Chapter 3
by Kimberly Raiser

D I S C U S S I O N  F O R U M  |  R E T U R N  T O  S T  O N L I N E



“It’s going to be ok, Mommy.” Sara stroked her mother’s cheek with the breath of an angel. “It’s going to be ok.”

Tara opened her eyes. She was no longer in restraints, though it felt as though they were still there. Her ankles burned from the gnashing of the rope, and her wrists ached from her struggle. She reached to feel her neck, then suddenly she jumped up and hugged her daughter.

“Sara! You’re ok.”

“Of course, Mommy, why wouldn’t I be?” Sara looked innocently up at her mother.

Tara looked around the room they were in. She did not recognize anything about it. It seemed like a bedroom. She had woken in a bed. There were no windows though, and it smelled damp like the basement.

“Sara, how did you get in here?”

“I woke up in here, same as you, Mommy. Did you sleep well?”

Tara looked at her ankles and her wrists. The marks were still there; she had not imagined it. A tear began to form in each eye, but she did not want to lose composure in front of her daughter. Sara seemed to be fine.

“Mommy, you stay here, and I’ll go get you something to drink.” Sara got up, walked across the room, and opened the door. Just as quickly the door closed behind her and locked. Tara ran to the door, grabbing at the handle and turning it to no avail. She shook the door and beat on it, screaming all the while. “Sara! Sara!” She kept banging on the door until her hands were pink and raw from wear.

“There’s no point, Tara,” a voice said from somewhere behind her. It was so startling that she spun in her spot almost effortlessly.

“Who is that?!” she screeched. “Who are you? What do you want from us?! Where is my son, and my daughter!? You bastard! Where is my family?!”

“Calm, now. Your family will be fine. You will stay here for now.”

The voice was cold and distant, and it seemed to be coming from inside the room, but Tara could not see anyone, or anything.

“Who are you?!” she screamed. Tara turned back to the door and pounded some more. No one answered her.

Her mind was just spinning in a million directions. Her eyes were flitting all over the room, looking, for what, she did not know. With a calm deep breath Tara composed herself. Her hand slipped over the medallion she wore on a white gold chain. She wrapped her fingers around it. It was a gift from Steven years ago. It was simple, a silver flat sphere, donut shaped, with the words “strength, power, freedom” inscribed along the edge in Runes on one side, the other side inscribed with “freely embraced for eternity.” This side she kept close to her heart. It gave her strength and eased her mind whenever she needed it. She searched the entire room for someone that might be hiding, but found no one. She sat down on the bed and decided to feel for her family.

There was a panic that had been erupting in the pit of her stomach for a little while now. She felt that the children were ok. She just knew this. It was Steven she felt unsure of, worried. She couldn’t place it, or sense what was going on. All she knew was that he was in trouble. The calm she felt for the children eased her mind somewhat. She began searching the walls for a way out, or something that would give her any indication of what was going on. Was she still in the house? She hadn’t really thought of that yet.

Alongside the bed was a table. The top was white marble, and the base was a painted wood. It seemed very old, but it was solid. On the table was a lantern, like the one she had seen in the attic. There were matches in a box just to the left of it. She lit a match and lifted the glass up on the lantern to light it. Someone had made sure it was filled with enough oil.

She turned the knob on the lantern and adjusted the flame to give her some additional light. The room was a bit more lit up, and seemed almost friendlier. Although the room smelled like a basement, it was actually quite cozy. It was probably the size of a small living room, and was decorated quite particularly.

There were several book shelves on one side of the room that had wood hinged doors with glass windows. It was very pretty. The walls were a combination of stone and concrete, but it wasn’t cold. There was a small corner fireplace in the room. There were large quartz pieces that encompassed it, and a small mantle above with a small clay pot resting in the center. It looked like the same pot she had seen in the attic, only a little larger.

Tara walked over to the fireplace and rested the lantern on the mantle. She picked up the clay pot and lifted the lid from its rest. Inside the pot were what appeared to be very small beads. They didn’t look like anything she had seen before. Perhaps they were seeds? Tara leaned her nose in closer to the pot and sniffed. There was a scent, but it wasn’t familiar at all. It wasn’t offensive, or particularly sweet. She really wasn’t sure what it was. She placed the lid back onto the pot and rested it back in its place.

