To me, Lilia Kemmel, Hansen Burke, Courtney Jacobson, and sixteen others.
Hello, everybody! I bet you’re just as excited as I am for the student exchange program! This is an excellent opportunity for you students to learn about another culture while keeping up with your studies. I’m sure all of you received the pamphlet, but this is a reminder of a few rules to keep in mind.
1. No weapons of any kind are allowed, so please keep them at home. There will be a thorough search of your belongings by the teachers and the security.
2. Be respectful of whomever is around you. Not only will it show that you have good character, but it will also show the good conduct of your school.
3. Students are required to write an essay about what you have learned in the country you are visiting every two weeks. The essay needs to be at least a thousand words.
4. Remember to bring your wallet. Your designated temporary family is not required to pay for your outings.
5. Follow whatever rules your designated family gives. They are allowed to send you home if you have disorderly behavior.
6. Most importantly: have fun!
Your teachers will accompany you to the airport to make sure you get on your plane safely. Those of you who are going to Germany have had your plane delayed for an hour, but you still need to arrive on time. Bring a book or game if you think that you may be bored while waiting.
Thank you for your time and cooperation! I wait in excitement for your future essays!
Scarlett Anneli had only been in France for two hours, and she had already broken Mr. Mile’s sixth rule. She’d been having fun with Courtney on the plane ride over, but her friend had her ‘designated family’ waiting for her at the gate and had been quickly whisked away. Scarlett didn’t mind at first, but, after retrieving her bags and sitting on an uncomfortable plastic chair, the girl became utterly bored.
The pamphlet, along with a few teachers, had promised that the hosts would be waiting at the airport for the students on their arrival. This was apparently a lie, as there was no sign of Mr. and Mrs. Durand anywhere. Scarlett was starting to think that she had been stood up, if that was even possible. After the third hour past, Scarlett stood, stretched, and strode over to the front desk.
“Bonjour,” Scarlett greeted. The woman behind the desk glanced up from her laptop and gave the girl a once over. Her bright, red lips became a thin line of disapproval, not that Scarlett minded too much. She was well aware that her orange curls were frizzy due to the humidity and of the slowly fading pillow crease on her cheek from snoozing on the plane. However, Scarlett didn’t have the energy to dig through her luggage to find her makeup bag.
After a moment of awkward silence as the two examined each other, the woman sighed and composed herself.
“Bonjour,” the woman replied, eyeing Scarlett warily. “Comment puis-je vous aider?” Scarlett placed her duffle at her feet and flexed her arms, flashing the woman an apologetic smile.
“Je m’appelle Scarlett, et je suis perdu. Parlez vous anglais?” The woman sighed once again. Scarlett assumed that she was bored, that, or Scarlett was the most taxing person this lady ever met. Either way, Scarlett didn’t care too much.
“America?” The woman asked in a thick accent, raising her eyebrows. She didn’t wait for an answer before continuing. “Is this first time?”
“Yes, Madame,” Scarlett confirmed. “I’m supposed to be picked up, but they haven’t showed.”
“Do you have their information?” The woman asked. Scarlett paused, mentally slapping herself due to her own stupidity for not thinking about it beforehand. She crouched and dug into her duffel, disturbing her clothes in the process. When she found the crumpled up scratch paper with the Durand’s information, she glanced up at the woman, whose eyebrows had disappeared behind her copper bangs. Scarlett attempted a smile, which was more like a wince, as she smoothed the paper on her leg and thrust it toward the lady. The woman pinched the corner with the tips of her fingers and squinted at the scribbled words scrawled across the page. Suddenly, she placed the paper on the counter as she picked up a plastic phone beside her, punching a few numbers before raising the phone to her ear. Again, Scarlett felt her cheeks grow warm in embarrassment for not thinking about calling earlier.
“Bonjour,” the woman spoke, looking intensely at the paper before her. “Est-ce la résidence Durand?” Scarlett waited awkwardly as the woman and whomever answered exchanged a few words. Finally, after only a minute of waiting, the woman hung up and slid the paper back to the redhead after scribbling a few notes on the margins.
“‘E wants you to take a taxzi,” the woman explained. She paused, giving Scarlett another look. “You do have money, oui?” She waited for the younger girl to nod before continuing. “This is Durand’s address.” The woman tapped her notes on the paper. “Monsieur Durand will be waiting for you inside.” Scarlett grabbed the paper and quickly swung her duffle back onto her shoulder, nearly spilling the contents in the process.
“Merci, Mademoiselle.” Scarlett quickly got out of line and hurried to the doors, but not until she saw the nod of farewell from the receptionist. For a moment, Scarlett wondered by she hadn’t asked, or looked for, the woman’s name, but she quickly forgot about it as she hailed a taxi. It wasn’t like she was ever going to see that woman again, anyway.
