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November 8, 2012
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18 No Way Out

Mrs. Morgan’s bellicosity at the thought of Glistening Oaks lessened as the long morning of the move progressed.  Tim assured and reassured her—then reassured again and again—that the stay at the home was only temporary, a rehabilitation to get her fully back on her feet.  Nancy concurred heartily all that morning, and even sullen Janiece agreed that her stay would be short.  And the discovery that her roommate for the stint would be Esther Henry mollified her to near-acceptance of her situation.  It was only as the bustle of moving her into her Glistening Oaks room receded that she spoke words which staggered all three of her children—

“What happens when this is over?  I can’t live alone after this!”  Which only in those words illustrated the fear that had been oppressing her.  And the dilemma the Morgan children faced…

And the battle finally joined in Janiece’s living room after finally getting Mother settled in with Miss Henry, who had already begun to hint to her new roommate of the high regard in which she held Nancy’s daughter Abigail.  “She doesn’t have to worry about that,” Janiece asserted.  “She can stay here just like she’s always stayed here.  This is her home!  Why would there be any problem?”

Before Nancy could interject, Tim leaped in.  “You’re working, and Ashley and Austin can’t be expected to watch her.  She’s already had one TIA attack, and”—

“So this is my fault, that’s what you’re saying!” Janiece shot back, instantly on the defensive.  “I’m neglecting her!”

“I didn’t say that,” Tim replied, trying to smooth Janiece’s ruffled feathers.  “I’m just saying that all of you are busy with your own lives and”—

“And you’re using Mom’s trouble as an excuse to turn her against me!” Janiece fairly shrieked.  “You and”—

And Nancy retreated again, fairly running out the back to the refuge of the back porch as Janiece’s tirade rose ever higher.  “It’s insane!” she bleated to Tricia, who had followed her to the back porch.  “I can’t tell you how trapped I feel, Tricia Marie!”  And her daughter could only commiserate…

One little noise, Nancy dithered as the two men dragged her and Mary Catherine back to Cat’s room, just one little noise and we could wake somebody up!  Mary Beth!  Mrs. O’Doolan!  Anybody!…  But they were completely silenced as the men carried them across the hall to Cat’s room—

Where the third man stood just before her open window.  “One little peep out of either of you, just the teensiest little noise, and every throat in this house gets cut!” the third man—undoubtedly one of the three who had invaded Nancy’s house, both girls realized—“Keep them still,” he commanded the others, “and tie ‘em up tight.  Good gags too—I ain’t chancing them getting anybody’s attention!”

“Blindfolds?” the one holding Cat asked—

“No need,” Three chuckled with a note that chilled Nancy’s heart.  “They won’t be telling anybody what they seen.  Just get ‘em tied up so we can get out of here!”  Paralyzed with fear and the threat against Cat’s family, Nancy and Mary Catherine were powerless to resist as the two underlings bound them securely; hands behind backs, arms pinned at the elbows, legs tied at ankles and knees, mouths stuffed and covered.  They faced each other as they were bound, and Nancy tried to reassure Mary Catherine that they would find a way out of their predicament—we’ve gotten out of worse, she tried to tell Cat with her eyes.  Cat, timorous in the face of the peril against her family, nodded.  I hope you’re right, Nancy…  “You down back,” he commanded one of the two, “and we’ll lower these little snoops down to you.”  He produced a long rope, which he tied around Nancy’s chest beneath her arms.  “You first, Nancy!” he taunted.  “You never could keep yourself from sticking your nose in other people’s business, could you?  Well, now it’s going to cost you!  You and your little buddy here both.  You think we didn’t know you’d keep looking?  You think we didn’t know why you were after that Geiger counter in the school?  And you getting all cozy with that Dwight boy—we knew what you were after!  You were using him to get into the mine!”  Nancy stiffened in protest—there’s more to it than you could imagine, you monster!—“Well, so much for that idea!”  With rough and cruel hands, the two men hoisted her out the window—lowered her by the rope to the waiting man on the ground—

