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Thirty Minutes

You never know how much longer you have.

Thirty minutes. Half an hour. One thousand, eight hundred seconds. It can fly by, or it can be the longest amount of time.

My wife and I were visiting relatives for the holidays. It was a cold, snowy December morning. My wife had gone shopping with my grandmother, and my grandfather had asked me to pick up his briefcase from his office. I put the address in my GPS and made the trip across town. 

When I got to the building, I left the car on, but took my remote and locked the door. On my way in, a small Chinese woman slipped, and I helped her to her feet and asked if she was okay. She smiled at me, and I felt chills go down my spine. Shrugging it off as the frigid air, I excused myself and went inside. 

Once I retrieved the case, I went back to the car and unlocked the door. I was about to set it in the backseat when I was violently shoved into the car. Before I could turn around, someone was in the driver's seat. Very angrily, I shouted at the man, "Who the hell do you think you are? Get out of my car!" A woman got in the passenger's seat and they spoke back and forth in Chinese. As soon as I reached for my handle, the car shot forward. The couple in the front seemed to be arguing. I tried my handle, and the door was locked. There was no way out. I was trapped. However, since the car was a standard, if I could get him to kill it, the door would unlock. 

We finally came to a red light. I slowly slid my hand along the middle console and grabbed the emergency brake. Gently, ever so carefully, I raised it up. The light changed to green and he hit the gas. I was hoping when the car didn't go forward, he would forget to step back down on the clutch. No such luck. Again, we were speeding down the highway.

I felt my phone buzz in my jacket pocket. The car stereo made an alert sound, but the couple up front seemed to be arguing heavily and didn't notice. I snuck it out. My wife wanted to make lunch plans. I quickly text her back, "Cant talk. Call the police. Someone grabbed me in front of pop's office. Were in our car. First three on the license plate JBC. We just turned into Junction 287. I don't think I'm going to make it home. I'm so sorry. I love you. Tell Nona and Pop I love them. Please don't reply. I love you so much. Please hurry." I hit send and put the phone back in my pocket. I'd call the police myself, but the call would go through on the stereo. All I could do was wait. We drove for about 15 minutes, and suddenly the car turned down a dirt road. I saw a bunch of RVs up ahead. The couple started arguing heavily now, and occasionally pointing back at me. They were so engrossed in their conversation, they didn't notice the red and blue lights at first. The lights illuminated the inside of the car, and I cried silent tears of relief. 

The man screamed and pulled the car over. He turned around and looked me dead in the eye. "If you make a sound, I will kill you. Do you understand?" I nodded silently. I saw the officer walk past my window, up to the driver. Another officer was at the passenger side. "Hello, officer. Did I do something wrong?" he said. I gestured at the officer to help me. He looked at me, then back at the driver. 

"I pulled you over today because this is private property. I'm going to need you and your passengers to step out and turn off the vehicle," I heard the mans grip tighten on the leather steering wheel. He shut the ignition off, and I heard the audible "click" of the locks. 

"I'm sorry officer, I'm not from the area and I just made a wrong turn." The cop ignored him and opened the door. 

"Step out, sir. Your passengers too." My captors stepped out, and the police immediately turned them around and handcuffed them. I was free. Another officer opened my door and helped me out. I fell to my knees and sobbed. All of the gut-wrenching fear I had been suppressing finally came out. An officer helped me up and began walking me to his cruiser. I looked at the woman who was in the passenger seat, and remembered it was the same woman who I helped up at my grandfather's office. She reached up and pulled off a wig. It wasn't a woman at all, it was a man. I figured that's how they got people. Women automatically trust other women over men. He was a scout. The officers shoved him into their car, and I finally got to go home.

My whole world changed in a matter of thirty minutes. My perception of the world changed in 1,800 seconds. My life will never be the same because of that half hour.

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Thirty Minutes
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