I blinked in disbelief. John Leech was slowing coming toward me, one hand on his stomach, attempting to quench the blood. I furiously kicked Casey.
The frenzy of my blows caught her off guard. She loosened her grasp. I dove for the gun and took a wild shot at John. He slammed his body against the ground. I heard an inhuman cry of pain.
I scrambled to my feet. I pulled the trigger again, aiming at John’s back. The gun made an odd sound and I realized I had jammed it with my one handed shooting. I pulled the magazine out and frantically attempted to clear the jam.
John was slowly getting to his feet. My hands grew clumsy as I began to panic. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Casey on her knees. She was less than a foot away when I finally slammed the magazine back into the gun.
She lunged toward me. I pointed the gun at her head and fired. Blood and tissue exploded around me. I stepped back in horror.
“Casey!” John screamed and then I saw him coming toward me. I shot him in the leg and he went down to the ground again.
“You stupid bitch, if you’re going to kill me you’re going to have to shoot better than that!” He yelled.
I didn’t tell him there was nothing wrong with my aim. Since I’d heard the two cavalierly discussing chopping the finger off of my sweet, little son, I no longer just wanted Daniel and Chris back, I wanted the people that took them dead. Not a quick death-a slow, painful death. Casey had stolen that from me but her brother wasn’t going to be so lucky.
It was irrational. I should have just called the police. It would have been safer, but I realized I didn’t want to be sensible. I wanted to inflict pain. I wanted to make John Leech hurt for what he’d done. I walked closer to him and shot his hand at close range.
“Ahhh!” he screamed in pain. “What are you doing?” he moaned.
I didn’t answer. I fired again, striking his other kneecap. I pulled some ammunition from my pocket and replenished the magazine. Casey’s gun took the same as mine had.
He let out a cry like a wounded animal. I took aim again.
“Please,” he moaned, “please.”
Stop Liz. It’s enough. I pushed the voice aside and shot his other hand.
“Did my son beg to come home? Did you listen to him? Would you have stopped when you tried to cut his FREAKING FINGER OFF?” I exploded, screaming at the top of my lungs.
“GET UP!” I yelled at him. “WALK!” He slowly dragged his bloody, mutilated body toward the lake that I’d motioned him to.
I continued to push him until he was at the very edge of the water. “Get in,” I said. “Let’s see what sounds you make in the water.”
I saw the fear in his eyes as he made the connection. “Please…”
I kicked him hard and he fell into the depths with a splash.
Do you think some people are just born bad? Roger Hathaway’s voice rang through my head.
I still didn’t know the answer. I just knew I was now one of them.
I sat watching and listening to John until there was silence. I got up and walked over to what was left of Casey. Grabbing her ankle, I pulled her to the lake. I searched the outbuilding and found some rope and a concrete block. I tied her body to the block and shoved it into the lake.
If John’s body ever surfaced, I doubted anyone would care much. Good riddance would be the overwhelming thought, I guessed.
Casey might raise a few eyebrows, though. I could plead self-defense as it truly was- but I didn’t want to answer questions. The police might take exception with me shooting her in the head, thinking it excessive. I smiled-it had been.
I looked at the gore Casey had left behind in disgust. When I found Daniel and Chris, I couldn’t let them see that. I unhooked a water hose and washed off the ground and myself.
Now, to find my baby. He and Chris had to be there somewhere. John had been on his way to the outbuilding but I’d already been inside it. I hadn’t seen a thing to indicate a hidden room or cellar.
They must be in the house. I was in a hurry now that I’d disposed of the bodies. I flung the front door open and tore through the rooms. Silence. I knocked a lamp over in anger. They had to be there somewhere. I flew up the stairs but heard nothing. I opened all the bedroom doors-empty.
I ran back downstairs and began to go over the den again. Nothing. The kitchen was too small to have a secret room. I walked back into the main level bedroom and then went into the kitchen again. The kitchen was oddly shaped and it connected to the bedroom. I stepped outside. There was a tiny window that I hadn’t noticed before. It had been boarded up but there were a couple of small cracks at the bottom.
I rushed back into the bedroom and opened the closet door. I pushed aside moldy smelling clothes and ran my hand against the wall. I felt the opening of a door. It was locked. I kicked and kicked until I felt it give.
My heart lurched into my throat as I saw Chris and Daniel tied up in the corner. Chris’ eyes met mine and then clouded with tears. His mouth was stuffed with something and a strip of fabric was tied tightly around his face. Daniel looked as if he was asleep. I ran to Daniel and ran my hand over his chest. His heart was beating soundly.
I smiled in relief and then went back to the kitchen to get a knife. I cut Chris free. I noticed a string of bruises on his arm. His eye was black and blue.
“Are you okay?” I asked, quietly.
He nodded but I noticed he shivered when I touched him. I glanced toward the tiny window. There was one board that had been wretched free. I looked outside through the crack and realized how close it was to the lake. He must have seen and heard everything.
I didn’t meet his eyes and quickly moved to Daniel, cutting free the gag around his mouth and loosening his hands and feet. The rope had cut into his skin and left marks. My hand tightened on the knife. He moaned in his sleep but curled back up into a little ball, his eyes still closed.
“Did they hurt him?” I asked Chris. I couldn’t hide the fury I felt.
“No, I kept him safe, Liz,” Chris replied.
I looked at him closely, “You’re not lying to me are you?”
I hadn’t meant the question to sound threatening but it emerged from me in a dangerous hiss.
I saw a flicker of fear in Chris’ eyes, “No, I swear to you Liz, I never let them touch him.”
I wrapped my arms around him but Chris held himself stiffly in my embrace. I whispered to him, “You know I’d never hurt you.”
He didn’t seem convinced. In the last few hours something had escaped from deep down inside me-something I’d never known had existed. I’d been angry before, I’d wanted to exact revenge before, but the new feelings went past anything I’d ever experienced. I’d enjoyed hurting Casey and her brother. I’d enjoyed it so much I hadn’t even thought about asking John where Daniel and Chris were. The thought should have unnerved me but surprisingly, it didn’t. I felt completely calm.
I released Chris and picked up Daniel, cuddling him against my body. I could never hurt you, little one. That much I knew was true.