Chapter Thirty One: What if it was Micah?
The 29th of January normally found Andy making last minute preparations for new years eve. Despite the fact that new years was so very close to Christmas, being one to never shy away from any holiday, by now the tree and all Christmas decorations were down. People had already RSVP’d for the big party and Andy would be decorating the house with silver and gold balloons and streamers, banners and candles and Lauren would be coming over to create a list of the things she was going to buy. Every year it was the same. Andy decorated two days before while Lauren shopped and brought the food back to Andy’s then he would spend the 30th cooking everything that needed to be made the night before.
They always had a great time checking in on Rein during the festivities to see if she had even had a sip of alcohol, always disappointed by her strong-will to not indulge and Lauren would move over to the Karaoke section preparing a list of songs to sing once she had consumed her 5 drink minimum. It was a festive time of year, a fun time of year, a happy time of year.
But all of that could be let go now. There would be no drunken singing or games including silly string this year Andy thought as he sat up in the snow waiting for Rein to awake in the northern quadrant.
Micah was thinking about the same thing at the southern quadrant. For him and Ben it would have been the first time that year where they purposefully came down to New Haven to bring in the new year with their son. He had imagined the scurrying around that would have been occurring this very morning imagining that he would be going out shopping this very minute with Lauren and Rein while Ben stayed behind to help with the decorations.
As he pondered this he heard Carmita stir and slowly sit up.
“What time is it?” she asked yawning.
“A little after 7,” Micah replied gingerly coming back to reality.
Unlike the Spanish-Princess as he had inwardly referred to her, he had not one wink of sleep during the night. Though judging by the sounds of her on again off again snoring she had.
“Really?” she asked in disbelief. “It feels like 3am!”
Micah shook his head and chuckled slightly. That was the thing about Carmita he thought to himself. One moment you could be so irritated at her and the next she would say or do something that would make you love her all over again. She was definitely a diva, but even diva’s could be fun sometimes. He imagined thinking of Emmett and how he was very similar to the Spanish-Princess.
“So, I’ve been thinking,” he mentioned to her as she started rubbing her eyes. “I think you should tell everyone about Rick.”
Carmita threw off her jacket that she had been using as a blanket and glared at him.
“Are you serious?” she asked in disbelief. “They’ll all kill me, Andy especially. You want that on your conscience?”
But Micah knew he would in fact feel a whole lot better if it was out in the open.
“They need to know,” he said softly taking her hand. “The longer you keep this to yourself the worse it’ll seem. But if you come clean now everyone will just figure you were in shock and forgive you.”
“I don’t know Micah,” Carmita said. “I mean you don’t know A-”
But she stopped herself right there realizing who she was talking to.
“I don’t know Andy?” Micah questioned. “Sweetie I raised him from a young age. I know everything about him and I know he will be happier hearing it from you then from someone else and finding out you knew all along.”
“Are you threatening me?” Carmita asked feeling quite affronted.
“No,” Micah replied simply. “I’m just saying it would be better coming from you.”
Carmita sighed and began to repack her stuff back into the backpack she was carrying. It was so not her to carry this thing around, but she realized how practical it was and wanted to get her stuff out of the snow as quickly as she could.
“Maybe you are right,” she agreed now zipping up the bag. “Come on, let’s go tell him now.”
“Now?” Micah asked, not believing she would go right away.
“Yes fly-fly,” she replied referring to the eventual nickname she had come up with for him last night. “With me bad news is like getting a needle, do it right away or else you’ll worry about it all day.”
Unable to argue with her logic and having already packed, Micah stood up and the pair began the track to the northern side of the warehouse.
Meanwhile in the west quadrant Debbie and Jenny had already gotten back to their sleuthing. Being the smart woman she was Debbie had chosen to pack Bananas and Apples as her luxury items and they’d had a nice breakfast and were already walking down the same path they had started last night.
“You know what?” Jenny asked. “I have no idea what continuing to walk around like this is going to do. I mean seriously we did all this yesterday. Don’t you think we’d have found something by now?”
