The Silver Fingernails

Reads: 143  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 0

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: House of Drama & Adventure
A baby with silver fingernails changes the life of the married couple who actually doesn't want to have children. They start getting chased by armed men and the strange baby leads them to a place where they discover a harsh truth.

Submitted: November 21, 2016

A A A | A A A

Submitted: November 21, 2016

A A A

A A A


The Silver Fingernails

 

In the moment she pulled out a gun and shot herself in the head I knew that it's serious...but I guess that's not a good way to start out. Let's start with a fact. The fact that I hate boring weddings. All weddings are boring. I hate them all and so does my wife, Layora. Even our own wedding was boring. We didn't want to have a big celebration but our families pressed us to do it. We felt like kids because they chiefly persuaded us by telling us that we will get a lot of presents. Well, we were not hoping for dishes, though. Speaking of families, although I don't like weddings I think it is important to attend them if it's someone from your family who is getting married. If it's someone you know and love. But I visited too many weddings from people that I saw once or twice in my life. Why do I visit them if I don't want to? Well, because of my mother...“You are invited so you go there! One day you will marry and then you want them to come, too!” She also was the one who wanted the most a party. If my father would have been still alive I'm sure he would have understood me. He always did...until he passed away. The wedding I had to visit on Friday night, 15 years ago, was one of these weddings where I barely knew the people. But it was also the wedding that changed my life.

It was a big wedding since it were rich people who were marrying. My mother knew the bride very well so Layora and I met her and her fiancee a few times and they liked us...which is unusual. And so it happened that they even invited us to their wedding. It was 22 PM when my wife and I were sitting next to each other by ourselves at a table. Bored we watched the others.

'Why are we here again, Nathaniel?' said my wife listless.

'You know why, Layo.' She sighed. I said,

'I wonder how many people were bored because of our wedding.'

'Erm...all of them?'

'Look at those people. Not all of them seem to be bored. Some even have fun...I guess.'

'I will have fun as soon as this shit is over.' said Layora with her head on the table. In the distance I saw how my mother was sitting at a table with other women. Suddenly she stood up and lighting a cigarette she moved towards us. Already annoyed, Layora came closer to me and whispered,

'Your mother is coming.'

'I see it. No matter what she says, stay calm.'

'I don't promise anything!' My mother was three meters away from us but already started shouting with a scowl,

'What the hell are you two doing back here alone? Get your asses up and socialize a bit!' She sat down in front of us, took a drag from her cigarette, and said,

'Layora! Are you pregnant?'

'Mom!' I said looking angry to her. You must know that my wife, Layora, is a gorgeous woman. She wasn't even a little fat back then but that was not the reason why my mother asked such a question. She forced a smile and chuckled,

'Not that I know of.' Here is another fact you should know about me and my wife. We do not want to have kids! But my mother thinks differently. She looked at me and said,

'Nathaniel, why is she still not pregnant? Leave the damn condoms in the drawer tonight!'

'Mom...please. Not now!' She stood up, intimidating she looked down to me, and said,

'You should have done it the night you married her! I'm sure she convinced you not to do it. She manipulates you, Nathaniel!' With those “nice” words she finally left us alone. Layora said nothing but her expression told me everything.

'I'm so sorry!' I said putting my hand carefully on her shoulder.

'Why is she such a bitch?'

'I'm her only son, Layo. She wants a grandchild and we're the only ones who can give her one.'

'My parents want one, too, Nathaniel. But they're not like that!'

'I know...my mom is...different.' Our families might have convinced us to have a big celebration but Layora and I were sure that they could never change our minds when it comes to the “children topic”.

'Let's go.' said Layora quietly.

'What?'

'I said, let us leave this shitty wedding and go somewhere else!'

'You know what will happen if we do that.'

'I don't care!' said Layora, stood up, grabbed my arm, and dragged me towards the exit. No one knew us so no one spoke to us on our way outside. I knew I should have said something but I liked the wedding as less as her so I let myself drag out of that situation. Today I'm not sure whether it was a good idea to leave the wedding or not. It's hard to tell and throughout the course of my story you'll understand why.

We were standing outside next to a street. It was dark, cold, and no car was driving by. Suddenly Layora pointed towards a sign. It was lit by a street lamp and it said: “McDonald's – 300m --->”.

'I'm hungry. Let's go!' said Layora and already started following the sign. I, though, hesitated.

'Layo, I don't think that's a good idea.'

'Come along now!' she said and kept moving. What else could I do but follow her? I couldn't believe it. Dressed up in a suit and a dress we left a wedding and were going to McDonald's. Well, actually it wasn't that atypical for Layora and me since we did much stranger stuff.

After a couple meters I had to stop.

'Wait a minute!' I said and grabbed Layora's hand to stop her. It were noises that made me stop. Noises that were coming from a dark alleyway. It sounded like as if somebody was quietly weeping. While we were staring into the darkness we suddenly started to hear steps.

'Let's keep going!' said Layora holding my hand even tighter. She was urging me to move again. I could feel the fear arising in her but I just stood there and did not want to go. Suddenly an elderly lady with a baby in her arms revealed herself under the light of a street lamp. Shivering and crying she fell on her knees. Judging by her clothes I would say that she was homeless.

'Nathaniel, let's go. Please!' Her crying got louder and louder. I released Layora's hand and moved towards the woman.

'It could be a trap!' said Layora but followed me anyway although she hesitated. When I was standing in front of the woman, I asked,

'Is everything all right?' Looking down the woman raised the baby. I wasn't sure what she was doing. Whether she wanted to hand the baby over or not. So I didn't react. Instead I looked at her confused until her crying ceased and she finally said,

'Take her.' Immediately I stepped back and said,

'I don't think...' She interrupted me,

'Take her!' I still didn't react for I couldn't trust her and I couldn't really take her seriously. Layora couldn't either,

'Don't do it!' Suddenly the woman started weeping again and begged,

'Please...please just hold her for a moment!' I couldn't bear her misery any longer so I took the baby. And this is where I wanted to begin my story. Suddenly she pulled out a gun and shot herself in the head. It happened so fast! We both made a huge leap back and looked at each other without saying any word. We couldn't. We were speechless. How can't you be after seeing something unexpected like that? With shocked and terrified faces we were staring at each other. Probably thinking the same: “What the fuck has just happened and what are we supposed to do?”

Before any of us could say something a fast black car abruptly stopped on the street right behind us. A man jumped out of the car, looked at us for a second with an aggressive face, immediately turned around and shouted into the car,

'She is dead! They have the fucking baby!' Suddenly the other doors opened as well and heavily armed men came out.

'Run.' I said calmly but Layora didn't move. 'RUN!' I shouted and we ran into the darkness. Without warning they started shooting at us. I could literally feel how close the bullets were but they all missed by inches. I could hear and see how the bullets were hitting pipes and walls but fortunately none of them us. Each shot illuminated our surroundings for a second showing us the way but also revealing our position. And not only the darkness saved our lives but also a sharp curve to the right made them stop shooting. But we knew that they would follow us so we kept running. The gloomy alleyway kept getting narrower. If they would catch up, we would be dead since there wasn't much room left for bullets that could miss us. After another turn to the left we finally reached a well-lit street where Layora stopped for a second and gasped for air.

'What the hell is going on?' she said fearful.

'We can't stop now. Keep running!' I shouted and gave her a gentle push. While we were running over to the other side, I said,

'Our car is not far from here!' We ran to the parking lot which was a couple of meters away from us. On our way there we fortunately didn't see the men nor heard any gunshots but we assumed that they wouldn't stop following us so we didn't stop the hasting.

'Take the baby!' I said to Layora when we were finally in front of the car. She took her but hesitated that's why I shouted,

'Hurry up!' I pulled out the keys, opened the car, and jumped into it. We hit the road towards home. In a matter of seconds our lives changed completely. We saw how somebody shot herself and then a group of men started shooting at us and now we were sitting in a car with a baby that is not ours. First we had to calm down and process what had happened. Only after that we could speak.

'We should call the police.' said Layora. Before I could say something the baby woke up and started crying.

'Seriously?' I said. 'She woke up? AFTER all the shooting and running?'

'What are we supposed to do with her?'

'We'll call the police when we're home and safe.'

'Yeah, but what about the BABY?' said Layora a bit louder. I hesitated.

'Dunno...maybe she still has parents?'

'I don't think so. We'll just bring her to the orphanage.'

'We don't know whether the homeless women was really her mother or not and she might still have a father.'

'So? Even if she has parents, do you think they're interested in keeping her?'

'We do not know that, Layora! You do not know what happened!' Our discussion started to get louder and not just because we had to drown out the baby's crying.

