With the lights out, the room was almost as dark as a cave. Katherine couldn’t see Allen or Maria, even though they were only a few feet to either side of her. She tried to relax and go to sleep, but it was difficult with her arms tied above her head and her legs laying on the cold concrete floor. She could hear Maria quietly sobbing next to her. It must be extra difficult for her, not knowing that a rescue was on the way. It was bad enough for Katherine. Where was Dave? Why hadn’t they come yet? Katherine squirmed and scooted her legs over until she could touch Maria’s legs. She tried to rub her toes against Maria’s feet to comfort her with a little bit of human touch.
Allen lay in the dark, listening to the others shift around, trying to find a comfortable position on the cold, hard floor. Maybe he should have said “no” when Dave asked for their help. This wasn’t fun anymore. And since he had allowed himself to be captured and so thoroughly trussed up, he was helpless to change his situation without help. They were all committed now, whether they wanted it or not. Despite the drink of water, Allen’s mouth was dry and he was very thirsty and hungry. His fitbit had been taken, so he had to count on their captors keeping everyone in a group. If he got separated from Katherine, Dave would have no way of tracking him.
It was a long and sleepless night. Allen only managed a few fitful dozes as his mind went around in circles all night long. Finally, the door opened and the lights came on. Two men came in- the one with the broken wrist and another one. They brought the little cart with the water bottles with them. After the same warning about not talking, they made their way down the row of captives, removing gags and feeding each person in turn. This time there was an initial bottle filled with some kind of protein shake followed by the bottle of water. Allen drank all of both of them, figuring it might be some time before he got anything else. After an hour or so, the woman came back to change diapers. The same sequence was repeated several hours later. By this time, Allen had no idea if it was night or day or what time it was. He sang songs in his head and imagined what the wedding would be like. How many children would he and Katherine have? They had spoken about children, but never discussed how many.
Finally the man with the rings came back, along with the diaper-changing woman.
“Ok, it’s travel time.” The man said. “But first you get a little treat. Amy will be giving you each an injection to help you feel good. When you get to your new destination, you’ll get one of these every day, as long as you are cooperative.”
Amy carried a little bag with syringes in it. She went to Maria and injected her with one of the syringes. Allen heard Maria’s breathing slow as the drug took effect. After injecting Katherine, Amy came to Allen. She injected him in the arm and very quickly he was overcome by a feeling of intense pleasure. Thoughts of his discomfort and what would happen next slipped away as he reveled in the powerful feelings created by the drug. After a time, the pleasure abated, followed by a warmth and a drowsiness that overcame him. He hardly noticed as two more men entered the room, pulling a pallet jack with a large wooden crate through the door. After administering injections to each person, Amy came back to each and changed their diapers, grumbling about how she was glad this was the last time she would have to do that task. The two men released Maria’s wrists from the bar and lowered her arms down in front of her body. Then they tied a rope around her knees and tied her wrists to that rope. After securing her new bonds, they lifted her up and put her into the crate. They repeated the process with Katherine, then pulled the crate out of the room.
Two different men entered with another crate. They released Allen’s hands and tied them down to his knees as well, then lifted him up and into the crate. Allen wondered if he should resist, but the warm, drowsy feeling from the heroin in his system removed any desire to fight back. In a few moments, Anna was loaded into the bottom of the crate with him and he felt himself moving as the men pulled the crate out of the room. They traveled to another room with brighter lights that seemed bigger and more open than the one they had been in. The two men lifted a large sheet of wood into the crate and dropped it down. It slipped down into place on some blocks about an inch above Allen’s face. Allen could hear a “chunk, chunk” sound as a nail gun was used to fasten the board in place, making a false bottom with the two captives hidden inside. More sounds followed as some kind of metal parts were loaded into the top section of the crate, followed by the sounds of more nails sealing the top closed. Soon the crate was moving again, and by the sounds, it went over some bumps and entered a smaller space- perhaps the back of a truck?
