by Cade Scott
Mom I need help.
What’s wrong?
I was coming home from the party…
And I got a flat tire.
Oh no! Did it just go out on you?
Yeah, I was driving and heard a loud bang.
The car swerved a little, so I stopped and got out—
And I saw the flat.
Where are you?
Bryant Street — near the high school.
There’s no one out here. It’s kind of creepy.
It’s midnight — that doesn’t surprise me.
I’ll have Dad come and get you.
We can take care of the tire tomorrow.
He’s still at the office. It shouldn’t take him long.
He’s still at the office? At midnight?
He had to lay off some people.
He said it was the hardest thing he’s ever had to do.
Oh wow.
But he said he could leave to get you.
Tell him to hurry please.
One minute later.
Dad just left the office. He’s on his way.
Oh good. Will you keep texting me until he gets here?
Of course. How was the party?
You feeling okay?
Mom…I didn’t drink, if that’s what you’re getting at.
You can tell me if you did.
I didn’t!
I wouldn’t be stupid enough to drink and drive.
I just worry about you.
I’m fine. When do you think Dad will get here?
It’s freezing out here.
Are you in your car?
No I’m standing outside.
Dad should be there in about ten minutes.
It’s so quiet out here…
So still.
I have this weird feeling.
What do you mean?
Like I’m not alone.
It feels like someone else is out here with me.
Mom, the hair on the back of my neck is standing up.
And I have goosebumps.
Honey…if you don’t feel safe, get back into your car.
But if something happens and I’m in my car, I can’t run away!
Dad is on his way. He’ll be there any minute.
I hope so…
I swear I can hear someone breathing.
Behind me.
Do you have that pepper spray?
In the glove compartment.
Get it.
Do you still hear something?
Good. So you’re fine.
Where is Dad?
He’s not there yet?
Hmmm…how far from the school are you?
Not that far…it shouldn’t be taking him this long.
I’ll call him.
Wait, I see headlights.
Is it your father?
It looks like his car.
Oh god.
He’s not in it.
What do you mean??
There’s someone else driving the car…
It’s a man…
OMG he’s got blood on his coat!
He looks crazy.
Wendy run!
What’s happening?!
What?!? What’s going on?!
I was able to get away—
The man lunged at me and tried to take my purse.
I used the pepper spray, doused his face.
Then I ran.
I just called 911.
They said they should be here in a few minutes.
Where are you?
I think I ran a few blocks — I’m near the park now.
He was definitely in your dad’s car?
Yeah, I saw the license plate.
Then where is your dad?!
I don’t know!!
I’m really freaked out.
I’m worried too. What happened to the guy?
He was lying on the ground, but I didn’t stick around to see what he did next.
I’m coming out there. Okay?
Five minutes later.
Wendy? Please answer me!
Where are you?
I’m with the police.
They just arrested the guy who stole Dad’s car.
But they can’t find Dad anywhere.
I’m so scared! Are you on your way yet?
I’m on my way.
Did the police tell you the name of the man they arrested?
Yes. His name is Robert Stanton.
Oh my God.
Wait — you know who that is?
Yes. He was one of the people your father had to fire today.
He was threatening your father—
They had to call security to escort him out of the building.
Then that would explain…
Oh my god. What a sick man.
I’m so glad you’re safe. But honey…
Oh no, Mom!
A call just came over the police radio about a man on the side of the road.
They said he wasn’t moving.
I can’t breathe — what if it’s Dad?
We’re heading there now.
It’s right in front of the high school.
Okay, I’ll meet you there.
Wendy and the policemen arrive at the high school first.
An ambulance is already at the scene.
EMTs are carrying a stretcher inside.
That’s my dad! Is he…alright?
Yes. He’s unconscious but stable.
He has a broken leg and some bruises, but he’ll be alright.
Can I…
Yes. You should absolutely speak to him.
Wendy presses a hand to her father’s cheek.
She sees the bruises forming around both of his eyes…
And then they open. He looks up at his daughter.
Dad…are you okay?
I’ll be fine. Are you fine?
Yes. That man…
Oh Wendy, I can’t believe I put you in harm’s way.
Robert said he was going to hurt me…
By hurting you. Just like I hurt both him and his family when I fired him.
Oh that’s horrible!
I saw the warning signs.
I saw them months ago.
Other employees were concerned.
I should have fired him a long time ago.
Dad, this was not your fault!
I know, honey, but I shouldn’t have pretended he wasn’t a problem.
I should have handled this earlier.
And prepared for something like this.
Wendy, I want you to promise me something.
What, Dad?
If anyone at school ever shows signs of becoming violent…
Please let me know.
And let someone at the school know.
I will, Dad. I promise.
Wendy’s dad lets out a shuddering sob.
Wendy feels her heart lurch—
She’s never seen her dad cry before.
Dad, it’s okay. I’m okay.
I know. I’m just so happy my baby girl is safe.