I lay in my bed, tossing and turning for what felt like forever, unable to fall asleep. With a groan I threw my blanket off and jumped out of bed and plopped down on my small sofa.
“Why can’t I fucking sleep?” I grunted.
I started flipping through the channels of my TV, but I couldn’t focus on what was on, because of this horrible, nagging feeling that I had. It started after I had gotten a shower, and it wouldn’t go away, no matter what I did. Hell, I even tried masterbating, but that didn’t help, I was so tense and dry that my dildo wouldn’t even go in my pussy. God, the last time I felt this much anxiety was when we were kidnapped by hunters. I got up and looked out the window at the dark streets below and wrapped my arms around myself as a cold shudder ran down my spine and I instantly felt nauseous. I covered my mouth with my hand just as a stabbing pain pelted my chest.
“Holy shit!” I gasped as tears stung my eyes, “What the fuck?”
I grabbed onto the wall to stop myself from collapsing and gasped, my eyes wide.
I saw red and blue flash behind my eyes, heard a distant scream of agony, and felt a deep, throbbing pain that I couldn’t describe that took my breath away. I let myself fall to my knees, sobbing and clutching my chest as the pain continued, and thought I was having some kind of heart attack, or an aneurysm or something. Just as fast as the pain came, it disappeared and I was left sitting on my knees sobbing with my hands clutching the front of my tank top, panting.
“Oh god! Oh no…” I covered my mouth, but it didn’t deafen the scream that I let out.
I sped through the streets, driving through red lights, focused on one thing; Getting to my brother. Something was tugging at me, and I just needed to get to him, but I didn’t know why. I honked my horn as I passed a car driving ridiculously slow, and after what felt like an eternity, I finally pulled up in front of the hotel CJ and Vanessa were staying at. I jumped out of my car and hurried past the front desk to the elevator and clicked the floor number they were on. I felt a huge weight on my chest as I walked down the hallway, my heart beating fast and loud in my ears, feeling more sick to my stomach the closer I got to their room. The door was open, just a crack which made me even more nervous.
“CJ? Vanessa? I know it’s late, but…” My voice trailed off as I stared at the door.
I took in a deep breath and with a shaky hand I pushed the door open. I felt sick looking into the room and I swear my heart stopped as I looked at my brother laying on the floor, bleeding out with a knife in his stomach and unconscious. I froze, just staring at him with my mouth open in shock and my eyes welling up with tears.
I let out a scream, covering my mouth and quickly backed out of the room, my back hitting the wall of the hallway, my body shaking.
“Christopher?! Oh god!” I cried, shaking my head.
’Charlotte, you’re a FUCKING doctor! Do something!’
I gasped and ran into the room without a seconds hesitation, dropping to my knees beside CJ as I switched into doctor mode, focusing on the patient and pushing the fact that he was my brother out of my head. I felt for an arterial pulse, but couldn’t find one, so I switched to find a radial pulse. I felt a weak, thready pulse and nodded before I jumped up and went into the bathroom, grabbed some towels and raced back to CJ. I lost his pulse and pressed my ear to his chest and cursed out when I couldn’t hear his heart beating, so I instantly started doing chest compressions.
“Somebody! Somebody, help!” I screamed out. “Come on, CJ! Come on!”
I stopped doing compressions and tilted his chin back and blew two deep breaths into his mouth, listened for a heartbeat, and continued doing chest compressions.
“Somebody, please! Someone, help me!”
I was starting to panic and felt myself on the verge of crying, but I knew that if I started to cry I wouldn’t be able to continue CPR, and I fought against what my body wanted to do.
“Whoah, what the fuck?!”
I looked up to see a man standing in shock in the doorway.
“Oh thank god! I need help!”
The man nodded and reached for his phone.
“Call… My phone in my pocket, call the first number on my emergency contact! I-it’s a specialist… This man… This man needs special care!”
My hands were sticky with CJ’s blood as the man took my phone and called the number — Aunt Gaia.
