Tony sneezed. "If my allergies allow this." The dew in the air sprayed his, now red, face. He sneezed one last time before sprinting towards the back of the house. After Tony ran towards the back, Rome drove from in front of the house and he rested in an open field nearby. The house was two stories and had multiple windows pasted to it. The girl's window was at the top, though. He jumped as high as he could but his fingers only grazed the window's pane. He cursed himself before attempting the jump again, this time fully latching onto it. He grinned for a few seconds before knocking on the window. He held his body up and his muscles tensed from his position. A person walked towards the window, slipping a phone into the pocket of their robe. Tony looked into her eyes as he hung over the window's frame. She opened the curtains, revealing her whole room. She studied him and wondered if she recognized him. She didn't. She slowly opened the window. Tony was surprised that she opened it that fast. He thought he'd have to bribe her.
Once the window was open, she asked: "Who you?". Tony immediately yanked her arm down, making her fall over the window. Once her body collided with his, they both fell to the ground, groaning in unison. She sat up and held the top of her head. "What's wrong with you? You crazy?"
Tony shook his head."No."
She didn't respond, but instead climbed to her feet, still groaning. She started to run to the front door but he grabbed her ankle, making her fall on her face. Dirt was now in her hair and her robe was stained with grass and dirt. She started to cry. An ugly cry. Tony got onto his knees and crawled towards her, cupping his hand around her mouth. She started to scream but they were muffled. Tony leaned down and whispered into her ear. "Could you be quiet?" He asked. It only triggered her to scream louder. She thought she was going to die. This would be the end of her life and tomorrow's newspaper would read: TEEN KIDNAPPED LATE LAST NIGHT. Her family would staple flyers to trees and leave them on gas stations soda machines. Weeks later, they would find her and there would be an update in the newspaper, TEEN REPORTED MISSING WEEKS AGO WAS FOUND DEAD. She would be found dead somewhere in a dumpster. Maybe somewhere in a lake. Or ideally, they would find her dead body and her killer. She started to punch the only part of Tony's body she could access. He grabbed her fists and her screams were set free. "Listen," he said calmly. "I'm not going to kill you."
She stopped screaming and her voice cracked. "What you want from me then?"
Tony dug into the pocket of his jeans and pulled out packaged pills. They were the color of a peach. He held his hand out in front of her so she could see the Ziploc bag. "Take these."
She shook her head. "What are those?"
"Not anything that's going to kill you. It'll knock you out for about two, three hours max." He handed her the bag. "If you don't take them, I'll have to knock you out... physically."
"Why do you want me to go to sleep?" She asked, glaring down at the Ziploc bag.
Tony couldn't explain anymore and in fact, he had gone over his time limit. He wasn't an evil being and he didn't want to hurt her but if he didn't, the plan would go left. Instead of answering her he slowly lifted the boulder behind him and swung it at the back of her head. She immediately went unconscious and fell face-first to the ground. She laid like a dead woman, her arms and legs spread out and blood gushed from her head. He dropped the boulder and grabbed her legs. He started dragging her from the backyard to the other side of the street, avoiding rough patches. Rome pulled out of the field that he watched the scene. He drove beside Tony and grinned from what he could see. A girl. The girl that Trinity had mentioned. Her family had money. Tony opened the backseat's door and picked the girl up, holding her close to his chest, before slipping her into the backseat. Laying her on the leather. He closed the door and climbed into the front seat. As soon as he closed the door, Rome's smile widened. Tony smirked before laying his head on the headrest. "Don't say anything."
"I was going to congratulate you," Rome said, starting to drive away from the crime scene. "I can't believe you did that. I'm really proud of you, Tony." Tony nodded and his eyes glistened. "How did you get her to open the window?"
Tony shrugged. "She just randomly opened it as soon as she saw me. I thought it would've been harder to get her to participate."
"It is kind of strange to get someone to participate in their own kidnapping." Rome laughed.
"Yeah, it is." Tony agreed, closing his eyes.
"Is she cute?" Rome asked.
"She's dark. I couldn't really see her face. I saw her eyes and her teeth when she was screaming." He answered. '
Rome glanced into the backseat. "She kind of looks dead."
