Author’s Note: This chapter may be triggering for some people as it mentions the death of a child. The actual event is not pictured or described. Please read at your own discretion.
A twig snapped loudly in the rolling misty fog whirling around them. Britland turned to find Carson’s Uncle watching them with a cold dispassionate gaze. “You killed him. Your own nephew” Britland could feel bile rising, threatening to choke him.
“Don’t look at me like I’m not the monster here” the man chuckled “I only disposed of the carcass.”
“Carcass” Britland gasped “that was your nephew.” He couldn’t believe how someone could be so cold, so uncaring, so inhumane to not feel anything over the death of a defenseless child.
“What” the man demanded “did you expect me to cry? Beg for mercy? Ask for forgiveness?” He laughed harshly “this isn’t some stupid movie where the bad guy sees the error of his ways and seeks redemption.”
Britland stared at the man. A man he knew. Someone he had trusted as a little boy. A man he had seen cry over a dog that had been run over and left on the side of the road. “I don’t understand” he muttered taking a step backwards. He didn’t understand how someone could be so callous about the death of an innocent child. Someone who no doubt had trusted this vile person smirking before him.
“Welcome to the real world where evil exists and darkness is a thing.” He opened his arms wide obviously enjoying himself. “Look around you boy. Guess how many bodies could be here?”
“You’re sick” Britland hissed backing away from the hideous visage before him.
“Who are you to judge me,” the man demanded. “What measuring stick are you using to determine whose sick?”
Britland swallowed taking another step back “what are you then?”
“Me? I’m nothing special” he shook his head. “I guess you could call me a magician. I make bodies disappear. I clean up messes and I….”
Carson roared as he charged past Britland straight for his Uncle. “He was just a little boy. You killed him. Why couldn’t you keep your filthy hands off him? He was just three years old.”
The older man laughed dodging most of the blows Carson aimed at him. “What makes you think it was me? I wasn’t even there the night of the party.”
“You were. I remember” Carson screamed “you came into our room. I watched you take Dawson from his bed.” He clutched his Uncles shirt between his fists “you were there.”
“You only thought it was me” he brushed Carson’s hands away “think about it.”
“No” he shook his head “you were there. I saw you.” He bunched his hands and swung again.
His Uncle easily blocked the blow. “You only think it was me. I always had long purple hair like your…” Carson’s fist connected with his mouth stopping him from saying more.
“No you’re wrong” he shook his head a stubborn tone in his voice. “She wouldn’t have done that. She blamed me for not stopping you.”
“You couldn’t have stopped her” his Uncle chuckled “it’s amazing you were even awake to have seen anything at all.”
“That’s enough brother” a woman’s voice snapped loudly behind them.
“Ali you shouldn’t be here” the man cried spitting blood from his mouth.
“Mom” Carson mumbled facing the older woman approaching them a pistol in hand. “You knew! The entire time you knew!”
Britland silently came along side Carson gently taking his hand. There was nothing he could say. Not now, not ever. He couldn’t pretend to understand how Carson was feeling or even thinking at this moment. All he could do was let him know he was there for him.
“Of course I knew” her shrill angry voice cut into Britland’s thoughts. “I’ve known from the beginning.”
Carson staggered forward “if you knew why did you blame me? Why didn’t you tell the police? You could have stopped him.”
His Uncle’s laughter drew everyone’s attention. “Ali are you going to tell him or shall I?”
“Shut up Lawson” she warned her brother.
“Or what” he demanded “I’ve cleaned up after you for years. Buried the bodies once the urge took control…” A resounding slap echoed in the clearing.
The woman stared at her hand that struck her brother. “Don’t talk about my urges when yours are just the same as mine.”
“I haven’t killed anyone” he snorted facing his sister.
“What were you going to do with those two” she waved her gun towards Carson and Britland.
He shrugged “I knew you’d be here. If there was killing to be done you’d take care of it.”
“You just do body disposal” she looked disgusted.
“Don’t knock it till you try it” Lawson muttered.
Ignoring him she walked up to Britland. “My brother always did know my type.”
“Um” he shrank behind Carson.
“Leave him alone” Carson growled a slight tremor in his voice. He stepped between her and his fiance.
“You’ve gotten a lot braver since the last time I saw you.” She eyed her son for a moment as if to challenge him to make a move. She smirked moving between him and Britland “I always had a weakness for blondes.”
Before Britland knew what was happening she smashed her lips to his taking his breath away in an unpleasant bruising kiss. He struggled against her finding her grasp surprisingly strong for someone who looked so small. A strong force yanked them part sending him sprawling to the moist earth below him.
