I got up and dried my eyes. I had to tell Ginny about Natalie’s death and to apologize. I ran back to the shelters. Ginny wasn’t in either of them.
Then, it occurred to me that Rupert wasn’t around when I found Natalie. The little creep! Had he killed everyone and then just tried to get me to believe he was innocent? Did he have Ginny now? I tried to think if Caroline really had looked like Arlene Smith-Kensington. I went to the thorn tunnel to search for Ginny and Rupert, but still no sign of them.
I ran back to the shelters, and something I didn’t notice before caught my eye. A big leaf lay on the ground. I picked it up.
On the other side, in still wet blood, it read, “Come by sundown, or they die. ASK.”
My breath caught. Arlene had Ginny and Rupert. Why had I left Ginny alone? I was so stupid. Why hadn’t I brought Ginny with me? Like an idiot, I left her alone. And now, Arlene would kill them. I put my hand in my pocket and feeling the knife there, I left to search the island. Where could they be? I looked at the sun. It was close to the horizon, but not touching it yet. Then, a scream echoed over the treetops. Ginny! Oh, God, please not her, too! I raced toward the scream, coming to the base of the mountain.
“Ginny?” I yelled.
She screamed in reply. I looked up. Did Arlene really have them all the way up there? Under normal circumstances, I would never have climbed this mountain, but my sister could die. I started climbing. I climbed the best I could, but I was terrified. I looked down. I shouldn’t have. I only managed to make it ten feet so far. The only heights I liked led to waterslides. I pressed on, just suppressing a scream when I grabbed a rock and it fell out of sight. Even though I tried not to make noise, I figured Arlene knew I approached by the sound of all the falling rocks and the scream. After what seemed like forever, I reached the ledge at the opening of the cave. I climbed onto the ledge and crawled into the cave. I strained to see the inside. It looked empty. Okay, so they weren’t there. Where were they?
The sun nearly touched the water in the distance. I had to get to them.
“Ginny?” I called. “Rupert?”
I thought I heard a stifled scream from above. I mustered up my courage and kept climbing. I looked up. Only a little farther to the next ledge. I kept climbing toward it. When I pulled myself up, I realized I’d reached the mountain top.
Arlene stood in front of me, holding Ginny around the neck with her right arm, the blade of the knife Rupert had had at Ginny’s throat. She held a knife in her left on Rupert, who sat at her feet.
“Let them go, Arlene,” I said, trying to sound brave.
“So you finally figured out who I am. Took your aunt only a day. And even your little sister figured it out before you did,” Arlene said, her typical whiny voice gone. Coldness emanated from her voice.
“So, you kill people when they find out who you are.”
“When I found out you were on the cruise, I wanted do whatever it took to hurt and kill you. Even if others had to die, I wanted to make sure you never made it home alive.”
She crashed the ship! I thought.
“Why’d you kill Liam and Daniella?” I said.
“I don’t think that’s any of your business. Now come here, Shayne.”
“Don’t do it, Shayne!” Ginny said.
“Shut up!” Arlene shouted.
“Let them go!” I said.
“No. You know what? I’ll let you choose who will die. You can have one or the other.”
“No. Take me instead.”
“You think that will save them?”
She held the knife to Rupert’s arm, and then said, “Get up.” I noticed that blood covered Rupert’s arm. I wondered if the blood on the note came from there.
“Over there,” she said, gesturing to the edge of the mountain to her right with the knife.
Rupert obeyed, but stopped about a foot and a half from the edge.
“Back up!” Arlene ordered.
Rupert shook his head.
“I said, back up!”
Rupert shook his head again.
“Stop it! Leave him alone!” I said.
“Move!” Arlene shouted to Rupert.
When Rupert didn’t, Arlene let go of Ginny and forced Rupert over the side. Ginny and I screamed.
Rupert’s scream echoed and ended abruptly as a thud resounded.