Tara walked over to the bookshelves and tried to open one of the cabinets. The door wouldn’t open for her. There didn’t seem to be a lock. It didn’t seem like it should be difficult to open at all, but it wasn’t moving.

Tara peered closer. She could see through the glass at the markings on the books. A few of them had what she thought might be the same symbols she saw carved in the head frame of the bed in the house. She still could not make out what it was. Maybe a different language, or something archaic. Her finger traced one of the symbols through the glass. She tried another cabinet door; this one opened. Inside were several small wooden boxes. They too had symbols carved into them. As she reached for the smallest of the boxes, something stopped her. It wasn’t anything in particular, it was more like a force. She withdrew and closed her eyes.

“There is something here,” she thought to herself.

She reached in again, only this time she imagined the box in her hand before she touched it. She opened her eyes and found the box within the grasp of her hand. A tranquility swept over her entire body. The air was now sweet; fear was at rest.

The box was a dark wood carved with symbols and vines. There was no latch, no hinge. She lifted the top slowly while grasping the bottom with her other hand. It was slow to come off, almost like it wanted her to experience the anticipation of its contents.

Tara felt a wonderful sense of power and desire. The box opened. Inside was a small round pendant with symbols etched along the edges. The symbols were in Runes. She could read them. They were familiar. Her eyes sharply focused on the letters, on the words. Freedom. Power. Strength.

She looked at her own neck and the ring that lay freely from its chain. Her eyes fixed.

They were the same, in reverse.

Her heart started pounding fiercely, with passion, desire, then fear.

She dropped the box to the floor. The pendant bounced from the box and slowly she watched it tumble to the floor only to reveal the other side.

I give my soul to thee...

* * *

“Charlie. Wake up, Charlie.”

Charlie opened his eyes to find his little sister crouched down looking at him with her big bright blue eyes.

“Sara. How did you find me?”

“C’mon, Charlie. We have to go. You have to come with me.”

Charlie didn’t know what to make of it. He remembered falling asleep, but he didn’t fall asleep here. He looked up and around. They seemed to be in a barn, in an actual hay loft. His little sister had already started climbing down the ladder.

“C’mon, Charlie. We’re going to be late!”

“Late, for what? Where are Mom and Dad?”

“C’mon, Mommy is waiting for us. Daddy will be along soon.”

* * *

I woke up with my head pounding, and I wasn’t on a cold, wet floor. “What the hell?!”

I sat up and rubbed my head. I rubbed my eyes, then my head again. I looked around. I wasn’t in the tunnel anymore. OK. How the hell did I get out? Did I whack myself so good that I can’t remember how I got from there to here? And where is here?

There was daylight streaming in through the window. I was in what looked like a bedroom. The décor looked somewhat familiar. It reminded me of the house, only not as dusty. Was I in the guest cottage? We hadn’t even been over there yet.

I tried to get up, but my legs felt like I had just gotten off of a lopsided ocean liner. I could barely see straight. I didn’t feel very good, either. I felt like I had been drugged.

The door to the room opened slightly. Someone was there.


The door opened more.

“Hi Daddy!”

“Sara, how did you…”

“How are you feeling, Daddy? Uncle Ben said you got a big bump on your head when you went looking for Charlie.”

“Uncle Ben?”

“Yeah, he’s been getting the place ready for us.”

The door opened wider and a very tall, friendly looking man stepped in.

“Mr. Weaver. You sure knocked your head good while you were down in the basement. Good thing your daughter found you down there.”

“I’m sorry. Do we know each other?”

“Well, I’m sorry, I didn’t know you were all coming out here to see the place. My name is Ben Jenkins. I’ve been living out here for a long time taking care of the place for your Pop and Grams. I was your father's brother-in-law. Remember?”

“Wow.” I was seriously scratching my head now. “I had forgotten anybody was out here. I didn’t know you had stayed all these years.”

“Yup, been watchin' over the place until somebody told me different. I figured since I was family it was ok.”

“Ben, you said you found me in the basement?”

“Yes, sir. You were on the floor with a big old bump on your head.”

“I was…” I stopped what I was going to say. I wasn’t sure what was going on. Better keep that to myself. “Have you seen my wife and my son?”

“Oh, they’re just fine. Little Charlie got himself lost and fell asleep in the barn. Sara found him.”

* * *

As Tara watched the words fall to the ground, she felt her whole life hitting the surface of something she knew not what was beneath. Tears formed in her eyes and trickled down the sides of her cheeks. She wiped them away.

