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“You’ve been caught, Rhydian. It’s all over.” The man said, leaning over the table.
Rhydian studied the short man in front of him. His plump body suggested a life of poverty or extreme wealth, but in this day and age that was rare. The wealthy always seemed to prefer muscles over flab.
His dark eyes squinted as he wiped the sweat away. Rhydian could tell that he was nervous. He couldn’t quite figure out why this would be, but it certainly seemed definite.
The sweat covered the grey shirt under his armpits, disgusting him. He knew this cop had been used as a decoy to pick him and his brother up. He was sure that the man had no idea of what would happen to them after they took them.
“Just tell me the story. Why did you two do it?” the man sighed.
Rhydian snickered at this. The man talked as though it still wasn’t going on. He believed that they would just take them to Juvie or wherever they sent people like him and his brother.
“You don’t understand any of it, sir. You are oblivious to this situation. You must let us go.” He replied finally. The man had been trying to get him to talk for a few hours now.
“Then tell me. Help me understand and I can decide if I should.” The man said.
Rhydian sighed and folded his arms. It couldn’t hurt to tell someone. Perhaps the man could actually help. He knew he was going to be disappointed. He knew that it was foolish to think that anyone could help them, but could you blame him?
“It’s a long story. I doubt you could help.” He replied.
The man leaned back in his chair, fanning himself.
“Enlighten me.” he said.
4 Days Ago
“Hurry, Rhydian! You’re going to make us late!”
Rhydian moaned, his arm being yanked. He opened his eyes and gazed into his brother’s eyes. They glared at him, urging him to get out of bed.
“How do you get up so early and function, Peyton?” Rhydian groaned.
“I’m just not as irresponsible as you are. Now get up before you make Mom late for work.” He replied.
Rhydian stumbled out of bed and shooed Peyton away.
Peyton held up his hands in surrender. Rhydian shook his head. He was so annoying.
He had a rough night last night. The nightmare had returned again. The same one about the jail cell. He shivered thinking about it.
“C’mon Rhydian! We’re leaving!” His mother shouted.
Rhydian quickly pulled his jeans on hollering at his mother to wait up.
Rhydian groaned. He was having the day when you just wanted to shoot yourself. Spanish was killing him! All the work! The teacher!
“Cuál?” Rhydian responded.
His best friend, Tyson snickered.
“La lucha es real, sí?” Tyson replied.
“Sí, mi amigo. No me gusta hable en español. Hablemos en inglés, por favor?” Rhydian responded.
Tyson looked around, searching for the Spanish teacher.
“Go ahead. I don’t think she’ll be back for some time. Mr. Reynold is back.” He replied.
Rhydian suddenly felt fidgety, but he had to talk about it. This had been bothering him all day.
“You had the dream again, didn’t you? Was it anything new this time?” Tyson questioned.
He glanced up into his eyes. Tyson was truly careful about this matter. Rhydian didn’t like telling anyone about his dreams. He thought it made him seem insane, but Tyson listened well and calmed him down.
“Yes, Tyson, but it was different. I saw…I saw something that actually happened. I saw our basketball game last night. I saw all of it, I saw the kid’s leg break, I felt it.” He muttered, loud enough for Tyson to hear.
The pain in his knee still ached. It still burned through him. He didn’t have to tell Tyson how scared he felt. Tyson already knew. His voice showed that.
“You’re sure that it was?” he asked.
Rhydian nodded, his face turning ghastly pale.
“Maybe it was just your fears, Rhydian. That is supposed to be one of the major causes for nightmares, right?”
Rhydian clenched his jaw, thinking about the black shadowy hands grabbing and pulling him away from his house. The smell of sulfur pierced his nostrils and he snapped out of it.
“I guess so, but I could feel it! I could feel what I did to that kid!” he exclaimed.
Rhydian looked up, rolling his eyes.
“Tú necesitas hablar en español.” Peyton growled.