"Yeah, I knocked her out with a boulder." He spoke. Rome came to a halt. Their bodies jerked forward. The girl almost fell from the seat.
"A boulder?" He asked. Tony nodded. "What if you killed her?"
Tony swallowed his guilt. He wasn't sure what he had done. The only thing he knew at the moment as he had little time to get her knocked out. "I don't think I killed her."
"You should know you didn't kill her. There shouldn't be any ifs, ands, or buts. You should know for sure she isn't dead." Rome took a deep breath and focused on the road.
"We'll check when we're at Kaden's house. I can't bear to think that I took someone's life."
"This isn't Kaden's house," Tony said, peering at the house through the window.
"I know. It's Kyla's house." Rome said unbuckling his seatbelt.
"I don't recall us saying we were going to Kyla's house afterward. Why are we here?" Tony did the same as Rome.
"I have some business to take care of. Make sure the girl isn't dead. I'll be right back out." Rome got out of the car, closed his door, and began walking towards the front door.
He knocked twice. Trinity opened it seconds after. "She's unconscious."
"Already?" Rome asked, stepping into the home. It hadn't changed much since the last time he had been. The floors were brown and polished. The walls still had the same witch paintings on them. Boar-skinned Vases still lined the dressers and he knew for sure he was at the right house. "How did she get there?"
"The two-finger press thing you taught me." Trinity smiled. She leaned up against Rome and wrapped her arms around his neck. Their eyes met and she whispered, "You taught me a lot of things."
"Okay, that's nice and all, but I'm busy right now." He walked past Trinity and pulled a small gun from his pocket. He started to walk towards an opening to the kitchen and Trinity followed behind him. "Did you see some money, some credit cards?"
"A whole safe full of it," Trinity answered, walking slowly behind him. "She has some credit cards in her wallet. We know her name, so we can use those for online purchases. "
"The lock number to the safe?"
"A mashup of her and her mother's birthday." Trinity stopped walking.
Rome turned around, "Well, at least she'll get to see her mother again." He started to laugh. "Man, I crack myself up." Trinity smiled at his joke before he began walking again, slowly approaching the unconscious body. Once he got there, she looked peacefully asleep. Trinity had put her on an air mattress and there was an evenly draped wool blanket covering her body. He gawked down at the body.
Trinity noticed his expression. "Um, I figured that if the police came or something, it wouldn't seem like I knocked her out and we were trying to rob her. It would look like she was peacefully asleep."
"A few feet away from her kitchen?" He asked.
He leaned down and positioned himself on his knees, close to the top of the mattress, beside her head. He leaned down and whispered into her ear, "Thank you, friend. Thank you for this. We really appreciate it, but it's depressing that you have to go behind this. I really don't care, to be honest. It's Trinity that cares and it's her spare that gave you a few more days of life. Hope you enjoyed them. Goodbye." He then placed the cool medal onto her temple, exemplifying the fact that she couldn't feel it, and shot twice. Her body's position loosened a bit and Rome rose to his feet. A trail of blood leaked from her forehead. Trinity stared at the deceased girl with her mouth covered. Her eyes were wide and they started to water. Rome walked from the room.
"Still gorgeous," Trinity whispered into the silent room.
Tony shook the unconscious girl, worried because he had been doing it for five minutes now. He could answer Rome's question now because she had a pretty face and a pretty body. He looked out the window and looked up into the stars. He was sure he'd killed her. Her body was over his lap and the only thing that had awakened her was his cologne. She yawned and he screamed, quickly covering his mouth afterward. She focused her eyes on him and realized it was her kidnapper. "You," she pointed towards him. "You told me that I wouldn't be dead."
He nodded. "Yes, that was me."
She chuckled and started to cough. "I ain't dead. I do feel kind of lightheaded, though. Ain't even bout to lie to you."
"Blood loss. Don't look into the rearview or you'll pass out again from hyperventilation." Tony warned. She turned her head towards the back window.
"Where am I?" She asked.
"With me," Tony answered, pulling his phone out.
"And who is you?" She crossed her arms.
