The Kidnapper

Submitted into Contest #37 in response to: Write a story that takes place in the woods.... view prompt

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Mystery

“You don’t know everything, you only see half the picture.”

“I know enough to understand what you’re doing is wrong.” I stood shivering in the cold, foggy expanse of trees. My wool sweater barely protected me from the numbing cold, but I could care less. 

“And what is it you believe I’m doing exactly?”

“Kidnapping children!” I struggled to make out his figure in the night, barely seeing a shadow behind the light that pierced through the night and illuminated me. I was deep into the forest

“So you thought it would be smart to come here yourself, defenseless and alone, to do what? Save the children?”

“Obviously you’re unfamiliar with the idea of doing the right thing.” My voice cracked mid sentence, and I was very aware of it making me appear weak like he suggested. The man saw a teenage girl, shivering and wide-eyed standing in the cold. 

“What's going on in your head?” 

“Why would I tell you?”

“I’ve been watching you longer than you know. I’m sure you realized, but didn’t connect the dots. You’re not dumb, darling. Just… impetuous. But I could never read your expressions, it bothers me.”

 It all rushed to me, and I had to lean on a nearby tree for support. Of course, he was watching me. I tried in vain to shake off my feeling of vulnerability, after all, I suspected didn’t I? The stranger that kept passing by, too many times for it to be a coincidence?

“I suppose my thoughts are the only things you don’t know about me, then?”

“Do you really believe I wouldn’t notice somebody who managed to notice my setup and hack into it effortlessly? Of course I looked into you! I was expecting some tech genius in his 30s, not some kid at a cafe!

“When I saw you I tried to hack your computer, find out what I could about you. I ran into your firewalls, and I couldn’t do it easily. Your encryptions were one of a kind, it took my bots hours to break through it.” 

I felt a small sense of pride and smugness, he was impressed with my firewalls. I had used great care in setting them up. At the same time, though, the fact that he could take them down also knocked me down. He was no simple kidnapper, no. 

“You were the man at the restaurant, and at the clinic. You passed by me walking on the street multiple times, and parked at the school in front of my house.”

 He raised his eyebrows, impressed. I felt like I was going to be sick, I was unprepared. The man had known more about me than I realized, if he managed to hack into my computer. 

“You are aware, my girl. You will be happy with us.”

“I left a note telling my dad where I was going and what I was doing, you can’t take me! I’ve got trackers all over me that will work through your firewall.”

He lowered his flashlight momentarily as if pausing to think about what I had said. It was obvious his previous plan, just simply knock me out and bring me wherever he intended. Kidnap me, whatever. He had to reconsider, and based on his knowledge of my technological abilities, he was very aware of my ability to make such trackers. 

“You don’t know everything Maya. Perhaps it will not come to such things.”

“Enlighten me, oh glorious sir!” I called out to him, in a sudden stupor. “What could you say that would make all of this okay?! You have been following me for weeks and kidnapping children!” I took a few steps toward him.

“Maya, I need you to listen to me.”

“Don’t call me by my name, you creep!”

“Calm yourself down, or I will do it for you.” I realized he was dead serious, and found the will inside of me to shut up. Letting my impulses control me will just ruin any chance I have of getting away slip out of my grasp.

“Interesting.” He said, watching me carefully as if I was a specimen. “You have incredible self control, when you try.” I felt violated, the way he so casually treated me as if I were something to be pried open and examined.

“You said I need to listen to you, as if that will change anything.” I didn’t hide the obvious fact that I was directing his attention away from me. All I had learned was how much he knew about me, and if he had some magic second half of the story, I needed to know.

He sighed loudly, and began to explain everything that I had been seeing, discovering. The hidden secrets buried so deep, they needed to be spoken deep in the forest, into the silent night.


“Do you understand it now? The reason all those kids went missing, the true nature of the ‘kidnappings’?”

“I do.” I struggled to find the words to describe what I was feeling, a mixture of shock and relief. Perhaps he was lying, but the story checked out and I believed him. I was not in danger, I allowed myself to relax slightly.

