Madison rushed into her house and didn’t bother removing her shoes. She noticed muddy boot prints on the floor. “Mom! Phil! I need to talk to you guys!”
There was no response. Madison had seen both cars in the driveway. She followed the tracks across the living room and into the kitchen. A glass was broken on the floor in a puddle of water. “Mom! Phil!”
She headed back to the living room. The changes were subtle, but she noticed them because things in her house were always just so. The coffee table had been nudged so that its feet were not in the circular depressions they usually occupied. The remote was on the floor. And there were dirty boot prints everywhere. She noticed they were also on the stairs, so she headed straight for her room.
It was trashed. Her room was always somewhat of a mess, with both clean and dirty clothes everywhere, but she hadn’t left it like this. Drawers were opened, books on the floor, and her computer… “Fuck! They took my computer!” she shouted into the empty space.
Madison ran to her mother’s room. It looked untouched. Her jewelry was laid out on the dresser like always. This wasn’t a robbery. This had to be CLP. Madison dropped to the floor and sat against the wall. Judy warned me, she thought. God damn it. She warned me and I didn’t listen and now everyone I know is in danger.
She started sobbing. She felt completely helpless and confused. Should she go back to Mr. Black’s house? What good would it do? Why would they take her mom and Phil? They didn’t know anything. The room started spinning. Madison hadn’t had anything to eat since breakfast. She was in no condition for this. She put her head between her knees and focused on her breathing. Everything went black.
“Mads! Mads! Wake up!” Bryce was holding her shoulders and shaking her.
She lifted her head and he came into focus. “Oh thank God,” she said, pulling him into a hug. She started crying again. “Bryce, they took them! They took mom and Phil and Lucas.”
“Did they hurt you?” he asked.
She pushed him away and looked at him, confused. A beat passed. “Oh! No, I skipped lunch like an idiot. I passed out from low blood sugar, I think.”
Bryce helped her to her feet. “Let’s get you some juice,” he said.
They went to the kitchen, and Bryce poured Madison a glass of orange juice from the bottle in the fridge. He also found her a banana. “Eat up.” He grabbed a couple protein bars and handed one to her and opened one himself. Madison stared, “What? I missed dinner because of you!”
Madison drank the juice then crouched down to pick up the pieces of glass from the floor. “What should I do, Bryce?”
“Why would they take your parents?” Bryce asked. “They don’t know anything.”
“CLP doesn’t know that. I mean, think about it. Any normal kid finds out there are crimes happening, the apocalypse is coming, or whatever. They’re going to tell their parents, right?”
“Yeah, I guess so,” Bryce said. “Is your phone on? Has anyone called you?”
Madison pulled out her phone to check. “Yeah, it’s on. No calls since Lucas this afternoon. God damn it, Bryce. I fucked everything up. I should have dropped this when Judy pointed the gun at me last year.”
Bryce was silent. Madison looked at him. “What?” she asked.
“Well it doesn’t feel like the right time to say, ‘I told you so,’ but that’s all I got,” he said.
“Fucker,” she replied. “What are we going to do?”
“I don’t know,” he said. “Clean this place up and wait for someone to call maybe?”
Madison cleaned up the puddle of water with a towel. “Those carpets are going to have to be steamed. My mom must be totally freaking out about them leaving their shoes on.”
Bryce laughed. “Definitely. I’m sure that’s how it went down. They burst in and pointed guns at Jenny, and she said, ‘take off those shoes right this minute!’”
Madison pointed at Bryce’s feet, “I notice you took your shoes off.”
“Well, yeah. I mean, your mom can be some kind of a way about that.”
Madison slumped in the chair at the kitchen table next to Bryce. “I need to do something. I need to fix this.”