She could see a figure emerging from the darkened corner of the room. A pit of hate traced with fear formed in her stomach as she recognized who it was.
Three weeks before.
She walked through the crisp London air, CIRCUMSPECT to her surroundings. This was a new country, after all, and one could never be too careful. She and her family had arrived only today, and were still adjusting to the new community. Her brother had begun their travel slightly sick, but now he was struck with a MALADY, so while her other brother, mother, and father unpacked everything, she was DISMISSED to fetch the medicine needed. She had located an apothecary not far from their new address, and made quickly for it. She tried to rid the DISTRACTIONS from her mind of their new beginning, for it was an unusual move. Her father, a well-known lawyer, had received a letter from an employer here in London about an opportunity for higher paying trials with wealthier defendants. This had seemed very peculiar due to the fact that their family had no connections to London. Alas, her parents had always been interested in the city of London and decided moving there would greatly benefit both themselves and the children, so off they moved to a townhouse in the heart of London. Now she would have to start over at a new school and try to make new friends. Now she would have to begin again.
She shook herself out of her thoughts and looked around to see where she was. She was now walking through a small park, with an UNEXTRAVAGANT yet beautiful landscape. She made her way through the twisting path past benches and trees. But as she walked past a bench, a man made eye CONTACT with her. He seemed a MISFIT to the surroundings, considering the rest of the park was empty. The park had felt like an enjoyable place, but he had a MALICIOUS glint to his eye. It was as if he knew her. She had an UNCOMFORTABLE feeling in her chest, and tried to straighten her back to show CONFIDENCE rather than fear. It was unnerving how familiar he felt. As she passed by, she could hear a whisper from his mouth.
“Glad you’ve finally arrived, Brenna.”
She whipped her head around.
“I’m sorry, but I don’t know you,” she replied.
“I know you. You don’t remember me?”
She was getting more anxious with every word he said.
“I don’t, sir. I should really be going now.”
“Wait,” he INTERJECTED, grabbing her arm. “I'll escort you. Where are you heading, my dear?”
“I’m really quite fine. I’ll just be on my way.”
“No, no, I insist,” he gave an icy smile and clenched her arm harder. “Where are you going?”
“I’m just headed for the apothecary. Please, leave me be.” She said frightfully.
“Darling, it’s not safe for a young girl like yourself to be walking alone in an unfamiliar city. You need protection, just in case.”
She nodded her head in COMPLIANCE, but then quickly turned and began to sprint away. She didn’t care where she was headed. She just needed to distance herself from him. He made her uneasy and scared. It was something about how he spoke, the glint in his eyes.
“My dear, I wasn’t finished talking with you,” he screamed after her. She didn’t even turn around, justkept running. As he realized she was not coming back, he whispered, “It’s alright. I’ll see you soon enough.”
Brenna sat on the edge of her bed later that night, deep in thought. She was INCREDULOUS of this whole new situation. It made her uneasy. She wasn’t sure just what it was yet, but all she knew was that she didn’t like it. A knock came at the door to her room. “Come in,” she called. Her father walked in, PRECEDED by their black lab, Ollie. Her dad settled himself next to her.
“Hey honey,” he spoke. “Just wanted to check on you. How’s everything going?”
“It’s alright. It’s quite different.”
“I want to thank you again for going out to get Mom’s medicine. It really helped me out, not having to stop unpacking.”
“No problem, Dad.”
They sat in silence for a few minutes.
“Listen, I probably should tell you this. It’s kind of IMPORTANT,” she started.
“What? Is something wrong? You know, we’re just starting here, give it some time and all will be well.”
“Well, I met this man. He was very… ECCENTRIC.”
“In what way?”
“He kept saying that he already knew me and he had been waiting for us to arrive. He tried to follow me, but I managed to run away. Do you know anyone here that’s like that?” She asked.
