Author's note: This is an entry for RuckusQuantum's Mystery Contest.

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“There was a little man in my room last night, and he says he’s going to take me with him.”

I glanced up from my cereal in surprise and fixed Mabel, the light of my life as well as my only daughter, with my best fatherly gaze. She giggles, showing her pearly white teeth. She’s playing a game, I think to myself, and so I smile back at her before asking, “What kind of a man was in your room? And where does he plan on taking you?” She pours her own bowl of Frosted Flakes, spilling a few of them onto the counter.

“Well… he was about this tall,” she says to me, motioning with her hands about three feet off the ground, “And he had a really funny looking face.”

I looked at her quizzically. “You still haven’t answered my other question Mabel. Where does he plan to take you?” Mabel seemed to ponder this for a moment, and I expected her response to be something along the lines of “Never-land” from the Peter Pan book she had recently finished and enjoyed so much, or perhaps even Mount Rushmore, which she had acquired a fascination with since I rented “North By Northwest” from the local video store and we watched it together… Jesus Christ, what had I been thinking let her see that movie?

It was much to my surprise when Mabel finally replied, “I don’t know where he will take me. He just said that he would.” A look of confusion had donned her beautiful face. A flicker of concern sparked in my mind. Surely the great imagination of Mabel Stewart could not be fading at the tender age of only seven, could it? Not in this early year of 2015?

“Well,” I said, attempting another grin at her, “you just have this man visit you again while I go off to work, and when I come back, I expect a full explanation from this individual. I want to know exactly where he will supposedly be taking you. After all, it would be a shame if you had to miss dinner tonight.” I gave her a wink out of the corner of my eye before saying quietly and in a conspiratorial tone, “I’m making steak!”

Immediately her eyes lit up, and that smile that I had seen so often over the years returned to her face in a nanosecond. In a burst of excitement, she jumped up and wrapped her tiny little arms around my waist, pressing her cheek against my stomach. “Whoa there,” I laughed and hugged her back best I could given the fact that I was standing up.

“I love you, dad,” she whispered, and I let out a chuckle as I felt warmth spread throughout my chest and course through my veins, the kind of warmth that only your daughter can bring to you.

I knelt down and she gave me a quick peck on the cheek, as was our morning tradition before I slipped on my belt, complete with my Smith and Wesson Service revolver, and headed out to work.

When I returned home in the evening hours, I found Mabel where she usually was; in her room, drawing pictures. I clomped heavily inside before sitting down beside Mabel on her bed. She was so engrossed in her artwork that she didn’t even do so much as turn around. All I got was a subdued “Hi daddy,” as she continued to sketch.

“What are you drawing, sweetie?” I asked her. Then, quite suddenly, she hopped to her feet and swiveled to face me, with a pleased expression on her face.

“I’m done!” she announced proudly and held her newest picture out to me.

The drawing appeared to be the ugliest human being I had ever laid eyes on, even in an image. His head was largely misshapen, and his eyes looked like someone had jammed a couple of huge black billiards into his head. The mouth was essentially a straight line that was etched into his wrinkled skin.

I frowned slightly, disturbed that my own daughter could produce something this macabre. “Honey… what is this?” I asked, careful to keep any traces of disapproval out of my voice.

“It’s the man with the funny face!” she cried happily. Remembering our game from the previous morning, my concern lessened a degree, and I smiled down at her once more.

“So tell me,” I inquired, “Did this man visit you while I was gone?”

Her eyebrows knitted together as if she was disappointed in something, before she answered, “No… he didn’t come to see me.”

“Well, that’s too bad,” I responded in my own disappointed tones. With that, I assumed that the game we were playing was over, and I was actually a little glad because of it. The picture Mabel had drawn gave me the creeps, and the idea of something like that being in my house was too much to bear. I resolved not to let her read any more of those damned horror comics. They were probably rotting her mind.

The night came and went, and, just like yesterday, when Mabel came down for breakfast the first words out of her mouth were “There was a little man in my room last night, and he says he’s going to take me with him.”

