The Cadillac Diaries: Episode 58

Hooper walked to the edge of the platform and peered over the side. The floor below was a foot deep in water with frayed heavy-duty electrical cables stretched across. As electricity filled the air, the floor popped and crackled.

Studying the construction of bar and ropes, Hooper saw that it was indeed the only way across to the other platform. The recording had said that each rope could hold only one person, that someone would have to stay behind. Just as Hooper began a scan of the walls hoping to discover some way to shut off the electricity, Crystal frantically yelled,

“Hooper!”

He whirled around and saw Lena rapidly advancing toward him with her hands up, intent on pushing him off the platform while his back had been turned. He quickly took a few steps forward and grabbed her wrists. As the two struggled, Lena snarled,

“Just give up, Hooper! You’re not getting out of this!”

Hooper braced his foot on the platform and pushed back with all his strength. Lena was a strong woman, but Hooper had pinned criminals a lot stronger. He shoved her back and said,

“Lena, listen! This isn’t the way. We can get out alive if we just help each other.”

“Stop your whining. Do you really think he’s going to let any of us live? King wouldn’t allow such weakness and—”

Suddenly Lena’s eyes went wide with surprise. Her lips were moving but no sound came out. When she turned around to face Crystal, Hooper saw a ballpoint pen sticking out of the base of her neck. As she groped at the pen trying to dislodge it, her knees buckled and she fell to the floor.

“Crystal?” Hooper asked.

Shocked at what she had done, Crystal gave no answer. She stood frozen to the spot, staring down at Lena’s dead body. Hooper reached out and touched her arms.

“Crystal?” he repeated.

When she looked up, her face held no expression.

“Crystal!” he said louder.

“I never killed anyone before,” she mumbled.

“I know. I know. It’s okay. But we’ve still got to get out of here alive. Don’t worry. I’ll protect you,” he comforted.

“Promise?” she asked, her voice trembling.

Hooper smiled and lightly patted her shoulder.

“Of course.”

Together they grabbed the ropes and swung across to the other side. As soon as each one landed on the opposite platform, the ropes disconnected from the bar in the ceiling and fell into the water.

The door opened and just as Hooper stepped forward to go through, Crystal grabbed his hand. He turned around to meet her eyes.

She smiled shyly then looked away.

Hooper returned the smile and suggested,

“How about after this we go for coffee?”

“I’d like that,” she said softly.

When they entered the final room, they saw a clown doll holding a knife with a 4-inch blade.

In a childlike voice it said,

“Only two left. Well that’s a shame.

I’ll miss our tawdry little game.

Two left with one knife. This should be a breeze.

One lives, one dies. All dead; one leaves.”

Checking to see that Crystal was safely behind him, Hooper looked around the room for the camera. Once he spotted it, he said defiantly,

“You’ve lost. Everyone else may be dead, but we’re not going to play your game. You’re nothing but a coward hiding behind glass and letting others dirty their hands instead of just doing it yourse—”

He was cut off by the gunshot. Stunned, he looked down at his sternum to see blood soaking into his suit from the bullet hole. Slowly turning around, he looked at Crystal in amazement and confusion. The shy, doe-eyed girl had disappeared, and in her place stood a confident, smirking woman holding a pistol. As if in a fog, Hooper remembered Lena claiming that one of them had a gun.

“I have to thank you,” Crystal boasted. “I knew I’d never survive the others. But the big strong policeman, well I knew he’d protect me.”

Without taking her eyes off Hooper, she threw the gun aside as though it were a used paper cup.

“Lena was right. I found the gun, but I knew I had to wait for the right moment. All I had to do was sit back and let you people kill each other.”

She drew close to Hooper and kissed him on the lips.

“Thanks,” she purred. “This was fun.”

Smiling at the camera, she pointed toward the door. When it opened, she walked out without looking back at a dying Hooper.

 

 

*          *            *

 

 

Captain Bonkers stared off into space as his mind filled with haunting voices from the past.

“Dad!” a boy yelled.

“It’s time for bed, son,” the father called back.

“Come on, Dad. One story,” the boy pleaded.

There was silence as the father considered the hopeful boy’s request.

“All right. But only one. And only because your mom’s visiting Grandma tonight.”

Already in his bedclothes and slippers, the father shuffled into his boy’s room and stopped a moment to notice all the posters, action figures and bed linens of a common theme—Captain Bonkers, his boy’s favorite hero.

“What story do you want to hear?” the father asked, knowing what the answer would be.

“Captain Bonkers!” the child exclaimed.

“Him again?” the father lovingly mocked.

Slipping out from under the covers, the boy stood proudly in his bed. Clad in Captain Bonkers pajamas, he held up his hand and recited his hero’s credo:

“Like the creeping hand of time,

You will answer for your crime.

You’ll barter, you’ll beg,

You’ll fry like an egg

Before I finish my rhyme.”

“You goof,” the father laughed at the nonsense. “Which Captain Bonkers story?”

The boy dropped and dove back under the covers.

“Captain Bonkers and The Zombie Princess,” he requested, a glow on his face.

The father looked at his son and said,

“Mom said you’re not to read that one, son. It’s darker than the other stories, and it will give you nightmares.”

When the boy’s smile faded, it pained the father.

“It’s the last time anyone ever hears of Captain Bonkers. He’s angry and he returns to help a girl escape zombies. I already know all about zombies, Dad. I won’t have nightmares,” the boy promised.

“Sorry, son. I promised your mother I wouldn’t read that one. . .” the father began.

The boy’s face filled with disappointment, breaking the father’s heart.

“. . .so, you’d better not tell Mom I read it anyway.”

The boy looked up with a wide grin and pulled the quilt up. Poking his head out from under the quilt, he announced,

“Ready, Dad.”

Just then the alert of a text message coming in pulled Captain Bonkers from the past, chasing away the voices.

Opening his phone, he saw two words:

“It’s time.”

 

 

*          *            *

 

 

Very pleased with herself, Crystal made her way down the hallway. At the end, she saw a door ajar, opening onto a parking lot. When she stepped outside the building, she saw that she was in the warehouse district, down by the docks. Scanning the parking lot, she spotted a pick up truck with its door hanging open. She smiled and strutted over.

As she slipped into the truck, careful not to tear her pantyhose, she closed the door and adjusted the rearview mirror to check her makeup. Displeased with what he saw, she resolved not to look at any reflective surfaces till she got home and took a shower. When she brought her hand up to the ignition, she discovered that there was no key. She checked under the visor, on the passenger seat and in the glove compartment. When she slammed the glove compartment shut in exasperation, she spotted the keys on the passenger side floorboard. Stretching across, she bent down and grabbed the keys then jammed the key into the ignition. Just as she turned to stretch the seat belt across, she noticed someone outside the window wearing a clown mask and a top hat. When she saw that he held a pistol pointed at her head, she opened her mouth to scream. But before a sound could escape, the gunshot shattered the glass and drove her into a deep darkness.

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