"...coming up on quarter to seven, and the weather remains gorgeous for the foreseeable future; all the rest of this week, we can expect sunny skies and high temps, so all of you on spring break are in for a real treat," the radio declared from behind Carrie Plummer's head. Carrie exhaled in delight and shifted around slightly on her beach blanket, not opening her eyes. "Just the way I like it," she mumbled softly to herself, "This is what spring break should be."
She adjusted her sunglasses and lay down flat, listening to the surf pounding away gently several yards in front of her and feeling the sun spreading its warming glow over her from above, even later in the day like it was now. It was almost hard to fathom: just last week, she'd been in class up at Minnesota's Northeastern Central College, and had needed several layers of clothing and winter coats to keep warm. Now, for much of the last several days, she'd worn only her bathing suit--a white one piece suit--all day. But on the beaches of Terrell Island, one could just lie on the sand all day and do nothing. And that, as it was, what largely what Carrie and her friends had done since they'd arrived on spring break.
Spring break. She'd looked forward to it for so long now. The break away from the cold of the campus and the grind of the classroom. She'd wanted to go to a beach and just relax two weeks away with no worries at all. And in the five days since they'd arrived, they'd thoroughly relaxed. Carrie wished it would never end; she now did not want to leave the island.
She turned her head to the left to see her friends stretched out on their blankets, looking just as relaxed. To her direct left, her own sunglasses on their usually perch above her head, lay her best friend for life, Terri Porter. Terri had lived next door to Carrie their whole lives; as such, the two of them had always been inseparable. Thus, they had vowed to go to the same college, and had in the end. To Terri's left lay their roommate, Mandy Stinnett. The three of them had become firm friends quickly, and had decided to take their spring break together. It was Mandy who had suggested Terrell Island in the end, but she also asked to bring along her cousin and best friend, who lay on the left-most blanket. Audrey Klaussen was a quieter girl than the rest of them, but easy to get along with, and Carrie enjoyed her company.
It was Audrey who now stretched and yawned, as if awakening from a nap. "What time is it?" she asked sleepily, basically confirming it.
"Ten to seven, cuz; you must have dozed off," Mandy told her, checking her watch.
"I think so. But then again, it's easy to fall asleep when you're laying in a warm sun for hours," Audrey said, turning over onto her side.
"I think I fell asleep for a while too, Audrey," Carrie admitted to her, raising up her sunglasses, "Well, ladies," she turned to the others, "Tomorrow, you want to do more of the same, or shall we try something different?"
"I'm in no rush, Carrie; I say we just relax our time away doing more of the same," Terri said, shifting around, "In fact, if it were up to me, I'd just spend the whole break lying here soaking up the sun."
"Same here, Terri," Carrie rolled back onto her back, "I'd stay here for the rest of my life if I could right now."
"Well, I actually wouldn't mind going boating," Mandy argued, "We all have more than enough money among us to rent one, and we can stay out there all day. In fact..."
"Sounds good to us. Just aim to get it when we're off," came a new voice behind them. Carrie spun to towards the two approaching figures wearing red swimsuits with a large white cross and a long white oval with the word LIFEGUARD inside on the chest. "Your shift over for the day, Donna, Leigh?" she asked them.
"Sure is, Carrie. So mind if Leigh and I join you in soaking up the sun for a while?" the girl who'd previously spoken inquired.
"Go right ahead," Carrie gestured them forward. The first day she and her friends had arrived on Terrell Island, they'd been unsure of lodging for their trip, having been unable to lock in a hotel reservation. Then, when they'd selected their spot on the beach, they'd met Donna Lawrence and Leigh Arnold, who were manning the nearest lifeguard tower. Two local girls who'd been lifeguards all through their teen years and were continuing to serve during their time at the nearest community college, Donna and Leigh had offered Carrie and her friends to stay at their beach house for the duration of their vacation. They had accepted, and had become fast friends with the lifeguards, who'd shown them all around and made them feel welcome.
The two local girls now dropped their rescue buoys to the sand, spread their own blankets out, and lay down on Carrie's right. "Ah, this feels so good after a long day," Donna exhaled, folding her arms behind her head, "After watching everyone else enjoy the sand, it's good to be able to enjoy it yourself..."
"Donna, marry me!" came the affectionate cry from behind them. "Maybe next week, Greg," grinning, Donna turned and waved to him. It had become clear to Carrie since their arrival that Donna was a very popular girl on the beach, not surprising since she was extremely pretty, sharing Carrie's long thick curly blonde hair and blue eyes. Leigh, in contrast, was much plainer, with shorter, shoulder-length curly dark brown hair, gray eyes, and a less idealized body. The two of them, though, were clearly inseparable friends themselves. "We're off in two days," Leigh now told the other girls, "Whatever you do over the weekend, Donna and I'd like to do it with you."
"I'm sure we can accommodate that, Leigh," Carrie nodded, "Of course, we might just lay here on the beach all day then too."
"That's fine by us. The job can be boring at times when everyone plays by the rules," Leigh confessed.
"How'd today go?"
"Just that, boring. I'd almost want some excitement around here. The strangest thing, though, Dennis seemed to be acting strange..."
