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As Time Runs Away
As Time Runs Away
“Stop! Stop, let go! Where are you taking me? No, let go! Mom! Dad! Stop! mmmmmmmmpt…”
“Claudia, we are ready to leave! Hurry up! Claudia!” Maria Hopen yelled to her daughter. Maria banged on Claudia’s hotel room door. Claudia sat on her bed with her eyes closed and her headphones on, trying to ignore her mother. They had only been in Spain eight days and already she was sick of her parents nagging and intense questioning.
“Claudia, come out now.” her father said in a stern tone. Claudia pulled herself from the bed slowly. She threw open the door and stormed past her parents to the elevator then smashed down the button.
It wasn’t even that she hated being in Spain, and she didn’t hate being with her parents. She hated that they never let her be alone to explore the beautiful streets of Spain and to enjoy her vacation. She and her family went down the elevator and walked through the crowded lobby of the hotel towards the door. Out of the corner of her eye Claudia saw a boy waving at her. She was suddenly struck by an idea. She could walk away right now and no one would notice, especially not her parents. So she did.
“Hi, I’m Claudia“, she said as she sat down in the chair next to the boy.
He turned around to face her and said, “Nice to meet you Claudia. I’m Alexander.”
“Well hey Alexander. Want to show me some cool places in Spain?” Claudia asked as she stood up.
“I’d love to!” he replied. He stood up and took her hand, leading her out of the hotel.
“What?! You haven’t seen her since the hotel?” Maria screeched. “Where is she?” Maria and Daniel were frantically searching for their daughter. Maria could barely move. Fear had taken over her nervous system, leaving her paralyzed. Daniel could not stop moving. One phrase was being repeated in his head over and over: I have to find my daughter.
“So Claudia, here we are in Plaza Del Sol. Isn’t it beautiful? “ Alexander asked awe in his voice. “It’s gorgeous, really”, Claudia replied. “I’m so thirsty! Where can I get a drink?” “You sit here. I’ll get it”, Alexander yelled over his shoulder as he walked away. Claudia sat down. Alexander did go get a drink but when he met an older girl in the restaurant the drink never made it back to Claudia. Minutes passed and she started to worry. What if he doesn’t come back? What do I do now? She got up to go look around. She walked past restaurants filled with faces, none of them Alexander’s. As she walked past an alley, she felt a soft cloth cover her mouth and nose. The fear running through her veins caused her to take a deep breath. As soon as her lungs filled with air it felt like a fog filled her head. She was so tired. She felt herself fall into someone’s arms; someone unfamiliar.
7:40 A. M.
Maria was running to the police station when something caught her attention. A sign in front of a rusty old store . The sign read OPEN but someone had put an H in front of it. She walked over to and pulled off the note that hung underneath: I have your daughter. Don’t go to the police or I’ll kill her.
Tears streamed down Maria’s cheeks and a scream built up inside of her. “What’s wrong? What is it?” Daniel asked. She passed him the note and sat down. Maria buried her head in her hands. She stared at the ground and noticed an arrow. It pointed towards a mailbox. Maria jumped up and ran to it. Inside was a note written on a flap of fabric: Follow the track from the sun. “Plaza Del Sol” Maria whispered.
“Get off me!” Claudia threatened while kicking Ian in the mouth. “Let me go!” she yelled. Her throat burned from screaming but she couldn’t stop. Her anger was eating her up inside. If she wasn’t so tied up she would kill Ian. H had kidnapped her and now she was so afraid she was ready to do anything to escape. Everything about him was unfamiliar, his pale skin, his lanky arms, his broken wire glasses, she was stuck in this unfamiliar place now being held captive by an unfamiliar man. She was still recovering from the shock she couldn’t help pinching herself, tears welling in her eyes when she felt the sharp stab of pain. Thousands of questions ran through her brain but her body had entered defense mode. The only thing she could focus in was hurting Ian. She attempted another kick at him but. he grabbed her legs and tied them to the pole at the bottom of the van.
“See, my little pet, it’s okay” Ian said as he stroked Claudia’s cheek. Claudia turned her face and bit him. “Ouch! I wonder if your parents will miss you at all you terrible child” he shouted. “Get out of the car. Get out, get out! I have to leave your ransom note and then we have to get something at the palace so get a move on!” Ian casually locked their palms together making it look like they were just holding hands. “You’re not getting away, Princess” he whispered. They walked towards a pay phone to leave a ransom call for the Hopens. As he did this, Claudia leaned down and scribbled “Where the royals once laid. Be quick.” into the dirt.
“I know this is what she meant. I know. I know.” Maria whispered to herself while continuing to look for the tracks Claudia had written about.
“Maria! Maria, over here! I think I found it!” David yelled. Maria ran to him and looked down the alley. She pulled in a breath, holding it there, battling back tears, fighting the scream climbing her throat. In front of her was a white cloth lying limp on the ground, footprints going backwards and two drag lines followed by drips of blood. David raced to see where the tracks led. He was disappointed to find they ended with the alley. Maria followed but stopped when her phone rang.
“Hello Mrs. Hopen . It’s the hotel. There is a message for you. Someone called about your daughter and money but I couldn’t quite make out what he said. The call came from a pay phone in the Plaza Del Sol. Maria slammed the phone and ran to the car.
“That must be the phone” David whispered. They both held their breath and prayed there would be another note or clue. David spotted it first. The writing in the dirt.
“Are, are, are, those your parents. You terrible child! What did you do?”
“Why didn’t we check here first?! How could we have been so dumb?” Maria asked anxiously. If she could she have she would have pounced out of the window into the palace.
“Get into the basement!” Get, go!” Ian yelled pushing Claudia towards the basement.
“Stop! Stop, let go! Where are you taking me? No, let go! Mom! Dad! Stop! Nmephbaa…” she said as Ian put his hand over her mouth leading her towards a sketchy area labeled staff only. He ferociously tumbled them both down the stairs after picking the lock. He found an old chair and tied Claudia to it. “They’ll find me! It’s only a matter of time!”
“Shut up! Shut up! Shut up before I…” Ian yelled in Claudia’s face. He raised his hand as if to hit her but then dropped his arm, spun on his heels and started pacing. “I need that money. I can’t go back. I can’t. I’m not crazy! I don’t need to be there! I’m not crazy! I am not.” Ian whispered angrily “I need that money.” He spun back around and looked Claudia dead in the eye. He reached into his right pocket and pulled out a gun.
“Where could they be?” David said in Maria’s ear. “This has to be the place Claudia meant. Let’s split up. You go that way, I’ll go this way.”
Maria desperately searched for her daughter, for a sign, for anything. Suddenly she saw drag marks leading to an open door. She ran and sprinted down the stairs, barreled around the corner and came face to face with Ian pointing a gun at her daughter and now her as well.
“Just give me the money and I’ll give you your daughter!” Ian yelled.
“I don’t, I don’t have that kind of money.” Maria barley whispered. Ian took another step towards Claudia. “But I’ll get it! I’ll get!!” Maria screeched moving towards Claudia as well.
“I need it..” Ian fell to the ground, his head gushing blood. David stood over him holding a broken pipe. Maria ran to Claudia and untied her. She cried and hugged her. David stood in shock until Claudia ran to him then a wave of happy tears exploded out of him.
“This is Tammy with CNN news and here we have Claudia., the young girl kidnapped earlier today by an escaped mental patient seeking money to pay for his “wife and kids who died three years ago in a tragic fire. I guess some people just never recover..”