by Richard Norway

The rain had inundated the small town of Olson's Corners for most of the day, but the storm finally broke as the bell rang signaling the end of my last class for the day. It was Thursday, and I was looking forward to the upcoming weekend which would begin tomorrow. I was convinced that the rain was going to put a wash on our weekend, but seeing the sun peeking through the rain clouds, washed that thought out of my mind. I'm a real oddity here at school, because I enjoy learning, but today was different. English had no hold over me because I was meeting up with Mark for our walk home. I wouldn't miss that for anything. Mark was not my boyfriend but being that to him would make my life one of the most fantastic experiences I'd never had.

Mark and I met in the first grade right here in Olson's Corners. It's a tiny town with a population a little of less than 4,000 people located in Northern Minnesota. Being so small, it's almost impossible to meet someone that you can play with and sustain as close a friendship with as Mark and I had done over the years.

Were now in high school together. The town had a high school and even a Walmart. Our friendship had grown to where it was no surprise that we were considered inseparable. We did everything together. We did our homework together at one or the other's home every night. We had dinner at each other's house at least three times a week, even on school nights after our homework was completed. The weekends were always ours to enjoy, and they were. We were 15 years old. We alternate Friday and Saturday nights to have sleepovers. If we slept at his house on Friday night, Saturday night we sleep at my house. I know that almost all boys 14-or 15-year-old boys fooled around, but we didn't.

It's not that I hadn't thought about it; of course, I did. My body was overrun by hormones causing me to wood-up even at the thought of Mark lying next to me. But we hadn't. I don't know if I was too afraid to suggest it to Mark or if he was also consumed by the same fear that I had. We never talked about It, and it just never happened.

As I approached my locker, Mark was waiting for me. When he saw me, his face blossomed into that fantastic smile that I loved and was so captivated by. Had my friendship with Mark evolved into a massive crush on him? At this point I don't know how else to describe it. Mark's smile elevated his already cuteness into a massive handsomeness. He stood about an inch taller than my 5'-8", and his hair was an auburn brown that was uncurled and fell to his shoulders. I found it extremely difficult to look into the richness of his hazel eyes because of the emotions that they caused within me. My hair is a golden blond and my eyes are a soft blue, but; neither can compare to the richness of his hair and eyes. I cannot continue describing Mark any longer because of the emotions I feel when doing so make me cry with longing to be more than just a friend to him.

He broke my emotional reverie when he asked, "Are you ready for the glorious weekend that's waiting for us tomorrow?"

"You bet. Surprisingly, I have no homework, so my time is all ours. Do you have any homework?"

"Unfortunately, I do. I've got a 500-word paper for my Creative Writing class that's due on Monday but shouldn't take me too long. I can work on it on tonight and be homework free by tomorrow," I answered.

The closeness that we had built over the years was not hampered by the fact that we lived next door to each other.

We left the school for our short four block walk home.

Before we walked even two blocks, a light-beige minivan pulled up to the curb next to us and stopped. We paused, wondering who would be stopping next to us. I didn't recognize the car as being from any of our friends. The rear door and the passenger door suddenly opened, and two men wearing masks jumped from the car. We had no idea what was going on and shocked into motionlessness. I was the first one to be grabbed and thrown headfirst into the back door of the minivan. I hit the metal floor with my left shoulder, barely cushioning my fall at the front of the rear seats. Mark looking on in disbelief as the second man grabbed him and threw him headfirst into the van as well, landing him on top of me. I was dumbfounded and couldn't speak. Mark seemed to be the same. Nothing was said between the two men. The doors were shut as I began to realize what had just happened, and a panic washed over me.

The masked man in the rear seat with us put a burlap hood over Mark's head and lifted him from me, placing him on the seat. He then placed a similar hood over my head and lifted me to sit next to Mark.

"Do not say a word," the man sitting next to us said. "Lie down so you can't be seen from the outside."

We hesitated.

"I said NOW!" the man yelled. Mark leaned over and laid on the seat next to the left door; I lay on top of him.

"No one talks," one of the men said. I could hear the men talking about how much ransom they were going to ask for. One man said, "Their families are rich. We should ask for at least a half a million each for those two dumbfucks."

We must have been lying in the minivan for at least two hours before it came to a stop. My muscles were cramping from the position I was in, and I just knew Mark felt worse than I did because he was on the bottom. He kept trying to move around just to get some blood flowing back into the parts of his body that must have been falling asleep. I whispered in his ear, "I'm sorry, Mark. I know me being on top of you must hurt." I felt his head nod that he understood me.

I was lifted off Mark, removed from the van and told to stand still. My muscles were so cramped that I couldn't stand thus and fell to the ground. I knew Mark was probably in worse shape than I was, and when he was told to stand, he too fell right next to me.

"Get up," the man screamed.

We both tried to move, but we didn't have the strength and kept falling back onto the ground.

One of the men grabbed me by both my arms and forced me to stand. He had to continue holding me up because I was still too weak to stand on my own. I saw the second man lift Mark who also required support.

I had no idea where we were except that it was at least two hours from Olson's Corners. We were led across a gravel surface until we were told that we had four steps to climb. I tried to find the first step by moving my foot in front of me, sweeping the gravel. I finally found it when I almost fell forward. I had to put my other foot on the second step to steady myself.

I could hear Mark having the same trouble as he tried to find the steps, but eventually we both made it up the four steps. We were then led through a doorway on whose threshold Mark and I both tripped. We were then told that we had two more full flights of stairs to climb. I had, by this time, become somewhat accustomed to climbing stairs while being blindfolded. I think Mark had too because we both made it to the top of both stairways without falling and were led a short distance forward.

I heard one of the men say, "I want them naked. That will make them feel helpless and keep them from trying to escape."

All the clothes we were wearing were taken from us except for the burlap cloth sacks over our heads, and we were thrust into a darkened room. I could tell it was dark as no light came through the burlap. We stumbled forward, Mark falling to the floor, then me also falling. I hit my hip hard, but the floor was carpeted so the pain was reduced, but it still hurt plenty. I let out a moan, and then suddenly the light was switched on, and I could see the faint light through the burlap cloth sack covering my head.

Then a gruff voice said, "You can now remove your hoods." The next thing I heard after that was a door being closed and the familiar sound of a click when it was locked.

I pulled the sack from my head, but I couldn't see as the light blinded me for a moment. I blinked continuously trying to be able to see. As my eyes finally began to regain focus, I could see Mark still lying on the floor in front of me trying to remove his hood. He was having difficulty removing it, grabbing at it, pulling upward, but the hood was stuck on his chin. It became obvious to me that Mark was in a state of panic. I reached for him and put my hand on his leg, rubbing it to calm him somewhat. "Mark, calm down. It's okay. They've left us."

Mark then slowly pulled his hood from under his chin and swiftly pulled the hood off his head. He looked over his shoulder at me, but the grin on his face was one that I had never seen before because his lips were trembling. He kept licking his lips followed by attempts to swallow.

"Are you okay, Mark?" I asked.

Mark's expression back to me was unsettling. I knew that he was not okay, and he confirmed that by shaking his head from side to side.

