He pulls me down the hallway and towards Leo’s bedroom. I struggle against him all the way, screaming as I go. Bash pushes Leo’s door open and throws me down onto the mattress. I don’t have the time to scream again. Bash flings open the closet door and my blood runs cold.
Leo is tied up and gagged on the floor. He’s lying in a pool of his own blood, his skin deathly pale. His chest rises and falls, that’s the only way I know he’s alive. I want to scream, but I can’t get my body to react. My father’s face flashes across my mind from several months ago, back to that night when they were murdered.
“Don’t make a sound or I’ll speed up dear old uncle’s death, got it?” Bash commands.
My eyes stay focused on Leo’s breathing. Tears stream down my cheeks, blurring my vision.
Bash paces the room, running his fingers across all of my uncle’s things. “You know, I really like this house. It’s cute. You know the best part? It’s three miles from any neighbor. That’s the good thing about small towns.”
Bash grabs the duct tape from the top of Leo’s dresser and steps towards me.
“You killed my parents?” My voice sounds distant and weak.
“No actually, I didn’t, but I work for the people that did.” He explains.
“I don’t understand.” I sob.
“Typical.” He scoffs. “But don’t worry, Greer, I’m about to tell you exactly what happened to your parents and the part you play in it.”
“Please, Bash. Don’t do this. I thought you liked me.” I’m sobbing, fat tears running down my cheeks.
“I never liked you!” He yells. “You were my assignment, my target. You were my job. Get it? I was using you for information.”
“What information? I don’t have information!” I plead with him. “Please, you already killed my parents, you don’t have to kill me!”
“I didn’t kill your parents, I already told you that.” He explains, wrapping duct tape several times around my wrists to tie them together. “And you do have information, Greer. Information that my boss was willing to kill for, still willing. You may not know that you do, but it’s somewhere hidden with you.”
“Just tell me what it is, I’ll try to help you!”
“You will help me, whether you want to or not.” He finishes my wrists and then throws the tape across the room. “Did Leo tell you why your parents were killed?”
I shake my head. No one had told me anything pertaining to my parents deaths besides that they were just that, dead.
“Your father was an accountant, you knew that right? He worked for a major corporation, do you remember it’s name?” He stared at me with hungry eyes. I nodded. “I really wish you didn’t. I definietly have to kill you now.”
“That’s beside the point though.” He taps his chin. “On with the story. He was the main accountant for the VP. He handed all their finical books and bank accounts, boring stuff like that. One night, while your father was going over some books, he found some numbers that weren’t adding up. Lots of numbers that weren’t adding up. Being the good person that he was,” Bash faked a gag. “He decided to bring it to VP’s attention. Turns out that the VP was stealing from the company and padding the books to cover it up. It happens a lot, but this certain VP was stealing a whole lot of hard earned money. Your father threatened to oust him.”
That night at my recital comes flashing back. Mom said that dad left to take care of an important phone call.
“The VP couldn’t have that, now could he. He hired a hitman to take out one Mr. Thomas. The hitman was successful up until your mother and you decided to come home. Things got a little tricky after that, but of course you know, you were there.” Bash hums. “You survived and turns out that Mr. Thomas had made a copy of the padded books before he died. He hid it somewhere no one else would find. That’s where you come in, Greer Thomas.”
“What about you? Where do you come in?” I questioned, trying to take in all the words he was saying. It all felt so surreal. Tears clouded my vision and my body felt numb.
“Well, after the first hitman failed, the VP hired another one. Me.” Bash explained.
“How’d you find me?”
“My boss is very rich and powerful. Of course, he would have connections to the government. It wasn’t that hard actually. And then it was just a matter of working my way into your life. That was easy. You’re a high school girl. I knew you’d melt if you thought a college boy wanted anything to do with you. I was doing great. I knew I could get information out of you in no time. That’s until that little scumbag, Kale, got in my way.” Bash punched the wall, making me flinch. “He ruined everything! And I have to fix it. So, tell me, where is the file your father gave you. It would be on a flash drive.”
“I don’t have it! I didn’t know anything about it!” I yell.
He crosses the room again, cupping my face in his hands and I can’t do anything to stop him. “Don’t lie, Greer. What’s there to lose? You’re already going to do!”
“I don’t have it!” I scream. “I promise.”
“You do have it. You just don’t know that you do.” Bash steps away from me, pulling at his hair again. “So, let’s think. What’s something that’s special to you? Something you’ve had forever? I know you have a new life here, but they would’ve let you take something small that couldn’t tie you to your old life. Your father’s smart, he would’ve known that.”
The teddy bear I’ve had since I was a baby. My father always used to sit on my bed, pick Baranby up, and tell me that “it’s what’s inside that counts”. I remember the last time he said that to me, a few days before my piano recital. There’d been something in his words, something sharper and more demanding, like he was pleading for me to understand the saying. I had just pushed it away and got mad at him.
The file was hidden inside Baranby.
I was up and moving in seconds, catching Bash off guard. I kicked him in the chest, sending him sprawling across Leo’s desk. I glanced down at my uncle and took off running towards the living room. If I could get Bash away from him, Leo would be safe. I’d find some way to call for help.
I’m just about at the door when, unexpectedly, it flies open. Kaleb crosses the threshold. He doesn’t see me yet. “Greer? You home? I tried calling you, but your phone’s off.”
That’s when Kaleb’s eyes meet mine and they go wide. He takes off running towards me, eyes focused on duct tape at my wrists. He screams my name and his hands rub across my face, checking for injuries. “Kaleb! Run! Go for help!”
“Greer? What happened?” He’s frantic, his fingers shaking.
“Kaleb, please! Call for help!” I scream, sobbing.
I don’t even have time to warn Kaleb before Bash comes up behind him and hits him hard over the head with a gun. Kaleb grunts, his eyes go wide before they roll to the back of his head, he falls to the ground limp.
“Always getting in the way.” Bash shakes his head. “I’m going to take pleasure in killing him.”
“Get away from him!” I snarl.