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Mark Carmen flicked his cigarette and watched as the still burning embers fell slowly to the ground. He stared at his old police badge, remembering when he had been a cop. Remembering why he had left and why he was not back today. That was the very reason he didn’t like God very much. Why he no longer attended church. Mark had lost faith. He looked at his .32 in its holster. It reminded him of how he ended someone’s life. How he had ended two people’s lives.
Death is inevitable, he thought, it is a way of life. To live is to die. We can’t escape it.
A memory of his daughter flashed through his mind. She was beautiful. He imagined sunlight beaming from her golden blonde hair, and crystal clear water flowing behind her light blue eyes. Then he remembered her smile. Yes, her smile. He remembered when she would smile at him. It lit up any room she went in. She was much happier now where she was, or at least Mark hoped so.
Mark slammed his fist down in anger and screamed, inside and out. Jessica. That was her name. It jumped around in his crowded mind like a rabbit hopping about. Jessica reminded him of his wife, Brittany, so much. Mark stood and looked at a picture of himself with his arms wrapped around his wife. However, she too was in a happier place now.
Mark knew for a fact that he would not be happy when he died. He would surely go to Hell for what he did. It had to be done though. Justice. Mark closed his eyes. Jessica would have been sixteen today. Mark began to think about the past.
4 Years Ago
December 11th, 2012
Jessica Carmen slipped from her bed and sprinted downstairs. It was December 11th, he birthday. She was twelve years old. Today would be the best day of her life. Tomorrow would be the worst.
“Surprise!” She heard as she entered the dining room. Wow! So many people! All of her friends were there, as well as her favorite teachers from the past. A colorful banner read: “Happy Birthday, Jess! We all love you!” Arms came around her from behind and she was pulled close to her best friend.
“Happy Birthday!” Bailey, her best friend, yelled into her ears.
“Bailey!” Jessica screamed as she turned around and hugged her. Jessica’s other friend, Sydney, came up and told her happy birthday as well. When the party ended, Mark came up to Jessica and handed her a small box. She opened it and grinned from ear to ear. It was a gold locket shaped like a heart. A gold chain held the heart in place. Jessica removed it from the small black box and put it around her neck.
“Open it,” Her father said. She did and she saw a picture of her, her Mother, and her Father.
“It’s beautiful, Daddy, thank you.” She smiled.
“I thought you’d like it, it was your Mother’s. That picture was taken two years ago on your tenth birthday, do you remember it?”
“Yes Father,” Jessica told him, “I do.”
A vision of her Mother flashed through her mind. Her Mother had been beautiful. Tornado swirl eyes twirled when she smiled. Jessica could picture her Mother brushing her flowing blonde hair.
“When did Mother die again?” Jessica asked, shattering the moment. She had forgotten.
Mark started to cry. He got a tissue and began to dab at his eyes. Every time he thought about his wife, he cried. He missed her so, so much. “She died a week after that picture was taken.”
“I miss her,” Jessica sniffled.
“I know sweetie, so do I, so do I.”
The next morning, Jessica headed off to school, excited that she was twelve. She was excited about the events to come. But she could have never prepared herself for the pain that would consume her life later that day.
Two Weeks Earlier
Griffin Harper and Seth Niles, the fathers of Jessica’s two best friends, stepped from their cars and entered the Pine Marsh Police Department.
“You guys are two hours late.” Chief Mark Carman said sternly.
“Sorry Chief, family matters.” They both said in unison. That’s odd, Mark thought.
“Just get to work.”
An hour later, Mark stepped out of the room to get a drink and overheard the two men talking.
“Should we tell the Chief what happened?”
“No,” said Griffin, “He doesn’t need to know we divorced our wives, especially for the sake of the act.”
“You're right I guess. Man she’s hot though isn’t she?”
“You bet. I just can’t wait until we have her in our possession.” Griffin began drooling.
“Who’s hot?” Mark asked, walking back into the room.
“My car,” said Griffin, thinking quickly, “It’s pretty sexy. It’s a Firebird Corvette, 2012 edition.”
“Yeah those are amazing.” Mark replied, although in the back of his mind he was thinking, what else could he be talking about?
Seven long hours later, Griffin and Seth exited the Police Station together and went home to begin planning. Their first step was to quit their jobs as police officers. They had to cut all the ties. They both wrote letters as follows:
I am sorry to inform you that I am going to be leaving the department. There are too many problems going on in my life right now.”
Both of them wrote letters that were identical. When Mark received them, he was too suspicious to be angry. Both of them resigning at the same time? What is going on? Mark rubbed his eyes. He was getting tired of all the crap going on.
Present Day, 2016
Mark opened his eyes and sat up in his desk chair. How long had he been out? He had been dreaming. He opened a notebook on his desk and began writing.
This is my 250th letter I have written to you my dear Brittany. I miss you so much. Today is December 11th, 2016. It has been six years since you passed away. I am aching inside and I wish I could see you right now. I need you right now. No one else can take away this pain in my heart and the images in my mind. I miss you so very much, Honey. You were my life, my everything. When Jess died, I lost all I had left of you.”
