Home > Uncategorized > Day One Hundred and Twenty-eight: Secrets and Lies

Day One Hundred and Twenty-eight: Secrets and Lies

Tasha Brookhaven strained against the ropes that held her to the chair. She knew there was no way she could get free – the ropes were too thick, the knots too tight. And even if she did escape, there was no way her sister would let her leave the mountain cabin. Not even in the middle of a howling blizzard. The gun that Evangeline was holding would make sure of that.

“You didn’t even think to check if I was alive, did you?” Evangeline strode back and forth in front of the fireplace. “You didn’t take one moment to run back for your dear sister?” She whirled around, pointing the gun at Tasha’s head.

“Eva, how could I have known?” Tears welled up in her eyes and spilled down her cheeks. “The explosion! Nobody could have survived that!”

Evangeline laughed. “Nobody but I, you mean!” She knelt down in front of her sister, her green eyes blazing in the firelight. “I dragged myself, Tasha. I dragged myself out of that fiery death-trap by my fingernails. And then it was three days – three – before I was found by a local hunter, who was out just trying to feed his family.” Her expression softened, but her gun hand didn’t waver. “He took care of me, Tasha. He wrapped my wounds and nursed me back to health. Luther took me in, treated me as one of his family.” She stood up. “He and his wife were far better to me than you ever were, Tasha. Had it not been for them…” Evangeline chuckled darkly and pulled back the slide on the gun. “You would have gotten your wish.”

“I don’t understand, Eva!” Tasha was weeping now, slumped over as far as the ropes would let her go. “I never wanted you dead! Never, I swear it!”

Evangeline paused. “Not even for the insurance money?”

“Eva, what insurance?”

For a moment, Evangeline hesitated. “You’re trying to trick me, aren’t you?”

Tasha shook her head and tears flew. “No, Eva, I swear. I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“The insurance policy that my husband took out on me before we went on our anniversary trip?” She walked around behind Tasha. “The one worth a hundred million dollars in the event of my death?” She poked the back of Tasha’s head with the gun barrel and her sister cried out. “You were going to split it, weren’t you? You and he – you were always planning to destroy me.”

Tasha shook her head again. “Evangeline, you’re – you’re not well. Okay? I don’t know what all this is about. I never knew about any insurance. I never had anything with your husband, you know that!”

“No, no, no, dear sister.” Evangeline stood in front of her, the gun once again pointed at Tasha’s head. In the flickering firelight, Evangeline was beautiful. “How unfortunate for you that Parker had his little… skiing accident before you and he could blow me to pieces.” Her face spread into a mad grin. “Now that I’m back, I have everything that he had and more. And by the time anyone thinks to look for you?” She ground her teeth. “It’ll be far too late.”

Evangeline took a step forward. “Goodbye. Sister.”

The door to the cabin flew open and hit the wall. “No, Evangeline!”

The two women looked over. Through her tears, Tasha could just about make out who it was. A tall, well-built man, dressed in leather and fur. He had a graying beard that covered a strong chin, and his ice-blue eyes blazed in a suntanned face. Evangeline stood, stunned, and the gun fell from her grip. “Parker!” she whispered. “Impossible!”

“Impossible, Evangeline?” His voice boomed, filling the room. He strode in, closing the door behind him and started removing his home-made jacket and gloves. “You of all people should know better than to tell me what’s impossible.”

“But… But I saw you!” Her fingers twitched, as though she was only just noticing that she no longer had the gun. Tasha stared at it, close to her chair. It might as well have been on the moon. “I saw you fall into that ravine, Parker!” Evangeline said.

“You saw me fall, Evey? Are you sure?” He dropped the coat on the floor and pulled off his shirt. In the light of the fire, his well-muscled torso seemed to shine. Tasha couldn’t remember very well, but she had been pretty sure Evangeline’s husband had never been that well-built. He glanced over at her and smiled. “Months of living in the wild. It does wonders.”

He turned back to Evangeline. “If you had taken the time to look at the body, you would have noticed something missing, Evey.” He turned around, revealing the great eagle tattoo on his back. The one he had gotten before they married.

“No!” Evangeline crumpled to the floor. “No, it’s impossible!”

