An extraordinary day
An extraordinary day
It was quiet. Too quiet. Something was wrong. I came to an abrupt halt and pulled out my earplugs. Looking around, I realized that I was in a completely deserted street. Usually, Miss. Gray would wave at me as she chatted with her sister. Mr. Williams would tip his hat at me as a greeting while watering his plants. Logan, my best friend since childhood, would run to catch up with me, his blonde hair bouncing and his blue eyes dancing with joy. We'd walk to school, chatting about assignments and teachers. If we were late, we'd run to the school and climb over the walls and sneak in.
Then, there was nothing. Absolutely nothing. No Mrs. Gray, no Mr. Williams, no Logan. Just nothing. I looked around, half expecting Logan to pop up and wish me 'Happy Birthday'. Did I mention it was my fifteenth birthday? I was kind of disappointed to find that my parents had still not come back from their business trip. They texted me 'Happy Birthday' with a series of emojis, but it wasn't the same.
I put a depressing song on my phone and trudged school, questioning my life choices. An alarm suddenly rang on my phone. "YOU'RE LATE", flashed on my screen. Panicking, I ran to school. As I reached school, I could see the closed gates of Clayton High. A normal person would have turned back and gone home. I clambered over the wall and jumped down. That made all the difference in my life.
I ran inside toward my classroom. I didn't even stop at my locker. As pulled the classroom door open, I was ready to face a very angry teacher. A woman dressed in black and pointing a gun at my head greeted me instead.
I instinctively turned around but was greeted by a man holding a gun. My shoulders slumped and I raised my arms. "I didn't do anything," I said meekly. I felt a bang on my head and heard a yell of protest. The last thing I saw was the man, the woman, and an unfamiliar face looking down at me. Next; blank.
I felt sore all over. Did I fall off the bed again? I groaned as I tried to stretch myself, but I couldn't lift my arms. My thoughts hit me like a hammer. Everything came racing into my brain. My eyes shot open, but I could see nothing but bright light. It took me some time to adjust to the brightness. I realized that I was tied to a chair in a cramped room. And I was sitting back to back with someone else.
"Hey." Said a vaguely familiar voice. "Huh?" I said stupidly, my voice hoarse. A soft chuckle greeted me. My eyes widened in recognition. "Frank Greenwood?" I asked, bewildered. "Yep." He replied. Frank Greenwood, the smartest, coolest, and cutest guy in Clayton High. Ever. Perfect at every angle. He was one of those nice people who you can't help liking. Everyone loved him. It was hard not to.
"I've been fumbling with your knots for ages," he whispered, "it's almost untied." I nodded. Sure enough, I could feel the ropes loosening. I shook them off and untied my feet from the legs of the wooden chair. I pushed the chair and bent to untie Frank's ropes. In the next few seconds, we were on our feet and rubbing our arms and legs. "What's happening? I'm really confused right now. I just want to go home." I asked looking up at him. I gasped when I did. His right cheek was covered in dried blood. "What?" he asked with a frown. "Is that your blood?" I asked. "Yeah," replied Frank, looking down, "they smashed my face to the wall. There just happened to be a rusted nail sticking out." I winced. "It only looks bad. Come on." He said walking towards the door. I thought it would be locked, but the door creaked open with a push. I shivered as I followed him out to a dimly lit hallway. It was getting cold and all I had on was a half-sleeved t-shirt, jeans, and converse sneakers. Frank shrugged off his jacket and handed it to me with a smile. I gawked at him.
"You can have it, you know," he said.
"Oh, um. Thanks" was my lousy reply. What was wrong with me? I'm usually really confident and comfortable around guys. I guess I was just a little shook up.
We walked out the door to a dimly lit hallway. On the left, the hallway seemed to go on forever. On the right, there was a door. Our best bet. We made our way to the door. It took a lot of effort to not stare at his blood-covered face. I focused on the door instead, praying it was unlocked.
"HEY! Where do you think you're going?"
"Great. Just, great." Muttered Frank, grabbing my hand. We ran to the door. I turned to see three men running towards us. At least they weren't armed. I hope. Panic suddenly surged through me and I got a sudden surge of energy and sprinted ahead. I reached the door first and tugged at it desperately. I screamed. Literally screamed. It was locked. I dropped to my knees. I felt hands grab me and pull me up. I turned in shock to see Frank's determined face. "We're not giving up." He said. "What do you want us to do?" I said, shaking him off. "Fight?" he suggested. I actually would have laughed if the moment wasn't so serious. Three grown men. Thrice our age. Thrice our experience. One even had an eye patch. Yeah, something tells me two teenagers won't be able to take them on.
