This is the original version of the prologue to my first novel, “We Put the ‘Dual’ in ‘Individual.'” I am posting this to showcase how bad my writing was, as compared to how it had progressed as of April 2012, when I rewrote this prologue.
“Hey! Be quiet back there!”
I was scared to make the man mad, but at the same time, I knew that there really wasn’t much he could do to shut me up from the front seat of his crappy old van. Though I was bound and gagged, I was still doing my best to try to get it through the guy’s head that he was kidnapping the wrong person.
I tried many times to communicate with the man, but in the end, all that got me was a gag in my mouth and revoked my shotgun privileges. I probably should have accepted just being bound and sitting quietly in the front, but I wasn’t exactly known for keeping my mouth shut.
Don’t get me wrong, though – I was terrified, even as I tried my best to talk through the gag.
“Don’t worry, girl. You’ll be fine as long as your parents pay the ransom,” he said. My abductor didn’t even sound like a stereotypical criminal. He didn’t have a deep voice, and he wasn’t big, burly, or unkempt. He just looked and sounded like a normal guy.
“Mmhfmm afama raaah pahpu!” Try as I might, the gag made my words completely incoherent. My frustration was off the chart, but that was nothing compared to my fear.
He’d demanded two million dollars in exchange for my life, but if I had to guess, my parents had maybe forty thousand dollars of savings in their bank account. We were just a normal, middle-class family. If this guy was really planning to kill me if he didn’t get two million dollars, then I was going to die.
I rolled across the floor of the van every time my captor took a turn. I didn’t think I was bleeding, but I was definitely bruised from smashing into the crap that lined the walls. It hurt so much that I wanted to cry, but I couldn’t. Every time I felt the tears coming, they immediately froze in place because I had much, much worse things to worry about, and that somehow dampened the pain.
“Well, here we are. Home sweet home!” the man said. He climbed out of the van and slammed the driver’s side door closed. A few second later, he opened the back doors and climbed inside, hovering over me and grinning like an animal that was about to feast on its prey.
He grabbed my arm and lifted me up on his right side. I couldn’t walk because my feet were bound, so he just dragged me like that out of the back of the van. When we were out, he closed the van doors, and, much to my surprise, picked me up, and tossed me over his shoulder. It was so quick and so casual that I didn’t even get a chance to protest it.
I realized that I should probably get a good look around so that if I escaped, I would be able to give the police a good description of my captor’s house. However, there wasn’t much to see. We were inside of a garage. It was dark and hot and it smelled like paint.
“When we get inside, if you promise not to annoy the shit out of me, I’ll take your gag off,” he said. His shoulder was jabbing into the side of my stomach, and I wanted to yell at him about it, but having the gag off would be nice.
He carried me through the kitchen and down a flight of stairs into a basement room. The bannister at the bottom of the staircase was broken and splintered, and though there was an old, red couch against the back wall, he dropped me in the middle of the room onto the nasty-looking shag carpet.
“Don’t bother screaming. There’s no one around,” he said, removing the gag from my mouth in the least gentle way possible. Much to my surprise, he also removed the ropes from around my arms and legs. I didn’t say a word out of fear that he would bind and gag me again.
“You better hope your parents pay the ransom by tomorrow night,” he said as he reached the top of the staircase. “You won’t see Saturday morning if they don’t.” He turned and climbed the stairs out of the basement, closing and locking the door behind him.
I didn’t know the man’s name, and heck, he didn’t even know mine, though he probably thought he did. He’d just been calling me ‘girl’ the whole time. I wondered for a second who he thought I was, but it didn’t matter. He wouldn’t believe me, and I didn’t have my purse, so I didn’t have my driver’s license to prove my identity.
I walked in circles around the room, tried to think up ways to escape, and sat in a corner and cried for a while just to pass the time. I couldn’t see outside and there were no clocks in the room, so I didn’t even know what time it was. It could’ve been 6 PM or 10 PM, and neither would’ve surprised me.
