The night before Quade disappeared, he had been kidnapped on his way home from work. Stopped at a red light on a stranded back road, a group of people dressed in all black threw him out of his car, beat him up, and tossed him into a van where he was tied up and taken away.
After getting knocked out, he began gaining consciousness and making sense of his surroundings: chained up and tied to a chair in a musky basement, he was being stared at by strange figures like he was a zoo animal.
Shocked beyond belief and scared for his life, Quade opened his mouth but was speechless. His vision was still blurry.
“Quade Zillow,” the woman’s voice spoke. She looked familiar… like an older version of Alice…
“Who are you?” he asked.
“Son of Harrington Zillow,” she continued, “an ex-member of our church…”
“Harrington was not only a beloved church-goer, but also a member of our secret society.”
“Let me go, psychos!” he screamed, trying to squirm free.
“…that is, until he started spreading rumors, false claims stating we practice black magic.”
“Just let me go, what do you want!?”
“He tried to tare down this church. He tarnished our reputation. Do you know how hard it is for us to recruit new members now?”
“Please,” he grinded his teeth.
“We will let you go, as long as you promise to stay away from my daughter, Alice. We can’t have her rebelling from the church. We can’t afford it. Her blood and her DNA is very important to us.”
“She’s going to hear the rumors someday, probably already has. You can’t shield her from the world forever. This is not a church, but a CULT!” he couldn’t resist spitting out of his mouth. Immediately, he regretted it.
“Oh, well look at that!” she burst out, “Looks like the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree! We have a Mister Harrington Zillow Junior!”
“So, what is this?” he said, “A threat? Bribery? You gonna tell me to disappear or else?” Quade stopped himself right there. He could’ve gone on, but he didn’t. He knew the power he was fighting against. These people would not just torture him physically, but would psychologically violate him beyond belief. After all, his father tried to take them down, and ended up in an insanity asylum…
A man wearing a large, black, hooded cloak that nearly covered his face stabbed a blue needle into Quade’s arm and watched his eyes roll to the back of his head.
“All taken care of,” he said, as Alice’s mother sighed with relief.
“So, now what?” she asked, “He’ll wake up tomorrow morning in his bed and think it was all a dream?”
“If that,” the black-cloaked man answered. “Now he’ll be terrified of Alice… but will have no idea why or how… it is ingrained in his subconscious now, to stay away from her… but his conscious mind will never know.”
Quade woke up in his bed the next morning with a strange, distinct mark on his arm. Something inside of him felt deeply disturbed, but he wasn’t sure why. What the cult did not realize was exactly how strong his mind was, stronger than his father’s.
Decades ago, secrets of the master cult disguised as a wholesome church had been revealed and splashed all over the news, thanks to Quade’s father. But what started as legitimate news quickly turned into a conspiracy theory that landed him in a psychiatric asylum for life.
Their influence on society was far more stronger and powerful than one could imagine. Most members of the cult were not humans nor of Earth. Their knowledge of blood and DNA stretched far beyond mainstream science textbooks.
This cult was essentially the reason for war, the reason for ignorance, and the reason for suffering.
There was an order they needed to keep. Rules they needed to implement. Manipulation they needed to do.
Alice was a key factor in their plan. She would make or break them. This was a vital time in history when tides were turning. There was something in her blueprint that could either make the cult their powerful leader or absolutely destroy them for good and bring world peace.
And so, she would have to be sheltered: kept unaware and naive. She could not find those ancient articles. She could not even feel the slightest suspicion. She was both their greatest asset and their greatest threat.
From then on, Quade and Alice had absolutely no memory of each other. Quade’s kidnapping shot his memory and Alice’s mother was drugging her every night with a potion from the cult that not only wiped her memory but sent her back to her submissive self.
Quade continued working at The Golden Library but felt a strong urge to switch positions and go on the night shift — for unexplained reasons.
But Quade had a strong mind. He was not getting drugged every night, so his memory was starting to come back. As he got closer to Alice, it triggered flashbacks.
Quade did not want to end up crazy like his father. And yet he was going crazy. So instead of repressing uncomfortable thoughts, he followed them with skepticism.
This lead him to do extensive investigating into his father’s past research. He connected all the dots. He remembered who Alice is and the dangerous cult her family belongs to. Still unsure of his own mind, he kept a healthy distance from her.
However, enough was enough. This was bothering him far to much to ever let go. Perhaps for a good reason.
There they were: the two of them in the secret attic. And Alice was demanding answers.
“You wrote the letters,” he had accidentally blurted out to her. And now he needed to explain himself…
“I’m pretty sure you wrote them…” he backtracked, “no!” He quickly changed his mind, “you definitely wrote them. I mean look, this is exactly how you talk. This is why you’re obsessed with these letters. I mean look at the handwriting, it’s practically identical.”
“I think I would remember what I wrote…” Alice furrowed her eyebrows.
“Would you?” He barked back, “how much do you actually trust your own memory? Do you remember your dreams? What you ate for dinner last week?”
The two of them stood still and paused for a moment. Quade debated letting her have all the letters. Surely, reading them would trigger some type of flashback or at least a feeling. But did they really want to jump down that rabbit hole together? There was still time to back out…
“Read these tonight,” he said, handing her hundreds of letters. “And do not show them to anyone else.”
Down the rabbit hole they would go…
I am so sick of imaginary letters. Now tell me, why did you leave? Why? We were so close… we were so, so, so close… and then you just… gave up.
This process of writing to you is getting old because you never actually receive these letters. I thought it would help me grieve, it’s only made me realize how much I need you!
Luckily I have kept these hidden safe away at work. If my mother ever found these, my life would be over. For her, I’m not allowed to have my own mind or follow my own heart. She thinks I’m her minion robot clone, not her daughter.
But Mother is getting incredibly skeptical of my newfound sarcasm and rebellious attitude. I have a bad feeling she is the reason for your mysterious disappearance.
I’m fed up! I’m going to find you and escape her chains for good! She can’t stop us, my father can’t stop us, the church can’t stop us… can they?
Love always, xoxo.