I crawled closer to Mark, and when I was even with his eyes, he spoke to me in an almost normal voice, something I didn't expect to hear from him just then.

"Carter, we're both naked. Do you know that?'

After seeing Mark in the mental condition that he was in just a few moments ago, me trying to calm him, I hadn't noticed that we were, in fact, both naked as the day we were born, well a little older now though.

I smiled, but Mark began laughing. "What's so funny, Mark?"

"Carter, believe it or not, I've never seen you totally naked before, if you don't count the time we were swimming at the town's pool when we were 9 years old."

I knew that Mark's lighthearted talk was his way of hiding his fears.

As I looked around the room I finally realizing where we were. It was a spacious bedroom with what appeared to be a queen size bed. The bed was already made up with powder blue sheets where a blue and white comforter had been pulled back. I didn't see any other sleeping arrangement, so it appeared that Mark and I would be sharing a bed tonight. That quite pleased me, but I also knew that Mark was not gay while I had come to accept that I was definitely gay last year when I was 14. I was going to be the one with the problem.

A dresser sat against a wall directly across from the bed next to a window. The curtains on the window were a sheer white which allowed the room to be flooded with warming sunlight. I opened a few of the dresser drawers and wondered what the dresser was for because Mark and I were completely naked with nothing to put in it. I walked to the window and looked out. It was at least three stories high overlooking a well-manicured lawn with a smattering of maple trees about 30 feet I estimated from the house. There were no other windows below us. A small writing table adjoined the wall on the other side of the window. I noticed a door to my right, and, when opening it, I was amazed to find an ensuite bathroom with not only a bathtub but a shower that was quite spacious. I slid back the glass shower door to find it was large enough, with two rain shower heads, for two people. The odd thing about the bedroom and bathroom was that it seemed too much just to keep two kidnapped boys in. These rooms belonged to someone else at one time.

I came back into the bedroom, sat on the bed, and saw Mark staring out the window. Mark turned to me with tears streaming down his cheeks and tried to speak, but the fear in his eyes foretold of the trembling in his voice as he tried to utter any semblance of speech. "Ca… Ca… Carter… ah… ah… I'm so afraid. I d… d… don't want to d… d… die," he tried to say as he fell to his knees, facing me, his eyes not leaving my eyes. "Carter, there's no way out, we can't escape. The ground is too far below us. Carter, what's going to happen to us?" Mark managed to get out amongst his sobs.

With no hesitation, I leaped from the bed and fell to my knees in front of my friend, wrapping my arms around him, holding him, fighting to communicate my strength into Mark's fragile body.

Mark lowered his head, forcing it onto my neck, sobbing and trembling so violently trying to keep his face buried onto my neck and holding me in a death grip.

I started running my fingers through Mark's long auburn hair, stroking him gently. Speaking quietly into Mark's ear, I whispered, "Please, Mark. We're not going to die. I'm not going to let that happen. Believe me Mark. Trust me on this."

"But Car," he finally starting using the familiar name he called me, "how can you stop them? We both know that kidnapped victims usually don't make it out alive."

Mark couldn't help himself and continued to wail, holding me even tighter trying to meld our naked bodies together to become one.

I lifted Mark's chin so that our eyes met. "I don't know right now, Mark. But whatever, we can't give up hope."

We stayed holding each other for what seemed to be hours until I noticed that the sunlight coming through the window was beginning to fade, signifying the oncoming of dusk followed by nightfall.

With the emotional stress we were both experiencing, I hadn't noticed that a tray of food had been slipped into our room and was waiting for us by the door. We both looked at it, not moving.

I didn't even know what was on that tray, but in my mind, dinner was the last thing I could think of at the moment.

"Mark, we're both wrung out right now. Let's get some sleep, and tomorrow we may come up with something."

I could feel Mark's grip on me tighten slightly.

"Car, I am so afraid right now. I don't know if I can sleep, but I know we should."

"Things will look better in the morning, Mark. They always do."

"I know," he replied then looked away from me for a moment.

When he returned his gaze to me, he quietly asked, "But will you do something for me tonight?"

"Anything, Mark," I answered him.

"Will you hold me tonight. I need you right now, Car."

"Of course, I will, Mark. I think we both need each other right now."

With that being said, Mark walked over to the bed and slipped under the covers first before moving over to give me room to slip in myself. His back was to me, and I moved over and placed my chest against his back. I raised my knees to conform to the way Mark was lying. I then slowly slipped my right arm over his body placing my hand lightly on his chest. Mark grabbed my hand with his right hand, squeezing it, then pulling it tightly into himself.

I could feel the tension in his body ease as his sniffles began to soften. Slowly his breathing became shallow, and I knew he was falling asleep.

I couldn't go to sleep right then because I was having a hard time trying to figure out Mark's sudden fear. He had always been such a happy go lucky guy. He hadn't showed this intense kind of fear before. Something had happened to him after we were kidnapped. I started to believe that he was convinced he was going to die. Me, I would do everything, absolutely everything, in what little power I had, to never let that happen.

Meredith Kinney heard the phone ringing as she was making a snack for the two boys who were expected home from school shortly. Carter had spent the night at Mark's house that evening, as had been expected and wasn't home for breakfast.

Meredith picked up the receiver from the wall phone in the kitchen and gave the usual greeting.


"Is this a parent of Carter Kenney?

"Yes. I'm his mother."

"My name is Heather Applebee, and I'm with Lincoln High School. I'm calling because we're worried about Carter. He didn't show up for school today."

"What!" Meredith exclaimed.

"We were wondering if he was ill today. We hadn't heard."

Meredith was taken aback. She wasn't sure how to respond.

"If Carter was sick, I would have known about it. I'm his mother."

"Do you think Carter will be back in school tomorrow?"

"Heather, I have no idea why he wasn't at school today. He was at a friend's house last night and should have been in school today."

"Do you think we should call the police?"

"Let me talk to my husband first. He might know where Carter is."

"All right, but please let us know what you find out."

"I'll do that." Then she dialed her husband Clark's phone number.

"Thank you, Mrs. Kenney." Ms. Applebee said and then hung up the phone, wondered where Carter could be. She dialed her husband's phone number.

"Digikey Corporation. How may I direct you call?"

"I'd like to talk to Clark Kenney, please. This is his wife, Meredith calling."

"Let me put you through to him. One moment please."

"Thank you," Meredith responded, her concern growing as she contemplated her missing son.

"Mr. Kenney's office. How can I help you?"

"This is Meredith. I need to talk to Clark right away," Meredith said sounding upset. Clark's Executive Assistant knew who she was as they had talked many times over the years. "He's off the phone right now. Let me put you through."

"Hey Mer. My assistant said you sounded upset. What's the matter?"

"The school called and told me that Carter never showed up for school today. He was at Mark's last night, and if something was wrong, he would have called me. I'm getting concerned."

"Have you called the Hansons? They might know something since Carter was there last night."

"No. I'm sorry. I should have called them first before I panicked and called you."

"Alright. Give them a call but call me back and let me know what you find out."


