Eleven

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My body jolted awake as the horrible images of my sister faded into nothing. As I regained consciousness, I sat up and peered through the dark room. My body shivered as the sound of trees rustling filled the room. Things seemed to stand still for a minute before I came to terms with my surroundings.

The door to the room was wide open.

Had we forgotten to lock it? Had we not closed it all the way? I could feel my heart in my throat as every inch of my skin heated up.

I stood and quietly moved through the room and towards the door. The cold from outside whipped past me and made me shake. But when I went to close it, I noticed a familiar black suburban next to my Hyundai.

Was I dreaming? Was this really happening? This whole situation felt like a twisted nightmare within a nightmare. I found my feet carrying me outside the motel room.

I noticed the car was running as the white smoke floated out of the exhaust and danced in the wind. My hair tickled my cheeks as loose strands whipped with the gusts of winter.

I made it closer but realized there was no one in the car. Where the hell were they if they weren't here? And why was the car running? This had to be a dream. I should just go back to the room, lock the door behind me, and climb back into bed.

Dried leaves swirled around my feet and scrapped against the cement of the parking lot. I could hear the buzz of a light flickering above my head as I tried to make sense of what was going on.

But my gut was telling me to run.

My gun. I needed my gun.

Why hadn't I grabbed it in the first place? I knew that I wasn't completely level-headed right now, but there was an urgency for protection.

I paced back to the room and closed the door.

"Melissa, I think-"

But when I turned on the light, the sight managed to steal my words.

One man held the barrel of a gun to Melissa's temple as his massive left arm held her body to his. Suddenly, I was frozen in place as another emerged from the bathroom.

"You two are gonna come with us," the second man claimed from the doorway. "If either of you as so much move the wrong way, we'll leave you dead."

At first, I was stunned. My brain wasn't able to process words until the man shoved Melissa towards me.

I swallowed. "And who's to say you won't just kill us later?"

"Because we won't," the other claimed. "Our boss has a... proposition for you. But if you give us trouble, well, I'll just tell him it was self-defense."

I folded my arms. "That's what we're gonna call it?"

"Put your damn shoes on." He stepped forward as my eyes locked on the gun in his right hand. "We don't have a lot of time."

Melissa and I reluctantly did as we were told. I trembled as I grabbed my jacket and slipped it on over my shoulders. This honestly couldn't be happening right now.

We were marched outside into the cold winter night and up to the black suburban that remained parked.

"Get in," one man demanded.

The other opened the back door and Melissa and I climbed inside. My heart was pounding so hard I thought I was going to throw up.

I never let my eyes fall from the man that was obviously calling the shots. His fingers teased the trigger of his gun like it was a toy. Like this was a fun game for him.

Cuffs were placed over me and Melissa's wrists as we sat in the back seat of the van. Suddenly, I thought about screaming at the top of my lungs. Would anyone hear us? Would Alvin? Or would that just earn me a bullet to the head?

Then, to my dismay, one of the men pulled out two sacks. I already knew what those were for and I couldn't ignore the tightness of my chest.

I watched as Melissa was taken back to the day she had been kidnapped and brought to her father. The trauma of the memory showed on her expression like a physical trait. This wasn't good.

"It's okay," I whispered to her.

Her scared eyes caught mine right before the bag was slipped over her head.

Then, once Melissa was taken care of, the man readied the other bag to be put over my own head. I could feel my hands trembling against my back as I leaned into the seat.

Just keep calm, I coaxed myself. If you freak out, they'll kill you.

He moved in and I sucked in a tight breath. This was it. I closed my eyes prior to the sensation of the sack being placed over my head.

But when I reopened my eyes, I realized this wasn't a dream. This was really happening.

Andall I could do was wonder how the hell we were going to get ourselves out ofthis mess.


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