I dropped the glass of water in my hand with a gasp, putting my hand to my chest as a cold chill ran through me. I woke up randomly out of a dead sleep with a horribly dry mouth and sick to my stomach, so I had gotten up out of bed and came downstairs to get a glass of water, but didn’t do anything to settle my stomach.
Chris walked into the kitchen, barefoot and wearing only a pair of sweatpants, rubbed the back of his neck, looked at the floor, and then at me.
“Sorry.” I shook my head and blinked a few times, “I… God, someone just walked over my grave.”
Chris looked at me and shook his head with a chuckle. I sighed and bend down, picking up the big pieces of glass as Chris opened the door to the garage and grabbed the broom and dustpan.
I sighed again and tsk’d my teeth. “That was one of the good glasses, too.”
“Never mind about the glass.” Chris muttered, “I’m more concerned about you. You’ve been acting strange tonight.”
“How so?” I asked, putting the big pieces of broken glass on the counter.
“When we were having sex, out of nowhere you pushed my off and said you felt sick all of a sudden and didn’t want to finish, which has never happened before.”
I rolled my eyes, “It happens all the time to people, Chris. We just happen to have sex every morning and every night, I needed a break.”
“Uh huh.” He nodded, sweeping the smaller pieces of glass up, “You didn’t want to cuddle, which again, has never happened before. We have never slept not touching when we’re both home.”
“I know.” I sighed, “I just got a cold sweat is all. I didn’t want to get you sweaty.”
Chris looked at me and put the dustpan down, and put his hands on my shoulders. “You look pale, Madison.”
“Do I?” I put my hand on my cheek, “God, I just have this horrible feeling.”
“I thought if I got a drink of water it would help, but I feel even worse.”
“Like… Cold and hot, anxious and like I can’t catch my breath. Sick to my stomach.”
“God, please don’t tell me you’re pregnant.” Chris groaned.
I let out a laugh as he pulled me into his arms. “No, I’m not pregnant. I think maybe the vasectomy worked, my body has had three hormonal peaks since Soph was born, and no baby and resulted.”
Chris kissed the top of my head, “Mmhmm, I know. Gaia is wrong about something for a change.”
I rested my cheek against his chest and closed my eyes, breathing in his musky scent as I wrapped my arms around his back.
He pulled back so that he could look at my face. “What? What do you mean?”
I shook my head and bit my lip. “I… I don’t know, I can’t explain it, but something is wrong. I feel it. We need to call the kids.”
“What? Madison, it’s two-thirty in the morning.”
I walked out of the kitchen, needing to find my phone, but I couldn’t remember where I put it.
“Do you know where my phone is?” I asked, feeling between the sofa cushions.
Chris quickly followed me and turned on the lights, illuminating the living room.
“Madison, hold on. Just calm down, and talk to me.”
“I can’t, I can’t explain it. I just… I need to call the kids.”
Chris sighed and shook his head, “Alright. You let Sophie use your phone so that she could talk with her soccer coach since she left hers in her locker at school. It’s probably still in her room, let’s go back upstairs and you can use mine.”
“Right.” I nodded, “Okay.”
I bit my nails as I waited for Lydia to answer her phone, and on the fifth ring I heard her groggy voice.
“H-hello?” Lydia groaned.
“Lydia! Honey, are you okay?”
“What? Yeah… Yeah, I’m fine.”
“Is the baby okay?” I heard my heart beating in my ears.
“Yeah mom, he’s fine, he’s asleep.”
“Baby? Baby girl, what’s going on?” I vaguely heard Vinnie in the background.
“Are you sure?” I asked.
“Yeah… Yeah, I’m looking at him on the baby monitor right now, he’s sleeping soundly. Mom what’s going on?”
“Nothing.” I sighed, “Nothing. I’m sorry I woke you up.”
“Just a feeling I have out of nowhere honey. I’m sorry I woke you up.”
“Okay.” Lydia yawned, “You’re alright?”
“Yeah, I think so. I’m so sorry I woke you up.”
“It’s okay… Bye mom, love you.”
“I love you, too.”
I hung up and immediately called Charlotte’s phone, but got no answer because she always has her phone on do not disturb at night. I was just about to call CJ’s when Chris’ phone started to ring, and it was Gaia.