“Honey,” Debbie smiled. “My mother always told me, you never know what you’ll find when the sun comes up.”
“She did?” Jenny laughed.
“Yep,” Debbie confirmed unabashedly. “Believe me, I laughed it off too sweet-cheeks. Then one day after months of searching for this doll I loved Georgie-Soo I found her under my bed. Do you know why I didn’t find her until then?”
“Why?” Jenny asked.
“Because I had been looking when the sun was down,” Debbie replied. “Believe me, different times of day you see different things. So…”
She stopped realizing that Jenny was no longer with her and turned around to see her looking at a section of wall a little bit back from where she was. She raced over to her.
“Speaking of,” Jenny said. “Look at this!”
True to her excitement and Debbie’s word, Jenny had in fact found something. It was the first something anyone had found since they first started looking at the warehouse.
“It’s a hole in the wall,” she said simply.
“Literally,” Debbie agreed.
The hole wasn’t too big, but it was big enough for Jenny to squeeze through.
“Good luck getting me through that thing honey!” Debbie smiled knowingly. “Twenty-Nine years of my famous steak and kidney pies and I aint getting through anything that size.”
“But I…can,” Jenny replied investigating it more.
There wasn’t much she could see from where she was standing other than a stone floor and some old wooden furniture.
“Then by all means,” Debbie laughed knowing full well she wouldn’t enter.
“Alright then I will!” Jenny proclaimed confidently. “You tell the-”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” Debbie cried putting out a hand as if to stop her. “You’re just going to go in there with no idea of what’s on the other side.”
“Debbie,” Jenny said strongly as though talking to a child. “I’ve got 5 words for you. What if it was Micah?”
Instantly Debbie agreed. She knew full-well that if it were her son in there she would cut skin and bone squeezing through the hole and so all objections stopped at once.
“Ok honey, you go and I’ll text the others. But know this, any issues and you scream right out, clear?”
“Clear,” Debbie responded smiling up at the woman.
Debbie couldn’t help but pull her in for a quick and tight hug, but very quickly let go.
“Alright my brave little toaster,” she said. “Let’s do this.”
Over in the east quadrant Lauren was just waking up. She always was a late sleeper and with no alarm there was no waking her up. Edward sat there waiting. While he wanted to impatiently start the day he also knew it would be good to let her sleep. However eventually she had woken and upon hearing the lateness of the hour was now in a foul mood that he hadn’t shaken her awake.
“What do you think we’re here for a holiday in Cancun?!” she had demanded. “Seriously dude, it’s the campers code!”
“Campers code?” Edward questioned. “Whoever heard of that?”
“Ok well not me, since I’ve never been camping,” Lauren confessed. “But you would think so wouldn’t you?”
She ripped open her backpack with such force she nearly broke the zipper right off.
“Damn it,” she cried dragging out a thermos and looking at it as though it were her latest nemesis.
“What now?” Edward groaned, not at all liking her morning mood.
“No coffee!” she grumbled. “And believe me, no coffee makes for a grouchy Lauren.”
“Well you shouldn’t have drunk it all last night,” Edward said plainly.
“Now he tells me,” Lauren replied though more to herself.
Just then Edward received a text.
“Tell me it’s Andy with fresh coffee,” Lauren groaned though knowing there was no way he would leave without Jay.
“No such luck,” Edward said. “Here take mine, I still have some left.”
He flimsily flung the thermos in her direction and she snatched it out of his hands.
“It’s cold,” she grumbled taking a sip.
“It’s morning,” Edward grumbled back. “How long do you expect it to remain hot?”
“Till we’re done,” Lauren snarled. “Isn’t that the point of this stupid contraption? To keep coffee hot?”
But Edward wasn’t listening he was too busy responding to the text on his phone.
“Who wa…” Lauren started.
But before she could even finish she slumped back down to the ground.
“Lauren?” Edward asked. “Lauren, come on, I know it aint strong but aren’t you over dramatizing a little.”
He finished typing his text and hit send. But Lauren still wasn’t moving.
“Come on Lauren,” he said as though trying to motivate a 5 year old to get out of bed. “Uppy Uppy time.”
