The Lucky Winner

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Chapter 16

“Kyle! What in the hell is that?” I screamed at the top of my lungs.

The jaws of the trap were deeply sunk into his mountain boot, but luckily, the boot seemed thick enough to save his foot from being torn off.

It couldn’t have been a Halloween prank. It wasn’t even close to Halloween. Besides, Kyle would never try to trick us like that. That just wasn’t in his character.

“Can’t you see? I’m trapped,” he said stoically.

Mom was still shell-shocked with her widened eyes fixed on his foot and the vicious-looking trap. She seemed incapable of speech.

Kyle continued, “It caught me when I reached down to pick this up.” In his hand, he held our broken Disneyland snow globe.

Officer Jones arrived with a heavy duty bolt cutter, and released Kyle’s foot. Thankfully, it only caused a bruise and that was it. The thick leather on his boots absorbed the impact of the steel jaws.

The question was: how did anything like that get into our backyard?

While Officer Jones was searching the house, Mom began experiencing some difficulty breathing. Then she began vomiting continuously like she was suffering from a bad case of food poisoning. Her face was bright red, almost like it was on fire. Officer Jones called an ambulance and she went to the ER. I rode along with her.

Kyle stayed home with Officer Jones, who continued searching for clues. I suspected it wouldn’t take too long. He’d probably just say the same thing he told us before—There’s no sign of forced entry.

When we got to the ER, Mom was treated promptly.

The doctor told me that a small amount of cyanide was found in her bloodstream, which could have been fatal if she hadn’t gotten treated when she did.

I called Dad and briefly told him what happened. He said he was not far away, driving back from California. I was busy meeting with the doctors, so I told him I’d explain what happened in more detail when he got to the hospital.

Soon after my call, he arrived at the hospital.

“So what happened? How is she?” He asked as soon as he saw me in the lobby. He looked like he’d just returned from a war zone.

“Wow, you must have been really closeby. Did you drive your truck here?” I surprised myself. Despite all the crazy incidents that were rapidly occurring around us, I remained as calm as water on a still lake. Was I turning into Kyle? That thought frightened me to the core.

“Ella,” he growled. “What happened? Can I see her?”

“No, you can’t, not right now. They’re running more tests.”

“What happened?” he repeated.

“All they told me so far is there was a small amount of poison in her alimentary system.”

“What kind of poison?” Dad’s eyes grew wide, like he was on meth. “I need to talk to the doctor. Where’s Kyle?”

“Kyle’s back at home with Officer Jones.”

“You said there was a… there was a steel trap, and he got his foot caught in it?” He choked up. I couldn’t blame him. You didn’t come across things like that every day.

“He’s okay. He was wearing his ridiculous-looking mountain boots, and thanks to them, his foot’s fine.” I worried that Dad could have suffered a heart attack right there before me, requiring admission to the hospital, next to Mom.

“Tell me all you know, Ella.” His breathing was hard and shallow.

I quickly figured the more I told him now, the better. “It looks like somebody put the trap in our yard. So creepy. Who would have done such a thing? Oh, I didn’t tell you this yet—there was also a dead raccoon in the kitchen trash. Mom was so startled, she dropped a butcher knife on her foot, and cut her toe pretty badly. Some of our stuff’s missing from the house, too.”

“W… What?” His face twisted into a serious grimace that I’d never seen before. Again, I didn’t blame him. It sure was a lot of crazy information to digest all at once. Especially since it all happened in his absence.

“So the police—” His sentence stopped halfway as he looked out the window.

I looked in the direction and saw a woman standing right outside. It was too dark for me to see her face, but it looked like she was staring right at us through the glass.

Dad’s eyes turned back to me. “What did the police say?”

“Is that person looking at us?” I asked, since I had nothing to say about Officer Jones.

“Who?”

“That woman right outside. Didn’t you see her? She seemed to be staring right at us,” I turned back to the window and saw no one there. “I don’t know. I thought there was someone right outside. You didn’t see her?”

“Well, there are plenty of people coming in and out,” Dad replied. Then after a short pause, he said, “Ella, I have to make one quick call in to work. Let me know when the doctor comes back. Okay? I’ll be right back.” He got up and exited the hospital.

Twenty minutes later, the doctor returned but Dad hadn’t yet. I called his phone, but it went straight to his voicemail. I suspected he must have done something to shorten his trip to California. His California trips usually took about seven days, but this time he was back a couple of days earlier. Maybe he’d turned around to come back home, having butterflies in his stomach worrying about Mom. I imagined his boss must have just found out about it and wasn’t happy at the news. Well, if they fired Dad for that, let them! What kind of a person would he have been if he didn’t care that his wife was poisoned?

The doctor said Mom’s glucose level was low, so they wanted to give her an IV drip of vital fluids mixed with dextrose overnight. They allowed me to see her in the room. She looked like a zombie.

Just when I told her Dad was outside making a call, he called me. I said I was in the room with Mom. Seconds later, he showed up, also looking like a zombie. Except he was not one of those slow ones. He burst into the room with his hollow eyes wide open, gasping so hard, as if he’d fought off all the humans he encountered on the way to Mom’s room. The darkest circles were underneath his eyes and it seemed as if his eyes could pop out of their sockets at any moment.

“Dad, you look horrible. Is everything okay?”

“Me? Why do you ask? Why wouldn’t I be?” Dad’s eyes widened even more, if that were possible. I hoped I wouldn’t be the next victim of his zombie attack.

“Well, was your boss upset or something? Bad news?”

He ignored me and approached Mom. “How are you feeling, honey?”

“I’m okay…” Mom whispered weakly. Then she asked me. “Did you hear from Kyle? Is he okay?”

“I haven’t heard from him. He’s okay. His foot wasn’t hurt, Mom. Remember?”

“Did you hear about that, honey…?” Mom’s face tilted up to look at Dad.

“Yeah…” Dad looked exasperated. Who wouldn’t have? He was away on the road for his job when all of that happened to his family. I could only imagine how terrible that must have made him feel.

Not that it was his fault, by any means.

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