She reached down to the pendant on the floor. She held it in her hand. “Something is wrong here.” Her head shook back and forth as if she was saying “no” to someone. “It is not my husband.”

She went over to the bed, and sat down with the pendant still in her hand. She reached behind her neck and unclasped her necklace and lay it on her lap. She added the pendant to her chain and put the clasp back in place behind her neck. Both pieces lay next to her skin. She coveted both of them. She wasn’t sure where this thing came from, but there had to be something meaningful behind it.

Tara felt a wave of lightheadedness take over. She fell asleep on the bed once more.

* * *

“Mommy, wake up. Mommy.” Sara tugged at her mother. “C’mon, Mommy, Uncle Ben is here. He found Daddy in the basement with a bump on his head, but he is ok now, and Charlie fell asleep like a Dupa in the barn. We’re going to have something to eat, Mommy.”

Tara lifted her head from the pillow. She looked around, a little bewildered. She was back in the attic lying down on the perfect bed. She rubbed her eyes and shook her head. “Was I dreaming?” She quickly looked down at her chain. There was only one pendant hanging from it. “It seemed so real. God, it must be this place or something. I hate it when I dream like that.” She felt wet on her cheeks. Her eyes were a little teary, but that could have happened while she was sleeping, easily.

“C’mon, Mommy!” Sara yelled, already halfway down the stairs.

Tara stood up and walked down the stairs behind Sara. Sara was already running through the house to the kitchen, and out the side door.

“Where are you going, Sara?”

Sara kept running across the field to the guest cottage.

Tara ran to catch up. “Where are you going?” At this point she was just laughing and running after her daughter.

Sara came up to the little cottage and threw open the door. “Daddy! Daddy, I found Mommy!”

Tara didn’t even remember seeing the guest cottage. How could she have missed that? She stood there still for a moment looking around at the structure, then approached the door.

From behind her, she heard footsteps in the leaves. She quickly turned around, and standing there was a very large man in suspenders, a large shovel in his hand. Just as she was about to scream, the door opened from behind her and Ben spoke.

“It’s ok, that’s my son Jack. He’s pretty harmless, Mrs. Weaver. I’m sorry," he reached his hand out to shake Tara’s hand, "I’m Ben Jenkins. I’m your husband’s uncle, by marriage. We didn’t mean to frighten you.”

“Oh.” She shook his hand. “Umm…” She turned to look back at Jack, then back at Ben. Meanwhile Sara came running back out the door.

“Mommy, you met Uncle Ben! And that’s Uncle Jack.” She grabbed Tara’s hand and dragged her into the cottage.

Steven jumped from the sofa and quickly got to Tara and hugged her tight. He whispered in her ear, “I’m so glad you are ok." He kissed her softly.

Tara's eyes closed for a second. She looked at him and was about to say something when Steven gave her a wink.

“Ben here has been living on the property since I was a little kid. He stayed on to take care of the place all of these years. He didn’t know we were coming by.”

“Oh, I think I do remember you mentioning Ben now that I think about it.”

Jack was coming through the door when his father stopped him. “Leave the shovel outside, Jack. You’ll get dirt all over the floor.”

“Yes, sir.” He walked back out the door and rested the shovel against the wall.

“He’s harmless, Mrs. Weaver. A little slow, but harmless. It’s been just the two of us since his mom passed away years ago. She used to help Gram Weaver around the house and at church socials and things.”

Sara walked over to Jack and tugged on his pant leg. She had to almost look straight up at the ceiling to look at his face. “Do you have any ice cream?”

“I dunno. We can go look in the icebox, though. C’mon into the kitchen, Sara.”

“Where is Charlie?” Tara was looking around the room.

“He’s actually taking a nap in one of the bedrooms. He was still pretty tired after we found him in the hayloft, fast asleep.”

“Oh please, call me Tara.” Tara looked across the room to the mantle. There were some family portraits that she hadn’t seen before. She walked over and picked one up. “Is this Steven’s mother and father?”

“Yup, it is. That was when they first got married. They used to spend a lot of time out here before the accident.”

“Yes, of course. I would imagine they visited quite a bit.”

“They lived just down the road a bit. The house was part of this property for the longest time, but then it got sold when Grams went to the nursing home. It had about ten acres to it. Pretty little house. The Marshalls own that place now. They’re retired folk. Don’t see them much.”

