Sheridan stood up in the pit and slowly walked over to the crumpled form lying on the ground. He was lying on his stomach, so she couldn’t tell who it was. Bending down, she carefully turned him over and looked at his face. Squinting to see in the dim light, she studied the features on the man’s face. In an instant she knew who it was – Julian!!!
“Oh my God, is he dead?!” she cried, trying to feel for a pulse.
Just then, he started to stir. Lifting his head up off the ground, Julian opened his eyes and tried to focus. “What – where am I?” he muttered.
“Oh, Julian, you’re alive!” Sheridan cried, throwing her arms around his neck. Julian winced in pain.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” she said, “I shouldn’t have touched you. Julian, maybe you shouldn’t move. You might be injured.”
“No, I’m all right,” he said, managing to sit up. “I think I just got the wind knocked out of me, that’s all.”
He felt a surge of pain shoot across his upper back. “Ouch!” he winced, rubbing his back.
“What happened?” Sheridan asked. “How did you fall down here?”
“I think I took a nasty hit in the back,” her brother replied. “I don’t know what was worse – being struck in the back or falling down into this god-awful pit.”
Sheridan sat down beside her brother, trying to make sure he was indeed all right. “Julian, what are you doing here?” she asked. “How did you find me?”
Then, as if the realization suddenly dawned on her, she shouted, “You came to rescue me!” Jumping up she exclaimed, “You must have brought Luis!”
Sheridan smiled broadly as she yelled, “Luis! Luis! I’m down here! We’re both down here in this pit!”
“No, Sheridan,” Julian said soberly. “Luis isn’t here. It – it’s just me.”
“Just you?!” Sheridan said incredulously. “You mean you didn’t bring Luis with you? Or anyone else?”
“I’m sorry, Sheridan,” he said. “There wasn’t time. Looking back I should have called him, but I was afraid I’d lose her.” He relayed the events of the day to Sheridan, hesitating when he got to the part where he arrived at the door.
“I - I thought I heard something inside – a scream or something - so I just came on in. The door was unlocked. Imagine that – a kidnapper leaving the door unlocked. Some mastermind, huh?”
“A psychopath is more like it,” Sheridan said. “Julian, you thought that was me screaming? You were worried about me, weren’t you?”
“I – well, I thought you were in trouble,” he said. “I mean, who knows what that clown could be doing to you.”
“Clown is the correct word here,” Sheridan said. “You don’t know how right you are.”
She got up and leaned over him, putting her arms around his neck from behind. She hugged him gently. “Oh, Julian, you really care about me,” she said. “Thank you for trying to save me.”
“Yes, well, anybody would have done it,” he said, a bit uncomfortably.
“Awww, such a touching scene!” a voice bellowed from above. “You break my heart!”
Julian looked at the top of the pit. Leaning over the edge was someone in a clown mask! “What the –" he said.
“This, Julian, is the clown I was talking about earlier. She is the one who has been keeping me in these wonderful accommodations – feeding me three square meals a day – you know, I think she deserves a tip!” Sheridan surprised herself with how nervy she had become. It was good having someone here to share in her predicament, she thought. It gave her courage.
“Don’t get smart with me, Blondie,” Charlie said. “I can just cancel your room service anytime.”
She then turned her attention to Julian. “So, Mr. Whoever–you-are, what’s the story? Why did you follow me to my beautiful abode?”
Julian thought about making up a story but decided against it. He and Sheridan were in this together. They might as well stand together, as one. “I’m Julian Crane, Sheridan’s brother,” he said. “I saw you peeking into her cottage and decided to follow you. I wondered what you were up to.”
“Well, I guess you found out,” she said. “And it’s too bad for you because those that enter my clean, comfortable hotel don’t ever seem to leave. HA, HA, HA, HA!” With that, Charlie moved away from the edge of the pit.
Sheridan shivered at the hideous sound of the kidnapper’s laugh. “That laugh gives me nightmares,” she said.
“You always did hate clowns, didn’t you?” Julian said sympathetically.
“Ever since I was a little girl,” Sheridan said. “I’ve always been frightened of them. Lately I’ve been having these terrible nightmares…” She relayed every detail of her dream to Julian, even the part where the clowns took her baby.
Julian shuddered at the thought of the baby being stolen. It brought
back all the memories of his child with Eve possibly being abducted from
the hospital. “Sheridan, I’m not going to let that happen to you,” he vowed.
“I’m not going to let anyone take your baby.”
Sheridan smiled a little at the declaration from her brother. She had
never seen him like this – actually caring about her and standing up for
her. She knew he was being sincere, but she just didn’t know how much he
could do. He was no hero, like her Luis, but right now, he was all she