The abductors among the others

The abductors among the others

A Story by anxia
"

Its a thriller thats bound to truly thrill you.

"
'God! Do you even realize how ridiculous and out of mind you sound?', I say expressing utter incredulity at Mr. Henderson.  'You are delusional, aren't you? Perhaps, suffering with PTSD what with you having been a soldier.'

'No, i am not delusional', says Mr. Henderson. 'And Yes, i realize i sound ridiculous. At first i thought i was, when the thought crossed my mind. But there's no other explanation around this.'

'Right', i said mockingly rolling my eyes.

                                                            **********

My life had started to turn different shades of bafflement. Yesterday, the police had come knocking on our door to question me about the death of an young boy that i don't even know. To think through the dust my life was clouding up in, i had gone to the park in the evening. That was when i met Mr. Henderson, an old man. He began to act weird. Infact, it was his weirdness that drew my attention to him; he was staring at me from a distance. Feeling uncomfortable, i was leaving.

'Bethany?' He had asked looking straight at me as i was crossing him.
I said i wasn't and continued to walk away.

But he stopped me and said a really crazy thing. That i was his grand daughter, his son Joe's daughter. 

I tried to tell him i wasn't, that my grandparents were dead for forever, that he must be mistaken. He seemed to be hurt at that. He started talking about his son and his family.  When he continued to insist that i was his grand daughter indeed, i tried to ignore him to the best of my ability.

That night, Lying in the bed, i began to wonder  what made them drift apart: Mr. Henderson and his family. And then all of a sudden,  I was wondering what had drifted us apart; my grandparents and me! The room seemed to reel around me. Because  I don't remember ever  thinking about them.  Sure, i had told Henderson that they were dead. But, i never knew for sure. I just  think they are  dead because i don't remember meeting them or hearing from or about them.

Next morning over breakfast,  i asked mom about my grandparents.

'Honey, they are no more', mom said, 'I thought you remembered. Only my mom was surviving for our marriage. she too died an year later. I am sorry.'

I am right, after all. They are dead.

Later that day, i had set out to grab some lunch. On the way,  like some forces were drawing our paths together, i saw Mr. Henderson again. I was actually kind of happy to see him. In infact, i was hoping to see him. Not because i believed his claims that he is my grandfather, but because he seems like such a forlorn soul. Something like me these days.

Hoping i might be able to help him find his grand daugher, I invited him for lunch.  
We talked about his family. He was a soldier. Hadn't been in touch with his son's  family since many years. He liked to move around a lot, never staying at a place for too long. He was only visiting here but when he saw me, his 'grand daughter',  he realized his son  has moved here.  I said we had been in the city since i was a baby and have not lived at any other place.

'I am sorry', Mr. Henderson said. 'But i think you are my grand daughter, Bethany. I have seen you only when you were a small child but i can still recognize you after all these years'

'I am sorry i am not, Mr. Henderson. I have already told you that my grandparents are dead',  i told him.

He looks penitent. 'I understand why your parents say i am dead. My lack of contact must have been hard on them. I hope they will forgive me now.'

'My parents dont say that my granda father is dead. They say  all of the grandparents are dead.'

'That's true. I am the only grand parent you have. My wife died  before Joe got married. Your mother's mother died during child birth. Her father remarried and moved to some  island. Don't you know this?

'No. Not what you are saying. I only know what my mom has said'

'Take me home. Joe will tell you i am his father.'

'You know i can't. You are a stranger. You don't even know my name or my father's, who you claim is your son.'

'I don't know why your names are all changed. But Bethany, give me a chance. I understand if you don't want to take me home.  Atleast, bring your father to me. Will you?'

'He will freak out that i am hanging around with dead people now. Come on, Mr. Henderson. Have i not told you my grand parents are dead?'

He nodded.  And then his face lightened up as he said, 'How about you bring me their pictures?'

'I will try. But remember , i am doing this just so you can move on.'

Agreeing to meet at the same place for our next meet up, we took leave.

Next afternoon, i grabbed my family picture before going to meet Mr.Henderson.

'Thanks for coming, Bethany', Mr. Henderson said, as i settled into a chair across from him.

'You are welcome. It's Mia, for the hundredth time, not Bethany', i said correcting him and  handed over the picture.   'I hope this picture clears this up'.

When Henderson just kept staring at the picture without saying anything, i asked hom,'he's not your son, is her?'

Mr. Henderson seemed not to  have heard me as he just continued  his stare at the picture.

'Mr. Henderson?' I called him and  a small thump on the table with my fist.

He tore his gaze away and looked staright at me said, 'Either your entire family is in witness protection pro-'

I jumped him. 'No, we are not in any such programs.  we are not your family is all.'

'-gram or you are kidnapped' he said at the same time.

'Wait! What did you just say?', i asked him stunned.

'You are kidnapped', he repeated.

