Brief flashes of consciousness.
What the -- Where am I?
He awakens to find himself seated on a metal folding chair in a dark room, lit only by the moonlight seeping through the blinds which have been hurriedly draped across the sole window in the room. A beam fires through the dust and hits the floor to collect in a puddle of soft, bluish light. Any color in the room has been muted by the dark.
What the hell? I can't move.
His arms are bound behind his back, and each of his ankles is tied to a leg of the chair. The ropes are loose enough not to hurt, but tight enough to keep him immobilized. A clock hangs on the wall - 6:17. The second hand holds its position, the last tick on a long dead battery.
Eyes begin to focus.
There is a small table by the door, across the room. On top is a crescent-shaped lamp, the lampshade and bulb both absent.
A door! There's a door!
Bright, yellow light seeps in from the crack at the bottom of the door, fading quickly as it becomes enveloped by the darkness of the room. Dark forms shuffle across the length of the streak of light, dancing shadows across the floor in front of the door. Muffled voices converse with one another on the other side.
I'm not alone here.
With his fingers, he manages to grab one of the rope ends which has bound his hands together. A series of gentle tugs releases the knot and the rope falls to the floor with a silent "thwap".
He quickly bends forward, and unties the ropes which hold his legs to the chair. He flings the ropes across the room and surveys the surroundings in more detail. He silently walks to the table on which the crescent lamp is seated, and discovers a book.
Dusty. I can't read the title.
He moves closer to the window, and blows the dust off the cover. The book has a bumpy, maroon-colored cover with the title "Lama Glama" imprinted with gold lettering. No author is identified. He flips through the pages, but the print is small and difficult to read in the dim light. He places the book back on the table, and ponders.
The doorknob turns.
He runs behind the area for which the door uses to swing in, and prepares for what may enter. The door opens, flooding the room with the light from the next. Two men enter, notice the empty chair, and begin scrambling about the room. A scuffle ensues, and the two men overpower the prisoner, albeit with extreme difficulty. They hold him steady, and another man walks in. He exhibits a calm demeanor, his face shrouded by a veil of cigarette smoke.
He walks confidently over to the prisoner.
"We know what it is you are doing. It is unacceptable."
The prisoner laughs.
"Sit him down."
The captors bring the man back to the chair, and firmly set him down. The third man strolls in front of the chair, and kneels on the floor.
"The name's John. Cigarette?"
"Chris. Thanks, I don't smoke."
"Ah, Chris. Pleasure to meet you. Lou, Phil, you may leave."
The two men give John a questionable glance, then eachother, and they reluctantly walk out of the room. They are unsure of John's ability to defend himself against this prisoner, as he has already proven himself to be a worthy competitor. Their walk suggests they'd rather remain present, yet exhibits their loyalty to do as ordered.
"Tell me, Chris. What do you know about........Llamas?"
Chris visibly stiffens. He takes a deep breath, and begins.
"Llamas, or their scientific name Lama Glama are domesticated mammals, related to the Camel. They have an average weight of between 113 and 250 kilograms, an average respiration rate of 10-30 respirations per minute, and an average heart rate of 60-90 beats per minute. Their body temperature..."
"That's enough. Very impressive. Now, can you tell me why you have three llamas in your house?"
Chris pauses, eyes his interrogater firmly, and simply says "Friends."
"Friends! Ah. I see."
John rises to his feet, and begins to pace the room. "Are they....special friends?"
Chris snaps to a stand, infuriated.
"Relax, Chris. We've been watching you. We know you're not doing any sick shit with these animals."
Chris relaxes a bit, and retakes his seat.
"You see, we are interested in your.....llama trading habits. In the past several weeks, we have received information leading us to believe that you not only take llamas as friends, but you are smuggling them."
Chris eyes the room. "You're right. I'm smuggling llamas."
Chris takes another deep breath. "You see, this story wasn't originally supposed to be about llamas at all! I was going to write something involving Mr. T and him pitying some fool, but it just didn't work out. So I was talking to a llama supplier, name of Void_Ptr, and she suggested I, you know, get in the business. She was very insistent, so I agreed. That's how the whole thing got started. So I decided to change the entire story to reflect that."
John walks quickly over to where Chris is seated. "You bastard! There aren't enough llamas on this planet for you to be casually smuggling them in a half-assed story! Do you know what you're doing?"
Chris stands, and meets John's eyes with his own. "Of course I know what I'm doing. And judging by the book I found on the table over there, I'd assume you're the one who is a bit uneducated on the subject."
It is now John's turn to be visibly unnerved.
"So I'm not as informed as you regarding llama trade. What of it?!"
"I'll tell you 'what of it.' You're planning to get in the business for yourself, and you don't know the first thing about it! So rather than try some attempt at education regarding llamas, trade agreements, and sources, you decide to abduct the foremost llama smuggler this side of the globe. Sure, you bought a book on llamas, but that 250 page piece of shit sitting on that table over there can't compensate for the years of experience I have under my belt."
John breaks a sweat. "I...I..."
"Not only that, you don't even try to establish trade negotiations with me! You simply decided it necessary to put me out, tie me to a chair, and attempt to pry your way into my llama-lines. Well I'll tell you, friend, it doesn't work that way. I have a lot of friends. Powerful friends, all involved with llama trade routes across the planet. If a significant link were to simply drop off their radar, I think they would want to know why. And when they start looking for the problem, they will find it."
John is floored. "This...This wasn't supposed to backfire like this. I swear, this wasn't supposed to happen. You've got to understand, llama trading is a lucrative business! You're the best! We have to know what you know."
Chris walks over to the table, leans back against it, and eyes John.
"Please." John's voice trails off.
"I'm afraid you won't be able to join my trade. I work alone. However, I may be able to set you up with someone I know in South America. He has a fairly successful, albeit small llama repository. He can help you get started. By no means is he any threat to my business, but if you want to start trading llamas, it's a good place to start. Plus, you'll be in South America. I don't have to worry about your feeble kidnapping attempts."
"That would be great! But...How much do you get out of it?"
"I want a 45% cut of all of your sales over the next 3 years. In exchange, I'll drop an occasional tip that may or may not benefit you. If this is acceptable, I could.....forget this incident, and not call the authorities. Or my friends."
"I don't have much of a choice, do I?"
"Afraid not, John."
John eyes Chris, and weighs his options. "Deal. I'll drive you back to your home, and you can fill me in on the way."
"I've got a better idea. I'll call for a ride and fill you in when they get here. You just tried to abduct me. I'm not going to start trusting you enough to give me a lift to my house."
"Agreed." John hands Chris a legal pad, a pen, and a cell phone. He then leaves the room. John has learned a valuable lesson.
The llama laughs last, for they are not an animal to be trifled with, nor are their traders.