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Chapter Forty-Three

Current day, 2:09 PM, Unknown Location

Frannie glared up at the man in the black BDU’s and helmet. He stood over her and the children with an M-4A cradled in his arms. “Real tough guy aren’t you, asshole?”

The man’s shoulders drooped and he exhaled in annoyance.

“You not gonna say anything, Raven?” Hunter asked smartly.

“Nope,” the small girl said without looking up, continuing to pet Mrs. Buttons. “He’s not nice. He wants to hurt us and daddy.”

The guard paced a few steps away and leaned up against a far wall.

“You got kids?”

No response.

“I’ll take that as a yes. Well, is your family proud that you are holding innocent women and children prisoner at gunpoint? Huh, are they? Or are you too ashamed to tell them that’s what you do?”

“Shut it, lady,” he replied, continuing to stare straight ahead.

“Let me see that rifle you got in your hands and I’ll show you a lady,” Frannie retorted as she gave Raven a wink.

“Momma, I gotta pee,” Raven said from nowhere. The girl released the Pekingese and stood. “I gotta go bad!”

Frannie cocked her head up at the guard. “Well, you heard her. Where’s someplace my baby can go around here?”

The man bit his lip in annoyance and sighed. “Dammit, hold on,” he said and reached up to grasp the mic clipped to his bulletproof vest. “One Eleven, it’s One Thirteen, I need an escort for one of the prisoners. They need to use the bathroom.”

Squawk! “Negative One Thirteen. No personnel available for an escort. They’re gearing up for the next mission.”

“Momma, I gotsta go!” Raven said, pressing her legs together.

“Uh oh, momma, she’s doin’ the pee pee dance!” Hunter exclaimed.

The man covered his mouth with a hand in frustration. “Okay, dammit, everyone out, let’s go, but keep your hands where I can see them!”

Frannie picked up Mrs. Buttons and followed her three children into the hallway.

“It’s down the hall on the right,” the guard said, standing away from the open door to let the family out of the stark white room.


“Yes, Hunter?”

“Where are we?”

“I don’t know, honey,” Frannie replied, thinking back to the trip to this strange facility and the black sack she and her children were forced to wear on the helicopter ride here.

Kaitlyn looked up at her mother. “Daddy found us once before. He’ll do it again,” she said softly.

“Stop here,” the guard said as the entourage arrived at a pair of wooden doors adorned with brown and white signs bearing the geometric likenesses of a man and a woman.

“Go on, ya’ll,” Frannie said, watching as the kids opened the bathroom doors. She slowly turned to the guard and smiled, lifting the fluffy dog to her face. “You wanna pet her?”

“No I do not, ma’am.”

“Aw come on, she likes you I can tell...look at her tail wagging,” Frannie said stepping closer to the guard, batting her eyes.

The guard attempted to bury his smile and lifted his visor. He lowered his weapon to reach out and pet Mrs. Buttons.

The little dog snapped at the surprised man and Frannie thrust the dog into his face. Quickly lifting a leg, Frannie kicked the guard in the groin as hard as she could. The frightened Mrs. Button darted from the woman’s hands and landed on the guard’s chest, riding the wide-eyed man down as he fell to his knees. The dog bounded to the ground as Frannie landed an upper cut to the guard’s chin, sending him backwards to the tile, the rifle loosening in his hands. Mrs. Buttons barked loudly as Frannie stomped her heel down on the guard’s face twice rendering him unconscious.

Quickly searching the motionless man’s body, the children’s mother located a cellphone and then lifted the rifle from the guard’s fingers. “Let’s go kids,” Frannie said, banging on the bathroom doors. “We need to find a place to hide until your father gets here!”

Hunter emerged from the lavatory and picked up the dog. He stopped as he heard a whining noise. The boy looked up and discovered a camera mounted to the roof, turning toward them. “Momma! Look, it’s a camera!”

“Hold that there animal tight and cover your ears!” Frannie barked, as she lifted the rifle and fired, dislodging the lens and several pieces of plastic from the camera’s housing.

“Over here, ya’ll!” Kaitlyn shouted from down the hall. She stood in front of a red door with the words, “Emergency Exit” printed in white on its surface.

“Wait, honey. I have an idea...”

“One Eleven, it’s One Fourteen, there’s no sign of them anywhere!” the guard said looking down at One Thirteen’s helmet lodged between the door and the doorframe.

Squawk. “Roger, One Fourteen. One Twelve, anything?”

“No One Eleven, they definitely didn’t go out the emergency exit either or we would have spotted them from the rooftop.”

Static. “Then that means they are still in the building. Do you have eyes on One Thirteen, One Fourteen?”

“Negative, One Eleven, One Thirteen is MIA,” the agent in black said into this throat mic.

Squawk. “It’s just a woman and some kids, you guys. How hard could it be to find them?”


“Fine, just remember, when you do find them, don’t hurt them...yet.”

Current day, 2:20 PM,

Unknown Location

The guard known as One Thirteen woke with the barrel of his rifle pointed in his bloody face. His eyes darted around, noticing a single fluorescent tube in a set of four flickering above; the other three bulbs were dark due to an obvious lack of maintenance. Several metal racks containing various sized boxes of toilet paper and other supplies lined the gray walls.

“Don’t move, asshole,” Frannie said.

Mrs. Buttons growled at the man lying prone on the floor with his hands and feet bound together with zip ties. Securely affixed to his face was a gag made from some smelly material he imagined would be best not to know its origin.

“You know you have a lot of neat stuff in your vest, asshole, including your driver’s license with your home address on it. Nice family, too,” Frannie said and pushed the barrel into the man’s cheek. “Don’t worry, I ain’t gonna kill you or have my husband do anything to your family unless you do somethin’ stupid, you hear me? Nod your head if’n you understand.”

The saucer-eyed One Thirteen did as told, acknowledging his understanding.

“Good,” Frannie said and then looked over at Kaitlyn. “Anything?”

“No, ma’am, but I did send the picture of his license to daddy’s phone,” Kaitlyn said pointing at the guard. “Still, I’m calling the number daddy told us, but he ain’t answerin’.”

“Dammit Cole, what in the world are you doin’? I don’t know who else to call...”


“Yes, sweetie?” Frannie asked looking down at Raven.

“How ’bout call this number?” the little girl said lifting Mrs. Button’s ID tag into the storage room’s singular light.

Hunter looked at the blue metal object. “It says, ‘I’m Tink, return me to Pete. Call 555-1234’.”

Frannie shrugged. “Call it, Kaitlyn.”

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