We pulled up to the first bunker which I recognized as my own. The one that just a short time ago I thought was the only one like it in the world. I had a pretty good grasp on how to make the van stop and slow down at this point. I struggled for a moment while figuring out how to park it though and saw that Leah was having a time of it as well. Once we did, we all began to file out of the vehicles and form as a group in between them both.
The rest of the girls came out of the vehicles armed with weapons. The only two who did not were Abigail and me. I held my hand up in caution to the group while placing my other hand on the shoulder of Leah who was closest to me in the group.
“There will be no need for weapons here, this is our family. If it makes you feel safer though, please feel free to wait out here with the vehicles and keep watch in case anyone comes from the town. I am sure the sheriff will be gathering his people to make a stand against us.”
In response to this statement, the girls gathered together talking amongst themselves before turning their attention back to me. After they discussed for a moment Ada spoke for the rest of them.
“The rest of the girls want to take the van and go rescue Leah and Esther’s sisters. I would like to stay here with you two and maybe go in with you to meet the rest of your family. Would that be ok with you?
I looked towards Abigail who was nodding her head in agreement and then responded to Ada.
“Of course, that would be fine. We all just need to meet back up here since we will not know where exactly to find them. Y’all come back this way whenever you get your sisters and we will get ready to head back and take down that wicked town. Also, be sure to leave some of the weapons and supplies in case we get separated for too long and the townspeople catch up with us.”
They nodded in agreement and said their goodbyes before piling into the van and stopping by the truck to put some guns, ammunition, and various other things into the back seat and truck bed. Abigail walked up close by me and I could feel her uneasiness as she began to stare toward the hatch that we both escaped from.
I grabbed Abby’s hand and we walked toward the hatch as Ada followed us close behind. The visions started running through my mind the closer we got. My mother coming up behind me, revealing what she was going to do to all of us, and finally cracking my stone against Mother’s skull.
I reached into my pocket and felt my stone that was just like the one that Abigail kept on her and the picture that I would have to show to the rest of our sisters while I explained what happened. We reached the hatch. Abigail and I exchanged one last look of concern before letting go of each other’s hands
I reached down and started to spin the wheel that would open the door and let us down into my mother’s closet. There was a pin pad on this side of the door that was just like the one that I used to escape from the other side. I typed in 1313 and gained access to the closet. Me, Abigail, and Ada stepped through, pushing clothes to the side as we made our way into the bunker.
We walked into Mother’s room. There was a stain on the floor where I left her lying there that fateful day. I shuddered as I saw it and the girls noticed and came to my side. Abby held me tight and Ada put her hand on my back. I wiped the tears that had welled up in my eyes and squeezed their hands. It was finally time to see my sisters again.
The kitchen was empty, but I could hear Wendy in the living room. She was speaking incoherently and sounded restless and weary. There was an eeriness to her voice that I don’t believe I had ever heard before. I could not make out many of the words that she was saying, just a few here or there between a bunch of raspy muttering. I called out to her as we crossed through the kitchen.
“Wendy? It’s us, Madison and Abigail. I’m sorry it took so long to…”
When I saw what awaited us in the living room, I couldn’t bring myself to finish my sentence. Abigail screamed out in horror and grabbed onto me. I stared in awe and heard Ada whispering “Oh my God” from behind us.
Their heads were placed on the tops of wooden crosses. Clarissa, Chastity, Gretchen, & Mildred. My sweet sisters, gone forever. They were surrounding a golden offering plate in the middle of the floor. In it, there were 4 hearts and 4 vials of blood. I ran up to Wendy who was sitting against the wall with a faraway stare, shaking her by the shoulders.
“Wendy, what happened here? I stopped Mother; she wasn’t supposed to be able to do this.”
I took out the picture of the previous sisters who our mother had sacrificed and handed it to her.
“Abigail found this right before we both went missing, we found out what she was planning to do. She wasn’t supposed to be able to complete the cycle. I stopped her; how did this happen?”
