It is Friday, sometime after six in the evening, though how much farther I could not say. An object, heavy, cylindrical, and cold, is pressed up against the back of my head; I can see it, in the reflection of the metal utility cart in front of me, to be a gun.
It is a pistol, that much is clear, but the specifics of its type are beyond me. I am merely a fiction writer; these types of things barely interest me if at all.
I've been put in an oversized garage. The prodigious room is tall enough to create a mild reverberation. The windows on the walls and doors have been covered with black tarps adhered with duct tape.
The man holding the gun is concealing his identity with a ski mask. It is comically pink. His partner is behind him, turned around with his head in his hands and wearing the same mask. The man sinks his face deeper into his hands insofar as his elbows are being supported by his upper chest. From him comes a deep groan, not one of judgement or anger, as one would expect from men holding you at gunpoint, but one of depression. This piques a curiosity in me, for what could this man be so sad about? He's got his hostage; what more could he want?
I plead for the sunken man to tell me his feelings: “What seems to be the problem?”
The man with the gun, the man I was not talking to, interrupts, “Shut up, dipshit. You know what the problem is.”
I am confused by this statement, for I do not know what the problem is. I don't know why he would assume this, because neither of the men have ever talked to me before this—not one word since they invaded my home, shoved the bag over my head, and drove me to this mysterious place.
I realize now that you, dear reader, must be vastly puzzled as to how I am writing these words while I am allegedly threatened with a firearm. I shall tell you, but it may seem bizarre. The men have not bothered to tie me down in any way; my arms and legs are completely free-moving in all six degrees.
I am not completely sure as to why they chose to allow their hostage freedom of movement, but I can make no complaints. They even carried with them my typewriter, which sits on the aforementioned utility cart where I am able to compose this passage—though I would have preferred my trusty fountain-pen and ink. (Yes, I am one of those old-fashioned folks.)
Of course, I am completely terrified to stand, for surely they would shoot me in an instant; therefore I sit here, on this metal chair padded with peeling leather, writing for you.
The true motive of these men continues to perplex me. I have committed no crimes. The worst sin I have ever committed was in eighth grade when I didn't finish the last problem on the algebra homework. I must ask another question, though now in a slight fear for my life after being sworn at.
“Gentlemen, why are you doing this?”
“You really are an idiot,” says the gunman.
Behind him his partner begins to weep. Through tears, he mutters, “I thought I liked you.”
I say, “Men, I really...I really am confused as to why you are keeping me here.”
The gunman finally gives me a straightforward answer: “Your latest novel. It was completely horrible.”
“Oh. You are referring to Faltering Inexorably Towards Utter Devastation?”
“Yes. It was truly, truly horrendous. Sentences pages long, cliché character arcs, pretentious language. Your early works were so good...You're changing, Peck, you're changing.”
“It isn't the 1930s, Chase,” says the sad man. “You don't have to use semicolons so much.”
I cannot begin to fathom the comments these men are making; clearly they have mistaken me for some other author—for my works are the avant-garde pieces of literature we need nowadays, what with such pitifully boring novels of genre, adhering to tropes, made for profit!
“There it is,” the gunman says, looking over my shoulder. He lets out a sigh; it trickles down my neck and gives me a violent shiver. “Here is what we are going to do. I'm going to hold this gun at your head here until you write us a full novel. I shouldn't see any stupid semicolons or confusing vocabulary, do you hear?”
I shiver again and nod.
“Okay. Make it a good story.”
The partner somberly walks over to the cart and says, “Restore my faith in you. Let me take this paper—