Greetings! I’m making good on my goal of one minimum post a month by barely making the cutoff for August. But I’ve made it, so here you are. It’s my fourth installment of Plunder the Children.
Tom looked at his family, streaming to his laptop in classic low quality video. Their mouths were taped shut. Their arms were tied to a pole. Their eyes were puffy and red. He wished he could hear their voices too, but for now it was enough to know they were alive.
“I’m going to get you out of this as fast as possible, I promise. I just have to do whatever he tells me and he’ll let you go.” Tom was fighting back tears. He wanted justice. His family did not deserve this. They had no knowledge of the cases he worked on (Tom made it a point to keep work and home life separate, if only for his own sanity). He gritted his teeth as he watched his family struggle against the ropes, desperately trying to get closer to the screen, as if somehow that would ease the inflicted wounds.
“Relax, guys. Calm down. Calm down,” he said, hating himself more with every word. He couldn’t tell them to calm down when he hadn’t calmed down for days. He looked toward the back, where Brendan, the baby, lay on the only comfort in the concrete room—a small plush pillow. He wanted desperately to hold him and rock him to sleep. Brendan did not cry. He just lay there, not understanding how different life had instantly become.
The guard looked at Tom. “Time’s up.” He strode from the door to the laptop.
“Guys, I gotta go. Just know that I’m safe and you’ll be getting out of here soon. I lo—“
The laptop was snapped shut.
“On your feet.” The guard’s cold voice snapped Tom out of the temporary, minute joy he felt at seeing his family again. A rifle was tapped against Tom’s back, directing him to the exit. Each step became harder for him, as he realized there would be at last one more crime to commit before he saw his family again.
The guard directed him to the left as he entered the hallway, following his cadence with military precision. The hallway ended shortly in front of the men, with a guard standing by a door to the right.
“In here,” came the guard’s harsh speech. “You sleep here tonight. Food comes shortly.” He waited for Tom to enter the room before slamming the door shut behind him, locking him and any chance of escape inside.
Tom looked at his surroundings, wondering where he was. The room contained a bed chained to the wall, a sink, a toilet (no toilet paper), a Gideon Bible, and a window, neatly patterned with four rusted metal bars. He guessed he was in an abandoned prison of some kind. The heating either did not work, or was a luxury Zee did not afford him. The concrete room was incredibly cold.
Dinner indeed came to him, via a slit in the metal door. It looked like a microwavable Stouffer’s dinner—lasagna, green beans, and a roll, with a small glass of water.
Tom did not rise from the bed when the metal hatch opened to serve him, nor did he rise the rest of the night. He stared at the flaking ceiling, thinking of his wife and children. His sobs reached the ears of the nearby guard at various intervals during the night. But nothing more happened. It was a still, sorrowful night.