Fighting For Hope

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TWENTY-SEVEN

HOPE

“I visited my parents yesterday,” I told him. “I was with Ian. Remember him? Josh’s dad. He tried to fight Calvin. I didn’t interfere since I didn’t care about the possible outcomes.”

Speaking to a man in a coma was peculiarly soothing. No remarks, yet all said were heard.

“Things would be much different if you were here, I’d probably had never visited my parents. I didn’t regret it, though. Ian and I never intended to kill him. We aimed to put him in pain. It’s Calvin Woodland. You can’t expect to hurt him too much, that’s why we were proud to leave a permanent scar on his leg.”

“Also, my mother gave me a thumb drive. I haven’t seen what’s inside yet, but I don’t think I want to. It seemed imperative. She said it might not land her in a positive situation. I wish you were here to watch what is inside with me. I wouldn’t feel so lost. It had only been two days since you last had your eyes opened.”

“But I do miss you very much. I need you.”

“I’ll come back tomorrow.” I decided to end my visit.

I stood unsteadily and left the hospital, feeling hollower than habitually. The void in my chest was cavernous, unmendable.

My father once told me, “Don’t trust anyone but yourself or you will get hurt.”

He was right.

I sauntered home alone, lost in thoughts. I assumed the fight with my stepfather could distract me, but I was wrong. My mind wandered to the night someone hit the car and caused Tyler’s current situation. I detested that I always found others to blame, but I am sure it was someone this time.

I returned home with throbbing legs, feeling like the walk took an eternity. It felt like a thousand needles were piercing into my skin, draining energy for their voracious appetite. I sighed, having the rest I craved. Yet, unfinished acts darted in my mind.

I moved towards my laptop and plugged the thumb drive my mother handed over, into it. I didn’t know what to expect, and the intolerant bugging in my brain was not giving me a moment to forget about it. It was almost night, after school and visiting Tyler, and I could not wait but watch what my mother wanted me to see.

It seemed like a harmless thumb drive. It was almost impossible for something this simple to end grievously for my mother. It was her choice for it to be given to me, anyway.

I downloaded the document and clicked into the video, my curiosity peaking by the second. It titled ‘twelfth March.’

I double-clicked into the video, only to see a white shirt and a pair of hands adjusting the camera.

“Please don’t run out of battery before anything happens,” a voice muttered.

The person stepped back, and a sudden slap of gelidness hit my face. It swept through me, provocative and taunting. It was an incredibly young version of my mother. She held an expression of pure apprehension as she scanned around. A sigh of relief escaped her lips when she saw no one.

The look was soon replaced by one of fear as footsteps echoed through the house. My heart skipped a beat as my biological father walked in with a snarl on his face.

“Anne!” his voice boomed, reverberating through the walls of the somewhat large house. It was this very voice that woke me up that night.

“I’ve never seen you as a liar, never. But what you did was unfair to both of us.”

“You don’t understand what I did, James! I did so much for you and our daughter!” She turned around and back-faced the camera. My stepfather then joined the picture, standing behind the fight.

“You followed that man like a clueless puppy, and you dare tell me that you did it all for us!” My father pointed an accusing finger at my mother. That was when a young girl appeared on the screen, wearing a bright dress, with droopy eyes and a frown etched on her face. She stood, holding the bannister on the second floor and peering down.

“You let your selfish desire take over, despite knowing you have a child who looks up to you!” my father continued the argument.

“I love our daughter, but I love Calvin too! And I can’t change how I feel.” A smile stretched wider on my stepfather’s face.

My father was repulsed, oblivious to the fact that my mother had tentatively drawn out a knife from her back pocket. The girl watching for afar widened her eyes, knowing what it was, but as an eight-year-old, she ignored the fact and continued observing the scene.

My mother tightened her hold on the object, then raised it and lunged it forwards.

My father was a fighter. He had taught me countless things related to self-defence. He was the most determined fighter I had seen until I saw Calvin’s moves.

Although my mother had astounded my father with a sudden move, he was still able to dodge at a swift speed. He told me once I could do the same if I trusted my senses.

The knife flew through the air, towards my stepfather’s face, until he simply lifted his hand and caught the blade. That move had played many times in my head, and I would always be awestruck. While he caught it, my dad struggled to escape, and although my mother was holding him back with all her weight, she still could not keep my father in place.

He approached her and held out the knife with a somewhat bored expression, expecting her to take it without second thoughts. However, she was slow in reacting, constantly rethinking before taking the knife. She was disinclined.

Despite her state of indecisiveness, she still raised her knife, about to end my father’s life, when he escaped death’s door. He bolted for the exit, which was unfortunately blocked by Calvin.

A fight to the death played in front of my eyes, one with quite a few techniques I could adopt. Though every move of my father was quicker than a mind could register, I knew from his attacks that I could trounce my father. He missed prodigious chances to have the advantage. Hence, he lost, struggling as he landed hard on his back.

Then, my mother closed the distance between them, and just as she was about to end her husband’s life, something appeared and interrupted a video. A pop up that stated, ‘missing clip.’

I was frozen for a second, realizing this was my proof. It was what I had craved for most of my life. I swiftly leaned closer to the computer and frantically restarted the video, assuming it was some sort of lag. But the same message popped up, and I bit my lip in exasperation.

I needed the rest of the video; it is crucial. Was there no way to acquire the missing part?

I was effervesced with hope as I recalled something Tyler said about his best friend, Grayson: he was a professional at computing. There is a way I can fix everything.

I called Josh, and he picked up after six rings.

“Hope? What’s wrong?” he asked with a touch of dryness lacing his tone.

“Josh! Is there any way I can get in touch with Grayson? I have a favour,” I told him, waiting anxiously for a reply.

“He has been missing for days, remember? He hasn’t been reporting to school or seen at home either. I visited his house earlier today. His parents were also apprehensive since he left after an argument and didn’t return. They even made a police report,” he informed me, not sounding remarkably worried for his best friend. “I heard their argument started because his parents are in debt.”

The hope I had a few seconds ago disappeared entirely, and my heart sank to my stomach.

There was a voice in the background of the call. It sounded guttural and orotund. It took a while before I recognized the voice and my eyebrows furrowed in confusion.

“Can you just leave Grayson’s phone number for me?” I asked, receiving a hum in return before I hang up.

A text of eight numbers came soon after.

Immediately after, I texted Ian, “Do you have any idea who Josh is with right now?”

I waited for his reply. “My son doesn’t speak to me. It’s quite impossible to know who he is associated with.”

I frantically started typing and sent the moment I was done. “He’s following your foolish footsteps. One of his best friends is missing, and another is in a coma, yet he is with Calvin. You used to work for him, do you have any idea of where he could have possibly held someone hostage?”

“Are you assuming Calvin kidnapped the best friend who went missing? He’s the chief of a company, for God’s sake. Not a mafia leader,” he replied.

“That chief of the company had committed murder. You know that well. I don’t think kidnapping is such a big deal to Calvin. Moreover, the parents of the best friend who’s missing also were in dept. In this small town, I don’t think it would be a coincidence if it were my stepfather they borrowed from,” I explained, feeling as if I had made quite an exquisite point.

After a while, when I thought he no longer will be responding, a message appeared. “There’s this one place I visited once. He doesn’t bury the people he killed. He stores them in a cold underground area.”

Bring me there.” My reply was sent swifter than light.

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