                                                                ***********

'God! Do you even realise how ridiculous and out of mind you sound? I say expressing utter incredulity at Mr. Henderson. 'You are delusional aren't you? Perhaps, suffering with PTSD what with you having been a soldier.'

'No, i am not delusional', says Mr.Henderson. 'And Yes, i realize i sound ridiculous. At first i thought i was, when the thought crossed my mind. But there's no other explanation around this.'

'Right',  i say mockingly rolling my eyes. 'You are saying my own parents kidnapped me who i have known since for ever. Insane is what i suggest you are.'

'Maybe i am insanse. But Beth, i am so scared for you', he says in a deep voice that is  haunting. And that scares me!

'Stop calling me Bethany. Because i am not', I scream  at him. I don't know what else to say. I can't go beyond that.  Something  draws me to him than draw apart. Even with his increasingly insane propositions.

'Let's just assume you are right, Mr. Henderson.  That i was kidnapped. Why would they keep me with them and bring me up as their child? Instead of just making what demand they had on their mind and get rid of  me after their demand was met with?'

'I don't know. But, i can you tell this isn't the normal kind. This deal got to be really big and unheard of to make them keep you alive and with them', He says staring off into the space.

'No. That's not it. I will tell you why, Mr. Henderson. Because i am their daughter. Not a hostage for a ransom. They love me so much. Much more than you could ever love your own son. I guess it's something you don't understand, after all you have abandoned him'

At that a pain slashes across his weary face. I know i hurt him.  'Anyways, why would they love me even if i am valuable to them. Why not just look after me  and not love?', i ask.

'How do you know they love you?'

'Because they are there for me every second'

'I dont know how to explain this to you. But please give me a chance. I wasn't there for you when you were growing up. Now seeing you wants me to go back in time. But that can't be done. Let me do what can be done. If i don't prove myself, then i will never show you my face', he pleads.

'After all the accusations you have made, i should be crazy to continue talking to you', i say and draw back my chair to get up and leave.

'Please, Bethany'. There are tears pooling up in his eyes.

'Ok', I say after a moment of silence and sit back.  I don't take the minute to think whether to give him a chance or not. I was replaying the agony that skittered across his face when he pleaded with me the first time we met and now. And its so odd and kind of sad  to see an old man tearing up.  The most he can do is display his delusions, i conclude. So, i decide to go along the ride.

He smiles through tears. 'Thank you'

'I understand you, Mr. Henderson. You know, i am as desparate as you are'

Concern registers on his face. 'Oh, you are? Something bothering you, Beth?'

'Yeah. Bothering may be an understatement. It's actually plaguing me. A couple of days back, police came to question me about the murder of some Ashton.  An-'

'You didn't think to tell me that?', He asks cutting me off.

I stop playing with the fork and put it down. 'Please! You were a stranger to me. I don't share my personal stuff with strangers. You still are. Just a familiar stranger. Don't forget that.'

He nods. 'You know this is getting messier. What did they ask?'

'They asked me if i knew him. I said i didn't. They nagged me a lot. But that's the truth'

'Then why did they question you?'

'They have found my name in a note book in his bag he was carrying at the time of his death.'

'Did they say in what context your name was written?'

'Apparently, scribbled randomly in the midst of class notes.'

'Was your's the only name?'

'Don't know.'

'I see.'

'Thanks for sharing this with me, Beth', he says wiping his mouth with the towel. 'I have some things to take care of now. Do not mention me to your parents. Don't worry about the police. Take care. I will meet you tomorrow. Ok?'

I am not sure why i shouldn't mention him but i don't ask.
But i say, 'ok'.

                                                               ***********

After Bethany leaves, i walk back to my lodging. I know what wild goose chases are. But, what i am chasing about is definitely not one. I know that Bethany is my grand daughter. And that's the only thing i know for sure. And that's proof enough to say this isn't a wild goose chase. I don't know what to make of the present situation though!

My mind rumbles with thoughts i don't want to think of let alone accept them should they happen to be true. Where is my son and his wife? The first thing that springs to my mind is: they are dead. Because had they been alive, they would have pursued the kidnappers who are posing to be Beth's parents and gotten Beth back. Since it didn't happen in the last 12 years or so, it's unlikely to happen now because it's very unlikely they are alive. My heart crumbles at the thought. But i can't let my emotions bring me down. Not now, When i still have a chance do right by my son and my daughter in-law and my grand daughter. I don't know where to start but i do have something to start with. I  leave the inn and walk over to a telephone booth near by.

The next day, i go to see Mr. Henderson. Over the couple of days, the restaurant has become our meeting place.

'How's your day been so far, Beth?' Mr. Henderson asks as we wait for our food.

'It's been ok, Mr. Henderson. Thank you. How's yours?'

'Good actually'

'So where are you staying at?'

'At an inn'

'Is it good?'

'Any place that has a roof over is good enough for me.'

'Nice.'

The waitress brings our food and we tuck in.

'I don't know  why i am telling you this but when i said my grandparents are dead, I didn't know for sure then. But now i do and yet i am gambling here with you', i say between eating.

