Authors: W.C. Hoffman
“He did not miss at all, hit me clear as can be right here over my heart.”
“How are you alive?” she asked.
“You cannot kill, what is not alive,” Drake said trying to steal his brother’s line. Henderson did not flinch. The line had a much better effect on Magee in the last moments of his life, but Henderson was not buying it. She only looked at him and continued on with the questioning.
“Horse shit. You are not going to get all mystical on me,” Henderson said.
“How... are you... alive?” his sister asked with a serious tone, this time more demanding of a proper answer.
“The tan skin one that had the dog is dead, I used his heavy coat and vest to shield my chest. Magee shot me and knocked me down, Tomek then surprised him and while they were fighting I got back up and killed him,” Drake retold the story with no emotion, no regret and looking her straight in the eyes. With all her training and experience over the years, she knew he was telling the truth. She also knew that only true sociopaths could recall their violent acts in such a manner.
Although society would clearly label anyone who killed without any regard to right and wrong like him a sociopath, she was not so sure. Had it been that her brothers truly were evil, or was it the fact that they were raised in the wild? Was it nature or nurture? After all, the snake does not feel sorrow for the mouse.
Henderson stood silent and stunned. Truthfully, though, she felt almost glad that Magee was dead in place of either of her brothers. If she found them after all these years only to learn that one or both of them had just been killed by a fellow officer would be torture. Henderson knew she was looking at a killer. Henderson knew Drake was a person who society, the law and all her clinical training would deem a sociopath. Yet for some reason all she saw was her little brother, who did not know any better and was trained to commit these horrible acts. Looking at her brother, unafraid of him, she asked about Ravizza.
“The tan one is Ravizza, how did you get his coat?” she asked.
Sitting up to look at her he casually remarked, “Ravizza, as you call him, had Tomek in handcuffs at gun point.”
“And?” she again asked leaving the conversation open in an attempt to extract more from the boy.
“Ravizza is dead, just like his dog, just like the big blond ignorant giant and just like...”
“I am going to be?” she interrupted to ask.
“No,” Drake said. “I will protect you.”
Rolling her eyes at the thought of her little 16-year-old brother operating as her protection was somewhat comical to hear. Although the more they sat there and he explained Tomek to her the more she understood. Henderson was clearly beginning to see the dynamic between her twin brothers and was grateful that it was Drake who found her in the boat and not Tomek.
As time passed by, the pair continued back toward the cabin. Drake figured that she had no idea of its location, so he meandered through the wood line and the orchard in order to spend just a few more minutes alone with Henderson. Although his body was hurting with each step and breath, he figured as soon as they met back up with Tomek, circumstances would change so drastically that he wanted to enjoy the time he still had alone with her.
Making their way down through the hillside garden area he explained how they picked their fruit and stored it in the dry cellar. Henderson was impressed with both the orchard and their sophisticated pit-protected garden plot. Henderson was less impressed with the beehive colony the twins and uncle had cultivated over time.
“Keep those things away from me. One sting and I am dead,” she said.
“Tomek shares your reaction to the sting, but over the years Uncle used many plants and oils to build up Tomek’s resistance to the venom. Now if he gets stung, only the wound gets infected. However, if we make a plant remedy from the common plantain weed and place it on the sting spot, it will cure it in a few hours,” Drake said, trying to impress his sister with his woodland medical knowledge—a feat at which he was successful, based on that fact that Henderson felt safer in the presence of the bees with Drake by her side.
“They are good for honey, obviously, and they keep the gardens and orchards pollinated. We live as one with them. The only difference being that the hive has a queen and we never have, until now,” Drake said.
Henderson again was taken aback by how clear and on point Drake’s speech was. It was not that he was a well-taught classical English speaker. Even more so it was not what he said. It was the way he said it. Straight to the point and without emotion was what she had come to expect from him. This made her wonder if Tomek would be the same way.
“Wow, you do not sugarcoat anything do you?” Henderson asked.
“Sugarcoat?” Drake did not understand the phrase.
