Ryan noticed that there was a lot going on in the world, that other people didn’t seem to see. Or perhaps they didn’t care? Whatever it was, it was like everyone else walked through the world with misted glasses. He didn’t think this was arrogance – he didn’t feel pride in this situation – he was just aware of it.
Ryan would be in a shop, talking to the clerk while the air in the room moved in waves. The surge of air from one part of the room to another looked like a flock of starlings just before they roost for the evening. The door opening would bring not just a physical reaction, but a visible one.
Similarly, he would smell the moods of people that he met. The smell would even change while he was in a conversation with a person. As a child, Ryan had assumed this was normal, but a few strange looks from others, and he had learned not to talk about it in public.
On a wintry morning in January, Ryan opened the front door of the hotel he was staying in, and walked onto the path outside which was covered in newly fallen snow. Along with the crunch of the snow compressing under his boots, Ryan could also hear the sound of the flakes of snow landing on his shoulder. The sight of wind was no advantage for Ryan today, as the floating snow showed everyone the gusts and eddies in a similar way.
He plodded down the path towards the parking lot, and then used his remote key fob to open the car’s trunk. As it swung open, he leaned in and grabbed the snow shovel, and swung around to start digging a path to the plowed part of the lot. As he did this, though, a large dark thing swung towards his head, and everything instantly turned to blackness.
With no idea how much time had passed, Ryan stirred and remembered what had happened. At first, he absentmindedly wondered what had happened to his snow shovel. But then his mind started to focus.
He was sat in pitch darkness on a concrete floor, with some sort of restraint attached to his hands, behind his back. He was leaning against a pipe. He wiggled his fingers. The pipe was rusty, and very dirty. The sound of dripping could be heard, and it was echoing when it landed, so this concrete floor was in an unfurnished room. He could smell the damp air of an underground room, or one that had had a leak for a long time. If he strained his ears, Ryan could hear the tones of human speech in a nearby room.
One of the people in the nearby room started to walk – Ryan could hear the footsteps. The footsteps grew louder, and then a door was opened, and then another door. Finally, the steps grew loud enough that Ryan knew they were approaching his location. As the sound of a door handle turning replaced the other sounds, an exceedingly bright shaft of light entered the room, and then widened as the light from the next room found a way into Ryan’s room.
The illumination bathed a damp, brick room in enough light that Ryan could see everything in the room. Pipes ran down the walls in one of the corners and there were odd brackets that appeared to have held something once before, but which were no longer required.
The person who had opened the door was wearing large workers boots, and cotton pants. Ryan’s gaze rose up the person’s body before he reached a ski-mask-covered head. He was broad chested, and stood confidently. Ryan could hear his breathing, which was not as confident as his posture. And what was that smell? It was not just the smell of dankness any more. There was also the smell of concern – angst, almost.
“Mr Jenks?” the ski-masked man asked.
“No.” Ryan answered. The smell of angst rose noticeably.
“Peter Jenks?” the ski-masked man asked, urgently.
“I’m afraid not” Ryan said, his voice relaxed. “As I am not the person you wanted to kidnap, and as I haven’t seen your face, any chance you could let me go?”
The smell of angst was replaced with the smell of inferiority. This man, Ryan realized, was not in charge of anything.
“Actually,” Ryan continued “as you’re not in charge, wanna just go and get your boss?”
The smell of inferiority was replaced with the stench of embarrassment and rage, and before Ryan had time to flinch, the large boot of the ski-masked man had hit him hard in the side of his left leg. The man then left the room, leaving the door behind him ajar. The smell of anger, angst, inferiority and regret went swishing away with him.
In his left leg, there was a throbbing and he could hear the blood pooling around the part of his jeans-covered leg that had been hit so unkindly. Ryan looked around the room again, hoping to see something he had missed previously. The gap in the door was letting warmer air into the room, and this was causing swirls in the air. The puddle in the far right corner of the room was rippling ever so slightly as a result.
The light coming through the door was bright – very bright – and this meant that Ryan could not see any details outside the room. But now, as he looked, he could hear the sound of the ski-masked man’s voice, and the sound of a woman. He could not hear their words, but he could hear irritation in her voice.
In very short time, the ski-masked man’s footsteps could be heard returning, and then, for a brief moment, Ryan could make out, and smell, a chloroform-soaked rag before it was placed over his face.