Kyle yawned as he woke up. “Morning,” he mumbled sleepily to Andrea, next to him in the sleeping bag they were laying in on Laurie’s bedroom floor.
“Morning,” she told him, giving him a kiss. “Morning, Laurie,” she called to their friend, lurching towards the window on her crutches, “How’s it look out there?”
“This has to be the most snow I’ve seen in years,” Laurie remarked, glancing out the window, “We’re going to have half a week of school off for sure.”
“Oh yeah,” Andrea remarked, joining her at the window to see the street buried under a massive amount of snow, “At least. I think we definitely did the right thing leaving when we did yesterday anyway.”
“Let them get buried in up there,” Laurie muttered coldly, jerking towards her closet now, “Serves them all right for dumping me like that.”
“Now Laurie, let’s be reasonable here,” Kyle tried to tell her, “Amy wasn’t really a...”
“What do you want to do today, then?” Laurie ignored him and asked Andrea.
“Don’t know. If it’s snowing like this, maybe it’s best to just crash here with you,” Andrea shrugged, grabbing for her phone on the nightstand, “No need to go out there with...”
She frowned as she tapped the screen. “What is it?” Kyle approached, noticing her reaction.
“It’s Hallie. She asked if I’d gone up with the gang; I thought I told her that yesterday,” Andrea mused, typing in the response. “Huh?” her frown got deeper, “What about the new girl?”
She typed in another response. Kyle leaned over her shoulder to watch as Hallie’s response came in: NEW GIRL IN TROUBLE AT LINK BELOW; WAS SHE THE ONE WITH YOU AND THE SIDEKICKS? Andrea clicked on the link provided-and both she and Kyle gasped at the sight of Amy tied to the chair and struggling that came up. “Oh my God...!” Andrea gasped again, horrified, “Oh god, Amy...what’s...who did this...?”
“What’s going on?” Laurie hobbled over. Andrea numbly thrust the phone at her. Laurie snorted coldly at the sight of the struggling Amy, “Well, either this is some desperate prank by them to try and lure us back, or they had enough of her and fixed her so she couldn’t bother them anymore,” she retorted.
“How can you make a joke about something like this, Laurie!?” Kyle snapped at her. He stared worriedly at the screen, “Who would kidnap her like this!?”
“I...don’t know. I...never wanted to see anything like this happen to her...!” Andrea whimpered, looking horribly guilty, “I was only standing up for Laurie; I didn’t want to see her get hurt or in danger...Kyle, if she’s in trouble, do you think the others are too!?” she spun to him.
“I don’t know, but they could be,” Kyle agreed, pale, “Come on, we’ve got to get up there and find out,” he grabbed a new set of clothes from his bag.
“No one’s leaving,” Laurie lurched in front of her bedroom door, blocking it, “Let her and them stew in their own juices, if this is even real.”
“Laurie, what the hell is your problem!?” Kyle bellowed, “Our friends lives might be in trouble, and Amy’s clearly is!”
“Even if she is, let her. You guys made your decision to stay with me, and I won’t let you go back on it!” Laurie thundered, leaning back against the door, “And we’re better off without her anyway...”
“I don’t believe I’m hearing this from you, Laurie Hurst!” Andrea advanced towards her, looking furious, “You would just stab our own friends and try and manipulate Kyle and me out of hatred for Amy...!”
“They’re not our friends anymore; they already stabbed me in the back, and I’m not going to let you and Kyle do the same to me!” Laurie angrily countered, “You’re both staying here with me...!”
“No we’re not, Laurie, we’re going to help our friends, and you’re not going to stop us!” a now fully dressed Kyle roared, stomping towards her, “Now get out of our way!”
“I said you’re not going anywhere, Ky-!” Laurie started to shout. Furious, Andrea slapped her hard across the face. “What...what...!?” a stunned Laurie turned towards her, “You...you...Andrea...we’re best friends...!”
“Not at the moment we’re not, Laurie Hurst,” Andrea growled murderously at her, “I refuse to be friends with a bitter, vindictive creep who abandons her friends and thinks only of herself. I’m with Kyle, I’m going back to help the others, and you’re not going to stop us-and you’re on your own now, too. We’re not coming back. Now out of our way.”
