never going to be caught. There was no way for any police force in the world to connect him to anyone he had killed. And what judge would believe this was possible? Frank had a plan to get out of this situation but it required him to do what his kidnappers asked first.
“Fine. I’ll do it.” Frank let out a sigh. “I need either a computer, tablet or a phone.”
The three men looked at each other dumbfounded. The Leader looked at Frank and asked, “Why do you need one of those things? You better not be doing anything funny. Remember, if I don’t check in with the guys holding your daughter every fifteen minutes, they set the timer for five minutes and run.”
“I need access to Google maps.” Frank replied. “I need to see the street view of the building to visualize where I’m going. Otherwise, we could be here for hours.”
The Smoker pulled out his phone and showed the image of the street view to Frank. This was good enough for him. Frank closed his eyes and meditated for a couple of minutes before his body went limp. He could now see the UN building in front of him. People were walking all around him but no one could see him.
While he didn’t need to take a deep breath in this form, he did anyway. It was relaxing. For the safety of his daughter, he would do anything; even kill. Who knows, maybe another world war would bring some good changes to the world. As he walked towards the building, he grew more nervous. He knew he could fly if he wanted to but walking made him feel more normal.
In this form it took him no time at all to find his target; closed doors were irrelevant. He just had to wait for the right moment. His targets were sitting in a private room negotiating a treaty. Just like he thought, they weren’t alone in the room. Secret Service agents from both countries surrounded their leaders. They wouldn’t be a problem for Frank. His problem was once he started to kill the targets; the guards would quickly escort the others out. While he could still kill his targets, it meant chasing them around the building.
Frank contemplated what he was about to do. He did not want to kill anyone, especially not world leaders. He wondered if he had another choice. What if he just reached inside his victim’s brain and put them in a coma? To the world, they would appear dead, at least briefly. He realized that if he did that, he would need to return to the building and deal with the kidnappers as fast as possible. He would need to be quick so that when the news reported the world leaders were not but only in a coma, the kidnappers would already be dealt with. He needed the kidnappers to think that the targets were dead for at least half an hour. But could he make that work?
Frank made his choice. He stepped behind the President of China. He would not kill anyone, but it would appear he had. He quickly moved his hand into the mind of the President and proceeded to disrupt the electrical current. The man began to stutter his words and sway in his chair before collapsing. The American agents moved closer to the President of the United States while the Chinese agents barked into their mics for medical assistance and then ordered the room cleared.
Frank was getting tired but that didn’t mean he was going to slow down. The American agents ushered the President out of the room. His next victim wouldn’t be able to get far. He walked through a wall to the hallway. He just needed a moment to gather energy. He let the group pass him and followed them. A couple agents stood between him and his last victim. None of this mattered.
The President was walking between the agents, each holding one of his arms. Good. He won’t fall and hurt himself. Only a second of hesitation went by before Frank acted on his plan. As his hand reached into the victim’s head, the President started to kneel over, causing the agents to grab him and lower him to the ground. They called for medical help over their mics. Frank knew that it was a matter of time before panic set in. Reporters would get wind as the ambulance arrived. What’s done, is done. With tensions high between the two countries, each one would blame the other. Hopefully a war between the US and China could be averted. He had to get back to his kidnappers. Fast.
As he headed back to his body, Frank went over his plan. He did not have long before the fall-out of his actions took effect. News travels quickly. He had to find out where Rose was and use his powers to convince the kidnapper watching her to release her. Unlike his targets before, Frank would have to be stealthier and faster. But he was growing tired. He was using up a lot of energy. As he returned to the place where the kidnappers were, he overheard a conversation.
“The news says there is chaos in China. The Presidents of China and the United States have been taken to the hospital. Do you think he actually did it?” The Smoker asked the Leader. “Paul, do you know what this means? We’re going to be rich!”
“Don’t use my name! He might be listening.” The Leader, Paul, snapped. “We got what we wanted. No one can pin those deaths on us. And when Frank comes back, he’s not going to kill us. If anyone of us dies, his daughter goes ka-boom. All we need to do is wait for the news to declare them dead and we will get our money. The Boss said so.”
The other two kidnappers looked at each other. The Smoker went out to the balcony, removing his mask, for a smoke. This was Frank’s chance to start picking off his kidnappers one by one. He had to be quick. He knew in total there were five men; three here and two holding his daughter hostage somewhere else. He had to find out where she was and how to disarm the bomb.
Frank followed the Smoker to the balcony. The man sat on a chair and pulled out a pack of cigarettes. Frank knew what he needed to do but once he started, he’d have fifteen minutes until the next phone check in; as long as he didn’t get caught. He waited for the man to get comfortable. Frank didn’t want any noise to tip off the other kidnappers. As he reached for the man’s head a sharp pain went up Frank’s arm. With his hand inside the man’s brain, he could quickly see the events of the last twenty-four hours through the eyes of this kidnapper. This man didn’t know anything worthwhile. Frank suspected Paul was the only one that had information but it was worth a look. Frank left him comatose.
