The Kidnapper of Falton
A short story
Shelby Grace came into my office today. Her green eyes were bloodshot and swollen from sobbing. Her little brother Jonas, was kidnapped in the woods surrounding their home. She told me the horrific story of how it happened this afternoon. She said that it was a regular Saturday morning for the two, she was washing dishes in the kitchen while Jonas was playing outside with his army men. When she looked out the window to check on Jonas, she saw a distorted man standing behind a thick tree watching Jonas playing in the grass. Terrified, she ran outside the door to grab Jonas and pull him into safety, but when she got outside the man was missing, and so was Jonas. She ran around the house screaming his name, searching everywhere and running through the woods were she had seen the man standing, but there were no tracks from the man’s feet, and no signs of struggle between Jonas and the man.
I turn her story over in my mind, trying to picture everything she saw. I’ve covered other recent cases on missing children, but none of them rendered successful. If I solve this new case, then I might be able to redeem myself in the workplace and satisfy my guilty insomnia. Shelby Grace’s case is different though because of her circumstances. She has been raising Jonas alone, without help from their parents. A brief background on Shelby and Jonas’s file portrays a difficult life for the two kids. Their parents, Rick and Darlene, neglected Shelby and Jonas for intense drug abuse five years ago. Since then, Shelby’s had to grow up very fast in order to provide for herself and little brother. She recently had a birthday, and turning 24 years old in late September. Her physical and mental determination to raise her brother only amplifies her obvious natural beauty. Her flushed lips and faintly freckled cheeks return to my mind and I can see her long auburn ponytail curtain her back. I jump and mentally shake myself. Ashamed of my personal thoughts, I take a sip of coffee and refocus. After the interview was completed between Shelby and I, Officer James gave me a warrant for the kidnapper’s arrest and I began my search immediately. The previous cops weren’t able to pick up any trail from the man, and that’s why they’ve called me, a specialist in disappearances ranging from runaways to murders. Yet my previous unfinished cases from the other missing children haunt me, leaving me feeling worthless. I want to be the hero for these mourning families, but so far I’ve found no clear leads on where the other children have disappeared to.
I can hear the lonely highway of 112 pass under me as I drive, and speckles of mist collect on my windshield and form water droplets. The rain is always a constant factor in the state of Washington, and the beautiful green forests that contrast with the grey coastline makes it all the more appealing. I approach the town of Falton and make a left at a weathered stop light. The town is small, but it has distinct culture and country roots featured throughout the shops and stores. After navigating through town, I drive a couple minutes until I reach the address of the Jonas case. I get out of my car and observe my surroundings, keeping an eye on the woods around me. Shelby’s house is a small, white home with an attractively painted chocolate brown porch centering the entrance of the front door. An old blue and red swing set stands off to the side of the yard, and leaning on the side of the house is a green bike with worn handlebars and pedals. I see Jonas’s army men scattered near the end of the yard and I walk up to them. I look at the house and see a large window from where I imagine the kitchen being. I walk over to that window and turn to look out upon the yard. In my view I can see the old swing set and a few army figures dotting the grass along with the shadowed entrance to the deep woods. A nervous flip flop drops to my stomach, and I look deeper into the woods and see a large thick tree, biggest in size compared to the rest of the trees. I stare at the tree trunk and imagine the man standing behind it, watching me. A chill runs down my spine and I swallow nervously. I force myself to blink and just like that, the moment of fear has escaped me and I’m focused again. I zip up my jacket and load my glock, resuming my investigation in the woods.
I step into the dense forest and approach the thick tree where the suspect was last seen. I circle the tree and raise my gun across my body. With careful and quiet steps I walk into the woods, eyes peeled for any dangerous person. A cool breeze flows through the forest as I step over fallen trees and vibrant moss-covered rocks. Taking a steady breath, I try to imagine the kidnappers course: which way would he run, where is the clearest path. I see a slim stretch of clearance, and find an irregular broken twig laying to the side. I’m on his trial, and a new ripple of confidence flows inside me. Quickening my pace I continue walking, and after a few minutes of searching I come across this steep hillside and decide to climb it to gain a better vantage point. Quietly, I reach the top of the hill and lower my body to the ground, keeping my profile undetected. At the top I see the continued forest, and small cleared acres dotting the landscape. I squint, and I can see a small abandoned house about a mile away with faint smoke rising from it’s chimney.
I ease my way down the steep incline using the surrounding trees for cover. Finally close to the abandoned house, I can see a man pacing within the broken windows. He’s talking quietly to himself- or maybe to someone else? A hopeful thought comes to mind: Jonas might still be alive. I crouch and slowly make my way around the forest, approaching the house without breaking cover of the dense treeline. The man comes outside and I’m finally able to identify him. He’s a short man with a bigger belly than limbs, round glasses framing his empty face. Dull eyes with no emotion lay beneath them. He walks over to a nearby barrel and pulls out three logs of firewood. Realizing my chance, I look around seeing if I can throw something to draw his attention. I find a baseball sized rock behind me and chunk it out across the lawn. It lands a few feet behind the hunchy man and he spins around to see where the noise came from. I hold my breath, and my heart races, should I shoot him? Should I tackle him? He’s not the confirmed felon, but I do have a warrant and what I see perfectly fits the illustration laying on my desk in my office. I decide to take the more difficult route.