Carson glared down at his mother. “I said leave him alone.” A puzzled expression filled his eyes as he gazed down at her. “It was you that night. You came into our room during the party. Dawson was crying because I…I wouldn’t let him sleep with me.”
“You couldn’t know that. You should have been asleep” she insisted. “Didn’t you finish the milk and cookies I gave you?”
Frowning Carson shook his head “Dawson was whining so much I gave him half.” His lavender eyes growing wide “you put something in it didn’t you? You drugged us.” He staggered backwards bumping into Britland who quickly took his hand.
“I drugged you not him.” She walked several paces away muttering to herself. “After all this time I never thought. Never considered you had shared your snack with him.” She stopped in front of Carson “you really did kill him and didn’t even know it.”
Carson gasped backing away. “I didn’t. I didn’t know.” He gulped his heart racing uncomfortably fast in his chest. He thought it had been late when his mother had sent them to their room. He had been so lethargic he could barely keep his eyes open. It all made sense now.
Turning to her brother she accused “I thought you said he remembered everything. He doesn’t know anything.”
“He does now” Lawson shrugged smugly.
“You did this on purpose” she accused.
“He was” Lawson grinned “I just didn’t tell you how much he was remembering. You inferred the rest.”
“Aargh” she screamed “everything he was saying pointed to you.”
“I know” he grinned nonchalantly at his sister.
“Then why” she demanded. Her gun hand jerked in agitation.
“Because I want my money.” He glared at her. Pointing at the exposed bones “I covered this up for you. You promised me I’d be paid well for it. I haven’t gotten a dime.”
“I told you to be patient. How was a I supposed to know Antonio would refuse to change his will?” She glared at him. Neither of them willing to back down.
Britland tugged on Carson’s arm urging him to move. Turning Carson dragged his eyes from his mother and Uncle to Britland’s face. “We’ve got to go” he whispered “we can get away while they’re distracted.” He tugged on Carson’s arm again hoping to galvanize him into action.
Moving as if he had no control of his actions Carson followed him. White with shock he looked on the verge of passing out. They could hear the two siblings yelling at each. It didn’t matter as long as they didn’t notice they were gone before they could disappear into the dense grasses of the swamp.
Twenty minutes later they slumped together beneath tangled swamp reeds breathing hard. “Where are we” Carson gulped looking around eyes wide looking young and vulnerable.
“If I’m right, we’re a mile or two from home” Britland panted. “I had to take a short cut through the swamp. Thought it would be safer than the road.”
“Swamp” the expression on Carson’s face would have been comical if he had the breath to laugh and their lives weren’t in danger. “Are there alligators in here?”
“It’s too cold for alligators. There might be snakes though” Britland added.
“Snakes” Carson pulled his knees to his chest. Eyes darting from side to side. “I hate snakes.”
“For the most part they’ll leave you alone if you leave them alone” Britland assured him. “We need to keep moving. I think by now your Uncle knows where we’re going. He probably knows this land better than I do.”
Grabbing his hand Carson gave him a desperate half scared look. “Why’s that?”
“It’s his land” Britland shrugged “his farm lies between the Robinson farm and town.”
“Don’t you think we should have gone a different direction” Carson asked.
“We could have” Britland sighed “I wasn’t thinking. I just wanted to get us out of there. I took the route I was most familiar with. I’m sorry.”
“It’s not your fault” Carson leaned his face forward resting it on his knees. “Maybe we could angle our path in a different direction that’ll take us away from here.”
“I’m trying to do that but the swamp isn’t as easy to maneuver in as the city.” Britland tried to give him a reassuring smile. “too many sand pits, marsh, ponds and barbed wire fences to navigate around.”
“Oh” Carson swallowed trying to encompass it all “lead the way I’ll follow.”
Chuckling a little Britland said “finally I know more about something than you do.” He grinned lifting his head above the reeds to look around. “Oh shit” he ducked down abruptly. He lifted a finger to his lips signally for Carson to be silent. He could see the raw fear in his lavender eyes. It wasn’t long before they could hear Carson’s Uncle and mom talking to each other. Their words indistinct but their tone undeniably angry.
Britland pointed waiting for Carson to nod in acknowledgment before he started to crawl forward careful not to disturb the tall swamp grasses. Every few feet he’d stop to make sure Carson was still behind him, keeping pace. Neither of them dared speak for fear of being overheard. Britland knew they were nearing the edge of the Svir farm. They were almost there, they just might make it.