“Never mind, it is just a saying,” Henderson replied.
It was in this moment that Henderson began to really question herself on what their future together would entail. For all intents and purposes it was clear that Drake wanted her to stay with them and assimilate into their way of life. Honestly, she knew that would be difficult, but was open-minded enough to see that it was possible from a pure survival standpoint. They had the skills to live on their own. Food, water and weapons were not a problem. She had not seen their shelter, yet even though at this point they had walked directly past it four times. Each time, Drake smiling as they strolled on by the oak tree door.
“Could she live with them?”
“Who would come looking for us?”
“They are cop killers. They will have to answer for their crimes, won’t they?”
All of the above raced through her mind. Would Pine Run ever know the truth? There was certainly no way that everyone would just accept that the entire Sheriff’s Department mysteriously went missing in the woods. She was sure that search parties would come and then it dawned on her: She was, in fact, herself part of a search party. She was the last remaining part of one, for that matter. If Henderson stayed with her brothers and became one of them, would she have to hide? Or would more drastic options be the only way to prolong their way of life?
Walking in circles for the last two hours she realized that Drake was attempting to stall the reunion with Tomek. Just as she began to speak up about it, Drake stopped walking along the river bank. Turning up toward what looked to her to be a blown-down tree lofted along the hillside. Following the boy’s lead, she stretched her legs and hopped from rock to rock just as Drake did.
“Is this some kind of test?” she asked him.
“Nope,” he said.
“Why are we jumping from rock to rock then?”
“Do you see the taller switch grass from the river up to that tree?” he asked.
“Of course,” she said, still a little annoyed.
“Well, if there was a path trampled down through it, then someone might follow that path would you not think?” Drake asked fatuously.
“I suppose,” his sister said.
“I am taking you to our home, your home and this is how we approach it. This keeps us hidden from random people floating down our river. This is how we live. This was all Uncle’s idea.” Drake said while leaping to the last rock.
Standing at the tree trunk it was still not obvious to her that it was a door. Although, as Drake rotated a false piece of the bark aside, she was quickly amazed at the intricate handle that had been carved into the body of the tree.
Opening the door exposed to her a site that she could never have even imagined. There on the floor lay the second of her twin brothers. She rushed into the dimly lit room and dropped to her knees and picked up Tomek. Pulling his limp body into her lap and arms she was astounded at the true likeness both boys shared. Further relived to see he was still breathing, Henderson was taken aback as she looked over his shoulder.
She knew that her fellow deputies had been killed, but was unprepared to see any one of their particular bodies. Seeing the sheriff’s body was also something she had not expected, yet there he was, standing over her, alive and chained to the wall via the bear trap looking at her for mercy.
nnette, look what they have done to me,” said the sheriff, referencing his current bloodied disposition.
“We have done nothing to you, yet!” yelled Drake. This being the first time he himself had been face-to-face with the leader of the trespassers.
“The events of the last two days have been because of your actions. You came here, you attacked, you trespassed, all the while never telling our sister what you truly were coming for. Every man you dragged out here is dead because of you.”
“Your sister?” the sheriff asked, looking down to the ground in disbelief. “Do you honestly think this bitch is your sister?”
He continued, “Your mother was a drugged-out whore and you both should have died beside her in that truck.”
Henderson laid Tomek down softly on the ground and stood to look her boss directly in the face. “You know about how they vanished? You know about her truck? You knew she was dead? That was my mother,
“Oh, are we still playing this little charade you have going that you are the long-lost sister these two somehow never knew about?” he sarcastically asked.
“Hell yes, I knew she was dead. I am the one that found the damn truck. Full of cargo fresh out of the Canadian pharmacy headed into town,” the sheriff said. “That bitch was working for the wrong guy. I needed the meds, not the truck, or those damn twins. I figured someone would find it and oh, the fucking tragedy it would be. But nope, years later and not a single hiker tripped upon it. Somehow it remained my little secret. I went back to check it out one time but it was gone—poof!—fucking vanished.”
