SLIGHTLY EARLY because there are things happening tomorrow. (-cough- Blank Mastermind blog tour starting, stay tuned.)
But let’s see how the kidnapping wraps up here.
Because I left you all dangling off a horrible cliff last time.
Fun, Henry. Having fun?
Yeah, this was officially the least fun part of the whole experience so far.
I was terrified. I was guilty. I felt like I wanted to throw up.
The kids were gone. Kidnapped. And I hadn’t even been there to watch them because I’d been too ticked off about some stupid snake.
Even having Fnu – a.k.a. the most anti-government person I knew – with me didn’t change my calling the cops.
We had to find these kids. Had to get them back. I’d rather keel over dead than have my brother come back to see that I’d only managed to keep half of his kids safe and that the others were missing . . . that I’d lost them to some stupid kidnapper that Rudy had warnedme about.
I answered the questions the cops asked over the phone. What the kids looked like. What the car looked like. Where the car was heading. I had to refer to Fnu for a few of the questions, but I got them as much information as I could.
And then there was nothing left to do.
Except to pace back and forth, smacking my drumsticks together and trying to breathe like a normal human being.
I probably should have left the drumsticks, you know, with the drumset. But I’d just stuck them in my pocket as I ran out of the garage and now they were about the only thing keeping me sane.
Fnu was theorizing and bustling around the house doing who knew what. Charley was sitting on the floor across from me looking even more deadpan than usual, her lips pressed tightly together while she watched me hit the sticks together over and over again. Walk back and forth and back and forth.
Clack- clack-clack-clack-clack . . .
I just kept pacing, needing to move to keep my mind from . . . exploding or something.
I wanted to just say the police had it handled. They said they were setting up a perimeter or something and were estimating how far he might have gotten with the kids.
But Iwas the one supposed to be watching them. I should be doing somethingother than just stewing in guilt back here, right? There had to be something I could do. Something to get them back. Something to help.
I snapped out of my thoughts as I realized Charley was in front of me and she’d just yanked away one of my drumsticks.
She glared at me.
“I know, I know,” I groaned. “I’m . . . shoot, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to go and . . .”
Charley raised her eyebrows along with my drumstick, tilting her head and looking a whole new level of annoyed with me.
I sighed, reaching my hand out. “Yeah, I’ll stop making so much noise.”
She gave a single nod, pressed it back into my hand and then strode off.
I just stood there for a little longer. So now . . . my big yelling rant at the kids . . . might be the last interaction I ever had with Penrod and Tiny. The two who helped me. Who thought I was a cool uncle and . . .
They probably didn’t even realize about the snake thing. Rudy was the one who knew anyway . . . I swallowed hard, feeling like there was a crushing weight against my chest.
My thoughts shifted a little and my stomach dropped.
Where was Rudy? I hadn’t seen him since he came with Fnu to tell me and . . . oh my gosh . . .
I jammed the drumsticks back in my pocket and dashed out to the kitchen. Over to the living room. Basically all around the downstairs in less than a minute. No Rudy.
Dang it dang it dang it . . .
“Rudy?” my voice cracked.
Fnu looked up from rifling through the junk drawer in the kitchen, craning his neck to look over at me in shock. “What, he’s gone too now?”
Before I had a chance to respond, there was the sound of someone pounding on the door. I jumped, hurrying over to it. Maybe it was . . . the kids had escaped, maybe it was cops, maybe it was . . .
I pulled the door open.
Alice pushed her way in, putting her hands on her hips and staring at me. “Micah, tell me that was another Hungarian friend of yours in that big black truck just a few minutes ago that picked up those two kids?’
Oh great, she had seen that too? Had everyone in the neighborhood except me seen my niece and nephew get kidnapped?
I backed up a step, stammering for a few seconds.
Alice raised her eyebrows. “Because they really didn’t look too happy to be going along with him. And if I’m not mistaken, I’ve seen that guy hanging around the school and being a creep more than once . . .”
