When we last saw our Mr. Dankworth, he was captured by the town’s hero and we left off with a lovely scream from the small Leif.
You may notice that this is a bit sooner than my other parts.
That is because of a new program I’ve taken advantage of, called BROTHER©.
I’ve used this in the past and it’s worked amazingly well. I vocally upload my story to BROTHER©. BROTHER© then proceeds to approve of my story (my writing is quite compatible with BROTHER©) and laugh at the funny parts.
In exchange for the story input, BROTHER© brainstorms with me, gives me new story ideas and notifies me I should be writing any time I am doing something else.
BROTHER© also asks if I’ve finished the next part at least five times on any given day.
You can see why this part went a bit quicker.
BROTHER© is quite effective.
BROTHER© also makes Lego minifigures of the whole book’s cast.
All that to say, the following Blank Mastermind part is sponsored by BROTHER©.
And with that standing overhead, you all know where you can find me until this is finished.
Enjoy the next part!
(And these last ones…)
The scream was cut off suddenly and two other screams took its place.
Everyone around the table shot up out of their seats. Charles took the lead, seeming to almost lift off the ground he zipped into the other room so fast. His wife and Dallas were right on his heels.
I was the only one plugging my ears as we ran. Seriously, just one of those kids’ screams would have made my hair stand on end. Two of them though . . .
Angela tried to kick the door shut behind her and just about smashed my face in, but I stuck my foot in the door and slipped in behind her. Charles was already down comforting the kids.
The two that were in sight, that is.
“Shh . . . shh . . . it’s okay.” He held smoothed back their hair and spoke quietly. I could still see from his face that he didn’t actually think it was okay.
Lego creations lay smashed and forgotten on the carpet and the curtains from the window were snagged on the closed corner. I squinted, scouring every corner of the room with my gaze.
No one. I frowned. “Where’s Leif?”
“He’s gone!” Angela snapped out, clenching her fists by her sides. Her dark hair whipped around her face as she turned to face me, eyes flashing.
I took a step back and my hand came up defensively.
“I can’t believe . . .” she took in a shuddery breath and put her hands to her face. Her voice dropped to a whisper. “I can’t believe we trusted you. Of course you’d . . .” she trailed off.
A Gordian knot settled in the pit of my stomach. I swallowed.
Jilly started whimpering again. Her dad brought her close.
“Shhhh . . . what happened, sweetie?”
She gulped and pointed to the window, “There was . . . there was a noise. Out there. And . . . and Leif was near the window and he opened it to look out and . . . and there was . . .”
“There was a guy and he had a really scary face,” Beckett finished, rubbing at his eyes. He glanced over at me. I wondered what his definition of a scary face was.
“Did he come in?” Charles asked.
“No.” Jilly shook her head, “He just grabbed Leif. And Leif screamed and kicked and smashed his Lego castle and then the guy pulled him out and closed the window . . .” Her face crumpled and she started crying again.
Dallas strode over and opened the window and I walked up behind him, looking over his shoulder.
Unless the neighbor’s dog was the kidnapper, we’d missed him.
“Anything?” Mr. Fernsby asked.
“He’s gone,” I stepped back from the window. Dallas kept staring stubbornly out across the neighborhood.
Charles bit his lip and looked up at the ceiling. “How do you do it?”
“Me?” I spread my arms wide, “Look, I was having breakfast in the other room and trying to recover from a head wound. You saw me. How could I have kidnapped someone from the other room when I didn’t even . . .”
“It’s not like you don’t have a gang who could do it for you. Who else could it be?” Angela this time. Everyone but Dallas was looking at me like they expected me to have Leif in some hidden pocket of my leather jacket.
I shrugged and gestured helplessly with my hands, “How should I know? Less than a week of spotty memories and I’m supposed to know everyone else’s enemies? I don’t even know my own! I barely even know who I am!”
My voice bounced violently off the walls, echoing back into my ears. I winced and slowly let my hands back down by my sides.
Dallas opened his mouth hesitantly for a second, and then closed it again. Jilly hid behind her dad’s leg. The looks of suspicion were averted down to the floor, but a feeling of distrust hung in the air like cigarette smoke.
