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What's Your Price?
Author's note: I randomly had this idea at school one day and started writing it. It shows how imperfect the world can be and how everyone has their price.
Hey this is my first story hope you guys like it!
Thanks and enjoy!
People often tell stories. Whether they are true or not is for the listener to decide. They tell a tale that is funny, sad, heartwarming, sometimes even frightening. It has entertained us for years with memories or elaborate imaginations brought to life by simple words. My story started off simple as most do but eventually lead to something that people wish for, an exciting life. The only problem with that is that with excitement comes death and betrayal. Right now my story was in an abandoned house at gun point.
I breathed deeply and my heart pounded so hard against my chest I thought it was going to break my rib cage. Tears brimmed at the corner of my eyes and my throat closed up. How? How did it ever come to this? To be standing at gun point knowing that in just a few moments I would be dead. We thought it had ended with Lockstar but when you get rid of one threat another is always lurking in the shadows. No prince or knight or cops were coming to save me. Why my readers might ask. Because I was in all pretenses of the word, a criminal. No one would bother to save me tonight and the ones that would were struggling against their captors. The one I loved stared at me in terror, his emerald eyes wide with fright. He was frozen, he didn't move.
"Last chance." The gunman said and clicked of the safety. Don't do it, don't do it, don't do it. I'm not worth it.
"Alright." He choked out. Our friends started screaming in protest, a loud shot rings through the air and the gunman is swinging the gun around like a baseball bat telling everyone to be quiet.
"No! Think if you were in his position would you really let me live once you had the information you needed?"
"Shut up!" The gunman yells at me.
"I can't lose you."
"You have to." The gun is pointed back at me and I closed my eyes knowing that it wouldn't help me escape from the inevitable.
But I am getting too far ahead of myself, aren't I? Then let me shed some light. Everything people know how to do makes the value of them go up. If you can speak Spanish you are more likely to get a job then someone who can't but those aren't the things I'm talking about. I'm talking about mechanics, thieves, con artists, illusionists, hackers, assassins (the government tries to hide the last one) and many more. When you can do something like that a price is put on your head. You aren't a person anymore, you are an object, a tool.
My price is $176,290,215,387 for being able to do something so simple. But to them I guess it isn't. So when you can do something that makes you shine above the rest a price is put on your head. The only question is, is how much are you worth?
My story is filled with all the action and drama and bullshit you see on television as you can tell from the situation I'm in but to fill you in on what has happened I'll start three years ago when my life was just as boring as the average persons is today.
3 years ago
Date: April 17th
Location: University of Michigan
Time: 3:48 p.m
I was slouching in my chair holding my head up with my hands. Due to lack of sleep I was within minutes of passing out. It didn’t help that Mr. Crugen was lecturing again, he rarely did anything different. His gangly form paced the room while he read from a 50 lb text book. His bald head shining in the artificial light and his beady eyes racing across the classroom to see if anyone was paying attention or even remotely interested.
His voice turned into the parent’s voice on ‘Peanuts’, my eyes were heavy and my vision was starting to be stained with dots. Then complete blackness and total peace for a millisecond before a sharp pain blooms on my forehead and a loud echoing was sounded throughout the classroom. I sat up clutching my aching head, groaning quietly. Everyone in class was staring at me including the beady eyes of Mr. Crugen. He shut the book and dropped it on his desk glaring at me.
“Class dismissed,” He said in his monotone voice. I pack my stuff up quickly in an effort to leave before he chewed me up and spit me out onto the itchy disgusting blue carpet. I was at the door when he called me back, resisting the urge to leave I weave past the remaining students that were leaving and went back to his desk.
“Yes sir?” I say tightly.
“You fell asleep in my class, why?” Uh because you are the most boring person I have ever met.
“I was working on a project for my tech. class last night.” We had to build our own computers, right up my alley, and I was making the finishing touches last night instead of doing other things like sleeping.
“Of course someone like you would take that class.” He sneers, his upper lip pulls up and I get a view of his coffee stained teeth.
“Why is that?”
“Did you hear the hollow noise your head made? The only thing you will amount to is working at a Best Buy.” That ass! Teachers can’t say that to their students, can they? But if he knew what I did what I could still do well I would be in jail, but the point is he wouldn’t be saying this s***. “Don’t fall asleep in my class again Ms. Carter.”
I whirl around biting my lips so hard I was afraid that I would draw blood to keep in my retort and telling him where he can stick it. He thinks he is almighty well I got news for you buddy those who can’t do, teach!
In the middle of me cursing Crugen to the deepest pits of hell or maybe just Phoenix I didn’t notice my friend Sam running towards me until she was right in my face. We have known each other since freshmen year in high school. She came up to me one day asking where I got the violet contacts, when I told her that it was my natural eye color she and I instantly became friends because of my weird eyes. Her hair was a curly blue today that was matched with golden contacts, cowboy boots, jean skirt, and tank top. She had a thing with colored contacts not caring about the risk that they could make you blind and her outfit was most likely due to her design teacher. Everyday her teacher would post an outfit on her page on the school website and girls who wore the outfit combining their own unique flare would get extra credit. Seeing as it was 40 degrees in the middle of spring I’m guessing this was the outfit.
She threw an arm around me her bracelets clanking together. Sam looked at me and zeroed in on my head. We stopped in the middle of the pathway, students walking around us to head to class or see their friends. She licked her thumb and rubbed it on my forehead.
“Gross!” I say backing away wiping my forehead to get her saliva off.
“What did you do?” She asked and we resumed walking.
“I don’t know what you mean.” I say innocently dodging the crowd of students.
“So the multi colored blotch on your forehead is natural?” She asks sarcastically.
“I fell asleep in class.” I mutter like a kid that was caught with their hand in the cookie jar.
“Sounds like you.” She jerks me off my original path and was taking me in a different direction.
“Where are we going?” I question.
Wolfs Den was an on campus coffee shop/lounge type of place. It was a small building that could only fit about 50 or so people in. The place had soft bean bag chairs and outdated magazines for people to read but its business boomed and could handle Starbucks being close by.
Rounding a corner I saw the building with its faded blue and yellow sign and windows that were in desperate need of cleaning but I could still see the crowd of people in there waiting to be served and just hanging out.
We walked in the small place and I went to find a place for Sam and I to sit. I eventually found two high chairs and a small table that I claimed before anyone else could. About five minutes later Sam brought back two coffees in hand with a concerned look on her face.
“What’s wrong?” I ask as she sits down warming her hands from the heat of the coffee cup.
“Have you ever known Terri to miss a day of work?” Terri was practically the only one who worked here and made the best damn coffee in Ann Arbor. To clarify Terri is a guy and yes he is “fabulous” if you know what I mean. Terri was good friends with Sam and I after he found us looking around hopelessly our first day of school and took pity on us. Even though we have only known each other for eight months we act like we have been best friends since we were in diapers. Back to the main point Terri never missed a day of work, ever.
I took a sip of my coffee and was close to spiting it back out. I swallowed the hot brown concoction not holding back my gag when it went down. This tasted like instant coffee mixed with dog s***. I could see similar looks of disgust on other patrons faces.
“Where is Terri?” I ask trying to get a better look at who ever was making the coffee, if you can even call it that but the crowd blocked my view.
“I don’t know. The guy or barista maybe its baristo since he is a guy. Have you ever thought of that?” She was trailing off again like she usually does.
“Sam!” That got her attention back. I motion for her to resume the story.
“Right so anyways the guy up there doesn’t talk, much less make eye contact. He’s wearing a baseball hat and he looks at a person for a nano second before handing you your coffee and change.”
Odd, very odd. Even if Terri was sick or dying of a terminal illness he would have gotten a friendly person or at least someone who could make a decent drink.
“Do my legs look normal?” Sam asks bringing me out of my pondering. I swear she has ADD or something. I look at her long model legs and notice they have a bluish tint to them.
“The things you do for fashion.”
“Hey pain is beauty Borealis.” I grimace at the new nickname. “You know for having a name of one of the seven wonders of the world that is probably the most beautiful you don’t do much to live up to it.”
“No, I would like to keep my body parts but eh that’s just me.”
“Whatever Aura,” Sam rolls her yellow eyes at me dropping the subject.
Before our bantering could continue the door opens allowing a cold breeze to coat the room and all goes silent. It was Marianne Margerette, the biggest slut to ever walk on the grounds of the University of Michigan. Her face was caked with makeup, her hair looked like black plastic with the red roots starting to grow back. She wore short shorts that were way to short in any girl’s definition and a longer version of a bra for a shirt pushing her fake boobs up to her face. What any guy ever saw in her I will never know.
She stalks towards the counter, her stripper heels making a click clack noise across the tile floor. People moved so I could see the barista/o. He worked quickly his broad shoulders moving from side to side unaware of the slut nearing in on him. Even with the hat I could see the mocha hair poke out but when the artificial light hit his hair turned a bronze color.
Marianne reached the counter without giving anyone a peep show and rang the small silver bell. Bing. No one made a sound still in anticipation to see what the man would do but he hadn’t turned around or made any recognition that he heard the bell. Undaunted Marianne rang the bell again. Bing. Still nothing. Hushed whispers were starting to scatter around the room.
Bing. In a movement so quick I thought I was seeing things the man turned around lightning quick and grabbed Mary’s bony wrist.
“What do you want?” He asked through gritted teeth and in a tone that made me want to cower back. He gave Mary her hand back and she rubbed her now sore wrist gently. She cleared her throat.
“Not on the menu.” He answered back without any hesitation. Mark the day on the calendar a guy does not want to bang Mary.
“You sure?” She drags an acrylic nail down his chest. He grabs her wrist again and she flinches in pain.
“Positive,” The iciness of his voice could rival the temperature in the South Pole. He throws her arm back at her and she stumbles back. With a bruised ego she goes to the next available guy in her area.
“Hey cutie,” She purrs. Gag me with a spoon.
“Whore,” I mutter but due to the lack of noise in the room she heard me, hell everyone heard me. Her gaze zeroes in on me and everyone is watching with rapt attention except the barista who had better things to do then to watch a fight. Mary clacks over to me glaring and to be honest she would have been scary if she didn’t look like a clown.
“What did you say?”
“Whore,” I say more loudly and clearly with a confidence I didn’t know I had. “You are a W-H-O-R-E.” She barks out a laugh.
“There’s no w.” She says confidently and I rub my head to relieve the headache that she is starting.
“Can someone get her a dictionary!”
“Listen Laura-“ I cut her off.
“It’s Aura.” Out of the corner of my eye I saw that we now had the barista’s attention.
“Whatever Laura, Aura.”
“Not the same thing.” I finish off for her.
“I’m not a w-hore.” She said making the ‘w’ sound,
“First the w is silent and secondly you look like a whore, act like a whore, and a reek like a whore, so therefore that classifies you as whore in my book. Anyone want to prove me wrong?” No one made a sound.
“Well, well.” She scrambles for a comeback. “At least my parents love and tolerate me unlike sending a mistake like you half way across the world!”
That one stung. Half of it didn’t make sense but it stung nonetheless. My parents were never there for me growing up and never attended any family functions, one of them being my high school graduation. But it was my choice to go to Michigan and we lived in Chicago. Last time I checked a map that wasn’t halfway across the world.
So I just laugh lightly, grabbed my drink, got up from my seat, and tossed the scalding liquid at her. She screeched pawing at her face to make the burn go away. Liquids to throw at people, not just water anymore. Her makeup ran down her face making her look like a drowned clown.
I pushed past the growing crowd of spectators, a smirk settled on my lips as I walked out of the Den. At least the coffee had one good use.
