A New Life?(continued from 'an extraordinary day')
A New Life?(continued from 'an extraordinary day')17 mins 273 17 mins 273
The four of us walked through the hallway, attracting several looks of curiosity. Alissa and Zed kept talking about random things that made absolutely zero sense to me and, from the looks of it, Ethan.
Finally, Zed stopped talking and looked closely at us.
"Maybe we should go a little slow, Al. They look like lost sheep.", he said, grinning.
Alissa stopped and raised an eyebrow. "Oh," she said.
"So, care to explain?" I asked. I seriously needed to know what the story behind Ethan and Alissa was.
The two siblings looked blankly at her. Were they for real?
"Explain what?", asked Alissa. Yup, they were for real.
"Um, you two," I said, waving my hand towards Ethan and Alissa.
"Oh,", said Alissa, glancing at Ethan, who looked down at his shoes.
Zed sensed the tension and said, "Let's go to the dorm."
He assured us forward. The rows of lockers ended abruptly and large doors stood in their place, each with numbers marked on them. We stopped in front of a semi-circle off white door which had 009 etched on it.
Zed waved his wristwatch over the number and the door slid open.
"Can I get one of those?" I asked, awed.
"All in good time." Grinned Zed.
The room was massive with twelve beds neatly arranged, six against each wall. They had black and white sheets. A small box or something next to each bed was also black and white.
"Why black and white?" I finally asked.
"Why not?" said Zed.
I looked at the rest of the room. There was a large space at the far end, with a few chairs and bean bags.
"Cool," whispered Ethan.
They walked to the bed second from the end. Alissa and I plopped down on it. Ethan sat cross-legged on the floor. Zed decided to stand.
I took a good look at the two teenagers who seemed to know much more than I did at the moment. Zed had short black hair and a square jaw. He wasn't exactly built, but not scrawny either, and he towered over all of them easily. He wore an off white shirt underneath his black jacket. His chocolate brown eyes had a small twinkle in them.
Alissa had long black hair with a streak of pink. Her blue eyes weren't like Josh's. They looked like the night sky on a particularly calm and beautiful night. Her face was somewhat circular and she looked like she could do a flip or a cartwheel as easily as walking from one end of the room to the other. She wore a dark blue t-shirt underneath her jacket.
Ethan ruffled his apparently dyed brown hair nervously and bit his lip.
"Right, so what's happening? What's all this about?" I asked eagerly, leaning towards Alissa.
Alissa looked at Zed, who smiled back. Taking a deep breath, she spilled the answers to questions I had only thought of.
"Ethan and I were abandoned by our parents when were around seven years old. We lived in an old orphanage for about five years. It was torture, believe me. After that, we started jumping from foster homes to foster homes. It's not that all the foster parents were terrible. We were terrible. Wreaking havoc everywhere. Like, one of those bad kids you see in small towns. We broke cars, vandalized, pulled terrible pranks, chucked stones into shops and malls. Sometimes stole."
Alissa stopped abruptly, looking down at her black sneakers. She picked at the shoelaces, trying to gather the words she had to say. There was an awkward silence for some time. I stared at a small scar on my hand. I got it long ago when I accidentally trip and fell. My parents were there for me. Kissing my cut and telling me I'm okay. I couldn't imagine dealing with life without my parents. I should've said something, but what? What do you tell a pair of trouble makers who were abandoned by their parents and had no one tell them what was right and what was not?
Ethan sensed that Alissa wasn't going to say anything more, so he continued for her, picking at the hem of his filthy shirt.
"Well, we finally met our match. We found a pair of siblings worse than us. Our last foster parents. West and Tory Grading. Complete jerks. Made us do everything. If we didn't, well," he sighed and pulled up the sleeve of his shirt to show a horrible scar. I gasped and clutched my hand.
"We were thirteen. We went from thugs to the weird quiet kids. The school was hell. Home, if you would call it that, was hell. Life was hell." He continued.
Alissa made a stifled sound. Zed rolled his eyes.
"Come off it, Al. You're the only one who thinks that." He said, scowling.
"What?" asked Ethan, frowning.
"Alissa says that you guys deserved what you got after all those years of troublemaking." Said Zed.
