“Spinelli, Stop! I hear something.” Jason screams into the phone.
“He has the kids!” I scream into my dead phone, throwing it into the passenger seat.
“Ahhhhh” Pounding on the steering wheel, screaming my lungs out into the darkness, I cry from my guilt; I weep for my shame, I weep for my weakness.
“They need you! Your kids need you. He needs you! Pull it together! You are Samantha Morgan!” Pulling one hand off the steering, I grab my cell phone, plug it in and turn the truck engine. I cannot break down. I have to be strong. There is no other choice. This is all my fault.
While I give my phone a moment to charge, I clean myself up, clearing the makeup off my face and pulling my hair back into a tight ponytail. I ready myself for war. I do not know who this man has become in the past few days, but one thing is clear. I have no clue who he is. I have never known. Before grabbing my phone and following the imposter’s demands, I close my eyes and clutch my chest. I need one moment of peace, to think, one moment to feel something other than the crushing weight that has taken permanent residency on my chest.
Willing the nerves away, I put the address from the first text he sent in my GPS.
After driving 30 minutes outside the city, I end up at a rest stop off the highway.
“What is going on? Why did you send me here?” Slamming my truck door, I shout into the phone and pace on the side of the highway as the pressure on my chest intensifies.
“Wait for the next text.” He hangs up before I can protest, and my phone vibrates with a new address.
Hopping back into the truck, I punch the new address into the GPS. I can’t let him get to me.
Frustrated, I hop back on the highway and head towards the new location. After 45 minutes of driving in the opposite direction, I end up at an abandoned building 15 minutes from the heart of Port Charles. I park around the block and slowly step up to the side of the building.
No one is around. Everything is quiet. The house is quiet.
I creep up the front stair, with my gun drawn when my phone vibrates in my pocket. Startled, I pull it out to reveal a photo of the kids on Fakeson’s lap. He’s calling me.
“Hello! I’m done playing these-”
Cutting me off, his voice thunders through the phone, “You’re not done till I say you’re done. You should have called by now, have you reached the other location?”
“Yes! What is-”
“Wait for the next text message.” He hangs up.
Beyond pissed, I stomp back to my truck and fight with the door trying to get in. Every minute that passes, every game he plays with me, my hatred and lack of understanding for him mount. The only thing that makes me stay the course are my kids. Danny and Scout. He has my whole life, and there is nothing that can stop me from getting them back.
This time he does not give me an address. Instead, he sends a text message every five minutes telling me where to turn and when like he is tracking my every movement.
Get back on the highway appears on my phone first. Then get off at the second exit. Then turn left, then right.
After driving another 20 minutes north of the city, I arrive at a little cabin tucked nicely behind what seems like hundreds of trees. If the imposter had not given me the exact direction, I would have never found this place. You cannot see if from the road. One would never know there was a cabin here, and it does not help that darkness is everywhere. It is the perfect place to hide.
Turning my headlights off, I pull the truck between a row of trees, hiding it from the view of everyone. With how dark it is out here, no one should be able to see it from the road or the cabin.
Checking my gun, I return the clip and tuck it into the back of my pants. I open the door and place my lock cracking tools into the side pocket of my leather jacket, I secure the hairpins in my hair before I trek through the woods towards the cabin. I move as quietly as possible while marking some of the trees with my knife. I’m hoping I won’t need to use them as a guide back to the truck, but if I have to run in this darkness, these markings will be my only saving grace.
Taking a deep breath, I stand frozen at the door, unsure of myself. I know what I need to do, but I don’t know if I can do it. I don’t feel like myself; I haven’t in a long time. I can feel the battle raging inside me. The image that makes me doubt myself. The battle that is telling me I can’t do this.
Shaking my hands, and feeling the sweat build between my breast, I hesitate. I have never felt so much uncertainty in my life. Placing my fist to the door, I go to knock. I have to knock, my kids are on the other side but I can’t. I can’t make my hand tap the door. Stepping back and rechecking the address on the house, I know I’m at the right place yet I can’t knock on the door.
