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Taken

A Stranger Approaches Amanda
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“Where is Dad?” wondered Amanda impatiently. “He said he would be here!”

Amanda was waiting at her school for her stepfather to pick her up.

A Stranger Approaches Amanda

Amanda & The Stranger

“Hello there,” said a voice. Amanda turned. A tall man wearing sunglasses in a black suit stood before her.
“Who are you?” asked Amanda.
“I’m a friend of your father. He got held up at a meeting at work and asked me to pick you up from school.” Amanda’s brow cleared.
“Oh. All right,” said Amanda. He led her to an old broken-down jeep.

Amanda stepped inside.
“Is that her?” asked another voice. Amanda turned. A man wearing a mask sat in the front seat.
“Yes,” said the man in sunglasses.
“Put the cloth,” commanded the masked man. The next second happened in a blur. Then Amanda found a piece of cloth tied around her mouth. She tried to get out but the man in sunglasses roughly pushed her back.
“Don’t you dare try that again,” said the man in sunglasses. “Now just for that, I’m going to sit here with you. Go now!” he yelled to the masked man and they were off. Amanda was being kidnapped.

Meanwhile, almost right after Amanda was kidnapped, Amanda’s stepfather Mr. Greene drove up to her school to pick her up. Amanda was, of course, not there but Mr. Greene didn’t know that. He waited patiently for 5 minutes. Then, not so patiently, he waited for another 5 minutes. After nearly 20 minutes of waiting he spotted Molly, Amanda’s friend.

“Hello Molly,” said Mr. Greene going up to her.
“Hi,” said Molly, surprised.
“Did you see Amanda?” he asked her.
“Yeah, I saw her go in a jeep,” said Molly. Molly went off. Mr. Greene went into his car, his thoughts racing. Why had Amanda gone off with a stranger? He had taught her better than that. And who was this person who had taken her? Worried, Mr. Greene, drove home. The scene that greeted Mr. Greene in his house was not a happy one. Mrs. Greene was sobbing, sitting at a table and a white-faced Kate stood over her, clutching a piece of paper.
“What happened,” he asked rushing to them. Wordlessly, Kate handed the paper to him. It was a note.

The note said:
DEAR BRIAN GREENE,
WE HAVE KIDNAPPED YOUR STEPDAUGHTER, AMANDA. IF YOU WANT AMANDA BACK YOU MUST GIVE US $1,000,000 BY THE END OF THIS WEEK. PUT THE MONEY IN THE TRANSPARENT BOX IN THE STORE ‘CATHY’S COLLECTIONS’. IF THE MONEY IS NOT GIVEN TO US BY OUR DEADLINE AMANDA WILL SUFFER FROM ME.

Finally, Mr. Greene looked up from the note.
“I can’t pay $1,000,000,” he said.
“You have to! It’s the only way to save Amanda from those beasts!” wept Mrs. Greene. After a long pause Mr. Greene nodded.
“Fine. But we should hire a detective first. And I know just who to call,” he said.
“Anything to find Amanda,” said Mrs. Greene drying her tears.

The next day Mr. Greene, Mrs. Greene and Kate went to the building where the detective worked. They sat in the waiting room for a few minutes. Then a woman beckoned for them to follow her. She led them to a brown door and held the door open for them. In the room there was a large desk where a man sat.

“Mr. and Mrs. Greene, Mr. Goon,” said the woman.
“Thank you, Stephanie,” said Mr. Goon. Once she left, Mr. Goon turned to them.
“So…how can I be of assistance?” he asked.
“It’s our daughter, Amanda. She’s been kidnapped, you see,” said Mr. Greene.
“Do you have any proof of this?” he inquired. Mr. Greene took out the ransom note and gave it to Mr. Goon. He studied it for a moment and then nodded.
“I see. Well, I will investigate further in this case and find Amanda. If I find anything crucial, I will let you know.”
“I guess that is all,” said Mrs. Greene and they rose from their seats.
“Thank you and goodbye,” added Mr. Greene. They left. They got as far as the car before there was a disturbance.
“Oh! I forgot my bag there,” said Kate suddenly remembering.
“Get it quickly,” said Mrs. Greene. Kate ran to Mr. Goon’s room and was about to knock when she heard voices inside. Kate wouldn’t have eavesdropped, except that she heard Amanda’s name mentioned. Kate pressed her eye to the keyhole. Mr. Goon was pacing around his room on the phone.
“Yes, yes. Everything is going by plan. The Greene family has just come to me about Amanda,” Mr. Goon was saying.

He listened for a moment and then yelled “Of course you can trust me! Have I not pledged my allegiance to your cause? Have I not shown I am honest? What do I need to do to make you understand that I want this as much as you do?!” Mr. Goon took several deep breaths listening. When he spoke he seemed calm though.
“Of course. I know. Just make sure I get a share in the money. Goodbye,” he said. Mr. Goon ended the call. Kate stood still for a moment. Then, remembering why she was there, Kate knocked on the door. Mr. Goon opened it.
“I forgot my bag,” said Kate.
“Oh, okay,” said Mr. Goon frowning slightly. Kate got her bag and left without another word to him. She was trying to make sense of what she heard but she couldn’t. Kate did know one thing though. Mr. Goon could not be trusted. She decided to tell her parents about her suspicions. Kate ran back to the car and told her parents everything she had heard. Once she was finished, her mom shook her head.
“Kate, don’t you realize that Mr. Goon could’ve been talking to his boss or something? I think that you just got the wrong end of the stick,” said Mrs. Greene. ‘Wrong end of the stick’ was Mrs. Greene’s catchphrase.
“But-“.
“You heard your mother, Kate,” said Mr. Greene sternly. “And I trust Mr. Goon and that should be enough for you!”
Kate crossed her arms. Fine, she decided, if they wouldn’t believe her, she would find Amanda herself.
Kate soon realized that solving a mystery was not as easy as it seems. She thought that she should start by finding ‘Cathy’s Collections’. Kate took out her laptop and typed in ‘Cathy’s Collections’ on Google. It took a few seconds to load and then a few results came up. She clicked on an article called ‘Cathy’s Collections and Old and New…at war!’

