Taken by Corie L. Calcutt

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Luke Dayton, a sophomore at a Virginia college, is walking home form the corner store when out of nowhere a man literally snatches him from off the street. To his horror, Luke learns that the man is a recent prison escapee - and that his plan to keep his freedom involves taking Luke's.

Over the next five days, Luke is forcibly taken on a cross-country journey across several states, witnessing a crime spree that has no rhyme or reason, except to his captor. The only hope Luke has of returning home to the life and loved ones he was removed from is to figure out where he is ultimately being taken...and what plans his kidnapper has for him once they reach their mysterious destination.

A new work of suspense from the author of Hostage at the Kitchen Table.


“Jesus. What, you have a late night, Luke?”

I yawned. “What gave it away?”

Rob smiled as he waved my items over the ancient scanner. “The fact that I could count your back teeth that last time you yawned was a big help.” Well-kept fingers slid the catnip toy into a bag and sat it on top of the giant bag of cat food. “Didn’t know you had a cat.”

“I don’t.”

Dark eyebrows raised a little. “Then why the cat stuff?”

“It’s for Angie.”

The eyebrows shook off their question, replacing it with a sly look. “So that’s the trick, huh?”

“Come on. I’m gonna be late for dinner,” I said, grabbing the bag off the counter.

“Dinner this late? Man, what’s on the menu?”

“Yeah, don’t you wish,” I said, following the unspoken comment. “Angie had to work. She forgot to buy cat food the other day. Called me in a panic, asked if I could get some for her.”


“Keep it up, man.” I grinned, trying to work the sleep out of my system.

Rob laughed. “Hey, I don’t want no trouble. Bad enough I have to cheat off you to pass American Lit.”

“Keep that up, and I know where to get eggs and shaving cream by the case.” I could hear the laughter pouring out of Rob’s lungs as I walked out the door. Looking through the oversized plate glass, I could see him busily ringing up a few small items for the next customer—a towering giant of a man in clothes that looked as though they’d been through the wringer a few times. The smell of smoke had hovered around the man, and I was glad to leave him behind me.

The night air outside the store was incredibly warm for November. Remnants of leaves crackled and rustled through the trees as the warm wind began to pick up a little outside the corner store. Angie’s neighborhood wasn’t terribly far from mine, and with the temperature being in the mid-seventies, I had decided to walk over to get the last two items on her list. The quiet street cast itself in half-light as the full moon shone brightly in the night sky, and the vague shapes of rusted cars and beaten trucks spottily lined the curbed lane.

A dull humming sound followed behind me for a minute; I looked back and saw what looked like a work van pulling to the side of the street. Considering the hour, it probably had come in from an out-of-town job. Looking at my watch, I saw that it was getting close to nine o’clock. Angie was going to kill me.

The thought of homemade chili began to take over. I could smell the spice she put in the hamburger and taste the sour cream layering overtop the perfectly seasoned canned tomatoes Angie made from scratch. The sound of shifting cat food rang through my ears as I carried the heavy bag. A little chill ran down my spine, and I stopped a moment. Sensing nothing, I continued. My imagination had a tendency to run away with itself every now and again.

As I walked, the chill in my back worked its way farther and farther up my spine, creating a tingling sensation right at that point where the head and neck meet. I looked around, hoping to see some errant squirrel racing loudly up a tree, hear the rumble of a car engine, or even feel the wind pick up coldly on my face, perhaps telling me that the unseasonable weather was going to change for the worse. Spinning on my heel, I looked up and down the moonlit street. All I saw were the shadowy outlines of old houses now serving as student apartment housing, scattered trees and a few dim street lamps. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary.

Get a hold of yourself, I scolded silently, continuing towards Angie’s street. There’s nothing out there.

Suddenly an arm seized me from behind. “What the…?” I cried out, but a flash of something silver and shiny caught the rest of the sentence in my throat. A sharp prick at my throat killed the thought instantly.

“Come here,” a voice growled, deep and foreboding. The powerful arm that had taken hold of my midsection pulled me backward, causing me to lose my balance a little. “Move.”

I balked, trying to pull away from the force hauling me back. “No! Let go of me!”

The sharp prickle reasserted itself, driving very close towards its intended target. “Shut the hell up and do what you’re told, or so help me I’ll cut you. Do you understand?”

Sharp blade points nipped menacingly at the tender flesh of my throat. I tried to pull away from the arm at my midsection, its grip as solid as iron. It would not give. For the moment, there weren’t any options. “Yes,” I breathed, hoping it would be enough.


Strong arms began dragging me backwards. The only glimpses I could see of my assailant were of badly wrinkled sleeves and thick hands. The powerful smell of dirt and smoke nearly choked me. The overwhelming force the man used to haul me away was making me stumble a little. My nails caught against rough, weathered skin as I fought for release.

I glanced around wildly, hoping to find purchase on a clue as to where I was being taken. Soon I spotted the old work van sitting patiently near the curb. It had no lettering on it, no windows to see inside or out from the back. “Get in and shut up,” my attacker ordered, releasing his knife from my throat as he shoved me inside.

  • Published by: Untreed Reads

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