I'm sitting on a bed in a little boy's room. All around me are brightly-colored toys and decorations. Blue and yellow curtains cover the window, but buttery sunlight still seeps into the room.
Dozens of toys, mostly cars, are scattered around the room. I get out of my bed and walk over to one of them.
That's when I happen to look up, into a mirror. I see a little boy, probably about 5 or 6, standing in bright blue pajamas. I'm confused at first, but then I realize. This must be me.
I am the little boy.
I walk over to the door and try to pull it open. But it doesn't budge. I grab onto the handle and yank on it. But still, nothing happens. I frown.
I know I couldn't have had that much strength when I was 5, but I should have at least been able to open a door.
I look around for a fire extinguisher, because apparently that can bust off a handle no sweat.
But instead, I walk over to the window, push the soft curtains aside, and take a glimpse outside. I see a little girl, about 2 or 3, playing in the backyard with a huge golden retriever.
Lizzy, I think. The girl's name is Lizzy. And she's my sister. I don't know how I know this. I just... do.
The girl, Lizzy, turns around and looks straight up at the window, her eyes meeting mine. She smiles and waves. I wave back, not sure what to do.
Lizzy then looks me dead in the eye and says, "Get up, Crank." Only it's not a little girl's voice. It's a grown man. Suddenly, I'm ripped away from the dream world.
Away from Lizzy, the dog, and 5-year-old me, and back to reality.
I'm sitting in the van. A man is standing outside, holding the car door. I'm still tied to the seat, but I'm able to wriggle around and look in the back. It's empty. All of my friends are gone.
I turn back to the man.
"Where are my friends?" I ask. Instead of answering, he takes out a knife and starts coming toward me. "Are they dead? Did you kill them all?" I ask.
He just shakes his head, his knife inches away from me. "You killed them, didn't you? And now you're going to kill me."
The man shakes his head again. His knife is right next to my arm. He's going to slit my wrists, I think. Tommy saved me for nothing.
But instead of slitting my wrists, he cuts off the rope on my arm. I look up at him, my face full of confusion. Since when do people trust cranks to be on their own? But he's not looking at me.
His bent over my waist, struggling with the thick rope tying me down.
I sit still, or as still as I can, and let him free me. If I made a fuss, that would really make him reconsider freeing me. It takes about 5 minutes, but for me, it feels like hours.
Finally, he steps away from me.
"Thank you, mate!" I exclaim and jump out of the van. But my moment of freedom is short-lived. The man suddenly holds his knife up to my throat, just above my Adam's apple.
I stand perfectly still, not even able to swallow.
"Not so fast, crank." The man says. "You put your hands behind your back." I see through the corner of my eye that he has rope in his other hand.
But no. I refuse to be put back into restraints. I don't move a muscle. The man sighs. "Look. I know you're not past the Gone yet, and from the looks of it, not even close.
So you can understand basic commands like 'put your hands behind your back.'"
I still refuse to put my hands back. He pushes the knife slightly into my throat, giving me a small cut. Pain courses from my neck, and I immediately put my hands back.
I might want to die, but not like that.
The man grabs my hands and goes behind me, wrapping my hands with the scratchy rope.