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One Step Ahead
It was a normal year. Just a normal 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. Brooke Johnson was celebrating her 16th birthday with her family, opening gifts, laughing, and having a great time. She had known that today and only today was going to be the best day ever. She was opening her gifts and her mom brought her one last letter. It looked like an old letter, but it had one thing on it that she noticed.
One phrase of words that would shake up the rest her day.
Watch. Your. Back.
She opened the letter, slowly and carefully, not knowing what she would read within the next few minutes. As she opened it, she made all kinds of different looks as she was reading it. When she read the last few words, she read them out loud, “Your mom is next.”, and in one look, her mom knew Brooke’s life was never going to be the same.
“Why our family?” she questioned.
“We aren’t sure, honey.” her mom replied.
“And we are just gonna let this murder happen?!”
“Brooke, we have tried to-”
“Maybe you haven’t tried hard enough! I will find this killer and I won’t let him kill you. No matter what you say.”
Brooke’s mom kept quiet and let her sit and think for a little. Brooke had no idea about what to do, how to find the killer, and who she could trust at this point. Brooke went
upstairs to her room, and started to write. She took out her diary, and started writing her sadness, anger, fear, and worry onto the blank page. Later that night, she couldn’t sleep because she didn’t know what was coming the next day. The next morning, Brooke walked down the stairs in a slumped and sleep-deprived manner. As she ate breakfast, her mom couldn’t help but to worry.
“Honey, please stop worrying, everything will be okay.” her mom said calmly.
All of a sudden Brooke’s eyes widened with anger.
“Everything will not be okay, Mom. You are going to die.”
Her mom had never seen her react so quick. The rest of breakfast was silent, as well as the car ride to Brooke’s cross country practice. Brooke liked to run to help her relax and calm her mind. She needed that, especially now.
As she walked in, her friends immediately saw her face and didn’t bother to ask any questions until the end of practice. Her cross country group was her friends Ella, Heidi, and Brooke.
“Brooke, are you okay? You seemed more quiet than usual today.” Ella questioned carefully to make sure Brooke wouldn’t get mad.
“Yeah, we are really worried because you seemed sort of, well, distant.” Heidi immediately added on.
“Guys, I’m fine. Thanks for worrying, I just have some family stuff on my mind.” Brooke replied as calmly as she could, knowing that she couldn’t tell her friends any part of
what she learned on her birthday. Yet, Brooke knew that no secret could be kept between her and her friends.
At her locker, Brooke just couldn’t hold it in anymore.
“Guys, I just can’t keep a secret from you. On my birthday, my mom gave me a note saying that a killer was out for my mom’s side of the family. It said that my mom was next.” Brooke said as quietly as she could.
There was no response except for wide eyes and jaws dropped from her friends. All they did was try to support her because they didn’t know what to say.
When she got off the bus, she noticed something weird in the air-, a drone. Brooke started to walk a little faster, yet she kept her eyes peeled like a prison guard. As she was walking home, the drone kept following her. She started to walk faster, faster, faster.
She finally stepped into her house, and looked through the family room window. She noticed the drone was in the sky. Sitting. Watching. Brooke immediately closed the curtains and went upstairs. Once she was in her room, she closed her curtains right away. After, she got on her computer and went to text her friends about the drone following her. Then she noticed an email popped up. As Brooke opened the email and read it, there were only three words, and they kept replaying in her head.
Watch. Your. Back.
All of a sudden, her computer went black, as if it were dead. Brooke tried restarting it, pressing random buttons, and anything she could do to try to get her computer to work. She tried to text her friends, but the three words popped up.
WATCH. YOUR. BACK.
Her phone was broken within milliseconds. She knew this wasn’t any ordinary killer. Brooke had finally understood what her mom had meant when she said that her family has tried to find the killer before. Still, she knew she would stop at nothing to find this killer. Brooke had one problem though, and that was that she knew the killer was watching her. Every single move she made. Every single word she spoke. Every single gesture she did. She knew she had to be one step ahead, always.
The next day at school, Brooke talked to her friends about her new killer situation. She knew she had to keep it quiet just incase the killer could hear her through the camera.
“Guys, the killer is a hacker, a major hacker.” Brooke commented.
“How do you know? What happened? Are you okay? Will everything be okay? Are you being-” Ella was stopped in her sentence.
