Audrey Carson and the Case of the Serial Kidnappers

Elizabeth 2:03 AM

It was a Tuesday morning two weeks before the end of the semester when Audrey Carson came into work at the University Journal. She knew that she should be spending every spare moment she had studying for exams, but she just couldn’t get this story off her mind.

Within the last month, three female students had disappeared from campus. As Audrey spread the campus map out before her, she put little colored stickers over the last reported sightings of each of the girls, looking for a pattern. She would have to work fast to solve this mystery, because, once the semester was over, she would have to return home to Dad. It would be fun to see her friends Beth, Georgia, and Helena again over the course of the summer. Who knew what kind of troubles they could get into?

Audrey sighed, brushing a few golden locks of hair from her eyes and refocusing on the map. She only had two weeks, and somewhere in there she had to take semester exams. She was nearly startled when a voice came from behind her.

“You’re in early this morning!” Audrey whirled to see Vince Abner, her editor, standing behind her. “Don’t you have exams to be studying for, or something?”

“Well, I do…” Audrey said, turning back to her map, “But I haven’t been able to get these disappearances off my mind all night.”

“It’s a tough story.” He said, coming up to stand next to her. “A shame to keep you up all night. Though I suppose a girl like you doesn’t exactly need beauty sleep.”

Audrey smiled at Vince, “It would be nice to get on occasion though. I don’t know how many all-nighters I’ve pulled this year.”

“Sometimes that’s the only way things get done.” Vince said.

“Yeah…” Audrey said absently, still staring at the map.

“Audrey?” Vince asked, waving his hand in front of her face. “Are you okay?”

“Oh yeah!” Audrey laughed. “I just had a thought.”

Audrey pointed at the map, to the first of the three disappearances. “I’ve been looking for some kind of geological clue from the map, with no luck. The three disappearances have taken place randomly around campus…” Audrey bit her lip; “…I thought if I could try to find the center of the triangle, it might clue me in on where the kidnapper originated from.”

“I feel a ‘but’ coming on…” Vince nodded carefully.

“The center of the triangle leads you roughly to the English building…but that’s no help.”

“Not unless you want to turn a few thousand students into suspects.” Vince laughed.

“No…but if you assume that the kidnapper hasn’t yet finished his task, then the map begins to look different.” Picking up a pen from the desk, Audrey leaned forward, marking in a new spot on the map, forming a rectangular pattern among the sites.

“What makes you think there’s going to be a fourth disappearance?” Vince asked.

Audrey pointed to the map, “Look at these three sites. All of them are in open areas…the diag on north campus, the arboretum, and Lincoln Park, right next to the Tri Theta house. This fourth point, which makes a perfect rectangle, is right over the Central Campus Park. I’m afraid the disappearances are not about to stop until we catch this goon.”

“I don’t know, Audrey. This is pretty thin.” Vince said dubiously.

“That’s why I’ll have proof before I call the police.” She said with a glimmer in her eyes, opening her desk and pulling out her camera.

“What are you going to do, Audrey?” Vince asked.

“It’s time to pull an all-nighter. I’m going to stalk a stalker.”

“Audrey, that sounds dangerous…” Vince protested.

“Sometimes it’s the only way to get things done.”

“Well, you’re not going alone!” Vince said sharply.

Before Audrey could respond, Vince looked up over her shoulder and into the next room.

“Rachel!” Vince called out. “Will you come in here for a minute?”

“Vince,” Audrey said, “I can do this on my own…”

“What can I do for you?” Rachel Cole asked, standing in the doorway.

Audrey bit her lip as Vince invited her over to look at the map. Rachel Cole had spent much of the year competing with Audrey for the cover stories of the University Journal.

“So you think that the kidnapper is going to strike again?” Rachel asked.

Vince looked at Audrey. “Audrey’s almost sure of it, and she wants to setup a steak out…but I don’t want her to be alone. Especially if she’s right .”

“I’d be happy to help.” Rachel smiled.

“Well then it’s settled.” Vince said, putting his hand on Audrey’s smoldering shoulder, “You can help Audrey with the story.”

* * * * *

That night, Audrey and Rachel sat in the bushes of Central Campus Park. Spring had been kind enough to bring some warmer air to the region, but the night air was still chilly enough for Audrey to sip on hot chocolate as she looked out into the park. Next to her, Rachel shifted uncomfortably. Judging by the skirt and high heels, she had not thought ahead about appropriate dress for the occasion.

“Do you think he’ll show?” Rachel looked at her watch, and shifted once more. “It’s getting close to two o’clock in the morning.”

“Shhhh…” Audrey whispered. “If he is out there, you’re going to frighten him away. Didn’t anyone teach you that sound carries at night?”

“Look Audrey, Vince asked me to help you out, but I didn’t think I was going to be freezing my butt off out here in the cold with you until the wee hours of the morning!” Rachel complained.