“I can’t say I do. I don’t mean to DISMISS your worry, but it was probably some DRUNKARD or ADDICT. There’s plenty of them in this city and they all have a screw loose or two.”
“Dad, I’m sure he wasn’t. He didn’t seem of the whack or anything like that. Just, kind of scary.”
“Hmm… well, for now, just make sure you leave the house with one of us. Don’t talk to anyone you don’t know, and stick to main streets when you do go out. Now, get some sleep. Tomorrows our first full day in this wonderful country! I PREDICT it will be a great one!” He kissed her forehead and closed the door behind him as he left the room.
She lay back into her pillow, petting Ollie next to her. She looked into his eyes. “That man was up to something. I just know it. I can’t take this lightly. I’m not dullard. Ollie, you believe me, don’t you?” He looked back at her and nudged her hand with his head. “I’ll take that as a yes.” Then she picked up their new house phone, checking for messages. AUTOMATICALLY, one began playing.
“Welcome to your new home. Glad you’ve settled in.”
She knew that voice, it’s tone dark and intense. She could picture the face that went along with it, with its shiny, knowing eyes. A chill ran through her body.
She walked to the door, and made the DECISION to lock it, just in case.
She prayed that tomorrow would be better.
Brenna EXITED her last class that day, her backpack slung across her shoulders. She stopped at her locker, going to pick up any books she needed. It had been a MONOTONOUS third day of school, listening to lectures and racing to class. Not that she didn’t love to learn, but the process of it was terribly boring. She put in her combination and opened the door. She reached around, grabbing her textbooks and notebooks, and shoving them in her bag. She glanced up, noticing the picture she had hanging with a magnet. She took it from the magnet and held it up close to her face. She REMINISCED on her life in America, missing her old friends, old school, and old home. The PHOTOGRAPH depicted her, just weeks before they moved, with her mom, dad, and brothers, relaxing on the couch, talking with each other, enjoying each other’s company. She missed those times. Even though they’d as been in London for less than a week, so much had changed already. There had been a great REDUCTION in family and friend time. Her father was in demand for work constantly, her mother was beginning a new job and was caring for her sick brother Timothy, and her other brother, Jonathan, was in school. As a result, she only saw them for very little time a day. She didn’t hang out with anyone because she had not yet made good connections with others. She simply completed her homework and worked around the house.
Snapping out of her self-pity, she went to put the picture back, then noticed a scrap of paper hanging there. She slowly lifted it close to her eyes and INSPECTED what it said.
“See you tonight, Brenna.”
She dropped the paper, and it fluttered to the ground in swooping gestures, like a bird returning to its home. How did the man know her locker, let alone get in it? What did he mean by his message? It was as if he was OMNIPRESENT. She decided that she would not give him the chance to see her. She locked her locker and ran to RETURN home.
Later that night, when her family was all home, she relaxed on the couch, just like in the picture, but this time she was alone. She could hear her mom talking on the TELEPHONE while preparing dinner, and her brothers running around inside. Soon, her father peeked his head around the corner of the room.
“Hey Brenna? Could you answer the door when our guests arrive, I’m going to be finishing up some work.” He said.
“Of course. Who’s coming over?” She replied.
“Oh, just a couple that you probably don’t know. Thank you honey. Don’t forget to listen for the doorbell please!” He REITERATED as he walked away.
Brenna sat there until she heard the doorbell ring, signaling that their guests had arrived. She reached for the handle and opened the door, ready to let the couple in. Instead, she instinctively stepped back as she saw who it was.
“Nice to see you again, Brenna.”
She couldn’t help it. Her instincts kicked in and she slammed the door as a REACTION. All of the sudden she felt as if she had CLAUSTROPHOBIA.
Why is he here?
She slowly backed away from the door, and turned right into her mother exiting the kitchen.
“Why didn’t you answer the door? I heard the doorbell,” Her mother asked.
“Mom, you don’t understand. We shouldn’t let him in.”
“Honey, your father knows him.”
