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I am prisoner. Bound by ropes that will not break. I am in despair. Despair that I would never see my family again. Despair that my life would not be as long as I wanted. My mouth is unable to make noise, but my eyes are free to see. Free to see the disaster falling upon me. Free to see my beloved home falling away from my sight with every passing second. My captors sneer as they see tears fall from my eyes. I am confused. Why is this happening? I look around and see that I am on a ship. A ship that is out at sea. How long have I been out? I concentrate hard to see if I can make sense of the muddle in my head. I had been skateboarding down my sidewalk when suddenly a man had blocked my path. He was wearing a black suit and tie, despite the warm weather. As a tried to skate past him a sinister grin spread across his pasty white face, and he chuckled evilly. His teeth were yellow, and he had a small goatee. I tried to skate around, around him, but he grabbed my arm with a hand that felt like iron, and twisted it behind me. Wincing with pain, I attempted to kick him. He whispered in my ear with breath that made me wither,
“You won’t get away this time, so don’t try any funny business.”
I tried to scream, but a course cloth was thrust into my mouth. The last thing I remembered was a sickly sweet odor.
That was all. There was nothing to explain what I was doing here. Why had he said I “won’t get away this time”? As far as I know, I haven’t been kidnapped by him before. And I think that is something I would remember. Maybe he mistook me for someone else. I struggle with my thoughts as I struggle with my bonds. Suddenly a trap door opens up, and a man saunters up to me. He isn’t the goatee guy but just as scary. Msucles bulging under a stained white shirt. Hair pulled back in a greasy ponytail. One earring. I try not to flinch as he shoves his ugly face next to mine.
“What’s the combination? Tell me and I won’t--”
He is cut off by the goatee guy storming up. “What are you doing?” He practically screeches. Greasy Ponytail turns around and faces him guiltily. “Just-informing our prisoner of the terms” he mumbles. The goatee guy glares daggers at him.
“Put her in the hold,” he demands.
“Why me?” Greasy Ponytail whines.
“Because I told you to, you thickheaded numbskull!”
Greasy ponytail grabs my arm and drags me toward the trapdoor. I struggle violently, trying to speak through the gag, but all that comes out are gurgled sounds.
“Oh be quiet. It’s bad enough I have to go down there, but to have to drag a squirmy kid is just too much. So if you don’t stop I may have to do something about it.” He snarls.
I get the hint and stop resisting. He yanks me down a flight of metal steps, then opens up another trapdoor, with wooden stairs leading into black nothingness. I start to thrash about again, and greasy ponytail shoves me down the rest of the way. I fall with a loud thump. I look up despairingly to see ponytail’s sneering face slam the trapdoor shut. The sound resonates in the complete, utter darkness. I think it is empty, until I hear a noise. I freeze, hardly daring to breath. What else is down here?
I jump at least three feet.
Even if my gag didn’t prevent me from speaking, my fear would have
“Did the gag you?” the mysterious voice continues. I hear a scraping noise.
“Mmm,” I mumble, trembling.
“My name is Jonathon. I have an iron around my ankle. You are in the hold of what used to be a slave ship. Can you move toward my voice?”
Stunned, I begin to inch my way toward the English accent. It takes a while, and my arms scrape the rough planks painfully. The ship lurches and I am tossed forward. I am lying face down on something warm.
“You made it!” The voice came from right above me. I realize I am on top of his legs, and I try to awkwardly get off of them.
“Hold on a moment, I believe I can untie you if you stay like that, because although they chained my leg, they left the rest of me free.”
Impatiently I wait. I feel my bonds slacken, tighten, and finally drop away altogether. I push myself off of...Jonathon? And yank off my gag.
“Thanks,” I gasp, and set to work on my ankles, periodically rubbing my chafed wrists.
“Any time,” Even though I can’t see him, I can hear the smile in his voice.
“Why are you here?” Jonathon asks, at the same time I say,
“Where are we?”
“You first,” I tell him, as I concentrate on a particularly hard knot. Untying one’s self becomes much harder when you’re in pitch black.
“Well, I’m not exactly sure, but I think it has something to do with what I overheard.”
“Which was?” I prompt, “and are you actually from England?”
I can feel his surprise. “That’s where we are, isn’t it? I was grabbed there a few days ago.”
