Authors: R.L. Stine
“Let's go see who she is,” the man was saying. “Maybe we've got someone good in there. You know. Another rich girl.”
No, you don't, Pam thought miserably. You don't have a rich girl. You've got Reva Dalby's poor cousin.
Her heart jumped as she heard the door open. She heard footsteps approaching the bed. A stab of pain shot out from her cut wrists. The tingling crept up her back.
They're in the room. They're looking at me.
What are they going to do to me?
She tried to make a sound, but her throat was too dry, the gag too tight.
Suddenly she felt the pressure of hands on her face. The gag was untied and pulled off.
you?” the man called down to her. “What's your name?”
She opened her mouth but realized she couldn't make a sound.
” she managed to whisper.
“What's your name?” he insisted impatiently.
“Get her a glass of water,” the girl urged.
” Pam pleaded.
A few moments later she felt a hand push her head up from the back. Then she felt the rim of a glass pushed up to her parched lips.
The water was lukewarm. She choked on it at first, then managed to get a few swallows. It felt good on her throat. She drank thirstily. Water ran down her chin.
She wanted more, but the glass was taken away. Her head fell back onto the pillow. Pain rolled up her legs. Tingling pain.
“Please untie me. It hurts,” she choked out.
“No way,” the man growled. “Your name!”
“What are you going to do to me?” Pam cried shrilly.
“Are you going to hurt me? What are you going to do?”
“Don't hit her!” the girl suddenly cried.
Pam let out a frightened cry. She sucked in her breath, expecting to be struck.
But the girl spoke instead, close to Pam's ear. “We're not going to hurt you if you cooperate,” she said softly. “We need to know your name.”
“Pam,” Pam told her softly. “Pam Dalby.” There was no point in lying.
“Dalby?” the man cried, sounding surprised. “You're a Dalby?”
“I don't believe this!” the girl exclaimed.
“Untie me,” Pam pleaded, feeling about to cry. “My legs, they're numb. Everything hurts.”
“Tough break,” the man replied nastily. “Are you Reva Dalby's sister?”
Reva. Reva. Reva.
Pam shook her head. She felt two hot tears run down her cheeks.
her sister?” the man demanded suspiciously.
“N-no,” Pam stammered. “I'm her cousin.”
There was a heavy silence. Then Pam heard the man say “Bingo. Reva Dalby's cousin. Maybe our luck is changing.”
“Let me go!” Pam cried, feeling more hot tears trickle down her cheeks. “Pleaseâyou've got to let me go!”
They ignored her. “Don't you think Dalby would pay big to get his niece back?” the man was asking the girl.
“No!” Pam blurted out. “He won't pay for me. Our families aren't close. I know him. He won't pay! Pleaseâjust let me go!” She began to sob loudly.
Over her sobs Pam could hear the two of them discussing her, talking excitedly in loud whispers.
“I wish your brother were here. He'd know what to do,” the girl said tensely.
“Is she lying?” the man demanded.
“I don't think so,” the girl replied. “I think she's
telling the truth. I don't think we can get a dime for her.”
There was a long silence.
Then Pam heard the words she'd been dying to hear. “Maybe we should just let her go,” the girl said.
“Huh? Let her go?” The man reacted with angry disbelief. “No way. Uh-uh. No way! We can't let her go. We have no choice. We have to kill her.”
eva clicked her long nails against the smooth desktop, holding the cordless phone between her chin and shoulder. She glanced across her bedroom to the clock radio beside her bed. Nine forty-three at night.
“I feel so guilty,” Victor was saying at the other end of the line. “I just feel so horribly guilty.”
feel guilty?” Reva demanded, sounding more irritated than sympathetic.
didn't kidnap Pam!”
“But Iâ” Victor hesitated. “I was with you, Reva, whenâ”
“I could have been kidnapped,” Reva interrupted. She tugged down the sleeves of her pale blue cashmere sweater. “Can you imagine? It was
supposed to be me! If I hadn't convinced Pam to take my shift in the stockroom, it would have been me! What a thought! I get chills every time I think about it.”
“Can't you think about Pam for once?” Victor replied sharply.
“Of course. I feel terrible for her,” Reva said unconvincingly. She raised the back of her hand and studied her nails.
“Have you heard from the kidnappers? Did they call again?” Victor asked.
“Not since yesterday,” Reva replied. “The FBI hasn't a clue as to who it is. Not a clue.”
“How about your father?” Victor asked. “Does he have any ideas? Did he recognize the girl's voice?”
“I don't think so.”
“Does he have money ready to pay the kidnappers?” Victor asked.
“No way,” Reva replied.
“Huh?” Victor uttered a surprise gasp.
“Daddy won't pay. He doesn't believe in paying kidnappers. He says it only encourages other kidnappers.”
“He won't pay to get his own niece back?” Victor cried.
“Daddy has very strict principles,” Reva said flatly. “He isn't here. He had an emergency and had to fly to his store in Walnut Creek. He won't be back till tomorrow.”
“You're all alone there?” Victor's voice was high with his surprise.
“My dad made sure the police send a patrol car around every half hour to check on me,” Reva told him.