Frank must have noticed the skepticism on my face because he gave me a puppy look. "You really want to do this?" I asked. He nodded. I sigh, giving in. I face the men and take up a fighting stance. I gave them a fierce look, hoping to intimidate them. One smirked at me. I was so dead.
I turned to Frank, hoping he had an answer. He put his hands in the air. "We give up." He said, looking down. One man laughed "That's what I thought." He sneered, reaching for Frank's neck. I gaped at Frank just standing there. Five seconds he was ready to fight to his death, now he was surrendering without a struggle? Wow, this dude was unpredictable.
When the man's hand was an inch away from Frank's throat, Frank grabbed the man's hand twisted it, and kicked him hard on the sensitives. The man groaned and bent over. Frank slammed his hand on the old dude's neck and he fell forward, unconscious.
For a minute, the other two guys and I just stared at Frank, who looked surprised too. I was the first to come to my senses. I turned and planted a kick at Eye Patch's stomach. He grabbed my leg and pulled. I fell with a thud. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him grabbing my other leg. I quickly sat up and dug my long nails into his hands. He screamed and let go. I jumped up and kneed him in his soft spot. His eyes bugged out as he fell to his knees. I kicked his head as hard as I could, which, by the way, really hurt. Fortunately, it knocked him out. I just stood there, staring at the crumpled body of a fully grown man. Who I took down. Me. An average girl. I whooped, throwing a fist in the air.
"Don't get too happy. I took on two. Not to mention defeat I defeated both of them." Said Frank. I turned to see him resting his foot on the last dude's chest. "This one had an eye patch." Was my response. A stupid response, really. Frank laughed, shaking his head. "Well, were you the one who found the key?" he asked. "What key?" I asked, folding my arms across my chest. Frank bent down and took something from the dude's belt. When he stood up again, he was holding a silver key. "Care to do the honors?" he said, extending the key. I snatched the key and went to the door. "You really have anger issues." He said from behind me.
I turned to glare at him. He raised his hands. "Just as an observer."
I sighed. "Sorry. I'm not usually like this." I hugged myself.
Frank offered me a smile, his brown eyes twinkling "Well, it's not every day you get kidnapped and fight three grown men."
I smiled back at him. I was grateful I wasn't alone. I turned back to the door and stuck the key into the lock, twisting it. It creaked open. Holding my breath, I pushed it open completely. My heart fell at what I saw.
Another passageway. This one had no lights. We stood there for some time, unsure. Frank ushered me forward "Let's just see where this takes us. Go on."
I shuffled forward, Frank behind me. As soon as we were both inside, the door bang shut, leaving us in darkness. I screamed, grabbing Frank's shoulder. "Woah! Calm down. Just take your phone and turn on the torch." He said in a soothing voice. Breathing hard and still clutching Frank's shoulder, I pulled out my phone from my pocket. The screen lit up and I sighed in relief. I switched on the torch, light flooding the stone passageway. I finally released Frank's shoulder from my death grip. "You've got some strength." He said, massaging his shoulder. "Sorry. " I said, looking down. "It's okay. Let's move."
I moved forward cautiously. "So," started Frank "you afraid of the dark?"
I inhaled sharply. "Sorry. I never seem to know what to say." Apologized Frank. "Don't apologies," I said, my eyes fixed at the light. "I just hope you don't see me as the girl who's scared of everything."
"Then why don't you tell me about your fears? Rapid-fire?" said Frank, holding my shoulder gently.
"Nope. I held a snake once. It was so cool."
"Monsters under your bed?"
I turned around, shining the torch on him. "Are you for real?" I asked. Frank blocked the light with his hand and laughed.
I turned back and continued walking. "I thought you'll ask stuff like letting people down, being downtrodden, or something like that."
"Nah. I'm not that type."
My phone suddenly died. Pitch black greeted me. I dropped my phone, breathing hard. I felt like everything was closing in on me. Something about to grab and take me away.
Hands grabbed both my shoulders. I let out a short scream.
"Hey. Calm down, okay? It's just me. Frank."
I let out a sigh of relief. "Looks like your phone just died." Said Frank. I laughed bitterly. "Really?" I asked, "I didn't notice."
'Are you going to leave your phone here?"
"Let it be."