“Andrea...!” Laurie moaned numbly. Andrea pushed her aside, threw the bedroom door open, and stormed down the hall. Kyle followed, not looking at Laurie. “Guys, please, come on, don’t go!” a now desperate Laurie begged them, “Don’t abandon me, please! Think of me...!”
“Yeah, that’s all you’ve really done the last few weeks, Laurie: whine, complain, play the victim, and think only of yourself,” Kyle rounded on her, glaring, “I didn’t want to believe it, but I see it all now. That accident didn’t just break your body, it broke your soul. I don’t see how anyone can like the cold, vicious girl standing here now. If your father were here now, what would he think of what you’ve become? Think it over real good, Laurie. Real good.”
He slammed the bedroom door in her face. Stunned, Laurie hobbled back to the nightstand. “Are...are they right, Dad?” she weakly mumbled, picking up a photograph of her father and herself and staring at it, “Have I become a monster? Please, if you can hear me, tell me what I need to do. I don’t want to lose them...I don’t want to be alone...help me, Dad, please...!”
Amy was shivering heavily; the cold felt like it was getting colder, seemingly by the minute. She had to keep squirming around in the chair despite her muscles getting very tired and sore by now, or she felt she would freeze solid for good. So far, though, her efforts had been for naught; her ropes hadn’t seemed to loosen at all, and in fact felt like they had tightened from her struggles. Her gag and blindfold were as tight as before too, the gag pulling intolerably at the corners of her mouth and the blindfold feeling like it was squeezing her head.
“Don’t give up, Newberry, no matter what,” she urged herself on, trying to ignore the cold and the pain of the ropes, “You’re dead if you do. Hopefully someone’ll come...I sure hope Dylan was lying that the others don’t really care...” she thought back worriedly to his earlier conversation with her. “Oh come on, Amy, he’s got to be lying. Especially when they were all so sweet and friendly with you. But how can they find me?” she worried again, “They would have been here by now if they’d been able to follow me, and how can they find me in this storm!? It’s probably in your own hands to get out of this...these guys sure know how to tie ropes!” she winced as the ropes dug hard into her when she tried to twist her upper body sideways, ”There’s got to be a way to loosen them...!”
She heard a door swing shut above her. “Provisions all packed up?” she heard Nevin ask out loud.
“Almost done, babe,” the woman said, followed by a kiss ringing out, “Do we move out immediately?”
“No, better to wait until the storm starts dying down. No one’s coming up here in a blizzard, after all, and I don’t want to get lost in the snow.”
“Where are we going once we bail, Uncle Nevin?” Dylan spoke up now.
“I placed a call before the job to Gil over in Floodsville, Dyl; he’ll shelter us for a while at one of his hideouts until we can get the right passports and disguises to leave the country with the loot. So take heart, my boy; soon you’ll be on the beach in South America living the good life your idiot dad couldn’t bother giving you.”
“Sounds great, Uncle Nevin,” Dylan sounded thrilled, “And Amy...?”
“Don’t worry about her; we’re going to kill her before we go. Now that we have her family’s attention, no need for her to still be alive when we get the money from them, especially since she’s seen your face,” Nevin said coldly, which sent a brutal chill of terror up Amy’s spine, “But you’ll have some time alone with her before we go, I promise. Right now, help us load up some more.”
The door swung back open, then closed. Amy was numb with fear: they were going to kill her no matter what! She had to hurry and get away now...but how...?
“Maybe there’s something I can cut myself loose with, if I just can move enough-and if only I could see a thing!” she lamented, wishing she hadn’t been blindfolded, “If I could at least get this cloth off my eyes and see what I might have to work with here...”
