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I m p r i s o n e d

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Chapter 50

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Kate tightly clutched my hand, eyeing the shining train. Taylor glanced at me. I could see him swallow hard before grabbing Ezra and heading away from the train. I caught up to him, wondering where he was going. I figured he might be having second thoughts about the situation; it was a bit of a risk. But before I could open my mouth to argue, Taylor stopped around a corner, leading to a small, single, silver drinking fountain.
"What are you doing?" I asked, bewildered. He shot me his what-are-you-on look.
"Chaz can't see us here, Zac! That'll ruin the whole plan." he said shortly. The thought had never occured to me; I felt my face go hot as I realized what a stupid question I had asked. After about a minute, another whistle blew from the giant train and Ike took off at a run towards it. Taylor followed, with me on his heels. Natalie and Kate fell behind me as we all scrambled onto the train, handing tickets Natalie had bought for us to the conductor. Catching my breath, I flopped down in a rear facing seat. Everyone else did the same just as Robert Finston, the undercover officer we had met on the platform, approached us.
"Alright," he breathed,"The man you described is in the next compartment, accompanied by the girl...I'm afraid we cannot arrest him while the train is in motion, as revealing ourselves at that time would be much too risky, giving him an enormous oppurtunity to escape once the train came to a rest." Ike nodded.
"Then," Taylor started, clearing his throat, "What are you going to do?" Natalie gave him a stern look as he said this; she whispered something in his ear and he screamed, "What?! I was just asking!"
"That's quite alright, Mrs. Hanson...but before we go through with any arrest, you understand, we're going to need evidence against him." Robert explained. Ike nodded once more, this time more vigorously.
"Yeah, yeah, I expected that," he breathed, reaching into his pockets. He pulled out two badly folded notes that I figured were most likely the notes Chaz had gotten to us through his mother and the man at Burritoville. Robert moved his lips as he silently read the notes. When he was done, he folded each back up and slipped them into his back pocket.
"That should be enough...we can get a handwriting analysis right here on the train." he told us.
"How?" Ike, Taylor and I chorused. Robert laughed.
"Well...he's got a forward facing seat, so...you could come watch if you like." he said, smiling. I got up, along with Ike, who was followed by Taylor. Natalie and Kate decided to stay behind. Ezra tugged on Taylor's jeans.
"I wanna go!" he begged, "Please, Daddy?" Tay laughed and snatched him from the floor of the train. Robert led the four of us through a door to the next compartment. All at once, three pairs of eyes flew to the back of one head. We recognized Chaz immediately. I also spotted a small swinging foot in the bottom gap of the chair next to him. A million thoughts crammed themselves into my head as I stared at Caitlyn's small, swinging foot. But no sooner had I observed the foot than it was gone. Just as tingles of despair began to trickle through my chest, I saw what I'd been longing to see for what had seemed like an eternity; Caitlyn had hopped into the seat opposite Chaz, and her young, innocent face was staring back at mine. Her eyes widened and she opened her mouth to speak, but Ike hastily slammed his finger to his mouth, hushing her. Her mouth closed, though a smile crept up on her face as she gazed at the four of us. Robert grabbed a piece of paper from his shirt pocket, along with a pen. He shoved them into my hands.
"Quick, make up a false name and write it down," he whispered, "then have your brothers do the same." Puzzled, I lay the piece of paper on Ike's back to press on; I briskly jotted down the first two names I could think of - James Donovan. Still confused, I handed the paper and pen to Ike, who then handed them to Taylor. Once we were all done, the paper and pen were returned to Robert. At that moment, Ezra caught sight of Caitlyn, only four rows down from where we stood. He began to jump up and down, hitting Taylor in the knee.
"Daddy! Daddy! There, Caitlyn! Can I -" Ezra cried. I quickly wrapped a hand around his mouth and swooped him into my arms.
"Ezra, be quiet! You're gonna get us caught!" I whispered irritably; I kept my eyes on the back of Chaz's head, praying he had not heard Ezra's outburst. He wriggled his face away from my hand.
"I see Caitlyn! I want to see Caitlyn!" he yelled at me.
"NO!" I said in a hoarse voice, trying hard to stay as quiet as possible. Hot tears sprang to Ezra's angry young eyes.
"YES!" he screamed at me. Taylor looked at me and Ike apoligetically, grabbed Ezra, and opened the door to our original compartmnet, with Ezra kicking and screaming all the way. To my utmost surprise, Chaz still had not turned around. I ran my hands over my face; I was beginning to feel impatient and tense - I found myself selfishly wishing I were at home with Kate. A second after this thought occured, I felt sickened with myself. I was here for one reason, and that was to get Caitlyn back, no matter what it took. Robert noticed my flustered face and smiled.
"Don't worry," he assured me, rubbing my shoulder. "I'm going to go get his handwriting - this will all be over soon enough." I nodded doubtedly, all the time praying Chaz wouldn't figure us out. Robert approached Chaz with the paper and pen still in hand.
"Excuse me, sir," he began clearly, "My name is Charles Jimmins, we're taking a survey for statistics - now, where are you getting off?"
"Missouri." Chaz growled.
"And are you traveling for moving purposes, or vacational?" Robert asked in a slightly nasal voice that did not belong to him. I began to worry; where was this heading?
"We're moving." Chaz grunted, obviously annoyed.
"Ah," Robert laughed, "Another mover! Well, sir, if you could just sign this list I could be on my way." A tan, slightly wrinkled hand reached out and grabbed the paper, then the pen. A second later the pen and paper were back in Robert's hands as he smiled and thanked Chaz. Robert made his way back to us, a triumphant look on his face.
"Easy enough." he laughed, this time in his real voice. Snatching the two notes from his back pocket, he compared the three signatures in his hands. A giant smile widened on his face.
"Looks like a match to me...let me just have Paul have a look at it." Robert told us, nodding. I looked beside me and realized the three other undercover officers had been sitting next to us all the while. Robert handed the three wrinkled pieces of paper to one of the men, who took out a pair of small reading glasses.
"He's an expert." Robert explained. Paul examined the three signatures for around five minutes, though it felt like much longer.
"Perfect match," Paul finally whispered, "you've got yourselves a kidnapper!" Ike let out a long sigh of relief as he wiped at his forhead with his arm. Triumph and accomplishment filled my body, though a small part of me was still drowning in doubt and worry - we hadn't gotten Caitlyn back just yet.
"So...when's the next stop?" I asked.
 

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