Finding a taxi wasn’t difficult. Scarlett got into one of the cars with no trouble, but it wasn’t until the driver spoke to her that she realized that there was a problem. The man spoke no English, but he was patient with her broken French even though he didn’t understand a word. It wasn’t until Scarlett shoved the paper into his face and pointed at the address that he finally sped out of the parking lot with such speed that Scarlett wanted to jump out for fear of crashing.
Scarlett had her face pressed against the window the whole drive. She wanted to soak up the architecture and pretty flowers. She hoped that they would get to see the Eiffel Tower, and she did, sort of, but it was far into the distance.
The driver chatted profusely throughout the drive, but Scarlett could only understand bits and pieces. She assumed that he was trying to feed her information, so she mainly nodded and thanked him once they reached their destination.
The Durand household was petite and a beautiful shade of blue. Scarlett stepped out of the taxi, and, after paying the man, he gave her an enthusiastic wave before speeding away. Scarlett had strolled confidently to the front door, but she paused when she noticed that it was slightly ajar. She knocked, which made the door open more.
“Monsieur et Madame Durand?” Scarlett called, staying safely on the cement step before the door. There was no answer. The girl glanced at her surroundings, but only saw a few civilians walking by leisurely. She examined the door again, but she was almost certain that it wasn’t broken in anyway. She thought that the receptionist at the airport had told her that Mr. Durand would be waiting for her. Perhaps it was just the wrong address, or at least, she hoped.
“Bonjour?” She tried again, wondering how long of a walk it would take to find another taxi. Suddenly, a man of short stature and pepper hair appeared from around the corner. He took one glance at her and smiled widely.
“Bonjour, petite fée,” he boomed, flinging his arms out in welcome. Scarlett took a step back in surprise, but was quickly ushered in by the man.
“Monsieur Durand?” She guessed, stepping into the house. The walls were painted a light shade of red with polished wood floors. Mr. Durand nodded enthusiastically as he strode past her and shut the door. Scarlett noticed the imprint of picture frames missing from the walls. Were they thinking about re-painting?
“Oui,” Mr. Durand agreed, interrupting her thoughts. He beamed, placing a hand on Scarlett’s shoulder and propelling her farther into the house. She felt the hair on her arms rise in alarm, but she wasn’t sure why. The fact that there were no pictures on the wall and how he was practically shoving her farther into the house felt off.
“Where is Mrs. Durand?” Scarlett asked, forgetting to speak in the foreign tongue. Mr. Durand shrugged.
“Shopping,” he replied curtly. “Want to cook good food for you.” Scarlett shivered slightly. She didn’t mind the broken English; she was in their country after all. However, the information she received stated that the couple could speak English fluently.
“Um,” Scarlett hesitated, trying to dig her heels into the floor. Mr. Durand paused, waiting. Scarlett cleared her throat. “Could I go put my stuff down in my room?” The man frowned in thought.
“Uh, yes?” he consented. He pointed lazily down the hall. “Room right.” Scarlett nodded in thanks before quickly setting off and disappearing around the corner. She had only gone a few steps before her senses were overwhelmed with the scent of something foul. She gagged, quickly covering up her mouth with her elbow. She needed to get out of that house, she decided. Whether this was all a coincidence or that man was in fact not Mr. Durand, Scarlett didn’t want to know. She was going to power walk to the airport and launch herself onto a plane to take herself back home. Who needed extra credit anyway?
Scarlett shifted the weight of her bag to her other shoulder, tensing incase she needed to use it as a weapon. Straining her ears for Mr. Durand, Scarlett tiptoed back down the hall. She finally had sight of the door when she was yanked backwards. Mr. Durand stood over her, an eerily chilling smile resting on his lips. He tsked-tsked, shaking his head slowly in disappointment.
“Now, now, fée,” he chided, roughly yanking her up by the hair. “Rude to leave without saying au revoir.” Scarlett screeched, flailing her arms but was quickly silenced after the man raised his hand over her head and brought it down in a fist, leaving a ringing sound echoing through her ears as she faded into darkness.
To me, Lilia Kemmel, Hansen Burke, Errol Menning, and fifteen others.
Some of you may not have heard, but Scarlett Earington was found dead on February 6, 2015. However, it is theorized that she died the day that she, and the rest of you, arrived in your separate countries.
Due to this incident, every single one of you must return home. You are to leave immediately to the nearest airport, with or without all of your belongings. This exchange program has been terminated as of February 8, 2015. Your parents have already been contacted and will be waiting for you at the airport.
Those of you still in France, advise your guardians to lock their doors. Scarlett’s killer has not yet been located and has already killed over three people. You are required to be escorted to the airport. Those not in France need to do the same for safety precautions.
Thank you for your cooperation.