“Robbie” Miranda shook her husband’s shoulder “Rob wake up.”
Moaning he opened his eyes a crack. Reaching for the light he blinked at its sudden brightness. “I’m up” he groaned.
“Britland isn’t in his room” she informed him. “Rush was fussing and I went to check on him. Britland isn’t there.”
“Did you check the living room” he asked sitting up. “He did go to bed really early.”
“He’s not here. I checked” she grabbed her phone.
“Who are you calling” he asked watching her.
“I want to know where our son is” her tone telling him she wasn’t in a mood to be questioned.
“Miranda put the phone away” he said as he skimmed through his messages.
“What? Why” she frowned at him. “Where could he have gone? It’s too early for anything to be open right now.”
“Miranda” he said her name firmly “put your phone away.”
“He wasn’t answering anyway” she mumbled hurt that he had used his stern tone with her. It was usually reserved for reprimanding their wayward children. To her amazement he ignored her. Adding to her puzzlement he proceeded to make a call. Her heart sank as she listened to the one-sided conversation.
“Dad” Robbie’s voice was almost a shout “sorry for waking you but we’ve got trouble.”
“What kind of trouble” Shon demanded all thoughts of sleep gone.
“Britland snuck out of the house to do his own search for his fiance.” He read his son’s message out loud to his father.
“Damn” Shon said forcefully “I hadn’t thought about searching the Robinson Farm. Makes sense the two farms do border each other.”
“What should we do” Robbie asked.
“I’ll send a squad car to check it out” Shon informed him. “If they find anything suspicious we’ll send more officers. Don’t worry we’ll find him.”
Disconnecting he turned to his wife. “Dad will find them” he reassured her putting his arms around her.
“I shouldn’t have called him” she whispered. Glancing up her eyes red rimmed and fearful “what if they were hiding? My call would have given their position away.” She began to shake and tremble in his arms “I may have put our son into danger.”
He turned her around so her cheek rested on his chest. He wrapped his arms around her trembling frame “you didn’t know.” He kissed the top of her head “Britland is smart. He’ll figure something out. He’s a survivor. He’ll be ok.”
“I know” she sniffed clinging to him. “He has to be ok. They both have to be.” She amended her words as they both heard Rush’s cries from the next room. “I better go check on him.”
“I’ll do that” Robbie offered.
“No” she took a deep breath brushing her hair from her face. “I need to keep busy.”
“Alright” he nodded watching her go “I’ll get dressed. Dad is coming by to pick me up….”
“You’re going to the Svir farm” she stated calmly despite the worry in her eyes.
“Yeah. I can’t sit here and wait” he let out a weary sigh “the boys are coming home.”
Their grandson’s persistent cries continued as Miranda opened their bedroom door. “Be careful” she beseeched him with one last longing look.
“Always” he promised. They both knew if it came down to it he’d put his life on the line to save his son’s. No questions asked. No second thoughts.
“Stand up” Carson’s Uncle ordered.
The moment his phone went off Britland knew it was over. He forced Carson further back into the thick grass. He stood up he stared around him. He glared at the monstrous vile man in front of him. He wouldn’t give Carson’s hiding place away by looking behind him. He raised his hands stepping forward on weak wobbly knees.
“Where is he” Ali demanded moving in close. Britland stared impassively back at her. He couldn’t help but wonder how someone like her could exist. “We got separated” he mumbled refusing to look away from her.
Turning to her brother “he has to be around here somewhere. Make blondie tell us where” she ordered.
Britland took an involuntary step backwards as the older man came towards him. “Look at him Ali he’s scared,” the man sneered licking his lips.
“Good” she returned his sneer with one of her own. “The more frightened he is the better.”
“I won’t tell you anything” Britland blustered wincing as the older man twisted his arm behind his back.
“I’ll break your arm” he threatened applying more pressure.
“I doubt it” Britland grunted “it takes an awful lot of pressure to break bone not to mention knowing anatomy.”
“Are you challenging me boy” the man snarled in his ear.
“Don’t listen to him” his sister snapped slapping Britland hard across the face. “Can’t you see he’s trying to stall for time? Carson’s around here. He’ll come out if you make Blondie scream loud enough.”
“That should be fun” Lawson snickered pulling Britland’s arm behind him. “It may not break your arm but you may wish it had.” Bone scraped across bone followed by a loud pop as his shoulder dislocated. The desired screams filled the air around them echoing out into the fields beyond.