'Yes, because I don't give a fuck! What do you wanna do with her?' I remained silent. Suddenly, at a crossroads, the black car resurfaced and started following us again.

'For fuck's sake, they're back!' The mostly empty streets allowed me to drive faster. Layora said,

'If they want the baby maybe we should give her to them!' Unexpectedly they started shooting at us.

'Get down!' I shouted while the back window was breaking. 'Great idea, Layora! I'm sure she would be in good hands!'

'Sorry, that I'm caring more about our own lives than about a stranger!' Abruptly the shooting stopped and the black car made a right turn.

'I guess, they're out of ammo.' I said. The crying of the baby didn't cease. Not for the rest of the drive. When we finally arrived at home we ran into our house and barricaded the door.

'Now, call the police, already!', said Layora.

'Let's stop her crying first.' I said, took her from Layo's arms, and smelled her to see if she pooped...and unfortunately she did. 'We have to change her diaper.'

'Splendid! Have fun!' said Layora with a cheeky smile.

'Are you kidding me? You are the woman!'
'Oh, come on, Nathaniel! You know me better than that! You know that I'm different!'

'And you know that I have never done this before!'

'Me neither! I would just make it messier!'

'We will flip a coin!' I said what made her sigh,

'Head and you'll do it!' I took out a coin and flung it in the air. The result: Head.

'Well, now you have another problem...we don't have diapers.' said Layora. I put the baby on the sofa, pulled out my cellphone, and started googling: “Homemade diaper”. I didn't expect it but indeed found something helpful on wikiHow. After following the steps there and creating my diaper I went to YouTube and looked for a tutorial on how to change diapers.

'Are you seriously watching a tutorial?' said Layora laughing.

'Come here and show me how to do it without any foreknowledge.' I said upset.

'Just fucking with you. You're doing a great job!' she said but had this cheeky smile again. After a lot of struggle I finally managed to change her diaper but she didn't stop crying. I sighed,

'What is it now?'

'Probably hungry.'

'Great, your turn!'

'Nope, we'll flip a coin! Head and you'll do it!' she said, threw the coin and the result was: Tail.

'Have fun!'

'At least hold her and call the police!' she sighed and went to the kitchen.

Together with the baby I moved towards our house telephone which was in front of a mirror. Before I picked up the telephone I took a look at myself. Seeing myself with a baby in my arms was a strange feeling. It scared me. It just didn't look right to me. But at the same time it kinda looked...beautiful. I guess that describes it very well. Not right but beautiful. Just when I wanted to pick up the telephone I noticed something strange in the mirror. Immediately I went back to the sofa, put the baby down, and started examining her little fingers. It was really odd because her fingernails were...silver. One might think that it's nail polish and that is what I thought as well but who paints a baby's fingernails? Carefully I stroked her tiny fingernails with my finger. Over and over again. It had a bizarre feeling to it. I checked her other hand, too but that one was normal. It was only her right hand that had silver fingernails.

She wasn't born like this, was she?” I thought.

After a few minutes Layora came with a plate of porridge in her hands. Her expression was so hilarious that I had to laugh but I think the decision to restrain it was a good idea.

'You struggled a lot?' I said with a big grin. Her response with a scowl was,

'Did you call the police?'

'Tell me did you watch tutorials?' I said still smiling.

'Shut up, Nathaniel!' I saw she was not in the mood for joking at all so I became serious again. I even took the porridge and fed the baby although we should have flipped another coin. While feeding her I said,

'Look at her fingernails. They're really weird.' Without even touching the baby she glanced at them and unimpressed she said,

'Yeah...they're silver.' Ironically I responded,

'And that's totally normal, right?' She looked down, tired, listless, and barely audible she muttered,

'I don't care...did you call the police?'

'Let me feed her first.' I said moving the oversized spoon to the baby's mouth. I had never done it before. It was something that I always only saw others doing, believing that I will never have to do it. But there I was, feeding a baby and that actually with a smile on my face. Layora sighed and stood up,

'Then I'll do it myself.'

'Now, hang on a minute.'

'Hang on a minute? What's wrong with you, Nathaniel? We saw a fucking suicide, were chased by armed strangers and are now feeding a baby that is not ours. And you're still telling me to hang on?! Damnit, we could have been killed!'

I stopped feeding the baby and remaining silent I lowered the plate and the spoon. Looking down in stillness I knew that she was right but I also knew what would happen if we would call the police. I wasn't aware of it back then but I didn't want it to happen. I was so confused in that moment. My mixed feelings were compelling me so much that I didn't know what to say. Layora sighed and moved towards the telephone. “Don't!” I wanted to say but with what reason? What reason did I had to say such thing. All reasons were for calling the police. While I kept feeding the baby Layora told the police everything. About the homeless woman, the men, the baby, where it happened, and where we live.

'They'll be here in a few minutes.' said Layora. Not smiling anymore I stopped the feeding, took the baby, and said nothing. Sighing Layora said,

'Jesus, we're still dressed up. I'm gonna change my clothes and you should do it, too. Just leave her alone for a moment and come with me.' Holding the baby in front of me and very close to me, I looked her in the eyes. She was smiling for the first time and her sweet smile made me smile, too.

'Nathaniel, are you even listening to me?' said Layora a bit exasperated. I was listening but I couldn't just leave the baby alone,

'Yeah...go ahead, get changed, I can wait.' I could feel that she was upset because I wasn't paying full attention to her but to the baby which is the reason why she was about to leave without a word but I stopped her,

'Wait!' I said. I thought nothing could top what I had seen that night but as it turned out it was only the beginning. The silver fingernail of her thumb started glowing. It was a white bright light that was only emitted by the fingernail.

'What?' said Layora annoyed.

'Look at her thumb! The fingernail...it's glowing!' Sighing she came closer. I could see that she was already tired of the baby but I didn't care at that moment. With a disturbed look on her face she said,

'What the fuck is she? E.T.?'

'So now you finally see that she's not normal.' I said getting very close to her thumb. I saw something even stranger than the glowing. In black there was something written on her thumb. Something that wasn't there before the glowing but I couldn't make it out due to the size.

'Go get the magnifier.'

'What?' said Layora confused.

'We should have a magnifier somewhere. Go get it!' I said a bit louder and still with the thumb very close to my face. Layora didn't move but only looked more confused.

'Hurry up! I don't know how long this will last!' Hesitating she did what I said and came back with the magnifier in her hand. Immediately I held it over the thumb. The tiny text said: “Rising Lane”.

'It's a street! I know where that is!' I said excited.

'So what now?'

'I will drive there!' I said jumping up.

'Are you out of your mind?! Those men are still out there!'

'And you will come with me!' I said picking up the car keys.

'You are not even listening to me! The police will be here in a few minutes!'

'And that's why we have to hurry!' I said running to our bedroom with the baby on my arms. I took a little bag, threw the magnifier in, put in materials to create diapers if necessary, a flashlight, a handgun, and moved on to the kitchen. Layora who was following me appalled said,

'What the fuck are you doing, Nathaniel?' I put materials to make baby food into the bag, and said thrilled,

'Preparing for a little adventure!'

'This night was enough adventure for me!' she shouted.

'Nope! It has just started!' I said moving towards the door.

'Forget it! No one leaves this house tonight!' I grabbed her arm and dragged her along me.

'Nathaniel!' she shouted fighting back. 'I didn't even get to change my clothes!'

When we were finally sitting in the car and were on our way to Rising Lane, I asked,

'Is her thumb still glowing?' It didn't surprise me that I didn't get any response. Obviously she was still pissed off because I forced her to come with me. So I glanced to the right but didn't see any light.

'I knew that wouldn't last long. I wonder if the text is still there.' Of course she didn't check her thumb and while driving I couldn't do it myself. After a few seconds of silence Layora finally said something,

'Your thirst for adventure will vanish as soon as you realize that this is not like in the movies. They're men out there who are looking for us, who are ready to kill us. This is serious, Nathaniel!'

'You are right. This is serious and that is why I'm investigating this further!'

'It's not your job to investigate this! It is the job of-'

'The police?!' I shouted cutting her off. 'This baby is not normal, Layora! What do you think the police would do with a baby like this!'

'This is not just about the fucking baby!' she shouted back. Our clamor made the baby cry which was a good thing because it stopped our unnecessary discussion. Quietly I said,

'You have to rock her a bit.'

'Fuck that! You know shit about how to look after a child!' She was right but neither did she. I wanted to tell her to calm down but clearly she was way too angry. And I knew Layora well enough to know when it's better to shut up so I chose to say nothing for the rest of the drive.

The first thing Layora said after we arrived at Rising Lane and got out of the car was,

'What do you even expect to find here?'

