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Hello there It looks like you’ve found me at a rather bad time
My legs have been crushed and the only thing keeping me from falling further into this horrible pit is the spear through my belly.
It’s really dark in here, so I can’t see but I can’t feel my right arm and to be honest I don’t think its there any more.
Hm? How did I get myself into a mess like this you ask?
Will you stay here with me in exchange for my story? Truth told it’s rather frightening down here and I’m really scared. But what terrifies me the most is to die ..
My name is Merista Johnson. I used to live in an old dusty town called Siltville with my mother Serena, father Hank, and best friend Jessica. Jess, as I call her, lived with us since I was five and she was always more like a sister to me than anything. We looked and acted so different but we were two sides of the same coin. I inherited hazel eyes and auburn hair from my mother and a real stubborn streak from my father. While Jess’ looks made everyone do a double take. Jess had jet black hair, smoky eyes and a sculpted face.
We both went to Juniper High school. Jess had to beat of guys off with a stick and I loved to tease her about it. But then... she would tease me with my nickname, the Prophet. It’s not that I was a famous fortune teller or anything. But things I said would often come true. I thought I was stating the obvious but then things started to happen. My mother told me that words are harmless and they only have power over you if you allow it. But...
I will always regret the words that started this disaster.
It was Thursday evening and Jess was sitting in the stand watching my soccer game. I had just scored the winning point and everyone was celebrating. Elated in my success, I looked up to the bleachers and Jason, the biggest crush of my life, was hitting on Jess... again. I shrugged it off as it’s never bothered me too much since Jess knows I like him and so he is hands off. But, as I made my way over, I got a wisp of conversation from Casey, Jason’s sister.
“Can you believe it? Jess is actually going to date Jason.” Struck by lightning I stopped in my tracks. “He told me that she said if he won the next basketball match then they would hook up.” What? Jess and Jason? That couldn’t be true. But Casey had built a reputation on having hard factual gossip. Jason was the captain of the basketball team and not without good reason. They’ve been on a winning streak ever since he joined. I couldn’t believe it, Jess actually-
“Merista!” Jess called. I turned to look at her. The couple was standing next to the gate waving at me. I felt so hurt, and Jess kept smiling and Jason hovered at her shoulder in a classic way. Tears started to well up. I spun on my heels and started to walk back across the field. “Merista!” Jess yelled after me. I refused to look back. With every step I had to push through a crowd. The spirit was high and joyous while I felt wretched. Suddenly a hand was on my shoulder. “Merista, hold on, I got some great news.” Her voice was so joyful I couldn’t take it. How could she betray me like that and be so happy about it. I snapped. Whipping around I smacked Jess’ hand.
“Great news?! How can you say that?! You knew how I felt!” Jess jumped back, startled. Her beautiful face contorting in surprise. “Well, Queen Jess caught herself another fish.” I shouted at her. Jess’ face clouded and she looked ready to burst. People were moving way from us to form a spectator ring. Usually I was the one to keep my temper but my anger and my pain pushed me beyond self control. My heart hurt once from Jason, twice for Jess’ betrayal, and a third time for Jess being so d*** happy.
“What are you talking about?” Jess demanded. As if you didn’t know. I puffed myself up and fired.
“You know exactly what I’m talking about. Your deal with Jason!” My eyes finally passed the breaking point and the salty water slid down my dirty face. Now Jess looked worried. Jason, the jerk, pushed his way to the front just in time to hear his name. His face took on a smug look and I wanted to rip his eyes out.
“But, I thought you would be happy about it.” Jess’ cloudy eyes filled with mingled emotion. In my heartache I wanted so badly to hurt others in return. But Jess, she was my best friend. I wanted to be happy she found happiness, but not like this. Not in her betrayal of me.
“Happy about it?” I whispered. “Happy about it? How can I be happy with this?! You knew I liked Jason, you said he was hands off for you.” My voice rose and continued to rise till I was shouting again, “and you STILL agreed to Jason’s deal, he is the best player on the team, he hasn’t lost yet!” Another look at Jason’s arrogant face, becoming fuller and fuller of conceit made my ire rise again. My eyes hurt from crying and my nose started to run. I couldn’t think straight. “I wish your parents would just take you back. I can’t stand you.”
There was a gasp from a few members in the audience. Something in my chest tightened. It was probably the only reason I didn’t say anything more or worst. So instead I whirled around and headed to the parking lot. I didn’t have to shove through the crowd, They parted for me to pass; not that I noticed much. Over my shoulder I shouted.
“Have Jason drive you home.” In the parking lot I yanked the door open and slid in. I knew I was going to miss the after-game celebration but I didn’t care. It would just be a load of bull anyway. I felt a twinge of guilt for leaving the team in the middle of that mess. But the image of the pair near the gate rushed into my head so I jammed the key into engine, and slammed the door. Damit Jess, why did you have to do this? I thought as I drove down the road. Turning up the volume on the music I tried to drown out my thoughts. Once I reached the house I drove around back; I didn’t want to face my parents, they would only ask how the night went and then scold me for saying something like that to Jess.
I got out of the car and looked around to see if anyone had noticed me. Seeing no one I walked up to the old oak tree in our yard. Up I flew; I’ve climbed this tree since I was young so I knew every nook and cranny. Old Oak, as I called it, was where I always went to think. I shivered a little what with only my sports jersey and shorts on, but I ignored it. Now that I was away from both Jess and Jason I started to wonder what made Jess agree to Jason’s deal. Jess knew how good a player Jason was and she had always thought Jason was a pig. Obviously not, a part of me thought. There has to be a reason, Jess isn’t that low the other half protested. While two side of me argued, a car pulled up in the driveway.
“Thanks for the ride, Jason.” Jess’ voice rose through the branches. Ugh she’s back.
“No problem, Jess, so what do you want to do for our first date?” Jason inquired. I started to get up. Careful not to let on to my presence I crawled though Old Oak like a chameleon. There was a large branch with ample cover that would allow me access to the roof and hopefully get away me from the despicable pair.
“Knock it off Jason; you haven’t won the match yet. Besides you should think of what you’re going to do if you lose the game.” Her emphasize on lose made me halt; why would Jason lose? Despite myself I climbed to a overhanging branch that hid me from below.
“Lose? Babe I never lose.” Maybe it was because I hated them both that I could now see how Jason really was, but I realized that he was a real pig. I wasn’t so mad as before but I still felt sad. Jess still betrayed me. “In fact, why else would you agree? You want me, I can see it.” Ugh I wanted to barf. A thump below distracted me...
