Kidnapped – Part One

This story was inspired by a prompt from Tomi Adeyemi’s site.

**

Konrad woke with a startled gasp.  He knew immediately that something was wrong.  He didn’t recognize where he was and he didn’t remember how he got there.  On top of that, his wrists were bound with a heavy rope.  For a moment, he lay still and struggled to remember something about what had happened.

He’d been heading out to meet Henry for Sunday family dinner.  He remembered unlocking the car and then… blackness.  At least Henry would be looking for him.  However long he’d been out, he would have been missed.

Once Konrad was secure in the knowledge that someone was looking for him, he focused on the next task: getting free.  He struggled into a seated position and glanced around.  It was dark enough that everything was in shadow.  That was no help.  He pulled against the ropes with all his might, but they wouldn’t give.

“Don’t bother,” a voice said.

He looked up to discover a thin girl bound with the same rope.  Although it was dark, he could see her bruised eyes and bloody wrists.

“I already tried.”

Konrad sighed.  “Have you seen the people who kidnapped us?” he asked, keeping his own voice soft.  There had to be more than one kidnapper, after all.  One person couldn’t hope to hold two people.  Could they?

Shaking her head, the girl said, “He slides food under the door and he was wearing a mask when he carried you in here.”

Heaving a sigh, Konrad tried to decide what to do next.  He grimaced.  “I’m Konrad,” he said, looking to the girl once again.  “I’m a psychiatrist.  I work for the Bureau, but I’m not an agent.”

“Diane,” the girl said, nodding.  She looked over at the door and frowned.  “I’m just an administrative assistant.  I don’t even work for someone important.  She’s just the manager of a security company.  They install burglar alarms in churches and stuff.”

It really made no sense.  Konrad wracked his brain, trying to think of someone who would have cause to kidnap him.  After a moment, he shook his head.  It had to be random.  He didn’t know Diane, of that much he was certain.

“Let me get a look at those wrists,” he said, beckoning to her.  She moved over so that she was beside him and he looked them over.  There were abrasions from when she’d struggled to get free.  The rope had scraped and cut into her skin.  However, nothing looked deep.  Looking up at her, he asked, “Is there any water?”

“He’ll bring us some with dinner,” she said, blinking away tears.  “I always get them confused.  Psychiatrists… at they the medical doctors?”

“Yeah,” Konrad said, giving her a weak smile.  “I can prescribe medicines and the like, but… you become a general practitioner before you specialize, so I know how to tend most injuries.  These aren’t that deep, but we need to keep them clean or you run the risk of infection.”

“Do you think he’s going to kill us?”

Konrad shrugged.  “How long have you been here?” he asked, frowning.  When she shrugged, he said, “Well… assuming that I wasn’t out for more than a few hours, it’s Monday morning – June sixth.”

“A week, then,” she said, shrugging.

“If he hasn’t hurt you so far, I don’t think he intends to hurt us,” Konrad said, shaking his head.  “I just… wish I knew what he wanted with us.  I mean…” he trailed off.  How did the Behavioral Analysis Unit figure out a victim profile?  They started with what the victims had in common.  Then, he scowled and said, “Where do you live?”

“Bethesda,” Diane said.  She shrugged.  “I work in Falls Church.”

“I live in Alexandria and work out at Quantico, so I doubt we’d mix in our normal daily lives,” Konrad said.  He shook his head.  “Where’d you go to school?”

“St. Winifred’s Academy.”

Konrad blinked and looked over at her.  It wasn’t a huge school, but he’d only been at the local academy for his senior year and he had only actually attended class at school three days a week.  The rest of the time, he was at home, taking his classes remotely from the academy in Maine.  “What year?” he asked, his voice soft.

Diane blinked.  “Oh-nine, why?” she said, shaking her head.

“Me too,” Konrad said.  He scowled and shook his head.  “I transferred from the academy in Maine in March of the school year and I was only at the local school three days a week.  I… didn’t really get to know the other students.  I mean… I was only there for three months of my senior year.”

“I remember you,” Diane breathed, her eyes widening.  “You have four younger siblings, right?  Two brothers and twin sisters?”