Feeling a rush of adrenaline, my legs guide me around the house and to the windows. My mind and body are working for me. They are doing what I can’t do. They are fighting for us.
Slowly moving around the house, I feel like I’m dreaming. My legs are moving, but my mind is still reliving that earlier moment, stuck to that fear, to his voice.
I hear nothing coming from the house, the windows are painted black, newspapers line them, and no light peeks through. I continue to move along the perimeter of the house until I reach the backside of the house and see the light coming from one of the windows. The light hitting the darkness of the woods, knocks me out of my fog, and quicken my step.
Reaching the window, I see Danny playing on the floor. He’s in the front area of the house racing cars up and down Scout’s arm as she throws her head back in laughter. I love seeing them like this. Happy, secure and loved. Seeing them causes my motherly instincts to kick in. Every ounce of doubt I had about myself leaves my body and is replaced with a fierce fire pushing me to protect them.
Lightly tapping on the window, I try to get Danny’s attention, but his eyes are glued to Scout. Everything inside me wants to jump through the window and grab my baby boy.
Closing my eyes, taking a deep breath, I tap on the window a little harder. “Danny’ I whisper.
I tap a little harder, getting Danny’s attention this time. Popping up from his seated position, he stops himself from running to the window. Standing in the middle of the room, Danny stares at me.
“Danny!” Waving my hand to direct him to come closer, Danny shakes his head no and points at me.
Turning around to see what he is pointing at, I feel someone grab me, and everything goes black.
Bolting up in a panic, I awake in a dark room, alone. “Ouch!” I grab my head to calm its pounding and help my eyes to focus when I hear Danny singing the theme song to Cars. Forgetting about my splitting headache, I jump up and head towards the door. “Danny!”
Reaching for the doorknob, something yanks me back; hurling me onto the bed. Disorientated, I raise myself and lean against the bed. I don’t recognize my surroundings. The room smells of oak, and fresh paint and the carpet feels soft and brand new. I know I’ve never been here before. Taking a moment to settle myself and take things in I wonder what time it is and if we’re still at the cabin.
Trailing my hand down my leg, I pull the lock off my ankle, “Owe!” After tending to the fresh wounds the chains left behind, I slowly and quietly move through the room. Paying close attention to stay close to the ground, I grab the sheet off the bed and place it over the lamp.
Taking a moment to slow my breath, and calm my racing heart, I close my eyes and listen. I listen for any and everything. I listen for Danny’s sweet voice, and Scout’s light laughs. I listen for his rough voice and threatening footsteps. After a while only hearing Danny and Scout, I turn the light on and search the room. I know I can pick this lock, but I need a little assistance.
Searching my body first, I find nothing; he took everything, even my hair tie, and pins.
Dropping to the ground, I search the floor, under the bed, and the drawers of the nightstand for anything that will assist me with this lock. There’s nothing. The room is empty. There is nothing in the room except the bed, nightstand and lamp — nothing more, not even a closet. There are no paintings on the walls, no pictures hung. Only four walls and a door. Defeated, I sink to the ground, trying with every fiber of my being not to break down!
“They need me! Your kids need you! He needs you.” I chant to myself as tears fill my eyes and despair covets my soul.
Calming my hyperventilating lungs, I picture his face. His eyes. His smile. His soul. Over the years it had faded. I could imagine him but not as vividly as I can now. I could see his face but not the way the left side of his mouth raised higher than the right when he smiled or how big his eyes got when he saw me. I could remember his voice but not his laugh or the way it made me feel. I remembered Jason, but somehow over the years, I forgot myself until now.
Blowing all the air out of my lungs, I open my eyes and reexamine the room. Moving slowly, taking my time to look at everything attached to everything; my eyes land on the screws holding the metal frame in place.
After a short while, I manage to get one of the long screws that hold the frame in place, loose. It’s exactly what I need to pick this lock.
It takes me a while, but I manage to remove it just as I hear footsteps approaching the room.
“I’ll be right back, stay there.” The imposter says to the kids as I barely make it back on to the bed before his voice sails through the room, and the door opens, lighting the room.
