I quickly sprung up, wondering if what I heard was real. I wiped my eyes and listened closely. Faint voices and footsteps filled the once silent room. I winced as the odor of rotten eggs became unbearable and made me sick, which could only mean there was a gas leak. I quietly snuck out of my bed and grabbed my softball bat which laid next to my old trinkets from high school. I could only wonder where my father was and be thankful Rosa no longer stayed the night here. With the odor becoming more overwhelming, I knew I had to hurry and either go out my second story window or try to find my father. I grabbed my phone and noticed a text that read ‘Get out now!’ Without a second thought I quietly opened my window and looked down at the daunting descent to the ground. I looked over and spotted the trellises, surely it could hold me, right? There was no time to think about it as I heard footsteps approaching my bedroom. I quickly grabbed onto the vines and descended the two-story drop. Once my bare feet touched the cold dewy grass, I ran towards the back of the property under the cover of trees and bushes.
Before I knew it, the house was engulfed in flames. Windows were broken out; pieces of shingles lay throughout the once pristine yard. I watched in horror as my childhood home was turning to ash. Suddenly, I felt a warm, strong hand grab my arm. “Scarlett, hurry come with me.” A deep, unknown voice called to me. Shocked, I tried to fight back, but the tall, muscular man threw me over his shoulder and ran. I tried to kick and scream. “You’re a feisty one, your dad was right.” How did he know my father? Where was my dad? That’s when it hit me, was he still in the house?
“STOP! PUT ME DOWN!” I yelled to the stranger while hitting his back. “Where’s my dad? What’s going on?”
“Quiet!” He hissed at me as we reached the end of the tree line. “Get in, quickly.” The stranger forced me into a truck through the driver’s side to the passenger seat. He slammed on the gas and took off, as I looked behind me all I saw was smoke billowing out of the place I once called home. I heard the sound of sirens fading as we raced through the back roads.
“Please tell me what is going on!” I demanded the stranger for an explanation.
“I’m taking you to a secure location.” He avowed. “Per your father’s orders. I can explain more once we get there.” The stranger reached for my hand in the dark and squeezed it gently, “I promise, you will be safe.” The sound of his voice and his words somehow sent a cover of calmness over my body. I didn’t know what to say, adrenaline rushed through me. I couldn’t fully process what was going on. All I knew was I felt safe and was praying my father was safe as well.
We drove for hours until we finally reached what looked like an abandoned fourplex in the middle of nowhere. “We are staying here for the night.” The stranger told me as he opened his door and grabbed a black duffle bag. “Stay here for a second.” He took a flashlight and went into the building. Minutes later he returned and opened my door. “C’mon now, it’s okay.” He obviously sensed my fear and uncertainty. He led me into the complex, the small room was lit only with a few lanterns and candles. The old wooden floors creaked with each step I took, the once white paint was chipping off the walls revealing the drywall behind, the windows were covered with cardboard, and smelled of mothballs. On the floor sat two cots with thin blankets. As the stranger entered the room behind me, he closed the door and locked the three locks lining the side of the door. “There is a restroom to the back corner if you need to use it. There is running water, but I’m afraid its pretty cold.” He informed me.
“Just tell me what’s going on, please!” I begged him.
“Go use the restroom, that was a very long drive, once you come out, I’ll tell you everything I’m allowed to.” He was right, I did need to go and collect my thoughts. I walked through the door and closed it behind me, not surprisingly there was a tiny shower, toilet, broken sink, and clouded mirror. I splashed cold water on my face to help cool myself off. I was utterly confused and scared, so many questions ran through my mind. Who was this strange man? Who set my home on fire and tried to kill me? Where was my father? What is going on?