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*Newspaper article*

AYKLEYBROOK TIMES
Chelsie Jones

20 November

ORPHANED CELEB, MISSING


ANNA EVANS, AGED 12, the recently orphaned young actress of the famous Evans couple, has gone missing. It may be that she has been kidnapped.
Anna was recently orphaned when her parents tragically died in a car crash. A close friend, Sarah Smith, said: “She went through a stage of denial at first, saying that the car crash hadn’t been an accident, that they were murdered. I tried to make her understand that that wasn’t true, but she wouldn’t listen. Then after a few days, she broke down and couldn’t hold herself properly anymore. Then, just a week later, she disappeared.”
Anna disappeared from the home of Ashley and Brian Thorne, her new foster parents. She disappeared two weeks ago after receiving a threatening note. The note included a warning from what has been rumoured as the killers of the Evans couple. Anna’s foster parents and her friends are concerned to the point of sleepless nights.


“Please come home Anna, everyone’s so worried about you,” Brian Thorne. Some have assumed that the rumoured killers of the Evans couple have kidnapped her.
The police are trying their hardest to find more information. If anyone has any information, please contact the police.

*End of article*

I pull on my jacket, grab my blue bag, the slightly bulging one I packed a while ago and allow my legs to lead me. I have had enough. I, Marianne, am sick of my forever warring parents. I’m sick of them trying to make me choose between them, sick of watching the battles start over petty matters, sick of looking at other parents and mentally putting them next to mine, seeing that they are as different as day and night. I have to go somewhere. Away. Now. The woods.

I slow to a fast walk on the street, wishing I could have Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak. There are not many people strolling around though; most are racing to school or work. So I can keep my head down and allow my feet to tow me towards the park.

My parents won’t realise I’m missing for a while; they think I’ve just stormed off to school. I head to the nearby empty park and sit on an uncomfortably low swing that is hard to swing on without kicking the ground every time, swaying and attempting to let my anger wear off.

Last time it had almost been the last straw in a vast barn of hay. Last time I started making preparations. But I think I’ve always been too much of a thinker and running away filled my head with so many voices telling me different things that I decided that frying my brain wouldn’t be very useful of me. Okay, I’ll admit it, I was a coward. But I’m not now.

My thoughts are interrupted by adult male voices travelling towards me, with heavy, threatening footsteps coming from the same direction. Alarmed, I leap up and over the fence, out of pure instinct and wince in pain as I land in an awkward position. Somehow my mouth has done something useful for once and clamped shut, despite the fire flaring in my right ankle. I clench my teeth and push myself into the woods ahead.

I am not afraid when I look up to see the darkness of the woods. I find it comforting. I like how the darkness and silence enclose me and just like the creatures of this forest, I am invisible. The only problem is that those creatures are invisible to me, too. The thick, warm smell embraces me and it feels wrong to feel scared of whatever might be lurking in the woods. I move further into the woods, sit on the root of a tree, pulling my jacket tighter around me and hugging my legs, ignoring the flames still shooting in my ankle; I’m too tired. I close my eyes.

Something’s twitching against my foot. With effort I lift my eyelids. Ouch. My back is sore. How long have I been asleep? The twitching again. I glance at my feet, now lying on the ground in front of me and to my horror there’s a mouse. I shrieked, kicking out my legs. I am not good with animals.

I watch the creature scurry away deeper into the woods. I stretch my back, wincing at the aching pain. I twist my neck, relieving it of its stiffness. I notice how dark it is-not just within the trees, but outside of it. I have been asleep the whole day.

Unfortunately, kicking at the mouse has reignited the pain in my ankle but it is duller now. Just a minor sprain. I take off a black scarf and choke my foot with it, dulling the ability of nerves in that area.

Fear rises in a bubble inside me. All the ghost stories from my childhood and horror films I watched without permission comes back to me now. But the saner half of my mind pushes it down. Surely is was better than staying at home in bed, trying to sleep through the fights, trying not to think that one of them is going to burst into my room and yell at me. Yes. Surely it is. It gets tiring anticipating the divorce.

I unzip my bag, locking rational thoughts inside my head. Pulling on another jacket, I grab two packets of crisps out of my bag and a chocolate bar, realising how hungry I am.

When I finish, I sit there, unsure of what to do. I wish I hadn’t fallen asleep during the day. I can do anything in the daylight without being seen as suspicious, but at night it is different.
At night, my hearing seems to expand and I can hear every last sounds. Each leaf that rustles seems unnaturally loud to me. I can hear the slightest twitch of every creature. I can almost hear trees and flowers growing and the flowers wrapping their petals in a snug, tight bud, ready for bed.

