By John Andreula
Edited by Kodid Laraque-Two Elk
The glass backdoor slid open seemingly on its own.
“Ty!” Blanks’ voice shouted out from the empty doorway into the well-manicured backyard.
The Traveler swept his head side to side in search of any onlookers or nosy neighbors. Satisfied no one saw him, Ty crossed the lawn from his hiding place at the back fence.
Cantering over to the amber stained porch, he crouched in an ridiculous attempt to hide in plain sight. Ty wasn’t afforded the ability to make himself invisible like his friend in the townhouse. In fact, he didn’t possess any strength that he was aware of, aside from his inherent ability to tolerate hardship or to detach himself from interpersonal connection.
As Ty reached the porch steps he overheard Blanks inside attempting to coax the obliviously coloring child up from where she sat. “We have to go, Sierra. It’s not safe here.” Blanks voice sounded gentle, even maternal, compared to what Ty had heard from her before. The girl didn’t budge. She just looked up at where Blanks voice had emanated from. The child’s face was devoid of discernible emotion.
Ty stepped in through the open door. Blanks beckoned to him, “Help me. Quickly. Get her into the woods. I’ll get the parents to follow.” Blanks words moved away as she spoke.
“Shit!” her voice came from the kitchen. “Stanton’s goons are already here. These guys don’t look too nice.”
“Stephen?” a woman’s voice called out from the floor above. It hadn’t come from Blanks.
“Go!” the invisible woman commanded. And then with more tenderness, “I’ll be fine, Ty. We’ll be right behind you.”
Ty hesitated, seeming to weigh what was transpiring. He knew what he was expected to do from the Writer’s story he read during the journey from Colorado.
Ty lifted the girl off the carpeted floor where she sat. She looked up into his eyes. She didn’t cry out or resist. Sierra quietly sat in his arms, grasping the couple of papers she held in her hand. Ty exited the sliding glass door and ran into the yard less cautiously this time around. It didn’t matter if someone saw him. He was essentially kidnapping a child.
The Traveler looked longingly toward the side of the building from which he had arrived. He couldn’t risk going into plain view of the neighborhood with the girl. Instead he carried Sierra over to the fence where he hid moments ago.
Ty placed the girl onto the ground beyond the shrub he ducked behind. The young man inhaled deeply. He clenched his teeth, bracing for what he already knew was coming next. Ty dropped his shoulder as he lunged at the fence. He slammed into the unstained plywood with a loud crunch.
The fence withstood the blow, but a few boards hung loose at their upper screws. Ty took a few steps back and ran at the fence again.
Janice could swear she heard a woman’s voice downstairs.
“Stephen?” she called out to her husband for the second time. She didn’t wait for his response and rushed down the carpeted steps toward the main floor.
Janice entered the small dining room at the bottom of the stairs. She immediately turned toward the living room. Sierra’s papers and pencils were in typical disarray, but Sierra was not in her usual place among them.
The noise came from out back, Janice concluded at once. She looked out past the empty living room and realized the backdoor was ajar, the curtains swaying gently on either side. Perplexed, Janice squinted her eyes and looked out into the yard. A man toting a large camping pack was at the fence that bordered the townhouse development at the back of hers and Stephen’s property. The forest was visible just beyond the fence. The bum was pushing portions of plywood out from the cross-boards they were attached to.
Janice knew bums and drunks were known to congregate in the woods on the other side of the property line, but she never witnessed one brazen enough to come into the development and damage the fence. The man kicked at the bottom of the slats. One after another the boards tumbled from the bottom rail and away from the plywood boundary.
“Hey!” Janice yelled at the bum from deep inside her house. She made her way to the open door, unsure how she would respond next.
“Yeah, you!” She decided she wasn’t in the mood and would take it out on the vagrant. “I’m talking to you, creep! Get out of here!”
It was obvious Janice’s words startled the man. She caught him red-handed in whatever crime he was in the middle of committing. He turned and looked up at her standing in the doorway. The man was younger than Janice had assumed, having only seen him from the back. The man snapped out of his trance, and faster than Janice could register he stooped down and lifted . . . Sierra. He had hidden her behind the hydrangea bush she planted the year before her daughter was born.
The young abductor placed Janice’s daughter through the gap he had broken in the fence. Finally, Janice’s wits seemed to return to her. She rushed out the door and vaulted the porch steps out onto the lawn. Only her white socks covered her feet.
The man stepped through the fence with one leg. He was trying to escape with Sierra. He put his head and shoulder through, but his pack got snagged on the cross-beam. Before the kidnapper was able to work his way through the fence Janice grabbed a full fist’s worth of his shoulder strap. No one would ever take her beautiful daughter from her, especially not this insane junky.
“Let go, m-miss,” the man stammered. “This isn’t what it looks like . . .” His face was going red from straining. He continued to struggle loose of Janice’s surprisingly strong grip. But Ty’s words were cut short. Janice balled up her free hand and sent it into Ty’s upper-cheek, hard. She retracted her fist and hit him again. The second blow grazed the side of his head, but nailed his ear. She followed up with a third punch that landed on it’s target, in his eye.
