Stepmother’s Plan 9 (https://tentaclestories.wordpress.com/2015/12/21/stepmothers-plan-9/)
Alisa can’t remember how long she has been lying on the bed. Her eyes are still puffy from all the crying. No matter how hard she thinks about it, she still doesn’t know what her kidnapper wants. She has never been kidnapped before, at least not until now, but she is pretty sure they do not own an underground 6 star loft with chandelier and grand piano, and certainly not a fan of Chateau Montelena Carbenet Sauvignon. It’s obvious he’s not in need of a quick cash top up, which is the usual motive to kidnap someone rich. And if that’s the case, what does he after? That question has Alisa chewing her thumbnail for ages.
After he told her to go in her room and not come out until she’s called, she took the liberty to take a shower in the attached bathroom. The bathroom was indeed another evidence that money is not a problem for him. The brown rock slabs encrusting the walls, the bright lighting, the large mirror, the heated all-surround shower; this man probably has more money than all the kidnappers in the world combined. Nevertheless, she took the opportunity to clean herself and remove the stigma of her objectification between her legs.
Once cleaned, she lied on the bed and started crying. All sorts of thoughts from the painful ordeal of the first week to missing her home, Alisa wailed again and again. However, there’s only so much she can cry. The crying was a relief she needed but no longer in need of anymore. Time to move on, she tells herself. She sits up from the bed and look around for something to do. She can’t possibly be doing nothing forever. With hardly any option, she curiously inspects the book rack above the desk.
She looks at the top section first. The first title seems rather interesting. The word ‘Trapped’ is printed on the spine of the paperback book. It couldn’t have explained her situation more clearly. Alisa pulls the paperback book out thinking that maybe it will give her some insight in how to cope with being trapped. When she sees the front cover, she slams the book back to its slot. The image is nothing like she’s imagined. She’s definitely not expecting to see a half naked woman on all four looking up to a man holding a cane. She takes in a deep breath as the image reminds her of a particularly nasty image of herself.
After making sure that she won’t take the book, rush out of the room, and throw it to his face, she turns to the next title. “At Your Command” It sounds military to Alisa at first until she notices the rather cursive font. As if the font isn’t compelling enough, the color of the title is pink. Military don’t do pink. It seems explicit and Alisa skips the book and looks for something further away from the current genre, if these are even arranged according to genre, to find something a little less explicit.
Then she sees a very peculiar title. “The Greatest Show on Earth”. It’s a hardcover book with blue and black theme. She bites her lower lip and pulls it out. When she sees a flight of blue butterflies instead of strippers on a pole like what she half expected, she lets out a soft sigh. Finally. Something appropriate for her to read. She takes the book and hops onto the bed like an errand child finding a new toy to play with. She turns to the back cover and reads the strings of acclaims made to someone by the name R. Dawkins. Must be a really good book to be this well acclaimed, she muses. Finally, she peels off the hardcover and forces it outwards. The hinge of the hardcover creases.
Luther sits by the kitchen counter enjoying a glass of wine. He looks at his laptop. A PDF file was sent to him a few minutes ago. He clicks the file to open it. It is the complete report on Alisa. He looks at the index and is quickly amazed by how detailed the investigator he has hired can be. The file contains everything about Alisa. Her birthplace, birthday, parents’ background to her education, school behavior reports to her DUI charge and drug possession charge; everything in a neatly arranged report he can conveniently read. He ponders, though briefly, on how the investigator from a thousand miles away can dig this much information up. The power of internet and hacking, Luther muses, are very terrifying indeed.
From the report, Alisa is born in 1995 to a Joseph Graham and Elise Westbrooke Graham at Mercy West County Generals. Joseph Graham was the boss of a small time metal foundry company by the name Starlight Metal Foundry, SMF, which he inherited from his father. Her mother, Elise, was a college professor teaching Chemistry. The two married in West County Church in 1993.
There’s a picture of her with her parents. She was sitting between the couple, smiling at the cake in front of her. Looks like a happy family, Luther muses. There’s a caption under the picture indicating the date the picture was taken. Luther does the math in his head and figures that the girl in the picture was six years old Alisa.
