“Tyler?” It was Hope. Her hair protruded in messy clumps from her head, and she appeared to be in a frail state. Hope squinted at us.
“Hope.” I said, taking a seat next to her on the couch. “Are you alright?” She was too confused to answer my question.
“How did you get here? Did he kidnap you too?” I realized that it was going to be hard to explain myself.
“Ok, I’m going to tell you something, but you have to listen all the way through.” She nodded. I told her all about my visions and how I had seen Mr. Green in them. She looked confused at the name Mr. Green, so I had to explain to her what I had found out about him. She looked shocked to find out that Mr. Gray wasn’t even his real name, although by now she certainly knew that his golden reputation was all a facade. I told her about all the proof that I had gathered, and how Jacob had helped me. “Now, we just need to find a way to contact the police.” There was a glimmer of hope in her eyes as she looked at us.
“How can we do that?” Hope asked. Jacob and I both shrugged.
“No clue.” he replied. Her hope was replaced by fear. He attempted to comfort her. “I’m sure we can figure something out.” I continued to look at her, and returned to one vital question.
“Hope, do you know why your picture wouldn’t have stuck out to me in the yearbook?” I worried that maybe I was losing my special ability, or that it wasn’t always correct.
“I’m new this year, so I wasn’t in the yearbook.” This provided me with a large amount of comfort. My visions had never failed me before, and now was not the time for them to start.
“Can you tell us what happened to you?” Jacob asked. She looked as if she was gathering up the courage to speak.
“I drove home and I noticed a strange car following me. I had to stop for gas, and so I pulled up next to the pump. I didn’t see his car then, so I thought I was in the clear, but he had pulled around the side of the building, hiding himself from my sight. I walked into the gas station to get a soda, and climbed back in my car after filling up my tank. Something didn’t feel quite right, so I glanced around the car uneasily. That’s when Mr. Green clamped his hands around my head, covering my mouth to prevent me from screaming. He had climbed into my backseat while I inside.” A tear trickled down her cheek. “He pressed the barrel of a gun to my side, and forced me to walk with him to his car. No one around seemed to notice my distress.”
“Did the cameras not catch it?” Jacob asked. She shook her head.
“It was the old gas station by Swisher. There weren’t any cameras. If only I hadn’t gone in to get a soda, then maybe we wouldn’t be in this situation.” The tears were now streaming down her face.
“It’s going to be okay,” I soothed. “We are going to figure out a way to get out of here.” She sniffed, wiping her face with her hands.
“Do you think we are going to die?” I felt my stomach turn over.
“No,” I assured her. “I promise, we are going to get out of here.” I wished that the confidence that I was portraying wasn’t merely just a facade. Jacob gave me a sideways glance, and I tried to not let his emotions wash over me. Hope continued to look at me uneasily.
“So what do you eat down here?” Jacob asked, trying to change the subject. She pointed to the corner of the room, and I saw a cabinet lodged on the wall. Jacob walked over to it and pulled open the door. An array of snacks lined the two shelves. It wasn’t enough to sustain all three of us for very long.
“How long do you think before he comes back?” I asked. Hope responded.
“He should be back in the morning. I think tomorrow is the day that he is planning to kill me.” Her words cut through the air. An eerie silence settled over us. It made sense. Tomorrow was Saturday, his day off of work. It was the perfect time for him to fulfill his crime, and it didn’t leave us with a lot of time. I crawled back up the ladder and peered out the small window at the top of the hayloft. Night had settled in. There were no sounds in the barn. Even the rats had settled in by the light of the stars. Then again, I thought back to the previous night when I had heard the scuttling of rat feet. If there were rats in the barn, they would have hidden in the hayloft where I would be able to see them. The scratching I had heard must have been made by Hope.
“Hope, could you hear us last night?” I called down as I descended down the stairs.
“Yeah. I started to try and get your attention, but then I realized that Mr. Green could be in the barn as well. I didn’t want to attract his attention any more than I already had.” I empathized with her fear. If we were doomed to come to the end of our lives tomorrow, I wanted to do everything in my power to resist fate.
“Guys,” I started. “We need a plan. Start searching the room.” Hope got up and walked along the wall, knocking on the plaster to listen for a significant sound. Jacob and I followed, moving the furniture and trying to budge the cabinet. There seemed to be no means of escape.
“What are we going to do?” Hope asked, exasperated. She threw herself back onto the couch. The gun suddenly felt heavy in my hand, and I shuttered, placing it on the coffee table with a thud. Jacob glanced at it, then at my face. Determination coursed through my veins, stemming from my sense of overwhelming anger.