'What do you mean you didn't know before?', he asks, stopping his fork midway to his mouth.

I tell him how after meeting him, i started thinking about them and what my mom has told me.

'Bizzare', he opines.

'What is?'

'That you never though of them before.'

I just shrug to that.

'I reckon you didn't tell them about me', he says.

'No'

'Why not?'

'You told me not to. Then again, no reason i had to. I was convinced you are just..... Imagining this all. I still think you are. But i am giving you a chance. So yeah...'

'Ok.'

'So what's happening with your proving?', i ask.

'Working on it'

And We just small talk as we finish our food.
                                           
                                                                ************

Back at the inn, i think about Bethany.
I know she has more to reason than just giving me a chance to trust me. I think She knows something too. I wait to make the call.

                                                                 ************

I just can't tell him why i am trusting him. I can't give my doubts to him. Yet. After all, what if all of this turns to be untrue: My doubts and his claims? I would look like a betrayer to my own conscience for doubting my parents. The real reason why i am giving a chance is, something about him draws me closer to him. Makes me feel  like i have acquired something in the past few days that i didn't have before. And because i found something at home while ....... Snooping around.

Next meeting with Mr. Henderson is very brief. He says he has some where to go urgently. I wonder what urgency would be for a wanderer like him but don't question him.

With Henderson gone, i feel lonely.  These news feelings are overwhelming to me especially for feeling over an unknown person. I almost considering him as my grand father. Probably because, i have come to know him the same time i have come to terms that my grandparents are no more.

'You know, the police stopped by  to say Ashton's funeral is tomorrow at the local church cemetery', mom announces over dinner.

'Ok', i say noncommittal.

Next morning, i decide to go to the funeral and tell my mom. She is not sure if i should go since i didn't really know him. I tell her i want to pay my respects who ever he may be.

I want someone to go along with me. Weirdly, i think of Mr. Henderson. I would have probably asked him if i had known yesterday when i was meeting him. We have not exchanged numbers. Anyways, he probably doesn't have a phone.

The service is in progress by the time i get there. Surprisingly, i find Mr. Henderson as i scan for a seat. I sit next to him.

After the service, everyone pays their respects to Ashton by the coffin. Just being in this place and atmosphere makes me want to cry. I look away. Mr. Henderson takes my hand and walks me over to the coffin. 'No', I say and stop him.

'Bethany, don't you want to pay your respects properly?', he asks. 

Ashton's really nothing to me except that he somehow knew me.  I have come  only  out of respect. we walk over. I look down at his face. At Ash's beautiful face. A strange wave of.... Something washes over me. A deja vu? I don't know. All i feel is disconnected. Then i hear a mad wailing. Next thing, i am on the ground  grabbing on to the coffin before i black out and enter a different world. Everything is blurry in here. Things zoom in and zoom out. Like a puzzle with pieces torn apart. Far apart.

I see a beautiful young woman with one arm  around a handsome young man and another holding a cute little toddler. And then i see two kids, a small girl and a boy, a little older than the girl,  riding their tricycles. She's fallen down from her cycle and has bruised her knee. She's crying. The woman comes running and takes the kid into her arms. She showers her with kisses.  The boy is looking on with concern.

There's a  thump and I turn to see where its coming from, but to my surprise  i see  a ceiling.

Confused, I turn and  find an old man hurrying to me.

'Beth, how are you feeling now?', He asks holding my hand. It's Mr. Henderson, i realize.

'Where am i?', I ask.

'In my room. At the inn.'

'What time is it?'

'It's 3 in the noon.'

My parents will be home late. so, i don't have to worry about rushing there. 
I feel strangely better being here with Mr. Henderson anyways.

He hands me a bottle of water. 'Here drink some water first. I brought you some waffles too.'

I smile. 'I love waffles'

'I know'

'I won't ask you how. You are going to say 'cause i am your grand dad.'

Now, he smiles.

'Do you have a phone?', i ask him. I have some questions.  May be talking to my mother will help understand.

'No. But there's a payphone in the reception.'

'I am going to call my mom', i say and get off the bed.

'What are you thinking?'

'I dunno. I just feel so weird. I may have known Ashton too. I mean.....  i just want to ask my mom a few things. I will be back and we can talk then'

'Beth, why don't you talk to me first? If you still want to talk to your mother after, i won't stop you.'

I walk back and sit on the bed.

'Why do think you may have known Ashton too?', he asks.

I tell him what i have seen while i was blacked out.

'What do you think you saw?', he asks me

'I am thinking, i am the girl, the woman is my mother and the man is my father. The boy may be Ashton. After all it's seeing him that has evoked this. That's what i need to ask my mom. If we had known an Ashton.'

'Don't you think they would have recognized Ashton when the police showed you all his photo?'