Even though Doris Hanson lived next door, she called her memorized number. With Carter's and Mark's close friendship over the past ten years or so, Meredith and Clark had become close friends with Doris and Knut Hanson.


"Hi Doris. Have you heard from Carter or Mark today?"

"Good, God Meredith. I got a call from the school not 15 minutes ago, and Mark never showed up for school today."

"I got the same call. Carter didn't show up for school either. Do you know what might have happened to them?"

"No. I haven't heard from Mark since he and Carter left for school this morning."

Meredith was now experiencing overwhelming dread and could hear the same dread in Doris's voice.

"If you hear anything from either Mark or Carter, please call me, Okay? I've got to call Clark right now."

"The same with you. If you hear anything, please, please call me. I've got to call Knut."

Both parents hung up and called their respective husbands. Both moms felt a sense of frightening dread over what they were now contemplating.

"Clark, Doris got the same phone call we did. Mark never showed up for school today either.

"I'll be right home." He slammed the phone down on his desk leaving the phone to fall to the floor.

I awoke before Mark did and knew I had to piss right away. My usual morning erection was doing a good job of keeping me from urinating all over the bed. As slowly as I could, I slipped from under the covers. Putting my feet on the floor, I got up and made it into the bathroom just in time. Since Mark and I were both naked, I didn't feel the urge to close the bathroom door.

Mark was awake and watching me when I walked out of the bathroom. My penis hadn't become fully flaccid yet, and it was obvious that he had noticed.

Mark's eyes rose to look at mine but then he closed them, turned quickly on the bed and looked away from me. He appeared then to be looking around the room.

He turned back to me and said, "Car, I can't find my clothes."

I sat next to him on the bed but then moved closer to him. "Dude, they took our clothes yesterday, remember?"

Mark looked down at himself as the realization hit him. He got off the bed and headed toward the bathroom.

After he had finished urinating, he returned to sit next to me on the bed. his hands slowly moved to cover himself, but as he noticed that I was uncovered next to him, he slowly removed his hands and placed them palm down on the bed next to him. Slowly, he got up and moved to the window. He watched the morning sun rising in the east for a few moments. "Car," he said to the window. "By the sun, I figure it must be 10:00 in the morning. At least we know which way is East," and then turned around to face me with that amazing smile on his face.

I was glad to see Mark returning to his ever-happy self.

Mark scanned the room again but stopped when he noticed a tray of food lying on the floor next to the door. "It looks like breakfast is served. You hungry?"

"Yeah, a little. We missed dinner last night, so yeah, I could use a nice breakfast about now."

Mark walked over to the tray, picked it up, moved to the small writing table and set the tray down. "Looks like we have scrambled eggs, bacon, some toast and orange juice to drink. It sure seems like someone here knows how to cook." Mark looked back at me and asked, "Care to join me, Sir?"

"What's this sir crap, duffus?" I asked as I got up to join him. There were two wooden chairs in the room for us to sit on and enjoy our breakfast. The table was small with just enough room for our plates, but the tray had to go on the floor after we dished ourselves up with what we wanted to eat.

The food was good. No, it was far better than just good. It was fabulous, something you'd get in as 5-star restaurant. Everything was perfect.

I was thinking of a crude joke to tell Mark because I saw that he was in more of his usual lively mood this morning. I was about to tell him that, 'It looks like they're trying to fatten us pigs up for the slaughter,' but then realized that anything said about death was something that had to be totally unspoken, I thought, especially in front of Mark, given what he had said to me last night.

We finished our breakfast and put the tray back in front of the door. I paced around the room wondering what we could do to pass the time. Mark looked at me from time to time, probably thinking what I was thinking, as he paced beside me.

"You want to take a shower, Mark? We probably need to, and I can't think of anything else to do right now."

Mark looked at me for a moment, looked at the bathroom door and then back at me. "I don't see why not," he said. "It's not like we have to be embarrassed about being naked in front of each other."

The shower felt like soft pellets on my back, and almost made me want to fall back to sleep, it was so soothing.

We had found bottles of shampoo, conditioner and body wash in the cabinet above the double sinks. Towels and wash clothes were in the linen closet next to the shower. We felt like we were in an expensive hotel.

Mark and I shared the shower with its double shower heads. I couldn't keep myself from wanting to touch his skin as I watched the rivers of water flow over his back. At his age and maturity, his shoulder and back muscles were almost fully developed, and I watched them ripple as he moved. They narrowed down to his slim waist. I looked down, but I didn't have to, because I felt and knew I had become erect again as I watched him.

I put body wash on my washcloth and touched his back with it. He jerked suddenly but did not turn around.

"Want me to wash your back?" I softly asked.

Mark didn't answer me. Instead, he began shivering, so much so that his whole body began to shake.

"Are you all right Mark? I asked. I was becoming worried over what I had done. "Did I do something to upset you?"

"No, you didn't, Car, and then again yes you did."

"I don't understand, Mark. First you said no, and then you said yes."

"It's not you, Car. It's me."

Mark then turned to me. The water was hitting his back allowing me to see the redness in his eyes and the tears flowing down his cheeks.

"Mark, what is it? What's wrong?" I almost yelled in panic.

Mark looked at me for a moment. But as that moment ended, I felt his arms wrapping around me, holding me tightly, so tightly I had a hard time breathing. I not only heard him sobbing but felt his body shake as he cried out. His breathing had become fast short breaths.

When he finally let go of me and pulled away, I could now see and feel the pain in his eyes. I know he could see the pain in my eyes as well over what I was seeing in him.

"Mark, what's wrong?"

"We need to talk, Car. There's a lot of things that I must tell you. It's not that I must, it's that I need to tell you. Car, you know we're going to die. That's what happens to people who are kidnapped. I need to tell you this before that happens.

"We're not gonna die, Mark. I just know it.

"You're a fool, Car, for believing that."

"No, I'm not. Haven't you noticed that whenever any of those men were around us, they're always wearing those masks?"

"Yeah, but so what?"

They do that so we can't recognize them. They're going to release us after the ransom is paid and don't want us telling anyone who they are."

"I think you're grabbing at straws, Car. I'm still so terrified that this is the end of us, and that's why I need to tell you something.

"Car, when you touched my back, all my fears came roaring back to me. I knew I had to keep our status quo alive, but right then I knew it was now an impossibility. I'm ashamed of myself for keeping secrets from you. I'm ashamed of myself for not having the courage to tell you. I know you're gay, and you know that I'm not; I've been telling you that for years."

Now his tears were flooding his cheeks.

"Car, ever since I was 11 years old, I've had a crush on you and that crush has grown over the years. And this is what I have been so afraid to tell you. Carter…

My full name? I knew this must be hurting him.

"…I'm solidly in love with you. I dream about you every night. I guess that makes me as gay as you are."

I looked down from his face for a moment and saw what I needed to see. We matched.

"Oh Christ, Mark," I screamed as I threw my arms around him. It was now my turn to take his breath away.

Clark had to slam on the brakes to avoid crashing into to the garage door in his rush to get home. When he opened the front door, he saw his wife sitting on the couch with tears in her eyes, watching the blank wall in front of her. Seeing her husband come through the front door, she jumped up and ran to him, encircling him in her arms.