Ethan looked furious. He stood up to face his sister. "WHAT?!" he repeated.
"We did terrible things, Ethan! That was our punishment!", cried Alissa, getting off the bed, her face rigid.
"We didn't go as far as trying to kill someone!", he snapped.
"They didn't try to kill us!", sneered Alissa.
Ethan slumped to the floor, his head in his hands.
"They didn't try to kill you." He whispered.
Alissa's face softened. She knelt next to her brother and put her arm around him.
"E," she whispered, "what did they do after I- well, you know. Ran away?"
"They tortured me. Literally. For days. Kept asking me where you had gone off to. If only I knew." He added bitterly.
"And our agent? He didn't say anything?", whispered Alissa.
"He didn't know."
We sat like that for some time. I felt very awkward amidst all of them. I almost got up and walked out. But that would've been more awkward.
"Then I ran, too. One night. Changed my way of clothing, dyed my hair, painted some freckles. Of course, I washed them off later. Another agent found me. I started all over again. Foster homes. But it was different. I was alone." He continued, pulling himself together.
"E, I'm so sorry I ran away. I just couldn't – "started Alissa, but Ethan pressed a hand against her mouth.
"Forget it. What happened to you?" he said.
Alissa stood up and took her place on the bed. I noticed her name carved into one of the bedposts rather haphazardly. I traced each letter distractedly.
"I roamed around the streets for some time. Queenie recruited me when I beat up some local kid because he was trying to get at me."
"Queenie?" asked Ethan.
"Josh's sister. They both kind of run this whole thing."
"And what exactly is 'this whole thing'?"
"An organization against serious crimes and for specially gifted people."
"Specially gifted as in?"
"People who have raw talent and passion. People who are ready to risk their lives to make the world a better place. People like us."
I finally opened my big fat mouth.
"I'm sorry," I sputtered, "' us'?"
"All of us. Every person in this building.", said Zed.
"Yeah, I don't think I'm one of those people," I said.
"Then how did you pass the test?", asked Zed.
"What test?", I said, completely ignorant and stupid.
"Wait a damn minute," said Ethan, still on the floor, "You got kidnapped, you fought off trained spies, you went through the obstacle course and think none of that is weird? It's obvious it's some sort of entrance test!"
"Oh," I said, my face heating up.
Zed and Alissa burst out laughing. Ethan joined them. I sat there, staring at Alissa's shoes.
"Don't worry about it," grinned Alissa, putting an arm around me.
"Yeah. Stick with us. We'll get you through everything.", said Zed, patting my shoulder.
"Besides, you'll be seeing a lot of us. We share the same dorm, same classes, and Ethan is your partner.", said Alissa.
"Partner?" asked Ethan.
Dread filled me. Why would anyone want to be my partner? Whatever having a partner meant, that is.
"Someone you always do your mission with. Well, at least until your silver age.", explained Zed.
"Silver age?", I asked.
"Right! You barely know anything. Ok, there are four ages. Copper, bronze, silver, and golden. Copper is for the little kids between the age of seven and eleven. Bronze is for teenagers, that's us. Silver is for adults between eighteen and thirty. Gold is above thirty.
"Every year, we recruit two new people for each age. This year, It's you two!"
"Wicked," grinned Ethan.
Alissa looked like she was going to say something but was interrupted when the door slid open and a voice cried "Newbies!"
I turned to see four guys and four girls walk in. One had thrown his hands in the air in a grand gesture. Quickly all eight of them gathered around us.
"Nu Chan." Said the one who had screamed the greeting first, extending his hand toward me.
"Ugh. Boring." Said, one girl. I just couldn't help noticing how much she looked like a Barbie doll. Bleached blonde long hair, flawless skin, and a great figure. She wore a pale pink tank top underneath her black jacket.
"Not really. They're actually an interesting pair." Said a girl with huge glasses, enlarging her bright green eyes.
"Yes, indeed." Said another boy, who looked the spitting image of Josh, but younger.
"You," said yet another boy with dreadlocks, "are Al's little twin brother."
"And you, darling," said a girl with frizzy black hair, putting a hand on my shoulder, "Are the daughter of Kevin and Hilda."
