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What am I doing? I wondered to myself as I drove down the unlit street on that autumn night. “Crowley; 43 ½ Salem St.,” I read aloud as I looked at the house. 39...41...43...45...where is it? I thought as I pulled into a random driveway to turn around. I barely pushed on the gas I looked for the house. I jerked my car right into a driveway that I had not previously noticed, and I cruised down this driveway. There, 43 ½. I stopped my car and grabbed the bag with the pizza boxes and got out.
None of the lights were on at this grey house with a black roof. There was an ancient tree that loomed over it with the golden autumn leaves falling and disappearing into the night. As I approached the house, I saw that the siding was falling off and was discolored with darkened spots from mold. The roof wasn’t doing too well either. Branches from the tree were scattered all over it, and there were patches where the roof tiles fell off over the years.
A breezed hugged me as I walked up the creaking porch that continued to creak, like a crow, as I walked to the door. This door used to black, but the paint chipped away and made it a rotting brown mixed with black and dark brown spots. I pressed the doorbell, but there was no sound, so I knocked on the door instead.
I was answered with the barking of a dog whose voice sounded coarse and rough. I could tell that the dog was big too, big dogs have those mean voices. That dog was definitely the newest thing about this house, too.
The man who answered the door looked exactly how someone would imagine a pedophile on heroin. His hair was messy and grey. Messy both in the sense that it was uncombed and greasy. His beard was short, rough, and peppered black and grey. The man’s eyes were also grey that seemed to peer into my soul.
“Hey!” I said, forcing a smile as I pulled the pizzas out of the bag, “they will be eighteen fifty.”
“Hi, let me grab the money,” he said with a voice as coarse as his beard and no emotion on his face. He grabbed the pizzas and said, “Come on in!”
He walked back into his house, and I followed after some hesitation into the first room of the house: the hallway. The interior of the house smelled of cigarette smoke and dog, and the air was musky and unclean. He walked down the dark hallway, turned on a light, and took a left into another room. I stood there in the middle of his hallway, to my right was his living room and dining room which were silhouetted and only got fed a little light from the hallway. Across the hallway from me was a closed door.
All I could see in the living room was, a coat rack which was almost right next to me, a dusty chair, and a fossil of a TV. A dusty rug that looked freshly bought from the flea market sat underneath a coffee table covered in the silhouettes of dirty dishes, papers, and ash trays. I was able to see even less of the dining room, just a small vase with a fake plant in it.
I leaned over and peered into the room that he disappeared into; it was a kitchen. All I could see was a counter and a cupboard but nothing else.
To my left was a closet and propped up against that closet was a baseball bat. I pondered on the baseball bat for a moment and then I heard the barking again. I looked up and a German Shepherd charged down the hall towards me. I froze a second, unsure of what will happen next.
“Heel!” emerged from the kitchen.
The dog immediately stopped and the man came out of his kitchen and commanded, “Go lay down!” he turned to me, “Sorry, she is not one for strangers.” His teeth were rotting in his mouth.
“It’s fine,” I replied, wanting to get out of that house as swiftly as possible.
The man walked up to me and handed me the money. “Thanks,” I said, counting it. $18.50, good. I turned, and my hand went on the door knob-
I woke up shivering and tied up to a wooden chair, with a pounding headache. What happened? I wondered to myself. I scanned the room. It was an unfinished basement, filled with dust and cobwebs. The floor and walls were made of stone and at the other side of the basement was a heating system. On the same side of the basement as that, there was a storm door out of the basement. Behind me were the stairs that led out of the basement and into the house. My eyes kept swimming back to the weirdest part of the basement, however, and that was a small lit up room that was painted all white.
Fear filled me as I came to my senses over my situation. I immediately listened to the lit up room to make sure that man was not in there. My head started rocking back and forth and I was not even sure if I was listening to the room. I wondered how I got here. Then I realized that I needed to escape.
Is he home? How will I untie myself? Do I go home or to the cops?
I started moving my hands because I figured that getting untied was most important. Then my curiosity hit me: what is in that lit up room? I kicked the ground with my legs to see if I can push the chair, and it worked! I pushed myself across the basement until I got the perfect view of the room. There was a table in the center with knives on it, and saws and hooks were hung from the walls. It was a torture chamber. I could probably cut myself free, I thought to myself.
I pushed the chair into the room and looked at the blades.There was a knife with a saw blade on the table next to a blood-soaked picture; that was what I was going to use. It took a while before the could jam the knife in between my wrists that were banded together. Once I got it stuck, I went back and forth with the saw part at where my ankles were banded together and let it bite into the rope that was tied so tightly around my legs. Up and down, up and down, up and down, was all I thought for the longest time until the rope broke and my legs were freed.
It took another while to drop the knife and get it into position so I could start cutting my wrists free. It was much harder freeing my wrists than it took to free my feet because the knife kept falling and I kept having to reposition it so I could start cutting again. After my hands were freed, cutting the rope around my body was much easier. I dropped the knife on the floor after I freed my body and I scanned the basement again.
I looked at the storm door to freedom. Tried running to it and then I tripped and fell on the stone floor. I got back up and walked over to it. I unlocked it and tried to push it open. It would not budge! My heart dropped to my stomach as I figured that something was over it. I would have to escape through the house.
Knowing the chances that I would have to face the man, I grabbed a seemingly sharp knife off of the table in the white room before starting my ascent up the stairs. The stairs creaked so much as I started walking up them and each creak pierced my ears like a hot needle. I was also afraid of falling through them or the man hearing me and him coming down. I slowed my pace down as I went further up the stairs and put each foot on each stair much more delicately to try stopping the creaking as much as possible. Every now and then, my soul would run out of my body as the occasional stair made a loud creak.
