Danger in Deep Woods

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Prisoners Once More

Christy squirmed and kicked trying to get away from him. She could hear the helicopter getting louder and louder outside. It was now or never to get away. "Christy, where'd you go!?" Dawn was calling in the darkness around the corner. Christy yanked her mouth free of Leo's hand. "Dawn, run!" she screamed to her friend, "Run, get out of here, don't...!"

Her mouth was covered again. Another hand seized her hair and pulled her head back hard. Vinnie's knife was pressed right against her throat. "OK girls, if you three care for your friend here, at all, you're not going anywhere," he barked to Christy's friends around the corner in the darkness, "You all have to the count of five to come on over here, or we'll slit your friend's throat!"

"Don't do it, guys!" Christy pulled her mouth free again and cried to them, wincing as her hands were tied together behind her back, "Save yourselves, find a way out, don't worry about me...!"

"Don't do anything to her, I'm coming!" came Dawn's cry from inside the cave. She strode into the side tunnel with her hands up. "Whatever happens, Christy, we'll do it together," she told her friend as Harvey stepped out of the darkness and grabbed her, pulled her arms behind her back, and started tying her hands, "If we die, we die together as friends."

"Dawn..." Christy choked, not quite sure what to say to this open display of loyalty.

"OK, we've got one smart one here," Leo snapped to Jackie and Bobbie back around the corner, "Now, let's see if you two brunettes are as smart. We're still going to count to five..."

"Come on, we've got an injured woman in here from you shooting Jackie!" Bobbie called out desperately, "She can barely walk...!"

"One!" Leo started counting anyway, "Two!"

"Didn't you hear us!" Bobbie continued to argue, fear in her voice, "And you can't collect a ransom if Christy's dead, so...!"

"We will slit her throat and the other blonde's throat!" Leo roared as Harvey held his own knife to Dawn's throat, "Three...four...!"

"All right, we're coming out, don't kill them!" Jackie cried out from inside the cave, "Help me up, Bobbie!"

"No tricks, you two!" Leo warned them. Slowly, Bobbie came into sight, Jackie leaning on her shoulder, limping. "All right, hands behind your backs, you two," Leo seized Jackie and started tying her hands.

"Why are you doing this to all of us!" she demanded, clear fear in her voice, "We mean nothing to you, and Christy doesn't deserve to be held for ransom; she's not...!"

"Shut up!" he abruptly kicked her square in the chest. "STOP IT!" Christy screamed at him, horrified as Jackie doubled over in pure agony, "You already shot her; you've hurt her enough! How could you be so cruel!?"

"Oh we're cruel, my dear Christina? How flattering. Perhaps then you wouldn't mind this," he hit her square in the face, pushed her to the ground, and started bending her leg mercilessly. "You haven't begun to know cruel, young lady," he threatened her, releasing her leg so he could lash more ropes around her feet, "Which reminds me," he dug through his pocket, "I believe this belongs to you."

Christy recognized the object in his hand: the purple cloth she'd been gagged with earlier. "No, I don't want that thing back on...mmmmmm!" her pleas were to no avail as he shoved it back into place over her mouth and started tying the knot tightly enough to make Christy cry out, as it felt like it was squeezing her head. She choked hard into the cloth. "Too tight for you, Blondie? Too bad," he dismissed her. Oh don't you worry, you three," he turned to her friends, staring at him with a mixture of disapproval and fear, "We brought more than enough for everyone. One for you," he whipped out a red cloth and tied it just as tightly over Dawn's mouth, "One for you," he gagged Bobbie with a white one, "And one for you," he silenced Jackie with a blue one. "Fix their feet before you bring them along, my friends."

He scooped Christy up and flung her over his shoulder. Hefting a lantern, he carried her down the tunnel towards who knew where. "I had a feeling you'd gone in here, Christina," he told her smarmily, ignoring her hard kicks landing on his shoulder, "It was the most convenient hiding place for someone that came this way. We know these caverns; we've used them quite frequently for many people who we've put in your situation. So you were never free of us. And you're going to be nice and quiet now until we finish the transaction with your folks."

