May 1, 10:40 am
“Stacey! Jannifer! What are you two doing up there?” Terry McHill shouted up to his daughters.
“We’re coming Dad,” they shouted back in unison. Today was Stacey’s and Jannifer’s thirteenth birthday. They were identical in every way: from looks to movements. The twins brushed their hair with the exact number of strokes. They stared at their reflections in the mirror, smiled, then they finger-waved at themselves. In perfect unison, the twins turned toward one another and said, “Happy birthday, sister.” Then they ran from their bathroom towards the staircase.
“We’re coming, Daddy.”
Terry and Linda watched as their daughters raced down the stairs for the last time.
“Happy birthday!” Terry and Linda shouted at their daughters as they both hopped off the last step. “Who wants their present first?” Terry said to his smiling daughters.
The twins began to jump up and down. “Me! Me,” they said together.
Stacey turned toward her sister. “I got you by forty-five seconds,” she said. Then she playfully shoulder-bumped her sister for good measure. Everyone laughed. Linda, who was standing next to her husband, reached into her back pocket and removed a small box.
“Happy birthday, sweetie,” she said to her eldest child. Stacey removed a beautiful gold tennis bracelet from the box.
“It’s beautiful,” Stacey cooed.
“Read the inscription, baby.”
Stacey twisted the bracelet around and read the inscription aloud, “To our beautiful twin daughter, Stacey.”
“Me next, me next!” Jannifer shouted as she danced in place. Linda gave her youngest daughter the same kind of bracelet.
“We love you, Mommy and Daddy.”
“Now, we need for you two to close your eyes,” Linda said. The twins anxiously did what they were told. Terry counted down from three, then he flung open the front door. “Surprise!”
Stacey and Jannifer were awestruck. Terry and Linda had turned their front and back yards into a mini three ring circus. As soon as the twins stepped outside, two mimes approached them and did their mime routine. Stacey and Jannifer squealed with delight.
Linda said, “Are you two surprised?” The twins both nodded their heads, too overwhelmed to speak. Terry placed a party hat on Jannifer’s head and Linda did the same for Stacey. All the twins’ friends from the local church were there--everyone had a magical time.
That evening as Terry and Linda watched their daughters say their prayers, a loud noise interrupted their solemn moment.
“What was that?” Linda asked her husband.
Terry looked at his wife and said, “A raccoon probably bumped into the door. I’ll go check it out.” Terry stepped out of the room and closed the door. A minute or so later, Linda and the twins heard shouting coming from the living room below. Linda stood up and walked over towards the door.
The twins were visibly shuddering. “It’s okay, girls...I’m going to go downstairs and check--”
“No Mommy, please don’t go!” the twins pleaded.
Linda hugged and kissed her daughters, “It’s fine, girls, I’ll be right back.”
Linda’s jaw dropped as soon as she got to the staircase. Her husband was lying on the carpet, and shaking as if he were having a seizure. One of the mimes that the McHill’s had hired to entertain the children earlier that day stood over Terry. He was cutting Terry’s clothing off with some kind of knife. The mime also held a Taser in his right hand. The mime was naked except for the cellophane that covered his body. The intruder looked up at Linda and smiled. His makeup was different; it looked monstrous.
“What are you doing to him?” Linda shouted as she raced down the stairs. “Leave him alone!” Linda stopped in her tracks when a second mime exited from the hall closet. He, too, was naked, except for the cellophane that was wrapped around his body. The second mime wore a black party hat on his head and his makeup was also hideous.
Linda’s blood ran cold when the intruder said, “I wanna play with the twins.” Linda looked up toward her daughter’s’ bedroom. Stacey and Jannifer were standing at the top of the staircase.
“Run Stacey! Take your sister--” the second intruder grabbed Linda by the hair and dragged her away from the stairs. The twins stood rooted at the top of the staircase.
“Come on down, girls. Don’t you wanna play?” the intruder growled.
The twins could not hear him.
The second intruder ambled over toward the staircase and beckoned the girls to come down.
Stacey and Jannifer McHill could not see him. The twins’ hearts were racing, but they could not feel it. Although the twins’ eyes were wide open, they were conscious of nothing.
May 1, 4:35 am
Three Years Later
Anthony Jenkins Sr. sat at the window inside his second-floor apartment, watching his son conduct a drug deal. Damn drugs done messed up the neighborhood, he thought as he stared down at his boy.
Mr. Jenkins had lived at the Wagner Housing Complex for the past thirty-five years. His beloved wife had died while sitting in the very chair that Mr. Jenkins sat in now. She had a heart attack after witnessing her eldest son’s murder. He was killed a few feet away from where Mr. Jenkins’ youngest son now stood. “Damn drugs done messed up the neighborhood,” he said to himself. Mr. Jenkins. watched as two teenage girls approached his son. Crackheads. The trio entered the building. “He’s going to take those girls up to the roof.” In the past three weeks, four young people had been thrown from the top of the building right across from his. Mr. Jenkins had warned his surviving son that if he ever went up to the roof that he’d come after him. Forty-five minutes later, Mr. Jenkins grabbed his keys and cell phone and stormed out of his apartment--he was headed for the roof.
At the elevator, the two female crackheads stumbled out. The girls said nothing as they walked, arm in arm, out of the elevator. Mr. Jenkins shook his head. Damn drugs done messed up everybody. The elevator stalled at the eleventh floor. He forced the door open and walked the rest of the way up.
Mr. Jenkins had to step over human feces as if he were in a mine field. “Damn drugs,” he muttered through clenched teeth. At the roof door, there laid a pile of fresh human waste. Mr. Jenkins stepped over it and opened the door. Mr. Jenkins noticed his son sitting on a metal chair. His back was facing the old man. He also noticed that the boy’s clothing had been spewed all around the chair. The clothes were all cut up. He called out the boy’s name.
He got no answer.
Mr. Jenkins moved closer. A black party hat sat on top of his son’s head, and there were rolls of empty duct tape spools in front of the chair. He’d called out his son’s name again.
As soon as Mr. Jenkins came face-to-face with his son, the old man’s hair turned snow white. His screams got caught in his throat as he backed away from his son’s body and ran towards the door. Mr. Jenkins heard his ankle pop when he slipped on the human feces that he’d maneuvered around only minutes ago. The old man tumbled down the concrete steps, rolling through human filth. A used needle had lodged into his right hand and the left was covered in feces.
Mr. Jenkins pulled the needle from his hand and retrieved his cell phone, which had fallen from his pocket and landed in a puddle of bloody vomit. He dialed 9-1-1. Mr. Jenkins felt a sharp pain in his chest and his left arm began to feel funny.
The operator on the other end said, “9-1-1? What’s your emergency...”