Wendy was unresponsive at first, but after a moment a look of recognition began to come over her. She looked at me and back towards Abigail. All at once she broke down heaving her chest and sobbing uncontrollably. The guttural sounds coming from her reminded me of a hurt animal wailing. She was so lost in her sorrow that it took quite some time before we were able to talk at all. I held her close and my dress became wet with her tears. When she was finally able to muster the resolve to speak, she spoke pathetically in a quiet and heartbroken tone.
“It was me.”
I jumped back from her covering my mouth and sliding away on the floor to put some distance between us. Ada & Abigail were just as horrified to hear what she had revealed and came close behind me. We all just looked at her and the carnage she created for a moment, mortified. How and why could Wendy have done something this horrible to our beloved sisters?
“Why?” I asked. It was all I could think of to ask.
Wendy sat for a moment gathering her thoughts, her eyes wet and her face drenched. She looked as if it was the last thing she wanted to think about, but she gathered herself and looked towards us to tell the tale.
“I was the first to find Mother after you left her the way you did. I thought she was surely dead, and I held her in my arms crying out to God. In what I thought was a miracle, but in hindsight was a terrible curse, she lifted her eyes and had a small bit of life left in her.
She told me about the ritual, the virgin sacrifices and what the purpose of our entire lives had been. She said that since I was the one who found her, I could take her place as the mother of this place. That I could continue the divine purpose and fulfill the wishes of our God who provides for the world. She told me where to find the tome that contained the ritual, she left it up to me to continue her legacy and she passed away in my arms.”
This part of the story was affecting Wendy greatly. She paused for a moment. I felt the urge to pat her on the back and let her know it was alright, but I was so repulsed by what was being revealed that I just sat back in shock so that she could finish her story.
“I have always done exactly as mother wished. I could not let her dying wishes go unanswered. After all, the poison would kill them before they would be able to feel the more grotesque parts of the rite. Raving thoughts of a girl gone mad with grief; I now know.
I feel so terrible now. I don’t have any idea if what I did even worked, there was no message from God or bright light letting me know that what I did was accepted by Him. Just this horrible scene that you see in front of you.”
Abigail came forward and sat on her knees in front of Wendy. She placed one hand on her shoulder and looked her squarely in the eyes.
“Wendy, what you did was completely despicable. I may never be able to fully forgive you for this and that will be my own struggle that I must fight within myself. For you though, I want you to take this.”
Abigail handed her the stone that was just like mine. The one that matched mine and always served as a reminder of our close friends as sisters and that we were not perfect, nor would we ever be.
“John 8:7 – So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”
Wendy took the stone and held it close to her chest. She broke down crying again and we all surrounded her in a tight embrace. I have never felt so many different emotions in my life. I was hurt, confused, in disbelief, glad to be in the presence of my sister, yet hating her all at one time. I reached in my pocket and took mine out as well, handing it to her.
“Here, Wendy. I don’t know how I will be able to live with what you have done, but you are my sister and I love you. You can start to try and make things right by coming with us to fight against the people who are spreading all of this evil.” I motioned to the heads of my sisters that sat just feet away from us.
Wendy looked towards me and Abigail and gave me a determined nod. We grabbed her hands and pulled her to her feet. I took one last disgusted look at the evil deed that had been carried out in my own home. The place that I had spent every day of my life. I shuddered and looked back towards Ada, Abigail, and Wendy.
“We should get up top and wait for the rest of the girls. I can’t stand to be down here any longer.”
We all walked towards Mother’s room and made our way back to the closet that would lead us back to the surface. I was the first to go up the ladder and lift the hatch. I was met with the cold barrel of a shotgun being shoved against my forehead and the voice of a lady who threatened me in a deadly serious tone.
“I know you girls have my Bethany with you, I need her to complete my ritual. Don’t think for a second I will let you leave alive until I have her.
Go ahead and climb on out slowly. The first one of you that tries to make a move will be dead before you hit the ground.”
We did as we were told and came out from the bunker one by one. We stood beside each other and in front of the incensed woman. Her fury only grew hotter as she realized that Bethany was not one of the girls who made their way out. This had to be her mother that she was telling us about back at the church.
“You girls think I am playing with you? I know she is down in there and she better come out.”
Ada responded though her voice was trembling.
“She isn’t here, they left to try and find more sisters to join us.”
The lady smirked.
