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The Watch

A.H. Mittelman

By Alex H Mittelman Published 3 months ago Updated 3 months ago 11 min read
Make a plan. Escape the basement. Repeat.

The outside world was unknown to her, but she could see a glimpse of it through the window in his room.

Levi had taken Ellie from her parents when she was three. He had wanted a child, but was single and told he couldn’t adopt. This triggered a darkness in Levi that could only be satisfied by completing a sinister plan he hatched to take somebody else’s child. Every day, he heard voices telling him to do so until he finally took a child.

Ellie had forgotten what the outside world was like, and Levi had brainwashed her into staying inside. He convinced Ellie he had loved her and was her real father. Occasionally, Ellie would get curious about what she saw when she looked out the window.

“Daddy, I want to play with the other children. Can’t you let me out, just for a little bit?” Ellie asked.

“You know I’ve been keeping you in here for your safety,” Levi said.

“Yes, dad. But can’t you protect me while taking me for a walk? I feel like I’ve been stuck in here forever,” Ellie asked.

“Four years is not forever. And it would be difficult. If the bad guys outside recognize you, they’d hurt you or worse. You don’t want to be hurt, do you? The basement is for your protection,” Levi asked.

“No, but what if I wore a costume. Like the kids I see that come to the door on Halloween? I’m so bored,” Ellie asked.

“It’s too risky. You’re famous, after all. I showed you all your missing posters. Your face is even on television sometimes. And don’t you have fun playing all the video games I bring you? And I taught you to read so you could enjoy all these books. I wish I could let you out, but you're being watched. I told you about the watch. There's a bunch of bad guys always watching you, they call themselves the neighborhood watch. They’re waiting for you to go outside so they can take you away from me,” Levi said.

“Ok. I guess I’ll stay,” Ellie said and went back to her window to stare.

“That’s better. I’ll bring down some dinner,” Levi said and left the basement. Ellie was a smart child and had figured out Levi wasn’t her real father. She knew from the posters and television her real parents had been looking for her and she had been planning an escape for a long time. She was hoping Levi would make it easy for her to escape and take her for a walk, she could just start screaming for help to the first person she saw.

But she had a plan too do things the hard way. She tied her bed sheets together with a few old shirts and pants she saved, then tied those to the stairs. When Levi came down with dinner, he’d fall and she’d grab the fork and stab him with it. Then she’d grab the knife to keep him back. She quickly set her trap and waited.

Twenty minutes had passed, and Levi finally came down with a plate of food. She distracted him with a big smile.

“Thank you for dinner, dad. It smells really good,” Ellie said.

“You’re welcome, sweetie. I hope you… ouf….” Levi started to say as he tripped down the stairs. Ellie grabbed the fork and stabbed him.

“Owe, that hurts. Why,” Levi said. He started to get up and Ellie grabbed the knife.

“I know what you did. I know my real parents are looking for me. I’m leaving now,” Ellie said and backed up the stairs slowly.

“I am your real parents. I raised you, you brat,” Levi shouted and started to get up. Ellie ran the rest of the way up the stairs and Levi tried to chase her. She quickly turned around and shoved the knife into Levi’s stomach and closed the basement door. She could hear him falling down the stairs.

Ellie ran outside. She started knocking on a neighbor’s door, nobody answered. She ran down the sidewalk yelling for help. Eventually she ran into someone walking their dog.

“Hello, child. What’s the matter?” The woman said.

“I’ve been kidnapped. You might have seen me in the news or the newspapers,” Ellie said.

“Come to think of it, you do look familiar,” The woman said.

“Thank you. Can you help me find my real parents?” Ellie asked.

“Sure, come with me. I’ll take you to the police,” The woman said. Ellie started walking with the woman and stopped when she saw a bloodied Levi standing in front of them.

Ellie tugged on the woman’s shirt and whispered, “That’s him. That’s the man who kidnapped me. He kept me in his basement.”

“Sir, I’m going to have to ask you to leave,” The woman yelled.

“Look, ma’am, there’s clearly been some sort of misunderstanding. That’s my daughter,” Levi said.

“I know you kidnapped her, sir. Back off, you have five seconds,” The woman said.

“Five seconds or what?” Levi asked.

“Four, three, two, one,” the woman counted down. She then grabbed pepper spray out of her purse and sprayed it all over Levi’s face.

“Aaaahhh, that hurts, you bitch,” Levi shouted.

“I tried to warn you, asshole,” the woman said and kicked Levi in the privates. Levi fell to the ground and gasped for air. The woman called the police then took Ellie to her house to wait.

“My name’s Idris by the way,” the woman said.

“My names Ellie. Nice to meet you,” Ellie said and shook Idris’s hand.

The police came and arrested Levi, then sent an officer to Idris’s house.

“We’ve put a call into social services. They should be here soon to reunite Ellie with her parents. It might take a few hours. Would you mind watcher her until then,” The officer said.

“I don’t mind at all,” Idris said and smiled.

“Wonderful,” the officer said. The officer left and Idris closed the door.

“Would you like to watch some television until the social worker gets here?” Idris asked.

“No thanks. I’m sick of TV. That’s all I did in the basement,” Ellie said.

“He kept you in a basement?” Idris said then gasped. “How horrible.”

“I’m ok now. I’m free,” Ellie said.

“What a positive person you are. How truly wonderful,” Idris said. Ellie and Idris sat and chatted until they heard a knocking at the door.

“That must be the social worker,” Idris said and smiled. Idris got up and opened the door. There were three people standing right outside the door and several reporters standing behind them.

“Wow, I wasn’t expecting this,” Idris said.

“Sorry for the commotion. I’m Linda with social services, and these are Ellie’s parents, Logan and Ruby Sternmiester,” Linda said.

