Day 1: The Twins
If you were to take a single glance at this girl, you wouldn’t have seen anything out of the ordinary. She was no more than 15 years old, with brown hair, navy eyes, and pretty tall, about 5-8. But if you were to look closely, you would see much more than that. Her hair was long, past her shoulders. It had streaks of blond from the sun and was tangled and wavy from the ocean. She was tan and her face seemed to be stuck in a sort of sultry-sweet Mona Lisa expression. Her navy blue eyes looked glazed over and a fringe of day old mascara framed them. Her arms were folded across her chest, and she was wearing a simple black sweatshirt and a pair of jeans with purple Converse. Three weeks ago her name had been Peyton Ashford. A few days later it was Grace Atkins. She hadn’t been Taylor Claremont since she left home.
Home. Just the word rushed hundreds of memories into her mind. The most recent she could think of was the night of the accident, the night of her parents giving up, and the night of her running. If you were to rewind time to the night of May 7th, and looked to the home of the Claremonts in Boston, you would see a normal family doing normal things. You would see a father, Charlie, watching channel 5 News. You would see a mother, Elise, putting leftovers away into the fridge while sipping tea. Upstairs, you would see a boy, Benjamin, listening to music and tossing darts across his bedroom. You would see a girl, Benjamin’s twin, Taylor, thumbing through a fashion magazine and petting a cat next to her. You wouldn’t see anything out of the ordinary until 11:54 pm.
At 11:50pm, everyone was sound asleep; but seconds later an alarm rang. It shrieked and shrieked until lights slowly began to come on. The mother rushed out of her room to see what was going on with the father close behind. The girl would now be awake, looking nervously out of her window. It would take this family just four minutes to find a broken window in the boy’s bedroom, and an empty bed.
Taylor stared and stared at the scene, mystified. Tears began to roll down her cheeks. Her brother’s room looked totally different. The window next to his bed was totally shattered, few pieces of glass remained. His pillow was on the floor, and the blankets were ripped. A few posters had fallen and several baseball trophies lay broken on the floor.
“There was obviously a struggle,” Lieutenant Brown said the next day in the police station. “And we were able to collect a few pieces of evidence.” He pushed a piece of black fabric towards us. “This was found below Benjamin’s window.” I didn’t touch it. Neither did my parents. Lieutenant Brown then placed a black watch with a leather band. I studied it hard. It definitely wasn’t Benjamin’s.
“Were any fingerprints found?” asked Charlie. The police officer shook his head.
“Besides these two things, no. Not even a footprint,” he said.
Taylor wiped her eyes and looked at the ground. Her mother rubbed her back slowly.
“So where do we go from here?” Charlie asked.
“Well the only thing we can do now is wait for tips and ask around,” Lieutenant Brown said. “There haven’t been any kidnappings in Boston for a while, so there aren’t many people we could suspect. I suggest you go home and get some rest. We’ll call you if we hear anything.”
It had been three weeks. There were no calls, no tips, no nothing. The Claremonts sent out hundreds of missing person flyers all throughout Massachusetts and to other police stations in the east coast.
When almost a month had passed, Charlie and Elise had almost given up hope. Taylor was pacing around her room one day, too distracted to finish her geometry homework. She went downstairs and to talk to her mom.
“Mom, do any of our neighbors have any security cameras?” She asked anxiously.
Elise sighed. “Taylor, for the last time, no. We would have found that out weeks ago.”
“Well have we asked everyone? Maybe someone was walking around?” Taylor asked hopefully.
“Taylor. We’ve been through this! It’s been a month, we have no solid leads, there’s nothing left for us to do!” Elise said annoyed.
“Mom, are you seriously giving up?” she asked.
“No Taylor, simply waiting,” Elise replied calmly.
“Waiting? Waiting for what? For his dead body to be found in a ditch? Waiting until he wanders back home? Come on! We have to do something!” Taylor exclaimed.
“We’ve been doing things for three weeks! There’s only so much we can do!” Elise said agitated.
Tears were now streaming down Taylor’s face. “I can’t believe you!” Taylor said between sobs. She turned and ran upstairs and slammed the door. She knew she had to do something.