"Have you heard anything more, Mer?" he asked.

"Nothing, and that's what worries me so much. I just know somethings happened to him, to both of them."

"Mer, I think we should call the police and right now."

"Yes, I agree," Meredith said but seemed reluctant to say that because of her subconscious denial of what had happened. She outwardly knew they needed help.

Clark picked his cell phone out of his coat's inner pocket and started pushing numbers.

"Olson's Corner Police Department, how may I help you?"

"This is Clark Kenney. I'd like to talk to Chief Hendrickson, please."

"Just one moment sir. I'll see if he's available."

"No, don't see if he's available. Tell him who's calling, and if he's in a meeting, I don't care with whom, get him out. This is an emergency."

"Yes sir," the officer said, obviously a little shaken by Clark's insistence.

"Clark, what's the emergency?" Chief Hendrickson asked.

"My boy, Carter, is missing. He didn't show up for school today. And what makes this more complicated, his friend, Mark, didn't show up for school either. Both boys are missing."

"Calm down Clark. I know that boys do a lot to feel independent and most don't tell their parents where they're off to many times."

"I understand that Chief, but Carter has never failed to let us know where he is. You know him; it's not his way. This is so unusual for him."

"Do you know when he was last seen?"

"I guess it was when he left school yesterday."

"Clark, sit tight. I'm going to send some patrolmen over to your place now. I want you to tell them everything that you know, okay?"

"I'm here waiting. Thanks, Karl. I need your help right now."

Clark put his cell phone on the coffee table and started pacing back and forth. Meredith knew the signs as she had seen them before on Clark's last job. This was not a time to interrupt him.

Clark continued pacing, all the time he continued to glare at his phone on the coffee table. Eventually it got to him, and he picked it up, started pushing in numbers as he walked into their bedroom for privacy.

"This is the FBI field office in Grand Forks, North Dakota. How may I direct your call?

I'd like to speak to agent Robert Crandell, please."

"I'm sorry. He's out of the office at this moment. May I ask someone else to help you?"

Clark had been used to this runaround too many times in the past.

"No, you can't, and I know Bob's not out of the office. He's the head of your field office and is never out of the office. You tell him that Clark Kenney wants to talk to him."

"I'll try to find him, sir."

"Thank you."

"Clark! What a surprise. What has it been, now, ten years since you left?"

"More like eleven."

"This call must be something important for you to come out of the blue after so many years."

"It is, Bob. I wouldn't have called if it weren't."

"All right, what is it, Clark?" Agent Crandell asked, his voice now serious.

"My boy along with a friend of his are missing. They left school yesterday and haven't been seen since. Normally I would have let the police handle this, but something has been gnawing at me. You know that after I left the service, I opened my own business. It's grown over the past few years to where I'm now considered wealthy. The father of the other boy, Mark, a friend of Carter's, is also quite wealthy. He's my second in command here at my business. Given our money situations, it seems very likely to me that kidnapping is at play here."

"Clark, having worked with you for so many years, your instincts have always amazed me because they've been mostly right on."

"Bob, I hope that you can help me."

"Where're you living now, Clark? I want to come to see you."

"You have me on record, but I'm living in Olson's Corners at 410 First street. It's only about an hour's drive from your office."

"I'll be there in an hour. See you then."

I guess being a friend of the head of the field office would get Bob in the field one more time, Clark thought to himself.

Meredith watched her husband as he came back into the living room and laid his cell phone on the coffee table.

"That was Bob, wasn't it?"

"Yes. I have this terrible feeling that Carter and Mark may have been kidnapped. Kidnapping is what they're good at solving. I have no problem with Chief Hendrickson being involved, but he can use the help of some experts here."

Meredith broke into tears with the God-awful thought that her son may have been kidnapped.

Mark and I held our embrace for what seemed to be for hours as the shower water cascaded down our backs. I couldn't get my head around what Mark had just said to me. I was crying not just for the anguish that Mark had gone through but also for myself for what we had missed all these years. My tears were also those of enormous happiness. I hadn't asked him yet, but that was just about to happen. I looked into his tear-soaked eyes, my lips trembling, knowing what the answer would be.

"Mark, this is one of the easiest questions I've ever asked you. Will you be my boyfriend?"

He looked down at me from the one inch he had over me.

"Oh Car, we've been boyfriends ever since I met you. You're just now trying to make us legitimate. My answer to you is just like the Got Talent TV shows and it's an unequivocal YES!

My lips trembled again at the happiness that washed over me. I looked into his eyes and saw his own joy return as he looked back at me with that captivating smile of his.

Mark lowered his head slightly as I raised mine. Our eyes were like superglue to one another. He turned his head slightly as I turned mine, and our lips met for the first time ever. They say that fireworks were supposed to go off, but that's all bullshit. I had a 4th of July in Washington DC extravaganza going off in my brain. His lips were so soft, so giving, yet so humble. I could stay like this for years. This was something that I'd dreamed about for almost forever, and it was finally becoming a reality. I couldn't get my head around how joyously happy I was right now. My love is now seeing the sunshine of a beautiful day and was no longer unrequited.

"Mark, I've never had the courage to tell you this before, but you are the most beautiful human being that I've even met. It's not superficial like your looks, which are eye catching, but the real you, the real you I've known for years. I truly love you.

"My lack of courage to face who I am, my lack of courage to tell you how I feel, did this to us, you know?" Mark could barely squeak out.

"The longing that we both felt is over, Mark. We're finally together now."

"Car, I don't know if this is the right time or not being where we are, but I want to make love to you today. It's time for me to show you how much I love you."

I looked at Mark and was quiet for a moment until I nodded my head.

We left the shower, dried off and, holding hands for the first time ever, found our way into the bedroom. That day was the most glorious ever, and I knew that I'd forever cherish it until the day I died.

Two city police officers showed up at my door within minutes of Clark's phone call to Bob at the FBI. Recognizing their uniforms, he asked them to come in and showed them to the living room. "Have a seat, officers. I'll be right back. I want to have my wife here too." Clark left the room, as the officers remained standing and found Meredith in the kitchen. She still hadn't gotten over the possibility that her son might have been kidnapped, and her eyes were still puffed and red.

"Mer, the police are here. We need to go talk to them."

"I know, I heard the doorbell. I just don't want to be there, Clark. I'm still having trouble understanding that my son is gone."

"I totally understand, honey. But we need to tell them what we know so they can try to find him."

Clark now realized that his wife was close to a breakdown over what might have happened to Carter.

Meredith looked at her husband with near desperation in her eyes, but finally relented.

"Okay. Let's get this over with," and they walked into the living room finding the officers still standing.

"Can you tell us what happened? Do you know where your son might be?" one of the officers asked.

Meredith sat in the easy chair next to the couch while Clark answered the officers.

"We don't know where he is. He didn't show up at school today. He's usually with his friend, Mark, and they should have been walking home from school together after school on Thursday," We thought that he might have gone to Mark's house after school, but they never arrived. I talked to Mark's parents yesterday, and they thought Mark, their son, had gone to our house with Carter after school."

