I knew I was in trouble when the ice cold fingers grasped onto my arm with surprising strength. It took me longer than it should have to realize what was happening and before I could scream, another hand covered my mouth. 

“If you scream, we both die. If you stay quiet, then we can escape with our lives.” I stood stock still as I tried to pretend I knew who was whispering in my ear. His voice sounded familiar, but I couldn’t place the voice with a name. 

“Why should I believe you? Or go with you for that matter?” I asked as the hand covering my mouth slowly released its grip leaving an icy handprint over my mouth. 

“We aren’t going far. We just need to be able to get out of the way. All I want you to do is follow me out into the backyard. And maybe into the treehouse if we have time.” 

I turned to fact the unknown man as he also released his grip on his arm and it slowly dawned on me as to who it was. It was Stan. My ex-neighbor. My best friend growing up until he and his family had moved away when we were in seventh grade. 

“Stan! Where did you come from? Why are you here?” Before I could ask any more questions, I was interrupted by a set of headlights turning into the gravel driveway. 

I followed Stan as he ran out the kitchen door into the backyard, still uncertain of where we were going, what we were doing and who we were possibly hiding from. The moment we made it and hid in the treehouse, I heard the voice. 

“Where is she? You said we would be able to pick her up tonight! If we show up without her, it will be our heads that roll.”  

I stared wordlessly at Stan, trying to force my brain to figure out what the man could be talking about and why he was looking for me. 

“I tried to warn you. About my father. And your father. They are not good men and if they find us -” but before Stan could finish his sentence, my house exploded into flames. 

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