Farewell to Three Loyal Friends
Jonathan groaned as he came to. His head hurt from the blow. He tried as best as he could to ignore it as he glanced around the shed. It was getting dark again, and the light was dimming. He did note, however, that the chair and the ropes that had been lying around it when he'd first come in were gone. Were they being used again, he couldn't help wondering? If so, where, and on whom?
He rose to his feet and bustled quickly to the door. He yanked the knob hard, but the door refused to give. He was locked in. "Open up!" he shouted as loud as he could, "Someone, let me out of here!"
There was no answer. Jonathan smashed his shoulder into the door repeatedly, but it refused to give. Finally, he gave up and kicked at it in frustration. He dug through his pockets. Unfortunately, his cell phone was gone now. Sighing, he sank to the floor. He'd really done it this time; now he'd gotten himself mixed up in whatever had been going on with Christy, and he couldn't call for backup. What was he supposed to do now...?
He heard footsteps crunching outside. He rushed back to the door and pounded on it again. "Let me out of here, now!" he shouted.
A gunshot suddenly ripped into the shed inches form his shoulder, making him jump backwards. "Just shut up in there, kid!" snarled a gruff voice, "I'm warning you now, you cause us any trouble and you're dead now!"
"You sure we're completely out of rope?" another voice spoke up, frustrated, "I wish we could fix him too to make sure."
"Unfortunately yeah, Vinnie; we had to use every last bit fixing those girls as well as possible. I wish we could play it safe and fix him too, but what is is, and at this stage it doesn't matter," the first man muttered, "He's not going anywhere anyway. Now go take care of your job."
"All right, all right," the second man grumbled. Their voices went silent, and footsteps walked away. Seconds later, Jonathan heard a vehicle start; probably Mr. Everett's ranger van, he reasoned. He slumped against the wall as it drove off, discouraged. He'd failed Christy. Instead of being a hero, he'd ended up being captured himself. It was his fault for not being careful if she died from here on.
"I'm so sorry, Christy," he thought glumly, "I'm not worth your affection in the end. I guess it was never meant to be."
He glanced around the darkening shed. Surely there had to be something he could use to get out of it. In the corner were several long boards of wood. At least one of them looked like it had a sharp point. A rudimentary idea crossed Jonathan's mind. He wasn't sure if it was going to work, but at this stage anything was worth a try. He put his ear to the wall to see if anyone was standing guard outside. There was no sound at all, hinting he might well not be guarded. He bustled over and picked up the topmost board with a sharp edge. He rushed for the door and tried jamming it underneath the topmost bolt, which fortunately was on the inside. He started applying as much pressure as he could, praying the plan worked, or things look quite bleak for Christy in all likelihood...
Christy didn't feel like struggling anymore. She sat stone still in her chair, her head slumped forward in misery. It wouldn't have done any good anyway, she knew with a sad sigh; there was no way she was freeing her hands from both rope and tape, which together made it feel like steel had been welded over them. The ropes holding her to the chair seemed even tighter this time, in fact-so much that Christy's shoulders felt like they were being squeezed mercilessly and she was losing circulation in her arms and legs. Along with her previous injuries, she was in an excruciating amount of pain. No, she knew, struggling would only make the pain so much worse. What she was going through now was enough; she'd give anything to just end the pain now, even if it meant...
She squinted her eyes shut as Harvey aimed his flashlight right in her face. The light from the still burning lantern overhead provided only weak illumination, so Harvey had occasionally examined his prisoners over the last few hours with his flashlight to make sure they weren't going to leave their chairs any time soon. Christy thought this unnecessary; doing the same thing to her friends as they'd done to her assured none of them were getting free. To her left, though, this was not deterring Bobbie, who even now, hours after they'd been imprisoned in this small room, was still rocking out of control from side to side in her chair, struggling with her bonds. Rolling her head wildly all around and forcing cries through the cloth holding her lips shut, Bobbie clearly wasn't going down without a fight. At first, Harvey had repeatedly warned her to stop or else, but even several hard slaps hadn't stopped Bobbie's increasingly hysterical efforts to get free, and so Harvey had backed off in the end, content to let her absolutely exhaust herself. Christy, though, was surprised Bobbie still had this much stamina left in her after so many hours. Well, she thought glumly, it was only a matter of time before Bobbie would tire out regardless...
