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Not An Accident
It had been one month since the fire; we finally had a house again. It wasn’t to far from the old one; I could still visit it if I want to. I’m not sure if I do.
I remember that day, waking up to the relentless beeping of my alarm clock. As I groggily got out of bed, I paused, sensing something wasn’t quite right, and then I smelt it, smoke. It burned my nostrils sending all my senses into overdrive, filling me with adrenaline. I had enough sense to throw on my robe and slippers before running to my mom’s room. However, I could not get there the fire had started downstairs and was making its way up, I called out, warning her about the fire. She called back, justifying that she was ok. I could just barley see her through the flames, she had a balcony with a trap door in the floor, off the side of her room, she had a way out. Not me. I remember turning around trying to stay calm, to think straight. Windows, I’d thought, Check the windows. I ran to the end of the hall, we had a big window there, the kind with the seat. As far as I knew, it didn’t open but I’d never really tried before. Don’t panic, don’t panic. I reached the window and touched the back of my hand to the glass, still cool. Good. I examined the window... Ah ha! A latch! I lifted up the window as far as I could and carefully thrust the screen out, it fell to the ground. I was only one story up but the ground was hard from the cold October air. The fire was close, I could feel the heat radiating onto my back. I took a deep breath and jumped.
“Ness?” my mom said pulling my back to the real world away from my frightening memories. “Are you OK?”
“Yes mom, I’m fine.” I could tell she was worried. The move and the fire had been hard on us all. I had hardly said anything to her since she picked me up from school.
After returning my backpack and homework to my room, I decided I would visit our old house. “Mom I’m going for a walk.” I called out on my way to the kitchen.
“Ok honey,” she called back, “don’t be to long.”
“I won’t.” I grabbed a chocolate chip cookie from the jar on the counter and headed outside, the weather was much nicer today, as it had been yesterday, so I left my jacket inside. I stepped out side feeling the warm sun on my face, seeing it glisten off our pond in the backyard, something else that was new to me.
When I arrived at the charred, crumbling, remains of my house I saw something glint in the debris, reflecting the suns light. I moved closer to the glinting object, trying to see what it was... That was strange. It was a box, ornately craved, and wooden. It should have burned down in the fire, and I was certain I’d never seen that box before. The reflective glint I’d seen came from a round metal seal on the top of the box; it had a picture of a sword with an eye in the handle. I picked up the box and opened it, inside was a single slip of paper on top it said:
Vanessa Kelly, We are watching you.
I gasped, stumbling backwards and tripped on a piece of couch and fell backwards cutting my hands on scattered glass. I turned around and ran. I ran all the way home, past the kitchen, up the stairs, and into my room. My sanctuary.
“Ness? Vanessa? Are you ok?” my mother must have seen me run in, she sounded worried.
“Yes, I’m ok.” I choked out, it sounded false, and my mother must have thought so too.
“Honey, you don’t sound find... Can I come in?” I looked down at my hands, I was still tightly clutching the box and paper, the paper was splattered with blood from the scratches on my hands and arms, making it look even more lethal.
“One minute mom.” There, that sounded a little more normal, all those acting classes on hiding your emotions finally paid off. I quickly walked across my room and dropped the box and paper in a drawer. I pulled my sleeves down to cover what I could of the scratches. I’d take care of them later. “Come in mom.”
“Hey, are you ok? You seemed kind of...” she trailed off. I wondered what I looked like to her.
“I’m fine mom.” I said again.
“Ok...” she trailed off. “Oh My God! Vanessa! What happened to your hands?”
“Umm... I fell, on my walk” True, sort of.
“Hmm, ok...” She sounded doubtful. “Do you need help cleaning it up?”
“No, it’s ok. Thanks anyway.” I needed some time alone to think about what I found, and maybe hide in my closet for a while.
“Ok, well, I’ll be in my office if you need me, ok?”