I raised an eyebrow cautiously. “Didn't he say that last night?” I asked her.

“Well yeah, but tonight he said it again,” she answered, before sitting down and grabbing a peach from the fruit dish on the middle of the table.

Things proceeded as they regularly did. I got my daily kiss on the cheek and with that, I headed to work, came home, made dinner, and finally enjoyed a rerun of an old Twilight Zone episode with Mabel before ultimately collapsing into my bed for a good, long rest.

But I simply could not fall asleep. The face from that picture Mabel had drawn kept flashing into my mind whenever I closed my eyes. It was inescapable. Finally, I got to my feet and ambled tiredly into Mabel’s bedroom. She appeared to be sound asleep. I went over to her window and felt the latch. It was rock solid, no way anything or anyone could possibly get in.

Just for peace of mind more than anything else, I checked the other various doors and windows of my house. All of them were secure. Feeling significantly better about myself, I climbed back into bed and slept tranquilly for the rest of the night.

That next morning it was the same old story again. But this time, when she inevitably said the words, I cringed inwardly, although I did my best not to show it.

“There was a little man in my room last night, and he says he’s going to take me with him.”

“Honey…” I began, my voice cracking, “do you think we can stop playing this game?”

Mabel looked at me curiously. “What game are you talking about daddy?”

“Well Mabel, you know that there is no man in your room, right?”

Mabel’s expression was blank. She did nothing but slowly shake her head.

“Mabel, I think what you’re having is what’s called a reoccurring nightmare. It’s a dream that repeats itself. It is very common; you have no need to worry.”

Again, Mabel’s stare was cold and blank. She responded by saying, “Daddy, I’m not lying to you. The man is real, and he’s going to take me with him.”

I continued to eat breakfast momentarily, musing with myself about how this situation could be fixed. Then an idea came to mind, and I hid my smile with a glass of orange juice before clearing my throat.

“Mabel, do you think you can convey a message to this man for me?”

“Uh huh,” Mabel responded, buttering her toast.

“Tell him that I don’t want him in my house anymore, and if he wants to take anyone, he should take the Brewer kids from up the street.”

For a second I could see the amusement in Mabel’s eyes. She knew what bad kids the Brewers were, and how relieved everyone would be if they were to suddenly disappear without any explanation.

“Sure daddy, I’ll tell him!”

A few hours later, the day’s work was done and I was in the final stages of preparing to go to bed. I walked over to my drawer, pulled it open and took out my revolver. The leather holster was smooth and harbored no frays. I had taken good care of it. I slid the gun out of its protective case and looked down at the shiny metal instrument of death. In all my years of police work in this fine town of Millingport, North Carolina, I have never fired a single shot from this pistol. Twice I had had to draw it, but nothing more.

Sort of like how I never got the promotion to detective, regardless of how hard I had worked to prove myself. I feel a twinge of anger. My boss shouldn’t be able to hold my life’s ambition from me because I looked at his wife the wrong way. What was wrong with him? I force the hate down. I shouldn’t allow myself to be irate towards my boss, lest I do something I regret in the long run.

Decidedly, I set my gun down on my nightstand and fall onto my bed. Call me what you will, but I just wouldn’t feel comfortable without it in hand’s reach for this particular night. When I woke up in the morning, everything was well. I had gotten a good night’s sleep without even a single interruption. I looked over at the pistol that lay on my nightstand and chuckled to myself. What a childish thing it was to put it there! I get to my feet and replace the gun in its proper location before making my way to the kitchen and beginning to make myself oatmeal. Within a few minutes my breakfast is ready, and I sit down at the table to eat.

It’s only when I am halfway done with my meal that I realize Mabel had not yet come down for her morning nourishment.

“Mabel!” I called, “Breakfast is ready! I made oatmeal!”

There was no response, which was strange, considering the fact that Mabel loved oatmeal.

