The light of the full moon illuminated the night sky, replacing the last few rays of sunlight as they quickly vanished behind snow-capped mountains. The trees on each side of the highway created a peaceful sanctuary as they swayed back and forth in rhythm with the cold winter breeze. I allowed my right hand to slip off the steering wheel and turn on the headlights of my car. My eyes flickered from the road to the forest, and I wondered what secrets the wind whispered as it traveled through the concealment of the seemingly endless canopy of leaves.
“Damn it!” I swore, snapping out of my reverie when I realized that I had passed my turn. My grip on the leather steering wheel tightened, and I forced myself to refocus my thoughts. I snuck a glace at myself in the rearview mirror, to examine my hair. Oh phew, my hair is still perfect. I thought satisfied as I gazed at my tan, oval shaped face. My normally straight blonde hair fell to my chest in perfect ringlets that had taken an hour this morning to perfect. Before I tore my gaze back to the road, I noticed that my blue eyes looked green in the dim light. I let out a hiss of frustration as I desperately searched for a place to turn my car around. Finding none, I continued my useless journey north.
After fifteen minutes of fruitlessly searching, I finally found my fruit. Letting out a sigh of relief, I put my blinkers on and turned into the vacant driveway of what appeared to be an old abandoned warehouse. The walls consisted of rotting wood that gave the building its aged appearance. The steel sign that hung from the roof was so worn out that the letters were no longer visible. All in all, it was pretty creepy.
I jostled gently in my seat as the quiet grumble of tires going over the dirt driveway interrupted the silence. As I was backing up, I heard a roar of an engine, and my head whipped around in apprehension. A sleek black Maserati sped down the unoccupied highway at what looked to be far over the speed limit. The sports car slightly slowed as it passed me, then abruptly skidded into a U-turn, aiming straight for my car. My eyes widened and I felt my breath catch in my throat as the tires slid across the pavement with an ear-piercing shriek. I whimpered fearfully as the Maserati slipped off the road and onto the sand in front of me, leaving a cloud of dirt and dust billowing in its wake.
Panic struck me and I began to feel queasy. My sweaty hands started to tremble and my features twisted themselves into the typical expression of fear. My eyes widened and my eyebrows rose, crinkling into my forehead. I sucked in a shaky breath as my jaw dropped down to form a deformed “o” my lips. My heart pounded wildly in my chest as my throat began to close in, depriving me of oxygen. Numbness replaced all feeling in my body as the blood drained from my face, leaving it ghostly pale. I frantically tried to calm myself down, but soon gave up knowing that the lingering thoughts of my impending doom had already sent me over the edge.
I searched my brain for something useful, trying to devise a plan. Seeing that I had limited time, I impulsively floored the gas pedal in a hopeless attempt to get out of the crazed driver’s way. Unfortunately, the sports car was too fast and my car didn’t move; he clipped the end of my Chevy, sending me skidding off the driveway and into a nearby street lamp. My stomach twisted into knots, and a sickening feeling consumed me. I screamed, a sharp and piercing, terrifying and surreal scream, as shards of glass and sparks fluttered around me.
Pain surged through my right arm, and I gasped when I saw that it had been sliced by shards of broken glass. Apparently, part of the windshield had shattered from the impact of the streetlamp and fallen on me. Dizziness swept over me as I saw the warm blood ooze from my body, staining my clothes in a deep red. I fought to hold back a scream of fright when I saw the driver get out of his car to walk towards me. Struggling to escape, I stomped on the gas pedal, trying to roar the engine to life. After what seemed like an eternity of silence, it was clear that I wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
The driver wore dark wash jeans and a polo t-shirt. His short hair was jet-black, and his eyes where hidden behind the large sunglasses he was wearing, despite the fact that it was night. His flawless pale skin seemed to glow in the dim moonlight. He clucked his tongue at me, and chuckled in a soft but mocking tone.
“You really should learn to be more careful.” The man said, his thin lips shot up in a smirk and for a moment I was taken aback by his response. He almost killed me! What a jerk! I thought, and I fought to hold back the sudden urge to punch him in the face.
“I should be carful? What the hell? You could have killed me! And your telling me that I should be carful?” I growled, no longer containing my rage. “Look, I don’t know what you want, but whatever it is, you ‘aint getting it out of me, so if I were you I’d just leave and not waste anyone’s time!” I said. I spat the blood from my mouth. I had cut my lip, and my mouth was filling with blood that tasted like an old coin.
“Stubborn and feisty, I like it!” He snickered; the man looked me up and down disdainfully, as he cocked his head to the side. “Alright girlie, just make this easy for me and get in the car.”