'I don't know...at least a hint of some sort.' It was a remote road close to the borders of the village we lived in. Not very well lit and a pretty eerie place on the fringes of the forest. After looking around haphazardly for a while I saw a small shack in the distance on the field close to the woods. It had a tiny window with bars. What caught my attention, though, was the warm faint light that was coming out of that shack. I put out my flashlight, turned it on, and started going towards the shack.

'Nathaniel, it's cold, creepy, and I'm still wearing this bloody dress.' I would consider myself as a good listener,

'Keep an eye on her hand. If it starts glowing again we mustn't miss it.' Well, normally I am...but in that moment I was so euphoric and blinded by what was going on that I ignored a lot of things that my wife was trying to tell me that night. Sometimes unconsciously and sometimes, I admit, consciously. When we were getting somewhat close to the shack, Layora started talking,

'Let me tell you what will happen. You will rummage that shack, you will find absolutely nothing, you will be disappointed, and-'

'Shhhhh!' I said to interrupt her. I didn't do it to anger her. I actually heard something. A noise coming from the shack. It wasn't something. It was somebody. Somebody quietly saying: “Help.”

'There is someone inside, asking for help!' I said, put the flashlight away, and tried to open the door but it was locked.

'I didn't hear anything.'

'Are you deaf? I can still hear it!' It was a woman who was calling for help over and over again but she wasn't very loud. She sounded very weak and had a hoarse voice.

Help, help, help.” she whispered the whole time. She didn't sound very hopeful. Rather as if she was desperately saying it all the time anyway and not because she heard us coming. I tried to kick in the door but I failed.

'Maybe you should watch a tutorial on how to kick in doors?' said Layora.

'Ohhh, so this is how to bring your humor back, eh?'

'Step back!' she said and kicked in the door.

'I did the spadework.' I said frustrated.

'Sure, you did.' I entered the shack and before I could see the woman something else got my attention and forced me to stop for a second. An unbearable stench. It was the stench of feces and urine. On haystacks that were in the corners I actually saw something that looked like human feces. There was nothing else besides the haystacks, feces, and a red almost burnt down candle on a small wooden box. After covering my nose I ventured to go in farther. A look to my right revealed the woman that I was looking for. Leaned against the wall she was sitting and shivering there. She was a young woman, I guess in her twenties, dressed in a blue ragged nightdress. Her black hair was rumpled, she looked completely powerless, filthy, and although she had no visible wounds she looked awful. I knelt down and got closer to her,

'What happened?' She said nothing, not even looked to me but breathed heavily. She made an impression as if she had serious mental issues. The surprising moment was when Layora entered the shack with the baby. The woman looked up immediately and even smiled feebly.

'Oh god, what happened here?' said Layora covering her nose.

'Layora, come here. I think she knows the baby.' Hesitating Layora knelt down too and the woman started staring at the baby with a smile.

'Do you know this baby? Are you her mother?' I asked. She didn't say anything but just stared at the baby.

'Whatever they have done to her it must have caused a heavy trauma.' said Layora showing pity. I tried to talk to the poor woman,

'Look, this baby brought us here-' but unexpectedly and suddenly she stopped smiling, put on a serious face and interrupted me,

'There is only one way...' she was too weak to continue. She started coughing and then went on, '...to save her.'

'Save her from what? The men?' I asked instantly.

'You have to find...' weakly she continued but coughed again. '..find the lifeless water...'

'What? The lifeless water? But why and where?' I asked confused. All of a sudden she grabbed my arm, looked me in the eyes even more serious than before and said,

'There is no other way!' After those words she slowly closed her eyes and died.

'No! Don't die on me!' I shouted shaking her. The woman's last words weren't really helpful and left us clueless. Sadly I looked down and muttered,

'The lifeless water...what the fuck does that mean?!'

'Nathaniel, please let's get out of here. I can't breathe this air any longer.' Just when I wanted to stand up the baby saved my mood. Her fingernail started glowing. This time the fingernail of the index finger.

'Wait! Her finger!' I shouted getting out the magnifier out of the bag. Immediately I held it over the fingernail and it said: “Argentum Avenue.”

'Another street name and it's not far from here!' I said excited again.

'You don't plan to drive there, do you?' After Layora said that, the glowing stopped and the text vanished. I stood up and went outside. Breathing fresh air after staying in that shack felt like being reborn.

'Didn't you listen to the woman? We have to find the lifeless water!'

'That woman wasn't right in the head! How can you take an insane woman's words so seriously?'

'She might have been insane but if the finger says Argentum Avenue we'll go to Argentum Avenue!'

'Oh, now you even take a fucking finger more seriously than me?' she yelled.

'Do not forget that her thumb led us here in the first place!' I shouted. She wanted to continue another unnecessary discussion but suddenly emergency lights illuminated the environment what made Layora wave and scream,

'Help!' It were police cars driving by. They didn't have the siren turned on, though. Probably they were on their way to our house. I threw my hand on Layora's mouth and said,

'Shut up! What is wrong with you?' She slapped my hand to free herself again but by then the police cars were already gone.

'No! What is wrong with you, Nathaniel! The police has to take care of this! We saw two people dying tonight and you still think these incidents are yours to investigate!'

'And I have explained why but if you still don't get it, let me explain it again!' I grabbed the baby's hand, held it close to Layora's face, and shouted,

'Do you see this? Do you see these fingernails? They are silver! They can glow! And they are showing us the fucking way! If you still don't see that this baby is special, that we are onto something big then you can go home and I will take this baby and solve this mystery on my own. But you can gladly join me and work on this together with me. Goddammit Layo, what has happened to you? You used to be different! Where is the adventurer that I chose to marry? Are you with me or are you out?' I dropped the hand, took a step backwards, and waited for a response. It took her a long time until she finally decided to break the silence,

'Let us finish this.'

'This is my, Layo!' I said overexcited and gave her a kiss on the mouth. Unfortunately I didn't see a smile while she was saying that but hearing that words were enough for me in that moment. After the kiss she smiled but I knew that she had forced that one.

Back in the car and on our way to Argentum Avenue we had finally a goal: The Lifeless Water. Although we didn't know what that exactly meant I was happy that Layora was finally cooperating.

'Now where we both agreed on this little adventure and will spend quite a bit of time together, I guess it would be a good idea to come up with a name for this little pooper, don't you think? I mean I don't wanna keep calling her “baby”.' I said. Layora looked really tired. She was even leaning her head against the window.

'Yeah, definitely.' she responded very quietly.

'Any ideas?' I asked.

'I don't know...I'm not that good at this. Feel free to choose yourself.' That words were disappointing.

'Oh come on, is that what you would say if this was our own child? Imagine you are pregnant and you know it will be a girl. What names would you think of?' Strangely, I didn't get any response from her.

'None? You never think about this? I know we both agreed that we would never have a child a long time ago but you still think about this...sometimes...right? I mean just as a fantasy of course...no? Never?'

'Just say the name you had in mind, Nathaniel.'

'Well, I know it sounds strange but I kinda like the name...Silvernail. I know...very creative. But at least that name makes sense.'

'Jesus, Nathaniel! I'm fine with that name!' she said annoyed. Layora knew me too well. She knows when I'm trying to be kind and give her the feeling that she has a choice too but if she would have cared she would have had a choice.

'And Sil for short?' I asked.

'Yeah...' she said rather unimpressed. I tried to change the topic,

'I wonder if that woman was Sil's mother. It would explain her reaction.'

'But if she was the mother who was the woman who gave us the baby...I mean Silvernail?'

Right after Layora said that my cellphone started ringing,

'Speaking of which, my mother is calling.' I said, sighed knowing what she has to say, prepared myself to lie, and answered the phone.

'Hello?'

'Nathaniel? Where the hell are you?'

'Layora isn't feeling very well so we are driving home.' I could hear how she was lighting a cigarette.

'What a feeble excuse.'

'Mom, we are adults! We do not need excuses to leave a wedding.'

'No, that's not what I'm saying. That's an excuse for something else.' She was going too far and I couldn't hear that anymore so I reacted a bit louder,

'Don't keep harping on about it! I wasn't going to impregnate her anyway! I never did and never will so don't mention the “children topic” again!' Out of the corner of the eye, I could see Layora. Finally she had an authentic smile on her face. I guess she expected such a reaction as less as my mother because she was at a loss for words. Unfortunately, it was somebody else that broke the silence...Silvernail. She decided to start crying at the perfect moment.

'Is that a baby?' said my mother confused. I didn't know what to say. One could think it couldn't get worse but it always can. Suddenly the black car resurfaced right behind us. I knew I could come up with an explanation for the baby but what was I going to say if they start shooting at us again?

