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Running: Chapter One

My name is Lexi Topaz. Yes, Topaz, like the stone. I’ve been on the move for a while now; I never stay in one spot for more than a few days. Since Monday, I’ve been in Coldstone, Massachusetts. It’s the most boring place on Earth.
Whenever I travel, I never bring too much with me: just my drawstring bag, a bedroll, flashlight, a wad of cash, my cell phone, and, of course, my lucky ring.
I have this ring that I wear on a leather cord around my neck. It was my mother’s wedding band, and good things happen when I have it near me, so I always wear it. I don’t think I’ve ever taken it off. It kind of reminds me that there is still a world out there, completely untouched by my own deranged version of reality.
I guess you can say I have a weird personality and appearance. Some people say I have the looks of a fairy princess but the heart of the witch. Understandable. I’m weathered down by my past, which I guess makes me a little rough. My past has shaped me, created me, and will probably destroy me.
My features are a little messed up too. I have caramel-colored hair and soft features. There’s this freckle by my eye that my family used to say was really cute, but I hate it. It makes me look like one of those messed-up movie stars who put fake freckles by their eyes and lips just to make them like sexy or something. The weirdest part about me though is my eyes: they were clear. Like, polar bear clear. There were the whites of my eyes, then this black outline, and from there my iris was clear. Not white, but clear. It’s kind of hard to explain.
I guess you can call me a loner. I wouldn’t mind if you did: it sums up my life pretty well. I’ve been on my own since I was eight. In case you didn’t know it, that’s a young age to be traveling on your own. It makes you more mature than an eight-year-old should be. Heck, it makes you more mature than most adults are.
You can call me a superhuman, more or less. I’ve survived a bunch of things that would kill any regular human, like bullets to the head and 500-foot falls into an ocean. Long story short, I’m pretty much invincible, but in my mind that’s what makes me weak.
I love butterflies. It’s a weird and random thing to say, but I really do. I find them fascinating. They’re so elegant and graceful when they fly that it just brings out the beauty in the world. Whenever I chase them, I feel so free, like there is nothing in the world that I can’t say or do. Then I remember…
I have a hot temper. I get angry pretty easily, about stupid things and stuff. I’m prideful, too. Anyone who hurts or breaks my pride most likely gets broken bones. But I’m not like a bully or anything. Well, I guess I bully people who deserve it, but only if they really deserve it, like if they’ve done something that they really have to pay for. And I’m not just hot-tempered. I have other traits besides hot-tempered and prideful. I’m not that heartless. I’m clever too: give me any sticky situation and I will no doubt find a way out of it. Most likely. Probably. Hopefully.
I miss my family, like a lot. They were so happy and content with life that it warmed my heart just to be in a room with them. A single smile from anyone of them would make my day. But they lead a different life now, way up in the sky with a new place to call home and new faces to call family.
Anyway, here I am in boring, rainy, stupid Coldstone, Massachusetts. It’s probably the smallest town I’ve ever been in. In the center of the town there’s a Benny’s Burger Palace, a small family-owned hardware store, a 7/11 where you can get discounts on pepperoni rolls and lottery tickets, and an old ATM that looked like it would break down if it had to make change one more time. Then there was the train station, and a little beyond that this old school called Washington School, where parents could send their kids from the time they were infants and toddlers to seniors in high school. After high school, you either went to college, or you stayed in Coldstone for the rest of your lousy life, working at the broken-down gas station on Brude Street.
There was this family that owned a small motel behind Benny’s Burger Palace. It was a small, dumpy place- only about five or so rooms with a small swimming pool that was filled with leaves and other stuff that shouldn’t be in swimming pools. It was called the King Motel, which I found pretty ironic, since it wouldn’t have been suited to house a peasant.
In my room, there wasn’t much. There was a single twin bed, a musty dresser, a moth-eaten rocking chair with birds stitched on it and the fluff hanging out, and a small nightstand that had a lamp on it with the shade taken off. The bed was covered in these dirty sheets that probably haven’t been washed since dinosaurs walked the earth. The sheets were, or used to be, a baby blue with a lot of pictures of a smiling sun and a sleeping moon. The dresser had a coat of dust on it, and had a guestbook on it, where you could write your name and a message to the next owners of the room. I don’t know why, but I shoved that into my bag the moment I got there.
I had been lying in that stinky bed all day, so I decided to take a walk down to the burger palace and get something to eat. The King Motel didn’t even have room service.
I gazed up at the menu. There were about five combo meals, all of which looked pretty repulsive. The least-repulsive looking was the number four, which consisted of a double cheeseburger that came with your choice of a soda or milkshake. The meat looked like it had been run over by a truck multiple times, as did the cheese, but it was better than the omelet that looked like chicken upchuck.
“I can help the next customer,” a guy’s voice called out.
I stepped up to the register. The cashier looked no older than I was, about 17, with a wispy mustache and a whole bunch of zits and pimples. He had a Benny’s Burger Palace visor, with a matching shirt and apron. He wore a pin that said BENNY’S BURGER PALACE, CASHIER: THOMAS.
“Can I help you?” He asked unenthusiastically.
“Thomas, huh?” I asked. I loved the name Thomas. It was by little brothers name and my dads. “I like your name. Mine’s Lexi. Lexi Topaz. Pleased to meet you.”
Thomas looked at me like I had six heads. That wasn’t unusual.
“Uh, thanks,” he said. He flipped his greasy brown hair. “Er, pleased to meet you too, uh, Lexi. Now, can I help you?”
“Yes, thank you. I just want a number four with a milkshake, please. Oh, with whipped cream, please. Please and thank you.”
He gave me another unusual look- I guess from all of the please’s and thank you’s, and then punched in my order. He called it out to the fry cooks, who had my order ready in a jiffy. I got it, said thank you a bunch of times, paid in cash, and sat down.
The booth that I sat down at was pretty gross. They were all gross, but this one just struck me as plain odd. It had writing all over the chairs and tables. One thing, written in bright blue sharpie, said: NYKKI AND TOMMIE 4EVA!
Maybe that was the same Tommie, or Thomas, that was at the register. It was cute in a way, but it reminded me that relationships can actually happen, and that thought just made me wistful. A blissful nostalgia washed over me, but left as quickly as it had come.
In front of me, the doors opened. Two thugs (at least they looked like thugs) walked in. Unfortunately, I recognized them. One was on the heavier side, with a full-out brown beard and mustache. He wore a gray sweat suit, and his sweat pant pocket stuck out at a weird angle, and I highly doubted he was keeping a Barbie doll in there.
The other guy was a scrawny dude. He had jeans and an oversized green sweatshirt on. He wore a beanie over his dirty black hair. The mustache that he had reminded me of a caterpillar. They both had skin like coffee.
The big guy was named Biggs. Well, that’s what his last name was. I never actually found out his first name. He was as dumb as a post, and could only say a few syllables at one time without giving himself a headache. The biggest word I ever head him say was pizza. The scrawny one was named Rinaldo, but Biggs called him ‘Naldo, which annoys the heck out of me. He may be tiny, but he could be pretty aggressive when he wanted to be.
I tried to look inconspicuous, just eating my burger and sipping my milkshake, which was pretty much milk with whipped cream on top. But it was no good. With one quick look around the place, Biggs shoved Rinaldo and pointed a big, fat finger at me. I slid down farther in my seat, but they had already found me.
How did they find me so fast? I’d only been in Coldstone for 2 days. It normally took them three, on a good day, to find me.
They walked over. Rinaldo slid in the seat opposite me, while Biggs sat next to me, basically squishing me into the wall. They smelled like gasoline and grapefruit juice, which was a pretty weird combination.
Rinaldo smiled, showing his crooked yellow teeth. “Lexi, darling! It’s been, what, 5 weeks since we last chatted?”
“Four,” I mumbled.
“Four! Wow, time does fly, don’t it, Biggs?”
“Sure does, ‘Naldo.”

