Mars had never taken a hostage before. A real one, anyone. Back when he was in high school he and a few of his friends took Jimmy Stamp captive for a few hours on his birthday just to bring him to a surprise party. Jimmy, always trying to prove himself as a martial arts expert, managed to knock Mars in the stomach pretty hard with a lucky punch while they were taking him before calming down and realizing what was really going on.
This was nothing like that.
Like Elizabeth suggested, Mars and Kaplan took the back roads at night through Louisiana, which limited the question of “why do you have two women with bruised noses tied up in the back seat?” They briefly considered shoving them in the trunk, but modern trunk design made it so they may be able to cause more problems by being back there, and Kaplan didn’t quite trust them enough to keep them out of their sight. Mars agreed.
That didn’t help answer the rapidly essential question of what to do once they got to a main road, or at least a part of the city when two women with bruised noses tied up in the back seat was probably going to be an issue.
“We could chloroform them. Knock’em out, then it will just look like they’re sleeping,” Kaplan suggested.
“Do you know where to get chloroform?” Mars asked.
“Maybe one of them does. They are part of an evil cult.”
“We don’t use chloroform,” Elizabeth stated, looking out the window at nothing.
“Taser?” Kaplan suggested.
Unfortunately, the taser had been rendered useless by falling helplessly to the ground and lost in the darkness after the brief struggle a few hours ago.
Eventually they decided to just risk it and keep driving, figuring that it was still late night and it wasn’t as if it was obvious at all that the two of them were tied up. Plus, as of this moment they really just had the direction of “New Orleans” as their destination which was easy enough to find with Maps and GPS, but they didn’t have the location of “Where was Nicolas Cage’s liar?” that was going to take some information. Information these two women had.
“You know, we’re not going to talk,” Poe replied, “We’ve been trained to resist all types of torture.”
Which was a lie. The standards to get into the Cult of Cage were exceedingly low as they mostly needed bodies to help with the ritual and look intimidating while commanding an army. This is probably why the Man in the Dark Hood’s tenure as leader wasn’t very long, and why they managed to fail the ritual twice before.
Of course, the lie didn’t matter, as an office worker and a comic book store manager didn’t really know where to begin torturing someone, much less with the desire to torture anyone. To be honest, they hadn’t really figured out how they were going to get the information out of them.
Mars, Kaplan, and their two hostages found themselves outside of New Orleans a few hours later. They opted to find a hotel outside the French Quarter, which was the area most people associated with New Orleans.
Like much of New Orleans, the Hanter Hotel was steeped in tradition and history. However, like only a small section of New Orleans, the Hanter Hotel’s tradition and history was mostly made up. It claimed to be built from an old farmhouse that sat on the land when the French first moved to New Orleans. It was owned by the mysterious Jean Corsaire, who earned his living by being a killer for the French Government. When the Americans bought New Orleans as part of the Louisiana purchase, he sailed to Washington to confront the President personally. Breaking into the White House, he gallantly slew as many American forces as possible before being shot, stabbed, and eventually hung for his crimes. His ghost supposedly haunted the Hanter Hotel to this day.
It sounded a lot better than the original history. It was a brothel that was shut down and abandoned for a few years in 1988 before it was bought up by a guy named John Coors-Aire. Every once in a while he’d throw a baseball down the stairs in the middle of the night. It was even visited by some guys from a Ghost Hunting reality show, who found that it was, in fact, haunted by Jean Corsaire, who was not happy that Americans were frequently staying in the hotel. Business doubled that year.
Mars and Kaplan didn’t care much about the history of the hotel, just that the walls were relatively sound-proof. If they wanted to stay there, Mr. Coors-Aire would have confirmed that Elvis was also haunting the place.
After the women were tied up (with the correct knots) in the hotel room, it was Mars who asked the obvious question.
“So... now what?”
“I’m not sure. I’m just as new to this as you are, man,” Kaplan responded.
“Fucking amateurs,” Elizabeth responded. “I can’t believe we were captured by fucking amateurs.”