“Shut up, Peyton! I don’t care what you think! Just because you’re older by three minutes doesn’t mean you’re in charge of me!” Rhydian snapped, his chest pumping and retracting quickly.
Peyton’s eyes enflamed, but he held it back nicely. Tyson backed away, leaving this between the two.
Rhydian didn’t know how they could be twins! They were polar opposites! Rhydian was short-tempered and irresponsible and Peyton was calm, responsible and kind.
“Rhydian, calm down. All I said was that you need to talk in Spanish. I wasn’t meaning any offense to it. I just didn’t want you to get in trouble.” Peyton sighed.
Rhydian’s heart raced. His anger was overflowing, shooting out like ash. Everything was building up so fast and he didn’t know how to control it. Peyton knew that Rhydian hated it when he told him what to do. It made him feel like a kid. He wasn’t a kid.
“You always do, Peyton! You always just try to do so! But you always humiliate me! You always have to get me in trouble!” he exclaimed.
Peyton was quickly losing his patience. Rhydian could see it in his eyes. Good, maybe he could get Peyton into trouble for once.
“Stop it, Rhydian! I’m just saving you from becoming Dad!” Peyton shouted.
Rhydian’s face burned up, each and every vein bursting with anger. He wasn’t anything like his father! His father was a deadbeat! He was abusive! He was a psychopath!
“I am nothing like him!” Rhydian shouted, punching Peyton in the chest.
Peyton flew back into the wall, cracks sprouting up the wall. Peyton’s eyes fired up, turning red, a bright red. So much so that it looked like he was crying blood.
“I try holding back, Rhydian! I try fixing you, but you’re too much like him!” he shouted, slamming into Rhydian. They collided, desks sliding across the room as they crashed into the white board.
The kids had already been watching, backing away from the desks and circling them.
Rhydian’s ribs cracked, the pain shooting through his body. Peyton had gotten him good. It was rare that Rhydian was the one injured, but that never stopped him from still fighting.
Rhydian slammed his fist into Peyton’s face, connecting with his jaw. Peyton fell to the ground. His face slammed into the floor.
Rhydian’s eyes snapped up, landing on Mrs. Carter’s face. He sighed, knowing what was coming next.
“To the office now!” she shouted.
Peyton stood up, popping his jaw back into place, eyes glaring at Rhydian. Both of them pushed passed Mrs. Carter, not making eye contact.
“Rhydian, I’m not surprised you’re here, but Peyton? I’m very disappointed with the both of you!”
Rhydian shrugged. He’d had detentions before. It \wasn’t anything terrible. It was just another hour away from his brother. Except for this time.
Peyton on the other hand was horrified. He’d never been in trouble before. He’d never actually been in the officer other than to take pills along with Rhydian. He was a quiet and polite student.
The principal glared at the two of them. His dark hair laid on his head evenly. The funny thing though was that his eyes were bloodshot. There was a rumor going around that the principal spent his mornings and nights drinking and is eyes matched the story. He either didn’t get much sleep or he was drinking or taking drugs. Either way, it wasn’t good.
The principal pulled his sleeves up, looking between the two and leaning over his desk.
“Why can’t you two get along? You’re twins! You’re brothers!” the principal questioned.
Rhydian shrugged and glanced at Peyton.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Volts. I was stupid for fighting. I should’ve known better.” Peyton apologized.
Mr. Volts looked to Rhydian, accepting Peyton’s apology.
Rhydian huffed, “I’m sorry as well.”
He looked between the boys. He sighed.
“I’m sorry, boys.” He said.
Rhydian furrowed his brows. What did he mean he was sorry? What did he do?
“C’mon in. They’re here.” He hollered.
Peyton’s eyes widened. He grabbed Rhydian’s arm, pulling him up.
“Rhydian, something tells me that this isn’t going to be good. We need to get out of here.” He whispered into his ear.
Rhydian’s heart raced. He had heard those words before. He had dreamt of them.
He had seen them, felt them. He watched Mr. Volts stand up.