Now what to do, what to do? My classes were over for the day and I kind of ditched Sam back there. A yawn broke from my lips making me realize that I was still dead tired and I hadn’t had my caffeine fix. Hmm I hope Terri is okay with me bothering him.
Terri lived off campus which was common for upperclassmen. He lived a few blocks away in a new building that was filled to the brim with new studio apartments that were affordable enough for college students.
I opened the heavy door and decided to take the stairs because the elevator was crappy and all the staff did was make sure the floor was so waxed that you would slip and fall! I hate them. I walk carefully across the shiny floor and open the door that had the cement stairs leading upwards. Reaching the second floor in second time I entered the halls. They were eerily quiet but I didn’t have the feeling that Hannibal Lector was going to pop out and drag me back to his torture room.
Here we are room 216. I knocked on the door loudly and I soon heard footsteps padding towards the door.
“Who is it?” A groggy voice asks.
“Candy gram,” I say in a sugary sweet voice.
The door opens and Terri stands there looking at me blurry eyes. He was only wearing sweats giving me access to look at his very well defined chest. If only he wasn’t gay. His sandy blonde hair was sticking up in every direction but what caught my eye was the cast he had on his arm.
“Aw you got me all excited Aura.” He says teasingly allowing me in. The room is clean and the bed is made which isn’t surprising since Terri is a neat freak. I plop down on his bed sinking in to it a little bit. Everything seemed to be color coated too. Green stuff was for relaxation, black for coffee related things, brown for school work, and so on and so forth. I don’t want to know what red is, seeing as I found a hidden red drawer the first month I had met him.
“What can I do for you?” He asks.
“Coffee,” I say. “Please I’m dying here.” I pout and give him the puppy eyes. He laughs.
“Sure coming right up.”
I see him walk over to his small kitchen and get his black coffee maker started. I look to the cast again and wondered what happened to make him get it. After pressing a few more buttons Terri comes and sits next to me on the bed.
“Sooo,” I drag the word out. “How did you get the cast?” I ask bluntly. I don’t do the beating around the bush thing real well. He stiffens up as I ask this.
“Just got into a little fight,” He lies. I know Terri is lying because he never ever ever gets into fights ever but I don’t comment on it.
“You okay?” I question and he looks at me with his hazel eyes and starts to invade my personal space. One thing people should know I do not like people invading my personal space ever. Just a weird phobia I have. “Terri?”
“That’s what I love about you Aurora.” Wait when did we get on the topic of love?! “Always putting others before yourself.” Then he leans in and kisses me hard on the mouth.
What. The. F***.
I push him away and in the process land hard on the ground and looked up at him shocked.
“What?” He asks licking his lips. Ok eeww.
“I thought you were gay!” He blushes lightly.
“Uh surprise?” He says is more like a question.
I get up and start to pacing the small room mumbling something incoherent even to my ears. What is going on? Your friend is gay. Why is this happening? Uh idk on that one. Oh my god he saw me in my underwear!
“Aura,” He tries to grab me and I slap him.
“Pervert and sorry.” I must be bipolar or something.
“You done?” He asks rubbing his read cheek.
“Yes. No. Gah, why didn’t you tell me you weren’t gay?”
“I thought you knew.”
“How was I supposed to know?!” You can actually dress and you’re clean.” I gesture to his room. “You talk about guys with Sam and I. I’ve never seen you go out with a girl much less check one out.” I take a couple deep breaths to calm down.
“Because most of these girls are fake or are not my type.”
“Oh and I am your type?”
“Yes! You’re funny, hot, unique, smart most of the time.”
“What that suppose to mean?” I ask through clenched teeth. I may be blonde but I am not an idiot.
“You are completely oblivious to the looks guys give you!” He yells standing up towering over me.
“See that’s what I mean!” The timer on the coffee maker goes off effectively ending the conversation and making tension settle in the air.
Terri goes over to the kitchen grabbing two cups and pouring equal amounts of coffee in each one. He puts cream and sugar in his and leaves mine black. He carries both cups carefully in one hand and stands before me. I don’t think I can look at him without this being awkward.
“Start over?” He asks sheepishly handing me my coffee. I grab the glass and smile a yes back to him. “Great I’m Terri I work at Wolfs Den, I’m a junior, I’m straight.” I hold in a laugh at the last comment.
“I’m Aurora people call me Aura, I’m a freshman.” I say and shake his free hand. I drink the coffee satisfied that it didn’t taste rotten or like a liquefied version of something that comes out of an animal. I finish the drink quickly.
“I don’t think it’s good to drink coffee like water Aura.”
“Well it’s so much better then what your replacement made.” He looks confused at my statement.
“Aura what are you talking about?”
“This guy was making coffee that tasted like crap today so I can over here for some real coffee.”
“No one was supposed to be working at the Den today.” I raise an eyebrow.
“What do you mean?”
“I had it closed since I couldn’t be able to work there today.”
“Then who was there?” I mutter more to myself then him.
“Just don’t go back there and stay away from whoever was working there.”
“How do you know you haven’t met him,” I look to his cast again and then at him. “Terri.” He cuts me off.
“I think it’s time you went Aura.” He stands me up and pushes me to the door. Once I’m out he shouts a goodbye and slams the door in my face. Lovely I think with a roll of my eyes. I don’t see how this barista guy could be dangerous. Hmm maybe he poisons the coffee. I dismiss the ridiculous thoughts and go down the stairs.
I reach the door and a gust of cold wind makes me want to go back inside and wait until it actually heats up. It is not normal for it to be 40 degrees outside in the middle of April. I rub my cold arms and start to hoist my back pack up on my shoulder before I realize I left it at the Den.
I give an irritated sigh and walk back to the Den quickly. Night was quickly approaching even though it was only 6:00 pm and the breeze was getting even closer. Once I reached the Den I noticed that the lights were off and the room was empty. That’s odd this place didn’t even close until 9:00 pm but Terri said it wasn’t even supposed to be open today.
To my luck the door was open and I spotted my blue plaid back pack sitting smack dab on the counter. I know I didn’t leave it there, someone must have put it there. I walked over to the counter quickly and I heard the door shut.
An unsettling feeling started in my stomach and this time I thought that Hannibal Lector was going to pop out and torture me but I dismissed it. I gulped loudly and grabbed my bag but before I could turn around I heard the unmistakable sound of a door being locked.
I turned around bag in hand as my eyes strained to see the figure that was blocking me from freedom. He was tall or at least taller than my 5’6 frame. My heart beat faster and I looked for any possible place to escape.
“The only way to get out is this door.” The voice said and I immediately recognized it. It was the barista, crap he is going to kill me by his poisonous coffee.
“What do you want?” I ask my voice shaking lightly.
“It’s not what I want it’s what you want.” What?! I don’t like cryptic messages.
“I don’t understand.”
“I wouldn’t expect you to, the others didn’t.” Very very creepy right now.
“Who are you?”
“It’s more of the question of who you are.” He took a step forward and I took one back but rammed into the counter. God hates me.
“I’m not anyone.” I’m going to die, goodbye world. I close my eyes wishing hoping for this to be a dream.
“You sure about that Hacker?” My eyes snap open.
Date: April 17th
Location: Wolfs Den
Time: 6:02 p.m.
I look at the man in the shadows trying to get a better look at who was going to take me to prison. S***, s***, s***! I thought it was all behind me but obviously it wasn’t. Did they get Lucia and Chris too? Are they in jail already? Would we get a trial? I mentally smack my forehead at the stupidity of the thought. I doubt that they were going to hold a trial to someone who hacked into a top secret government database.
“I don’t know what you are talking about.” I lie pathetically, I should take acting classes. The man gives out a short laugh and grabs one of the high chairs to place in front of the door to slow me down in case I tried to escape. He stalks forward.
My palms sweat and I had a death grip on the strap of my backpack that dug into my shoulder. I desperately looked for another exit besides the obvious. How much would it hurt to go through a window? The man gets closer.
I turn around, a stupid move when a creepy psychopath is getting closer to you, and grabbed one of the many glass coffee pots. I face him again and chuck the pot at his face as hard as I could. Due to the close proximity it nailed him. He let out a shriek of pain as the shards of glass dug into his skin.
I run as far around him as I can and head for the door. I toss the chair out of the way and just as I am about to reach the door and taste sweet freedom he grabs my bag and yanks me to his chest. I struggle and I hear a click. The next thing I know is that something cold and sharp is touching my neck. I am such an idiot! Why the hell didn’t I drop the bag? If I did I would be free. My eyes burn as tears surface. I would not cry in front of my killer or captor, come to think of it I didn’t know what he wanted.
“I’m not going to kill you.” He said. I gulp down my fear.
“How do I know that?” The knife at my neck isn’t helping your case.
“Because that wasn’t what I was assigned to do.” Assigned to do? What is this CSI? He takes a breath to calm himself. “I am going to let you go but you aren’t going to run, understand? Just because I won’t kill you doesn’t mean I won’t hurt you.” I nod my head to afraid to talk. The pressure from my neck goes away and I hear another click. “Take a seat.”
I quickly grab another high chair to sit in and plop down in it flexing my fingers an annoying habit I have the irritates the hell out of my friends when they won’t stop moving. The man picks up the other fallen high chair and places it in front of the doorway before sitting down in it staring at me.
Because of the darkness I still couldn’t see what he really looked like but I could tell he wasn’t wearing his hat and he had dark streaks trickling down his face. It was safe to assume that it was his cuts from the coffee pot that were bleeding.
“Who are you?” I ask again.
“I’m not here to take you to jail if that’s what you think.”
“I don’t understand.”
“None of them did.” What did he mean by that? Who else would get a visit from evil barista guy over here? “But I am here because of what you did to be put in jail.” I open my mouth to deny whatever he thought before realizing that it would do me no good seeing as he already knew too much.
“What do you know?”
“I know that you successfully deleted two profiles in the Gresdale without leaving a trace.”
“If I didn’t leave a trace then how do you know?” More importantly who else knows?
Gresdale is a top secret organization that according to the government didn’t exist. It consisted of two parts, the technological and the physical. The physical was obvious seeing as they had people do their bidding. The technological was all the computers and saved profiles for each assignment they had the men do. What Gresdale did was simple, they found people that were a great threat to the United States or its emotional stability and took them out, by that I mean kill them or lock them up in a jail that isn’t even on the maps. Seeing as it was one of the places that ‘didn’t exist’ no one really knew about it and there were never any rumors about it either. I never heard about it until two years ago when I really began to talk with Lucia and Chris.
Lucia Halten and Christopher Thompson moved into a house next to mine when I was twelve years old. Lucia and Chris practically raised me seeing as my parents were never around to do so. They took me to plays, the movies, went to important school events. One day when I was 17 they vanished and I was alone again. I didn’t know where they went or why and I couldn’t reach them on their cell phones. Then people started showing up in unmarked cars and started asking questions. I didn’t understand any of it. One night Lucia and Chris snuck in my room and explained their situation. People from Gresdale believed that they were involved in a major human trafficking business which they vehemently denied. Gresdale had apparently seen them handing a person over to ‘suspicious’ looking people and getting a check in return on March 2, when I knew they had been with me at a school function. I told them I would do anything to help them, I just didn’t expect them to ask me to hack into the Gresdale and delete their profiles.
My hacking started when I was 13. I was already good with computers and was just sick of the school having all these restrictions. It started with getting on blocked websites in school, to going into other peoples email, to changing a bad grade, then they started getting harder and harder. I hacked into the police stations database to delete charges against my friend; I falsified evidence to the FBI to protect my aunt, now it came to this. Lucia and Chris knew about my hacking abilities because when I felt guilty about deleting profiles in the police station I broke down and told them. They told me that I was just trying to protect the ones I love and there is nothing wrong with doing a little tweaking.
