We were locked in the room together. There was only the faint light from a single high window.
“What are you doing here Maddy?” I asked.
“I was worried about you,” was her reply. “The police were asking about you. Theresa is dead and suddenly it was though you had vanished into thin air. I had a sense you would be here. I had to find you.”
When I had told Madeline that I was investigating the Knock, Knock club she had said very little about it. Even after I had brought Theresa here just before her murder.
“Do you know what goes on here?” I had to ask.
“They use their connections to get away with murder. They make themselves rich by killing people and sharing the spoils. Usually they are also paid handsomely for it too.”
I was furious. Anger had been building in me given recent events.
“Why didn’t you say anything to me? Why didn’t you warn me? If you had said something I never would have brought Theresa here and she might still be alive.”
Madeline gave a heavy sigh. “I wanted to warn you but I couldn’t say anything.”
I was still frustrated. “Why not?”
“I’m a member,” she explained.
I had known Madeline for years. I considered her one of my closest friends as did Theresa but even when you are so close to someone there is still a deeper part were the true person lies that no one will ever know. Its that same part that in the absence of any rules or laws would run amok. The club played on this part of people, flattering them into believing they could get away with anything the wanted.
It had happened before I met Madeline. She was a young girl on her college path towards a career in journalism. Her life plans were upset when she found herself in the family way. Whilst she pondered over her future the father never gave so much as a backwards glance. Madeline’s prayers were answered when out of the blue she was approached by a handsome, charming man named Dennis.
“I know a girl in trouble when I see one,” he had remarked with a smooth smile she found quite appealing. It had been the only kind words anyone had uttered since discovering her pregnancy.
“It’s quite unfair that the father would get to trot off whilst the mother shoulders the responsibility alone. It is an injustice that even in today’s modern society stands to be corrected.”
Madeline was so drawn to him she found herself discussing her predicament with a stranger she had only met a few moments before when he joined her on the bench at the park where she had gone to clear head.
Dennis explained, “I’m a member of an exclusive club. If you were a member your baby would be taken care of until such times as you were ready to take her back. We’ve only just managed to pull ourselves out of a financial recession and it looks like we are headed towards another. It hits everyone hard but it must be an especially powerful blow to a single mother.”
Maddy sobbed and ran her hand softly over her womb. “I can’t.”
Dennis leant forward. She caught the scent of tobacco and whiskey from him. “Do the sensible thing kid,” he urged. “You won’t be giving up any rights to the child or anything. You would simply be making sure they were sufficiently taken care of.”
He gave her an invitation to the Knock, Knock club and a lot to ponder. Madeline was alone, desperate and financial straits. Giving her baby up was her only hope. She became a life long member that day. I met her the following year and no word of the little girl passed her lips.
“Do you know where your daughter is now?” I asked.
She shook her head. Tears were beginning to form in the corners of her eyes.
I asked, “What did they want with a new born child?” I wished I hadn’t because the thoughts of what could be possibly happening to the babies flashed into my mind. It sent a violent shiver down my spine.
“I’m so sorry,” Madeline cried.
“You should be,” I groaned. “Because of what you did Theresa was murdered and a little girl who didn’t ask to be born has probably been subjected to a life of unimaginable cruelty. That is if she is unlucky enough to still be a alive.”
“Take that gun. Kill me. It’s the only way out.” She pointed a shaking finger at the table.
I shook my head. “We’re getting out of this,” I assured her.
“It’s impossible,” she insisted. “You couldn’t shoot your way out. They will have only loaded one bullet.”
“Neither of us are dying in this hole,” I stated, hoping that my words would be final and she would stop feeling sorry for herself.
“I don’t deserve to leave this place. I handed my child over and never looked back. The things I did. The things they made me do.” She stood and began to pace the small room.
“What else aren’t you telling me?”
She became hysterical. “You can get out of here. Make sure everyone knows what goes on here!”
She was screaming. I tried to grip her shoulders to calm her down but she lifted the gun and leapt back before I had the chance to. She put the gun into her mouth.
I tried to stop her. She pulled the trigger and her body fell limp to the floor.
Madeline had known about the Knock, Knock club. If her daughter was still alive I would find her. My wife, my best friend and any future I ever had were all gone. It made me more determined than ever to expose the club for what it was and all of its members.
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