“Watched? Yes, and I need help from either of you to try and get one step ahead of this guy, so I need some technology help. Do either of you think you can help?” Brooke knew she was asking for a lot, but she was really hoping she could get help from her friends.
All of a sudden, a random voice yelled Brooke’s name, and it came from down the hall.
“Brooke, Brooke!” the voice yelled.
Brooke couldn’t see who the person was, or where the voice was coming from. Then she saw a blur, jumping. Up and down. Up and down. Up, and down. She finally saw the familiar face, and it was Raul, the school broadcast guy. He ran as fast as he could over to her.
“Brooke, Brooke,” Raul was panting as he was out of breath. “I couldn’t help but hear that you needed some computer skills? Well the person you need is right here. How can I help? Hacking? Nanotechnology? Some kind of super spy surveillance-”
“Woah, Raul. Hold on right there.” Brooke paused Raul in his sentence. “I just need someone to help me with locating and catching this killer.”
“Well I’m always ready to help! Where do you wanna meet? Subway? Starbucks? Pane-” Raul kept spitting out ideas like the bullies who spit out spitballs.
“Hold on Raul. This isn’t some kind of date or-” Brooke got interrupted right away.
“Great. Your house at 6pm. See you there!” Raul skipped away as if angels had just kissed him on the cheek.
Brooke just stood there frozen until she realized she would be late for class. The rest of the day went fast for Brooke, until she got off the bus. Once again, the drone was above her and hovering over her until she went inside. Brooke closed all the curtains, and went upstairs. When she went into her room, she saw her phone on her bed with a note saying, “You get one more chance. Watch. Your. Back.”
Brooke turned on her phone and everything was the same, the apps, the messages, the photos, yet she knew something was wrong. All of a sudden she heard her doorbell ring, and looked at her watch with panic. It was 6pm exactly.
“Brooke! It’s Raul, can I come in?” Raul was shouting at Brooke.
Brooke walked down the stairs to let Raul in. She opened the curtains and noticed the drone was gone. Brooke opened the door to Raul with a big smile on his face. As she opened the door, Raul yelled with happiness, “Let’s get to hacking!”
Both of them went upstairs to Brooke’s room and Brooke showed Raul her computer. She explained the message and how her computer stopped working after. Raul asked question after question and Brooke answered them all. Two hours later, Raul looked at Brooke’s phone with frustration, “This is harder than I thought, this hacker is good.”
“Did I forget to say I got the same message on my phone?” Brooke said in a small voice.
Raul gave Brooke a look of annoyance. Brooke looked at her phone with wide eyes as Raul started coding. She showed confusion when Raul was speaking as if he was speaking a foreign language, but finally, she understood something he said.
“I know where he is. I know where the killer is. I did it, I just tracked a hacker killer!” Raul exclaimed with excitement.
“Well, where is he?” Brooke was anxious yet worried for an answer.
“He is at—the old Boston abandoned warehouse?” Raul seemed confused about his findings.
“Great. Well that’s where I’m going. Tomorrow. Meet me there at 6.” Brooke replied in a serious tone.
“Brooke, are you sure you want to do this?” Raul exclaimed with worry for her.
“Raul, my mom’s life is at stake. I have to do this.” Brooke walked Raul out of her house and said goodbye.
The next day, Brooke went to school with a confident smile on her face. When she stopped to talk to her friends, they were confused and a little worried.
“Brooke, how is everything? Are you doing okay?” Heidi asked with a curious tone.
“Am I okay? Oh, I am so much better than okay.” Brooke answered with a proud voice.
The group of friends walked off to class for the day. The day went by slow for Brooke, knowing she was going to have the best moment of her life after school. At the end of the day, since she rode her bike to school, Brooke went to the abandoned warehouse. She waited 15 minutes for Raul to come. One minute before six, she got a text message, from Raul, “Can’t make it, got family stuff. Sorry 4 last minute cancel!” the text said. Brooke knew she had to do this alone.
She walked into the doors of the warehouse. The lights were already on. Brooke tried to sneak around the boxes to get to the middle of the warehouse. She saw a computer, next to multiple other computers, and an empty chair.
All of a sudden, Brooke turned around to hear a gun cock. Raul had the gun pointed right at her forehead.
“You were never actually one step ahead.”
Seconds later, Brooke fell to the ground.