The door opened. Men in dark clothes stormed in. Both of them wore sunglasses, blocking their eyes from the two boys.
Their outfits told them that they were police men, but Rhydian didn’t think they were. They moved too fast, too swiftly for donut-eating pigs.
“Right there.” Mr. Volts said.
Peyton stood up, pulling Rhydian up with him. Both boys were severely scared.
The men watched them with amusement. Rhydian gulped, waiting for Peyton to take lead.
“Hello, Rhydian. Peyton.” One of them said.
Rhydian’s blood chilled. He couldn’t help but become terrified. He was frozen to the core. Did they know what they were?
“Can we talk?” the other said.
Rhydian looked to Peyton. Peyton seemed to be calculating, taking lead. He was the older brother. He would always be and he would always get Rhydian out of trouble. He knew that.
Rhydian held his ribs. The pain still shot through his body, but he could heal that in a few minutes. School was out in ten minutes.
“No, we haven’t done anything! You can’t hold us here!” Peyton exclaimed.
The taller of the two eyed Rhydian. His eyes were driving through him, taking down his defenses.
“Rhydian, is everything alright? Are you hurt, you’re holding your ribs?” he questioned.
Rhydian shook his head, trying to stay calm. Staying calm wasn’t his strong.
“No? Are you sure? Let me see,” the man said.
Rhydian backed away, pushing up against the wall. He looked for Mr. Volts, but couldn’t find him. He must’ve left after the men had them occupied. He wondered why he had left. Or even why he had called them.
“I’m not going to hurt you. I’m just going to check for wounds and then we’re going to take you and your brother to somewhere safe so we can talk.” He cautioned.
Rhydian held his arms out in defense, clenching his fists. He had seen the man before. He wasn’t the kind man he was trying to portray.
“Don’t touch me!” Peyton cried.
Rhydian’s eyes snapped to the side of the room, looking for Peyton. The other man grabbed ahold of his arms, pulling him out of the room.
Panic set in. They were taking his brother! His leader! His true friend!
“No! Stay away from us!” He shouted, his head filling with rage. He knew this was a bad idea. He knew that he needed to calm down, but they were going to take him! They were going to destroy them! He had to save his brother!
The man held his hands up, trying to calm him down.
“Just let me explain, Rhydian. We know that you’re not normal. We know that you and your brother are unique. We also know that you’re the most powerful of the two of you. “ He said.
Rhydian glared at the man. He was trying to talk him down. He was trying to convince him to give up. He wouldn’t do that. He knew what came of that.
“Then you know that I won’t let you take us away.” He spat.
The man smirked. Not the reaction he was looking for.
“Rhydian, you don’t think that we prepared for that? Do you truly believe that we would be so stupid?” he shook his head.
Rhydian tackled the man, knocking him into the wall. The fear in his heart brought the urgency of his need for power to surface.
He felt the heat rise. He felt the room brighten. He felt his senses heighten.
The man pushed him off. Rhydian fell back into the desk, his ribs cracking even more. He let out a yelp of pain and laid there, trying to ease the pain away.
The man shook his head, making a tsk tsk sound.
“You should’ve let me see those ribs, Rhydian. That must really hurt.” He said, kneeling.
Rhydian gasped, trying to get up. He had to save his brother.
The man pushed him back down easily, lifting his shirt.
“Oh, that must really hurt.” He said.
He rested his hand on Rhydian’s ribs, lightly putting pressure on. Soon, the pain left, leaving nothing but an ache.
“See, if you listen to us, we can help you. We can teach you, but if you don’t...” he said.
Pain jolted through his body, spreading from just his ribs, going to his heart. The pain tore at his chest, slamming against his bones.
“Then we can make things very, very difficult and painful.” He finished. He pulled away; leaving the pain that he had to begin with.
“So, which will it be?” he smirked.
Rhydian gulped, studying the man. He was cold. His eyes washing over the dark brown that had been there before, turning black ash. His bald head left many scars. He was hard with years without compassion.
