Author's Note: This short story is entirely fictional. All names and locations and everything else are the products of the author's imagination. This is a dark story and reader discretion is advised.
Chloe Nicholson stepped off the bus, waved goodbye to her friends, and started walking at a brisk pace toward Yale Avenue. It wasn't the usual route she took home from the bus-stop but the teenage girl was in a hurry. A few houses down a large field opened up to her left and she crossed into it towards the woods. It had rained the night before and the girl cringed at the thought of mucking up her favorite flat-toed dress shoes but she pushed that thought away. She had to get home as soon as she could and this shortcut shaved five minutes off her normally twenty-minute walk home.
Every minute counted if she was going to have any chance of being able to say goodbye to her favorite uncle before he left for the airport.
The woods began about twenty yards into the field and Chloe easily found the pathway that led through the woods to her street. The woods ran deep north-south and in the far north they widened out until they reached the freeway. The path Chloe was following led north for only a bit then cut sharply east, ending in another utility field right across the street from her home. Chloe didn't usually like taking the path, not since she'd been a little girl anyway, especially after it rained. She made exceptions, though, and today was definitely one of them.
She had to get home as quickly as possible.
It was careful work making sure to avoid the puddles of mud as the path narrowed and the trees became thicker and thicker. The teenager made an audible cringing sound whenever she almost stepped in a puddle or got slapped by a tree branch. The canopy of leaves was starting to really hinder her light, too, especially since it hadn't been an especially bright day to begin with. The girl began to wonder if maybe it would have been quicker after all to have simply traversed the meandering sidewalks that snaked around her neighborhood.
Too late for that now, she thought just before she heard the first man's voice.
"It's just some kid."
Chloe froze. "Wh-who's there?" she asked.
A rustling noise came from behind her and she spun her head of long, silky brown hair to look. A large man with tattoos snaking up his neck from under his tight-white t-shirt stepped out of the foliage and onto the path. Before she could study him much there were similar sounds behind her. Looking that way revealed two more men entering the path. One of them was small with dark features while the other was tall and black. For some reason Chloe thought they looked familiar and though all of them were much older than she was, the fact that they seemed familiar relaxed her a bit. They had to live in the neighborhood for her to know them, she figured. Neighbors, she reasoned.
"Just some little schoolgirl," the man behind her said. "Told you that fucker Dean ain't coming back."
"He made good on the beer, didn't he?" the black man said. Chloe felt uncomfortable under his stare but she tried her best to smile and remain calm. "Say, girl, where you comin' from?"
She swallowed and continued her smile. She knew this man was referring to the many trails she'd passed by already. He must know these woods well, she thought. Neighborhood guy, not a stranger, just a neighbor I've never met ... is he the one who mows his lawn without a shirt on? Looks sort of like him...
"Straight back from Yale," she said, turning to point. The big guy with the tattoos had stepped closer to her. He, too, was leering at her. "And I'm, uhm, heading out over to Sconce. I don't want to be rude but, uh, I sort of need to get going..."
"Just 'sort of'? That's good," the big man behind her said. "Wherever you're going ain't any better than what we got right here. My friends and I are sort of having a party. We got beer."
"Yeah, girl. You should join us," the black man said. "You look like the type of girl who likes to party."
The big man behind her joined the black man in laughter. The truth was that Chloe Nicholson was not the partying type and it showed. She was wearing her school uniform complete with a red-and-black plaid skirt and a white, short-sleeved button-up blouse. A silky red tie was done up in a tight knot at her throat and she had on white knee-high socks. Completing the picture was her simple, straight brown hair that fell to her shoulders, the black-framed glasses that rested upon her pert little nose, and the backpack she had slung over both shoulders.
She was pretty by anybody's standards but she knew she wasn't exactly a knock-out. She was nerdy, sort of awkward looking physically as her body was still growing to womanhood, and she always had her nose in a book. Like most teenage girls she was interested in boys but unlike most of her friends she made no real effort to meet any. It was easy for her avoid the opposite sex at her all girls' school and that's precisely what she did. Chloe was not, in short, the type of girl to go to a party in search of some boy to crush on.
And these men were certainly not boys.
The girl blushed at their joke. "I'm sorry, I really have to go," she said, trying a step forward. "My uncle's leaving for the airport and I wanted to say good-bye..."
Her words trailed off as the black man's expression grew serious and he took a step toward her, blocking her path. Like the man behind her he had on a tight white t-shirt and simple denim-colored pants. His hair was cut close to his scalp and it looked like something was wrong with his left eye which didn't seem to track at the same pace as his right. With his new, intimidating expression he looked positively scary and somehow even more familiar.
"Come on, girl," he said in a cold voice. "We was waiting for our friend but if he ain't here now, he ain't comin'. Not today, least. So why don't you come back to our little camp and party? We ain't got much but we gots plenty of beer ... and good company."
"Just let her go," the dark complected guy next to him said. He looked like he was probably in his mid-20's or so, much younger than the other two men, but Chloe realized he was dressed exactly the same as they were: tight white shirt, simple denim-colored pants.
Why do they look so familiar? she thought, beginning to panic.
"Fuck that," the man behind her said. "She's seen our faces."
"So, what? We kidnap her?" the younger one asked derisively. "If she goes missing the cops will come looking for her. Pretty white girl like her? Shit, man, they'll be swarming the woods with every officer in a hundred-mile radius."
Chloe's knees began to tremble. The clothes, worrying about cops ... these are the guys who escaped Ignut!
She'd seen it on the news: five days earlier a manhunt had begun for three escaped convicts from the Ignut State Prison. Their mug-shots had been plastered on the news and the story had only intensified after an eyewitness had spotted them crossing the nearby freeway two days after. Chloe could vaguely remember the reporter on TV saying that the police believed the convicts had traveled east toward Marquette. Now Chloe knew the truth: they had actually traveled south to the cozy little suburb of Abbington.
Her suburb. Her home.
"Please!" she suddenly croaked, pleading to the younger one, the one who seemed to be defending her. "I won't tell them anything! Just let me go home and I swear, I promise I won't say a word!"
"She knows who we are," the black man said.
As if on cue he lunged for her at the same time the tattooed man behind her did. They grabbed her and she did her best to struggle but they were too strong and quick. The big man slapped his hand over her mouth before she could scream and the tall man simply yanked up on her slender legs which were kicking wildly. Her skirt was thrown back in the process, revealing to them her simple white-cotton panties, but that didn't register in the girl's brain. What did register was the fact that she was being carried off the path by the two men at a quick pace as she kicked and struggled feebly in her abductors' hold.
"This is stupid, guys!" the younger one said, running to catch up. "The cops'll be..."
"Shut the FUCK up, Savoi!" the black man holding her legs snapped. "They'll have their thumbs up their asses for at least a day before they do no 'manhunt'. Plan was for us to leave if Dean didn't show up today anyway, dig me? So we party a little tonight, keep this bitch here with us so she don't go blabbin', and head on out in the mornin'."
"I won't blab, I won't blab!" the girl cried but saying that into the rough hand covering her mouth made it sound like, "Um umph umph! Um umph umph!"
They walked for what felt like forever and Chloe soon stopped trying to struggle. There was no point: either man could have carried her off by themselves and two of them was actually overkill. The big man with the tattoos seemed to realize this after awhile and he said, "Stop, stop, this is stupid. I can carry her myself, it'll be easier."
"Someone needs to cover her mouth, Red. Even this deep in one good scream might carry to the neighborhood, trust me."
"I have an idea," the man named Red said. "We'll gag her. Take off her panties."
"Oh, Jesus," the younger man, Savoi, groaned.
.... There is more of this story ...