Parker grabbed her wrist and hauled her to her feet. “Oh, it’s possible, Evey. So very possible.” He pulled her close. “It wasn’t me that you killed, dear wife. It was my identical twin brother!”

The wind blew, pounding against the cabin and rattling the windows, nearly drowning out Evangeline’s howl. When silence returned, they stood in a tableau against the firelight – Taylor holding his wife to his bare chest, where she sobbed tears of bitter regret.

“Wait,” Tasha said. They glanced over at her. “Since when did you have a twin brother?”

Evangeline shook her head and rested it against his chest. “He and his brother were separated at birth,” she said. “Parker never liked to talk about it. It was too painful.”

“Oh,” Tasha said. “Still, that’s an awfully big coincidence. His estranged twin? Showing up just in time for you to kill him.” Her eyes went wide. “Oh my god, you killed him, Evangeline!”

Parker stroked his wife’s hair and whispered to her. “That’s okay, Evey. It’s okay.”

“No, it’s not okay, Parker!” Tasha struggled against the ropes again. “She wanted to kill you, she really did kill your brother, and she nearly killed me! She’s nuts!”

“Tasha -”

“I mean, I know she’s my sister and everything, but this? Bringing me up here to a mountain cabin in the middle of a snowstorm? Blaming me for her nearly getting killed?” She laughed, and a sob escaped with it. “I’m sorry, but that’s just insane!”

“Tasha. No.” Parker held up a hand to stop her, and she stopped. Then, with careful deliberation, he grabbed the sides of Evangeline’s head and gave it a sharp twist. There was a loud popping sound, and Tasha screamed.

Parker twisted Evangeline’s head again in the opposite direction and it came off her neck. Her body dropped to the ground, and Tasha couldn’t look away as she screamed. The horror of the night overwhelmed her, and she started to cry, doubling over with great sobs. Despite everything, despite everything she’d said and everything that had happened, she couldn’t bear to see Evangeline on the floor like that. She wanted to get out of that chair, to cradle her sister’s body in her arms, to…

She brought her breath under control and blinked a few times to clear her vision. Her sister’s headless body was lying on the floor, but there was no blood. Instead, there was the sharp smell of ozone and… Were those wires?

“That’s right,” Parker rumbled. “Evangeline didn’t survive that explosion.” He held up her unblinking head and stared at it. “Not entirely, anyway. I was able to save her brain.” He nestled the head in the crook of his arm and pulled a chair over to talk to Tasha. “Thanks to my skill as a surgeon and cyberneticist, I was able to save it in this robot body.” He stroked the hair again, and his face sagged into a mask of despair. “But perhaps it was all too much for her.”

“This…” Tasha’s voice came out as a hoarse whisper. “This isn’t happening.” She refused to look at the thing that had been her sister. “This cannot be happening.”

“I promise you, it is,” Parker said. He placed the head gently on the floor by the body and stood up again. “And as incredible as all this is, Tasha, I hope you understand what I have to do next.”

She looked up at him and craned her neck as she tried to follow him. “What?” she asked. “Parker, please, don’t!”

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I truly am.” She couldn’t see him anymore, but he was close behind her. “I can’t have you remembering this, Tasha. None of it.” He leaned down and whispered in her ear. “I truly am sorry.”

A moment later, there was a sharp pain on the side of her head – and then blackness.

* * * * *

When the rescue team got to the cabin, they found the woman lying in the only bed. She had clearly suffered some kind of head trauma, but they had to move her – the helicopter couldn’t get through the dense woods to bring her to the hospital. Carefully, they braced her neck and transferred her to a carry-board, which they used to take her down the mountain. Later, in the hospital, she would be in a coma for six months, her stay paid for by an anonymous benefactor.

When she woke up, the doctors were amazed. Someone with brain damage like that should have either stayed in a coma for the rest of her life, or come back a vegetable. This woman was neither, but she didn’t remember anything about her life. When asked, she could not remember her name, where she was from, or why she had been in the cabin.

“All I remember,” she said later to a staff psychologist, “is an eagle.”

“An eagle?”

The woman nodded. “An eagle.” She looked up at him, and the doctor recoiled from the anger in her eyes. “An eagle,” she said again.

“And I hate it.”

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