“Well, if you don’t like, then go home!” Audrey whispered harshly, “I can do this myself.”

Next to her, Rachel gave her an ugly stare.

Just as Rachel was about to respond, Audrey shushed her. “Quiet, somebody’s coming!”

The two young women watched as a man passed through on the sidewalk. Coming to a stop before them, his steps echoed through the park as the girls held their breath. Finally, the man’s heavy footsteps resumed and they watched as he made his way across the small park, entering the Media Union on the other side.

After several seconds of hanging silence, Rachel finally kicked at the bushes and pulled herself up to stand.

“What are you doing?” Audrey asked.

“Exactly as you said!” She looked down at Audrey, “I’m going home!”

With that, Rachel launched herself out of the bushes and stomped off, stopping to remove her heel and shake out the pine needles. As Audrey watched her round the corner, a sudden feeling of regret overwhelmed her. But before Audrey had a chance to articulate her thoughts, she heard a cry.

Standing straight up, Audrey dashed out of the bushes and around the corner in the direction Rachel had turned. As she rounded the corner, she found Rachel laying on the edge of the sidewalk. One of her heels had come loose, and she laid there, unmoving.

“Rachel!” Audrey cried, running to her.

Kneeling beside Rachel, she checked her over. “I’m so sorry Rachel, I didn’t mean to…”

“Nnnnnggghhhh…” Rachel moaned.

“What?” Audrey kneeled down; close enough to Rachel to hear her.

“I guess you were right…” Rachel said, “there WILL be another disappearance tonight.”

“Huh?” Audrey cocked her head, still trying to figure out what had happened, when suddenly a white handkerchief coming down over her mouth from behind interrupted her thoughts.

As Audrey tried to stand, she found her arms locked to the ground. Eyes widened with terror, Audrey looked down to see Rachel holding her at the wrists, a huge smile rolling across her lips.

“MMMMPPPHHHH!!!” Audrey cried as she gyrated back and forth, unable to stand, yet unable to turn and face her attacker.

As Audrey fought, she became aware of a sickly sweet smell. Huffing and puffing to thwart her attackers, Audrey realized that she was being chloroformed! Too late, she realized that she needed to hold her breath.

“Mmmmmppphh…Mmmmmhmmm.” She cried in muffled tones into the white cloth that covered her mouth and nose. Still struggling, she tried in vain to stand, but instead, found herself falling onto her side as dizziness overtook her.

Now lying next to Rachel, she found a figure in black standing over her, shadows obscuring her attacker’s identity. Next to her, Rachel smiled.

“Just go to sleep like a good little nuisance…” This prompted a muffled grunt from the girl detective, slowly being drugged.

As Audrey fought in vain to fight the effects of the chloroform, her eyes darted and searched frantically for any sign of help: another student passing by, campus security patrolling the park… anything . But it was all growing hazy and her urge to fight stilled with every breath, her body growing heavy.

“That’s right, just let the chloroform do its job.” Rachel prodded.

Audrey’s eyes fluttered, slowly rolling back into her head as her struggling slowed into occasional twitches, the fight not fully gone in her. As the dark figure above removed the cloth from Audrey’s mouth, a gentle sigh escaped her lips. Smiling, Rachel addressed the abductor.

“She fell for it, hook, line, and sinker. What a sucker.” She laughed.

“Do you think she told anyone about her plans tonight?” The figure asked.

“I don’t know,” Rachel said, looking over at the plucky reporter, “But a little truth serum will tell us everything we need to know…”

“Help me get her to the van,” The figure said, stepping into the light.

“My pleasure, Vince” Rachel said, rising from the pavement, and dusting herself off.

With bare feet, Rachel helped by picking up Audrey’s feet, while Vince picked her up under the arms. The two shuffled Audrey’s unconscious body around a back alley of the nearby science building, where a white van awaited them. Opening the door, the van’s open interior furnished only two seats in front. Audrey was laid on the floor of the open area behind, causing her to stir briefly.

As Rachel ran back for her shoes, Audrey rolled around on the floor of the van in a sleepy haze. Vince removed a syringe from his pocket, and plunged it into Audrey’s butt. A quiet yelp later, Audrey was once again subdued.

“I guess you’ll be getting your beauty sleep after all, Audrey.” Vince laughed as Audrey’s arms flailed about one last time before sleep took her. Behind him, he could hear Rachel’s footsteps approaching.

Reaching into the van, Vince retrieved a black leather bag, and handed it to Rachel as she approached. “Tie her up.” He said, retrieving his keys and taking the driver’s seat in the van.

Climbing in next to Audrey, Rachel pulled the van door shut. As the van sped off into the night, Rachel retrieved the rope from the bag, and began binding Audrey’s hands behind her back, eventually hog-tying the damsel. A cleave gag in her mouth, Audrey was rendered completely helpless by her competitor.

“That ought to shut you up.” Rachel smiled to herself.

Credit to: Chloro_Villain

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