But now, this, this was nothing I had ever done before but I agreed. Trying to find the Gresdale profile was the hard part. I first had to hack into the official government main database then go through multiple different ones to fine Gresdale. Gresdale had a one minute sweep meaning that the database constantly checked for any threat or anything new that it didn’t know. It took five hours to get in, delete the profiles, and get out without being caught or leaving a mark that the computer can sometimes leave. By the end I felt like I ran a marathon. After that we took my computer and destroyed it for good measure. Lucia and Chris moved somewhere remote to live a normal life. I haven’t seen or heard anything about them or the Gresdale since.
“Because of Lockstar.” So this is how he knew but how did Lockstar know? And why were they interested?
“Yes. See you are a hacker,” No s***. “naturally amazing at 19. What Lockstar does is find people like you or maybe a con artist or an illusionist that can do their talent flawlessly, they then put a price on their head.”
“A price? They can’t do that I’m a person!”
“Not to them. After they determine your price they put up a profile on a site that changes daily for bidders to see. They put the basics on there, height, appearance, ability, kind of like a resume. They leave out your name and location for obvious reasons. They also put your ending goal, something that when trained could do. Lastly there is an ending date. It’s kind of like Ebay after that, the person with the highest bid wins and gets the prize a.k.a you.”
“But why would they want me?!” I ask trying to deny everything I had just heard yet still trying to process the information.
“Think about it hacker, you deleted two profiles from Gresdale. There are high up military personnel that don’t even know about it and the ones that do have a hard enough time getting in even with all the codes and passwords.”
“So now what?” I ask.
“What do you mean?” I stand up from my chair quickly causing it to topple back.
“I mean what the hell do I do?! You tell me about these people, this Lockstar, who apparently want to sell me like cattle because I hacked into a database that doesn’t exist! What now?” Run, run away from the evil insane people to somewhere no one would expect you to go. Or maybe go to somewhere they would expect you to go because then they will be expecting that you won’t go to the place that is expected. The man pulls out a something small and black and tosses it over to me, I catch it one handed and open my palm to see a small flash drive in my hand.
“What is this?” I ask turning the flash drive around as if it were something special.
“It holds all the answers you need to know.”
“Thank.” I look up to see no one. The Den was deserted and I was talking to air. I look back and forth for any sign of human life and found none. “Frikin Houdini.” I mutter under my breath as I push the door open and am greeted by the cold wind.
I blinked and for a second everything was normal. I was walking to my dorm after a long day to get rest. Terri was still gay and didn’t have a broken arm and Sam was still bouncing off the walls. There was no evil barista guy that probably was the person to break Terri’s arm and there was no such thing as Lockstar.
Another gust of wind and I look down to see that I still had a tight grip on the flash drive and that everything did happen. Who would expect that I would fall asleep in class and in the same day learn about people that wanted to kidnap me.
By the time I reached the dorm my body was numb except my fingers because I kept moving them. Once inside the lobby I was greeted by stale warm air that I happily welcomed. A few girls turned to see who came in before turning back to their mindless chatter. I walked down one of the warmly painted halls and stopped at room 7 and unlocked it, went inside, shut it quickly, and leaned against the door sighing.
I was once again alone, my roommate Martha spent more time in the library then she did here. I guess it is a good thing that I am alone now so I could check this flash drive out. My stomach lurched but I pushed the feeling down. It was better to know about this now before some person came actually intending to hurt me.
I dropped my bag to the side and grabbed my blue laptop. I woke it up and my pulse sounded more loudly. I took off my shoes and jacket and leaned against the wall before picking up the flash drive. Mine as well be comfortable before finding out your doom. I take off the black plastic cap.
A loud noise sounded throughout the room and I screamed like a girl in a horror movie. The noise was coming from my cell phone and I groaned at my over reaction. The caller i.d said it was Sam.
“Hey chica waz up?” Sam chirped on the other end. “I was wondering if you wanted to go to the Backroom to get some awesome food.” I look at the flash drive and ponder for a moment. “Aura?”
“Yeah sorry, um where should we meet up?” I say chickening out.
“I’m outside your building now hurry up and get your cute ass out here!” I roll my eyes at her through the phone. “Don’t roll your eyes at me.” How does she know that?
“Fine be out there in 5.” I say and end the call. I grab my wallet and stuff it into my jeans pocket and yank on my shoes and jacket. I grab the flash drive and recap it feeling the need to hide it somewhere. I go into the bathroom and pull out the box of Tampax and shove it in there. People say what they want but if someone is looking for something one of the last things they will do is search in a box full of tampons.
I lock my door and run outside where Sam is impatiently waiting tapping her toe. She still had the cowboy boots but this time she wearing pants and a sweatshirt, she also had grey contacts in this time. She sees me and smiles running over and grabbing my arm and dragging me babbling about something.
“So where did you go after the Mary fiasco?”
“Terri’s.” I think for a moment about what happened. “Did you know he’s not gay?”
“Ha-ha very funny.”
“I’m serious.” She stops and looks at me confused.
“Bu-but you mean I could have been going after that hot man ass for the past eight months!” I nod my head and she screams out in frustration. “How the hell do you even know this?”
“He kissed me.”
“Only you Aura, only you.” She mutters.
“What is that supposed to mean?”
“Nothing oh look we’re here.”
The Backroom was a walk in pizza place and buzzed practically 24/7. It didn’t have any seating so you had to get in, get out, and move on with your life. The door chimed as we opened it and a small group was ordering in front of us.
“Next!” Sam and I walk up to the counter. “What do you want?”
“One pepperoni slice.” Sam said.
“One pineapple and ham slice.”
“$5.29.” Sam paid him glaring at me when I reached for my wallet. The man gave us our pizza and we moved out of the way for the next person to order.
“What?” I ask taking a bite of my pizza.
“First gross.” She points to my slice. “Second you paid last time.”
“You paid for the coffee.”
“Pfft like that was even coffee.” I raise an eyebrow at her. “Oh just be happy.” We walk out of the Backroom and onto the streets with the blackening sky.
Everything seemed so surreal now, none of it made sense. I was a criminal and now I was being targeted. Would these Lockstar people find me? How much longer would it be? Jail was actually starting to look good. Maybe I could go to the police and tell them about this and lie about hacking into Gresdale but I quickly dismissed the idea, it was too risky. Then again I was about to be sold like cattle.
“Aura?” I snap back to reality as Terri bounds up to us, concern painting his features. “You okay?”
No, no I am not okay. A creepy guy just gave me a dose of reality that I do not want to live with. “I’m fine.” I lie.
I see Sam scrutinizing Terri, checking his clothing, his hair, oh my god did she just smell him. Yes, yes she did. Terri looks at me one of his eyebrows raised in confusion as he cautiously backs away from Sam.
“Sammy?” She gives a hmm in response. “Why did you just smell me?”
“Trying to figure out if you are straight.”
“How does smelling him prove that?” I ask eating the last of my pizza.
“I don’t know.” Terri and I share a look but Sam keeps walking, we jog to catch up to her. “I’m bored.”
“Want to go see a movie?” Terri suggests.
“Go mini golfing?” I try.
“No I wanna fight pirates, sail the high seas, and meet Captain Jack!” I groan. Sam also had a major obsession with pirates and Jack Sparrow, not Johnny Depp, just Jack Sparrow. There was definitely something off about her sometimes.
“Sam there hasn’t been any pirates since the 16th century.” Terri says throwing out a random time period. There were always pirates; there were some still today, but nothing like the pirates you see on the big screen with Blackbeard and curses and Davy Jones locker.
“I know but wouldn’t it be exciting. The drama, the action, the romance.”
“The violence.” I say cutting off her rant. “Why would anyone want to go into something that could threaten their life?”
“Because that is just what you need to do.”
“What?” Terri questions.
“Think about it when life gives you lemons you make lemonade, or if he gives you demons you can make demonade…. Hmmm I wonder if that’s even possible.”
“Sam trailing off again.”
“Right anyways it doesn’t matter what the occasion is, if something arises in your life you need to face it head on not having to worry every second of every day. Sometimes you just need to do it because well it’s going to happen sooner or later and you need to get it done now instead of just pushing it off. Whether it is life threatening or boring like breaking up with someone.”
“Since when does anything life threatening happen to someone?” Terri asks.
“It could happen.” Sam tries to counter.
“Yeah in the movies.” I stop walking with them and think about the mini speech Sam just gave. I was not going to be putting off this Lockstar business anymore. “Aura.” Terri shouts back at me when he realizes I’m not with them.
“Go ahead, I need to do something.” Terri looks like he doesn’t want to leave but Sam grabs his arm and yanks him along with her.
I practically run back to the dorm in anticipation. What would the flash drive say? Anything important. No probably just the fate of my life of course it will be important. I open the heavy glass door dodging any people that got in my way in haste to get to my room.
After unlocking the door I lunge at my laptop and wake it back up quickly and grab the flash drive uncapping it. Now my movements are slow as the fear starts to creep back in. Before I could let it stop me I plug the flash drive in and wait for it to load.
The little icon pops up and I double click on it to open it, my heart going crazy. A black window pops up covering the entire screen and it is blank except for six names. It unnerves me to see mine at the top.
Aurora Elizabeth Carter
Valentin Wallace Lucien
Irissa Phyllis George
John Paul Michelas
Francine Barbara Kamel
Matthew Chaitan Niral
The other names must also be the people who also have prices and were probably warned about this situation too. I bite my lip and flex my fingers clicking on the first name.
Let’s see what they know.
Date: April 17th
Location: University of Michigan Dorms, room 7
Time: 7:13 p.m.
So when the man gave me the flash drive I thought it was going to have other information, like how Lockstar was created, why they did this, who was in charge, who was making these deals but I guess I didn’t need to know that. All there was, was a list of names, mine included. I clicked on the man’s name at the bottom to see what information they had on him.
Name: Matthew ‘Matt’ Chaitan Niral
Country of Origin: India
Date of Birth: July 27th
Ability: Con Artist
Accomplishments: Jewel is actually synthetic
Priceless Painting is Fake
Big Red gets away with another scam
And it kept going on and on. Fake valuable items, a man that went by Big Red scamming hundreds and hundreds of people but the police never had a lead or a name to go off of.
Goal: Natural abilities become flawless, no errors, no lead backs
Skin Color: Brown
Hair Color: Black
Eye Color: Brown
Weight: 158 lbs.
Distinguishing Marks: None
Current Location: London, England
Buyers: CIA, FBI, Tiger Lily, Paints Red
End Date: August 1st
Note: Moves from place to place often. Important to apprehend Niral as soon as an agent sees him.
Danger Level: Low
This was one of the profiles! Why would this profile mean anything to me? This guy was worth a butt load but the barista said that they didn’t put in the current location for the bidders to see, so this must be Lockstar’s information on us. But I still didn’t understand why the others profiles were important to me. I dismissed the thoughts and went onto the next name. Maybe they could help me. But with what? Run? Escape? Hide?
Name: Francine ‘Fran’ Barbara Kamel
Country of Origin: France
Date of Birth: December 5th
Accomplishments: Two Mr. Palstons at ball
Shoot out but no Gun Man
Man disappears, found dead later in alleyway
Goal: Be or do anything
Skin Color: White
Hair Color: Cherry Red
Eye Color: Blue
Weight: 132 lbs.
Distinguishing Marks: Clover Tattoo on inner wrist left hand, often covered
Current Location: Queensland, Australia
Buyers: QoE, Banda Azul, CIA, FBI
End Date: August 1st
Note: Ability not the same as con artist though similar. Often wears disguises, need to distinguish who she really is. Hair and eye color change frequently.
