The elevator doors clunked shut just as I arrived, breathless. Slamming my hand on the stainless steel in frustration, I jabbed the elevator call button. Twice. Three times. A petite blonde woman rounded the corner. She eyed me and backed up a few steps. “You okay?” I must have looked as frantic as I felt.
“Yes, my daughter just got on the elevator with a stranger, and I need to catch up and make sure she’s okay.” I checked the numbers above her elevator. They’d stopped on the second floor. My truck was parked on the ground floor.
The woman relaxed and approached as the elevator chimed. We boarded. She was closest to the panel. “What floor?” In any other circumstance I’d be trying to place her accent, having a fascinating conversation about her home country.
Maybe my daughter hadn’t gotten off with him but I decided to take no chances. “Two, please.” The elevator lurched and creaked.
Her phone chirped and she answered. Her accented “Hello?” echoed through the speaker on my phone. She frowned at me.“How did you get my number?”
“I didn’t call you,” I said, confused. She waved the phone in my face. “This is not your number?” It was my number, but I hadn’t even touched the phone in my pocket. Distracted by her phone, the crack-crack-crack sound registered in my consciousness just a moment too late. Light exploded in my head.
Crumpling to the elevator floor, I remembered the article I’d read earlier that week. Some thieves could pick up credit card information by walking near your wallet. Cell phone thieves used similar technology. A phone thief, now? The irony seemed too great, but then I felt her slipping the cell from my pocket.
The elevator doors opened on the second floor. “All done?” The cheery male voice boomed into the small space with incongruous levity. My head lolled sideways; I saw the man from the hallway. “Yes, almost,” answered the woman.
Not a phone thief. She’s with him. She leaned over me again with a smirk. “Don’t you know? Never let a child out of your sight. There are just too many crazy persons in the world.”
I tried to fight, to stand, to move, but my muscles betrayed me. Helpless, I watched as the man turned away, carrying the slumped form of my daughter.
Once again, I heard the taser, felt the surge. The woman spoke one last time as consciousness slid away. “Sweet dreams. Or, not.”
Heart pounding and sweat-soaked, I woke from this dream four nights ago. The terror, in my case, was imaginary. For many victims of child trafficking, it is all too real.
Arkofhopeforchildren.org says 20.5 MILLION are victims worldwide. 1.5 million of these are within the U.S. And HALF of those victims are children.
Do something about child trafficking. Don’t wait for the elevator.
Visit hislittlefeet.org to start your research.