Monday 10 – Tuesday 11 October 2016
School was a place of security for Benji Lawson. It had been that way since his big brother, Joe, had been kidnapped and murdered. With so many people around, all of those teachers, Benji felt like there was no way he could disappear without anyone noticing, unlike Joe who had been kidnapped somewhere between the park and home, and nobody, nobody had seen a thing. It wasn’t until he was late home that his parents began to worry. That was the start of the chaos that became the norm for Benji’s life. School was a place where he could feel normal, where he could feel like a kid again.
He enjoyed most lessons. Maths, however, wasn’t ever in his favour, and he often chose to spend those lessons gazing out of the window, watching the world go by. Sometimes he found his mind wandering to where Joe had been taken, and what had happened. Although he’d only been four at the time Joe was kidnapped, and he didn’t really understand the gravity of the situation, Benji was aware of the chaos that whirled around him from the moment Joe was snatched. It wasn’t just Joe’s disappearance that fascinated Benji, it was how the world and everyone around him changed when his brother was taken.
Benji zoned out to his teacher’s voice, and her explanation of triangles, and took up his normal position during maths – looking out of the window, beyond the basketball courts and to the street in front of the school. The school yard was fenced off from the street by fencing that Benji thought must have been at least eight feet high, although he wasn’t entirely sure because he didn’t really have a concept of height, a side effect of never paying attention during maths. The world passed by the school, albeit slowly. Cars passed infrequently, the narrow street better suited for pedestrian traffic. Occasionally, a delivery truck would drive by on its journey to the school cafeteria. Benji had memorised the delivery schedule – Monday and Wednesday it arrived around nine o’clock, and Thursday saw the delivery arrive at ten past eleven. Benji could set his watch by the reliable schedule.
A light blue van grabbed Benji’s attention. Having spent so much of his school year gazing out of the window, he was familiar with most of the vehicles associated with the students and their parents, the staff of the school, visiting administrators from the school district, and postal and courier vehicles that would stop at the school to deliver supplies and resources. The light blue van didn’t belong to anyone in those groups. He’d never seen it before. Ever. He spent the next ten minutes analysing what he could see of the van.
‘Benji? Are you paying attention? What do we call a triangle that has no equal sides?’ She’d called his name and asked the question of him because she knew he had mentally disappeared to another world. ‘Benji?’
‘Sorry, ma’am,’ he locked eyes with Mrs. Kane. Benji no longer became embarrassed when she called him out for not paying attention. ‘I was –’
‘Looking out the window. Yes, I know,’ she replied. ‘It’s pointless me asking the question again, isn’t it, Benji?’
The boy nodded, held eye contact with his teacher for a few seconds longer, and then quickly shot a glance back out to the van, but it had gone.
* * * * *
From the relative safety of his van, Simeon Mathieu surveyed the school ground visible from the roadside. Aware that the light blue van would draw the attention of anyone one the street, he prayed that enough pedestrians would pass by and take note of the vehicle. A diversionary tactic he’d devised, when he did snatch Benji Lawson, he’d use a non-descript car, possibly a sedan. When interviewed by police, witnesses would be sure to mention the suspicious blue van that was parked by the school for a significant length of time shortly before the boy disappeared. Authorities would search for the van, eventually discovering it some miles from the school, and they would investigate the red herring that Simeon had concocted. He’d never used this particular strategy before, but he was confident that it would be a success, giving him enough time to disappear with the boy.
It was a risk to come back and target a family he’d already made suffer. There was every chance that he would be caught, but it was too good an opportunity to pass up. Inflicting pain and terror, again, upon the family who created the most publicity around their kid’s disappearance and murder would be a joy for Simeon. Perhaps this would be the last one he took. It was, after all, only a matter of time before someone recognised his face, or caught him in the act. In this day and age, with so many cameras watching every move humanity took, there was every chance that something he did, or somewhere he appeared would give away who he really was. And when that day came around, he had collected too much evidence that would completely and utterly implicate him in all of the abductions and murders.
Slowly, Simeon drive the van away from the school, hiding his face and identity from any CCTV cameras that might be capturing his route.
‘Not long now, Benji, and you’ll be mine . . .’
. . . To be continued . . .