Danger Level: Low
Fran had an even higher price than the last guy! Geez these bidders must be made of money, not that I knew who all of them were. QoE, it was an abbreviation for something but what. Not the time to be thinking about the bidders Aura there are more important matters going on like Lockstar.
Name: Irissa ‘Iris’ Phyllis George
Country of Origin: Greece
Date of Birth: January 8th
Accomplishments: Priceless Painting Stolen!
Bank Robbed! No alarms tripped
Jewel taken in Broad Daylight
Goal: Able to take bigger and more expensive items without being caught
Skin Color: White
Hair Color: Brown
Eye Color: Hazel
Weight: 141 lbs.
Distinguishing Marks: Slight Limp from failed robbery two years ago
Current Location: New York, New York
Buyers: Tiger Lily, QoE, CIA, Holly Child
End Date: August 1st
Note: Is quick in getting away. Make sure you block all exits before going in to apprehend George. Stay arms length away to keep valued items.
Danger Level: Medium
Name: Jonathan ‘John’ Paul Michelas
Country of Origin: Scotland
Date of Birth: March 22nd
Accomplishments: Car drives away from explosion unharmed
Truck Beats Race Car in Daytona 500
Car reported flying over Lake Michigan
Well those kind of sounded absurd. I mean if the government can’t make a flying car what makes these people think this guy can. Some of those articles had to have been written by someone mentally unstable.
Goal: Make any car or vehicular device required
Skin Color: White
Hair Color: Blonde
Eye Color: Blue
Weight: 163 lbs.
Distinguishing Marks: Scar on right forearm from car accident
Current Location: Paris, France
Buyers: Paints Red, Banda Azul, FBI, A51
End Date: August 1st
Note: Do not let Michelas get near any vehicle or get inside one. Ever!
Danger Level: Medium
Then the next person.
Name: Valentin Wallace Lucien
Country of Origin: Romania
Date of Birth: October 12th
Accomplishment: None found
Goal: Becomes loyal to buyer and kills whoever needs to be killed on buyer’s orders only.
Skin Color: Not known
Hair Color: Not known
Eye Color: Not known
Height: Not known
Weight: Not known
Distinguishing Marks: Not known
Current Location: Not known
Buyers: U.S Government, A51, Tiger Lily, Holly Child
End Date: August 1st
Note: Extremely dangerous, don’t apprehend Lucien alone. Information needed, bring in with others on list. Valentin is not his real name. Suspected to be assassin of Lamour cult.
Danger Level: High
My blood freezes as I look over his profile again. Why the hell would they risk getting killed to bring in an assassin? He must have killed the people that wanted to get his basic information what would he do is he was going to get sold? And the U.S Government wanted him! I am in more s*** then I realized.
Going back to the main page I saw my name, the curiosity made me want to see what they had on me but there was fear of how much I would see that they had. I checked the clock and figured I would be safe for a few more hours before Martha came back.
Name: Aurora ‘Aura’ Elizabeth Carter
Country of Origin: United States of America
Date of Birth: April 18
Accomplishments: Hacked into Gresdale and deleted Halten and Thompson profiles. No links leading back to Carter.
Goal: Hack into anything, steal information or delete it with no traces leading back
Skin Color: White
Hair Color: Blonde
Eye Color: Violet
Weight: 135 lbs.
Distinguishing Marks: Eyes
Current Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan. University of Michigan
Buyers: Holly Child, Paints Red, Tiger Lily, U.S Government, CIA, FBI, Banda Azul, A51, Gresdale
My heart stops in my chest.
End Date: August 1st
Note: Because Carter can get information on anyone in the entire world including other countries secrets value is higher, raise price. Still attends University of Michigan.
Danger Level: Low
I push the computer away and try and think this through. But what is there to think through?! People wanted to buy me, Gresdale wanted to buy me! God I bet they just want to kill me for hacking into their system. What do I do?!
They knew what I did, they know what I look like, and they know where I live.
I have to leave. I have to leave before Lockstar people break into my room all action movie star like and kidnap me to be sold to my buyer. God that makes me sound like a cheap prostitute or maybe an expensive one seeing my price was almost at $200 billion.
I opened the small closet door and find my duffel bag crammed in one of the corners all filled up with my essential needs. Ever since I deleted the profiles I kept a duffle bag full of everything I needed along with a fake I.D so I could run whenever needed.
I unzipped it to make sure I still had everything I would need in there. A bunch of clothes, toiletries, two laptops, a few cell phones, three fake I.D’s, wigs, colored contacts, and credit cards registered under the names of my fake identitities. It sounded bad that I had all these things but they were necessary.
I stuffed a few more miscellaneous things into my backpack and then carefully put in a small extravagant box. I double checked that my door was locked before I pulled out a short red wig and green contacts. I did not want the Lockstar people seeing me leave the building. After stuffing my long blonde hair into the itchy wig I put the colored contacts in my eye and wished I could take them back out, they were annoying as hell.
I looked at the mirror and could still see my pale complexion and face structure. Nothing I could do about the later but I put some fake tan lotion on me to make my skin look darker, then I grabbed a makeup pencil to put freckles on my face. No one would notice until that it was fake until they were standing close. I put on different clothes and grabbed the duffle and backpack before realizing one very crucial thing. I grabbed the flash drive from the computer and shoved it in my pocket, then erased everything on my computer. No files, previous homework, websites, you couldn’t even get on Google once I was done with it. I left the key next to the computer.
I opened my door and poked my head out looking back and forth to see if there was anyone lurking out here. They were probably still at dinner. I walked out into the barren hallway and closed my door quietly before tip toeing towards the exit feeling very spy like. My palms started to sweat and I flexed my fingers again.
Looking around the corner I saw the receptionist picking at her nails. All I needed to do was get to the door, so two options. Run or creep along, she would probably notice that I was new and I didn’t want to deal with any questioning. I decided to go in between walking quietly so she wouldn’t hear me and praying to god she wouldn’t look up. I opened the door and froze when I heard her voice.
“Have a nice dinner.” I turned around to see she had not looked up and sighed in relief. I practically ran out.
I passed by students who were giving me weird looks but no one stopped or asked me about it. I kept my head down and pulled out one of the cheap cell phones and called a cab to pick me up at the entrance to take me to the airport. A few minutes later it screeched forward and a burly man took my things and flung them into the trunk.
The cab reeked of cigarettes and the cheap air freshener that cabbies always seem to have. We got to the airport in no time and I quickly gave him the money and yanked my stuff out before he peeled away.
I can’t believe this is happening, I can’t believe I have to run away from school. Oh great now I have to withdraw myself from school.
Pushing those thoughts away for now I walked into the airport, the light stabbing at my eyes, the noise was surprisingly quiet though. I stood in line and waited for what seemed like hours before I was next in line to buy a ticket.
“Hi I’m Penelope how can I help you?”
“I need one ticket to Kaunas, Lithuania.” She raises an eyebrow at the odd destination for a teenager to be going to at this time of year but typed in the destination on her computer.
“The flight is at 9:15pm, you will land 70 minutes outside of Kaunas at the International airport, a cabbie can take you the rest of the way. What class would you like?”
“First.” Just because my parents were insanely rich and never were there for me didn’t mean they didn’t give me a s*** load of money to spend on emergencies.
“That will be $1,392.” I hand her the credit card that she swipes through quickly. I put my duffle on the weight scale and she is just about to wrap the identification tag around it when she stops. “I’m sorry I need to see a form of identification.” I smile tightly and grab one of the fake passports and flash it to her. She wraps the tag around the bag and puts it on the conveyor belt and hands me my ticket. “Have a good flight Ms. Samson.”
I grabbed the ticket with shaky hands and hurry to security. I glanced at the time on my phone. 8:30p.m. Depending on how well these idiots could get people through I would have enough time to get to my gate and grab something to eat for the long trip.
I stood in line as it crawled forward shifting from foot to foot and tried to find something entertaining to do. Little kids screamed at their parents, businessmen were talking on their cell phones in a rush. I hated airports. They make the lines look so short but then there is a twist here and there and only two of the metal detectors seem to be working.
A short man was checking people’s tickets and a form of identification. I gave him the same passport I gave to the woman and he smiled his teeth yellow from smoking and made a little mark on the ticket to signify that it had been checked.
I then proceeded to go into another line and wait and wait before I got to take off my shoes and put all my electronics in one of the boxes. Because I am a hacker I had a lot of electronics so it was a pain in the ass to pull them from the bag and put it in a box. I pad across the dirty floor and go through the metal detector quickly without it going off and wait patiently for my stuff to come through.
I put my shoes on and make sure everything was back in place before I headed to my gate. A23, I look up at the multitude of signs and take a left and dodge the numerous people I see. The numbers dwindle as I get closer to my gate but then again who would go to Lithuania in the middle of April?
I find my gate and see that I still have 15 minutes before they board. So I turn around and look to see what food options there were, I never trusted the actual food on the airplane. I chose Panera and got a sandwich, apple, and water. Paying the overpriced amount I put the items in my bag making sure they didn’t get crushed before going to one of the many bathrooms.
That is the one thing I love about airports, you never have to wait in line. After I was done and ready for the long ass flight I went to the mirror having to fix my appearance. It sucked being paranoid. I knew that once I was in Lithuania I wouldn’t have to worry about a disguise because I mean come on who would figure that I was going there?
This was also another precaution I took. I knew where I was going to go if people ever came after me, had the stuff packed, learned the language, and studied the maps. No one would expect a tourist to know their way around Kaunas.
I blinked again and struggled to see, everything had a green haze around it and I didn’t think that was normal. After adjusting the contacts so they felt semi comfortable I ran a brush threw my wig making sure that it didn’t fall off in the process.
My leg buzzes and I pull out the cheap phone to find it had no new notifications. I then realized that I still had my regular phone and pulled that out of my other pocket and shoved the disposable one in my bag.
New Text Message: Sam
My finger freezes over the button. Crap, in my haste to run away and leave everything I had behind so I wouldn’t get caught I forgot about Sam and Terri. I didn’t want to say goodbye to them but I didn’t want them mixed up in this. Maybe if I explained my situation, no they would try and protect me and as a result of that would be getting thrown in jail. I had to cut all ties but I wanted to see what she had to say.
Whr r u?
In an airport about to go to Lithuania in an attempt to have a normal life.
Yeah I probably shouldn’t text that.
“Are you alright?” I turn to see a woman about my height, had ivory skin, and looked fifty that was wearing a chic suit and just screamed my job pays more than yours. I flex my fingers and she notices the nervous habit.
“Yeah, just not a good flier.” She sees through my lie but doesn’t say anything. She turns on the water and starts to wash her hands but it just looks like she is letting the water rinse over them then actually washing them, like she was afraid her hands would fall off. Out of the corner of my eye I see her looking at my fake red hair and it is starting to get unnerving.
Ignoring her I look back at my phone and the text. I delete all the texts that I have ever gotten, I delete the pictures of Sam, Terri, and I. I delete everything I could on that phone and when I was done I took off the back and took the memory chip and battery. I tossed the phone into the garbage along with the battery and then flushed the memory chip down the sink.
The woman gave me a weird look, I mean who dismantles their phone in front of you and then threw it out? This is one of the reasons I didn’t get a Jupiter, you couldn’t dismantle them and erase all the information you needed, and someone could always retrieve it.
“Have a nice flight.” I say to the woman and exit the bathroom bag in hand. I heard a quiet “you to” from the woman’s voice.
