Topic: The Abduction by LaVerne Clark

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Mount Maunganui, 1981

“Paddy,” my mother’s frazzled voice called from the doorway, “we need more milk.”

She turned back to the kitchen muttering darkly, a smear of batter on the front of her shirt and her hair escaping its pins.

Dad folded the newspaper, set it aside and bravely entered her domain. Mum despised cooking and wasn’t afraid to show it.

“Let’s grab a muffin while she’s not looking,” my older brother whispered in one ear, as Mum’s giggles reached the other.

Using Dad’s body as a shield, we snuck in. I held my breath as Jerry snagged the mouth-watering treats and passed me one with a grin. We tip-toed out and devoured them within seconds.

Dad emerged and grabbed the car keys, heading for the shops. I trailed after him.

“Can I come with you, Dad?”

“Not today. Your mother needs you to look after your younger brothers.”

“Aww!” I stamped my foot. “But Jerry’s here – he can help Mum.”

My bottom lip jutted out as Dad turned his back on me.

“Jerry is helping me in the garden when I get back.” His voice floated over his shoulder before the door shut. “Be good.”

Matching my mother’s scowl in ferocity, I stared hard at my brother in accusation.


“It’s just ‘cause I’m a girl I have to do girly things like look after the boys. It’s not fair!”

I pinched him hard on the forearm enjoying his yelp of pain. He yanked my hair in retaliation and I let loose with a high-pitched scream.

“What’s going on here?” Mum thundered from the doorway. Her gaze narrowed on my mouth. I licked my lips and tasted chocolate.

With a deep, harried sigh, she shooed us out the door to play. I raced out before she remembered I was her helper today, Jerry hard on my heels.

“Let’s go make mud pies,” he suggested as we rounded the back of the house, his eyes fixed on the coiled hose.

“Nah.” I’d spotted my trusty Raleigh Twenty leaning against the shed. “Let’s go to the paddock and feed the horses.”

I was horse-mad, and with a paddock down the road from us, I spent every spare moment with the animals, breathing in their musky, sweet-grass scent.

Jerry frowned. “I don’t want to see the smelly horses. We did that yesterday.”

“I’ll go by myself then.” I retorted, and wheeled my bike out onto the driveway.

The sun seared and within a few minutes, my nose started to burn. I pedalled hard, enjoying the breeze it created. Heat shimmered off the black tar seal creating mirages. One solidified into the form of three people blocking the path, heads turned my way.

I rode off the footpath to skirt around the group, but the tallest of the three grabbed the handlebars and I slipped off my seat.

“Hi. I haven’t seen you around here before.”

Like a pack of wolves, the others circled and trapped me between them.

“We just moved here.” My voice, normally high, squeaked with nerves. I suddenly wished I was home with my brother, playing with mud.

Letting go of my bike, the boy gestured to a car on the road beside us. Its paint gleamed richly under the Bay’s sun.

“Wanna come for a ride with me?” Seeing my worried look, he nodded at his friend. “Simon can stay and look after your bike until we get back; make sure no-one touches it.”

I looked up into his face and my stomach twisted into a hard knot. Something shifted behind his eyes and my scalp prickled. Without warning, I jerked my bike around, desperate for the safety of home. But before I’d pushed the pedals a full circuit, I was wrenched to a halt.

“What’s your problem?” he scowled. “We’re just being nice.”

Terrified now, I glanced over my shoulder at the boy Simon, holding my carrier, and screamed at the top of my lungs.

They laughed. Tears streamed as I struggled against their strength. Like a game of cat and mouse, the more I fought, the more enjoyment they derived and I grew weaker with each sobbing breath.

“Hey! You boys! Leave that little girl alone!”

The boys turned as one at the unexpected voice coming through a shrub-lined fence. Taking advantage, I scrambled onto my bike and pedalled hard for home.

Finally, I turned into our driveway. Leaping off my bike, I left it where it fell and ran in search of my safety, my world.

My mother.

* * *


The door slammed open and I opened my mouth to growl whichever kid was responsible when Lauren’s panic-stricken voice rang out.