That night, when her parents were asleep, Taylor was going over the copy of the police report, the photos of his room, the broken window, the side of the house, and the evidence. Taylor carefully studied the fabric. It looked like it had been torn off of a shirtsleeve. She then studied the watch. It was simple, black leather band and a silver frame. But something caught Taylors eye. On the side of the watch was a faint engraving. Another photo showed the back of the watch, and Taylor sat up in alarm. She ran over to her lamp and put the picture under it, studying it closely. She could just barely make out the words:
Custom Made, Sterling Silver
3 Highland Ave, 01910
Taylor instantly knew she had to go to Lynn to find the person who made and sold the watch. She considered telling her parents or the police, but she remembered how her mother had reacted. Taylor began to second guess herself. What if this lead to nothing? What if the store had closed? This was hardly anything to go on. For all Taylor knew, it might not even be the kidnappers watch. But then again, what else did she have to go on?
So at 5:30am, May 8th, Taylor Claremont left her house, her life, and everything she knew for the one person she had loved for more than 15 years.
It was a long ride to Lynn, almost 3 hours by car, but Taylor had to take a train. She slipped out of the backdoor, and walked across the lawn and cut through her neighbor’s house to get to the main road. She glanced around nervously; she was worried she might be caught. She knew had to walk for almost 20 minutes to get to the train station. Taylor rounded a corner and her heart leapt. A police car was on the corner, one window rolled down. Taylor knew she couldn’t pass it without being noticed, so she had to keep going.
As she passed the police car, the officer leaned out of the window and asked, “Hey, what are you doing out so late?”
Taylor smiled and said, “My mom just had a boy! I was heading over to the hospital because our car broke down a few blocks away. The hospital is four blocks this way, right?” she asked.
The police officer nodded. “Well congratulations… uhh,”
“Peyton,” she quickly filled him in. “Peyton Ashford,” The police officer nodded and smiled.
“Be careful!” he called after her as she hurried away. Taylor didn’t say anything back, but she should have taken those words a little more seriously.
Once she reached the train station, she walked inside and bought a one-way ticket for a train that left in 15 minutes.
Taylor walked up the stairs to the platform and sat down on a bench. The only sound was the occasional passing car and a few crickets here and there. Taylor went over what she was going to do again. Get to Lynn, walk to Highland Avenue, and get there right when it opened to ask about the watch. But what if no one was there? Taylor shook her head she couldn’t doubt herself now; she had come too far.
A few minutes later, a train pulled into the station, and not to Taylor’s surprise, it was empty. She took a seat and found herself dozing off immediately.
When she woke up, bright sunlight streamed through the windows. It was almost 9:30am; the train had just pulled into Lynn.
“Last stop!” the conductor said over the microphone. Taylor picked up her backpack and walked out of the train station.
She took a free map from one of the benches on the platform and ran her finger along the route it would take to get to Highland Avenue. She muttered the directions in her head a few times, then left the train station and made a left. In 10 more minutes, she had reached Highland Avenue. Taylor was hungry, tired and anxious. She scanned the numbers of the buildings until she found number three.
It was only two stories high, and seemed to sag on top of itself. It looked like it was made entirely out of wood. The windows were caked with dirt and grime, so much so that you couldn’t see inside if you pressed your face to the glass. The windows on the upper floor were boarded up. A sign hung over the door.
Taylor took a deep breath and pushed open the door. A faint bell sounded in the distance. The air smelled musty and ancient. The room was filled from top to bottom with shelves and shelves of jewelry. It was mostly all held in glass containers and had faded price tags. On every other surface was a piece of jewelry. Earrings, bracelets, watches, rings, necklaces, everything was here. Taylor walked up to what seemed to be the front desk and tapped the bell on it.
“Hello? Is anyone here?” she asked cautiously. After almost a minute with no response, Taylor looked around the shop, dismayed. When she turned around she came face to face with the ugliest man she had ever seen. He looked like he belonged in one of the glass containers himself. His skin looked like sunburned leather, but he was frail as a leaf. He wore thick wire-rimmed glasses and had an ugly sneer on his face.
“Shop’s closed, why you are here?” he snarled.
“Umm… I-I’m sorry, the door was open,” she stuttered. Taylor quickly opened her backpack and pulled out the photos of the watch.
“I was wondering if you could help me out. This watch was made here, and it was sold a few weeks ago perhaps?” Taylor said trying to make a convincing story. “I was wondering if you could tell me who you sold this to?”
“What’s your name?” he asked suspiciously.
“Grace, Grace Atkins,” she said quickly.
“Well it’s none of your damn business who I sold that to; get lost kid,” the old man said, and began to turn away.