“What? No! You can’t honestly think I would be willing to get into a car of person who clearly just tried to kill me!” I sneered, surprising both myself, and my attacker with my sudden bravery.
“Oh I know you’ll get in the car, one way or another. So just make it less painful for yourself and get in the damn car! Or would you rather I drag you to it?” He exclaimed, then after a slight pause added. “And in case you were wondering,” he began sarcastically, “My name is Mason, but I’m sure you and I will have plenty of time to get acquainted.” He said with a toothy smile. This soon disappeared and was replaced by a sigh of impatience.
“Will you get in the car already?” He demanded. After a few moments of silence he pulled out a slick black pistol from his jean pocket. “A little motivation might get you moving. Although it would be a shame to have to kill you, your father would just be devastated! He was very surprised to see us at your house today. He sure wasn’t expecting us! But don’t worry we haven’t killed him…yet.” He said while aiming the gun at my chest.
My breath was stuck in my throat, as the sound of my heart thudding rapidly filled my ears. He has daddy, he has daddy! I have to get out of here! I have to help him! I thought anxiously. My eyes darted from Mason to the door of the passenger seat, and my heart rate continued to accelerate. Beads of sweat rolled down my face, as I racked my brain in a desperate attempt to think of an escape. My stomach felt as if it had migrated to my throat, attempting to find a way out. First I began to tremble gently, but it soon turned from a tremble to violent jerks. I knew what I had to do, but I didn’t know if I could do it. I looked at the gun in Mason’s hand, swallowing hard as I looked up at the sky to capture one more beautiful image in my mind that I can have with me when death takes me for its own. Fear and adrenaline momentarily distracted me from the pain pulsating through my arm, as I try and compose myself. Mason’s eyes looked me up and down. When he noticed my arm, a wicked smile popped onto his face.
“My, my Mellony your hurt.” He said as he licked his dry lips. “Did I do that? Oh I’m so, so sorry.
“H…How do you know my name?” I stuttered as a new level of fear kicked into gear and my vision subsided a little.
“Oh we know all about you Mellony, and you father.”
I gave him one last look, one last hate filled look as I whispered something barely audible to him. “I. Will. Find. Him!” An eerie silence filled the air as we starred at each other, saying nothing. Then the almost otherworldly silence ended when Mason uttered two words. Two words filled with a mixture disdain, hatred, and disbelief.
I suddenly snatched his wrist trying to pry the gun from his hand before he had time to register what I was doing. His face smashed against the side of the car with a loud thud as I jerked the gun from his grasp and yanked his arm violently towards me, pulling his body with it. Adrenaline rushed through me while I yanked opened the door of the passenger seat with my good arm. I scrambled out of the car and started to sprint in the direction of the forest that bordered the warehouse. I was panting heavily, exhausted from the physical exertion I was putting myself through but I never slowed, never stopped, and never looked back.
The soft sound leaves’ crunching under my feet was interrupted by the snapping sound of a twig being broken. Crack! There it was again! The distant sound of footsteps on the forest floor was growing stronger and I heard a man grunt. He’s here! I thought. Terror coursed thought me, causing my whole body tingle as the familiar feeling of numbness set in. I knew I had to keep moving, but I could barely breath properly. So...tired. I thought, but nevertheless I continued to trek through the darkness, stumbling occasionally on the roots that stretched across the ground.
I slowed my run to a walk and I listened for the sound of footsteps to reassure me he was still chasing me. Instead all I heard was silence. I stood there for a minute; listening, not daring to move and give away my location to my attacker. But still, all that was there to be heard was silence. I let out a shaky breath of relief and sank to my knees, panting heavily, trying to catch my breath.
I sat there, letting the tears run down my cheeks because I knew I was too weak to stop them. I released the gun from my vise like grip, and I wrapped my arms around my knees. All I could do was remember how to breathe, as I sat helplessly on the leafy floor. I let my body shake with the synchronized up and down motions of crying, I gave way to my human instincts, I let myself feel the raw emotions balled up inside me, giving in to the monster.
Seconds, minutes, hours time flew by and I just sat unmoving, I was so disoriented I never noticed the shadow looming over me, until a deep male voice rang out into the taciturnity. I jerked around viciously, startled by the sound, and I scrambled to clumsily to my feet to confront my pursuer.
“You honestly didn’t think you could get away from me that easily, did you?” Mason said with a quiet snicker. “Surely a criminal mastermind’s daughter is smarter then that! Hmm guess not.” Criminal? My father? Yeah freaking right! I thought. His hands balled up in fists, and he swung his arm around, punching me straight in the face. Pain burned through my nose as blood ran down my face onto my lips. It stung terribly, and I felt sharp stabs of pain each time I inhaled, yep it’s definitely broken. I thought and I swallowed loudly, as if I could swallow the pain along with my saliva. I have to fight through this. Do. Not. Give. In. I silently instructed myself.