“I—I’ll go with you. Just please, take the pain away.” Rhydian whispered. The man smiled, leaving his hand on Rhydian’s ribs. Soon, the pain left, leaving Rhydian feeling ten times better.
The man stood up, holding out his hand.
“You don’t know how much time that saves us, Rhydian. You won’t regret this.” He said.
Rhydian grabbed his hand. The man’s grip was strong, and hard. It would be unforgiving.
Rhydian watched as the man walked through the door, leaving him alone and behind him. Stupid man. Now was his chance.
He grabbed a lamp off Mr. Volts’ desk and rushed at the man, swinging. It connected with his head, making the man drop down to his knees.
He quickly scanned the room. Peyton was fighting the other man, breaking free from his grip.
“Peyton, duck!” Rhydian shouted. Peyton ducked just as Rhydian brought back his arm then threw his arm out, a perfect pitch. The Picture frame flew down at the man, cracking as it crashed into his head.
Peyton’s eyes widened, staring at Rhydian.
Rhydian stood there for a moment. Groans sounded off behind him. The man was stirring.
“We need to get out of here. They won’t be out for long.” He said.
“Let’s get out of here.” He said.
“Do we tell Mom? They knew what we were. They knew who we were and they were going to take us to some base.” Rhydian asked.
Peyton bit down on his lip. He shook his head.
“No, Mom has enough to worry about. All she would do was move us. They would follow us either way. We might as well be surrounded by friends while it happens.” He said.
A light bulb lit off in his head.
“That’s it! We will be surrounded by friends! They won’t take us if we’re too close to our friends!” Rhydian exclaimed.
“Right, so they won’t get bad publicity. But what if they call us to the office again?” he replied.
“Then we ignore them. They can’t force us into the office and I’m sure they won’t try to take us right after school. Everyone will see then.” He answered.
“Okay, let’s do it.” Peyton said.
“So you’re saying that they tried kidnapping you? And that you have super powers?” he snickered.
Rhydian bobbed his head back and forth, “kind of.”
The man cleared his throat.
“What do you mean kind of?” he questioned.
Rhydian sighed, “I mean that it isn’t super powers. It is genes. We are inherently stronger and quicker than a normal human is.”
The man looked at him, disbelieving.
“Well, if you don’t believe me maybe you’ll see it when they get here.” Rhydian retorted.
The man slammed his fist on the table.
”Just finish the story!” He snapped.
Rhydian grinned. He had foreseen that reaction. That was part of the reason he had done it.
3 Days Ago
“Rhydian, please. Please don’t push me on this!” His mother begged.
Rhydian’s chest pumped up and down ferociously. He was tired of his requests being denied, but his brother’s being accepted!
“Mom, you always let Peyton do what he wants! Why can’t I go to one friend’s house?” he whined.
His mother huffed, flipping her blonde hair over her frail shoulder. Her brown eyes met with his, growing colder by the second. He knew that he was pushing her to the brink of anger, but he wanted to live just once.
“Maybe if you could stay out of trouble and be responsible you could, but you don’t!” She snapped.
Rhydian felt all the anger and resentment building up in his chest. But he wouldn’t do anything about it. Not to his mother.
He held it all in. He wouldn’t be to her like his father was. He wouldn’t do that to her. She already blamed herself for the scars both of them had, mental and physical.
“You’ll stay home. I want you around. I love you.” She said, wrapping her arms around the back of his neck.
He bit down on his tongue, holding all the anger down, choking down his pride.
“Fine, but just answer me this. Why does Peyton get to go to a friend’s house tonight and I have to stay here?” he questioned.
She frowned, pulling away.
“Rhydian…” she started.
He shook his head, “Mom just give me this.”
Her head sunk, her eyes resting on the floor.
“You’re the one I’m most worried about, Rhydian. You’re too explosive, Rhydian. And…and you’re your father’s child. You have his eyes, his abilities.” She confessed.
Rhydian’s eyes filled with tears. The thought of being like that man. The thought that his mother thought he was just like him. Did she really believe he was a monster?