'Uhh...erm...well...' Desperately I looked to Layora although I thought that coming up with an explanation can't be that difficult but my brain just doesn't work at all under pressure. Rocking the baby, Layora whispered,

'Hitchhikers!'

'Uhm...we have picked up hitchhikers and they have a baby, you know.'

'So this is how you speak to me while strangers are around? And why did you let them into your car in the first place?' Sil was crying louder, the black car was getting closer, and all I wanted was to hang up.

'Mom, listen I have to hang up now. See you! Bye!' I said, hung up, and exhaled but it was far from over.

'Distraction one out of two handled. What are we going to with distraction two? The bigger distraction?' After I hung up Sil slowly stopped crying.

'Are you fucking kidding me, Silvernail?' I said hardly believing it. Suddenly they started flashing their headlights.

'What are they trying to tell us?' said Layora.

'I guess, they want us to pull over.'

'You are not going to do that, are you?'

'If they wanted to kill us they would have already done it.' I said slowly pulling over. The black car did the same.

'This is crazy, Nathaniel.' said Layora worried.

'I know.' I said grabbing the bag and pulling out the handgun. 'But they mustn't follow us to Argentum Avenue.' I kissed Layora on the lips and left the car after she told me to be careful. Only one man came out of the black car. He seemed to be in his fifties, had a gray suit and black heat, a red scarf, black leather gloves, and over his gray jacket he was wearing an even darker coat. He looked like a very wealthy man. With a lot of confidence he was slowly moving towards me. I tried to do the same but it was chiefly the gun that gave me the confidence. As soon as he saw the gun he raised both of his hands and calmly said,

'I am unarmed and I am alone.' A quick look to his car verified his words so I put the gun away. When we were standing close to each other he put out his hand and said,

'My name is Blake.' Hesitating I shook his hand but kept my name secret. Obviously he was trying to be nice to get what he wanted but he was still my enemy so I didn't show interest in his fake courtesy. He looked to our car and when he saw the broken window and bullet holes, he said,

'I apologize for what my men have done. They didn't want to kill you. They just wanted to make clear that I really need that baby. I will get that baby anyway but I think we are both interested in not shedding any blood. Give me the baby and I will go. You will never see me or any of my men again, I will even buy you a new car, and everything will be forgotten. Deal?' With a dead serious face I stared him in the eyes for a while and responded,

'Do you really think I will hand over a baby to people who chased us and shot at us?'

'Well, you should. Not for the baby. But for your own sake and for the sake of your wife.'

'I will not do something knowing that I will regret it for the rest of my life.' He stayed calm,

'I gave you a chance to get out of this smoothly. It's unfortunate you made the wrong decision. My men will chase you and when they find you, and they will find you...they will kill you.' He turned around and went to his car with the same pace, calmness, and confidence he came with. His message was clear. Blake wanted Silvernail and us dead. But I made my message clear as well. I would do everything to protect Sil from him.

When I got back into the car, Layora immediately assailed me with questions,

'Are you alright? Who is that man? What did he say? What does he want?'

'His name is Blake and he seems to be rich as fuck. He even wanted to buy us a new car.'

'Really?'

'Yeah...but of course I didn't agree on the part that I have to hand over Silvernail so now his men will start chasing us and kill us.'

'So no new car?'

'Nope...'

'Well, didn't those men wanted to kill us, anyway?'

'According to our friend Blake, not until now.'

'He looked so powerful. We shouldn't mess with him.'

'What else do you wanna do? Wherever it is that Sil is leading us to, it can't have something to do with money because Blake already has enough, I mean he even has his own little fucking army. It must be something greater than that and we have to get there before Blake and his men.'

Our way led us deeper and deeper into a forest. Although I knew where Argentum Avenue was, I didn't know what could be awaiting us there. I hadn't been there for ages that's why it surprised me that we had suddenly reached an impasse.

'Are you sure we're right here?' asked Layora.

'There's no doubt...this is Argentum Avenue.' I said getting out of the car. Without the headlights it was an extremely dark place. I could literally see nothing which is the reason why I grabbed at my flashlight without delay. After Layora finally came out of the car as well, I said,

'There's a gate!' It was a small, wide opened, metal gate with silver embellishments, and with black as its main color. The stone walls next to the gate were vegetated and the gate almost as well which explains why we didn't see it right away. The narrow forest road that came after the gate led us to a big house. You could even say mansion. We could see lights coming out of a few of the windows so knocking at the door we assumed that somebody could be home. But it kinda didn't surprise me that nobody opened the door. Just one moment before I wanted to kick in the door, Layora threw her hand on my shoulder and said,

'Wait! Nobody is calling for help this time.'

'Yes, there is someone calling for help.' I said. 'It's Silvernail.' I kicked in the door, showing her how serious I was about this whole thing, and that I can very well kick in doors, too.'

'Hello? Is anybody there?' I shouted but of course nobody answered. Immediately a grand staircase with a red carpet on the left caught my attention. Also on the left a noble brown wooden door. On the right there was a metal double door but locked by a heavy chain.

'Maybe we are not right here.' said Layora skeptical but I could not only feel that we were at the right place, Silvernail also led us to the proof. Another fingernail started glowing and this time it was her middle finger.

'Nathaniel! Her finger!' Immediately I turned around and knowing that those moments don't last long I didn't hesitate to get out the magnifier. The word “upstairs” was proof enough for me but that was only leading us to something even more interesting.

'What does it say?' asked Layora curiously.

'I think we are right here.' I said and ran towards the staircase. 'Follow me.' Once I was upstairs I saw another three doors and something strange on the ceiling. It looked like an attic door but there was no cord to pull the ladder down. It was metallic and very glossy.

'How are we supposed to open that?' I asked staring up.

'It's electric...we have to find the key.' said Layora pointing to a keyhole on the wall next to us.

'Well, that could be everywhere or at worst nowhere.'

'If the Lifeless Water is up there, Sil will help us with finding the key.' said Layora and right after that Sil's fingernail actually started glowing again. And not surprisingly it was her ring finger.

'It says “left”. I like how the descriptions get more precise.' I said while going to the door on the left.

'Yeah, but you know that there's only one finger left, right?'

'The texts vanishes with the glowing so why shouldn't she be able to start with her thumb again?'

'If she could do that she would use only one finger all the time!' She was right. There was only one message left that Sil could convey. Slowly I opened the door. It was a bedroom. A very majestic bedroom.

'What if this house belongs to Blake?' said Layora. Her assumption was reasonable but not right.

'No.' I said shocked. I had seen the true owners of that house. Over the bed I saw a wedding photo. I took it down and examined it more closely.

'Look at this, Layo! This woman...this is the woman who gave us Silvernail!'

'Are you sure? She looked older and like a homeless person.' I took the picture out of the frame and turned it around. There was something written on it:


Kathryn & Charles

12/12/1980

 

'This is from 1980! Of course she looks younger here.' I said.

'So Kathryn and Charles are the parents of Silvernail?'

'I don't know why but I doubt that.' I said hanging the picture back on the wall. I looked around to find more clues and on a nightstand I saw an opened diary. There was a short text that I read aloud:

 

12/13/1980

Dear diary,

 

I am so happy! 1980 was such a great year and 1981 can only become better because Charles and I are finally married! Everyone told me not do it because he's rich and that would make it look like as if I'm marrying him just for that reason. But I fell in love with Charles when I didn't even know how wealthy he is and I don't care how much money he has! All I want is to be happy with my great husband. Yet I have to admit that this house is huge and just amazing! I love it...for some strange reason, though, the former owner is hesitating with handing over the key for the attic. He acts really weird...is he hiding something?

 

- Kathryn

 

'Interesting.' I said and flipped through the other pages but the rest was either empty or ripped out. Suddenly Sil started crying.

'What is it now? We just fed her and changed her diaper!'

'She doesn't stink so I think she's hungry again.' said Layora.

'The kitchen must be downstairs.' She looked at me with a smile and said,

'Head and you'll do it!' I sighed and threw a coin. The result: Tail.

'Take the bag, you'll need the materials. I will stay here and look for more clues.' I opened the big wardrobe and found an abnormal amount of diapers. “Maybe Sil is Kathryn's and Charles' child...but why so many diapers? They're rich but that's a bit crazy! Do they have other kids? Was the woman in the shack one of them?” I thought. I searched for other things but found nothing interesting in that room. It didn't take Layora a long time to return.

'You won't believe how much baby food they have stored down there!'

'Oh, that doesn't surprise me because I found a ton of diapers in the wardrobe!'

