“No!” Derek snickered at his sister’s favorite word directed at Mom. “I don’t wanna!”
“Dakota, we are going to bed.”
Derek glanced over to his other sister. Miss Perfect. She was re-doing her homework, because she thought she made a mistake or two, and she didn’t want to disappoint her first grade teacher. Who the hell does that?
“Nerd,” he told his sister while Mom was carrying Dakota to the bedroom that she shared with Bailee.
Bailee pulled her head out of the book and narrowed her eyes at Derek. “Well, you’re a pea-brain.”
Derek tossed his controller down. “Don’t call me that, you four-eye freak of nature!”
She balled her fists. “Shut up! You’re just a fartface!”
“At least I’m not adopted!”
Bailee’s eyes widen, and her mouth quivered. Then she lost it. “MOMMY!”
Sam headed out of the room with a huff. She stopped at the door and she pointed to the bed just as Dakota was about to get out of it. “Don’t even think about it, Dakota. Go to sleep.”
Dakota pouted, but like the good girl she really was, she stayed. Now to see what her other children were screaming about.
She left the room to find Bailee crying and hitting Derek. “It’s not true! It’s not true!”
“What on Earth is going on?” Sam practically shouted.
“He… he said I…he said I was adopted!” Bailee wailed. “It’s not true!”
“She called me names.”
“You started it!” Bailee yelled back.
Sam put her hands up. She wasn’t ready to deal with her two older ones. They had been going at each other’s throats for a while now. It was getting on her nerves. “I want you both in your rooms. Now.”
“But…” they said almost in sync.
Just as Sam was about to admonish both of them, her cell went off. She huffed and checked her phone. Dad was calling her. “Hey, Dad, now is not—”
“Turn on the news.”
Dad’s firm voice was full of emotion which made Sam turn on the news. She quickly covered her mouth, as she watched the Breaking News headlines cross her screen. “Prison Riot – Hostages Confirmed.”
“Dad,” she cried. Both her kids went quiet.
Sam turned up the TV more to hear the woman speak up. “…are now confirmed reports of hostages inside the prison. It is unclear at this time, though if there are any casualties. The prison remains on lockdown while…”
Derek pointed to a ticker. “What does that mean? Hostages?”
Sam ignored her son. She was more worried about Eil. Was he a hostage? Or worse…
“I’m outside the prison,” Dad said over the phone. “It’s bad, Sam. Real…shit…I got to go. The news crew spotted me.”
“No, wait, Dad—”
Dad hung up and Derek sat next to Sam, and Bailee took the other side. “Mom? What’s a hostage?” Derek asked.
“It’s when someone is held against his will, and is being used to trade for something.” That was the only answer she could think of. Sam’s entire body was numb. Just a few more months. Why couldn’t this happen then? Not now. Not when he was so close.
Dad’s face was now on the screen. Sam tried to pay attention, but her mind was only on one thing. Eli. Where was he? Was he safe? Was he being an idiot and participating? Was he a hostage?
“No. Not that we are aware of. I am in direct communication with the Warden. So far, the riot is contained and we are working together to find a way to bring this to a peaceful resolution.”
“Do you know if there’s been any casualties?”
“No, and we won’t know until we can contain the riot. We do know that there are both prisoners and officers being held hostage. We do not know who, or if any are injured or dead.”
“What started it?”
Dad shook his head. “We do not know what started the riot, or why.” Another man came over and whispered into Dad’s ear. Dad spoke back into the mic. “Excuse me, but I have a job to do.”
Sam swallowed the bile that was coming up.
“Mom, is Dad okay?” Derek asked.
“I don’t know.”
Derek listened to the television most of the night. At school, he asked his teacher if she would check the news for him—she wouldn’t. It wasn’t fair!
He wished he had his cell with him. His Mom took it away a few days ago because he called Uncle Anthony, Uncle Butt-Stick.
By mid-morning, Derek was already being yelled at by his teacher to pay attention. He couldn’t though. He worried about Dad too much. He worried about Uncle Anthony too. Hostages. Was Dad or Uncle Anthony one of those?
Just as lunch was coming up, the door to his classroom opened. “Sorry to barge in, Mrs. Hatch, but I need to see Mr. Ryder. Derek, come with me.”
This wasn’t good. The Principal wanted to see him? Why? What’d he do now? “I didn’t do it,” he said right outside the classroom.
“You’re not in trouble, Derek. Not today, at least.”
“Then what’s going on?”
“Your Grandpa’s here to pick you and your sister up.”
Derek didn’t want to know why Grandpa was there and not Mom. He was too afraid to know. Please be okay, please be okay. Derek’s tears fell as he continued to follow the principal.
Bailee took one look at Derek, and ran into his arms. They hugged and he took her hand to guide her as they followed Mr. Duncan.
Inside the office, Grandpa was there. Derek ran to him.
“Shh, hey, shh. I got you.” Grandpa pulled Bailee into their hug. “I got you both.”
Derek pulled back from the hug, and wiped his tears. “What’s going on? Why’re you here?”
“I’m taking you and Bailee to the hospital.”
“Why?” Was it Dad? Uncle Tony? Who was at the hospital?”
“I don’t want you to worry, okay?” But Derek was worrying. “Your dad’s hurt.”
“Is he okay?” Bailee asked.
Grandpa shook his head. “We don’t know. He’s really hurt and the doctors are doing everything they can to save him.”
“C-c-can we see him?” Derek asked.
“I don’t know, but I am taking you two to your mother, and from there we will see if the guards will let you see him once he’s well enough to have visitors.”
“Uncle Anthony has to let us see him!” Derek shouted. “He has to!”
“Uncle Anthony isn’t guarding him. He’s also in the hospital. But, he’s okay. He just has some minor cuts and bruises. Come on,” Grandpa stood and took Derek’s and Bailee’s hands. “Let’s go see if we can’t see your dad.”