“I’m going into my room.” He muttered, pulling away from his mother’s gaze.
She’d realized what she had just done. He didn’t care. His mother could believe he was a monster. She could believe that he would become a serial killer.
A pang of sadness ran over him. He felt like the shriveled up pieces of road kill along the side of the road. They had gone without incident.
Of course, the kids had been murmuring around them, talking about the day before, the wall cracking around them. He had been hoping that it would all just disappear. The boys realized they had messed up big time. They realized that they needed to act as normal as possible.
Mr. Volts hadn’t shown up at the school today. The teachers were talking about it in the halls when they didn’t think the students could hear them. They didn’t know about people like the boys. It was the gossip of the day. Had he been fired? Had he finally drank his last beer? Had he been arrested?
That was the question. But Rhydian believed he knew what happened to him. He left with the men. It was the only thing that he could think of. Mr. Volts had let them in voluntarily.
Peyton was still angry with Rhydian from things said with the fight. That was why he had gone to his friend’s house.
He closed his eyes and did the counting breaths thing. It eased his mind and blocked out thoughts.
“Rhydian Cedric Taylor!” his mother yelled.
Rhydian jolted awake. The flashes of black, shadowy hands still haunted him.
“Yes, Mom?” he shouted, rubbing his eyes.
“Get down her now!” she hollered.
Yikes. She wasn’t very happy.
Rhydian ran down the stairs, coming face to face with his mother. Tears spilled down her face. This wasn’t what he was expecting.
“What did you two do!” she snapped. Her mascara smeared, drawing black squiggles down her cheeks.
“What do you mean? What’s going on, Mom?” he questioned. Her nostrils flared.
“They’re here, Rhydian! You’ve attracted the Collectors!” she shouted.
Rhydian swallowed hard, his throat slowly closing. That was their name. Finally, he knew who those men were. He knew who his pursuers were.
“We didn’t mean to, Mom. We were just angry, that was all! I’m sorry!” He cried.
She threw her arms up in anger.
“Try telling them that, Rhydian! They’re going to take you away!” she shouted.
The door burst open. Rhydian jumped and turned to the door. He was going to have to face the light.
“Peyton! Oh, goodness! Good, they haven’t gotten you!” Mom exclaimed.
Rhydian listened intently, hearing the slamming of car doors. His heart leapt.
“They’re here, Mom! What do we do?” he exclaimed.
She stood tall, letting out a sob before she ordered them.
“Get in the closet, boys. They’re going to come in here searching for you and they won’t leave until they find you. When they are distracted I want you to run. I want you to never come back.” She sobbed.
Rhydian felt his heart tearing in half. He felt the misery that his mother was feeling right now. He could see the despair in her face.
“C’mon Rhydian!” Peyton snapped, shoving Rhydian into the closet.
No sooner than a second later, the door slammed open. The same men from before zipped through, carrying guns.
The boys watched in horror as they pointed the guns at their mother.
“Where are they? Where are the twins?” The tall man questioned.
Their mother’s face turned hard, morphing into something they had only seen once. An expression full of fiery hatred.
“I will tell you nothing! I know who you are!” she hissed.
The tall man snorted, shaking his head. He swiftly moved across the room, meeting their mother in the middle of the room.
“You’d be wise to give them up, mortal. Those boys are going to be Collectors. They will help save this world from people like their father.” He sneered.
Rhydian clenched his fists. He was ready to pounce out the door. He was ready to attack the man, but Peyton held him back.
“Yes, I read up on their history, Jessica. I know he was an abusive father. He never taught the boys, but you’ve been seeing him in them, haven’t you? Particularly Rhydian. He’s as hotheaded as his father, isn’t he?” he continued.
“Let me go!” Rhydian hissed. Peyton put a finger up to his mouth, quieting him. Rhydian’s chest felt as though it would explode. He needed to let all those feelings go!