I reached my gate and to my luck they were boarding. I got in line quickly and gave the ticket to one of the airport people to scan before having it handed back to me. I found my large seat and moved in quickly so the other passengers could get by. It was like a big blue lazy boy chair that could recline, and had a mini screen to watch your own movie with tapes that they brought around.
“Can I get you anything?” One of the hostesses asked me.
“No thank you.” She smiled and went to the next person while others shuffled by her. I turned off my phone and got out my laptop and went to the schools website quickly.
I hacked into the database and quickly withdrew myself from school, reasons unspecified. I then deleted my email account, then my Facebook account. Anything that had any information on me that they could find me with. My fingers flew across the keyboard and in record time everything was gone. I turned the laptop off and put it back in my bag before I heard a familiar voice.
“No I don’t know where she is and I frankly don’t know why we are going here. Just because we know what she looks like doesn’t mean that we are going to find her like that.” They snap their fingers. I see the lady from the bathroom walk in and is trailed by three other people. I pick up the Sky Mall magazine and burry my head in it.
“They won’t look for us here besides we looked everywhere in Michigan and all we found was Rick.” A male voice said. To my luck they were first class too. Wait why was I so nervous? They were in the next isle and sat in front of me but a few still had to lean into the conversation.
“But the school-“ A different woman started but was cut off by someone with an English accent.
“We checked the school and didn’t find her.”
“Oh come on that’s like finding a needle in a haystack.” The doors were closed and everyone was seated. The air hostesses were making the usual speech that we heard a million times but I was still focused on their conversation. I know eavesdropping is bad but this is too interesting to pass up. “If only the administrators would have given us a schedule or where she was housed.”
“But we weren’t family.”
“You could have fixed that one.” The first male voice whispered furiously.
“Why can’t she find us?” The chic woman said.
“How can she find us when she doesn’t know who we are?!” The male voice practically shouted in frustration and got various looks from other passengers. One of them made a signal to say “we’ll talk about this later” as they all got comfortable as we ascended. My fingers twitched out of pure nervousness of what was going to happen and that caught the chic suit woman’s attention.
She saw my face and her gaze narrowed. I could almost read her mind. What is a girl like her going to a place like this? I blushed and tried to hide more behind the magazine as we leveled.
This was going to be a long flight.
Date: April 28th
Location: Airplane flying to Lithuania
Time: Hell if I know
The flight was 11 hours long and it was absolute torture. We had to stop at New York to drop some people off that were sane enough not to choose to stay in a metal beast for that long and refueled before we went back up in the air.
The four other people in first class was the chic woman, English accent male, temper male, and cautious woman. Chic kept looking over at me every now and again like she knew something. So along with paranoia I have her checking to see if I was some crazy woman. The other three people paid her no mind but I could tell they were getting curious as to who she was looking at. All the other people in first class were dropped off at New York.
I’m reading the Poison Study on my Nook hoping that time passes more quickly but it just drags on. I was at the part were the main character Yelena was hiding in the trees for one of the troops tests. Just as she jumped on the ground from the paranoid feeling of hearing dogs did I hear movement and someone sit in the seat the isle over from me. I don’t look up and keep reading rubbing at the corner of my eyes wishing that my eyes weren’t so noticeable that I didn’t need to cover them up.
“Contacts?” My head snaps up to see chic sitting in the seat smiling kindly at me. Her friends or companions turned around to get a look at who she was talking too.
“Yeah.” I say shortly and go back to reading, this usually meant end of conversation but she wasn’t stopping there.
“Colored I’m presuming since they seem to be irritating your eyes, what color are they? Your eyes?”
“Blue.” I say thinking of the first color in my head; at least I didn’t say they were orange.
“But why wear contacts on a flight this long if they hurt you.” I finally look up to see temper. He is a very good looking guy as much as I hated to admit. He was like a perfect version of a California guy, beach blonde hair, blue eyes, nice tan, muscular like a volleyball player. Crap I’m drifting and I’m supposed to answer.
“I’m running from someone.” Not the truth you moron! Their interests peaked as they turned to get a better look at me.
“Really.” It was the cautious woman but seeing her now she didn’t look cautious, she looked like she would rob from the president and jump out of a 40 story building for fun on the weekends. Her brown hair was pulled in a tight ponytail not a single strand out of place. Her hazel eyes just screamed mischievous and danger. “Who?”
“Uh I don’t really want to talk about it but it’s the reason why I’m wearing the contacts.” I look back down at the Nook in an effort for them to stop talking to me but I failed miserably.
“Why don’t you want to talk about it?” The one with the English accent asked. It seemed weird that he would have that accent since he doesn’t look like anyone from England. My eyes narrow and I lightly glare at him.
“Because it’s none of your business.” I say through clenched teeth and pull out my June and put the headphones in so I didn’t have to listen at anymore of their attempts at small talk. Chic got up and went back to her seat but this time they took turns staring at me. These people were more annoying than they were frightening and I wish I could leave but I didn’t feel like jumping out of a plane anytime soon.
“What’s your name?” California asked me. I look up at him briefly meeting his blue eyes.
“Marge Samson, yours? Or should I just call you Tommy Hilfiger?” He doesn’t seem to like the name and I start to scroll through my music. What am I in the mood for today?
“How old are you?”
“You don’t look 20.”
“I have a young face.” And I was just one year away from being 20 but I realized the more these people irritated me the easier it was to lie to them.
“Why are you going to Lithuania?” Danger woman asks.
“Again I don’t think that’s any of your business.” I finally put it on shuffle and the music starts playing loudly through the headphones so I wouldn’t have to hear them. A few minutes later they gave up and started to fall asleep but Cali kept looking at me. “It’s rude to stare California.”
After hours and hours of sitting on the plane the pilot finally announced that we were landing and to turn off all electronic devices. I turned off my June and finished the last of my water and tossed it in the garbage bag they were bringing around. My eyes were watering by this time and the first thing I would do once we landed was get to a bathroom and take these things off.
We landed smoothly and the pilot thanked us for joining them on the flight and to have a nice day. Here the time was 4:00 p.m. I yawned not having gone to sleep because of the contacts and because of the creepy people in front of me. Chic gave me one last look along with England, Danger, and California before they exited the plane. Good riddance I never wanted to see them again.
I grabbed my bag and stretched one last time before exiting the plane. Here the weather is supposed to be relatively the same back in the U.S but was warmer from time to time. The thermometer outside read 63 degrees and I was more than happy to bask in the warmth.
Finding a bathroom was easy and as soon as I made sure that no one was looking I took off the contacts and blinked in relief. My vision was a little hazy but after blinking a few more time I could see normally again. I took off the wig and ran a brush through my tangled blonde hair before putting it up in a ponytail.
I exited the bathroom and grabbed one of the local newspapers for Kaunas looking at the home options. I was way too young to pass off as a business woman so I would have to act like a college student that was on a foreign adventure and in the sense I was but not under the regular circumstances.
I find the conveyor belt to see that most people had their luggage and were leaving to get their rental car or go to their hotel; unfortunately the other first class passengers were still there. I grimace but then see my bag which I quickly grab and try and get used to the weight, my body felt like jelly and I was suffering from some serious jet lag.
I turned around and walked back to the exits so I could get a cab and hopefully find an apartment or hotel before the night was over. Out of the corner of my eye I see England staring at me with wide eyes and then mutter something to his friends before pointing to me. Oh crap. They started to follow me and I picked up my pace hoping to be subtle about it.
I walked outside and the nice warm air kissed my face and the sun was still shining brightly. There weren’t a lot of people here waiting for cabs and I was out in the open. I take a right trying to find an available taxi that I can take before they find me. I see them come out of the doors looking before they spotted me.
“Taxi?” A small dark brown man asked pointing to his car and I nod quickly. I put my stuff in the back and he gets in the driver seat. Once I’m in he starts to drive. “Where to?”
“Kaunas.” I say slightly out of breath, my heartbeat was returning to normal. I turn around to see the four people looking at the cab frowning. They had a defeated look on their face but I didn’t understand why or why they gave me such a weird feeling.
I shrugged it off and opened the newspaper I had acquired. Let’s see I need a small apartment one bed, one bath, one kitchen, no roommate. If I need to leave I don’t want them to ask any questions or get involved in my mess too. I find a nice apartment that was only 350 euro’s per month out of the city centre which was $500 in U.S currency, in my haste to get out I couldn’t convert the money I had. I dialed the number and waited patiently before a woman with a heavy accent answered.
“Hi this is Marge Samson I’m calling about the apartment you have for rent.”
“Oh yes, yes, you want to stay?” Her English was very rusty but I gave her points for effort.
“Yes, is there a place we could meet?”
“Yes we meet at the Mėlyna Smuklė, it’s a tavern. I’ll wait at one of the tables outside.” I say a quick goodbye and tell the cabbie in Lithuanian, makes it easier for everyone, to go to the tavern.
About 20 minutes later we pull up to a small blue building that looks run down but is still thriving with business. I gave the cabbie the amount in U.S dollars before thanking him and grabbing my duffle. I see a woman with very tan skin from long sun exposure sipping at her drink her eyes lighting up when she sees me.
“Ms. Samson!” She calls and I resist the urge to look around for the person she is calling. I smile and walk over to her and sit down in one of the metal chairs. She asks mundane questions, how was your flight, did you have any trouble finding the place?
“So about the cost for rent.” I start starting to get into character again. When you are acting like someone who you aren’t play their part to a ‘T’. That means if you are a college student there is a 99% chance you are poor so you haggle down the price as much as you can even if you do have money. “How about 300 euro’s?”
“Alright.” What the…. that was easy. Seeing my bewildered face she continues. “No one rent apartment because they don’t have enough money or they aren’t staying here for very long. Shall we go see apartment?”
“First do you know anywhere that I can convert my money?” She stands up and drops a few euro’s on the table and grabs my arm hoisting me up to and grabs the duffle.
“Yes, yes, on the way there. Come.” We walk down the streets and she starts telling me the best places to eat, shop, or hang out at. There is a nice little coffee shop a few blocks from my house, a café that’s three away. Kaunas restaurant always seem to have the best food if you know where to look for. Some people speak English but not all so you should know some of the native tongue in case you need help or are lost.
We stop at a brick building this time and she drags me into the air conditioning waiting patiently as I give the man my money and for him to return it. He looks a little shady so I count the money to see if he gave me the correct amount before putting it back in my wallet.
The lady’s name that was dragging me around town was Rae, she was 43, had two kids a boy and a girl, and lived in Kaunas her whole life. She was a good woman that I felt comfortable around; she didn’t give the vibe off like those other people on the plane gave me so I had no worries that she was going to kidnap me anytime soon.
When we reached the building it was 6:47 p.m. but I was within minutes of passing out. I hadn’t slept for 24 hours and I had no caffeine fix so Rae made sure to get me to the apartment building quicker. The building looked relatively new and up to date with all the latest electronics.
Inside the floors were bright and shiny not a speck of dust, the air conditioner hummed, and the receptionist at the front desk gave me a smile probably knowing I would be here for a long time. As I surveyed the building and start to walk around I almost slip on the floor and make a fool out of myself. My god, the cleaning people must spend all their time waxing the floors here too! There was a lobby to the right and it was empty except for one man who was reading a newspaper. He was wearing suit pants that were cleanly pressed, his legs were crossed, and he had perfectly shined shoes.
Rae and I go up to the front desk and the paranoia feeling is starting to seep in again. What if they find me? What if the people on the plane find me? Why am I so nervous? I concluded that it must just be the jet lag and fill out a form for the receptionist having my name, phone number, all the basic information they needed from me. She welcomes me to the building and says that there is a spare key at the front desk in case I lost mine, Rae had the original.