“Mommy is still sleeping, guys. She didn’t feel good when she arrived.” His voice makes my stomach turn as he closes the door.
Darkness fills the room again, and I’m on the move. Slowly creeping towards the door, I press my ear towards the door and wait. It’s the same sounds as before. All I hear is Danny, Scout, and the tv. Slightly opening the door, I peek one eye out the crack. I can’t see much, part of the tv and what looks like Danny’s arms but they keep coming and going. Opening the door enough to poke my head out, light floods the room.
Blinking hard, my eyes adjust to the brighter lights, and I noticed two other closed doors in the same row as mine. Testing my luck, I open my door wide enough to squeeze out.
After checking the other two doors, I find them locked; I move further into the house; strategically making sure to stay close to the walls, I hear Scout cry out. Throwing out all logic, I run towards her cry.
I slow myself as I enter the main room, to find Danny dancing and singing to Scout. She wasn’t crying. She was squealing with joy.
Forgetting everything else, I gush at my kids. True love fills my soul, and I feel like I could be whole again.
Knocking me back to reality, his voice smacks me in the face. “Look who it is. Took you longer than I thought it would!”
Standing up, “You’ve gotten a little rusty. I guess that’s what having a husband and kids will do to you.” He smirks at me.
Before I can respond, Danny tackles my legs, “Mommy, Mommy, I’m so happy you’re finally here.” Ignoring his words, I wrap Danny around the back of my legs and use the blanket Scout is sitting on to pull her towards me. The imposter doesn’t flinch. He doesn’t care that I want my kids far away from him.
Picking up Scout, examining her face and touching her all over, peace finally washes over me. Feeling my kid’s bodies against mine is the strength I need to finish this. I have to do it for them. For Jason. For myself.
Standing up and stepping forward, the imposter pleads with me. “Sam, you’re not thinking straight. You’re scaring our kids.”
“Our, kids? Danny isn’t yours. Moreover, in light of everything, I don’t know if Scout is yours either.” Fighting back the rage I feel from the thoughts of being with him; I calm my voice and my breathing because he’s right. My kids need to see me strong and capable. They need to see their mom and not this hysterical out of control victim I’ve been for too long.
Lowering my voice, placing Scout on my hip, I grab Danny’s hand. “Where are we? Why did you bring us here?”
The imposter smiles, cracks his neck and falls back onto the couch as if he has not a care in the world. “Sam, my dear, naive Sam-”
Taking advantage of his relaxed state, I bolt to the back of the house, dragging a scared Danny behind me. Getting out is all I can think about at this moment. Getting to safety was all that mattered. Reaching the farthest point of the house, I reach a dead-bolted door and the kitchen window I first saw Danny. This house was set up for only one way in and one way out.
Darting my eyes around the room, I try to figure out my next move. The only way out is through the front door, and the only way to it is through the imposter.
“Sam, I need you to calm down and stop scaring the kids!” The imposter screams from the front room as Scout begins to cry.
Shifting Scout’s body against mine, I give her a slight bounce to calm her as she buries her face into my neck. Nestling her deeper into me, I wrap her blanket around me, tying Scout to my body. I know I will have to move quickly and swiftly, I need to know she’s safe. Peeking around the corner for the imposter, lowering myself to be level with Danny and I sweep his blonde curls out of his face. “Danny, Mommy needs you to do everything I tell you to do. I need you to stay as close to mommy as you can and no matter what don’t let go of me. If I move, you move. Do you understand Mommy?”
Smiling that smile that makes him look most like Jason, Danny nods his head, “Yes mommy but I’m scared.”
Pulling him into me as his smiles fade, I kiss them both long and hard. “It’s okay. Mommy is here.”
Feeling their love seep through me is all the re-enforcement I need.
Straightening my spine, I secure Danny to my side and make sure Scout is tight to me, before checking every drawer in the kitchen. I’m looking for anything, a weapon, my cell phone, keys. Everything is empty. No dishes, no food. Nothing. He wasn’t planning on having us here long. Slowly moving out of the kitchen and back towards the front of the house, Danny makes sure to stay close to me. When I move, he moves. He indeed is mine and Jason’s son. Giving his hand a little squeeze, I peek my head around the wall before entering the main room, the imposter is gone, and the door to the right is open.
