I shifted my carry-on vintage briefcase to the other hand as I sped through the terminal of the Denver airport. At two am in the morning there were hardly any people there, aside from a few fatigued looking air hostesses huddled together with their comfortable shoes and patterned ascots rolling their practical carry-on suitcases behind them, and a few bleary-eyed business men with backpacks trying to get out of the terminal as quickly as possible. No one looked suspicious or too terribly interested in me.
I tugged on the Peter Pan collar of my blouse underneath my violet peacoat. My heart was racing, and the blood pounding through my body made me uncomfortably warm despite it being January.
Just breathe. Relax. He couldn't have followed you here.
I reached into the pocket of my coat and pulled out my cell phone, turning it off of airplane mode. My phone buzzed immediately in my hand at the 3 hour late text notification from Dr. Carlson saying to call him when I landed in Denver. I had a 10 hour layover period until my connecting flight to Seattle. All I wanted was to find a hotel as quickly as possible and sleep within the confines of a securely locked room. But it was because of Dr. Carlson she was able to get on the earliest flight as far away from Gotham as possible without the inconveniences of language barriers, foreign money, and my expired passport.
Clicking his number, I raised the smart-phone to my ear, making sure to keep trekking forward towards the exit of the airport. It was large, and if I didn't pay attention I would get lost. I didn't want to run the risk of having to speak to a stranger. As far as I knew, no one could be trusted.
After the second ring, the other line became active.
"Woodward?" The voice was urgent, but still sounded tired, as if Dr. Carlson had dozed off while waiting up for me to call him.
"Yes, I'm here in Denver," I replied promptly and quietly, darting my eyes around me. No one was following me. As far as I could see.
"Good. I called my friend, Dr. Laurel, a psychology professor as the University of Denver to pick you up. I just got off the phone with him. He said he would be there at the airport to pick you up and take you to a hotel in about...thirty minutes," Dr. Carlson said carefully, as if he was being watched or listened to. I imagined that he had to look at his Rollex watch to be certain of the time. "Just stay by the doors for Arrivals and by the desks where there are people. Make sure someone can always see you. He'll go up to the desk to have them make an announcement for a Miss Em. That will be him."
"I understand. Thank you, Dr. Carlson. For everything." My stomach lurched. This was for the best. If it hadn't been for him she would have gotten out of Gotham later than she should have. It probably would have been too late.
There was an uneasy silence and I could hear the blood pumping through my ears. I swallowed hard. "Dr. Carlson?" My voice shook.
"You don't think he would have been able to find out where I've gone so quickly and have gotten here before me right? That's nearly impossible...Right?" A slight ease came over me over the thought of a positive answer.
He didn't say anything for what seemed like too long. All I could hear was heavy breathing on the other line, the kind he did when he was thinking intensely about something, and when he was worried.
"I sure hope it's impossible, Woodward. Call me when you're in your hotel room. Lock the door with all the bolts, close the blinds."
I hadn't realized that my footfalls had slowed until I had completely stopped, my suitcase weighing my arm down until it ached.
"A-alright, Dr. Carlson. Thank you."
"Godspeed, Woodward." Then he hung up. I took a deep breath in, filling my lungs with cool ventilated air that smelled of coffee, sweat, and cheese bagel sandwiches. It made me realize that I hadn't eaten since yesterday morning. Before everything happened.
It would have to wait. I picked up my pace again, following the signs above me. I needed to get to the desks near the Arrival doors. Eating will happen in the morning when I got to the airport for my connecting flight. Maybe I'll even get that cheese bagel sandwich and a coffee. The thoughts comforted me. Only a little.
Only two minutes after getting off the phone with Dr. Carlson, I reached the desks near the doors leading outside to Denver, a handful of cars and taxis waited outside near the curb for their passengers. It was a pitch black night with bright lights looking out over the city. Whenever someone left through the sliding doors, a waft of thin icy air blew onto my face. Day old blackened snow had been piled up near the curbs to clear the roads.
The woman at the desk closest to me looked dead inside, occupied with something on her computer as a result of having nothing to do because of the lack of people in the airport. She had a plump and peachy face with her highlighted blonde hair tied behind her head in a French Twist. Her coral lipstick was fading after a long night at the desk. I wondered if she would do anything if something bad happened. I wished I could feel that relaxed right now. But it would be another 25 minutes until Dr. Laurel would arrive. I hoped he was rushing.
I pulled my peacoat collar closer around my throat, trying to keep the icy air out as a gentleman in a mended trench coat passed by me towards the sliding towards. He glanced at me briefly from above the bags underneath his eyes. I clenched my jaw, watching him suspiciously until he got into the backseat of a taxi and it drove off. I sighed, watching my breath puff out in front of my face first in a thin stream and then a thick cloud as it dissipated into the air again.
