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The Memory House

By Marie Writer All Rights Reserved ©

Mystery / Thriller

The Awakening

She woke up, sweat beaded on her forehead, her emerald eyes fluttered open but she quickly shut them again against the harsh light streaming in from the window. Pulling her legs from under the covers she let them hang on the side of the bed. “Jesus,” she muttered, running her hand down, then up the front of her freckled face. Her eyes danced behind her closed lids as she attempted to adjust to the bright orange light through her eyelids. She ran her hand through her hair to the back of her head, until she released her red locks to fall around her shoulders.

Sniffling, she wiped at her dainty, upturned nose and finally she re-opened her eyes, blinking against the bright light. She adjusted quickly to the light when her shock and adrenaline peaked. “The hell?” She whispered harshly and looked around the room with exaggerated astonishment.

There were nine people, sleeping on the hardwood floor, in a mess of tangled limbs, and she didn’t recognize a single person. When an arm wrapped around her waist to pull her back to lay on the bed, she pivoted her body out of grasp to avoid being pulled down. She looked down at the body attached to the arm. He was a muscular man; his strong, handsome roman-like features made his unkempt, brown beard look misplaced on an otherwise handsome face.

Thoughts of a one night stand crossed her mind, “Oh, please no…” She looked down at herself, she was still fully dressed in her clothes; a gray pencil skirt, blue cami, a fastened oversized black button up, and her buckled Mary Janes on her feet. “Thank God,” she nearly laughed and looked back at him, to make sure he was also fully clothed; jeans, stained white t-shirt, and dirty work boots – all on and fully fastened.

She glanced around the room, one she didn’t recognize.  The room was extremely bare; hardwood floor, a large window parallel to the single twin bed that she was sitting on with no curtains or blinds, a single dresser to the far left side of the room which was directly across from the door out. The only color in the room was the red, wool blanket on the bed that she and ‘Ruggedly Handsome’ were resting on.

Annoyed for having allowed herself to get in this predicament she rolled her eyes and started to look for her phone. When she came up empty handed, she jutted out her lower jaw in annoyance.

Shaking her head, she pushed off the edge of the bed, wincing when it creaked from the weight displacement. She took a quick glance around the room, ‘Ruggedly Handsome’ and the rest of the sleeping crew were still fast asleep. Relieved, she covered the right side of her face with her hand and released a long sigh of relief.

She tiptoed around the sprawled arms and legs of the sleepers, as she made, her way to the door out of the bedroom. Once clear of all the bodies, she placed a gentle hand on the door knob and twisted it as slowly as she could, her face scrunched in concentration as she managed to open the door soundlessly. Just as she was about to step out into the hallway a figure appeared in front of her, she jumped and raised her hands instinctively. “Ssh-sshh- shhh- shhhh…” the figured requested, also holding his hands up in defense.

Who are you? Where are we?” She demanded in a hushed voice. The young man made an apologetic face as he held up a single finger in a, ‘one second’ gesture. Curious, she did as she was told and as she remained perfectly still outside the door as he leaned towards her and grabbed the door handle, closing the door just as quietly as she’d opened it.

Once the door was closed he stood up straight in front of her and took a moment to release the breath he’d been holding as he’d closed the door. “I don’t know.” He confessed as he looked her up and down. “Do you?”

She mirrored him, sizing him up. He was younger man; tall and lanky with shaggy blond hair, boyish bushy eyebrows, long nose, patchy, blond facial hair, uneven complexion—he was a dork.  To complete his innocent appearance, he wore ‘unemployed’ attire; wearing a blue hoodie, worn-out jeans, and white and blue hightop sneakers.

“Uhm, hello?” The boy tried to catch her attention, his ice blue eyes burrowing into her green ones.

Realizing she hadn’t replied she shook her head in confusion at such a strange question but it quickly turned into panicked realization. “N-no…” she shook her head and met his gaze, raising her head to compensate the height difference. “Why? Why don’t I know my name?”

Shaking his head in disappointment, the man broke eye contact as he replied, his bright blue eyes fixating on a spot on the floor. “I don’t know. I don’t even know how I got here… or, uh, where I’m from… what my mom’s name is…” he started to chew on his right thumb, bringing his fist up to his face. 

She let out a sigh of defeat as she considered the same questions, finding she didn’t have the answers either. Her eyes darted around the hallway then, looking at everything she could; trying to jog her memory.

