Abandoned Lives

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Chapter 14: Candi

For some reason, I made the decision to come back here. Why I thought it was good idea, I don’t know, but here I am, walking through the woods in the dark, nothing but a flashlight in my hand. Something is drawing me to the river that runs through the property. It’s almost like someone calling my name, but I don’t hear them. I can only feel it, deep in my soul.

I’m seriously creeped out, so I keep shining the light around, checking to make sure nothing is coming up on me in the dark. Not really sure what I’ll do if I actually see something but at least I’ll know it’s there before it gets me. At this point animals are almost as much of a fear as running across a malevolent ghost out here. At least Kieran will keep me alive until he figures out that I’m back on birth control. A bear will shred me to pieces before I can get away.

I know I’m getting close because I can hear the waterfall in the distance. I can only see the ground directly in front of me because the trees are so dense here they’re blocking out the moonlight and the stars, so there’s no way to judge the distance to where it is or even how far I’ve come.

A rustle in the trees to my right has me freezing and swinging my flashlight that way. After a few seconds of paralyzing fear, someone stumbles out in front of me. It’s Cam! I run over and grab him around the waist, hugging as tight as I can.

“Where have you BEEN? I’ve been worried sick about you!”

When there’s no answer, I look up, trying to see his face, “Cam?”

Still nothing. He’s not even hugging me back, just standing there. I shine the light up at his face and trip backwards, trying to get away from him. His face! I’ve never seen a look of hatred so intense on his face! Never! He’s not speaking, just staring at me, like he could kill me where I stand.

“Cam? Camden? Cam, what’s wrong? Why are you looking like that?” I look around us. “And why are you out here right now?”

Finally, he starts to talk, but he doesn’t even sound like himself. He sounds cold and hateful. “You are ruining everything, you little bitch.”

I gasp, hurt to my core, because he NEVER talks to me like that. “Wh..wh...what? What are you talking about?”

“Stop meddling in things that aren’t your business and go home.” There’s not really any inflection in his voice, just that cold, hard tone. What the hell is going on?

I shine the light all around him and finally notice the state he’s in. His clothes are tattered, almost like he was attacked by that bear I was imagining earlier. It looks like there’s blood all over his shirt and dripping from his hands onto the ground.

He starts slowly walking toward me. “This is what we do to people who can’t mind their own business, little girl. This is what your brother will look like soon if you don’t play nice and go home as you were told to do.”

What the fuck? “Cam, what the hell are you talking about?”

He reaches out and grabs me by my throat, lifting me into the air. I immediately grab onto his forearm, trying to relieve the pressure against my trachea, but it’s not working. I can’t breathe! I start kicking my feet, trying to get away from him, but it’s not working!

He pulls me in closer to his face and I vaguely notice that his eyes look red. “Go home or I will kill everyone you love. Go home and do your duty. You were brought here for a reason. Did you think this was all coincidence? Are you really that stupid?”

He holds me out again, dropping me to the ground. I land on my knees and stay there for a minute, clutching my throat and gasping. Each breath feels like broken glass in my throat.

He leans down, grabs me by the hair, and jerks my head up to look at him, “Go home. This is your only warning of what will happen if you don’t.” Then he steps back, pulls a knife out of his boot, and slices his own throat.

I start screaming, “CAM!! NO!! CAM!!” and run over to him, trying to stop the bleeding. Nothing works. It just keeps gushing out around my hands. His eyes glow a brighter red and, in an inhuman voice, he growls, “Go home!”

I come awake, still screaming for Cam. Chris is shaking me, trying to get me to wake up. I can’t hear what he’s saying but I see his mouth moving. He looks completely frantic.

Finally, all the sound comes rushing back in at once, with a roar almost like a train damn near deafening me again. He’s just saying, “Candace! Candi! What happened? Stop screaming and talk to me. Candace!”

That’s when I realize I’m still sitting there screaming and crying. I stop and slump over into his arms, sobbing uncontrollably.

He rubs my back, murmuring, “Shhh, it’s just a dream. Everything’s ok, baby. You were dreaming.”

I nod and lean up, wiping my face as I go. I stand up from the bed and walk into the bathroom, with the intention of cleaning up and trying to go back to bed. What I see when I turn on the light has me freezing and screaming for Chris.

When he runs into the room, I turn away from the mirror and point to my neck, rasping out, “It wasn’t just a dream.” I still feel like there’s glass in my throat.

He runs a finger over the purple bruises ringing my neck, that are darkening by the second. “What the fuck? What happened?”

I recant the entire “dream” to him and watch his shock go to panic. “No! You are NOT going back there!”

I shake my head, “I HAVE to! Don’t you get it? He’s going to kill my brother! If he hasn’t already. I mean, obviously I was choked so that part actually happened. Did the throat slitting happen too? Is that why we can’t get ahold of Cam? Because he’s dead in the woods around that fucking house?”

