A Crack in the Ice

"I-…" Brian caught sight of the burly man's face in the moonlight which shone eerily through one of the windows, his threatening look suddenly clearing and his mouth almost creeping up into a smile. Brian frowned. What was so funny? The same guy glanced over at his partner in an amused way, who exchanged a smirk. They both snorted and then the harsh fluorescent lights flickered on all around us. Brian squinted and everything didn't seem so menacing anymore.

From behind Brian, a hysterical laugh broke out along with a clapping sound. He turned to see a guy in his early twenties swagger over from behind the history aisle with a huge grin on his face, practically stumbling over in hysterics. His sandy hair stuck up in hedgehog style; a grey tracksuit flopped loosely around his muscular body as he swaggered over to the kidnappers.

"Sorry man, I couldn't hold it anymore!" Jason turned, smiling and laughing over at the newcomer.

"Don't worry Jase, you were awesome. I can't believe you fell for it Maddy!!" He turned to her and clapped his hands together again in sheer delight.

Anger and shock jolted through me. What? It had all been a setup? Who was this guy?!

"Jack! What!?" Brian was taken aback by the volume with which Madison spat out her words, contempt and anger lacing them thickly. She knew him? Her face turned from terror to absolute loathing and disgust, almost ageing her from a young teen to an adult. It left him quite bewildered for a moment. She instantly shot a look at him, and shouted, "He's my STUPID brother!" She glared up at Jack, squirming angrily in the chair and guessing the danger was superficial now, Brian quickly ran over and began untying the ropes.

"Yeah well, you shouldn't have broken my xbox, should you. That cost me a bomb." Jack threw a nasty look at her.

"I was electrocuted!!" Her voice almost died away with disbelief.

"Yeah well, that wasn't supposed to happen obviously. Sorry about that. Jason said he wasn' t even running fast but you just panicked. At least it meant you were out cold when they tied you up. It stopped you asking questions. Easier for us, eh guys!" Jack turned to his mates and grinned.

"Let me get these for you. I cannot believe this!" Brian squatted behind the chair and began examining the knots.

"I'm so sorry you got involved in all this! Jack is SUCH a jerk. I am going to kill him! This is all so stupid! I.." From behind, his clumsy fingers working away at the ropes, he could see her shoulders beginning to shake and ragged sobs sounded over the continuous laughter.

Reaching round, he patted her shoulder awkwardly in an attempt to comfort her.

"Oh shh shh don't worry! It will all be alright! Don't cry." He knew he sounded like a pathetic idiot but he didn't know what else to say. What does one say in a situation like this? Tears began to trickle down her cheeks. She couldn't seem to decide whether to be angry or upset. Not knowing what else to do, he busied himself with the knots and although he found they were sloppy - the work of a couple of teenagers - he could tell they were going to take him a while to untie. He never had been very good at this kind of thing.

The boys were too busy reveling in their success to take any notice of them. All three guys jostled together jovially, high fiving, and slapping each other on the back.

"Oh my GOD Jason, that was hilarious. You should have seen the look on her face when you mentioned that dumb notebook. Haha!" He broke out into more laughter, doubling over.

"I did see it!" Jason laughed, bearing a gummy grin and slapping down the bottle of ketacoximine back onto a nearby desk. In the bright lighting, he could now see it was clearly a bottle of Johnson's body lotion with a label scruffily stuck on top. "Yeah man, what is with that notebook anyway?"

Jack paused for breath, wiping moisture from his eyes and then leaned in. "Maddy says it has 'special powers'" He made exaggerated quotation marks with his first and second fingers. "I can't believe she still said it was true when you were threatening her with that keta-whats-it stuff that she's allergic to. Absolute genius!" They all broke out into more wheezy laughter.

What a sick joke. He couldn't believe this was Madison's brother.

"It does have powers!" Madison cried out, but they ignored her. He didn't know what to believe.

"Was I good?" The tall guy spoke up.

"Oh my God, Luke, you were awesome! You should totally go to that audition. Your acting is sick man."

"Haha. Thanks man." Luke high-fived Jack as Jason began pulling out the pillow from under his sweater.

"I gotta go shave soon! I can't believe you made me keep this stubble just so I could 'be the part'." Jason chuckled, rubbing a hand across his scratchy chin.

"Well I think it did the job!" He turned to Madison and then his face softened slightly. "Oh come on sis! It was only a joke!" Jack tried to pat her shoulder but she shrugged it off as if his hand was red hot.

"A joke?!" Her voice rose, incredulous and bitter. She left her words hanging, which did its job because for a second, a flicker of fear darted through Jack's eyes.

He was still working away at the wretched knots and taking it all in with horror, when it hit him. He was meant to be following the plan. Their plan.

The End

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