“Let go, Jason!” Apparently Jason had grabbed Jess and pulled her against the car. Normally I would have jumped down and helped Jess out but... I didn’t. Good thing I didn’t too. I felt the tree shake as Jess slammed Jason, a 6’3’’, basketball player against Old Oak. I grabbed the tree branch for dear life. My face would have imprints from the bark once I let go. “Don’t you ever touch me again,” she snarled. “When you lose you agreed to go out with Merista.” The ground loomed away from me. Jess had set Jason up to date me. But Jason would surely win the game, so why? I couldn’t see but I bet Jason was seeing his life flash before his eyes. Jess could be plain scary when she was mad, with her eyes sparking and her hair hanging about her face like storm clouds.
For a while I didn’t hear anything, then the tree shook again and I heard retreating foot steps. Jason slammed his car door and drove away. I listened for Jess, a small sigh and foot steps were all I got. When the door opened and closed I climbed back up to my little nook. Why did all this happen? I kicked myself over and over again for saying that I wanted Jess’ parents to take her. Jess’ mother had given her up to be adopted and her father was an abusive alcoholic. Not that Jess remembered any of this but that’s what Mom and Dad told us. I heard voices inside. My parents were probably asking how the game went and where I was. Jess or Dad would probably come out to look for me in a moment.
I got up and climbed over to the roof. As soon as I touch the tiles Jess came out and called my name.
“Rista!” she yelled. Freezing, I didn’t answer. Seeing Jess’ face after all of what I heard would send me looking for a hole to stick my head in. I might still do that anyway. So I waited till she went around back to finish climbing onto the roof. She must have found my car because her “Rista!” woke the neighbors.
“Be quiet, you brat!” Mrs. White snarled from her second story window. Startled by her sudden appearance I crouched so she wouldn’t notice me.
“Sorry, Mrs. White, but have you seen Merista?”
“No I haven’t. I’ve been asleep just like you should be,” she snapped. Mrs. White never did like Jess. They always seemed to be at odds no matter what the subject.
“Fine.” Jess said “Goodnight.”
“My children would never be up this late! You little brats should-”
“GOODNIGHT!” Jess yelled and stomped around to the front again. Poor Jess-everyone was on her case tonight. The old woman slammed her window with a huff. Once her light turned off I walked slowly over to the chimney. Just as I got there I heard a branch break. Jess was not a good climber and really hated heights; I was surprised she would try to climb Old Oak. Another thing about Jess was that she never did anything quietly. On the ground she was cursing and ranting. “Rista, if you’re up there I am so going to kill you.” She said tightly. Guess I’m not going down there.
After a few moments of silence Jess swore and stomped back into the house. I lay back on the roof and stared at the dark sky. We live on the outskirts of town so I could see stars but some of the town lights blotted the horizon.
Why? Why? Why? It kept nagging at my mind. Jess, what were you up to? Why? I kept going over it in my head but some piece of the puzzle seemed to be missing. I resolved to ask Jess straight out, but not tonight. Jess was still steamed, I would never get anything coherent out of her, and I still didn’t think I could face her. I knew I was in the wrong but it was still hard. Maybe in the morning I thought. Little did I know there would never be a chance to ask her.
I’m sorry. Please let me catch my breath.
My life blood is flowing away from me and I-
No, I can’t stop now I need to repay my debt to you.
Thank you for staying with me.
Managing to get into the house undetected wasn’t all that hard. Jess and I climbed all over this house since we were little. Even still, I was tense as I snuck by Jess’ room and into my own. It was dark and I almost tripped over a stray shoe. But using my hands for sight, I felt around and found my dresser. Stripping off my sweaty and dirty jersey I let out a small sigh as I changed into my soft pajamas. I would have taken a shower but then my family would know I was here and converge on me. Climbing into bed I drifted off to sleep almost as soon as my head touched the pillow. It had been a hard day, both mentally and physically.
A thud against the wall woke me. Thinking Jess was trying to get my attention I sat up. I almost told her to be quiet when I heard a muffled “oof.” My parents were downstairs so they would have never have heard but I did. “Jess?” I whispered. No answer. Slowly I crept around to the door with my ear pressed against the wall. I heard some shuffling but otherwise it was silent. I opened my door and peered out. There was nothing in the hallway so I leaned further out. Impatient, I stepped out and walked over to Jess’ door. “Jess?” I said again, this time louder. I pressed my ear up to the door just in time to hear a sharp intake of breath.
A little upset that Jess was ignoring me, though I couldn’t blame her, I was about to knock and demand that she open up when I heard a slow outward breath and then a dull thud. Something or rather someone had just collapsed on the floor. “Jess?” I said concerned. “Jess you in there?” I tried the knob. It was locked. “Jess?!” I said a little scared, something in my belly warned that this wasn’t some mean prank. Jess never locked her door.
“Jess, open the door!” I yelled. Even if it wasn’t Jess, someone was in there. The frantic scrambling confirmed that. My yell must have woke my parents because I heard a door open and close downstairs. Still listening to Jess’ room I heard someone fumble at the window. I started to wring the knob, whoever was in there was trying to get away. My parents were halfway up the stair. Mom came around the divider and saw me.
“What’s wrong, Rista?” She was about to ask me when I got home but the sound of glass shattering interrupted her. Dad ran up to the door and twisted the knob. I moved back, out of his way.
“Jess? Are you ok-” Dad started to ask.
“Move Dad!” I shouted. This was getting us nowhere. If someone was trying to hurt Jess or trying to steal something from Jess then I would catch them and make them pay.
“Rista? Wha-” Mom said as I ran past her. Dad barely got out of the way in time as I ran and jumped at the door. I hit it with both feet and the hinges, knob, and door went flying off the wall. The sight must have been hysterical. I bet I looked like some crazy chick surfing on a door in midair. But then gravity kicked in and the door and I made a splintering crash a few feet from the bed. In stunned silence my parents and the robbers, or as I saw then kidnappers, watched me crawl to my feet. “Merista are you alright?” my mom said shaking off her paralysis and rushing into the room. I had a few scratches but otherwise I was fine. I was about to push Mom away when one of the two kidnapers, the one that wasn’t holding Jess, spoke.