I quickly decided to try and fight him, figuring that any outcome would be more beneficial to my situation than detrimental, and also that it was a better option than complying with whatever he wanted me to do. I sucked in a deep breath as I punched Mason in the solar plexus, knocking the wind out of him. He fell onto the ground, dragging me with him. I landed on top of him in a tangle of limbs, each struggling furiously to gain control over the other. But Mason was too heavy, he rolled his body on top of mine, pinning me to the ground under his weight. I used all my strength to try to push him off or somehow wiggle free, but it was useless. I wasn’t strong enough.
“You’re a pain in the ass. You know that, right?” Mason spat. He retrieved his stolen gun and pointed it at me, in a threat to stay down. “Unfortunately, master’s orders were to get you to our compound, and not kill you. Otherwise, you would have been dead the moment I saw you, so the least you can do is show some respect! Now, although I can’t kill you, he never said I couldn’t hurt you.”
“Let. Me. Go!” I screeched at him, while spitting in his face. That’s it, I must have really pissed him off, because his face turned red and he hissed in anger. He jumped to his feet and jerked my body upward by my wounded arm, causing the pain to intensify. His thick, muscular arm wrapped around my neck in a headlock. He reached into his other jean pocket and pulled out a shiny proper throwing knife, and gently tapped the smooth part of the blade on my cheek.
“It would be such a shame to screw up your pretty little face, now wouldn’t it dearie.” He said with a soft chuckle. “Too bad I don’t care.” Then I felt a severe stinging sensation on my cheek, as the blade sunk into my skin. Blood gushed from the freshly opened wound, and dripped onto Mason’s hand. My agonizing screams were cut of by Mason’s arm tightening around my throat, causing me to gag. I helplessly stood there gasping for air, attempting to pry Mason’s arm off my neck, but it only resulted in his grip tightening, nearly crushing my windpipe. “You have two options, you either stop fighting and come with me, or I will be forced to have the officials kill your father, your precious boyfriend, and everyone you love. Do you hear me?”
“Well I don’t know,” I started, my voice dripping sarcasm. “You’re mouth is about two inches away from my ear, and you are practically screaming. Maybe I can hear you…..maybe not….you will never really know, will you?”
“Which will it be, dearie?” My father! Jake! I thought. No. I can’t do anything that will cause them to be in any more danger then they already are. So I surrender knowing that there’s no way I can help my father, or protect my boyfriend, if they kill them. Mason’s lips curled up into a satisfied smile, and he grunted in approval. He dragged me behind him as he trekked through the woods, heading in the opposite direction we came.
We reached the ancient warehouse after thirty minutes of Mason half dragging, half pushing me through the woods.
“Get in the car. Don’t try anything stupid, unless you want to get hurt that is. And if that’s the case, then I’m happy to supply!” Mason said, and violently shoved me forwards. My bruised and injured body slammed against his car and my hot breath fogged up the windows as I stood there, motionless. I squeezed my eyes shut, trying to restrain the tears from falling, trying to show no sign of weakness. I stared at my reflection in the glass. My blonde hair was twisted in dirty knots, and my blue eyes were bloodshot. My face bore the horrendous, telltale signs of the scars that I would undoubtedly received from Mason’s cruel knife, and I had a broken nose. Blood stained the area of my skin under my nose, and also my right cheek. My thin body looked weak and helpless as I grasped my bad arm for support. My cut cheek stung from the pressure of the window, and my nose began to bleed again, dripping onto the ground to create a scarlet puddle in the sand. I felt as if I was on fire: the pain was just too much.
The unbearable burning sensation of nonexistent flames consumed my body as I heaved myself off the car. I had to keep going, to fight through the pain, for myself, for my father, and for Jake. I slowly walked towards his car and jerked the door open with my left arm. The pain from my right arm had ceased, and was replaced by a tingling numbness. I started to hyperventilate, as I felt my knees buckle, and drop to the ground, weak from the pain.
I let out an agonizing scream as Mason ran the tip of his knife along my back, giving me his version of a warning to hurry up. I furiously blinked the tears from my eyes, but it was too late, they had already gushed down my face, causing my vision to blur. I felt my warm blood trickle from my back and onto the dirt driveway. A rush of adrenaline, or was it rage, emerged from somewhere deep inside me, and I summoned the courage to face Mason. He gave me a quizzical look, trying to figure out what I was about to do. I took a deep breath, and I punched him in the neck with all my strength, sending him plummeting to the ground, gasping for air.