Once I got to the top of the staircase, I slowly turned the doorknob and pushed it open. Another piercing noise went through my ears and I shrank back in pain. I looked left and there was a set of stairs that went up to a second floor. I closed the door and looked right. A stab of pain went through my eyes and into my head so bad that I fell to the floor.
After a while, I got back up and I looked back to see what was to my right. It was the dining room which looked like a different world during the day and the sunlight shined through it. Why is the light so painful to look at? The sunlight shined onto a table at the center of the dining room and this table was as ancient as everything else in this house and filled up most of the room. I quietly closed the basement door behind myself and crossed the dining room, hit the table with my hip, but continued on into the living room.
Suddenly, I heard a piercing noise and had to brace myself. It was barking, which hurt me with each and every bark. I held the knife out. The man has a dog? I then looked around the room. No dog came, though. I continued my walk across the living room to the painful sound of barking. Once in the hallway, I looked back and heard scratching come from the room at the other end of the hallway. That’s the dog.
I opened the front door and walked out. The morning sun shone over the driveway that was so dark last night. The light still gave me pain, though. There was also an autumn breeze that made me shiver, and the smell of the autumn leaves hung in the air. This is what freedom felt like. The only car in the driveway was the Moe’s pizza car.
I dropped the knife and walked to the car. I opened the door, sat down, and slammed it shut. I cringed in pain at the sound of the car door. I was so thankful to be out of that house, but as I went to turn the car on, I realized that he took the keys! I let out a sigh and looked back at the house.
I got out of the car, carefully closed the door behind me and went back into the house where I was greeted again by barking. I closed the front door behind myself and began my search for the keys.
My first destination was the kitchen that I had never been in. Of course, it was as ancient as everything else in this house with the counters and cabinets wrapping around almost the entire thing except for a door into what I guessed was the laundry room.
Near the sink, which was across from the door, there was a picture. It had the same coloring and lighting as the bloodied picture that I saw in the basement; I figured that they were the same picture. It looked like it was from the 80’s and was a little girl that looked oddly familiar. She looked scared, too. Go figure!
Almost right next to the picture were my car keys, my phone, and my wallet that I had not realized were missing. I grabbed them and the picture for evidence walked out of the kitchen and went to the front door. Out of the living room window, I saw a silver car in the driveway, and the man coming out of it.
I dashed to the closet but I thought of an even riskier plan. I hid behind the chair in his living room.
The door opened, and the man walked in. The dog still barked and the man said, “Shut up, Macie!”
Weird, my mom’s name is Macie. He walked past the living room, and I snuck past him. I flung open the front door and closed it behind myself.
I sprinted back to the Moe’s pizza car, I fell to the ground, got back up and walked the rest of the way. I opened the car door, and I got in. I looked back at the house, and I saw the German Shepherd charging at me. I slammed the door, and the dog crashed against it. Suddenly, I heard a loud boom and looked at the front door. The man stood on his porch, reloading a shotgun. He shouted, “Come back here!”
I put the car into reverse and I slammed on the gas. I slammed on the brakes before my car could crash into the ancient tree, and I switched the gear into drive. I slammed on the gas again and sped down his driveway. I saw the dog chasing me in the rearview mirror, and I smiled at it, knowing that it would never catch up to me. Then I crashed into something.
I woke up two weeks later at a hospital. The first nurse to notice that I was awake ran out of the room and called other nurses in. For the next few days, they were giving me various tests and the only information that they would give me was that I had a concussion and I was in a coma and that I was very lucky to survive.
After those few days were over a guy in the suit came into the hospital. “I am from the FBI, Isaac,” he told me, “James Crowley kidnapped you on the night of October 24, 2016. We found this photo in his possession and this photo in your car after the car crash.” He slid me both the bloodied photo from the white room and the photo I found in my kitchen and I immediately realized that it was my mom. “Your mother confirmed to investigators that these photos are of her. Have you met or had contact with Mr. Crowley before this incident?”
“No,” I told him.
“Have you ever heard of Mr. Crowley before this incident?”
“No,” I told him.
“Well,” the agent explained, “After police officials found connections between your mother and Mr. Crowley, a couple of my colleagues and I were called in to investigate your kidnapping and here is what we found: In the year of 1982, Mr. Crowley began a relationship with your grandmother, Shirley Chandler. At this time, your mother and your uncle were 8 and 9 years old, respectively. The relationship only lasted for two years where Mr. Crowley took extensive photographs of your mother’s family with a hundred twenty-four photos of your grandmother, ninety-nine photos of your uncle and three hundred fourteen photos of your mother. He acted abusively towards your uncle and your mother and had an obsession with your mother. That is why the relationship was cut off.
“For months, Mr. Crowley followed your mother around and your grandmother left their community. Mr. Crowley followed them to their new community and was arrested for stalking their family. They left that community and moved here. Mr. Crowley ran into your family on a vacation in 2008 and followed your family here. He moved here and stalked your family for eight years until he kidnapped you. We believe that he kidnapped you and wanted to use you as a hostage to barter a relationship with your mother.”
“What will happen to him?” I asked.
“I cannot say for certain,” the agent responded, “I would just recommend watching out for him until you see his face in an obituary, or hear that he’s been sentenced for life or for a really long time. Now tell me, event by event of what happened at Mr. Crowley’s house.’
I moved myself a little, let out a sigh, and began telling my story.