She walked quickly down the sidewalk, eyes straight ahead. She had just gotten off work and would be home in two blocks. He knew this because he’d been watching her for the past three weeks. Tonight, was the night he would finally have her. He’d just lost the last one. He’d thought she was the one, but she wasn’t strong enough. This one was perfect. She would outlast all the others; he was sure of it. He could feel his heart beating in anticipation. As she moved closer to where he was hiding his anticipation grew. Finally, she came to the alley where he was waiting. She sped up a little as she walked by but that would do her no good. As she passed, he jumped out behind her and covered her mouth with a rag he’d dipped in chloroform. She struggled for a few moments before going slack in his arms. He picked her up and quickly hurried down the alley to his waiting van. He opened the back and laid her down on a mattress. He blindfolded and tied her up. Then he injected her with a sedative. It would take hours to get back and he didn’t want her to wake up before it was time. He quickly got into the van and drove away, whistling.
Two Weeks Later…
Amanda ducked down behind a tree to catch her breath. She was dirty, tired and hungry. It would be two days before he left her some food and he’d allow her to sleep. This was the game they’d been playing for the last two weeks since he’d abducted her. She’d woken up blindfolded and tied up in a place that smelled damp and mildew. Then he’d come in and told her that they were going to play a game. He’d said that if she was good he’d let her live but if not then she would die. Amanda had been terrified but she didn’t let it show. Instead, she’d asked him what the game was. He’d said the game was cat and mouse. He was the cat and she was the mouse. He’d give her a fifteen-minute head start and all she had to do was not let him catch her.
He’d given her a water bottle and a few granola bars but that was all. He’d said that there were things left behind by previous mice that may or may not be helpful if she could find them. Every Sunday he would give her more water and food and allow her a few hours of sleep. Amanda had been on her own since her dad passed when she was thirteen and she’d run away from her foster home so she knew that she could handled this. The only thing she worried about was the fact that she didn’t know this man. So far, he’d stuck to his word and had been fair but she wasn’t sure if that would continue. Her and her dad used to go camping in the woods all the time and he’d taught her many useful survival skills. She was definitely putting them to use now.
In the two weeks that she had been hunted in the woods, Amanda had found a tarp, an extra water bottle and a backpack that had some rope and a pocket knife in it. The backpack was a life saver because now her hands were free. The tarp made an excellent shelter and provided her with protection if it rained. The forest went on for miles and he’d told her that no one ever came up here which was why he’d chosen it. In order to win the game, she’d have to make it to an abandoned mine in the North part of the forest. Luckily, she knew how to figure out which way was north because he didn’t tell her.
Every now and then Amanda would go in the wrong direction to throw him off because she was afraid that if he knew that she knew where she was going he’d change up the rules. Whenever he left her food and water he would leave a note with instructions or little hints and clues of where she might find helpful items. Since he never said what the items were, she had to decide if she wanted to veer off course and risk looking for them. Right now, she was looking for one of those items. It was her day to go off course, so she decided to see if she could find anything.
Two Days Later…
Amanda reached her resupply point and sat down. She drank some of the water and refilled her water bottles. She was hoping to find one or two more this week because two bottles were not enough to get her through to her next resupply. She ate one of the granola bars and put the other four in her backpack. She got up and looked around the area to see if there was anything useful. All she found was a little spade which could be useful digging holes, if necessary. Amanda began to clear an area to set up her tarp to get her two hours of sleep. He would sound a horn to start the two hours and again to end it and wake her up. When she woke up there would be his note waiting for her. When the first horn sounded Amanda got under tarp tent and fell instantly asleep. She didn’t know it, but things were about to get a little bit interesting.
He sat watching her sleep. She was definitely the one. There were times in the past two weeks when he had actually lost track of her. She was smart, and she knew her way around the woods. He knew that he’d have to throw her a curve ball if he had any hopes of winning this game. He almost felt bad. He didn’t want to kill her, but he had a deadline and he was nearing it. He had a week left to play and then she had to go. He’d only been able to take leave for three weeks this time. He’d have to work double time to build it back up for his next game. It was a shame he couldn’t keep her. He hadn’t had this much fun on a hunt in a long time.
Amanda woke up with a start. He had sounded the horn and now it was time to get moving. First, she had to read his letter. She climbed out of her tarp and stopped in her tracks. There was more food and water, a note and a girl, about her age, bound and gagged laying next to it. Amanda moved forward and picked up the note. She opened it and began to read:
“Hello my pet. It seems our game is drawing to an end. You’ve done very well and it seems that this is too easy for you. So, to make it a little more interesting I’ve added a player to our game. Meet Stacy. You now have to get you and her to the end point. If I catch one of you, you both die so it would be in your best interest to get her to play along. If you push hard you should make it to the mine by the end of the week. This is the last week of the game so good luck.”
Amanda couldn’t believe this. It was bad enough she had to worry about herself surviving, now she had to worry about this girl too. She went over and kneeled down beside the girl. She gently touched her shoulder. The girl jumped and began to struggle against her ropes. Amanda placed her hand over the ropes.
“I’m not going to hurt you. I’m just going to untie you.”
Amanda waited. Stacy stilled and nodded her head. Amanda untied her ropes and took off her gag and blindfold. Stacy instantly stood up and took off running. She didn’t get very far before falling down. She was probably still groggy from the sedative.
“Stacy, please. We have to work together to get out of her alive. I know you’re afraid, but you have to remain calm and work with me. The only way we can get out of here is together. If you run off and he catches you then I die too.”
Stacy looked as if she wanted to run away again but to her credit she didn’t. Amanda walked over to her and handed her a bottle of water and a granola bar. Stacy snatched them and began to eat and drink them quickly.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa. Slow down. We can fill it now before we start but this water and food has to last us all week. We have to make our way to an abandoned mine in the North part of the forest. I’ve been going for two weeks but we must be close.”
Amanda left out the part about this being the last week to make it and that if they didn’t, they’d both die. Stacy took a few more swallows then went to fill it up. She turned back and looked at Amanda.
“So you’ve been out her for two weeks?”
“How does this work?”
Amanda walked over to Stacy and sat down.
“When it’s time to go he’ll sound a horn. We’ll have a fifteen-minute head start before he starts hunting us. We have to keep on the move and reach the abandoned mine to win. Winning means we stay alive or at least that’s what he says. We might find some useful items along the way. I have a backpack that I found along with a tarp, some rope, a pocket knife and an extra water bottle as well as a shovel.”
Stacy sat stunned into silence. Her eyes teared up but the tears didn’t spill over. Amanda saw in her eyes the moment she decided that she would survive this. That was good because she would need to be brave if they were both going to survive. At the moment, a loud horn sounded, and it was time to run.
(To Be Continued)