“I didn’t know your parents and your grandparents lived here together?” Tara said as she turned to Steven.

“I really don’t remember that too well. It must have been when I was really small. I only remember visiting here.”

“Little Stevie used to take off on the grounds a lot when he was young. Drove his mom crazy. She was always looking for him. That’s probably why they moved. Of course, they only moved down the road a bit, but I guess it was far enough to keep Stevie out of trouble. Didn’t want him fallin' down a well or something. Would you like some tea, Mrs. WeaverTara.?”

Tara sighed. “That sounds wonderful. I’m feeling a little woozy.”

“Sure thing. Be right back. Would you like some too, Steven?”

“Just some water would be great, Uncle Ben.”

“Comin' right up.”

Ben joined Jack and Sara in the kitchen.

* * *

“Steven, are you ok?” Tara rushed to his side on the sofa and looked at his head.

“I don’t really know. I remember falling, but it wasn’t in the basement, Tara. God, I feel like I’m losing my mind. Maybe we need to just get out of here and go home and get some rest. What time is it, anyway?” Steven was now paying close attention to the fact that an entire night had passed. “Was I out that long?”

“I don’t know. Apparently we all fell asleep at some point.”

“Mom? Dad?” Charlie came slowly into the room, rubbing his eyes. He climbed up onto the sofa, wedging himself between the two of them. “This place is weird.”

Tara tousled Charlie’s hair, then held him close. “It sure seems strange.”

“Did you fall asleep too, Mom?”

Tara looked a little freaked out by the question. “Ya know, I think we all need to go home and get some rest. Maybe our excitement got the best of us.”

Sara came running from the kitchen with a big smile on her face, holding a dish of ice cream. “Look, Mommy, vanilla!” She sat, contently eating.

Tara and Steven looked at each other, as if they were communicating.

“Wouldn’t it be nice to be five again?” Tara smiled at Steven. They both laughed nervously.

“I think we should be getting back home, kids. We could get cleaned up and rested, and come back tomorrow.”

“Oh Mommy, I want to stay! Can I? Please? I can stay here with Uncle Ben and Uncle Jack.”

“Sara, I really think we have imposed enough for today.”

“What does that mean?” Sara’s face twisted.

“It means that I’m sure Uncle Ben and Uncle Jack have lots to do, and weren’t planning on having any company. We should be nice guests and say thank you and go home.”

Sara’s face turned cold. She became angry and stomped into the kitchen with her bowl of ice cream.

In just a few seconds there was a crashing sound from inside the kitchen: the sound of glass breaking all over the floor. Everyone went running in to see what happened.

“Sara!” Tara looked around, looked on the ground at the broken glass, then looked up where it had come from. The kitchen lantern that had been hanging from the ceiling had come completely down and shattered all over the floor.

“I’m sorry, Mommy,” Sara cried.

Tara ran to her and held her. “It wasn’t your fault, sweetheart. It’s ok.”

Sara sobbed until her nose stuffed.

“I think we're ready to go home now, sweetie.”

“No!” Sara suddenly stopped crying and insisted they stay.

“I’m sorry, Sara, but we have to go home.” Tara was losing her patience as Sara wriggled in her arms violently.

“Sara, you can sleep with me in my room tonight if you want to.” Charlie was trying to be the sweet big brother and comfort his sister.

Steven patted him on the head. “C’mon, Sara. We’ll be back. We all just need to get some rest.”

“Why can’t we rest here?” She kept screaming.

“Sara, honey, me and Uncle Jack will still be here,” said Ben reassuringly. “When you move into the main house you can visit us anytime. That is, if it is ok with Mommy and Daddy?”

Tara suddenly felt awkward. Aside from the fact that they seemed to know very little about this place, it seemed odd that she would have relatives living on the property. Were they expecting to stay forever? Surely they knew they would have to leave someday. (And thanks for putting that suggestion into my kid’s head.) She politely smiled, realizing she may have given herself away.




Copyright © 2008 Kimberly Raiser

A B O U T   T H E   A U T H O R:

Kimberly Raiser has been a longtime contributor to the Silverthought community and considers it one of her finest accomplishments. Currently a collection of her works is published in one volume titled Stranded. It may be purchased through Amazon and its affiliates. Kimberly is currently working on a thriller novel expected to be released in 2009.

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