"Do you think there is any chance that they may have been kidnapped?"

Clark was silent for a few moments.

"As a matter of fact, that crossed my mind, so I contacted the FBI today."

Both officers looked at each other.

"Are they going to get involved?"

"Yes. The head of their Grand Forks office is a personal friend of mine, so when I told him what had happened, he planned on coming over today."

"Does that mean that they will be taking charge of this investigation?"

"I sure hope so," Clark said.

"We're going to have to back off then. They'll be contacting our chief to inform us that they will be taking over this investigation and keep our office informed of what they're doing. We don't want to get in the way of their efforts."

It was only 30 minutes after the officers left that Bob arrived.

"Thanks for coming, Bob. I really appreciate you taking the time to be here." Clark said, and then shook Bob's hand. "Have a seat. You want some coffee or something else to drink?"

"Coffee would do me after that drive over here. That Center Avenue cut-across road is the most boring thing I've ever been on."

"I can tell you don't get out of your office much. We live with that road when we want to go anywhere."

Clark went into the kitchen to get the coffee while Bob found a comfortable seat on the couch.

Returning, Clark set a mug of coffee on the coffee table. "You still take your coffee black?"

"You remembered. Yeah, always. I've never changed with my getting older."

Clark sat in the wing-backed chair next to the sofa facing the FBI agent.

"So, what's going on, Clark?" Bob Crandell asked.

"Just what I told you on the phone today, Bob. I believe my kid's been taken."

'Has anyone tried to contact you yet?"

"No, not yet."

"Well, it's only been a couple of days. If someone did take Carter, it makes sense that they will wait for you to realize that he has been taken. You realized it might have happened well before most parents would have. And that's a good thing."

"What do you want me to do, Bob?" Clark asked.

"Nothing…yet. What I want you to do is stay home and wait for a phone call. It's more than likely that if someone took Carter, they'll want to contact you about ransom. What I'm going to do is have an agent in your home with you. He'll tie into your phone and have it ready to be recorded and traced if they call. I'm also going to have him tie into your cell phone, if they're stupid enough to call you on that."

"What about Mark? He was the other kid taken."

"You said that his dad works for you. Can you give me his address and phone number? I need to have an agent with them too."

Clark wrote the information on a note pad and passed the piece of paper to Agent Crandell.

Bob Crandell immediately raised his cell phone and called the number on the piece of paper. While the phone was ringing, he put his hand over the phone's microphone and asked Clark what their first and last names were.

"It's Knut and Doris Hanson," Clark answered.

Agent Crandell released his hand from the microphone and said to the phone, "Is this Mrs. Hanson I'm talking to?"

"Yes, it is. May I ask who's calling?"

"My name is Agent Robert Crandell. I'm with the FBI, and I'm here with Clark Kenney about his son's disappearance. I believe that your son, Mark, is also missing."

"Yes. Do you know where he is?" she said somewhat frantically.

"Not yet. We believe that he was kidnapped along with Carter. Have you heard from anyone who might have done this?"

"No, we haven't heard from anyone." her voice now more frantic.

"I'm sure that you will hear from them soon. Mrs. Hanson, I want to send an FBI agent over to your home to be with you when this person calls."

"Okay, but how will I know the agent?"

"He'll show you his ID and a badge."

"Alright. I'll be waiting for him and thank you for calling. You don't know how worried we are."

"Thank you very much, Mrs. Hanson. He should be arriving in about an hour."

Agent Crandell closed his phone and Clark started to speak, but Crandell held his hand up.

"I need to call my office and get an agent moving, stat," he said to Clark.

When Agent Crandell had his office on the phone, he said, "John, get in your car right now and start heading toward Olson's Corners with phone tap and recording instruments. I'll call you when you're on the road with the address. We have a possible kidnapping of two teenage boys, and I want you there when, and if, the perps try to get in touch with the parents. I'm with one of the parents now, but I want you with the other parent. Their names are Doris and Knut Hanson."

"I'm on it, Bob." John answered.

"Thanks, John," Crandell said, closing his phone.

I rolled over to face Mark, watching him sleep. I think it was one of the most comfortable sleeps he'd had in a long time, and I didn't want to wake him. I couldn't take my eyes from him, my boyfriend. He had no idea how long I'd waited for this to happen to me. The love that we experienced for the first time yesterday was still sending tears to my eyes. I continued watching him, feeling the emotion that I have for him as the tears slipped from my eyes. I couldn't help it. Mark was only now feeling how long I have waited for this moment in my life. I knew that the storms of trouble would be ahead of us, but I knew we could and would weather them together. I looked out the window and saw the rays of sunshine flooding the room, knowing that these were the same golden rays that were in the song from the musical Carousel. My heart was at rest… finally.

The Kenneys heard nothing from anyone about their son yesterday, but today, on Sunday, their phone rang. They were getting extremely anxious to hear something, anything.

Clark couldn't get to the phone fast enough, but before he picked up the receiver, he looked over at the FBI agent, Agent Moony, momentarily, who nodded his head.


"Is this Clark Kenney?"

"Yes. Who is this?"

"Who I am is not important. What is important is for you to know that we have your son, Carter."

Clark's eyes bulged as he again looked toward the FBI agent and nodded his head somewhat violently. Agent Moony nodded his head and then turned on his preset recorder.

"Where is my son?"

"If you want him back, there will be a charge, a ransom charge."

Clark was silent for a moment, knowing that his next question would be to ask how much. Again, Clark glanced toward the FBI agent, who gave him a thumbs up signaling to Clark to go ahead and ask.

"All right, how much do you want for my son?"

"We require that you provide us with $ 500,000 dollars for the safe return of you son."

"Safe? And what assurance do I have that he's safe?"

"Your son is safe and being well cared for."

"No. I need to see him, to talk to him. I need that assurance that he's still alive, that he's okay and not hurt."

"We will do that. Tomorrow you will get another call, and Carter will be on a video call to you. You can talk to him, see him and be assured that we are keeping our word. But now, I need your assurance that you will provide us with the sum of money that we're asking for."

"If I see that my son is alive and safe, you have my assurance."

"Then we have a deal. Please be available for our call at noon tomorrow. And as a reminder, there should be no police involvement with our transaction. Is that understood? I called you on your land line this time. Tomorrow I will call your cell phone so you can have a video of your son."


The phone went dead, and Clark placed the receiver back in its cradle.

Agent Moony picked up his cell phone, dialing his Grand Forks office.

"Did you get all that?"

"Thanks," he said after a brief pause and closed his phone.

"We got something, Clark. He called on a cell phone, and we were able to get one line of position from the cell tower that connected his call. When he calls tomorrow, we should be able to get a second line of position, locating where is.

"Once we have a location, Agent Crandell will want to talk to you about how we're going to proceed."

"Okay, but I think I already know what's going to happen. I'm going to be involved in this operation no matter what Bob says."

Agent Moony nodded his head and then called his office.

Clark had to call the Hansons. He had to know if they had gotten the same phone call.