Just then, the loud crow of Rudy’s voice broke through the air. “I found him! I found the kidnapper!” He shoved in the door right after Alice, clutching his UFO and the controller in his hands. He held up both of them triumphantly. “My camera saw the truck! And it’s just like you said, Uncle Micah. He’s in the neighborhood.”
Alice fell silent and stared at Rudy.
I did the same.
Rudy looked between us and frowned in frustration. “You said that he was probably just someone in the neighborhood! And I sent my ship around the neighborhood to the house on the other block . . . the one that’s been abandoned and we call it haunted . . .”
“Whoa, that thing went that far?” Alice pointed to the little spaceship.
Rudy continued, ignoring her and focusing his explanation on me. “ . . . And the truck was just getting parked there! It’s thereand that’s where he has them, I know it!”
I blinked and shook my head. “You . . . how . . .?”
He held up his things again, looking exasperated. “My UFO has a camera. That’s how I was spying on the kidnapper the whole time before and making sure he stayed away from our house at night.”
Now I saw the little display screen on his remote control.
“Dude, you what?” Fnu walked around the corner, Charley at his heels. He froze in his tracks, his eyes going wide in awe. He put his hands to his mouth and stared at what Rudy was holding. “Oh . . . my gosh . . .”
I was confused for only a fraction of a second.
Fnu pointed to the UFO Rudy was holding. “Is that . . .?”
I waved a hand. “Not now, Fnu. Rudy, could you show me?”
Rudy clunked down the UFO and walked over next to me. He hit a few buttons on his controller and then held the screen up to me as a tiny, green tinted video replayed.
It was shaky and low quality, but I could still make out a dark colored truck from a far overhead, kind of sideways angle. Pulling out of sight into the garage of a beat-up looking old house.
I pointed. “And that’s the truck?”
“Fnu, is this the truck you saw?” I grabbed my friend by his sleeve and hauled him over to look.
Fnu cut off mid UFO ramble to Charley and squinted at the screen. “Yeah, that’s it.”
So the police were out looking for this kidnapper at the farthest reaches of where he could have gone. And here he was, right in this neighborhood, camping out.
Practically right in our backyard. Over on the other block.
And he had Penrod and Tiny.
I gave the controller back to Rudy. “Come on then. Fnu. We’re going. Grab a baseball bat or something.”
Alice stared at me as I pushed out the door. “So what, you’re just going out after them by yourself?”
“I can call the police again on the way. And I’ve got an escape artist, a boy genius and the pride alien hunter of the United States along with me, I think I’ll be fine.” I waved. “Come on, guys.”
I raised my eyebrows at her. “You can come too if you want to.”
She did. And she brought pepper spray.
Rudy knew just where we were going and led the way around the block to the creepy house. Us in our weird little parade of a UFO, three teenagers and a couple little kids.
All of us looking like we were on the warpath.
Which . . . let’s be honest, we kind of were.
The sun had gone down a little while ago and it got darker and buggier as we walked. The streetlights lit the way and after just a minute or so, we got on the right street.
It was even more obvious in the lighting which house on this street was the “haunted” house. The one with the overgrown lawn, the broken, homemade “for sale” sign and the peeling paint.
The garage door wasn’t closed all the way. Not enough open that I could see a car inside, but it seemed like I could almost sensethe black pickup behind the door. I gripped the drumsticks I was still holding even tighter.
Charley and Rudy broke into a run for the last stretch, their sneakers hitting out a quick beat on the pavement as they sprinted into the sidewalk shadows. I followed them, motioning for Alice to do the same. Fnu didn’t need any encouragement.
We slowed our pace again as we reached the house. I craned my neck and squinted, looking towards the windows.
Anyone walking past wouldn’t say there were any lights on. And technically, I wasn’t sure if I would either. But there was a bit of a distant glow making it to a few of the windows from inside.
This guy didn’t want anybody seeing the light and was doing a decent job of hiding it inside.
But someone was definitely in there.
I grabbed Rudy’s arm to stop him walking. Charley had already stopped and was looking back to me for instructions.