'I didn't recognize him either, remember? But all of a sudden at his funeral, i started seeing things. Anyways, People change. Especially boys. Ashton was only a kid then. Probably we drifted apart.  So my parents may not  know what Ashton looked like as a grownup'

'Beth, the name would have atleast brought some reaction from them. It happens naturally. I don't think there was such a reaction from your parents'

'You are right. But we may have known him so many years ago. It's not unusual to forget some one from a  long time back. So talking to my mom may actually bring up his name. If the boy i saw indeed was Ashton that is. Other wise it could be  just some kid.'

'Go ahead, then.'

I make my way towards the reception. No more than a few steps ahead, i run back to the room.

'That was quick', Mr. Henderson comments.

'I didn't make the call. Yet.  Something occurred to me. Tell me, why do you keep saying my parents may have not known Ashton? You have been suggesting it all the while. Why?'

'They may or may not have known him. Even if they have, i doubt your mother would tell you'

'What do you mean?'

'I think your parents either killed or got some one to kill ashton. Because, they have come to know, somehow, that asthon was closing up on you'

'Gosh. Please.' I say, 'I am perturbed  and this is deranging as it is. What the hell are you talking about?'

'This is what i am thinking: the couple who are claiming to be your parents have abducted you from your real parents, my son and his wife, and have gotten away with that, i think by killing them, and have built a new life as a new family here, far away from your parents bases.  But they didn't seem to have known Ashton was part of your lives. So he was like a loose end and they didn't realize it until they stumbled across Ashton here and learned who is. Just knowing that Ashton was here in the town regardless of his intention must have scared the hell out of them. So they killed him eliminating any loose ends.'

I put my palm out. 'Woah, slow down. Ashton was part of our lives?  You make it sound as if he was more than just a play mate'

'He was the son of a maid that once  for Your parents. Your parents came to know that the widow was gravely sick, so to give her a break they invited ash to your home often. You both bonded very well.' Henderson smiles sadly at the memory. 'He was an year older than you and he used to called you his 'sissy'.'

'Go on', I say. Tears start fill my eyes.

'You used to do everything together when he visited you. He was like your bother that you didn't have. Anyways.... I don't think the abductors knew Ashton, he was only a small child and probably didn't draw attention therefore. Or perhaps they knew him but ignored him for the same reason: he was only a kid.  Ash grew up and he remembered you'

'You are thinking he has come down here for me. Are'nt you? But like you said, i am a new person here.  How could he have known i am the Beth as the Beth he once knew? After all  he knew me  only when we were small'

'I am betting that Ashton did his research. Tracked you down. May be not his first attempt. He probably searched other places trying different things too. But whatever, He had your name written in his book along with the surname. Which means he was probably tracking a Mr and Mrs Macksmor to verify the  info he had gathered about you. Then he...... Stumbles up on the Macksmors and enquire them about you. And that's the end for him.'

'I can't believe this',  I say shaking my head trying to make sense of what i am hearing. 'What do you think happened to my parents? i mean, it doesn't appear they have made an attempt as much as ashton has to rescue me.'

'Like i said, I think  the abductors killed your parents.'

'Oh. Really?', i say, 'Surprisingly, i don't feel anything for them. Probably because i am not completely convicted of this ... Development.'

'I think they abducted you when you were  4 or above.  The last time i saw you was for your fourth birthday. So, i know you were with your parents then.'

'How come i don't remember a single thing about them? I mean, if i was still with them at 4, I should be able to remember something.'

'Yeah. But they made sure you didn't. And they are going to pay for that.'

'What could have they done? Oh my god, Are you saying they... like erased my memory? That is ridiculous!'

Mr. Henderson doesn't say anything except cast that faraway look again.

'Talk. Do you think  it's possible to erase someone's memory?'

'Look Beth. I need your help.  I need to find something, anything that could help us know there is more to you than you know. But you have to be careful. I will continue to do what i can'

'Actually, i have found something.'

'You have?',  he asks electrified.

'I don't know their significance. But i found a stash of papers  hidden in the safety room.'

'Safety room?'

'Yeah. We have certain safety things locked away in that room including a gun among other things. I actually don't have access to that room. But i wasn't going to stop at anything. So, i stole the keys and checked it out.'

He smiles. 'So you trusted me. Not just give a Chance.'

'What? Oh, no. I was searching for my grandparents things. You know, something that would say more about them.'

'Ok. What papers did you find?'

'I don't know. Something to do with research and scientific work, i think. They all were from 'Smash' labs and i don't know about any smash lab. I thought they might be from my parents  lab. But according to our labs history, it has always been  'Rsearch intel'. So they stood out.'

'Any names on them?'

'None that i saw.'

When he didn't say anything anymore, i say, 'sorry. I did say it could be nothing.'

'No. I think you are helping big time.'

'I am?'

'Help me more?'

'Yes?'

'Don't snoop around any more. Act normal. Be careful. I will meet you later'

What's the hurry?  I think.

I try to act as normal as possible at dinner that evening.

I can't sleep a wink. It's  early morning by the time i fall asleep.

