Carrie heard a phone ringing near her ear, slightly muffled by the fact the huge cloth tied over half her face fully covered her ears.  After three rings, she heard in click on.  "Hello?" came the familiar voice of her father on the other end.  

"Hello, Mr. Plummer," the leader said cordially, "Sorry to disturb you at this late hour, but we have some important business to discuss..."  ​

"DAD, HELP ME!!!" Carrie screamed at the phone, her gag severely muffling the cry to a low, "MMMMMM, MMMMM MMMMMMM!!!"  "What's going on here!?" he had apparently heard her cry, but had not been able to understand who or what it was.    ​

"I'm talking, Mr. Plummer, about your lovely girl Caroline," the leader said, "She's here with us now; she'd speak to you if she could, but I'm afraid she's a little tied up at the moment."  ​

"MMMMMM, MMMMM MMMMMM MMMMMMM!!!!" Carrie screamed again towards the phone; too many thick cloths had been tied too tightly in and over her mouth for her to make her cries any clearer.  "Oh my God...!" her father mumbled in horror, finally realizing her predicament, "Oh God, Carrie, are you all right!?  Have these people hurt you!?"  ​

"MMMM MMMM MMMM MMMMMM MMMMM MMMMMMM, MMMMMMM, MMMMMMM MMMMMMM!!!!" she struggled to enuciate her words to sound even remotely intelligible.  "Caroline's just fine at the moment, Mr. Plummer," the leader told her father, "Of course, if you want her to stay that way, we're going to have to talk business.  Namely:  you send me twenty-five million dollars for your daughter within forty-eight hours, and we might send her back to you alive.  You will not call the police, or you get Caroline back in pieces."  ​

Carrie screeched in horror and tried to thrash around wildly inside her net.  Another one of the thugs grabbed her hair and pulled it back, then thrust a knife to her throat to make her stop.  "You will also not call the police, Mr. Plummer, or we'll kill her," the leader warned her father, "You have no choice but to pay; Caroline is a virtual mummy at the moment, and has no hoping of escape.  You're her only chance of leaving here alive."  ​

"Her name is Carrie!  She's a person, not some commodity for you to trade!" her father roared.  ​

"Well then, if you love your girl as a person, pay up for her, and maybe you'll see her again," the leader said, "We'll call again shortly for critical information on how to wire us the money, Mr. Plummer.  Till then, take care."  ​

"MMMMM MMMMMM MMMMMM, MMMMMMMMMMM!!!" Carrie made a final scream towards the phone before it clicked off.  She gulped in terror as the knife was pressed harder against her throat.  "I wouldn't act up if I were you, Caroline, or I'll have to slit this pretty throat of yours," her assailant warned her, "You don't want that, do you?"  ​

"MMMMMMMM!!!" Carrie shook her head wildly.  ​

"Very good.  Now be a good girl and behave yourself in here for the time being," he threatened, removing the knife, "If you misbehave bad enough, we'll have to hurt you bad--and hurt all your friends too.  And you don't want your girlfriends hurt, do you?"  ​

"MMMMMMMMM!!" she shook her head again.  ​

"All right.  I'll be right outside, on guard duty.  Be a good little girl, Caroline," he told her smugly.  Footsteps echoed back across the stone floor, followed by the door slamming shut and locking.  Terror swept through Carrie's body and mind again.  She thrust her head back as far as it would go and started screaming into her gag as hard as she could manage, begging that someone good was around to hear her cries.  But who could save her if her friends were already captured, and no one else knew where she was...?  ​

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"I'm here," the sheriff announced, striding towards what was Donna and Leigh's lifeguard tower with a grim expression, "Where's Mitchell?"  ​

"I'm here, Bert," Mitchell stepped forward.  ​

"You have a missing person report?"  ​

"Yeah, two of my girls with the lifeguard department, Donna Lawrence and Leigh Arnold.  I think they've been kidnapped, along with some girls on spring break they'd become friends with."  ​

"I see," the sheriff mused, drawing out a notepad, "When did they disappear?"  ​

"I guess about two hours ago, Sheriff," Greg stepped forward next, "Robbie and I befriended the girls this week," he gestured at his spring break friend, "We were going to spend time with them, but we found Carrie had disappeared while swimming..."  ​