Now I am surprised. “Um, I was kidnapped from Maine. In the United States. Do you have any idea why we’re in this--” I fall over when the ship rolls, “Ship?” I finish, gingerly picking myself up from the floorboards.
I hear Jonathan sigh. “While I was walking home from school, I had to pass an alleyway, where I heard two men discussing something. I paid no attention until one of them mentioned the word, emerald. I stopped and started listening. One of them said,
“The pick up is the day after tomorrow, right?”
“Right. They’ll never know wha’ ‘it ‘em! The general wants to get the wires figured out, though, so we’re stoppin’ to pick up the girl. Then it’s off to Boston for the jewel!’
I figured they were up to no good so I began to sneak away. I tripped on a garbage can lid, and before I could run, the men caught me and knocked me out. Next thing I knew I was in here.” Jonathan finishes.
I think hard. “They mentioned an emerald? You know, the National Museum of History is displaying an emerald for a couple weeks. It’s supposed to be the biggest in the world. The security is top notch, with lasers, sensors, and tons of guards. I know because my dad is a top mechanic/security person, and they called him in specially for this--” I trail off as something hits me.
“Would it be possible for—for me to be the girl they’re referring to? I mean, I know it’s crazy, but why else would I be here? I love to watch my dad work, and he has taught me a ton. I can probably figure out how to get around some of the security, if they were after the emerald.”
There is a long pause.
“You could be right,” Jonathon’s voice comes slowly. At that moment, the ship lurches and we are both thrown forward. The trapdoor opens, letting in a shaft of brilliant light, blinding me. Heavy footsteps clump down the stairs and Ponytail’s horrid face comes into view.
“I see you two have been busy,” he says, looking at my untied hands and feet.
“Yea, well, what did you expect us to do? Sit around and wait for your ugly face to show?” I shoot back heatedly. Ponytail’s face contorts and he grabs me by the arm and shakes me.
“You watch your tone,” he warns. He pulls out a key and unlocks Jonathon’s shackle. He heaves him up as well and drags us up the stairs. Jonathon’s face shows what I feel. Confusion, despair, and anger. I see that we have landed in a cove of some sort, well hidden from view. As I study the shoreline, I can make out a sign that has the word, ‘BOSTON’ scratched on it. I gesture wildly at Jonathon with my free hand, and when he looks at me, I point to the sign with my head. A look of understanding dawns on his face, and when he glances back at me again, we communicate the same message with our eyes. As soon as we have the chance, run for it. It comes sooner than we expect. Ponytail ties our hands and gags us, and leads us up to goatee guy. He strokes his beard slowly.
“Now, do you know why you’re here?”
I make no reply.
Goatee guy sighs and rolls his eyes. “Joe, untie her gag, please.”
He raises his eyebrows with a bored expression as he says the please. Ponytail does as he asks and I lick my lips.
“Now, do you know why you’re here?”
I still make no reply. Goatee is un_____
“Well, let me tell you. Our operation is quite simple actually. All we need to you to do is break through a set of wires on a—shall we say—special system. What do you say?”
“And if I don’t,” I challenge
“It would be so sad if your mother had an,” he pauses, “accident. Wouldn’t it? Especially considering you’re about to have another sister.”
“You wouldn’t--” I begin heatedly.
“Oh yes I would. Now, will you do it?”
I glare resentfully at him, but nod my head. Jonathan's eyes were wide. Suddenly I spy a piece of rope lying next to me on the ground. If only…then it happened. There is a crashing noise in the forest behind us, and goatee guy turns around. Only for a split second, but that’s all I need. I grab the rope and swing it hard at goatee guy, right in the gut. Jonathan connects his foot with Joe’s stomach, hard. Both men double over, and we jump off of the boat, onto the grassy bank, and hightail it. A gunshot resonates over our heads and we triple our pace. I hear men coming after us, so Jonathan and I turn. I am glad we did, because we come across a road. We run down it, still tied and gagged. Jonathan trips over a rock and falls, and I trip over him. We lay here for a moment, trying to catch our breath. It’s hard when you have something stuffed in your mouth. Suddenly, Jonathan starts sawing the rope around his hands on the rock he tripped over. Understanding dawns. Even though the rock is small, it has a sharp edge. And it looks like it’s working! It takes forever. Finally he finishes, yanking off his gag and starting on my hands. I sigh with relief when he removes the rope and my gag, but it is short lived. The bushes behind us start shaking and we look at each other. Our message is clear. Run!