“Wait! Please sir, just hear me out. My brother, he went missing a month ago, and this is the only clue that was found on the crime scene that has led to anything!” I said quickly. “I need to find him, please! If you could just tell me who was here and might have bought this—“I was cut off suddenly.
The old man whirled around and looked me squarely. “You shouldn’t be here. If I were you I’d turn around and go right back to Boston before you get hurt too.” He told me with gritted teeth.
“How do you know where I live? Do you know something about this? Do you know where my brother is?” I asked.
“Kid, I’m serious. Get outta here before something happens to you too,” he said looking nervous.
“Me too? You mean something happened to Benjamin?” I asked close to tears. “Tell me what happened to my brother!” I practically screamed.
A door slammed from far away. I heard footsteps on the stairs. The old man cursed and hurried to the windows to shut the blinds.
“Now you’ve done it. Now we’re finished!” he said hurrying around the shop.
“What’s going on? Who’s coming?” Taylor asked. My question was soon answered. A tall, lanky man strode into the room. He was wearing all black, and had on a pair of black sunglasses.
“What’s she doing here?” the tall man asked. He left out a line of explatives. “I thought I told you to keep her away! We were almost done! We could have gotten away!” he said raising his voice.
Taylor began to back up slowly, trying to make her way to the door. The man turned towards Taylor and drew a gun. Taylor’s breath froze in her chest and she could feel her heart beat faster.
“Jared, I don’t know if this is necessary—“ the old man started.
“Quiet!” Jared barked. He turned back towards Taylor and said, “I need you to come with me,”
“What, why?” Taylor said nervously.
“You’ve seen to much,” Jared said. Taylor didn’t move. Jared clicked the gun into place. Taylor heard a bullet lodge into place.
“Where’s my brother?” her words were much softer than she had hoped.
“Come with me,” he said in a much stronger voice. He nudged his gun in the direction of the stairs leading to the second floor. Taylor glanced at the old man, but saw that she had no choice. She walked across the shop and began to walk up the creaking steps. She heard a few mumbled voices, then Jared getting angrier and then gunfire. Taylor screamed and crouched down on the stairs, her hands over her head. She heard fast paced footsteps. Jared grabbed her by her sweatshirt and shoved her upstairs.
There were two doors at the top of the stairs. Jared opened the door to the first one, and Taylor nearly fainted. Inside was her brother, rolled over to one side, she could hardly see his face, but what she could see of it was blood curdling.
He had a large gash in one arm, and his ankle was twisted at a weird angle. His clothing was dirty and torn. He looked like he was unconscious. Jared shoved Taylor inside the room and said: “This way you two can die together,” he said with a sly smile.
“Wait! Please,” Taylor said close to tears. “Why us?” Jared just shook his head and slammed the door shut. Taylor looked into her brother’s face. Dirt was smeared across it. His hair was the same tousled brown as hers. His eyes were an identical navy. She tried to rub some of the dirt off of his face. Shes laid down next to her brother and put his cool hand in hers. She wiped away a few tears and drifted into sleep.
Little did she or her brother know, back in Boston a full-fledged search party was fanning out around the city in desperate search for the now famous twins. A ten thousand dollar reward was offered in exchange for them. The worried parents, Elise and Charlie were on multiple news stations sending out desperate please for help. By now it had been a month since Benjamin disappeared, and 2 days since Taylor had left.
When she woke up, the same scene was around her. She spent hours bent over her brother, closely monitoring his breathing and pulse. She wondered what was going on back home, and how she would survive without food for much longer.
After what seemed like days to Taylor, she heard police sirens in the distance. Taylor’s heart beat faster. She sprang up and listened closely to the door. She heard people running around and faint talking. She realized that she was about to be rescued. Taylor went back to her brother and checked his pulse again. It was slow, and his breathing was shallow.
Then the door burst open. Sunlight filled the dark room, and Taylor had to squint to see that Jared was standing in the doorway, a gun pointed at them.
“Looks like your time has come. The police are just outside. Too bad they won’t catch me now. Another day and I would have taken the ten grand and shipped you two back to Boston, but they just can’t wait… can they? All they’re going to get now is a few useless corpses,” he said.
Taylor realized what was about to happen and let out a long scream. She pulled her brother into the corner and covered her head. Police were now surrounding the building. The faint sound of shattering of glass was coming from downstairs. Bullets rang out everywhere, ricocheting in every direction. As Taylor closed squeezed her eyes shut, she could hear shouts and people coming up the stairs. She clutched onto her brother’s hand and prayed for the best.