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Don't Ask, Wouldn't Lie
Author's note: Please comment!
At least... I think I am.
It’s a long story. But after I got accused, bla, bla, bla, I decided that my story needed to be written down. Not the phony story that you probably know.
I promise if you read through this, you’ll figure something out (another reason why I’ve written this book – my mistakes are so lame, you should really have different ones).
I could start when I was born and you would still be confused. Trust me. I really don’t know where to start..... (and despite James’ protests, I'm not starting with ‘I am an idiot’)
My name is Hannah Kennington. Or really, it was. I was fifteen with straight light brown hair and green eyes and had been kicked out of seven different schools. Normally, it’s not a big deal. I just move on, make friends, and then make ‘the mistake’. Then goodbye school, hello new school.
I lived with a relatively normal family. My dad worked for the government and my mom usually stayed at home. My brother, George, is almost seventeen though so he’s about as normal as an almost-seventeen year old can get.
You could say I’m the loose tire on the car, but really, I’m not a trouble kid. Not if you look in my perspective. Anyone else’s.... well let’s just stick to mine, shall we?
“Hannah please try not to get kicked out of this school.” My dad begged me from behind the wheel of our brand new car. We went through this before every new school. I barely listened. They say the same thing every time – be good. Right now, my music was blaring in my ears. I could see their lips moving from the mirrors, so I was fine. I could read lips. It wasn’t like they were changing their script anytime soon.
I glanced out the windows. Snow drifted by. It was mid-November and snowing. Great. I sighed. “Sure, dad.”
“Hannah, try to make friends this time. Good friends. Good, law following friends.” My mom put in. She grabbed the mirror in the car and started to apply makeup.
“Hannah Kennington, are you even listening to us?” My dad asked. My dad’s this skinny little man with glasses and that look in his eyes that says he’s with you in person, but his mind is out on Mars.
“Duh,” I replied as I fidgeted in my new uniform. My past seven schools were public, but somehow my parents had managed to get me excepted into a private school. I totally wouldn’t mind that, except for these stupid uniforms. I mean, who wants to wear a freaking skirt everyday? I’ll answer that: no one.
“Hon, Bridgington will be fine for Hannah. They take in special students.” My dad said to my mom, talking low. Not that it mattered. The mirror showed me their lips just fine.
“Ken I know. I’m just worried for her.”
I glanced at my iPod and shuffled the music forward to my favourite song. Bridget Young started to sing in my ears: The day is young, but still I sing, waiting for, heaven to come.
When I looked up my dad was holding the wheel tight. “She’ll be fine,” he told my mom through clenched teeth.
“I’m just pointing out that maybe we need to consider… other options.” My mom said ‘other’ like it was the worse thing she could think of.
“This one will work. Trust me.”
I glanced back down at my iPod. I didn’t want to listen – or really, see – this conversation. It was too much. Despite how much I rebelled, I still hated to see my parents fight.
My point of just ignoring the world until we reached our new school was blow to pieces.
I couldn’t hear anything, just feel it. My world was pushed forward. My forehead slammed against the seat in front of me as a car rammed us from behind. George fell sideways as the car swerved and slammed into me. I twisted and slammed into the side door. The glass broke and cold air rushed in. pain exploded through my body.
Dad rushed to try and get control of the car. Fear rushed into me as it didn’t work. We flew and flew round and round in circles as the car hit black ice. I felt the car tilt sideways. It tethered on its edge balanced between the ground and air.
And then the world made its decision.
We crashed towards the ground. I felt the ground smash into us the roof of the car bending against the weight. Pain crept into my body as I felt every single part of me compress under the weight.
My body was suspended mid-air, held there by my seatbelt. I groaned, barely conscious. In the back of my mind I heard someone crash to the ground.
Then someone grabbed me, unbuckling my seatbelt. They pulled me from the car, dragging my body against the wreckage and through the window. Glass bit into my skin, but I didn’t feel it anymore. Just numbness.
“Stand… up…” I felt someone breathe raggedly into my ear. “Run.”
I stumbled up, not quite sure how I was moving. My legs shouldn’t work. My arms shouldn’t move. My heart should be beating.
I got up but as soon as I completely stood up blackness crept into my vision. Not good. I lurched forward but before I hit the ground arms grabbed me. I almost pulled them down with me, but they were stronger than me. The practically dragged me from the crash. It was slow going. My body wouldn’t cooperate and blackness kept taking over my vision.
Behind me, I felt heat rising. I risked a glance back only to see fire in the car. “No…” I croaked. “Mom… Dad… George…”
As I watched, the car’s flames leapt into the air. Then something went wrong. I felt a trigger inside of me, as if I knew what was going to happen.
I watched, as if in slow motion as the car exploded in front of my eyes. Parts rained down but I just stood there, even though the arms were tugging on me, urging me to duck.
A metal pipe hit me and I flew back a foot before hitting the pavement.
The last thing I heard before I drifted into unconsciousness was sirens.
Beep, beep, beep.
“Hans, come here.” My dad was crouched next a flower.
“One second, dad.”
I gave a playful role of my eyes and walked over. My pink Easter dress floated around me.
“Hans look at this.” He pointed excitedly to a bug. “This bug is the Yought Fire. It’s rare for anyone to see it.”
“There’s nothing special about it though.” The bug was plain black with tinny gray dots on it.
