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The Secret Keepers
The forest that surrounded the winding road was dark and shady. Nothing could be seen beyond the first row of trees as the light from the midnight moon glared upon the wet pavement. The color all around was black, black as death.
The car was moving at seventy-five miles per hour down the dark, winding road. The rain began to downpour as Matthew Sullivan eased more weight onto the gas pedal. The car he had stolen, a jet black, 1970 Chevrolet El Camino, sped along the slick coated streets as a snake moved through tall grass. His breathing grew fast and his eyes flashed back and forth between the windshield and the rearview mirror.
Matthew could hear his own heart pounding. Speeding on the slippery road could only lead to trouble, but he took the risk for he knew no matter what he was not going to make it out alive. It wasn’t the fear of death that made his foot push harder on the pedal; it was the fear of the death he would acquire that drove him wild.
They were chasing after him as they did the others. He was amazed he had survived to the age of eighteen. Matthew had lived through events that no other person could imagine—the murdering of his whole family. Who could ever do something like this? Why us?, his mind raced faster than the car. He knew their sick infatuation with his family had lasted for decades and with recent events he was the last heir to his family. The last living Sullivan on this planet and when they killed him, their job would be complete.
They say that before you die your life flashes before your eyes and he imagined at that moment what he would think about. Matthew was reeling over what he had just done and the secret he was taking to his grave, when out of the corner of his eye he saw the charcoal grey Ford Shelby Mustang making its way around the bend.
The bright lights shined into Matthew’s mirrors forcing him to look away. He rolled down his window to hear how close their car was getting since he could no longer see his enemy creeping up on him. The rain blocked the noise of the car’s tires splashing in the puddles. For all he knew they were on his tail.
Matthew noticed the lights in his rearview mirror were gone and he could see the lights of the car behind him shining on the wet pavement at his side on the opposite side of the road. They were going to come up on his side. He swerved into the left lane and the lights that had once sent and unbearable glare into his mirror were back. A small feeling of relief ran through his body. Though he was going to die at least he knew where his enemies were at all times.
The speedometer was growing higher, past the hundreds, and the rain was hitting the windshield like little shards of glass. They began to swerve from the right lane to the left lane and Matthew too decided to swerve to prevent them from getting at his side. Back and forth they drove; water splashing everywhere as the headlights created a light show on the trees around them. His hands were sweating and some of the rain that had been blown through the window had landed on the steering wheel causing his hand to slip and lose grip of the wheel. Then suddenly when Matthew should've swerved into the left lane to block them, they sped up and were regrettably at his side.
Matthew had nowhere to turn. His head locked forward staring out at the road ahead. His heart grew heavy. He felt their eyes burning the side of his face. He didn’t think he had the courage to turn towards them, but he knew he had no choice. Slowly Matthew drew his eyes away from the road and looked to the car that drove adjacent to his and saw them wearing masks. The brown potato sacks painted with a horrific face the resemblance to a court jester or a clown; the eyes and mouths were cut out while the neck was tied with a thin rope. What the hell?, he thought.
He had never seen them before. He had never witnessed a death because by the time it was occurring he was traveling to a new location to find safety. After they had killed his great grandfather, Thomas Sullivan, his family went into hiding. Though hiding only lasted for a short while until Matthew's father, Nicholas Sullivan, went crazy from running away his whole life. He eventually was caught by the cult and killed when Mathew was just a baby. Once Matthew turned fifteen, his mother was killed in a house fire which was said to be an accident, but there was no accident about it. The only mysterious death was Matthew's little sister, no information of her murder had ever been found.
Matthew's car was pushed over the guard rail where it flipped and tumbled down the hill towards the forest. He was jostled around the car as it was thrown about—the windows were shattered at every corner until the smallest and sharpest pieces remained. The car had finally stopped flipping when it landed upside down and slammed into a large tree.
He kept his eyes closed; he didn’t know how long they had been closed because once all the noises had ceased, Matthew opened his eyes—to the earliest time or the sunrise. It was still raining and a light darkness still surrounded him, minus one of the headlights that had survived the crash and shone through the trees.
He hadn’t realized that he had stopped breathing by choice. He let out a big breath and filled his lungs with air feeling for the first time the pain that ran through his whole body. Why aren’t I dead?, he thought to himself as he tried to move his arms. His arms weren’t the problem—his right leg though had to have been broken for the pain was excruciating and he couldn’t move it.
If he wasn’t dead yet, he knew there was a matter of time before they would be back. They never left the scene of a crime without making sure their victim was dead and every death ended in a large fire to get rid of all the evidence.
Matthew tried to pull himself out of the car through the driver’s side window. His skin was cut severely and blood was everywhere. Once he had gotten his upper torso out of the window he found a large shard of glass sticking in his left side. He pulled it out with a cry and felt the salty tears run down his cheeks, mixing with the blood from the cut on his forehead, making its way to his lips. He had never truly tasted pain and agony until that very moment.
He heard footsteps in the forest ahead and hurriedly continued to struggle and pull his broken leg though the window. The shadows of the on comers where pressed against the trees from the light of the car. From around a tree, about ten feet away, came a tall man wearing a potato sack over his head and a hideous face painted on it. Two others followed him, yet not as tall, but cold in stature.