“That’s right,” Konrad said, nodding.  He scowled and shook his head.  “I don’t remember you… I’m sorry.”

“Yeah, well,” Diane said, giving him a weak smile.  “You moved from Maine to Virginia because your parents had been murdered.  I’m surprised you remember anyone from our class, especially since you were only there for three months.  You… kind of stick out, though.”

“Not too many albinos that transfer at the end of senior year,” Konrad said, grimacing.  There were, surprisingly, a number of other albinos at the school.  Although, perhaps that shouldn’t be too surprising.  After all, the St. Winifred Schools all tended to be in Haven communities and there was a Founder Effect in place: increasing the population of albinos among the Cross Families.

“Not many, no,” Diane said, giving him a weak smile.  Then, she blinked.  “Are you a defender?” she asked, her voice hardly more than a whisper.

Konrad nodded.  “A sword,” he said.  He looked down at his wrists.  It wouldn’t do him very much good.  He couldn’t summon his sword with his wrists bound, after all.

“I’m a lance,” Diane said, her gaze going to the door.  “That’s the connection, isn’t it?  The school?”

“That year,” Konrad said, nodding in agreement.  He heaved a sigh.  “Do you remember anything significant happening that year?”

For a moment, Diane was quiet.  Then, she said, “It was right after you and your siblings transferred into the area.  This one family lived outside of the immediate community and… they were attacked by Singers.”

“They died?” Konrad breathed.

Diane shook her head.  “That’s just it: they didn’t,” she said, her voice soft.  “The oldest boy… Jason, I think his name was… he was the family’s cross and he banished the demons before his defenders even arrived on the scene.”

“Lucky for him,” Konrad said.  His mind immediately went to his parents and how they were killed.  Why hadn’t his father banished the Singer?  After all, there had only been one of them.  Even without his defenders, he should have been able to… the thought trailed off and Konrad looked at Diane.  “The Elders thought he’d been corrupted,” he said.

Nodding briskly, Diane said, “Singers have that one song that Crosses react so strongly to.  They… how else could one cross fight off so many Singers?”

“He didn’t,” Konrad murmured.  Of course, he knew that there were ways.  At the same time, he also knew that the Elders didn’t tend to think outside the box.  If something hadn’t happened often, they assumed it never happened.  He looked at Diane and nodded.  “That’s what they’d assume.  So they banished the family.”

When she nodded, Konrad scowled.  “What’s that got to do with us, though?” he asked, shaking his head.

“A singer killed your parents, but not your brother,” Diane said, shrugging.  “No one thought he was corrupted.”

“They did,” Konrad said, rolling his eyes.  He remembered the trouble of proving to the elders that the reason the Singer had left Markus alone was that his powers hadn’t awakened yet.  “You too?”

“My cousin,” Diane said, shaking her head.  “Her gifts hadn’t awakened yet, so… the Singer didn’t sense her.”

“It was an explanation they could accept,” Konrad said, rolling his eyes.  He shook his head and added, “That’s the connection: neither of our families were banished after horrible encounters with Singers.  I’m guessing that was not the case for our kidnapper.”

“Why now, though?”

Konrad shook his head.  “Something triggered him, God only knows what,” he said.  He heaved a sigh and looked at Diane.  “Now, he’s kidnapped us.  The question is: why?  Is he angry because our families weren’t banished and his was?  Does he think the elders got it wrong and we were corrupted?”

“What do they do with defenders that were corrupted?” Diane whispered, her voice tremulous.

Shrugging, Konrad leaned back against the wall.  He’d heard of families being banished from the community.  Beyond that, though, he hadn’t heard anything specific being done to them.  Corruption – true corruption – was exceedingly rare, after all.  “I don’t know,” he admitted.

“A week,” Diane said, her voice faint.  “Is anyone even looking for me?”

“Your family must be, by now,” Konrad said, closing his eyes.  She was the family’s lance, so they couldn’t use her to find… herself.  His eyes flew opened at the thought.  “My family was expecting me for dinner,” he said, looking over at her.  “My sister is our lance… she’ll find me.”

Diane released a shaky breath.  “Let’s hope so,” she said, nodding.

 

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