I leap from my hiding spot and tackle him. He gives a surprised shout, and we roll for a moment. The man pushes me, trying to get me off him so he can run. I yell at him while we struggle and tell him to stay down, that I’m with the police and I have a warrant for his arrest. He continues to try and break away from my grip, and then the man strikes me in the temple with a rock, the same **** rock I threw earlier to get his attention. My vision is swayed and my ears ring. I’m stunned and he manages to get out from under me and bolts towards the house. Struggling, I get up and jog after him, my vision still very weak. After a few moments, my vision has cleared and I sprint towards the house with the man already inside. I fling the broken door open, breaking it off its hinges. Looking around the interior of the home I see black and green mold stretching its way across the room. The stench of rotting furniture throughout the house sends a pungent odor to my nose, making my eyes water. I hear a muffled yelp from the end of the house and I launch myself into search mode, looking through every room and flinging trash sporadically across the living area. I reach the end of the house and hear scurrying sounds come from behind a closed door. I hear multiple yelps and squeals, high pitched and frantic. I try to enter but it feels like the door is blocked. Taking a few steps back, I brace myself and ram my shoulder through the door, crashing down to the ground getting the air is knocked out of me. The room smells of urine and body odor, and I look up to see five different sets of chains and cuffs attached to the wall. I grab my gun and notice torn clothing and children shoes lining the entrance to the door, and then I see a real life terror. The man that I’ve been pursuing is standing in the corner of the room huddle around four children- the same four children that went missing with no trace. They’re unfinished cases were the ones that I had started before Jonas’s, and those are the cases that had caused me insomnia and also gave me no credibility within my job. I remember their faces from the profile photo I was given because I’ve studied their features everyday since. But now those children are filthy, cloaked in dirt with greasy hair and mud covered feet. They tremble beneath their dominant captor, who is now frozen with fear.
¨You can’t take them, you won’t take them. I’ve earned them- They’re my friends!.¨ The man says, with anger in his voice, his eyes searching around the room nervously avoiding mine. I can tell that he’s been mentally abused throughout his childhood.
¨No they are not your children, they have parents that love them and miss them. Now let them go, or I will shoot you.” I look at him and aim my gun at his shoulder, confident in my shot. He hesitates and shuts his eyes hard, shaking his head in refusal violently. I fire and the bullet pierces through his fat shoulder. With a screech he drops to the floor releasing the children.
“What’s your name, and where is Jonas? You took him too but he also doesn’t belong to you.” I demand from the man.
He cries and looks up at me with anger in his countenance, lips quivering he replies,
“My name is Roy, and Jonas is outside. These children are my friends and I love them.”
The kids approach me, and one grabs my hand while the other three hide behind me. I cuff the man and he becomes silent, staring at the floor he goes into shock and I can’t get any more motive out of him. I call an ambulance and my unit to the grounds, but it takes them a while to hike through the deep woods. I tie Roy up to a tree outside and then the other children lead me to an old shed where Jonas was being held. I open the rusted metal door to the shed and step inside where I see Jonas cuffed to the corner of the shed, maybe with three inches of room to move about. His small face squints from the light of the opened door, his cheeks stained with tears and a large cut above his eyebrow is now crusted with dark blood. I show him my badge, and explain gently to him that I’m here to rescue him. He explodes with tears and is filled with relief as I help him out of the cuffs. He throws his arms around me and cries, saying thank you over and over again. I help him out of the shed and walk him to where the other dirty children are. They’re sitting in the grass quietly talking amongst themselves still a little shaky from the arrest. I sit in the grass with them and we wait for our support to come. I feel a huge amount of solace fall over me, and I close my eyes thanking God for helping me win this battle. I ask questions and write down each individual story of each child, gaining more details on how they were kidnapped too.
The assistance finally arrives and all the children were taken to the emergency room, where they were joyfully reunited with their parents. The police and my unit took the man to jail, and sentenced him with 200 years of prison with no trial. When I returned to work, the whole office had thrown me a party congratulating me on my huge success. I received multiple letters of appreciation from the rescued children, and from Jonas. Each word I read from those letters swelled my heart with compassion and relief. I even got a call from Shelby Grace, thanking me over and over again for my service to her family. Later that evening, I received a new chilling file on Roy. He must be seeing a counselor while he’s in prison. The report was surprisingly sad, and made me feel pity for his life. The report said this:
Parents mentally abused him since birth, depriving him of any friends or company. They refused to give him any toys or buy new clothes for him. They showed him no love or affection, they just made sure he was living. He was homeschooled and never experienced a normal childhood. The result was a very socially immature and awkward mind that longed for social interaction, but he was not able to produce it because of his extremely sheltered life. When he finally left home, he took an easy job as a convenient store stocker. He wasn’t able to make friends in his workplace, but if he discovered that interacting with children was very easy, and interacted with them as much as possible. This in turn lead to his desire of childhood interaction and companionship, resulting in youth kidnappings.