Tristen stared at his shoes, not wanting to look at Steven. He knew his irritation would only increase if he looked at Steven's goofy smile. Steven, recognizing that Tristen was visibly ticked, responded accordingly:
"Don't worry, Tristen. I've been around Sophie for more than half a year, so I know what she's like."
"Haven't you unsuccessfully convinced her to stay up past midnight for over half a year?" Tristen jokingly retorted.
"Actually, I never tried to convince her. I mean, she is the most popular kid in school, but that didn't seem to stop you." Steven's grin grew an extra inch as he expressed that last statement.
After pushing him on the should jokingly, the two laughed and waited for Sophie to return. She was flustered, blushing slightly while avoiding eye contact with the two.
"Are you doing alright, Sophie?" Tristen asked.
"Y-yeah, it's nothing," she quickly responded. A sigh left her mouth. "What's your explanation for this '32nd' thing?"
Tristen's turned his head towards Steven, indicating who knew the most about the situation. Steven looked back and forth between Sophie and Tristen.
"I think we should go to Tristen's room; this is going to take some time."
Sophie, after giving a slightly confused look, gave a shrug and followed the two to Tristen's house. The boys bolted up the staircase without thinking. Sophie immediately hushed.
"Why are you two running? Aren't you going to wake up your parents?" she asked in a whisper.
"We don't need to worry about them," Tristen whispered back.
"Why are you whispering?" Steven asked at a normal volume.
"Well, what if that one guy-"
Tristen's eyes immediately widened with fear when the realization settled in.
"Sophie, you need to go back to your house and wait. If you hear someone come inside and neither of us announce ourselves, pretend like you're asleep."
"What are you talking about?" Sophie asked, "Weren't you going to explain things to me?"
"We will," Tristen reassured, though there was annoyance in his voice, "but first you need to do as I said. Please, Sophie, this is really important and we don't want to go through this again."
Sophie let out a slight sigh of irritation. She shook her head before muttering an agreement. She turned back around and went out the front door. Steven had a look of confusion on his face.
"What's going on, Tristen?" he asked.
"Remember what I told you at the beginning of this month?"
"Yes, there was a guy who kidnapped me after I kept you awake. What does that…"
The look of realization came upon Steven's face, which was followed by a look of anxiety.
"That means he's going to show up here. What do we do?" Steven asked.
Tristen stared at the floor, shaking his head.
"He already knows you're awake," Tristen noted. "So it's not like you can go home and pretend you're asleep. He'll know you're awake and he'll take you again. He will expect you to do the same thing you did last time when you hid in my room… Where do we put you? How long will he look for you for?"
"I don't know, but where are YOU going to hide?" Steven pointed out.
"I'm fine," Tristen responded. "He doesn't know that I'm awake, but he knows that you're awake. If I just lie down in my bed with my eyes closed, he won't know that I'm actually awake…"
"What if I hide somewhere near your house, then I'll watch your house and let you know when he has left?"
"That's a great idea!"
"Awesome, I'll hide in the bushes across the street."
The two nodded and headed off in different directions. Steven bolted out the door, but then remembered that he didn't know the exact location of the person who kidnapped him a month ago… Then again, he didn't even remember what the person looked like. He closed the front door softly, then he tiptoed his way to the other side of the street. He began to shiver, and it occurred to him that his sneaking was futile; there was snow all over the place. He could hear the crunching of the snow as he made his way across the street. He quickly ducked into the bushes; they weren't the usual bushes that people came across. These ones were around six feet high and very thick, making them easy to hide inside. After finding a way to enter, he was sitting inside and peaking through the leaves, keeping Tristen's house in view.
He looked around the area, or at least what he could see of it. It occurred to him that there was a path of his footprints that led to his current location in the bush. It was a line of bushes, so he simply adjusted his position to the right, and he was no longer at that spot, so he was safe. He looked at his watch: 12:32 A.M. He kept track of time as he was waiting, since he had nothing else to do. He continued to glance at his watch every few minutes until 12:55, when something happened. First, he could hear the crunching of snow, indicating to him that someone was walking nearby. On the left side of Tristen's house, a person wearing all black emerged. They also wore a mask to hide their face; it was a tall person with a masculine build. Steven was certain that it was a man. The person opened Tristen's front door and walked into the house as if he owned the place.