If I had not slept during the day, I would have fallen asleep straight away when it got dark, when it gets creepy and awkward.
But now, wide awake, I attempt shutting my eyelids for periods of time and then open them again, afraid of what might appear if I am unaware and asleep. Maybe it is a really bad idea, even thinking about this in the first place. But I have already come this far, and I am too proud to go back home just because I am frightened of the dark.

A voice. I jump, and wrap my arm around my bag. In the park. Maybe it’s teenagers? Drunken ones? Stereotypically, and in the media’s point of view, they always hang out in a park or something, late at night, drinking or taking drugs. What if they come through the fence, here? What if they see me?

But instead of backing away quickly and silently further into the woods, I crawl towards the fence, listening. Male voices.
“…Should be around somewhere…”
“…Just a kid…can’t have gone far…”
Terror pierces through my heart, icy and sharp. Who are they? They do not sound like any normal search party. Now I creep away, fast, deeper into the trees. I almost shriek when sticks snap under my feet, the sharp, short sound bouncing off the trunks of the canopy of trees. What if they hear?

When I am sure I am well hidden within the trees, I stop and lean against a tree, breathing heavily. There is a heavy ‘crack’. Just like the twig I stepped on before. Except I am standing still, and I’m certain that my body is too frozen with fear to have made contact with any more twigs.

It must be an animal. But there are traces of warmth from my back. It is too late for me to whirl around to see my attacker.

Something taps on my back, jolting me from my petrified state.
I fly forwards, attempting to flee, but in doing so I fall onto the ground hard, knocking the breath out of myself. A whisper strangles itself through my throat. “Please.” Eyes that were screwed tightly shut against the rough, dirty ground began to squeeze a few drops of tears on my cheeks. What would this person do with me?

“No. I’m not going to hurt you. Don’t be scared.” A whisper that somehow manages to sound reassuring restarts my heart and encourages a heavy, relieved breath to exit my lungs. I shuffle onto my back, and try to prop myself up on my arms, squinting at the dark figure in front of me. A gentle looking figure, with hair that dances with the breeze. A hand appears before me, offering to help me. I accept it, surprised at the firm strength of this small hand.

I cautiously rise; what is a young girl doing here? Then again, what am I doing here?

“I’m Anna, and those people in the park, they’re after me. In short, they’re after my parents’ money, but they’re dead. Everyone I know is being bribed against me…” she blurts, sounding anxious at my silence and suspicion.

I stare in awe at her; I am suddenly ashamed of my life. It is like a film or something….except this wasn’t cool and exciting….she has no one to trust, no mother to care for her, no father to look after her. Yet I am running away from them. “Oh…I’m Marianne…and I’m…” To my relief Anna halts me in my speech with wide eyes swivelling around almost madly, as if she has seen or heard something.

We slip through the trees. In an unsaid agreement, I lead the way; I know this place better than her and she can tell. “So, erm…how come you’re here?” I do not have much time to improvise. So I try to sound like my reason is valid.
“I…I’m having a bad time at home. I don’t want to…can’t…stay there anymore.”

There is a pause and for a second all I can hear is our footsteps and my heavy breathing. I sense Anna’s frown of disapproval. I wish I had improvised while I could.

“Right. Cool.” Anna’s unimpressed response. There are voices again in the distance. “We’ll climb up a tree.” She halts at a thick, tall tree. “This one.” She gestures for me to go first. Without replying or glancing at her, I scramble noisily and blindly up the tree, receiving muttered instructions from Anna, somewhere in the darkness below me. Thankfully, the tree has many lumps and bumps.

Once we are both up and high, I dare to question her. “What if they realise you’re on top of a tree? We’ll be trapped.”

Anna does not reply. For the first time I can see her face properly in the moonlight, and I see that it is twisted in desperation and worry. I see for the first time, the toils and burdens of being on the run alone.

She also looks pale and skinny. And so fragile. She is probably around my age. But if her parents had been rich enough to be capable of paying others to look after their daughter, why does she look so starved? I dig my hand quietly into the bag, and find a chocolate bar. “Anna. Please, eat this.” Anna tries to refuse but in the end her stomach gives her away.

“Is there really no one you can trust?” I ask her…who could not want to help this delicate, vulnerable face? Even more, who would want to hurt her?

“There may be some people…my old nanny…I loved her; she was almost like a mother to me, but she left. I’m trying to find her.”

“If…if you came home with me, I could look after you for a while?” But then I remember why I am here. Anna shrugs with indecision.

