The Lucky Winner

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Chapter 25

I waited until my parents went to bed.

I tiptoed into Kyle’s room and put my pink hand on the doorknob. I was wearing a pair of hot pink gloves, which I’d picked because they were microfleece and the thinnest fabric from the selection of gloves I had. I would have preferred wearing a pair of those crime scene gloves, but unfortunately, I didn’t have any.

I opened the door quietly and peeked in, nodding to myself that my guess was correct.

Kyle was still gone.

I carefully closed the door behind me and approached the window.

It was smaller than regular-sized windows, but big enough for just about anyone—unless they weighed three hundred pounds—to climb out of.

I cautiously opened the window, trying not to make any noise. Behind it was a fixed window screen. I remembered Dad screwing it down a while back, after it broke and came off the window frame. He put extra screws in to make triple sure it was well-fastened and secure.

Those screws were gone, leaving only the holes where the screws used to be.

I pushed the screen, and it came right off. No wonder my parents didn’t notice him leaving the house the other day—the same day Jerry got shot. He’d snuck out and left straight from his room window.

The question was: why?

What reason could he have to sneak out? And where had he been going? Now I knew his destination wasn’t Nerd It. Last time I checked, the place wasn’t open 24/7.

One thing was sure: he’d been doing something behind our backs. Something that couldn’t be good no matter how optimistically you tried to look at it.

Then I thought back to the conversation we’d had earlier.

Kyle had never been a news watcher, and remained far outside the circle of gossip. He’d be the last person to know anything—except, of course, the latest video game news. When I mentioned Misty’s name, he didn’t ask who she was. If I’d said the woman who was discovered dead in the river, he might have guessed who she was, having heard the news elsewhere. But I hadn’t said that. Knowing Kyle as well as I did, it would have been impossible for him to remember a stranger’s name that he just heard on the news.

At that point, I was fairly positive that my brother was not the person I’d known for sixteen years. He wasn’t the person anyone knew. Had he done it all? Did he steal the money? Was he responsible for torturing Mom? Did he kill Jerry? Did he kill Misty? I needed to find out the answers before anyone else did.

I began my search.

I dreaded the chance that I might run into Candy, but at least I wouldn’t have to witness him doing it to her again. I took that as barely tolerable.

It was hard to walk around all the video game cases he left scattered on the floor. However, the good thing about searching his messy room was that I didn’t feel super nervous, worrying about putting back whatever I moved exactly the way it was. That made my job easier.

I looked inside the drawers, the closet, under his piles of clothes, inside video game cases, and everywhere possible for any signs or clues. Then something caught my eyes—a set of dumbbells. They were thirty-pounds each—definitely not meant for yoga. Somebody was obviously trying to build his muscles! Even if humans reverted back to apes, I never thought I’d see the day that would happen. I supposed I was wrong.

I thought I hit a jackpot when I saw a yellow notepad filled with codes and what seemed to be the strategies for some sort of a crime. My heart raced when I saw the words, revenge, kill, death, etc. I flipped the pad to the beginning. On the very top of the notes, it said Assassin’s Terror. It didn’t take long for me to realize they were merely battle strategies for his video games, after I stepped on one that was titled Assassin’s Terror.

I rolled my eyes and moved on.

Seeing his laptop sitting on the floor, I knew if there were a clue to be found, it had to be there. Except I lacked the skills of a hacker and had no idea how I could possibly log into it.

I flipped it open anyway, and typed in Sophia for the password. It didn’t work. In the back of my head, I knew he wouldn’t have made it so easy to guess. He might have used her name somewhere, but most likely, in combination with other words, numbers and symbols. I could be sitting there all night guessing. The longer I spent in that room, the more chance I’d get caught snooping. I didn’t know when Kyle planned to come back.

When I was about to give up my search, I noticed the edge of what seemed to be a piece of paper that was sticking out from under the mattress. Kyle’s bed was the last thing I wanted to go near, but I didn’t have any choice. I grabbed the piece of paper and carefully pulled it out.

I could not believe what my eyes beheld.

It was a printout of a picture—of my Sophia! Where the heck did he get this picture?

Maybe he’d snuck into my room and taken a picture of her yearbook photo with his phone. No. Because I remembered every single picture of her in our yearbooks and this wasn’t one of them. I had an exceptional memory when it came to pictures and the circumstances surrounding them.

While the disturbing debate continued in my head, I had an irresistible urge to check under the mattress. If he hid Sophia’s picture under there, there was a strong possibility he’d hidden something else—something very important to him—in that same spot.

I pinched the edge of the mattress with my thumb and index finger, lifting it up.

Bingo!

There was a folded piece of paper—ripped out from a yellow notepad.

I used my other hand and grabbed it.

My eyes froze in horror when I unfolded it.

It was a bank account’s login ID and a password.

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