“Ah, why if it isn’t my two least favorite people in the world.” He was an older man with a British ascent. His clothes looked like they might have once been fine and expensive but now they were covered in stains and dirt. He held a cane with some kind of stone on the tip too; but it was chipped. I couldn’t care less about him so my attention was drawn by his partner. Jess was slung over the other kidnapper’s shoulder like a sack of potatoes, unconscious. He had a baseball cap on his head shading his eyes. I made a step in his direction but Dad came up and gripped my arm. Looking up into his face I saw a thunderstorm. I’ve only seen that face twice, once when a teacher left Jess and me alone in a train station. We were only nine then. The second time was when one of his poker friends started to joke about Jess’ parents. It was a scary face.
Mom studied the man with intense curiosity. Almost like she knew him from somewhere but couldn’t quite place him. “Who are you?” she started to ask but was interrupted by Dad.
“Baron Doran.” Dad said flatly. Mom’s eyes widened with recognition and fear.
“Who’s that?” I asked, blatantly confused. He didn’t seem all that frightening. If anything I was still more worried about his companion. The man looked at me and I could see his eyes. They were glazed over as if he was drunk. But his speech was all too perfectly clear.
“I am Baron Doran,” he said icily “And who might this reckless brat be?” Mom moved to stand in front of me. As she did that the Baron smirked, then laughed. It was a really nasty laugh, as if some kind of sewer found something particularly distasteful and spat it back up. He motioned with his hand that the other kidnapper should make his exit. Dad made as if to move to stop him but Doran, I don’t really believe he is a baron, pulled the walking cane out and held it in front of him like a sword. “Ah, ah, ah, I don’t think so, Hank. She is mine, and she always has been.” He swayed a little as he said it. If Jess was anyone’s then she was mine. She was a part of my family; my sister. Looking back now, I guess I completely forgot to be mad at Jess.
“Like h*** she is!” I squirmed out of Dad’s grip and tried to tackle the man. You would think that a drunken man would be easy to take down right? Wrong. I thought he was going to the right so I swerved in that direction. Suddenly he wasn’t there any more. He was behind me and to my left. How did he get over there? I was just starting to turn around when something hard and long hit me in the back of the skull. Ouch. I collapsed and things went a little dark. When I could see again the first thing I saw was my mom’s worried cinnamon eyes.
“Sweetie are you ok?” she asked, copper locks draped all around her face. What do you think? She suddenly struck me as different somehow, as if the mother I knew was only part of her true self.
“I’m fine Mom” I answered and sat up to show her. Obviously I was not as fine as I made out to be. As soon as I sat upright my vision swam and bells rang in my ears. “Here. Sit back dear.” She pulled me against her as if she was a human chair. My vision cleared slowly. When it did I saw Dad leaning out the window making as if to jump. But before he could he looked back at me, his face looked strained and his jade eyes conflicted. My father looked out the window once more then heaved a heavy sigh.
“It’s alright dear, we’ll find her,” Mom said soothingly. Finally admitting defeat Dad walked over to us. He crouched down next to me and placed a hand on my knee.
“You ok?” I nodded. The headache I was developing was the least of my concerns. They had gotten away with Jess. Why were they even after Jess? “That was pretty stupid you know.” Sullenly, I looked down. “Attacking someone so recklessly? What if he had some kind of weapon besides that cane?” Mom chuckled.
“You did the same thing, Hank,” She pointed out. He folded his arms.
“That was different.”
Slowly I stood up and walked to the window. It was all dark outside and I sooooo wanted some pain killers. “How so?” I asked.
“Merista, dear, your dad is more capable of taking care of himself than you are.” Mom said gently. So? That didn’t stop them from taking Jess now did it? Making for the door, plans forming in my mind, I swooned and grabbed for the wall. “Easy there, Rista. Don’t push yourself.” Dad grabbed me and tried to take me to the bed. How can they be so calm about this? I gripped his hand and pried it off.
“No, Dad. Jess is out there with some crazy drunk guy who thinks he is nobility.” I glared at them both. “And why aren’t you doing something about it?!” My parents exchanged looks. You know the look, the look where they are about to say “You’ll understand when you’re older” or “You’ll understand some day.” Ugh I hate those looks. So I decided not to give them the chance to answer.
“Well, if you’re not going to do anything then I will.” Ignoring the pounding in my head and my swimming vision I made a bee line for the stairs. I probably would have broken my neck going down them in the dark and in my condition but Dad caught me and scooped me into his arms. He was about to take me back in Jess’ room but Mom came out and suggested that we go down to the bathroom to check my injury. Since it took me downstairs I didn’t struggle. And maybe I could get some aspirin. Once down there Mom examined my head. She hissed a bit in sympathy but like always she got right to the point.
“Well, it doesn’t look too bad. You must have a killer headache.”
“Duh,” I said. “May I have some aspirin now?” Mom grinned and passed me the bottle. Instead of swallowing the pill dry I slid into the kitchen for a glass of water. While I forced the pill down my parents started going through the cabinets and drawers. What are they going to do? Cook? I only needed some water not a feast. So not the time for this. Exasperated, I picked up the phone.
“It’s right here.” I started to dial the police station. Suddenly the phone was gone, right into my dad’s hand.
“No, Rista. We don’t need to alert to locals.” Locals? What did he think this was? Jess had just been kidnaped. Everyone needed to know. How were we suppose to find her if no one was looking for her? The first step was always to call the police. Just what was going on in my parents’ heads? Dad placed the phone back on the receiver. Finally I couldn’t take it anymore.
“What is wrong with you?!!” I yelled. “My best friend is gone and you’re sitting here getting ready to cook. Aren’t you worried? Why are you so d*** calm?”
“And don’t try to give me some lame excuse. Jess is like a sister to me. She is family. I have a right to know what is going on!” My parents exchanged looks, then sighed.
“Alright Merista. Let’s talk.” Dad led me to a chair and sat me down. He circled the table and sat by my mother on the opposite end. The bright kitchen light in the dark house brought an interrogator’s room to mind.
“So now you know. Your mother and I are spies and Jessica is under our protection.”
To be truthful I thought they were lying, or if anything, making fun of me. It just didn’t sound possible; something out of the movies. How could they be spies? American spies working for another ruler then their own. Not to mention that that Jess was the daughter of a queen. I kept waiting for my parents to go “Surprise!” or “Just kidding.” But they said neither. Ok so I was a little shocked but still that gave them no reason to act nonchalant about Jess being kidnapped. She was like a daughter to them, even if she wasn’t then they would at least have to go after her because of their spy duty.
“So if you’re such good spies, then tell me, how are we going to get her back?” I asked tersely, slightly annoyed. No way was I mollified by their outrageous explanation.
