Thank You for Your Donation: Day ?

A crack from a bat, the crowd cheering, and a sports commentator’s voice that I couldn’t understand woke me up. Where am I? And then the grogginess flooded into my senses. It wasn’t a typical tired morning. I tried to sit up but yelped in pain instead.

“Easy there,” a man said, “don’t hurt yourself.”

Another crack of the bat, but less cheering this time. I opened my eyes against the harsh fluorescent lights. At first, my vision blurred, and the man looked like a blob of black with some metal on his chest, then I blinked and recognized the police uniform. The Officer smiled at me with unease. Can it be easy to smile at a malnourished person? I could see the desire to sympathize with me. And then I noticed that his face mask hung from one ear. I wouldn’t blame him for not wanting to wear it in a closed-off room.

“Are you here with me,” The Officer asked, “fully, this time?”

I looked at him and tried to understand what he was asking. For all I know, I’ve just reached the delirium stage of the torture, and it’s Double B in front of me. 

“Easy,” the Officer said, “I just need to make sure you and I both have all the details before I let your family in here to talk to you. You’ve been through a traumatic—“

“Wait,” I asked, “my family is here?”

“Yes,” the Officer said. “I notified them as soon as I could find out who you were.”

I can’t believe they are here. I felt excited at first, but then the worry flushed out any of that sensation. On the last day at home, I got into a fight with my parents about me leaving for Utah. A part of me waited for my father to come through the door and give me the I told you so that I deserved. He’d warned me that being so far away from family was terrible luck.

“Benjamin,” The Officer said. “I need you to focus on me right now.”

I blinked a couple of times as I realized my vision blurred. I nodded at the Officer.

“I will begin a recording,” the Officer said and clicked a button on a small silver recorder at the edge of my hospital bed. “My name is Officer Braxton Lyle of the Eos Police Department. I am interviewing Benjamin Rhodes on events between October first, two-thousand-twenty, to October fifteenth, two-thousand-twenty. The date is now October twentieth, two-thousand-twenty. Benjamin, do you agree to this interview?”

Wait, I swear I recognize that name from somewhere. Maybe if my mind weren’t a concoction of painkillers from the IV pole beside me, I would figure it out. I nodded. 

“You need to say it out loud,” Officer Lyle said, “we don’t have a video recorder present.”

“I agree,” I said through ragged vocal cords.

Officer Lyle’s body winced as I spoke, but other than that, he held his composure well. Then I noticed the notepad and pen on Officer Lyle’s lap. Why would he need a tape recording if he took notes anyway? I tried and failed at shifting in my bed once more. I couldn’t seem to find a spot on my back that didn’t ache from lying in a bed for two weeks. The rest of the hospital room was coming into focus. I couldn’t hear anyone, but it felt like I was in a private room from the silence.

“Did you and your coworkers ever plan to travel up to the mountains for a camping trip?” Officer Lyle asked.

“What?” Benjamin said. “No, not many of us hang out outside of work.”

“Did you lend your car to someone right before these events occurred?” Officer Lyle asked. 

Officer Lyle nodded and scribbled some notes on his notepad. Since he used the desk at the edge of my hospital bed, I could read the paper. His questions looked like they’d found my car with all of my coworkers’ phones. I tried to read further, but he pulled his notepad up, realizing I’d been reading his notes.

“Last crazy,” Officer Lyle cleared his throat, “I mean, the last question as given to me by my superiors. Would, or have you ever allowed a donor into your home for a visit?”

“What, that’d be stupid,” I said, shocked, “especially if it were Bradley.”

“Thank you,” Officer Lyle said. “Can you verify which Bradley you’re talking about, though?”

“Bradley Brown, and—“ I said, but stopped at the silencing finger of Officer Lyle.

Officer Lyle clicked another button on the machine, and the red light faded.

“I need you to understand,” Officer Lyle said, “that right after we finish here, I won’t be able to keep your family from bombarding you with questions. They may ask many things you don’t know what you do know, and mostly about things you don’t want to answer. I feel like you should have a fair warning before I let them overwhelm you. The reason it took us so long to find you were because Bradley Brown stole all of your phones, put them in your car with your wallets and anything else you had in your pockets at the time, and parked it at a campsite in Eos Canyon. All that we’ve given the news so far is that a man abducted and killed an unknown amount of people. They are your family, but they didn’t go through the same experiences as you.”

All of a sudden, I remembered where I’d heard the name Braxton Lyle before. He was the kid who The Artist, the Haunted House Killer, identified as his prodigy. The kid was supposed to be eight at the time. I looked at Officer Lyle, and he nodded as if recognizing the knowledge in my eyes.

“You can say I speak from experience,” Officer Lyle said. 

The recording machine clicked to life with its red light aglow, but then I noticed that Officer Lyle covered the red light in black tape on the side that faced Officer Lyle. To me, it looked like a red light in a black duct tape cave. 

“For the record, there was a tape issue in recording,” Officer Lyle said in official tones. “We will resume regular questioning. Benjamin, where were you on the night of September thirtieth, two-thousand-twenty?”

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