"Carrie?"  ​

"Carrie Plummer, she's so beautiful..." Robbie sighed dreamily.  ​

"Go on, son..." the sheriff interrupted impatiently.  ​

"Donna was taking several of the girls out to look for her, Leigh was waiting back at the tower," Robbie pointed at it, "They had us searching too; when we didn't hear anything over the radio, we came here and found the tower wrecked, like struggle took place..."  ​

"Got it," the sheriff lowered his pencil, "I won't fool with all of you:  these girls are possibly in grave danger.  There's been a roving gang of kidnappers snatching attractive girls on spring break around here and holding them for ransom for the last few years.  They grab them out in the ocean when they're alone, take them to hidden locations, and ransom them."  ​

"Oh boy," Robbie gulped worriedly, "Carrie...!"  ​

"Yep, if she's your girl, son, she could be in danger.  Could you give us her description?"  ​

"Yeah, uh, Carrie's about, um, five foot two, a hundred four pounds, long curly blonde hair, blue eyes, and she was wearing a white one piece bathing suit," Robbie told him, "Her friends, um, Terri Porter, five three, a hundred two, long curly brown hair, brown eyes, pink one piece bathing suit; Mandy Stinnett, five six, a hundred five, long curly red hair, green eyes, black one piece suit; Audrey Klaussen,  five five, a hundred two, long straight blonde hair, blue eyes, blue one piece suit..."  ​

"As for my girls, they're both wearing red lifeguard uniforms, of course," Mitchell cut in, turning to the sheriff, "Donna's got long curly blonde hair and blue eyes, Leigh's got curly shoulder length brown hair and brown eyes.  I'll stay on the radio here in the tower; you can keep me informed of what you find..."  ​

"Right, George.  OK, we'll send boats out and see what we can find.  Thanks for your help," the sheriff commended him.  He turned and walked back to his cruiser, talking into his radio.  "I'd hoped they were through doing this..." Mitchell mumbled, slumping down on the ramp to Donna and Leigh's tower.  ​

"So, there've been kidnappings here before?" Robbie asked him worriedly.  ​

"For the last three years, son," the head lifeguard explained grimly, "Seven girls were abducted and ransomed over that time.  They were all tied, gagged, and blindfolded during their imprisonment, and they were drugged and dumped in remote areas after their ransoms were paid, so they never saw who had grabbed them.  I was hoping they'd stopped after those two got away last year..."  ​

"Which two?"  ​

"Nicole Liston and Samantha Morris; they were on spring break from college in Cleveland.  They'd gone out water skiing together, but they never came back.  The ransom call came in later that evening demanding ten million for each of them.  We searched for two days--I had all my lifeguards on duty for it and the other girls who got kidnapped--but fortunately, they came staggering ashore on the evening of the second day.  I was there when the police took their statements.  They were grabbed while water skiing and drugged; when they woke up, they were hogtied, gagged, and blindfolded on a boat somewhere.  They struggled hard without success for the longest time, and were close to giving up on a few occasions.  But luck was with them; they eventually managed to free themselves, then overpowered the guard who came in to check on them, jumped overboard, and swam like mad for the lights of the shore.  They weren't able to give a good description of their kidnappers, just that they saw a lot of figures in diver suits..."  ​

"Did they leave any numbers or e-mails, by chance?" Greg spoke up, "Maybe some of what they did see or hear could help with Donna and the other girls now..."  ​

"They might have.  I'll take a look," Mitchell lumbered down the beach for his office.  Greg and Robbie exchanged worried glances.  "Something big's been going on herethe whole time," the former mumbled.  ​

"And Carrie was too pretty for them not to notice her," Robbie moaned, staring out into the dark waves lapping against the beach, "At least her family has the money for a ransom, but what about the other girls?"  He turned to his friend.  "We've got to do something, Greg.  We've got to help them somehow."  ​

"Yeah, I know," Greg nodded, "And hopefully those girls from last year can give us some help if we can reach them..."  ​








To Be Continued...

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