The man waiting for her lowered her, released the long rope, and shoved Nancy ruthlessly to the ground.  She lay frightened but not hopeless as the rope rose back into the room, and in moments she watched Cat being lowered as she had been, the two other men appearing out the back door only moments after Cat had come to ground.  “Keep ‘em quiet,” the boss ordered quietly, “and get ‘em in the truck quick.”  They complied, hoisting Nancy and Mary Catherine each over a shoulder, where they wriggled faintly and tried to call out through their heavy gags.  In moments they found themselves tossed roughly into the back of a panel truck, and moving away almost as soon as the door had been shut behind them.  And now the men slipped off their masks—

Few had ever seen Abigail Dwight Giles truly angry.  She was naturally quiet, hard-working, amiable, and even when correcting her children stayed calm and controlled.  Having spent the majority of her life raising or helping raise kids helped in that.  But in the Morgan family living room in the wake of her mother’s flight, at the announcement Uncle Tim had made, a face unused to anger was fairly glowing with it—“What do you mean, Snowden?” Abby rumbled.  “Your house?  My street?”—

My house, Abigail!” Tim retorted.  Tim too had been long known for his easy nature, but he wasn’t about to have his decision challenged by his niece, no matter how mature or well-known.  Those that knew Tim Morgan well knew he wasn’t someone easily crossed when once he had made up his mind—“This isn’t your decision, little girl!  I’ll decide how my mother is taken care of, you hear?”  This was Tim in command, so much so that even Janiece was intimidated.  “You don’t understand her case, Janiece!” he crushed Janiece’s nascent protest.  “You wouldn’t know what to ask or what symptoms to watch for!”  Janiece glowered sullenly, as angry as Abby was—“And you, little girl!” he incised at Abigail, “You need to put your big-girl panties on and get over yourself!  Ma cut out your mom, wasn’t Dear Old Gramma for you?  Well, life’s not fair, is it, Abby?  You can sit there and sulk until Hell freezes over, but your little insecurities aren’t going to have any say in how I take care of my mother, you hear me?”  With both his sister and his niece quieted, Tim allowed himself a breath, a moment to smooth his ruffled temper.  “It’s the best solution all around,” he asserted more quietly.  “Lainie,” he nodded at his wife, “has the time to watch her, take care when I’m not home.  I’ll cut down my hours at the lab, and I’m already in touch with several specialists back in Center City.  I’ve got plenty of room in the house, so I can make her comfortable.”  He glowered down at Abigail.  “And she’ll have family with her.  She’ll get to know her grandchildren and great-grandchildren while she still has time.”  Which set off a flash-fire in Abby’s mind—

“You—my children”—and in a heartbeat, Abby was out the back door, slamming it like she’d never slammed anything in her life—Abbie, also present, raced after her sister—

Only Richie’s raw strength kept his biggest sister out of the driver’s seat of the minivan.  Abby, in a scorching rage, insisted on driving to Glistening Oaks to tell off “that woman,” whom she was sure had manipulated Uncle Tim into his choice to bring her back to Snowden to live.  In the end, despite protestations from Nancy, Abby, Trish, Megan, and Richie himself, Megan drove them all to Glistening Oaks, where Abby steamed through the lobby and toward her grandmother’s room in a still-boiling fury—

Only to find a white-haired lady on a small scooter perched outside the door whom Nancy seemed to instantly recognize.  “Mrs. Giles,” the ancient woman spoke with a long-practiced authority, “I expected you.  You’ve obviously heard your uncle’s decision.  Your grandmother is hardly in a condition to argue it out with you, though.  I believe you need to calm yourself before you speak to her.”  Abby bridled—

“Miss Henry’s right, Abby,” Nancy urged, finally catching up to her steaming daughter.  “You need to control yourself!  Nothing can be gained by having it out with Ma!”

