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A Twin's Connection
It was early morning. No one was around but Najia. She was sitting on the beach, next to the water, watching the waves crash onto the shore. The seagulls were calling and circling around above her, around her, over the water: everywhere. There was a small, chilling breeze coming off the ocean. Then, everything went still. It was like the whole world had frozen…
Najia slowly started opening her eyes, her dreams being interrupted, only to feel something over her mouth, the scent of a sweet smell, and everything faded into nothingness…
* * *
The high-pitched screeching of the alarm clock awoke Warrick from his unusual dream that he hurriedly forgot. He rolled over, blindly felt around for the alarm and switched it off. Opening his eyes, he gazed at the clock. 7:15 am. Great. He let out a heavy sigh as he sat up on his black futon bed and stretched. Even though it was only seven, it was pretty bright outside. The window was open and a warm summer breeze was coming in and he could hear birds chirping in the distance. Today was going to be a nice day.
With another sigh, he slowly got up and walked into the bathroom him and his twin sister, Najia, shared. He splashed some water onto his face, and quickly brushed his teeth and ran a comb through his hair, grateful for beating his sister there. He walked back into his room and picked up a shirt and some jeans off the floor, hoping they were clean, and put them on. He went to his door and looked around the room.
His room looked like a tornado had gone through it. There were clothes, papers, books, and anything else you could imagine scattered all over the floor. On his desk were more papers, books, drawings, posters, and food cluttering it so you could barely tell it was even a desk. You couldn’t even see his brand new laptop his parents bought both Najia and him for their birthday. His trashcan was overflowing with balled up papers and he hadn’t made his bed. He closed his door and promised himself he would clean it up later when he got back.
He silently crept through the house, making sure as to not wake anyone, went out the front door, remembering to lock it, and headed down the road towards the convenience store where he worked.
* * *
B-bmp. B-bmp. B-bmp.
Her heart was beating fast. Her whole body ached. She was dizzy and the room felt like it was spinning. Her head was pulsing and she had the worst migraine. Her eyes were too heavy to lift, but she knew it wouldn’t do any good to open them anyway…they were covered. She realized she had also been gagged. And apparently she was chained at the wrists and ankles. She was laying down, fetal position, on what felt like hay. She tried to sit up, but was too weak. She groaned in pain.
“So, Najia, you decided to wake up…” said a hoarse whisper close to her ear that made her shiver. It’s definitely a guy’s voice, someone I’ve heard before, she thought.
There was something over her nose, a sweet smell, and then the nothingness again…
* * *
Warrick was on cleaning duty today. It had been a quiet morning up until five minutes ago. A lady came in with her screaming three year old who decided to dump his whole bottle of purple grape juice up and down aisle three. And, of course, Warrick was stuck cleaning it up.
He had just started mopping when the store went pitch black. His heart started pounding. His body ached. He felt dizzy and faint, like the room was spinning out of control, and had to hold onto the mop and the shelf for support. His head was pulsing and he had a headache. He felt something covering his eyes, and a gag in his mouth, and his arms and legs tied up. And even though he knew he was standing, he had the feeling that he was laying down. He thought he heard someone whispering, but his manager’s voice yelling at him drowned it out. There was something covering his nose, a sweet smell, then nothingness…like, he suddenly remembered, in his dream this morning.
Then, slowly, the store came back into view. He was terrified and thought he was going to be sick. He didn’t want to believe it, but he knew something had happened to Najia.
“Didn’t I tell you to clean this up?” his manager, Steve, a middle-aged version of an old-time cowboy, yelled. “What do you think I’m paying ya for?”
Warrick ignored him and darted for the phone behind the counter. He punched in his home phone number. Come on…come on, answer! He shouted in his mind. After the third ring, someone finally picked up.
“H-hello?” said his mother’s shaky voice.
“Mom! Where’s Najia? Is she alright?” he yelled into the receiver.
His mother started crying and Warrick knew that Najia wasn’t alright. His father came on the phone.
“Warrick. Najia was…kidnapped…the police think it was last night sometime. They don’t know for sure. We found a, uh…note on her bed? It’s in some sort of…code, they think. We’re trying to figure it out.”
“I’m coming home. I’ll be there in a little bit…and dad? I had a, uh, vision, for lack of better words, about what’s going on. Should I tell the police?”
The phone was silent for a few minutes. “No. Not yet. Not unless you know exactly who it is, where she is, or something like that.”
“Okay. Well, I’ll be home in a little bit.” He said as he hung up the phone. He hadn’t noticed it earlier, but Steve was standing right in front of him. But now his eyes were wide, his mouth half open, and, for once in his life, he was completely speechless. Warrick gave him a half-smile, took off his apron and set it on the counter, and headed outside.
He was a pretty fast runner. He had taken first place in the school games last semester. He looked down the road. It would be about fifteen minutes until he got home if he ran fast. He took a deep breath and bolted for his house.
Fifteen minutes later on the dot, he came bursting through the front door. His legs were killing him and he couldn’t catch his breath, but right now he didn’t care. Just about all of the twenty or so police officers in their small town were now in the cramped house. He elbowed his way to the kitchen where he could see his mom and dad.