I just nodded. So many people. All of them seemed friendly enough. Except for Barbie girl over there. She was checking her nails and rolling her eyes.
"Okay let's give them some room. I mean, they look ready to crash." Said Zed, grabbing Ethan by the shoulder and pulling him up. Alissa took my arm and pulled me up, too. The four of us made our way to the end of the room where there were two white doors I hadn't noticed before. Ethan and Zed went into the one on the left while Alissa and I pushed open the door on the right.
"A washroom. This is exactly what I needed.", I sighed.
I went into one cubicle which had a shower. I didn't bother undressing. I just kicked off my sneakers and pulled off my socks. Closing the door, I turned on the tap and let the water soak my clothes completely. I stood like that for some time, watching the water turn murky brown underneath me.
About 10 minutes Alissa and I walked out of the washroom. I felt so fresh and clean. I forgot how much I loved baths.
"Looking good, girl." Said the same girl with the frizzy hair.
"Yeah, green looks good on you." Agreed Nu Chan.
"Thanks." I grinned.
"Ugh," groaned Barbie girl, "Can we stop this? We know she won't last."
"That's what you think, Natasha." Snapped Zed from behind us.
I turned to see Zed and Ethan walking towards us. Ethan's hair changed from brown to the same jet black hair as his sister. He wore a yellow t-shirt under the classic black jacket. The cut on his cheek was patched up and he looked much cleaner. Grinning, he stood next to me and faced our fellow dorm mates.
They stood in a horizontal line.
"Okay, time for proper introductions.", said Zed.
"Nu Chan." Said the first guy.
"Lily," smiled the girl with the huge glasses. "Nu Chan and I are partners."
"Adelaide," said The girl with frizzy hair, "And this is my little bro, Jackson." She said, pointing at the guy with dreadlocks
"Hey! I'm younger by, like, two minutes!", Said Jackson, punching his sister lightly.
"Nicholas." (the guy who looked like a mini version of Josh)
"Natasha," (Barbie girl)
"Well, that's everyone.", said Zed, clapping his hands together.
"You two should hit the sack." Advised Alissa.
"It's just eight!" cried Jackson.
"Yeah, we gotta show these guys around." Said Adelaide, her hands on her hips.
"They have to be ready for tomorrow!" said Fatima, tugging at the pretty red scarf around her head.
"What's tomorrow?" asked Ethan, looking around.
"You'll find out soon enough.", said Alissa, shooting a dirty look at Fatima. She took my hand and led me to the bed next to hers.
"Sleep." Ordered Fatima, coming next to me.
I clambered onto the bed. It wasn't exactly soft, but I was drained. But I sat up and looked at Alissa.
"What?" she asked.
"Can I talk with my parents?" I asked.
"Not at the moment." Replied Fatima, smiling at me.
Across the room Ethan was sitting on his bed, talking to Zed. I sighed heavily.
"Where are you guys going, then?" I asked.
"Training," grumbled Nicholas, tying his sneakers.
Everyone filed out of the room, leaving Ethan and me to stare at each other from the far ends of the room.
"Good night, I guess." Said Ethan, kicking off his sneakers and taking off his jacket.
"Wait, we're sleeping in these clothes?" I asked.
"Why not? They are kinda comfortable." Shrugged Ethan, diving under the covers.
He wasn't wrong. They were nice. I kicked off the brand new black shoes and pulled off my jacket. Placing them in the small box, I jumped onto the bed.
Slowly, I drifted off into a peaceful dreamless slumber.
Someone was shaking me. I could only just barely make out a voice calling my name. The voice got clearer and clearer until it was literally screamed into my ear.
"Where's the fire!?" I screamed, sitting up all of a sudden.
Charlotte stared at me.
"No fire," she said, "Just water."
I looked down and realized I was lying down in the water. I got up, shaking off the water. It kept rising.
"Where is it even coming from?", I asked.
"I don't even know." She said.
The water had reached my shins. I looked around. We were in some huge transparent box. One minute I'm in bed and the next, I'm looking for a way to save my life. Again.
"We're going to die," muttered Charlotte, sitting down.
"Hey, don't give up yet," I said, looking up at the top of the box.
