The Simsville Inheritance
Copyright ©2006 Elizabeth G. Cox. All rights reserved.

Chapter 13 - Avery Has a Better Plan

I'd set my travel alarm for 4:30 but I needn't have bothered, my internal alarm clock woke me before the half hour. I'd slept in my clothes, which might have had something to do with waking up so early. The buckle on my all-black belt which matched my all-black jeans and my all-black tee-shirt had threatened to make black and blue bruises in various spots as I tossed and turned, trying to find a comfortable position. Anyway, a quick cold washcloth on my face and within a few minutes I was on my way down the back stairs. The full moon glowing against the cloudless sky allowed me to find my way across the yard without the flashlight. My only worry was how far into the house the noise of cranking up would carry but my car was parked far enough beyond the others that it didn't seem too loud.

Headlights off, I put an entire block behind me before I switched them on, then headed to the truck stop for coffee and sandwich. The truckers at the grill gave me a half-curious glance. I took my goodies "to go" and sat in the car at the back of the parking lot for a few minutes. A couple of sips of hot coffee and a bite of bacon and egg sandwich later I felt almost awake enough to get started.

The barn with the "For Sale" sign had seemed the most likely possibility but as I crept up for a closer look, the overgrown and undisturbed weeds running up the only barn door ruled it out. Why on earth didn't I put on a long sleeve shirt I wondered, pulling a long tendril of prickles off my wrist. And gloves. All I had with me were driving gloves that barely covered the fingers with fabric, leaving gaps on the back of the hand to tempt briar vines.

The next choice was another barn. The driveway wasn't too bad but as I pulled the car past the building I saw the broken timbers and rubble in back. Not even much of a roof was left. I finished my sandwich before making a U-turn and heading back to the road.

Two down in less than thirty minutes, maybe the third time's the charm, as they say. The next property had been vacant just a few months according to county records. The two buildings seemed intact, an old packhouse and a stable. No house nearby, no lights in sight. I made a quick decision and drove on past, turning onto a narrow lane leading through a thick stand of trees lining a ditchbank. I flipped the switch to disconnect the interior lights, left the door ajar and began angling my way toward the stable. I still didn't need the flashlight to avoid breaking my ankle on the rough ground.

Every few minutes I stopped and listened. No engine sounds came from the road. I zig-zagged from clump to clump of scrub brush and trees scattered between me and the stable, just in case. I'd gotten about fifty feet from the back corner of the stable when I heard the car. Hunkering down I saw turning headlights flash against the wall, then go dark. A slight creak broke the silence as someone pulled open the door and went inside.

Well, looks like "X marks the spot" all right. As I tried to think what to do now, the car engine cranked back up. He was leaving already? I waited until the car was gone a full five minutes before moving again. The stable door wasn't locked, just pulled shut.

Empty horse stalls ran down both sides of the rectangular building with what must have been a tack room occupying the far end. Watching my feet in the narrow beam of my flashlight, I stepped toward that door, finding it fastened with a shiny new open padlock slipped through a shiny new hasp.

I spotted her legs and feet first, then quickly moving the beam up her body I saw the girl's hands and feet were taped with duct tape. Her only movement was a shallow rise and fall of her chest.

"Charlotte. Charlotte!" Shaking her shoulders didn't help; she was in a deep sleep. It took a few moments to carefully cut through the tape wrapped around her wrists and ankles, all the time trying to waken her enough to help me get her out of this place before that guy showed back up.

Pulling and tugging and dragging a sleeping girl who weighed as much as I did was not easy. We'd reached the middle of the plowed field before I noticed she was wearing only one boot. I hid her half behind, half under a bushy tree while I went to the car and popped the trunk. My old packing quilt made it much easier dragging the girl the rest of the way.

By the time Charlotte was tucked into the back seat and buckled as best I could, the first rays of sunrise were showing up. Where's the nearest hospital? I turned the car toward Sumter, punching 9-1-1 into my cell phone. No signal, no signal. Hitting re-dial I pushed the speed on up, hoping for a nearby cell tower and hoping the kidnapper didn't spot us along the way.

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12 | Chapter 13 | Chapter 14 | Chapter 14 | Chapter 15 | Chapter 16 | Chapter 17 |