I nodded and smiled my thanks and shifted the duffle over to my other shoulder feeling the weight starting to take its toll. We go to the elevator and Rae presses the small button and waits patiently for it to come down. The doors finally squeak open and we head inside, Rae presses the number 3. And just as the door closes I realized something, the whole time we were there the man never turned a page. Must be a really slow reader like Sam I lie to myself in my head before other paranoid thoughts started to traumatize me.
We reach room 306 and Rae pulls out an old gold key and unlocks the door and we walk in. It’s nice and a little bigger than the size of a studio apartment but nice, I didn’t need to be living in luxury. Rae told me that there is a washer and dryer in the basement that is free to use to all who live here, the people who run the apartment building just charge you a little extra and it beats walking a mile to the closest Laundromat.
The bed is stripped and the room is bare, basically what I expected for a rented apartment to be, I needed to buy stuff to fill it up with. Another yawn escaped my lips; eh I’ll do that tomorrow. Rae wishes me a goodnight and says that we will meet up tomorrow so she can show me around town. She closes the one window that I had saying that it would get cold at night and gives me the key and wishes me a goodnight and tells me to promise to lock the doors. I nod yawn again and lock the door once she leaves.
I go over to the kitchen to find the refrigerator running but empty along with all the cupboards. The bathroom was nice and clean and looked sterile and the bed was pretty comfy. I stripped out of my day clothes and put on my p.j’s that I dug from the bottom of my duffle and curled up on the bed wishing for a blanket.
I don’t know how long I was asleep but I woke up to darkness. I sat up and looked around to find nothing out of place. My backpack was still by the door and my duffle still lay by the bed. I stand up and stretch and go to the bathroom to wash my face feeling greasy from the long trip. Once I turned the light off I walked back over to the bed and checked the phone to see what time it was.
God the middle of the night. I turn off the phone to save the battery and sit on my bed making a mental checklist of what I should get tomorrow.
God this was making me fall asleep. I lie back down and feel cool air brush my face. I thought I turned that air conditioner off. I shot up in my bed my body growing ice cold. I never turned it on to begin with. I turn on the light and see that the one window was open.
I walk over to it wishing I had some form of weapon. I stuck my head out to find nothing. The room had a view of a few stores and shops around here but there were no fire escaped which while unsafe meant that no one could get in here easily but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t.
I shut and lock the window taking a few breaths to calm myself before searching the place. Everything was exactly where I left it. The clothes in my duffle were unharmed and the fake i.d’s in the secret patch were still there. Everything was in order; I must have slept walked over to the window and opened it. That was the only explanation I could think of, not that any of my friends told me that I have slept walked but nothing was out of place, no one was here but Rae and me.
I walk over to flip off the slight switch when something else caught my eye. Someone was in here but must have left when I woke up.
Fear shook through me as I relocked the front door.
Date: July 23rd
Location: In car driving to Vilnius
Time: 12:52 p.m.
I shifted in my seat again and wished that the air conditioner was better in this hunk of junk car. I yawned and rubbed my eyes to at least remain semi awake; I hadn’t gotten a good night’s sleep last night. Or any other night for that matter, ever since I got to Kaunas I couldn’t shake the paranoia that was following me around, the constant feeling that someone was going to come and snatch me up or kill me.
Rae had started to notice that dark bags under my eyes and became like a second mother worrying and fretting over my physical state wondering if I got any disease. I lied to her and said it was from the time difference but she started to see that I was lying after the first couple of weeks.
Lyla, my friend that I met at the café was driving, and Matt was in the back seat yammering on and on about how cool the fireworks were going to be. Apparently there was some type of competition to see whose fireworks were the best.
I first walked into the café the second day I was here to grab some food and look for a job so my parents wouldn’t be wondering why someone named Marge was spending all their money. So far I had a couple good jobs circled when hot coffee was spilled on me, I swear to god that scene was familiar, and one of the waitresses, Lyla, started apologizing over and over. I smiled and said it was fine while trying to get the coffee off my clothes and the paper. She saw that I was looking for a job and put a good word in to her boss for me and I got the job the next day, we were friends since then but it didn’t help that I was feeling like I was betraying Sam by getting a new best friend. Lyla actually had red hair that was beautiful and wasn’t fake at all like my wig and had brown eyes. She was Irish and her skin was paler than mine which was an amazing feat to accomplish.
Matt was one of Lyla’s friends who I specifically asked if he was gay or not, that was an awkward moment. He had a girlfriend that was studying abroad in England and was madly in love with her so I had no worries. Matt had the boy next door look with soft brown hair and eyes and he just screamed comfort, his girlfriend was lucky. He was also a computer geek like me. I of course had to tone down what I knew so he didn’t look at me like I had a third eye and a second head.
Right now both of them were dragging me to Vilnius which had fireworks that could rival the 4th of July ones back at home so they had to take me and they didn’t take no for an answer. I accepted thinking that this was a good idea, to get away, to forget everything for a while. I mean just because I’m in a different country and living in a different house doesn’t mean I don’t know the exact reason I am there. In fact I am reminded of it daily.
“What do you do at night?” Lyla said looking at me in the corner of her eye while still driving carefully.
“Lyla we have talked about this before.” Matt chirped up from the back. “She is a super hero that fights crime and defeats the bad guys. Or she is a stripper.”
I turn around to glare at him playfully and he just gives me a cocky smile knowing that I won’t do a thing to him. I sit back in my seat and look out the window admiring the beautiful view of traffic. I yawn again and wished that I kept it in as Lyla starts to go off again.
“Marge really.” I cringe on the inside at my fake name. How can these people even be my friends if they don’t know who I really am? “Why aren’t you sleeping at night?”
I think someone is stalking me.
“I just can’t fall asleep.” I lie.
“Maybe she has insomnia.” Matt murmurs from the back.
“I don’t have insomnia I’m just stressed about stuff.”
“What stuff?” Lyla asks.
“Ooh is it boy trouble?” Matt asks in a very feminine voice. I raise an eyebrow at him. “Tell me all about it honey.” Two can play at this game.
“Well there is this guy that I really like but I think he’s lacking in a very important department, I mean his-“ Matt recoils and puts his hands over his ears.
“La la la la la la la la la.” I yank his hands off his ears so he can hear me.
“Personality.” I say before laughing at his horrified face.
“You asked for it.”
“Children.” Lyla scolds. “We still have to drive for another hour and a half so can you at least act civilized?” Matt and I share a look.
“No.” We respond at the same time. Lyla groans.
“How about we do something to occupy you guys, how about I spy.” She attempts.
“Okay I spy something grey.” I say.
“The road?” Matt guesses.
“Yep, Matt wins game over.” I said and close my eyes to get in a little sleep before this hectic night begins.
“What do I win?”
“The pride of winning.” I murmur sarcastically.
“Let’s play the silent game.” Lyla says in finality. I don’t know why she puts up with us when Matt and I together equals really really annoying and frustrated day.
Before I can think about it anymore I drift off into sleep.
“Marge, Marge?” Someone was shaking me awake from the most peaceful dream I have ever had. “Marge wake up we’re here.” I shove the person’s hand away refusing to wake up.
“Marge?” I say my voice thick with sleep. “Who’s Marge?”
“Come on Marge wake up.” The person shakes me again.
“My names Aura not Marge.”
“What?” I blink open my eyes about to smack Sam for waking me up when the scenes started to blend in. We were in a parking lot, it was sunny and hot, I was with Lyla and Matt, oh crap. I scramble out of the car and stand on shaky legs closing me door and smoothing my hair out. They both look at me weirdly.
“Told you she was a super hero.” Matt says before walking over to one of the concession stands. My stomach growled and I started to follow him when Lyla stopped me.
“Yeah just funky dream.” I say quietly. Funky? Who says funky anymore? She still looked worried so I gave her a smile that reached my eyes. “Come on let’s get something to eat, I’m starving.”
We had a late breakfast so that when we drove to Vilnius we could just eat there since they had a boatload of concession stands like any festival would and some pretty decent restaurants. We caught up to Matt who was waiting in a falafel line and waited patiently for the line to move and get our food.
Once we were full and satisfied we set out to find the perfect place to watch the fireworks. There was already a lot of people here setting up that if we wanted what Matt considered a ‘good seat’ we would need to get moving fast even though it was only 3:00 p.m. and the fireworks didn’t start for another six and a half hours.
“We have to find the perfect spot.” Matt whined when Lyla complained again. We often switched roles on who gets to be the annoying ones and who the peacemaker was.
“Isn’t everyplace a good seat? I mean they are in the sky I don’t think you can do badly.” Lyla said. I could tell a fight was starting to brew and I didn’t want to be in the middle of it.
“Why don’t we split up to find the best spot and then call each other when we think we have it?” I suggest and they both nod in agreement. Lyla sits down in the spot she’s standing.
“Found it.” I roll my eyes at her.
“Call at four to tell us your spots.” Matt says before disappearing through the crowds. I say a quick bye to Lyla before heading off in a different direction threading my way through the people. I didn’t really believe in a perfect spot either but whatever makes everyone happy tonight works for me.
More and more people seemed to be coming in and claiming spots and I soon figured that the place where Lyla sat was going to be the only place for us to sit comfortably. A band was playing in the distance and I soon grew confused as to where I was. How do I get back?
A man bumped into me roughly, he wore a dark jacket and a hat to cover his eyes from the now fading sun. I didn’t comment on his rudeness and kept walking back towards where I thought Lyla was when the awful feeling crept back in. I knew it was too good to be true, the paranoia slithered back in and made sure to pluck at my nerves and senses. Soon everyone was a target, I tried to brush it off but the primal instinct of fight or flight was starting to push its way forward and I knew that there was no way I was making this up.
One of the clock’s chimed signaling that it was 4 o’clock and I reached in my pocket to call Matt and Lyla to say that I didn’t have a spot when I came up empty. I patted both of my pockets to find nothing and I groaned in frustration. I know it was a crappy phone, I know that I had six others back at home, but that didn’t mean that it didn’t irritate me. Now how am I going to find them?
The phone must have fallen out of my pocket when I was threading through the people or when I pulled out my money to pay for the food. I would have to worry about it later, right now I needed to find Lyla and Matt so they wouldn’t worry about me.
The sun was starting to make it’s decent but it still remained high in the sky beating down making my shirt stick to my sweaty back. I wiped my forehead and looked around confused trying to find where the hell I was. They should really have a directory around here.
The sound was loud and there was a banging in my head, I groaned and rubbed my forehead to relieve some of the pain. Could this day get any worse? The paranoia started to claw at my throat, they are here, they are going to hurt me, and I needed to move. I needed to calm down but it felt like I was trapped in a box.
“Marge!” Ok so let’s take this apart piece by piece I started by the falafel stand then went by the stage or was it the lemonade stand? “MARGE!” I whirl around at the familiar voice as Matt rushes quickly towards me. Oh thank God.
I breathe a little easier as he comes closer and I rush towards him pushing past a group of people. I bump into a person and am about to apologize to them when green cold, hard eyes glared down at me making my body grow icy. The look screamed murder and I know where to hide the body. My apology is stuck in my throat and I quickly rush past them and into Matt’s arms.
“You okay Marge?” I try and speak but found that I couldn’t use my vocal chords just yet so I nod a yes.
“Um, phone.” I croak out. “I lost my phone.”
“So that’s why you weren’t picking up I thought you got called to do a booty call.” He wraps an arm around me and starts leading me in the opposite direction that I was going.
“I thought I was a super hero?”
“Is there a difference?”
“Yes, a very big one.” Up ahead I see Lyla in her original spot twirling a piece of grass securing our spot and holding a blanket that wasn’t there last time. She looks relieved when she see’s us.
