The second time the aircraft landed the pilot opened the hatch to the cargo area. Shoving a stack of blankets toward her he said, “It’s gonna get cold so you better wrap up in these. Here is some oxygen. When you feel light headed, you ought to take a drag. Now, it won’t last for the entire flight, so resist the urge to use much at once.”
“Who is Mr. Silvia?”
“Where’d you hear that name?”
“The other fellows said something about him.”
“Don’t let him hear you call him that. Some of the guys call him that because his wife calls the shots. In your case, I don’t think she knows about you. It might not bode well with you if you were to call him that.”
“Oh,” Elizabeth said weakly.
“Don’t worry, it’s not in the plan to kill you.”
“Why are you doing this?”
“You’ll learn soon enough. I can’t say as I know what’s up. Here they come. Make sure you don’t make a peep,” he said.
She heard voices as someone opened the door to accept passengers. “I wasn’t through skiing!” said a voice sounding like it came from a boy in the midst of fighting through a voice change.
“Me neither!” yelled a girl who sounded like she was in the same age range of the boy.
“Get on in, Susan. Here’s your Teddy bear,” said the gruff voice of the pilot.
“I don’t like planes,” a small voice said with a whimper.
“Come on little gal, we have a long ways to go,” he answered.
“We aren’t that far from home, Susie, so just be quiet!” ordered the boy.
The man mumbled something as he slammed the door shut. Soon the airplane was back in the air and the engine drowned the voices of the passengers out. They stopped two more times for fuel. At the last stop the older girl said, “We should be home by now. It is getting late.”
“Your dad is meeting you at another place. You aren’t going home tonight,” the man answered.
“We have school tomorrow,” she said.
“The boss pulled some strings and you won’t have to go tomorrow. He’ll tell you all about it.”
Elizabeth wondered about the passengers. They seemed to know the pilot so it seemed that they weren’t in physical danger. Where were they going? Think Beth! They were skiing…mountains somewhere…going a long ways further than their home…but…Where did they live? This is hopeless!
She strained to stay awake. We stopped three times for fuel…How far does an airplane go on a fill-up? Didn’t Mark say once that a twin-engine doesn’t go as far on a tank as a single? Think! How far did he say? …800 to 1000? So…up to 3000 miles away? Oh dear! Where could I be?
Her head hurt and her lungs burned. She put the oxygen mask to her face and turned the valve open. She gulped a few drags of air and attempted to wrap the old wool blankets closer to her freezing body. Her nose was cold from the biting cold air that surrounded her. Every movement was more difficult because of the pull ties around her wrists. It was hopeless to remove the blindfold. It was held in place with multiple wraps of duct tape over a dirty handkerchief.
Where would we be going that would be this cold? I know if we were going toward the equator, it wouldn’t be this cold. The temperature has gone down a lot since we started. I know Midland, Texas is warmer than a lot of places in the country at this time of year and that winter is pretty harsh in many places up north. We must be going north! Three thousand miles north…Canada or…Alaska…or…where…?
The wheels bounced on rough concrete after the airplane slowed to land on a short runway. Elizabeth clenched her teeth and hung on tightly to the blankets as the craft lurched to an abrupt stop. Baggage toppled over onto her pinning her down to the floor of the plane.
“Juan, take the boss’ kids to the cabin. I’ll take care of the baggage. Did you bring the Hummer?” the pilot asked.
“Take it so the kids will have plenty of room. I’ll take the old crew cab for this stuff.”
The girl stomped up to the pilot yelling, “Where did you take us? Why are we here?”
“Don’t scream at me, girl. I’m just doing what I was told to do.”
Juan gunned the engine and the pilot continued, “Load up. I’ll bring your stuff and we will get you settled.”
He watched the large vehicle amble across the snow-packed road toward the turn off before he began unloading the cargo. He stood Elizabeth onto her numb feet and threw her over his shoulder. She grunted as he threw her across the back seat of the pickup truck. He wrapped her with the army blankets and tied a long rope around her, binding her like a sausage.
“Please help me,” she moaned.
He hurriedly loaded the rest of the cargo into the pickup bed and took off for the cutoff. He turned off the road and plowed cross-country breaking saplings as he went. He was careful to make his own way through the large expanse so that the broken off stumps made by the Hummer wouldn’t pierce through his tires. Although the log house they were headed toward was large, it was one of those homes that were totally off the grid. He doubted that any of the locals even knew about it. When he and Juan left the woman and the boss’s kids, they would take the only vehicles with them. There would be no leaving the confines of the house until the boss made his decision to give them freedom.
The pilot knew the boss was at his wits' end else he wouldn’t have gone to such extreme measures to set this all up. He only hoped it worked. If it didn’t, he figured the boss would be pushed to do something more extreme.
After plowing through the brush for an hour, the peak of a steep roof came into view. Solar panels covered the south slope of the long roof. A tall water tank hovered over the four-car garage. A single window was perched over the garage.
He punched the button for the garage door opener. The last bay slid open silently. He put the vehicle in park and unlocked the passenger door. Without a word he threw Elizabeth over his shoulder and mounted the stairs to the garage apartment.
“Don’t say a word. I’ll leave you here while I take the bags to the others. Then, I’ll come back and untie you.”
She nodded. After he left her tears slid down her tired face. She didn’t struggle to sit up or get free. Prayer was useless at this point. It didn’t matter how hard she prayed, no one had come to her rescue. She was cold and hungry. Her mouth was dry and she needed to use the bathroom.
“God, where did I go wrong? Am I going through this nightmare because of something I have done?”
She tried to think of a Scripture, any Scripture, but her mind was tired. She cried out the only one she could remember, “God, remember me.”