There were three rooms to the right side, she’d come out of one of them, and three rooms to the left, perfectly symmetrical of one another– all of them were closed. To her left, at the end of the hall, was a small window that lit up the hall with the bright light of day, at the other end of the hall was what looked to be a balcony with a staircase to the left.

“So, uh, listen,” He leaned in closer and she immediately stepped back, “Yeah, hey, sorry…” he leaned back and held his hands out before resuming. “-but listen, everythin’s locked up-“ She continued to look around the hall, her lips drawn in with concentration. 

Similar to the bedroom, there was limited décor.  Out in the hall, it remained barren of any tables, pictures, decorative light fixtures or anything that made a house a home. The flooring was the same as in the bedroom, hardwood.   

“Hey… Hey! ... Hey!” The young man tried to get her attention by finally waving a hand in front of her face. As if snapping out of a trance, she turned to face him with an oblivious look. “Did you hear anythin’ I said?”

Before she could respond, the bedroom door opened and they both stepped away in reaction, watching as ‘Rugged’ opened the door. “What tha hell is goin’ on?!” He shouted with heavily accented, city slang.

They both shushed him.

‘Ruggeds’ face contorted with anger and he launched into a rant. “Dun’t you-“

The red haired woman watched, as ‘Rugged’ went on a rant, as another person started to stir from the opened bedroom.

“Will you shut up?” she interrupted him midsentence and pulled him out of the room, by his arm, and closed the door behind him. He spun around to face her - her back now to the bedroom door, the younger of the two was facing the window and ‘Rugged’ was facing her – as he rubbed his arm where she’d grabbed him.

“Keep yo hands off meh, bitch!” He exclaimed and gestured at her aggressively. His chocolate brown eyes wide with adrenaline and anger but she put on a brave face and just shook her head.

“Are you serious, ‘dude’?  You’re going to get gangster on me?” She shifted her weight to one leg and dared him to challenge her further.

“Uh, hey,” the kid jumped in, swallowing awkwardly. “D-do you know who you are?” he asked, indirectly trying to keep things from getting out of hand between the other two.

His eye twitched as he thought about it and his face dropped into that of frustration, “Yeah, who tha hell are you?!”

“Really, what’s your name?” ‘Red’ challenged, tucking her red hair behind her ear as she tilted her head to the side.

There was a pause as ‘Rugged’ thought about it but his aggression did not subside for long. “Did you assholes make meh ferget? How can I not remember my own goddamn name?”

She indicated to herself and the young man, who was still chewing his nail, “-We don’t remember either.” ‘Rugged’ started to glare at the younger man who dropped his hand when he caught the angry gaze.

“What?” He looked at ‘Rugged’ then to the red head in confusion.

‘Rugged’ narrowed his brown eyes and tilted his head in curiosity, “Which one of you was up ferst?” He looked to the red head, who pursed her lips and squinted one eye in confusion. ‘The Kid’ shared a look with her and she shrugged.

“Uhmmm, I was…?” ‘Kid’ replied, but before he could ask the inevitable ‘why’ follow up, ‘Rugged’ jumped at him.

“Whoa-hey!” She stepped in between the two, ‘Kid’ took a few careful steps back, “Now, wait a second.”

“I dun’t like his face,” he spat bitterly, ‘Rugged’ was shifting his weight and jabbing his finger at the kid aggressively.

“What-what is that supposed to mean?” She nearly laughed but the anger in his dark eyes and the way he pushed against her hands on his chest, his aggression, kept her from finding too much to laugh about.

“I dun’t trust him.” He pushed harder to get past her but she shoved back, actually succeeding in pushing him back a few steps.

He paced back and forth in front of the window, like a vexed animal, pointing a finger at the kid intimidatingly. She stole a glance over her shoulder to look at the harmless young man, his blue eyes wide with fear. “You were out here, instead of in there…” she mumbled to him.

What!?” ‘Rugged’ spat and ‘Red’ closed her eyes with a look of regret. “You weren’t with everyone else?” He pushed past the red head before she could react. Just as she reached out to pull him back, ‘Rugged’ grabbed the kid by the front of his hoodie and slammed him against the wall of the bedroom where everyone else was. “Where were you then, huh? What do you know? Did you do this to meh- hm?!” His face was inches from the terrified one in front of him.

