lead me out of the dark

For all the money you spend on this monster of a place, Anders, you could at least put some far better security systems in place. LaJean tucked the frills of her one and only shirt into her black stretchy pants and boosted herself off of her precarious balance on the edge of the garden fence. At the top of her jump, she extended her arm, gripping the bent portion of the vent the size of her foot with one gloved hand and pulling herself up.

I make less than half of what you’d make if your salary wasn’t mostly food and shelter, and I can afford a gym subscription that costs less than a security system. She perched on the bent portion with both feet and extended her legs, slowly standing up against the wall. As she turned her attention to the vacant woods in front of her and then to the wall with its beige cracks and roughened exterior, the rip of metal bent further, giving way when she pulled herself up onto the roof with both hands.

LaJean stomped her feet on the roof to clear some of the mud off and strode over to the protrusion in the building. She’d been expecting something fancier- a glass dome with sparkling lights, perhaps?- than a plain rectangle attached to a hexagon. The window in the rectangle was busted from a previous visitor, helpfully, and no camera hacking was necessary in order to peer in and see her subject curled up against the man who had previously brushed her off.

She wiped the sweat off of her forehead with the glove on her right hand and hoisted herself through the window right leg first. Her legs deftly avoided the shards of glass, barely coming into contact with one and only severing a few strands of fabric as she stepped onto the carpet and brought her left leg in through as well. From her hasty observations of the room as she looked around, the room was completely empty save the mattress and the two sleeping bodies. She stooped down by the mattress, pinching the shoulder of who she assumed to be Miranda until he awoke.

“What’s going on?” Miranda yawned, and LaJean’s attention was brought to Miranda’s bound wrists as he attempted to pull an arm close to wipe his mouth. He only brought the snoring Anders closer to his chest, and he wedged his legs in between the two as best as he could in order to push him away a few inches. “Love?”

“Anders is still asleep,” LaJean whispered. Miranda lazily turned his head in response, and a brown braid flopped against his forehead. “That is, if you are who I think you are.”

“I’m Miranda Loyalis Shew. Who are you?” Miranda wiggled, attempting to bring the sheet up to cover more of himself and his lover. “Do dreams have names?”

“I’ll tell you once you’re safely inside of my house. Which is real, by the way.”

“Who says that I’m going to anybody’s house, real or not?” Miranda tipped his head towards Anders, who was in the middle of a deep snore. “The only way to kidnap me is to untie my wrists and pull me out of bed, and that would wake up Anders. And he’s gotten stronger recently from all those Nevermore injections, so I wouldn’t risk being pummeled by him in a fistfight.”

“I don’t have to.” LaJean popped her gun out of its holster on her belt and placed it to Miranda’s right temple. “Where are your legal documents?”

“I don’t know. And besides, you’re bluffing.” He shook his head, putting a few stray wisps of brunette hair between himself and the barrel of the gun. “Your safety is on. If you wanted to be scary, you’d flick it off and make the threat real.”

“That can be arranged, but then I’d be convicted of murder if my finger slipped and I’d be sent to hell instead of getting my due reward for saving a woman in need.” He moved the gun barrel from Miranda’s temple to his abdomen, exposed in all of the left side’s scarred glory. “I see the baby is too late to save, however.”

Miranda worked up a spit, throwing his head back to launch it at LaJean before remembering that he’d have to clean it up later. “Why are you here?”

“Because I want to save you from this monster that you’re currently chained to.”

“It was willingly, and it’s rope on my own wrists. None of it is connected to him.” Miranda rested his head back on his pillow. “Where are you going to take me to? And how do I know that I can trust a person who’s threatening to kill me?”

“Because I knew Anders in college. I mever knew such a manipulative beast. I had to escape with my life as well, and I walked away with a few thousand dollars to start a new life away from him. I’m back to undo a wrong done against me.”

“Then why bother to threaten me?” LaJean offered no answer, and Miranda sighed, accepting his impending mortality if he didn’t follow the commands of the figure behind him. “My papers are under the mattress. Good luck getting them out.”

“I can do just fine.” LaJean propped up the mattress with one foot and reached under with her left hand, keeping the gun to Miranda as she pulled out the plain folder. She held them up for Miranda to see as she slipped her foot out. “See? I told you so. And yes, it does seem absurd that I have to threaten you for you to accept peace. But you, dearie, seem to have an extreme case of Stockholm syndrome.”

“I do not!” Miranda struggled the whole time as LaJean put the files down and returned the gun to her belt, pulling out a penknife and shuffling around to cut Miranda’s bonds free. “I genuinely love him. We’re getting married next Sunday.”

“That’s what they all say.” LaJean cut through the last fibers of the rope, and she stashed the penknife and scooped the files up before Miranda could roll off the mattress and regain possession of them. “So are you coming with me or not?”

Miranda’s eyes darted back and forth between the black-clothed figure standing with her legs apart and clutching Miranda’s legal files and the sleeping man beside him. After an agonizing minute in which Miranda could have sworn that he heard footsteps downstairs, he whispered, “how far away is the house?”

LaJean’s smile widened. She tightened her grip on the files with one hand as she pulled a few large rubber bands out of her belt sachet with the other. “Pretty far away. Thirty miles away. I brought my electric scooter, though, so it won’t all be walking. Just the first part until we’re past the front gates.”

Miranda carefully stood up, making sure not to disturb the heavy sleeper that Anders was that night. “How can I know for sure that you’re not going to kill me?”

LaJean raised one hand and placed it over her heart. “I swear on my God that I will not lay a single hand on you in malice. That includes bullets and other kinds of weapons.”

“Alright…” Miranda sighed and scratched his neck. “I suppose that leaves me with no choice. Lead me out of the dark, o mysterious one.”

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