Flames danced in the windows as Kelly watched with confused and fearful eyes. It was almost four in the morning and the smell of smoke woke her through her open window. The once busy neighborhood was frozen in time as she walked down the empty sidewalk and toward the house that was aflame.
The sound of distant sirens barely made it to her ears and the heat was overwhelming, causing her to back away and step into the road. As she reached the paved street, a faint whisper caught her attention. She turned around and saw the silhouette of a man standing on the road opposite of her. The dim light coming from the streetlight wasn’t enough to show who he was, but a fearful pain churned in Kelly’s gut.
“Hello,” she called out to the man, “Who’s there? Ellis?”
The man stepped forward into the light and Kelly was taken back by the mask, the mask of the Smile Man. He cocked his head to the side, his drawn smiley face staring at the girl, and flicked something against his thigh. A knife. Red with blood.
The teen girl’s eye’s watered and a scream of horror escaped her throat. She turned and ran down the street, stumbling over the dips and potholes in the road.
Not a single person was on the street. Just her in her bright blue robe and boots and the Smile Man, who walked after Kelly with slow steps and the knife in hand. Kelly realized that her house was the other way and immediately turned to see the man still on her heels. The fall night was chilly and the breeze blew dead leaves around her feet and toward a fence. Without knowing it, Kelly had run to the edge of town and was just outside of the old dairy farm that covers at least 1200 acres.
A sharp pain shot through her arm and Kelly turned to see the Smile Man raising the knife for another strike. Fighting back, the young girl kicked the man in the chest and sent him falling to the ground. Brown, knee-high boots struck the smile of the sinister figure and then carried Kelly off to the farm and toward a dimly lit house. There was a chance that no one was home, but what choice did she have? The crunch of leaves and dead grass beneath her feet sounded her sprint, and the Smile Man was up and following his prey.
“What could you possibly learn from committing a felony, rather than just introducing yourself and talking?” Ellis asked while closing the cabinet doors.
Kelly sat down at the table centered in the room, and began to eat some chips she had found. Ellis sat down across from her and stared.
“Can I help you?” Kelly asked between chips, “Take a picture, it’ll last longer”.
“What are you doing?” Ellis stated, “If you don’t leave, I’ll call the cops”. Kelly then folded the chip bag and set it aside.
“Your name is Ellis Silos. You moved here from Duncan, Oklahoma. Your dad is a police officer or detective, and your mom died, so you, your brother, and your dad are here to start over”.
Ellis stared at her amazed. How had she known all that?
“The book you’re reading has Duncan Oklahoma Public Library written on the inside, there is a picture of your dad in his uniform getting an award, and the way you looked at the picture in the other room suggest that your mom didn’t leave you,” Kelly said, “What happened?”
“She died in a hit and run about a months ago,” Ellis replied, “My brother was with her and is getting out of the hospital today. It’s amazing that you got all that from those little things. Where did you learn to do that?”
Kelly began to speak, but the sound a car pulling up to the house snatched both of their attention. Ellis got up and looked out the window to see his dad’s patrol car parked in the driveway.
“It’s just my dad and Eden,” Ellis began to say turning back to Kelly, but she was already gone and the back door swayed in the fall breeze. Sneaking around the old fence, the strange young girl made her way back home, chip bag in hand. Approaching her backdoor, Kelly was greeted by her older brother, Brodie Weston.
“Meet the new neighbors?” Brodie questioned walking along side Kelly as they entered the house and lounged out in the livingroom.
“Yeah,” Kelly replied staring at the ceiling and sprawled out on the fancy leather sofa, “Ellis Silos. His dad is some kind of cop and his mother is...you know.”
“Poor kid, any siblings?”
“A twin brother, not sure on the name,” the girl remarked. She thought back to the black and white photo of a family in their prime. Wondering how they could be so happy on one day, and then be torn apart in such a way. Her gut turned on edge at the thought of a parent and having you sibling witness it. “I like him, he’s cool. Maybe we can invite them over for dinner tonight since dad will be gone.”
Kelly put a hand over her mouth as she watched, with teary eyes, the Smile Man searching the barn for her. Tossing things aside and checking every dark corner. She knew he would find her eventually, and since the owners of the farm had posted a “For Sale” sign on the door of the house, Kelly guessed that no one would be showing up to save her.
The handle of an ax was about three to four yards from her hiding spot behind the old boat, and Kelly thought that if she could just time it right she could get to it and strike first. The masked man began rummaging in a large cabinet, that’s paint was tearing off and mold gathered at the bottom of it where it met the cement floor.
