Morning comes, and a two-door white van with only two windows pulls into Jamie’s driveway. The garage door opens, and Jamie comes out from under it and instructs the van to pull into the garage. The garage door closes, and Jacob gets out of the van and opens the back. Jamie looks inside and sees Nancy, who is dressed like mime. She’s crying and has a whimpering child with black hair and square glasses on her lap.
“Nice. Where did you get the kid from?” Jamie asks.
“A playground,” Jacob groans.
“I don’t like your tone. What’s your problem?”
“She doesn’t want to do this, and I don’t either. We steal cars, not children. This is some fucked-up shit, bro. You should be doing this yourself, not involving other people in your sick dirty work. You’re nothing but a freak and a coward,” Jacob rages.
“You think I want to do this shit? Because I don’t. I’m only doing this because—you know what, never mind. Just know that I’m not a monster. Like I said at the park, I have my reasons,” Jamie responds with a sense of guilt. He puts on a fake smile. “Hey, little buddy, do you want to get away from these crazy people and back to your parents?” The child nods his head yes. “What’s your name?”
“My name is Nicholas,” he whispers.
“I’m Jamie. We’re about to go inside and eat candy, ice cream, and pizza. Do you like that stuff?”
Nicholas nods yes.
Jacob grabs Jamie by the collar with two hands and lifts him up. “Screw this! I’m going to kill you and take this child back to his parents.” Nancy comes out the back of the van and points her finger at Jamie’s head like a gun.
“If I die, so do you,” Jamie warns.
“I don’t even care right now. I’m not about to get stuck stealing kids until you die of natural causes,” Jacob says.
“I’d rather die than hear the sound of kids cry,” Nancy rhymes.
“I blame myself for this situation. I should have been more open from the beginning. If you come inside with me, I’ll show you why I’m doing this,” Jamie reassures them.
“You’re just trying to trick us so you can get free!” Jacob shouts.
“Trust me, I’m not. If I wanted to kill you two, I could have done it seconds ago. If you didn’t hear a bell ring, you’re not getting ready to die—no time soon, anyway. Please just come inside,” Jamie begs.
Jacob lets Jamie go. “Fine, let’s go inside.”
Nancy puts her fingers down.
“Good. Come on, Nicholas. Let’s go call your parents and get food.” Jamie grabs Nicholas’s hand and leads him into the house. The other two follow. They stop in the living room.
“Alright, wait here a few minutes while I get things ready.” Jamie walks down a hallway. “I’m home!” he bellows as he goes into Lucas’s bedroom and sees him looking frail and pale. “Sorry I took so long. I didn’t have your medicine prepared.” He picks his son up from the bed and kisses him on the forehead. “I’m glad you’re okay. I’m going to put a blindfold on you, and I’ll take it off when we’re done.” He pulls a blindfold out of his pocket and puts it on his son, then carries him into the living room.
“I didn’t think you were going to make it, Dad. I can feel myself getting weaker and weaker, and my head really hurts.” Lucas lets out a cough and tries to hug his dad as hard as his strength will allow.
Jamie places his son on the floor. “Now remember, I want you to keep your eyes closed, blindfold on, and headphones on once we start. That’s the protective equipment you need so you don’t go deaf or blind. Got it?”
“Yes.” Lucas lets out another cough.
“Alright, listen to this classical music and relax, and you’ll be feeling better in no time.” Jamie puts headphones on his son’s ears. Lucas puts his hands over his stomach and lies motionless. The position gives Jamie a vivid image of what it would like if his son were in a coffin. He takes his son’s hands off his stomach and puts them at his side. Jamie stands up and puts on a sincere face. “This is my son, Lucas. He’s extremely sick with cancer, and without my help, he is going to die. This is why I need children.”
“I still don’t understand why you need us to take children,” Jacob says.
“I’ll show you why. Hey Nicholas, can you lie down next Lucas for a few seconds?”
Nicholas frowns and looks down, afraid to make eye contact. “Do I have to?”
“Yes, please. We’re going to play a game until your parents get here. I already called them.” Jamie puts on a fake smile and helps him on the ground next to Lucas. “Alright, now close your eyes.” Nicholas closes his eyes. “Jacob, Nancy. This is my first time doing this, so forgive me if I seem a little nervous.”
Jamie waves his hand up, and an hourglass appears over the heads of each kid. His son’s hourglass is close to empty, while the other kid’s is filled to the top. He waves his finger and pops the lid on both hourglasses. He continues to wave his finger, and the sands from Nicholas’s hourglass begin to float into Lucas’s. His son’s hourglass begins to fill up, and he begins to look healthier while the other kid begins to look frail and pale.
Nicholas hears a loud church bell ring. “I don’t feel good,” he says weakly before going unconscious. He soils himself, and his breathing becomes noisy and irregular. His hourglass goes empty, and he stops breathing.
Jamie picks Nicholas up. “You two, come with me quickly.”
He takes the deceased boy, Jacob, and Nancy into the garage. Black threads shoot out from the bracelet on Jamie’s wrist and thread away the skin on his hands, making him grimace. Once his hand is completely skeletal, Nicholas begins to decay into bones, then dust. The fibers from the bracelet begin to wrap around Jamie’s skeleton hand and break off when his hand is completely wrapped. He opens the garage door, grabs his leaf blower, and begins blowing the dust out of the garage. He closes the garage door, then goes to check on his son with the other two trailing behind him. Lucas is still lying on the floor. Jamie takes his son’s headphones and blindfold off.
Jamie looks nervous. “Alright, son, you can open your eyes now. So, how are you feeling?”
His son opens his eyes. “I feel… amazing.” He smiles from cheek to cheek. “No headaches, no nausea. I feel all better now.” He gets up and jumps for joy, then hugs his dad.
Jamie makes eye contact with Nancy and Jacob, tears coming out of his eyes. “This is my reason. Without them, my son will die. So, am I still a bad guy for doing what I need to do?”
Jacob sighs. “Well—”
“If you were in my position, would you two do the same thing?”
Nancy nods her head yes.
“I would, but there has to be a different way you can do this. Why not do to your son what you did to us?” Jacob asks.
“Because just like you two, if I ask him to do something and he says no, he’ll decay, and he says no often.” He looks at his son’s hourglass, which is only half-full. “This isn’t good enough. Can I count on you two to grab me another child? Just one more, and his hourglass should be full. It should be a long time before I need another.”
“We don’t want to, but we don’t have a choice. If you came with us, things would go a lot smoother. We could really use your help,” Jacob implores.
“What’s the point of having servants if I need to do the dirty work myself?”
“If we get caught or killed, you won’t have any more servants with powers. You’re stronger, and your abilities will aid us. You won’t have to do much. Just help us when we need it. Please,” Jacob begs.
“Fine, if you insist. I’ll call you with directions for what to do later. You two are dismissed,” Jamie says.
“God, I hate my freaking life right now! Come on, let’s get out of here.” Jacob throws his hands up in frustration, heading toward the door. Nancy cries, following him.
Jamie looks down at his son and smiles. “Glad to see you’re feeling better, champ.”