"Sure.", she said, getting up.
The water was up to my knees. I shook off my jacket and took off my shoes. Charlotte did the same. We saw them float around.
The water came up to my waist.
"I'm having second thoughts about this place." Said Charlotte. She was trying her best not to look nervous.
"Yeah, me too."
We started floating upwards.
"Any ideas?" I asked.
"Not one." Replied Charlotte.
We floated in silence. The water had filled half the box. I looked around, still trying to figure out how to get out.
"Your sister is nice." Said Charlotte.
"Most times," I said, an involuntary grin taking over my face.
"You guys seem pretty close."
"We're all we have."
"You have Zed now. And all those other dorm mates. And me."
I looked at her. Had she just said that? I've never actually had proper friends. Lame, I know. All the people I hung out with in school were just someone I knew.
I grinned, "Yeah."
"Well, if we get out of here."
"We will," I said firmly. If only I felt as confident as I spoke. I was starting to panic inside. What if there's no way out? What if we drown?
"Wait a damn minute!" cried Charlotte.
"Huh? What?" I said.
"Water can't just occupy the space occupied by air. The air must be escaping from somewhere. There has to be some opening somewhere."
"This is why I should pay more attention to physics."
We looked around, more desperate than ever. We were about ten feet from the edge. I swam to one of the walls and felt around.
"There!" screamed Charlotte. I turned to see her put her head through a hole small enough to let a thirteen-year-old pass through. She scrambled through it like a monkey. Grabbing the top edge of the box, she hoisted herself up.
"I don't think I'll fit," I said nervously. The water had reached the level of the hole and started pouring out. I could barely keep my head above water.
"Yes, you can! You're scrawny. Move it Gray!" cried Charlotte.
"I'm not that scrawny," I muttered. Floating on my back, I put my hands through first. Grabbing the edge of the hole, I pulled myself out. It was a tight fit, but I got through. Charlotte thrust out her hand and I grabbed it. She pulled me up to safety.
We both sat for some time, staring at each other. A few seconds later we both burst out laughing. I lay on my back, sighing.
"Thanks, Charlotte," I said.
"Call me Charlie."
We both lay on our backs for some time, drenched from head to toe.
"I think the water stopped," I said, noticing the dripping sound had stopped. The entire box suddenly jerked and we got up, our eyes wide.
"The box is going down." Whispered Charlotte.
"I noticed," I gulped.
Soon we were about three feet from the ground. I quickly jumped off. Charlotte followed. She stumbled a little and grabbed onto my shoulder.
We shook ourselves, suddenly feeling very cold.
"I don't think I'll be going swimming anytime soon," said Charlotte.
"Charlie," I said, looking up.
"Yeah?", she said, shaking her arms up and down.
"I might be wrong, but I think we're in a maze," I said.
We were at a crossroads. It was either front, back, left, or right.
"Which way?", asked Charlotte grumpily. She was getting sick of this.
"Forward?" I offered. We set off.
We reached another dead end. I kicked the wall, letting out a frustrated groan.
"Okay, whoever is doing this is so dead." Grumbled Charlotte.
We walked back to the last turn. We took the other path, praying it led us out. It didn't.
"Okay, this is getting us nowhere." Said Charlotte.
"You think?" I grumbled, punching the wall. It hurt.
"How do you even get out of a maze?"
"Guess? I've never been to one."
"I have, but my parents got us out, not me."
"WAIT A SECOND," I said loudly, racking my brains.
"I remember something from a movie. The main character was in a maze, too."
"That was a movie." Cried Charlotte, exasperated.
"Do you have any other idea?"
"Touch the wall or hedge with the hand nearest to it, left or right. Keep that same hand touching the wall and keep walking. This may take you on a horribly long route, but it will eventually get you out." I quoted the character.
"Let's go then. It's not like we have anything else to do."
I placed my hand on the left wall and started walking back, dragging my hand against the smooth wall.
We walked on for some time in very awkward silence. I can't even begin to describe how awkward it was. Too awkward. Okay, maybe not that awkward.
"I just realized I didn't wish you yet.", I began.
"Huh?" asked Charlotte, walking alongside me.