“Well first of all, we are going to have to warn her mother. Most likely Doran took Jess so he could use her against her mother.” Already I didn’t like the sound of this. I was about to protest but Dad held up his hand.“Nearly everyone in town knows what Jess looks like so he can’t just go waltzing about. He’ll have to find someplace secluded enough that people won’t stumble in on him. Besides there are really no places he can get to that’s very secluded before daybreak anyway.” That is such a lame excuse. Who is to say they wouldn’t just keep driving until they were out of town? There was definitely something that they weren’t telling me. If I protested further then they would only keep a close eye on me and that wouldn’t help my forming plan. I didn’t like it but I closed my mouth.“Well what should I do then?” I asked. Mom’s soft voice answered me.
“Why don’t you go back to sleep, dear? We’re going to have a busy day tomorrow.” Just how am I supposed to sleep? What are you hiding from me? Talking to my parents was useless so I walked out the kitchen door and headed for the stairs. Their voices followed me out. It took some time for my eyes to adjust to the dark after the bright kitchen lights. Once I could see I continued walking right past the stairs, through the living room and into the den. There I fished in the closet. My fingers stubbed on a hard round surface. Pulling it out I finally found the old basket ball Jess and I was looking for yesterday but it wasn’t what I wanted. So I set it to the side and reached in again. Out came rope from our hiking gear, a fishing knife, and a small bag to carry things. Hiding them under my pajamas I crept back into the living room. My parents were still in the kitchen talking; two silhouettes moving with casual precision. Mom sounded like she was talking to someone on the phone but their conversation faded away as I sped up the stairs.
In my room I tore off my pajamas and changed into jeans and a black sweater. Again I wished for a shower. Although I tried to suppress it, a little bit of doubt washed over me as I tied back my hair. Adults should be handling this, they would know better than I did. They had more experience. My shoulders sagged and I stopped reaching for the flashlight I keep stashed under my pillow. Then my words to Jess came unbidden my mind. “I wish your parents would just take you back. I can’t stand you.” I had told Jess I didn’t want her around, and if we didn’t get her back then I would never get to apologize. Besides I thought as I confidently swiped the flash light from under the soft material I don’t think I could face her if I just sat back and did nothing while she was in trouble. Another memory about Jess and me when we were little made me smile.
I had fallen of my bike and broke my leg. Jess ran to a nearby house and called our parents. They told us to wait there but after a few short minutes Jess became impatient. She kicked my bike and told it that it should be ashamed for hurting me. It was sort of funny and it made me feel a bit better. Jess then knelt next to me and said “Hop on.” I tentatively scrambled onto her back. My leg hurt like hell but Jess kept telling me not to cry; to be strong. She had carried me all the way home while our parents ran around trying to find us. Things became really crazy after that but Jess had given her all at trying to help me. I wouldn’t disappoint her by doing anything less.
I opened the bag and started to pack, “Flashlight-check, rope-check, knife-check, bandaging?” I shuffled over to my dresser and I out pulled three bandanas. I learned a while ago, from my uncle, that the best makeshift bandage was a kerchief. “Anything else?” I asked the dark room around me. I couldn’t think of anything else that I could take that wouldn’t get in the way so I slipped my shoes on. Shouldering my pack, I listened for noise downstairs. A steady flow of sound came from the kitchen. Since I knew I wouldn’t be able to get past my parents downstairs I decided to take the escape route out my window.
Once the window was open I reached far over to the right of the window and felt around. My hand felt something long and coarse. Grabbing it I pulled myself up the rope and onto the roof. This was the way Jess and I used to get out of the house when we weren’t allowed out. Once on the roof, like a cat I slunk toward Old Oak. Like so many times before I dropped through the branches and landed as gracefully at the cat I was imitating. Normally at this time I would go get the ladder for Jess to get down but... Jess wasn’t here. I took out my flashlight and scanned around back. But only for a second, I didn’t want my parents to see the light. In that brief time I saw a few tire tracks in the grass. Lucky I thought. That stupid Doran was making this easier then I thought. I followed the track for a few yards, then came to the road. Ugh, moron. I thought kicking myself. I couldn’t believe I let myself do something so stupid. You couldn’t follow tire tracks on an asphalt road.
Leaning against a tree for a moment I tried to think of what to do next. If Dad was right then, where would I go if I was looking to hide someone from an entire town? There was no way he could go to a hotel or someplace like that. People knew Jess too well.
Finally it came to me. The old abandoned mine. It wasn’t all that far and nobody went there anymore. It would be the perfect place to hide out. But then Who is to say they won’t just keep driving until they got out of town? I had to choose. Driving seemed more logical but I couldn’t help but feel they were heading for the mine. Almost as if someone was calling me there. If I go to the mine and they are driving out of town then I’ll never catch them. I’ll think about it as I get the car. I got up and walked around back to my car. Starting the car would just alert my parents so I got in the car and shifted to neutral. I grabbed the steering wheel and the door frame and pushed. It was hard. But after a few false starts I finally managed to get it moving. Once moving it became a bit easier.
At the end of the driveway I risked moving onto the road. I hurriedly got in the car and started the engine. I buckled and shifted to Drive. Off I went, to chase Jess down.
In the end I ended up at the mine. I just couldn’t shake this feeling that someone was there. That Jess was there. I drove around for a while trying to decide whether to go in or to just forget it and head for the police station. Finally I parked. Sitting there for a minute, I listened to the noises outside the car. There was nothing. Laying my head on the steering wheel my hair fell in a dark avalanche to obscure the what little light there was. What am I doing? I thought again and again. In a frustrated action I hurled my tangled bronze mane over my shoulder and growled as I kicked the door open. Reaching over to the passenger seat I snatched the bag. Time to sink or swim.
Outside I stalked over to the entrance. Peering through the rough boards my gaze traveled around and there, in the crevice between two rejected mining carts was a dark lump. It could have been anything so I very carefully ducked under one board and lifted my foot to clear a lower one. Moving as quietly as possible, I could still hear the soft scuff of my shoes in the dirt. I sincerely hoped that there were no wild animals living in here. Inch by inch I drew closer to the dark lump. It was barely distinguishable from the blackness around it. I was about to take another cautious step when my foot brushed against something soft and furry. A chill crept up my spine. I looked where my foot was about to be planted. Slowly it drew back and returned to its last position.
With my hands quivering I dug in my bag, all the while hoping that whatever it was that I felt, was not a carnivore. My hand hit something hard and round. The flashlight. I hurriedly brought it out, my heart drumming in my ears. For some reason my hands didn’t want to obey as I tried to turn on the flashlight. My fingers would miss the button or wouldn’t push hard enough. My knees felt weak by the time I finally got it on. I splashed the light onto the furry object.
