The sound of tires screeching seemed dull and distant in the back of my head as I left the parking lot and merged into the angry morning traffic once again. Horns blared as a dark colored SUV swerved to avoid rear ending me. No time... There never was. An obnoxious voice in the back of my head began a lecture on the dangers of driving while mentally distressed. The voice was quickly silenced as I pressed harder on the accelerator. Mom? Help me please.... I leaned hard over the steering wheel, nearly doubling over with another cramp, but forced myself to keep driving. After a moment, the cramp passed.
Quickly, I hit the speed dial button for the school on the in-dash phone display, and the sound of the line ringing on the other end came through the car's sound system almost instantly. Four rings... Five... shouldn't they have a voicemail system? I glanced down at the display to verify that it had dialed the correct number and looked quickly back at the streaking road in front of me. A slow moving pinto pulled out of the driveway 20 yards ahead and I swerved into the oncoming traffic's lane, ignoring the shouts of passerbys and honking horns. In another second, it was left behind and I jerked back into the proper lane as an oncoming tractor-trailer slammed on his brakes. The driver's face seemed frozen in terror, but I paid him as much heed as I did the pinto. Just a little longer. Hold on. Please not my baby. The line still rang out through my speakers, but by now I didn't even hear it.
It was an excruciating test of willpower as I forced my mind to remain calm while my gut spilled out the horrors of events that were beyond my control, the private school loomed closely ahead and I screeched into the parking lot, skidding to a halt on the roundabout in front of the double doors by the admin office. A large crowd of students had gathered in front of the doors, looking both curious and confused as they milled about, trying to peer past a solid looking security guard who stood head and shoulders above them.
I slammed the car into park and half shouldered, half kicked the driver door open, almost tripping on the sidewalk as I darted toward them, and they parted like I had the plague. The security guard, however, held out his hands and hunched down as though expecting me to tackle him. His figure may have been solid, but his eyes said that he was suddenly considering alternative employment.
"Where is she?" I yelled, trying to run past him into the corridor.
"You can't go in there!" He moved to intercept me and I came to a quick stop in front of him. "Everyone stays outside until-"
"Until what?" I asked incredulously, not caring how crazy I must appear. "He kills you?" That caught him off guard. With a quick jerk of my right foot, I kicked him in the groin and followed up with a quick, snapping jab into his suddenly lowered throat. As he dropped to the ground, I darted into the corridor and toward the admissions window where she would have made the call.
There was a single spot of blood on the counter outside the glass windows that could have been left by a student going home with a bloody nose or a slice in a finger, or any number of other things. But I knew better. My pace slowed as I approached the blood and the window, and as I did, I felt more than saw the gruesome scene laid out in the office on the other side.
Files lay strewn about as though some madman had tossed them all up in the air to fall haphazardly over everything in the room. I stopped completely, staring. Underneath the rubble of what had to be every student's file in the school lay a groaning woman, curled into a ball on her left side and clutching at her abdomen. The school police officer knelt beside her, pressing his hands over her own as blood spilled through both of their fingers and pooled onto the papers and floor around them. He turned his head toward me, hearing my gasp.
"Medical assistince is on the way, ma'am." He said smoothly, obviously straining to remain calm.
I froze, dumbfounded. It wasn't Paige. My heart soared even while it twisted from the horrifying scene laid out before me. The officer gave me a sideways look, but quickly returned to his ministrations. I realized that I was not alone in the corridor when a firm hand was placed on my shoulder. Already tense, I jumped, spinning to see an official looking man in a button up shirt and dark tie. He made a placating gesture and took a step back to reassure me.
"Are... you with the school?" He asked uncertainly.
"I- no; I'm sorry. I'm looking for my daughter, Paige. She was here, on the phone, when..." I glanced back at the carnage, then quickly focused on him.
"Dark colored hair, light skin?" He asked, placing his hand flat in the air to indicate her exact height. His voice had suddenly become nervous as though he had a lump in his throat. A sudden rush of tears swept over me and I could only nod, straining to hold them back. "She... was taken. With him. She's alright; he just took her with him. We don't know where, but we will soon." He finished in a rush.
"Oh my god! Oh my God!" My world spun and I dropped to my knees as another cramp took hold, trying to wring the life from me. Mom... It's dark. I can't see... Was it her voice I was hearing? Damn this curse if it won't help me!
"Where are you!" I screamed through the pain.
Images flashed through my head.
Name: Paige Davis
Weight: 121 lbs.
A man running through thick trees, panting. A bundle on his shoulder squirms. The bundle hits a branch as he ducks under it and is still. He stops, looks behind him, and screams. Turning, he lurches forward again, laughing hysterically as he shouts.
"You'll never find me, never. Not until I want you to." He stops again with a puzzled expression on his face. He turns again, looking up into the tree tops. "I can seeeeee youuuuu.."The cramp passed as suddenly as it had come and I realized that the man was bent over me, trying to soothe me by gently stroking my back. I couldn't undersand what he was saying. Quickly, I sat up and forced myself to stand. My legs were shaking, but they held. Where would those trees be? It had never been like this before. God, please let me find her. Were they pines? I had to get away. Had to find her.
Leaving the man stuttering behind me, I turned and staggered through the doors as quickly as I could without falling over. The security guard was only just picking himself up from the ground and he jumped back from me nervously as I strode past him without a glance. Strange. I felt like I had been drinking, but.... but... what?
The sidewalk suddenly leaped up to smash into my face, and as the world went from light to dark, the madman's voice filled my head.
"I can seeeeee youuuuu.."