I wake up late in the morning and get ready to meet Mr. Henderson. This time, at his place.

'Good afternoon', Mr. Henderson greets me by his door.

'To you too. I am so hungry. I skipped my dinner last night and slept through breakfast this morning', i tell him.

'Don't worry i bought us lunch', he says and we sit down to eat.

'You are in trouble', he declares after we have finished.

'Duh. I can see that.  It seems I have always been for the past 13 years.'

'No. You are in trouble in the Ashton's case. They found the gun used in shooting Ashton to death. And ...... They have also found  finger prints on that gun. Yours.'

I sit up all straight. 'Woah. This is crazy.  Can life get any crazier for me? You don't believe that, Do you Mr. Henderson?   Wait.......How do you even know? If that's the truth the police  would be interrogating  me in the station right now!'

'They will, any time from now. I know though. But you have to be strong. Don't say anything about your parents. Just Say the truth. That you didn't know Ashton and you didn't kill him. Nothing more. Ok?'

I take my head into my hands and sob. What else can i do? Nothing makes sense!

Mr. Henderson walks over and  puts his arms around me. 'Beth. It's ok. This will help us uncover the truth.'

'I am so sick of all of this. I have no clue what's happening. I am so dazed. And hurting', i cry.

Henderson takes me into a hug. 'Shhhh.'

After a while i leave for home. And find the police waiting to take me to the station.

'I didn't know Ashton. I didn't kill him. And no, i don't want a lawyer. Because i don't need one.'  I repeat what i have already stated an exhausting number of times to the interrogating officers at the station.

Back at my parents' office, my mom says,

'You know darling, your father and i don't know what to do. You must get a lawyer.'

'What do you mean? I said i don't need one because i didn't do it, mom', i say spewing with anger.

'I am sorry. But if you are going to be so persistent i haev to remind you that they have your fingerprints on the gun. Ok? And you don't have an alibi except the one that we gave. Remember, You were by yourself at the time of the murder. Your father and i have been thinking, Mia. What happened to Ashton was may be  an accident. It's ok. They can't send you to jail. Only to a juvie. Let's get a lawyer to make better of this.'

' May be was an accident or not. But i didn't do it.' I say. 'Oh, no. You too think i did it? Is that all it takes you to trust someone over your own daughter? The evidence that may or may not be true? How could you have so little faith in me?'

'Its not just any gun, Mia. It is ours. So we have no choice but to believe it's you. We are sorry', my dad replies for mom.

'The one we keep in the safety room?', I ask, shocked. And then i remember touching the gun while messing about the room.

He nods. 'Yes'

'It could be anybody. Any one could have stolen it.'

'You know that's not possible. No one can get in to the house with out   setting off the security alarm. No way they could have come in and stolen the keys to the safety room'

I remember Mr. Henderson's words and  the anger that's been building up in me bursts out. I say, 'well, you see, it could be anybody: You or mom. Why just me?'

'Because, it's your fingerprints on the gun', Mom answers. Is she grinding her teeth?  I think.

'Why would i kill anybody?', I explode.

'Curious about how a gun is fired? Like we said, maybe, it was only an accident. You can tell us.'

'I am not mindless to make such an accident happen even if i was curious to see how a gun works.'

'I was only being nice, Mia, when i suggested it might have been an accident', mom says looking away.

'Being nice? What do you mean?'

'That boy had your name written in his book. Who knows what reason you had to kill him? The police will find out. But we can make things better if we appoint a lawyer and maybe even say it was for self defence.'

'Wow. Please leave me alone. I am out of here',  i scream and begin to leave.

'We can't let you out of our sight. Police asked us not to', my mom says, trying to stop me.

'To hell with all.  I am going home. I won't leave anywhere. I don't have to', i say gruffly and stride out of  the office.

It hurts past the point of feeling the pain when i say the word 'home'. Is what Mr. Henderson said all true? Are these not my parents? Is this not my home?

The police pick me up again from home. Apparently, they have found some new evidence besides the fingerprints on the gun.

'You ask me  thousand times and i will tell you thousand times that i didn't know Ashton. I didn't kill him', i tell the officer in front of me.

'Yes. So you say Ms. Beth', the officer says.   And reaches into a box labeled evidence and pulls  out a sweatshirt. My school sweatshirt!

'Do you recognize this, Ms. Mia?', he asks holding out the shirt.

'Yes. Of course. It's my sweatshirt', i say, fazed.

'Do you see the red colour here and here',  he asks, pointing to some spots, 'do you know what it is?'

'No', i say, looking quizzed from the spotted shirt to the officer.

'I thought you would know. It is blood. Ashton's blood. On your dress. Any idea how his blood might have gotten onto your shirt, Ms. Mia?'

I feel the blood drain out of my face. 'No. Except, i don't know how the hell  it got there'

'May be, you know this though: Were you wearing this dress on the day Ashton was murdered?'

My throat is dry but i manage to speak. 'I was wearing it the day before you came to talk to me.'