Relief washed over me and the undertow took all the strength in my legs. I fell on my butt. It was only a slipper. Wait a second. A slipper? I took another look. It was one of Jess’s blue fuzz moccasins. I felt happy, relieved, and triumphant at the thought that I had gone the right way. Jess was here. Then I felt a slight twinge of fear. What if that dark lump was Jess? What if she was hurt? Slowly I brought my feet around behind me and crawled around to where I could get a good look. The beam of light spilling over black glossy mound reveled little more than, what ever it was, was covered in a garbage bag. A morbid pit formed in my gut. No.
Why is it that people feel a need to hurt others?
What? Oh .. I’m sorry. I feel myself slipping farther and farther I better continue before I slip away forever .
“No. I thought ”
No. I thought “No it can’t be.” Already my eyes started to sting. I scrambled over to the mound, all caution forgotten. How could they hurt her? She had never done anything to them. So what if her parents were important people; that still didn’t give them the right to do this. Stop it Merista. That may not even be her, my sensible side said. With only that bit of comfort did I feel ready to reach out and grab the plastic bag. I took a deep breath, steadied my shaking hands and nerves, then I ripped off the slick covering. At the same time my eyes snapped shut. I really didn’t want to know. But I had to. Slowly I moved the flashlight where it would most likely shine on what I thought to be Jess’ dead body. Slowly I pried open my eyelids. What I saw was this
On the bottom was a pallet on which laid hiking gear and guns. I felt like such a fool. Why was I letting my imagination get the better of me? Get your act together, I chided myself. Dust fell from me as I patted my jeans. Well, one thing’s for sure, Jess is here. Turning around I went back for her slipper, stuffed it in my bag and started down the dark and ominous mouth of the tunnel. I sort of wandered for a bit. There was no way to tell which tunnel those vile men had taken. I jumped at odd sounds and thought I saw figures in the dark only to find, once I illuminated the spot, they were only odd plays of light.
Coming upon one such play of light I nearly disregarded it. But a voice, an actual voice, boomed at me.
“Get over here you piece of hog s***.” I whirled around but my flashlight didn’t pick up anything, just the rock and hard-packed floor around me. “She is starting to wake up, you fool. Move it.” I figured that it wasn’t me he was yelling at and started for the tunnel it seemed to echo from. I shut off the flashlight so as to not announce my presence and waited for the voice to come again. It came this time in a “You nitwits, if she wakes up then she’ll try to escape. She is too much like her d***ed mother.” Insult my mother, will you? My face flushed with anger but it occurred to me that he could be talking about Jess’ other mother. So it sounded like I finally found their hideout. I edged forward, feeling with my way with hands and feet. Shuffling a bit I soon hit a wall, literally, and found that the tunnel veered sharply to the left.
Peering through the darkness, a faint light framed an outcropping of rock. I slid against the wall and crept along, back to the wall.
“Ugh” That sounds like Jess! What where they up to? I heard some thrashing then the voice came again, slightly deeper and louder with the absence of distance.
“You idiots! Don’t let her near there.” Near where? I edged closer to pek around the edge. I felt a loose rock beneath my foot and quickly transferred it to another, and to my infinite dismay, an even looser rock. Already off balance I couldn’t avoid it. The rock slithered out from under my foot and with it came my entire bulk. I tried to turn and avoid the rocks but it seemed that the rocks were alive and out to get me. Another slick rock found its way under my other foot. I landed on my left shoulder, hard. Something sharp was sticking in my arm. It bit deep into the muscle.
“What was that?” a different voice asked, alarmed. I froze and tried not to gasp too hard at the pain in my shoulder.
“Go check it out,” the authoritive voice commanded and I knew I had to get out of there. I tried to pick myself up and things went a little hazy as I bumped what I figured to be a rock shard. Heavy footfalls rebounded on the stone passage. With my right hand I frantically searched for my bag. It had fallen when I had. Why I was worrying about a bag when I was in immediate danger was beyond me. I felt its strap under my fingers and snatched it up. Without bothering to look back I started to run. I was just about to round the corner of the sharp outcropping when light from behind flooded the wall in front of me.
“Look!”, “Get her!”, and “we’ve been found!” came all at once. Idiot! I cursed myself. Great job, bonehead. Go here to rescue your sister and get caught yourself. Great plan! I got around the corner safely only to hear a gun shot. A whistle of air flew past my face and I stood stock still. They were going to kill me. The force of this realization shook me to the very bone. I was too shocked to understand the next shout but it did me good and got me moving again. Each step jolted the shard still protruding from my shoulder, making it hard to concentrate. I was trying to remember which way I had come in the dark when their light found me again. This time there wasn’t any cover nearby.
“Stop right there.” One man shouted. Yeah right, and give you the chance to shoot me? Not on your life. I made a hurried dash for a tunnel to my right all the while praying that they wouldn’t hit me if they fired again. My heart was pounding, waiting for the sound of a metallic bang, instead all I heard was the rapid pounding of shod feet mixed with my own accelerated heart rate. Once again my feet betrayed me. I tripped on an unseen raise in the floor. My hands flew out to save me from falling but when my left arm felt the impact, it gave out. I fell sharply on the same arm. A small shriek escaped my lips before I clamped them forcefully shut.
Try as I might, I couldn’t get up. My right hand slipped on the warm liquid that flowed more freely now then before. And the more I struggled the more a small spear bite into my side. Had the shard gone all the way through? Again the menacing light tracked me but this time, while blinded from the sudden change, I couldn’t escape fast enough. Rough hands seized me. I surely thought I’m going to die. But as one hand grabbed my left shoulder I screamed in agony, all other thoughts ceased to operate. The hand jerked back and I fell into the waiting embrace of more jarring hands.
“Let’s get her back to Doran.”
They half dragged half carried me back. I couldn’t think through the crude barrier my mind constructed to reduce the pain. Wave after wave of pain hit me as the two men struggled to drag me over the rough terrain. Why haven’t they killed me yet? I almost wouldn’t have minded.
I was nearly unconscious by the time we came into view of their nook. The light stabbed at my eyes unmercifully and they were slow to adjust. They threw me at someone’s feet and I curled into myself like a pill bug hiding from the world. A strong scent tried to suffocate me. It drifted off the man in front of me like stench from a mulch pile and smelled anything but. The scent of spiced wine mingled with a strong European cologne. Looking up I saw the drably elegant Doran, sitting regally on a sac of coal. I hope they stick up your a**, I thought at him. I was pretty sure my face said it too but he didn’t take any notice. In fact, he didn’t seem to be taking notice of anything right now. He just stared off into space with a half serious and half dopy face.
