Ch 1: Desperation
Ch 2: Officer Jackson
Ch 3: The Campout
Ch 4: The Escape
Jackson glanced back at the boy in concern, he hadn’t said anything in a while and he hoped that meant he was just taking it all in. He took his radio and called for back-up from the station. The boy couldn’t be older than 17 and his entire world had changed before his eyes. His friend had died, his own life had been threatened, and his remaining companion was still out there; dead or alive. No, Jackson thought, if this “York” he talks of is dead, it will completely traumatize the kid. He must find him. ALIVE.
Initially groggy voices at the police station told Jackson that they had been sleeping, as usual. A quick summary of the kid’s story however, had snapped them into action and with renewed purpose told Jackson they’d be right there with him. As he placed the walkie-talkie in its holder, he glanced in his rear-view mirror. A pickup truck followed him about 100 yards back without any headlights. He shook Jesse out of his dazed state and pointed in its direction. Jesse drew in a sharp intake of air and let it out slowly, “That’s the same truck.”
Jackson’s heart leapt into his throat as the adrenaline and excitement mixed with apprehension flooded into his veins. Surely the men didn’t know he had picked up the kid. Unless…Maybe that’s how the dogs had not attacked Jesse. Perhaps they’d been called off when Jackson’s patrol car had been spotted! He shook off the feeling and tried to act as normal as possible, but gradually picked up speed just to see if they would do the same. He reached for his walkie again but stopped himself. If they had a police scanner of any kind all hell would break loose if any kind of known communication was made. He glanced at Jesse in the backseat, “lay down,” he instructed and slowly but discreetly slipped Jesse his cell phone from his pocket. “Call the police station, speed dial number 4, we’ve got a situation on our hands.” Little did he realize how much of an understatement that was.
Heath’s jolted awake, and immediately regretted the sudden movement. His eyes were dry as the Sahara and he was unable to properly moisten them even after several repeated blinks. His mind wandered back to the events leading up to his capture and he shuddered as he recalled what had happened. He had gotten out of the truck and was searching for the spare gas tank in the truck-bed, berating himself for forgetting his flashlight. Suddenly he had heard the sound of a vehicle coming towards him on the road. He knew it was a fairly big truck because the sound of the gravel cracking against the tires was far too loud to be a smaller car. He attempted to look casual and uttered a swift prayer in hopes that the upcoming truck would not stop. His hopes were shattered, however, and the truck pulled to a stop right beside him. A man’s voice shouted, “Need any help, bud?” from inside the dark abyss of the truck. The man opened his door at that point and he was able to distinguish a scruffy beard and matted hair squished by a large Texas Rangers baseball cap. “No sir, I think I’ll be alright,” he responded. “Think again,” was the last thing he heard as the man placed a cold metallic device behind his ear.
His body became instantly paralyzed and he crumpled to the ground. That led him here. A sharp pain in the side of his head caused Heath to grimace and reach his hand up to the source. The skin was upraised and bubbly and, as he pulled his finger away, he realized it was matted with blood. He was still trying to make sense of everything when he heard voices, then, and assumed as best he could, a still position in hopes they wouldn’t notice he was no longer unconscious. “Hey!” the one Heath recognized as his captor shouted. Heath kept trying to appear unconscious but peered out through the slits of his eyelids. “Marcus, I’m talkin’ ta you! How long’s that there kid s’posed to be out?? It’s been longer than the dang ‘few minutes’ yew said it was gone be. I don’t want no dern blood on my hands if it ain’t necessary.” In reply, Marcus stood up from the shadows in the bushes to Heath’s left. Heath tried to contain a shiver despite the fairly warm night as the air seemed to get colder simply by his walking by.
“Why don’t you check him for yourself?” He said in a cool, not-hick-at-all, accent. “He moved a while ago and has been awake for about five minutes if you’d stop all that babbling I would have told you. It makes you sound even more like an idiot you know?” Heath was overcome with mixed emotions. On the one hand, he was relieved that, as far as he knew, they didn’t plan on killing him, whereas on the other hand, Marcus knew he had been awake this whole time and could have, if he felt it necessary, killed him at any point in time. Heath shuddered at the thought and, after realizing he had barely breathed in the last five minutes, drew in a deep breath, which was followed by a sharp, gagging, exhale. On his mouth was the filthiest piece of rag he’d ever seen, and he managed to inhale tons of dirt and grime along with the large amount of oxygen. Heath wondered why he hadn’t noticed this before, but realized he must have been so caught up in figuring out his surroundings he didn’t take the time to observe what was right in front of him. He immediately spat out the gag and was able to get it away from his mouth enough to get a good breath. His captor grunted, grumbled something unintelligible, and turned to face Heath.
Heath braced himself, unsure of what was about to happen. He tried to move his legs but realized its movements were sluggish, kind of similar to when it “falls asleep” because you sleep on it funny or something, but they also just felt heavy. The guy walked up to Heath, smiled at him, and then kicked him square in the gut. Heath instantly doubled over, into a fetal position. Gasping for breath after the unexpected attack, Heath asked, “What…gahh… What do you want from me? What did I do to you?” In response, the guy wheeled off and slugged Heath right in the face. So much for not having blood on his hands, Heath thought, because he sure got a lot on them there. He was just about to wheel off and hit him again when Marcus walked up, grabbed his arm and guided him away from Heath. Heath felt himself starting to drift back into unconsciousness. He heard the faint voice of Marcus yelling a slew of profanities at the other guy, whom Heath learned was Terrell, as he drifted back into restless slumber.
Ch 6: The Truck