Ty knew he couldn’t reason with this ferocious and distraught mother. His vision was already blurring and his ear rang. Reluctantly, Ty grabbed for a clip attached to a strap at his waist. Unbuckled, the bag loosened from his shoulders. He slipped out from its encumbering size and escaped through the fence, and away the woman’s violent grasp.
Ty stood and looked back at the woman. Feet away, the mother stood still holding the bag’s strap in her hand. Defeat and sadness replaced the anger in her eyes. Janice let go of the pack. It fell limp on the ground at her side.
Janice lunged for the gap in the fence, but Ty was quicker. He bent over and picked up Sierra, appearing to vacantly observe the entire exchange. The Traveler carried Sierra along the fence line and out of sight. Janice followed as fast as her shoeless feet would allow her to follow.
Two expensive black SUVs blocked the street in front of the house. A red pickup with enormous tires and flame decals along the side sat between the other trucks. Blanks dead-bolted the front door, knowing it wouldn’t hold long.
A tiny man with flame tattoos covering his face hopped down from the 4×4’s excessively high cab. He sauntered to the rear of the truck, grabbed the back bumper, and pulled himself up onto it. Then he leaned into the open pickup bed and pulled out a fuel canister of some sort.
The man looked up at the middle unit Blanks was standing in. He beamed villainously and sloshed around the contents of the red jug. He seemed to approve of the situation he found himself in. “We can do this the easy way, Stewart . . .,” the minuscule man’s eyes stretched wide and then returned to their original near-squinting size, “. . . but I prefer the other way. ” The man let his words hang as he leaped down from the bumper and onto the ground below.
“You have something that belongs to our mutual employer,” the tattooed man continued, “Me and these fellas . . . we’re here to collect.”
Stephen’s head appeared around the door frame that led down into the basement. “What the hell is going on out there?”
Stephen stepped out from the basement door and attempted to head toward the foyer leading to the front door. He was curious if he was just hearing neighbors bickering or if it was something to be concerned about. One step toward the entry-way and a hand grabbed him. It twisted his arm up behind his back. Stephen tried to yell, but another hand covered his mouth before any sound could escape.
A woman’s voice whispered in his ear, “That’s Stanton’s people out there. They don’t sound happy.” The woman had Stephen’s attention. He stopped resisting and relaxed his body. Satisfied he wasn’t going to yell she took the hand away from his mouth, but pushed his disabled arm a bit higher.
“Ow, ow, ow! What do you want, lady?”
“We already got Janice and Sierra out of the house. If we don’t hurry and catch up, we won’t be able to lose these goons!”
Stephen lifted his free hand. It held a black leather attaché case. “They’re after this,” he said, his still-wrenched arm aching.
Behind him, Blanks raised an eyebrow in astonishment. Something didn’t add up. “I don’t. . .”
Stephen cut her off. “Go! Get the girls someplace safe . . . . Away from me. . . . I’ll . . .,” he paused, considering how much more to say, “. . . I’ll deal with Stanton. . . . Please!” his final word letting Blanks know he wouldn’t be swayed.
“I don’t think you understand . . .” Blanks trailed off, wanting to plea with the man. She already knew she couldn’t change his mind. She had read how this part of the story would end. Finally, she let go of his arm. Immediately, Stephen spun to look at his attacker and his family’s savior. The room was empty, save for himself.
The father and husband, who had been detached from his family for far too long, knew he needed to sacrifice everything in order to protect his wife and daughter from his mistakes. Steadying himself, he approached the front door and looked through the window.
A little person with strange tribal tattoos barked orders at the four men standing with him on the sidewalk in front of the house. The diminutive leader wore fitted designer jeans and a plain white t-shirt. A gas can rested in one arm at his side. His men wore expensive blue and gray suits and dark sunglasses.
Two of the suited men scanned the neighborhood as if daring any bystanders to intervene. The others stared at the small man and listened intently. One of them looked up at the house. He made eye contact with Stephen and nodded toward the door. The tattooed man looked back over his shoulder and smiled cruelly.
Two of suited men went to alternating sides of the building, a hand resting in the breast of their jacket. They would cover any escape from the rear. The little man made his way up the front steps. The other two cronies followed in tow. Stephen took a deep breath and opened the inner door.
Around back, Ty’s abandoned camping bag lifted itself off the ground and heaved over the fence. A pair of canvas woman’s sneakers rose from the ground and floated in the air toward the gap
“Stop, Genevieve!” a man’s voice commanded into the empty space in front of the broken fence. “I don’t want to shoot.” the man went on, using his peripherals to check if Swelter’s goons had made their way around the tan-sided building yet.
The sneakers turned in mid-air toward the voice. Blanks recognized the voice. She would have known it anywhere. Still she remained silent and invisible. The slim man stood in a worn A-shirt. He wore a white bucket hat with a blue stripe above the brim. The man held a handgun out pointed toward where the shoes floated in the air.
“Glitch,” Blanks replied, “I’d say it’s good to see you. What are you doing here?”
To be concluded in the The Dreamers Part 3.
John Andreula is a writer and dreamer residing in the foothills of Colorado.
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