“Madison? Madison, where is Christopher?”
“Right here. Gaia, listen, I don’t mean to be rude, but-”
“Madison, you and Christopher need to get to my apartment. Now.”
“Huh, why? I’m in the middle-”
“Now, Madison. CJ… CJ has been hurt. Badly.”
My heart sunk into my feet and I grabbed onto the bedside table to stop myself from falling.
“Wh-what do you mean CJ’s hurt?”
Chris immediately stared at me and walked over, and I grabbed his arm.
“He’s been attacked. Madison, it’s bad. Very bad.”
I dropped the phone and let out a scream, covering my mouth and holding onto Chris so that I didn’t fall.
Chris sped over to Gaia and Dee’s apartment quickly, and he, Sophie and I all ran inside and up to their apartment. I slammed the door open and ran inside, looking around and saw Dee, who rushed over to me.
“Dee! Dee, where is he, where is my baby?”
She grabbed my arms and cleared her throat, “In the spare room. Listen, Maddie, you need to take a deep breath. Deep breath, and calm yourself down.”
“Dee, I can’t, where is he?”
Chris closed the apartment door behind him and put an arm around me.
“Dionne, what happened?” He asked, his voice full of fear.
“Madison, Christopher.” Gaia rushed down the hall, “Good you’re here. Dionne, stay here with Sophie and call Lydia again.”
Dee nodded as Chris and I followed Gaia down the hall and out of earshot of Sophie.
“Gaia?” Chris gulped.
“He’s been stabbed.” Gaia said as calmly as she could, but I could hear the fear in her voice.
“Stabbed?” I let out a sob, “Is he okay?”
“No.” Gaia said softly, “It was with an iron blade.”
Chris let out a groan and closed his eyes, and when he opened them tears fell. “How bad?”
“Bad. It was lodged in his abdomen, but Charlotte stopped the bleeding once the blade was removed when he got here.”
I covered my mouth and let the tears fall. “Charlotte?”
Gaia nodded, “She found him. She called me and when I got there I helped her to control the bleeding and secure the knife so that it wouldn’t move and cause more damage.”
“Where’s my baby?” I sobbed, “Where is he?”
“He’s alive, barely. Unconscious and weak, but he’s alive.” Gaia opened the door to the spare room, “Go to him.”
I immediately let out a sob and ran over to the bed where CJ was laying, pale and unconscious with his abdomen wrapped up in cloth with blood seeping through in some spots.
I looked at him, and he was a baby in my arms, smaller than Charlotte, and weaker. He was a toddler, struggling to keep up with Charlotte as she ran around while he was just grasping the concept of walking. He was six, and crying in my arms because a big kid at school pushed him on the playground. He was ten, sitting on the sofa with a bloody nose because he tried to fight a kid who made fun of Charlotte for not being able to answer a math question. He was twelve, trying desperately to conquer his fear of water, he was fifteen and we had awkwardly found out he and Cleo were sexually active when the toilet in his bathroom clogged from him trying to flush a condom. He graduated high school and med school… As I looked at him injured and pale in that bed, all I could see was my baby. My baby was hurt, and no matter how hard I wanted to, I couldn’t take his pain away.
I sat down on the edge of the bed and held CJ’s hand, running my thumb over the back of it, before I brought his hand to up and kissed it, resting my forehead against it. Chris put his hand on CJ’s leg, and I heard him let out a sob before he put his hand on my shoulder, and I instantly reached one of mine up and put it over his.
Chris and I both turned to look, and saw Charlotte sitting on the floor against the wall, her arms draped over her knees, staring straight ahead at the opposite wall. Her hands were coated in dried blood, and she had a smear of it on her cheek, and her eyes were wide.
“I think he lost too much blood.” Charlotte said, emotionlessly with a shrug. “I fucked up. I froze when I got there and just… I’m a doctor, I should have jumped right in and… I froze. He wasn’t breathing. I got him breathing. I got him breathing, but I think he lost too much blood… I’m sorry I didn’t get there sooner.”
