First, I read the note. It was in Laura’s handwriting, but there was no salutation and no signature.
The map will lead you to a cabin. It belonged to my parents, and they left it to my brother Brian and me. Mostly, he uses it. Dan and I have never been there together. There are reasons for that, which I’m sure you’ll discover, so I won’t go into them here. Time is slipping away faster than I’d like, and I’ve got things to do still. I want you to go to the cabin. I don’t know how stocked up it is right now, so you’ll need to pick up enough food for a week or so. There’s a stove, and water, and a refrigerator, and we always left pans and utensils. You don’t need to worry about any of that. Just food.
There’s a phone, too. So when you get there, call Brian. His number is 816-555-0145. Tell him everything. Tell him he was right, and I should have listened. And if I haven’t contacted you in a few days to let you know things are fine, then call the police.
Thank you. Really.
A cabin. A brother. Possibly the police. It was a lot to digest, but there was no turning back now.
Although I was almost certain Dan didn’t know where we were or how we were traveling, I was anxious to get moving. I unfolded the other piece of paper. The top section consisted of directions to get us out of town and to the general area of the cabin, and below it was a detailed hand-drawn map to help me locate the cabin itself, which looked like it was close to a big lake. Taped to the bottom of the page was a key. I put the key on my keychain and studied the map. We’d be going through Springfield, a much larger city. Good. That would provide the ideal opportunity for some anonymous grocery shopping without worrying about potentially running into Dan, who certainly would be looking for us by now.
An hour later, we were in Springfield, loading up the cart with the kind of food I imagined would be best for the situation: somewhere between dorm food and real food. Liv knew we were going out of town for a few days, but that was it. I hadn’t been sure how much to tell her, especially since the person we were running from was her father, so I had decided to give her just as much as I thought she needed and no more. Besides, I was counting on the surprise factor to keep her entertained, having fun, and not missing her parents.
Back in the car, we were on our way. Another hour on the road, and then twenty minutes more of twisting my way along winding roads through dense woods that seemed to be closing in on us and turning late morning into twilight, I drove around yet another curve and finally spotted the right number on the mailbox next to the driveway. This had to be it, anyway. There were no other driveways anywhere nearby. Turning in, I guided the Jeep up the steep drive, gravel crunching under the tires, until finally it leveled out and widened to allow for parking, and the cabin came into sight. I’m not sure what I had expected, perhaps a small fishing shack or log cabin. This was a house. Not huge, but definitely a house. The bottom half was stone, and the top half was white siding, with a sloped roof. At the side, a long flight of wooden stairs led up to a weathered deck.
“Wake up, Liv. We’re here.” Alone, I added silently. All alone.