One of your twins will die. You have to choose which one.
A killer is targeting identical twins and offering their parents a choice. Which one will live and which one will die.
When a second set of twins go missing, local police call in the OSBI and Special Agents James Wolfe and Callum Scott. In their first case together as partners, they must step into the disturbed mind of a killer to stop him before he kills again.
Summer - 1999
'We’ve run out of time. We have to choose.’
Zeke Cromwell’s wife stood with her back to him, arms crossed, staring out the window of the police chief’s office. He reached out with his right arm, wanting to place a hand on her shoulder, offer some comfort, but he knew it was futile. There was no comfort to be had from his touch, or from anything. For either of them.
He felt the anguish coming off her in waves. It had been a constant onslaught, washing over him relentlessly since their sons had first disappeared. Like a sandy beach, he was unable to deny its destructive force, and bit by bit it was eroding his soul.
She turned from the window. Her eyes which used to dance in merriment at his silly jokes, and light up when he walked through the front door, were hollow. Devoid of anything now, even pain. It was as though the essence of her being was already dead and all that was left was a shell.
‘How can I choose?’ She looked around the room, asking the question of all of them. Zeke, the police chief, his deputy. ‘You tell me. How do I choose which of my two sons lives today and which of them dies?’ Her eyes pleaded with each of them to give her the answer to the question no mother should ever be asked.
No one could.
‘Do I choose Timothy? He hasn’t been doing so well at school lately, and he’s always had more health issues than Tommy. Or do I choose Tommy? He’s always had problems with authority.’ She glanced at the police chief. ‘You know that Sam, you brought him home just last week when you caught him out drinking by the tracks.’ Tears slid down her face, unnoticed. ‘So, tell me, which do I choose?’
Zeke stepped toward his wife but stopped when she held up her hand.
‘No, I can’t.' She looked at him. 'I cannot be a part of this. I brought those boys into this world. I carried them within me for nine months - felt them grow, felt their first flutters of life. I will not choose which one comes home and which one doesn’t.’ The last word sounded as though it had been ripped from deep within her.
Nobody tried to stop her as she stumbled out of the office, unable to stop the wail that contained every ounce of her pain escaping her lips.
A moment passed before the chief was able to compose himself enough to speak. ‘I’m so sorry Zeke. I can’t imagine how hard this is. But you have to make a decision. You know what will happen if you don’t.’
Zeke nodded. He did.
Lucy and Lacey McGovern had been the first set of twins abducted by the monster who now held his sons. As with them, their parents had received a letter in the mail the following day giving them a choice. One twin would be returned unharmed, the other would die. They had seven days to choose which. If they didn’t choose, both would die.
What had followed was something that had horrified the residents of their small town. A town that was largely unaffected by major crime and the drug epidemic that gripped the nation's largest cities. A town where everyone knew each other, and where doors were left unlocked, and children were free to play outside without fear that the bogeyman would get them.
But that had all changed when the bodies of both Lucy and Lacey had been dumped on the school football field.
Never having dealt with a crime of such magnitude, the police chief had reached out to the local FBI field office who’d advised him that the twins were likely already dead and that the letter was nothing more than a way of torturing the parents further. Based on that advice, the parents had refused to choose. And paid the price. The autopsy had later revealed that the twins had been alive until the day they were found, lifeless, by the school caretaker.
‘I can’t do it, Sam, I can’t.'
The chief came over and grabbed his shoulder, squeezing tightly. 'Of course you can’t, no parent could.'
He walked over to his desk, grabbed a piece of paper and tore it in half. Zeke watched as he wrote what he knew were his sons' names - one on each piece - before he scrunched them both up and dropped them into his hat which sat on the desk. His steps were heavy as he walked back over to him.
'I’m so sorry. Pick the one you want to save. May God have mercy.'
Zeke's hand shook uncontrollably as he reached for the hat before stopping mid-air.
'I-' his eyes locked with Sam’s.
'Dammit. No, you can’t do this.' Sam pulled the hat away, angrily. 'I’ll do it. What kind of man, what kind of friend am I if I let you do this? No, I’ll do it.'
Zeke felt a rush of something - he wouldn’t quite call it love, but it was damn close - for his friend. The man he’d first met when they were both six years old and were in the same class at school. He knew he couldn’t let him bear the burden. It was his burden alone. They were his boys. It had to be him.
'I’ll do it, Sam. I have to.' He took a deep breath and reached for the hat and pulled out one of the crumpled pieces of paper. He tightened his fist around it, unable to look. Unable to take that step.
'You read it.' He handed it over.
His knees nearly gave way as he waited for Sam to read the word written there.
Zeke barely made it to the trashcan before the scant contents of his stomach erupted, bringing with it all the fear, pain and self-loathing he felt. He'd just condemned Timothy to die.
He would never be the same again.