"Tuck you in, warm within
Keep you free from sin..."
I wake up sitting upright, running my right hand through my hair and exhaling profoundly. It's still dark, and the raindrops falling against the windows are the only sound in the darkened apartment. Fearing that I had disturbed my girlfriend's sleep I let my hand fall and place it on the other side of the bed, which is unoccupied.
Right, Liza said she would probably spend the night at her mother's house.
Realizing that I am alone, I let the sound of rain and the absence of city sounds relax me. In the middle of the night the city sleeps and the silence is so deep that the rest of the world seems to not exist, leaving me alone with my thoughts. I probably ate a lot before bed, and that may have caused the crazy dream I had.
If I had been at Ollie's I would blame the smell of weed.
A shootout in a grocery store, almost being incinerated by a gas canister and a car ride with an insane man. Shit, my imagination got really wild with this one. Grant and Riley being kidnapped. They will probably laugh at my face when I tell them. I shook my head and chuckle at myself, reaching at the bedside table to grab my cellphone.
I grab something else instead, and quickly turned my head in surprise. In my hand there's an apple I don't remember bringing with me to the bedroom. I frown, trying to figure out why the hell did I bring it with me, maybe it's a midnight snack ?
Anyway, turns out my phone isn't at the table, but a small note is. I snatch the note from the table and turn the tablelamp on. Written in a messy scrawl, the message is:
"Sleep tight, Snow White."
It wasn't a dream. It was real.
(The air leaves my lungs.)
I almost died, thrice.
(My head starts to feel light.)
Grant and Riley are gone.
(Shit, I can't breathe.)
Someone is after me.
(My heart is beating too fast.)
Someone wants me dead.
Tears run down my face while I struggle to breathe. My throat is closed-I'm sure it is. That odd feeling in my chest, like my heart is being squeezed and it's beating so hard- I'm dying- I knew there was something wrong with me should've made more exams- I need my meds- It's all my fault I wasn't there for them now they're gone just like dad- I'm a terrible brother- A terrible son- It should have been me not him- I'm a failure- Inside the wardrobe inside the socks drawer-
Across the room, right next to the bathroom door is the wardrobe.
I'm not going to make it.
(When did you ever make it ?)
I'll die before I'm even halfway there.
Mom's going to lose all her sons.
(You should already be dead, Jason.)
I scramble from the bed and end up on the floor. Then I'm fumbling with the wardrobe, desesperately attemping to reach my medicine. Next there's a small orange bottle in my hands. I swallow half a pill dry, feeling it go down slowly in my throat.
I curl up and lay there on the cold wooden floor, sobbing. Sometime later (minutes or hours, I don't know) I got up slowly, fearing I might get dizzy. The rain has significantly diminished, and the sky is slowing turning pink, with dawn approaching. Picking up the orange bottle from the floor, I carefully wrap it again in a white plastic bag and put it back inside the open drawer, meticulousy hiding it under a bunch of pairs of my socks. After taking care of that I enter the small bathroom, stripping off my underwear and walking inside the shower stall.
Closing the door behind me, I walk down the concrete stairs of my apartment building. It's around 8 AM, and the streets are already filled with people going to work or to school. The streets are wet from the early rain and the skies are grey, still heavy with a torrent that will come down later. My thoughts started to get clearer while I was in the shower, and I realized that no one had contacted me about the kidnapping. What the hell is wrong with me ? Trusting the words of a lunatic I never saw before...
He saved my life, though.
Anyway, I should get the facts straight before losing my shit. I need to find out what's happening, before the guilt about drifting away from my family becomes too much.
After finishing my shower and getting dressed, I called both Riley's and Grant's cellphones using the landline phone, since my cellphone and other belongings had been lost in last night's chaos. Straight to voicemail, both times.
Shit, maybe they had turned off the phones before going to bed ? But that's way too much of a coincidence. With a sinking feeling in my stomach, I checked the voicemail and I only had two messages from credit card companies and one from my landlord. This is really weird. That guy from last night said they're, supposedly, taken the night before yesterday.
Surely someone would have gone to the police already, right ?
If anything had happened, my mother would have called me...
Shit, didn't she mention something about leaving Rook for a while for some important meetings she had back at the States last time she called ? I didn't pay too much attention to that 'cause it's nothing out of ordinary for her life, a politician's life.
If she's not in the islands, then she wouldn't know.
The other question is, then why didn't my friends notify me ?
Riley shares an apartment with Ollie, Keith and Vincent. Grant lives together with his girlfriend, Daisy.
