The Case of the Missing Irregular
by Stacey (SST205 at aol.com)
Tennyson wasn't sure when he got to sleep; for that matter, he had
nearly lost all track of what time or day it was. He thought it was only
one day; high above him, even above the stacks of boxes around him, was a
long line of windows. The light outside had gotten gradually darker only
once. One day or not, however, his time there seemed like forever.
The dream he was having was very pleasant--in it, he was very small.
He was looking up into the face of his mother. He was pretty sure it was
his mother; but there weren't as many worry lines in her face as there were
"Tennyson," she said to him softly. "Someday your father will love
you, I hope -- but whether he does or not, I always will; you're my
little boy. I know I gave you a rather large name for such a little fellow
-- but I promise I'll tell you about it when you're older. Your grandfather
used to read me the works of a wonderful writer by the same name; I hope one
day you'll get to read his works for yourself. Those writings sparked
wonderful times of imagination for me, and they might you, too."
Tennyson, of course, said nothing -- just reached for his mother's
face. The hand he saw reach out was very small, like that of an infant.
Wait -- if he was an infant, why could he hear her? He didn't have his
hearing aids when he was that little. Above his mother's head, he
saw a bright light.
Suddenly, everything was darker. In the dimness, Tennyson saw the
look on his mother's face turn from one of comfort to terror. "NO!" she
cried, and Tennyson felt her arms grow tighter around him. "You can't have
him! He's my baby!"
Suddenly, there was a light -- not a warm one like before, but cold
and ominous. Tennyson looked to see two large hands--no body, just hands --
reaching out of the circle of cold light. They reached down and wrenched
Tennyson out of his mother's arms; then they began to pull back.
The boy looked down -- his mother was in a hospital bed, and she
kept getting farther and farther away. What was going on? Why was it
that he could hear her scream....
"NO! Give me back my boy!"
Something else happened then that had never happened before: he
heard himself cry out.
His eyes snapped open, then he closed them again as a bead of cold
sweat ran across his eyelids. Upon opening them once more, he found he was
still there -- the cold cement floor under him, the many boxes piled around
him, and the moonlight shining through the windows high above.
The boy swallowed hard a few times, trying to make his heart go back
down where it belonged.
Oh dear, he thought to himself. What was that?
He tried breathing slowly, in order to slow the pounding of his
heart. Oh, Lord, I want so much just to go home. Please, please, help
me through this....
Just then he thought he heard footsteps. He was lying on the ear
Mickey had taken his hearing aid off of, so he could hear with the other.
The footsteps were slow and deliberate, as if someone were trying to sneak
their way through the warehouse. Tennyson closed his eyes.
Could someone be here, he thought, someone to rescue me?
As the steps came closer, a sharp but familiar smell came to his
nostrils. What in the -- vinegar?
He opened his eyes slightly. A shadowy silhouette stood in the
'doorway' between the piles of boxes. As it came closer, the moonlight
shone through the windows above and down onto it. It was Jake, a paper
sack in his hand. It was from the sack that the smell emanated.
The man put the sack down and knelt by Tennyson, patting the boy's
arm. "L'il 'un, are you awake?"
Tennyson looked up at him. The man smiled. "Here, li'l fella, I've
brought y' somethin' t' eat."
He gripped Tennyson's shoulders with and sat him up. Tennyson
looked at the man curiously.
"I'm sorry it took me s' long t' get y' somethin' -- I asked Mickey,
but 'e wouldn' let me. Says we're not 'ere t' baby you."
He took another package wrapped in white tissue paper out of the
sack. The vinegar smell was quite strong, then. "I know you're 'ungry,
though--y' must be. I know a lady who owns a chip shop over on Cringle --
she used t' give me brother an' me food when we was kids. She still gives
it t' me -- 'a' course, I'm th' only one what goes over there, now."
As he spoke, he unwrapped the tissue. In it was a pile of chips
that had evidently been soaked in vinegar.
"Sorry I can't untie you so's you c'n eat this yerself," Jake said,
"--but I'm not s' good at tyin' knots. When Mickey saw it, 'e'd know I
done it, an' I'd be in big trouble."
Tennyson nodded. In a way, he was sorry, too -- but he was certainly
grateful for the food. He said grace in his head, opened his mouth, and
Jake popped one of the smaller chips inside. The boy's face screwed up a
bit at the large amount of vinegar.
"Sorry about that," Jake said, frowning slightly. "The top on the
vinegar bottle came open while I was pourin' it."
Tennyson swallowed, then looked him in the eye and grinned to show
him it was okay.
It took about five to ten minutes for Jake to feed Tennyson. By
that time, the boy was puckering.
"Oh, 'ow could I forget," Jake said, turning back to the paper
sack. He brought out a bottle of water, (which Tennyson was quite
grateful to see) and unscrewed the lid. Afterward he lifted it to the
boy's lips, spilling some in his lap on the way.
To his surprise, Tennyson drank the whole twelve-ounce bottle in
minutes. He hadn't realized he was that thirsty.
"Good lad." Jake said, patting his head. "Is tha' a li'l better?"
Sighing deeply as if contented, Tennyson nodded.
"Good. You'd better go back t' sleep, now, all right?"
Tennyson nodded. His eyelids were heavy.
Jake held his shoulders again and laid the boy back down. "Good
night, li'l fella."
Tennyson didn't even look up at him. He had gone to sleep.
The next time the boy was awakened, it was rudely. There was a
sharp pain in his arm as it was kicked, and Mickey's voice growled,
"Wake up, y' stinkin' rich boy! You've got work t' do!"
Tennyson looked up at him. His neck was hurting him from sleeping
without a pillow, and his right arm was asleep.
Mickey yanked Tennyson into a sitting position by the shoulder of
his pajamas, wrapped his arms around the boy's waist and dragged him across
the floor a ways. Lifting the boy roughly, he sat him down on a wooden
crate so hard that it jarred the boy's back.
Mickey shoved a loose box in front of him. Tennyson noted that the
box had silver masking tape over the top. He wondered, What on earth
could be in here that it has to be taped shut?
He was abruptly pulled from his thoughts by Mickey yanking a lock of
hair at the nape of his neck. He winced and looked up at the man.
"You're goin' t' write yer own ransom note, li'l rich boy." Mickey
snarled, slapping something down on the box in front of Tennyson. I'll
tell you what t' write, but it's gotta sound like it's comin' from you, got
Tennyson couldn't even nod, Mickey held his hair so tightly.
When Mickey let go, Tennyson put his head down slowly. He saw a
grimy piece of paper and what was left of a pencil on the box in front of
him. Mickey went around to his back and untied his hands.
"All right, now." Mickey said from behind him. "Yer goin' t' tell
yer mother t' bring two million pounds t' the warehouse on Kirtling Street
in a sack... an' wait 'til someone comes t' meet 'er. She'll do it on
Saturday mornin' at seven -- an' if we see any coppers, you'll die
quicker'n' I can snap my fingers--got that?"
Tennyson nodded. When his hands were untied, he painfully reached
for the pencil with his left hand.
Oh, Lord, help! I've got to give my friends some sort of idea
where I might be, but how?
He began to write, and as he did, words came to him. When he was
done, he looked up at Mickey.
His kidnapper snatched up the note. "What the -- ah, you rich
types've always got to use th' fancy language, don't you? All right --
Jake, find me an envelope fer this. Th' kid's mum's gonna pay real big if
she wants 'er boy back in one piece."
He laughed, and Tennyson just closed his eyes and sighed.
On to Part 11!
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