“For secrecy purposes, though, this information must never get out.”

I instinctively reached for my necklace, the embedded camera I had forgotten about in the craze. I pursed my lips, and realized that though I was not in immediate danger, I was still a threat to the school. The man would take me out if he had to. 

“Why keep this a secret anyway? If you had publicity perhaps you would find more brilliant children. Parents would be dying to send them to your school.”

“That’s part of the issue. We can detect any brilliant child through the school system, it is selective and controlled. Once we had people wanting their kids to go to our school, riots could break out.”

“You said part. You wouldn’t have this much encryption and stealth if the only reason was upset parents.” He smiled at my noticing his half-answer. Even though I was cold and tired, I could still detect when he was telling half-truths. 

“Well, our school is not exactly a registered school.”

“So you’re breaking the law.”

“More like avoiding it.”

“Like you’re avoiding answering my questions directly.” My hands instinctively moved to my hips, and in a gust of wind my hair blew into my face. I pulled it away, and found when I could see again the man was much closer than before. He was mere feet away from me. 

“I don’t need to answer any of your questions Maya.” His voice was deep and strong, making him appear even more formidable. His words were once again a reminder for me to be cautious. I knew about his backstory, but not my future.

“It’s illegal isn’t it. Because you don’t give the children or their parents a choice, for them to attend your special school. And if the government found out, you would be shut down.” The facts clicked together overwhelmingly fast. I staggered backward slightly, as I realized how serious the school was about security. And I was a security risk.

My technology, my camera necklace, my conscious knowledge of the school. I was a danger to the program, and no matter what decision I made I was not leaving the forest with the technology and knowledge I was equipped with.

He watched me with an analytical gaze that I detested. He just stood there as I had these revelations, as the seconds ticked by and submerged us in silence. The crickets in the background chirped loudly, and my full situation caught up to me.

I could never go home. 

“You are very aware of your inability to know all of this.” His voice was the last thing I wanted to hear, and I chastised myself for coming out. I thought I was prepared to deal with a kidnapper, covered head to toe in technology that would expose them. I knew I was in danger, but never long-term.  

“Why do you think I chose the forest to meet you?” I felt tears make my way down my face, and I rubbed them away with my sweater. He was trying to distract me from the fact that I would never see my father again.

“I asked you a question, Maya.”

“Because the forest is desolate, isolated, and there is no technology nearby. No signal so I can automatically upload.” He nodded his head.

“You have great technological knowledge. You belong in the program.”

“Why didn’t you just cherry-pick me from the school system then?” I asked. I knew the answer already, for I did not try in school. I spent far more time and energy with my computer hacking than writing essays.

“Only you know why your test scores are merely average, but I can only guess.”

“Ah. I forgot my thoughts are the only private thing.” His eyes met mine, and I felt his gaze on me. I stared back hard, desperately hoping for some brilliant idea that would get me out of the situation I was stuck in. It was down to a final decision, to a question he hadn’t yet asked.

“Maya.”

“I don’t really have a choice, do I?”

“I could wipe your short term memory and your tech.” A blossom of hope bloomed inside of me. I really did have a choice. 

“Do it.”

“Please consider your other option…” His voice trailed off, and I realized how desperately he wanted me in the program. However he was giving me the gift of choice the other children didn’t have. I wasn’t officially on the school’s radar, only his.

“Please let me go. I don’t want to leave my father.” 

“Very well. It’s such a shame, Maya. You would have thrived at the school.”

“Thank you.”

I said it sincerely, and he knew it. I respected him, and he in turn respected my wish. I could not have been more grateful.

“Remove all of your trackers and your camera. As well, your signal - dropper.”

“How did you know?” I asked him, while I removed my necklace and hair clip as well as all my trackers. 

“I am quite the expert in technology myself.” He answered, and he pulled out a pill from a sealed bag in his pocket. “Your note was removed immediately after leaving, and your computer has been wiped. You will wake up disoriented, but everything we’ve talked about tonight will be forgotten. Write yourself a note to not look into us, here’s some paper.”