I stood up and eyed the stairs suspiciously through the open door leading into the living room. Taking a deep breath, I crossed the kitchen, made my way through the den, and began to mount the stairs, one by one, slowly and precariously. When I eventually got to the top, I scanned the hall. Mabel’s door was slightly ajar, and I could make out a faint trace of her lavender wall that I had painted myself, much to her delight.

Suddenly, I wished I had my pistol at my hip. I kept imagining all of the bizarre and frightening things that could possibly be on the other side of that door, perhaps holding my daughter hostage so that she could not speak. Out of the depths of my own mind, I conjured the image of the picture Mabel had drawn.

Every instinct in my body was telling me that if I opened that door all the way, that thing would be there, and it would pounce on me, perhaps tearing out my throat with sharp white teeth that the line of its mouth had hidden so well…

The logical part of my mind piped up. You are being absolutely ridiculous, Scott. There is nothing on the other side of that door but your overslept daughter and you damn well know it. Now, go over there and open that door.

With tension building in my chest like the cogs and springs being tightened in a clock, I took step by step forward until the door stood right in front of me. I placed my fingertips on the smooth wood and pushed gently. It opened slowly, with a maddening creak that made me want to clench my fists and grind my teeth.

I walked inside the room and turned on the light.

Mabel was nowhere to be seen.

The sheets of her bed were jumbled and twisted, as if there had been a struggle. My breathing began to quicken as I observed the room.

On the floor next to the bed, there were ten scratches engraved onto the wood that went as long as ten feet across the room, as if someone had been grabbed by their ankles and dragged from the comfort of their bed. And after that there was…

A most personal fear rose within the recesses of my mind, and I stepped forward, looking down upon the object I had just discovered on the floor.

It was a fingernail, female by the looks of it, and no bigger than a sleeping pill.

After that there was a little bit of blood, and the trail ended at the second story window, which was wide open. A cold breeze wafted in, and the tears that stood in my eyes came cascading down as I collapsed against the floor in shock, weeping for the loss of my daughter.

How had I not seen this coming? The “Little man with the funny face” that came into her room every night was probably a kidnapper wearing some sort of disguise. And I, of all people in the world, a police officer, had been too much of an idiot to notice or think anything of it. And now my little girl was gone.

She had been kidnapped, but by who, and how? The doors and windows were firmly locked. How could anyone possibly get in? How could something like this occur? The questions whirled around in my mind.

There was only one thing to be done. I went to work.

I started the only place I knew where; Mabel’s bedroom. I took out my Nikon Camera from the storage room in the downstairs basement before beginning my investigation. I took picture after picture of every last inch of the crime scene. Not a single detail was missed. I examined the angle of the fingernail I had found on the floor. It would appear that Mabel had actually made a good effort to ground herself in. One more tug from her assailant and the nail was bent back until it snapped completely and was left there.

Having a fingernail come off is a very painful ordeal. When I was no less than twelve years old, my large toenail had become ingrown and infected. I was forced to pull it out completely so that a new one could grow. The pain had been absolutely unbearable, I had howled in anguish as the pliers did their dirty work and when it came out I had immediately submerged my entire foot in ice water. To imagine Mabel having to go through something in any way similar to that was gut wrenching to me.

How had I not heard her scream? Excruciation such as that was usually, if not always, accompanied by screaming. The only way to explain this was if Mabel’s attacker had masked her racket somehow, most likely by clamping a hand over her mouth. But this did not add up. How could this be possible if I already knew that this said attacker had kidnapped Mabel by grabbing her by the ankles and dragging her? It could not be, unless whatever had taken her had more than two arms.

What else was there to do? A sudden idea came to mind, and I quickly ran downstairs and grabbed the materials I needed from my work drawer. I had bought theses items from EBay, in the hopes that I would need them for my job as a detective, a job which I never got.

When I went back upstairs, I began to dust for fingerprints.

I must've done every square inch of that bedroom, from the window to the bedposts.

