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Locked By Laura M.

Girl: I was walking down the street, the change jingling in my pocket, letting the sun burn my back. I was completely unaware that I had a stalker. A man who followed me everywhere I went, waiting, just waiting for the right moment to pounce, rob me of my life, my friends and my pride.

Kidnapper: I don't know why I did it. I had an unexplainable, sick hunger to own life, to completely take it away. I am the controller. I followed that girl around for months because of her parents’ money, learning, watching, waiting. I learned not only about her, but about her friends and family as well. I learned about her fights, her loves and her hates. I learned that her favorite color was red and she couldn't stand pudding. I felt I knew her, but I had never spoken to her once. She never knew that I existed. Until now.

Girl: When he approached me, I immediately felt apprehensive. He had that air about him, like he was selling something. The way he smiled, talked, it was all too greasy, fake. He had small shifty eyes looking around all the time, like someone was watching him. He told me he was my father’s friend, that my father needed me home right away. I didn’t believe him at first. Why wouldn’t my father call? He always called me before a plan changed. Why had I never met this man before? But I was an obedient girl, used to following orders. He opened the passenger door, let me in. His car smelled like marijuana, like the time last year in science when our teacher had shown us what it smelled like. At that point, I knew something was wrong. My father would never talk to someone who does drugs, let alone be friends with them. I opened my mouth to scream, but at that moment, everything went black.

Kidnapper: I hit her with the blunt side of a plastic window washer on the floor of my car. I was forced to, she was about to scream, ruin everything. We drove and drove until we finally reached my place. A small, falling down shack that no one knew about except me. When we pulled up, she still hadn’t woken up. I kicked open my door, reached over to pick her up and we both got out of the car. I walked up to my door, opened it and dropped her on my one couch, her head flopping back lifelessly. I walked up to the door, then heard a little noise from her. I turned around right as her eyes opened. I quickly locked the door in front of me and quietly slipped the keys into my pocket.

Girl: On the back of my neck, I felt a rough, plasticy fabric. I opened my eyes to a room with bare wood walls with cement flooring. I heard a man’s deep breathing and tried to sit up, but a white hot stab of pain on the top of my head pushed me down again. I let out a gasp. The man walked towards the couch that I was lying on and stood over me, his sour breath creeping its way into my nostrils. “That’ll hurt for a while.” He walked away and started pacing around the small, cold room, his footsteps, like a heartbeat; faint, but strong. I looked up at him. “Where am I?” I knew something was wrong, for I had a vague memory of getting into an unfamiliar car... The man sat down, creases folding in his forehead. “Some people are lawyers, some doctors, some cashiers. I kidnap people for ransoms. Big ransoms.” He paused, let this sink in. “I’ve been following you for weeks, watching you, studying you,” I cut him off. I didn’t need details. I didn’t need the the explanation of his route, him following my every move. I didn’t need to know what he saw and what he didn’t. “Will I ever see my family again?” That was the only thing I cared about. I understood everything else, but that was the only thing that worried me. I could take anything, except never seeing my family again. If I couldn’t see them, I might as well not live. I knew my parents would pay the ransom. They loved me, I loved them, and they had plenty of money. I just needed to know whether he would dispose of me after the ransom was paid off. He looked at me, squinted his eyes. “If everyone cooperates, nobody gets hurt.” There was no doubt in my mind that my parents would cooperate, and I certainly had no intention of crossing this man. As long as I saw my parents again, I would get through anything. I looked back at him. “How much money are you asking for?” I was frank with him. I wanted no detours, no side comments. I wanted facts. He looked back at me, square in the eyes. “One million.” I felt as though I had been punched in the stomach. “One million?” I managed to squeak out. He nodded. “In cash.” One million dollars. That was what my father earned in a year. That was a lot of money.

Kidnapper: For a girl, she handled it quite well. No screaming, no crying, although that welt on her head probably blocked all of her thoughts. I was confident that her family would pay up. They certainly had enough and they also seemed to care a lot about her. I wished that my mom and dad had cared for me half that much. I don’t think my father knew how old I was past the age of one, and back when I was her age, if I had asked my mother what school I went to, I am positive she would have told me to shut up and go do something useful. Even though she didn’t answer, she never knew. She never knew a single thing. I looked over at the girl. It is amusing that I know more about her than my parents knew about me. I felt an uncommon lump rise in my throat. Where has my life taken me that I have to take somebody else’s life to keep my own going? People think that criminals don’t have feelings. They think that we don’t have a conscience, that we can watch pain and suffering and death without feeling that awful pang of sorrow, regret and remorse. The truth is, at least for me, I don’t like what I do. It is part of who I am, an addiction, and I cannot let go.

