Authors: R.L. Stine
Danny slumped back against the crate. He was breathing hard now, his breath escaping in noisy gasps. His head itched. He tried to ignore it.
Calm. Be calm.
But the throbbing pain in his head grew sharper, spread down over his eyes.
He closed his eyes, trying to force away the pain.
He could hear voices at one end of the stockroom, someone shouting angrily. Another voice replied, just as angrily.
Shut up. Shut up. Shut up.
He could feel the anger now, the throbbing anger, throbbing with the pain.
He opened his eyes, tried to focus.
But the walls were red. The wooden crates had turned red.
The floor shimmered red, bright red. Throbbing red.
Fight it down. Fight it down, Danny told himself.
This had been happening so often to him lately. First the pain, then the red anger.
Maybe I should see a doctor, he thought. He pressed his hands against the pulsing.
And then she was there.
Reva. Wearing a long white sweater over black leggings. Carrying a stack of small packages.
Danny squinted through the bright red, saw her clearly. Saw her come near. Nearer.
The pain shot through him. It felt as if someone were tightening a thick rubber band around the top of his head. Tighter. Tighter.
Glaring into the red, he crept up behind her.
He raised the black wool coat.
I've got you now, he thought, struggling against the pain, against the rage that roared through every muscle.
I've got you now, Reva.
I hope I don't have to do anything terrible.
taring into the rearview mirror, Diane watched the grim-faced officer approach. He had his dark blue cap pulled low over his forehead. His hands were in gloves, one resting on the handle of his nightstick, the other swinging at his side.
This isn't happening, Diane thought, her throat choked with panic. She forced herself to start breathing again.
Oh, please. Pleaseâwalk by the car. Keep right on walking.
But no. He tapped on her window.
Diane reached for the knob and lowered the window halfway, her entire body shaking. Her chin quivered, out of control. She wondered if he could see it.
“What are you doing here, miss?” he asked. His voice was high and thin. It didn't match his heavy body or hard, solemn face at all.
“UhÂ .Â .Â .Â nothing.” She couldn't think straight. She could barely speak.
She glanced toward the loading dock.
What if Danny came running out with the girl right now?
They'd both be caught.
“Why are you parked here?” the officer asked, lowering his head to the window, his gray-green eyes exploring the front seat of the car.
“UhÂ .Â .Â . I'm waiting for someone,” Diane managed to choke out.
She glanced at the wide doors again.
Don't come out, Danny. Don't come out now.
“I'm sorry,” the officer said, frowning. “You'll have to move.”
“He'll be out in a minute,” Diane insisted in a trembling voice. “Really.”
“There's a parking lot over there,” he said, pointing a black glove in the direction Diane had come. “You'll have to wait there.”
“Sorry.” His eyes narrowed at her. “There's no waiting back here. Move it. Now.”
â¢Â â¢Â â¢
Fighting back the waves of pain at his temples, Danny lifted the heavy coat in both hands.
The floor shimmered like a pool of water. Red then gray. Red then gray.
Moving quickly, Danny crept up behind her.
She stopped suddenly.
He nearly bumped into her.
Swallowing hard, struggling to see through the curtain of red, he pulled the coat down over her head.
Her arms shot up. The boxes she'd been carrying fell noisily to the floor.
Danny glanced around. No one in sight.
She tried to scream, but he wrapped the coat tightly over her face. Her cry came out a muffled whimper.
She twisted and squirmed.
He gave her a hard shove forward, wrapping his arm around the coat, holding it tight around her head.
“Don't fight me!” he murmured, surprised at his own fury. “Don't fight me!”
But she bent in half, trying to duck out from under the coat. Her arms flailed. She uttered another muffled cry of protest.
“Stop it!” Danny cried in a loud, angry whisper. He shot his fist into her back.
She gasped, startled by the pain.
It took her only a few seconds to recover. Then she tried spinning around, twisting out of his grip.
The coat started to slip.
Danny leaned against her, holding the coat down over her. He drove his free hand hard into her back again. He pushed her toward the open door, shoving with his shoulder, holding on to the coat.
She stiffened her legs, tried to push back. Her shoes skidded against the concrete.
“Stop it! Stop it!” Danny cried furiously, feeling
himself losing control. “You want to get hurt? I'll hurt you!”
One hard blow knocked the girl unconscious.
Then, wrapping the coat tightly over her upper body, Danny held her around the waist and dragged her to the car.
he officer glared at Diane. “Did you hear me?”
Diane stared back at him, frantically thinking. What can I do? she asked herself. I can't leave this spot. If Danny comes out dragging Reva, and I'm not hereÂ .Â .Â .
