I looked up at dinner. Jim had called the house and said he was on his way, and I was filling up with some dinner with the others. Junior had asked the question, and all of us looked around to realize that the girl was not at the table. I looked at the clock – six thirty seven. She would have been out with her boyfriend by now.
“She was acting really strange today,” said Brian, “freaking out about her phone and stuff.”
“She didn’t take one of the cars,” said Thomas, “so she must not be far-”
Charlotte suddenly screamed, a short and outraged cry.
“What, what?” we all asked.
The girl whipped her phone around, showing a Snapchat story. It was a badly focused picture of a black sedan driving away, two young people inside. One of them looked an awful lot like Sophia. The caption bar read, “@thegrangerfords, WHAT JUST HAPPENED”
“Is that her?!” exclaimed Thomas.
“That’s Harry Shepherdson behind the wheel!” shouted Junior.
“What are they doing?” fretted Mrs. Grangerford.
Notification bars started waterfalling over the top of the screen as more Shepherdsons started posting to their story, all the same thing – the two kids driving ever farther off. The captions went like, “Give Harry back! @grangerfords” and “#romeo and juliet” and “GRANGERFORRRRDDSS”.
Charlotte fired some snaps of the outraged faces around her, saying, “When the conservatives kidnap your sister” and “Sheps be mad thirsty”.
It escalated quickly. The internet exploded with accusations, threats, and general rhetorical questions shouted into the void. With two entire extended families combing social media for the latest on the Sophia-Harry development, it was discovered that a suitcase from each household had been stolen, and several of each person’s belongings were missing from their rooms. They were also spotted at a gas station, fueling up.
It was soon abundantly clear. The Shepherdson boy and the Grangerford girl were running away. Together.
“I knew public school with those beasts was a bad idea!” crowed Mr. Grangerford. “They’ve brainwashed my poor girl!”
“Brainwashed?” cried Thomas. “This is a kidnapping!”
“She’s just eighteen, she’s too young for this!” bemoaned Mrs. Grangerford.
Charlotte slammed her hand on the table, rattling the silverware. She was livid. “It’s getting so real,” she hissed through her teeth. “I have no less than seven Shepherdsons eating me alive on Twitter. They said they’re coming to the house!”
“Junior, get the guns and guard your mother,” said the father, springing into military mode. “Thomas, Brian, you’re coming with me. Charlotte, keep me in touch if they change their attack plans.”
“Got it,” she said.
“Beat them up, honey,” said the mother. “You give those republicans what they deserve for taking our daughter!”
“We’re gonna skin us a Shep tonight!” whooped Brian.
Thomas pulled on his hiking boots. “We taking the pistol, Dad?” he asked.
“‘Course we are. They might have one. We gotta be prepared. They fight dirty.” The three Grangerfords made for the door. Junior had grabbed the rifles out of the closet and had set up shop by the front door, ready to hold off a siege.
The doorbell chimed just as Mr. Grangerford opened it.
It was Jim.
“Shoo, kid,” grunted the man, pushing through, his sons hot on his heels. Jim leaped aside and poked his head in.
“Huck?” he called.
I sprang up, relieved to see a familiar face. “Jim! You got the car fixed?”
“Took long enough, but yeah,” he said. I didn’t have any belongings with me in the house, so I practically scurried out the door.
“Wait, I thought your name was Dylan,” called Junior as we slammed the blue door shut.
“What’s going on?” asked Jim as we ran down the driveway to the road. “There were people with flashlights roaming all over the woods when I came to get you. And that man had a gun…”
“Long story,” I said. “Basically, that family has a feud with another family around here, and their daughter just ran off with the other family’s son.”
“Romeo and Juliet, much?” muttered the other boy. Suddenly, we heard distant yelling and a lone gunshot.
I just nodded. “Yeah. Just like that, actually.” The car was parked in the road just off the driveway. We piled in, Jim turned the key, and we were off.