Panicked Kidnappers

jason ryback bullet point for blogMore pairs of feet ran towards us.

“We need to go now,” came a young woman’s voice. She sounded like she was panicking – less experienced than the others. Probably the woman from the couple I passed.

“Shut up,” the guy hauling me towards the van growled. “What was that shot I heard?”

“Didn’t come from any of us,” one guy replied. “I haven’t seen…”

“Don’t even think of saying it,” my guy cut him off.

We came to an abrupt halt.

“He has thirty seconds or he gets left behind.”

Silence. I could tell no one dared argue with him. You could feel the tension in the air.

Maybe there was hope for me yet – arguing and a gun shot none of them could account for. I waited hoping Six would spring from somewhere.

But then two pairs of hands shoved me in the van.

The Kid on the Bus

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It looked like three of them were avoiding the camera. It happened so many times that it couldn’t be a coincidence.

“Some people just don’t like having their photo taken,” I shrugged.

“And some of them have a good reason,” Six said.

“I’d have thought you’d be one of them,” I ventured.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, you don’t seem the type who likes being in pictures, yet you’re grinning like a Cheshire cat in every one.”

“Yeah,” he said – like he was talking to the slow one in the room. “Wouldn’t have worked any other way would it?”

I looked at him.

“You were acting?”

“Kind of. I was being the kid on the bus. I wasn’t me anymore. I wouldn’t be very good at what I do if I couldn’t be other people. I don’t like being in photos, but that kid does.”

Tourists

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A few hours later, the bus pulled up at its final stop – a small city popular with tourists. Six and I disembarked with everyone else, knowing we would fit right in. heading for our hotel, I could feel someone watching me again, but every time I stopped to survey the old buildings and quaint cobbled streets, I didn’t catch sight of anyone. Six and I even tried taking selfies and pictures of each other, but no one we recognised appeared in the background of any.

I checked us in while Six wandered around the reception area looking bored, then we locked ourselves in our room.

“Didn’t see anyone,” Six reported.

We ate in our room, looking over the photographs we had taken, using my laptop to enlarge them and study each one. Some faces appeared a lot more than others.

“Is it me?” I said. “Or do the same ones happen to be looking away or down at their food in pretty much every picture?”

Fish and Chips

jason ryback bullet point for blogThe bus stopped outside a café in a small town and we all got out for lunch. Fish and chips all round with cups of tea.

Six played along, taking pictures of his lunch. Then we took a few more selfies in the café. I left my phone alone until a text came a few minutes later.

“Got them all. Threat assessment coming up.”

Back on the bus, I flicked through the photos we had just taken – like a happy holidaymaker would. As well as the ones we’d taken, Silas had somehow added a load more – of the two of us in different locations in the area.

Something else struck me. Six was smiling in all of them – like he was a different person.