We walked for some time, feeling the walls as we went. Frank still held one of my shoulders, which was reassuring. Boy, would Natalie be jealous! She's been dying to get Frank's attention since he joined.
"Why are you so scared of the dark?" asked Frank. "If you don't mind me asking." He added hastily.
I let out a laugh at his attempt. "In the dark, you can't see. You might be face to face with great danger, and you won't even know it. Nothing is seen. You might be standing next to your neighbor's dog or the Queen of England."
'Woah. So you're scared of the unknown?" asked Frank.
"Huh. It sounds better when you say it that way." I said thoughtfully.
"I have that supreme skill of making everything sound cool." Explained Frank in a matter of fact tone.
"Whatever," I said. I was about to say something super amazing (not really) when my outstretched hands touched something solid.
"Wait. I think there's a door here." I said, groping about for a handle or something. I found it and turned it.
"What are you waiting for? Open it." Urged Frank.
"We don't know what's on the other side," I whispered. "Eh. You only live once, am I right?" I added, pushing open the door.
Bright light greeted my face and I squeezed my eyes shut.
"Woah." Whispered Frank.
I opened my eyes a crack and saw the last place I expected to be.
The local police station.
"Why are we in the police station?", whispered Frank.
"Search me.", I whispered back, scanning the room full of police officers for a particular red-head. Then it hit me, my parents weren't here. They were on some kind of business trip. Instead, I settled my eyes on the Chief Inspector, Mr. Kalahan. He was a tall man with a dark complexion and short dark hair. His arms were folded across his chest and he seemed to be smiling. Wait. That can't be right. Mr. Kalahan never smiles. And yet, the corners of his mouth twitched upwards.
Slowly, one by one, the police officers started clapping. The clapping grew louder until even Mr. Kalahan started to clap slowly.
Kevin, one of my parents' good friends, hooted along with a few other good-natured police officers.
"If Kalahan is impressed, you know you've done a good job. Wonder who they're cheering for.", I whispered to Frank.
Frank looked at me like I just suggested we should jump off a cliff together. "They're cheering for us, ding dong.", he laughed.
"Oh,", was my lame answer as I felt my cheeks become red.
The clapping slowly died down. Two police officers stepped forward from behind the huge crowd of police officers. I could hardly believe my eyes. I ran forward and flung myself on both of them.
"Mom! Dad!", I cried, grinning up at the couple.
"Hello, Charlie. Happy birthday!", grinned my mother, brushing one of my stray locks aside.
"Happy birthday, kiddo.", laughed my father, patting my shoulder.
I stepped back, crossed my arms, and frowned. "You two have some serious explaining to do."
My father grinned. He looked at my mother and said, "She killed that serious look. Our daughter looks a lot like you."
I couldn't deny that. We both had the same heart-shaped face and curly red locks. Even our noses turned up the same way. Only my eyes were different. They were sea green, with little gold flecks. Just like my father's. But that's the only thing my father and I have in common. He had short blonde hair and freckles on his nose. He had a prominent jawline and was easily as tall as Mr.Kalahan.
"Maybe I can help."
I turned around to see Mr. Kalahan gesturing toward his office. My parents and I followed him inside the tiny cozy office. I suddenly remembered Frank. He was still standing near the small door at the back of the police station, his mouth wide open.
Kevin put a hand on Frank's shoulder and steered him toward Mr. Kalahan's office, his face beaming. Kevin was always happy. Most people loved his easy-going nature.
The five of us stood inside Mr. Kalahan's office. There was a desk between a large cozy chair and two small chairs. The desk had a telephone and a few framed pictures on it. I looked at the various medals and certificates on the walls. A safe stood at one corner of the office and a large file cabinet at the other corner.
Mr.Kalahan gestured at the two small chairs and himself sat on the large one. He put his right leg on his left leg, put his elbows on the desk, and leaned forward, resting his chin on his hands. He looked at Frank and me with raised eyebrows.
"Oh,", I said, realizing that he was asking us to sit. I sat on the left chair and pulled Frank on the right chair. We sat across Mr. Kalahan, waiting for him to speak first.
Mr. Kalahan finally spoke, taking his elbows off the table.
"So, Charlotte Kingsley and Frank Greenwood.", he said, opening a drawer and pulling out a white box.
"Doughnut?", he offered, opening the box to reveal six perfectly round doughnuts with white icing and colored sprinkles.
I raised an eyebrow but Frank snorted. I glared at him.
"Sorry," he said, raising his hands and smiling, "it's a little cliche, I couldn't help laughing."
