Chapter two: in which a mysterious visitor leaves behind a mysterious gift
Richard groaned and got up, stretching his arms behind his back. “I’ll go answer the door, so you kids stay here unless I call. It shouldn’t be my brother Travis, because he won’t be back until next Saturday.”
“Who do you think it is?” Danielle whispered to Desmond. “Do you think it might be Cousin Alex?”
“No, not likely,” Desmond responded, equally silent. “That would be really strange if she came right after we were talking about her.”
Danielle shrugged. “I guess it would be, but I was only wondering.”
They heard Richard’s voice echoing through the entryway. “DANIELLE AND DESMOND, YOU NEED TO COME OVER HERE RIGHT NOW, THERE’S A PACKAGE FOR THE TWO OF YOU!”
“A package?” the twins exclaimed, both very confused.
“Who would send us a package?” Desmond asked as the two raced into the entryway. Standing on the ‘welcome’ mat, a rather tall Wharf Rat delivery man held a huge package in his arms. The package was a simple wooden crate that didn’t appear to be heavy despite its width.
“You two must be the twins, I presume,” the Wharf Rat said with a gentle smile. “I also heard it’s your birthday tomorrow, on Monday, is that correct?”
“Uh yeah, our birthday is tomorrow,” Danielle answered warily. “How did you know?”
“Some guy over in Ezra Nova,” the rat told her. “I’ve only just visited that place, and it’s pretty nice. Some old man in the city who seems to know you made this, so anyway, happy birthday, and enjoy your gift!”
He handed the box over to Desmond and tipped his flat cap before closing the front door. The Wharf Rat got back into one of Uncle Travis’s gondolas and rowed back to the opposite side of the lake, disappearing from sight.
Desmond shook the box a little, and then walked into the living room. “I wonder what’s inside the box,” he mumbled, setting the crate on the floor as Danielle and Richard looked over his shoulders.
Using his pocket knife like a crowbar, Desmond wrenched the box’s top lid off. Tons of cotton stuffing overflowing the inside poured out onto the floor, some of it still left inside the box. Desmond shoved the remaining fluff out of the way and reached his hands into the box, and removed a small foot-and-a-half-tall, sky blue stuffed dog. The dog had no tail whatsoever, just an oval pink nose, a light blue bowtie, and beady brown eyes.
“A stuffed animal?!” Richard exclaimed, frowning. “Who would go all out just to get you a toy from an exotic, newly discovered island? Aren’t you children turning 14 tomorrow?”
“Yes, that’s how old we’ll be,” Danielle answered, “But the real question is who in Ezra Nova knew that our birthday is tomorrow. We never told anyone there what was going to happen and yet somehow someone found out…”
“There isn’t anything wrong with the dog,” Desmond said, lifting up the little toy. “I didn’t see any hidden pockets or weapons or anything!”
Danielle took the toy from his arms and cuddled it like a baby. “I think she looks adorable with her little bowtie and floppy ears. I want to call her Brie, because it just seems appropriate.”
“Hold on, who specifically said the dog was a girl?” Desmond sputtered, looking a bit embarrassed at the thought.
Danielle gave him a look and cuddled the dog in her arms. “I think it’s a perfect name and yes, I say that the dog is a girl.”
Desmond crossed his arms in protest. “Fine, if you love the darn toy so much, name her Brie. It’s still pretty odd that someone mysteriously sent us the toy anonymously, without any note whatsoever. Who really does that anymore?”
“I have no clue, but it’s you two’s problem now,” Richard grumbled, walking upstairs to his room to pretend read his book.
The twins watched him go, and once he disappeared, they rolled their eyes. Same old Richard, always complaining or putting the blame and pressure on someone else.
Danielle stared out the window, where the sky had grown increasingly dark. Apparently the evening was over, and now night was here. She clutched the little blue dog in her right arm and smiled at Desmond.
“I can’t believe we’re turning 14 tomorrow!” she whispered excitedly. “The toy is still quite a surprise, but I’m pretty much over it now. Let’s get to bed, because it’s really late.”
Desmond changed into his long johns and Danielle into her nightgown. They took turns cleaning up and helping to fix each other’s beds, until it was officially time for bed.
Danielle held Brie in one arm while she pulled the cover sheets over herself with her other arm. “Goodnight, Desmond!” she yelled at the wall.
Desmond’s response was a bit muffled (by the wall). “Goo-night, Danielle! Hav sweat dreaaams!”
Danielle smiled and snuggled into the bed. She put Brie on the side table next to her bed, setting her up against the unlit lantern.
“I have no idea where you came from or who made you for my brother and me,” Danielle whispered to the toy, “But I promise to take care of you, keep you safe, and be by your side. Trust me Brie, just stick with by my side, and you’ll be fine.”
She shifted in her bed and slowly closed her eyes. “Happy Birthday…” she whispered, before drifting to sleep.
“Danielle! Wake up, someone has broken into the house!”
Danielle rubbed her bleary eyes and blinked, coming face-to-face with Desmond, who was shaking her shoulders.
“What…is…your…problem..?” Danielle mumbled, still having trouble keeping her eyes open.
Desmond shook her until she finally got to her feet. “Danielle, someone-I mean some stranger-is inside the home, and they could possibly be armed for all we know!”
Danielle stood up and picked up Brie off the table. “Let’s get going,” she whispered silently.
The twins snuck silently downstairs, careful not to make any noise whatsoever. They could hear footsteps walking around in the living room, so they quietly tiptoed into the room.
Danielle poked her head around the wall, and so did Desmond. What they saw made them both gasp in fear and shock.
Standing in the cabin’s living room, some shadowy figure of a person was examining a tall cabinet that held crystal figurines. The shadow person seemed to be cloaked in some sort of suit made of black leather, and their mouth and nose was covered by a bandana. The man had a hood covering the rest of his head, so only his eyes were visible.
“That guy is looking for something, I can tell!” Danielle said, a little too loudly.
The shadow man looked up, and then he ran at the twins, drawing out some sort of vial with a strange, evil-looking liquid inside. He threw the vial, and it shattered against Desmond’s head.
“OWW!!!” Desmond screamed, holding his head. “What the heck?! Why did you do that?!”
The man ran at him while Desmond wiped the liquid off of himself. The liquid was some sort of chemical, and it was burning (but luckily not eating away at) the side of Desmond’s head. Danielle dragged his arm, and the two ran upstairs.
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