By Beth Egbert

It was a beautiful day to be on the water of the Pinky River.  Cate was cruising a lot in her latest project, that she was quite proud of.  It was her amphibious quad rider, part Harley-Davidson, part jet ski, part ATV, and all Cate.  She was known around town to be eccentric and she was okay with that.  When she was not teaching biology, chemistry, or physics at the local high school, she enjoyed working on projects in her garage using whichever spare parts she could get from her uncle’s junk yard.  Her quad rider might not be the prettiest contraption, but it could run up to 45 mph on the water, and easily convert to an ATV to run on land.  And the all-terrain tires allowed her to move into and out of the river, without having to use a boat ramp.  


The weather was just perfect, and she planned to pull into her favorite spot near the HWY 144 bridge, a nice little cove, where she could relax in the shade and read a book or do a little bit of catfishing.  As she approached her spot, she lowered the throttle and proceeded to turn towards the cove on the bank.  She could see two kids fishing from the bridge, a boy and a girl, maybe eight of nine years old.  They waved to her and she returned the wave.  She was glad that she was not too close as to disturb their fishing. Propping her feet on the handlebars, the pulled her book from her weather prove pouch and began to relax and enjoy her “me” time.  


It was not too much of a distraction to hear the occasional car passing along the bridge, so she barely noticed the sound of a car.  But then she heard a scream, “No, no, no!  Help!  Please somebody help!”  She heard a car door slam loudly and the screech of tires of car speeding off. 

Cate knew something was wrong.  Jerking up the anchor, she turned the key to start the quad rider.  She pulled out of the cove and looked toward the bridge.  There was only the boy on the bridge, now frantically pacing.  


She pulled up toward the bridge and she could see the boy was crying.


“What happened? What’s wrong?” Cate asked the boy.


“My sister, he took my sister!” the boy sobbed.


Cate’s blood ran cold. “OK.  OK. Which way did he go?” The boy pointed in the direction of Pinkyville, the next town on HWY 144.  


“OK, ok, can you tell me about the car? What color was it? What kind was it?” 


The boy stammered, “B-blue….blue truck?”


“Pick up truck?” Cate asked. The boy nodded.


“OK, ok, that’s good.  Now run home and call 911 and tell them exactly what you told me, OK?” Cate said.  The boy nodded and turned at ran back towards town. 


Cate had to do something.  She decided to pull up out and up the riverbank towards the highway.  Was she going to follow the guy?  Was there a chance she could catch up with him? She had to try.


She had never driven the quad rider on the highway before, and never faster that 45 mph.  But there is a first time for everything she thought as she pushed the throttle and the quad rider sped forward.  The heat from the asphalt blew into her face like a hair dryer.  The quad vibrated with an intensity that she had never experienced before.  And the tires, were not really meant for riding on flat ground and they made a whining sound as she coursed down the highway. The wind wiped through her hair and her cotton shirt and weekend trousers.  How fast was she even going?  She had no idea, she only hoped to see a blue truck soon.  She crested a hill and on the horizon she could see the blue pickup.  Surprisingly, he wasn’t going that fast.  She closed in on him close to his bumper.  They were getting close to Pinkyville, he would have to slow down soon for traffic. 


Bet you didn’t expect a witness to catch up to you so easily did you asshole? Cate thought as she strained to get a look at the driver.  He seemed to notice her because he accelerated quickly.  Oh no you don’t asshole.  Cate started to speed up but then saw what happened ahead. He must have been distracted because he failed to notice the pickup truck in front of him, that was driving slowly with hazard lights on.  Cate was able to break her speed and skid to a halt before hitting the pickup.  She could see why the pickup ahead was driving slowly.  It was loaded with furniture, including a pool table strapped on top.  The kidnapper plowed into the pickup, causing the pool table to slide backwards and into his windshield, crushing his head into the head rest.  Cate skidded off onto the shoulder, parking the quad.  Cautiously, she approached the wreckage.  The driver of the pickup and his passenger were already there. 


The little girl was shaking as they found her laying in the fetal position in the floorboard.  She had some cuts from the shards of glass from the windshield. But she seemed to have no other injuries.  


It did not take long for the Pinkerton County Sheriff deputies to arrive on scene, along with the paramedics to check the girl and make sure that she was okay.  Everyone, including Cate was surprised at how quickly she was able to catch up with the kidnapper.  The chances of a witness on a boat on the river being able the catch up with a driver on the highway would have been unlikely without the quad rider.  One of the deputies looked at Cate’s unique contraption.  


“Say,” he asked.  “Do you think you could build me one of those?”


“Sure!” Cate replied.  She smiled at the idea of yet another project.