I rolled my eyes at him and shook my head at Mr. Kalahan. Frank, on the other hand, reached out and grabbed a doughnut.
Mr. Kalahan set the box down and looked at me, his face unreadable.
"Can you explain why we both were attacked by people with guns and why Frank's face is covered in dried blood?", I said, looking Mr. Kalahan straight in the eye.
"No beating around the bush,", observed Mr. Kalahan.
"Not with me.", I said, not breaking eye contact.
"I like that. You're serious.", smiled Mr. Kalahan, not looking away.
We kept eye-contact for some time, daring each other to look away.
Mr. Kalahan smiled. "I see why they chose you."
"They?", said Frank, finishing off his doughnut. He suddenly seemed very serious.
"They.", smiled Kalahan.
"I meant who do you mean by 'they'?", said Frank, leaning forward on his seat.
"You'll find out soon enough.", said Kalahan. He got up and came behind us, putting a hand on each of our shoulders. We turned to look at him, a little confused.
"I think you both are capable. All you have to do is not get killed.", he said, his mouth twitching. I looked at my parents, who were standing in one corner, giving me a sad smile. That can't be good.
"Oh, and forgive me for what's about to happen.", said Kalahan in a sorrowful tone.
A heavyweight hit me at the back of my head and I felt myself falling into darkness.
"Being knocked in the head twice in two hours can't be good."
I groaned and sat up. Frank was grinning sympathetically down at me. He helped me up to my feet. I rubbed my head and winced.
"Why do people seem so keen on cracking my skull open?", I groaned.
Frank laughed. I looked around. We were on what seemed like a huge open obstacle course. The sun's heat got me sweating in seconds. I flapped the end of my shirt up and down to cool down, but it barely worked. The red dusty ground seemed to go on for miles, with no sign of life anywhere.
"I guess we cross the obstacle course.", said Frank, his hands in his pocket and his brown eyes fixed on the huge obstacle course.
I sighed. I knew he was going to say that.
"Why?", I asked, looking at the obstacle coarse too.
"Why not?", shrugged Frank.
"I hate this day so much!", I screamed, throwing my head up and clenching my fists. Frank didn't even flinch.
"Feel any better?", he asked, smiling.
"A little.", I said, jogging towards the first obstacle. Monkey bars. We climbed upstairs to a platform where the monkey bars began. It was a long way down. You're probably going to break an arm if you fall off from one of the bars.
"Lessgo.", said Frank, slapping his hands together and grinning. He seemed to be enjoying all of this.
We could have walked right past it and to the next one. But why spoil the fun? I jumped up and tried to grab the first bar, but it was too high. Or I was too short. I'm short for my age!
Frank grabbed the first bar with ease, but immediately let go.
"It's scalding.", he said, waving his hand up and down.
I still had Frank's jacket tied around my waist. I untied it and put it on. Rolling the sleeves down, I let it cover my hands. Next, I grabbed one of the poles which held up the monkey bars. Putting my foot on the other pole, I hoisted myself upward and grabbed the first monkey bar, the jacket sleeves protecting my hands. Instead of swinging from the bars, I pulled my self up onto them and squatted down, balancing on two monkey bars. I looked down at Frank and offered him a hand and a smile.
Frank had a look of awe and amazement on his face and I grinned wider. He took my hand and I hoisted him up, grunting in the effort.
Within two minutes we had crossed the monkey bars in what you can call a creative way, squatting and waddling, clutching each other's hands so we don't fall into certain doom.
Next up, we have huge beams of wood we have to jump over! What fun.
We stood there for a minute, hands-on our hips, and wondering what to do next. I took off Frank's jacket and tied it around my waist again.
"Want to make a race out of it?", Frank finally said.
"The whole thing, or just this part?", I asked.
"You're on," I said with a smile.
"Three," said Frank, getting ready to run.
"Two," I said, tightening my ponytail.
"ONE!", we both screamed together and ran forward.
I loved gym class. Everyone in school hated me for that. I enjoyed running, jumping, jogging, and anything related to sports.
We cleared the first three bars with ease. The last one seemed a little bigger than the others. A little confidence escaped. That one was big. What if I fell? It'd probably hurt. Well, duh, said a voice at the back of my head.
I pushed all those thoughts and the sassy voice at the back of my head aside and jumped. Everything seemed to slow down. I sailed over the last one, my right foot only just grazing it.
I landed on my feet and turned to look at the beam. I patted myself down to check if all of my body was still intact. Frank, meanwhile, had run ahead to the small pool where we had to swing across using ropes.