'Which was the day of the murder. As you can see', he says pointing to the shirt that he has now placed inside the box, 'We have solid evidence here, Ms. Mia. We just got it back from the forensic lab. I think you will want a lawyer now. You are under arrest, Ms. Mia.' And he goes on to receit the rights. But all i hear is the buzzing in my ears.

I am taken to a cell. I sit in the corner and cry thinking through everything Mr. Henderson has said since the first time in the park. He has to be right that Macksmor are the abductors.

                                                                ************

I have to tread  very carefully if i am to rescue my grand daughter.  The abductors can know nothing until the police show up at their door step and clasp the cuffs on their sinful hands. So, i gather everything i need. And have my contacts make interventions to hold Mia's case on hold giving them the justifiable reasons.

And just as i hoped,  the police makes the arrest.

The trail date arrives. In the court room, the judge says in the omniest voice, 'Can you explain the video Mr. Macksmor?'

But what the video was about, Beth has no idea.    As the prosecutor starts to prepare to show the iron clad evidence, i say to Beth, 'Beth you promised you won't see this at my request. Please don't.'

Beth tries to keep her promise but the gruesome screams that explode the room while the video played cuts it short. Beth is fallen to the floor, weeping at the display of her parents being slaughtered infront of her little self, her parents begging for their child to be spared from watching them getting killed, her little self crying in utter helplessness to let her parents go.

Unlike the time she suffered amnesia and  blocked out her entire life on living through the gruesome, beastly murder of her parents right infront of her own eyes,  Beth didn't erase her memory on reliving the scenes through the video. She is under intensive therapy.

A few months has passed since then. Now Beth and I are seated beside each other busy conversing.

Beth asks, 'Tell me how everything happened'

'When you said the papers has 'smash' lab on them', i begin, 'i knew i had found the evidence to use against them. Those papers contain your parents research and invention intel. But something nagged me about Ashton. I thought Ashton should have had something with him to prove you are Beth. That's when i found that... Video sewn into a secret compartment of his bag. Police found where the video had come from. Your mom had acquired a house from her father, she and you father wrote it over to Ashton's sick mom with the clause that the house would go to Ashton when he's of age. But before this happened, your parents used 'the office', a room, and installed storage units for the feed coming from the lab secret camera surveillance. Even after Ashton's mom acquired it from them, 'the office' remained as it was. Ashton was living in a foster home. After turning eighteen, he returned to his home and found this.'

'So he began to search for me?', she asks.

'Yeah', i  say 'the Macksmors confessed to the police that Ashton had approached them and while he didn't directly say, he suggested he knew what they had done and they are about to pay for that. They didn't think how he could have known, they simply had to kill him. They chose to leave the book with your name in the bag as they saw you could be  implied in his murder and with that they can steer clean of the Henderson kid for good. Better than risking killing after you sign over the papers to them, they had thought out.

She exhales loudly. 'And i thought they loved me. They were simply waiting to get me to sign the papers. And as an opportunity presented to imply me in Ashton's murder, they grabbed it.  They would have dragged the case until i was 18, which is in few months, and have me sign over. Wow. Continue'

'Your parents were known to have perished in a fire accident at their lab. The abductors started that fire after they did what they did. The news never reached me because i was unreachable. According to everyone's knowledge you had gone to live with your 'relatives'. Who they are or where, no one cared', i summarise.

Beth sobs. 'You know,  i wish Ashton had gone straight to the police with the video.'

'He's a guy with gratitude,Beth. Your parents had been very kind to him', i reason,  'he may have wanted to confront them face to face, Beth. What he has discovered on the...... video would make that to a person. He must have crumbled on the inside. After all, he is your brother that you didn't have'

I notice the 'is' but i let go. After all he 'is' living through me. I brace my arms tighter around my grand father and cry. For my parents, for my little self, for the brother that i never had but is, my Ashton. For the redemption times. For this new-old life with my grand father.

© 2016 anxia



Author's Note

anxia
Your thoughts with out any censoring.

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Featured Review

Hello Anxia ^^ I am sorry to disappoint you but there was not much suspense in this write and that is possibly due to the language and the way you have portrayed your story. See when I was reading this I was judging the story based on a few criteria in mind:

Language:Anxia, i strongly believe that English might not be your native language and please don't take this the wrong way for English isn't my native language either, and I did recently gain this magical ability to ignore grammatical errors as well to enjoy the plot of the story (That's a story for another time) and not waste time trying to correct the grammatical errors at every bend. But even for me this read was highly difficult because the errors here are too glaring for even me to ignore and it is not just limited to errors with the tense alone. You have a few spelling errors and in many places your sentence structure is off. Even though I am a very fast reader, this error strewn write dragged down my reading pace a lot. And what should have just taken me 30 minutes to read took me more than an hour. I felt that this was a draft that was not revised and was made in a hurry possibly due to the reasons you stated before. This one needs to go through a lot of editing before it can be presented. Unfortunately since it's really late here and I must sleep soon I can't point out all the mistakes. But I will tell you major points that you need to work on when it comes to the language itself:

* The fact is you need to maintain your tense throughout the write. I suggest for this write ensure you have written the whole thing in the simple past tense. And not fluctuate from past-perfect to simple past then to present tense itself.