Tony grabbed a cloth wrap from under his leg and he started to unravel it. "We'll answer questions later." He wanted to wrap some of it around the wound on the back of her head but under all the matted thick hair and the pounds of blood, it was invisible. He pulled back some of her hair, still searching for the wound.
She hit his hand. "That hurt. What's wrong with you?"
"I'm trying to make sure you don't die from blood loss. I can't find the wound." He pulled back more hair. "Your hair is really curly." He said before untangling one last strand. The wound was painted in blood and it throbbed from vision. He touched it. "Does that hurt?" He asked her. She nodded. He grabbed something from a plastic bag under his seat. Ointment. He started to rub some on the wound and she winced, grabbing the seat cushions. After applying the ointment, he wrapped the cloth around the wound and tied it. "What does it feel like?"
"A bandana." She answered, still wincing from the ointment sting.
Tony smiled. "That's nice to know."
Rome then walked out of the house with a suitcase and Trinity followed behind him with a purse. Once He saw the girl sitting up, he thought of victory. Everything went well tonight and this was just the start of a new beginning. He opened the truck and slid the suitcase into the back. The girl looked at him then turned to Tony. He closed the trunk and ran to the driver's seat, getting into the car, noticing Trinity. He smiled at her and started the car.
"Y'all taking me back home?" The girl asked, noticing she was only a few streets away from her home.
"No." Rome laughed. Trinity joined in with him. "We just got you. What's the fun in taking you back home now?"
"My family won't even notice I left. I can just sneak back up into my window and cover the wound with an actual bandana." She persuaded.
Tony's eyes wondered because he couldn't believe his ears. He wasn't sure she understood the situation. He wasn't sure if it was reverse psychology, though. Was she playing mind games? Was her heart throbbing in her chest? Was she sweating rapidly under her torso?
Rome became irritated at every word she said. It was like a bomb clock, ticking until he exploded. He swerved off the road and almost into a lake. The girls screamed and Tony held onto the door handle. Rome yanked his gun from under his seat and turned around, pointing the gun towards the girl's head. "I don't think you understand." He spoke in a calm voice. "You're being held, hostage. Say one more thing, I'm going to blow your head off. Hear?" The girl nodded and warm tears escaped her eyes. If she didn't realize it before, she'd realized it now. She was kidnapped. "Cry all you want but don't make any noise," Rome said, slowly lowering his gun.
Tony and Trinity watched the whole scene, not daring to say a word. Rome handed the gun to Trinity and began driving to his destination.
Once they arrived at their destination, Rome felt his tenseness ease from his veins. He smiled at the trees that stood tall around them like soldiers and he adored the crickets who whispered in the night air. The trees started to rattle as some navigated through them and a bright light shined under them. The person walked towards the car with a flashlight and a black hoodie. His green eyes showed if nothing else did. Rome smiled at him.
"Kaden!" He yelled, opening the door.
Kaden smiled at his enthusiasm. "How'd it go?"
"It went smoothly. No accidents, no incidents, all tracks covered. It's supposed to rain in a few hours, that'll drown Tony's evidence." He spoke, still smiling.
"Do you have the girl?"
"Yes. I think I scared her earlier, though. I pointed the gun towards her and threatened her. I think she sensed that I would do it." He pulled Kaden's ear to his mouth. "Just between me and you, I won't. Well, until we get our money." He laughed like an old drunk.
"Darn it, Kaden. Victory. We finally succeeded. We're finally pursuing our dreams of being young Ted Bundys and young Charles Masons. We can finally say we're untouchable. Us, as a team, we're phenomenal. We'll be wanted in a few years. We'll be as popular as bigfoot. We'll grow our organization and unite geniuses of all backgrounds, geniuses of all races and we'll rule the world. We'll rule. This is only the beginning. When we reach the swamp, we'll have a party. We'll rejoice. Freedom at last, freedom at last." Rome stared at the stars and one twinkle by one, he could foreshadow his reign. Every star bowing to him.