“MyÂ .Â .Â .Â uhÂ .Â .Â .Â father is very sick,” she stammered. “He works here. In the stockroom. I have to take him to the hospital. That's why I stopped back here. He'll be out in one second. If you'll only let meâ”
“You can wait over there, young lady,” the officer interrupted. “I'm getting a little tired of repeating myself. Now, put the car in gear and pull over to the $$$not. Don't make me write out a ticket.”
Diane swallowed hard. Her throat felt as if it were clogged with sand. “Sorry, sir.”
She glanced to the platform. No sign of Danny. Thank goodness. Reluctantly, she started to shift the car into gear.
I can't believe this is happening, she thought miserably. I can't believe our plans are being messed up for a third time.
A wave of sadness swept over her.
The word flared into her mind. I'm a loser.
Pres and Danny and I, we're all losers.
Slowly, with the police officer still hovering over the car, she began to pull away.
A loud crashâthe crunch of metal hitting metal, followed by shattering glassâmade her stop.
“Oh, no!” she cried.
At first Diane thought she had hit something. It took her a second to realize the crash had come from the parking lot.
She heard angry voices. Shouts and curses.
“I've got to go over there!” the officer shouted, reaching for his nightstick. “You be gone when I get backâhear?”
Diane stuck her head out the window, watching him run toward the shouting voices.
“Yes!” she cried gleefully. Some luck. Some good luck. She finally had some good luck.
She jumped when the back door suddenly swung open. “Heyâ” She had been so involved with the police officer, she hadn't watched for Danny.
“Go! Go! Go!” he shouted.
She turned to the backseat to see him shove Reva into the car. The heavy coat was draped over Reva's head. She didn't move.
What has he done to her? Diane wondered. “Danny, did youâ?”
“Just knocked her out,” Danny replied, breathing hard.
Danny shoved Reva across the seat and slid in beside her. He kept his arm around her shoulder, holding the coat over her. “Go! Go! Go!” he repeated, slamming the car door, then leaning close to Reva, pressing her against the seatback in case she came to.
“I don't believe it! YouÂ .Â .Â . got her!” Diane cried.
“Shut up and drive!” Danny raged.
Gripping the wheel tightly with both hands, Diane pulled away from the platform. The car shot forward as she plunged her foot all the way down on the gas pedal and turned toward the street.
Glancing in the rearview mirror, she searched for the policeman. She had a frightening vision of him chasing after them.
But there was no one.
She pulled onto the street, the threadbare tires squealing, and turned toward the highway that led to Waynesbridge.
“We did it!” she cried gleefully. “I don't believe it! We did it!”
Danny grinned at her, still holding the coat tightly over Reva's head. “We're going to be millionaires!” he exclaimed. “Millionaires!”
“Just like in the movies!” Diane declared.
If only Pres could be here, she thought, feeling a twinge of sadness. If only Pres could enjoy this too.
But soon they would get Pres out. Soon Pres would be back with them.
And they would be rich, richer than they had ever dreamed.
Christmas was almost here. What a great Christmas it was going to be.
Millionaires. That's what we'll beâmillionaires, Diane thought, so excited she drove through a stop sign.
Dalby will gladly fork over a million to get his precious daughter back.
We've done it! Just like in the movies!
And now nothing can go wrong.
A SLIGHT PROBLEM
think we've made Dalby squirm enough,” Diane said, taking the last bite of her peanut butter sandwich.
Danny chuckled. He tossed down the old copy of
he'd been flipping through. “Yeah. We've had the girl here a full day,” he said, gesturing to the bedroom. “I'll bet Dalby's squirming.”
“I wanted to wait at least twenty-four hours,” Diane said, carrying the plate over to the small sink and running cold water over it. “Sometimes rich people are so busy making money, they don't know if their family is missing or not.”
Danny pushed himself up from the chair and stretched, a bulge of white belly showing under his olive-colored pullover. “One day is enough. Dalby
is probably waiting by the phone, sweating bullets, waiting for our call.”
“I hope so,” Diane said, setting the dish beside the sink. She dried her hands on a paper towel. “Dalby's daughter is a total pain.”
“Yeah. Can you imagine? She won't eat and she won't say a word,” Danny said, shaking his head.
not say a word!” Diane exclaimed, shooting him a nervous glance. “You tightened the gag, right?”
Danny nodded. “I checked everything. She's tied up, blindfolded, and gagged. The works.”
“Just make sure she doesn't work the gag loose. I don't want a sound coming out of her,” Diane said, pulling on her coat. “You know how thin the walls are in this dump.”