A couple in a car dressed for a wedding.

It was night and one of those brief summer downpours had fallen, leaving everything wet. Both of them were quite drenched, even though they had only run to the car. Nevertheless, they felt good, sat in the car, dressed in their wedding attire and soaking wet. They looked at each other and burst into laughter. After the laughter had subsided, and with a smile still on her face, she started the car’s engine and sped off. Before getting too far from the mansion filled with lights and music, she glanced at the rear-view mirror to make sure no one was following them.

He watched her. She was attractive, but now in a dress that clung to her due to the rain, he couldn’t take his eyes off her. However, he knew there were more pressing matters, but every time he looked at her, he began to doubt those priorities.

“Thank you,” he said. “You also look very sexy, but you’re right. We have other priorities.” He shifted uncomfortably in his seat, looking at the road. He knew she could do those things, after all, that was the reason they were in this situation, but it made him very uneasy. Could she really hear everything he thought?

“Yes,” she said, indicating left and speeding up on the slip road to the motorway. “It’s very dull, you know. Almost everyone thinks the same and most of the time it’s about trivial things.” She slowed down slightly as they approached a lorry while a sports car overtook them. She waited for it to get some distance before she changed lanes and overtook the lorry.

“Though sometimes, like today, it comes in handy.”

A few kilometres later, they left the motorway, heading towards a small coastal town likely filled with tourists, mainly Basques or those from Madrid. He had always found that mix of people intriguing. With so many people around and laid-back drivers, it took them a while to get through the town. Later, they came across a small road turning left with no sign indicating where it led. He was about to ask if she was sure of the route, but she had already answered him. It was deeply unsettling, so much so that he’d forgotten he found her attractive. She remained unfazed, focused on searching for something on the dark road.

“It’s here,” she said. She stopped the car, got out, and approached an old gate. Except for a piece of wire holding it, there was no padlock or latch. She untwisted the wire and opened the gate. Returning to the car, she drove in along a small path. He lowered the window slightly, the scent of dampness and wet grass filling his senses. Besides the sound of the tyres on the grass, he could hear various sounds. Drops falling from the trees, a frightened mouse in the bushes, a bat hunting, and a distant crying girl. For the first time on the trip, he spoke out loud.

“She’s here.” “Alright. The place is just as in her memories.”

The path led to a small two-storey stone house. She parked the car, leaving the headlights on. They got out and stood silently in front of the house. After a while, he realised he could only hear the girl crying. She was alone. He turned to his companion who nodded. Determinedly, he approached the door ready to kick the lock. It looked old and weak. However, she grabbed his arm, stopping him. Walking to a corner of the house, she found a key under a pot where a geranium was trying to survive. Confidently, she unlocked the door and went inside. She turned right, switched on the light in what appeared to be a kitchen, and opened a cabinet. It was empty. She removed a middle shelf, then pushed its back which yielded, opening like a door. The space, just slightly bigger than the cabinet, contained a nine-year-old girl, bound and gagged, staring at them in terror. Even though she had told him what to expect, he was paralysed, standing still, staring at the girl. Suddenly, everything she had said became reality.

She approached the girl, crouching down beside her.

“Don’t worry. We’re not with him.” She smiled, looking at how to release the bindings. “That guy over there is called Jon, and he can hear the faintest sounds. My name’s Sara, and I know what people think.” She managed to untie the girl and remove her gag. Now somewhat calmer, the girl looked at them.

“Are you superheroes?” she asked.

“No. We’re just a bit odd, that’s all.” Taking her hand, she helped the girl up and led her out of that hole. Squinting against the car’s headlights, the girl paused before reaching the vehicle, looking back at them, especially her.

“We were at a wedding when I heard the thoughts of Pablo, the man who had you here. I had just found out that Jon was a bit special, like me, so I asked if he wanted to join in on a rescue mission. Yours. And thank you. I think you’re very brave too.”

The girl’s eyes widened, almost scared. A chuckle escaped him. “That’s the same face I pulled when I realised she really could read minds,” he said. The girl smiled at him, but hearing a noise in the bushes, she turned, startled. “It’s just a little mouse. Don’t worry.”

“Come on, Marta. We’re taking you to your mum,” she told the girl. “The man who had you knew your name, where you went to school, and where you lived. That’s something you need to tell your mum and the police. Here, I’ve written down the address of this house and the name of the man who kidnapped you.” She hugged the girl and led her to the car. They left that place, moving away from the tourist-filled coastal town, hit the motorway and headed to the city. After a while, they reached a suburb.

“Look, there’s my mum!” Marta exclaimed as they neared a block of flats. Before they got there, she stopped the car. Marta hopped out and ran to her mother. Calmly, but without delay, they drove off.

Even though she already knew what he was going to ask, he voiced it anyway. “Why didn’t you give our real names?” At a Stop sign, she looked left and right, and they continued. “Because the police won’t believe that you have superhuman hearing, and even less that I can read minds. I just hope they believe Marta. At least I know he didn’t have time to harm her.”

After a moment, a doubt entered his mind, and he looked at her. Smiling, she answered, “Dolores,” and asked, “Do you mind if we swing by my place, I change, and I treat you to a pint?” “Sounds great,” he replied. “And some food. I’m starving. You pulled me out of the wedding before the meal.”

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Tom Bombadil