“Nice to meet you. I’m Idris, and Ellie is inside somewhere. Ellie, come meet your parents,” Idris shouted.

Ellie came to the door.

“Ellie, so wonderful to see you,” Ruby said.

“We missed you so much,” Logan said. They gave Ellie a long hug.

“We have questions. How did you find Ellie? Ellie, what was it like being kidnapped. How much did you guys miss your daughter,” The reporters asked.

Logan and Ruby turned around to face the reporters.

“Thank you for your questions. We missed our daughter very much and were happy she’s home. We are asking for privacy at this difficult time. We can answer all questions later,” Logan said.

“Just one more question. What will you guys be doing now? Where will you go? What will life be like?” The reporters asked.

“That’s more than one question. Come on, Ellie, let’s go to the car. We’re going to go home before the reporter’s question us to death,” Ruby said and scurried Ellie to their car.

“It was nice to meet you, Ellie. Good luck,” Idris shouted. Ellie turned and waived.

“Goodbye Idris, I hope to see you again,” Ellie shouted back.

They got in the car and drove away. When they got home they showed Ellie to her room.

“Well get you new things soon. Your room is exactly how you left it,” Logan said.

“I don’t remember how I left it. I’m sorry,” Ellie said.

“It’s ok. All in good time,” Ruby said. Logan and Ruby smiled at Ellie, then walked out of the room. They walked to their room and closed the door. Ruby went to find them to ask for a glass of water, then stopped at their door when she heard them talking.

“That idiot couldn’t keep her out of the public’s eye. I don’t want a child,. That’s why we sold her,” Ruby said.

“I told you we should have put her up for a legal adoption,” Logan said.

“But there’s no money in that,” Ruby said.

“Yes, but now she’s back. With all the publicity, we certainly can’t sell her again. And we would look like scum if we put her up for adoption after what happened. We should have put her up for legal adoption but asked for money on the side. Then this would never have happened,” Logan said. Ellie started to cry.

“Shh, what’s that?” Ruby said.

“It sounds like crying. Crap, did Ellie hear us?” Logan asked. Ellie ran out the door. Ruby started to chase after her and Logan grabbed her shoulder.

“No, don’t. We need to figure out how to explain this to her. We don’t want to get in trouble for this,” Logan said.

“We better hurry before she tells somebody what happened,” Ruby said.

Ellie remembered the route to Idris’s house, it wasn’t far away. She ran to Idris. She knocked on the door.

“Hello Ellie. What are you doing back here?” Idris said.

“I need to come in, quick, before they find me,” Ellie said.

“What happened?” Idris asked.

“They sold me. They sold me to that evil man?”

“What do you mean they sold you?” Idris asked.

“I overheard them talking. They didn’t want a child. Instead of putting me up for adoption, they wanted money and sold me to Levi. Then they tried to come up with a plan to get rid of me again when the publicity died down,” Ellie said.

“Those monsters. I’ll call social services,” Idris said.

“No, don’t. They might send me back there. I don’t want to be sold again,” Ellie said.

“How about this, I’ll call social services and tell them I want to foster you. Then I’ll put in a bid to adopt you. How would you like me as your new mother?” Idris asked.

“That would be wonderful. You’re a good person, Idris,” Ellie said.

Idris called social services and explained the situation.

“Well, unfortunately it might take a few months for you to adopt Ellie. Even as a foster parent, it’s a long process. But the good news is, we won’t be sending her back to her parents. We’ll be calling for an investigation, and if they’re found guilty, they’ll be send to jail,” the social worker said.

“Thank you. Those people are monsters. Don’t forget to send me the paperwork today. I’d like to get the process started and adopt Ellie as soon as possible,” Idris said.

“We’ll have the social worker bring it when they come to pick up Ellie,” The person on the phone said.

“Thank you,” Idris said and hung up.

“Good news and bad news Ellie. I have to give you up for a little while. There’s someone coming here to pick you up and put you with a foster family. But on the bright side, this is only a temporary arraignment. I’m going to fill out some paper work today. I’ll see you again soon, I promise,” Idris said and smiled.

“I’m sacred. What if I don’t like the place where they send me?” Ellie asked.

“Don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll be fine for a few months. And soon you’ll be back here,” Idris said and smiled.

“Ok, do you promise?” Ellie asked.

“Yes, dear. I promise,” Idris said.

The social worker came a few hours later. She took Ellie to foster care where she remained for the next six months and was enrolled in the local elementary school.

It was now Friday, and at the end of the school day, Ellie was told to wait and not take the bus home. She waited, and saw Idris pull up in her car.

“Good news, dear. Social services finally cleared me to adopt you,” Idris said and smiled. Ellie ran to the car, opened the passenger door, jumped into the car and gave Idris a hug.

“Thank you,” Ellie said with tears running down her eyes.

Copyright © 12/28/2022 by A.H. Mittelman. All rights reserved.

Short Story

About the Creator

Alex H Mittelman

I love writing and just finished my first novel. I’ve been writing since I was nine. On the autism spectrum but that doesn’t stop me! If you like my stories, click the heart, leave a comment and a tip! Feel free to make a pledge! Thanks!

Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

Top insights

  1. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  2. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  3. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  1. On-point and relevant

    Writing reflected the title & theme

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Comments (5)

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  • 𝒟𝒶𝒾𝓈𝒽𝒶 𝒲.3 months ago

    Love how you did this piece, great job 👏🏽

  • Colleen Millsteed3 months ago

    Oh I breathe a sigh of relief at the ending. Love it Alex.

  • C.Z.3 months ago

    A fun twist on the prompt!! A couple places felt maybe a bit expositional, I would’ve loved more background told organically but I like the direction you went!

  • Gideon 6ix3 months ago

    I am glad it had a good ending- had me worried for a moment!

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