“Old pain is the hardest to deal with, Mrs. Giles,” Miss Henry interjected.  “So often it’s what drives us, but sometimes drives us to do destructive things.  Miss Morgan and your grandmother have made me understand how old and deep your pain is.  Come with me to the solarium and talk before it hurts people it doesn’t need to hurt.”  And even in the winter of her life, even reduced to her current state, Miss Henry’s command voice was still commanding, even to a furious Abigail…

They were men Nancy vaguely recognized even through their masks, but there was nothing to do.  She and Mary Catherine were both tightly bound and gagged; there was no escape, and no means of getting help.  And the men knew it…  “Actually,” the man driving the van—the boss—chuckled, “you won’t need that Richie Dwight kid to get you into the mine.  We’ll take you in ourselves!  Only problem for you two snoops is, you won’t be coming out!”  Nancy felt her fear creeping up on her, but she had life-threatening perils before, thus only glared at her captors.  Mary Catherine was much less defiant…  “Of course,” he grinned, “neither will that Dwight kid, either!”  And only then did Nancy’s fear begin to crowd out her defiance…

The solarium was empty as Miss Henry led a still-blazing Abigail inside.  “Take that seat there, the overstuffed chair,” she instructed Abby.  “It’s a very nice place to rest at this time of day.  It will allow you to reconsider what you’re planning.”

“I have no intention of reconsidering,” Abby replied shortly.

“That is your pain speaking, Mrs. Giles,” Miss Henry replied.  “That part of you who was still the child when your father passed.  You feel rejected and unloved by your grandmother.”

“That’s only because I was rejected and unloved by that woman, Miss Henry,” Abigail retorted.  “My mother and father, my siblings, she rejected us all.  Even when I could have been murdered, she still rejected me!  I didn’t exist to her!”

“And you’ve lived independently of her for most of your life, Mrs. Giles, I understand that.  But if she meant nothing to you, then why does she still upset you so much?”  A question to which Abigail had no answer besides a mulish pout.  “Your pride has been wounded, Abigail, much as your mother’s was.  You resent that her coming into your life makes a claim on you.  She wounded you by what you call her rejection, and now you wish to wound her in the same way.  ‘An eye for an eye,’ as they say.  But if your pride takes a great-grandmother away from your children, how is that different than what that grandparent did to you?”

“Our great weakness is our pride, Abigail Lauren,” Nancy murmured from behind her, startling Abby.  “To be honest, my pride deprived you of your grandmother as much as Ma’s pride deprived you of her.  Even when we were as poor as dirt, I had my pride.  That’s why I wouldn’t take help.  It’s why I worked myself nearly to death.  My pride has been my undoing too many times for me to ignore it.”

“I threw away the last of my pride to survive John Michael, Mom!” Abby hissed, remembering poignantly the degradations she accepted from her abductor just to live another day.

“And you learned from it, Abigail,” Nancy sighed, sitting beside her daughter.  “That’s one better than me, because I didn’t learn that, even at the peril of my life!”

The van had stopped at one of Stoneville’s three traffic lights, but Nancy stayed silent.  She was determined to find a way out of her peril on her own—and besides, she reasoned, if we try to call for help now, they might go back and hurt our families—and, if possible, save Richie.  “Good girl,” one of the men smiled, patting the gag over Nancy’s lips.  “Bet you still think you’re finding a way to get out of this, aren’t you?  Think you’re going to be the hero again like all those other times you snooped into other folks’ business!  Well, not this time!” he chuckled as the van resumed its trip out of town.  “There are way bigger stakes involved this time for and your buddy and your boyfriend to mess up.  Not even Bert Reddiger himself is going to mess this up!  Nice of him to be footing the bill, though!” he snickered.  So we were right! Nancy started.  The managing director!  He’s used the owner’s money to buy up the part of Trailhead where the high-quality uranium is!  He’s scamming everyone!—“Look like you have a little something to say, Nancy,” he grinned, seeing her stiffen.  “Surprised at the deal?  Or did you and your little gang figure it out already?”

