We walked to the edge of the yard before the property turned into woodlands. I took my time, allowing Bae to drink from the creek that separated one side of our yard from the woods. Soon after, the crickets started to chirp and the hidden bullfrogs sung their throaty song, signifying the day's end.
I made a point of staying out passed dinner time. I was angry, and I wanted my parents to feel the brunt of my anger.
The chill of late September hung heavy in the air. Soon the gardens would have to be harvested and covered. It would be a family effort, as everything else in my world was.
The only privacy I was allocated was that which I took on my long walks, and even then I wasn't allowed out past dark. I was treated like a child, or worse, a prisoner. Only my parents never saw it that way. They were paranoid and completely convinced that the world was out to get us. I had nobody I could talk to about these things. Sometimes, I wondered what my parents expected for my future. I couldn't imagine them being okay with my departure to College someday, though it was a topic we had yet to discuss.
Bae made a whimpering sound shortly after sunset. He too, was afraid of the dark. "Hold your horses mutt. I'm trying to make a point here." The whimpering picked up and he threw his head in the direction of the house. His tail went stiff. I ignored his peculiar behavior. Like Mason, the dog was brainwashed by our parents.
Normally I didn't mind the isolation that was my world, but when I saw the group of kids today something inside me snapped. I knew in that instant that I wanted more than what my family had given me. I wanted friends, laughter, I wanted my own life.
I kickef a stray pebble into the creek just before Bae's whimpering turned into a ferocious growl. That was something new. "Whoa boy, calm down. Something towards the house had startled the dog. Without warning, he jumped up and nipped the sleeve of my shirt."Bae!" I shouted in warning, but he turned towards me and lunged in the direction of the house. I had no choice but to follow.
I approached the back patio and opened the sliding glass door. Bae knocked passed me, shoving me against the frame. The first thing I noticed when I entered was the silence, the second thing was the stench of burnt stir fry. "Mom?"
I didn't receive an answer. Bae began to bark insistently letting me know something was definitely wrong. Then I heard Mason sobbing in the living room. I took off in a sprint.
Mason was hugging his knees against his chest and rocking back and forth. I knelt down next to him. "What's wrong?"
Mason's words were barely audible between his sobs. " Mom and Dad said...hide." He pointed towards the kitchen. I patted his head and stood up on shaky legs, afraid to see what was in the kitchen.
It took a moment for the sight before me to register. There were two bodies bleeding out on the floor. One was dead. The other danced on the brink of death.
My father... Dead. I began to tremble uncontrollably. I bent down towards my mother."Mom!" Her lips barely moved as she spoke softly. "Take Mason, run. They can't know your alive. Love..." Her words died.
"Mom!" I demanded again. This time I got no answer. I took her by the shoulders and gave her a hard shake. Somebody screamed. An ear piercing, a blood curdling sound. It took me a moment to realize it was me, my voice screaming. I felt so detached from my body at that moment. The only thing bringing me back to my senses was the sound of footsteps coming from upstairs. I forced my self to leave my parents behind. There was nothing more I could do for them.
As quietly as I could manage, I ran towards my little brother. I picked him up as if he were weightless. I knew I couldn't outrun the intruder with him, so my next best option was to hide.
I carried Mason towards the back door, which meant going through the kitchen. Upon seeing our parents he squirmed out of my grasp. I bit my lip to quiet my sobs. I had to hold it together for Mason now.
"Mason." I called after him. " Grab my hand. We're going to run when I say so. Okay little man?"
A minute later we took off in a sprint towards my Dad's tool shed. I had to drag Mason half of the way. He cried out that I was hurting his arm. I didn't stop or slow down. For his own safety he'd have to deal with a sore arm.
I made him hide under a tool bench. It was quiet for at least an hour. I thought we were safe. I was about to open the door and peak out when I heard the click of the door handle.
Fortunately, the door always stuck for a moment when anyone tried to open it. This bought my enough time to roll under the tool bench with Mason. I had just enough space to lay on my belly. I placed my hand over Mason's mouth to silence his cries.
"I told you there was one more Preston, a child. I can smell it." A man with a thick accent announced. I watched in horror as his boots came closer. I slid closer to the interior wall, allowing the dark shadows to engulf me. I moved my hand to Mason's back and clutched a fistfull of his shirt hoping to drag him back into the shadowy area.
Just then the second pair of boots stopped. A man with yellow eyes bent down and leered at my brother. I could feel Mason shake. I clutched his shirt harder.
The man bent down closer. He seemed oblivious to me as he spoke to my brother. A long scar marred his leathery face. "Hey there lad, I got a tub of candy with your name on it in my car. What say you?"
Mason shook his head. Smart boy.
The man shrugged. "Ah well it was worth a shot." His arms clasped into Mason's and he dragged him out by force. He never saw me or felt my presence as he yanked my brother out of my grasp. A piece of bright green fabric, from Mason's shirt remained in my clenched hand. Before I could roll out and lunge towards the men. They were gone, Completely vanished from sight.
This time I knew it was me screaming. I was one with the agony. My parents death, my brother's abduction, the unanswered questions. Someone was going to pay for those things.