Kaden tapped his shoulder. "That's probably not going to happen. Awaken thine mind and join us in the twenty-first century." Kaden whispered, "Technology. It is bigger than the system. Tony has to learn it, manipulate it, and then defeat it. Science. A factor of the universe. I must continue to learn it, continue to manipulate it and I must make it my own.Wickedness. It is only psychological, which is why you, of all people, shall learn the acts of it and then you shall teach Trinity it and be our leader so we can all fall into that category. Now, it will be hard. Trust me. I automatically thought I was a mad scientist when I mixed bleach and fabuloso together and it exploded. I was only five. It gave that little five year old boy hope. Now that little five year old boy is seventeen. He can now turn bleach and fabuloso into a pill. I had to learn and it wasn't easy." Kaden spoke. Everyone in the car could hear him. Rome could hear him, and dammit, he sounded good.
"Teaching ourselves will be hard." Rome agreed, nodding his head.
"Yes, because there's no teachers that teach this. We must be our own teachers. Quiz ourselves. Give ourselves bad grades so that we can be the best of the best. We have many years to go." It then dawned on Kaden, this probably would be the last time he saw his mother for years. He closed his eyes for a minute and thought about his memories. His pain. His hurt. All of the broken fists. All of the tears shed. All of the experiments. Gone. Kaden opened his eyes, "We should go before someone comes out here or something."
The girl opened her eyes, returning from a deep sleep. The room was dull and dust particles floated in the air, being highlighted by the sun's rays that shined through the only window in the room. She realized the kidnapping wasn't a dream. This wasn't her room. It was way too quiet for it to be her home. She looked down to her new scared feet. The scars were still bleeding only a bit and she wondered how they had appeared. She decided to touch them but she then realized her hands were restrained by pounds of chains. She began to scream because someone had to help her. She couldn't die young. She couldn't die like this but her only enemy was reality.
Someone then opened the door. "Someone's awake." He said, peeking into the room. "How did you sleep?"
"Why am I here?" She weeped. Her eyes were red from the stinging of her tears.
"Because I'm a poor black man without a father." He answered. "I'm just here to get my share of money. I worked for it, I deserve it. We deserve what we work for."
"You sound stupid." She shook her head at him.
"How?" He asked, backing up towards the door. He quickly locked it. She saw him and eased her head back towards the floor. "How do I sound stupid?" He repeated.
She lifted her head back up and stretched her muscles. "You just said that we deserve what we work for. You ain't work for my grandparents' money. They worked for it."
"I didn't work for it directly." He corrected. "They might not know I worked for it, but I assure you, I worked hard for it. Sleepless nights, long days. I worked for that money." He walked towards her and she looked up at him, silent. She didn't know if he would beat her, rape her, or kill her. Maybe all three.
She whispered, "That's gon' take a lot of digging."
He walked back towards the door. "And we shall dig until we get what we want." He unlocked it.
"Man, save that cheesy slogan for someone who's gon' fall for it. I'ont even want to hear it." She chuckled into the empty, dark room. "Y'all must not know who y'all kidnapped. Y'all kidnapped the baddest bitch to ever step foot in Jackson, Mississippi. They will notice I'm gone and they will try to find me."
"I know you're from the South. I can hear it in your voice." He slowly opened the door.
"You look familiar. Like mad familiar." She scrunched her eyes and studied his face.
"Your lips are ashy. Like mad ashy." He gripped the handles of a white table and rolled it into the room, kicking the door closed behind it.
She rolled her eyes. "Oh, my bad, your partner didn't give me a chance to grab my Carmex." He laughed and walked towards her. "Why you coming towards me?"
He kneeled down on his knees, "Don't try anything stupid, I'm armed." He grabbed a key from his back pocket. He started to unlock the chains. They fell to the ground and her arm muscles were relieved. The chains clanked against the wooden floor.
She smiled and stretched. "That felt good." He stood back on his feet. "So, you mean to tell me that key was in your back pocket the whole time?"
He nodded and started to laugh. "Yes."
"Y'all foul." She started to touch the top of her head. She started to feel around and she felt her extensions, dangling from her head. "Y'all messed up my hair, y'all know how much this hair cost?"
He looked up towards the ceiling and his sperry tapped against the floor. "Let me guess ... ten dollars at most." She then kicked his leg, making him tumble back a few steps. "Don't kick me." He warned.
"This hair cost three hundred dollars." She screamed.
"If you don't stop screaming, I'll have to neutralize you." He crossed his arms.