“What’s the DISPUTE over ladies?” Her dad cut in, coming down the stairs.
“Your daughter REJECTED our guests by closing the door in their faces,” her mom answered for her.
“Brenna! We’ve barely even been in this country and now we will have a bad REPUTATION!” Her dad responded.
“I’m sorry, Dad, but I have seen that man before. He followed me in the park while I was walking, and he left me a creepy message. I think I have a right to EJECT him from our house.”
“C’mon Brenna, it probably wasn’t even the same person. I have worked with him before. and I want to make a good second impression. It will be BENEFICIAL to my new job.” Her dad stated.
“Then can you at least meet him at a different LOCATION? Something is off about him.”
Ignoring her, Brenna’s father walked over and opened the door.
“Come in, come in. Sorry about my daughter, she didn’t recognize you both. Welcome and make yourself comfortable.”
“It’s fine, really. So great to see you again! When even was the last time we got together?” The man PONDERED.
“A long time ago, I can tell you that. Well, why doesn’t everyone come into the dining room and we can enjoy dinner!” Her father began walking toward the kitchen and everyone followed, taking their seats.
“Your house is beautiful,” the woman said.
“Why thank you! The previous owners recently RENOVATED it. I really like it too.” Brenna’s mom replied.
The parents began to talk about typical vague topics, like jobs, weather, news, and more. Brenna just sat there glumly. She didn’t dare say a word. Even with all the chatter, there was a tension in the room, one she couldn’t explain. She wasn’t sure she wanted to know.
Soon, dinner and dessert were finished, and the two men stayed at the table to talk, while the women cleaned up. Brenna made for the living room where she laid down on the couch. She closed her eyes and tried to rest, but couldn’t. She lied there like that for awhile, almost drifting to sleep, until a loud crash shook the house. She immediately jumped up and ran to the dining room. He eyes widened at the sight. The chairs were tipped over and the table was cracked. In the far corner of the room stood both of her parents, who were trapped by their guests. Each guest had a gun in their hands, pointed straight at her mother and father.
Over the past month, I've had a chance to sort of do a little photographic storytelling by creating a series of images…admiringlight.com
She tried. She really did, but her feet would not move from their spots. She stared on in fear. If she was going to move, it had to be know. It was VITAL to saving her parents. She had to act now.
“Get away from them!” She tried to yell, but her voice came out shaky.
The man turned his eyes to her. They had a malicious, psychotic glint in them, a sharp CONTRAST to his wife’s eyes. Her eyes were calm and passive on the SURFACE, but by the way her lip curled up in a smirk, Brenna could tell she was just as much as a LUNATIC as he was.
“What, you want me to just leave them be? Why of course, let me leave now,” the man spoke.
Brenna waited. She knew he did not mean what he said.
He laughed. “On the CONTRARY, my dear, I’ll be staying.”
She glared at him with all the strength she could muster.
“Actually,” he continued, “why don’t I leave? I’ll just take them with me!” He grinned maniacally. Then he roughly grabbed her dad, and his wife did the same with her mom. They didn’t react, so Brenna concluded that they must have drugged them.
They dragged her parents to the back door, where she noticed they had parked. She wanted to scream. How could she save them? Her mind raced as she tried to think of an ALTERNATIVE way out of this disaster. She sprinted off after them, but the man turned on her, the gun pointed at her.
“Don’t move, dear. Otherwise, this bullet will go straight through your heart.”
She stood there, stock-still, afraid to move a muscle. She wasn’t being very ALTRUISTIC, but she couldn’t bring herself to let them kill her. The DYNAMIC of the situation was too much to bear. The man and his wife resumed their actions and made their way out the door.
“Have a good night, dear,” she heard them say in UNISON sweetly as the door shut. She wanted to run, but she knew it was no use. She quickly locked the door. Then she ran to the living room and collapsed on the sofa, heaving with sobs. She began to HYPERVENTILATE. What were they going to do with her parents? Would she ever see them again? How could she SURPASS this mess?