His mother was standing next to the sink making coffee. She could only be described as looking like a train wreck. She was still in her pink pajamas with her favorite yellow robe over it, her dark brown hair was a tangled mess, her bright blue eyes were puffy and red from crying, and she looked like she could collapse at any moment. His father was sitting at the table talking to one of the police officers. He had thrown on a shirt and some pants, but you could tell he had just rolled out of bed. His black hair was in the classic bed-head style. You couldn’t tell by just looking at his face, but his dull silver eyes told the tale of pain, sorrow, dismay, anger, worry.
Warrick silently walked over to his mother. At the sight of him she pulled him into a hug and started weeping. He led her to the couch and laid her down and she instantly fell asleep. He strode over to his father, sat down at the table, and listened.
Warrick had just lain down on his bed. He turned to look at his clock. 12:22 am. It had been a long tiresome day, but it was mostly a blur. A blur of uniformed cops. A blur of friends and neighbors. And now all Warrick wanted to do was sleep. But the hours went by, and sleep refused to come.
He couldn’t help but think that somehow this was his fault. That if he would have been home today or if he would have been a better brother, Najia would still be here. That nothing like this would have ever happened to her. That somehow he could have stopped it.
Why Najia? Nobody seemed to be able to answer that question either. Why take her? What had she ever done to deserve to be taken? He went over in his head everything the police had said. How they thought the kidnapper had come in the middle of the night. How they figured since the window had been unlocked and opened that’s how he came in, but he most likely carried her out the front door, but remembered to lock it again afterwards. How whoever was doing this was exceptionally smart and cunning. How there wasn’t any evidence of him anywhere except the note that had been left on the bed.
He couldn’t get the note left behind by the kidnapper out of his head. The police were right. Whoever was doing this was brilliant. Beyond brilliant. The note was in some sort of…code. And no one was able to figure it out. How could anyone figure it out? It was made-up. It wasn’t a normal type of code. It wasn’t easy to figure out. And it wasn’t supposed to be…
Now he was wishing he could see his sister again. Wishing it was someone else’s’ sister it was happening to. Wishing…hoping…praying…she would be okay…
And then finally sleep came…
* * *
B-bmp. B-bmp. B-bmp.
When Najia awoke this time, she noticed she wasn’t lying down anymore. Instead, she was sitting on the ground with her arms chained, hanging above her. Her legs were still chained, too, most likely somewhere on the ground or to something close to her. Her head was pulsing even more now, her body still ached, and she felt dizzy and sick. She was still gagged, but there wasn’t anything covering her eyes anymore. She barely managed to lift her head. She felt so weak, but was able to open her eyes. It took a couple minutes for her eyes to adjust to the dark, but she realized she was in a storm cellar. Four walls, the ceiling, the floor, one door, no windows. A very minute space. She closed her eyes and started breathing deeply. She had always been afraid of the dark. She had also always been claustrophobic. And being in an extremely small space, completely in the dark, where she didn’t think she could get out…utterly petrified her. She opened her eyes, and at that moment, there was the blinding white light of someone opening the door…
* * *
Warrick jolted up in bed, breathing deeply. He felt as if was suffocating. He glanced over at the clock. 5:57 am. He leaped out of his bed, almost tripping himself in his blankets, and dashed out of his room.
When he got to the living room, he stopped. Sitting on the couch was his father. He was holding a picture of Najia that had been taken about a week ago in the park. She was laughing, her blue/grey eyes sparkling, and her long, black hair had been pulled back into a ponytail. And his father was…crying. Warrick had never, in his entire life, seen his father cry. Not when his father had gotten hurt. Not when the family dog died. Not even when his father’s father had died. Never.
His father wiped up his tears and stood to replace the picture on the mantle. Warrick crept back to his room and lay back down on his bed. He knew they were short on time, but telling his parents his dream could wait until morning…
* * *
B-bmp. B-bmp. B-bmp.
“Najia, Najia, Najia,” came that same hoarse whisper from the last time she was awake. Whoever it was had already re-shut the door, so now they were just a black blob in the dark. In the dark. She closed her eyes and tried to steady her breathing as a shiver ran up and down her spine. “I see you follow your character very well,” said the hoarse whisper. And even though she couldn’t see him, she knew he was smiling. And she knew exactly what he was talking about. Her character…her story…
* * *
Warrick opened his eyes. Her character…her story… echoed several times in his mind. He hurriedly looked over at the clock. 9:47 am. He tore the blankets off him and went to Najia’s room.
Her character…her story…He remembered Najia had written a paper for their English class before summer started. She had to read in front of the whole class, but it was such a good story everybody had been intently listening. Everybody, that is but Warrick. Najia had read it to him and their parents so many times that he zoned out when she read it in class.
