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A frankenstorm converged in my head the other day. Several are to blame and I’m not one of them. It started long before I needed an afternoon break and called my sister, let’s call her Sister X, to wish her an early happy birthday. The phone rang and rang and eventually went to voicemail, adding to a series of dots about to form a fist punching the panic button.

An hour passes and I email, text and call a few more times. No answer. Why is Sister X doing this to me? Every lucky soul on my contacts list knows that sometimes, out of nowhere, I get a little fidgety about unreturned phone calls.

Work is done for the day because now the only thing I can think about is why won’t Sister X call me back? What happened? What’s happening right now? I call my boyfriend, the calming source of reason. He’s going out on a work function, but assures me Sister X is just running errands or one of the girls put her phone on silent again.

Sure. But he’s not around to neutralize and soon I’m not buying it.

I go for a run, which usually helps, but because I’m running alone my brain begins to mine. When was the last time I heard from Sister X? It’s the first question movie coppers ask and I don’t know. Back from the run and still nothing. I call our other sisters, leave a few messages with mutual friends. They say Sister X hasn’t posted on Facebook in a week, unusual for her. Suspicious.

Over the course of an hour worried me morphs into Sister X’s only hope. Must find the car keys. Now it’s clear I need to drive the 2.5 hours to their house. If all the lights are out I need to enter, start looking for clues and assemble a search posse.  My oldest sister says to wait a day. My little sister plans to drive up later, but I can’t wait. I find the keys and do what I loathe, drive in NYC at rush hour because I’m totally convinced something bad happened. It’s the only possible explanation. It’s the only explanation I can believe in the moment.

Meanwhile, at a cozy resort, Sister X returns from dinner and story time with her hubs and kids to find dozens of messages ranging from ‘call me back‘ and ‘where r you?‘ to ‘R u guys ok?’ and ‘remember the plan‘. (When we were kids we had a plan covertly called What To Do In A Home Invasion. It entailed mastering karate.) I’m driving to their house wishing I mastered Karate or some deceptively complex survival trapping skills just in case and now I’m pretty sure I’ll need to take down some evil. Stupid adrenaline jacked on caffeine will have to do. I pull into WaWa for more coffee.

My phone is on silent, a maddening habit considering, but because of the circumstances I check my phone. The first text is from my empathetic brother-in-law:

I murdered her, jackass. What do you think? Translation: He took them on a surprise getaway. I was not to bust into their house.

So I spent a night in extreme overdrive. This time of year, people pay good money to be kidnapped, restrained and tormented all in the name of extreme. My experience was for free, assuming Sister X doesn’t send me a bill for my troubles.