As she sat with her back against the wall and her head in her hands, Brenna heard footsteps come to an ABRUPT stop.
“Brenna?” Her little brother, David, asked timidly.
She looked up. David and her dog, Ollie, had CONGREGATED around her with scared expressions.
“Davy! Come here, are you all right?” She jumped up and threw her arms around his little body, GRATEFUL for his presence.
“I’m okay,” he whispered, as if sharing a SECRET. He knew something was wrong. “Where are Mom and Dad?”
“They were taken by a bad man and woman. I don’t know where.”
He seemed to take in the EGREGIOUS situation. His eyes welled up, and tears threatened to spill out of his eyes. “Are they coming back? I miss them.”
“ I think we might have to find them ourselves, Davy. No one is likely to believe our story.”
“I don’t know, Davy. I don’t know.” Brenna CURRENTLY had no way of knowing where they might be. They could be anywhere in London, or even anywhere in the country. For all she knew, they could be flying out to the United States right now. “All that I do know is that we can’t SEPARATE, buddy. We have to stick together to get through this.”
He nodded. They sat back against the wall and he rested his head on her warm shoulder. The two American IMMIGRANTS had no acquaintance with the city, no friends to go to for help. They were on their own. Things seemed quite hopeless TEMPORARILY.
Then, Brenna saw it. A pen, lying on the floor underneath the terrible man’s chair. One that she had never seen before. She got up from underneath David and crawled across the floor for it. She picked it up and rolled it around between her fingers. Squinting at it in the dim lit, she could make out some letters and numbers. Printed on the pen was a name and an address.
Covey Attorney and Law
275 Oxford Street, Westminster, London, England.
This little pen was a huge CONTRIBUTION to helping find her parents. Her lips lifted in a smile and she turned back to David.
“Davy, get your coat and boots. I think I know where they are.”
“Quickly, Davy. Hurry!”
Brenna pulled her little brother by the hand as she guided them through the London streets. NUMEROUS yellow street lamps dotted the sides of the roads and lit the sidewalks for them. Although it was late at night, the URBAN city was still bustling with traffic. Cars zipped past them as they made their way to find their parents. Brenna feared they would be too late…
“Brenna? Where are we going exactly?” David asked.
Brenna sighed. She had given him a very BRIEF explanation before because she didn’t want to worry him. He wouldn’t understand. He had a completely different PERCEPTION of the problem due to his young age.
“I don’t know exactly, but I know the address. Now we just have to find the street.”
“If we need to catch the CULPRIT, shouldn’t we just ask the POLICE? That’s their job!” Just as Brenna was about to REFUSE, he started talking again. “Please, Brenna.” His voiced trembled as he spoke, unmasking his hidden fear.
Brenna wanted so badly to COMFORT him, but she could not ask the police, knowing they was only a very MINUSCULE chance that they would trust two kids. Instead, she said, “Don’t worry, Davy. We will be fine.” She didn’t realize it, but she was assuring herself too.
“Is what they did ILLEGAL?” He stressed the word illegal. He hadn’t had much reason to use the word until now.
“Yes, Davy. It is very illegal.” She then halted to take in their surroundings. They should be getting close by now. She squinted at the street sign ahead of her. Oxford Street, the one she was looking for. She pulled Davy with her as she took off down the street, scanning the signs of businesses. Finally, she found it, Covey Attorney and Law. She scrambled across the street, Davy in hand, and straightened when she got in front of it. The building loomed over their heads, making them feel small. It gave off an eerie aura, seemingly deserted in the dark. Brenna tried the doorknob, and to her wonder, it was unlocked.
Taking a deep breath, she slowly turned the knob and pushed open the door…
Silence washed over them. Not a sound could be heard. Brenna felt her heart sink in her chest. Had she been INCORRECT about the address? She was so sure before. Now she wasn’t.