Steven held his hand over his mouth, for fear of making a noise or having is breathing heard. After ten slow, gruesome minutes, the figure came out of the house. He had nothing in his hand, though he looked around the vicinity a bit. After a little while, he entered Steven's house. Steven's eyes widened; it was clear that the man was looking for him. A minute after the man went into Steven's house, Tristen walked out of his own house. Steven quickly poked his head out of the bushes and used his arm to frantically signal Tristen to go back into his house. Tristen, though confused, obeyed, and returned back into his house. Steven let out a sigh of relief; it was clear that Tristen at least understood the magnitude of the situation. Steven continued to play the waiting game until he saw a figure exit his home. Of course, it was the kidnapper that left the home. He ran down the street at a moderate pace, leaving a trail of footprints behind him at he left. After a minute or so, Steven came out of hiding. He looked down at where his footprints were located; luckily, since it was night time, the footprints were hard to notice. Not only that, but the snow that was falling helped to cover up the path that led to him. He returned to Tristen's home and entered inside.
"Tristen, I'm back."
Tristen ran down the stairs, a look of worry in his eyes.
"What's going on, Steven?"
"Some… guy came into your house-"
"I know, I know," Tristen reassured. "I was wondering why you had me go back into my house."
"He was in my house, looking for me."
"What the heck are we going to do?" Tristen asked.
"I have no idea," Steven admitted. "But we should go get Sophie first."
Tristen agreed. The two returned to her house as fast as they could. The two scaled the staircase, calling out for Sophie. There was no answer; a knot entered into Tristen's stomach. He rushed into her bedroom, opening the door as quickly as he could. Sophie was on the grown, tears running in between the fingers that were pressed firmly against her face. Tristen looked to Steven in surprise; he had no idea what to do in this situation. Steven had the same expression in his face; he had never been in this situation before.
"Sophie… why are you crying?" Tristen feebly asked.
"Wh-what's wrong with them?" Sophie asked. "Why aren't they moving? Why won't they wake up."
Steven glanced at Tristen and Tristen looked back at him. The two hadn't explained the situation to Sophie yet; there was no time available.
"We'll explain everything to you, Sophie," Steven reassured, "We just need you to calm down first."
The two tried their best to console her. Tristen placed his arm around her shoulders and she gently cried into his arm. Steven waited silently, but patiently, a smile on his face. After a minute or so, the sobbing slowed down, and Sophie began to wipe her eyes.
"I think I'm ready…" Sophie whispered.
Steven nodded and proceeded to explain everything: January 32nd, everyone being in a coma during it, time resetting, etc. Sophie's reaction throughout was quite consistent; one of awe and disbelief.
"So you're telling me that I've been repeating the same month for HOW long?"
"We… don't know that…" Tristen admitted. "Steven moved into this town, and I moved in a few months after he got here, so we don't know how long this has been going on for."
"Why haven't you talked to an adult about this?" Sophie asked.
"Umm... why haven't we talked to an adult about this, Tristen?" Steven asked.
"I don't know," Tristen stated in a jokingly defensive manner, "you're the brains of the operation, remember?"
"Hmm… you have a point there…"
"Well, we probably should." Sophie stated.
"Who would believe us?" Tristen asked.
"Who WOULDN'T believe you if you kept them up past midnight?" asked Sophie.
"You have a fair point," Tristen admitted. "What do you think, Steven. Who would be a good choice?"
"Sophie's dad." Steven said without hesitation. "He's the mayor of the town and knows everyone, right?"
"Yeah, I think he knows everyone." Sophie stated.
"Then he would be the best person for discovering the culprit of this situation… or at least the person who kidnapped me."
"How do we know that person is the one that caused it?" Tristen questioned.
"We don't for sure, but we do know that he wants to prevent us from being awake and remembering what happened. He's got to be connected to this somehow. We need to narrow down our suspects and Sophie's dad is the quickest way to get that done."
"I think you're onto something here."
"Wait a second, how am I going to convince my dad to stay awake past midnight?" Sophie asked. "I have no idea how to go about that."
Steven took a look at his watch.
"It is 2:30, so we got a LOT of time to think this over." Steven pointed out.
"Yeah, we could plan everything out, and wait for it to reach midnight." Tristen said.
"What happens when it reaches midnight?" Sophie asked.
"Time resets back to the beginning of the month, and we start all over again." Tristen answered.
"Great," Sophie state sarcastically.
"Don't worry, I got a lot of caffeinated drinks back at my home," Tristen reassured. "I'll just grab some real fast and then I'll be right back."
"Be careful," Steven reminded him.
Tristen nodded before making his way out the door. He made his way back to his house and quickly traversed up the staircase. After reach the top, he walked to his room and grabbed a backpack out of his closet. He made his way into the kitchen and began filling his backpack with a variety of sodas. While the pack itself was a bit heavy, he could easily lug it on his back to return to Sophie's house. With a slight smile on his face, he placed the bag on his back and made his way to the door. He opened the door and immediately freezed as soon as he did. His eyes widened with fear; there was a car parked in front of his house. There was a man wearing all black, a mask on his face, sitting in the car, staring at him. The man turned off the car, unlocked the door and placed his left foot onto the ground.