He took a hard right, heading upwards now, Christy thought. "How could I be so cruel, you ask?" he frowned right in her face, "Well my dear, you should know the world's a pretty cruel place. What I and my friends have done to you is nothing compared to what my old man did to me. I've felt the fear you feel; I've felt it to the bone. And in time, I swore I would never feel week and helpless again. And so, anytime I see someone who has it better than me, or is happy when they have no right to be, I simply bring them down a peg or two, the same with anyone who just happens to come along into my web," he smirked at her, "Vinnie and Harvey happen to agree with me, so they make good partners for my operations. So don't call me cruel, Little Miss Bryant, because you don't know what cruel is-but I'd be glad to show you what it is if you cause me any more trouble before this night's over. Anyway, here we are."

He'd come to a stop at the top of a crest where the tunnel seemed to dead end. He reached upwards, and Christy could just make out the wooden texture of the door above them as he opened it up and carried her up a rickety wooden ladder into a dark room-somewhere. He struck a match to a lantern hanging overhead, but Christy couldn't see that much, except that it was a rather narrow room. "Have a seat," Leo pushed her into a chair at an old table in the middle of the small room, "Before we get you nice and comfy again, we've got some presents for you, Little Miss Christina; a new vest and a new belt."

Christy's eyes bulged out of her head in pure terror to see what he was carrying towards her: an explosive vest. It was slipped onto her before she could do anything. "Already armed, so we can blow you up at a moment's notice again," Leo glared right into her eyes, "This is yours, too," he picked up an explosive belt and fastened it firmly around Christy's waist as Vinnie climbed out of the tunnel by himself . He and Leo started tying Christy thoroughly to the chair from head to toe. Christy was paralyzed with fear, so much so she didn't notice more dynamite being taped to her legs again, or that the tape was then wrapped over the ropes on her wrists, making absolutely sure she couldn't work them loose. It was only a low cry that brought her back to reality. Bobbie was struggling for all it was worth as Vinnie carried her up out of the trapdoor and flung her down into the chair to Christy's left at what was apparently the head of the table. She continued fighting hard, and thus it took Vinnie and Leo a good ten minutes to completely tie her to the chair and fit her with her own explosive vest and belt. Even then, Bobbie continued screaming as loud as she could into her gag and rocked her chair violently from side to side as Dawn was brought up next. She also was struggling, and strained to get out of the chair directly across from Christy after they flung her into in and started tying her to it. "You care for your friend!?" Vinnie threatened her, pointing his knife right at Christy, "We'll still slit her pretty throat right here and right now if you don't start behaving right now."

Dawn immediately stopped struggling and remained stone still while she was tied up and fitted with explosives as well. While Christy appreciated Dawn's loyalty to her, she wished she wouldn't give up trying to get free just for her sake. There was a low thump as Harvey carried Jackie out of the tunnel last. In contrast to the others, Jackie looked totally somber and defeated and offered no resistance to being tied to the chair at the foot of the table to Christy's right. "There we go," Harvey snicked once he'd finished taping dynamite to Jackie's legs after fitting her with her own vest and belt as well, "Everyone safe and accounted for until our transaction is complete with the Bryant girl," he gestured at Christy.

"You watch them, Harv," Leo instructed him, handing him a detonator, "You can blow them up if they cause any trouble-like you are now, missy!" he slapped Bobbie hard across the face to make her stop struggling so wildly and pulled her cap down over her face contemptuously, "You can blow them up or shoot them, doesn't matter to me. We'll be back down when zero hour is at hand. Speaking of which," he rounded on Christy, sneering, "Because you decided to get smart and escape, we're moving the ransom drop up to midnight tonight, so excuse us for a moment while we got call the authorities with their new deadline. And take a good look at your friends; they wouldn't be in this if you had just stayed out of our way in the first place. Pleasant dreams."

He and Vinnie walked across the room and could be heard climbing. A brief flash of light flooded the room, blinding Christy for a moment, before another trapdoor slid shut. Were they back in the cabin, Christy wondered? Then again, did it really matter, she thought sadly, lowering her head. They were all hostages again, and she knew Leo was right: it was her fault her friends had been dragged into the same predicament as her no matter what they tried to tell her. Her shoulders drooped as she glumly let the fact sink in that the clock was ticking away on her life and her friends' lives now, and nothing was going to stop it this time...

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