Friday, June 20, 2014

A Taste of Vanished by Barbara Derksen


Vanished, Barbara Ann Derksen, Createspace, May 2009

Prologue
The intruder shoved her up the stairs. Diane Michner stumbled. She grabbed the stair treads for support. Tears of fright blurred her vision.
“Hurry or I hurt the kid.” His rumbling threat released hot breath across her neck. She scurried faster. An arm, covered in monstrous tattoos that bulged beneath the sleeve of his dirty t-shirt, circled the tiny wiggling torso of her three year old son. Jeffrey whimpered. The thug pushed her again.
“Mommy!” Jeffrey screamed, large droplets of tears coursing down his pudgy cheeks.
“Quiet.” The man gripped the boy’s arm and squeezed. He shot a glance at the woman. She bowed her head in submission and headed toward her little boy’s bedroom.
“H-h-how long will we be g-gone?” Her eyes traveled over the little blue train stenciled on three walls of her son’s dream room.
“Never mind. Get the clothes.” He motioned with the boy’s body, whipping him toward the folded doors of the closet. Jeffrey whimpered.
She yanked the door open and snatched a large suitcase from the top shelf. Her tears dampened pieces of clothing from her son’s chest of drawers as she threw them into the case. With downcast eyes, Diane glanced toward her son and then back to the task at hand. In a haphazard fashion, she added some of the outfits hanging inside the closet door and seized his fluffy brown teddy bear from the bed. Jeffrey whimpered again.
Obediently she turned toward the doorway where the intruder fought to retain hold of her struggling child.
“P-please. Don’t hold him so tight,” she pleaded. “You’ll hurt him.” Her arms ached to hold her frightened son, to protect him from this man who didn’t care if he injured a small child. “It’s okay, Jeffrey. Please don’t cry.”
The man used his elbow to point her toward the next room. “Get a move on.” His grip on the child’s body enticed her to hurry.
The trio moved quickly down the hall towards the bedroom she shared with her husband of five years. She sucked in an anguished breath as she stumbled against the doorframe of the closet. She seized another suitcase and shoved in pants, shirts, and undergarments for both of them, then closed that case and looked at the man. Her eyes begged as her arms reached to hold the tiny boy.
The man thrust Jeffrey at her and grabbed the suitcase, as she wrapped grateful arms around her son’s trembling body. She could feel his terror. The thug pushed Diane toward the hallway. She shifted the boy’s weight to one arm but stumbled, almost losing her footing. She reached out with her free hand to steady herself against the wall.
Moving toward the staircase, the villain picked up the other suitcase standing just inside the boy’s bedroom. “Get going.” He motioned for her to descend the staircase toward the living room.
When she reached the first floor, Diane gasped. Two large men twisted a rope looped tightly around her husband’s neck. Another coarse length of rope tied Trent’s hands and wrists together, behind his back. The muscles of his upper arms stretched painfully beneath the sleeve of his cotton shirt. He grimaced, pain written on his face. Bright red oozed from a cut above his eye, the evidence of a battle lost. Blood congealed in his eyebrow and then trickled down his face to drip onto his collarbone. A jagged piece of cartilage stuck out from the bridge of his nose, blood coagulating near his upper lip.
A tormented groan escaped Diane’s lips, as if from the depths of her heart. She shuddered and cuddled Jeffrey, trying to shield him from the sight of his father. Her body churned with unfamiliar hatred as she looked on the three men who had invaded their peaceful home. She watched as they laughed. The one nearest caressed her cheek. Her skin crawled in revulsion. She yanked her face out of reach. The intruders laughed harder.
****
Trent struggled toward his wife. He watched anguish seep from her eyes, a torment that matched his own. Had he brought this to their home? What did they want? The thugs yanked him back as viciously as they would a dog on a leash. He twisted, desperate to reach her side. Jeffrey’s eyes seemed so large that Trent could almost feel his fright from across the room. His own eyes cautioned his wife not to arouse their anger. By the look on Diane’s face, he knew she wanted to scratch their eyes out, to inflict as much damage on them as they had on her family. He watched tears fall unchecked as Diane turned accusing eyes on him and then turn her head towards their son.
****
Diane glanced up again at her husband and saw a tear slide past the corner of one eye. His helplessness was evident in the slump of his shoulders. The men were too strong. “Diane...” His voice croaked. The rope strangling him ended further communication. He saw the slight nod of her head. She offered him understanding. He had tried to protect his family but failed.
Diane glanced around at the destruction of her tidy home, a sanctuary they had built together. Two plants dripped black dirt onto the carpet, evidence of her husband’s struggle. The coffee table lay at an awkward angle in splinters, and two sofa cushions exploded with feathers everywhere. She ached to have control over her life again as evening shadows crept from the corners of the room and the smell of overcooked food lingered in the air.
“Did anyone think to turn off the stove?” She made a move toward the kitchen but a large beefy hand stopped her.
Her subjugator grunted beside her. His nod told one of the others to check it out.
Diane’s focus switched. She watched the thug drop the bulky suitcases and then flex his muscles. His grin, when he caught her watching, caused her stomach juices to curdle.
“Now, we go outside to your car. I will hurt you and your son if you make a fuss or attract any attention. Understand?”
Diane nodded once. “Why are you doing this?”
“Not your business.” He pushed.
“Not my…” She stopped in her tracks but her captor raised his arm as if to strike her. Diane used her free arm to swipe at tears betraying her fright. Her eyes traveled down the sidewalk toward the SUV. Her husband groaned, loud enough for the neighbors to hear if they’d been home, as the butt of a gun connected with his right shoulder. She saw his knees buckle. They were defenseless against these men. Her husband stumbled against the side of the van but no longer labored to free himself.
Diane cried in anguish, not caring this time who heard. She stared as they grabbed her husband’s shoulder and squeezed. They lifted him bodily into the backseat.
“We take your car.” Diane jumped. Her escort’s hot breath drifted across her neck as he thrust her through the door. The thug let the front door slam behind them. He threw the suitcases into the backseat of the station wagon parked near the front entry of the house. He motioned for her to secure the little boy into his car seat.
“You drive. Follow them, and nothing will happen to you or your man. Make a wrong turn, and you won’t live to see him shot.” The brute spoke the last word as if a gunshot erupted from his mouth and then he sneered. He plunked himself in the passenger seat.
Diane’s eyes looked, maybe for the last time, towards the home she had come to love. She searched for any means of escape and then slumped in the driver’s seat. Her instincts told her they would carry out their threats. Her hands trembled as she inserted the key into the ignition. The motor roared.
She placed the car in reverse and swiveled her head to linger on the tear-stained face of her little boy. Her heart felt as if someone had punched a hole in it and all the blood drained away. Her mind filled with black hatred, hatred so strong that she knew if she’d had a gun in her hand, she’d use it. Instead, she backed out of the driveway and followed the SUV containing her husband. She made a quick study of the home her family had occupied for the last five years, longing to wake from her nightmare. Will we ever come home again?
*********
About the author:  Canadian born, and with 19 books to her credit, Barbara Ann Derksen works hard to give her readers the ride of their life when they pick up one of her books. Her favorite genre is murder mystery, but each book brings forth characters who rely on God as they solve the puzzle in their life. She also writes devotionals and children’s stories.

  

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