"Yesterday was your birthday, right?"
"Oh! Yeah. Gosh, it seems ages ago."
"Well, happy birthday."
We continued in silence.
"Why is this so awkward?" Charlotte suddenly burst out.
"Right?" I laughed.
"I'd like to have a sibling."
"A sibling. Someone I can talk to I guess."
"What are friends for?"
"I've only had one good friend. Logan. We've known each other forever."
"Well, as you said, you've got me, Zed, Alissa, and all our other dorm mates."
"I do, don't I?"
Charlotte suddenly stopped while I walked on. I halted and looked back at her.
"Are you okay?", I asked, frowning.
"Will I be going back home? To my school? I mean, I can't just pack up and leave my life behind.", she said, her eyes wide.
"There's a school here. And we've got a dorm. I'm pretty sure there's a cafeteria or something."
"Ethan, my entire life was spent with my family, Logan and Clarton high. I can't just drop it and become some spy." She said, exasperated.
I didn't know what to say. Charlotte stared at the ground for some time, thinking.
"Listen, how about we get out of this maze first? I mean, worrying won't help us right now. We'll deal with this at the right time." I said gently, walking towards her. I put a hand on her shoulder. She looked up and nodded.
"So, what's Logan like?" I asked as we continued.
"Great," grinned Charlotte.
"Elaborate," I said.
"Well, he always knows what to say and how to say it. He's sweet, funny, and reliable. He's the kind of friend everyone needs."
"He sounds nice."
"He is. What do you think of our new dorm mates?"
"Uhhh no. Don't get me wrong, but she seems a little…" I paused, trying to think of the right phrase.
"Over the top?" offered Charlotte.
"Yeah, that's one way to describe her."
"We only just met her. Maybe she's nice."
"What about Nicholas?"
"Looks like a mini version of Josh."
"Right? I wonder if they're related."
We turned a sudden corner and saw the exit ahead. We stopped.
"Is that really it?" whispered Charlotte.
"I'm afraid it will go away if I blink," I whispered back.
We both broke into a run. Anything to get out of this prison. I slowed to a jog as I reached the end, a stupid smile on my face. Charlotte stopped next to me. We faced Josh. I honestly wasn't surprised to see his blond head.
"Hello!" said Charlotte cheerfully.
"Hi there." Grinned Josh.
"Can we have breakfast now?" I asked, suddenly realizing how hungry I was.
"Sure. After you shoot Charlotte."
I froze, looking at the serious expression on his face. Charlotte's eyes went wide.
"This is a joke, right?" I asked.
"Am I laughing?" replied Josh. He pulled out a gun from his coat and held it in front of me.
"No!" I cried.
"Why not?" asked Josh.
"I don't kill people!" I sputtered.
"Oh, but you'll have to. This isn't a game, Ethan."
"I will not shoot her," I said firmly. Why wasn't Charlotte running? Even the maze was better than death.
"Because she doesn't deserve to die."
"And who are you to say that?"
"Who are you to tell me to kill her?"
"Then I quit."
Josh looked at me for some time, his eyes narrowed. I glanced at Charlotte. She was frowning at Josh. Then her face went from fear to amusement.
"Fine, I'll do it," Josh said, pointing the gun at Charlotte's head.
"No!" I cried. Bending down, swept one leg under him to make him fall. My legs went through him. My leg went through him.
Josh burst out laughing and Charlotte scowled at him. I sat there awkwardly, not sure as to what was happening.
"What?" I said, confused.
"It's a hologram. You're a real comedian, Josh."
"Well, I am known for my dad jokes."
"That was not a dad joke," I grumbled, waving my hand through the hologram's legs.
"Well, your classes start at nine. Your first class is Geography." Said Josh's hologram, fading away.
"Wait, how do we get back to our dorm?", cried Charlotte.
"Follow the yellow brick road." Smiled josh's hologram.
"There are no yellow brick roads.", I scowled.
"It was a joke.", said the hologram before disappearing completely.
"I might just kill this guy someday," I muttered, looking around.
"Call me when you do. I'll help." Said Charlotte, heading towards the door at the far end.
We reached the door. I placed my hand on the knob and pushed it open.