Allen drifted for a time, enjoying the warm feeling that gradually dissipated. In time he started feeling warm because of the temperature, not the drugs. He listened to the sounds as other crates were loaded around him. Eventually, they started to move again, and he could hear the regular “clack, clack” that let him know they were on a train. The train moved for a long time, and as the effects of the heroin wore off, his discomfort increased. The temperature climbed and the air in the confined space in the bottom of the crate became stale. As the train rattled over the tracks and around corners, Anna slid into him. Her feet had been placed near his face, and after two days they didn’t smell all that great. He twisted his hands in their bindings, trying to loosen the ropes and improve the circulation into his hands. He became incredibly thirsty, and the stench of their wet diapers became oppressive. Before long the heat started to dissipate somewhat – perhaps the sun had gone down. The long, uncomfortable train ride went on and on for hours.
At last the train stopped. Allen could hear the door to the train car open and also several voices, muffled by the crates piled in between.
“They’re in here. Get a forklift and let’s start unloading these crates as fast as possible.”
This was followed by more noise as the crates were unloaded. Allen felt his crate being lifted and moved by a forklift. He tried to call out, but was muffled by the gag, so he kicked against the side of the crate. But apparently his kicks were not loud enough to be heard over the sound of the forklift, because the crate was set down and the sounds of people and machinery moved away. Allen waited, occasionally kicking and yelling again. He had almost given up when he heard voices again.
“The others must be in one of these crates. We lost most of the transmitters, so we’ll just have to open each one until we find them.”
Allen started kicking again.
“Wait! I hear a noise. Let’s try this crate first!”
There was a pounding and then a creak as the top of the crate was removed, then the sound of people pulling out the parts in the compartment above and dumping them on the ground. Finally, Allen saw the tip of a pry bar poke between the board above him and the side of the crate. Allen blinked as a spear of light stabbed down when the board was pried loose. Soon two pairs of hands reached in and pulled Anna out of the box. A few moments later and two men lifted Allen out as well. They set him down on a gurney and quickly removed his gag and the ropes.
“Now just hold still, Mr. Landry. Would you like some water?” Asked a man in a paramedic uniform. Allen nodded gratefully and the paramedic brought him a cup of ice water. He sat up to drink it. Several policemen were moving around, and Allen recognized Dave among them, though he was not wearing a uniform. After talking for a moment with Anna, who was on another gurney nearby, Dave turned to Allen.
“What took you so long?” Allen asked.
“We were hoping to find out where they were going to take you. Once we realized you were on a train headed into Mexico, we had to act fast before you got out of the country.”
“Where are we?”
“Did you get them?”
“We got some of them. We’ve arrested eight people who were at the factory where you were held. I assume you will be willing to testify against them?”
“Good. They should all be in prison for a very long time.”
“I don’t suppose you brought any pants with you?”
“You’re headed to the hospital to get checked out. We’ll get some clothes for you to wear once the doctors say you’re clear to go.”
“She’s resting in the ambulance behind you. She’s fine, and so is everyone else. I’m sorry you had to endure such an ordeal. We had no idea it would be this bad. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to keep all these guys in line. I’ll come talk to you in the hospital.”
Dave left and the paramedic gently pushed Allen back onto the gurney, then pushed it up into the ambulance. Katherine was laying down on a gurney on the other side of the ambulance.
“Are you OK?” Allen asked her.
“Yes, just very hungry. How about you?”
“I’m all right. But I was worried there for a while.”
“So was I. That’s the last time I volunteer to be kidnapped. That was the worst experience I’ve ever had in my life.”
“I agree. I think Dave is going to have to do without my help from now on.”
They both rested quietly for the remainder of the short trip to the hospital. As they were pushing them into the building, Allen asked if he and Katherine could share a room, and he explained that they were engaged. So they were both taken up an elevator and down a hall into a room with two beds. Once they arrived, a nurse handed Katherine a hospital gown and pointed her to the bathroom.
“You can clean up and get changed in there. Do you need any help?”
“No, I’m hungry and tired, but I can manage.” Katherine answered.