A tear drop hit the paper and he stopped writing. His pain was eating him alive. He continued writing.
“I still have not found God.” Where did that come from? He pushed the thought from his mind and ended the letter with “Love, Mark.” Mark had found that the only way to cope with the pain he was feeling was to think about the past. So that is what he often did. He closed his eyes.
4 Years Ago
Three Days Before the Kidnapping
Griffin Harper and Seth Niles met every day for one week to plan how they were going to kidnap soon to be twelve year old Jessica Carman. They concluded that they were going to kidnap her one day after her birthday, on December 12th.
“Dad can Jessica come over on Friday to sleep over?” Sydney asked her Father, Griffin. Perfect.
“Yes honey that’s fine.” Griffin told his daughter without looking up from the news paper.
Later that evening, Griffin and Seth met to discuss their plan one final time.
“Jessica is going to be over at my house in three days…she is spending the night.”
“Awesome! How’d you pull that off?” Seth asked.
“Sydney wants to have her spend the night.”
“Nice. What are you going to do about your daughter though?” Seth asked Griffin, a sense of worry was in his voice.
“What are you going to do with yours?” Griffin fired back.
They had reached a dilemma. Obviously, their daughters would notice if they were gone when they woke up. That would be a problem.
“We could kidnap them too…” Seth suggested.
“That’s...” Griffin started to object, “Actually, that’s not a bad idea. We can drug them and they would never know what happened.”
It soon came to be the night of the twelfth and Jessica got dropped off by her Father who came in to say a few words to Griffin.
“So why’d you just up and leave, Griff?”
“Just wanted to spend time with my little girl, that’s all.”
“Don’t’ you need money to support her though?” Mark questioned.
“Look around you Mark;” Griffin said condescendingly, “I have all I would ever need: a nice house, a nice car, and quite a bit of money. I hated working for you anyway. Besides, what is there to live for in life?”
What else was there to live for in life?
Mark left the house, he was slightly suspicious. He shrugged it off though and went home to write a letter to his late wife. “Honey,” he wrote, “I’m worried about Jessica. She went over to Sydney’s tonight. I have a bad feeling about it, but I don’t know what to do.”
When Jessica and Sydney were asleep, Seth came over to Griffins and they drugged Sydney. Jessica, being a sound sleeper, never heard anything. Griffin picked up Sydney and Seth picked up Jessica and they headed to their vans. Then, they drove to the warehouse they had recently purchased for this purpose only. When they arrived, they locked Jessica and Sydney up in different rooms. Jessica’s was made out of bulletproof glass and Sydney’s had no windows. Seth put his own daughter in a separate room, also with no windows.
When Jessica awoke, she looked around and blinked multiple times. She was hoping it was a dream, it wasn’t. Where was she?
“Hello?” she said. No answer. The cameras watched her every move. Griffin and Seth sat in a computer room watching Jessica. They were admiring her beauty, they were lusting over her.
Present Day, 2016
Mark awoke next to his desk. He had fallen asleep again. He had just dreamed about where his daughter had gone. He had already known, though, right? A Bible lay on his nightstand. The dust of many years rested on its faded leather cover. It was his wife’s. Mark began to think about whether he should read it or not. Maybe just a peek, he thought. A verse that stood out to him talked about hating someone. “If you hate someone, you have murdered them in your heart. That is what he had done; he had murdered Jessica’s killers in his heart.
Two Years Ago, 2014
It was now the day Jessica was going to die. She didn’t know. She had stayed in this glass prison for two years, she was now fourteen. She had gotten used to living in a box; it wasn’t as bad after a while. Her captors never showed their faces. Whenever they gave her food, they turned out the lights. They were mysterious.
An hour later, her captors entered the glass room and both pulled pistols. Jessica instantly recognized them.
“What…?” She started to say when both Seth and Griffin pulled the triggers, ending her life. They had achieved their goal. They had admired Jessica’s beauty for two years. She had only gotten more beautiful as time went on. Then, Griffin and Seth raised the pistols to their own heads and said a silent prayer. They fired their guns and both fell, they were dead.
One Year Later, 2015
This was the year that Mark found his daughter’s prison and who the captors were. He had been searching for one whole year, and he found it in December, the month when both his daughter and wife had passed away. December was a bittersweet month for Mark.
Present Day, 2016
Mark knew thinking of the past was bad for his health. It wasn’t good for him to keep thinking of how his wife and daughter were gone, yet he still thought about them and the awful events surrounding them. However, through all of this, his faith grew stronger. But, that did not stop him from ending his life all out of love for his family. The .32 pistol that had “killed” Seth and Griffin began to play tricks on Mark’s mind.
He was going slowly insane. Ending his life was the only option, he felt like. Mark slowly removed the pistol from its cracked leather holster and checked to see if there was ammo in it. There was one bullet. Perfect, he thought. He breathed in and fired a single shot into his head, causing him to die and slump forward, next to the picture of him, Brittany, and Jessica.