“Rhydian is not his father!” she shouted. The man moved her hair, pushing it onto her shoulders.
“Keep telling yourself that. We know that you’re afraid he’ll become his father. Don’t you want to prevent that?” he said softly.
Rhydian watched as his mother grabbed ahold of a vase, preparing to attack.
“Now boys! Run! Get out of here, now!” she shouted.
Both bolted out the door, Peyton half-dragging Rhydian out the front door.
A yelp echoed behind them. Rhydian turned to look.
“Run! Get out of here, now!”
“They entered your house? And harassed your mother?” the man questioned.
Rhydian snickered. How much more ignorant could you get? If what he was saying was true, then these men could at the very least be breaking into houses.
“Of course they were. How else would they get to us during the weekend?” he said.
The man shook his head, huffing. Rhydian knew that it would be a hard story to believe, but the man would soon see. He doubted that the men were just going to leave them there with the police.
“Just continue on with the story leading up to your capture here.” He said
Rhydian nodded, closing his eyes.
Later That Day
“Run! Get out of here, now!”
Tears fell down his cheeks, dropping to the ground mimicking the raindrops around him. Peyton grabbed his arm, pulling him away from the door.
Their mother kicked out, trying to hold those strange men back. Her hair blew in the harsh wind as the door slammed shut.
Rhydian tore at Peyton’s hands, trying to get to his mother. He couldn’t let his mother be taken away from them. He couldn’t leave her to deal with those men alone.
“No, Peyton! We’ve got to help her!” He shouted, trying to convince him to let go.
“We can’t, Rhydian. You heard Mom; she told us that we couldn’t come back! We can’t help her!” Peyton argued.
Rhydian stopped. His brother was right. Their mother was sacrificing her own life to save theirs. They couldn’t go and screw it over. He couldn’t screw up their chance, his mother’s sacrifice.
“Where do we go, Peyton? We don’t have anyone else. Mom was our only family,” he questioned.
“For now, we run. Let’s go.” He answered. His brother pulled on his arm, yanking him away from the house.
He glanced back one last time. The door flew open. Deep inside he hoped it was his mother, but he knew it wouldn’t be. She couldn’t take three men at once.
Rhydian dropped to his knees, finally letting it all out. His mother was gone. His home was gone. His life was gone. All he had left was his twin brother beside him.
He turned to Peyton. His brother pushed up into the corner, his hands shaking. His pale skin turning even more pale. His blue eyes turning crystal blue. His brown hair falling into his eyes.
He was sure that he looked pretty much the same at that point. Sense they were identical twins he knew that he had the same hopeless expression on his own face.
“What do we do, Rhydian? We can’t go back. We can’t sleep in our own beds. We can’t go back to school.” his brother cried.
Rhydian had been thinking the same thing the whole time. It had only been a few hours, but it felt like weeks. He knew that he would have to figure it out sometime, but he didn’t want to right now.
He closed his eyes and took in a deep breath.
“I don’t know, Peyton. We really screwed up this time. They won’t stop looking for us. I could see it in their eyes. I could see it when they came to the school.” he replied.
“Rhydian, I’m scared. I don’t know what to do. I’m always the one that knows what to do, but Rhydian, I don’t know what to do now.” Peyton confessed.
He opened his eyes and studied Peyton. His eyes glistened with tears, probably mirroring his own eyes.
“I don’t know. Let’s just get some rest. We’ll figure it out tomorrow.” Rhydian yawned.
Peyton nodded, laying on the dirt ground. Rhydian watched as he slowly fell asleep. Hoping that he could soon do the same. His mind was reeling, but his body was exhausted. This would be a long night.
Two Days Ago
“Get out of here you street rats!”
Rhydian jolted off the ground, waking from his dream. Peyton slowly sat up.
A man, filthy, covered head to toe in dust and grime shook his hand in the air, cursing at them.
“This is my place! Get out!” he shouted, jumping up and down.
Rhydian almost laughed at the sight. He couldn’t believe his eyes. A grown man throwing a temper tantrum!