"Dennis Fellin, he's in the tower down the beach from ours," Donna pointed, "He seemed a bit agitated for some reason, on his phone a lot. Now we normally don't pry around in other people's business, but I'm wondering if something was up there?"
"Who knows? Well, ladies, I think I'm going to catch some surf while there's still light," Carrie laid her sunglasses down on her blanket and rose up, "Who wants to join me?"
"Sorry Carrie, we'd like to still rest up," Mandy shook her head, "You go enjoy yourself."
"Before you do, though, Carrie, before I forget: Robbie Walters came by our tower earlier while you and the other girls were at lunch, asking about you," Donna sat up, "He had to leave on an appointment, but he said that maybe tomorrow, you and he could get together."
"That sounds good," Carrie smiled. Robbie Walters was a friendly and handsome boy on spring break himself from Massachusetts who'd marked out a spot on the beach near her and her friends. He'd come over to talk with her often, and she'd gotten the feeling he was smitten with her. And she was starting to like him a lot too by now. So any time they could have alone together, she was open to.
With a light heart from this news, she jogged down to the water line and into the surf. She paddled out until she'd reached the point the waves started breaking. She stopped and put her arms down at her sides, bobbing around and letting the waves carry her about. She turned to look back at her friends on the beach. Even from a distance, she made them out easily: brown-haired Terri in her pink bathing suit, red-haired Mandy in her black suit, blonde-haired Audrey in her blue suit, and the two lifeguards in their familiar red suits. They were all just six well-off but otherwise average twenty year olds enjoying life. What else could they ask for, she thought?
Closing her eyes, she lay flat on her back and let the waves carrying her around. Time dragged on, but Carrie didn't care. This was the life. She'd give anything to stay here forever...
She heard the bubbling sounds behind her too late. Suddenly, a hand was clamped hard over her mouth from behind. Carrie's eyes flew wide open in fear. Before she could react, arms grabbed her around chest, pinning her arms to her sides, and wrestling her motionless. More arms seized her legs and held them still. Looking up, she saw a figure in a black diver's suit at her feet, and another at her side. And they were swimming rapidly away from shore with her. Her eyes bulging, Carrie squirmed and screamed for help, but her captors were too strong for her, and her mouth was firmly covered. After a minute, her head bumped off something metal. She was lifted up and slid down a hole. She finally turned her head, and saw she was being taken inside a small submarine--and another figured in a diver's suit, his face covered with goggles and thus unrecognizable to her, was waiting at the bottom of the ladder. "Shut the hatch," he ordered the man at Carrie's feet, who did so. "Now I'm going to ask one question, young lady, and give me just one answer," he warned her when she was dragged up to him, "You are Caroline Plummer of East Kingstown, Minnesota, daughter of software magnate Robert Plummer?"
The hand was removed from Carrie's mouth. "My name is Carrie, and what are you doing with me!?" she demanded at him.
"That's all I need to know," he nodded, "Tie her up," her ordered his colleagues.
Carrie was shoved down to the floor and her arms pulled behind her back. "What are you doing!?" she demanded again, wincing as ropes started digging hard into her wrists and elbows, "You can't just kidnap me like this...!"
"We just did," the leader shot her down, digging around in his pockets, "And a pretty and wealthy girl like you'll really bring us a fortune this time."
"You're not going to get away with it!" she remained defiant, "My friends probably saw you grab me, and two of them are lifeguards; they'll be out here in minutes to give you...MMMMMMM!!!!"
In a flash, the leader stuffed a large wad of cloth into her mouth, followed by a second one. A large white handkerchief was pulled over Carrie's lips from behind and tied in a very tight knot, making her wince. But it wasn't the end yet: another, larger white cloth, one that covered her nose as well as her mouth, was then pulled over top of that one and knotted just as tightly. Carrie moaned loudly, the cry nonetheless severely muffled to barely audible levels. She'd seen many movies and read many books where a heroine was gagged, but the actual experience was more terrifying than she could have imagined.
She kicked furiously at the leader. He grabbed her legs in midair, wrestled them motionless, and lifted them up high in the air. One of the other figures moved forward and started tying them together, first at the top of her legs near her hips, then above her knees, then below them, then around her thighs, then finally her ankles. Meanwhile, the thug behind her bound ropes all around her upper body, with concentrations at her shoulders, chest, and waist. When he finally finished, Carrie found with horror that she could not move a single muscle in her body at all.
"That's good for now. Up here we go," the two men who'd bound her lifted her up and carried her to the nearest seat, where they forced her down in it and wound the seatbelt around her upper body before buckling it into place, leaving her trapped in the seat. We're all set; go," one of them called to the leader, who started the sub's engine. "You're going where you'll be good and safe," he turned back to Carrie, "Don't be afraid, this is just a regular old fashioned kidnapping for ransom, but if you act up," he trust a knife in her face, "We won't hesitate to get rough. Understand?"
"MMMMMMMM!!!!" a bulging-eyed Carrie managed to softly moan. She turned her desperate gaze back towards the sub's hatch. "Please have seen them grab me, ladies!" she thought desperately for her friends back on the beach, "Please come out here quick and get me out of here...!"