Her eyes ADAPTED to the darkness, and around her seemed like a normal business. Desk were placed in separate corners, each topped with papers and pens. A large grandfather clock stood DIRECTLY to the right of them, it’s hands shining in the little moonlight. She waited, hoping, praying, for some sort of noise to appear. Those anxious seconds were TORTURE, and she yearned to CURE her heart of its nervous beating. Nothing came to comfort her, though, and she stood there, one hand in her brother’s, with a crestfallen look on her face. Her head spun. If her parents weren’t here, then where could they be? Would she ever find them?
She was yanked from her doubts by a tugging on her hand. She looked down, as Davy looked back up, a terrified look on his face. The whole situation seemed to HORRIFY him. She knew he was a SENSITIVE boy, and she struggled to give him an encouraging look. She moved her finger to her lips to tell him to stay quiet, and he obeyed. She had to stay strong, if not for herself, then at least for him.
Brenna began to DIRECT them around the room, searching for something that might help their case. Their footsteps padded softly about, and she grew comfortable with their steady beat. Pat pat pat… She turned around, Davy in hand, and strode into another room. Pat pat pat… She checked anything she could find. Pat pat pat… Her hand came in CONTACT with something. She found it to be the railing of the stairs leading upstairs. Pat pat pat… She and Davy walked towards them. Pat pat… Suddenly, she heard something. Her SENSES came alive. It sounded like a creak, coming from upstairs. Davy gripped her hand tighter, and she craned her neck to get a better look, but she couldn’t see anything. She heard the creaks again, definitely coming from upstairs. They repeated themselves, getting louder and louder, coming closer and closer, until something else broke the silence. A whisper.
“We’ve been waiting.”
His eyes were threateningly LUMINOUS in the moonlight. “How kind of you to join us. You know, we weren’t planning on harming you too, but since you came here yourselves, why don’t you come with me?” The man’s voice was steady, as if he were talking about nothing more than the TOPIC of weather, but nothing could DETRACT from the terrible look in his eyes. He grabbed Brenna’s and Davy’s arms and jerked them upstairs with him into a darkened room, with only slivers of LUNAR light to help her vision. In the corner, she could see her parents tied up and gagged. When she made eye contact with them for a FRACTION of a second, their eyes grew double in size at the sight of her and her brother. She wanted to run to them, but the man’s grip was too strong.
“How nice, the whole family is together once more!” His wife said as she stepped out of the shadows, CONFIDENCE and sick pride radiating from her. “You know, dear,” she spoke, addressing her husband. “It might be better that the children did come, because now their parents must suffer more,” she finished with a sly smile.
Brenna couldn’t stand it anymore. She had to know. Her CONSCIENCE wouldn’t relax until it knew the reason for all of this madness. “Why are you so intent on harming have? What have we done to you? We only just met you both!” She called in a desperate voice.
The man’s face showed no SYMPATHY. “Who do you think made you move here to London? Who made sure you’d be isolated from any friends and family? Who do you think planned all of this?” He asked in a demeaning tone. “If you guessed me, young lady, you are correct.”
“But why?” Brenna whimpered. “We barely even know you.”
“Ah, but I know all of you quite well. And as for why, my dear, just think of it like this. Your family’s quite wealthy, but what happens when a terrible accident kills all of you? Who’s there to receive the money? Well, according to your will, as close friends of your family, my wife and I are.”
“How… how did you manage to alter my parents will?”
“All it takes is a little encouraging. Now that all the explaining is out of the way, please COOPERATE.” He said, and suddenly Brenna felt the cold barrel of gun against her temple. She froze in fear, her mind numb. She couldn’t believe this was happening. Her parents screamed in protest, but the wife stood over them, ready to silence them if needed.
Brenna couldn’t believe this was how it was going to end, so sudden, so terrifying. She closed her eyes, preparing for the FINAL moment to occur. She said a prayer and told her parents and brother she loved them in her head. Then she waited.