“Ok, mom. Thanks again.” My mom was a writer, nothing big, mostly articles for the local paper, but it was a stay at home job so she could work and still look after me. She walked out and closed the door behind her. I breathed a sigh of relief. I was still pretty shaken but I didn’t think I should bring the issue to my mom just yet. That’s the thing about sixteen year olds; they want to be totally independent. But I needed to find out more first, for all I know this could just be some sick prank. No need to worry my mom for nothing. I cross the room and slowly opened the drawer, as if it would explode in my face if I opened it to fast. I pulled out the paper and examined it for clues. On the back was the same symbol that was on the box. I wonder what it means… Now to examine the box, I picked it up. There were two golden handles on the side, I pulled on them. Nothing. I tried pushing. Nothing. I pulled on one and pushed on the other, still nothing. I tried the same thing on the other side. “Augh!” I was mad now. Apparently I was getting closer to my death and I couldn’t find out why. I threw the box on my bed; it landed upsidown reviling another symbol that I had not noticed before. I moved closer and picked the box up. The symbol was the same as before only this time it was a carving, not imbedded on a metal plate.
I saw a slit on the middle of the sword carving. I carefully inserted my finger into the slit, nothing happened. I tried turning my thumb, the bottom third of the box started to turn itself with my thumb. Once it had turned 90 decrees it stopped, then popped out into my hand. Yes! It was another box smaller now, I opened it. Inside was a knife. A knife and an amulet. The amulet was in the shape of an eye, it was sitting on the handle of the knife like in the symbols. I pulled them out. I knew what I had to do.
“There.” I said out loud. I had just finished putting the last bandage on my arms. I had cleaned up all the scratches and bandaged them. I put my jacket on. The knife was hidden on a belt on the left side of my body. The amulet hung around my neck. I was ready.
“Mom, I’m going out again.” I called. She was in the kitchen cooking dinner.
“Ok honey,” she called back, “be careful.”
“I will.” Try. I would try so hard to come back to her, but I knew my chances were very slim. “Bye Mom, love you.” She was slightly taken aback by this but returned my farewell none the less.
I looked around; I was back in the remains of my old house. There were papers strewn everywhere. None of the papers were burnt. I looked around at them. They all had the “eye on the sword” symbol, of course. There was a clump of papers over by one wall. I walked over to them. Our couch, now charred badly, was on my left. This is where the fire men said they thought the fire started. Strange. This is were the bookshelf should be. Well, I guess it could have burned down. As I moved closer I saw something near the bottom of the wall. I squatted down to look at it, A carving. Just like all the others. But this one was slightly different, the wall curved in a little where the eye should be. It was about the same size as...
I pulled it out from under my shirt, and carefully inserted it. The wall started to move, including a small platform that I was standing on. I noticed for the first time that it was not carpeted like the rest of the living room, the wall was different too. Now that I was away from all the charred rubble. I was away from all the charred rubble! I spun around. I was in a very labratory-ish looking area. There was a wooden door at the end of the room, covered in a giant carving matching all the rest. The door flew open and a man stepped out, “Hello Vanessa,” he said, voice dripping like ice, “I see you've come to die.”
He started making his way toward me as if he was trying not to scare me. To late. My heart was pounding and my palms were sweating. I could see he had a hand gun in the holster on his belt, but he was also holding a knife. He did not want my death to be quick.
I felt around on the wall behind me, trying to get the amulet to reopen the secret passage way. He saw what I was doing and started running toward me, he was fast but I knew if I had to out run him I could. I was on the track team. I needed just a little more time as he was about to stab me I pulled out my knife, right to the gut. His knife landed in my arm.
“Uhhhg...” Thump. He slouched to the ground, I pulled both knifes out. I knew he could probably still follow me, the cut wasn’t deep enough to be fatal, but now I had a head start.
I shoved the amulet in the wall and the door flung around whacking the man in the head. Bonus! I was facing the front door now, so I did what anyone else would do, I started running. I got halfway back to my house when I saw him coming. I don’t know how he got out but I didn’t care, I just ran faster. He was clutching his gut with one hand but he still managed to run pretty fast, in the other hand was his gun. I could see my house now so I sprinted. If he decided to shoot me I wanted to give my mom some warning. Dear God, please don’t let him kill her. Please don’t let her die. If she died it would be all my fault. I wished I had never gone to the house.
I reached the door and through it open “Mom!” I chocked out, I was panting.
“Vanessa! What happened are you ok?” she was worried of course, what sane mom wouldn’t be if their daughter came in, running for her life, arm gushing blood?
“The fire was not an accident!”
And then the bullet entered my skull.