"I'm winning,", he taunted, slowing down to a jog.
"Not if I can help it,", I muttered, racing toward him. Frank sped up and reached the dirty little pool.
"I would not like to fall into that.", I said, wrinkling my nose. The water was murky brown and something that looked like a dead frog was floating on top.
"Catch you on the flip side.", said Frank, grabbing one of the two ropes. He stepped a few paces back and dashed forward, screaming like a maniac. He withdrew his feet and went halfway across the pool when SPLASH. The rope gave away and Frank was on his back in the knee-deep pool. I looked up at the small metal rod where the rope was tied and smiled. The rope was frayed and old. No wonder it gave away.
I looked at a disgruntled Frank, covered in muddy water. A snigger escaped me, and within a second I was on the ground, laughing my head off.
Frank climbed out of the pool, shaking himself.
"Hey, at least you cooled off.", I said between giggles.
Frank shook his wet hair at me, sprinkling me with water. I jumped up and squealed.
"And you,", grinned Frank.
"I think I'll pass this one.", I grinned.
"Aw, c'mon. Maybe that rope won't give away.", begged Frank, his eyes twinkling.
"No chance", I laughed.
We walked around the pool and towards the last obstacle. Rock climbing.
"No safety harness?", I asked, looking around.
"I guess it's just us."
"We probably shouldn't do this.", I said, looking up.
"But we're going to.", said Frank, looking up too.
"I know. Let's at least look around for a harness. I'm too young to die."
The only thing close to a safety harness was two pieces of rope hanging by the side of the rock climbing wall, attached to the top.
Again, you can ask us why we're doing this. We'll just give you a grin and say, "You only live once."
I tied one of the ropes around my waist, pushing it through the loops of my jeans. Frank did the same. We stared up at the wall for some time.
"You sure we should do this?", asked Frank.
"Someone put us here for a reason, right? Maybe we're supposed to do this.", I replied. I sounded confident, but inside I was hyperventilating like a seal with asthma.
"Or maybe this all is just a bad dream.", breathed Frank, looking down at his mud-covered shoes.
"I wouldn't call it bad. ", I grinned. Frank looked up and grinned back.
"Let's go!", he cried, grabbing the first few 'rocks'.
We climbed steadily for some time, paying attention to nothing else. After all, we were happy with our bones unbroken.
After we were halfway through, I made the mistake of looking down. I gasped and let go of the holders. I just hung there, supported by an old frayed rope. The ground seemed miles away. I tried to grab the holders, but the rope kept swaying dangerously.
Frank was by my side in a flash. He grabbed my rope and pulled it closer to the wall. I grabbed the holders and stayed that way for some time, my feet and hands planted on the holders.
"Thanks,", I managed to sputter.
"Don't mention it," grinned Frank, "Rule one of rock climbing, don't look down."
"I'm pretty sure that really isn't," I laughed.
Frank shrugged and continued climbing. After taking in a few shaky breaths, I followed him.
We reached the top after some time. The top was flat and rather big. I untied the rope and looked around.
"Now what?", asked Frank.
I was about to reply when I felt a hand cover my mouth. Someone grabbed me from behind. I kicked and struggled, next to me, I could hear muffled grunts. Obviously, Frank was also being tackled by someone behind him
I will NOT be knocked out again, I screamed furiously in my head. I opened my mouth and bit hard on the hand covering my mouth. I heard a scream of pain. I brought my leg up and slammed it down on the foot behind me. More groans. Finally, I elbowed the person's stomach. The person, a man, let go of me and slumped to the ground, groaning. I hit him over the head hard and he fell on his face.
"Revenge is sweet," I said with an unholy smile.
I turned to see Frank being wrestled by a much larger man. I went behind the man, grabbed his hair, and pulled hard. He let out a scream of pain and let go of Frank. Without missing a beat, Frank turned and sucker-punched him on the face. I slammed the side of my hand against the back of his neck and he collapsed to the ground.
Frank and I stood over the man, registering what just happened.
"You think we'll get in trouble?", I asked.
"By beating up two fully grown men who tried to strangle us?', asked Frank, staring at the dude on the floor. I nodded.
Frank looked up and grinned, "Not a chance."
The pair of us whipped around to see a man standing behind us. Something about him made me feel like this guy deserved respect. I don't even know why.