Reva liked it better when Victor worried about her instead of moaning about how guilty he felt and how worried he was about Pam. She felt bad about Pam. Pam was her only cousin, after all. But Reva was certain the kidnappers would let Pam go as soon as they realized they wouldn't get a penny for her.
kind of frightened, Victor,” she said, putting on her little girl voice. “I mean, the kidnappers were after
after all. I start
every time I think how close I came to being kidnapped.”
“What a nightmare,” Victor said earnestly.
She could just picture the serious, concerned look in his dark eyes. Victor is so good-looking, Reva thought with a sigh. But he's basically a dim bulb. Very low wattage in the brain area.
What a shame, she thought, flipping through a copy of
as she talked with him. I never dreamed I'd grow tired of him so quickly.
“Would you like me to come over?” Victor asked. “Would you feel safer?”
Reva laughed. “Who would protect me from
Victor didn't laugh. “No. Really,” he insisted. “I could be there in ten minutes.”
“I'll be okay,” Reva told him. “HeyâI forgot to tell you about my dream. It was so weird. So scary.”
“You dreamed about Pam?” Victor guessed.
“No. Well, sort of,” Reva replied, closing the
magazine. She shifted the cordless phone to her other shoulder. “It woke me up last night. It was very disturbing. I was shopping. In the dream, I mean.”
“Yeah. In some kind of big department store,” Reva continued. “Maybe it was my dad's store. I don't know. I didn't really recognize it. When the dream started, the store was very crowded, very bright and noisy. I was walking from aisle to aisle, pushing through the crowds. It was very unpleasant. I remember I didn't like it at all. But I just kept walking.
“The store seemed endless, aisle after aisle,” Reva continued. “I wanted to leave, but I couldn't find a door. Then, suddenly, it grew very quiet. Silent. I looked around. The store was empty. No one there. Except me. Me and someone else. I heard footsteps behind me, and I knew someone was chasing me. You know how you just know things in dreams?”
“Yeah. Sure,” Victor replied. “Scary.”
“Wait. It gets worse,” Reva promised. “I started to run. I was searching for an exit, any exit. But there was only aisle after aisle. I was terrified. I ran. Ran through the aisles. But he was right behind me. Getting closer. Closer. The only sounds were his footsteps and my panting breaths. I ran and ran. It seemed like I ran forever.
“And then he grabbed me,” Reva said.
“Who?” Victor demanded breathlessly.
“He had me by the shoulders,” she continued. “He wanted to drag me away, to kidnap me. I knew
he wanted to kidnap me. But I fought and spun away. I turned around to see who it was. Andâit was Santa Claus!”
Reva laughed. “It was Santa Claus. Do you believe it? Ho-ho-ho!”
“Weird!” Victor exclaimed. “Then what happened?”
“I woke up,” Reva told him.
Victor didn't say anything for a long while. Reva could almost hear his brain whirring. “I guess you were worried about Pam,” he offered finally.
“Yeah, I guess,” Reva replied, yawning. “I never can figure out what my dreams mean. I only know it was weird.”
“You sure you don't want me to come over?” he asked.
Before Reva could answer, she heard a loud noise outside. She recognized the sound immediatelyâa car door slamming.
“Victor, I've got to get off. Someone's here,” she told him. She jumped up and carried the phone to her bedroom window.
Pushing back the curtains, she peered down to the driveway. She heard the squeal of tires. A car roared away. But she couldn't see it.
that thing at the bottom of the driveway? Was it a large sack? A garbage bag? She squinted hard, trying to see.
“Who is it?” Victor was asking.
“I don't know. I'll call you later.” She turned off the phone and tossed it onto her bed.
Then she hurried down the carpeted stairs, taking
them two at a time. Opening the coat closet, she grabbed a down jacket. She pulled it over her shoulders as she opened the front door, leapt outside, and began running to the bottom of the driveway.
It was a clear, cold night. Her breath steamed up in front of her as she ran. Newly installed spotlights in the trees cast white cones of light over the front lawn.
Reva gasped as she neared the street.
Lying in the driveway, sprawled on her back. A body.
A girl's body.
Panting loudly, Reva dropped to her knees beside her cousin.
“Oh, no,” she moaned. “They
am's eyes were closed. Her hair fell in a tangled disarray beneath her head. Her skin was gray under the pale wash of light from the lights overhead in the trees.
“They killed her,” Reva murmured. She swallowed hard. Her throat suddenly felt dry. A chill ran down her back.
Glancing up, she saw a low, dark form racing across the frozen grass toward her. She jumped to her feet, then realized it was only King, her guard dog.
The big dog lowered its head and let out a soft, whimpering sound.
“It's okay, King,” Reva said, her voice tiny and frightened. “It's okay, fella. Get lost. Get lost, King.”
The dog stared at her for a moment, its eyes red in the eerie light. Then it sat on its haunches on the edge of the driveway.
Reva heard a low groan. She lowered her eyes to the driveway.
Pam blinked. Once. Twice. She groaned again. Her eyes opened. She stared up blankly at Reva.
“Pam!” Reva cried. She dropped back down beside her cousin. “Pam! You'reâalive!”