I am a Tracker. The only one I’m aware of, although there may be more. When I touch the earth and cement, to a slightly lesser degree, I am able to feel where any one person’s footprints lead. This ability makes it easier to avoid certain people as well. I try to always have a part of me touching the ground, so I can feel people approaching even when I’m asleep.
My ability to differentiate between different people led me to the knowledge that the men who’d attacked me were unfamiliar. I hadn’t recognized the steps, and their intent was not clear until they had surrounded me. I had rushed to send out an SOS to Alice Farrow. The precinct where she works, Crandal County Station 117, is only a couple blocks from the alley where I’d been grabbed, and I’d been able to feel her steps moving toward the building. Her partner was with her as well, but I had no time to worry about that as I was hit hard enough that the garbage-strewn alley faded to black.
I woke slowly. My eyelids felt heavy, as if they were glued together. Prying them open led to a spike of pain that shot through my head and I slammed my eyes shut again. My attempt to stretch led to the realization that I couldn’t move my arms and there was an uncomfortable pinching around my wrists. As I became more aware, I recognized the feel of metal digging into my back, and my head was resting at an odd angle, increasing my discomfort. A groan escaped as I once again attempted to stretch into a more comfortable position.
I peeled my eyes open gradually, knowing I needed to see where I was and how bad the situation was. The light still hurt, but it wasn’t quite as bad as the first time. I looked around carefully, hoping to see anything that would expedite my freedom, and my heart sank. I was in a storage cage of some kind. There was cement on two sides and chain link fence in front and to one side of me. My hands were cuffed to a steel pipe attached to the wall. The light came from a single light bulb hanging from the middle of the cage. The door was part of the chain link fence and was locked with a padlock. It seemed a little excessive considering I was handcuffed to the wall, but whatever.
Outside of the cage was dark. Either there were no windows or they were covered with something to keep the light out. I didn’t think I’d been out long enough for it to get dark. There was a sliver of light across the room from the space at the bottom of the door. The building was silent, but I could hear traffic moving outside. People, who were going about their lives unaware there was someone trapped in this warehouse, just drove by without a care in the world.
I glanced once more at the concrete walls and ceiling and grasped the idea that I was stuck. Any attempt I made to free myself would likely end up with me being crushed under a ton of concrete. My ability to move the ground through the concrete was dangerous, and one I had not practiced. I would have to bide my time and hope an opportunity for escape presented itself. I rattled the cuffs on the pole, and wished I knew how to pick the locks so I could escape. It was something I might want to learn in the future.
My memory of being grabbed was slightly fuzzy, so I had to search it to figure out if I’d been able to get a message out to Alice. It wasn’t easy to do through the massive headache, but I needed to figure it out before I could do anything to help myself. I also needed to figure out exactly who’d grabbed me and why.
It couldn’t be for a ransom; as a runaway I have no family to pay it. The other options weren’t as appealing. I work as an informant to the police, so anyone I’d ratted on could hold a grudge. If that were the case, they’d have to know that I had spoken to Alice. Detective Alice Farrow is the one authority figure I trust with most of my biggest secrets. She is the only police officer who knows about my abilities, and trusts me when I tell her something I found out because of them. It was usually up to her to figure out how to explain the tips I gave without implicating me in any crimes.
Most of the cases I’d helped her with involved finding missing people. That is my specialty. It is made simpler if I’ve been in contact with them at some point. Previous contact makes following their footsteps much easier. I have a mental catalogue of the people I’ve come into contact with and the pattern of their footsteps. Once I feel those steps I’m able to follow them with little or no difficulty. Most of the time I instinctively know about how tall and how heavy the people are based on the way they walk.
Another option was the possibility that my father had located me finally after I’d run away five years earlier. Before my sudden exodus he’d threatened to kill me if I tried to get away again, so I’d made certain to run fast and far. He was about four counties over. I’d also been going by a different name for the last five years, and no one in my new life knew it wasn’t my real name.
The memory of sending the SOS to Alice came back. I’d been able to reach down and send the message through a crack in the cement just before someone had hit me from behind. I can’t be sure she saw the message, but I was definitely hoping she did. She wouldn’t know where I was taken, but based on the fact that I was able to send the message at all, she’d have a distance to start with. From previous attempts we had discovered that I could send messages through the earth up to about two and a half miles. It did take a few minutes to travel, but once I sent it at my end it would reach wherever I told it to. I had been able to feel Alice moving outside her precinct, so that is where I had to send the message. It would give her both a distance and a timeframe to work with.
Unfortunately I’m not able to send messages through cement. I would have to raise the ground under the cement to crack it, giving me direct access to the earth beneath it. I could do that, but it is an inexact power. It would be the same as if I’d tried to escape by using my destructive ability; the whole building would be likely to fall in on me. It would be suicide by idiocy. If I were able to accomplish it without any death or extreme destruction, the attempt would allow my captors to view some of what I could do. If they didn’t already know, there was no way I was showing them.
I tensed as I felt footsteps coming toward me. It was time to find out who had grabbed me. The steps were unfamiliar and slightly muffled by the concrete. I was in a warehouse or storage facility somewhere. Alice wouldn’t find me before they had time to do whatever they wanted. My breath hitched as I realized how much trouble I could be in right now. One question plagued me; when I go missing, who tracks the Tracker?