As the man collapsed in his chair Frank moved back to the room. Paul was making the call to the men holding Rose. Good. Now he was sure he had exactly fifteen minutes. He had no choice but to wait for an opportunity. Whether it was fate or just a stroke of luck Paul left for the bathroom after his phone call, leaving the Big Guy vulnerable to Frank’s revenge.
Once again Frank reached into the man’s brain to scramble it. Frank knew this would cause a bit of a noise once the man fell to the floor. Hopefully, Paul wouldn’t hear this in the bathroom. Frank knew if he didn’t act quickly, Paul would realize that he was up to something.
His plan was proceeding perfectly. The man fell to the floor with a soft thud. Paul was still in the bathroom, blissfully ignorant. Frank needed to act quickly, time was short and he was growing very tired.
As Paul sat on the toilet, Frank took this opportunity to put his hand into Paul’s brain. Before he put Paul into a coma, he wanted answers. As he searched Paul’s memory, all Frank could learn was that Paul was hired long before twenty-four hours ago. Frank did not have time to learn much more from Paul’s consciousness as there were only about 8 minutes left to find Rose. Frank learned where Rose was; across town in a hotel. There was also the question about his kidnappers knowing about his powers. But he did not have time to ponder this question or search for the answer.
There were two more kidnappers to deal with across town. He’d have to save Rose, come back here to his body, and then get physically back across town to her. He just wanted to hold his daughter in his arms again. He flew to the hotel that his daughter was being held in. Only two men stood in the way of him holding his daughter again. Nothing would stop him now.
Frank was running out of energy. It used a lot of energy to do things in the astral realm. He knew he had to deal with the last two kidnappers quickly. As he approached the kidnapper by the door, Frank realized the guy was asleep. How could anyone sleep standing up? He didn’t know whether to be mad at this or have a chuckle. For some reason Frank was upset that a man could sleep at a time like this. The nerve of him!
Frank knew once he took the Sleeper out, the Last Man Standing would be the only one left who could disarm the bomb. Frank needed to know if the Sleeper knew how before killing the only man capable of disarming the bomb. He reached into the Sleeper’s head and searched his mind for any information about the kidnapping and the bomb. Finding nothing useful, Frank scrambled his mind and in seconds the kidnapper fell to the floor unconscious. With a soft thud, Frank heard the Last Man Standing speak a name that he couldn’t quite make out. There were now only 2 minutes left before the expected phone call and Frank didn’t know if the bomb would activate on its own.
Frank went into the room. The Last Man Standing was lying on the bed. Ironic. Then he saw his darling Rose. She sat tied to a chair with a bomb strapped to her chest; tears staining her little cheeks. Frank’s heart broke. Frank rushed to the kidnapper, searched his mind quickly and learned he could disarm the bomb. Frank tried something he’d hadn’t done since he was a boy. Instead of scrambling the guy’s mind, he convinced him to release Rose; to disarm the bomb. To his relief, it worked! The Last Man Standing got up and disarmed the bomb. Then he untied Rose. Frank dropped the man in a flash… a timer went off. But the bomb did not.
He has successfully incapacitated everyone who was holding him and his daughter hostage. All that remained was to get Rose to safety. He would use the same technique to get Rose somewhere safe. He gently put his hand in her mind and told her to go down to the lobby and ask the Doorman to keep her safe until daddy arrived. Then he fled back to his body, exhausted.
The TV was still on in the room where he was being held. The news broadcast was talking about how two world leaders were in a coma due to an unknown circumstance. Frank also heard that the doctors were baffled by the cause of the situation. At least they were not dead.
He had done this a couple of times before. Some of them were put into a coma but they usually recovered. The first few times he used his abilities as a teenager, he had killed the people that he was targeting. His skill improved as he practiced.
Frank returned to his body and headed across town in a taxi, getting much needed rest. It took twenty minutes to get to the hotel where he knew his daughter was waiting. There were no more threats in the way. As he entered the hotel, his daughter began to cry and ran into his arms. Frank embraced her.
“Daddy, I want to go home.” Rose cried.
“Rose, it’s going to be OK. I’m here.” Frank hoped that there would be nothing more in his way. He put her down and took her hand, walking to the door.
His plan was to walk out of this building and head to his parent’s cabin. There he would lay low until whoever hired the kidnappers revealed themselves. He knew his fight wasn’t over but he also knew that he would have to wait for them to come to him.
As he left the hotel, a surprise waited for Frank outside. Somehow the Leader, Paul, was standing and pointing a gun at Frank and Rose. How was this possible? Frank had scrambled Paul’s brain so he should be in a coma. None of this made sense.
“Surprised? While you can control minds, I can control bodies.” Paul asked. However, the voice coming from Paul’s body didn’t exactly match the voice he had heard earlier.
Something clicked inside Frank. That wasn’t Paul at all. Could this be the person who hired Paul and the other kidnappers? Frank needed to stop him now, no matter what. He had to protect Rose.
Frank launched out of his body and through the body of Paul. This knocked his foe out of Paul’s body. While both bodies fell to the ground and Rose shrieked, the two astral being grappled with each other. The battle raged, with no clear avenue to victory. A crowd gathered around the bodies. Sirens approached.
The battle could go on forever. But Rose was safe.