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Knock Knock Knock. “Rayne! Wake up!”
I bolt awake, startled by the sound. I look out the window, rolling my eyes when I see that it’s only Simon outside. I get out of bed and walk over to the window, opening it to look at my best friend. I’m about to point out the fact that it’s 4 am and this is NOT a great time to hang out, but then I notice that this isn’t one of Simon’s regular visits. Something is very wrong.
The first thing I notice are the feathers that are stuck in Simon’s hair, which is also matted with the blood that runs down the gash on the side of his forehead. Dark circles are under his eyes, which seem to be haunted by the memory of whatever horror he has just escaped from. “What happened?!” I ask in a voice that’s too loud for this time of night. But I have bigger things to worry about then waking people up.
“You have to help me Rayne. I’m so sorry for coming here, but I don’t know where else to go. My parents are gone. I’m scared.” And then Simon, who I have never in my life seen cry, puts his head against the open window and sobs.
Now I’m terrified. I grab the front of Simon’s jacket and pull him inside. He stiffly climbs over the window sill, still sobbing as he slides to the floor. “What’s going on Simon? What happened?” I ask, my voice shaky. Simon opens his mouth to speak just as a hand snakes through the open window, gripping a gun between its fingers. The hand turns the gun so that it is pointed against Simon’s head.
A gruff, muffled voice growls, “Out, NOW! Let’s go, hurry up or a bullet’s going through your head.” Simon looks at me, panic in his eyes. He motions for me to stay quiet and get down as he scrambles backwards out the window, and I know that he’s trying to keep me from being noticed. To keep me from being taken too. He’s trying to protect me still, just as he has our whole lives, even though it might put him in even more danger. But his efforts prove useless.
A dark, hooded figure appears in the window. “You too girl,” he says, his voice thick with distain. All I can do is stare at him in horror. My feet have lost the ability to work. “Did you not hear me? I said LET’S GO!”
I hear Simon’s voice from somewhere off to the side. “Leave her alone! You found me, so let’s go. I’ll do whatever you want. Just leave her alone!” This is followed by a dull thud as the man hits Simon hard on the back of the head.
“Shut up.” He turns back to me, the gun now pointed directly at my face. This time, I slowly move toward the window. He reaches in, grabs my hair, and roughly pulls me out. I stumble, landing on my face in the dirt. The man kicks me hard in the ribs and yanks me up. I feel the cold metal of the gun as it puts it against my head.
“Let’s go now, or she dies,” he says to Simon. My world goes black as something is placed over my head, and I breathe in the musty smell of potatoes, feel the scratchy burlap as it itches my skin. A potato sack? How original.
I am pushed forward and am lead along a path and through backyards until I stumble against what I assume is a car. I hear doors opening, and I am shoved inside. I feel a hand grab mine, squeezing tight. I hold onto Simon’s hand tight as I feel the car start and we speed away from my home. I know it’s no use to scream. Nobody will hear us. So I cry instead, silent hot tears streaming down my face, which is still covered by the sack.
Minutes or hours later (it is impossible to tell; time seems to have ceased to exist), the car stops with a rolling motion. The door opens, and cold air assaults me with its icy fingers. I’m yanked out of the car and thrown over someone’s shoulder. I hear more doors open and shut, and warmer air envelops me as we enter a building. I bounce up and down as whoever carries me goes down a few flights of stairs. I try and keep track of what ways we turn, how many stairs, things like that. I recall what little self defense I know. The outlook is not very promising.
A final door opens and I am dropped onto a cold, hard floor. The sack is yanked off of my head, some of my hair with it. I see the rhinestone cross embedded onto the back of the leather jacket of the man just as he walks out the door, bolting it behind him. A cross on a kidnapper? Huh, go figure.
I look around the room, rubbing my arm where I landed on it while I take in the scene. I first notice Simon, who looks at me with pain clouded eyes. His wound has reopened and is gushing more blood. We are in a room that seems to be made entirely of cement. Two dirty cots rest in the corner, and nothing else. I notice a drain in the middle of the floor. I shiver at the horrible possibilities as to why anyone would need a drain in the middle of a floor. Then again, why would anyone need a room made of cement? So the victims’ screams cannot be heard most likely.
It’s amazing to me how fast I’ve given up hope. How much time has passed since Simon showed up? An hour? Two? Three? It doesn’t matter, because I know there’s no point in hoping for anything now. Like maybe a swarm of detectives will come busting through the door because they’ve managed to solve the crime the moment before we’re about to be killed like it happens on Law and Order. Nope, no miracle for me. I just hope the end comes soon.
I look at Simon and see that he has basically come to the same conclusion. I don’t even feel like asking why this is happening in the first place, though I know he knows. I simply stand up and cross the room on stiff legs to where Simon sits, his own blood seeping through the stark white shirt he has on. How gruesomely dramatic. Simon struggles to put his arms around me, and I hug him tight, curled up to his side like I’ve done a thousand times before, though usually under less extreme circumstances.
“I love you Rayne. I am so sorry.” The simplicity of this statement is what sends me over the edge.
“I know Simon. I love you too. Always.” Tears running down both our faces, we close our eyes and try to block the rest out.
I wake up to the scrapping sound of the metal door opening. The man with the leather jacket comes in, gun in hand. “The kid dead?” He asks me, pointing to Simon. I turn my head to look at Simon, whose head lies in my lap with his eyes closed, asleep. His breath comes out in shallow wisps, barely there at all. I’m afraid to say anything, because I don’t know which answer will be more beneficial to Simon. If I say he’s dead then the guy might leave. If I say he isn’t, he might kill him right here, right now.
“Well? Answer girl!”
I swallow, and say in the strongest voice I can manage, “Yeah, he’s dead. Oh, and I hope you rot in Hell someday.”
The man moves toward me, and swings the butt of his gun against the side of my head, causing blood to stream down my face. This must have been what happened to Simon. I don’t feel a lot of pain, mostly just numbness. “Better watch your mouth, or you’ll be dead just like your pathetic little friend there. One hit and started bawling like a baby.”
Ok, so I’m pretty much furious now. Can he really just not let Simon be fake dead in peace?
“SHUT UP! OK? Just shut up you worthless maggot. You are a worthless murdering devil who WILL rot in Hell one day.” I scream this at him, my voice raising to an octave I didn’t know I possessed. Simon must be really out of it, because he doesn’t even stir.
The man raises his gun, and I know this is it. There’s no going back; there never was. The gun erupts its fiery bullet shooting miles a minute toward me. It isn’t one of those slow motion moments where I could see the bullet speeding toward me. No, it’s instantaneous.
It blinds me, the pain. It’s astounding in its extremity. My thoughts go fuzzy and I see stars. The sickly thick scent of blood makes me gag as it pools around me in a warm, sticky mess, the color of war and crimson and pain. It trickles in small streams toward the rusty drain in the cement floor. I cannot move, I cannot scream. That part is over anyway. All that’s left is the end, the thing I used to fear most. And now? Now, I cannot welcome it with more open arms. So I lay my head beside the boy beside me and watch with blurry vision as the sparkling rhinestone cross moves away from me. And now I wait for the end.