"C'mon, pick up…"
"I need you to wake up…"
Heavy footsteps echoed through the empty house, the cold night air from the open window like a whisper through its creaking floorboards. I clutched the black home phone in my hands, holding onto it for dear life. My eyes stayed fixed on the closet door, my free arm holding my knees tightly as I pulled myself into the farthest corner. I continued to listen to the phone ring, keeping it up to my lips, tears streaking down my cheeks like raindrops on a window. Finally, I heard a voice, but not the one I wanted to hear.
"Hi, you've reached the Flynn Fletcher house," Lynda Fletcher's automated voice came through the receiver, a slap to the face. "Sorry we missed your call, but leave a message and we'll get back to you right away."
This is it, I thought, taking a shuddering breath, I need to tell someone about this, and I need to tell him exactly how I've felt for the past ten years.
"Guys, it's Isabella." I whispered, my voice shaking, sobs coming out every second or so. "I'm in the guest room closet, and if you see the police at my house tomorrow, you'll know why. Someone's broken in, and I know he's looking for something. I just don't know what that is. You have to tell someone, anyone about this, because he's carrying a gun, and he's already seen me. I think this is goodbye, so… Ferb, you were a great friend, and don't ever let anyone tell you how to live your life. Phineas, there's something you need to know. I… I'm in love with y-"
The closet door was ripped open, and I shrieked and dropped the phone, and I was just barely aware of the noise it made as it hit my attacker's foot. I could do nothing but look up as the man grabbed onto me, a knife in his hand, and his gun in its holder. I tried to scream, but I found my voice was gone, snatched away by fear. I could do nothing but stare into the cold black eyes in front of me, his cold stare the complete opposite of my fear stricken blue ones.
"Hello, beautiful," he sneered, our noses touching from his close capacity, "you are my one way ticket to exactly what I want. Of course, I need to prove I am indeed capable of what I say I am. Don't take this personally, sweetheart; it's just business."
With that, I felt the blade plunge through my knee, a searing hot pain building up inside me. It took one second to feel it, and the other to act before I was knocked out by the hilt of the weapon.
My scream pierced through the streets of Danville.
Somewhere across the street, two step brothers stirred, their voicemail box receiving the only piece of evidence they could go on. The message slot filled up, and the phone quietly disconnected itself from my best friends' life.
I woke up earlier than usual; the combined silence of my alarm clock and the darkness of the skies confirmed what it said on the clock: six am. Baffled, I sat back down in bed and let my mind wander to the odd dream I had in the last eight hours.
"Uh, Major Monogram?" Isabella asked, hesitation in her voice.
"So, none of us will remember what happened today?"
"No." A white haired man with a matching moustache responded.
"Good." Isabella said and, pulling us close, kissed me with soft lips. I gasped.
"Isabella!" I cried, my grin wider than ever. She didn't even turn back to me, a soft and depressed smile playing across her lips.
"Hit it, Carl!" She said, happiness filling her voice. My eyes widened, my hands coming up to stop him. I had something to say!
"Wait, wait, wait, wait, wa -!" Too late, the blinding ray of light blinded me and soon, darkness enveloped the blinding the light like a black hole consuming a shining star.
I had been having that dream for a little over four years, and I still couldn't figure out why my lips felt a softer after it, the sweet smell of lavender shampoo taken in each time I inhaled. I traced my lips, one arm propping up my head. It was more a buried memory than a vivid dream to me, but every time I tried to remember the day that accompanied it, my mind drew a blank. I sighed, frustrated by the reoccurrence. My annoyance was cut off by the blaring alarm next to me. It came up suddenly and I wasn't prepared for it. I jumped in my bed and fell onto the hardwood, my butt colliding with the ground first. I winced, rubbing my posterior, and went to shut it off, only to find that Ferb had gotten up and silenced it. He and I both had hit puberty, each of us getting our growth spurts early. From down here, though, the green haired boy looked more like a giant than he did my age. At fourteen, we were both much more opinionated, so Ferb now had a lot more to say from when we were ten and I spoke for him.
"Let me guess," he said, holding out a hand for me to grab, "the Isabella dream?" I groaned, and nodded as he pulled me to my feet. Of course Ferb would know; I told him practically everything. What I couldn't understand was his annoyance whenever I brought up my skepticism towards the reason of the dream. He would always sigh, give me a look and mutter something along the lines of 'you're hopeless.' I wanted badly to know why he had a problem with me kissing Isabella in my dreams and not thinking anything of it. At first I thought it was because he liked her as more than a friend, and that really infuriated me for some reason. After he and Gretchen fell in love and began dating, though, I began to relax at the fact he was happy. With someone besides Isabella. I realized something wasn't sitting quite right in my mind; it felt like a part of me was suddenly gone, simply disappearing into oblivion. I could tell something was amiss, but I shrugged it off with a yawn. I woke up earlier than usual, I thought dismissively, plus I'm suddenly really hungry. The growl of my stomach only added more evidence to this theory, so Ferb and I ran down the stairs, laughing at how peculiarly loud my stomach was being this morning.
