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Brian felt the whoosh of air as the bullet whizzed past his arm. There was a thud as the bullet embedded itself in the wall. Only a few more inches to the right and it would have hit Brian. He had to fight to stop himself from crying out.

“Stay exactly where you are you little fucker or next time I shoot, I won’t miss!” Dustin said.

Brian could feel his heart hammering in his chest and the trickles of sweat under his arms. Carl had told Dustin that they needed him in one piece so it was likely that Dustin wouldn’t go through with his threat. Was his theory worth testing?

“Brian! Daddy!” The scream came from upstairs. Sammy.

Gun or no gun, Brian had to help him. He felt his blood run cold at the terror in the scream. He made a run for the stairs but Dustin grabbed him by the neck and threw him roughly into a cabinet.

The glass door shattered and Brian moaned as he fell to the floor. Still, the thought of Sammy convinced him that he had to pick himself back up.


Brian could hear the sob in Sammy’s voice. He looked up to see Carl dragging and carrying the terrified five-year-old down the stairs in his pyjamas. Sammy tried to run to Brian but Carl kept a firm hold of him.

“He’s in enough trouble as it is! You don’t want to make it any worse for him!” Carl said.

“Let him go,” Brian begged. He pulled himself to his feet, ignoring the pain where the glass had ripped into his arm. He staggered a few steps toward Carl and Sammy but Dustin grabbed him.

Sammy had tears on his pale, little face. He was only a baby… Why wouldn’t they let him go?

Carl ignored him. “Put him in the van, Dustin and don’t make so much bloody noise! Do you want the whole god damn street waking up?”

Brian felt himself seized by Dustin as if he were nothing more than a rag doll. He heard the click as the front door was opened. He couldn’t believe what was happening to them. They’d been so happy. This was so unreal. It had to be some kind of awful nightmare. The fear shivering through his body convinced him that this was hard reality though.

“Shit, there’s a house over there with lights on! Hurry up, Dustin!”

Dustin dragged Brian out of the front door. Brian put up a brief struggle but Dustin was gripping him so hard that he could feel the bruises forming on his skin.

Outside, there was a white van waiting for them. Carl was trying to open the doors, but it was proving to be a difficult job as Sammy was struggling and crying in his arms. He kept trying to reach out towards Brian. Carl clapped a hand over the little boy’s mouth to prevent him from crying out anymore.

“Want me to shut him up?” Dustin asked.

“No! Don’t hurt him!” Brian pleaded.

“Definitely not. We were told not to hurt him, remember?” he said. “Dustin, you get the door.”

Dustin dropped Brian onto the floor.

“Try not to kill the Backstreet Boy.”

“I don’t like their music.”

“Neither do I, but that’s not the point.”

Brian felt ill. He had never been so frightened in his life before. He was terrified that they were going to hurt Sammy. He looked across at Sammy’s pale face. His eyes were filled with tears. He could see him trembling. He needed Brian’s help. He began to get to his feet.

“Don’t you even think about moving!” Carl warned. He pointed a gun at Brian. Sammy gave a cry of fear. “I was told to bring you alive but one or two holes won’t matter!”

Brian nodded. Carl was deadly serious and Brian knew it. But surely someone had heard something by now…

‘Help us, please,’ Brian begged silently. ‘At least get Sammy away from these creeps!’

There was a grunt as Dustin wrenched the van doors open. He grabbed Brian and threw him in.

“Daddy!” Sammy yelled, as Carl freed his mouth for a second.

“Nasty habit you’ve gotten into,” Carl commented. “I wouldn’t get too attached to him if I were you!”

Sammy’s looked even more fearful at this point. He stretched a hand out towards Brian.

“Please let him go! He’s only a baby! I’ll pay you! I’ll pay you whatever you want!” Brian said.

“Sorry, no can do.” Carl seized Sammy and handed him to Brian. “Here, take the little rat before I do something I regret!”

Brian took Sammy into his arms and hugged him close, thankful that he hadn’t been hurt. Carl slammed the doors shut and left them both in darkness. A few seconds later, Brian heard the two front doors slam. Then the engine roared into life. He heard the tyres squeal as they drove the van rapidly out of the street.

“What do they want?” Sammy asked, sobbing and trembling.

“I don’t know,” Brian said, kissing Sammy on the forehead. “You’ll be okay. I won’t let them hurt you,” he promised.

“Did they hurt you?” Sammy asked. “Your arm was bleeding.”

“It’s just a scratch,” Brian said. He had to fight to remain calm. He hoped that Sammy couldn’t hear the pounding of his heart. It felt as if it would burst at any second. He had to remain calm, even though it was almost impossible in these circumstances. If Sammy saw how frightened he truly was, then he would become even more scared.

He gently brushed Sammy’s fringe back from his forehead. “I’m sure the neighbours heard something,” he said.

“They have guns,” Sammy whispered, his voice trembling.

“They’re not going to hurt you. I won’t let them.”

Sammy clutched him tighter and gripped one of his hands. Brian kissed him again and promised himself that, no matter what, he would make sure Sammy got away safely.


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