Much to my disappointment, there was nothing of any interest, all the fingerprints that were in that room belonged to Mabel herself. I scowled. What an idiot I was being. Did I really think even for a moment, that a man or thing sadistic enough to kidnap a child from the arms of their loving parent would let me off with something as easy as fingerprints? In my frustration I threw my brush across the room before racking my brains on what to do next.

The roof, I would check the roof for any indications that could help me to solve this mystery.

Unsteadily, I pushed myself out of the second story window and lowered my body onto the top of my house. The first thing that I was able to discern was the shingles that had been kicked loose. I followed a path of cluttered shingles until I found myself looking over the edge of my roof. Below there is an arbor that I had bought for the grapevines that had a tendency to grow near our porch. Now it is clear to me how someone could easily get up here. But the issue on the windows being locked still remained.

I went back into the house through my window. If I could keep tracking the trail that I had found, maybe I would be able to get at least an idea of where my daughter was being held, if she was alive at all. Again, a wrench is thrown in my stomach, and the hot tears return to my cheeks, cutting tracks down my aging face. The mere thought of losing my only daughter seems to me impossible.

But had I lost my wife and son, hadn’t I?

Memories come back in a rushing flood as I remember the last time I ever saw my spouse. It had been a rainy Wednesday morning, and Ellen had announced that she was going grocery shopping. I had kissed her goodbye a final time, and she had never come back.

I later learned that she had driven down to Florida and married a successful businessman. It was one of those situations where the only thing to do was put your head in your hands and wonder what you possibly could’ve done wrong. Then, when you were all out of tears to shed and you couldn't think of any possible reason why these unfortunate events had occurred, the only option was to move forwards like they had never happened in the first place.

Gerald was my ten year old son. My wife had left him with me and Mabel.

Gerald and a friend of his, Richie Parker, were spending the day near a river. Richie had bet Gerald three shiny silver dollars that he couldn't swim to the sandbar at the middle of the river and back.

Gerald didn't know the first thing about swimming, but those dollars were terribly convincing, and he had decided to push his luck.

It didn't take him very long to drown.

I let Mabel stay home from the funeral. I didn't want her to be exposed to anything that could potentially upset her. This was probably ridiculous since she was only three years old at the time and incapable of understanding what was happening, but I did it all the same, for her welfare.

The day I attended that service, as I looked down upon the face of my dead son, I made myself a promise that I knew I would do anything to keep. I would not let Mabel slip from my fingers the way I had allowed both Ellen and Gerald to. I would keep her close, and never allow her to be put in any sort of danger. Did this make me an overprotective parent at times? Yes, I suppose it did, but it was worth it to keep Mabel safe.

And now look where I am. Mabel has been kidnapped, perhaps dead, and I couldn't so much as get to my feet and face it like a man.

I refused to even entertain the notion that Mabel could possibly be dead. No, she was alive, probably not well, but alive all the same and I had to find her.

I strap on my police belt before making my way out the front door of the house, viewing the arbor which I had always thought beautiful with a new hate, before beginning to search for any kind of clue that could set me on Mabel’s trail. When I got to the outer perimeter of my property, I find something.

It was a torn piece of pink pajama fabric.

Ahead of me were the woods which I had always warned Mabel never to go in without my being there. Taking a deep breath, I descend into the semidarkness that the thick canopy of leaves above provides. I am always bent over, looking closely on the ground for anything that could be of significance.

I am able to follow a trail of leads through the woods. It isn't easy, and sometimes I wonder if I’m going the right way at all, but it’s all I’ve really got to go on.

There’s a misshapen footprint of something here, a dribble of blood on a leaf there, and a broken branch every once in a while. This would be a lot easier if I had bloodhounds, I think to myself, and I consider the possibility of having the station rent me out a couple dogs.

I would call the station when I got back and report Mabel kidnapped. That is, if I could find nothing more myself.