Suddenly, I heard the door at the top of the stairs close, though I hadn’t heard it open. I waited for my captor to appear, but he didn’t. I cautiously walked over and looked up the stairs, and rather than a person, I saw a plate.
Food? I hadn’t even thought about food.
I climbed up and stared at the plate. In it, there was half of a ham sandwich and a few potato chips. It looked like it might have been the man’s leftovers, but no matter what it was, I had absolutely no appetite despite having not eaten almost all day, so I didn’t care. I left the plate there and went back downstairs to sit in the corner and cry.
At some point, I ended up crying myself to sleep. Had I tried to fall asleep, it would’ve been impossible, but somehow, I just dozed right off without even wanting to. Maybe I was exhausted from sobbing and pacing around the room, but I think there was another reason that I fell asleep so suddenly. It may sound strange, but I think it was because there was a dream that I needed to see.
I met a boy in the dream. I was aware that it was a dream, and though I was lucid, I couldn’t control anything about the boy. I could fly, I could change the color of the sky, and I could shoot rainbows out of the tips of my fingers, but the boy was completely out of my control.
He seemed to already know me and about the situation I was in, but I didn’t know him. He spent a while talking to me about my life before finally asking me if I had any questions for him. I started off with the most obvious one that I could think of.
“Why is this happening to me?” I asked.
“Everything happens for a reason,” he said.
“But what’s the reason?”
“It’s unfortunate that fate has chosen you, but it is fate that has brought you here,” he said.
“What do you mean? I was destined to be kidnapped?”
“You should already know that your situation is much worse than that,” he said.
“So, what, I’m going to die in some lunatic’s basement because he thinks I’m someone else?”
“It’s not that simple. The girl that you are being mistaken for is very important. Without her, I wouldn’t exist, and neither would my sisters.”
“And what makes you so important?” I asked.
“Don’t misunderstand,” he said. “My life is no more valuable than yours. However, as you can see, I am standing here before you. That means that I exist, and because I exist, my mother must not die before she conceives me. Therefore, she’s important to the future.”
“It sounds like you’re saying that I have to die so that you can be born,” I said.
“I am only saying that it is fate that my mother is going to live, and the proof of that is that I exist.”
“This is really confusing and pretty unfair, if you ask me.”
“I’m sorry,” he said. “Truly, I am sorry. However, there is something that I’d like you to do for me that I think you will enjoy, and I hope that it will make up for this at least a little.”
“A dream favor?” I asked.
“No, this is a real favor,” he said. “I’ll tell you about it when we next meet.”
“But when will I see you again if I’m about to die?” I asked. The boy looked at me with a wide smirk on his face, then turned and started walking away.
I awoke lying on the floor with my captor’s boot in my face. I immediately sat up straight, as if he were a drill sergeant or something.
“Guess what?” he said.
“W-What?” I asked, immediately longing to be back in the dream world.
“Your parents didn’t meet the deadline,” he said.
“It’s already that time?” I asked. It seemed impossible. How had the hours passed by so quickly? Was it much later than I thought it was when I fell asleep, or had I just slept for an absurd amount of time?
“Unfortunately for you.”
“Look, my parents aren’t wealthy. You have the wrong girl. My name is-“
“Shut up!” he yelled. “That’s not going to work. I know who you are, and you’re not getting out of this.” I didn’t think it would work, but what else could I do? I had to try one last time, right?
Though I was 18, I’d never had a boyfriend. My dad got a job when I was 14 that forced us to move around a lot. We’d only been in our current city for 4 months. As a result, I never really had a whole lot of time to meet people.
That was what was running through my mind as I watched my captor pull out a small handgun. I’d never found love in my short life, and I suddenly understood what people meant when they said that they didn’t want to regret anything when they were staring death in the face.
“This ought to teach your parents not to ignore me,” he said, pointing his gun right at my forehead. “Goodbye, Debbie Kirkman.”
The man pulled the trigger of the gun he was holding, and I fell lifelessly to the floor.
Whoever Debbie Kirkman was, she’d live to see another day.
But I wouldn’t.