We are silent after that for a long while, until I think I hear something. “What was that?” I hiss. Anna immediately strains her ears, listening out for something, anything. She hears it too.

“They’re getting closer.” A minute later, the sounds are more distinct. The men, stupidly, are yelling through the woods. Clearly, being inconspicuous is not their best feature.

Anna turns to look at me. “I’m sorry, Marianne, for bringing you into this. I never meant to harm you.” She is already so sure that there is no way out of this.

Hesitantly, I make a mad suggestion. “Maybe, we could try to jump onto another tree? I think I know a way out of here, which goes straight onto an estate.” I point out the barely visible gate. Anna’s eyes light up.

“That’s a really good idea. I’ll go back into the park and you can go that way, to the estate.” I frown at her.

“No, we’re going to the estate together.” I imagine the faces that would go with the yelling voices, and shudder at the thought of them anywhere near Anna.

There is a slight pause and we can hear the cruel and heartless conversation of the men, purposely trying to scare and horrify us. “Once the kid’s dead, what are you spending the money on?”
“Hmm, could do with a new car…and maybe I’ll open a drug plantation-cocaine, maybe?” The other man answers. They are silent for a second and they listen out for any noise. Then they start yelling again.

“There’s no way I’m dragging into this; you’ll get hurt. Go home. Whatever is happening at home, don’t run away. You can around it somehow.” Anna’s words contradict the feelings that are betrayed by her face. They mean to kill her?
“No!-” I protest. Anna interrupts what I am just about to say:
“-Go home while you have one. However…” she pulls out a piece of paper from a pocket. “Look after this.”

That is her farewell. She turns around, preparing to jump.
“Anna.” She half turns her head, looking almost exasperated. “Take this.” I pull my bag off my shoulders and hand it gently to Anna. “It has an address in. Find me.”

I cannot see Anna’s reaction because of the cloud that had suddenly passed over. The men get louder-closer.

And then we jump.













*Newspaper article*

AYKLEYBROOK TIMES



Chelsie Jones














4 December
EVANS DEAD IN A MONTH

ANNA EVANS, THE ORPHANED daughter of the Evans couple, was found dead in Aykleybrook woods on the twenty-eighth of November.
The twelve year old took a direct shot into the back, which hit a vital organ and killed her. Last month, her parents, the famous Evans couple, were tragically killed in a car crash. Following that incident, there were reports of Anna telling someone that her parents’ death had not been an accident; they had been killed.
Friends are all extremely upset at the news of Anna’s shocking death, and it will take a while to come to terms with. Everyone hopes for justice for what has been done to this family within a month. Countless people agreed on what a caring, selfless girl Anna was. “The world is darker without her,” fifty year old Beatrice Connell, a family friend.
It has also lately been reported that one of the richest families in the UK, the Evans, were murdered as there were people after their money.
Anna was first in line to inherit the wealth of her parents, but since her death, her twenty year old cousin, Andrew Barker, is in line to receive it. Barker mysteriously disappeared the same day that Anna’s body was found. The police are now searching for him and he may be held on suspicion for the murder of the Evans family.
If anyone has any information, please contact the police.

*End of article*

Marianne stood in the hallway, staring at the front page of the newspaper for what seemed like eternity, until her mother broke it, popping her head around the door of the kitchen.

“Are you okay honey? I thought I heard you say something.” The family had not immediately got better, of course, but they had had family counselling and everyone was at least a bit happier. But that didn’t matter right this second.

“I-I’m fine. Can I just err…look at the newspaper for a bit, I-I’ll bring it to you once I’m done.” Marianne stuttered out. She had already started heading upstairs to her room, and did not hear her mother’s reply as thoughts sprinted round and round in her head, blocking all senses.

She stared at the picture of Anna as she went into her room and felt her legs give out under her, throwing her on her bed.

The newspaper slipped out of her hands, and Marianne gazed out of her open window that had not been open before. She remembered the piece of paper that little fragile Anna had given her, a letter for Beatrice Connelly.

And then tears were pouring out, and she wrapped herself into a ball and cried. She had barely known the girl, but had felt so protective over her.

The breeze nudging her from the open window registered at the very back of her head; the window that wasn’t supposed to be open seemed too trivial to think about.

Little did she know yet that there was a yellow piece of paper hiding from her, on her bed, fluttering due to the breeze:

Give us the information Anna gave you, and you and your family will be spared. Or else you will be dead in the woods, Marianne. You.

Neither did she hear the distant voices of the sneering, cold men, the same ones that had sought out to kill Anna.



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