“Keep her quiet,” the driver commanded.

“Oh, it won’t hurt, boss,” he countered genially.  “We’re out of town now, so nobody’s going to hear her or anything.  Let’s see if this nosy little snoop figured out her last mystery!”  And he pulled down the cloth covering her lips, allowed her to spit out the wad in her mouth.  “So tell me, Nancy Noseypants, what’s our deal?”

“You knew about the uranium in the old Trailhead mine,” Nancy spat at him—at all three of her captors—“the same that killed Miss Henry’s boyfriend before.  You tricked Mr. Reddiger into making the purchase without knowing what he was buying, so you could sell your uranium without him knowing and getting his share of the profits.  And when Mr. Dwight died, the coroner had to hold his body because of the radiation!  Did he even know what he was mining?”

“If we weren’t telling the owner, Nancy, why do you think we’d go around telling the workers?  Sure, they end up losing in the long run, but them’s the breaks, you know!  Mrs. Dwight gets a settlement for the accident, eventually they get the body back like the others will, we work around the collapse, and make out like a bandit!  Not like Uncle Sam’s going to miss our little haul with all the other normal stuff lying around out west.”

Which shocked Nancy.  “You’re not even selling to our government?  Who are you selling to?”

“Come on, Nancy, who wants the stuff as bad as we do?” he grinned, a grin which struck Nancy to her heart.  The Soviets!—“Our little contribution to M. A. D.  Keeps someone from getting crazy and pushing the button.  The world stays fairly safe, we make a ton of money, and everybody lives happily ever after!  Well, maybe not you two and that Dwight kid, but nobody asked you to meddle in our business, either!”  So stunned was Nancy at the story that only now, as he laughed at her distress, did she realize the truck was on a dirt road.  The back access to the mine!…  “Yeah, Nancy!” he chuckled.  “Looks like there’s going to be another accident up here!  How hard will it be for people to decide that you two and that Dwight kid accidentally set off another collapse in those old tunnels trying to nose around?  You three gone, and everything goes back to being smooth as silk!”  Which finally prodded Nancy to writhe against her bonds, to the men’s amusement and her terror…
Chapter 18 of The Case of the Black Gold, in which there seems to be "No Way Out" for Nancy and Mary Catherine! How can she ever escape the villains this time? Read and enjoy!...

Chapter 1: [link]
Chapter 2: [link]
Chapter 3: [link]
Chapter 4: [link]
Chapter 5: [link]
Chapter 6: [link]
Chapter 7: [link]
Chapter 8: [link]
Chapter 9: [link]
Chapter 10: [link]
Chapter 11: [link]
Chapter 12: [link]
Chapter 13: [link]
Chapter 14: [link]
Chapter 15: [link]
Chapter 16: [link]
Chapter 17: [link]
Add a Comment:
neehko Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Goodness, I've never seen Abby that mad before.

And hey, gold...I get it :D
MisterMistoffelees Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Yeah, Abby has got certain grandparent issues that are coming to the surface...
ZaphodDID Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2012
Even though this takes place in the past and we know that Nancy, Cat, and Richie all survive this, it'll be really interesting to find out how.

By the way, I love the chapter art here of Nancy being lowered out of the window. It looks like the bad guys are reenacting a scene from the movie The Abductors.
MisterMistoffelees Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
The Abductors! Ah, the old classics... :laughing:
Usikujumba Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2012
As I may have said before, it's obviously that Nancy and Cat do get out of this predicament ... right now, though, it's hard to see how! P.S. Thanks for the image of Nancy and Cat in over-the-shoulder carries.
MisterMistoffelees Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Wish I had time to do the illustrations...
TraceMem Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
That was neat. Nice to see some more parallels between the storylines and a quick plot explanation.
MisterMistoffelees Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks!... :D
Torpedo585 Featured By Owner Nov 9, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Oh heck! :O
MisterMistoffelees Featured By Owner Nov 9, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
It'll be interesting to see how Nancy gets out of this one! I hope...
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