Alisa is the only child of the two couple. The report, however, does contain the dates of several visits to three fertility clinics made by Joseph and Elise Graham from the year 1997 to 1999. The report does not speculate further on why the visits were made, but it doesn’t really take a genius to figure that one out though. Nevertheless, being the only child to a pair of parents that seemed to like children, Alisa was greatly loved. Several more pictures are included in the report to highlight the fact that Alisa was indeed a happy child.
Luther keeps reading until he finally reaches the section about the death of Elise Graham. A tragic car accident involving a semi slamming into Elise’s Honda City that took her life. She died at the hospital due to severe blood loss and brain damage. The doctor declared her time of death to be on 10.52am, 21st of June, 2007. The coroner’s findings found the cause of death to be the severing of victim’s femoral artery by a sharp object, probably a metal piece, causing massive blood loss and later brain damage. Her funeral was serviced on 25th of June, 2007. There’s no picture, of course, and Luther would definitely be surprised by the investigator’s skill if there’s any.
The death of Elise was a traumatic loss for Joseph. He began to drown himself into his work, barely leaving the office at all. Within 2 years, Starlight Metal Foundry was listed and within eight years, began manufacturing metal parts for major automobile and aerospace company, venturing into joint business venture with a major shipbuilder company and investing into multiple large corporation. The million dollar annual revenue skyrocketed to the billion mark by 2014, raising Joseph Graham to the spotlight as one of the most successful CEO and chairman in the world.
Alisa Graham, on the other hand, was hit by the trauma even harder. Not only did she lost her mother, from what Luther can draw out from the report so far, she lost her father as well. Her flawless academic results began to falter. Her scores plunged to the gutter. It almost as if she had given up studying. It didn’t happen immediately after her mother’s death. Luther has a very detail record of her academic results in front of him where he can draw that conclusion. Her results started falling a year after SMF was listed. Luther can’t think of any other reason as to why’s that other than Joseph’s failure as a father. It’s clearly that Alisa was trying to cope with the loss but finally gave up on 2010 when she’s not getting attention anymore from the only parent she still have left.
Based on the reports her teachers had written about her, her transformation from a good student to a bratty one occurred gradually. At first, it was just detentions and warnings. Few months later, she was suspended for slapping her teacher. Later, she was expelled from her middle school for public indecency. As in taking off her t-shirt in front of the class. Her father had her enrolled into a private boarding school in New York. It is almost like he’s shoving her daughter as far away as possible from him. Nevertheless, Alisa obtained her high school graduation after being in the school for three years. She was enrolled to private college in New York but was expelled soon enough due to several complications with authorities. After that, she went back to her home, if she still consider that house a home, and stays there with her father and her stepmother.
To make matters worst, Joseph kept pouring money into his daughter’s life and as typical as it might sound, that’s the only thing he has. Money. And it only makes her daughter’s lifestyle even more obscene than it already was. Sport cars, jewelry, handbags, dresses, heels, everything there is to spoil a girl, Alisa has them all. But what Alisa doesn’t have and the one thing she needs more than everything else in her life, is her father’s attention. She wants her father’s acknowledgement in her life. And based on what Margaret has told Luther, that her father still doesn’t know that his only daughter is kidnapped, it’s obvious that Joseph has long forgotten that his daughter is still just a girl. A girl that needs caring and love, a girl that needs the attention she deserves, and a girl that doesn’t want his money but his love, just like her mother, Elise, who didn’t marry him out of it.
All the things Alisa has done so far were attempts to draw her father’s attention from his work. It’s child psychology 101. How can Joseph Graham, the worlds best CEO, missed such bloody obvious signs? Luther has to talk to Margaret about this. It seems that her plan to have Alisa conditioned for the better is not as one sided as it seems. If she wants to change Alisa, she has to change her husband as well. Time for a change of plan.
Luther closes his laptop and goes down the spiral staircase to the room below. His men have turned the entire lower level into their living quarters. Portable mattresses scatter around the large area. His presence catches the attention of his men. Some stop playing cards. Some put their phones down. Some stop reading their books. After he is sure that everyone is at attention, he makes his statement.
“I want you all to pack your things and leave.”
Stepmother’s Plan 11 (https://tentaclestories.wordpress.com/2015/12/28/stepmothers-plan-11/)