You could tell it was a Friday Night at the ramen shop. Large groups of people in their business attire talked and laughed loudly. The alcohol was flowing freely. Mabel sat with her husband Karl at a smaller table next to the window. They’d just ordered a miso ramen.
The couple was sitting quietly, not really paying attention to the people around them. They were content just being with each other. Mabel’s husband was holding her hand under the table. Suddenly, Mabel’s phone rang. She quickly pulled it out and saw it was an unknown number.
“Hello?” she answered.
“Hello Mabel, how’s the food over there? I see you have a nice view from the restaurant?”
Mabel didn’t recognise the nasal sounding voice on the other end.
“Who the hell is this?”
“That’s not important right now Mabel. Not as important as the next things I’m going to tell you…” the voice said, demandingly.
Mabel felt a cold chill run down her spine.
“What do you want from me?” she asked, her voice trembling.
“I want you to slowly get up from your seat and walk to the lady’s toilet. In the first stall from the left there’s a package hidden inside the toilet tank. I want you to take it and then walk back to your seat.”
Mabel looked around the restaurant, her heart racing. She saw the people around her, some close by, some far away. But she didn’t see anybody who looked suspicious.
“How do I know this isn’t a trap?” she asked.
“You don’t. But if you want to find out what’s inside the package, you’ll do as I say.”
The voice was calm, but Mabel could sense the threat underneath.
“Okay,” she said softly. “I’m going to the restroom.”
Mabel got up from her seat and walked quickly towards the restroom sign. Her heart was pounding in her chest. She went into the ladies room and saw that there were three stalls. She walked to the one on the left and slowly lifted up the toilet seat. Inside, there was a small brown package taped to the bottom of the tank.
Mabel’s hands were shaking as she took the package and walked back to her seat. Karl was looking at her with concern.
“What’s wrong?” he asked. “Who was that on the phone?”
“I don’t know,” Mabel replied, her voice trembling. “But they know our location and they want us to open this package.”
Karl took the package from her and inspected it. There didn’t seem to be anything dangerous about it. He slowly opened it and gasped.
Inside, there was a human finger.
Karl turned pale. He knew that this was not a joke. Somebody was watching them and they wanted to send a message.
“We need to go to the police,” he said. “This is serious.”
Mabel’s phone rang again. It was the same unknown number.
“Did you like what was inside the package?” the voice asked.
“Who are you?” Mabel demanded. “What do you want from us?”
“All in good time, Mabel. For now, you’re going to do as I say. You’re going to take the finger and put it in your husband’s drink.”
Karl looked at her in horror. There was no way he was going to drink anything with a human finger in it.
“No,” he said firmly. “We’re not doing this.”
“You will do as I say,” the voice said, angrily. “Or else I’ll send somebody to hurt your family.”
Karl knew they were in trouble. He didn’t want to put his family in danger, so he reluctantly agreed. Mabel picked up the finger and dropped it into her husband’s drink. He took a sip and nearly vomited.
“Now, wasn’t that easy?” the voice said. “I’ll be in touch soon.”
The call ended and Mabel and Karl sat in shock.
To not arouse further suspicion Mabel quickly put the finger back in the package and under the table. A waiter came over with their miso ramen order.
“Is everything okay?” the waiter asked.
“Yes, everything’s fine,” Mabel replied, trying to keep her composure.
The waiter walked away and Mabel and her husband stared at each other in disbelief. They were both too nauseous to eat any food right now, but still tried to down a few bites.
After a few minutes, Mabel’s phone rang again.
“I told you I’d be in touch,” the voice said. “You’re doing a great job so far, but I need you to do one more thing.”
“What is it?” Mabel asked, her voice shaking.
“You’re going to pay for your food and walk slowly out of the restaurant. Outside, there will be a black car parked in front of the entrance. I want you to get inside and wait for further instructions.”
“And if we don’t do what you say?” Mabel asked.
“Don’t test me, Mabel. You know what will happen if you don’t.”
The call ended and Karl grabbed her hand. He could see the fear in her eyes.
“We need to go,” he said urgently. “We can’t do what they want us to do.”
Mabel nodded, her mind racing. She grabbed the package with the finger and put it in her purse. The couple got up from their seats and quickly walked out of the restaurant. Outside, sure enough, there was a black car parked in front of the entrance.
Karl wanted to run away, but he knew that would only make things worse. He reluctantly agreed to get in the car.
The driver was a bulky man with shades on. He said nothing as he started the car and pulled away from the curb. Karl could see that there was a partition between the front and back seats. He couldn’t escape even if he wanted to.
The car drove for about half an hour before coming to a stop. The driver got out and opened the door for Mabel and her husband. He motioned for them to get out.
Mabel could see that they were in an industrial area. There were no people around and the only sound was the distant hum of traffic.
The driver led them to a small warehouse and opened the door. He motioned for them to go inside. A bright industrial light blinded them as they stepped inside.
As their eyes started to grow accustomed to their surroundings they could make out a small crowd of people awaiting them.
“Surprise!” the people said in unison.
Mabel and her husband were shocked. They recognised some of the people as co-workers, but couldn’t understand what was going on.
“What’s going on here?” Karl asked, confused.
“We wanted to throw you a surprise party!” one of the co-workers said. “Happy early retirement!”
Mabel and Karl were both speechless. They had no idea that their colleagues had been planning this for them.
“We wanted to thank you for all your hard work over the years,” another person said. “And we thought this would be a perfect way to do it.”
Mabel and Karl could see that all their colleagues had put a lot of effort into this party. There was a buffet of food and drinks, and a band was playing in the corner.
“We hope you enjoy your retirement,” somebody said. “You deserve it.”
Mabel and Karl were overwhelmed with emotions. They never expected anything like this. They thanked their colleagues and enjoyed the rest of the party.
Later that night, Mabel got a call from the unknown number again.
“I hope you enjoyed your party,” the voice said. “You deserved it after all your years of hard work.”
“Thank you,” Mabel replied, still in shock. “But I have to ask, who are you? How did you know about the party?”
“That’s not important right now,” the voice said. “What’s important is that you enjoy your retirement. You’ve earned it.”
The call ended and Mabel was left with more questions than answers. But she was just happy that she and her husband could enjoy their retirement without any worries.