Girl: My hands are sweating, my head is throbbing. You always read about kidnappings, but somehow my mind always twists those stories into fiction, so I can believe that it doesn’t happen, that some person made it up. After reading all those stories, I never dreamed that I would be the face on the milk carton. This man seemed smart, but not extremely violent. Poor, capable of a kidnapping, and, from what he said, it seemed as though he had gotten away with several kidnappings before, which means he is also smart enough to outrun the police. I fingered the locket hanging from my neck. Maybe the people in the pictures in my locket will protect me, tell me something, a snippet about this man that will help me. Maybe. From now on, I will have to stop relying on maybes.

Kidnapper: I looked around, my bare feet freezing on the cold concrete floor. “Look around,” I said to her. “This is your home until your family breaks down. Get used to it.” She looked at me, eyes wide, the picture of innocence, but there was something else, a hardness under her plump face. “No. I will never get used to this place.” Her voice was climbing, louder and louder. “I may even be leaving sooner than you think!” Her face was red by now, and she made a mad dash to the door, her bare feet slapping steadily on the concrete. I darted over in front of my door, and put both hands out in front of me to stop her. She was running so fast that she collided with me and fell to the floor. She banged her hands on the ground like a child, her skin breaking on the rough ground, the little drops of blood on her hands smearing on her face as she swiped angrily at her eyes. She glared at me, her chest heaving, crying long, dry sobs. I picked her up from under her arms. “Look,” I spoke to her low, quietly. “I am not going to hurt you unless you make things difficult. Be a good girl.” Her head was studying the ground, her cheeks wet from salty tears. I lifted up her head from under her chin. She slapped my hand away. “Don’t touch me,” She spat on the ground and stalked across the room.

Girl: I cannot seem to get the feel of his dirty fingers off of me. When he touched me, his hands felt like ice. When he touched me, I felt the the sickness of his life on his fingers, it was bleeding off onto me like a disease. When he touched me, I felt the dirt feel of his hand spreading over my body like a weed, constricting my soul and freedom. When he touched me, I felt like I wanted to die.

Kidnapper: At around ten o’clock last night we both went to bed. I didn’t have anything for her to do except stare at the ceiling, tap her feet steadily like a drum, counting the seconds. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven... Over and over, tap, tap, tap. I hadn’t tried to talk to her. What would we would have talked about? Eventually, we both fell asleep. She slept sitting up on the couch and I laid on the concrete. Its cold surface was uncomfortable and unfamiliar, as I usually camped out on the couch. When we woke up this morning, I realized that both she and I would need something to eat, but I certainly could not leave her alone here. It was too late to drug her, so I had to take her with me. Luckily I had been in this unfortunate situation before, and I always had a bottle of hair dye hidden in a little desk. I walked over to the corner of the room and got it. I checked the color. Rosy Red. I smiled inwardly. I knew that her favorite color was red. Maybe this would make the situation just a little bit better for her, but I doubted it. I walked back over to the couch and shook her shoulder lightly. She rolled over, but didn’t wake up. I shook her a little harder. Her eyes popped open, the deadness of sleep behind the color of her eyes was awakened by the shock of morning. She looked at me, a lifeless, tired expression creeping over her face. I stared back. “You hungry?” She looked surprised, but quickly looked sleepy again. “Why do you care?” I raised my eyebrows. “Because I am. Look either way, you’re coming.” I held up the hair dye. “I have to dye your hair. I can’t have people finding you and calling the police.” She looked at me, squinted her eyes, trying to figure me out. Finally, she opened her mouth. “What color is it?” I snickered. Kidnapped or not, she was a girl. Of course it mattered what color the hair dye was. “Red. Rosy Red.” She slowly got up on her legs, walked over to me. “Can I do it?” I really didn’t see why it mattered to her. “Sure, I guess.” She snatched the hair dye from me, squeezed the bottle so some came onto her hair, and started slathering the stuff onto her blond hair. “I had a dream last night,” she told me, a misty look covering her eyes. “I was flying, bouncing from cloud to cloud on a sunny day. Far away in the sky, I saw my parents, waving at me, motioning me to come closer. I went faster and faster, but when I had one cloud between my parents and me, I didn’t jump long enough, and I fell. The wind was rushing through my hair, my stomach flying up to my throat. I wasn’t flying anymore. I was falling. Then, right when I thought I was going to hit the ground, it started to rain, and you were there. You had a red cape and crown on, and you caught me. You caught me, and ran away, holding me in your arms. I was screaming for a long time, but after a while, I realized what a nice thing you had done, rescuing me. I was about to thank you, but then you tripped over a rock and we both fell.You hit your head, but I landed on my feet. You were bleeding from everywhere, you were screaming, your eyes were bulging. You were scared. You bled until your body was only liquid, a big bloody puddle. When I realized that you were gone, I screamed, and then I felt my body go rigid. I tried to move, but I couldn’t. I tried to look somewhere else, think of something else, but I couldn't. I was locked in that position, staring at you, dead, forever.” By now she had covered all of her hair with the dye, and her hands were shaking violently. Her hands were shaking so hard that she dropped the bottle, the red dye spilling on the floor, staining it. I knew that nothing would ever get that stain out. She looked at me, face pale. “It was scary.” I nodded, but didn’t say anything. I couldn’t pull my eyes away from that stain.