Only once did I find a footprint that was fully visible, but even then it seemed… marred, almost distorted in a way. The shape of the foot was oddly curved and it had three toes instead of five. I dismissed it as there being a scuffle of some sort and snapped a picture with my Nikon before moving on.

An entire hour passed by, with me slowly but steadily tracking the signs that I had found I went deeper and deeper into the wilderness of the woods. Every time I began to lose confidence, a memory resurfaced in my mind.

I was ten years old, and my dad was taking me hunting in the woods for the first time. I was very excited. This was something that I had been looking forward to for quite a long while. My father dressed me in heavy camouflage, to the point where I felt like I would fall down if I tried to take a step. Then he thrust a .22 rifle into my bundled arms and explained to me the basics of gun safety. I could barely hear him through the cap that was pulled tightly over my ears, but that was all fine, I had shot guns over at my friend’s houses and I knew what to do and what not to do anyway.

With that we were off, he and I trudged into the tightly interwoven trees to find ourselves a buck to shoot. I asked him if I could take the cap off and he nodded his approval. No sooner than I had removed it he was holding his hand up for me to stop. Then he crouched down, examining the tracks he had found in the mud. He beckoned me closer and, I placing the butt of my rifle in the ground, we both observed the imprint of deer footfalls, me feeling a little silly doing it.

With that, he taught me in a hushed whisper the fundamentals of tracking.

At first I was admittedly quite terrible when it came to the task of tracking game. But as the years wore on and my father and I went into the woods more often, I became skilled in this operation. By my teenage years, with the help of my dad, I became one of the best trackers in town.

I smile to myself, despite my desperate situation, over that memory of which I am so fond.

It is only a few minutes later when the woods, and the trail with it, abruptly end.

I find myself looking out into the Brewer’s Cornfield.

The pale yellow stalks of corn rustle in the wind. They almost seem to be mocking me.

Whoever kidnapped Mabel took her through this cornfield, no doubt about it. But it would be trespassing to go forth and investigate. Even as a police officer, I cannot just search the Brewer property without a warrant, and there is the possibility of me getting shot if I were to try. Bart Brewer is not very agreeable to trespassers.

No less than a year ago, I remember a young nine year old boy coming into the Millingport Police reception area bawling his eyes out. When we were able to calm him down as to make his words understandable, he had choked out a story about how he had went to retrieve a baseball on the Brewer property and ultimately had a muzzleloader stuck in his face.

Suddenly, a thought comes to me. How did I know it wasn't the Brewers that had abducted Mabel in the first place? Somehow this idea troubled me, despite my not knowing the Brewers very well.

All I really did know about them were the fact that their kids were troublemakers and their father had hunted illegally several times. That and that fact that they were not very nice people and it was certainly advisable to avoid them whenever possible. The answer was in those stalks of corn. I knew it.

So, without another thought, I strode forward and began to make my way through the yellowed rows.

Picking up clues to the trail in the cornfield was much easier than it had been in the forest. Certain stalks had been trampled over, making a clear and obvious path.

The sun rose high in the sky, and sweat began to cumulate on my brow. Still, I pushed on and on, with the sound of corn husks crunching under my feet and the stalks tickling my arms and legs.

Any moment I keep expecting to find myself face to face with Bart Brewer and the muzzle of his eight gauge shotgun, but for whatever reason I do not. The farm remains peaceful and quiet. There is no sudden blast of a gun and spill of my guts. In the rows of corn, I walk on, undisturbed.

Eventually the trail stops, and I step out into the open. But I am still in the cornfield. It would appear that somebody had cleared out a wide circle in the corn.

The stalks had been pushed flat for twenty feet in every direction in this one particular clearing. There were no more signs of Mabel. It was as if the earth had swallowed both her and her kidnapper up and left a large amount of open space in their wake.

As hard as I searched, no more clues could be found.

A course of action needed to be taken. I could call my fellow police officers to this case and lead a full scale investigation of the Brewer farm. That would be the obvious thing to do, would it not?

Then, I started to think to myself.

I sat down at the wide open clearing in the corn, and I thought.