“Stop!” ‘Red’ came up behind ‘Rugged’ to grab his arm, hoping to release the wide-eyed young man from the aggressive hold, but was blindsided by a backhanded slap to the face which sent her back towards the window. She touched her fingers to her bottom lip and when she pulled back, revealed blood.

The bedroom door opened with no more than a small squeak but it was enough to grab ‘Red’s attention, her head snapped to the right and she dropped her hand away from her face.

An older man with a magnificent mustache stood in the doorway with a surprised look on his face.

He looked to her first then to his right where the men were still grasping at one another, nearly nose to nose. “What the hell’s goin’ on here!?” He drawled in a heavy, Boston accent. The older man’s voice brought the other two men apart from one another, both looking the new comer up and down.

In a delayed response to the question he’d posed, all three began to talk at once; pointing fingers between themselves and back at the room, ‘Kid’ pointed towards the stairs.

The mustached man, despite all the confusion, managed to remain calm and simply interrupted by putting up a single hand. “Stop, and put him down-“ he stated each word pointedly as he gestured to the kid. ‘Rugged’, surprisingly, granted the eldest man’s request. “You,” ‘the mustached guy’ pointed at the red head, “-explain.”

She tucked her hair behind her ear and sighed, “I don’t really have anything to ‘explain’. I woke up-” she motioned to the mustached man, “-just like you, and ran into him and then later he joined us…” she pointed according before nodding her head in the mustached man’s direction. “Now you.”

She briefly took in his appearance, navy blue button up, jeans, and loafers – first decently dressed person she’d met so far. He was older, mid 60’s, but avoided most winkles men his age had. His complexion was rough with heavy pockmarks, bushy eyebrows, average lips, and a hooked nose.

He touched his perfectly even, gray moustache and his eyes darted between all of them, studying their faces individually. “Those people in there?” He motioned behind him where six more people still lay unconscious.

The red head shook her head and looked behind him where a pretty blond girl was beginning to stir.

“None of us know who they are.” ‘Rugged’ replied, gaining everyone’s attention, including the kids who was chewing on his thumb again.

‘Mustache’ closed his eyes and released a deep breath through his nose, “Okay, does anyone have a phone?” The woman shook her head immediately, as did the kid but ‘Rugged’ had to search, fishing through his trashed jeans for a phone – only managing to pull a moist piece of paper out of his left front pocket.

“What is that?” She asked and he shook his head while trying to open it without tearing, flinching when a small tear did occur.

He laughed bitterly after opening it, “Iss’ a phone numb’r… with a kiss on it.” He revealed it like ‘show and tell’ with an ‘aw’ look on his face.

‘Kid’ laughed and shook his head while ‘Mustache’ scratched his head irritantly, his once combed salt-and pepper hair becoming mused with each pass.

“Well, when you find a phone- you should call it.” The kid suggested and nodded upwards with bravado at ‘Rugged’, who grunted in response before crumpling it in his large fist and throwing it forcibly on the floor.  It bounced a single time before rolling to a stop at the edge of the wall.

The four stood in silence for a moment before ‘Mustache’ spoke up, “What’s your name?” he nodded towards the red head who simply shook her head and shrugged. “What, ‘just tryin’a be friendly…”

She sighed dejectedly, “No, I’m not trying to be rude… I don’t know it. None of us do.” She gestured between herself, ‘Rugged’, and ‘Kid’. “What’s your name?”

While he pondered the seemingly simple question, the pretty blond sat up and looked around in shock, ‘Red’ nodded her head in the blonds direction to catch ‘Mustache’s’ attention. Forgetting the questioned posed to him, he turned to greet the blond. “Oh, hey…” he started in a kind voice but she panicked, blubbering about; ‘Not knowing where she was’.

“Whoa whoa whoa,” ‘Red’ tried to smooth it over with a ‘woman’s touch’, “Heeey, it’s okay… sshh.” Her voice was soft, like comforting a frightened child. The frantic woman was physically perfect in every way, all her features were symmetrical and beautiful. She looked photo-shopped; flawlessly shaped eyebrows with envied round eyes, her nose was dainty as were her naturally pink, angelic lips. Not a single blemish, not even a freckle.

“No! Dun’t touch me!” She shouted and shied away from ‘Red’ when she tried to comfort her, her silver cross necklace shifting against her chest with every movement. The woman was terrified, her sapphire eyes wide with fear and her lips parted as she began to hyperventilate. The poor woman didn’t look older than 23 in her feminine, floral, halter dress and pink flip-flops.

