"Please. Please. Please," I whispered over and over to myself as I pushed the car as fast as I could through the stop signs, side streets and traffic lights on the way back to Sam's. I called Sam's place several times, but no one answered.
I was trying to fit together everything Sheriff Wayne had told me with what I'd seen myself of Joseph. I'd sat right there with him and had a long conversation. That was a Fate? A Fate? What did that mean? I've never known for sure how much memory a body retains when it's taken over by a Fate. This one seemed to know everything. That was not good. He was working with the Dread? So, did that mean the Dread knew everything Joseph had known? That was not good, not good at all.
And now what? Kill them? Kill Joseph and this Romeo di Marti? Kill them? I'd been trained all my life to fight, and I was good at it, but I'd never actually killed anyone before. Kill two men? How could I do that?
"Thou shalt not kill." I heard the voice from my memory so tangibly just then that I glanced in the mirror and to the seat beside me to see if I was alone in the car. The Demiurge dream, what did it mean? Was it only a dream? It had seemed so real. Was the Demiurge working with the Dread again? "I have one rule for you. Thou shalt not kill." What did it mean?
My heart pounded with fear as I pushed these thoughts aside and slid to a stop in the driveway of Sam's place. Her little SUV was gone, but that wasn't necessarily any reason to panic. Cami could have taken it somewhere, or Sam and Amy might have stepped out. I closed the car door quietly when I got out and walked toward the front door. If anyone was watching, they'd undoubtedly seen me already. Best to act like everything was normal.
"Might be easier if you hadn't rushed into the driveway in a power slide," I thought to myself. As I walked I breathed in and out slowly, calming myself from the inside out. I needed to be clear headed right now.
"If anything has happened to them I'll never forgive myself," I thought, but I pushed the thought quickly aside as I arrived at the door. "If only I had known what I was dealing with. I was brought into this thing blind and unprepared." If I could have gone back, I'd have been so much more careful. But you can never go back. I needed to remember that for next time, if there were a next time.
Since I'd been staying here for a couple of days, I decided it would be most normal for me to just open the door and walk in. It was late evening, almost dark, and the porch light wasn't on. "Maybe they went out," I thought. I reached for the knob to go in. It was locked. Okay. No big deal. They've probably stepped out for some food or something. "Wouldn't they have called if they were going to leave?" I thought. Given the circumstances, I had to admit to myself that it wouldn't be like Sam to take Amy off somewhere without calling. "But, she is pissed with you," I thought.
I decided to ring the doorbell. I rang it three times quickly and waited. No answer. Again anxiety started to rise up, and again I breathed in and out deeply and quelled it. I needed clear thinking. "Okay," I thought. "Either someone knows I'm here and they're ignoring me, or no one is here."
"Or someone is here and they can't come to the door." The third option occurred to me suddenly and brought new nervousness with it, which I fought back down. Reaching into the front pocket of my jeans, down to the inner pocket near the bottom, I pulled out the small plastic case and, with my hand still in my pocket, found the tiny lock tool and brought it out. I slipped it into the front door lock as inconspicuously as I could. Before long I felt the familiar clicks and the knob turned in my hand. Slipping the tool back into its place, I pushed the door open and stood looking in for a moment.
There was a lamp turned on in the living room, but the rest of the place was dark. I stepped into the living room and closed the door behind me softly. It sure looked like there was no one here.
I almost jumped out of my skin as the cat cried out and leapt up onto the back of the sofa from where it had been sitting. "Damn," I whispered, calming myself again. I walked over and pet the cat, listening for any sounds in the place. I didn't hear any.
Walking around the sofa, I moved slowly into the kitchen. All dark. Nothing there. I walked around just enough to see all the places anyone could be hiding and then went back through the living room toward the hallway. The door to the bathroom was open, so I walked in and flipped on the light. Thankfully, the shower curtain was wide open. Opening a shower curtain to look for a prowler was just too spooky. There was no one in there.
I walked back out into the hall and headed for the first room. It was Cami's. I knocked on the door softly. There was no answer. "Cami?" I called out quietly. No one answered. "Cami?" I asked again, more loudly, opening the door to the dark room.
Then I heard a noise, but it wasn't in this room. I heard a shuffling noise in the next room, Sam's room. "Hello?" I called out loudly, walking toward the next door. "Is anyone there?" I heard the shuffling noise more loudly. I walked into the room and flipped on the light. I didn't see anyone at first, but I there was noise on the far side of the room. I rushed in and around the bed. What I saw confirmed my worst fears.
"Cami!" I gasped, rushing to kneel beside side. She was lying on her stomach, her feet and hands bound together behind her with duct tape. There was tape wrapped around her head also, covering her mouth. When she saw me she started to cry. "Hold on. Hold on. My God." I slipped a pocket knife from the inside of my jacket and, holding her still, cut the tape binding her hands and feet. I didn't pull it off, but I freed her from it. "Be very still," I said. I slipped the knife blade behind the tape at the back of her head and, working sideways and trying not to cut any of her hair, I slit the tape.
Cami sat up, crying, and started pulling the tape from her hair on the left side. I helped her, and soon she had it to her ear. Very gently, she pulled the tape from the left side of her face and freed her mouth. The skin was red and irritated where the tape had been. With the tape still clinging to one side of her head, she started sobbing and leaned her face into my chest.
"Cami, what happened?" I asked. I took her shoulders and, as calmly as I could, pulled her back so I could see her face and hear her. "What happened? Where are Sam and Amy?"
She took a couple of deep, heaving breaths and tried to stop sobbing. "They came...," she heaved, her throat convulsing. "They came right after you left." She broke into another sob but got control of herself. I saw now that she had been in a struggle. She had blood on her right cheek and her left eye was bruised. "Two men," she heaved. "A big man, he was black, and a little man," she said. "I think he might have been Hispanic or something."
"Cami, where are Sam and Amy," I asked.
"They took them," she said, and she collapsed, sobbing, into my chest.