I’m still panicking from what I saw. I can’t get the images of Cam bleeding to death out of my head. Chris stops trying to calm me down and walks back into the bedroom, grabbing his phone from the bedside table. He dials and waits, hangs up and dials again. Finally, after ten more tries, he leaves a message.

“Camden, this is Chris. You need to answer your fucking phone and call your sister. She’s freaking out, thinking you’re dead. I don’t know what vat of pussy you’ve managed to fall into but it’s NOT as important as your family. Call us the fuck back!” He hangs up and throws the phone onto the bed, linking his hands together on top of his head, staring at the wall. He finally turns back to face me.

“I’ll go out there and check on him. You stay here.” I’m already shaking my head no, before he finishes his sentence.

“No, Chris! You can’t go without me.”

“You are NOT going! You’re the one this mother fucker wants!”

“I HAVE to go! Did you not hear what I JUST got done telling you? If I don’t go home he’s going to kill everyone I love. In case you’re too damn dense to realize it, that also includes YOU!”

“Better me than you.”

“Excuse me? No, it’s not fucking better! Do you idiots actually think I want to live without you? He’s my fucking brother. You’re the only friend that I have. The two of you are more important to me that ANYONE!”

“So, I’m back to being your friend, now?”

I rub my hand over my face, “Are you seriously gonna play the insecure boyfriend right now? Now. With all of this shit happening.”

He tips his head back and groans before looking back at me, “No. You’re right. This is about to veer off into a pointless argument. Look… I just want to keep you safe. I can’t do that if you’re running into danger instead of away from it.”

It still amazes me that he believes everything so easily. I mean… yeah he saw the change in me around Kieran, but that could easily be written off as me being slightly insane. The bodies? He could have just said we needed to call the police. He never even suggests that, though. No…. Instead, Chris is completely in my corner. I’ve never had that from someone who wasn’t blood related and I feel so stupid for overlooking him before now. I always thought of him as my friend but he’s way more than that.

He interrupts my inner rant with, “Wait…” he reaches over and pulls me to him. “Did you just say you love me?”

I roll my eyes, “Took you long enough.”

Both of his hands grip the side of my face and he kisses me. The sweetest kiss I’ve ever had. He pulls back long enough to murder “I love you too” before he goes back to kissing me like I’m water in the desert.

After a minute, he slowly pulls away from me and says, “Which is why I need you to stay here.” Before I can argue he holds up a hand to stop me. “I’m worried about Cam too. But you know you can’t risk it. I can go and see if he’s there and I’ll leave immediately. If he’s there I’ll bring him back with me. If he’s not I won’t stick around for anything else to happen. OK?”

Reluctantly, I nod. It’s not like he’s giving me any choice, anyway. I could insist on going myself, but he’ll just keep arguing with me. I need to check on my brother. That dream has me completely shaken right now.

He lets out a relieved breath and leans in to kiss me again, pulling back to say, “Thank you. I’ll call as soon as I know something. Just stay here and try not to worry so much.”

Chris grabs his keys and heads out the door, leaving me to go slowly insane, wondering if I’ll ever see him again. I know it seems a little extreme to be this freaked out, but I can’t help it. I didn’t think I’d be having the dreams once I left the property, but obviously, I was wrong.

I spend the next hour alternately pacing the motel room and sitting on the chair, rocking back and forth, trying to keep myself from rushing out the door to go find out what’s going on. Finally, my phone rings.

As soon as I say “Hello”, Chris is telling me, “He’s not there. There’s a couple of other places I can check, so I’m going to do that now. Just wanted to let you know so you didn’t worry.”

My whole body relaxes in relief, “Ok. So, you’ve already left?”

“No,” I hear the truck start up, “I’m leaving now. You want me to stay on the phone a little longer?”

“Yes, please. At least until you get off the property.”

“Baby, everything’s gonna be ok. I’m fine. I’ll find Cam and bring him to the motel and everything will be fine.”

That’s when I hear the voice I hoped to never encounter again saying, “You’re not fine and none of you will be again.”

Chris yells out, “What the FUCK?!?” I hear tires squeal, like he’s slamming on the breaks and then, “What the fuck are you doing in my truck?”

Kieran’s voice starts sounding like it’s amplified all around me as he says, “You’ll come home, Candace, and you’ll do as you’re told. Unless you want to find out how the insides of you brother and lover look up close and personal.”

I start screaming at Chris, “JUST DRIVE! KEEP DRIVING, CHRIS!! HE CAN’T LEAVE! YOU JUST HAVE TO DRIVE!”

Kieran starts laughing, “Oh you sweet little girl. He can’t drive, my dear. He’s no longer conscious.”

I whisper, “What do you want?”