“Sorry sir, we’ll get out. We just needed to rest after a big day is all.” Rhydian said.
The man nodded, ruffling his beard.
“Okay.” He said.
Rhydian gazed around. It looked to be around eleven in the morning. No one was in sight.
Peyton tugged on his shirt, pulling him into the dark.
Peyton pointed ahead, shushing him. Good thing too. The tall man walked down the road, scanning the area.
“I don’t understand. There was a report on the two boys being right here.” He sighed.
His eyes lit up, spotting the filthy man that had yelled at them a moment ago.
“Sir, can I speak to you?” he asked the filthy man. The filthy man turned to him, clearly irritated.
“What do you want?” he snapped.
The man held up his hands.
“I just need to ask you a question.” He said. The filthy man crossed his arms.
“That’ll cost you ten dollars.” He said.
The man sighed, “really, sir?”
The filthy man nodded, “I need to eat too.”
Rhydian quietly cheered the filthy man on. Good for him.
The man pulled out his wallet, handing him a bill.
“I’m looking for two boys, twins. We have an amber alert on them and we’ve been informed that they were around here last night. Have you seen them?” the man asked.
Rhydian couldn’t believe this! They put out an Amber Alert on them! How were they supposed to move around?
“Yes, I’ve seen them. I actually just chased them off about a minute ago.” The filthy man said.
Rhydian’s wooing stopped. He had just told on them! How messed up was that? In a minutes time they would find them!
“Did you see in which direction they went?” the man asked.
The filthy man held out his hand. The man sighed, pulling out his wallet once more.
“They were going south. That’s all I know.” The filthy man replied.
The man huffed, scanning the area. Rhydian wanted to run. He wanted to end it all there. He wanted to just go back home, but that wasn’t going to happen.
“Come out boys! I know that you couldn’t have gone too far. We have this place surrounded!” the man shouted.
Rhydian’s heart leapt. He knew that they were there. He was going to find them Why couldn’t they just give up now?
“Maybe we should just turn in ourselves right now?” Peyton whispered.
As much as Rhydian wanted to do that, he didn’t think it was right. Their mother had protected them from that fate. If she had done that then it couldn’t be all sunshine and unicorns.
“No, we can’t just yet, Peyton. Mom wouldn’t want us to.” Rhydian argued. Peyton nodded.
“Okay boys. That’s your only warning and offer. We will find you and when we do, it won’t be so easy.” The man hollered.
Rhydian’s face drained. The man looked straight at them. He stepped back, further into the dark.
“I see you, Rhydian. You’d better run because if I catch you, it won’t be pretty!” He shouted. He began running at them.
Rhydian’s feet kicked into motion, coming out from hiding. The man would’ve been on him in a second if he hadn’t moved.
Peyton was right beside him, cutting to the left. They ran through a parking lot, dodging cars as they went by. He couldn’t be cut off guard from the other Collectors.
“What do we do, Rhydian? He’s only a few feet behind us!” Peyton exclaimed.
Rhydian’s mind calculated, searching the area. They had made a wrong move. It was a dead end.
“It’s a dead end, Rhydian!” Peyton shouted.
“I know, Peyton! I can see that!” He snapped. He couldn’t focus with Peyton’s constant crying for help!
“Hurry, through the door!” Rhydian yelled, shooting to the right. A store just ten feet away was wide open. If they could get in there, maybe they could disappear.
Rhydian glanced back. The man was nearly on their heels. He seemed to be getting faster the longer they ran.
Rhydian slid through the door just in time to close it before the man got in. He dashed through, sliding under the counter of the cashier.
Peyton followed him. The cashier glared down at both of them. Rhydian held up his arms, begging the woman to let them stay. He pointed at the man now stalking towards her.
“Please, he’s been chasing after us all day! He’s going to hurt us!” Rhydian begged quietly.
The man stood in front of the woman, trying to get her attention.
“Ma’am, have you seen twin boys come through here? About a few seconds ago?” the man asked.