He stood in the doorway. Najia was always so much more tidy than he had ever been. Her desk was all in order with folders and folder holders to hold all her papers. She had posters of her favorite actors, actresses, bands, and stars hung neatly on the wall. There weren’t any clothes or junk on the floor. There wasn’t anything out of place in her room. Except her bed…
Warrick shook his head to shake the thought. He walked over to the desk and looked through the folder holders. Advanced Calculus, French, Geography, Advanced Biology, English II…he pulled the English folder out. Right on top staring back at him was her story: A Twin’s Connection. There it was. Everything that was happening to Najia right now was what she had written for English. She wrote her own kidnapping. Ironic.
The two main characters were based off him and Najia. They had all their, looks, characteristics, their weird twin connection...and their fears. Except his character was better at puzzles than he was in real life. The kidnapper would leave a new clue in the form of a puzzle everyday and Tyler, his character in the story, would have to figure it out by day’s end or something bad would happen to Trista, Najia’s character. At first, Tyler and their parents thought the puzzles were a joke and blew them off. But the next day they got a picture of Trista hanging by her wrists from the ceiling and carved in her right leg was ‘TAKE THIS SERIOUSLY.’ So they did. And Tyler had figured out every clue after that.
But how did it end? That was something he couldn’t remember. He flipped through the stapled pages of the printed story until he found where Tyler had figured out the last clue…
He did it. He finally figured it out. She was being kept in a storm cellar. And she had been so close to them the entire time. She was only down the road about a mile and a half in the old abandon house’s storm cellar.
They used to play in that house all the time when they were younger. But they had never been in the cellar. Trista had always been afraid of the dark and small spaces. And that storm cellar was extremely small. And because it was for in case of tornadoes there weren’t any windows, so it was also extremely dark.
But now wasn’t the time for reminiscing. Now was the time to save Trista…
That’s it! If whoever was doing this was following the story, she was being kept in the storm cellar in the abandoned house a mile and a half down the road. Now it’s time to save Najia…
After quickly changing his clothes, grabbing his father’s nine millimeter handgun and putting it in his right pocket, taking the sharpest knife out of the kitchen and putting it in his left pocket, and putting his old pocketknife in his right shoe, he was ready to go.
He was standing in front of their house looking down the road. Should he run or walk? If he walked it would take longer, but if he ran would he have enough energy when he got there? He would walk. Better safe than sorry. He looked at his watch. 10:59 am. It would be around noon when he would finally reach the house. He took a deep breath and headed down the road towards the abandoned house…towards the storm cellar…towards Najia…
He was standing in front of the house now. And all of a sudden he was flooded with memories. Childhood memories of when he and Najia used to play there. Like the time she dared him to jump off the roof, and doing so he had broken his arm. Or the time they played cops and robbers. He had been the robber. And she had won. Or the time they explored the attic and found some old clothes and games. They had stayed up there until dark dressing up and playing games. He smiled.
The sound of chains rattling snapped him back to reality. It was muffled and distant, but he knew it had to be Najia. He crept to the backyard where the cellar was. Making sure no one was around, hand in his pocket on the knife, he opened the door. Closing the door behind him, he whispered, “Najia?”
He could just barely make out the black blob in the back corner. “Warrick? Warrick, is that you?” she whispered back. And he could tell she had started crying.
His eyes finally adjusted to the dark, he darted over to her. “Are you okay? They didn’t hurt you, right?”
“No he didn’t, I’m okay. I’m so glad to see you. I thought I was going to die,” she answered, still crying.
“It’s okay, I’m here now…”
“I’m chained. He keeps the keys on him at all times. I don’t know how to get out of it…”
Warrick looked at her. She had been chained to a peg in the wall and on the floor. Around her ankles and wrists where the chains had been tied, her skin was raw and bleeding. At the pegs were locks. “Hold on. I think I can pick the lock…” he said.
He took the pocketknife out of his shoe and opened it. He stood up, knife in one hand and grabbed the lock with the other, and started picking at it. He had picked a ton of locks before. The trick was trying to catch it in the right places at the right time.
And five minutes later the chains and Najia’s hands were free. Her arms dropped to her sides and the chains fell to the floor. “Alright,” he said proudly, “now let’s work on the other one…”
He kneeled down on the ground and started picking at the other lock. This one instantly unlocked. An older version, he guessed. They were always easier to open, didn’t have as many places to catch. “There. You’re free…”
Najia jumped up and hugged him, still crying. “Thank you, thank you, thank you! I knew I could count on you!”
He smirked. “You know I always got your back. Now let’s get out of here. I’ll carry you…” He crouched down so she could hop on his back.
She nodded her head, climbed onto his back, and wrapped her arms and legs around him for support.
“Ready?” Warrick asked.
“More than…” Najia replied.
Holding onto her legs so she didn’t fall, Warrick stood up and headed for the door. Just as they got there, it opened. And before either of them could react, there was the sound of a gun going off.
And then there was nothing…
* * *
Slowly the room began to fade back. Najia had just sat down at her desk, turned on her new laptop computer her and her twin brother Warrick had just gotten for their birthday, brought up Microsoft Word, and started typing. On the screen was the title: A Twin’s Connection, the report she was getting ready to write for her English II class.
She hit the backspace button until it was completely erased and decided to write something else…