As I struggled to my knees I finally saw his eyes. They were glassy like when I first saw him but this time they were milky too. What is this guy on? Well, while his attention wasn’t on me, I thought about looking around. Slowly so as not to jolt my arm I turned my head to the left. It was where we had entered. Around the entrance was little more than rocks and a few mining tools. On my right however, was a large shaft of unknown depth and tons of equipment including explosives. I twisted my head a little further searching for Jess. Movement caught my attention but it was farther off than my head could twist. I swivelled back to the left and saw her.
One of the men cuffed me and told me to stop flailing about. I only saw her for a second but in that time I saw that Jess was relatively unharmed. At least her wild struggles suggested so. She was bound hand and foot lying on her side with a nasty rag shoved in her mouth. Right smack in between two carts of equipment. I heard a small whisper behind me and shifted my attention to the two middle-aged men.
“Is he dead?”
“No you dolt. Look he’s still breathing.”
“But is he going to wake up?”
“I don’t kn--” He was interrupted by a snort. I glanced back at Doran and saw his unnerving gaze focused right on me. His sandy hair dirty and falling into those unsettling blue eyes gave him the look of the madman I took him for.
“So, if it isn’t the brat of those worthless meddlers. Taking after your parents and sticking your nose where it doesn’t belong, eh?” His voice grated on my ear like harsh gravel. It seemed to have lost a lot of its original refinement. “Meddling in other people’s business is bad habit to get into ” he trailed off for a second then leered closer at me. “...Girl.” he finally said with a sneer. Well excuse me for being a female.
“Not as bad as kidnapping someone from their home and family,” I snarled in return. Maybe that was a bad idea because he suddenly roared and jumped to his feet. I scrambled to my own feet, not wanting to face him on the ground.
“Family!?” He howled “She is mine! I sired her! I gave that b**** the heir she was lacking!” His face was becoming rapidly red, his foul breath coming in ragged gasps on my face. Who? What heir? His words poured onto me like jumbled Greek. “Never mind that she should be grateful that someone else made up for her incompetence, but then she has the gall to send her,” He stabbed a bony finger in Jess’ direction. “off with a complete stranger that hides her from me!” I couldn’t help but shrink back in light of his fury. As I did so the cursed floor sold me out again and tripped me. I fell on my butt, losing my only advantage. He saw this and took his own. “Strangers which sired you, you—” He trailed off again his eyes lighting up with the dawn of realization. A small smirk slid onto his face and he chuckled. Whipping around he sat back in his seat with a bottle of some murky fluid that he snatched from beside his chair-bag.
He shifted a little, some of his humor fading. He shifted some more, then yelled at the two men who cowered as he yelled their names.
“Harvey, Giles, one of you hand over your jacket, a piece of coal is riding up my tail.” I raised my eyebrow. One of them with bark colored hair, Harvey I think, took off his coat exposing broad shoulder and firm muscles. Well I better think of a better way to get around him than to face him head on. I thought. I wasn’t particularly strong myself so it was definitely out of the question. The other man, Giles, was slightly smaller with a ball cap concealing his eyes. My eyes were drawn back to Doran as he ungratefully snatched the coat from Harvey’s stiff hand and shoved it under his posterior. Once done his attention fell on me again with gleeful delight. I wished he would fill me in on the joke.
“Now that you are in my grasp, my dear, I have the perfect revenge against both that b**** and her lackeys.”
“What?” I blurted. Who and what is he talking about? Doran’s eyes twitched but his good humor did not fade.
“A little slow my dear? I mean to take my revenge on your parents and their mistress.” He said this slowly as if I was a small child who didn’t understand my lesson. I am not a child! I learned along time ago that anger has a way of tiring me out. But right now it was my reservoir of power.
“Well duh, I get that part you drunk. But who is the “B****” you keep speaking of?” I snapped and was rewarded when his smirk fell from his face. It would have been so much more rewarding if my arm wasn’t skewered. I was starting to worry about the amount of blood I lost. It also didn’t help that it was making my hands slippery and a mess all down my side.
“Don’t tell me ” his face closed in and his brow creased. The small victory turned out to be a complete joke as Doran suddenly burst out laughing hysterically. Ugh make up your mind! Laugh or frown quit changing! Thankfully I didn’t give him the pleasure of jumping as his two minions did at the sudden outburst. “Ha! They didn’t fill you on anything did they?” Doran managed to squeeze out.
“Well, let me fill you in, cur.” he said all serious again. Mood swing much? “Queen Asuka or Lady Asuka as she is otherwise known is getting quite old and without an heir to inherit her fortune and status. So I kindly gave what she could not obtain. An heir. That much said any man would at least want something out of it. But what do I get? Nothing, zilch, nadda. And to top it all off she has the gall to send our daughter off with her little foreign flunkies. Who just so happen to be your parents girl.” Nearly foaming at the mouth Doran was so flustered by then that his face was a cherry and I could almost see steam coming out of his nose and ears. The murky bottle in his hand came to his lips and he downed as much as he could without choking. Behind me was a duet of both a gasp and a sigh of relief.
“Get her away from me,” Doran commanded and drank more of his foul liquid. I tensed as the men drew near. Giles with his firm hands grabbed my shoulders and I shrieked. Harvey, bless his soul, shoved Giles off and gingerly examined my arm. Ya could have done that earlier you jerks. Harvey pulled the wet sleeve up my arm and hissed in sympathy at the mutilation. I could see his own arms tense with empathy.
“That’s in deep, I don’t know if we can get it out.” he rumbled in a deep bass. Even if he is working for the bad guy, he seems alright. He didn’t frighten me like Giles did with his hooded yet cruel eyes.
“Who cares. She should know better than to muck around in someone else’s business,” Giles responded with a sneer similar to Doran’s. He made a grab for me, and I moved as far away as I could. That however ended up being right into Harvey’s arms, I’m not sure how he took it, however he did bat at Giles’ hand.
“Leave her alone, Giles. She is injured and not much trouble; there is no need to be so rough with her.”
“Coddling the prisoner, Harvey? How like you.” Giles scoffed.
Harvey’s very green eyes burned with rage, but he ignored him and said to me. “Can you walk?”