I quickly took advantage of this moment and stepped on his rib cage. My foot was met with a loud, bone-breaking crack. He let out a scream of pain as tears of fury rolled down his cheeks. My sudden energy was now abandoning me, and I fell to my knees alongside him, weary from exhaustion and panting heavily. My shaky hand grasped the sand for a distraction from the pain. I knew I had to get away, but I just couldn’t summon the strength to do so.
I started to crawl towards my car and further away from Mason in a desperate attempt to escape. My body made a loud crunching sound as I wiggled across the dirt, but I didn’t care, I was only focused on the pain. My sore limbs were on fire, and a searing pain surged through my head, causing me to grasp my temples once and awhile. Just as I was nearing my car, a tall shadow loomed over me, picking me up by the waist and dragging me, kicking and screaming into Mason’s car.
My captor gently released me into the back seat of the car. He quickly scurried into the driver’s seat and started the vehicle. Shoving Mason’s keys into the ignition and making me wonder how he got them. He was wearing all black like Mason, but he had his hood pulled up so far that I couldn’t see most of his face. He muttered something unintelligible under his breath and recklessly turned the corner back onto the highway, speeding in the opposite direction of my house. After my screams of protest died down he let out a soft sigh of relief. From the review mirror I saw his lips curl up into a joking smile.
“Jezz, I thought you’d never shut up.” He laughed.
“My apologizes!” I grumbled at the man. “I have only just been shoved into a car by somebody I don’t know; who is now driving me to god knows where against my will. Under the circumstances, I’m fairly certain this behavior is acceptable!” I snapped angrily.
“Look,” The man’s joking tone turned very serious. “I’m not trying to hurt you. I’m trying to save you from those men.” Yeah right! I thought. How could this guy expect me to believe him? He just kidnapped me. There is no way in hell he is trying to save me! I thought, and any fear I had been feeling turned to irritation.
“‘Those men?’ There were more?” I asked curiously, panic bubbling inside me.
“Yes, there were at least three others…all dead now.” The man said with a grunt.
“You killed them?” I exclaimed, completely taken aback. Shock and fear threatened to take over my mind, and I silently prayed that I would somehow make it out of this alive. I tried to calm down and remain strong, but the urgent feeling of anxiety kept on clawing at my throat. My eyes darted around nervously, and I swallowed a mouthful of saliva with a quiet gulp.
“Yes, like I said I’m trying to protect you.” He said, and his lips curled into a smile of admiration. “Though I do admit, I think you did an excellent job yourself taking on Mason over there! I didn’t think someone as…. delicate as you, would be able to take on someone the size and strength of Mason.” Irritability pricked at me as I realized that he couldn’t believe that I was tough enough to beat up a guy. He had clearly underestimated me.
“Well, now that you know what I’m capable of, I wouldn’t make the mistake of underestimating me if I were you! Now, would you care to tell me who you are and what the hell you are doing!?” I shouted, no longer trying to restrain myself from raging.
“My name is Jacob, and I’m trying to protect you. You can call me Jake.” He said calmly, taking off his hood to reveal the beautiful fawn hair and tan face of my boyfriend.
Oh my god, Jake! Thank goodness he isn’t a kidnapper! But why is my boyfriend here? What does he have to do with this? Oh my god, is he hurt? Who were those men? Did he really kill them? I thought. I suddenly felt dizzy, and disoriented. This was all too much to take in.
“Jake! Jake what are you doing here? I thought you might have been some crazed murderer! What happened back there? Why were those guys trying to kill me? What were you doing there? What is going on?” I inquired fiercely. I then proceeded to scream until my face was red and I was out of breath. Shaking with fury and distress, I sank deeper into the seat, trying to distract myself by examining my wounded arm.
After a minute of silence Jake whispered, “You done?”
I took a moment to think about my answer, trying to come up with some ingenious comeback. Finding none I surrendered by giving him a brisk nod of my head.
“Good.” Jake said. “Mellony, I wish I could tell you….but I can’t… I’m sorry, but it’s for you own safety. However, I can tell you that these men are dangerous; they are tracking you. They were assassins that were hired to kill you. I’m trying to save you Mells.” He said using the nickname he had for me that I hated with a fiery passion, obviously hoping it would calm me down. Well you know what? It doesn’t work like that! I will not calm down, and I refuse to let you keep secrets from me! I thought.
“Why? Why can’t you tell me? I deserve to know! How are you involved in this? Why are they trying to kill me, and who hired them?” I said while choking back tears.
