A few minutes later, Scarlet returned wearing a much cleaner shirt and no apron. She didn’t look like someone who could tackle me. She looked like someone who might work in retail and volunteer at an animal shelter. I giggled imagining Scarlet sitting in the middle of a big crowd of animals.
“What is it?” She asked, and she smiled. She was very likable, and it was hard for me to not smile back.
“Nothing.” I continued to giggle.
“No, seriously, what is it?” Now she was giggling too- and it was like we were old friends- that we knew each other from school or a sport or a club- not from illegal abduction- and we had known each other forever. The best of friends. Not kidnapper and kidnapee. And it was nice, just being in this moment.
The door was slammed open, and the black haired girl stormed in. She was still sickly looking, but she also looked determined. Without looking at us, she quickly crossed the room.
Scarlet put on a slightly more serious expression and called out, just as the black girl reached the door leading to the rest of the apartment.
“Hey, there’s more soup left in the-“ slam! The noise shook the furniture. “…pot.” Scarlet finished her sentence then looked at me. “Well then.”
A moment later, an exasperated- or maybe just tired- Conrad stepped in the door. Scarlet stood up as he came in. “Conrad!” He quietly turned to look at her. “I made soup! I’m not sure how much is left cause I kinda- spilled it.” She smiled apologetically. “But you can have whatever’s left! It’s in a pot in the kitchen.” He gave her a slow nod.
“You guys can have it. I’m not hungry.” He sat down next to me on the couch, and he and Scarlet exchanged a look.
“I’ll bring back some soup.” Scarlet got up and left the room awkwardly.
Conrad and I sat in silence for the few minutes until Scarlet returned, Conrad occasionally opening his mouth to say something, but then deciding better of it- breathing out with a heavy sigh- and returning the room to the silence.
When Scarlet returned, Conrad, seeing his opportunity, stood up and left. Scarlet took his seat and gave me a quick, reassuring smile, before letting her face drop, serious.
“I understand that you’re confused, and I know you want to leave.” I nodded. “But if you go out there, you’re in serious danger. I promise that we don’t want to hurt you. I promise that if you stay, we’ll explain everything. Now is just not the time.” And with that, she left the room after Conrad.
I don’t know why I’m staying here. Maybe it’s because I want to believe they’re being honest. I want to believe Conrad, and I want to believe Scarlet. I don’t know. I should be terrified. Maybe it’s just shock, maybe that’s why I’m numb and not terrified of everything- not jumpy and withdrawn. They just seem truthful.
I guess that’s why I’ve been staying here two days now.
They’ve given me my own room- Scarlet’s sleeping on the floor of Conrad’s room. Scarlet has also loaned me a shirt and pants for pajamas, and although they’re a little big, I’m grateful for her kindness. While I’m not flat out scared of Conrad anymore, he’s still a little intimidating to me, although I can tell Scarlet certainly trusts him.
The black haired girl still hasn’t spoken to me since I got here. I don’t really care. If I want to talk, I can talk to Scarlet, maybe Conrad if she’s away or busy. I just wish I knew the black haired girl’s name.
I guess I don’t really get to spend much time with her. She spends most of her time alone is her room. When we eat, she takes three or four bites of whatever delicious food Scarlet has cooked us, then moves food around on her plate for five minutes before asking to be excused back to her room. How her head works is yet a mystery to me.
I’ve been staying here three days now, and I’ve fallen into everyone’s routine here. In the morning, i’ve been woken up by Scarlet, making breakfast. So far, she’s gotten up like this every morning, around six. Conrad is clearly used to it, or just a deep sleeper, because he always sleeps through all the cooking. I can’t tell about the black haired girl. The door to her room is always closed anyway.
“Summer?” Scarlet gently knocked on my (her) door. “Breakfast is ready.”
“Ok.’ I sat up in my bed. Scarlet’s bed. I don’t have the heart to tell her I had been up for an hour. I wasn’t really used to sleeping in a space with other people. I was an only child when I was a child. At this point I was renting a one- bedroom apartment. Being a premed student, I get a lot of work, and I usually need silence to write.
Putting my feet on the cold floor, I walked out and into the kitchen. It only took me about a day to memorize the layout of the apartment- I’ve righted myself.
I could smell bacon cooking in the hall, but when I enter the kitchen I can hear it too, coupled with the sounds of rain pounding outside.
“Morning.” Scarlet smiled and nodded to me without looking up from the bacon.
“Morning, Scarlet.” It didn’t seem like morning- the rain clouds blocking out the light outside made it look more like night. Crack! A flash of lightning lit up the room for a split second as Scarlet served an egg and a couple of slices of bacon onto a plate. Placing it and another like it at the kitchen table, she gestured for me to sit and eat.
Taking a bite of bacon, I enjoyed the food I had while Scarlet put two more plates on the table. Walking away from the steamy plates, she called back into the bedrooms.
“Conrad? Food’s getting cold.” A faint, muffled groan came from the bedroom. Scarlet had a joking but serious expression on her face, if that’s something even possible.
“You have to get up. It’s nearly seven thirty.” So I misjudged when Scarlet had been getting up. I hadn’t worn my watch the day I was kidnapped. It’s actually funny, thinking about that now. Kidnapped. It doesn’t seem like I was kidnapped. It’s different. Now. It really just doesn’t feel like a kidnapping.
Scarlet opened her mouth to call out again. “Conrad-“
And that’s when the light went out.
“What’s going on?” Scarlet and I turned around to see the black haired girl standing behind us. It was almost as if she had just appeared there- I hadn’t seen or heard her come in. Like a shadow.
“Power’s out.” Scarlet said this in the way one might say “dinner’s ready,” or something like that. She turned to me. “Summer, you’re closest to the window. Is it out on the rest of the block as well?” I turned to look.
There was a shadow. I couldn’t see the owner, they were standing below the window so I couldn’t tell, but someone was there.
“Conrad?” I could hear Scarlet behind me. “Power’s out. I can’t heat up your food if it gets cold, lazybones.”
“Scarlet-“ I started to say something about the shadow, but it was gone. What was I supposed to do? See where the power was out. Right. Peering out, I could see other apartment buildings with the lights on. “It’s just here.”
“That’s what I was afraid of. Go to your room and get dressed.” She sounded very authoritative. Turning to the black haired girl, she added, “You too.” Treading silently, the girl disappeared into her room once again.
I headed to my room to get dressed in the dark. What the heck was happening? Did our power just get shut off or something?
I finished dressing and headed out of the bedroom to see Scarlet and Conrad (who was already dressed), in heated but whispered conversation.
“She needs to know, Conrad.” Scarlet whispered. I had never seen her angry looking before. She looked scary.
“We don’t have enough time.” Conrad countered. “We can explain once we’re out of here. If this is the only place that power’s out, it means one of them is here. Which means we need to get out while we still can.”
That didn’t sound good. Who were they? The shadow I saw outside? I thought back to the few seconds I had seen it. Certainly ominous. Not good.