Natasha Naleen Galindo woke up to the sound of screaming.
That was nothing new to her. In her 22 years of living and five years of being a mother, she had gotten used to waking up to the sounds of screaming. It seemed at times as if there was always screaming of some sort in that house, be it screams from her one year old daughter Isabela (who probably started screaming because she realized that a second went by without a nipple in her mouth) or her five year old daugter Emerald (who probably started screaming because she realized that a second went by without her playing her Gamecube) or her good natured husband (who probably started screaming because someone left a toothpick on the floor).
Being a parent, a good parent, for any lengthy period of time gives you an uncanny ability to drown out the loudness that automatically comes with being a parent to begin with.
And yet Natasha had another ability, a parental spider-sense ability if you will, to know when a scream is a scream for nipple and Harvest Moon or if its another scream, one of danger. And, at approximately 6:28 am, Natasha sprung up in bed and listened to Isabela crying, her voice muffled and computerized on the baby monitor.
She knew something was wrong.
Natasha leaped onto the floor with a bit too much enthusiasm and sprained her left ankle. It would have sidelined her on any given day but hearing her baby's computerized screams Natasha started a sprint, as much of a sprint as you can do in a house with such a massive amount of clothes and Jimboy's wrappers scattered on the brown carpeted floor. It took her about nine limping seconds for Natasha to make it to Isabela's bedroom.
She threw the door open and saw little fifteen month old Bela trying unsuccessfully to climb out of her crib, a look of fear on her big brown eyes. "Shhhhhh. Shut up, you little shithead" Natasha mumbled and picked the baby up, shoving her engorged left breast in Bela's mouth, God's very own pacifier, and Bela was soon lost in the
milk and sliding fast asleep.
Natasha sat down on the green rocking chair that her husband's parents bought them as pennance for not giving a shit about their well being, and she soon found herself almost sliding fast asleep like her daughter.
Only, right before her eyes closed for what would have been their last glimpse of consciousness before sliding into what would have been a very intriguing dream about The Colbert Report and aligators, something happened. A dazed Natasha, seconds away from sleeping, noticed something glinting in the almost darkness of Isabela's room.
It was light reftecting in the darkness. It was light reflecting off of water.
It was a tear.
It was Isabela's tear.
And Isabela never cries tears.
Her super mom spider-sense was right. Something was wrong.
Standing up with Bela still in her arms, she pushed open the door to Emerald's room with her right foot. Flicking the light switch open, she saw what she had feared the moment she woke up to the sound of crying. Emerald wasn't there. She wasn't lost under a giant mountain of pillows. She wasn't pretending to be in the bathroom pooping for six hours. She hadn't rolled off her overly high princess bed. She was gone.
Panic crept through every hair on her body. She ran in a sprint back to her bedroom, a still sleeping Bela now getting a mouth full of milkshake as she made it back to her bedroom in about six seconds. She was out of breath when she made it to the bedroom but what she was there made her lose her breath entirely.
Her husband Steve wasn't there, either.
Emerald and Steve were nowhere to be found.
Where were they? Had someone taken them?
And what should she do next?
PART TWO TOMORROW NIGHT ...