But she still didn’t move.
“Lauren?” Edward questioned, now quite panicked.
He grabbed her side and shook her.
He tried again, this time quite violently.
Freaking out Edward quickly jumped up and raced off to the northern quadrant to get Andy.
“It’s probably the wrong one!” Mel screamed out to Ben. “Hurry we’ve only got 12 minutes and if this thing saws me in half I promise I will haunt you for the rest of my life! Aaaaaah!”
Dangling above her the chainsaw had since been re-activated and once more a clue had appeared on the monitor with a countdown. As far as Ben had been concerned it was the most ludicrous clue so far It had read:
Go back to the bear-traps and activate them all until one of them releases a key. This is not the key to release her but will help you on your way. Take the key and open up the correct box located to her right. But be careful Ben one contains a gas as you may have guessed. Only one contains her Key the rest are blank. You better hurry you only have twenty minutes.
As always by the time he was done reading the instructions the timer had already started.
By now Ben was still poking at each Bear-trap. It wasn’t easy as the only thing he had to sufficiently activate them was a pair of Mel’s boots and he had to be careful not to get his hand caught at the same time.
Snap after snap could be heard as each trap closed with a loud bang inturn taking him right back to when his foot got caught. That of course didn’t help either. Despite the fact that he had bandaged his calf as well as he could he could still feel blood oozing out and it was freaking him out not knowing how much longer he had left. Then of course there was his deepest and darkest secret. At a young age Ben had contracted the AIDS virus and though he had managed to live with it taking all proper precautions, at this moment he was worried about infecting Mel which was the last thing he wanted to do.
Snap went another bear-trap, this time only just missing his hand. Then a greatful clang could be heard as a key dropped seemingly from out of the roof to exactly where the trap had been. Ben grabbed the key and raced back towards Mel.
“I have it! I have it!” he yelled as he hobbled quickly as he could back to her.
“Good work Ben!” Mel screamed out. “Now get to the boxes, we have only got 10 minutes left!”
Ben raced over to the boxes, knowing that now it was a pot-luck situation. Unlike the gas chamber there had been no clues on the monitor about which was the correct one to open. But now, key in hand, Ben didn’t care. He was just going to go for it. Nothing else mattered at this point other than saving Mel.
As he got to the boxes however there was a clear and distinct message written on paper and stuck to the wall behind them. It read:
I’m sure you’re aware by now the impact a single choice can make as I always have. So here is yet another one. Inside the first box is a clue to descipher which one alone has the key. However the clue has been tied up in very thick string and it may take some time to open it.
Despite there being a whole lot more to this message Ben ignored the rest and raced over to box one. Opening it he noticed what looked like a knotted very think ball of string. There was no way to open it other than to untie the knots and this would take hours.
“Mel!” he hollered. “How much longer?”
“8 minutes!” she yelled back. “Hurry!”
Abandoning the clue, Ben decided to go for pot luck and systematically went to the next box. The moment he unlocked it he smelled a terrible gassy smell. Coughing and spluttering he quickly closed and relocked the box and race to the next one. Unlocking this one was easy, but alas no key and time was running out.
“5 minutes!” Mel screamed clearly very anxious now.
Ben raced to the 4th box and unlocked it. Again nothing. There were 6 boxes here and the first 4 had all been a complete waste of time. He raced directly to the 6th box figuring their torturer had probably intended on putting it next to Mel all along, just to trick them. He unlocked it and opened the box.
“3 minutes, hurry Bennnn! Ahhhhhhh!” Mel screamed as the chainsaw started to make a slow decent towards her.
“Damn it!” Ben cried as he found the 6th box to also be bare.
Quickly he shoved the key into the 5th box and inside saw a small burgundy Jewelry Bag and he hastily yanked it out. But it too was tied in knots at the end.
“Damn iiiiiit!” Ben groaned working very quickly to untie the knots.
“2 minutes Ben, please….please,” Mel said begging to whoever would listen.
Finally there was only one knot left.