Moving as quietly as possible the kids and I head through the open door looking for an escape, only to find more locked doors. Panic starts to feel me as the imposter’s voice begins to chase us through the house. “You’re scaring the kids. Sam, please stop this, I want to talk.” His voice claws at the back of my neck making my hands sweat, causing the pressure on my chest to increase. “We’re safe here Sam. You’re safe here. No one is going to get in or out. Sam, stop and think about what you’re doing to the kids.”
Looping around the house we end up back in the main room, the door is closed, and the imposter is still missing. I can’t see him but . his voice still claws at me.
Releasing Danny’s hand, I retrieve the screw I used to free myself earlier and try to pick the lock. I almost feel it pop when Danny decided to leave my side. Dropping the screw, I grab Danny’s hands as Scout begins to cry and fight her restraints. Everything falls apart. Scout almost falls free, and Danny fights me.
Feeling the pressure beginning to crush me, I block the feeling out and pull a crying Danny into me. “Mommy, what’s wrong? Why are we running from daddy?” Danny sniffles into my shoulder.
Pulling him closer, forgetting my surroundings and what we’re running for, I cry into my babies as they cry into me.
“You were never going to get out that way.” The imposter strolls into the main room, still smirking with a smug look in his eyes.
Swinging Danny behind me, pulling Scout as close as possible, I glare at the imposter. “You don’t have to do this.”
Walking towards us, “What am I doing?” He asks.
“Please stop this you’re scaring the kids. They don’t understand. They are too young.” Wiping my tears, I try to appear unfazed by his advances, but I’m terrified. Not so much for me but my kids.
Pushing us deeper into the door, the imposter keeps coming. “I’m not doing the scaring, Sam, you are. Dragging them around the house like I’m a monster scares them. I’m their daddy. I’m just trying to protect my family. You are scaring them. Look at them.”
Looking down at my kid’s faces, I don’t recognize them. I have never seen fear in their eyes, I’ve never seen fear that was caused by me.
“They were fine until you came.’ The imposter continues as he reaches us. “They were happily playing until you arrived. Sam, let me help you. It’s been a long couple of days.” Grabbing all of us, he pulls us into his embrace. Squeezing us tight, I rest my head on his shoulder and try to collect my thoughts. I try to calm the chaos in my mind.
“No, stop. Don’t touch me.” I whisper.
I feel the tension leave the imposter’s body; he pulls us tighter as I grab Danny’s hand. Using his shoulder, I push my head and my body off him. Wiggling out of his grip, I push him away from us with my free hand and run to the other side of the room.
At this point, I’m running in circles with no direction.
“Sam, you NEED to stop this.” The imposter screams, stomping his foot on the ground.
“I told you not to touch me. Don’t you ever touch me again.” Taking a step back, I drop Danny’s hand and pick up a chair from the dining room set. It’s the only thing in the whole house I can use to defend myself. The imposter made sure to clear the house of anything I could use against him.
He anticipated this fight.
Waving the chair in the air, “Just let us go!” My voice cracks. The gravity of our situation settles in my chest causing the chair to shake in my hands.
Shuffling to his right side, The Imposter takes a slight step towards us.
“Stop moving! Unbolt the door and let us go, please.” Raising the chair high above my head, I let him know I’m not playing.
“Sam.” Taking another step towards us, The Imposter dodges the chair I sent sailing through the air at him.
“Stop. Please stop. I want to go home.” Crouching down, covering his ears Danny cries and shakes. He’s never experienced a fight between us. He’s never heard me raise my voice to anyone.
“I said don’t come near us.” Grabbing another chair, I move closer to Danny while trying to keep both eyes on the imposter. The weight of the chair and this situation makes it hard to stand upright. I never thought I would be here or that I would terrify my kids by just protecting them. I never thought I would have to protect them from a man they loved or that I would have to fight a man I thought I loved. I could have never been prepared for this situation. Alternatively, the consequence that will affect us all after this night is over.
