In seventh grade we took an end-of-the-year field trip to an aquarium near school it was called Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies we live in Gatlinburg Tennessee a literal mountain town with nothing but hills and mountains as far as the eyes can see our science teacher Mr. Russo was our chaperone for the trip he was a very lacks teacher so while other teacher chaperones were more uptight and strict with their groups Mr. Russo was more chill about his job that may seem like a good thing but because of his lackadaisical approach at supervising my friend Aidan and I were able to easily bail from the aquarium lobby away from the rest of the groups
We quite simply didn’t want to wait so long for all the groups to move the whole aquarium was empty except for our classes so when Aidan and I walked through the passageways or I guess observation areas as you would say before everyone else we didn’t see anyone else we got the best views that all the big fish tanks and habitats we moved on to the next dark room all of which were lit up with a dark blue tint from the fish tanks by the way this room had a lot of big tanks with tropical fish we were making jokes about Finding Nemo fish like clownfish and the dory fish and that’s when I remember someone calling hey to us in a very assertive commanding voice it was some guy in cargo shorts and a green t-shirt he asked us if we were with the field trip.
I was about to shake my head no but Aiden said yes the man told us to come with him right now we both assumed he worked for the aquarium so we followed he wasn’t leaving us back to the lobby though he was leading us through some narrow dark hallways I remember passing the bathrooms and a few exit signs hanging on the ceiling before reaching an exit door he led us outside to some back area guest by the woods I finally asked if he worked there and where he was leading us he said yes he did work there and that he had to drive us back around to the front of the aquarium in order to be let back in it made just as much sense back then as it does now but we were too nervous seventh graders who thought we were about to get in serious trouble so when he led us to his car we willingly got in the back seats he told us to strap in and he pulled out from the back parking lot and onto the street just as we thought he was gonna make a right turn towards the front.
He turns left right away both Aiden and I asked him where he was going at the same time he didn’t answer that question but about five seconds later we heard the locks to the back doors click down and he made some kind of threat along the lines of if either of you try to make any moves I’ll kill you he then proceeded to slide out what appeared to be a big knife in his glove box as some kind of threat in a nice sat in silence I’m sure he wanted to throw up just like I wanted to we had to think of a way to escape but we couldn’t talk to each other because the man kept looking in the rear-view mirror every other second he was driving us uphill through some woodsy isolated neighbourhood until he finally pulled over onto the side of the road and what appeared to be the middle of nowhere no houses no through traffic he told us to stay in the car as he got out with his knife in his hand.
I whisper tayden to be prepared to run as soon as I said to the man came to my door popped it open and told me to step out he told me to tell my friend that if he wants me alive he better be in the car by the time we got back I felt the deepening feeling in my stomach when I heard that the man started walking me to the woods with the knife probably in his pocket to do god knows what I saw Aiden sliding over to my side of the car which had an unlocked door and when he seemed ready to run I screamed run Aiden was already running downhill I easily dodged the man as I fled past him following Aiden the man tried chasing us on foot and I’m not even kidding when I say he threw the knife at me he missed with only maybe a few inches to spare I heard the clanging of the knife hitting the ground ahead of me I didn’t stop to pick it up I just kept running downhill in the direction we came the man stopped following after throwing the knife I think he got back in his car and fled the scene he somehow managed to make it back to the aquarium in under an hour and we also managed to sneak back into the group Mr. Russo didn’t even notice Aiden and I decided to keep quiet about what just happens what purpose would it serve getting ourselves in trouble given that there was relatively no chance of that man getting caught as we got older we started to wonder more and more what the intentions of that man were we could obviously think of a few likely ones but either way we kept quiet about it and don’t really like to think about it.