“Hey!” Kaplan responded, “we beat you so far, right?”
“Even that Dale idiot made it this far,” Poe responded.
They didn’t know who Dale was, but assumed that he was probably one of the people before them.
“Look, we just have to find where Nicolas Cage is staying, then we can stop them from doing their cult magic, right? How hard can that really be?” Kaplan said.
“We’re the third people they asked to stop this,” Mars responded, “I’d have to say it’s pretty hard.”
“I can’t believe that you’d come all this way without a plan,” Elizabeth said.
Mars ignored her, “Look, I’m going to go get food and some changes of clothes. Then we’ll figure out our next move.”
“Wait, why do I have to watch them?” Kaplan asked.
“Because I have a credit card.”
Mars gathered up his wallet and the car keys, then headed for the door.
“Wait!” Kaplan pulled up close to him, away from the women.
“What if they have to... you know... use the rest room?”
Mars let his face fall into his hands. It was too late and he’d spent too much time in past 48 hours with a bag over his head to deal with this.
“I’ve taken as many hostages as you,” Mars responded, deciding ultimately not to count the Jimmy Stamp incident as a real hostage taking moment. It wasn’t as easy as James Franco and Nicolas Cage had made it look over the past few days.
“So...” Kaplan started.
“So, you take the credit card, and I’ll stay and watch them.”
Kaplan liked this plan better, as it did not make him responsible for the inevitable moment when they would manage to escape. Which was going to happen shortly, as the GPS tracker in Poe’s car was more than active, and at that moment several Cult of Cage members were converging on their location to free Poe and Elizabeth, and ultimately only take Mars captive. The Cult of Cage had a low bar for getting in, that didn’t mean they were run by complete idiots.
As Kaplan left the hotel, he took a moment in the lobby to hit on the young pretty receptionist that was behind the counter that wore a name tag that just said, “Emily” on it. That wasn’t her real name, there was only one name tag for the staff, as Mr. Coors-Aire was pretty cheap. But it was this simple act of not focusing on saving the world that ended up saving Kaplan from being taken captive. With his back to the door and the young woman who was used to getting hit on about twice a day politely listening to his stories about being the chosen one to save the world from an evil cult, both of them completely missed the evil cult sneaking in right behind them.
Kaplan ended up being rejected politely, and went about his business. Then Kaplan was the recipient of two wonderful pieces of good luck that didn’t seem like good luck at first. First, he realized he’d forgotten his phone up in the hotel room, roughly about five minutes after he’d left the beautiful young receptionist. This was more than enough time for the cult members to liberate Poe and Elizabeth, then shove yet another bag over Mars’ head despite his desperate pleas that he’ll behave if they just didn’t do it this time. This meant that he was able to witness Mars (or who he assumed was Mars, from the bag over his head) being led into a car that was waiting in the alley.
Secondly, realizing that the Cult was probably waiting for him in his room, he quickly walked past the hotel and continued to walk in the opposite direction. This little act would make him seem hard to get, and the pretty young receptionist not named Emily would slip her phone number in an envelope with his room number on it.
Kaplan briefly weighed his options. He could run after them, but there were about four Cult Members in addition to Elizabeth and Poe, who, while tired, were probably not in the best of moods from being taken hostage and would probably turn that into a rage that involved tasing. Lots and lots of tasing. Kaplan knew from experience, being taken hostage wasn’t any fun unless it was secretly being done by James Franco, and he got fancy foods and new weapons.
He ducked down an alley and sat next to a dumpster, trying to figure out his next move. He needed to hide from the Cult which would surely be sent after him in a minute, free Mars, then somehow stop Nicolas Cage. HIs gaze shifted to an orange tabby cat that was rummaging through a garbage can.
“I don’t suppose you know a cat named ‘Hamlet’, do you?” he asked.
The orange tabby did know Hamlet, briefly, but lacked the ability to tell Kaplan, so he just scurried off, leaving Kaplan trying to figure out what to do next.