The Quiet

I followed her gaze to the other side of the room, where there were two windows. One was closed tightly. But the other was opening slowly. I could see some kind of shadow come over the bottom.

Someone was coming inside.

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24. Reason

The storm outside had slowed, I noticed, as I looked up at the skylight above our heads. I wasn’t even sure why I did it. I guess I wanted to avoid looking at the madman who had hurt Clay and me.

“What do you want?” Cari asked, stepping in front of me.

A soft chuckle rippled through the hall. He said, “You know exactly what I want —your head on a fucking platter.”

“Why?” Cari demanded. “Who are you?”

He stepped forward until he was close enough to the glow of the candle. He doesn’t look familiar to me, but I had my back turned when he hit me. But Clay saw him up close and personal.

“We’ve never met, but I know all about you. How your mother died and you moved with your father countless times to forget. But it didn’t work, did it? You feel responsible, isn’t that right?”

“Stop,” Cari whispered, her voice small and shaking. “Please just stop it.”

Clay stood beside Cari, his arm around her. I stared at them for a few minutes, before turning to look at the man.

“You’re not going to get to her,” I said, narrowing my eyes. “Not without going through us first.”

“Oh, Lena, don’t worry. I’m planning something special for you.” When he smiled, he looked like a deranged monster.

I heard my name come out of his mouth and it made me shiver.

“Why do you want Cari?” I asked.

“She’s the reason I came back.” He reached out and gripped the candle from Cari’s hand, put out the flame, and threw it to the ground.

Complete and utter darkness consumed us.

“Nobody move,” Clay whispered. He grabbed my hand. “Lena, come close to me. Cari, where are you?”

“Here,” a voice squeaked.

Clay reached passed me, and I knew he got a hold of Cari, because she pressed herself close against my back. Fear gripped me, more than it had when I was attacked, because I knew this was the end.

We were like sheep huddled together, waiting for the wolf.

Our breathing mixed together so much that it sounded like one person. I could hear something, like the cork being pulled off a champagne bottle, then liquid being poured. My heart raced inside my chest. I knew exactly what the noise was.

Orange and yellow flames roared to life in front on us.

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