“She was alive?” Drake asked from the corner of the room, stepping into the light coming through the open door.
The sheriff looked up upon hearing Drake's voice.
“Damn, I had hoped that they would had killed at least one of you demons.”
“She was alive?” Henderson asked with the same intensity in her voice.
“Like I said, I needed the meds, not the whore!” the sheriff said.
Standing side by side, Drake and Henderson both reached for one of the flint-napped blades sitting on the shelf beside them. The stone blades were nowhere as strong as one of Drake’s preferred throwing knives but the hollowed-out slice in the sheriff’s hand could attest that they were just as sharp.
Bumping into one another, Henderson gave way to her little brother as he picked up the blade and took a step toward the sheriff, who was now dropped down on one knee.
Looking up at what seemed like just a boy above him ready to end his life, he said, “You know, she is not your sister. Uncle could have never hid a sister from you.”
Hearing the name Uncle escape from the tattered remnants of the sheriff's cheek flaps caused Drake to step back.
“I found you in that truck, the both of you. I gave you to your precious Uncle and in return he presented me with this necklace. As long as I stayed away from him and let him go, that was the deal. And this bitch... is not your sister. Her momma was the only black bitch in town. A nurse, if I remember correctly. Not a whore like your mother,” the sheriff said, gasping between each word.
The sheriff was dying on the spot from the overwhelming blood loss from the injuries he sustained fighting Tomek, but was still able to spin a lie. The major issue being that each statement had a shred of possible truth to it.
Drake thought to himself:
“He knows about Uncle and is wearing a head Uncle had made on his neck. How could he know about the truck and how Uncle had found them? There was a black nurse when I was in the hospital. Is Annette my sister?”
“He is lying, Drake. I loved you boys more than anything and I have been searching for you all my life,” Henderson said.
The sheriff chuckled.
Amidst all the confusion and discussion between the three of them, Tomek remained lying on the floor. Stepping over his body to get closer to Drake, Henderson reached her hand out.
“We don't have to kill him,” Drake said. This comment made both the sheriff and Henderson alike raise their heads in confusion. Neither of them had expected any type of mercy to have been shown.
“Drake is right we don’t have to kill him,” Tomek said, looking at Henderson. Drake stepped back toward his brother, who was now standing in an attempt to get between Tomek and Henderson.
“I have a lot to tell you. I know it may sound crazy, but this is,”
“Our sister,” Tomek said interrupting his brother.
“What, you knew?” Henderson asked.
“Yes,” Tomek said.
Drake was now in the state of confusion that he had expected Tomek to be upon learning about Henderson.
“How?” Drake asked.
“Uncle,” Tomek said. “I knew from the minute we saw them at their first camp with the wolf that it was her.”
“You have been trying to kill her first, from the get go,” Drake said.
“No, save her,” Tomek corrected his brother. “Uncle told me about her, told me that there was another one of us and that one day she may come looking for us.”
“When?” Drake asked.
“You were sick, in the hospital at Pine Run. You were supposed to either die there or be taken from us. He did not expect you to ever return to our life and he said that I should never feel alone because if you died there would still be one more of us. He told me there was a girl, Annette, and that she would be older.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Drake asked.
“To see that look on your face, ha, and now I am glad I waited.” Tomek’s answer annoyed his brother, but Drake was not surprised by it.
“So no, we don’t have to kill him,” Tomek said, taking a breath. “We don’t, but she does.”
“Wait, what?” Henderson asked.
Tomek remained silent and walked over to the sheriff pushing him down to the floor. Tomek reached into the cubby and pulled out the pistol that the sheriff had attempted to obtain when his hand wound up in the clutches of the bear trap.
Continuing his silent but deliberate movement across the room, he opened a pull-out drawer from the cabinetry near where their beds would have normally been before his scuffle with the sheriff. Removing a single round from the drawer, he walked over to Henderson, handed her both the gun and bullet. Tomek then looked at her intensely and said, “Kill him. Kill him and prove you are one of us.”