“We are going to have to fight.” We started to brainstorm the best way to overtake him.
“What if we are all waiting at the door with the ladder? We can bang him over the head with it.” I scratched my chin in thought.
“Then we can’t hide. He’ll see what we are trying to do immediately.”
“Let’s stay down here,” Hope piped up.
“Then he’ll trap us in the opening.”
“Okay, we can get up in the morning and go back to the ground floor.” Hope resolved. I picked the gun up from the table and waved it in the air.
“Our only choice is to use this.” I could see the nausea written all over their faces. “I’ll have to shoot him when he comes in.”
“Do you even know how to use that?” Jacob questioned. I frowned at my finger hovering above the barrel, and moved it further away.
“Well there’s no way I practice now. He’ll hear it, and be tipped off immediately.” I looked at the trigger. “It can’t be that hard, right?”
“We’ll just have to hope for the best.” Jacob resolved. I could still clearly see the uncertainty written across their expressions. We fell into a waiting game. It was much too early to try and sleep, although I wasn’t sure that any of us would be getting much rest that night anyway.
“Do we want to play a board game?” I asked in an attempt to lighten the mood. They both looked at me for a moment, then Jacob reached out and grabbed the Sorry board.
“I’ll be green.” He replied. We set up the board, and I felt my stomach settle a bit. It took us a while, but soon we were fully immersed in the game. Jacob groaned when I moved him back to his start space. Hope moved her final piece into home, and it was the first time I had seen her smile since we had found her in the barn.
“Play again?” She asked. We made our way through a couple more rounds, and then moved on to Trouble, Operation, and Monopoly. The games reminded us of simpler times, and allowed us to take our minds off of our troubles. For those few hours, our only worries were how to win the games, and our concerns about our impending doom were momentarily pushed to the back of our mind. We munched on the small snacks provided in the cabinet, and laughed happily. However, the inevitable events of the next day were brought to the forefront of my mind once again as we laid down to try and rest. Hope and I shared the couch while Jacob curled up on the floor with a pillow. We laid together in darkness, and I could hear their uneven breaths. They screamed of anxiety, but I felt no greater amount of solace than they did. There was so much that could go wrong, and I wondered if I would soon take my last breath. This thought greatly disturbed me, and I jumped up from the couch. Jacob squinted at me.
“What are you doing?” I grabbed the gun, balancing it on my palm.
“I need this close to me. Just in case.” He nodded to show that he understood, and turned back over. With the gun laying peacefully by my side, I finally felt calm enough to drift off into a restless slumber.
Light trickled into the small space. I sat up and stretched, and saw a figure out of the corner of my eye. A shadow was blocking most of the natural light from reaching our crevice in the ground. I was suddenly alert. Even through the darkness, I could see that Mr. Green’s piercing eyes were shooting daggers in my direction. His stocky build was blocking the only exit. Jacob and Hope sat up next to me. Hope’s lip quivered in fear. I reached for the gun next to my side. The steel was cold in my shaking hands. Me. Green reached over and flipped on the light switch. A devilish sneer was spread across his lips. I pointed the gun straight at his chest, but his arrogant demeanor didn’t waver. He reached into his waistband, and I saw Hope and Jacob’s go wide. My heart was beating a million beats a minute in my chest. He had a shiny black pistol in his hand, and now I was staring straight down the barrel.
“Put it down.” he growled. I gulped. He had come for us much earlier than we had anticipated, and now we were trapped in here. Our only defense was this small gun, but he still held all the power. My hesitation only angered him further. “I said put it down!” He was screaming now. He shook the gun up and down, and I feared that he would accidentally pull the trigger.
“What’s your plan?” I asked angrily, trying to delay the moment that I had to release the gun from my hand. “You going to kill us all? They’re going to catch you, and you’ll rot in jail until the day you wither away and die.” He sneered at me.
“Shut up. Just drop the gun.”
“Tell me something first. Why? Why are you killing all these people?”
“If you think you’re so smart, then why don’t you know?” He was taunting me, but I sensed that he was yearning to brag about his crimes. I tried to appear deep in thought.
“ I know that your real name is Jeff Green. You moved to Scottsdale from Massachusetts after your wife was murdered, and I know that it was Eric Parker that murdered her. The two of them had been having an affair. She broke off the relationship after Mr. Mullins found out about it. He murdered her out of pure rage. You found out, and wanted to get back at him. Killing his daughter was the only way you knew would make him feel the same pain and sorrow that you did. What I can’t figure out is why you continued killing after Justice was dead.” Mr. Green shifted on his feet, strengthening his grip on his gun. I mimicked his every move.