The woman glanced down at them, sighing.
“No, I’m sorry. I’ve been busy. Maybe they went that way,” she said, pointing in the opposite direction.
The man frowned, “Thanks. I’ll try that way.”
Once the man was out of sight, both of them stood up.
“Thanks! You don’t know how much you just save us!” Peyton exclaimed. The woman nodded.
“Was that man really chasing you?” she questioned.
“Yes, I think you just save d us from a lot of pain.” Peyton said.
“Then why don’t you go to the police?” she asked.
Rhydian looked to Peyton.
“We’ll think about that. Thanks again, but we’ve got to go before he comes back.” Rhydian said, pulling Peyton away.
“Why don’t we go to the police?” Peyton questioned.
Rhydian stopped for a second, eyes meeting with Peyton’s.
“We can’t. They are wearing police uniforms, Peyton! Don’t you think if they can go into our house without getting into trouble for it that they have some authority?” Rhydian argued.
“What are we going to do, Rhydian? They are going to be all over the city.” He asked.
Rhydian’s stomach growled, urging for him to eat.
“We eat, and then we return home for some money and clothes. We’re not going to survive long if we don’t have some money.” Rhydian said.
“Won’t they be there though?” Peyton asked.
Rhydian shook his head, “They won’t expect us to return home so soon. It’ll be the last place they’ll look for us.”
“Good point. Let’s go eat.” He replied.
“Where do we want to eat?”
The door creaked as Rhydian turned the knob and pushed. He cringed and quickly pushed it all the way open.
Peyton peered inside, just barely showing his head.
“Do you see anything?” Rhydian asked.
Peyton shook his head.
“Not that I can see. I think it’s safe to go in.” Peyton said, turning to Rhydian.
Rhydian stepped inside, scanning the room. No sign of the Collectors. No sign of his mother.
What had they done to her? Was this all his fault?
“Peyton, what do you think they did to her? Do you think they hurt her?” Rhydian questioned.
“What do you think, Rhydian? They want us to go to them!” he snapped.
Rhydian scowled, jogging up the stairs. He didn’t like to be around his brother as most twins didn’t, but they needed to stick together.
Once inside his room, he gasped, dropping to his knees. Everything, everything including his posters, clothes, homework, and backpack was gone. It was as though he hadn’t existed. All of his memories were wiped. All of his memories of his father, all his pictures of his father were gone.
There was nothing left of the life he’d had just yesterday. It was as though they had successfully wiped his existence away in one quick swipe.
There was to be no money. No advantage to coming here. Only a trap. A trap.
Something jolted inside his brain, shaking him onto his feet. He dashed out the room, running straight ahead for Peyton’s room. They knew they were going to go back.
Peyton was right. They were trying to lure them and they had done it. They had made them feel trapped and hopeless. They was almost quite certainly true. Rhydian felt trapped, even hopeless. He was worried about how they would survive the night. Or even a couple minutes. He didn’t want to go back with the Collectors. They were not going to help them, only hurt.
“Peyton! Peyton, we need to get out of here…” he stopped in midsentence.
The man stood there, pointing a gun at Peyton, pushing it directly into his temples.
Rhydian gulped, watching the two in shock. He knew there was going to be tension between the two when they arrived home. They had never been alone with each other for so long.
“Good, now we can carry on where we left off. Shall we, Rhydian?” he said, pulling Peyton further away.
“This time I won’t be so nice or so trustful. Just stop this charade. We have your mother, your belongings, your father’s pictures.” He persuaded.
Rhydian had to admit, giving up seemed like a good idea right about then. If only he could get his mother back. He desperately wanted to see his mother again.
The man was very persuasive, he had to admit that.
“I know that you must be uncomfortable, missing home. You feel abandoned and tired. Let us fix this all.” He continued.
Rhydian bit down on his lip. He must’ve known that he was getting to him. Rhydian admitted that he was getting very tired of running away. What would just giving up do? Would it really be so bad?