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I knew something was wrong with her the moment I saw her on that Monday morning. She trudged towards me with someone stood by her side. I couldn’t make out who it was, but I could guess. The mystery person turned down a side street after leaving her. As she walked forward I could see her mascara was smudged, she had wavy hair and dark circles under her eyes. And anyone who knows Kirsten as well as I do will know that, the day Kirsten doesn’t straighten her hair, there’s definitely something wrong.
"Kirsten are you alright?” I asked as she dragged her feet toward the school gates.
"I’m fine." She yawned, as if she had no idea what I was talking about. She saw the look on my face and realized I needed an explanation. “I spent the night with Jordan, Mum’s been arguing with me again and I needed to get away for a while. It’s no big deal.”
“Just as long as you’re ok.” I whispered back. It was Jordan walking with her this morning. I’d guessed right. I know Kirsten better than she knows herself.
“Oh, crap.” She muttered to herself.
“What’s up?” My attention was straight on her.
“Left my P.E kit at home. Mum’s at home all day so I can’t go back and get it.” She moaned.
“We’ve got it after lunch. I’ll go home and lend you my spare stuff.” She hugged me.
“You’re the best friend ever Gracie.” She sleepily smiled.
“I know I am.”
All through the morning she was quiet. It was as if everyone in our classes knew something I didn’t. Kirsten Daly is usually the most popular girl in the whole of year ten. But I was the only person at her side throughout the morning.
It soon came to lunch. We walked to my house and I ate my lunch. Kirsten confessed she didn’t have any so we split my sandwich, shared my crisps and ate half of a Twix each. While I called my Dad and left an answer phone message to remind him about dinner tonight, Kirsten made her way to my bedroom, she knew exactly where everything was.
“Kirsten, are you alright?” I shoved the phone back to its usual place and waited at the bottom of the stairs for a response. I hung around for an answer. “Kirsten?” I called her name again. There was no reply. Two steps at a time, I rushed to find her. I burst through my bedroom door to discover she was no longer there. My wardrobe was wide open, her school bag laid open at the foot.
I shouted her name over and over again thinking it was another one of her games and that she was hiding, waiting to jump on me any minute now. I realised she wasn't about to scare me half to death. Shaking, I took my phone out and rang hers. I heard her ring-tone. It was coming from inside of her school bag.
Where could she have gone? Why had she gone? Everything was perfectly fine. She’d said her parents were on her case a little but that’s usual for her. She does something wrong, they tell her off, they argue then Kirsten keeps her head down for a few weeks and it’s all alright.
I rummaged through her bag for some sign of where she might have gone. There were scraps of paper all over my bedroom floor. Some had phone numbers scribbled in blue messy ink. The most recognizable was scrawled across a piece of lined paper in red ink. Fifty-two Greenwood Avenue. Where had I heard that before? It rang a bell. I’d heard it before. Where? What significance did it have? I racked through my brain for answers.
Then I remembered. I’d been out shopping with Kirsten one day and she said she was going to meet Jordan and that somehow meant her needing to find a bus that went to Greenwood Avenue. I couldn’t remember the exact number where she’d said that he lived, but it was a link, wasn’t it? I followed my gut instinct, grabbed my jacket and sprinted to my destination.
I ran through streets of old, neglected council houses, looking for number fifty-two. I stopped for a minute, to catch my breath. The numbers went up to fifty on one side and fifty-four on the other. But there was one more house lurking in the shadows. There was no number to identify it, but it was the only one that fitted with Jordan and Kirsten’s shadowy relationship.
The house was derelict and abandoned with two front windows shattered. To me, it looked larger than any house. Standing at least three storeys tall, I’d call it a mansion. McDonald’s wrappers and beer cans were strewn across the wild front garden. I walked over to the open front door, knee high in takeaway leaflets and newspapers from the late 90’s.
Something faint glowed at the bottom of a short staircase. The steps led downward, maybe into some sort of cellar. Floorboards creaked as I made my way toward the top.
“Rob.” The deep, threatening voice startled me. I jumped back, causing another floorboard to creak. “D’ya hear that?” The male’s voice was heartless. “Check it out. Upstairs.” Footsteps got louder. A tall, black silhouette was in the doorway at the bottom of the stairs. Before I could turn and run, a skinny boy was stood just steps from me. He stepped down to where I was and grabbed my wrists to pull me viciously down the steps. I fell a few steps from the bottom, the figure didn’t care, he carried on dragging me. I scrambled to my feet and stumbled along a dark, moonlit hallway and into a room, lit by a single candle.
He pushed me into a corner and told me to sit down. I ignored him and stared straight past him to the other figure slumped against the wall, there was a broad shouldered person stood over her. ‘Rob’ laid his hands on my shoulders and shoved me until I thumped to the floor.
The curtains were drawn and let in only the tiniest bit of light when the chilly winter wind blew through them. Kirsten was on her knees in the other corner of the room.
“Kirsten.” I whispered.
"Grace, what are you doing?" Kirsten’s bloodshot, wide eyes flickered over to me.
"Shut up, I told you not to speak." The figure standing over her shouted forcefully. The voice I recognized instantly. Jordan.
The only movements were from Jordan and his companion, Rob. That must have been his name. That’s what Jordan called him.
"Please Jordan.” Kirsten pleaded.
“Shut up.” His voice was angry and firm.
“Is this about what happened last night?” She was straining her voice so it sounded a little stronger than before. “If it is, we can talk. There’s no need to act like this. Let Grace go. Let a little light into here and we’ll talk everything through. I promise.”
“You promise too much Kirsten.” He silenced her.
Rob paced in front of me. Jordan guarded his territory. Hours passed. The sun began to set, light from outside no longer spilled through the frequent, tiny gaps in the curtains.
“Please. Please Jordan.” She began pleading again, it was no good.
“Shut. Up.” He pronounced his words clearly, his demands were simple but it didn’t stop Kirsten.
“Let Grace go.” It sounded like she was challenging him. I wasn’t the only person who noticed this. “She’s done nothing. Why are you even here anyway? Why have you brought us here? What’s the purpose? Go on tell me your big plan Mr Big Shot. Tell me…”
Wind blew through the shattered window, causing the candle in the hallway to blow out, our last source of light had gone. We were in complete darkness. As quick as the wind ripped through Kirsten’s words, I feared something more had ripped though her. A single gunshot pierced through the air.
"Kirsten. Kirsten. Kirsten." I screamed. Horror overcame my full body. Jordan came storming over to me, a chill from the cold night air sent a shiver down my spine. He stood over me, his menacing green eyes stared me down. Like I was next.
"Sit down.” He ordered.
"What have you done to her? Why? Why her?" I exclaimed, tears overflowed my eyes.
His hands pushed me down on my shoulders so that I fell to my knees. Jordan knelt down next to me.
"Some things have to be done; it was Kirsten's fate to end up like this." He started. As chilling as his voice was, it wasn’t that what scared me the most. Tears rolled down my face. “Your fate has also been put in the hands of me..." He said.
"Why? Why?” I asked through my tears.
"Rob, you deal with her." He says backing into the shadows.
Rob took his place. He guarded me silently once more. Jordan was no where in my sight.
What must have been hours later, Rob’s back was turned for five seconds, five seconds too long, and that was when I made a run for it. He turned noticing my sudden adrenaline to escape. He ran after me. I pushed him, with everything I had, against the wall. He staggered about. I could just make out him muttering swear words in the background. I got to the door then two hands grabbed my shoulders to destroy my hopes and pull me viciously back into the room of horror.