Chapter 25

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I felt her sudden terror before hearing her scream. I was racing through the huge auditorium toward the back room before anyone even heard her voice. Confusion and fear erupted all around. I threw the double doors open and searched for her. The exit door to the parking lot was ajar. I sprinted through it to see burnt tire tracks under my feet. I ran after the vehicle that I couldn't see. I kept running until I could no longer breath. I couldn't feel her. I couldn't see her. My whole world was crashing down around me. I fell to the hard ground on my knees and screamed into the sky. I heard voices coming behind me. Cars were getting closer. There was an alarm in the distance. I didn't know how far I had run. I only knew that she was gone, and I hadn't saved her.

My Dad was the first person to slowly approach me. He knelt down beside me and put his arms around my shoulders. "I'm so sorry Son. I failed you. I wasn't watching her. I'm so sorry." He said over and over. He was crying. I realized that I was too. "It's not your fault Dad, it's mine. She was my responsibility. I should have had a guard at that door. She was all that mattered in the world and I lost her."

The Coordinator knelt down as well. He was dressed to perform the bonding ceremony. He looked out of place in the dirt beside me. "All the men are looking for her. This person won't get far. They can't leave the compound undetected." He reassured me. "But he got in undetected." I countered. "Not one of our people will rest until she is found Grayson. I can promise you that." His words were kind but didn't help. How could I let this happen a second time?

My Dad led me to his car. "We have to do something." I told him. "We will. We had cameras on the building. We will go back with the Coordinator to review them." "I don't want to look at footage. I want that scum of the earth in my hands." "You will have that, soon, but first let's try to track him down."  I reluctantly went back to the Center. I wanted to be out actually looking for the man. But I would be patient.

The cameras had been tampered with. Of course, this couldn't just be simple. But I was a computer expert. I got busy doing what I do. I needed to dig deeper and further to see when and how the tampering took place. Dad and the Coordinator got calls all afternoon from the men searching. They believed he was way out in the mountains. Our compound was huge. He could be anywhere. But it was a good chance he went to the secluded area. Only a few people lived out there. The snow made travel more difficult. So most of us built houses lower.

While the search party focused their attention on the mountainous region, I focused mine on the computer. I went back three days on the video surveillance and started there. I noticed suspicious activity a couple days ago. There were lots of people going in and out, decorating the place. But after dark, there was a black SUV with no plates. It came and went a couple of times. Driving slowly. A few of our people had vehicles like this. But this one had tinted windows all around. I checked our database for people with this make and model. I called them and none of them had the tinted windows. And all of them were present and accounted for at the ceremony today. I had seen every one's colors. It couldn't have been any of them. It wasn't possible. Finally, I found the smoking gun. Very late last night at around three a.m. that SUV came by again. It stopped at the back door. A tall figure dressed all in black got out of the car. Sadly, I couldn't see emotions on a video. It was an in-person thing only. But this had to be him. His hand went up to the camera and covered the lens with something. Great, all the technology in the world and he just covered the camera. I made a copy of this portion of the video and sent it to the phones of all our people.

This guy must be hiding out in a small cabin in the mountains. Someplace none of us go. It's possible that he's been here the whole time. Never leaving the compound. No record of him coming or going. I contacted the head of security. I told him my theory. He said he would look into a few things and get back to me. Who could be living among us and not showing themselves?

I told my Dad and the Coordinator what I suspected. The Coordinator said he had only one person in mind. Micheal, the man who had lost his wife and child right before Amber and I were born. The three of us talked it through. He left a lot after they died. He came back once in a while but was never the same. When Amber and I were about eight, he disappeared completely. No one had seen him since. The Coordinator would get a call every now and then to give him updates on everyone. He of course had told him about Ambers parent's death and of her return recently. But he would tell him he was in some other country. Every time a different place. What if he had been here for the past couple years, and no one knew it?

This possibility was sounding more and more plausible. We contacted everyone in the search party and told them what we suspected. The head of security called back, and he was thinking the same thing. Michael's behavior had gone from grief to despair by the time he left. He didn't socialize with any of our people. He preferred to be alone. Everyone attributed it to depression. No one suspected anything sinister. But with our ability to read people's emotions, he couldn't have shown himself around me and Amber. We would have read his hatred immediately. Did he kill her parents? Did he want her dead now so that she would never suspect him? We discussed all of the possibilities.  I was feeling very strongly that he was the guy. I decided to join the search party in the mountains. I just hoped we got to Amber before he finished his scheme. I still couldn't feel her at all. If she was unconscious, it was possible that I wouldn't get anything from her. I was just hoping that was the case.

We decided to take my Jeep. Mom was a complete mess. Some of the other wives were consoling her. But many of the women had gone out to search. They threw on some warm clothes and went out with the men. Mom told me they said they weren't going to let their savior be killed by a mad man. I appreciated every bit of help we could get.

I tried desperately to reach her. Contact her with my mind. But there wasn't anything. Dad was driving, and I was losing my mind. It was November and there was snow on the ground in the mountains already. The Jeep thankfully had four-wheel drive. It took us about an hour to get to the uninhabited area where everyone was looking. We saw lots of tire tracks. We decided to go further away from all the others. I was just praying we weren't too late.

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