The article was written in 2010. Kate read:
The stores ‘Cathy’s Collections’ and ‘Old and New’ are at war! Both stores sell old antique furniture and things from the 1900’s. On August 15, Mr. William Benson who is believed to be working at Cathy’s Collections was caught stealing from Old and New. But when we interviewed Ms. Marietta Wilson she said that Mr. Benson had been working at Old and New the whole time and was acting as a double agent and let himself get caught stealing to drum up bad business for Cathy’s Collections. Mrs. Winters and Mr. Dale are now enemies. The war has begun, folks! – Megan Smithy

Kate scrolled down a little more and found that Cathy’s Collections was in Baron’s Square. Kate shut off her laptop and went downstairs. She was planning to ride her bike to Cathy’s Collections. Kate had been hoping to slip off unnoticed because her parents didn’t believe her, but Mrs. Greene was sitting at the table.
“Can I go on my bike somewhere?” asked Kate.
“Where to?” inquired Mrs. Greene.
“Just to get some ice cream,” said Kate.
“Go on, then,” said Mrs. Greene, eyeing her. Kate took her bike and rode to Cathy’s Collections. It was a musty old shop with a lot of old things. The shop only had one customer besides Kate and since she couldn’t ask questions with him in there, Kate looked for the transparent box. She found a strange tile that was painted a different color than the rest and was about to touch it…

“What are you doing?” said a voice. Mrs. Winters was crouched behind her.
“Oh, s-s-sorry,” said Kate getting up. Mrs. Winters adjusted her glasses.
“Who are you?” asked Mrs. Winters.
“Kathrine Greene,” said Kate. Mrs. Winters paled.
“I can’t talk to you, but you must have this,” Mrs. Winters pushed a piece of paper at Kate.
“Now go!” said Mrs. Winters. Kate was only too happy to oblige. She left the store and sat on the bench outside and read her note.

There were 7 words. Kate read:
Old and New Dale ‘Willow Prince’ Hurry
Kate almost threw the note in frustration. What did she need with five vague disconnected words? Or were they disconnected? Kate picked up the note again. ‘Old and New’ was a shop! And Dale was the last name of the owner of the shop. She still hadn’t figured out what Willow Prints was but she guessed that there was a connection with the rest of the words. Kate got on her bike and rode to the shop Old and New. Once she got there, she quickly ran inside. The sales associate looked up from her register and was just about to greet her when Kate interrupted her.
“Can I meet Mr. Dale?” said Kate. The sales associate looked at her coldly.
“Mr. Dale is busy at the moment and I doubt that he would be interested in listening to what you have to say”.
“Well, we’ll risk it…” said a male voice who had just entered the room. Kate spun around and saw a middle aged man with a cruel look in his dark eyes. The sales associate gasped!

“Mr. D-d-dale…” said the lady but was interrupted by the man with a dismissive wave of his hand. Mr. Dale turned to Kate and said, “What do you want young lady?” in a suspicious tone. Kate responded “Um..um..Willow Prince?” Mr. Dale looked at her shrewdly.
“I see…follow me please”, said the man. He pointed at the trap door leading her to a dimly lit basement. Kate walked into a room where she saw someone sitting in a corner. Kate called out, “Amanda? Is that you?” In response to her question, Kate heard a slight cry of surprise followed by some garbled sounds. Kate cautiously approached the sound and to her surprise it was none other than Amanda!

Kate silently hugged her sister and set to work untying her from the chair. After a quarter of an hour, Amanda was free! They were making their way to the trapdoor when suddenly the two kidnappers walked in!
“They’re escaping!” yelled the man in sunglasses and they both charged towards Kate and Amanda. Amanda knocked the masked man’s mask off and he stared at both of them.

“MR. GOON!” bellowed Kate. “I knew we couldn’t trust you!”.
Mr. Goon grinned. “Too bad you’ll never get to tell your parents that, ladies.”
“Why not?” asked Kate. “I thought that if we give you the money you’ll give Amanda back!”
“That was never part of the plan. We figured that after we got the money we would just get rid of you,” said Mr. Goon shrugging cruelly. “Now you’re just a bonus.”

“YOU’RE HORRIBLE!” yelled Kate, kicking him. He staggered back.
“Get her,” he ordered the man in sunglasses hoarsely. But he was knocked out! It seemed that Amanda had fought him while Kate and Mr. Goon were talking. The trapdoor was still open and they climbed out. They ran outside getting onto Kate’s bike and rode to their house!

Contributed By: Shivani Verma – Shivani is a 10 year old budding story writer who lives in the US. She loves to express her creativity through music, dance, sketching and writing stories.

You can reach her at : snigdha14277@gmail.com

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