"A Miss Emily Woodward, please report to the Hertz Car Rental desk," a female voice on the intercom garbled out through the airport.
My heart skipped a beat. I looked around, not finding the desk that was mentioned. I turned, locking eyes briefly with the plump faced desk lady and she nodded off in the direction towards my left where the lines of car rental desks began before huffing out an annoyed sigh.
I mumbled an inaudible thank you and took off towards the row of rental car desks. I finally spotted the bright black and yellow Hertz sign and jogged to it, trying not to trip in my brown Oxford heels.
I was nearly out of breath when I reached it after lugging along my suitcase and the hefty leather backpack on my back. Even now I still don't think I packed enough books.
"Um...I'm Miss Emily Woodward. You asked me to come here?" I gasped, trying to fix my bangs that had fallen into my eyes.
This desk worker looked even more miserable than the last. She was about my mother's age with gray streaks through her dark brown hair, and make up trying to hide the deepening wrinkles on her face.
She glanced up at me, then back down at her computer. "The black car through those doors ahead. They said you called for them to pick you up."
I turned and barely saw the black car through the sliding doors leading to the pickup curb. It blended in with the tinted glass and the black night outside. It was rather early for Dr. Carlson's friend to be here already. I did hope he would rush.
"Thank you," I muttered, gathering myself and heading towards the doors.
When I finally reached the outside, the freezing air blew on my legs, guarded only by the black tights I was wearing. The car sitting in park in front of me was posh and waxed to a sheen that reflected the lights of the airport and the snow. It almost seemed too nice for a psychology professor. I felt the heaviness of sleep begin to form behind my eyes, making my lids droop slightly. What does it matter what kind of car a psychology professor has? As long as he was here.
The passenger door opened and a tall man stepped out and peered at me as he stood. My stomach lurched.
"D-Dr. Laurel?" I stuttered.
"That's right," the tall man replied briskly. As he walked around the car towards me, my stomach flipped and ached even more. He was huge even closer. He wore a dark suit, completely black, clean cut, with a chain and a gold watch around his thick wrist. Something didn't seem right.
I glanced around and saw that no more cars were waiting, at least close enough to for them to notice something. I looked back into the airport and saw that the woman at the Hertz Car Rental desk was preoccupied with her phone.
I thought I saw movement in the car, in the driver's seat, but the windows were too tinted to see anything clearly. It was all a fuzzy shadow.
I clutched my suitcase in my hand tighter, my knuckles turning white. He snatched it from me and in two long strides he reached the trunk where he threw it in. My breathing had grown heavier. He opened the door to the back of the car, revealing expensive black leather seats.
"Get in," he ordered. His voice was so deep and threatening that I almost complied right then and there for fear of him stepping on me or assaulting me.
I chewed on me lip and furrowed my brow, taking a hesitant step back, almost tripping on my shoes.
"Wh-who's in the driver's seat?" I asked.
"The driver," the tall man replied frankly, taking a step toward me.
"Dr. Carlson didn't say that you would be bringing anyone else with you. I'm sure he told you the importance of this-"
"I said get in!" He barked. The snap was so loud it made me jump nearly ten feet in the air. My head tilted back to look at his 6'5 form looking down at my 5'1 stature as I inched towards the car. I reached slowly into my peacoat pocket for my phone, ready to bolt and run back inside the airport and call 911.
I was suddenly whisked off my feet as the man grabbed my arm and shoved me into the backseat of the car. My hand was ripped from my pocket and I dropped my phone. It hit the door of the car and landed on the curb.
The car door slammed and I tried to reach for the other side to escape when I felt a hand grab my arm. My vision was blurred with lights reflecting off black leather as my glasses slid off my nose. I managed to look up and focus my sight clearly on one face, pale as death and painted with makeup and grinning at me with glittering silver teeth guards, turned to me from the drivers seat.
I tried to scream but was silenced when I felt a hand clamp tightly over my mouth. He tugged me towards him, his fingers digging into my face. It was then that I saw the needle in his hand. My hands gripped the edges of the driver's and passenger's seat, trying to tug myself away from him. He only tightened his grip on my face, causing my back teeth to cut into my mouth, tasting blood, as I tried to wriggle free. My screams came out muffled until I felt a pinch in my neck. My eyesight blurred even more and all I could see were the abstract fuzzy shapes of bright green, red, black, and white.
"Did you miss me, Babydoll?" He growled, the grin still wide on his face. "Ha ha ha ha..."
I fell into enveloping darkness.
I'm gonna give this a shot. I hope you like it :) Please leave a comment, favorite and follow!