I eyed the house for another few seconds before nodding towards the garage. “We can try to head in through there. Less chance of the kidnapper seeing us if we come in there than the front door.”
And for the first time since I could remember, actually everyone moved on and did what I said without question.
We all snuck our way up to the garage, walking as quietly as we could.
Fnu got there first and grabbed the edge of the garage door, slowly pulling it up. It rattled a little on its track, but slid up and gave us a full view of the dark garage interior.
And sure enough, there was the big, black pickup.
Rudy gave me a triumphant “I told you so” look.
Fnu gave a low whistle and flicked the lightswitch off to the side, lighting up the rest of the garage. And showing something else interesting that was sitting way back in the corner.
A dusty old drumset.
Alice, Fnu and the kids moved towards the door to the inside, but I just stood there, narrowing my eyes at the drumset as an idea formed in my mind.
Fnu turned back. “Dude, are you coming?” he hissed.
Alice was already at the door and gave at a tug. She muttered under her breath. “Crud. It’s locked.”
I moved over closer to them, gesturing silently for a team huddle. “Guys, I’ve got an idea.” I pointed to the drumset. “I drum on that as loud as I can, then when the kidnapper comes out to check it out, I stall him and the rest of you go in to get the other kids. Front door would probably be easier to bust through, I’m guessing . . .”
Alice looked skeptical. “So you’d just . . . stay here by yourself with your drumsticks?”
I held up my drumsticks and shrugged. “That’s what I need to hit the drum, so yeah.”
“What about the kidnapper?” asked Rudy.
I shrugged again. “Guess I can hit him with these too if it really comes down to that.”
But really I didn’t see any sort of fight happening. He’d probably just see me as some stupid, trespassing kid and tell me to get lost. I could stall him for just long enough, then give in and head out, waiting for Fnu and Alice to come out with all the kids.
Charley raised one eyebrow, looking at my drumsticks.
Fnu seemed to be the only one with faith in that plan, but at least he acted on it.
“Stellar. Alright guys, let’s go. Say, hide in the bushes out front ‘til we hear the drumming start up?” he looked over at me as he headed out the garage door, pulling Rudy and Charley behind him.
I hesitated. “Let’s say, wait . . . seven seconds after you hear the drumming start. That should put him out in the garage.”
Fnu flashed a thumbs up, then dragged the kids out the rest of the way.
Alice still stood there, frowning for another second before shoving something into my hand and walking after Fnu and the kids. “Don’t do anything dumb,” she shot over one shoulder.
I looked down at what she’d given me.
Her little pepper spray canister.
I couldn’t help a small smirk as I stuck it in my pocket, going over to the drum set.
It . . . wasn’t in the best shape, honestly. Abandoned whenever this house was. The seat was all torn up. And I just about choked trying to get all the dust off of the drums.
But in under a minute, I was seated behind the dusty old drums, gripping the sticks in one hand. I thought for a second, then pulled out my phone, unlocking it and going to music.
I pressed my thumb down on the side, turning the volume all the way up. Then clicked on the first song on my playlist and set it off to the side.
A second of silence while I tapped the sticks quietly against the drums. Then the guitar riff of Back In Black blared through the garage.
I slammed the sticks down. Hitting out the beat as hard and loud as I could. It was probably a good thing I had the song memorized enough to beat out because really, my drumming was so loud it drowned out anything else. And this time I didn’t have earbuds in.
At first I watched the door while I hit the drums, then I heard loud, angry footsteps coming and quickly looked away, focusing on the beat and pretending to be utterly absorbed.
It was maybe another two seconds before the door squeaked open and a man came out. I struggled to keep my gaze fixed on the drums, but I could see a little bit of him out of my peripheral vision as he stormed down the steps.
“Hey, kid!” his deep voice cut through all the loud drumming pretty well. But I kept smacking away, pretending that I couldn’t hear him. Every second I kept him in here was another second the others had to get the kids out of the house.
