Henry Conifer, otherwise known as Dad or Honey, gazed out the window with a weary, brooding frown. Beyond the glass, rain sprinkled gently over soft green hills, but the peace outside only made the terrible unrest inside Henry grow worse. His mind still reeled from the events of just over a week ago, and it would be impossible to go back to the days where he was oblivious.
“Honey, what do you see?” Abigail Conifer sat on the mattress closest to the door. It was old and blanketed by a blue sheet, just like its twin next to the window. They squatted on the floor, for no frame was present to support them. The two mattresses were the room’s only furniture, and thank goodness for that—it was such a small space there wasn’t room for anything else.
“Nothing, darling. I see nothing. I was just…thinking.”
Henry’s wife joined him in gazing out the window. They grabbed each other’s hands, and the gesture conveyed more meaning than words could have: Our daughter will be found. There is hope.
Ever since the night of Lily’s birthday, the Conifers had felt as though they’d been hurled into a fantasy novel. Their home had been broken into by a group of thieves who had drugged the whole family and held them hostage in the back of a van. Henry would forever remember the moment he awoke to those surroundings. As much as he wished he could, he would never forget seeing his family unconscious—deaf and blind to what was happening.
But nothing would ever match the terror he felt when Sophie was not with them.
Rescue had come, miraculously, to storm the van and save the Conifers. Rescue had, unfortunately, not been able to recover Sophie. She had either been kidnapped or had fled into the woods, but chances were good she was definitely not safe.
Henry and his family had been thrown into a whole new world. A world where impossible things weren’t impossible, and a faceless force stole innocent families to brainwash them into service.
Why? That was the unbelievable part: Everything Henry had been taught about the world was wrong. Humans could turn into animals. He had seen it himself, the first night they’d arrived. Otherwise, he might still not believe it. The Conifers had been kidnapped by members of an undercover group that took this power and made it…wrong. At least, that’s what Henry had been told. Their rescuers kept the matter hushed.
The Conifers were sheltered here, at the resistance base. They could not return home, because they were now targets. The warehouse was safe, in the middle of nowhere, and it was poorly furnished, but Henry imagined it was infinitely better than what might have been, had the van completed its journey.
The Conifers helped wherever they could. In fact, they attended training sessions once a day. With the lives of countless other families at stake, the Conifers would not be caught idle. Even if they did not completely comprehend why or even how this battle was happening, in time, they would. Every day, Henry learned a little more. Every day, his family grew stronger. Every day they worked closer to becoming full members of the resistance, and every day they came nearer to the moment they would be able to rescue their daughter themselves.
“Do you think there’s any news from the field?” Abigail wondered. “You could go check.”
Henry had already asked this morning, and there had been no word on Sophie. The situation was beginning to sound bleak—if she couldn’t be found, it was almost certain that the enemy had scooped her up.
“No. I think I’ll go see if the girls are done with their training instead.”
Henry left the tiny bedroom and started down the halls. Already, this place was disgustingly familiar to him. Every day, he trekked these passages, where the rows of doors and blue carpet never seemed to end. With no windows, this maze easily felt like a prison.
Henry hadn’t toured the entire warehouse yet. Time for exploration was a luxury he couldn’t afford, thanks to all his other duties—training, keeping inventory, couriering messages, cleaning, etc. Another goal, which in Henry’s eyes was more easily attainable, was to meet everyone who worked here and hear their story. There was a lot to explore and a lot to understand, and Henry wouldn’t relax until everything was squared away in his brain. This would be vital for the safety of his family, because what lies in the shadows cannot be known without a light.
Henry Conifer’s ultimate job here at the resistance base was not to clean, or train, or carry messages. His duty was not merely to obey orders or learn the art of secret codes. His ultimate task transcended any and all situational demands. Henry’s primary concern—his God-given responsibility—was to protect the lives of his family.
So despite the confusion he felt, trapped within these halls and caught in a battle that defied all logic, Henry Conifer was dead certain about one thing: His family would make it out of this alive. Together. Safe. If he had to work for the resistance to save his daughter, so be it. If he had to memorize every room and every secret of this warehouse so that nothing was left to chance, so be it.
Life could throw whatever change it wanted at him, but Sophie’s dad would not be overcome.