The young brunet crept toward the ax and then leapt from behind the boat and grabbed the weapon. The Smile Man turned and crouched, planning on a way to escape the wrath of his victim.
“Cliche this, you son of a-,” Kelly grunted out her warcry as she lifted the rusted blade and swung. A massive vibration ran through her arms and she opened her eyes to see the man still standing. He tilted his head and the drawn smile mocked Kelly. The ax blade was buried into the wooden beam above the cat and mouse, and no matter how hard she pulled, Kelly had just lost her only weapon, and exposed herself.
As Ellis walked the kitchen trash out to the garbage bin in the front yard, the cold night air made him shiver. Tossing the heavy black sack into the green bin, Ellis once again felt his stomach turn. He turned and looked up to the diamond shaped window. There Eden stood watching, but he looked different. His bandages were off, and in the dim light, Ellis couldn’t really make out his scarred and disfigured face, but he could tell he was no longer his true twin.
He watched the dark figure close the curtains and turned to come face to face with Kelly Weston.
“Why!” he gasped, “Why on Earth do you have to keep sneaking up on me. Come on.”
“Sorry neighbor dude,” the brunet smirked, playing with her braid, “I was just coming by to formally invite you to have dinner with me and my family. We have plenty of food and don’t mind having strangers over at all.”
Ellis and Kelly both smiled and Ellis turned back toward the diamond shaped window where he knew Eden was lurking. Getting out and making friends with the neighbors was a good idea, but he couldn’t leave his brother, and Eden was in no shape to be attending parties.
“Sorry, but I don’t think my brother is up for going out,” Ellis apologized, “I would love to but I can’t leave him. I’m really sorry.”
“No worries Ellis from Oklahoma,” she reassured softly. “I understand and the offer is still open for a raincheck.”
Kelly gave a small wave and began to walk back home. Ellis felt bad for denying her offer, but he felt he was doing the right thing.
“Why did you leave?”
“What did you say?” Kelly asked turning around and giving her newfound friend a confused look.
“Earlier today,” Ellis explained, “When my dad pulled up, you took off. Why?”
“Don’t you like having me as a secret friend?” Kelly joked, “The secrecy is half the fun.”
“And what is the other half?”
“Being random and strange Mr. Silos, being strange.” Kelly smirked as she turned and walked away, “I’ll catch you tomorrow buddy.”
As the sun began to rise, Damian Silos made his way to his house. His partner, Taylor Corvin, sat by his side rambling on about her mother’s donut shop at the end of town. Damian had only known her for a few days, but he and his partner were like peanut butter and jelly.
Taylor stopped in mid sentence as they turned down into Damian’s neighborhood. There at the end of the street, among the golden leaved trees and matching houses, sat Damian’s house ablaze. Fire shot out of the diamond shaped window and the collapsing roof, fire fighters blasted the house with hoses, and the neighborhood early birds sat watching and recording on their smartphones.
Damian bolted from the sloppily parked patrol car, and ran to the ambulance and surrounding firefighters. He approached every firefighter, every EMT, and every nosey neighbor standing at the scene, and asked them the same question. “Have you seen my sons?”. And everyone replied the same thing,
“No,” Mrs. Weston replied in a panic, “And my daughter Kelly is missing too. She met with your boys yesterday and she was missing this morning when we all woke up.”
“Okay ma’am,” Damion said trying to stay calm. It couldn’t be a coincidence that Ellis called about Eden acting strange and then all three kids going missing overnight. Detective Silos led the hysterical woman to another cop to take her to the station and then walked over to his partner Taylor Corvin.
The blonde detective was talking to a local farmer and turned to Damion with wide eyes.
“The farm down the road,” she shouted to the surrounding cops, “They found something.”
Searching the barns for some spare hay bales, local farmer Ted Breen stumbled onto the mysterious and eerie scene that now laid before the two detectives and company.
The scarecrow on the edge of the field was wearing a bloody, womans robe. No body was found and the ax still hung in the moldy been in the barn. The robe was slice open in one arm and had a slash down the back.
No one knew what happened to Kelly Weston, who burned down the Silos’ new home, or who kidnapped the twin boys. But Damion felt his gut telling him something.
“He’s not Eden,” Ellis had said over the phone. And as Detective Silos stared at the smile carved into the scarecrow’s face, he muttered the insidious thought that racked his brain.
“It was Eden.”
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