"CAN ANYBODY HEAR ME!? HELLO!?"
The darkness that kept the large room shrouded with eerie vibes and mysterious secrets seemed to swallow Daphne's anguished cry whole. She had sat in the same position for four days now, and the stinging sensation in her limbs resulting from it made her fidget with nervous energy desperately trying to come out. However, her wrists and ankles were bound extremely tight, so she was forced by their powerful bonds to wallow away helplessly, overcome by fear and boredom. The two men were kind enough to give her meals (which consisted of her least favorite foods, however) and water to drink, but whenever she had to move around (usually to go to the bathroom), her body, rattled with bewilderment, confusion and worry, was always under their vindictive glares.
The last four days of her life had mostly consisted of dozing off and pondering about the Crane men. She was mostly worried about their worry towards her and her current situation, and if Dr. Crane and Mr. Crane could get along without her. She had witnessed their continuous, spiteful fights on multiple occasions and knew that both of them would be reluctant to clean the house. Picturing them flooded her mind with nostalgia as an unsettling feeling rooted deep in her stomach. She swallowed and looked down at the wooden floor laden with cracks and splinters, trying to hold back her tears. Oh, how she wished she could see one of them again and be in the presence of their delightful quirks and their gentle kindness. Being taken hostage had made her realize just how much she appreciated their eccentricities and delightful personalities. She was so lucky to be employed by a family like them.
Her captors had mentioned that one of the Crane men was coming to save her from her current miserable and lonely existence. As a result, she found herself wondering which. The youngest Crane was out of the question- they were best friends, and he was so very kind to her, but he had his wife to worry about. The elder Dr. Crane and Mr. Crane were much closer to her, as they lived together and she worked for them. Her guess was that Dr. Crane would be her savior (that is, if her captors were being honest, which she was almost positive that they were), and she was extremely grateful for the lengths he was going to rescue her.
Her current daydream was postponed, however, when she noticed two shadows in the distance advancing toward her. They finally sat down in front of her, and, from the dim light penetrating the few open windows in this abandoned house, she immediately noticed their snarky grins.
"We heard you calling for us," The man to the left spat. "What do you want?"
Honestly, Daphne wanted more information, someone to talk to. She was starved of human contact or any stimulation over the past four days; she was used to walking around, always engrossed in a task or TV show- she, of course, never had to sit on the ground for a week on end, with fear and the feeling of approaching doom hanging over her head like a dark, ominous cloud.
She took a deep breath before answering. "Tom, if you must know, I want more information about my stay. I still don't understand why you've taken me in!"
The man sitting to the right of Tom chuckled menacingly. "We already told you, and I think you know why. I thought you were my friend. My colleague! But then you turned against me, and left me to rot in that… hellhole."
"Why are you blaming me!? Me brothers did that! It's their fault, mostly Simon's. What do I have to do with anything!?"
"If you testified for us-"
"If I hadn't testified against you the outcome would have been the same! There were too many people on the other side, the judge wouldn't have ruled differently. This is just stupid."
"Oh yeah!?" Tom asked, raising his voice. "Was it also so stupid when we went to prison!? Yeah! I think it was!"
"Easy, easy," The man beside Tom rubbed his back, calming him down.
"It's hard, Oliver!" he whined back. "She doesn't understand!"
"Of course not, brother," Oliver soothed with a condescending tone. "Daphne here is just too dense to understand anything out of her fantasy world-"
Hearing this comment, Daphne had had enough. "Now you listen here!" She snapped. "Having dreams has never been some fantasy world! Because I've fulfilled them! I've actually gone to America and made a life for myself! And I'm not dense! You two are certainly ones to talk, not being able to keep a girl for more than five minutes because you've stuck it up with her, only a complete idiot repeats their mistakes-"
She was interrupted when Tom slapped her hard across her face. Daphne could taste the blood trickling down her bottom lip as she avoided their gazes with contempt. "We were never friends," she whispered.
"And we never will be," Oliver responded, his brow furrowed and his eyes narrowed to slits.
