“What the heck am I supposed to do with this?”
Millie smiled at me cheerily. “Oh, I don’t know. Take care of it? It’s a pet, Jess!”
I stared at the bright, annoyingly colorful scarlet macaw that sat in the golden cage before me. It turned its head and stared at me with one beady yellow eye, clicking its beak a little. I wrinkled my nose a little. Who gets someone a bird for Christmas? What’s the thought process there? I mean, there’s so much maintenance. Poop cleanup, feeding, letting it out to exercise and fly, ect. What else?
I offered a weak smile. “Well, Milz, I don’t know what to say.”
She smiled again, and I felt sad for a second. Of course I couldn’t turn this gift down; Millie was my best friend, and she had put a lot of thought into this to go out and buy a bird. I was going to have to make the most of it.
“What’s its name?” I asked.
“Finn. He’s beautiful, isn’t he?” Millie smiled again and slung her coat over her shoulders. “Well, I just came by to drop him off. Merry Christmas, Jess!”
“Merry Christmas,” I echoed, still locked in a gaze with the bird. It cawed loudly as the door slammed shut behind Millie. “Okay, bird, listen up.”
“FINN!” it screeched. “FINN!”
I rolled my eyes. “Okay, Finn. I don’t want you and you probably don’t want me. So, I think the best thing for us to do is for me to try and let Millie down slowly and get you out of here. Deal? Deal.”
I broke the gaze, spun on my heel, and went into the kitchen to dig for something to drink in the fridge. I heard a loud pop! and rolled my eyes. “Shut up, stupid bird!”
Suddenly, I heard the loud, distinct shatter of glass. I gasped and ran back into the room, then nearly fainted.
The bird was gone, the cage shattered and ripped open, and my prized champagne glasses that I had used when Millie was here were in a heap of fragments on the floor.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry!”
I screamed and jumped backward, sliding into the wall, as a broad-shouldered man stepped out from behind the bathroom door. He had a chestnut colored stubble and gentle blue eyes, a white tee shirt, and black jeans. He held his arms out to steady me, his eyes wide and concerned. “Hey, hey, hey! It’s okay!”
My fingers scrambled on the table behind me and found their way onto a large book. I held it up in front of me, heart pounding for my life. “Get away from me!” I shrieked. “Get out of my house!”
“It’s me!” the man pleaded. “It’s me, Finn!”
My heart stopped. “What?”
“It’s me. The bird.” He smiled a little. “I’m Finn.”
My fingers slipped, dropping the book onto the floor with a thunk. What the heck did he mean?
“It’s okay,” he said softly, coming towards me, and in one quick second, he had his arms wrapped around me tightly. I squirmed in his grasp, then the realization hit me that he wasn’t going to let go.
“HELP!” I screamed, kicking him in the chest and thrashing furiously. “HELP, SOMEONE HELP!”
It was a big apartment complex! Someone had to have heard!
Finn dug into his back pocket with one hand, and with the other arm he wrapped me up in a headlock. He pulled a white handkerchief from his pocket and pressed it to my face, covering my mouth and nose.
I continued to kick, screams muffled, but I felt my outbursts weakening as the word danced across my brain.
Slowly the room dimmed and all went black.
Why the heck was it still so dark?
My neck cracked at an awkward angle as I slowly raised my head off my shoulders. My arms and legs were bound tightly with ropes, keeping me held to the hard metal chair. A gag was in place over my mouth.
“LET ME GO!” I roared through the gag as hard as I could. Somehow, the bird-man heard me, and a light flicked on, revealing him. He stared at me unblinkingly, then came forward and removed the gag, staring down at me. “Got any idea why you’re here?”
“No,” I spat.
“Do you know who Mackenzie Lawrence and Jake Prince are?” He raised his eyebrows.
I raised my chin. “Jake Prince is my ex, but I don’t know who the woman is.”
“She’s your ex’s new girlfriend. I’m surprised you didn’t know that, given how much we’ve seen you stalk his social media accounts.” Finn stared at me.
“How do you know that?” I demanded. “Who are you, FBI? CIA?”
Finn chuckled. “We’re a private organization, and I will not disclose the name at this time.” He walked to the back of the chair and untied the knots, then dug into his pocket and pulled out a small black handgun. Pointing it at the back of my head, he said, “Take me upstairs to your closets.”
“Okay.” I led the way, unfazed, into my bedroom. He threw the closet door open, examining my wide array of clothes. He felt around the back wall, then moved some boots aside on the floor and stepped into it.
I heard the floorboards creak, and he did too. He shifted his weight. “What’s in the floor here?” he hissed.
“Nothing!” I exclaimed, leaping up. “Get out of my closet. Now.”
He turned around, eyes narrowed. “No.”
My fingers twitched at my sides. “If you know who I am, then you’ll move.”
Finn pulled down the collar of his shirt to reveal a rubber vest. “I came prepared.”
I balled my fists, and yellow sparks began to fly around my fingertips. I reared back, the lightning shooting up my arm, and threw.
The ball of lightning streaked through the air and collided with his leg. He screamed and fell, but lunged forward and grabbed my leg, dragging me to the floor with him. I kicked him in the face and heard a crack of bone, and blood started to pour from his nose. He yelled again as I climbed to my feet and yanked the gun from his pocket.
BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG.
How did all that blood get here?
I looked down at my midsection. Six red holes were torn through the fabric and into my skin, making the world dance around me as I fell to the floor, my blood spilling onto my carpet as I heaved for breath.
Finn climbed to his feet, wiping the blood from his nose onto his arm with a sniff. He marched over to the closet and began to stomp on the floor, making my makeshift plywood cover crack. He stepped back as it fell apart, revealing the seven foot hole that housed two skeletal humans- Mackenzie Lawrence and Jake Prince.
I forced a weak, strangled laugh as Finn helped Mackenize out of the hole. She was crying, the sobs wracking her ugly, thin frame. “Hello, Mackenzie. I see Jake is no longer with us.”
She turned to me, her face sunken and ugly and didn’t speak, but then turned and sobbed into Finn’s chest. He looked over at me, his gun still held loosely in his hand. “How long ago did Jake die?” he asked quietly.
“Two weeks,” I spat, blood trickling down from my lip. “I found him when I went to deliver a bucket of water for the week.”
Finn shook his head slowly. “There are so many jealous, cruel people in the world. I’m proud that I can do my part to rid the good common folk from them.”
He raised the gun and pointed it directly between my eyes as I stared into his. I grinned weakly. “Good luck finding the others, Finn.”
He squeezed the trigger and the bullet shattered into my skull as I took my final breath.