“Well, I eluded you for a while, so I think I can.” I had meant to sound sassy but it came out weak and strained. A small smile acknowledged my pathetic attempt.
“Good. Then let’s get you over to Miss Rambunctious over there and see what we can do to stop the bleeding.” It sounded like a good plan but I was still wary of Giles trying to drag me there. So I rose slowly, and I soon realized painfully, to my feet. I made a clumsy attempt to walk and started to fall. Instinctively I reached out my hand and clutched Harvey’s shirt.
“Ok” I admitted “Maybe not as well as I thought.” Giles made a grunt of disgust and made for a stack of crates with playing cards scattered everywhere. Harvey hooked his arm under my good one. He was taller then me so he to stoop, as he did so his shaggy brown hair brushed my cheek. It was soft.
“Here we go.” He said and proceeded to help me across the cavern.
Using one of the bandanas in my bag, Harvey was kind enough to bandage my arm; unfortunately he couldn’t remove the shard. Afterward he put on a semi-stern face and told me not to try to cause any trouble while he bound my wrists. I complied and he bound them loosely. Thankfully he didn’t gag me, but he said if I started screaming curses at them like Jess had then he would. I grinned at that. That’s my Jess. He tentatively smiled back then went to entertain Giles with a card game.
Once he was gone I slid next to Jess. Taking a quick inventory of her state assured me that she was unharmed. A little ruffled and dirty in her flannel pajamas but unharmed. Even still, the first thing I said to her was,
“Are you alright?” Jess struggled with the gag for a bit then nodded. Taking the hint I reached up and pulled the gag out of her mouth and let it fall down to her collar. My left arm protested the movement.
“Never mind me. What about you? What happened to your arm?” she demanded in a hoarse whisper.
I shrugged it off and said jokingly “I fell.” She raised her eyebrows then glared at me.
“How can you joke at a time like this?”
“But it’s true, I fell and landed on a loose rock shard. That’s when they started to chase me.” We whispered for a little while then fell silent. We watched our captors but with little real interest. Harvey and Giles were playing a game of spite and malice while Doran looked about dead as he sprawled on his lumpy sack of coal. Maybe if we are really quiet, while those two are so absorbed in their game... I looked around for another place to escape than the entrance Giles and Harvey guarded. There was a hole and a run-down drill but otherwise we were at a dead end with only one entrance or exit.
“You know—” Jess’ hesitant voice intruded on my musings.
“Yeah?” I answered,
“You know, I really couldn’t care about Jason.” Thinking about Jason after all of this almost made me laugh but Jess rushed on. “Jason came to me with this absurd bargain that he thought would win me over.”
“I know” She looked at me and nodded.
“Yeah, I guess you do know. After all why would you of all people freak out over nothing?”
“It was hardly nothing,” I teased. I hoped she would sense the silliness and levity in my voice but she didn’t and only looked miserable.
“I know. But you’ve got to believe when I say this,” She whispered frantically and stared pleadingly into my face. “I honestly believed he wouldn’t win. And since you would never listen to me about how he was such a jerk I added my own condition.”
“I know,” I said again. “You made it so that if he lost then he would date me.” Her eyes widened and I continued “I.. uh.. sort of.. was in Old Oak when you had that fight with Jason.” Her face clouded and I wasn’t sure if she was going to cry or kill me. If she was going to kill me then I was glad she bound tightly. Finally she burst out laughing. Both henchmen jumped and even Doran twitched a little. I hope she is not going hysterical. I placed my bound hands on her shoulder and she dwindled down to a small gasping giggles. Giles glared at us but allowed Harvey to draw him back into the game.
“I thought you were but when you didn’t answer I figured that maybe you were too mad at me to care or weren’t there.” She took a deep breath and let it out in a sigh. “That explains why you came to rescue me.” She looked down at her own tied hands and said “At least at clears up that mess now what do we do?”
Taking another look at the continued card game, plan just barely forming I said. “Wrong on all accounts sister. I was there and I did care only I didn’t know how to approach you. I was and still am very ashamed of how I acted.” I had part of my plan devised so only half my brain was on the conversation. “And that doesn’t really clear it up. Why did you think he wouldn’t win? I mean he always wins,” I said distractedly but still curious.
“Don’t you remember?”
“Remember what?” Sighing with exasperation Jess launched into whatever scene I had forgotten.
“Remember the last two games? The one before last you said he only had one more win in him left, and the last one you said his streak was about to break?”
“What does that have—” My attention snapped back to Jess, completely forgetting my plan. In response to my demand Jess gave me that look and if I were a dog, my ears would have dropped to my skull with my tail between my legs. A sheepish “Oh” was all that came out. Stupid nickname, stupid fate for making nearly everything I say come true and stupid me for forgetting it. I cursed myself. If only I had remembered that before then none of this would have happened. Not even the kidnaping, because we would have been out partying then sleeping over at a friend’s house.
“So— Prophet,” Jess said looking a little smug, but then it faded as she asked me “what are we going to do? How are we going to escape?” Again I cursed myself for dropping my plan only half concocted. Pulling my thoughts together, I told her what I had thought of so far. Even if it wasn’t complete, Jess would surely point out the flaws.
“Well, if I can get your feet untied, then we should be able to make a run for it. I have a knife in my bag and if we could just get it then we can get our wrist undone too.”
“But how will be we get past the buffoons? They are a lot stronger than both of us,” Jess worried.
“I know, but if we hide behind one of these carts and push one of the others down that hole then that will distract them. At best they will think we fell in and then they’ll at least be distracted enough for us to run.” Explaining it made my plan seem only slightly less hare-brained.
“That’s good, but once we’re out how will we get away? They have that van. Also how will we get at the stuff close enough to the hole without being spotted, much less push it in?”
“I don’t know. I brought the car, it’s parked out front but I don’t know how we are going to move the stuff.” Frustrated I sat there and worked on Jess’ bound feet. It was hard. The knot protested at every pull. I finished undoing the knot and started to untangle Jess’ feet when a hateful snarl grabbed our attention. Doran had awoken and uncertainly stalked over to his henchmen.
“You fools! Don’t put them together!” Giles gave Harvey a hard look then cowered as Doran took a clumsy swing at him.
“Oh crap. What are we going to do, Rista?” Jess asked frantically but her eyes reminded on the three men. How am I supposed to know?
“When they separate us, the closest one to the carts will shove them in and the other will go for the bag.” She nodded, I was about to back away when I felt her hands on my own. I looked up and Jess’ concerned face peered at me, her blue eyes meeting my hazel ones.