“Hey!”the kidnapper’s voice rose and his footsteps stomped closer.
I didn’t stop drumming, but let up a little and looked up innocently.
He was a pretty big guy so I had to look a little farther up than I thought I’d have to. Also he looked pretty darn scruffy and homeless, on top of looking intimidating. And mad. He definitely looked mad.
I didn’t stop, just raising my eyebrows at him questioningly like I couldn’t possibly guess what I was doing wrong.
The man narrowed his eyes and pressed his lips together, propping his hands on his hips. “Stop. Drumming.” His lips formed the words as clearly as possible.
I spun my sticks around my hands for one more good whack before pulling them back.
He opened his mouth to speak, but I held up a hand and reached over, grabbing my phone. I took much longer than necessary to fumble around and turn off the song. Then I stuck my phone back in my pocket and looking up at him.
“Yeah? Something wrong?”
His turn to raise his eyebrows. He let out a short bark of a laugh. “Wrong? Kid, this is mygarage.”
I looked overly confused for a couple seconds, peering out around him towards the for salesign. “Thinking of selling the place?”
“None of your business.”
“Well there’s a sign out front. And I’m right over on the other block. I just came over to try the drums out for a bit. And I walk by all the time . . . don’t think I’ve ever seen you around here before . . .” I narrowed my eyes.
The kidnapper’s eyes darkened. “Get out.”
I didn’t have a lot of room left to push him here. I stood up, put both my sticks in one hand and raised my hands. “Okay, okay. You got me. I’m going. Jeez. Didn’t realize it was such a big deal . . .” I rolled my eyes, coming around and starting towards the door.
There was a thump from inside and my heart skipped a beat as I glanced over towards the door. The kidnapper stiffened. I cleared my throat and thumped my fist against my chest to try and cover something of the noise.
He snapped his gaze onto me again. “What are you really doing here?”
I backed another step towards the door. “Excuse me?”
The kidnapper lunged for me.
I pulled back, throwing my hand holding the sticks up to guard my face. He shoved me back against the side of the truck, grabbing the front of my shirt and snarling in my face.
Man, his breath was gross.
I pulled back as far as I could, flinching. “Hey, hey, dude . . . chill out I’m just . . . just a kid from down the street. What’s your problem anyway?” I fumbled my other hand down, sticking in my pocket to grab onto Alice’s little pepper spray.
He spat out a curse. “Don’t play stupid. What’d you see? Who else is here?”
“I-I . . . um . . .” I tried to subtly pull my hand up enough to get a good angle on the sprayer.
The kidnapper brought his hand up quicker and smacked me across the face.
My head slammed back against the glass of the truck window and the side of my face tingled. I tasted blood in my mouth.
I grunted, squinting one eye closed in a wince.
Just hoped he hadn’t hit any of the kids like that.
He loosened his grip, giving me just a second to get my bearings before getting in my face again.
That was his mistake.
I pulled the pepper spray up in the gap between us and smashed down on the little button as hard as I could. I had to adjust my aim within the first second because I started spraying his mouth. But then getting it up his nose andin his eyes ended up being worth it.
He howled, letting out another string of curses as he let me go and stumbled back, clutching his face.
Then there was a whirring noise and a loud clunk.
The howling stopped. His hands fell from his face, and the kidnapper pitched forward, collapsing to the ground.
And hovering right there, level with where his head had been, was Rudy’s UFO. A big dent showed in its side.
Rudy stood a little ways back from it, his small hands gripping the controls and his face in a determined scowl.
There was a moment of dead silence. I could hear police sirens wailing in the distance, coming closer.
I just stared. “Rudy?”
Rudy didn’t look at me, steering the UFO back to himself, then stepping over to the kidnapper’s fallen form. He pushed his glasses up on his nose, looking down at him. “That was for my siblings.” He paused. “And for hitting my uncle.”
Yaaaayyy tune in to hear the conclusion on Thursday. Or maybe Wednesday.
We’ll see how I’m feeling. xD
Tell me what you thought below!