I put my hand over my mouth and went to get up, but Chris stopped me and walked over to her, and knelt down in front of her.
“I don’t know how long he was laying there.” Charlotte said, seemingly unaware of Chris.
“Charlotte.” Chris said softly, putting his hands on her cheeks, “Charlotte look at me.”
“I didn’t know what to do, I forgot everything at first. I’m a… Terrible doctor. I-”
“Charlotte.” Chris said in a firmer, louder voice, “Look at me.”
Charlotte blinked a few times and shifted her eyes to Chris’. “Hey dad.”
“Charlotte, you’re in shock.” Chris said with a slight nod, “Take a deep breath.”
Charlotte’s bottom lip started to tremble and tears welled up in her eyes.
“Take a deep breath.” Chris repeated.
Charlotte drew in a shaky breath and whispered, “I tried.”
“I know. I know, and you did good. You did so good.”
“I tried. I tried, but I don’t know how long he was laying there in a pool of his own blood. He couldn’t breath, he wasn’t breathing and I don’t know how long he was laying there.”
“I don’t know how long he was laying there! I’m sorry!” Charlotte started to hyperventilate, her entire body trembling.
I immediately stood up, but Chris held his hand out, stopping me, his eyes never leaving Charlotte. I saw tears rolling down Chris’ cheeks.
“Charlotte, you did so good.” Chris said in a slightly shaky voice, before clearing his throat, “Look at me. Charlotte Grace, look at me.”
“I don’t know how long he was there! I don’t know how long! I think he lost too much blood, I-I think he lost too much! I’m sorry! I’m so sorry!”
“Shhh, Charlotte.” Chris slowly pulled her into his arms.
Charlotte started sobbing hysterically, digging her fingers into Chris’ shirt as he held onto her, rocking her slowly in his arms like he did when she was little and have a nightmare.
“Shhh…You’re alright.” Chris soothed, “You did good. You did so good, you saved him. Look at him.”
Charlotte slowly looked at CJ as she sobbed.
“You did that, Charlee.” Chris said softly, “You saved him.”
Calling her Charlee seemed to bring her out of her shock, the nickname that Chris gave her when she was little, and one that she quickly outgrew and hated, but she always let Chris call her that.
“You saved Christopher, Charlee.” Chris said soothingly, “You stopped the bleeding.”
Charlotte sniffled and nodded.
“You found him, and you saved him.”
“Y-yeah.” Charlotte nodded, “I-I felt it. I f-felt the pain and needed to go to him. I knew something was wrong.”
Chris nodded, looking over at me and I walked over and dropped to my knees beside Charlotte and wrapped my arms around her.
“I saw him and I… I froze but then I snapped back and started doing CPR.”
“You did so good.” I kissed her cheek, “My brave, brave girl.”
“Brave?” Charlotte looked at me.
“You didn’t know if the person who did this was still there. They could have been, and you still went in and saved him. You saved your brother, my beautiful, brave girl.”
Charlotte closed her eyes and drew in a few breaths. I gasped and took Charlotte’s hand, flipping it over and stared at the dark, fresh burns all over her palm and fingers.
“Oh my god.” I gasped.
“I took the knife out.” Charlotte said softly, “I didn’t feel the pain until I got him here and…”
“Iron.” Chris said softly, shaking his head, “That burn’s never going to heal properly. It’s going to scar.”
Charlotte shrugged, “I don’t care.”
I rested my forehead against the side of Charlotte’s head and closed my eyes.
“Vanessa wasn’t there.”
“What?” I asked.
Charlotte opened her eyes, “She wasn’t there. She was gone.” Charlotte narrowed her eyes and clenched her jaw, “She did this.”
I looked over at CJ, laying unconscious and fighting for his life, and then at Chris who narrowed his eyes slightly.
“She. Wasn’t. There.” Charlotte hissed, “We know who her parents are, what they are. She was in on this. She had to be.”
Chris and I looked at each other again and shared the same hard expression.
‘If she did…’ Chris said through our link.
’I’m going to fucking kill her.’