Quinn has never known the meaning of the word "normal". To her living off the grid in isolation with her small antisocial family was normal. Having her father greet trespassers with shotguns at the door was normal. Having absolutely no contact with the outside world was normal.
The unexpected murder of her family, raises new questions and speculations but more importantly fuels a need for vengeance.
"Mason, grab my hand. We're going to run when I say so. Okay little man?"
My four year old brother's blue eyes widened with fear and confusion. Like me, he wasn't prepared for this moment. He glanced back towards the spot where our parents had been. Only blood was left in their wakes.
Mason' s lip quivered as tears threatened to spill from his flooding eyes. It was too much. I couldn't comfort him. I couldn't even comprehend this. It all had happened so fast....
The day started off normally. Normal for this family consisted of morning yoga, followed by a homegrown vegetarian breakfast and then homeschooling.
It was fair to say that my parents were hippies of their own sort. We lived on a self sufficient ranch, setback in a heavily wooded area, located in Smalltown Tennessee . If that weren't bad enough, we basically had no communication with the outside world. No Internet, no cell phones, no landline, not even a carrier pigeon.
It didn't bother me much. I never felt deprivation or anything like that. I couldn't want something that I knew so little of.
We weren't Amish in any religious sense. We dressed normally, or what I assumed was normal. I had an array of books to occupy my time and then there was the television; that only worked for VHS tapes. I guess that seems a bit Stone Age to most people, but I was happy living in my sheltered bubble. Most of the time...
It was around five PM that evening, when the group of hikers knocked on the front door.
Strange, I thought. Nobody ever visited us. My parents didn't really have any friends, nor did I for that matter. All of my grandparents were dead, and if I had any other relatives out there it would have been news to me.
Cautiously, I set my book aside and got up from my cozy spot on the couch to answer the door. It took me a minute to unlock it; working my way through the chains and bolts.
My eyes widened at the group of kids standing on my front porch. There were three of them. Two boys and a girl. They appeared to be around sixteen or seventeen, my age.
I swallowed back my uncertainty, before speaking to the small group.
"Why are you here?" It was fair to excuse my social skills to my sheltered upbringing.
One of the boys stepped forward. His hair was black and grazed his skin mid neck. His eyes were an alluring shade of blue, the irises outlined in a deeper shade. He was built for his age, but he had what my mother would call a boyish smile; and a mischievous twinkle in his light blue eyes. The way he stood in front of me, with his chin raised and his eyes leveled with mine, enthused confidence.
I may have been staring a moment too long, gawking even. It was only when the other boy, a lanky brunette, cleared his throat did I pick my jaw up off the ground and tear my gaze away from the blue eyed boy. I'm not entirely to blame for my behavior, again- it was the whole sheltered thing.
" Sorry, we didn't mean to startle you." Blue eyes said softly. Apparently he was their leader, the one who did all the talking.
"We were camping nearby and saw the the pile of firewood. Was hoping we could buy a couple bundles...."
He trailed off at my expression. I could feel the blood drain from my face. One of the girls sneered.
"You- your camping in those woods?" I managed.
The boy nodded his head, slowly, becoming less confident.
"What is this place?" The second girl, a curvier blonde eyeballed the log cabin and the lush jungle like gardens surrounding it on all sides. "Some kind of cult? It's huge but so..."
"Desolate," The sneering girl finished for her.
I shook my head, hoping they would get the hint and leave. I was afraid they would ask to use a phone or something that would further humiliate me.
The brunette boy clicked his tongue and shook his head playfully. " Come on Goldilocks, can't we just have some wood. You can come to our camp fire tonight." The boy announced as if we're some kind of privilege, a grand proposal.
I smiled Sweetly. "Of course I can. You see, it's my land." I said with growing agitation. "Didn't you notice the posted signs. They go on for about twenty more acres in each direction. And my father is very fussy about letting strangers on the land. So maybe-"
I heard a click over my shoulder and felt a familiar male presence. My dad had his shotgun poised at the campers.
"Who the hell are you?" He grunted.
Blue eyes stepped protectively in front of his friends and put his hands up defensively. "I get it. The wood is not for sale. We're leaving. Christ..."
My father lowered his gun as the campers walked back towards their car, parked at the end of the driveway. He never took his eyes off them. I heard the girls exchange insults about my wardrobe and laugh about it all the way too the car.
I fingered the hem of my flower printed top. My mother had said it looked quaint on me. Apparently, quaint was no longer in style. I watched them enviously as they drove off.
With a sudden and new found frustration, I turned towards my father. "Why?! Why can't we ever just be like normal families and not point a gun at anyone who knocks on the door?"
My father lowered his gun and averted his eyes. "Because we aren't normal Quinn."
I know it was childish, something Mason might even pull, but I stomped my foot in frustration."What the hell-
" Does that even mean?" I demanded.
"Quinn," My dad sighed and I could hear the years of hiding and isolation in his voice. "We'll talk at dinner."
I shook my head and rushed passed him into the kitchen. I noisily seated myself at the table. My mom stood at the sink, rinsing vegetables off. She offered me a look of sympathy. "You should be nicer to your Father, he only wants what's best for you Quinn."
I rolled my eyes. I wasn't even going to touch that one. Mason came in the living room with a toy car, making loud engine noises. Bae, our German Shepard, followed him with a dopey expression on his face. He panted as he watched the toy car, expecting it to come to life and attack him. Even the dog was paranoid.
My head began to pound. I massaged my temples. Mason drove the toy car over my feet. I glanced down at him and he smiled up at me. His goofy grin made me smile in response. I quickly remembered I was agitated and wiped the smile from my face.
I stood up abruptly. " I'm going for a walk, don't wait up for me."
"Don't wander too far from the house, and take Bae with you!" My mother ordered as I headed towards the back door.
I glanced at Bae. He was a cowardly dog, a big crybaby in a storm, but his looks alone were ferocious. Maybe that was his best line of defense. In that case I'd be screwed if I were ever in any real danger.