"Knut, it's Clark. We just got a phone call about our boys."

"I did too, just a few minutes ago. Doris is beside herself right now with delight. They told me they want some ransom money."

"I told them that I want assurance that the boys are alive and safe, and they agreed that we would have a video call with them tomorrow at noon," Clark said.

"That's what they told me too."

"I don't know about you Clark, but right now, I'm ecstatic. I can't wait to see Mark."

"You're not alone in those thoughts, buddy."

I heard a knock on the door, and it scared the piss out of me. When I looked over at Mark, I saw absolute terror in his eyes. He suddenly sank to the floor against the wall and curled himself into a tight ball, covering his head with his arms. I'm sure Mark thought that this was it, that we were about to die.

The door suddenly opened, and a man wearing a mask stepped into the room. Mark and I knew that our time was up. I went over to Mark, knelt beside him and engulfed him in my arms, my tears unabated as they rolled down my cheeks.

"Mark, I'm so terribly sorry. I wanted to protect us, to keep you safe, but it looks like I've failed miserably."

Mark removed his arms from around his head and used them to embrace me tightly. His eyes, also moist with tears, looked into mine, and I knew that our end would be together.

"Get up boys," the man said suddenly

I continued to hold onto Mark. If I was going to die, it would be with my arms placed tightly around him. We would die together.

"I said get up. You need to get dressed," as he threw a plastic bag on the floor in front of us. "You're going to talk to your parents in a few minutes when I come to get you."

With that, he left the room.

I looked at Mark, not ready to believe what we had just heard. The hammer had just fallen on our readiness to die. I still couldn't get my head around the fact that we were going to live, at least for a little while. My lips started their way to a smile as I watched Mark's lips follow my lead, but his had a slight tremble to them.

"Mark, we'd better get up and get dressed."

"Yeah," was all he said as we both untangled ourselves and tried to stand.

"What's happening, Car? What's going on?"

"I think that our captors have talked to our parents and want them to pay ransom. If we're supposed to talk to our parents, it means that either your dad or mine wants assurance that we're still alive. I think that's what the call was for."

We scrambled to the bag, pulling out our clothes. "That's my shirt, Mark, not yours," I said to him, and we both laughed at our happiness. In no time, we were fully clothed.

"I was just getting used to seeing you naked. You look so much different now with clothes on," Mark said.

"I know. So do you. But, to tell the truth, I prefer you naked," I said with a smile on my face.

"Pervert," he said back to me with that captivating smile of his.

Within a minutes, the door opened and the same man in a mask entered the room.

"Time to go," he said as he placed the burlap hoods on our heads again. We were led down what I assumed to be a hallway and into another room. This room appeared to be bare because of the echo I heard from our footsteps. After we entered the room, our hoods were removed, and the bright lights assaulted my eyes again. When my vision adjusted to the light, I could see that the room was indeed bare except for two chairs placed next to each other in the center of the room. We were told to sit in them, which we did.

But that wasn't all that was in the room. Three masked men were also in the room, one behind a video camera on a tripod sitting about ten feet in front of us. A large white light, like what photographers use, was just to the left of the camera facing us. That was the white light that hurt my eyes when our hoods were removed. The second man was seated at a small table holding a cell phone with what appeared to be a wire connected to the camera. The third man stood next to two large video screens. He was watching us. Behind us was a white sheet that appeared to be about 10 feet square, apparently a backdrop for our video.

I was nervous, so nervous that I began to shake knowing that I was about to see my folks. I glanced at Mark, seated next to me, and his trepidation was clear on his face.

"One minute to noon", one of the men said. "Start the camera."

Instantly, I saw Mark and me on one of the video screens. The other screen was still blank but suddenly became alive with a picture of my dad and with Knut seated next to each other. Seeing them, I couldn't hold back my tears, I jumped up with joy, trying to reach the video screen, but I was quickly pushed back by the third man.

"Do not move," he said to me.

I looked at him with hate in my eyes for having been kept from my dad.

"You may talk to each other now", the man at the camera said.

"Dad," I said at the same time Mark yelled to his father.

"How are you, Son?" my dad asked.

"I'm good, Dad. Mark and I are locked in a bedroom, but this bedroom is like one in a luxury hotel. It has a queen-sized bed, ensuite bathroom and a window which gives us plenty of morning sunlight."

"Are you boys getting enough to eat?" Knut asked.

"Oh man, Dad. They've been feeding us like we're in a 5-star restaurant," Mark said. "But we've not been too hungry most of the time, as you can imagine. I miss you guys. "

"Where's Mom," I asked.

"She's right here." Dad turned to look off camera. "Come on, you two. Get behind us so you're in the camera," my dad said. Both of our moms moved to be behind their husbands.

Now, Mark and I both broke into tears at seeing our moms. There was no way that anyone could stop our cheeks from getting wet.

"When you get home son, we're going to start doing more things together," my dad said.

"I hope so Dad," I said. You've been so busy. I miss the movies that we used to see together."

I knew my dad. And when I saw his eyes darken slightly and look down, I knew that his mind was going a mile a minute. But then he looked back up at me and his smile had returned.

"Do you remember that movie we saw, oh, I can't remember what the name of it was, but it was about two boys lost in the woods? What amazed me about it was how resourceful those two boys were. They used their heads to figure things out, remember?"

My eyes shot wide open. I knew what my dad was trying to tell me. He was communicating to me; he was telling me what to do. I looked at Mark, knowing that I couldn't tell him what I knew until we got back into the bedroom.

"I liked the movie because it had a happy ending when their families found them and whisked them away," my dad continued.

I knew now that my dad had a plan. I didn't exactly know what it was, but I did know that he was working on it. My heart was starting to skip beats over my joy. I needed to tell Mark. He had to know that there was a chance that we wouldn't die, that we were going to live.

"When will you have the money ready?" one of our captors said to my dad.

"It'll be ready this Saturday," Dad said.

"Okay. End the video," the man said. "They've seen enough to know their boys are okay."

Both video screens went blue when their pictures were turned off.

Bob Crandell turned to Clark after putting his cell phone down and said, "We got it. We have a second line of position from their cell phone. From where those two lines cross, they're about two hours south of here. I want better knowledge of where they're at, so I'm having a drone fly over to give us closer video of the place and what the surrounding terrain is like."

"Bob, you know if you go in, I'm going to be there."

"Clark, you know the rules about having close family involved in operations."

"I know, Bob. This is my son we're talking about. You also know what I can do. I'm not a stranger to your operations; I've been there before."

"Bob chuckled. You know, Clark, you've got a reputation with the Service. You always seem to get your man. All right, you can come along. But I want you to remember, this is my show."

"Always has been…Chief," Clark answered.

"Clark, do you still have a gun?"

"Yeah, I still have my service pistol."

"Well, keep it oiled. You may need it."

"What are thinking of doing Clark?" Meredith interrupted. "You're not going back in the Service, are you?"

Clark turned toward his wife and stared at her for a moment. He knew that he had promised when he left the Service, his departure was for good.

He walked over to his wife and took her in his arms, looking down into her eyes.