"I swear to God, when my boyfriend finds y'all he gon' tear y'all up. He's a crip, you know."
"We'll take him and his homies down at first glance. When we release the last bullet," He pulled a gun from the back of his hoodie, "When the last bullet pierces through someone's heart..." He held the gun up to his lips and whispered, "I'll blow the smoke from the muzzle." He blew on the muzzle of his gun.
"Okay, that's cute and all." She shrugged. He grabbed her and walked her to the bed. Her legs wobbled and she sat on the edge of the bed. "Wow, this feels really good."
"Me and Tony begged Rome to let you sleep in the bed and have three full meals a day. We begged him and he finally agreed. Now, all I need you to do is cooperate with me through this process. I'm going to give you a few vaccines, a few ointments, a few mints. You're going to have a good bath and from now on you'll wear the victim suit." he told her, sitting on the bed next to her. His gun was still in his hand.
"Who you?" She asked.
"Kaden." He answered, "Nice to meet you." He grabbed her hand and shook it.
She snatched her hand away from him. "Kaden fits you."
"Is that a compliment?" He asked. She started to bounce on the bed. "Stop. They're going to think we're having sex."
She immediately came to a halt. She crossed her legs. "No, it ain't a compliment. I'm not tryna clown you either, though. I'm just saying, it fits you. Redbone, green eyes, braces, light brown hair ... It's curly. You look like a Kaden." She described the generic light skin, and indeed, he looked generic.
"You look like a Ranada." He smiled. He started to rap. "She a hood queen and her name is Ranada. She a real rough rider, let me get behind her."
"Boy, if you don't shut up. It's Persephone."
He stopped and cleared his throat. "As I was saying," He grabbed a needle from the table. "I'm going to give you a few vaccines." He held the needle up in front of her so she could see it. "This one is called 'Swamp retaliation'."
She shook her head. "Boy, I don't want to put your science experiments in my body. You do it to yourself."
He flared his nose. "Well, I wasn't the one who fell into the highly contaminated lake when we were boating across the river."
"What highly contaminated lake?" She asked. "Cause I don't remember falling."
"Don't worry about it, Persephone. Just know you fell."
At that moment, Rome walked into the room. "How's it going?"
"Fine." Kaden answered, glancing at him.
"How many have you given her?" He asked.
"Well, let me give her them since you're too nice." Rome snatched the needle from Kaden's hand. He yanked Persephone's arm up towards him and she began to scream. He grabbed Kaden's gun from the back of his hoodie and held it against her temple. "Shut up. Now." he spoke. Persephone's screams faded and tears began to roll down her face.
Kaden held out his hand. "Rome, give me my gun."
"Kaden, what?" Rome asked. He slid the gun down Persephone's face until it reached the air.
"I didn't stutter. Give me my gun." His face flushed with red.
"Who is she? Your girlfriend?" Rome asked, chuckling.
"I don't have a girlfriend, but I do," he snatched the gun from Rome's hand, "Have a gun."
Rome stared at him before sticking the needle into Persephone's forearm and injecting the blue liquid into her.
Kaden screamed, "What're you doing?"
Rome looked back at him. "Calm down. I'm vaccinating her."
"You're doing it wrong." Kaden covered his face with his hands before exhaling deeply. "You're not supposed to go past the fifth mark and you were supposed to find a vein before just injecting the liquid into her. The dose was too high for all of it to go into her." He massaged his temples before pacing back and forth in the room.
Rome shrugged. "Sorry." He watched Kaden. "What could happen?"
Kaden spread his arms. "I don't know, migraines? Twitching? Foaming of the mouth? Organ failure? Random limb loss? The sexiest one of them all, death?" He screamed into the room.
"Dang, sorry." Rome apologized, still clutching the needle.
Kaden walked up to him and snatched the needle from him. "From now on, let me handle this. Thank you."
The girl looked at Kaden. "I don't want to lose limbs."
"Hopefully, it won't affect you until we get some information from you." He responded. He turned to Rome, "We'll have to wait a few hours, maybe even a day, before we give her the other one." He pulled the table from the room and said, "I'm done for today."
Rome glared at the girl. He said, "Don't try anything stupid.", before leaving the room.