I doubted very much that Riley's roomates would be of any help. The only time Ollie isn't high is when he's asleep, Keith's a typical fratboy and Vincent... well, I didn't spend much time with him to know who he is.
My safest bet is Daisy but again, if she didn't contact me before, then she probably isn't aware of what happened. Shit, this is really weird. I mean, if the person who lives with you goes out one night and doesn't come back, you go to the police and ask your friends and family if they know the person's wherebouts, right ? I finally settled on leaving Daisy a message, innocently asking about Grant.
"Uh, hey Daisy! It's Jason, how are you ? Sooo, I tried calling Grant but had no sucess, did he change his number or something ? Umm, Liza asked me to call him about that double date thing we talked about... Anyway, uh, please call me back when you can, alright ? Bye!"
I facepalmed myself after getting off the phone. Jesus Christ, could I have been anymore obvious ? Sure, Daisy and I are friends but not that close, why the fuck would I leave her a message about a double date at 6 AM ?
Well, that's water under the bridge now.
So far I know no one of our social circle knows what happened and the police hasn't been alerted.
The only person who knows is him. I need to find him.
Turns out I had no idea how to start.
He's not ordinary looking by any means. But that's not very helpful when I know nothing about him, not even his name.
I ate some toast for breakfast while watching the news, paying close attention to anything related to kidnappings. After tidying up the apartment a little, I finished getting ready for work.
I stop at newsstand nearby on my way to the subway, going straight to the newspapers. Almost all of them have the same cover and title: "Shootout At Grocery Store: Are Gang Wars back ?" and images from security cameras. To my surprise, there are three police sketches: one of myself, one of mowahk dude and another one of the Rakyat man.
I take one of the newspapers, and carefully keep my head down while paying for it. I leave the newsstand with an increasing paranoia, avoiding to look at other people's face and keeping my head down. I look over my shoulder, and a flash of red catches my eye.
There's a man wearing a red bandana and glasses walking in the same direction as me.
Maybe I'm being way too much paranoid, but with these last events, I can never be too careful, right ? Didn't he and his buddies wear red last night ? I can't really remember.
I walk past the subway station and cross the street, taking the longer route to my job. After about five minutes, I notice the man is still behind me. If he's one of the guys from last night, this is my chance to find out who my savior is. If he isn't then I'll probably be taken as well, or killed.
I quickly turn into an alley to my right, and push the door open to the first building that I find. Inside, there are numbered doors, stairs that probably lead to the second floor apartments, a desk with some papers, a small radio, a convex mirror and a chair. The hallway is empty so I hide behind a wall a few steps from the door, from here I can see the door through the mirror. Unslinging my backpack from my shoulder, I reach inside it searching for my umbrella, since it's the closest thing I have for a weapon to defend myself. I leave the backpack on the floor, and hold the umbrella tighly against my chest.
The door opens, and the man who is following me enters.
Holding my breath, I tighten my grip around my makeshift weapon.
When he's just around the corner I step away from my hiding spot and I smash the umbrella's handle right in the middle of his face. He falls to the floor screaming in pain, and his hands fly to his nose.
The fall made his loose t-shirt end up exposing the waist of his jeans, and the pistol tucked under his belt. Before he recovered, I quickly grabbed the pistol and pointed at him with trembling hands.
He started cursing me while trying to slowly sit up.
"Why are you following me ?" I try to hide how nervous I am, but my voice wavers at end. I take a deep breath, attemping to steady my trembling hands.
"You son of a bitch! I'll fucking kill you! "
"ANSWER ME!" The hysterical edge in my voice makes me turn the pistol's safety off. I have almost zero experience with guns , but having a brother who has a lot of experience comes in handy. I don't want to shoot the stalker, only threaten him into talking.
He raises his hands in a peace gesture. There's a lot of blood in his nose and hands. Shit, I probably broke his nose.
"Hey man calm down, I'm just following orders okay ?"
"Orders from who ?"
He stays quiet, eyes going to the pistol then to my face.
Never taking my eyes from him, I go to my backpack and search for the newspaper from earlier. After finding it, I slowly raise it in front of him.
His eyes go wide. "Holy shit, boss won't be happy when he finds out the cops are looking for him."
"Who's your boss ?"
"That's Vaas. Look man, I was only following his orders, okay ? He said 'Keep an eye on Snow White and watch out for those Rakyat fuckers' and that's what I was doing." He replies defensively, while still keeping his hands up.
Snow White ? What the fuck ?
"What do you know about the kidnapping ?"
"I swear I don't know anything, just... please don't shoot me, alright ?"
Slowing lowering the gun, I command him. "Take me to Vaas."
"Take my hand
We're off to never-never land..."