Into the Wild "TO" Wander
Into the Wild “TO” Wander
Joel walked in to the house, tired like every other day. Be placed his briefcase on the coffee table and went in to the kitchen. Karla would be home soon and then maybe, he thought, they might go out and grab a bite to eat. It was his night to cook and he really wasn’t up to cooking. Versus his cooking, he was sure that Karla would be o.k. going out to eat. An architect for the past fifteen years, Joel enjoyed his career choice both for the money and the fact that he spent a majority of his days outdoors. Just forty years old, he had a lot of energy to burn still. He burned it by walking in the wooded area that surrounded his house. He had loved walking and hiking for as long as he could remember. Standing six foot, three inches, with his blonde hair and baby blues, Joel had his choice of walking partners throughout school, into adult life.
Climbing had become a new adventure for him after he met Karla. She in introduced him to the beautiful mountains in Colorado. It was love at first site for him and she felt the same. Karla was one of a set of twins. She and her sister Karen were both avid climbers and spent most of their free time scaling mountain-sides. Karla was tiny in build but her inner strengths and love for the mountains gave her the extra power to climb anything that she wanted to. Her auburn hair and sparkling green eyes drew Joel to her like a magnet. Meeting her at an outdoor shin-dig thrown by his best friend Mark, they had sat and talked for hours. Hours became days and days fell into the night for them. Mark met Karen the same day as Karla and Joel met but it was months after before he asked Karen out. Karen looked nearly exactly like her twin except for the blonde hair. Together, the two ladies could have had anyone they wanted. Joel and Mark felt blessed the ladies chose them.
Joel poured himself a glass of water then walked to the living room. He was amazed at the difference it made with both kids gone for a week. Amanda was fifteen, going on thirty. She looked like her mother in every way but did not share her mother’s love for climbing. Keeping both feet on the ground was exactly what she liked to do. She did love the outdoors though and rarely passed up a chance to go hiking. She and her brother Lance, who was fourteen, went with Joel and Karla nearly every week-end, to the mountains. It was the mountains in Wyoming that both kids were at now. They were accompanied by Mark and Karen’s two kids and eight other young kids. Their kids shared the same ages with Lisa being Lance’s age and Brett being the same age as Amanda. They were the very best of friends since they were very young. The church group they went with to Yellowstone with was being chaperoned by two couples that had been with the church since the kids were small. Lane and Stacey were middle aged and had never had children. The kids from the church were as close to their children as would ever be for them.
Joel looked at the phone and saw the answering machine was blinking. He looked at the name of the last caller. Smiling, Joel thought about the man who had left the message. Trevor Long and his wife Rachel had joined the church less than five years ago. They had moved in to town from Maine and bought the local Grocery store. The town was not huge but there were enough people to keep the store in business with a little extra revenue to spend. Their children had grown and gone their own way. They settled in nicely and became good friends to the entire town. Joel leaned forward and pushed the speaker button. As the voice began to speak, Joel stopped and turned to look at the machine. He titled his head like a Robin listening for a worm. The words came out slowly as Trevor left his message.
“First there were sixteen, and then, there were not. I am calling to say that my wife and I would like to request a favor of you. We would like you to give us 25,000 dollars, per head here. That adds up to 98,000 dollars. Well, let’s just round it off to 100 grand, shall we? Of course you can lower that number by not paying right away. As the numbers go down, the price drops. Of course that means that someone else had to die. I know you will want to call the police. I would want to also, Joel, but… if you do, Lance goes first.”
Joel fell to his knees in front of the machine. His eyes filled with tears as he listened to the message. His mind raced as he tried to process what he was hearing. Was this a joke… a sick funny that held no humor at all? This had to be real because anything else would be insane. His glass fell from his hand, spilling water on his legs and the carpet. Joel failed to notice this.
“I suspect you would like to know why the numbers seem a bit off. I needed to cut the crowd down a bit so that I could control them better. Funny thing, how watching two people die had such a calming effect on the rest of the group. I needed Stacey to help keep the kids in order. I am afraid that Lane served no purpose for me once we arrived safely here. By the way, the mountains are beautiful this time of year. I did have a little issue with Billy Shandon. He wanted to leave the group and I had to dispose of him. I thought I might have to do the same to Lisa. She is such a screamer, but luckily for her, she had Amanda to calm her down.”
The message went silent for a moment. Joel cried and crawled closer to the phone. He had to hear more. There must be more he thought. Just as he lifted himself up from the carpet, the voice broke the silence again.
“I will call you with some details tonight. I hope that you are as smart as people say you are. Joel, I will not hesitate to kill every single one of these kids and when I get to yours, I will have fun in so many ways as I kill them. Listen for a minute, if you will. I think you will like this.”
Joel could hear Trevor talking to someone. “Get the hell over here or you can die now! Damn daughter of yours is a pain in my ass, Joel. Now, say hello to your daddy, girl!”
Joel clenched his fists together, crying, wanting to reach through the phone and pull Amanda to him. He listened closely.
“Say hello to him, I said.” Joel heard the slap as Amanda started to scream. “Daddy, please, save us! Please-e-e-e-e-e-e-e…”
“There you have it, buddy. I will call you later.”
The room went silent all around Joel. His heart was pounding in his chest as he slowly stood. He shook his head and pushed the button on the machine again. As he waited for the next message to play, he heard a sound behind him. Looking, there in the doorway stood Karla, her face soaked with tears, her eyes wide with fear. Joel went to her and wrapped his arms around her. She cried and tried to push him away but he held her tight to him.
“What are we going to do, Joel?!?!?!?! How in the hell could this be happening?!?!?!?!?”
“Sh-h-h-h-h-h-h, baby… we will get them back. We will get them all back here safely. I promise you that.”
“He killed them in front of our kids, Joel! What kind of a madman is he???”
As Joel began to talk, the beep from the machine made him go silent. He and Karla stood, frozen in the doorway as the voice began again.
“I do hope I gave you enough time to get your thoughts together. On the high side, Joel, the price went down another 25 grand for you. Oops!!!!