It is late. After wandering countless roads, we make it into a city.
“Boston!” Jonathan squints in the fading light.
“We made it!” I shout excitedly. “Who do we call? My parents are probably going crazy! But the police have to know what’s going on!”
Jonathan nods in agreement. “I say we call the police first. Who knows where those guys are. For all we know, they might have already stolen it.”
That thought sobers us as we walk to a payphone.
I break the silence. “It so loud and awake. It seems wrong after walking all those empty roads.”
Jonathan stops and grabs my arm, pointing to a building. I barely make out the letters on it. “The National Museum of..” I trail off as I see two black shapes creep around the building. “Jonathan,” I begin in a shaky voice, “the museum closed early today, because of the emerald. Are those guys--?” I let my question hang in the air. Jonathan peers into the fast coming darkness.
“Yep,” he confirms my fears.
“Quick, we need to call the police!” I start to run toward a house. Jonathan takes another look at the men, and one at me.
“You go,” he decides, “I’m going to keep an eye on them. If they come out before the police arrive, maybe I can stop them until they come.”
“But what if they catch you,” I demand. “Come on.” Impatiently I grip his arm and pull him away from the museum. Jonathan shakes me off.
“No,” He says firmly. “you go.”
Even in the dark I can see the determined look in his eyes. Sighing, I look at him pleadingly one last time, before turning around and dashing toward the nearest phone.
I slam the receiver down in frustration. I doubt the police took me seriously. We would be lucky if they ever sent a guy to check it out. Eyes blazing, I storm back to the museum, completely forgetting about my parents. Jonathan isn’t there! I gasp, thinking the worst. Then I see him, crouched under a bush, only a couple yards away from the museum. I let out my breath, and crawl over to him.
“What are you doing?” I hiss.
He jumps, then relaxes when he sees it’s just me.
“Don’t do that! You scared me half to death!” He gasps.
“Sorry,” I murmur. “But what are you doing over here?”
“I thought it would be better cover than standing in the middle of the road. Did you get the police?”
Our conversation is interrupted when Joe walks past our hideout. Thinking quick, I stick out my leg.
“W-w-what?” He trips right over it, nearly crushing it in the process. Jonathan leaps out and stuffs one of our gags in his mouth before he can alert anyone else. I sit on his back, and try not to be bucked off. Jonathan grabs a heavy branch that was under the bush and whacks Joe over the head. His body goes limp under me. It gives me great pleasure to tie his wrists and ankles (tightly) together. I look at Jonathan and we high-five.
“One down, unknown to go,” I murmur.
“Yea, um, what now?”
Suddenly I spy something I hadn’t noticed before. A satchel!
“Quick, what’s in here?” I ask softly, ripping open the cover. I stick my hand inside and pull out something heavy and large. We both gasp, stunned. I was holding the emerald! Just then police sirens sound through the streets.
“They came!” I say in surprise. In a few seconds, the whole area is lit up and swarming with policemen. Jonathan looks at me, a smile a mile wide on his face. I look back at him, knowing my face is a mirror image.
I sit on my bed in my room, pen in hand. It has been a week since my ordeal with Jonathon and the emerald. The police arrived just in time to catch goatee guy and his men sticking a fake emerald in its slot. It turns out one of their guys knew how to break through the specific set of wires that they had captured me for. Joe had been sent out to their car with the real jewel in his bag. Goatee guy, whose actual name was Edward Skint, refused to say a word until he saw Jonathan and I standing by a police car.
“You’ll get what’s coming to you. Just you wait and see! Jail isn’t going to stop me from hunting you down--” His words had been cut off has he was shoved into a car.
Jonathan told his story and I told mine, our parents were called, we were thanked by the governor in public the next day. My mom and dad were still switching between wanting to keep me locked up for safekeeping, and hugging me everyday out of pride. I’m still trying to get a bigger allowance. I twirl my pen, thinking of what to write to Jonathan, who had flown back (free, of course). I hear my mom’s voice calling for me.
“Skye, telephone! It’s Jonathan!”
I smile, and crumple up my paper.