He was wearing a black tuxedo with a shirt and vest and everything. He looked about thirty. His blonde hair was combed neatly and his piercing blue eyes seemed to shine. He stood with his nose in the air, his back straight, and his hands in his pocket. He had an eyebrow raised and was looking us up and down.
I suddenly became very conscious of my appearance. This dude looked important. I looked down at my dusty mud-caked clothes and tried to smooth down my hair. Next to me, Frank nervously flattened his brown hair down.
"How did you get here?", Frank blurted out.
"How did you?", replied the man without hesitation.
"What do you mean?", I asked. No way did he climb up that wall dressed in that tux.
"What do you think I mean?", he said with a small smile. He was enjoying this.
"What do you think you mean?", Frank said, scowling. I nearly smacked him across the head.
The dude smiled wider. "I may actually like you."
"And who exactly are you?", I asked slowly.
"It doesn't matter.", he replied, turning his back on us and walking towards the edge of the wall."
"Do you always answer questions like that?", said Frank irritably.
The man stopped but didn't turn around."Do you always lie about your identity, Ethan Gray? Or was it Frank Greenwood?"
I frowned. "Wha-?", I began, looking at Frank.
Frank looked like he had swallowed an iguana.
The man laughed. "Yes, yes. We know you. We know your family. We know, " he turned raised his arms dramatically, "Everything."
"'We'?", said Frank, still a little shocked.
"We.", confirmed the man. "Now, are you coming, or would you like to ask other stupid questions like a couple of dunder-heads?" He continued walking.
I stood there for some time, my mouth open.
"You okay?", asked Frank hesitantly.
I shook my head and followed the man. Frank caught up with me.
"You're trusting that guy?", whispered Frank, walking beside me.
"Yes,", I said shortly, walking briskly.
I didn't reply.
"Look, I get it. You had a tough day. But you don't need to get mad-" began Frank.
"MAD!", I cried, turning to look at him. The man in front of us stopped and turned, a look of interest on his face. I barely noticed.
"Well, excuse me! I JUST PUT MY LIFE IN DANGER A MILLION TIMES TODAY. I WAs KNOCKED OUT TWO TIMES TODAY. I BEAT UP TWO FULLY GROWN MEN FOR LORD KNOWS WHY! NOW, YOU'RE NOT EVEN WHO I THINK YOU ARE. THIS IS BY FAR THE WORST BIRTHDAY EVER! SO I THINK I HAVE THE RIGHT TO MAD!"
I stopped to take in shaky breaths. It felt good to let all that out. Frank, or Ethan, whatever, looked a little scared. Mission accomplished. The man was smiling. "I really am starting to like you two."
I turned to look at him furiously and opened my mouth to scream something at him.
"Don't even bother." said the man, raising his hand to stop me. He turned and continued walking. I huffed and followed. Frank followed with his head bowed down.
I suddenly felt bad for taking my frustration out on him. Should I say something? I was confused. Was he Frank Greenwood or Ethan Gray?
"Where are you taking us?", Frank/Ethan said, looking up.
"To your sister."
Frank/Ethan stopped, his face expressionless. "What?", he asked.
The man stopped and sighed, as if annoyed. Sure, he can get annoyed.
"How about you come along without any more questions? I promise everything will make sense in just some time. And," he said, noticing my open mouth which was about to ask a question. "You can call me Josh."
Frank/Ethan walked in a daze as we went together towards the edge. There was one of those elevators windows - washers used. We went on and it started moving down by itself. Far off, I noticed a huge grey building. I almost asked what that was, but held my tongue.
A jeep was waiting down for us. Josh got into the driver's seat and beckoned to us. We clambered into the back seat.
"So, it's your birthday?', asked Josh, starting the engine.
"Yeah. Not great so far. But I take it you heard me some time ago?", I replied, hoping to make things a little less awkward.
"Loud and clear,", laughed Josh, driving towards the building. "You know, this is kind of a birthday present."
"Really?", I asked, laughing. "Wait. you're serious?", I added, noticing that Josh wasn't laughing.
"Okay, I'm sorry, but I need to ask this. My sister is where you're taking us? What is she doing there? How did she get there?", blurted Frank/Ethan.
"All in good time, Ethan. All in good time.", said Josh.
We sat in silence as we drove towards my birthday present and Frank's/Ethan's sister.
She hates me. She won't even look at me.
No, she doesn't, said a voice at the back of my head, Everyone loves you.
Not her, I fought back in my head.
Maybe going undercover wasn't such a good idea. You couldn't let that West bloke find you again, said the voice again.
