People were talking to Caleb, but he couldn’t tell what they were saying. He felt hands touching him, but his mind couldn’t make sense of what was happening. The first two sensations that he registered were the uncomfortable texture of gravel underneath his body and the throbbing in his head. Slowly he opened his eyes and tried to look around. The light blinded him, making his head feel even worse. His vision flashed bright white momentarily, then the world came back into focus.
The first thing that Caleb saw was the dark brown stain of dried blood on the gravel. It was hard not to see since it was right in front of his eyes and he still couldn’t really move. Slowly he turned his head, fighting the pain that exploded through his body. Bringing his hand up, he felt a massive splotch of dried blood on his forehead. Suddenly it all came back, getting gas, the struggling, the fight, the object slamming into his forehead. But most of all he remembered the kidnappers’ car. He didn’t know why, something about it had just grabbed his attention. Maybe he remembered seeing it someplace.
Caleb rolled from his face onto his back and looked up into about a dozen concerned faces. Now that he could see their mouths moving, he realized that the buzzing sound that had been slowly getting louder was them talking. Apparently the blow had affected his hearing. He tried to sit up, got about half way up, and fell back down. Instantly there were a dozen hands helping him to sit.
Caleb still couldn’t make out what was being said and just shook his head and pointed to it whenever anyone appeared to be asking a question. He saw an ambulance enter the parking lot and less than a minute later the crowd was parting to make room for a team of paramedics. One of them blinded him with a flashlight while the others examined the rest of his body for injuries. Caleb’s hearing was beginning to reassert itself by this point, and the first thing that he heard was the paramedic in front of him asking what had happened.
“I got hit with something,” Caleb answered, no doubt in a very loud voice. “The jerk got me right in the forehead.”
“Do you know what it was?” the medic asked. “Follow my finger,” he added and began to move his index finger back and forth and up and down in front of Caleb.
“It almost looked like a bat of some sort but I don’t know for sure,” Caleb answered. “One thing I can tell you, though: it hurt like heck.”
“Can you tell me what your name is, where you live, or how we can contact your parents?” the medic asked.
“I can do all of the above,” Caleb answered. “My name is Caleb Henry, I live about a mile from here in the Ridgewood subdivision, and my dad is probably arriving in that cop car over there.” He motioned toward the car with his head and was reward with a flash of pain through his skull.
“Does anything feel like it might be broken?” the medic behind Caleb asked.
“No,” Caleb answered. With a grim smile he added, “I think I’m fine except for almost getting my head smashed in.”
“We need to get you to the hospital and make sure that nothing serious has happened,” one of the medics said. “You appear to be alright, except for that nasty gash on your head of course, but you can never be too careful in cases of head injury.”
“Well, this is my dad right here,” Caleb said and pointed to Mr. Henry who was walking toward the group, still unaware that his son was the center of it. “You can talk to him about it.”