“Look for your lock!” Ben screamed back. “We need to know where to put the key!”
Mel looked and found it very quickly.
“It’s on the actual cuffs!” she cried.
Ben yanked open the bag and raced back over to Mel opening the first cuff. By now the chainsaw was so close to her head it was dangling precariously like the sword of Damocles. Ben yanked her other arm to him.
“1 minute Ben,” Mel stated crying.
Ben quickly undid the lock and the raced over to the monitor.
Crash! The chainsaw fell to the floor making a most horrendous noise and finally died.
Suddenly the piece of wall next to the monitor shifted to the right to reveal a secret opening and despite Mel being on the verge of fainting the pair stepped through the newly created door way which then closed behind them with a snap, leaving the chainsaw and the torturous room behind them.
Once the doorway resealed itself lights came on to reveal a very mediocre room. Nowhere near what they had just experienced, though not as good as the room Ben had been in earlier. In this room there was naturally, another monitor on the wall though it was blank. There was also a standard long table and 3 plastic garden chairs. Aside from that there was no other furniture, however there was:
“Lauren!” The pair screamed out racing to the woman.
Lauren was lying on the floor clearly knocked out.
“OMG What do we do?” Ben asked.
“My turn,” Mel said simply. “You rest.”
Despite the fact that she could have desperately used his help, this was one thing that sadly with Ben’s infection he could not do without serious risk to the poor woman. Mel rushed over and immediately started resuscitating her.
“One, two, three, four, five…” Mel would count as she pumped down on Lauren’s chest before breathing air into her lungs.
It didn’t take long for Lauren to come around coughing and spluttering, Mel helped her to slowly sit up.
“Hey sleepy,” she smiled down at the woman hoping to keep her calm.
“Did you just kiss me?” Lauren asked in a daze.
“No Lauren,” Mel smiled. “If I’d have kissed you, believe me you’d know it.”
A few moments later Lauren was sitting with Ben and Mel at the table and they instantly filled her in on everything that had happened. Ben explained all about being taken away because he was to valuable (with Mel piping in ‘Me too!’). He then explained about the maze, shocking both women. He then told of the fruit room and then about finding Mel. Mel then explained how she woke up cuffed and feared dying. She then explained about Ben coming in and saving the day despite his injury (‘Omg’ Lauren cried noticing the bloody calf).
“Wow, this place is scary then!” she said at last when they finished their tales.
“To say the least,” Mel said.
“At least we’re all still alive,” Ben chimed in.
Lauren then explained how she was out with Edward and then didn’t remember much else.
“I must have fainted,” she wondered. “But I don’t know how I got in here.”
“Yeah it was like that for me too,” Ben recalled. “I just sort of woke up in this maze.”
“Ah guys!” Lauren started. “Is it me or is that monitor typing words?”
“Yep,” Ben replied bored of it by now. “That’s how they contact us.”
As his back had been facing it at the time he turned around and they all read the latest message.
“Screw you bitch!” Lauren spat.
You unlike those sitting next to you, were removed from the rest because it was just too easy to do so. Also I knew it would hurt Andy.
Lauren went to jump up but Mel stopped her.
“Don’t,” she said. “Don’t let them win. Just read.”
Here’s the deal guys. I’m a little more generous then you may think. Despite not killing any of you, I feel you are owed a treat. Therefore Lauren, you may see Jay. But only you! Please walk to the white door now.
“What?” Lauren cried. “I’m not leaving you guys here!”
“Lauren you have to,” Ben said calmly taking her hand. “If they’re letting you see him you have to go.”
“Please Lauren,” Mel pleaded tears shining her eyes. “Do it for us. Please?”
“Ok,” Lauren sighed. “I’ll go.”
Hugging each in turn Lauren walked over to the white door; pushed it open, walked through and closed it behind her.
As Jenny pulled herself through the tiny hole in the wall she felt victorious. No part of her felt any sense of fear. After all they had been out here for a very long time now and finally, finally, they had found something.
But as she rightened herself and prepared to take a look around she saw him instantly. Sitting in the corner, blind-folded and bloody was her son.