“Where were you?” She asks.
“Got lost.” I say sheepishly.
“Tourist.” She mutters under her breath and I childishly stick my tongue out.
“Ladies I’m going to get the other blankets and pillows from the car, be back in a few, don’t get drunk and don’t take candy from strangers.”
“Aww.” We both whine at the same time. He gives us a small smile before turning around and blending back into the crowd of people.
“Told you this was the perfect spot.” Lyla says sitting back down and I follow her actions.
“That’s because all the other perfect spots were taken.” I say back smirking at her annoyed expression.
“You always have to contradict everyone don’t you?”
“Pfft of course it’s my thing.”
“You okay?” She asks staring at me intently.
“Is that the question of the day, I’m fine.”
“In case you forgot I’m taking psychology and sociology which means I can tell when a person is stressed or lying. With you I can’t tell if you’re lying but I can tell when you are stressed.”
“Wait you can’t tell when I lie?” When the hell did I get good at that?
“No but back to the main point what’s wrong?”
“Nothing it’s just. New country I’m kind of home sick.” I lie hoping she couldn’t see through that one.
“Then why did you move here so far away from your family?” It couldn’t hurt to tell the truth for this.
“My family was never really a family to begin with,” I put my hands behind me and lean back on them. “My parents were always working but my friends were there for me, helping me throughout the way and my neighbors Lucia and Chris, they were the nicest people you could ever meet.”
“You must really love them.”
“Why would you say that?”
“Your eyes light up and a smile is on your face.”
“Lucia and Chris were the ones who raised me since my parents were gone. They gave great advice and taught me how to drive, they did everything for me. When I was 17 they moved and I lost all contact with them.” That was a very edited version. “But I do miss them dearly.”
“Couldn’t you just find them on the internet?” I could probably find them in five minutes but I was pretty sure the FBI still kept tabs on me seeing if I made any contact with adults that lived nowhere near me to see if they could find and prosecute Lucia and Chris.
“It’s a little more complicated than that.”
“Okay then if you cared for your friends so much why move here?”
“I needed new scenery, there was just too much going on, I couldn’t stay there anymore, plus I needed a study abroad experience for a semester.” Well I didn’t need too because I un-enrolled from school.
“Is one of the things that was going on the reason you asked Matt if he was gay or not?” I give a short laugh.
“Um one of my best friends Terri, who everyone thought was gay, surprised all of us when we found out he wasn’t gay.”
“How did you find out he wasn’t?”
“He kissed me.”
“That would shock the hell out of me.”
“Yeah it strained our relationship.” Lie. “And it just became very awkward.” Lie. “So I decided to take a semester here.” Truth, kind of.
“Hey chicas!” Matt yells his arms full of pillows and blankets. He drops them on us in a messy heap before plopping down in between us. “Ready for the fireworks?” I check my watch.
“I will be in 5 hours. Why did we get here so early?”
“To get good seats for-“ Matt is cut off by Lyla.
“For the fireworks.” She rolls her green eyes at him.
“Don’t hate, you know you love my eccentric personality.” Matt says.
“Yeah that’s what we love.” I said in a sarcastic tone.
Lyla starts to agree with me and then she and Matt started arguing back and forth and I wished that I brought some aspirin to relieve my headache and I let out another yawn. Surrounded by a big group of people made me feel safer so I took one of the pillows and got comfortable before closing my eyes and blocking out the rest of the noise hoping to get some sleep before the firework competition began.
“Margy.” Before I said anything I tried to find out who the voice belonged to. “Margy poo wakey wakey eggs and bakey.” Matt cooed. Why was he the one who always woke me up?
I opened my eyes and sat up to crack my back to relieve some of the tension in my back from sleeping on the hard ground. It was hard to adjust my eye sight to the surrounding seeing as it was pitch black out and the lights were dimming down. The competition must be starting.
A loud boom went off and a bright orange flooded the sky. The crowd roared in excitement at the beautiful scene. The first group up called themselves ‘The Sun’. Most of their fireworks were yellows, oranges, reds, and pinks. Loud boom after boom went off the sound ricocheting through the entire place along with ooh’s and aah’s. The last firework was perfectly circular and was a bright yellow but another boom went off inside it and red and orange started to overcome the yellow.
The next group was ‘Pink Flame’, the majority of theirs were pink but in various shades of that color. It wasn’t that interesting until they started to take shapes. One was a bird, one was a flamingo, and the last one was a crocodile that peered at you with bright pink eyes from the sky.
The last group called themselves the ‘Sugar Dragons’ and they made up a motto for everyone to know them by, it was ‘we finna set your sugar on fire’. Their fireworks were multiple different colors and mythical animals. Their finale was a green and black dragon that seemed to slither across the sky, they then set off another firework that made it look like the dragon breathed fire. This elicited the most cheers out of the crowd.
An announcer went up and listed off the three names and said that the winner would be determined by the amount of clapping and cheers. It was no surprise that Sugar Dragons came in first, they carried their trophy off stage and promised another performance in ten minutes.
The crowd was abuzz and excitement filled the air. There was laughter and talking, no one was in a bad mood. My eyes were still trying to get used to the darkness now that the bright lights of the fireworks were gone.
“What do you think?” Matt asked pulling me into their conversation about what was the best and who shouldn’t have made it to the top three.
“The dragon was by far the coolest thing I have ever seen ever!” I said.
“So America couldn’t compete?” Lyla questions.
“America’s fireworks are cool but I don’t think they have ever done something this extravagant.” They should have a firework competition for all the countries to compete in, it would be epic I don’t know why we don’t.
Someone screams and then more people follow. I look away from Matt to see where the screams were coming from and I look to the side to see something bright coming my way fast, very fast. I duck down and roll out of the way but not before feeling something hot scrape at my arm.
People were running away and I tried to figure out what was going on. The bright light of the firework that came towards me blinded me momentarily so I only saw a silhouette of a person on the roof of the direction it came from before a group of people surrounded me.
“Are you alright?” Someone asked.
“Can someone get a medic!” Another screamed. Why would I need a medic? I look down at my warm arm to see that the firework skimmed me and gave me a little burn and ruined my shirt.
This paranoia wasn’t just a feeling there was someone out there trying to kill me.
The only question was who?
Chapter 6 Date: July 25th Location: Café Time: 10:46 a.m. I don’t know what brought me here, to be sitting in an uncomfortable metal chair with the suns hot rays beating down on me while sipping some ice tea. The need for normalcy was definitely a factor after what happened last night. Ugh what happened last night just brought a grimace to my face. Once I could see clearly again I noticed I had almost everyone’s attention that went to the firework festival. They wouldn’t let me stand up or move because of the little scrape the firework gave me. It wasn’t even a first degree burn but the doctor insisted on wrapping it up and keeping it iced for a few days. The people who ran this chalked it up to some drunk kids accidentally lighting a firework but I knew better, not that they would listen to me. I was given the go ahead to leave about an hour later, the Sugar Dragons did not do an encore because of what happened and that dampened everyone’s mood too. Lyla and Matt alternated who drove back home while I sat useless in the back seat. We got back to Kaunas around 1:15 a.m. While heading upstairs to my apartment I realized that this would be the perfect time to leave, the perfect time to run away from this psycho. What I couldn’t piece together is that if Lockstar wanted to sell me why send someone to kill me? Those thoughts made me decide to stay just a little bit longer, to think things through before I started to go through with my next plan, whatever that might be. I never made a plan B because I never thought anyone would find me here, ever. I was being too cocky; they probably had people stationed all over the world just waiting to phone in about the appearance of someone on their ‘list’. I woke up at noon the next day and stayed in my apartment pacing and looking at my friends profiles on Facebook to see how they were doing. Sam was in full panic mode and had put up a missing persons page with my face plastered all over it, needless to say I took it down quickly. Terri hadn’t commented about my disappearance and just posted random things, I was tempted to look further, maybe check their emails, and see what was going on. That thought made me furious. Why should we be doing something so trivial as this, be so God damn important! I wanted my life to do homework, I wanted to listen to Mr. Crugen’s boring lectures, I wanted to sip coffee at the Wolf’s Den, and I wanted my life back! But no they just had to take that away from me! They had to target me and sell me off like a piece of furniture on Craigslist! I actually got some sleep that night to preoccupied about cursing people from Lockstar to the deepest pits of hell instead of worrying about the person trying to kill me. The next morning, this morning, when I woke up I heard a shuffle. The window was open again when I had firmly closed it and the door was unlocked. I stuck my head out the window and looked around once again finding nothing but I had had enough. “Stop being a peeping Tom or grow a pair and kill me already!” I yelled out into thin air before closing the window hoping to God no one was there to take that threat seriously. “Marge?” I look up to see Rae looking at me worriedly. Oops. “Are you okay?” “Yeah just.” I was struggling to make up an excuse and my arms were flailing around to help me explain a story I didn’t have yet. “The night with the fireworks I saw someone walk away after the firework hit me and I thought they were actually trying to kill me and I was being paranoid so when I heard the noise I thought you were them and the window.” I trailed off finding this excuse, while true, sounding completely pathetic. “I think you need more rest Marge.” That’s when I had snapped. She said the words calmly and looked at me kindly but I couldn’t take it anymore. “I’m not Marge! My name is Aurora Carter, I’m nineteen, I attended the University of Michigan until recently, I’m a hacker, I hacked into a top secret organization and that got the attention of another one and now they are trying to sell me!” I yelled out in a rush. Rae just stood there and stared not believing a word of it, of course she would believe the lie. I push past her grabbing my little brown backpack and sandals before exiting my room and the building. I knew it was stupid to be walking around town in my pajamas but they kind of looked like clothes. The shorts were a dark blue resembling jeans even though they were cotton and I wore a light blue tank top. After walking a few minutes I found that there was some event going on, hundreds of little huts were covering every inch that they could, some sold food, others sold jewelry, and a few sold clothing, I headed to that one first. I got a blue skirt and a bra keeping my blue tank top but needing some cover up from the perverts. I stuffed my shorts into my bag and turned on my phone to see I had two voice messages from Rae probably worrying about me, I closed the phone and kept roaming around before I got thirsty and ended up at the café rethinking where the hell my life had gone. I wasn’t a straight A student, I wasn’t overly beautiful, or that popular, but I had a life that I liked and loved, the closest thing to drama I had ever gotten before this whole mess was Terri kissing me, now I’m halfway across the world and haven’t talked to my best friends in months and someone is trying to kill me! Now my life is some bullshit excuse of a soap opera. Life could not get any worse. “Where do we go next, we have already wasted too much time here?!” That voice sounded familiar. I look up from my cup of tea and what do you know life can get worse! The people from the plane were sitting fifteen feet away from me at another table. “We have checked Norway, Finland, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, various parts of India! Now we are back where we started!” That was California talking in what he thought was a hushed whisper but I could still here him if I strained my ears enough. I recognized him, Danger, and England but I didn’t see Chic but they had a new chick sitting with them. I needed to leave, being around them put a weird feeling in my gut. I pulled out my wallet and put down a few bills and was almost in the clear before God decided to have one last mocking laugh. “Aura!” The four heads snapped over to the voice then snapped over to where her gaze was at, me. “Aura Carter is that you!” I honestly couldn’t for the life of me remember this person’s name but I gave a tight smile now knowing she gave my position away. She strangled me with a hug giving me a megawatt smile. “Oh we have so much to talk about!” I look over her shoulder to see the four staring at me intently, just like on the plane. “Yeah, but some other time I have to stop my cat from burning.” I say before skirting quickly around her setting a fast paced walk. I have to stop my cat from burning? I couldn’t think of anything better? I turned a corner and