'I also found a note in the kitchen. I think it explains the food and the diapers.' said Layora and gave me a torn out piece of paper.

 

12/14/1980

Dear diary,

 

Today the former owner gave us finally the key for the attic. Just before he did that he asked us if we are really sure about that. Of course we said yes but then he reminded us that we can still leave the house. We were startled and couldn't understand why he was making such a big deal out of that. We had to insist to get the key and when we finally got it and opened the attic we understood why he was acting so weird. It's unbelievable but we found 20 babies lying in baby beds. All of them girls and luckily all of them look healthy. We were shocked and tried to get in touch with the former owner but he didn't answer our calls. We also found some sort of liquid. I wanna say water but I can't. It looks like water. It feels like water. But it doesn't behave like water. I suggested to call the police but then Charles discovered something that is even stranger. The babies all have silver fingernails. I said it's probably just nail polish but Charles thinks that there's more behind that and wants to wait with calling the police...

 

- Kathryn

 

'She is referring to the Lifeless Water! It must be up there!' I said excited and already wanted to go outside and finally find the key to the attic but Layora stopped me.

'Wait, Nathaniel. Don't you find this a bit strange? She says they found 20 babies with silver fingernails...'

'Yes...'

'So one would think that Sil is one of those babies because Kathryn gave us Sil in the first place...'

'Yes...'

'But they found them in 1980!'

'Yes...'

'Don't you get it, idiot?! She still is a baby!' said Layora a bit louder.

'Yeah, I see that it's confusing but I'm sure we'll find an explanation for that. Most likely she isn't one of those 20 babies. Maybe they grew up...started having sex, and someday Sil was conceived...'

'Kathryn also says that they were all girls!'

'Oh...I don't know Layora...look I want answers, too. Let's go out and look for them and especially this key!' I said and started another attempt to leave the room but she stopped me again.

'I see that you're really excited but I seriously need a break of all this.' she said and turned to the bed. 'Look how comfortable this bed looks like. Even Sil fell asleep. Please, Nathaniel. Just a few minutes.' It's not as if I wasn't tired. I was...but I was also overexcited like a kid. I couldn't sleep with all this excitement and thoughts. I tried, though, for Layora because she really needed it and also deserved it. Smiling I nodded and we both threw ourselves on the bed. With Silvernail lying between us it felt really weird. You can't help but think about how it would be to have a child. To be a father. Something that you never wanted to be but in such situations you ask yourself: “Why? Why not raise a child?”. I was wondering if Layora was thinking the same but she immediately fell asleep. Although I didn't expect it, after a while, I dropped off to sleep as well. Of course we didn't just wake up after a few minutes as Layora had said it. We slept a few hours and if my mother wouldn't have called me we probably would have slept way too long. It was 4:00 AM and still dark when I woke up and answered the call,

'Why are you calling me at this time?' I said upset.

'I couldn't sleep and I was worried-' shouting, I cut her off,

'It's four in the fucking morning!'

'Yes, but what if those hitchhikers were-'

'We are home, alone, and safe! You're not calling me because of that!'

'You are right...I wanted to-' I knew what she was about to say. It would have been a lie anyway. The thing is that I wasn't the one who interrupted her. Because of my shouting Silvernail started crying. Troubled I looked to Layora. Hoping that she will help me out again. But even she slowly and hopelessly shook her head.

'I thought you're alone! Who is this baby?' said my mother confused. I knew that no lie could get me out of that situation but I also didn't want to tell the truth.

'I will tell you who that baby is. But for now you have to leave us alone and trust us. Tomorrow I will tell you everything.'

'Nathaniel, what are you talking-' I hung up and shut off my cellphone.

'Fuck, is she annoying.' said Layora standing up.

'Let's find this key.' I said leaving the bedroom. Two more rooms were left on that floor and downstairs there was still that metal double door locked with a chain. In one of those three rooms we had to find the key. The next room we entered was a small, cool, and gray room. Besides a table with blood spots and a chair there was also an old camera on the table but nothing more.
'What kind of room is this?' asked Layora.

'Looks like a storage room or something like that.' I said going further into the room. I already wanted to leave because apart from the blood there was nothing interesting but then I saw something on the chair. Something red. I pulled the chair back and revealed a big red envelope. In silver there was something written on it:

 

 

Research of:

 

The Lifeless Water & The 20 babies with silver fingernails”

 

by

Charles

 

'Apparently Charles started doing research on The Lifeless Water and those babies.' I said opening the envelope. It contained a V/H/S tape and a note. I took the tape out and threw it into the bag.

'Hopefully we'll find a way to watch it somewhere.' After that I pulled out the note.

'Another note from Kathryn?' asked Layora.

'Nope, this time it's Charles.' I said and read the note aloud:

 

12/15/1980

 

Yesterday I discovered the strangest liquid that humanity has ever seen. I call it:

The Lifeless Water”

To describe its behavior with words is not easy that's why I made a video tape where I'm not only showing how bizarre that “water” is, I'm also proofing its existence and therefore that I am not mad. I firmly believe that the lifeless water has something to do with those 20 babies that I also found up there. They have silver fingernails and I'm 100% sure that it's not just nail polish or something like that. Today my friends will arrive and together we will found a little research group.

Together we will solve this mystery.

 

- Charles

 

'You and Charles would have become good friends.' said Layora.

'...I'm just curious, he was obviously mad.'

'What makes him mad and you just curious?'

'Well, only mad people say that they're not mad.'

'That's exactly what you're doing right now.'

'Ahh, shut up, Layo...we have to find that key.' I said and left the room. Chuckling Layora followed me. I expected the last door on that floor to be a bathroom and it was one. But I did not expect a corpse. Especially not one with a completely crushed head. I just saw it for a second and shocked I immediately shut the door. I have to admit that I also screamed a bit...

'What happened?' asked Layora confused.

'There's a dead man.'

'We saw two people dying tonight. Shouldn't we be able to take this by now?' she said and wanted to open the door but I prevented that,

'He has an ax stuck in the back of his head. It's totally destroyed!'

'Well, at least one of us has to go in...' I saw what her expression was implying but I couldn't leave that to chance. I had to be a man and go in there myself.

'No. You will stay outside with Sil and I will quickly look if something interesting is in there and then run out.' I said and slowly opened the door. Although Layora didn't always show it that night, she was as curious as I so she couldn't help but follow me and to be honest I didn't want to stop her. That crushed head was fucking gross! Slowly I had to get used to it, though, because that was by far not the worst thing I had to witness that night. I moved over the corpse to get to the other side of the bathroom where I saw a piece of paper on the windowsill.
'It's another note from Kathryn!' I said and started reading it aloud:

 

 

 

12/20/1980

Dear diary,

 

The last week was really strange. Since we have access to the attic Charles acts...differently. First he called his two friends and since then they're sleeping up there. He thinks they're a “Research Team”. At least that's what he says. Charles still came downstairs to sleep with me together. But now he even stopped doing that. He's up there almost all the time. I only see him during dinner and that's the only time I have to tell him that he should call the police but he refuses to do that. Then he started to tell me to look after all those babies. I'm supposed to feed them, change their diapers, and all that...I wanted my own child but Charles and I had sex only ONCE...he's so distanced. I don't know why it's intriguing him so much...

 

- Kathryn

 

'Poor Kathryn...I'm starting to relate to her.' said Layora.

'What? You want a child?' I said raising my head from the page. Confused she replied,

'You know exactly what I meant!' I looked down to the corpse and changed the topic,

'Do you think this is Charles?'

'It's not unlikely...maybe even killed by Kathryn but to be honest I don't wanna find it out.'

'I don't think we can. There's almost nothing left of his head...but we might be able to break the chain with that ax.'

'Crazy plan...could work, though.' said Layora. Sighing I dropped the bag. Hesitating and reluctantly I grabbed the ax, closed my eyes, and pulled it out.

'Ugh...this is fucking disgusting...' I said turning around but then I saw something shocking. Layora was holding the magnifier in her hand and was examining Silvernail's pinkie. The odd thing was that it was glowing red and not in the bright white light as the other fingernails did.

'They're coming.' said Layora calmly.

'What?' I said confused. Less calm she responded,

'They're coming! That's what it says!'

'Blake's men...what are we supposed to do?'

'We certainly can't leave anymore, we can't fight them, we can only hide.'

'Well, if they find us, and they will find us, we have to fight them...'

'With what? An ax and a little gun with how many rounds...eight?'

'...and Silvernail...' I added which was not a good idea.

'Oh, how could I forget her! I'm sure her goddamn glowing fingernails will blind them and save our asses!' I sighed but didn't want to start a discussion since I didn't know how much time we had left.