She wrenched her body to the right. The chair jerked an inch with a loud groan. Amy paused in case her captors had heard anything, but there was no sounds from above. She was alone at the moment, which meant she had a chance to do something if she could make the best of it. She jerked hard to the right again. The large size of the chair she was tied to made moving difficult, and with only her toes touching the ground, that took away her ability to control her actions better. Still, she jerked hard again and again, and the chair continued moving. Finally, without warning, she smacked hard into a post of some kind. Amy groaned from the impact, then moved her cheek up and down against the post. Its wood seemed rough, perhaps rough enough to work as a saw. And perhaps more...
Taking a deep breath, Amy rubbed her side up and down against the post, hoping it would loosen the ropes holding her back to the back of the chair for starters. She simultaneously pressed her face against the post and jerked it hard downward, trying to push the blindfold off her eyes. The cloth did not move at all on the first try, but on the second she felt it move upwards slightly. A third push moved it even higher, almost to the bottom of her eyes. A final fourth push moved up enough so that she saw light for the first time in ages. Amy blinked against it until her eyes had adjusted. Although the blindfold still partially obstructed her vision, she took note of the cellar she was in. The walls were solid stone, and junk littered the floor everywhere. Amy could not see anything with sharp edges that might further cut her ropes, but she did notice several nails with protruding heads sticking out of the post. Perhaps one of them would be useful...
Shivering harder-the snow was flying through the open windows in droves- she squirmed the chair around so that she could work the ropes around her upper body against two such nails. She twisted her head sideways again, trying to use the post to get her gag off as well. This time, however, she was stymied; the cloth was jammed much too tightly between her teeth to move no matter how hard she rubbed it against the post, and she could not turn her head far enough to work the gag’s knot either. “Oh well,” she conceded, “If I can get out of these ropes, it won’t matter; I’ll just pull it out easy. Come on, work! Who knows when they’ll be back...!?"
And to her delight, she could see the nails fraying the ropes bound around her chest. Finally, about three minutes later, they snapped, sending the mass of ropes tumbling down into her lap. Flush with delight, Amy jerked backwards, hoping to get into position to saw one of her wrists free next...
...but frowned when she saw the nails in question were too high for the ropes on her right wrist, no matter how much she strained her hand upward. She glanced around the post and saw one more that was on the right level on the other side. She gave a hard jerk to the right to try and get to it...
...too hard of a jerk, however, as the chair started tipping over sideways from the force of the move. Amy desperately tried to jerk hard back to the left, but it was too late: she crashed hard into the floor with a loud bang and a cry of pain. Almost immediately, the door swung open back upstairs. “What’s going on down there!?” Nevin demanded out loud, “If that brat’s trying to escape, she’s gonna paid hard!”
Amy tried to get back upright, but she was stuck. Footsteps stomped down the stairs. “So, you wouldn’t listen, princess, would you!?” Nevin’s voice thundered over her. Amy looked up to get her first good look at him. He was a rather squat man, with wild hair and an unshaven face, and dark, ominous eyes. “I warned you not to try anything,” he told her furiously, giving her a frightening look, “Well now, you’ve got a hard price to learn, young lady!”
“I just, I just feel so guilty,” Mr. Newberry mumbled, slumped forward on the desk of the lead sergeant at the Coalport police station, “She’s my only child, and she wouldn’t be in this mess if we’d stayed in Philly...!”
“Now Mr. Newberry, you had no way of knowing this would happen,” the sergeant tried to reassure him.
“Well I feel responsible,” he lamented grimly, “Amy had a bad feeling something terrible was going to happen to her; she’s been that way for a while now. I dismissed it as anxiety over moving...I thought everything was going to go fine on her trip with her new friends, even though Kelly was worried too...I should have listened to them both, maybe...”
He shook his head softly. “Do you have any idea who these people who took Amy are?” he asked the sergeant, “They said they were the ones who robbed the bank in town the other day...”
“We’re still looking at leads, Mr. Newberry,” the sergeant said, “These guys have gone on a crime spree over the last few months in the Tri-County area: banks, jewelry stores, you name it. No one’s been able to positively ID them yet, though. I want you to know, you’re not alone; there was a girl over in Waterburg who was kidnapped like this over the summer. I can set you up to talk to her parents if you’d want.”
