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Seven Days in the Darkness

Seven Days in the Darkness

I was driving back from work that day, and I got off the main road to a side street. That was my first mistake, according to my captors. Coming out of an alley, in seconds, two vehicles ambushed me. “Don’t look at us mierda!”, they yelled. Immediately, I put my head down between my legs and obeyed. Meanwhile, they were going through my purse while yelling at me asking for any jewelry and cash. They asked me to confirm my identity and that’s when I suspected that this wasn’t a holdup. They put a shirt over my head and moved me to another car. We arrived to a house, walked through a hall, into a room, and they sat me down on the cold unfinished concrete floor. No bed, just a thin blanket and a pillow. They blindfolded me and ordered me to sit still. Then, they finally uttered the dreaded words:

“Luisa Castillo*, this is a kidnapping.”

They followed me for two weeks assuming that we were rich because my dad had a management position in a company they believed he owned. They thought he had enough money to pay a fifty- thousand-dollar ransom. They offered me a cigarette which I accepted gratefully. I smoked it slowly trying to process the day, realizing I would probably get raped and die alone surrounded by voices. I became familiar with their voices and in the next seven days, their voices became their faces. For the next few days the routine was the same; talk, smoke, eat, sleep and worst of all, wait.

They informed me that my dad had been ill, but was doing better. I decided to take advantage of the pity I heard in their voices. I wasn’t experiencing any sort of Stockholm syndrome. I very much hated them. I hated the sound of their voices, their smell, the smell of the food they ate. I spent hours in my darkness, listening to their banter, pretending to be interested in their conversations, pretending that we were actually developing some sort of emotional attachment. I believe that they were, I was just pretending. I was just buying time while I could think of ways to escape. I would imagine how I could use their fondness for me. I knew they left me with “Lazy” in the mornings. He had this lazy tone in his voice. It sounded like he was drunk – he sounded young, inexperienced and eager to please. I knew he was skinny and short. I felt his build when I pretended to cry when they told me about my dad. He asked for permission to hug me. I was certain at that point I would get raped. I didn’t, but it was just a matter of time before their sympathy would dissipate and the cabin fever would set in.

On the seventh day, I woke up to a banging noise on a metal door. I panicked and thought that for sure they were killing each other. The worst fear came over me, so I got in fetal position and started to pray and shake uncontrollably. I couldn’t feel or hear any of my caretakers around. Suddenly, the door crashed down violently.

“Luisa Castillo?!” he asked firmly.

“Yes” I answered.

“Policia Nacional. You are safe.”

The days following my rescue remain a fog. My captors were each sentenced to twenty years in prison. I have never been able to forget those seven days I spent kidnapped, contemplating my uncertain future at the hands of a band of criminals. I am one of the lucky ones to have survived a kidnapping in El Salvador where according to published government data, in 2001, there was a kidnapping every three days. Many victims are either found dead or never found.  Today, I value my freedom, enjoying each day knowing it could be my last.  And those are the kind of lessons learned after spending seven days in the darkness.

*Name has been changed to protect the victim

Marcela de Allemand

Marcela de Allemand

Born in New Orleans, Louisiana and raised in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, Central America, Marcela De Allemand has been writing since she was a teen. A wife, a mother of three, with a passion for writing essays, poetry and short stories that reflect her bicultural upbringing, she currently lives in South Louisiana . Follow her blog at
Marcela de Allemand

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  • Roberto Jose Haughton says:

    Marce, thats true you can woke up in the morning in your house, but don’t know if coming back.

    • Marcela says:

      I know Toto. I pray for my friends and family daily for protection.
      El Salvador and other crime-devastated Latin American countries, beautiful pieces of paradise, but ravaged by corruption, political instability and crime.

  • Preston Gill says:

    That was a “happy” way to end a “sad” story. I am amazed at humanity’s ability to be inhumane for any number of reasons or causes. Too often we are ensconced in our own little bubble of safety and prosperity and we forget the suffering of millions of people, or worse we our own sensitivities dulled and empathies removed from our hearts. We need writers like you Marcela to remind us of what it means to be human and to feel the pain of our brothers and sisters. Thank you for including me in your list of readers and as usual I will look forward to your next piece.

    • Marcela says:

      Wow! thank you so much for helping me find my voice and for your support Preston Gill. I do have a special interest ( mildly obsessed? maybe ) for bringing these kind of stories to light.
      I am grateful for your feedback!

      • Preston Gill says:

        i doubt any great work was performed by anybody that was not at least mildly obsessed! Feed the obsession and keep up the good work, my friend. You have a way of finding stories to tell that move a person and makes them feel something on the inside. I admire that gift and your passion.

  • guillermo castro says:

    Muy bien hija mia !!! Pedazo de escritura !!! Your story brought me memories of living under the constant fear of one day having someone in my family kidnapped. Mentally I trained myself and my family on how to react if it ever happened. Rule number 1–Do not let them take you.Run,climb a light post,scratch ,bite,kick,scream.Because if they take you they will tie you up like a dog and kill you. Better to be shot in the back then die like a pig.
    A woman I know crawled under a Toyota Tercel and they could not pull her out and kidnap her. After they left friends needed a car jack to pull her out.
    Your stories keep getting better and better. Keep writing.
    Te quiero mucho,Gordis.
    Tu Papy

    • Marcela says:

      Wow! To the lady that went under the Tercel, she is lucky they didn’t shoot her. What I have learned from this is that following your gut instinct is best, weather to fight back, to remain calm, or escape, not one solution fits all. In her case, not being able to recognize them, remaining calm and submissive to them helped her save her life.
      Gracias por su apoyo papi!

  • Alejandra Díaz del Valle says:

    Great story, it reminded me of a friend we had in common…through your story, I was sent.back to those ugly days when she was kidnapped, worst days I can remember…thank God, she was released, but you never forget something like that….. thanks for sharing, I love your stories!! Hugs

  • Marcela says:

    Hola Vicki. It’s bad in El Salvador as well. This is a reality that happens every day in our countries in some worse than others.

  • Preston Gill says:

    I sent you an email at your protrans address.

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