I thought about how, after all these years of hard work and dedication in the police department of Millingport, I had never been given the promotion to detective.

It had been my life’s ambition since I got out of college. Start out as a lowly police officer, and, over the years, get promoted to detective. However, after all this time, I hadn't even come close to this opportunity, despite how much I wanted it, and despite the excellency with which I had done my work.

If I solved this case on my own, without the help of anyone else, my boss, no matter how much he disliked me, would have to give me this promotion. How could he not?

With this in mind, my mission to find Mabel became ever more urgent than it already was. On the way back to my house, I made a plan.

I would return to the Brewer farm for a late night stakeout. Anything suspicious would be captured with photographic evidence.

When it is exactly ten o'clock and the sun has disappeared behind the vast horizon, I set out from my house to do what I must.

I park my car on a ledge overlooking the brewer farm. The only thing left to do is to wait.

The hours crawl by with no signs of activity. I often find myself thinking that this is pointless, and I should turn around and go home to get a good night’s sleep. Then maybe in the morning I can call the rest of the police department and have them sort this out with me. Hopelessness nearly overcame me. Who cared if I didn't get the promotion to detective? Wasn't this all pointless anyway? What were the chances of me finding Mabel on my own? Slim to none, probably. I was wasting my time, and maybe the consequences of my not telling the police department could be even greater…

What if I had my badge revoked for not reporting a serious crime? What if Mabel was already dead, and if I hadn't just called the police department, she might still be alive? The indecision of what to do is unbearable. I eventually decided that if nothing is to happen in the next five minutes, I should leave and call the police station as soon as possible.

I glance down at my watch. It is exactly 2:37 AM.

I let out a deep sigh and the exhaustion rolls over me in a wave of weariness. I blink hard, trying to focus. Spots dance in my field of vision, all the slight movements that I make feel forced. My eyes close for a spit second, and I enjoy the feeling of sweet sleepy bliss. I am not falling asleep, only resting momentarily…

There is a sudden and brilliant flash of light. My eyes snap open and I stare in complete awe at the magnificent beauty that is flashing before me.

It was a giant white orb, floating in the sky and slowly descending downwards. It is spinning very fast, and sending fragments of every color I have ever seen in every direction, as well as colors that I had never even seen before. It was a total shock to my brain, since I had never registered something of a color that was not natural. I could almost feel the waves that the thing was sending out as it spun, slowly descending downward until, with a rustle of the stalks, it lands in the middle of the Brewer cornfield, instantaneously flattening a wide patch of the crop in a wide diameter. I can only look on in a sort of fascination. This is something supernatural… something…

The words come to me in a flash. This is something extra terrestrial.

I have just witnessed an unidentified flying object touch down on the land of earth. Wonder overcomes every emotion that I have built up within me. Could I be the first human being to ever see something of this nature?

That’s when I feel it. From deep within myself there is a sudden, overwhelming urge to get out of my car and walk into this rotating essence of energy.

“Walk into the light, Scott. You will see your daughter once more. All you have to do is walk into the light. You will know every pleasure that man has ever seen. Just take a step out of your car and walk into the light.”

I jumped when I heard the voice, and for a moment I looked around in my car, convinced someone was there with me. Then I realized… the voice I heard was inside my head, but it was not my own. As if someone was forcing their way into my skull and placing their thoughts there, subliminal verses might be a good way to put it.

“The light, Scott… walk into the light.”

That voice… that voice shouldn't be there, but it’s so convincing… so comforting.

I feel my hand reaching for the lock of the car door, but at the last second I stop myself. I shut my eyes tight, trying to block out the voices in my mind. Now I understand how the little man got into Mabel’s room. Mabel probably let it in. I also understand why I did not have an encounter with Old Man Brewer or any of his family when I trespassed on his cornfield. They probably went into the light.

“Scott… all you have to do is walk into the light.”

My blood pulses rapidly as I engage in a mental battle which I know I cannot win.