“Danny, look at Mommy. I need my big boy, Danny!” I plead with a crying Danny. Everything inside of me wants to drop the chair and comfort my son but I can’t. One wrong move and we could all die. “Danny please!”
Turning his attention to Danny, “It’s okay, buddy. Mommy is sick but Daddy is here, and I will fix everything.”
Throwing another chair, pushing the imposter further back, “Don’t talk to him!” I grab Danny, wrapping his arms around my leg. “You’re a big boy. Everything is okay.” I whisper to him.
Still backing away, “Sam, I can’t let you leave with the kids when you’re acting like this.” The imposter hides in the shadows of the room.
Picking up another chair, “Yes, you can. Just unbolt the door.” I move closer to the window.
“Sam, I love you. I love our family. I love-” Cutting the imposter off, I strike the big bay window that lights the main room with the chair. I didn’t know what I was doing until the glass was flying everywhere. “Get down Danny,” I scream while clearing the rest of the glass from the window. Breaking the window was never apart of my plan. I never had a plan, I knew I needed to get out of that house. I knew I had to get away from him before he got ahold of me.
“Ahhhhh!” Turning the chair on the imposter, I throw it right at him, hitting him this time. Feeling victory rain over me, I don’t wait to see the aftermath, I scoop Danny up and jump out the window. Cutting my leg as I jump out, I don’t think about anything other than getting to the truck. I don’t think about the blood dripping from my leg or the two struggling kids in my arms. I just run.
Circling the front of the house, seeing the front door open; I abandon my original thought and run straight into the woods. Finding a clearing of trees that hide us from view, I lower Danny to the ground.”Shhhh, big guy, we have to be extra quiet. Let’s pretend we’re playing hide and seek. Okay. You, Scout and Mommy, are hiding from daddy.”
Wiping his tears, Danny nods in agreement trying to quiet his cries.
The traumatized look in his eyes tells me my sweet innocent boy will never be the same again.
“Shhh, baby girl, Momma is here! You’re okay! It’s okay Emily.” Turning my attention to a crying Scout, I hear his voice through the trees.
“SAM, You are starting to piss me off. What happens next will be on you. Just remember you did this to yourself. Just come out! It will be easier for everyone. SAM!”
Hearing his voice scares us all.
Ignoring my bleeding leg and crying kids, I grab Danny’s hand and start running further into the woods. With every step I take, I feel the imposter’s presence closing in on me. Using the lights from the house to guide me, I circle the perimeter of the house, running until I reach the clearing where I hid my truck.
“Dammit, Dammit! No” Finding the tracks in the ground where my truck had been parked, I scream into the darkness. “This can’t be. Why? No, I can’t!” Circling the spot, I let all the emotions I’ve been holding back, out. I punch the air and kick the ground. I fight my emotions until they win, crushing me to the ground. Pulling Danny into me, I finally feel my kids. I finally feel their warm, love. Feeling them in my arms centers my mind, making what needs to happen clear.
Crying into my neck, “I want Daddy. I don’t want to play hide and seek anymore.” Danny whimpers in my arms and my heart breaks for them. I feel like a horrible mother. I’m supposed to keep them safe, and I have failed.
Looking at the stars, holding my kids tight, “I need you, Jason. Your family needs you!” I whisper into the darkness.
Whipping myself and the kids around in a tight circle, I see his dark silhouette approach us.
“Please, just let us go!” I cry into the darkness.
“What are you playing?” Pushing Danny towards the back of the house, I move away from Drew and sneer at him.
Placing his arms out toward us, and looking at me with concerned eyes, the imposter doesn’t advance. “You need to pull yourself together. Our kids don’t need to see their mother like this. Sam, you’re not well.”
“You’re right. I haven’t been myself well for a while now, but I know why and I know how to fix it.” I state, slowly moving the kids further away from him. I do not have a plan. I will do anything to keep my kids safe and get them out of this house.