Girl: After I had gone through the whole hair dyeing process, a thought struck me. When I woke up today, I was missing my parents. I was missing my parents so much that my heart ached and my head throbbed. I needed someone close, someone I could talk to. Then, I turned to the only other human being who was there. Him. I had told him about a dream. He had listened, more than any of my friends had ever listened. The fact that I had liked talking to him better than I liked talking to my friends scared me. A lot.

Kidnapper: I got my other shirt and an old, faded blue hoodie for her to put on. After everything was said and done and the hood was up with her hair tucked inside it, she could almost pass for a boy. A small, petite, feminine boy. I went over to the desk and pulled out a small revolver. “You’ll have this pointed at your back at all times. No funny business. Let’s go.” I took her into the car, and we drove.

Girl: It was a long car ride. An hour, maybe two. We did not talk. Instead, I looked outside at the world I missed. Nothing had changed. The cars, the leaves, the roads, they were all the same. Everyone else, they saw everything change, but for me, in that little falling down shack, time stood still. I saw all of the people walking on the sidewalk, with their shopping bags, children, sunglasses in hand. Did they realized what a great gift they had been given? Walking, being free, without having a gun pointed at their back? I was struck by a sudden thought, something I had never wondered before, and it bothered me. It nudged me and bugged me until I couldn’t stand it any longer. I turned to him. “What is the meaning of life?” He stared. “The meaning of life?” He frowned at me, disbelievingly. He shrugged. “I think the meaning of life is having a friend.” He looked at me, and I smiled.

Kidnapper: At that moment, we pulled up to the little grocery store. She and her parents probably shop at the big ritzy one, but this one has stuff at half the price, probably half the quality, but I don’t care. It doesn’t matter. I looked at her, our conversation over. “I mean it, no funny business.” I took the revolver from the glove compartment, put it in my pocket and held it to her back. Her eyes were shifting back and forth, looking at every person who passed us, a silent plea, begging them to hear her. No one, not one single person got her message.

Girl: When we walked in, the air was dusty. Everything was coated with a light blanket of dust, and when you breathed in, it filled up your lungs. No moisture was allowed in, nothing to compromise that layer of dryness that was a shock to people walking into the store. The straight metal was pointed at my back, constantly reminding me of the situation I was in. Never allowing me to make up a story, always saying this dream was real. He picked up a six pack of a sports drink, a loaf of white bread and a pack of turkey. I realized, looking at all of that processed food, that I hadn’t eaten in twenty four hours. I realized that I was starving. I started to salivate at the sight of the old brown bananas, but I almost lost my appetite when I saw the pudding. Anything that jiggles is not meant to be eaten. I felt like a zombie, a marionette that someone else controls, a lifeless doll. When we were done buying all of the items, we went back into the car. When we got in and he put the gun away, I relaxed. About fifteen minutes into the car ride, I asked him a question that had been bothering me for some time. “You say that you have kidnapped kids before for big ransoms,” I began. “Yes,” he replied. I continued, “Well, if you collected all of that money, then why are you so poor? You live in a shack held up by plywood. You have exactly two outfits. Why?” He looked at me, a weary look settling on his tired face. “You really want to know?” I nodded and he sighed. “I gambled it all away a couple months ago. I had struck it rich, $100,000, and I wanted to walk into that casino and have everyone stare, have my sum multiplied. That didn’t happen. I lost it in the space of a half an hour, and walked out broke. Luckily I saved a thousand for gas and food, but that’s all I have. The truth is, there aren’t even any bullets in that gun.” I did a double take. “What? You’re kidding, right?” He shook his head. “I’ve kept it for a while.” I thought about this. “Why are you telling me this? I could run out on you right now, and you couldn’t do a thing about it.” The thing was though, that I didn’t know whether I would.