“Scott… it’s useless to resist. Walk into the light.”

For minutes on end I fight the probe of thought that is trying to make me do what is sure to get me maimed, killed, or worse. These bastards, whoever they are, kidnapped Mabel! Why should I listen to them?

“The only way Mabel will be freed is to come to us, Scott. Join us, Scott.”

They would never let Mabel go as long as I stayed here. The realization of how dire my circumstances were hit me hard. I think fast, trying to come up with a way to outsmart this alien force, but nothing comes. I don't know if it was those creatures using my own brain against me, or just the sheer urgency of my situation, but for whatever reason, I can speculate no other option except for the one those things have already laid out for me.

“Scott… the light, you have to walk into the light.”

After no less than a few seconds contemplation, my hand once again goes to the lock. Not of the will of those beings that live in the light, but of my own will. I open the car door slowly and get out. I walk down the ledge precariously, taking every free second that I can. This is not something that I want to do, but something I have to do, for Mabel.

I take step after step. Getting close to the cornfield now, all the time focused on the light. The allure of it is more than physical. It is a mental magnet that attracts all who are near. In no less than a minute I am pushing my way through the tall stalks of corn. Bright beams shoot through the field, and as I get nearer and nearer it seems I will be blinded. Ten feet away now, I stop for a second, my legs trembling, before forcing myself to continue. Finally, I stand at the edge of the clearing, looking into the pulsating mass of vivid intensity. I can feel the very ground below me vibrating with its power.

I scream Mabel’s name as loud as I can.

I see an outline of her tiny form stumbling out of the light. It appears to stick to her skin like liquid until she pulls herself free of it completely.

My heart is hammering in my chest. I am almost afraid that Mabel won't be able to hear me. I call out her name again and she seems to see me for the first time. She runs into my arms and I pick her up in a giant hug and swing her around.

“Mabel!” I sob, holding her close and crying into her shoulder. Mabel clings to me like I am the last person on earth, holding me tighter than she ever has. She is actually shaking a little bit all over, as if it was freezing cold. I rub her back comfortingly.

“Daddy…” her voice is weak. “Daddy, you have to go back. They did terrible things to me, I barely survived… I don't want you to get hurt like I did…”

For a moment I am tempted to run with Mabel in my arms, away from this terrible threat. Why should I just submit to the will of these things? As I keep a firm hold on Mabel, one hand strays to the pistol at my side. How could I have forgotten about that handy little tool? The voice in my mind stirs once again, and this time there is a sinister note in its speech:

“Scott, there is no point in making this harder than it has to be. We will never allow either you or Mabel to escape with your lives if you try anything reckless here.”

I bit my fist hard before setting Mabel unsteadily onto the ground and looking her dead in the face. I don't want to have to do this. I promised myself I wouldn't lose Mabel. With the thought of my promise, I feel a painful tug in my chest and a lump gathers in my throat. When I talk to her, my voice is strained.

“Mabel, don't you worry about it, you just get out of here and you get help, okay? There’s a cell phone in my car, you just call the police okay? You know the number, right?”

Tears begin to stream down her cheeks. When she responds, her voice is thick and layered with grief. “Daddy, please don’t do this to me, please, I don’t want to live without you.”

I use my thumb to wipe her tears before saying to her, “Please don’t cry, Mabel. It hurts me to see you cry. Just know that whatever happens, I'll be safe as long as you're safe, okay?"

It was a lie and we both knew it. But Mabel just nodded her head, despite my words, her weeping has not subsided.

I set Mabel down on the ground. She is breathing hard and deep. I looked into her deep blue eyes for one last time, the multicolored lights reflect in her pupils. Then, with a break of my heart, I yell as loud as I can:

“Go, Mabel! Run for the car!”

She takes off running in the direction that I point. Then, I stand and face the light.

It doesn't matter what is about to come.

What matters is that Mabel is safe.

I walk into the light.

Written by SnakeTongue237
Content is available under CC BY-SA

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