She barrelled into me. Her little body shook with such force her teeth chattered. Worried, I eased away and forced her to meet my gaze.

“What happened, Lauren?”

“Some big boys tried to make me get into their car,” she hiccupped. “I said I didn’t want to, but they didn’t listen.”

The blood in my veins turned to ice while my mind whirled, swinging from disbelief, to horror, before settling on rage. As I conjured up scenarios of painful retribution, a gentle tug on my hand brought me back to reality and the red haze receded. Taking a shaky breath, I forced my voice to remain calm.

“How many boys, Lauren? And where did this happen?”

I listened intently as she retold the details; a black car two streets over; three boys, one called Simon; the resident who’d come to her aid. I didn’t need to note any of it down. It was imprinted on my heart – seared into my brain.

Knees cracking, I straightened up, grabbed the phone and dialled 111. The disc took an excruciatingly long time to return home at each turn. Finally, gloriously, there was a ring-tone, and I was transferred to the local station.

“We have an officer in your area at the moment, ma’am,” the policeman assured me after listening to my story. “He’ll be there shortly and I’ll dispatch a couple of squad cars to search for the black car immediately.”

“Thank you,” I whispered. The adrenaline was wearing off leaving me nauseous. I wished Paddy was home to lend me his strength.

As I hung up, I sank down onto my heels and pulled my precious girl onto my lap.

Lauren twisted her head to look up at me, her brow creased with worry. “What will the policemen do when they catch them?”

“They’ll lock them up and throw away the keys.”

“But won’t their mummies miss them?” she asked and bit her lip as she waited for my answer.

“I’m sure their mummies will, darling,” I agreed, “but that’s what happens to bad boys.”

“Oh,” she replied in a small voice, and snuggled against me, popping a thumb into her mouth. I gathered her tighter and rested my cheek atop her curls.

A squad car pulled up outside our house. Relieved, I uncurled myself and stood up to answer the door. Lauren held my hand tight.

“I’m Constable Kerr. Are you Mrs. Tyler?” At my nod, he crouched and addressed my daughter. “And you must be Lauren.”

She hid behind my legs.

With an apologetic grimace, I led the way to the dining-room. We settled into the hard-backed chairs and Constable Kerr placed a notepad and pen before him.

“It was a scary situation for you, wasn’t it, Lauren?” His kind, gentle tone had the desired effect, easing her tension. “You did the exact right thing, screaming and running away. You should be proud of yourself.”

That brought a slight smile to her lips. “Now,” he continued, “I need to ask a few questions about what happened. Is that all right?”

“Yes.” she whispered, her attention focused on his face.

He smiled and picked up his pen. “Good. Can you describe the car to me in more detail? What colour were the wheels?”

Lauren scrunched her eyes shut in concentration. “They were black and really shiny.”

“Okay.” He scribbled a note and looked up again. “Did you notice how many doors it had?”

Again, she screwed up her face, thinking hard. “It had four, but they weren’t ones you could open.”

With a puzzled expression, the policeman wrote down another note. “And did you see the inside of the car? Was there anything unusual that stood out to you?”

This time, Lauren didn’t need to think so hard. She nodded enthusiastically.

“It didn’t have a floor. I could see the road. It had two seats, a steering wheel and some pedals.”

Slowly, Constable Kerr laid down his pen and straightened, catching my gaze. His mouth twitched in suppressed amusement.

Oh, my God! In a flash, I went from cold to hot as understanding dawned on me. My face flushed a deep red.

“And what kind of car was it, Lauren?”

My daughter cocked her head, her big blue eyes staring up at him in earnest, “It was a pedal car.”


ABOUT THE WRITER LaVerne Clark is a published writer of romantic suspense and light fantasty set in New Zealand. A mother of two, wife and proud owner of an ex-racing greyhound, she can usually be found trying to make sense of the chaos of her home, or online chatting with other sleep-deprived writers and readers. For more information, visit and drop her a line.
A stranger is a friend yet to be met.

‘The Abduction’ was written for the Memoir & Local History Competition 2011, run annually by the New Zealand Society of Authors (Bay of Plenty Region) with support from Tauranga Writers.


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