“Just like you said in your impromptu analysis of Macbeth in my class which you didn’t even belong, once I got a taste of violence I couldn’t bring myself to stop.” He didn’t even bother to hide his bitterness. “For once in my life, I had complete control over something. Only after I murdered Justice did I find out about the affair and how it had come to an end. I killed Tabitha because her dad had a hand in Lacey’s death with his blackmail.”
“And what about the rest of the girls?”
“I saw them around town, and just got a feeling that they would make the perfect victims,” he stated blatantly. His utter lack of morality sickened me.
“So what, you stalked them? I found your pictures in the armoire.” His sick smile grew even wider.
“Oh yes. Those are my keepsakes. A memoir of the deceased I guess you could say. I followed each girl for a couple of days before I could figure out the best way to kidnap them.” Tears flowed down Hope’s face, and she was visibly shaking.
“You chose a variety of girls from different schools to keep the attention away from you, although I bet the fact that I made a big scene in your classroom didn’t help you to remain under the radar.”
“Yes, but the police still never suspected a thing, even with your description. That’s right. I know all about you and your so called visions. You see a Dr. Draycott? It wasn’t hard to hack into his files. You have made things quite difficult for me, but all that ends tonight.” He raised his gun a little higher. He spoke in a deep tone. “Now, put the gun down.” I gulped hard. A sob erupted from Hope’s throat, and I tried not to let my own fear shine through, but I could feel my shoulders trembling. Jacob stood next to me with wide eyes, uncertain of my next move. The barrel of the gun was aimed right at my temple. Mr. Green’s eyes were shooting daggers in my direction. He was becoming more and more impatient. “Put the gun down!” He was screaming now.
“Ok, ok.” I placed the gun beside my feet and threw my hands in the air. Horror crossed Jacob’s face.
“I’m not stupid,” Mr. Green sneered. “Kick it away from you.” I knew doing so would leave me completely vulnerable. The time to act was now. I exchanged a look with Jacob. My foot reared back in Mr. Green’s direction, but at the last second I turned my foot to the side. The gun slid near Jacob. He grasped it in the palm of his hands and fired. Hope was now screaming. The bullet whizzed over Mr. Green’s head. Pure fury erupted from his face. He threw himself forward, grabbing Hope by her arm and pressing the barrel into her temple. I ran over to Jacob and snatched the gun out of his grasp. The time to end this was now.
“Put it down, or you can say goodbye to your friend.” He wasn’t playing around, but neither was I. I pointed the gun down to his calf, and fired. It imbedded itself in his flesh with a bang. The shot reverberated across the room, rattling the old cabinets. Mr. Green let go of Hope in pain, and I brought the gun up to his chest level. We met each other’s eyes, and there was a sense of fear in his that I had never seen before. He raised his gun in defense, and I felt my finger squeeze the trigger. The shot forced me backwards, and a searing pain shot through my shoulder. I felt as if my heart was going to explode out of my chest, squeezing my eyes shut to brace for the shot that would end my life. I heard a loud thud, and found the courage to open one eyelid. Blood was everywhere. Mr. Green lay on the floor, gasping for breath. His gun had clattered onto the floor next to him. My gun suddenly felt heavy in my hand, and I let it fall to the concrete. Jacob stepped forward, and I realized that I was shaking uncontrollably. He wrapped me in a protective hug. I clung to the scent of his cologne, closing my eyes. Mr. Green’s breaths were short and raspy. I turned away, trying to block out the pain that I had caused him. A man was dying before my very eyes, and it was all my fault. Then the room went silent. Salty tears streamed down my cheeks. I turned back around slowly, afraid to see the mess before me.
“Let’s go, Tyler,” Jacob urged. Mr. Green’s piercing eyes were now lifeless. Blood was pooled around his body. I saw CIndy’s face flicker across his own, and tasted a metallic taste in my mouth. Jacob’s hands pulled me away, and he helped my trembling form walk up the stairs. Hope’s footsteps followed behind us. The bright light from the ground level was blinding, and we squinted towards the house. “Wait outside by the barn doors.” Jacob told us. “I’m going to go find a phone.” Hope and I leaned against the outside of the building.
“Tyler?’ she asked, her lip trembling.
“What?” I was almost whispering.
“What’s going to happen to you? You killed him.” I didn’t sure how to respond to her.
“I really don’t know.”