'Take the ax. We'll hide in the wardrobe.' I said. I could see how Layora wanted to continue the discussion because she hesitated to take the ax and at the same time she had this annoyed expression on her face that she always made when she wanted to say something but couldn't. In the bedroom I looked out of the window. In the distance behind the trees I saw the lights of an approaching car. To our advantage it was only one car.

'We can expect five armed men.' I said and turned hastily to the wardrobe. Opened it rashly and told Layora, who seemed to be overwhelmed, to go in there.

'What about Sil? I can't attack a man with an ax while holding her!' I found it interesting how she was already willing to injure or even kill a man. Because I was certainly not.

'Put her on the mountain of diapers.' I said not exaggerating. She did and then I positioned myself between the diapers and Layora and closed the wardrobe keeping it ajar. The little light that was coming in showed me Layora how she was tightly holding the bloody ax and how she was pressing it to her body and herself to the wall of the wardrobe. Her face remained hidden in darkness however I'm sure she was frightened as much as I. Trembling I was holding the gun, knowing that I will probably have to use it. That I will probably kill someone that night. Layora's next words were relieving for it was showing that we were thinking the same. Calmly yet with a shaking voice she asked,

'Are we really about to kill someone?' I had the urge to answer this question jokingly but could see how inappropriate it would be since Layo was genuinely scared. Not that I wasn't. I guess, I just liked to use humor to suppress my fears. Layora did not. At least not always. I didn't know how to respond. I didn't really have a plan to get out of that situation alive.

'Maybe we should have just stayed at the wedding...' I said. I wonder what Layora would have answered. I know she was going to but suddenly we heard loud noises coming from downstairs. With aggressiveness they entered the house. It was unnecessary aggressiveness for I had already broken in the door.

'They saw our car...they know that we are here.' whispered Layora. I closed the wardrobe completely which caused utter darkness. We could hear them speaking. One man called,

'We'll split up. They know we're here so be careful.' “It is just a matter of time until one of them will open the door of the wardrobe. And then it is either him or us. Even if we manage to kill him...what are we going to do with the rest?” I thought. Over and over again I repeated the same images in my head. The images of how the door will suddenly open, how I will raise the gun, and how I will look him in the eyes and shoot him. Did I feel pity? Well, that was not what I was thinking about. It was simply the fact that I'm about to kill someone. It did not matter who that person is. But the images of what would happen if I wouldn't do that were far more terrifying. The sound of silence were disturbed by their steps. It started becoming louder until it finally happened. The door of the bedroom slowly opened and a man stepped in. We heard how he was looking under the bed. “We would have died in our sleep if my mother wouldn't have called me.” I thought. “It's better when I open the door before he does it.” So I laid my hand on the door. Just a moment away from opening it. But then I heard how another man came in. Immediately I pulled my hand away and waited for them to open the door. And it happened. Reckless he opened the wardrobe door. I could see it in his face that he didn't expect us there. Swiftly I raised my gun. He took a step backwards and wanted to raise his gun as well but before I could shoot him Layora wielded her ax screaming and rammed it into his chest. The other guy in the room turned around with his gun pointing in our direction. I turned to him and shot him before he could understand what was going on. In panic I hit his stomach which didn't kill him. Holding his belly he fell on one knee and supported himself on his gun. Layora who was drenched in blood pulled out the ax out of the guy's chest and shrieked,

'Shoot again!' The butchered man keeled over dead but the other guy was about to lift his arm. With shaking hands and loath to shoot again I pulled the trigger but didn't hit him. I panicked even more and started shooting several times but all attempts failed since I was way too nervous. The bullets passed him left and right. Finally, after 5 shots I hit him between the eyes. It wasn't over, though. There were still armed men in that house. Layora through the ax on the bed and grabbed the men's gun. I wanted to pick up the other men's gun for his was better but suddenly three men ran into the bedroom.

'Wow, put that gun down, young lady.' said one of them with a cheeky smile, not taking us seriously. They were slowly coming closer with their guns still swinging to their sides. I, though, raised mine and Layo kept hers up. They stopped, the man looked to the dead body in front of us, and spoke,

'Did you slaughter him?' he asked calmly and still with a faint smile. Layora kept an icy stare and didn't respond. The man continued, 'Not bad for a girl. Your first kill I suppose? I think it's kinda sexy. With all this blood on your dress, you know. I like that. It's bad-ass.' He was playing the cool one and I can't stand such people at all so I screamed,

'Shut up!' The man who was staring at Layora since he entered the room and didn't even look in my direction, now turned to me and said,

'Oh, and who are you? Her husband? Did you guys just marry or why are you dressed up like this?'

'What do you want?' I said still pointing my gun with only one bullet in it at him.

'Well, I have orders. I have to kill you. But that's not what I want. What I want is my compensation and to get it it's enough if I bring Blake that baby. So give me the baby and I will let you guys live.'

'You need us to find the baby. That's why you're keeping us alive!' I said. He sighed and said,

'I'm not a very patient person.' He raised his gun and pointed it at Layora. 'Listen, I like your wife. I don't wanna kill her but if you don't hand over that fucking baby I will have to!' I dropped my useless gun and so did Layora. Desperately we looked at each other in the eyes. Layora nodded sadly. I turned to Silvernail who was still lying on the mountain of diapers. Gently I picked her up and revealed her to the men.

'Ah, there she is.' he said and put his gun away. 'Give her to me!' he said admiring her. But what he was actually admiring was not Sil. He was only seeing his money. I didn't have a plan at that moment but I did not hand over her without the intention of getting her back. As soon as the man was holding Silvernail he turned around and wanted to leave. But suddenly Silvernail started crying. Louder than before. It felt like she actually understood what was going on.

'I hate babies!' shouted the man. He turned around again and said, 'Seems like there's a bond between you guys. You know maybe I don't have to break this bond.' He contemplated for a moment, then went on, 'Blake never told me to bring him the baby. To be exact he said: “Bring me her hand!”' With a smile he looked to the ax on the bed. Instantly, Layo and I shrieked,

'NO!' He put Sil on the bed who was still crying. Then he grabbed the ax and ordered,

'Hold her arm.' The men didn't hesitate. Tightly they pressed her fragile little arm down.

'The other arm, idiots! We need the silver fingernails!' Silvernail was way too young to understand what was happening yet she was crying incredibly loud. The man slowly put the ax on Sil's thin wrist. In our hopeless situation we started begging,

'Please, don't do it! She has nothing to do with this! She's just a baby!' The man did not listen and hauled-off. We continued screaming, 'Please. Silvernail doesn't deserve this!'

'Silvernail?' said the man laughing. 'What a ridiculous name.' With those words he chopped off her hand. Her crying was unbearable. That sound made my eyes fill with tears as well. A few seconds later she lost her consciousness. The man picked up her tiny hand, dropped the ax, and left the room with a big smile. Her hand that brought us so far was now gone. On the brink of crying we slowly went to the red bed.

'We have to stop the bleeding!' Layora said in panic. I grabbed the blanket and ripped of a piece from a part that was not covered with blood. Applying pressure to the wound I said,
'Go get bandages.'

'Where am I supposed to find bandages?' shouted Layora distressed.

'Go to the fucking bathroom!' I shouted back. After 15 minutes of pressure it slowed to a trickle. Then I took the bandages that Layora found and bound her arm. Slowly she regained consciousness which was not that good because she started crying due to the pain.

'I also found painkillers but I'm not sure if we should give them to a baby.' said Layo. I didn't care. All I wanted was to stop her crying and suffering. So I took the painkillers and gave them Sil. For the next 30 minutes we sat on the bed leaned against each other next to Sil. Waiting for her to stop crying. There was nothing else left we could do. Her anguished cry was extremely draining. It literally soaked up our energy. The moment she finally stopped I stood up, picked up my gun, than the ax, and said,

'We are not done here. Let's break that chain.' Together with Sil we went downstairs to the metal double door.

'Do you really think we can break that chain?' asked Layora doubtful. I do admit that it was a heavy chain but I had to try it. One hit wasn't enough but caused visible damage. I swung the ax again and it broke into pieces. Together with the ax the chain fell to the ground. I looked to Layora, tried to smile, and opened the metal door. A staircase leading down into the darkness revealed itself. I pulled out my flashlight and before we went down to the unknown Layora reminded me,

'If the key isn't down there, we have a problem.'

'It must be down there.' I said and started going down. We reached another metal door that I slowly opened. Before I could see what was behind that door I got to smell the worst stench that had ever reached my nose.

'For Christ's sake! What is this?' said Layora. It was too dark and the only thing that my flashlight was revealing was the gray ground. I pivoted the light to the right and saw the source of the smell. I wish I hadn't. It was a little hill in the right corner of the room. A hill made out of babies. Dead babies. Not all looked equally old. Some still had their skin but some were only bones.

