I would have posted a new story sooner but the Olympics have definitely distracted me since they started. Actually, as I am writing this I am watching our Men’s Volleyball team play against Germany. I love the Olympics and the patriotism it brings with it. However, this story has nothing to with the Olympics and is a little different from my last one. This short story inspired an actual novel that I have since completed the end of June that I have dubbed “Fighter”. I hope it gets as much positive feedback as the last one.
Clara tried not to cry. It was dark and bumpy in the trunk of the car and as terrified as she was she held back her tears. She couldn’t see anything. She could only hear the muffled sounds of the car as it drove along an unknown road. She was uncomfortable lying on top of an assortment of hard items. Her nightgown was wet in certain spots with something that had a metallic smell to it making it stick to her skin.
She whimpered wishing her daddy was there to save her. She could hear his voice telling her to stay calm.
“Don’t fight the bad man. Be compliant.”
When the unknown, masked man came into her room that night, the blade of a knife glistening in the light of her nightlight in his hand, Clara did just that. He told her not to scream as he showed her the knife and lifted her over his shoulder, his clothes drenched in that metallic smelling liquid. Scared and shaking, Clara barely made a noise even when he put her in the trunk of his car.
She didn’t cry or try to fight. No. She felt strongly that her father, an FBI agent would find.
What seemed like an eternity in the darkness of that trunk, the car finally stopped and Clara heard the bad man get out of the car. A minute later the trunk of the car was opened and she was once again hoisted over the man’s shoulder.
“We’re almost there!” he said is a strange, sing-song voice.
“What do you hear, feel, see or smell?” her father would ask.
Clara thought it funny that her father would make her do these little “training” exercises. She knew her chances of ever being kidnapped were small but her father told her that a small chance is still a chance he didn’t want to take.
Clara tried to take a deep breath so she could concentrate but the sharp bone of the man’s shoulder dug into her stomach making it difficult to take a full breath. None-the-less she noted that the man had a gruff but not exactly a deep voice. The sharpness of his shoulder bone told her that he was not a very muscular man with a small frame. And hanging from his shoulder looking down at the ground told her that he was not very tall either.
She could smell car grease like their garage, and the same metallic smell emanating off of the man. He whistled as he carried her from the car that was parked in a clearing to a path that led deeper into the dark woods.
The bumpiness of the trail would force his shoulder deeper into her stomach causing her to grimace, but she continued to take notice of her surroundings. The dirt road that he carried her on was littered with leaves, twigs, and an occasional cigarette butt. After several hundred yards into the woods, he veered to her left onto a different path. The moon was fortunately extremely bright, shining through the opening in the trees so she could just make out the glow of an orange line that ran along the path they had just left. She could smell the dense bushes of the honeysuckle that seemed to congregate at the opening of the new path and she tried to dart her head from left and right to see what else she could make out. She tried to lift her head up but she was moving so much that the man finally tapped her on the butt and told her to quite moving.
His agitated voice told her that he was in no mood so she quickly obeyed.
Finally, after a half an hour walk through the woods they entered a clearing with tall grass that came up to the man’s knees. Several yards out into the clearing Clara felt the man bend over slightly and then heard the sound of a door opening, the old hinges creaking, and then the wood of the door slam down as it hit the ground. Clara watched as the earth around her began to disappear as the man carried her down the stairs that the door opened into. She watched as the light of the moon faded as he took her deeper and deeper down into the unknown and for fear of what she would find she squeezed her eyes shut when he flopped her down in a chair telling her not to move.
It was the smell that caught her attention first. The repugnant smell, like nothing Clara had ever smelled before, pierced her nose and churned her stomach. She gagged and held her hand over her nose. Then, the sound of flies, buzzing all around her, invaded her ears, the noise deafening. Clara shivered as the cold of the room surrounded her. With her eyes still shut she could hear him shuffling around the room.
“Do you know what I have done here?” the man asked in a tone that sent chills down her spine.
She shook her head. “Keep them talking,” her dad would say. “Let them know who you are.”
“I’ve done terrible things,” the man continued.
Clara heard him unzip a bag followed by the sound of metal clinking together. Her heart began to race faster and her lip quivered.
“My name is Clara Kingston,” she finally said. “I’m ten years old. I’m in the fourth grade. My favorite subject is science. I’m an only child. My parent’s names are Patrick and Celia. I want a dog but I can’t get one because my mom is allergic. When I grow up I want to be an FBI agent like my daddy!”
The man laughed. “Your father Special Agent Patrick Kingston.” She heard him move closer and flinched as she felt a piece of cold, flat metal pressed across her face. “I know all about you, Clara,” he said. “Oh, I have been watching you and your family for awhile now. Just waiting for the right moment.”
“Kidnapping is a federal crime!” Clara yelled in a burst of courage.
He laughed again, a treacherous cackle that echoed off of the walls of the room. He took her face in his hand and shook it. “Look at me!” he yelled at her.
Clara shook her head.
He slapped her almost sending her out of the chair. “I said, ‘Look at me!’” he bellowed angrily.
“You don’t scare me!” Clara said in a shaky, unconvincing voice.
He grabbed her arm and pressed the knife to her throat. “I will cut you to pieces!” he screamed sending flecks of spit onto her face.
And suddenly Clara knew who he was. She had overheard her father and his partner talk about a case where little girls around her age were kidnapped and found several days later repeatedly stabbed, their little bodies mutilated. She had even snuck into his office while he was taking a nap and caught a glimpse of the file, pictures and everything.