"I knew you two were pieces of shit the moment I saw you," Daphne continued. "The moment she introduced me to you-"
"Oh, and who's one to talk now?" Oliver remarked haughtily. "You and your little, 'friend'-" he went on, making air quote hand gestures, "was some friend to you, now was she?" He smiled, his voice dripping with insincerity, thinking about the way their friendship fell apart.
"You don't know anything about her," Daphne shot back fiercely.
"That's not even important!" Tom countered, eyeing his brother happily. "The point is, you put us in a horrible, horrible situation, and we're taking revenge."
Sudden realization hit the captured girl and Daphne perked her head up. "Where's George?" She queried curiously.
"Oh, he's our tech guy," Oliver answered menacingly. "A critical component to the plan. He's not here right now."
"And when is one of the Cranes coming?"
"Oh, we don't know!" Tom quipped. Right now, he's in kind of a… bind," He added, leading to a malevolent cackled from both brothers.
Daphne bent her head down in shame and defeat. If only she had chosen differently all those years ago, this never would have happened. But she was adamant she made the right decision, and she knew deep down that nothing that had occurred was her fault at all; their fate was based on her loafing, flawed brothers. She was desperate to find more information about Dr. Crane's 'bind', but she knew these people well and was positive that they wouldn't give her an answer any less ambiguous. Overall, however, she felt extremely guilty that she had put one of them in such a vulnerable situation. If she made it out of this situation alive, she would have to pay them back for the troubles they went to for her.
Just as Oliver and Tom stood up and began to leave, a large gust of wind flooded through the house through the windows, shaking Daphne to her core. The two brothers stopped dead in their tracks as the three of them listened to the building rumble and noticed the dust falling from the ceilings, glistening in the dim glow. Just when that gust passed, another one came, and the two men recoiled in fear as a wooden beam crashed down from the ceiling. Daphne looked up, alert and alarmed, before glancing back towards the two of them frantically rushing around her. She could tell just by their facial expressions that this was not planned.
As more wind came blowing through the house, Daphne could hear more, deafening crashes from up above. She watched, panicked, as Tom and Oliver disappeared from view. "WHAT'S GOING ON!?" She shouted over the continuous bombardment. "ARE YOU JUST GONNA LEAVE ME HERE!?" She screamed, pulling and tugging at her binds when another wooden beam crashed down. She watched with horror as she witnessed half of the room she was in collapse and crumble, replacing a large living room with a massive heap of rubble and wooden supports.
Before she knew what was going on, she saw Tom holding a pile of electronic equipment in front of her, and jerked her head to the right when she felt Oliver's short breaths blow upon her neck. She observed Oliver quickly untie her bonds as she heard more crashes in the distance.
"What's going on!?" She questioned the brothers frantically as dozens more bombarded her mind.
"The house is collapsing," Oliver answered quickly, keeping his focus on untying the knots around her ankles. Once he was finished, she shakily stood up as a bout of dizziness overwhelmed her for a second. She was relieved of her bout of vertigo, however, when she heard Tom shout, "C'mon!" as he dashed towards the front door.
Daphne quickly followed suit, as she heard a loud bam behind her that she could only assume was the wooden post she was tied to breaking under the weight of the gigantic mound of rubble above it finally crashing to the ground, killing her if still in that position.
Finally outside the house, she could barely see around her from the copious amount of brown dust in the air, but she could vaguely make out the forms of Tom and Oliver, and blindly followed them. She flinched every time she heard another crash or bam, reminding her that the house's foundations were tearing apart as it was quickly transforming the building into rubble. She fought against the harsh wind whipping against her face, the same wind that acted as a catalyst for the house's ultimate demise.
After what seemed like forever, she bumped into the two brothers, marking the end of her path of escape. Wiping the dust out of her inflamed eyes, she squinted through the fog created by the collapse. Just then, rain began to pour down upon them, soaking their dirty clothes and clearing the dust from view. Past the countless rain droplets, she stared at the gigantic heap of rubble from across the road in disbelief. What used to be a large, cornflower-blue farm house was now a gigantic pile of rubble and broken fragments.
As she stole a glance at the brothers' faces, countless thoughts clouded her mind, but one question penetrated through her mental fog: