Groggily, he slipped in and out of consciousness before gradually returning to reality. The dank night air aided in the regaining of his senses as he tried to piece what had happened to him together.
"Where am I?..... What happened to me?"
He opened his left eye as the right one had swollen shut thanks to the blow he had received answering his door. Still, he could see nothing but darkness. Though loopy, Krys Barch felt there was something on his face impeding his vision. He tried bringing his hands to his face, only to find that they had been tied behind his back with satin rope. At the very least, his captor had been kind to his wrists. In his line of work, it was important to treat that extremity of the body as delicately as one could.
The background noise coupled with the sensation of being in movement told Barch he was sprawled out in a vehicle -- most likely a van or an SUV as it would take an automobile of considerable size to transport his 6'1, 236LB frame in horizontal fashion. Realizing his legs were also bound with the same silky fibre as his hands, Barch realized he was completely immobilized and at the mercy of his detainers.
"Mmmpppffffhhh", he muttered. It was clear that his motor skills were still as wobbly as a baby deer on a sheet of ice.
"Hey, he's waking up," whispered a voice from the drivers seat. "What should we do?"
"Taze him", retorted another voice, without hesitating.
"Guys, you heard what The Leader said: Don't use the taser unless we really needed to", a third voice chimed in, trying to rationalize with the second.
"Fine, fuck it", snapped the second voice. "You all seem to know what's best I'll leave it in your hands. Figure it out!"
"Well, we could just leave him be. He's clearly not in the proper frame to defend himself", said the driver.
Suddenly, a surge of adrenaline shot through Barch's body as he tried to wrestle himself free from his confinement.
"Ahh, shit! Do you see what happens when I leave it to you guys to figure out!?" chastised the second voice. "Now it's up to me to pick up the pieces!"
The front passenger then nimbly fiddled with the glove compartment, grabbing the stun gun before realizing it was without functioning batteries.
"Figures", he scoffed. "Guess we'll have to do this the old fashioned way."
And with one swift bash, he smashed the plastic gun over the side of Barch's head, disintegrating the object. Now slumped in a pile of himself, Barch was knocked out cold yet again.
When Barch next awoke, he found himself inside a steel enclosure in the middle of a dark and dreary room. A single light bulb fixture flickered dimly overhead. The sound of a leaky piping echoed throughout the decaying concrete walls. His head pounded from the two shots it had taken -- seemingly in short succession. He put his hand up to his eye, just to feel how swollen it really was. It stung to touch. Whoever had inflicted this damage on his orbital bone knew his way around a left cross. He quickly surveyed the room before setting his eyes in front of him, where he saw several shadowy figures all dressed in black. They were huddled just outside the range of illumination, effectively cloaking their identities.
"Who are you? What are you doing with me?", Barch managed to choke out.
"SILENCE! We will address you soon enough!", boomed a deep baritone voice from the middle of the pack.
Barch continued pleading with the mysterious men "Wh--what are you going to do to me? I don't know what you want! Let me go, I just want to get home to my wife and kids". His offerings went unanswered.
After a few moments of further deliberation, the group inched closer to the cell, now clearly identifying themselves to Barch. He saw Stars. Not the figurative kind drawn in cartoons to depict wooziness, but rather, physical members of the Dallas Stars. Lined up from left to right were Loui Eriksson, Trevor Daley, Brenden Morrow, Kari Lehtonen, all in black jerseys with the word DALLAS stitched across the front. Below the crest was each players number, exact replicas of what they would wear on the ice. Barch was stupefied. He now saw the flash back of the moment he opened the door of his cottage, only to be met by the ravaging foursome.
"G--guys", he stammered. "But... why?...... Where's Sudsy?"
"Psssh! Sudsy's not here", mocked Morrow. "We knew we had to use the name of someone you actually liked to get you to open the door. Punching you in that ugly dome of your was the highlight of my summer. If you weren't stuck behind those bars, I'd do it again right now!"
To Morrow's left, the sound of a door in dire need of oiling creaked open and shut. The sound of footprints closing in on the cell now reverberated through the chamber. Then appeared the face of owner Tom Gaglardi, a permeating sneer fixed on it. He nodded in approval to his players for the bounty they had brought him.
"Hello Krys", cooed Gaglardi softly. "So nice to see you again. I trust that your former teammates weren't too rough on you."
"Mr. Gagliardi.... what do you want from me?"
"It's simple, Krys", continued the Stars' owner. After your Twitter outburst, you became quite a hot commodity on the marketplace. Commissioner Bettman and his team of cronies have a bounty on your head, sir; $10,00,000.00 for your capture and delivery."
"So that's why I'm here?" grumbled Barch, his voice ripe with displeasure. "You're going to sell me off to Bettman to wet your beak with a little extra cash? Fine, do what you will... but know that you're a coward".
Galgardi stood there, the most sinister of smiles radiating from his face. He curled his lips to speak. "I'm afraid it's not that simple, Mr. Barch. There's more at stake than just the ten million dollars I seek to profit."
Barch shook his head in astonishment, as though an NHL owner could want anything more than the ability to wipe his mouth with hundred dollar bills after an extensibly greasy meal.
"Hah. Oh yeah? Like What?"
Galgardi paused for a moment, looking back at his team of players briefly before focusing his attention back on Barch, uttering only two words. "Jake. Hauswirth."
Barch was rightfully confused. "Jake Hauswirth? What about him?"
Galgardi continued, "That is correct, Mr. Barch. You see, I might have been too hasty in forcing Joe Nieuwendyk to trade you upon my overtaking the team. The fact was I didn't allot Joe enough time to reasonably find a trade partner. I should have been leery about the fact Dale Tallon was so willing to part with a 23-year old prospect. I won't sit here and say you're a fantastic hockey player, Krys -- far from it. But you were worth more to us than Jake Hauswirth. The ten million coup will be nice. But getting a just return on your services -- that will be all the more sweet."
Just then, the blast from a firearm light the back corner of the room ablaze. The rickety door had exploded into thousands of tiny wood shards and emerging from the smoking wreckage was none other than Cam Janssen. Severely concussed and jaw dropped in utter amazement, Krys Barch watched as his newly acquainted teammate marched into the room, dressed head-to-toe in cowboy attire, a shotgun in each hand, demanding the relinquishment of Barch.
"Sorry I'm late for the party, fellas! But I believe it's about time you let ol' Krys here go!", spoke Janssen in a horrible western accent.
Galgardi was beside himself. "But, how did you know it was us who took him!?"
"Next time you plan to heist a human being, it's probably best not to curse out Jake Hauswirth while telling him you're entire diabolical plan. Turns out he doesn't take too kindly to criticism. Now, if you'll be lettin' Krys go, we'll be on our way."
Clearly outmatched in terms of firepower, the Stars had no choice but to relent. Brendan Morrow grimly handed over the keys to his owner, who freed the encaged Barch with one turn of a lock. Still pointing both guns at the confiners, Janssen and Barch slipped silently into the autumn night.
As the two galloped back to Janssen's pick-up truck, Barch couldn't believe the feelings he was having for a man he once considered to be his greatest foe. Though the thought of it was foreign to him, Barch felt he owed Janssen his gratitude.
"Uhh, hey," began Barch. "Thanks for what you did back there. I know I've been pretty adamant in my hatred of you, but now I see the error of my ways".
"Don't mention it", replied Janssen, as the two closed the truck doors behind them. "Actually, I should be thanking you."
Barch chuckled, "oh yeah, why's that?"
With a wide grin on his face, Janssen reached into his holster on his hip and pulled out one of his guns, aiming it at the head of Barch. "You just made and Kovy both five million dollars richer".
A wave of helpless and despair flooded over Barch as Ilya Kovalchuk popped up from the back of the cab and began holding Barch at gunpoint. Janssen gently placed both his firearms on the vacant seat behind him and put the truck in drive. As they drove down the long and windy countryside road, delivering Krys Barch to his impending doom, it was then that he learned a valuable lesson in social networking
"I should have stuck to MySpace".