Madison pulled into the driveway of Lucas’s cabin and parked next to his truck. She got out of the car and jogged up to the door. It was open. “Lucas?” she shouted. “Dad, you here?”
In the movies, the detective would have pulled out his gun at this point, but she didn’t have a gun, and she wasn’t a detective, so she forged ahead inside unprotected. “Dad?” she called again, even though the only possible place he could be out of sight was the bathroom, and that door was open with the light off. She checked anyway and confirmed it was empty.
Madison puzzled over her next move. He had called her but left no message. His truck was in the driveway, but he wasn’t home. Something was wrong. She looked around the cabin to for a clue. She saw none. Other than his door being wide open, it all looked pretty normal. She exited the cabin, closing the door behind her. She walked around back to see if perhaps he was outside and hadn’t heard her. It was dark and she couldn’t see well, but there were no signs of life. “Lucas?” she called again. A dog barked in the distance.
She looked at her phone. No signal. Madison returned to her car and started her trip home. She peeked at her phone a few times until she saw that she had good signal again. “Hey Siri, call Mom.”
“Calling Mom,” the phone replied, and she heard ringing on the other end. After several rings it went to voicemail.
“Hey mom, it’s Madison. I’m worried about Lucas. Call me back. I’m heading home. Should be there in like half an hour.”
Madison continued her drive. She could feel panic growing in her chest, like after her first trip to the warehouse. She focused on her breathing. In through the mouth, out through the nose. Slow deep breaths. She felt the panic subside.
“Hey Siri, call Phil,” she ordered.
“Calling Phil,” the phone replied. After several rings it also arrived at voicemail. “Hey Phil. Where are you guys? I’m on my way home. Call me.”
Madison continued the drive replaying her conversation with Mr. Black in her mind. She thought it had gone pretty well. She didn’t get the confirmation she was looking for, but it felt like the conversation was going to continue. His reluctance to flat-out deny what she wrote seemed to her like somewhat of a confirmation. Maybe she didn’t have every detail right, but the overall story felt solid.
“Hey Siri, call Bryce,” she commanded.
“Calling Bryce,” the phone replied.
“Go for Bryce,” he answered before she even heard the first ring.
“Thank God,” she said. “At least someone is taking my calls.”
“I live but to serve you, my liege,” he said.
Madison laughed. “Darn tootin’ you do.”
“What’s going on?” he asked.
“I’m worried about Lucas. He called my phone but didn’t leave a message. I went to his cabin, and his truck is there but he isn’t.”
“That’s weird,” Bryce said. “Do you think he’s on a bender?”
“Oh, geez. That hadn’t even occurred to me. I was afraid they took him,” she said.
“They who?” Bryce asked.
“You know, Judy and them. They threatened him before if I didn’t stop investigating. What if when I talked to Mr. Black, he unleashed the hounds.”
“You talked to Mr. Black? When?”
“Just now. I went to his house and showed him the story.”
“What did he say? Did he deny it?”
“Not exactly. But he didn’t confirm it either. He just played dumb, like always.”
“But if you just talked to him, how could they have taken Lucas already?” Bryce asked.
“He left for a few minutes in the middle of our talk. Maybe he called Judy.”
“Do you really think they took him? I like my bender theory,” Bryce said.
“Well I can’t reach Mom or Phil either, and I doubt they are all out partying together,” Madison joked.
“You never know with old people,” Bryce said with a little laugh.
“I’m close to home. Can you come over to my house right now?”
“I live but to serve you, my liege,” he repeated.
“Oh stop. What’s that from?” she asked. “Shakespeare?”
“Sopranos,” Bryce replied.
“Basically the same,” she said.
“Basically,” he agreed. “Paulie just said that to Tony in the episode I’m watching.”
“I’m hanging up now. Turn off the TV and get your ass over to my house,” she said, ending the call.