was getting closer to the tents when I decided to look over my shoulder and sure enough they were following me. Screw being subtle. I made sure I had a good grip on my bag before I broke out into a flat run. For some reason I couldn’t run with my sandals on so I kick them off running across the black top burning my feet. I dived into the mass of people pushing past them in a hurry and getting cries of outrage in various languages. I only saw two people pushing through the crowds, Danger and California, the other two were not to be seen and I hoped that they were lost. The two started gaining on me knowing which place was easy enough to squeeze through and not irritate the others. With more determination I pushed myself faster, I can’t let these people take me to Lockstar. I go in a small hut that is stuffed with paintings that look like they were drawn from a five year old; I go out of the back flap and head to the nearest one that sold clothes. I grabbed a hat, dress three times to big and huge glasses using my five finger discount and yanked them on quickly. I go back into the busy crowds again to see California looking back and forth very quickly, the others were gone. When his gaze sweeps over where I am standing I turn around stuffing my blonde hair into the hat. I stop at a tent that had jewelry and stopped to admire it seeing California pass me through the reflection of some of the silver. Once he’s passed I look at his retreating back and turn to go the other way. California POV (Originally wasn’t going to have this but thought why not. Also you won’t know the names until later in the chapter) Location: Café Time: 11:02 a.m. I can’t believe this is so f*ing difficult! All we had to do was find one girl, that’s it! We did find her, she was wearing some awful disguise on the plane but I had to give her props because I didn’t actually know it was her until her said disguise was off and she was picking up her duffle. It was a lucky shot that we got on the same plane as her but that was thanks to another person I was traveling with. She had a good eye and was hoping to find this Carter girl in her dorm because the office wouldn’t let us have her schedule because we weren’t family, but by the time we got there everything was gone, it was a miracle she found traced her parents credit card spending and found out she bought a ticket to Lithuania. We barely made the plane and I was so oblivious not to notice her sitting in first class with us! So after our little argument on the plane, then chat with her, she thinks I look like a Tommy Hilfiger guy (rolls eyes), got off the plane and got our luggage to figure out our next plan of attack, she just strolls over and gets her stuff and we were lucky enough to notice that it was our girl. And then she runs away! Okay so she didn’t run but she quickly walked away from the people who were trying to help her! We tried running after her but she got in a taxi and drove to who knows where. It is practically impossible to follow a taxi when you are leaving from an airport. So with sad faces the rest of us bunked in a crappy hotel for the night before leaving the next day in a stolen SUV. For the next three months we traveled everywhere close to Lithuania, after searching there first, and found nothing. The girl vanished in thin air. We searched Kaunas and found no records of Carter spending anything; we tried Norway, Finland, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India! And found nothing, nada, zilch. If a hacker did not want to be found they did a damn good job of it. Now we were back to square one. “Let’s get something to drink.” She says. We grab a couple of drinks before sitting outside, the only other people occupying tables out here were an old couple and some blonde girl staring at her tea cup like it is the most interesting thing in the world. I sit down making the chair screech loudly very annoyed. Why couldn’t she just help us find her?! We aren’t going to hurt her. Plus she must have recognized her on the plane; surely Rick gave her the down low on everything that was going on, or at least enough to know she could trust us. Now what?! “Where do we go next, we have already wasted too much time here?!” I whispered quietly but not quietly enough seeing as blonde girls head moved. “We have checked Norway, Finland, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, various parts of India! Now we are back where we started!” One of the girls tried to calm me down and I sigh in frustration, we are going to be bought and sold before we find Carter. “Aura!” A voice screams. All of our heads snap up to look at who screamed that word and then to the direction she was staring at. What a stroke of luck! Aurora Carter was sitting at one of the tables looking like a deer caught in headlights as the other girl walked forward. “Aura Carter is that you?” She pulls her into a tight hug and gives her a smile. “Oh we have so much to talk about!” This girl was way too happy. Carter’s eyes slid over to us and I thought that Rick was lying about her eyes being noticeable but you would have to be blind to miss them. “Yeah.” Her voice sounded frightened and by the way she positioned her body we knew she was going to run, we got up slowly. “But some other time I have to stop my cat from burning.” Wait what? This girl was terrible at lying but she was going to get away again. We followed at a brisk pace keeping up with her pretty well, she looks back at us, and then she runs. We split up and me and her are following Aurora quickly going through the mounds of people she went through and ignoring the sandals she left behind. “WAIT!” I shout out trying to get her attention but it is too loud to hear anything. There are shouts of complaint from the other patrons and I wished I was more skilled to move through these people easily. She gives me a look and we split up trying to cover more ground. With that one look I turn back to look at Carter to see where she headed next to just see a mass of people, no blonde hair anywhere to be seen. I look back and forth walking slowly through the crowd looking in the tents to find no one that even looks the slightest bit like her. I look back where I had ran, left, right, forward, back. I see a large woman turn away from my gaze before stuffing her hair in her hat and walk towards her. She stops at a booth admiring the jewelry and I walk by slowly trying to get a better angle on her but she was thoroughly covered up. Once I’m past the booth I hide in another one watching her. Her head snaps up and looks both ways before going back in the direction of the café. “You pay!” I turn around to see an old woman shouting at me. “You want, you pay!” She gestures to the hideous jacket my hand is on. “No, no.” I look to see Carter getting farther away. “If you’ll excuse me.” Her tiny hand grabs my arm. “You want, you pay!” “But I don’t want.” I try and search for the Carter girl again to find her to far out of my reach. I guess one of the others will have to get her. Aura POV I ease past the crowd more gently now since I’m not running from the Lockstar people anymore. First things first I had to move, I should have never unpacked. This time I can go to Australia or maybe the South Pole I bet they’d never find me there, but that is what I thought about this place to. Once the crowds clear I debate going back to the café or back home. Not wanting to deal with overly happy crazy chick that I didn’t remember I decided to head home. People were laughing and having a good time and I felt a pang of jealousy, I wanted that. My dress stopped at my ankles but brushed the ground making it dirty. I grab my backpack that was hiding underneath the dress and pull it out searching for my phone. I grabbed the bulky thing and saw that it had one battery left and turned it off planning to use one of the others to call for a taxi when I got back. Before I could comprehend what was going on someone grabbed the extra material of my dress and dragged me down an alleyway, turned right and slammed me against the wall. It was Danger accompanied by the unknown woman; the other two were nowhere to be seen. “What is going on?” I ask in a terrible French accent. “Cut the crap Carter.” Danger hissed at me. “I don’t know what you are talking about.” I try again. “You know you wouldn’t be in this mess if you got shoes.” Unknown said and I look down at my blackened feet and groaned. Stupid, stupid, stupid! I took off my sunglasses and hat making my hair fall down in a sweaty heap. Time to try a different tactic. “Why are you even doing this?” “To help you, of course.” Danger said. “How is selling me like cattle helping me!” I yell and England walks down the alleyway. Come to think of it he looks more Indian but sounds British, wait focus! “Take it down a notch and you think we are from Lockstar?” He asks. “Who else would you be?” “The other people on the list.” Danger says. “I thought Rick explained this to you.” “Rick, who’s Rick?” “The guy that gave you the information on Lockstar.” Unknown explained. “Ooh, creepy baristo guy.” I say and they all raise their eyebrows at me. “Um I’m Aurora but people call me Aura but I think you already know that.” “Iris George.” Danger said. “Matt Niral.” England. “Fran Kamel.” Unknown. This explains why I didn’t recognize her; she was Chic on the plane, the illusionist. “Aren’t there supposed to be two more?” I question. “The mechanic and the assassin right?” “So you do know about us?” England, I mean Matt asked. “The baristo, I mean Rick, told me very little about Lockstar and then gave me this,” I pull out the flash drive that I kept on a chain around my neck. “He never told me that you guys would be together or looking for me.” “Why didn’t you just wait for us at the airport?” Iris asks. “Wouldn’t you have figured out who we are if you had our profiles?” “I was half asleep and going on basic instinct I didn’t piece together that you are the good guys.” “You looked pretty exhausted but we aren’t here to protect you or runaway, we came after you for a reason.” Iris goes on. “Why?” “Trust me working with a kid isn’t my idea of getting things done but-“I cut her off. “I’m two years younger than you!” “Whatever, the only important thing besides that you are Carter is do you hate Lockstar?” “They destroyed my life.” “Then you won’t mind taking them down with us.” Fran pipes up. “Take them down? How?” “This isn’t the place to talk about it, we have to wait for John then go to a more private area to discuss this matter at hand.” Matt says. “I have an apartment about five minutes away from here.” “Good now we-“ “Guys I lost Carter but it looks like you already found her.” A man says his words slowing down as he gets closer to us. I look away trying to fight the smile that was on my face. “John what the hell are you wearing?” Iris asks looking at the horrible, black, pink, orange, green, bedazzled coat that he was wearing. A laugh slips out and I cover my mouth with one of my hands. John glares at me. “You think this is funny?” “Hilarious, why are you wearing that?” “I was about to follow you when this old woman kept saying I had to buy this hideous thing and I kept saying no and then she got the police so I had to buy it.” “And you are wearing it because.” I trail off and he opens his mouth to have nothing to come out. “That’s what I thought.” “You know for what Rick said you could do I thought you would be more mature.” “And for what you could do I thought you would be fifty pounds overweight and covered in grease.” “Guys not the time.” Fran interrupts us. “You said you have an apartment?” “Yeah, follow me.” We go back out on the streets and I feel more comfortable and relaxed. “You know it’s a relief to know that it was you guys following me around.” “Us? We were here for a day or so before leaving when we landed.” Iris says. “Great so there is someone trying to kill me.” I mutter. “I think you have an overactive imagination.” John retorts. “So my imagination would unlock my door, open my window, and shoot a firework at me?” “Coincidence.” We get to my building and the front desk lady smiles at me and raises an eyebrow at the visitors. I never have visitors, the man that reads the paper in the lobby isn’t here and we all stuff into the elevator. I have to stand next to John and he seems calm and cool like people try and capture him every day. The elevator dings and we file out and I open my door to find a mess. Things were everywhere, knocked over, the window was smashed. We all walk in slowly and assess the damage. “Call the police Aura.” Fran says going into the kitchen and stepping on broken glass. “And pack up your stuff, Iris help, John and Matt look for any clues to who might have done this.” We nod our heads and I get my bag out from the one of the closet and turn on my phone. Three new voice messages: Rae I decide to listen to them before calling her saying that I had to leave using this break in scare as a cover up. “Marge… Aura come back we need to talk, you need to explain this to me, call me.” “Marge I just found a bunch of passports in your bag, what is this about, I’m worried call me as soon as you get this.” “Marge.” She was whispering now and sounded like she was crying. “Help me, I’m in the bathroom there is someone here, she has a gun. God what have you gotten yourself into.” I hear a crack. “No please, please!” There is a small sound and then nothing. The last one scared me and Iris kept shoving things in my bag while the others checked the kitchen. The passports were still there. I went over to the bathroom to find the knob barely hanging in there. I pushed open the door slowly and gagged at the sight. Rae lay limp by the bath tub, a clean shot straight through her head with a small trickle of blood coming out of it; her hand lay on the keyboard of one of my laptops. A message scribbled with my lipstick was on the mirror. You’ll get what you deserve for taking him away from me hacker “Aura what’s going” Fran stops as she takes in the scene. She puts a hand on my shoulder and tries to pull me back. “Still don’t believe me.” I whisper as the others come to see the gruesome sight. “Coincidence?” John asks sounding unsure himself. I only hoped so.