"Mer, I know what I promised you those many years ago, and I meant every word of it. But this is different. I didn't expect this to happen. But today if different. This is about our son today. Carter was only four years old then. He's now 15 and needs our help more than he's ever needed it before. You know that I can't, and won't, let him down. This is something that I can't get out of."

Meredith looked into her husband's eyes. "I don't want you to go. You know that, but I also know that there's no way I can stop you. You know what you're doing. Promise me you'll be safe is all I ask."

"I will dear; I promise."

Clark then turned to Knut Hanson. "Knut, I know Mark's in this with Carter, But I'm telling you this right now to stay out of this." Clark forcefully pointed his index finger at Knut. "You're not trained for this; I am. If anything happens to me, the company is yours."

Knut Hanson stared at Clark Kenney for a long moment, shaking his head.

"Clark, just bring my boy back alive. That's all I ask."

"Mark, I cried when I saw my mom and dad. You couldn't believe how glad I was to see them on that monitor."

Both boys were back in their room, stripped naked again and were now talking about their visit with their parents.

"Mom didn't get a chance to talk to me, but seeing her there was worth everything," Mark said.

"I wish it were live so I could rush to hug them."

"I didn't understand what your dad was getting at talking about some movie. I guess he was reminiscing about some times you had with him in the past."

"I didn't understand it to begin with either, but it finally dawned on me what he was doing. He was telling us what to do."


"Mark, he was telling us to be like those two boys; to start using our heads and to figure out what to do. Mark, I'm convinced that they're working on a plan to rescue us. But we have to be ready for it when it happens."

"I hope he has some help. Whatever he's planning won't be easy. They don't even know where we are."

"Don't bet on it, Mark. I didn't tell you something about my dad that you should know now. He's not always been a wiz at manufacturing. Before he started his own company, he was a field agent with the FBI. He knows what he's doing. If anyone's going to rescue us, it's going to be him. And he won't be doing this alone. With the contacts that he has, he'll have the help of the full FBI."

"Oh my God. I never knew or even suspected."

"Did you hear what I said to him about our room; where we're staying?"

"Yeah, but what does that have to do with our rescue?"

"Everything. I told him about our window, remember?"


I told him about the morning sun coming in, remember?"


"What I told him was that our escape could be through that window and that it's on the east side of the building. If he needed to send someone to get us, that's where it'll be, below that window.

"You scare me dude with how smart you are," Mark said.

"What we have to figure out is how to go down three stories without breaking out legs."

Mark looked at me, then around the room.

"That one's easy."

"Yeah, well, then tell me how easy it's going to be."

"Look around you, man. The answer's right in front of you."

"Well, pray tell."

"Look at the bed. All we have to do is tie the sheets together to make a rope. We tie one end to that dresser and then throw the other end out the window. Then when the time is right, we just climb down. We'd only have a few feet to jump to the grass."

"Now, why didn't I think of that?" Carter asked.

"Because you're not the only one with smarts around here."

"One thing though. How will we know when the time is right to climb out the window?"

"That's easy. Knowing the FBI, they won't come in unarmed and unprepared. They'll have plenty of firepower with them. When we hear the first gunshot, that's our signal. When we hear the first gunshot, we take that chair, put it up to hold the door and make our escape."

"God, I love you, Mark. But we still don't know when it'll happen."

"I know, but we can figure out when if we think about how we'd go about it."

"You're right. I just got an inkling today that dad was going to do something. And with the FBI involved, they're try to think of every possible thing that could go wrong and have contingencies for them. That's going to take some time. Then they have to get their resources in place; more time."

"We need to factor our parents into this. They're not going to sit around and wait and will be urging them to go," Mark added.

"True, so what do you think?"

"I'd give them a week, maybe less," Mark said.

Bob Crandell had Clark in his office at their conference table in Grand Forks on Tuesday morning.

"I need to go over with you what we've come up with. I've gone over this with our DC headquarters, and I've got their go ahead."

"I've gotten the images back from the satellite, and the calls came from an isolated area just outside of Pelican Rapids in Minnesota. It's about a two-hour drive from Olson's Corners. The drone images tell us a lot more. They're in an abandoned house, a mansion to be exact. You can see from the images that there are stands of trees on three sides, north, west and south. The east side is clear with grass for about 50 feet from the house with small maple trees after that. With the surrounding acres as low farmland a frontal attack would be suicide because there would be no cover. Even under the cover of darkness at night, our people would be seen. Because of that I suggest that we still go at night with helicopter transport, but because of noise, I suggest that our people be dropped some miles to the west of the house. The trees should give them cover for their approach. Weather says that the sky will be clear, but no moon.

"Clark, I have to ask you of your opinion your son's reaction to the clues you were giving him. What would be his intentions?"

"My boy's smart, smarter than I am. I think he understood what I was telling him to do and that was to think for himself. I think he and Mark have done that and will be prepared. He told us that the east side window is where they would make their escape. I'm sure they've already figured out how to get down from the window."

"That's good to hear, so you think they'll be ready when we come in?"

"I think they're already ready."

"Good. From the video, we suspect there are at least three men, possibly a fourth in the house. I want our attack to be a surprise. As soon as we start, I'm going to have a helicopter land on the east side to pick up the boys. Until we start, there will be no bombing attacks on the building itself, not until we know that all of my men and the boys are out and safe. Clark, I want you go in with my men, but do not go into the building with them. I want you to position yourself on the east side of the building. I want you there to protect the boys.

"Any questions?"

Clark shook his head, no.

"Okay then. I'm going to have to leave you. I've got one hell of a lot to do between now and Thursday. We're going in at 3:00 AM on Friday. Be at the Grand Forks Air Force Base no later than midnight on Friday. I'll meet you there."

"How am I going to get in?"

"The guards will be aware of your coming."

"Okay. Friday at midnight," Clark said.

It was Thursday morning, and I was starting to think about breakfast. I could tell by the sun that it was around 9:00 AM. When you've got nothing to do, even the small things take on higher priorities. breakfast, for instance. I turned over, again just to watch Mark sleeping. I still could't get that wonderful word 'boyfriend' out of my mind.

While I was in the bathroom taking my morning piss, I heard the bedroom door open and figured it was our breakfast arriving. When I came back into the bedroom, I saw that I was right. We were going to have pancakes, bacon and orange juice this morning along with a small bowl of sliced melon.

I was starting to salivate looking at that tray and knew it was time to wake Mark. Mark had been a morning person ever since I knew him, but here in captivity, he was starting to be somewhat rough in the morning. Yesterday, I thought he was going to bite my head off he was in such a foul mood.

Well, here goes nothing, I said to myself and began rocking his shoulder to wake him. It took a while, but he finally opened his eyes. I went over, picked up the tray and passed it under his nose then put it on the writing table. That got him moving.

He sat up in bed and stared at me.

"Car, I just had the most wonderful dream. I was dreaming about pancakes and bacon."

"Well, get your ass out of bed because that's what we're having for breakfast this morning."

"I wasn't dreaming. We're really having that?"

"It's on the table waiting for us, so get moving. I hate cold pancakes."

