This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
This story is copyrighted by Parker Sheaffer, all rights reserved. Distribution, including but not limited to: posting on internet sites, newsgroups, or message boards, or in book form (either as a whole or part of a compilation), or on CD, DVD or any other electronic media, is expressly prohibited without the author's written consent.
"Dad, will you take Alex and me to the mall today?"
"I don't know, Simon. With what's been happening there I don't think I want you kids hanging out at the mall. Who knows what's going on. Some nut may try and kidnap you."
"Please, dad. It's important. Really. I know you're worried, but Alex and I will be really careful, I promise." Simon could have said that they would stay where there were plenty of people but he had never lied to his parents and wouldn't start now. He simply didn't mention what his real plans were.
He and Alex went back to the mall and did their decoy routine for a while. They wandered through the parking lot with Simon remaining unseen. Soon, unexpectedly, Simon's attention was distracted by a woman who was trying to change a flat tire while holding her baby. The little girl looked to be about a year old and was having a bit of a temper tantrum so her mother was having to hold her with one arm and turn the lugs with the other.
Simon said, "Hang on, Alex. I've gotta help her." Thinking that Alex was right behind him he turned visible and asked the woman if he could help.
"Yes, thank God. I can't seem to get these lug nuts off and Jessie is having a fit."
Simon took the heavy iron bar from her and twisted the stubborn lug nut with all his might. It gave way and he was able to remove it. The other were not as hard to get off. He jacked up the car and replaced the tire with the spare. Once he had it all done the woman quieted the baby down and offered him some money for his work.
"Oh, that's okay, ma'am. I just wanted to help out. Thanks anyway."
He was feeling pretty good until he turned and realized that Alex was nowhere in sight. Panic gripped him for a moment as he scanned in every direction, but then he heard Alex calling, "Simon! Simon! Help, help me somebody!"
Running in the direction of Alex's voice he spotted him behind a large blue van, struggling with a man who was trying to get a rag over his face. Simon automatically yelled, "Hey...!" and ran to help his friend. The man looked up and saw Simon so he dropped Alex and took off running. Simon bent down to help his friend and asked if he was alright.
Alex was trembling badly and in a shaky voice said, "I'm okay. Just scared. He was trying to kidnap me, Simon. Where did he go? Did you get him?"
"I feel so stupid. I panicked and all I could think about was getting to you. It all happened so fast I forgot to use my power on him. I just wasn't thinking. I'm sorry."
"Did you get a good look at him?"
"Yeah, that I did. He won't get away next time. Come on. Let's go tell the police."
There was an officer standing near the doors to the mall, questioning people as they came and went.
"Officer. We saw him. He was back there. He tried to get me but I fought him off. Simon scared him away but he's back there somewhere" Alex said, his voice still shaking with fear.
The officer saw that they were serious and immediately called for backup.
While he waited he questioned them about the man's appearance and anything else they might remember about him. He gave the description to some other policemen who arrived with their sirens and lights going. They all started cruising around the parking lot and the garages. A Sergeant took a statement from them and asked if they would come downtown with their parents the next day and talk to a sketch artist. Maybe they could get some posters out and someone would recognize him.
Their parents were terrified when the boys told them about their dangerous encounter with the kidnapper and insisted that they both stay away from the mall until the man was caught.
"I can't believe that the two of you were wandering around that parking lot all by yourselves," his dad said. "I'm really a little disappointed in you, son. You told me you would be careful." That made Simon feel even worse.
The boys were disappointed at the restriction placed on them, but agreed to obey their parents wishes.
That evening in Simon's room they discussed the situation.
"I'm so sorry about letting you down this afternoon, Alex."
"Hey, you didn't let me down. You saved me. Dude, I was so scared, but you chased him away and don't worry, we'll catch this guy yet. It's a shame we can't just Google 'perverts' and get his address."
"Thanks, Alex. I've been thinking about it some more and I... wait a minute. I wonder..."
"Fire up the computer. I want to try something."
"Okay, try what?"
"Let's see if we can get some guidance from the Green Man."
Simon called up a Google map of their entire area and, taking his amulet in one hand he closed his eyes and reached out his mind to his mentor. With his eyes still closed he moved the mouse around the screen until he felt it stop, all by itself. Then he scrolled the wheel on the mouse to zoom in. He opened his eyes and the two boys saw that it had landed on a house. It sat in a neighborhood on the other side of town, almost outside of town.
"Is that it, Simon? Do you think that's were he lives?"
"I think so. It felt right."
"What do we do now, call the police?"
"I don't think they would believe us and how would we explain how we know? No, I think this is a job for Captain Justice."
Simon looked at his friend and smiled, "And Laser. Let's look up the bus schedules and see if any of them go to that neighborhood."