He handed me a slip of paper and a pen, and I hastily wrote down a note to myself. Do not look into this any more. I wrote. I handed it back to him.

“You will take this, and it will work by the time you awake.” He handed me the white pill, and I looked at it cautiously. 

“Will I be conscious to return home?” I realized the risk I put myself in if he was lying. However, I doubted that he was. If he was just a kidnapper he could have taken me long ago.

“Yes, you will be. However, if I detect any more hacking into our system I cannot give you any other choice than to join the program.” 

Relieved, I swallowed the capsule. He turned off his flashlight, and I saw his face for the first time. 

“Thank you.” I said, already turning to leave.

“You’re welcome. Goodbye, Maya.”

“Goodbye.”


I awoke with a start, confused. I grabbed at my sheets and looked around, I was safe in my room. I didn’t remember going to sleep the night before, but I must have been so tired I forgot.

I sat up slowly, and pulled open the blinds next to my bed. In front of me was a note, in my own handwriting.

Do not look into this any more. It warned me. I must have done something the previous night, if I had written the note. I reached for my computer, and it loaded up. I quickly realized it was wiped clean. 

“What did you discover?” I whispered into the room. It was no accident I had no memory of my interaction with who must have been the kidnapper. 

The shadow that day followed me around more than usual. I trusted myself, though, and did not dig any further. Otherwise, I had an eerie feeling something very, very bad would happen.


April 13, 2020 23:18

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14 comments

21:02 Apr 20, 2020

It is a great story and I can take out a lot from this. I hope I will be able to write in such a suspense as this. Great concept and even better bringing it to life!

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Natalie Dafoe
21:19 Apr 20, 2020

Thank you!

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Luke Stinnett
23:16 Apr 19, 2020

Amazing! Read it a few times over, just to make sure I got the full picture. I’m still not getting some stuff, though. What is this school the guy is talking about? It’s confusing me a small bit

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Natalie Dafoe
13:38 Apr 20, 2020

Sorry you didn't quite understand. The man was the head of a secret 'school' for brilliant children, however they kidnapped their children because the school was technically illegal and they could not reveal their presence to the world. This is also why they had such high security. Hope this makes sense :)

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Luke Stinnett
14:27 Apr 20, 2020

Alright. Makes much more sense! Thank you for explaining it for me. I really enjoyed your story. I think it was amazing and detailed, and honestly, I wish I was able to write like that!

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Natalie Dafoe
20:48 Apr 20, 2020

Thanks! I'm happy you liked it!

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11:03 Nov 27, 2020

This is really great

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Adrie Byman
16:16 Apr 20, 2020

A very strong hook! I enjoyed reading your story. You brought me into a whole new world. I could not stop reading! Thank you for writing! :)

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Natalie Dafoe
21:10 Apr 20, 2020

Thank you!

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Romeo Cusumano
00:01 Apr 20, 2020

The concept and buildup of this story got me hooked from beginning to end. I like how your dialogue gave both characters their own distinct personalities and provided information without your narration needing to explain everything about them. Hope to see more writing from you in the future! :]

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Natalie Dafoe
13:36 Apr 20, 2020

Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it :)

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20:22 Apr 18, 2020

I really enjoyed the concept of your story! I wish that I had been able to read more of what he had said rather than a cutaway, I wanted to see where it was going. I also feel it would have been more suspenseful if you had begun the story from the moment she had met him. A shadow of a man, a flashlight pointed in her eyes, the fear and his greeting her. It would have brought tension to the moment. Of course that is just my thinking! Forgive me for prattling on. Otherwise I enjoyed it your story. Maya is a likeable protagonist. Che...

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Natalie Dafoe
19:31 Apr 19, 2020

Thanks for the feedback! Much appreciated :)

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00:26 Apr 20, 2020

Anytime! The concept was great! Let me know if you read my story, I am anxious to see what people think, aha

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