"Okay, stop.", I said.
"No can do, mister," said Josh.
I went red. Did I say that out loud? Apparently, I did.
I looked out at the dusty road, my thoughts drifting to this morning. It seemed like ages ago.
It started normally. Alice and George, my foster parents, weren't bad. I mean, they were nice to me and fed me and all. But there wasn't any feeling. I felt like I didn't belong there. Alice made me breakfast and George pulled out my bike from the garage. I started off to school on my bike. I noticed only after reaching school how quiet it had been. Parking my bike, I look around at the deserted playground and basketball court. Few kids come at six to play, but only 2 basketballs rolled across the court, isolated from their tall companions.
I looked at my watch. 7:30.
I walked to class, hoping to meet someone. The corridors were empty. Usually, people would be cleaning out their lockers or something. I peeked inside the boy's washroom. It's usually toilet paper war in there before eight. But that was empty, too.
I looked around suspiciously. Was today a holiday? If yes, then why would the school gates be wide open? Everything was as it was supposed to be. Except, no students. I sneaked a look into one of the classrooms. Bags were on the floor near the desks, a few textbooks and notebook were open. The teacher's desk had a coffee mug on it, full to the brim.
I heard I slight noise behind me. I turned just in time to see someone slink past. Breathing hard, I stepped inside the empty classroom and shut the door, locking it. I walked to the back of the class, making as little noise as possible.
I jumped and turned, dropping my bag. A woman dressed in a completely black outfit wearing sunglasses and a smirk was leaning against the wall, her arms folded. But how did she know my real-?
"You certainly took your time coming here. I was starting to get bored.", she said, checking her nails.
"Who are you?", I asked, backing into a desk.
"Oh, no one you know.", she replied coolly. "Don't mind me, I'll just be off in a jiffy after I complete some work." she put her hand into her coat pocket.
Without missing a beat, I jumped over the desk and ran for the door.
"You can't run forever", said the woman loudly, pulling out a gun and pointing it at me. I ducked under a desk as she fired. Breathing hard, I crawled towards the door, muttering prayers. Two massive legs in black leather shoes greeted me.
I looked up slowly to see a huge burly man with blond hair cut close to his head. He had sunglasses on, too. I laughed weakly and muttered, "Well, I'm toast."
The man grabbed me by my jacket and pulled me up. I wriggled out of it and pushed past the man, hurrying towards the principal's office. Don't ask why. I was panicking.
The man came thundering after me. For someone so huge, he ran pretty fast. Reaching the office, I reached for the knob, but it was locked. I jiggled it and banged, hoping it would help. It didn't.
The man was only a couple of feet away. With a yell of frustration, I rn farther down the hall, hoping there would be a way for me to escape those lunatics.
An emergency exit was at the end of the hallway. My breath came out in short gasps as my feet slapped against the ground in perfect rhythm. I can make it! , I thought triumphantly. I was wrong.
I felt hands grab my arms. I stopped running and struggled to break free. "Let me go,", I said, shaking and moving my arms.
"Stop moving," grunted the man in a deep voice. Grabbing my head, he smashed it against the wall. Pain spread through my face and I felt something wet drip down my cheek. Wonderful.
"No more running for you,", said the man grimly. I stopped struggling and let him walk me back to the classroom. My mind was racing. What's happening? who are these guys? did I do something wrong? Do they know who I am?
I heard a scuffle ahead. Looking up, I saw a girl with bright red hair opening the door to the same classroom the woman was in. I opened my mouth to warn her, but a hand covered my mouth before I could get the words out.
The man hurled me to the ground and ran softly behind the girl. I watched as the woman hit the girl with the butt of the gun. I saw the girl crumple to the ground. I saw the man catch her. And I did nothing.
I'm sure you guys know the rest. We fought a few random adults, got into the local police station, got knocked out, did that obstacle course, fought a few more random adults, met Josh, had a weird conversation, and got into a jeep.
I looked up at the huge building in front of me. Was she really in there? After months of searching, it felt weird knowing that my sister was inside the very building I was standing in front of.
I swung myself over the door of the jeep. My feet slapped the dusty ground, sending up small clouds of dust. Charlotte stood next to me, looking up at the huge building. Her red hair tumbled down her shoulders till her waist, and her sea-green eyes were narrowed as if trying to make sense of everything that had happened. I didn't blame her.