“Be careful. Okay?” I nodded and put on a small grin for her.
“I will. You too.” She returned my smile with a strained one of her own. Giles and Harvey were approaching fast. Jess squeezed my hand and I stood up, bringing her with me. I would not be dragged to my feet. Hoping to keep their attention on me and not Jess I walked up to them. A little taken aback the men stared at me. “Well? You wanted to separate us, didn’t you? Well where do you want me to go?” Harvey recovered first. Well so much for the little guys being the brains. Looks like Harvey got both the brain and the brawn.
“Over here.” He took care to grab my uninjured arm and began to lead me over to the opposite wall. I heard a thwack and looked back. Giles back-handed Jess into one of the carts. I couldn’t help it; I twirled and swung my foot into Giles’ shin. He yelped and turned to me. Harvey’s grip on my arm tightened and I happily let him pull me away. Giles looked like he was ready to murder me. However as Harvey led me away, I watched Jess. She looked ready to spit lightning at her captor. But she saw me and kept quiet.
“You’re going to get yourself into serious trouble if you keep that up.” Harvey said under his breath.
“As if I’m not in serious trouble already?” I asked in mock surprise. He looked pained and I suddenly felt sorry for him. What kind of life did he have that he wound in a place like this with rats for companions.
“I’m just saying. Don’t get yourself killed.” We arrived at the corner where I was to be stationed, cutting our talk short. It couldn’t have been a better place to launch my plan. There was dynamite and other equipment there but it was right next to the shaft. He sat me down and returned to Giles. Halfway there I decided, What better time than now? Moving as silently as I could, I slowly pushed the equipment closer and closer to the hole where it teetered. Giving one look to see if Jess was ready I kicked the stack as hard as I could. The sound was almost deafening. The crashes as the stuff hit the sides of the hole jerked Doran awake, Giles fell off his crate, and Harvey jumped and whirled around.
At the same time, Jess darted out and snatched my bag. Running toward the exit Jess ducked around Harvey and nearly collided with Giles. Fortunately, he was still shocked by the load noises. However I wasn’t as lucky. For a loaded guy Doran was fast. I doubled over in a painful shock of my own. His chipped cane cracked me on the back and clipped my shoulder. After all the abuse my body had reaped it could barely respond with a weak sob.
“Rista!” Jess’ shout brought back enough of my senses to roll away from the next attack. His cane shattered as he brought it down where I previously lay. A few shards hit me but I ignored them. He was on me almost as soon as I was standing. “Rista hold on. I’l— ahh!” As I struggled with Doran I caught flashes of Giles grabbing and trying to restrain Jess. Doran rained down blows on me like a madman. It was all I could do ward off the worst of them. He was unnaturally strong and phenomenally quick. As my battered body struggled to keep up, my mind ran a strong race. In the middle of a series of strikes I rolled, picking up a piece of the shattered cane. He was right on my tail. After the next fury of blows I ducked behind a cart. Doran roared and attempted to follow but I rounded the cart. As I kept the firm object between us, I sawed at my ropes with the shard.
“You wretch! I’ll rip your throat out!”
“Sorry but no, I like my throat.” I realized that my thoughts spilled out of my mouth, which did no good for my situation. Doran reached over the cart and grabbed my wrist. His grip was like iron. The rope snapped as my arm extended towards him. Behind me another brawl of sorts raged. Giles was hitting Jess. As I struggled to wrench my hand away from Doran, I saw Harvey glancing back and forth in panicked confusion. Nothing I tried could get Doran to let go. I didn’t have the strength. He started to pull me towards him. I hooked my feet under the cart to brace myself. My arm stretched across the tarp covering. Thinking quickly, I grabbed the tarp with my trapped hand. He snarled and ripped the tarp away. My fingers burned as the fabric ran across them. Inside the cart were stacks of dynamite. My breath caught and I slipped. Doran pulled harder, and I felt as if my arm was going to be ripped off.
“Rista!” It took all my strength to keep from being pulled over the cart. Yet still I found a reserve. Over my shoulder I watched as another scene took place. Jess struggled with Giles while Harvey stood by and watched.
“Harvey! Help me with this brat,” Giles yelled. His muscles were tense but Harvey didn’t move. It struck me then. Harvey was as much a victim as Jess and I were. He didn’t want to be here; he didn’t really want to help Giles. I could only hope that, that held true for Doran too. My plan was desperate and I knew it would cost me.
“Harvey!” I shouted. He jumped and turned toward me. “Harvey, listen to me.” His shoulders rose with tension. I hope this works. “Please. Help Jess. Get her away.”
“But I…” he looked down and started to shake. His head jerked up as I screamed; Doran pulled extremely hard and I heard my shoulder pop. My eyes refocused on my captor. His face was pulled in an ugly snarl.
“You b****. Harvey, don’t you think about it,” Doran barked. I turned to see Harvey’s reaction. His face clouded and I knew I lost him.
Oh please God if this prophet thing is anything real then please let it help me now.
“Harvey. Do you really believe in what you’re doing? We have done nothing to deserve this. You know this isn’t right… I know you know… You’re a good person- I can see it. You don’t want to do this. Please… save Jess.” I felt my throat close up. There was only one way I could pull this off, and it would only work if I was right about Harvey. “You don’t have to obey him. You’re a human being. Ahh—” Doran pulled even harder than before. If it wasn’t for my feet locked under the cart I would have gone flying over the cart. Instead, Doran’s fingers bit into the veins of my wrist and bruised the bone. I’ll never get away.
“Argh!” Giles grunted and doubled over. In his weakness Harvey took another blow and aimed it at Giles’ jaw. He slammed into the cave wall and his head rolled to his chest. Harvey’s breath came in ragged gasps. Thank goodness. I almost let my guard down in relief but my adrenaline now held me firm.
“Rista!” Jess shouted again and made as if to run to my aid. But Harvey placed a restraining hand on her shoulder.
“Even the three of us couldn’t take on Doran,” He told her, and I knew he was right. The three of us... It felt good to hear. But if only they knew.
“Harvey…” he looked up. I reached into the cart and pulled out a piece of dynamite. Doran made a grab at my other wrist that I couldn’t evade. But Harvey saw it. “Get Jess out of here…”
“But-” he protested and I felt my eyes fill with tears. I’ll never see Mom or Dad again.
“Go.” I choked out and reversed directions. Instead of pulling I pushed. Doran, caught off guard, stumbled and I used the last burst of my strength to push the cart and man into the hole. His grip on me never loosened and I followed them in……