To the left of them, an elderly man – at least 70 in age, began to stir.

“Honey, listen to me…” ‘Red’ knelt down beside the blond as she pulled her legs up under her. “I know you’re scared but we are all scared, because-” she motioned behind her and then placed her hand over her heart, “-none of us know where we are.” She offered a gentle smile but when the woman began to cry, her shoulders shaking with each sob, the red head stood and made a face of disgust – as though she didn’t know how to handle a crying woman.

She shrugged and shook her head at the man with the perfect mustache who mirrored her gesture in response then motioned his head towards the old man who was, now, sitting up. The dapperly dressed, elder man’s movement startled the blond and she scooted, on her butt, further away, sitting up against the dresser so she was away from everyone.

The old man rubbed his temple then adjusted his frameless glasses on his nose, “What in God’s name?” he questioned and looked around at the variety of people lying and standing around the room and in the hall outside the door, where ‘Rugged’ and ‘Kid’ stood side by side.

As he looked down at himself he ran his thumbs under the red suspenders and touched his hand to a bowtie that was still knotted together. The old man was withered but still remained handsome in his age. He has comically big, bushy eyebrows to go with his large, droopy nose, and dopey sized ears. His choice of bowtie with the suspenders completed his harmless look.

A dark haired Asian man with a greatly receded hairline and a bald spot forming in the back of his head, sat up suddenly – as if from a nightmare. “Wha- who.. what?!” He looked around with a crazy look in his eye.

Before anyone could respond or go to the middle aged man, the black man beside him started to stir; groaning and rolling over on his side restlessly. As he woke, he ran a large hand over his bald head and down his face. Despite the lack of hair on his head, he was extremely hairy; dark colored hair covered his arms and tops of his hands, thick chest hair peaked from under his shirt collar, and he was fighting a losing battle to keep his face clean shaven.

Slowly, the last four sleeping people woke up, including; a blond man who looked like he hadn’t showered in a few days, a dainty Latina woman with a short bob cut and nose stud, a tall black woman with braided hair that rested at the middle of her back, and a brunette man with wavy brown hair that was styled into a 50’s cut.  

The room quickly grew louder with the sound of confused accusations, questions, and an overall competition to talk over the others.

Suddenly, as the noise reached its peak, ‘Rugged’ pushed past ‘Kid’ to get into the room and stood up on the bed and demanded everyone was silent. “Shut tha hell up!” He added when people still continued to shout, slowly it died off into concerned murmurs.

As the room became quiet outside the sound of the pretty blonds whimpers, ‘Rugged’ smiled with approval which fell quickly with annoyance.

“’Eyy, stop bitchin’” he pointed to the pretty blond in the white and pink floral dress, who was still sitting on the floor crying. The Latina woman scowled up at ‘Rugged’ and pushed her hair behind her ears before walking up to the blond and offering solace within her arms. Hesitant at first, the blond actually accepted the embrace to which ‘Red’ pursed her lips in disbelief at the blonds fickleness to comfort.

A blond man with heavy set brows on hooded, half open eyes, spoke up next. “Who do you think you are, tellin’ us what to do?!” he pointed at ‘Rugged’ angrily, his downturned lips increasing the frown lines in his face. The blond, ‘No Shower man’, had strong features with a defined jaw and Grecian nose.

“Yeah, Guy, you ‘shut up’.” The old man with a polka-dotted bow and bright red suspenders to hold up his black slacks, joined in – pointing an accusatory finger at ‘Rugged’. 

As the noise level increased with people pointing and yelling, the woman with the 100’s of tightly knotted braids simply bowed her head and looked at everyone individually, as discreetly as possible. Her posture was hunched as she stepped backwards through the group, trying to get to the back of the room, her dark eyes downcast and her plump lips pursed in her concentration.

“I see ‘lot of fingers pointed mah way, they betta drop or I’ll be droppin’ bodies!” ‘Rugged’ shouted and the intensity of his threat scared ‘Blondie’ into crying harder.

The man with the 50’s hair, somehow managed without gel, began to scratch at his left arm with a wince on his face; his big brown eyes squinted in confusion at the pain and his button nose scrunched in irritation. Slowly, he took his scratching hand and gripped the edge of his shirt sleeve to pull it up, his thin lips downturned in concentration. His soft, boyish features still held a manly structure, offset by his scruffy 5 o’clock shadow.

