The Reaper’s twin brother holds his hands up before Lucy. He makes a slight gesture to the cracked plant pot, in which a wilted flower plant is nesting. “I’m just going to reach down and get a key to the house. He always leaves a spare under this pot.”
She nods. He slowly bends down and lifts the pot. He grabs a rusting key from the flattened circle of grass. “Now, unlock the door,” Lucy orders.
I look to her with the knife in her hand, the aggression glistening in her eyes. If I didn’t know her, right now, I think I’d be afraid of her. She’s putting it on, of course, to keep him under her command, but it’s convincing. She genuinely looks like she’s ready to murder him any minute now. The door swings open and he shuffles inside as Lucy presses the blade to his back. She mimics his pace, one step behind him at all times. I follow.
“Now,” Lucy says. “Where would your brother hide away anything he wouldn’t want anyone to see?”
“I think,” he stammers. “It’d probably be in the desk in his office.” He darts his eyes to the knife still pointed at him.
“Luc,” I say. “Come on, put the knife down.”
She shoots me a look of disbelief. “Not yet, Thomas, I don’t trust him,” she whispers.
She whips her head back towards him. “Show us the way to his office.”
He nods and trudges towards what I assume is the hallway. We follow him closely, the floorboards making unruly creaking noises as we make our way across the hall. He comes to a stop outside a door and pushes it open. In sync with the floorboards, it creaks its way open. He flicks on a light switch and proceeds into the room. As I step into the room, I recognize it immediately, despite the fact that the last time I was in it, it was pitch black. I swallow as I step inside. “Thomas,” Lucy says. “Look through those drawers, and I’ll watch him.”
I nod and step in front of them. “Take a seat,” Lucy tells him. He slowly sits on the wooden chair in the far corner of the room. It’s the same one I was restrained to last week. Tears build in my eyes as I focus in on it. I keep seeing myself, thrashing against the tape. Trying to scream for help when nobody could hear me.
“Thomas,” Lucy says. “We don’t have much time.”
I nod. “Yeah,” I say. “Okay.” I stalk towards the desk and start rummaging through the drawers.
Lucy still leans over him, hovering the knife above his shoulder. “Can you please put that knife down?” he gulps. “You’re making me nervous.”
She leans closer to him. “I’ll put it down once my boyfriend and I get some answers about your twin brother’s intentions. Or who knows, your intentions.”
She holds the blade to the side of his neck and inches it closer to his skin. “Of course, you could just admit that you don’t have a twin brother and are just trying to lure us further into whatever sick, twisted game you’re playing and give us the answers we are looking for.”
“I’m telling you the truth,” he quivers. “Please, just let me go.”
She brings the knife closer to his throat. “Luc,” I say. “Come on, calm down. Lower the knife.”
“Just hurry up and go through those drawers, Thomas.”
I stand upright as she presses the knife to his throat. “I’m still waiting on those answers. You may have fooled Thomas, but you’re not fooling me.”
“Lucy,” I shout. “Put the knife down.”
I hear that creaking noise starting again. It’s coming from the hallway. From just outside the door. I dart my eyes towards the door as it opens again. Lucy’s eyes widen as a man enters wearing a balaclava. What’s grabbed her attention, though, and mine, is the rifle resting in his hands. “You heard what your boyfriend said, Lucy. Put the God damn knife down, right now.”
He pulls the balaclava from his head to reveal his face. He’s identical to the man seated before Lucy. He was telling the truth about having a twin. His twin is the Reaper. He looks Lucy in the eye and makes his way towards her, hovering his finger over the trigger. “Stay away from her,” I tremble, stepping from behind the desk.
“Thomas,” he cackles. “This gun is loaded and I’m prepared to use it. Don’t take another step or I’ll shoot your girlfriend right between the eyes.”
I look Lucy in the eye and she blinks away tears. “Lucy, don’t make me ask you again. Put the knife down.”
She swallows and slowly lowers the knife and places it to the floor of the office. He looks to the knife. “Now,” he says. “Put your hands in the air and kick it towards me.”
She nods shakily and places her hands at either side of her head. She places her foot over the blade and swipes it. It sweeps along the floorboards and he catches it with his foot. He turns to his brother. “Thanks for this, Nick,” he says. “You can go now.”
Nick swallows. “You promise to keep your part of the deal and this ends with us?”
“Yes,” he whispers. “Well, it ends within our family anyway.”
Nick nods and rises from the chair. He dashes out of the room and the Reaper turns to face me. “Get over to that corner where I can see you,” he barks.
I swallow and shuffle towards the wall as he points the gun at me. I look to Lucy who’s trembling. He swipes the knife from the floor and stalks towards her, aiming the gun at her head.
“Down on your knees,” he orders. Her lip trembling, she looks to me with tears in her eyes. “Down on your knees, now,” he yells.
Her hands still in the air, she slowly sinks to her knees. “Please,” she says.
He ignores her and presses the metal of the barrel to her left temple. I look to her and mouth the words I’m so sorry. She nods as he bends down to her level. My breaths become uneven as he switches the gun for the knife and brings it to her throat.
“Let her go,” I say. “Please.”
He nods. “I might, if you get down on your knees and beg.”
“Thomas, don’t,” she says. “Don’t engage in his sick games.”
I ignore Lucy and nod at him, slowly bringing myself to my knees. My hands in the air, I bow my head slightly. “Please,” I tremble. “Please don’t hurt her. She hasn’t done anything to you. It’s my family you’re mad at, so please don’t hurt her because you want to punish us. If you want to take your anger out on someone for what my great great grandfather did, take it out on me, please, not her. I’m so sorry for what he did, but please, don’t kill her, she doesn’t deserve this. Let me take her place.”
“You would do that?” he asks.
I nod. “Yes.”
He looks to Lucy, who’s trying her best to keep from trembling. My heart rate increases as he reflects on his options. He sighs. “Then it’s way too easy,” he says. “No, it’s time for me to remove your girlfriend from the equation altogether.”
She closes her eyes as I dart my focus to him. “What?” I weep. “No, please, don’t hurt her.”
“I told you what would happen if you continued to involve your meddlesome friends.”
I bite my lip as he pulls Lucy’s head closer to his chest by yanking her hair. He slowly inches the knife closer and closer to the surface of her skin. Instinctively, I close my eyes to avoid seeing what’s coming next. “Please, don’t,” I beg.