“Have a seat on the red park bench and wait for further instructions,” the voice on the phone told Joshua.
Dr. Joshua Parker, famed neurosurgeon took a seat, setting down the heavy brown satchel. His hand trembled slightly, a condition to which he was not accustomed.
A scruffy man in his late 40’s wearing a brown overcoat approached and sat beside Joshua, never once meeting his gaze.
“Is it all there?” the man asked quietly.
“Yes, yes, I did as you asked. A quarter of a million in smaller bills. Now please…” Joshua pleaded. “…Where is my son?”
“All in good time, doctor,” said the man. He reached down for the handle of the bag. As he did so, Joshua uncapped the needle on the syringe he had concealed in his right hand. More than any other time in his life, he prayed for steadiness.
In one swift stroke, he jammed the needle deep into the man’s leg and pushed the plunger. The man jerked back in surprise and pain.
“What the hell did you just do?” he cried, eyes wide.
Joshua bared his teeth as he responded. “That was fifty milligrams of Fierce snake venom,” he began. “Ever heard of it?”
“Wha…” began the man, holding his leg. He’d forgotten all about the ransom money.
“It contains both neuro and hemotoxins and is the most toxic venom in the world. Based on the dosage I just administered directly into your quadricep, I estimate you have about an hour before paralysis sets in and you begin to bleed from your eyes. You won’t be able to move, but the pain will be intense. You’ll be dead within two hours… unless of course…”
“Unless what?” cried the man frantically.
“Unless I tell you where I hid the anti-venom,” Joshua replied. “Now, where’s my son?”
The man stared at Joshua blankly.
“Come now, every second counts,” replied the surgeon.
“How do I know you’ll keep your end of the bargain if I tell you where to find him?” asked the man.
“You don’t, but do you have a choice?” asked Joshua
“A dark blue Ford SUV…” began the man. “Parked around the corner about a hundred yards from here.”
“Wait,” cried the man. “The anti-venom?”
“Stay seated on the bench and wait for further instructions,” he said over his shoulder.
Ten minutes later Joshua drove from the park with his son sitting next to him. The man on the red bench waited for nearly two hours for a call that never came.
[This is my entry this week into the Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers challenge. A photo prompt is given and writers are encouraged to create a short story of 100 – 150 words, + or – 25 words. I went well over the word limit this week, so again, my apologies, but I hope the story was worth it.
My description of the symptoms and timing of the onset of the venom may be off a bit, but Fierce snake venom does contain both neurotoxins as well as hemotoxins and death would be pretty awful from this snake bite. I also didn’t reveal the setting of this story, but it most likely took place in Melbourne, Australia as the Fierce snake is only found on that continent and the anti-venom is manufactured there.]