With everyone finding their own way, asking their own questions, or crying; ‘Red’ looked between all of the people and shared a concerned look with ‘Mustache’- it was too much chaos. ‘Mustache’ brought his finger to his own lip, indicating a silent question to what happened to ‘Reds’ busted, lower lip. She shook her head and gestured at ‘Rugged’ as he continued his angry rant, they shook their heads in disapproval together as they listened.

“I’m tellin’ you what ta do cus yer’re all too stupi’ to actually figure it out for yerselves!” ‘Rugged’ finished his string of insults. ‘Red’ laughed at the irony of his statement, considering his bull-headedness was too strong for him to listen to her and ‘Kid’ only minutes ago, though her laughter went unnoticed by anyone but ‘Mustache’.

‘Fifties’ paused at the first sight of ink on his arm, confused and disconcerted. He took a deep breath and finished rolling up his olive green shirt sleeve carefully. Once fully revealed, his sleeve rolled to mid-arm, he stared at his arm in shock- the rest of the heated argument fading as he fingered the fresh ink on his skin.

A male voice: “Well then tell us, Asshole, what’s going on!”

Man 2 in a deep voice: “Yeah, where are we?”

The ink was still raised on his skin, pink irritation framing the lettering that spelled out the name; ‘Harper’.

A woman: “None of us know our names, we woke up without any real memory of who we are let alone where we are…” Increased sobbing, from another woman, followed the statement.

‘Fifties’ finally looked back up, his hand still gently covering his new ink, and the voices all came back at full volume.

“Why did you wake up first??” The un-showered blond, in a black tee, jeans, and white sneakers, pointed at the red head, accusing her of being the cause.

‘Fifties’ looked to the man standing on the bed and tried to get a glimpse at the insides of his arms, when he saw what he was looking for he looked to another person wearing a sleeveless shirt- the blond in the corner.

‘Red’ scoffed and spread her arms out before letting them drop and slap the sides of her thighs, in disbelief. “Are you kidding me?” She exclaimed, looking around at everyone to gauge their reactions.

He couldn’t get a good look at the blonds arms so ‘Fifties’ looked around again, catching a glimpse at the black woman at the back of the group, dressed in dark jeans and a leather tank top which revealed fresh tattoo on the inside of her left arm with the name, ‘Aidan’.

 “I’m just telling you that you’re not alone in your confusion.” ‘Red’ continued, “-and now I’m the bad guy?”

She didn’t bother to correct the blond on his misconception of her being the first when it was really the kid. ‘Red’ motioned to herself and laughed bitterly when the male blond just looked at her blankly, ‘Mustache’ shook his head at ‘No Shower’ in disapproval –siding with ‘Red’.

“Everyone check your left arm.” ‘Fifties’ finally found the break in conflict to interject his discovery.

‘What’s’ of all different tones and volume followed but ‘Red’ and ‘Mustache’ obliged wordlessly, finding similar, fresh, tattoos of names spelled out on the inner part of their forearm. “My name is ‘Harper’.” The scruffy, ‘fifties’ man continued.

“’Rowan’…?” ‘Red’ questioned, finding the name hard to believe.

“’Matthew’,” ‘Mustache’ announced, sharing a look with ‘Rowan’ before searching the faces of everyone else in the crowd as they finally listened and looked to their arms, everyone rolled up their sleeves except ‘Rugged’ and ‘the pretty blond’, having no sleeves, just turned their arms out to see their ink – having been too distraught to notice any earlier.

‘Bow Tie’ claimed his name next, “’Lu’, spelled ‘L-U’…?” He looked around at everyone, shrugging and stuffing his hands in his pockets. “That’s weird, right- Maybe, just, call me ‘Louis’?”

The bald, older black man, went next. “If you think Lu is bad… my name is ‘Calley’.” He looked at Louis when he spoke. Rolling up the sleeves to his black, long sleeved shirt, revealing his hairy arms and his ‘name ink’ on the inside of his left arm but also a faded Army tattoo, on the inside of his right arm.

The un-showered blond man went next, laughing as he wiped at his sweaty forehead, “Carey,”

Finally coming back into the room to join in the name exchange was the kid, “James.” He dropped the string from his hoodie from his mouth before he spoke.