"Good morning, everyone!" I said, my voice breaking out into a smile as I smelled waffles being made. Linda Flynn-Fletcher was busy at the stove cooking, while Candace set the table and Lawrence Fletcher read the daily newspaper. They all returned the greeting, while Ferb thanked his father who had given him the comics from the back of the Tri-State Daily.
"Someone seems to be happy for his favourite food!" Mom chuckled, flipping the first two waffles as she winked at me.
"You bet, Mom!" I frowned, noticing Candace who was doing the table all by herself. "Here sis, let me help." I grabbed the clear glass cups out of the top left cabinet, walking around the table and doling them out in five different spots. As I neared the last spot, I noticed the voicemail box next to the phone was blinking red; one new message. I walked over, cup in hand, and pressed the button.
"One new message, sent at 2:46 am, July 24th."
"Guys, it's Isabella." I stared at the box, confusion filling me. What was Isabella doing calling at such a late hour? Furthermore, she was whispering, her voice filled with sobs every now and then. I was suddenly all too aware of my best friend's house being across the street and the uneasiness in my soul.
"I'm in the guest room closet, and if you see the police at my house tomorrow, you'll know why. Someone's broken in, and I know he's looking for something. I just don't know what that is. You have to tell someone, anyone about this, because he's carrying a gun, and he's already seen me. I think this is goodbye, so… Ferb, you were a great friend, and don't ever let anyone tell you how to live your life. Phineas, there's something you need to know. I… I'm in love with y-"
She stopped suddenly, her crying whispers turning into a shriek as the closet door was torn open in the background. A thud resonated through the speakers, the phone obviously dropped. I felt myself begin to shake as though an earthquake had hit me. There was a scuffle and I heard a man's voice, cold and threatening.
"Hello, beautiful," the growl sent a shiver down my spine, my blood as cold as the Arctic, "you are my one way ticket to exactly what I want. Of course, I need to prove I am indeed capable of what I say I am. Don't take this personally, sweetheart; it's just business."
For the smallest second, there was nothing. Then, the agonizing scream from Isabella broke through, and was sent like an arrow straight through my heart. Seconds later, a sickening crack could be heard, and Isabella was suddenly quiet. I listened to the footsteps until the message ran out. The whole house was quiet; my family stood behind me, too shocked for words.
The glass I had been holding shattered as it slipped through my hands.
I sprinted out the door after my red headed step brother, heart hammering against my rib cage like a wild animal attempting to get out of its cage. I couldn't stop from hearing everything Isabella had said, how she called me a great friend, how someone had definitely hurt her, the way she had been sobbing uncontrollably.
"Phineas, there's something you need to know. I… I'm in love with y-"
She had been so close to telling him, inches away from basically shoving the truth down his throat. Now she could be gone, and he would be as oblivious to her feelings as ever. Tears welled up in my eyes at the idea of losing our best friend; my feet sped up until they halted next to an equally shocked Phineas.
The house we had come to know as the Garcia-Shapiro's was now a depiction of the haunted house from the street fair. Two of the windows were smashed open, glass littering the front lawn like a mockery of snow crystals. The front door was kicked open, its hinges hanging loosely like deadweight. The once cheery house now left an ominous cloud, the flower buds being and leaving nothing but the stem. I looked at my brother, whose face was paler than white itself.
"Phineas," I said, touching his shoulder slightly, "the guest room." His eyes flickered towards me briefly, before they began fixed to the front door. With a nod, we ran into the house, ignoring the policemen who had been gathering for the last five minutes.
The house inside was even worse, with everything in disorder. Tables were upturned, dishes broken and scattered around like a riot act. The couch cushions were ripped open; feathers surrounding them as framed photos were smashed, leaving the stairs quite dangerous. Phineas paid no attention to the destruction around us, whereas I threw a glance everywhere with a cringe before running up after him.
What I saw in the room made me stop short. The closet door was open, the emptiness of the room more unnerving than the rest of the house. I heard a small noise coming from inside Isabella's hiding spot and noticed a small cordless phone, its signal still connected to our house. I left it, knowing the police would keep it for evidence. The open window allowed the wind to rustle the curtains, its movement like a serene wave rolling onto the beach soundlessly. What made my heart drop, though, was the thick pool of red blood in the center of the room, its sheer depth rocking me to my very core. Phineas knelt next to it, tears running down his cheeks silently as he stared at the empty wall opposite the door. I dropped down next to him, my hands grabbing him and hugging him as he broke down weeping in my arms, the bond of our brotherhood never broken. I could see nothing but the words written crudely in our best friend's blood on the wall, drops running down at times.
Give me what I want or else.