Rinaldo grinned wickedly. “The boss has been so longing to talk to you. He misses you, the big, mushy guy. He’s actually on his way here right now to come speak with you, ain’t that right, Biggs?”

“Sure is, ‘Naldo.”

“Yeah.” Rinaldo examined me with his yellow eyes. I’m quite surprised that he could actually see out of them, they looked so old.

The last time Biggs and Rinaldo had found me…let’s just say it wasn’t good for me or them…or the environment. That meeting definitely destroyed a few ecosystems in suburbs around Chicago…

Biggs and Rinaldo wanted something from me, but they didn’t know what it was. They were looking for something that can cause immortality, something that could keep you completely safe for harm or destruction. As long as you had it, nothing could harm you. The object was as good as taking a bath in the River Styx and becoming like Achilles. Except with this, you didn’t have a weak spot. And the Styx wasn’t real, but it would be pretty cool if it were.

Rinaldo leaned on the table. “We know you have it, missy. Now, we don’t know what it is, ain’t that right, Biggs?”

“Sure is, ‘Naldo.”

“No, we don’t,” Rinaldo said. “But the boss wants it.” He leaned in closer and brought his voice down to a whisper. “And the boss gets what he wants.”

“Always,” Biggs added.

I sized up my situation. There was a door dead ahead of me, and one off to the side. But with Biggs right next to me, and Rinaldo right across from me, I doubt I could make it to either of them without them stopping me somehow. True, that gun wouldn’t do much good against me, but still…

The restaurant wasn’t crowded, so I wasn’t too worried about causing a scene. There was a young couple making out in a corner booth behind a plant (yuck), an elderly couple with their grandson, and two teenage boys and a girl, all of whom were probably too ditzy to even notice a car crashing into the building.

Maybe if I could distract the both of them somehow, then I could make a run for it…

Just then, a giant rumbling noise scrambled all of my thoughts. A massive hummer limousine pulled into the parking lot, drawing a lot of attention from the tens of shoppers outside. A familiar, huge figure stepped out of the backseat. He wore a black, Italian suit with blue suede shoes. He wore sunglasses over his eyes, even though the sky was overcast. His tie was a deep red that always reminds me of blood.

Rinaldo and Biggs turned around. Rinaldo eyes widened at the sight of the man. As the man in the suit walked into the burger place and towards them, Rinaldo muttered, “The boss.”

The boss walked over and ordered Rinaldo to get up. Rinaldo scrambled up, knocking over my milkshake. The boss took off his sunglasses, showing eyes that glinted pure black with hate.



“Hello, Lexi,” he said, his voice full of loathing. “It’s been a long time.”



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