'Those must be the 20 babies that Charles had mentioned.' said Layora.

'That bastard has killed them all...' I said in shock and illuminated the rest of the room for I was tired of seeing dead bodies at that point. I could stop looking at death but I couldn't escape the smell.

'We don't know that for sure.' said Layo. Picking up a note that was attached to a door on my left I said,

'Yes, we do.' It was another torn off diary entry from Kathryn that I read aloud:

 

12/31/1981

'This was written one year after the last one.' I noted and continued:

Dear diary,

 

Charles is going crazy...he has started killing my babies. I know they're not mine but for the last year I was the one who looked after them. I was the one who gave them the love they needed. I was like a mother to them and they my children. He killed two so far but he will continue to kill them for his stupid “research” and soon they'll be all dead. My tears are dropping on this page as I'm filling it with my words describing my desperate situation. This year was supposed to be the best year of my life but I guess I have decided to destroy my life by marrying the man I loved...and now there's no way out of this mess.

 

- Kathryn

 

'Wow...I feel really sorry for Kathryn. She started to create special bonds with those babies and Charles just killed them.' I said sadly. Layora made no comment and in the darkness her emotions were hidden so I couldn't tell what she was thinking. Our search for the key wasn't our. I opened the door where the diary entry was and entered the next room, instantly closing the door behind me to create more distance from the dead babies and that horrible stench. On the right there was a shelf which was dividing the room. It was mostly empty. Maybe two or three books and mainly a lot of dust filled the shelf. The most interesting thing was an unlit candle. Right next to it there were matches, though. I put the flashlight next to the candle, took the matches, and lit the candle. That lighted the whole room enough to shut off the flashlight. I turned around and looked to Layo and Sil. Layo still very tired and Sil looking like nothing had happened. I, though, was still not used to seeing her arm without a hand at that point. To this day I can hear her crying in my dreams. After a depressed glance at them I turned to the left corner of the room where I saw a wooden box. It was one of these boxes that we had seen in the shack back at Rising Lane. Slowly moving towards it I started to see a small pile of pages. I calmly lifted the first piece of paper and saw that it was a note from Charles. A really shocking note:

 

7/8/1991

 

Eventually all of them will die. It's necessary for the research but before I run out of those weird babies I have to find out as much as I can. Everything I know about The Lifeless Water and the silver fingernails will be on the tape and it will not appear anywhere else. It is powerful knowledge and I must have only one assembly point to make the protection of this wisdom easier.

 

7/9/1991

 

Maybe not all of them have to die. Only one girl will keep living. I don't wanna fuck that stupid bitch, Kathryn. The only reason why I'm still married to her is because she knows too much and I can't kill her because I need her to look after the damn babies. But that one girl that won't be used for the experiments will be brought to a shack not far from here. And whenever I have to fuck I know where to go. I also have a name for my little girl. If I would have a daughter I probably would have named her Heather. But I committed my life to this research so I'm calling the only baby who may stay alive...Heather.

 

- Charles

 

We were both speechless. After a long moment of silence Layora said hesitating,

'The woman...the woman in the shack...that was Heather?' Getting upset I said,

'Charles, that son of a bitch made a sex slave out of her...' I really became angry and screamed, '...she was the last survivor of those 20 babies but she died because she was turned into a fucking sex slave!' I punched the page on the box and turned around. I could see how Layora wanted to tell me to calm down but she suppressed it. Carefully she said,

'What about Silvernail?' I did calm down and said,
'What about her?'

'Where does she come from if she isn't one of the 20 babies?' I thought about that for a while before replying but the answer was rather obvious.'

'Probably the child of Heather and Charles.' I said. Layora didn't look like she was agreeing with me. Looking down and slowly shaking her head with an uncertain expression she said,

'I didn't notice Heather's silver fingernails.'

'We were way too excited. Of course we didn't-' She cut me off,

'No...let's call it a theory.'

'What? A theory? Where else should Silvernail come from?' She didn't respond and I didn't wait for a response but went on with the next page hoping it wouldn't make me angry again because it was another note from Charles:

 

7/10/1991

 

They have left me. There is no research team anymore. I am alone now. One of them thinks that she has sacrificed too much for this research. We all have and I told her that but that isn't her only reason for leaving. She thinks what I'm doing is sick. The other one has found and I quote: “The love of his life.” I laughed when he told me that. Can't blame him, though. I was no different when I married Kathryn. Still they're idiots and I should have killed them both for they know too much.

 

- Charles

 

'You are the idiot, Charles.' I said and continued with the third page that was on the box. It was Kathryn's. Her last diary entry that was only a few days old:

 

7/28/2016

 

He is obsessed. Only one girl is still alive. I had always loved her the most. She is special. They all were special but she has something that the others didn't have. I cannot save her, though. I can't even save myself. But I have to make sure that Charles doesn't survive this either. My gun is ready. My ax is ready. I'm not crying right now and I also won't while hitting Charles with the ax but I know I will as soon as the gun touches my head. Not because I'm afraid of death. I'm looking forward it. Finally, everything will be over.

 

- Kathryn

 

'This doesn't reveal much.' Layo said. 'It makes it only more confusing.'

'At least we now know who killed Charles.'

'That was obvious anyway...' she said contemplating. I could see that she was still not believing that Silvernail must be Heather's and Charles' child but I liked that. She started caring more, even continued searching the room before I did it by going through the small gap that was created by the shelf. On the other side of the room we found a desk. And on that a small mysterious box. Next to it an old photo. It was showing Charles, smiling and overly happy. On his side a man and a woman but both beyond recognition because someone had drawn over their faces. The backside of the photo said:

 

The Research Team of “The Lifeless Water”

 

12/15/1980

 

'36...' I said unbelieving. '...for 36 years he tortured babies and destroyed the life of his wife.'

'Enough of that.' said Layo, took the photo out of my hand, put it back on the table, and started paying more attention to the mysterious box. It was black and flat. A small silver round plate was on top of it. Slowly she opened the box. I hoped for it and it indeed was it. The key was in there. And it certainly was for the attic because the tag confirmed it.

'Finally...' I said heaving a sigh of relieve. 'Let's go to the attic and finish this.'

We were back upstairs where the metal attic staircase and the keyhole were. I used the key and the staircase slowly came down. A bright light was shining down. Hoping to finally find “The Lifeless Water” up there we went upstairs. It was a relatively big attic. On the left and right side of the room there were baby beds. Ten on each side. Of course all empty. At the end of the attic was our final goal. A big round glass pool filled with “The Lifeless Water”. On our right there was a desk with a small old TV on it. Right next to it a VHS player. We started slowly approaching the lifeless water. It looked like normal water as described by Charles but according to him it didn't behave like normal water and that kinda daunted us to touch it.

'Shouldn't we watch the tape before we do anything wrong?' said Layo. Charles had said in his notes that the tape keeps all the knowledge that he had gathered about the lifeless water and the silver fingernails so I agreed with Layo. Gladly distancing myself from that strange water I put out the tape out of my bag and put it in the VHS player. An old recording started playing. It was showing the attic. Although the footage was more than 30 years old the attic looked no different than it does now. Suddenly a man stepped into the frame. Not surprisingly it was Charles. Gravely he looked in the camera but said nothing. He took the camera and went towards the glass pool with the lifeless water in it.

'It looks like water, right?' he said. 'Now, watch this.' he added and slowly dived his hand into the water. But there was no motion. The water did not move. Charles hand swam from left to right. You could see it. You could hear it. But the water did not react to his movements.

'What the hell is that?' I said intrigued. At a fast pace he pulled out his hand. The water surface stayed completely still and his hand completely dry. You would at least expect one drop of water falling from his hand but that water or whatever it was, was truly...lifeless. He turned around and showed the baby beds. All 20 of them were still alive at that point. There was a cut and Charles was sitting in front of the camera again.

'Stop!' Layo screamed unexpectedly. 'Go back to the frame with the baby beds!' she said excited. I did but saw nothing unusual. She, though, pointed at a baby bed in the back and said,

'This is Silvernail!'

'No way!' I said shocked but not believing it. 'They're all still alive which means that this was at least 30 years ago!'

'But you can see it with your own eyes!'

'This is an old camera and she is way off. This could be anybody but not Silvernail!'

'It's obviously Silvernail!' she shouted.

'Discussing this is pointless! Let's keep watching.' I said and pressed play. Charles with a baby on his arms started talking,

'These babies are special. Their silver fingernails grant them a power that we all desire. They do not age.'