In marked contrast to Bobbie's wild struggles, on Christy's right, soft whimpering and sniffling could be heard. Jackie was too terrified to even bother struggling, and had sat absolutely still in her chair crying in fear for hours. In the dim light of the lantern, Christy could see the pure terror in her friend's tear-streaked eyes, the total and complete fear that was paralyzing her completely. "Poor Jackie," she shook her head sadly, "She's had it the worst of any of us throughout this whole ordeal. I wish they'd show her some semblance of mercy and just let her go."
She sighed loudly, knowing full well Jackie wasn't going free any more than she was. The explosive vest and belt seemed to be getting heavier and heavier each passing second as time steamed on towards the point that they'd inevitably be used. She might have been able to see and hear this time, but Christy still felt totally isolated and alone even with her friends next to her.
She glanced across the table at Dawn, hoping her best friend would be able to give her some comfort. While not doing so as intensely as Bobbie, Dawn was at least still trying to struggle herself, twisting around softly in her chair while taking deep breaths with her eyes closed. But Christy knew Dawn had no chance of getting free, not with tape over the ropes on her wrists either. And indeed, it was at this moment Dawn stopped struggling with a low sigh of frustration. Sadness and resignation hung over her face as she looked up to see Christy watching her intensely. "I'm sorry Christy," she tried to say with her eyes, Christy thought, "There's no way out of this one. But at least we'll go out together. I'll be right here for you to the end, I promise."
Christy managed a weak nod and hung her head again, fighting with all her strength to hold back the tears again. Why didn't the kidnappers just get it over with now...?
It was indeed at that moment the trapdoor above swung open. It had to be well after dark now, Christy realized, as she wasn't immediately blinded with light. "It's all set Harvey," Leo leaned came down the ladder, "The ransom's being dropped now, so bring Miss Bryant and let's finish this before we leave the country."
He took the lantern from its hook and climbed back up. Harvey picked Christy up, chair and all, and carried her over to the ladder. Behind them, Jackie let out a loud, terrified cry, her eyes all but begging the men to take her along as well. "Oh no, Miss Gregory, you're not going to want to come with us," Leo called over to her smugly, "I'd say you and the others here have it lucky, as you'll find out very shortly."
Unconvinced, Jackie continued crying loudly into her gag, her eyes wide in fear, and started throwing herself around in her chair as hard as Bobbie had been before. Christy, meanwhile, was lifted up out of the secret room. She glanced around as she was set down on the floor. Her brow furled. It appeared they'd been taken back to the old cabin next to the shed she'd been locked in before, as the dimensions looked similar to what she'd seen on the outside. So it had been easy for them to find her and her friends in the cave, she knew with a heavy heart. They'd never been safe at all...
"OK, Christina my girl, you are now bound for glory," Leo handed the lantern to Harvey and picked up her chair himself, "Vinnie's out fishing your ransom out of the lake; as long as he doesn't do something stupid to get caught, we'll soon leave for the promised land-Uruguay. But first, some loose ends need to be wrapped up, starting here."
Christy's heart froze. That didn't sound good. Leo set her down on the ground outside, facing the cabin. Yes, it was the same; she could see the shed off to her right. But her attention was immediately caught by Leo turning the lantern's crank to raise the flame up to full power. And in a flash, Christy realized what the men planned to do to her friends. "NO, DON'T DO IT, LEAVE THEM LIVE, I'M BEGGING YOU, LET THEM LIVE!" she shrieked as loud as the gag would permit. Harvey stared at her, then coldly shook his head and smashed the lantern against the old wooden door. In seconds a brisk fire had started burning. "That's old decayed wood," Leo taunted her right next to her face, "I'd say they've got no more than five minutes before they're burned to a crisp-oh but don't you worry, Christina my dear, it'll be quick and painless for them, unlike with you."
"NOOOOOOOOO!" she was utterly horror-stricken. Too shocked to struggle, she was caught off-guard as tape was abruptly wrapped around her head over her eyes. "Take care of the shed too, Harv, while I load her up," Leo called to him. Christy felt herself being lifted up again and carried who knew where, leaving her friends to die mere feet away...all her fault, she knew sadly...