The things we are discovering in this third section of the longer story are getting a bit… crazy. And to think we still have a ways to go yet.
Notice I am working in the new linking pattern for the stories. The sections show the titles of the sections they are in and you can connect to the first portion of each section by clicking the section head.
He heard the knocks long before they came to his end of the hallway. It had been quiet out in the main hall. Eric had spoken to Stan briefly that morning before he had left for the laundry shop. Eric worked nights at factory. He ran into Stan most mornings, one coming in, one going out. The quiet during the day in the apartments helped him sleep. But the knocking, just as yesterday grew closer. Steady and rhythmic it broke the lull of sleep that had engulfed him.
If that hadn’t been enough, the door into Stan’s apartment had been kicked down when no one answered the knocks. He saw it through his door’s peephole. The scuffle inside Stan’s apartment lasted a few minutes, ended when Charlotte was pushed out of the place her hands in cuffs behind her back. A tall blond man yanked at her arm and marched her out of the entrance and down the hall toward the building’s front yard.
Eric froze, stood stock still with his eye glued to the peephole. His heart hammered in his chest as the whole tableau passed in front of him. And then another man stepped out of the apartment. The man’s crisp khaki uniform with emblazoned yellow arm band had been mired by a band of red splatter that cascaded across the front of his shirt. The man looked up and down the hall and then his gaze rested on Eric’s door. The hair at the back of Eric’s neck stood on end as he felt those eyes burn a hole through the door, through him.
His breath caught in his throat as he pulled away from the door and leaned up against the wall. Seconds ticked away like hours as he waited for the assault on his own door. But the knock never came. The door remained firmly on its hinges. He hovered by the edge of the door, the burning need to look out into the hall fought against the fear that the man would still be there, waiting.
Eric raced into the bedroom, out of breath from the run and from the kidnapping. They took Charlotte, in broad daylight no less. Just took her like a criminal. “Autumn, wake up.” He shook her leg and then her shoulders as she twisted away from him and smacked her hand on the alarm clock. “Hey, wake up. This is important,” he said.
She twisted to her back and looked at him through lidded eyes. “What time is it?”
“Eight,” he said. “Sorry, I know it’s early but you need to wake up.” He shook her again and then handed her a cup of water when he saw her eyes flicker open. “We have to go.”
She set the cup on the nightstand and glanced around the room, her gaze landed on the window and the light that slipped around the edges of the curtain. “I don’t have to work today,” she said. “Is it too much to ask for some sleep? I worked a double yesterday.”
“You aren’t listening to me. We need to go. We can’t stay here anymore.” Eric dipped his fingers in the water cup and flicked droplets at her face. “You need to wake up and listen to me.”
“Sleepin,” she said as she rolled to her side, away from him.
“They took Charlotte.”
“I saw it all through the peep-hole in our front door,” Eric said. “They broke into her apartment and I watched them drag her away in handcuffs.”
She sat up, her eyes fully open. “Are you sure you saw what you saw?”
“Absolutely,” he said. He stood up from the bed and looked in the closet. He rummaged around and pulled out a couple bags. He opened one of the bags and began throwing clothes into it.
“What the hell are you doing?”
“Didn’t you hear what I said? They took Charlotte. They must have taken Stan as well, and we could be next,” he said. “I am not standing around, another target for them.”
“Wait,” She said. “Tell me everything. What are you talking about?“
“You got home too late last night,” he said. “They took Abel’s wife yesterday and then they took Stan’s wife today. We can’t sit around and wait for them to take you too.”
She sat up and then climbed out of the bed. Autumn worked her way around the room picking up clothes and mementos of their life and throwing them into the bags. “Where are we going?”
“I don’t know yet,” Eric said. “But we need to get out of here. I don’t want to be caught here when they come to collect us too.”
“What do you need me to do?”
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