“Love you!” Mom shouted me as I exited the house and started trudging in my dirty sneakers to the same bus stop I went to every morning. The weather had finally remembered that we were in Minnesota and supposed to be feeling like we were in Antarctica, so the wind was scraping its chilly needles across my face where it wasn’t hidden by the droopy hat that I’d dug out of the closet for weather like this.
A few small stretches of road passed in front of me without event, my feet missing all the icy patches and the trees dumping their cold loads in silence in my wake. Every few minutes, some house would wake up and spit out another car ready to migrate back to work for another day. Each car just moved to the right side of the road and drove off in silence, except for one, which I noticed on the final turn when I looked back to see if the brawny dog who lived on that corner was awake to start waking up the neighborhood with his booming barks.
Stopping in my tracks on the edges of somebody’s lawn, wishing that there was a sidewalk there, I waited to see if the creeping van would suck it up and move on once whoever was driving it noticed that I was aware of the creeping. But they didn’t move on; they just parked in the gutter and cautiously slipped out the driver door.
“What do you want?” I called to the stalker, who was wearing a ski mask and covered in black clothes.
“I want you to get in the back seat.”
Well, at least he’s succinct. “No thanks.” I continued to make my way to the bus stop. What kind of a kidnapping attempt was that? Thankfully, I’d managed to sneak one of the kitchen knives from my own house, which was wedged in between the falling-apart folds of my purse compartments and disguised as a bulky makeup kit.
“I know where Anders is.”
I stopped dead still in my tracks at the mention of Anders turning around to face the failed kidnapper. “Yeah, I know too. He’s in a morgue on his way to a hole six feet down.”
“Now you’re just lying to me.”
He shook his head, a flash of orange coming from behind the ski mask until they adjusted it back to a normal position. “No, this is no lie, and if you come with me, I’ll show you proof.”
“Mmm, no thanks.” I faced the stop sign signifying the bus stop and started my slow walk again, only to have some thing shove into my backpack and force me to the ground.
“We gave you a chance, Argentina, and now I’ll have to take you by force.” Prying myself up from the ground to what could be confused as a plank position, I found a tranquilizer dart poking the tiniest bit into my jeans. Its barbed tip was only a bit into my skin, but the little spiderwebs of purplish liquid had already spread to the size of a quarter around and were growing steadily.
“My… my name is Rena.” My arms gave out, slamming me back onto the frozen ground a few feet away from the snowbank, and then the world’s colors pooled beneath my chest and were gone.