"Follow me," said Joshua, walking towards the huge glass doors. Without a word, the two of us followed. Joshua pushed open the glass doors and walked into a huge empty hallway. A small desk stood at a corner. A woman barely above twenty was sitting and reading a magazine while hewing gum. She looked bored out of her mind.
Joshua walked up to the wooden desk and cleared his throat.
"Welcome to the main office of Tech Industries," drawled the woman, not looking up. "How may I help you?"
"I'd like to meet Dr. Inc.", said Joshua, turning to wink at us.
"Why didn't you say so?", said the woman, still bored.
"Come now, Clara. I know we told you to act like a moody teenager, but this may be too much.", laughed Joshua.
Clara looked up and laughed. "I think it's perfect," she said, beckoning Charlotte and I forward. We stood behind Joshua, confused as to what was happening.
Clara took up the telephone receiver and said, "Dr.Inc, you have visitors," she pressed a button on the telephone. The next thing I knew, we were falling into what seemed like an endless black tunnel.
"What the-" I yelled above the whistling air.
"No need to panic.", came Joshua's calm voice, barely audible.
I felt a hand clutch my arm and winced as the nails dug into my skin.
"Sorry," cried Charlotte, letting go.
We fell in silence for a few seconds.
"Anyone else getting an 'Alice in Wonderland' vibe?", I called, trying to lighten the mood as we fell further down the hole.
"I thought I was the only one,", laughed Charlotte.
"Yes, we did think of that as we made this. If you look closely at the walls, there are a few shelves and tables.", said Joshua.
"Really?", I asked, squinting at what I thought was the wall.
"Of course not!", cried Joshua, exasperated. I grinned.
"Is that a light?", called Charlotte, interrupting us. I looked down to see a tiny point of light, growing steadily larger.
"Brace for impact!", I called out, smiling.
"Is everything a joke to you?"
"Yes. Yes, it is."
Thump! we landed on a soft couch. Joshua got up, straightening his tie, and brushing off imaginary dust. I jumped up and offered Charlotte a hand. Her hair was more tangled than ever and her eyes had a small twinkle in them.
"Can we do that again?" laughed Charlotte, taking my hand and getting up.
"You probably will," said Joshua, smoothing down his mussed up hair. "I can't say I look forward to it" he added sniffily.
I looked around the empty room. The walls were off white in color and there were flat lights on the ceiling.
"Where exactly are we?" I asked.
"No questions," sighed Joshua.
"Right," I muttered.
We walked to the small white door. As soon as Joshua stepped in front of the door, it swung open.
"Oh," was all I said. I don't even know what I was expecting. It certainly wasn't a school hallway, with lockers, classrooms, and students running around.
"A school," said Charlotte, as disappointed as me. I noticed that all the students were wearing black tracks or jeans and black jackets, with random colored t-shirts underneath.
"A school," smiled Joshua. He walked briskly through the hallways, his hands behind his back. The students shrank back and whispered amongst themselves.
Joshua walked toward a classroom and knocked on the open door.
"Hello, Mrs. Challet!" he said, "may I borrow Miss Gray and Mr. Harrison?"
Two students came out of the classroom and my mouth fell open.
"Is something wrong, sir?", asked the girl, looking at Joshua. She hadn't noticed us yet.
"Maybe it has something to do with these two, "said the boy, pointing at Charlotte and me with a grin.
The girl stared at me for some time, her mouth open. She suddenly flung herself on me, squeezing me hard.
"How?" she whispered.
"I've looked everywhere for you!"I cried, hugging her back.
I'm pretty sure everyone was staring at us, but I didn't care. I've been looking for my sister for months and now I finally found her. Would you blame me?
"I can't believe it's really you," laughed Alissia, pulling back and looking closely at me.
"I dyed my hair," I grinned.
"I noticed," smirked Alissia.
"When you're done, you can tell me what the hell is going on.", said a sulky voice.
I turned to see Charlotte frowning with her arms crossed.
"Right," I said sheepishly."Charlotte, this is my sister, Alissia. Alissia, this is Charlotte, my-" I stopped, remembering how she screamed at me just ten minutes ago.
"Friend," completed Charlotte, offering Alissia her hand. Alissia shook it, a huge grin on her face.
"This is Zed, my partner," said Alissia, pointing at the boy who had come out with her. He dreadlocks and a huge smile. He seemed like one of those chill people who don't let anything bother them.
"Take this to your dorm," said Joshua "you two are excused from your classes for the rest of the day."
The four of us walked on, Charlotte and I very confused while Alissia and Zed looked like Christmas had come early.