* Another thing your write lacked is a bit of sophistication. You repeat the same words too many times and you need to cut down on unnecessary words a LOT. Since there are many (so sorry I am too tired to point them out right now)

* Third the flow in this write feels very disrupted at times because of the way you change your scenes . Give certain indications that would show if some other character is speaking or you have suddenly changed places. For example the shift from the police questioning to the jail cell and then to the courthouse scene was too abrupt. And even the tape showing the whole surveillance camera thing came out of nowhere. If you don't take care of these things you will not only leave the reader confused but also chances are the reader might just stop reading this to the very end.

Well there are some good things about the write present as far as language is concerned... Your words do invoke imagery and I can imagine the scenes taking place one by one. You give enough description for the reader to visualize them without much of an issue.


Build-up: When it's a story tagged with the genre thriller and mystery the build-up till the end or till the main suspense revealed has to be really good. Unfortunately yours went flat in between. One reason would definitely be due to the fact that your write has a very dragged down pace which takes away the excitement and curiosity of the reader to know what happens next. Again I would suggest not to use the same words and cut down on unnecessary ones. The other thing I would like to mention is the fact that you repeat some parts completely like when you had to explain the vision Beth saw to Mr Henderson, You could just state it like : So I explained the part regarding family and the boy that resembled a young Ashton to Mr Henderson.

Not only do you cut down on words your pace is not dragged down. And the readers wouldn't be that clueless if you mention it like this, after they already are aware of the events no sense repeating it twice.

The part in the middle where they meet everyday and discuss was good although again the error strewn write damaged the beauty of the write.

Characters: You introduce 5 major characters and I believe you didn't really describe all of them. Especially Mr. Henderson. It's a little difficult to visualize a character about which no real description as such is given. Your characters are fine nothing wrong with them. I felt you needed to explore a lot more, with Mia's impostor Parents, give them more of a role in this write. I like the emotional and the character development that goes through Beth as she spends more time with Mr. Henderson, so good job there ^^.


Story Quality: Well for me I will give this write a 7.8/10( We improve as we grow and we as writers are never satisfied with our own work always coming back and making edits and making our writes better than before) And the story quality has nothing to do with the grammatical errors mind you. See your story really didn't have much suspense you easily gave away the clue as to the parents were impostors and possible culprits of the murder of Ashton, the only thing that keeps the story alive is how did Ashton fit in to the scene to begin with and why it turned out the way it did. For me the highlight of the story was the whole bond development between Beth and her Grandad. Your idea isn't that original in terms of extra copies of the recordings still being present. Also you taking to big a leap from time to time creates voids that need details so that one could connect how they ended up reaching in that scene to begin with.... Still it's a good attempt and if refined and worked on it tirelessly this can really become a good story that keeps the readers engaged till the end. Using a bit more of sophisticated language helps ^^


Conclusion: It was a decent read for me and I always finish reading what I start so that's another thing. I think you also did a good job when it came to the funeral scene. Though I wished you could show more emotions in that scene and take pains to expand the whole memory regaining part a lot better. The story lacked a bit of impact, but I guess the grammatical errors and off sentence structures might have contributed to that. Still I enjoyed what you wrote about and I this is not a bad work at all, it's just that I have a feeling you can do way better than this and this write could be taken to a very higher level i.e. this write has the potential to become quite the bestseller in the short story category..... so Well done ^^

Thank you for sharing.


P.S I have a tendency to skip words since my mind's running faster than my hands. Hopefully no important word missed that would make my statement vague or give it a different meaning all together.( plus this time I am a little sleepy) Also I hope I didn't sound harsh or mean, if I did I deeply apologise for I had no such intention except for stating my honest opinions on the write .





Posted 1 Year Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Érenn

1 Year Ago

Well we always the worst critics of our own writes as they say. And You're welcome, I know it's not .. read more
anxia

1 Year Ago

Thank you for your encouraging words, Erenn. I have heard many times that a lot of reading will help.. read more
Érenn

1 Year Ago

Not much just stay dedicated to your craft and that's all I would want. ^^ Oh and 60 books is a goo.. read more



Reviews

Hello Anxia ^^ I am sorry to disappoint you but there was not much suspense in this write and that is possibly due to the language and the way you have portrayed your story. See when I was reading this I was judging the story based on a few criteria in mind:

Language:Anxia, i strongly believe that English might not be your native language and please don't take this the wrong way for English isn't my native language either, and I did recently gain this magical ability to ignore grammatical errors as well to enjoy the plot of the story (That's a story for another time) and not waste time trying to correct the grammatical errors at every bend. But even for me this read was highly difficult because the errors here are too glaring for even me to ignore and it is not just limited to errors with the tense alone. You have a few spelling errors and in many places your sentence structure is off. Even though I am a very fast reader, this error strewn write dragged down my reading pace a lot. And what should have just taken me 30 minutes to read took me more than an hour. I felt that this was a draft that was not revised and was made in a hurry possibly due to the reasons you stated before. This one needs to go through a lot of editing before it can be presented. Unfortunately since it's really late here and I must sleep soon I can't point out all the mistakes. But I will tell you major points that you need to work on when it comes to the language itself:

* The fact is you need to maintain your tense throughout the write. I suggest for this write ensure you have written the whole thing in the simple past tense. And not fluctuate from past-perfect to simple past then to present tense itself.

