Get into the mystery and check out the awesome short story inspired by The Network. Written by Nicholas Mathes up and coming fiction writer. After checking out Secrets Stay Within try The Network Demo.
Secrets Stay Within
Steven Deccard knew instantly he was in trouble. His hands were bound behind his back, sweat dripped down his brow. His feet were handcuffed to the cold metal chair that served as his temporary abode. His world was black as pitch. Not a scrap of light found. He felt the brush of cotton upon the back of his neck when he turned his head.
He had been blacked bag, he thought to himself.
Remarkably, even for his unsettling situation he felt a strange aura of peace. Usually he would be panicking having to reach for his inhaler so his lungs can find purchase on oxygen. This happened often, usually in situations of confrontation or of overt sexuality. Truth be told, certain lingerie ads could send him running for his medication. At this, he tried to smile. But something prevented him from such a fundamental act. His cheeks felt tight and he suddenly realized that there was something wadded in his mouth. He probed it with his tongue and realized something that should have unnerved him.
He was gagged too.
He tried to remember how he got into this obscure situation but found his memory cloudy. With effort he carved a path through the murkiness but failed to gain significant ground. The only memories that he could patch together were flashes before his eyes. He remembered fear and something about a computer. Yes a computer, he was here because of a computer. He remembered running, running hard and fast and for a very long time. I made a phone call to someone while I was running, someone close to me, like mom or dad. No not them. They were separated and lived on opposite sides of the country.
I know I called someone but whom?
His sister! He called his sister! She would help him, she always helps him. Natalie that is who he called, but it wasn't her on the other line. It was a man, a man with a voice like thunder. Frightening but soothing. Then suddenly the aura of peace shattered and his memories welled up like a dammed river.
The man on the other line told me to stop running that I needed to give myself up or that Natalie would die. I told him not to hurt her that I would do what they wanted me to do. The man gave me an address. I ran there as fast as I could. He instructed me to go to the phone booth and call them when I arrived but I never made that call. There was a sharp pain in my neck when I reached for the door, I reacted and reached up to pull the intrusion away. I felt the back end of what I could only assume was a dart. Then my world faded into darkness.
Now I am here.
The panic began to set in. His heart started racing wildly. He struggled and fought against his restraints bucking wildly like a beast suddenly realized it was caged. The fetters bit into his wrists and ankles drawing warm crimson blood that ran down his fingers and toes. His breathing began to digress and soon he was wheezing through panic lungs. This was it. He would die not because of his kidnappers but because of his asthma. Really glorious, he thought to himself.
But suddenly, light exploded. He snapped his eyes shut, the searing glow burning his dilated pupils. His cheeks burned with pain as his gag was removed. He felt the familiar shape of an inhaler being shoved into his mouth. An unknown thumb pressed the plunger and instinctively Steven inhaled. His lungs began to let up their spasms as the thumb once again administered the medicine. Oxygen flowed into Steven's system and he began to think with more clarity and poise. Then a strong hand placed the gag back into his mouth.
He tried opening his eyes but the light was still too bright.
"Lower the lights." He heard a familiar voice say. The light that had been displaced by his transparent eyelids became less intense. He tried again and this time his eyes were able to stay open. Through squinted eyes he took stock of his surroundings. He was in a large abandoned warehouse. Gray floors and steel walls with windows set high into them encased the room. The lack of items in the warehouse was disturbing. It felt desolate almost ravaged.
With uncanny calm he felt two hands rest lightly on his shoulders. At first the contact startled him but the energy resonating from the unknown presence soothed him. The hands squeezed lightly projecting calm. Then the apparition spoke.
"Steven, are you feeling better?" came a voice that rolled like thunder.
Steven froze and felt bitter hatred bubble upward. The hands removed themselves and the figure came into sight. The man was massive. Like a walking mahogany door. He looked down at Steven and grinned. Steven tried to shout at the man demanding to know where his sister was, wanting to know if she was okay. But the gag filtered the sound into incoherent noise.
"Natalie is fine, I made sure that no one would hurt her. So just calm down and listen to me for a few minutes, okay Steven." The man sounded honest and reassuring. Steven glared an accusing glare but nodded his head in trepid understanding.
"Good," the man continued, "Now Steven, did you know that glass blowing used to be a sacred art. In fact, some glass blowers almost revered it as a religion. Devoting years and years of practice to perfecting the art, much like the ancient samurai and their skill with a blade."
Steven's anger transmuted into confusion, did this guy have to gag me to give me a history lesson? Then he remembered high school and that it actually might have been necessary. The man seemed to ignore Steven's confused expression and continued.
"Glass blowing has its roots in Venice. Which if you haven't been is a remarkable little town. These artists of old were renowned and sometimes regarded as magical. People saw them take a rigid and fragile object and mold it into something beautiful. The process and result was transcendent extending beyond themselves in to the supernatural. Naturally, like with all religious secrets, the glass blowing techniques were protected passionately."
Steven was still confused but at least this gargantuan man's story helped Steven get his current situation off of his mind.
"You see, not all Venetian glass blowers treated the art with the consideration that was expected. Some saw it as an opportunity to turn a profit. So under the cover of darkness certain glass blowers tried to leave Venice taking their techniques and knowledge with them. Now this is where the story gets interesting because Venetian glass blowers would be forced to take on a role they were not accustomed too. They would go into their work shops and make very long thin pieces of glass. Then they would leave to find those that defected from their organization. And with the care and precision that only glass blowers possess they would assassinate their wayward brethren. "
Steven's pulsed jumped. Now this story was beginning to make sense and fear encased his heart.
"The Venetian assassins would take these long pieces of glass and pierce upwards through their victim's bellies until they found the heart. Without mercy the assassins would puncture that vital organ causing their victims to bleed out within minutes. As shocking as this was we have yet we have yet to get to what is truly impressive. You see, the beautiful thing about their technique was that the glass rods were so thin that the skin actually covered the punctured wound only leaving a tiny speck of blood. To the world it looked like natural causes of death but the Venetian glass blowers knew the truth. In this way they protected their secrets for years."
The man paused and removed Steven's gag and produced the inhaler once again. Steven was looking pale and panicked.
"Why are you doing this to me?" Steven shouted.
"Come now Steven, you know what you did. You see, you took a job for us. And you learned some of our secrets. Then not only did you run away with our secrets you failed to complete the job at all!"
"What are you talking about; I have never even met you and certainly have never worked for you!"
"Not directly no but you were employed by us through, shall we say a third party mediator, It matched you to us because of your unique skill set. You failed to complete your task and now we are here."
Realization hit Steven like a truck. Two words came to the front of his mind that put all of the pieces together.
The man walked behind Steven for a few seconds then returned holding what looked like a quiver for arrows. Embroidered ornately on the quiver's front was the letter T. Reaching into the quiver the man removed a very thin shard of glass. He held it before him like a sword staring into Steven's eyes.
"I'm sorry Steven, but secrets must stay with in."
Two Weeks later: Page 4a: Local Newspaper
Steven William Deccard was found dead in his loft earlier last week. Initial reports suggest complete heart failure. However, police investigators are not ruling out suicide as Natalie Deccard, Steven's older sister was found dead several days prior in her Manhattan townhouse.
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