The abducted book 0, p.1
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       The Abducted Book 0, p.1

           Roger Hayden
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The Abducted Book 0
The Abducted

  DBS Publishing LLC

  Copyright 2016  by DBS Publishing LLC


  Palm Dale, Florida

  School was out, and it was a Friday—a double win for the students of Windcrest Elementary. There was no day of the week more exciting. At the sound of the bell, more than five hundred children poured outside their brick-building classrooms at the ringing of the final bell, eager to get home and get ready for the weekend.

  A line of vehicles idled along the parent pickup lane, just past the school flagpole and bike rack. At the bus loop, school buses spewed exhaust into the air, waiting with their doors open and drivers at the wheel. Students dispersed into different groups—some toward the bus loop, others toward their parent pickup.

  Janitorial staff entered the recently vacated classrooms with loaded pushcarts, ready to get to work. While the majority of students left without looking back, one nine-year-old girl, Jenny Dawson, stayed behind to help her fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. Ramsey, clean up for the day. Jenny’s mother was running behind, and she was in no rush to leave. She lived close to the school but was forbidden from riding the bus or walking home. Jenny vented her frustrations to her teacher while wiping a large Dry-Erase board.

  “I don’t get it. We only live like a half mile away, and they won’t even let me ride my bike home.”

  “They just want to make sure you’re safe,” Mrs. Ramsey said, shutting the vertical blinds. Only moments ago, the classroom had been bustling with twenty-five students. Buses trailed off in the distance as the air became still and quiet.

  Jenny’s shoulder-length blond hair flew in her face as she whipped her head around. “It’s ridiculous. They won’t let me do anything.”

  Mrs. Ramsey did her best to remain neutral. “Maybe next year they’ll change their mind. Are you ready for fifth grade?”

  Jenny went back to the board, spraying Windex on its surface. “Not really.”

  “Why not?” Mrs. Ramsey asked, surprised. “With grades like yours, you’re more than ready. I’m not even sure why I asked it.”

  “I don’t know,” Jenny said, looking down.

  Mrs. Ramsey walked to her desk, the bottom of her long summer dress swaying just above the green carpet. She opened the bottom drawer and pulled out a small paper gift bag. “Here,” she said, walking over to Jenny. “I wanted to give this to you.”

  “What’s that?” Jenny asked with suspicion.

  Mrs. Ramsey handed her the bag. “Just some goodies to show my appreciation for all of your help this year.”

  Jenny rolled her eyes. “Great, now I’m the teacher’s pet.”

  Mrs. Ramsey patted her head. “You always have been.”

  Jenny laughed, taking the bag. “That’s not a good thing, Mrs. Ramsey. Kids get beat up for less.”

  “You’re a good student, Jenny,” Mrs. Ramsey said, still holding the bag out. “And I’m going to miss you.”

  Jenny peeked inside the bag. There were cookies wrapped in aluminum foil amid some other treats. “Thank you,” she said with sincerity. “I’m going to miss you too, Mrs. Ramsey.”

  The cell phone in her jean pocket vibrated. She took it out and swiped the screen. “It’s my mom. She’s going to be here soon and wants me outside.”

  “No problem. We’re all done here,” Mrs. Ramsey said. “Thanks again.”

  Jenny grabbed her Hello Kitty backpack and slung it over her shoulders. She waved on her way out.

  “Bye, Mrs. Ramsey. Have a good weekend.”

  “Goodbye, Jenny. See you on Monday.”

  Jenny walked out of the classroom, squinting against the inescapable sunlight. She continued down the sidewalk past mulch-planted bushes and to the parent pickup area. Most of the children had already come and gone, and the lane was mostly empty. The teacher and faculty parking lot was ahead with only a few cars left.

  She could hear wheeled trash cans rolling on the sidewalk in the distance. Cars drove past the school on the main road, but none of them matched her mother’s red Jeep Cherokee.

  One blue station wagon idled in the middle of the pickup lane. Jenny could see the silhouette of a woman at the wheel but couldn’t make out her features.

  The driver lightly tapped her horn as Jenny walked past without making eye contact, still shielding her face from the sun. The woman leaned toward the open passenger-side window.

  “Excuse me, sweetie,” she called. Do you know a boy named Greg Clark? He’s in the third grade.”

  “Greg Clark?” Jenny said, keeping a careful distance. She could make out the woman’s features. She was big, with a chubby face and masculine voice. Her red blush and blue eyeliner looked overdone. “I don’t know,” she continued. “No… I don’t think so.”

  The woman was dissatisfied. “Please,” she pleaded. “I’m starting to get worried. He was supposed to meet me five minutes ago.” She stopped and then dug through her purse as Jenny scanned the area for her mom. “I have a picture of him somewhere.”

  Jenny sighed, hoping her mother would arrive, but not a single vehicle was in sight. The woman stuck her arm out then, holding a wallet-sized photo of a young boy.

  “Does he look familiar at all?”

  Jenny squinted. The short-haired blond boy looked just like any other short-haired blond boy in school. “Not sure…”

  The woman extended her arm. “Take a closer look.”

  Jenny approached the car and zeroed in on the picture, flapping in the wind. Before she could respond, the door swung open, and the woman lunged forward. Tight, meaty hands gripped Jenny’s shoulders and violently yanked her into the car as the gift bag fell to the ground.

  Jenny opened her mouth to scream but was muffled by a thick, moist rag covering her entire face. The air stung her nose and mouth. Then everything went black.

  With an unconscious child in the front seat, the woman looked around nervously. She grabbed the passenger door handle and slammed it shut. No one was in sight. She screeched out of the parking lot, leaving a trail of exhaust. The gift bag lay on the empty sidewalk just as a red Jeep Cherokee entered the lot, driving toward the pickup lane.

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