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The Kidnappers

The Kidnappers

Ryan Bradford

Pretty sure the knife actually had peanut butter on it before he started.

Pretty sure the waterboarding tasted like bubble bath.

It’s actually kind of embarrassing how easy it was for him to get me. 

Just one of those days, you know?

Low energy, low self­-esteem. 

One of my low days, I call them.

Imagine me explaining low days to the other captives, fishing for sympathy. Imagine the shackles cutting into our wrists and I’m talking about sadness to these people, some of whom are corpses. 

I first suspected the guy was two kids because of the way he would loudly announce "GO!" and "BRAKE!" while driving the van. 

I played cool when we stopped at a convenience store. He told me to buy beer and nudie mags. 

“The kind with the big boobies,” he said. 

I’m glad I did it. Another other guy in here refused and now he doesn’t have thumbs.

Imagine me explaining low days to the other captives, fishing for sympathy.

He took me to an abandoned warehouse in the outskirts of town. By the time we got there, I was carsick from the herky-jerky ride, but felt happier because at one point we got lost and I showed the difference between left and right by presenting my outstretched hands and the “L” my left made. He thought that was dope. 

We're locked in a circular room. Not tall enough to stand, so we kneel. Our knees press into the stone floor and you can almost hear the small crack of capillaries breaking. 

“These bruises be dope, right?” 

“Shut up, mister,” he said. 

He draws blood with safety scissors. 

He seals our urethras with Elmer’s Glue.

He made me buy more beer for him by holding up a picture of my mom. He took a sip and said “yuck.” 

He put the can to his belly, tipped it, and the belly said “yuck” too. He giggled, hiccupped, stumbled. One of the other captives saw the opportunity and made a run for it. After what we’ve all gone through together: total dick move. I chased him down.

Now the guy’s head rests, detached, in the center of our dungeon as a reminder of what happens when we're not cool.  

"Not cool, bro," I say

“Shut up, mister, and press the button.” 

I press it. The lights dim. A woman’s scream echoes through the halls. I hold my thumb against the button. 

At least these kids will know how cool I can be.


Ryan Bradford is the author of the novel Horror Business, as well as the founder and editor of Black Candies, a journal of literary darkness. His writing has appeared in Quarterly West, Vice, Monkeybicycle, Hobart, New Dead Families, and [PANK]

Illustration by Meghan Murphy.


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