With a slick motion of the tall man’s hand the two cronies took his silent hint and pulled Matthew out of the car by the shoulders of his shirt. They continued to pull him past the tall man a few extra feet into the forest. Matthew screamed and squirmed to get away, but it was impossible. No one could hear him. No one could see him. No one could save him.
Finally they had reached far enough into the forest and the two medium sized men threw him against the tree. Matthew yelped in anguish as held his torso trying to stop the bleeding and the pain of the large cut that shard of glass had left in his skin.
“Why—why are you doing this?” Matthew managed to push through his gritted teeth.
The three men laughed. Matthew closed his eyes from pain and imagined he was still in her arms. He twisted and turned, he began to shake and shiver.
The tallest man walked closer to them and squatted down on the floor in front of Matthew. Feeling his closeness Matthew opened his eyes and looked straight into the tall mans cold silver eyes.
“You’ve been told the stories boy haven’t you?” The tall man said with a smile. He lifted his hand to his head and pulled off his potato sack mask. His thin dark hair that lined the sides of his head which he turned left to right and signaled his partners to do the same. They two boys pulled off their masks and threw them to the ground they looked about Matthew’s age.
“Can’t we just get this over with and go, sir?” The thinner of the two boys said.
“Hold your belt son. This young man deserves and explanation don’ he?” The taller man tilted his head to the side and looked into Matthew’s eyes. “See, boy, we aren’t here cause’ we hate you, it’s cause’ we hate the filth that runs through your veins.” He stopped and stiffened his posture. “What the hell am I doin’? I must be a rude ninny. Let me introduce myself n’ these boys here. I’m Grant and this boy here is my young one, Steven. This other boy here is Max.”
Matthew didn’t remove his eyes form the older man, Grant.
“Okay, so let us get back on topic now.”
“No.” Matthew said biting down until it felt as if his teeth would break.
“No? No, what? You don’t want to hear why we’re goin’ to kill you, boy?”
“No I know why. You people are sick and one day you won’t get away with this.”
Grant let out a laugh, “Well see here’s the thing boy we will get away with this cause’ you’re the last one on our list.” Grant’s smirk was devious and evil. It was so sure of itself and didn’t hold a sign of fear.
“Think what you will, but one day you will pay,” Matthew assured them. “One day everyone will see the filth that runs through your own veins and the first to see it will be yourself.”
“That’s it, boy. I thought I’d be a little kind and give you the benefit of the doubt, but you give me no choice. No explanation for you; let your soul wonder with no clarification on why it can’t be anymore.” Grant was getting agitated.
He stood and gestured to his son to come closer. His son understood the meaning and in the hands of his father he placed a long yet slender, rectangular case. Grant opened the black box and took out a sharp, sleek knife that gave off a shine that seemed as if it could blind a man.
“No. No! Please?” Matthew tried to lift himself while holding the tree but it was impossible with the pain from his leg and his side.
“Goodbye boy.” Grant slowly walked closer; he dropped the rectangular black box to the floor and held the knife up.
Matthew watched the black box hit the ground—black as death. In his last moments he thought about the secret he held and the love he had shared.
Grant came closer, closer, and closer until the length of the knife was the only thing between them. He gave the two boys their final hand gesture and they scattered. Grant placed the tip of the knife to Matthew’s stomach. The tears in Matthew’s eyes grew larger and they streamed down his cheeks. His throat ran dry forcing him to be unable to speak. He closed his eyes.
At that moment Grant took the knife and rammed it into Matthew’s stomach. His eyes flew open and his scream came out more as a lurch forward and pain was making it hard for him to breath. He squirmed uncontrollably and Grant pulled the knife out and stabbed him one more time. Matthew’s eyes began to close so he could concentrate on his breathing. Then images begin to flood his mind.
They say that when you die your life flashes before your eyes. Matthew relieved his childhood: running from place to place, growing up without a father, talking to the fire marshal after losing his mother and his sister, continuing to run, and lastly, falling in love.
Her beautiful pale face filled his mind. Her soft, fare skin, almond shaped eyes, the crystal blue color of her eyes and the shine of her light auburn hair—beautiful, he thought.
Loretta, the name ran though his final memories. The sweetest of all memories, the touching of their bare skin, and the beauty of the experience they shared, just laying there bundled up in a blanket under the warm summer’s moonlight, and the final words he whispered to her: I’ll love you, forever and a day.
Matthew’s breathing grew shallow and his head sank lower and lower to his chest. Grant lifted the knife one last time and placed the tip of the knife in the direction of Matthew’s heart and pressed it in once again.
And finally, Goodbye boy.
Grant pulled out his knife and placed it on the ground next to him and reached for his pocket. From his back pocket he pulled out two potato sacks one he laid on the ground next to the knife and the other he placed on Matthews head. The eyes and the mouth were not cut out of this mask for there was no reason to see nor breathe. Grant tied it off with a thin rope and left Matthew there with his head leaning against the tree.
Grant stood up, picked up his mask, and placed it on his head. He wiped the knife in the dirt to get most of the blood off. Then he picked up the black box, and the masks the boys had left behind. He could smell the flames in the air and walked off out of the clearing to where the car had crashed.
The two boys stood there making the fire. Grant threw them their masks and they placed them on their heads. They waited for the fire to grow larger until it spread into the forest. They walked up to the top of the hill where they had left the car and looked back at the scene where the fire had spread through a good portion of the trees. The three of them got into the car and took one last look and sped off into the sunrise of a new morning.