[Synopsis: The Kidnappers Private Limited - consisting of Mark, Ben, James, Richard, Tim and Alex - kidnap a man named Herb Seigler, without him knowing about it. The kidnapping goes wrong when Herb dies due to their mistake, and they're targeted by Hector Cotridge, a rich business man who gives them the task of kidnapping five men - their way. They plan to kidnap the first victim, a 19 year old named Alex Passon,by making him believe they're helping him elope. What they dont know is Jennifer, Alex's girlfriend, has decided to break up.]
Alex Passon was smarter than your average C - grade earning adolescent. He was bright in class, and charming outside. In fact, on any other day, he would've noticed that something was amiss. Like the fact that Roger and his friends seemed to drop their accents once in a while. Or that Jennifer had never mentioned she had six cousins instead of just one.
He had assumed they would be staying at someone's house. Instead, they checked into a quiet, three star hotel. The kind which never attracted much attention because it was neither too posh, nor too shady. Had he been paying attention, he'd have noticed Roger paying in cash instead of a credit card.
But Alex Passon was in love. All he could think about as he sat in the van for about two hours was Jennifer. They could've taken him to a cave and he wouldn't have bothered.
"If you need anything, call me at Room 106, alright?" Roger said, closing the door to Alex's room.
"How's the Kid?" Alex asked as Richard entered their room, pulling out his beard.
"He's fine. Kinda dazed by what happened I guess. Wont trouble us for a while."
"Maybe, but we still have to see whose baby sitting," Mark said sharply, as he pulled out six straws from his pocket.
"Aw, come on!" Tim protested, looking disgusted. "He's a 19 year old kid. What do you think he'll do? Climb out the window?"
"He's smart. He can think of something. Now, quit cribbing and pick a straw," Mark said as he held out six straws. Each one of them pulled out one; both Alex and Tim let out a groan. They were holding the shortest straws.
"This sucks," Alex muttered as he walked out of the room. Tim hung on for a while, trying to trade straws with someone. Finally, he swore loudly and walked out as well.
The Kidnappers Private Limited had perfected the system of 'baby sitting' over six long years. In the beginning, it meant nothing more than keeping an eye on the Kid. But soon it evolved into a complete routine. Part of their success as kidnappers lay in the fact that their victim never found out he was kidnapped. And for every Kid, two of them would be assigned as 'Baby sitters'. It was their job to make sure the Kid never found out the truth.
Grabbing their usual set of tools, Tim and Alex got to work. "Let's get the basics over with first," Alex said, as he stood in the Hotel basement, searching for the telephone box. Prying it open, he began searching for the line to Alex Passon's room. His fingers moved rapidly as he bugged the line.
"Done!" He yelled after a while.
"Your getting good at this," Tim remarked dryly.
"Hey, I dont need you to remind me alright?" Alex retorted, remembering how he always seemed to get the baby sitter's role. "Next time, I'll handle the straws. Dont trust Mark with that..."
They waited till lunch time to make sure Alex Passon was out, before entering his room. With sharp precision, the two of them set about their work. Tim placed a small surveillance camera above the dressing table, while Alex rifled through the Kid's clothes.
"Hey, where do I put the bug?" he asked curiously, as he surveyed the clothes spread out on the bed. "I mean, I could put it in one of his shirts. But what if he wears a different one every day? Same thing with pants or ties."
"The trick," Tim said, as he adjusted the camera and checked to make sure the reception was proper, "is to place it in his most personal item."
Alex glanced at the under garments tentatively. "Dude," he said, "that's sick!"
"Why?" Tim looked puzzled as he turned around and glanced at a mobile placed on the table. "What's the problem?"
"Oh," Alex said quickly. "Oh, you mean his mobile?" he added with a sense of relief.
"Why, what did you think?"
"Nothing. Let's get out of here," Alex said dismissively.
Meanwhile, back in their room, Ben refilled the cups around the table with coffee as Mark began yawning with exhaustion. They'd hardly slept for the past few days, and it was beginning to show.
James had his legs resting on the table, listening to his iPod with a bored look on his face. Richard, who had been complaining of a head ache for a while, decided to take a nap.
"Call me if you guys get any ideas," he said as he left.
Mark watched him intently; something was obviously troubling him. Ben seemed to notice it. "What's the matter?" he asked.
"Nothing," Mark said slowly, gazing at the red file in front of him. "It's just - well, Richard's been acting a little weird lately."
"Sure he has. He's Richard, right?" Ben said jovially. But Mark wasn't amused. He looked almost worried.
"You think he's back to thinking about the past?" Ben asked warily. It was a topic they hardly ever mentioned. Mark silently felt glad that James wasn't part of the conversation. It was best to keep him out of it.
It took less than two minutes for Richard to slip into a deep slumber. His body lay sprawled across the bed, his arms spread out wide. His face appeared relaxed, and his breathing was slow and deep.
He heard that familiar voice again, the same soft, lyrical voice he'd heard for the past few days. She was laughing, giggling almost. He didn't feel insulted. He loved it. He could see all of it more clearly. Her smiling as she placed a hat on his head; passersby in the store throwing them looks - either of disapproval or silent envy.
"You look cute," she said. He believed her. Anyone else and he'd have been dismissive. Yet when she told it, it appeared true.
He remembered all of it in flashes. Flashes of her making him a cup of coffee as they prepared for the semester exams. Flashes of her teasing him as he tried to shoot three - pointers. And then he could feel that familiar sensation. That rush of panic, as he saw flashes of police sirens. Ambulance sirens. All sorts of sirens. And the car. Glass shattered every where...
With a start, Richard woke up, still feeling the sense of dread.
"Hey guys," he said as he walked into the living room again. Mark and Ben were discussing their next victim, while James had just pulled off his earphones.
"Feeling a little hungry," Richard explained as he headed off to the kitchen. Mark nodded his head, and went back to reading the red file. James, who still looked bored, grabbed a magazine and began to flip through it.
Barely a minute passed before James, who had been glancing through the ads, stopped to look at Mark.
"Hey, did you stock up on anything to eat?" he asked curiously.
"Nope, I didn't have change to buy anything. Sorry," Mark said without looking up.
There was a momentary pause.
"Why?" Mark said, realizing that James was still staring at him.
"Because," James said, leaping to his feet, "I didn't buy any food either."
They ran into the kitchen; James was right. The fridge was empty. There was nothing on the counter either. The door connecting to the balcony, however, was open. One look and Mark had confirmed his hunch.
"Shit, Richard's gone." He yelled, stating the obvious. "Call Tim and Alex. Tell them we've got to find him before he ends up killing himself!"
To Be Continued...
[The reason I stopped this for a while is simple. I knew I couldn't continue it at the same pace as before. Mainly because KPL is intended to be a novel, not a serialization. In novels, you can read through 15 pages even if they're slightly uninteresting, before reaching an interesting part. But in serialized novels, each chapter (of hardly 3 pages) have to be thrilling. Still, I'm hoping you'll stick with this story till the end. Because I'm hopefully it'll impress you. Hopeful...]