Mark sprang from the bed and without any clothes to put on, he was there in seconds. Obviously, he was in a good mood that morning thanks to the smell of bacon coming from the table.

He and I completely consumed what was given to us.

After we finished breakfast and returned the tray to the door, Mark went over and sat on the bed, cross legged Indian style. He looked at me briefly and then looked at the window.

"Car, I have a feeling that we made a mistake."

I walked over to him and sat on the bed just as he had.

"How so?" I asked.

"I'm not sure, but I feel that our rescue is going to happen sooner than we first thought."


"I was thinking of our parents again when we had our video talk with them. We didn't get to talk too much, but I kept watching my mom and dad and their eyes. I watched your folks' eyes too. Their eyes told me that they wanted to come get us that day. I just have this feeling that they're going to push this as fast as they can. It's already been four days since we talked to them, and I feel that this could happen at any moment."

I looked at Mark and knew what he was driving at…we weren't ready. Oh, shit. We had to get moving if Mark was even close to being right.

"If you're right Mark, we'd better get moving, now!"

Mark looked at me with his eyes wide open.

"Jeez, I just remembered something. Just before they shut down our video call, do you remember what they asked your dad?"

"Yeah, they asked Dad when he was going to deliver the money."

"And remember what your dad said?"

"Yeah, he said…Oh Christ…he said Saturday."

"Yeah, that means they're coming to get us tomorrow, on Friday. If they come, I think they'll use darkness for cover. We still have the rest of the day to be prepared."

"True. If that's so, we need to be awake at night and try to sleep during the day."

"Yup, you're catching on."

"We only need to get our sheet rope ready, that dresser moved in front of the window and one end tied on and that chair ready by the door."

We finished our work by noon and were ready. We kept the duvet in place to hide the fact that there were no sheets under it. The sheet rope, we stuffed into a dresser drawer.

"One thing bothers me though," Mark said.

"What's that? I think we have everything covered."

"We just woke up. How're we going to get back to sleep now?"

"Hmm," I said. "We could take a warm shower. That always helps me sleep."

"You just want to see my naked body, perv."

"Oh, come on. I see that all the time. Let's go."

We showered together again with the water as warm as we could stand. And to help, we even fooled around. Being spent always was a help for me to go to sleep.

Oddly enough, we both fell asleep until the sun had set and, and we started our nightly vigil.

We knew it was dark out and that boys our age should be sleeping, so we both had a hard time staying awake. It must have been close to morning, but I had no idea how I figured that.

Mark suddenly jerked awake in the chair he was sitting in, his eyes wide open.

"Car, do you hear that?"

"Hear what," I sleepily answered him.

"I hear helicopters, but far off in the distance."

I was now completely awake, craning to hear what Mark was hearing.

"I think this is it," Mark said enthusiastically.

We both jumped up and ran to the window, trying to see whatever we could in the darkness. We looked back and forth but saw no movement. It was an hour later when Mark said, "I think I saw something moving in the trees off to the west."

"Are you sure?"

"No, not really. It's still too dark out there."

We continued watching intently, craning our necks to the west, for any sign of movement.

"Oh Jesus Christ," I said to Mark. "I just saw a man run from the trees out west to behind one of those maple trees in front of us."

"Car, it's happening! It's really happening," Mark yelled to me.

"Quick, get the sheet rope out." I told Mark as I ran to snug the chair under the door handle.

It was now obvious to me that our rescue was well under way as I saw many men emerge from the woods to the west and approach the house.

We heard a loud crashing sound come from the front of the house, but it wasn't gunfire.

We waited, but it was only for a few seconds before the first gun shots rang out. It wasn't a single shot. It was automatic fire.

"Mark, you get on the rope first. We have to go now. I'll be right behind you," I said as multiple automatic gunfire was heard from inside the house.

"I don't want to leave you, buddy," Mark hesitantly blurted out.

"Get the hell out of here now, Mark. I told you I'm going to be right behind you."

I helped Mark over the windowsill and watched him drop below my view, hand over hand going down the sheet rope.

I had difficulty getting over the windowsill but finally managed to grab the rope and hold on for dear life as I flung my body out the window. I was swinging back and forth, hoping that my movements weren't giving Mark any trouble. I looked below and saw Mark going hand over hand down the rope about one story below me. I tried to set my pace so that I wouldn't run into him as I climbed down. At last, I heard an 'umph' as Mark's feet hit the ground.

When I looked down again, I saw a soldier grabbing Mark and scurrying him away, making my climb down unrestricted till I reached the end of the sheet rope. I had to jump only five feet until I hit the ground. The same soldier grabbed me as I hit the ground, and pulled me toward the maple trees. He pulled me to where Mark was sitting.

"Sit down here and wait," the soldier said.

My eyes bulged as I realized. "Dad?" I yelled.

My dad spoke into a radio and said, "We're here. Send the copter."

When my dad was done speaking, he turned back to me, and I grabbed him in such a hug that I never wanted to let go.

Just then, we heard a helicopter overhead approaching the grassy area between us and the house.

"Get down," my dad yelled at us as he took his pistol from his holster and fired one round toward the corner of the house. I saw a man who was dressed like one of our captors fall.

I had never seen a man shot before and the sight of it sickened me.

Just then a rush of air pressured my body as the helicopter landed.

There were no doors, and Dad grabbed me and Mark, and pushed us toward the opening. He climbed in after us just as the helicopter started to lift off.

"Are you alright, son?" Dad asked me.

"Yeah, I'm okay, just winded."

Then he turned to Mark and asked him if he was okay. He said he was just tired.

Mark and I pulled ourselves up to sit in the two rear seats while my dad sat in a rear facing seat in from of us.

"Better put your seat belts on boys. After all you've been through, I don't think you'd want to fall out the door.

"One thing I'd like to know, boys, is where are your clothes?"

We had just finishing buckling up when we heard a large explosion as the house became a fireball. Mark reached out to me to hold my hand. I grabbed his hand and held it tightly to my chest.

"They took them from us the first day. I heard one of them say they wanted us to feel helpless, but I never gave up hope," I said.

It was then that I realized my dad had noticed we were holding hands. He looked up at me, smiled and said, "I guess you boys have something to tell us when we see your moms and your dad, Mark."

"I guess we should Dad," I said. "Things happened while we were being held captive. It's a love story Dad."

"'Bout time," my dad said grinning. I'll make sure you have something to wear when we land.

The End

Talk about this story on our forum

Authors deserve your feedback. It's the only payment they get. If you go to the top of the page you will find the author's name. Click that and you can email the author easily.* Please take a few moments, if you liked the story, to say so.

[For those who use webmail, or whose regular email client opens when they want to use webmail instead: Please right click the author's name. A menu will open in which you can copy the email address (it goes directly to your clipboard without having the courtesy of mentioning that to you) to paste into your webmail system (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc). Each browser is subtly different, each Webmail system is different, or we'd give fuller instructions here. We trust you to know how to use your own system. Note: If the email address pastes or arrives with %40 in the middle, replace that weird set of characters with an @ sign.]

* Some browsers may require a right click instead