You were both excited and afraid at the same time. It would be the first time in a long time that you would be able to go outside, but when Ludwig had mentioned that you might not be returning, you didn't know what to make of it all.
"Ludwig, where are we going?" you asked him as he put you in the back of the car and strapped you down with a seatbelt. The entire time, Gilbird had obediently stayed on top of your head not making a sound like he knew what was happening.
"We're going somewhere far away," Ludwig told you. "It's only going to be for a little while, but until I say it's safe, you have to listen to every word I say, understand?"
"Yes," you nodded.
"Good," he said and gave you a quick kiss on your forehead. "I promise I won't let anything happen to you."
"Can you guarantee that?" you asked. You remembered Ludwig had packed the green picture album you had seen in his office along with many other albums. Perhaps he would let you look at them when you arrived at wherever it was you were going to.
Ludwig paused. "I can't guarantee anything, ___________," he admitted, "but I'll do everything in my power to make sure things go the way I want them to."
But does that mean they are the ways I want them to go? you wondered as Ludwig got into the front seat and started up the engine. The sound of the engine running and the puttering of metal shaking sounded so familiar to you. Even the smell was something that you were sure you experiences some time ago.
"Hey, Ludwig, have I been in this car before?" you asked as he pulled out of the driveway.
"You have, __________," Ludwig answered. "It was a long time ago, though."
For the most part, the car trip was quiet unless Ludwig had asked you if you were too hot or too cold. You and Gilbird continued to look outside of the window taking in as much sunlight and wonders as you could. There were other cars on the road like in a book of engineering feats you had looked at. The trees and buildings looked so tall and beautiful in real life; on paper, they had been printed too small and flat. So this is what you had been missing this entire time. The more you thought about it, like everything else, you never found out what Ludwig was trying to hide you from. Clearly it wasn't the world, itself, was it? The world didn't look like a bad place at all.
You continued to stare at the passing scenery for at least a few hours. The buildings had slowly pulled back, and more trees began to come into view. They grew taller and taller, and more and more of them came until the road was surrounded by nothing but trees and scattered fields of fallen logs and grass. The light had retreated from behind the vast scatter of leaves dropping the temperature, but it was warm inside the car. The temperature was just right.
Then, after at least another hour later, Ludwig pulled up to a dirt road and turned off the car. When you looked past the dashboard at the front of the car, you saw what looked like a small log cabin like the ones in a picture book Gilbert had brought you once.
"Is this our new home?" you asked as Ludwig opened your door and carried you outside. You could smell something sharp and earthy like the fresh flowers he would bring from the garden outside of the old house.
"It will be for a while," Ludwig answered. "When you get inside, I want you to stay in your room and be a good girl, okay?"
"Okay," you nodded. It wasn't like there was much you could do.
When Ludwig unlocked the door to the cabin, you saw that just like your old house, there were bars built into the solid wooden walls. Rather than the cabin being colder like the outside air, it was running at an even temperature like your house and car. Then, Ludwig turned on a light. There was electricity running here, too. Unless it was to fetch the delivered groceries, get the mail, or tend to the flowers, Ludwig never went outside in the time you had awakened. All of this must've been prepared in the case of a dire emergency. But what sort of emergency could it have been?
After Ludwig brought you to your room, he went back outside to bring the rest of the baggage into the cabin. Meanwhile, you and Gilbird took the time to get familiar with your new room. The layout was pretty much the same. There was a closet across from your bed that was placed at the same height as the one back home. There were no mirrors, and the windows had been bolted with shutters. The only light that came through the house was electric. The one thing that you found odd about this room was that even though you were sure you had every doll Gilbert had gotten you, there were also shelves of dolls in the corner. They were different, but they were hand-painted porcelain dolls all the same.
"Gilbird…" you said taking your small pet into your hands. "Ludwig said we're going to be here for a while so until then, I want you to behave, too, okay?"
Gilbird grunted in response.
Eventually, Ludwig finished bringing everything into the house and returned to your room.
"___________, it's almost time for dinner so I want you to find the dining room by yourself," he said. "It'll help you get used to this house while we're here."
"Yes, Ludwig," you nodded and brought yourself to your feet. Meanwhile, Ludwig disappeared into another room that was most likely the office. While you made your way down to the front of the cabin, you heard him pick up the phone and punch in some numbers into the dialing pad. He never made phone calls. Even when he communicated with his brother, it was all done through email or a cell phone.
Soon enough, you and Gilbird had found the dining room. There were three chairs like at your old house as well as cabinets above the kitchen sink. You wondered if there was medicine in them, too. With nothing else better to do, the two of you waited in silence for Ludwig to return to make dinner.
Dinner was a little different this time around. Since it looked like the cabin hadn't been in use despite the running water and electricity, there wasn't any fresh food. You and Ludwig had to resort to eating prepackaged meals while Gilbird enjoyed his milo grain.
"Ludwig, why are we here?" you asked after you finished eating all of your portions and drinking your water.
"We're hiding from bad people," he simply answered and cleared the table for you. "They've been looking for us for a long time. I knew it wouldn't be long before they finally found out where we lived."
"Who?" you then asked.
"People who want to take you away from me."
"Because you are special," he said.
You thought it was funny. "I can barely walk and take care of myself, but they think I'm special?"
All of a sudden, Ludwig walked over to you and wrapped his arms around you. You were expecting him to carry you somewhere, but you realized he was actually hugging you.
"_________, you are very special to me, and don't you forget that," he said in a soft muffled voice. He had his face buried in your hair.
"Ludwig, I'm scared…" you whispered.
"I am, too, __________," Ludwig sniffed. "I am, too."
He was crying.