“Wolfgang’s right, you know.” Dallas’s quiet voice came. Everyone looked over at him. He looked at the floor, but continued. “It’s not him. He really does have amnesia, sir.” His gaze went to Mr. Fernsby. “It’s not him, I know.”
The room went quiet again. With an extra dollop of awkward this time.
A buzzing noise broke the silence. I jumped.
Charles patted his pocket, “That’s mine.” He pulled out his phone and frowned at the screen. “Unknown name, unknown number . . . either this is a telemarketer with awful timing or a ransom call.”
I wasn’t sure which one he wanted it to be.
He took a deep breath and hit two buttons, then held the phone out a good few inches down from his face. “Hello?”
“Is this the residence of the Fernsbys?” A garbled voice came over the speakerphone.
It was the opening line of a telemarketer, but that voice didn’t sound human. I’m not even sure how I was able to make out the words. It sounded like a broken robot trying to talk while blowing bubbles in milk.
“Yes . . . Who is this please?”
Something that sounded halfway between a chuckle and a choke made goosebumps tickle my arms. “That’s for me to know, Amazing Man.”
It was pretty safe to assume it wasn’t a salesman at this point.
“Exactly how much are you willing to give to get your boy back?” the tone was conversational and was almost more disturbing that way.
Charles’s jaw tightened and his hand clenched around the phone. “Whatever it takes.”
“Ah, that’s good. Let’s make it . . .” the connection crackled a bit and there were popping noises I couldn’t quite identify. “How about . . . two hundred dollars . . .”
“Done.” Charles, Angela and Dallas said all at the same time.
Even knowing barely anything about the villain business, two hundred bucks sounded like a pretty pathetic ransom. You could rob a gas station if you needed that kind of cash. This guy wasn’t done negotiating.
I held up a hand and made a shushing noise, keeping my eyes on the phone.
“Hold on now, Mighty Mouse . . . I’m not done. There’s one other thing . . .” the voice trailed off for a second and static crackled again.
Obviously enjoying the suspense. Dallas tugged at his sleeves and Charles stuck his tongue into his cheek.
“Bring your houseguest.”
It took me a moment to get what he was talking about.
Charles looked confused, “My houseguest?”
“A certain Mr. Dankworth. I know he’s there. And by the extra noise, I’m probably on speakerphone. Hello, Wolfgang.”
I stared at the phone.
This wasn’t anyone from the gang. I couldn’t tell the actual voice, but none of them talked like that. This was someone else.
All eyes in the room again turned to me, though this time it was with more bewilderment than accusation. Even through the weirdest forms of reverse psychology, this plan made no sense for me to have pulled off.
Besides . . . even with the note . . . wasn’t I planning to blow Leif to bits before the kidnapping threat would even take effect?
And then plan myself to be the ransom to get him back? That was like a bank robber stealing just enough money to bail himself out of jail.
In other words. Stupid. Stupid with two Os.
“Are you still there?” came the jumbled voice again, stuttering with static.
I took a deep breath, “Where do you want to meet?”
The voice made that disturbing choke-laugh again. “Ah, I knew you were there. As to the question . . . “ More of that unidentifiable popping noise. “Let’s make it just south of Logan at ten tonight. Sound good?”
As good as a meeting with a kidnapper can sound.
No one answered.
“Good. And of course, the technicalities . . .” something that was either a sigh or a cough came over the line. “No calling the police or the child dies . . . the dynamic duo comes alone with the ransom . . .”
“ . . . and, you’re to leave as soon as we make the switch. Got it?”
“Yeah.” I couldn’t quite work out what the expression on Amazing Man’s face was.
“Well, see you tonight, then. Toodle-oo!” The line went dead.
I shivered a little. Kidnappers should really not talk like that. Like they’re just a perky little person who loves their job. It’s creepy.
The room was quiet. No one was looking at me now.
I was getting lightheaded again and my legs were getting shaky, so I sat down on the floor. Which I would have realized was a bad idea if I was a tad more mentally present at the time.
As it was, I sat down on someone’s Lego rhinoceros and swore.
Jilly plugged her ears.
Beckett tugged on his mom’s shirt and whispered loudly, “Mommy, is Mister Dankworth going to die?”
She shushed him, though I was wondering the same thing.
I guessed I’d find out.
And the fangirls all screamed “NOOOOOOOO”.
As always, I love to hear your favorite parts!