Prologue: The Rear View Mirror

It was night. The house was perched atop a small hill, white-washed in a light grey cracked paint against the backdrop of pitch black evergreens and a deep midnight sky. The only illumination offered was that of the large harvest moon blanketing a transparent veil of crimson tone over the town of Midnight Hollow. There wasn’t any indication of life in the area barring the reflective gaze of a raccoon, or was it a wolf, staring back from between the shadows of the congregating branches.

The air was dry and still as the darkened figure crept down the hallway. Its arms carefully stretched to both sides for a nearly catlike balance. It tiptoed in the moonlight that washed over the wooden flooring. Squeeeak! The floorboard moaned  under its weight. The figure stopped immediately in its steps, poised as a ninja prepared for discovery. But none came, only the distant snoring three doors down.

The entrance at the end of the hallway loomed before the figure, and likewise. With a moment of hesitance, a shadowed hand rose to clasp around the doorknob, black gloves settling firmly around it. As time stood still, an ominous expression hardened on the figure’s sternly stretched lips. With the gentlest of turns, the door opened without a sound. Inside, a small blue night light shone across the square room adorned with furniture and toys. Haunting stares of wide-eyed plushies almost seemed intimidating while the intruder crept in. Closer and closer, the footfall of their boots began to step livelier, abruptly halting in front of the wooden crib.

The baby swaddled atop of her sheets was no larger than the figure’s forearm. She contorted her face in frustration as he snatched her up. As she was drawn nearer, she instinctively pursed her lips. Suckling the dry air only frustrated the child more, nose wrinkled and arms stretched against the blanket that kept her prisoner. The figure pressed the child carefully onto its chest, holding it tightly as it hopped one leg then the other over the windowsill. At first, it was a coo no louder than a dove, then a foretelling whimper.

“Shush shush…” It hissed at the baby, cradling the smooth forehead and thin curls against the abductor’s chin. But it didn’t soothe the child, her brow knitted and mouth twisted angrily. The sound was a nearly deafening shriek, an alarm of the figure in the dead of night. With a push, they both began sliding down the shingles of the porch roof. The baby’s cry vibrated with each bump until finally they dropped down safely onto a patch of thick grass below.

Again it hushed the child, this time without so much care as it rushed hurriedly to the car in the driveway. Snapping her in with a premeditated ease, the figure turned its eyes onto the house for a brief overview of the harm. Lights turned on, then more. It nearly blinded him, the gruff middle aged pale man that had stolen this child. A loose sleeved arm rose to shield his eyes, then with urgency, he ran around the car and opened the door. He hadn’t even slammed it shut yet before turning the ignition, putting the car forward, and peeling out of the driveway. A cloud of dust littered the porch as the light came on.

He didn’t wait to confirm their suspicions.

It was a dead night, not another car on the road nor pedestrians to witness the escape. Red lights were irrelevant as he made way through the suburban grey town. Not a hindrance in sight, not even after he exited onto the interstate. The three lanes were empty, leaving him free to roam them as he wished. His shoulders fell from their hunch, and the man gave a quick glance to the rear view mirror at the child. She was quiet now, the shrieks for food gone without an answer. It was obvious hope in his grey eyes that she would fall back asleep, but even then he had little doubt it would be a long and difficult drive.

“Don’t worry…” he whispered. “Daddy’s here.” The words that seemed to be comfort to the man had the opposite effect for the baby, upsetting the child once more. Her cry pierced his mind. He flinched, turning a determined focus onto the road with both hands gripped on either side of the steering wheel.

 

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