This was the case that made her father start the “training” with her. This is the case that kept her father up at all hours of the night.
“Some men hurt others for the mere joy of watching them suffer,” she remembered her father saying. “Try not to give into what they want. Always stay brave.”
It was that moment that Clara realized she wasn’t just kidnapped. She finally opened her eyes and gave the haughtiest, most defiant look she could conjure up and looked the man dead in the face. Her heart calmed a beat when she saw he was still wearing his mask but quickly picked back up when she noticed the stained walls around her. She pretended not to notice as she stared back into the man’s steel blue eyes that were almost cat-like in shape.
He smiled behind his mask and leaned forward, his hot breath just inches from her face. Her body shook as she stared into the depths of his crazy eyes and she knew that if she didn’t act he wouldn’t hesitate to kill her. Taking a deep breath and praying for all the strength she could muster, Clara landed a swift kick between the man’s legs.
In a moment of confusion and pain, the man turned and bent over dropping the knife he had in his hand on the floor giving Clara the opportunity to escape. She grabbed the knife and plunged it into the man’s foot before she made a dash for the door. The man’s arrogance was in Clara’s favor as she pushed through the unlocked door and out into the tall grass that kept the door hidden from those who didn’t know it was there.
Barefoot and scared, Clara wasn’t sure where to run. Her heart raced and her mind was so distracted that she had to pause to think. She thought she heard the man behind her and in a panic she dashed into the woods ignoring the pain that her bare feet caused her as they pounded down into twigs, rocks and gumballs. Tears blurred her vision as she ran, pushing low hanging branches out of her way.
She stopped when she thought she was lost and wiped her tears out of her face so she could try and find which way to go. She muffled her sobs with her hands as she turned left and right looking for something familiar. The answer came with the breeze as the smell of honeysuckle filled her nose. She darted left continuing her run. Her feet cut and throbbing with pain, her lungs burned from the exertion but she dared not to stop. Finally, she ran onto another path finding the orange line that ran parallel to the first path he took her on. She made another left.
“You’re a fighter, Clara.” Her father’s words rang through her ears.
She ran. The tears began to flow more freely down her face but she was far from giving up.
Within minutes, Clara reached the clearing where the car was parked and she ran past it where a wooden fence was that lead to another path. She ran onto it and saw just at the edge the glow of a street light. Clara gave a half laugh, half cry and she ran to it collapsing at the base when she reached it. She clung to the lamp post as she threw up, her nerves finally getting the best of her.
After catching her breath for a minute, Clara wearily pushed herself off of the street lamp and emerged out of the woods onto a paved road. She had no idea where she was but she knew that she needed to keep moving. Nothing looked familiar in the dark. The road was covered on both sides by woods. Confused and scared, it took everything Clara had to continue.
“I am a fighter,” she said meekly to herself.
Tired, and worn out Clara began to sway as she walked. She stumbled a few times as the road went into a steep incline. And then she heard it. Her heart skipped a bit as she realized what it was. She scrambled up the hill and gave a weak smile when she saw a bright light coming towards her in the distance. And in a fit of desperation Clara flung herself in the middle of the road shouting and waving her arms.
She remembers hearing the sound of screeching tires just as the world went black.
Clara woke up to the sounds of beeping and the soft murmurs of people talking. She gave out a pathetic cry when she tried to move. Her entire body ached. Her feet were bandaged and throbbed with pain. The beeping, she realized as she became more aware of her surroundings, was caused by the machines Clara was attached to.
She was in a hospital. She had two different I.V.s digging into arms and something hooked onto her finger. She yanked it off causing one of the machines to go into a fit of terrible shrieks. She clapped her hands over her ears and screamed as a horde of men and women came into the room.
“Leave me alone!!!” she screamed.
They all stopped and calmed down when they realized she was awake and not dying.
“You’re safe, sweetie. It’s alright. We’re here to take care of you,” a nurse with a soothing tone said.
Clara began to cry. She looked up at the doorway to see a tall muscular man blocking the light from the hall.
“Daddy?” Clara asked hopefully.
When he came closer Clara recognized the somber face of her father’s childhood best friend and her Godfather.
“Uncle Pete?” she asked confused.
Her uncle moved in close enough to take the young girl in his arms. “Clara,” he said in a shaky voice. “Thank God.”
“Where are my parents?” Clara asked.
When he didn’t answer, Clara knew that they were dead. The wet, metallic smelling substance on her nightgown was their blood.
The next several days were a blur to Clara. She mostly just stared. Several FBI agents asked her questions that she no longer knew the answers to. It felt like years had gone by since that terrible night, the memories of what happened being pressed back, deep into the abyss of her mind.
When she was awake it felt like a terrible nightmare, something that she wanted to believe never happened. But every night she seemed to relive it in her dreams. The fear of what could have happened to her and the hope that her father would come rushing to save her played through her mind almost every night. Every time she closed her eyes at night she prayed to see her father. She prayed to hear his words of encouragement.
But every time she turned out the lights she saw the eyes of that man burning into hers. She heard his voice ringing in her ears.
There were plenty of reasons for her to be scared. They never found the man who killed her parents and then stole away with her in the night. He was still out there, perhaps watching and waiting. But no, she didn’t become scared. She became angry because she was a fighter and she vowed to one day give that man a reason to be truly scared.