“Well, we’ll see. Maybe it’s those kidnappers who...”
“No, it’s not; they were killed when that girl was rescued. But who knows, maybe these guys knew them, and...”
A familiar scream of anguish rose up outside the sergeant office. “Oh no...!” Mr. Newberry grimaced, his blood freezing solid. He rushed for the door, and almost immediately bumped into his hysterically sobbing wife outside. “Kelly, please don’t tell me Amy’s...!?” he started to ask, fearing the worst.
“They’re beating her!” Mrs. Newberry shrieked in agony, “I was watching the live feed; she was making progress trying to escape, but she made a mistake and alerted them, and now those animals are beating her! Do something, please!” she begged the sergeant.
“Did you get a good look at them, Mrs. Newberry?” the sergeant asked grimly.
“No! They put ski masks on before they went into camera frame! What did my baby ever do to deserve this!?” Mrs. Newberry wailed, sliding to the floor and sobbing out of control.
“I don’t know, Mrs. Newberry,” the sergeant put a sympathetic hand on her shoulder, “Evil by nature is a lack of logic or reason.”
“We’ll give them anything they want if it saves Amy. Call them somehow and tell them they can have every cent to our names, our house, our cars, everything. Kelly and I’ll trade places with them, just please bring our girl back safely!” Mr. Newberry pleaded the policeman.
“We’ll try and get in touch with them, Mr. Newberry. But with this blizzard still going on, we’re not going to be able to move out in the near term. I know that’s not what you want to hear, but it’s the best I can offer,” the sergeant said softly. Mr. Newberry slid to the floor next to his wife. “I’m so sorry, Kelly. Maybe we should have stayed in the city. And I should have listened to you and Amy when you said you had a bad feeling about this...” he mumbled miserably.
“Take my hand,” Mrs. Newberry grasped it. “Pray hard for Amy, Scott,” she begged him sliding to her knees and bowing her head, “Prayers are all she has right now...”
“You only have yourself to blame, Amy. Uncle Nevin warned you not to escape,” Dylan told her coldly, although she could not see him, as the blindfold had been tied back over her eyes. Amy was fighting to keep from crying from the horrific pain of what she’d just been put through that was searing through her body; the last thing she wanted was to cry now in his presence. The terrible ordeal had likely lasted no more than five minutes at most, but it had felt like an eternity of pain and agony that she’d been terrified she’d die from.
She winced as ropes started winding around her upper body again-and indeed all over her body. “This time, we’re going to fix you so good that you won’t be able to move a single muscle in your whole body,” the other man snarled at her, “And we’re taking a couple other good precautions on you too; Vera?”
Amy jerked upright as she felt something cold rubbing against her exposed right forearm. Seconds later, she yelped as a needle jabbed into her arm. “Don’t shout, baby, it’s just a sedative,” the woman told her condescendingly, “You’re going to take a nice long nap for a couple of hours.”
“How long, Vera?” Nevin asked her.
“Probably about five or six hours from this dose, Nevin.”
“OK, that’s good,” he agreed. And Amy could already feel a sensation of exhaustion starting to build deep down inside her, racing through her system. It would overwhelm her in no time...
Then she felt something else: two objects being shoved against both sides of her heads...the barrels of two double barreled shotguns. “OOOOOOO OOOOOOO, OOOOOOOONNNNNN!” the desperate cry escaped her gag. A hard hand slammed down on the top of her head to hold it still while tape could be heard being wrapped around the gun barrels-and then around her forehead, locking the guns in place to her head. “Now we know you’ll not going to try and escape again,” Nevin snarled at her, “We’re attaching wires to the triggers and tying them off to the posts on either side of you; move your head even a little from now on, and you die instantly. And I’m pretty sure you’re not going to want that, do you?”
“EEEEEEEEzzzzzz, oooooonnnnn ooooooo zzzzzzzzzz!” Amy found herself whimpering, shaking fearfully. She simply could not stay brave anymore. Nor, for that matter, could she stay awake, for the sedative was overwhelming her now. The darkness rapidly swept over her, and soon she was back in the blackness.