She didn't want to go. When her mother insisted that she join her family on their trip to the vacation house, Andi put up as much a fight as she could. But Amanda Sorrel's tenacity was unmatched, and Andrea was forced to succumb. To make matters worse, days before they left she came down with the flu. The drive down was spent in feverish hallucinations. What took only a few hours felt like days of staring at the ceiling of the car as she lay curled in the backseat. Alexis, her little sister, hopped around the seat in front of her, full of energy at barely 7 years old, and Amanda and Aaron sat in the front discussing some political event or other. Andi never listened anyway. She put her iPod on full blast and tried to drown out the headache.
As soon as they pulled up, Amanda shooed her eldest daughter up to her room, with strict instructions not to come down until the flu had passed. After a little while, Andi was brought some soup by her father, and she fell into the deep sluggish sleep of the ill.
Normally the days at their nice cabin in the mountains were spent outside hunting or sledding or skiing. But since they had arrived late, Aaron, Amanda, and Alexis were going to spend their first night watching a movie. Aaron and Alexis unpacked the rest of the luggage as Amanda stood in the kitchen making popcorn and getting drinks when there care a knock at the door. "Who could that be?" Amanda wondered.
Standing on her porch were two young boys, not much older than Andi. They were dressed all in white, looking like they were about to go golfing. It seemed an odd way to dress this time of year, but Amanda barely thought of it. "Can I help you?" she asked.
The taller, more confident one spoke. "Yes, ma'am. We were wondering if you had a map we could look at. We're terribly lost, you see, and haven't the slightest clue where we are." He spoke in a calm pleasing tone, and was very polite. The first instinct Amanda had was to tell him no, but as she couldn't understand why she had this instinct, she simply ignored it and invited them inside. "No, ma'am. I couldn't intrude."
"Please, come in. You must be cold, dressed like that in winter." She noted as they stepped inside.
"We barely notice it, and its difficult to find clothing we enjoy more. We are all creatures of habit, after all." He trailed off as Amanda went in search of the map and Alexis came skipping into the entrance way.
"Mom, where's the popcorn? Dad says we're done unpacking and I wanna watch the movie." Then she noticed the boys standing there looking curiously at her. "Who's this?"
"I'm Paul and this is Peter. We're lost. Your mom's gone to find us a map." He smiled.
"Well I'm sure Daddy can give you directions. Daddy!" she called to him in the other room.
"Alexis, don't yell. You wouldn't want to wake-" he was stopped short by the presence of the young boys. "Um, hello."
"Daddy, they're lost. They say Mom went to go find a map."
Paul extended his hand. "Hello, sir. My name's Paul and this is Peter."
Aaron shook it hesitantly. "Aaron. Aaron Sorrel. This is Alexis and you've already met my wife Amanda it seems."
At that moment, Amanda returned. "I'm sorry, I can't seem to find one."
Paul and Peter both smiled as Paul said "That's quite all right. We didn't really come here for that."
Amanda and Aaron looked at each other in concern. Aaron decided to take command as he said, "Well if that's all then..." and gestured towards the door.
"I'm sorry?" Paul seemed confused.
"It that's all we can do you for, than have a nice evening." Aaron gestured for the door again.
"I'm sorry, I don't understand. Did we do something to offend you?"
"Quite the contrary, you've been polite and its been a pleasure. I would like, however to watch a movie with my family so if there's nothing else we can do for you, I'd like you to leave."
At this they both chuckled. Peter spoke for the first time. "Leave? Thats highly unlikely."
"Mr. Sorrel, I don't understand why you are being so rude." Paul interjected.
"I'm not being rude. I'm simply ending your visit. Now please..." and once again he gestured for the door, only this time he grabbed Peter's arm and pushed him a little way. As he did so, Paul drew back his arm and his Aaron so hard that he fell against the wall and hit his head. When he brought his head forward, there was a newly formed splatter of blood on the wall. Amanda ran to his side as Alexis yelled "Daddy!" and Peter stood holding the little child back as she kicked and screamed at Paul.
"Everyone needs to calm down." Paul's voice raised above the others, then lowered calmly. "Now, I'm very sorry, but it was quite rude of you to grab Tubby like that, I'm sure you'd agree. Mrs. Sorrel, you'd probably want to get a towel to put against the wound and Mr. Sorrel, you and little Alexis should have a seat in the living room. And let's all stay calm shall we?" He said this last phrase cheerfully, as though reassuring party guests after a cup has been broken, not victims to his devious games. "Tubby, help Mrs. Sorrel."
"My name isn't Tubby."
"Fine. Go help her."
Paul followed Aaron and Alexis into the living room and Peter watched as Amanda grabbed a towel and wet it before following her into the living room as well. The three Sorrels sat on the sofa as Paul and Peter took their place on the love seat across them. "Now, be sure to put pressure on the wound, Amanda - can I call you Amanda?"
"What do you want?" she asked bitterly.
"Well Amanda, we want to play a little game." Paul said as Peter chuckled.
"Look, just take whatever you want and leave."
"Like I said before, Mrs. Sorrel, thats highly unlikely," Peter smirked.
"Tubby, what time is it?" Paul asked.
"Okay, so let's make a bet. Let's say at 10:00 tomorrow morning, you three will all be dead."
"What?" Aaron spoke for the first time since he fell.
"Yeah, you guys bet you'll be alive, we bet you, well, won't be." He laughed.
"What kind of bet is that?" Amanda asked angrily.
"My favorite kind. So the bet is on then, yes? Yes! What should we do till then?"
"I could use something to eat." Peter said innocently.
"Alexis, would you like to take Tubby here to find some food?" Paul asked the frightened little girl. "Don't worry, Amanda, he'll take good care of her."
As Alexis stood up, Amanda grabbed her and hugged her daughter tight as she whispered in Alexis' ear "Don't mention Andi." Alexis nodded as Peter led her off.
"What did you tell her just then," Paul asked.
"What do you mean?" Amanda lied.
"You know. You whispered something. What was it?"
"I was telling her to behave, and do what you say. I don't want her to get hurt."
"Excellent advice. This is going quite well. It's easier when things are polite."