Updated: Oct 12, 2020
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Tobias took a knee and pulled the boy away from his mother’s body. An awkward silence fell as we waited to hear what our honorary leader could possibly say. I didn’t envy his position. I wouldn’t have known how to talk to Wolfgang under the best of circumstances. I certainly couldn’t process more than a superficial “I’m sorry for your loss” if I had to. But Tobias wanted to be the one in charge, and that position came with certain burdens that guns simply could not help.
Tobias did the best he could, “Wolfgang, listen. I need you to be strong, okay?”
The kid seemed plenty strong to me. Just a callous, empty, “Okay,” followed by a long stare at his mother’s body and the words, “I guess whoever killed the old woman got Mom, too.”
Jerry was the next to speak. “I think it’s high time we all get out of here.”
Tobias stood and turned to square off against him. “Get out of here... and go where?”
“Anywhere,” answered Loren, stepping up to Jerry’s side. “Pick a direction and go! There’s a murderer in this house. It’s better than sticking around and getting picked off one at a time.”
“Nobody’s going anywhere!” Tobias said sternly.
Jerry crossed his arms. “It sounds an awful lot like you’ve got an ulterior motive to keep us in place.”
Tobias was getting worked up now. “If I was the killer, don’t you think I’d just have shot you all by now and been done with it?”
“Of course not,” Jerry responded. “The thrill is in the hunt.”
I punched him in the shoulder. “Alright, everybody shut up. Okay? Whoever’s behind this was hoping for this exact scenario. I don’t know how they did it, but I don’t much care anymore. The important facts are these: We’ve all been lured into a trap. We are being watched and toyed with. Nowhere inside this house can be considered safe and none of us can be trusted. The stupidest thing we can do is stay put.”
“Wait a second,” Tobias said. “What do you mean by ‘we’re being watched’?”
“Jerry and I have reason to believe our room is bugged.”
Tobias shifted his eyes to the body. “So then, there could be cameras. There might be footage of whoever killed--”
A jolt of energy shot through me fast and hard. I lost my breath and nearly lost my balance along with it. For a moment, I thought I was having a heart attack. But then the moment passed just as suddenly as it came.
“Dude,” Jerry put a hand on my shoulder. “You alright? You look like you just swallowed a stinkbug.”
“Claire!” Loren caught her sister before she fell over. “What’s wrong?” She struggled to catch her breath, then looked at me and answered without using her words. The killer knows we’re figuring it out. He’s panicked. He’s changing plans. And someone is about to die. It wasn’t just a suspicion or an intuition. It was the feeling of terror you get a half second before a car accident. When you see it coming but can’t stop it. The moment when time slows down, when some people see their lives flash before their eyes. It hadn’t happened yet, but we were way too late to stop this. It was as good as done.
“Fuck!” I screamed.
Claire finally spoke. She said exactly what I knew she was going to say. “I’m so sorry.”
The feeling was already wearing off. That sense of inevitability dwindled by the second, replaced with a newfound urge to get the fuck out of there before what I saw came to pass.
I chose my words carefully. “We have to leave!”
Tobias raised his voice. “I said we’re not going anywhere until--”
I’d heard enough out of him. Tobias wasn’t the only one here with a weapon. Before I’d even had time to think it through, I pulled the stun gun out of my pocket and hurled it as hard as I could. It struck him right between the eyes, dropping him onto his back.
“Yes!” I screamed immediately before realizing why I should not have done that.