The Latina woman; a dainty woman who held herself with pride, with perfect almond eyes, naturally curved eyebrows, feminine, oval lips that curved down in a silent sadness, brought her legs up closer to her. Tucking her blue boat shoes under herself while pulling on her khaki capris to allow more maneuverability, she took a deep breath and, with a strong accent, the woman spoke next. “Carmen.” her right arm still wrapped around the shoulders of the sniffling blond girl, who went next.

“Daisy…” She whispered and sniffled, fingering the silver cross around her neck gently.

The group all looked to the Asian man who was expected to go next but he remained silent, simply staring at his arm. “Hey!” Calley, the army man, barked at him, waiting until the man looked up at him before he continued. “What’s your name, man?”

He still remained silent, staring at Calley with wide, terrified eyes.

“Oi!” Carey, the un-showered blond, shouted- the man in question turned to look but said nothing. Impatient, ‘Rugged’ jumped off of the bed, leaving light colored dirt from his boots in the center of the sheet, and stalked over to the balding man.

Before there was a reaction on anyone’s part, ‘Rugged’ wrenched the other man’s arm out to reveal the tattoo, ‘Carl’.

Carl, yelped in surprise as consciousness rushed back to him- his eyes lit with alertness. He pulled his arm out the brash man’s hands and stepped away further from everyone, his eyes darting around erratically between everyone. “His name’s Carl and mine is Oliver- not that it matters! I mean, what is this? A support group!?”

Harper, ‘Fifties’, shook his head in irritation, “You’d know all about those wouldn’t you?” He accused, assuming from appearance that Oliver was an addict of some sort.  Harper was already rolling up the sleeves to his olive green shirt, as though he was anticipating Oliver’s next move- a fight imminent.

“What tha hell is that s’pose’  ‘mean?” Oliver stalked up to meet Harper in the middle, they nearly touched foreheads as they stared each other down, a full on Alpha Male Display.

The woman in the back with the tattooed name, ‘Aidan’ smiled briefly. Having been forgotten during their argument, she hadn’t had to speak up and announce her name.  Still, she fingered the inside of her arm absent mindedly.

Hey, stop!” Rowan came in between them and pushed them both away from one another. Kid was staring between the three of them, his eyes darting back and forth as each person spoke, then to the responding person.

“I can’t truss’ anyone,” Oliver shouted and grabbed Rowans wrist to throw her hand away from his vicinity. Harper narrowed his eyes and watched, without turning his head, as Oliver stomped out of the room, his filthy boots leaving a trail of dried mud in his wake.

“He’s the one who can’t be trusted,” Harper said as soon as the other man was out of ear shot barely catching the red heads, Rowan’s, dirty look.  When he did he did a double take to look at her, “What?”

Rowan looked at him in disbelief, shaking her head. “What the hell was that?  You can’t be startin’ shit with people like that!” She gestured angrily at the door where Oliver had stalked out of the room.

Harper narrowed his eyes at her but remained silent.

She mirrored him as they dared the other to challenge them. After a moment, she addressed everyone with the following statement; “We’re not here to make enemies.”

“We should juss’ leave.” The bald man, Calley, called out from behind the wall of people in front of her.

“We, uh, can’t,” James, the kid, pointed out. “We’re locked in, every door ‘cept this one is locked.”

Carmen stood and left Daisy sitting by the dresser, “How do you know?”

Rowan sighed and rubbed her face with exhaustion, “’cus he already checked.”

“And when, exactly, was that?” Harper asked, crossing his arms and leaning back, assessing James.

“Before you woke up.” Rowan sassed back, mimicking Harpers position and tone of voice, inadvertently defending the kid with her bitterness towards the brunette.

“What happened to ‘not here to make enemies’?” Matthew, ‘Mustache’, stepped up and put a gentle hand on Rowan’s shoulder and the woman dropped her arms but her cold gaze never left Harpers.

“Wait, so, we’re locked in?!” Carl, the crazy eyed man, exclaimed, pushing to the front of the crowd where Rowan, Matthew, and Harper all stood as the, unspoken, appointed spokespeople.

Rowan sized the man up and down warily, unaware that Harper had done the exact same thing at the same time. “Yes,” she finally replied. “That’s what we’re saying.”

“Oh hell no.” He ran by them and out the door, following after Oliver, the dirty city slick.

Following his departure, the rest of the group glanced around the room at one another, nervous eyes darting between faces with suspicion – a sudden bang emanated from outside the room, startling everyone including Daisy who squealed. Another four similar sounds followed soon after, one right after the other.

