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The Beginning of the End (Part 3)
I woke up gagged with a disgusting rag and feeling dizzy. Where in the world was I? Everything was pitch black and the floor beneath me was moving, like in a vehicle. A vehicle! My memory was foggy but I could remember a man, not much older than me, dragging me off somewhere after school. That’s where my memory dissipated. I had been trying to comfort Lauren who’d been crying about something. I didn’t ask anymore. All Lauren did was cry these days but I tried to comfort her, even if she never told me what was wrong when I asked. When I walked outside, a tall guy with dark hair grabbed my arm and pulled me toward the parking lot. He had lifted a smelly handkerchief to my face then…nothing. It must have had some kind of drug laced in it. Now it appeared I was in the back of his van. Just as I came to that conclusion, the van stopped and the side door swung open to reveal the man from the parking lot.
“Hey!” I shouted before he managed to get his hands over my mouth and drag me into a house somewhere.
“You don’t make a sound unless I tell you to, understand boy?” He said as he dragged me up the stairs. “Now… SHUT UP!!!” he screamed as he threw me against the wall of a room upstairs. I played football and I was used to getting hit but this jerk was ruthless. He delivered punch after punch and continued to throw me everywhere. He let up for a moment, allowing me to discover I was crying.
“Don’t mess with me, boy,” he said as he closed and locked the door to my room. I tried to wipe away the tears even though no one was there to see them. At least that’s what I thought.
“It’s alright, trust me. You’re alright, I promise. Don’t cry,” a soft voice said next to me. I looked up into the face of a girl with big brown eyes. She looked sort of familiar.
“Haley Ellison?” I asked, shocked. It was her, I was sure. On all of the T.V. alerts and magazine photos, she was smiling big and bright and her hair was sleek and shiny. Now, her cheeks were gaunt and her forehead cut up.
“It’s me,” she said with a sad smile. I still couldn’t believe it. She’d been abducted nearly a month ago and no one had heard anything at all. Now I’d found her. It took me a while to realize what that meant for me. “But what are you doing here?” she asked, her eyebrows knit together.
“Believe me, I have no idea. I’m,”
“Nick Roberts, I know,” she answered. “Lauren’s going to be crushed.”
“What?” What did Lauren have to do with this?
“She saw him hurt you. She saw you scream and cry. She and Dominic are twins and they can get into each other’s heads and see what the other one sees. If you watch Dominic’s eyes, you can tell when Lauren’s watching. I try not to let her see me…cry but…” She cast her eyes down and ran her fingers through her hair with one hand. The other arm laid limp at her side in a way that I was positive wasn’t natural. I mulled over what she said. Was she crazy? Had this Dominic guy hit her over the head? It would explain the constant crying though, how Lauren would come out of the bathroom with tears streaming down her face. And why she couldn’t tell anyone anything about why she was crying or about where Haley was. How would she explain how she knew?
“So Lauren saw that whole thing?” I asked, horrified. She was always crying about being able to do nothing about Haley, just a freshman she’d taken a liking to. Not to be cocky, but what would it do to her when she saw me, her best guy friend, being beaten to a pulp?
“Yeah,” Haley said with a sigh. “You just have to put on a brave face and deal with it. For her.” She leaned her head on my shoulder. “Is it terrible for me to be just a teensy bit happy that you’re here?” she asked.
“No,” I declared vehemently. She’d been here for a month, tortured by Dominic, without any human contact. I would be happy to see someone too, even if they were only there to share in my pain. She sighed and soon enough, we both drifted to sleep, already leaning on each other.
When I woke up, it was to Haley shaking me hard. “Nick, you have to get up. He’s coming,” she whispered urgently into my ear. I opened my eyes groggily but felt fear flood me even though I was barely awake. “Remember: don’t show anything to Lauren. When you look in Dominic’s eyes, guard everything,” she reminded. While I was glad she’d reminded me, I didn’t know how to do what she wanted me to do. Guard everything? How does a person do that? But I had no more time to ponder it because Dominic threw open the door as soon as Haley leaned away. Dominic burst in and grabbed Haley by the collar of her shirt. I automatically looked away when it slid more than half way over her torso. He must have realized that her shirt wasn’t giving him enough of a grip because when I looked over he was holding her against the wall by the throat. That’s when I realized what she meant by blocking everything out through her eyes. He had to be choking her, she had to be in pain but judging by her eyes, she just looked blank. She was struggling, of course, but her eyes didn’t shift, even as she kicked him in the groin. He doubled over and she slid down and life returned to her eyes in the form of pain but it disappeared as soon as Dominic looked up. I focused on looking like a zombie as I went to save Haley. Dominic had grabbed Haley by her limp arm and was slamming her into the wall. I jumped on his back and grabbed his throat just like he’d grabbed hers and jerked back with all my weight. He fell back and let go of Haley’s arm, just like I wanted. But now he was on top of me and he was mad. He rolled over and punched my face so hard I saw stars. And the punches just kept coming. I pushed with my hands and knees but he barely budged. But to have me think I could fight back made him even more furious. He leaned away and I thought I finally had an escape but he reached for my leg and started twisting. Pain erupted like shock waves and I realized I wasn’t focusing on keeping my eyes stoic. I shut down my emotions but then it was hard to focus on fighting back. Dominic was still twisting and bending until I was sure my leg would come apart to pieces in his hands. My eyes were showing pain, I was sure, and Dominic had given up reducing my leg to dust to pull out a knife. Dominic’s weight was suddenly thrown off of me and I saw, Haley on top of Dominic throwing punches like a prize fighter. Her eyes weren’t blank anymore. They were filled with fire.
“Don’t…touch…him!” she screeched as she hit. Dominic was infuriated. He grabbed her hair and pulled her head down towards his and flipped her over onto her back. He rolled on top of her and his fist with the knife came up and plunged into her side. There was an ear-piercing scream and I realized it was Haley. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t even say anything. I was trapped by the haze that had set in when Dominic berated my head. But Dominic had let up. He was sitting on his heels and staring at the writhing Haley. Then I understood. That was the whole point of this mindless torture, wasn’t it? He was only tearing us apart to hurt Lauren. Haley was still flopping like a fish against the floor, shrieks and whimpers jumping out of her as she gasped. Dominic stood up and pulled Haley up by her hair, creating more screams. I forced myself to move closer to them but a few inches was all I could manage. So I fell back into my own torture of watching Haley. Dominic leaned to her ear as she shrieked and yelled.
“Don’t mess with ME!” He hurled her against the wall and laughed. Her yells were a constant stream now, a high-pitched wail. “Ah, shut up!” he said as he gave her a swift kick directly in the temple. Immediately, she was silenced. Terror took me over as Dominic swept out of the room, laughing. I couldn’t tell from here if Haley was breathing, if she was moving at all. I forced my body to move towards her, causing my dragging excuse for a leg to scream in agony but I knew it was nothing to Haley’s pain. I finally reached her and laid my head by hers. Her chest was rising and falling slightly and I sighed with a relief. Her middle was red, nothing else. I had never in my life seen so much blood. I managed to rip a strip of my shirt off and tie it around her stomach. A groan escaped her when I did and I looked to her face eagerly but she was unconscious. I laid my head back down dizzily. The room was spinning and things were starting to look fuzzy. When I drifted off, I was counting Haley’s breaths.