Kidnapper: When we got back home, she was completely silent. She seemed to be thinking about something. I wish I knew what. We unpacked our groceries and each had an open-sided sandwich with a slice of turkey on it and a bottle of a sports drink. We were both ravenous, chugging our drinks. Neither of us spoke. We just ate our food, and thought.

Kidnapper: When I went to bed, I was nervous, sweating. Tomorrow morning was when I requested the ransom from the parents. Tomorrow morning would decide the course of her life. I went to bed with the beat of my heart counting down the seconds until everything changed.

Kidnapper: When my watch beeped at 3 o’clock A.M, she was still asleep. I had slipped a few sleeping pills in her drink last night. She wouldn’t be up until after 3 o’clock in the afternoon. I could go downtown and pick up the money while she was still asleep. I told them to leave it under this one bush in a park in the center of town. I was sure it would be there. I walked out, started the car, and made my way.

Girl: I opened one eye tentatively. Last night, I saw him put something in my drink, so I fake sipped. I knew something would happen this morning, and I was right. I was sure he was going to pick up the ransom.

I couldn’t stop thinking about that ransom. When I would get home, what my parents and I would say. For the first time in a while, I had something to look forward to. I walked out of the house to the little stream that was our source of water and bathing. I stood over its tinkling water and discovered that I could see my reflection in it. I stared at who looked back at me. I expected to see, bright eyes, shiny hair, nice clothes, a happy expression. Instead, I saw a girl with sad, tired eyes, shaggy hair, wearing a man’s large dirty clothes, with a big, red lump on her forehead, with an unhappy, hungry expression on her face. I saw a girl I didn’t know. I saw a nightmare, a ghost, a reminder of a sad past. I realized, in an instant, that I needed to get home. Within the space of a second, I knew that I wasn’t the girl I used to be, wanted to be, the girl I wanted to know. I needed to escape this man who robbed me of my life. I needed to outrun this sick trick of my mind that I actually thought this awful man was my friend. I needed to get out of this dirty, gritty place that I was staying in. I needed to run. I ran north. I ran as the grass cut my legs, until the hot asphalt of the road burned the soles of my bare feet, until I was so sweaty that my dirty hair stuck to my face and the dye streamed down my cheeks, like I was crying blood. I ran until my legs felt like they would fall off, but I was rewarded for my perseverance. I was standing next to hundreds of speeding cars. I was standing next to a freeway. A freeway that was my ticket home.

Kidnapper: The rumbling of the car was shaking my leg, making it vibrate. My hands were slipping off of the wheel, my hands were sweating so much. I thought about the girl, probably in a restless sleep. I wondered if the parents would confront me. In the letter, I threatened to harm the girl if they told the cops. I told them to leave the bag in a bush in the park that was about five blocks from their house. I hoped everything would go according to plan.

