I dislike having to murder someone, but kidnapping is worse. At least when I set up a kill, I know what's coming. No connections, no honesty, no surprises. Everything I say and do is just another step in luring my victim. Once the victim falls into my trap, the next move is swift; crushed windpipe, fatal concussion, or a good ol'-fashioned headshot.
Kidnapping, on the other hand, is a little trickier. First, the victim has an opportunity to respond. I don't like this. Sometimes they cry. Sometimes they manage to alert the authorities. And sometimes they escape, usually by inflicting bodily harm on me.
Dead people don't retaliate.
The second major difference between killing and kidnapping is my conscience. With a kill, I get in and out. We have no chance to bond.
Abductees require a little more one-on-one. As much as I try to keep the switch turned off, I can't help but listen to their pleas and demands. And usually I'm forced to conclude that I'm an asshole.
That's exactly where I find myself one late afternoon in June. I prefer doing this at night, but I would really prefer not doing this at all.
Instead, I have a belligerent nine-year-old girl sitting in the passenger seat of my Honda Accord, shackles on her wrists and ankles, and a small stuffed bunny in her lap. She's eying me in a way that makes me self-conscious. Like I'm the bad guy.
Probably because I am the bad guy.
"My dad will shoot you!" She glares at me. "He has lots of guns and knows how to use them real good. He'll shoot you."
Right now, that feels more like a promise of mercy than a threat. I focus on the road and say nothing.
"But you won't die, he'll call the police, and you'll go to jail!" She rattles her chains like a new specter trying out the haunting thing.
And she keeps rattling them.
I clench my jaw and tighten my hold on the steering wheel.
The clanking grows louder. From the corner of my eye, I catch that she's shaking the chains at me. She's nine. She's angry. This is all she's got.
It's annoying as shit.
"Okay! Stop it!" I reach for the middle chain to still her.
She shrieks. High-pitched, ice-pick-to-the-eardrum shrieks.
I jerk my hand back to the steering wheel. "Please stop."
She shrieks louder. Dear God.
She falls silent. Her eyes are fixed on me, though.
I'm supposed to be the bad guy here. Probably a good idea to say something bad guy-ish.
I got nothing.
My conscience sneaks in, whispering questions about what might happen to her after delivery.
Ransom , I decide. She'll be held for ransom.
Truth is, I'll never know.
I bet she's in a lot of extracurricular activities. Head of her class, ringleader of her friends, exasperation to her parents.
They don't know she's missing yet. She was heading home from school when I cut her off at a crosswalk, shoved her into the backseat, slapped the chains on her, and peeled away. I'm a pro at this.
If I didn't know better, I'd think she was a pro, too. She started singing. In the backseat. At the top of her lungs. "The Song That Never Ends."
Come to find out, that song never ends.
So we struck a deal. She would stop singing, and I would let her ride in the passenger seat.
It was a compromise. Her first offer was that I let her go.
Nice try, kid.
She juts out her chin. "Where are you taking me?"
"A big house." I bat my hair out of my eyes. "A mansion. With lots of expensive things. There's maids and cooks. Huge yard with a pool that might as well be a lake. Has a waterfall and everything."
"Is there a pony?"
"Well, there's-" I stop and glance over at her.
She's fuckin' with me.
I groan and slouch in my seat. Not very bad guy-ish, but I think she's already figu