“Well isn’t that convenient, sounds like I might have to tie 3 of you up and get one of you to show me the way then. Or I could always shoot you down where you stand if anyone objects to that.”
Abigail responded to this statement.
“We don’t know where they went! They said that they would meet us back here, we have never been to any other bunkers besides this o…”
Ada cut me off.
“It’s fine Abby. I come from another bunker and I think that I know the way to where they were going. Let me be the one to bring this woman where she intends to go.”
I looked at Ada warily and did not feel good about what she was suggesting. Still, I did not see many options that would end with us alive for much longer, so we had to agree.
The woman pointed the rifle at Ada and backed slowly towards the truck. She reached in the bead and revealed a substantial length of rope and tossed it at her feet.
“Tie up the other three. Back to back, and good and tight. Don’t think I’m not going to go check to see if you leave it loose for them.”
Ada picked up the rope and walked it over to us. She apologized and tied the rope fairly tight putting us all in a triangle shape with our backs pressed against each other.
As she finished, she stood up beside us and waited for the woman to come and check as she said. She came over and made sure that there was no way were getting out of our situation. Satisfied with the job that was done she turned to Ada.
“Alright, hop in the passenger seat. We need to get moving.”
They walked over to the truck and hopped in either side. An overwhelming feeling of helplessness began to overtake me as the woman started the truck. The rope felt much too tight for us to be able to escape. Even if we did, she was taking off with all our supplies, our vehicle, and Ada. Who knows what she would do to her when they arrived at their destination?
My thoughts were interrupted by the sound of a gunshot. Blood splattered onto the driver’s side window and their adventure was over before it could even begin. Ada stepped out of the passenger side after cutting the engine and came straight over to let us loose.
“Sorry to worry you, girls. I snuck a handgun into my dress when we were about to go into your bunker. I know you asked me not to, but after all that we’ve been through I just thought it was safer to be prepared. I hope you aren’t too offended by that.”
The rope stopped digging into my wrists and we were all quickly set free and able to get to our feet. I dusted myself off and responded to what Ada said.
“Are you kidding? Thank you so much for thinking ahead. I was naïve to think that everything would just go smoothly after everything that’s happened.”
Abigail shouted out in a panicked tone.
“There’s a vehicle heading this way, and it’s not the van. Everybody grab a weapon now!”
Wendy, Abby, Ada, and I dashed in a frenzy over to the truck. I went up to the driver’s side and opened the door letting the body of Bethany’s mother fall to the dirt. We all shuffled through the back seat and the bed of the truck to arm ourselves and take defensive positions as the vehicle made its way near.
A cloud of dust kicked up as the vehicle pulled up and came to a stop. We all had our guns cocked and ready and pointed them directly at it. I yelled out a warning as I saw the back door come open first.
“Don’t even think about trying anything. We have you in our sights and we’re ready to fire.”
The young man who stepped out caused all of us to let out a collective sigh of relief. It was Jacob Ash. He raised his hands and spoke calmly and reassured us that he was there with good company.
“Hey girls, it’s alright. I am here with two people we can trust. They helped me escape from the church and from what they tell me they are also my godparents. We came to help y’all go back and take down the sheriff.”
As he finished explaining himself, he lowered his hands slowly and an older man and woman stepped out of the vehicle. They waved to us and gave us friendly yet pained smiles that were as warm and inviting as the situation could allow.
We waved them over and showed them to our stash of weapons and supplies that were really Jacob’s in the first place. They each grabbed what they could, and Abby explained to them what we were to do next.
“The rest of the girls went to go find Leah & Esther’s sisters. We will need to wait for them here or go and see if they need to be rescued if it starts to take too long. This is Wendy, by the way, she is Madison and I’s sister.”
She didn’t mention anything about what we had just discovered in our own bunker and I did not intend to be the one to bring it up. Jacob nodded politely and waved to Wendy who looked as shell shocked as when we found her. She made a slight gesture and went to sit in the truck alone.
After we were all prepared, we began to talk amongst each other and make necessary introductions. We were starting to worry about the rest of the girls. As we began to discuss what we would be doing if they needed to be rescued, I saw a familiar van approaching from across the plains.