* Another thing your write lacked is a bit of sophistication. You repeat the same words too many times and you need to cut down on unnecessary words a LOT. Since there are many (so sorry I am too tired to point them out right now)

* Third the flow in this write feels very disrupted at times because of the way you change your scenes . Give certain indications that would show if some other character is speaking or you have suddenly changed places. For example the shift from the police questioning to the jail cell and then to the courthouse scene was too abrupt. And even the tape showing the whole surveillance camera thing came out of nowhere. If you don't take care of these things you will not only leave the reader confused but also chances are the reader might just stop reading this to the very end.

Well there are some good things about the write present as far as language is concerned... Your words do invoke imagery and I can imagine the scenes taking place one by one. You give enough description for the reader to visualize them without much of an issue.


Build-up: When it's a story tagged with the genre thriller and mystery the build-up till the end or till the main suspense revealed has to be really good. Unfortunately yours went flat in between. One reason would definitely be due to the fact that your write has a very dragged down pace which takes away the excitement and curiosity of the reader to know what happens next. Again I would suggest not to use the same words and cut down on unnecessary ones. The other thing I would like to mention is the fact that you repeat some parts completely like when you had to explain the vision Beth saw to Mr Henderson, You could just state it like : So I explained the part regarding family and the boy that resembled a young Ashton to Mr Henderson.

Not only do you cut down on words your pace is not dragged down. And the readers wouldn't be that clueless if you mention it like this, after they already are aware of the events no sense repeating it twice.

The part in the middle where they meet everyday and discuss was good although again the error strewn write damaged the beauty of the write.

Characters: You introduce 5 major characters and I believe you didn't really describe all of them. Especially Mr. Henderson. It's a little difficult to visualize a character about which no real description as such is given. Your characters are fine nothing wrong with them. I felt you needed to explore a lot more, with Mia's impostor Parents, give them more of a role in this write. I like the emotional and the character development that goes through Beth as she spends more time with Mr. Henderson, so good job there ^^.


Story Quality: Well for me I will give this write a 7.8/10( We improve as we grow and we as writers are never satisfied with our own work always coming back and making edits and making our writes better than before) And the story quality has nothing to do with the grammatical errors mind you. See your story really didn't have much suspense you easily gave away the clue as to the parents were impostors and possible culprits of the murder of Ashton, the only thing that keeps the story alive is how did Ashton fit in to the scene to begin with and why it turned out the way it did. For me the highlight of the story was the whole bond development between Beth and her Grandad. Your idea isn't that original in terms of extra copies of the recordings still being present. Also you taking to big a leap from time to time creates voids that need details so that one could connect how they ended up reaching in that scene to begin with.... Still it's a good attempt and if refined and worked on it tirelessly this can really become a good story that keeps the readers engaged till the end. Using a bit more of sophisticated language helps ^^


Conclusion: It was a decent read for me and I always finish reading what I start so that's another thing. I think you also did a good job when it came to the funeral scene. Though I wished you could show more emotions in that scene and take pains to expand the whole memory regaining part a lot better. The story lacked a bit of impact, but I guess the grammatical errors and off sentence structures might have contributed to that. Still I enjoyed what you wrote about and I this is not a bad work at all, it's just that I have a feeling you can do way better than this and this write could be taken to a very higher level i.e. this write has the potential to become quite the bestseller in the short story category..... so Well done ^^

Thank you for sharing.


P.S I have a tendency to skip words since my mind's running faster than my hands. Hopefully no important word missed that would make my statement vague or give it a different meaning all together.( plus this time I am a little sleepy) Also I hope I didn't sound harsh or mean, if I did I deeply apologise for I had no such intention except for stating my honest opinions on the write .





Posted 1 Year Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Érenn

1 Year Ago

Well we always the worst critics of our own writes as they say. And You're welcome, I know it's not .. read more
anxia

1 Year Ago

Thank you for your encouraging words, Erenn. I have heard many times that a lot of reading will help.. read more
Érenn

1 Year Ago

Not much just stay dedicated to your craft and that's all I would want. ^^ Oh and 60 books is a goo.. read more

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Added on March 30, 2016
Last Updated on April 13, 2016
Tags: Crime, thriller, suspense

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anxia
anxia

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