'I told you!' said Layora. I remained silent and listened to Charles who went on with,
'However, they can be killed and they still need nourishment and water in order to survive. When their fingers touch the lifeless water the fingernails become normal and they start aging and living like a normal person. Cutting off the hand does not take their ability away. The disembodied hand still needs to be washed with the lifeless water. It is impossible to get rid of the silver fingernails by washing them with normal water or destroying them. They are indestructible. As soon as all five fingers are in touch with the lifeless water it turns immediately into silver water. This silver water behaves exactly like the lifeless water but only lasts for 12 seconds. Besides that the silver water has healing powers. If somebody who is injured touches the silver water within those 12 seconds the wound will be instantly regenerated. After the regeneration the silver water turns back into the lifeless water and the baby pays with his life. If the 12 seconds pass without anybody touching the silver water the baby can grow up and live a normal life. I haven't figured out how far this healing power can go yet but if I find out how the lifeless water and the silver fingernails work before all babies are dead I could create a better world.' After that a compilation of the executions started. He had recorded how he chopped off their hands, heads, and other crazy shit. I turned the TV off and looked to Layo and Sil.

'So Silvernail is indeed 36 years old...' I said but couldn't believe it.

'Who knows how old she really is.' said Layo smiling. But there was no reason to smile for our journey wasn't over yet.

'You know what we have to do next.' I said. She nodded shortly and said,

'Let's get that hand back.' We smiled at each other and turned to the staircase. But we didn't get to take even one step towards it for someone unexpected was standing there. It was Blake. He was holding a gun with one hand and with the other one the hand of a little girl who was hiding scared behind his back. In shock we did not react besides with surprised faces. Blake raised his gun and shot Layora in the stomach.

'NO!' I roared and grabbed Silvernail before Layo fell to the ground but without hesitation Blake shot me in the side. With one arm I was pressing Sil to my body and with the other arm and my knees I was keeping myself away from the ground. Scarcely and moaning in pain I leaned against the next baby bed. Layora crawled towards me and rested on my lap together with Sil. She looked up to me with her tears dropping down on me. Gently I laid my hand on her cheek. She wanted to speak but I didn't let her. I whispered,

'We will not die here.' The blood beneath and around us was telling the opposite but I was still hopeful. Blake started going towards the lifeless water. The girl followed him closely and crying. She did not dare to look in our direction but I saw that she was a beautiful girl who was probably about six years old. Oddly enough she was bald.

'Emma.' said Blake kneeling down and looking into the girls eyes. He put both of his hands on her shoulders and went on, 'Do you remember when I promised I would end your suffering?' Emma wiped away her tears and nodded. 'Do you see this pool? I know you don't like swimming, honey. But this water is different. Don't be afraid of it. It will save you.'

'Will it end the pain?' asked Emma sobbing. Suppressing his tears Blake nodded.

'It will be over, I promise!'

'No, Blake.' I said with little power left. 'We have seen Charles' footage. He was talking about wounds not diseases. Don't promise her what you can't keep.' Slowly he stood up and looked to me with a dead serious face.

'My daughter will die for certain. It's too late. They can't save her anymore. So do you think that I will not at least try the only way that might work to save my daughter?' I pulled out my gun and pointed it at him.

'What if it fails? It will kill a baby for no reason!'

'I'm aware of that.' he said and turned to Emma. I couldn't shoot him in front of his daughter. Layora pulled my arm down and made me look into her eyes.

'Let him save his daughter. We will not get out of here alive, anyway.'

'You will!' I said. 'You and Sil. You will look after her!'

'I am pregnant!' she shouted back weeping.

'How-How long do you know that?'

'For three weeks...but I couldn't tell you...because...because I wanted her and I didn't know if you-' I cut her off,

'YES! Yes, I would have loved to!' I said weeping and smiling.

'We would have been horrible parents.' said Layo smiling despite the pain she was in.

'No.' I said. 'We will get out of here and we will become the best parents ever!' Blake was pulling out Silvernail's hand out of his coat pocket. I raised my gun again and was ready to shoot him, although that would mean that his daughter will die as well. I was ready because it was the only way to save Silvernail. Just one moment before I pulled the trigger another unexpected person entered the attic. With a cigarette in her mouth she was standing there. It was my mother.

'Mother?' I said shocked. Blake who was about to throw Sil's hand into the lifeless water turned around and was as surprised as I,
'Anne?' he said. He knew my mother's name for some reason and my mother his name,

'Blake?' she said but not surprised.

'Why do you know each other?' I shouted confused due to the pain that was getting worse.

'He's your son? And you have never told him?' asked Blake.

'Did you tell it your daughter?' said my mother.

'After I have cured her cancer and she has become old enough, I will.' First it will sound impossible but it's the only thing that made sense in that moment. There was only one explanation why my mother had shown up there, why Blake knew about the lifeless water and its power, and why they knew each other: My mother and Blake were part of Charles' research team. I pointed my gun at my mother and asked,

'What did you sacrifice?'

'What are you talking about?' she said confused.

'Charles was talking about sacrifices. You have left his research team because you had sacrificed too much. What was it?'

'You know more than I thought.'

'You killed him, didn't you? You killed my father!'

'I loved him but-'

'Shut up!' I cried.

'I had to do it to protect-'

'Shut up! Shut up! You can't justify this!' I shouted. 'You knew what Charles was doing. Christ, you worked with him! And instead of stopping him. Instead of killing that fucking bastard, you killed my innocent father!'

'It was my only way out. I had to get out somehow because all I wanted was a grandchild.'

'You could have get one.' I said calmly and without any mercy I pulled the trigger. The bullet hit directly her head. I didn't cry. Layo didn't. And Blake didn't care either. He turned around back to the lifeless water to throw Sil's hand in it. Preventing that was beyond my power for I had used my last bullet to kill my own mother. The hand fell into the water and as Charles had said it, it turned into silver water.

'Now, you have to go in, Emma. Don't worry. The water won't hurt you...it will save you.' The poor girl was standing there shivering and crying. She was overwhelmed by everything that had happened.

'That old lady...she is dead.' she said looking to my mother. Then she looked to us and said, 'And they...they are hurt, daddy.'

'They are bad people. They don't want you to be saved.'

'It's all my fault. You shot them because of me. I don't want anybody to die because of me.' she said crying.

'Emma. I have done so much to get so far! Please step into the pool now.' The girl did not move.

'But that would just kill another person!' she said. The 12 seconds had passed. The water turned back to the lifeless water. Blake fell desperately on his knees.

'I will keep my promise.' he said and hugged his daughter. 'I will end your suffering.' Behind her back he raised his gun and pointed it towards the back of her head. Still hugging her he looked her into the eyes and pressed his forehead against hers. She had no clue what was happening.

'You won't feel anything.' he said weeping and pulled the trigger. The bullet broke through the girl's head and struck Blake's head which killed both in an instant. I looked to Layora. She looked even weaker than me.

'Get up!' I said. 'We won't die here.'

'I'm so tired, thirsty, and it hurts so much.' she said giving up.

'GET UP!' I shouted. 'What is Silvernail without us?' I said. She kept lying on my lap. I pushed her off and stood up supporting myself on the baby bed. Getting Layora up as well was not an easy task. I had to give up my support to hold Sil with one arm and with the other hand I brought Layo on her feet. Groaning with pain we headed towards the exit. When we were about 5 meters away from the door Layora said,

'I don't think I'll make it, Nathaniel.'

'You have to! I can't rear Silvernail alone.' Suddenly the door opened and the light of the morning sun and emergency lights hit our eyes. Three police men and paramedics ran towards us. The police men passed us and ran up to the attic. We fell into the arms of the paramedics who asked,

'Are there more survivors?'

'They are all dead.' I said and they carried us out and brought us to one of the ambulances. They treated Sil's arm, saved my life, saved Layora's life, but there was nothing they could do for our baby.

 

We were okay with that. Because now we have you, Silvernail.

'So many people died because of me. That poor girl Emma, your mother, your daughter.'

'YOU are our daughter!'

'You should have never left that wedding!'

'At the beginning I said that I don't know whether it was a good idea or not. That's not true. It was the best decision we could have made because otherwise we would have never met you...you are extraordinary. You made our life extraordinary.'

 

Written by Ahmet Koctar

 


© Copyright 2017 Ahmet Koctar. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:

More Mystery and Crime Short Stories

Booksie 2017-2018 Short Story Contest

Booksie Popular Content

Other Content by Ahmet Koctar

The Red Monarch

Short Story / Mystery and Crime

The Silver Fingernails

Short Story / Mystery and Crime

The Gravestone in the Pool

Short Story / Action and Adventure

Popular Tags