Chapter 8 The Girl Within

Driving back home was hard.  It was the last thing I wanted to do and my heart fluttered nervously in anticipation of carrying through what I’d planned.  As I drove, more questions popped into my head.  Did I really believe Chris had taken Daniel?  I struggled to recall the letter the FBI had received that had been found near Chris’ desk at work.  It had been long and wordy.  Chris didn’t talk like that.  He also couldn’t type.  It would have taken him ages to knock out the letter.  He would have handwritten it if the letter were from him, I thought.
Then that led me back to the kidnappers.  Why would anyone take Chris and Daniel if they weren’t interested in a ransom?  They had only left one note to indicate they held the two.  Then, when I’d expected a demand for money, instead they had switched to trying to discredit me.
Maybe this hadn’t been about money alone.  It seemed like someone was out to punish me.  Anyone acquainted even slightly with me would know Daniel and Chris were my life.  I might have worked hard at my business but in the end, they always came first I shivered as I reached two conclusions-this was about revenge.  It had to be.  It was too personal.  Someone had taken the two people I’d cared about most and then tried to destroy my creditability.  That didn’t fit the mold of a traditional kidnapper or a crime of opportunity.  The second conclusion was even harder to stomach-the kidnappers had to know me.  Someone I considered a friend, a neighbor or a business colleague had done this.  They were exacting revenge against me for something I’d done to them.
It was all speculation on my part.  I didn’t have a shred of proof-yet.  All the pieces seemed to fit, though.  Could I trust my reasoning?  I knew a symptom of schizophrenia could be a persecution complex.  Was I imagining someone out to get me?
I took a detour on the way back to my house, stopping by a store I’d found on my phone.  It specialized in surveillance equipment.  I walked into the small shop, glancing at the wide array of electronics lining the displays.  A guy I suspected was barely eighteen with a black t-shirt and unruly short, blond hair was behind the sales counter.
“Do you have any nanny cams?”  I asked.
“Sure do,” he said, “right this way.”  He led me to a shelf where a teddy bear, a book, and a potted plant sat.  “These are our most popular models.”
I picked up the potted plant and looked it over carefully.
“You won’t see the camera,” he interjected.  “It’s a very good product.”
He was right.  It appeared to be a high quality silk plant.  I couldn’t see any evidence of electronics.
“What kind of picture does it have?”  I asked.  “I need something that can pick up a decent amount of detail.”
He pointed to a monitor a few feet away, “Enough detail for you?”
I looked in disbelief.  My face was exceptionally clear on the screen.  I could even read the numbers on my watch.  “I’ll take it.”
My cash was disappearing fast but I couldn’t go on questioning my own sanity.  I finally pulled into my parents’ driveway.  I started up the steps and then rang the bell.
My mother opened the door, “Liz!  Thank God!  I’ve been so worried since you didn’t call.”  She pulled me into a fierce hug.
I felt guilty.  “I’m alright, Mom.  Can we take a walk?”
“Sure.  Let me get my shoes on.”  In a few seconds, she stepped onto the porch.  I led her away from the house into the field.

“Why do you want to walk out here?  It’s muddy.”  She looked down at her feet.
“It’s peaceful out here,” I said.
She looked slightly scared, as if considering I might have a mental episode.  “That’s good then,” she replied at last.
“Mom, I need your help.”
She let out a sigh of relief, “I’m so glad you said that.  I’ll call Dr. Miles-”
I waved my hand for her to stop, “I need you to do some things for me, and then I’ll talk to Dr. Miles.”  I had no intention of seeing her again but thought it might convince my mother to help carry out my plan.
She looked wary, “What sort of things?”
I met her gaze.  “I know what I’m going to ask of you may sound odd but please follow all my instructions to the letter.  If you do, I’ll see Dr. Miles afterward.”  I hated lying to her but if what I was about to do succeeded, she would forgive me later.
“We’re going to go back to my house and gather up my medicines.  I want you to send them to this address.”  I gave her a sheet of paper with a lab’s name and address.

“Why?” she stared at the paper.
“Please just humor me,” I replied.  “When they send you the results, I want you to call me.”
She looked at me as if I was crazy, “Liz, there’s nothing in them.  No one is poisoning you.  It’s a symptom of the disease.”
“If you show me the report, then I’ll believe you,” I replied.
She shook her head, “I guess if that’s what it takes to convince you, I’ll do it.”
“But not a word of why we’re taking the stuff when we’re in the house,” I cautioned.
“Liz, no one is watching you.  It’s another symptom of the disease.”
“Once I get the report then I’ll believe you,” I said again.
Then I explained the next part of the plan.
“You want me to lock you in your bedroom?” my mother asked in alarm.
“Yes, you can come over in the morning to unlock the door,” I replied.  “The bathroom is inside the bedroom so I’ll be fine.”
“But why?” she asked.
“I bought a camera today,” I lifted the potted plant out of the truck.
My mother stared at it, “Liz, that’s a plant-”
I removed the bottom and showed her how it worked.  She looked slightly relieved.
“I still don’t know what this is going to prove,” she said worriedly.
“Maybe nothing,” I replied.  “Let’s just see what happens.”  I didn’t tell her I was prepared to be locked inside my master bedroom until another note came.  I suspected they weren’t finished turning the knife in me.  I had to prove to myself and the police that I wasn’t leaving the notes myself like Emily had insinuated.  I knew of no other way to prove it other than to be locked inside with a camera trained on me constantly.
“Remember, it’s just a plant.  Don’t tell anyone it’s a camera or even say it out loud,” I cautioned.
“Liz, no one is watching you,” my mother began again.
“Please, just do what I ask,” I pleaded.
“Alright, but after this is done, you’re going straight to Dr. Miles.”
I nodded in agreement.  If my plan failed, would it prove my mother was right?  Was I suffering from mental illness?  My mind never felt clearer.  I couldn’t be wrong, could I?”

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