Girl: I stood about a foot away from where the tall grasses ended and where the black asphalt began. I stuck my fist out, thumb up, my fake red hair blowing back in the breeze, and waited for someone to come. I waited as those people whooshed by in their big fancy cars. I saw flashes of colors, like paint on a canvas. I waited there, with my thumb out until the sky turned light blue to light pink. I waited until my eyes drooped and my arm was tipping towards the ground. I waited until finally, a kind soul, an understanding heart, and empathetic mind pulled her car over and stopped. She rolled down the windows and I saw heavily lined eyes, a pasty face, fake, penciled in eyebrows and red lipstick. I stared for a second, not believing that someone had actually stopped. She raised one penciled eyebrow slowly. “You coming or not?” She had a slight English accent. I quickly nodded and hopped into the passenger seat, shut the door, and we sped off. Turns out, she was a talker. I pretty much got her whole life story in the space of five minutes. I learned about her divorce with a man who stole her apartment. I learned about how she grew up on a farm in Georgia, and when she was 18, she left and never looked back. Finally, she stopped talking. I was sitting on my fingers and crossing them that she was done talking, but no such luck. She pulled her eyes off the road and looked at me. “So why are you here?” I shook my head no. I didn’t need another person causing me shame. She narrowed her eyes. “Look, you tell me now, or I drop you off right here.” I gaped at her. I couldn’t believe that anyone could be so nosy. So I spilled. I told her everything, right down to the dream I had told him about. While telling her, I felt a guilty pit in my stomach sink like a rock. When I was done, she reached in her pocket for her phone and handed it to me. “Call the police. Now.” I slapped the phone away. “No. You don’t understand. He’s never tried to lay a finger on me, and I won’t try to hurt him. He has been a comfort to me. He is a kind man, a good friend.” She pushed the phone at me again. “You have to call them. He is a kidnapper, an awful man.” She didn’t understand. She didn’t understand that he had never tried to hurt me, and it would be a a betrayal on my part if I told on him. She shook her head. “You are insane, you know that right? Completely insane. I can tell that you’re not going to budge.” She let out a heavy breath through her mouth. “Look, kid, I can’t pretend to know how you’re feeling. I can’t pretend that I am going to say anything that will make you instantly feel better, because it’s not. You just have to believe that this man is awful, mean, selfish and cheap. He has never and will never be a friend to you, and you have to remember that.” She glanced out the window. “Here we are. The park.” She smiled. “Good luck, kid. You’ve got this. You’re life is all yours.” I nodded, and walked off.

Kidnapper: When I reached the park, my heart was beating fast. One million, in cash. I figured that once I got the money, I would drive home, pick her up and drop her on the her house steps without her waking up. I walked along the cobblestone path to the bush where I told the parents to leave the money. I saw a homeless person sitting on a bench. That’s funny, I thought. I have that shirt back at home. No matter though. I had to keep going. I glanced back at the homeless guy. When the person looked up at me, both our eyes widened. When the person looked up at me, the red hair came tumbling out of the hood. I shook my head. No. This can’t be happening.

Girl: When I saw him, my heart stopped. I wanted to be dropped off at the park to think, to sort out my thoughts. I had always loved doing that, before. I felt a surge of rage when I looked at him. That women in the car was right. This man had fooled me. He was the man I made him to be, and I had made him a friend. Now he was an enemy.

Kidnapper: I stood there, dumbfounded that this was real. How did she get here? Where did she come from? Why was she even awake? My eyes narrowed, my nostrils flared. I went at her, intending to choke her. She’d ruined everything. She quickly got up, bent down and picked up a heavy rock. She held it up in the air in front of my head, but before I could stop, the rock and my head collided. I heard multiple cracks, like when you step on a soda can, crushing down until it’s completely flat. I crumpled to the ground, feeling the blood gush out of the crack in my skull onto my closing eyelids. I looked at her, the hatred for her pouring out of my eyes. “You’re dead to me, girl,” I spat at her. She shook her head. “No. You’re wrong. You were always wrong, and always will be. You’re the one that’s dead. You stole me as you stole the other kids, and now you’re paying the price.” She turned to walk away, leave me lying there in the middle of the park, but then she turned around. “My name is not girl. My name is Carrie, and don’t you forget it. I’m not a piece of your game.” She paused, breathed heavily through her nose. “I have won your game.”

Carrie: As soon as I had finished speaking, I ran at full speed to my home. I banged on the door, even though it was only nine o’clock. I pushed the doorbell until my finger ached. Finally, George, our butler came to the door. His eyes bulged. “Carrie!!” I pushed him out of the way. I needed my parents. I took the steps two at a time until I reached my parents room. The door was open, and I saw my mother, looking tired, fragile, and my father, looking anxious and older. I burst into the room, sobbing. “I killed him, I killed him.” As my mother and father came towards me, held me, murmuring comforting words, I couldn’t stop shaking. I would never escape the prison of the kidnapping, and because of what I did today, I had just locked myself in.

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