His voice gets hard again, no trace of that sadistic amusement, “You know what I want. You will come home and you will do your duty.”

“Fine. Please just don’t hurt them.”

“As long as you get back here now, I won’t do anything to your precious boys. In fact, as soon as I’m assured of my progeny, I’ll let you all go peacefully. How does that sound? Hmmm? Just one little favor for me and you all get to live in happily ever after.”

I’m silently crying now, trying to figure a way out of this. But, unless I let the two most important people in my life die, there’s nothing else I can do. “I’m on my way.”

“Mmmmm… Good girl. I’ll see you soon.” The phone disconnects and I swing into action. First thing, I call a cab because my car was left at the house. I open the door, intending to wait out front, only to find the lady that runs the motel office standing there with her hand raised to knock.

“Umm, I’m in a hurry. Is there something wrong?”

She shakes her head, “No, actually. I was checking to see if you all needed anything. I couldn’t get through on the room phone and needed to know if you want me to clean your room today.”

“Oh!” I glance back inside to see that in my panic I must have knocked the phone off the hook. I walk back over and fix it. “Sorry about that. Yes, that would be fine. I’m just waiting for a cab and then I’m heading out. We’ll both be back later, though.”

She nods, looking thoughtful. Fortunately, she doesn’t question me further. More restraint than I would have shown had I seen a woman rushing out of a room with her mascara running down her face and in an obvious panic. But, whatever.

The cab pulls up to the motel and I run over to it, jumping in and explaining where I need to go. I glance back towards the room and see the look of fear cross her face as she over hears me. Huh. Thought she didn’t believe in all that stuff. Oh well. She can get the fuck over it. I’m not letting my family die for me. I really could care less about the rest of the population. Besides, I’m on birth control and, even if it doesn’t work, there’s always abortion. I know that sounds harsh and, under normal circumstances, I’d never do something like that. I believe children are precious and should be given a chance to grow up and be people. However, letting that evil son of a bitch back in the world is not an option. Hell… if I have to, I can just kill myself. As long as Cam and Chris are safe, I don’t matter.

As we pull up in front of the house, I see Kieran walk out the front door, closing it behind him. I’ve managed to reach a level of calm I didn’t think was possible, though, so even seeing his evil ass doesn’t send me into a panic. He stands there looking smug while I pay the driver, who turns around and leaves me there.

Kieran motions me inside, “Come along, Candace. There are things to be done.”

Once I get inside, he motions me up the stairs and into my bedroom. I was so hoping that I could stall him, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. When I pause in the bedroom door, he grips the back of my neck and pushes me forward, walking me over to the bed.

“Lie down, on your back.”

I comply and he grabs my right arm, raising it up and attaching it to the ropes I hadn’t noticed hanging from the bed frame. That panic is starting to seep back in now, “What are doing?”

He chuckles, “What does it look like? I’m taking no chances of you running again.”

Done with that side, he goes around and ties the other. My panic starts getting out of control when he starts tying my feet, as well. By the time he’s done, I’m lying spread eagle on the bed. He comes and sits down beside me on the bed, running his hand over my stomach. I’m damn near hyperventilating at this point.

He reaches up and runs his hands over my hair, whispering, “Shhh… I’m not going to hurt you.”

I gasp out, “Then why?”

“This is just a precaution. You’ve made me expend too much energy to get you back here. Now I need to recharge before I can do what needs to be done. Don’t worry. It won’t take long and I’ll be right back here with you.”

Yeah… that doesn’t exactly calm me down. Wait… “Where are Chris and my brother? You said they’d be safe if I came back.”

“And they are. I won’t be letting them go, though, until I get what I need from you. Just a little precaution.”

I look pointedly at my tied-up arms, “This isn’t enough ‘precaution’ for you?”

He shakes his head, “Frankly, no. You’ve been more trouble than the others. So, I need to make sure you stay. This,” he reaches up and almost caresses the rope tied to the hand closest to him, “is more to make sure you don’t do anything stupid like go and look for them while I’m resting. Don’t worry so much.” He leans down, kissing me on the cheek, “Everything will be better soon.”

With that he reaches over and grabs what looks like a black insulin case from the nightstand. Once he opens it and starts pulling something from a vial into a syringe, my panic ramps up again and I start to struggle against my bindings.

He lays a hand on my bindings and says, “Don’t worry. This won’t hurt you. It’s just to keep you calm. You need to get some rest and this is the best way to keep you from hurting yourself.”

Before I can refute that, he’s plunging the syringe into my neck. I can almost feel the path of the medicine, as the lethargy slowly overtakes my entire body. I try to fight it but my eyes start closing on their own. Right before I slip under the medicine’s hold, he leans forward and kisses my lips, whispering, “Goodnight, my love. Sleep well.”

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