Planet Earth Protectors, The River's End

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53 KIDNAPPED

The front living room was doubling as the control center for the letter-writing campaign. Teplan and Terah’s fathers paced. Terah read the letter out-loud again for the final review.

“Okay everyone, ready to send?” Terah said as she hovered the cursor over the send button. Everyone gave their approval and Terah sent it to 62 media outlets around the world.

Teplan stood up from his seat, stretched, and spoke through a yawn, “I’m hungry — want some cereal, Terah?”

“Yeah, I could use a break, too. My eyes are burning from staring at this screen.”

“We’re going to get some food. We’ll be back,” Teplan said to their dads, who were now back to working feverously on their laptops. They both looked up briefly and nodded.

Mrs. Guard’s voice could be heard from the living room and grew louder as Teplan and Terah got to the kitchen. They each got a bowl of cereal and listened as Terah’s mom left a voice message for a government law-enforcement agency.

“Want to eat out back?” Teplan asked Terah as he motioned to the patio door.

Terah looked at her mom who nodded approvingly.

The night air was calm and pleasant. Crickets chirped and leaves rustled gently in the soft breeze.

Teplan and Terah sat back in their chairs. The clouds had just passed so as they crunched away on their cereal, they stared up at the starry sky. They both sat on the long chairs at the edge of the deck.

“Hey Terah, listen. I’m sorry for getting you into all this today,” Teplan said. “I know I shouldn’t have pushed you into going back to the farm.”

“Well, I guess I need to be responsible for my own decisions anyway… If I really, really, really didn’t want to do something, I’m sure I would have made a bigger deal. I still made the decision to go to all of those places today, including back to the farm.”

Both crunched away again, staring upwards.

“Did I ever tell you that Ian taught me a lot about the stars?” Teplan asked, knowing Terah’s interest in the cosmos.

“No…”

“He used to come camping with us when I was younger. We’d all lie on our backs on a big flat rock and stare into the night sky and he’d tell us all about them.”

“That’s so cool. How does he know so much about the stars?” Terah asked.

Teplan didn’t answer.

Suddenly cloth was jammed over her mouth and her arms and legs were pinned down. Panicking, she struggled and wriggled her body as much as she could. She anticipated the cereal bowl crashing to the ground, but there was no sound.

What’s going on?

Terah caught a glimpse of Teplan as he was also being apprehended. In moments, both were being swept down the steps, off the deck and out of the backyard. Teplan thought about their parents, mere feet away.

The two abductees landed hard on the metal floor of a van and the door closed quietly. Teplan and Terah caught sight of each other, both crying.

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