Too late! I thought as the unbidden tears came streaming down my face.
“CONFUSED ARMADILLO!” he screamed, taking his right hand off the steering wheel to point to the dirt just beyond the pavement of the road. He seemed to be attempting to make me laugh, but the hilariousness of the situation only confused me further and caused me to cry harder. “Mells! Mellony don’t cry! I’m sorry, I just can’t…tell you. Right now I need you to trust me. We’ve got to get you out of here! I can’t tend to your wounds right now, but I will as soon as we reach our destination. My parents have friends who own a house just a few hours away. They are currently in Seattle and they only come down here in the summer. Since its November now, I’m sure they are gone. We’ll hide out there until I figure out how I can keep you safe.” He explained calmly, and it almost sounded as if he had rehearsed this “plan” of his before. He clearly didn’t understand that telling me to stop crying wouldn’t make me feel any better. It made me feel worse actually. I was furious, blinded with anger at Jake, at the assassins, at...at life. He can’t just take me away; I need to help my father! And he can’t come with me because that will only endanger him as well.
No. I just can’t accept any of this secrecy, especially in a situation like this. I need to know the truth. I love him, but right now I just can’t seem to process the idea of someone wanting to kill me, I thought. However, I knew pursuing the issue further wouldn’t do me any good, so I just sat back in silence. I thought about many things: About my father, about my mother, about our country, about my life, and I slowly began to put the pieces together.
My father never told me exactly how my mother died. All I know is that she was murdered, and that her murderer killed her because she defied him, because she chose to love my father. My father was always cautious. When I asked him why, he smiled and always told me ‘it’s better to be safe then sorry.’ But what do we have to fear?
My father was a trained CIA that gave it all up to raise me after the death of my mother. Dad never talked about mom, and I had no memories of her at all. Only a faded black and white picture my dad keeps in his bedroom. She died when I was a baby, and my father had been searching for years for her murderer. I stumbled across this closet, while doing the laundry. It was filled with research and data, pictures and suspects of people who might have been involved, all of this referring to the death of my mom. Unfortunately, he soon caught me, and locked it to restrict me from finding its contents ever again.
These people who took my father…maybe…they are the same people who killed my mother! Maybe…they want to take me too…to punish my father…by killing me. But who are they? Who is Mason working for? And why won’t Jake tell me? I thought.
After about thirty minutes of clearing my head and registering all that had just happened, I leaned closer to Jacob to whisper my apology.
“I’m sorry I screamed at you. I’m very grateful that you saved me, and I’m so glad you’re not hurt…I couldn’t bear to lose you, and I know you don’t want to lose me either. But, in this situation, with everything that happened I think it would just be worse not knowing, not knowing who wants you dead, and why. Please Jake, you have to tell me! This whole thing is very overwhelming…but I really need to know the truth about all this if I am to survive.” I didn’t mention my mother. I never talked about my mother with him, or anyone for that matter. He didn’t know how she died, and I didn’t plan on telling him. That’s the kind of thing I didn’t want anyone to know. I knew that my argument would be a whole lot more persuasive if I told him…I just couldn’t bring myself to speak of something I was taught never to mention, to anyone.
“ I know Mellony. I understand how you feel and if I were in your position I would feel the same way. But I honestly can’t tell you. If I did I would endanger both you and myself even more. Mellony…. I don’t know what I would do if I lost you. You mean everything to me. I couldn’t bear to let you die. You’re all I have left, and I will do everything and anything to keep you safe, even if it means putting myself in harms way. Mellony, I am falling for….” Jake’s voice trailed off at the end, and I looked up at his face curiously. I was surprised to find that his face was a deep pink, and he was avoiding my eyes.
“Falling for what?” I anticipated, and after a minute of silence, Jake replied in a soft voice.
“Falling for you.”
“I have already fallen.” I whispered back, and that pleasant butterfly feeling arose in my stomach. I had never been in love before; this was all new to me. Each time I saw him, it was like suddenly nothing else in the world mattered. I got weak in the knees, and my breath caught in my throat. His smile sent me over the edge, every time, and just knowing that he chose me made me feel like the luckiest person in the world. Although there are really no words to describe falling in love, I can tell you that falling in love is really more like flying.
“Don’t worry…. We will get through this somehow, but whatever happens…. we’ll be together.” I murmured. I closed my eyes and tilted my head back against the cold leather seat. I ignored the eerie silence that usurped our conversation and let my thoughts drift elsewhere. But every time I closed my eyes, Mason’s sinister face was glaring down at me, his thin lips hooking into a cruel, devilish smile.