Once Katherine was done changing, Allen got to use the bathroom and do his own clean up. After he was done, he went out and sat on one of the beds. A doctor came and checked both of them out. Other than being dehydrated and having some bruises on their wrists and ankles, both of them were OK. They asked for food and the doctor sent for a meal for both of them, and had a nurse bring each one a bottle of orange juice in the meantime.
“So, was that heroin that we were given by the gang?” Allen asked the doctor.
“It will take a few days for us to test your blood and confirm that it was heroin, but from the symptoms each of you has described, that is probably what it was.”
“Could it cause long-term issues? Should we worry about addiction?”
“A single dose shouldn’t cause long-term harm, and you won’t be addicted yet. The danger comes if you use it again. They probably planned on continuing to give it to you until you were addicted. Then you would have done whatever the gang wanted as long as they kept you supplied with the drug.”
“How long are you going to keep us here?”
“Well, you are actually all in pretty good health, other than a little dehydration. Technically, you could leave any time. But we would like you to stay overnight so we can make sure you are all OK. We have a psychologist scheduled to visit later on today to talk with you about your traumatic experience. And you look exhausted. You could probably use a day’s rest.”
“What time is it anyway?”
“It is 6:20 A.M., April 10th. I understand you were kidnapped the evening of the 7th, and you were on the train for about 8 hours.”
“Rest does sound really good. I guess we will stay for a while – at least until someone brings me some pants to wear.”
The doctor finished his examination, and two trays of food were brought. Allen and Katherine wolfed down their breakfasts with enthusiasm. Once their stomachs stopped growling, they both laid down for a rest. They both slept soundly until they were awakened by the nurse at noon so she could take their vital signs. She gave them water to drink and then a tray with lunch. They were just finishing up their lunch when Dave came into the room.
“How is Maria?” Katherine asked.
“Well, the whole experience was harder on her than on the rest of you. She didn’t know she was going to be rescued, and she was held captive for two days longer. But she is recovering well and she should be fine in a day or two.”
“Are you ready to discuss it now? I’ve interviewed some of the others, but I need to get a statement from each of you.”
They both agreed they were ready, so Dave went over the experience in detail, recording his questions and their responses, occasionally taking notes. When he was done, he revealed a sack that he had brought with him.
“I had one of my officers get your landlords to let them into your apartments and pick up some clothes for you. They’re in the bag. We have a van coming in the morning to take everyone back home. Thank you all so much for helping us with this case. We’ve been trying to catch the Kings for a long time, and this will make a big dent in their organization.”
Just after Dave left, the psychologist stopped by. She asked them a lot of questions about how they felt and explained about post-traumatic stress. They both told her they felt fine, but she made sure they understood that they might have a delayed reaction that could affect their mental health. They promised that if they started feeling depressed or having nightmares they would definitely contact a professional for help. When they were finally alone, Allen dug his clothes out of the bag Dave had brought and pulled the curtain between the two beds so he could put on a pair of underpants. There was a pair of pajamas in the bag as well as a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. Allen put the pajamas on, saving the other clothes for the ride back home in the morning. Katherine had been provided with a nightgown that she put on at the same time. For her daytime clothes, the police officer had chosen her blue dress with the lacy top. Allen was happy when he saw her pull it out of the bag because he liked to see Katherine in that dress and didn’t think she wore it often enough. Katherine frowned a little bit.
“How come you get casual clothes and I get a dress?”
“I don’t know.” Allen answered. “Maybe it was the 50 bucks I paid Dave?”
“You don’t have 50 bucks. But I’m glad the dress makes you happy.”
They pulled back the curtain and then sat on the same bed together for a while.
“Won’t it be nice in a few months when we can share a bed every night?” Katherine asked.
“Definitely.” Answered Allen.
They cuddled for a while, then sat next to each other on the bed and turned on the room’s TV. They held hands and watched a nature program until the nurses brought dinner. After eating, they were both tired, so they moved back to their separate beds and went to sleep for the night.