Matthew turned to look at Rowan and the two shared a look before brushing past James, the kid, on either side of him. The others followed soon after looking between one another, Carmen managing to get Daisy back on her feet to also follow everyone down the hall.

The two of them, Matthew and Rowan, stood at the top of the stairs, preventing anyone else from going down but they all spread out along the balcony banister, hands gripping the cherry colored wood from one end to another, to peer down into the foyer where Oliver was beating on the front door with a wooden chair, Carl was standing behind him watching eagerly. “What do you think you’re doin’?” The mustached man bellowed and descended the flared-style stairs quickly to join the younger man, beating the door with a chair, in the foyer.

An oversized chandelier hung from the vaulted ceiling, lights set to dim since the bright afternoon sun lit through the floor to ceiling windows on either side of the double doors. The lobby was magnificent with colonial styled architecture; the front doors were arched as were two, identical, parallel archways into rooms to the right and left of the front of the house. Under the staircase balcony was a small passageway leading to the back of the house.

Harper came up to stand to the left of Rowan, where Matthew had left a gap, and watched as the two men argued while Oliver continued to smash the right, front door and chair into splinters.

Rowan looked up and to her left to look at Harper. Her conflicted attraction to him was reflected in her expression but when his gaze diverted down to her, she covered it by shrugging and looking back to the men downstairs.

Finally, Oliver managed to break a hole through the right side of the wooden double doors. Once the hole was formed it became easier for him to bust through, pushing and pulling parts of the shredded door apart to form a jagged gap in the center. Oliver barely poked his head through before Carl, the crazy, pushed past him to get out.  A loud devastated groan could be heard from outside, followed by a string of curses from Oliver after he also disappeared behind the door.

It was then that Rowan decided to follow after Matthew and look through the hole where Oliver and Carl had squeezed through to get outside. From where she could see to the outside, Oliver was pounding on iron bars that caged him in on the stone brick porch while Carl tried to push himself between them.

Rowan pulled her head from outside the gap and turned to face an anxious looking group, all of whom were staring at her expectantly.

“We’re locked in.” She announced, her lips drawn thin with tension, wincing when her lip split back open and she tasted blood in her mouth.

Harper laughed bitterly, running his hand through his lightly moussed hair and began pacing as he stuffed his hands in his jean pockets. The others stood in shock- Daisy’s whimpers turning into sobs of despair.

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Sarah_M_G: This story was truly gripping from start to finish. The way the author used Scottish dialect throughout the novel really helped to put you in he in the place where it was all happening. Every character was well described and thought out. How they all fitted together really worked and loved how t...

europeanlove: I gotta hand it to you. I love reading. I read books everyday. When the book is good I can read it in probably 13 hours. Your story was amazing. Great prose, very imaginative. Incredible dialogue. I am deeply impressed. Keep it up.

Jacquie Walker: This is one of the best books I have had the pleasure to read. Claudio has created a very "real" world brought alive as his words paint a rich tapestry of the lives of his characters and the world they live in as they journey toward their destiny.I recommend this to all who love this genre.... it...

Girl on Fire: Great story, line Alex!!!It really has a edge on it. It put me on edge with its thrill. Can't wait to read the rest.!!!

pikagirl311: Katie Masters has definite skill when it comes to plot work and characters. The story is well-paced and pulls you along with the tide, keeping you hooked until the very end. The only reason I did not give it five stars across the board is due to a few minor quibbles with misspellings and such lik...

Alex Reltin: This is a great story! I love how well you go into detail and emotions of Capri, and Mel. You have amazing dialogue and overall it's just a thrill to read!The only critique I could find is that some of the paragraphs should be separated. For example:-"If Nia would have just let me take the car an...

Kastril Nomenclature: What a fascinating work: a photo that seems to reveal a strange figure in the window of an old hotel leads to a mystery about a missing page of Queen Victoria's diary! This is a mystery in the best sense, with small clues leading to bigger ones, all of them building one upon the other to the quie...

M.L. Bull: Hello, Aalia!Your story compelled the emotional pain and struggle of a teenage girl very well.. The imagery was also convincing and well-written, showing the different personalities of your characters and their actions. However, I do think that many of your sentences are too lengthy and could use...

missmary: This story sucked me in from the start and kept me reading when I should have been in bed. My only disappointment is how it ended. While I have nothing against Sherlock/John pairings- and this was well done- I kind've hoped it would come out a little different just for a change. Still, this was w...

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