“Oh, but there is something special about it. You see the way those pincers move? It’s feeling everything. It doesn’t have eyes, nose, or ears. Those pincers are how it stays alive. And you see how there’s two? If it loses one, it dies. It’s hard for one pincer because it thinks it can do it all. But really, it needs the other one to live.”
Beep, beep, beep.
I tossed my head to the side. “Dad, come on. Mom’s calling us.” I mumbled in my sleep.
Beep, beep, beep.
My eyes fluttered open. I groaned as pain hit me. It was less than last time at least. Only in my head now, the doctors said. Just for a bit more, and then it will be gone.
The lovely, lovely doctors.
I twisted my head to look out the window. Bright green leaves covered the trees outside. Winter was over. Had been for months.
Sadness crept over me as the past few months events made its way back into my memory. I remembered the crash and then the drifting in and out of sleep for two months with pain shooting through all of my limbs. Then the months after months of physical therapy, gathering my strength. The doctors had said that I was lucky that I wasn’t paralyzed. And I suppose I was but that didn’t make it any easier. The pain was still there. Miraculously my body had been left with virtually no scars, except for a crescent shape one on the small of my back from some glass.
I hated that scar. I wanted to forget it. I wished my mind had been lost that I had gotten amnesia and couldn’t remember it.
But I could.
The only good thing was George.
Somehow, someway, George had survived. It was practically the only thing keeping me going, keeping me living.
Living. With who? I sighed at that word. We had no extended family – they had all died and my parents had no brothers or sisters. At least I had George still. He would take care of me.
Tears crept into my eyes at the thought of George. He had it worse than me. All my problems were virtually gone. His right arm… his right arm would never work again. It was paralyzed, frozen from the elbow down, destined never to work again. Of course, that was the least of his worries. And soon, my worry too.
You see, George is dead.
I know what your thinking. How is George dead? I mean, didn’t you just say that George would take care of you?
Yes. Yes I did.
The thing is, George being dead and all is just a technicality. He got better faster than me – way faster – and he got the choice first.
And he said yes.
I got the choice too, but I really didn’t have a choice. Once George said yes… well I couldn’t just let him go alone now could I?
Oh. What’s the choice? It came the first time I had woken up.
A tall, beautiful woman had stood to one side of the room. Her hair was a mess. A serious mess. She wore a black pantsuit with a white silky shirt underneath the blazer. She held a cup of coffee in one hand and looked like she hadn’t slept in days.
The woman smiled at me walked towards the mirror and started to fidget with her makeup though really, with that hair and clothes, her make up was the least of her worries. “You’re awake.” She told me softly. “Do you feel okay?”
No. Not okay. Far from okay. I felt like some monster had chewed me up, spit me out, grilled me over a fire, than tossed me to the side like trash.
But I had learned to lie over the years. “I’m okay.”
A smile hovered on her lips as if she could detect the lie, but she let it slid. “Do you know what I am?” she asked me.
“A detective?” I guessed.
“Mum hm.” She smacked her lips together, making her lipstick perfect and started to mess with her hair. “I am a detective, yes. But not for New York.” She turned around to face me as she pulled her hair into a tight ponytail. Her poster was cool and confident as if she was discussing the weather. “Can you guess who I work for?”
“No.” I said flatly. My head was throbbing, and at the moment, this guessing game was getting on my nerves.
Her hands plopped to her sides and she sat – or more fell – down in the chair next to my bed. She stared into her lap. “I work for the CIA.” She said softly. “I came here to tell you that – that your parents died in the crash. You know that.”
I nodded. I didn’t cry though. I felt hallow, like nothing would affect me at this moment.
She continued even softer this time. “My name is Brianna. Your father was one of my best friends. In fact he was my partner for a while. When you were born, he made me your godmother. And,” her cool, confident façade faltered. “And in the unlikely event that both you and your mother die, I, I get courtesy of you and your brother.” She looked up, as if daring to hope that such a tragedy could work out to be good.
“I know this is hard on you.” She told me. “And I’ve never told anyone this before so I’m not quite sure I’m doing it right. But I’ll try my hardest. If you don’t want to come with me, I could put you up for foster care.
“Is George going to live with you?”
She looked down. “About George…” she glanced at the security camera, than dismissed it. “He said yes. But for official purposes… he’s dead.”
“Dead?” I felt faint. This couldn’t be happening.
“Not really,” she assured me. “He’s alive and well and safe somewhere. But according to the world… yes, he’s dead.”
This lady was crazy. “So…” I said slowly. “He’s… alive… but dead… but if I come with you I get to see him.”
She nodded as if what I had just said made perfect sense. “Of course.”
I gave her a timid smile. “As long as you wouldn’t mind me getting kicked out of some schools, um, all right.” Okay, so I’ve barley known this woman for a few minutes, but she knew where my brother was. I wasn’t giving that up. And okay, she was in the CIA. But we could work around that right?
“And there’s one more thing.” She said. “If you come to live with me there’s this school that I would like you to go to.” I gave an inward groan. Another school for ‘troubled’ kids. “Your dad told me about you talents and I could get the school to except you. Your brother will be attending it.” Okay, so not a school for troubled kids. My brother was about as far from troubled as you could get. “And don’t get me wrong, you’re great and talented, but your brother’s older. And you’re a bit young for the school, but we can work around that.”
“Do you have a point?” I said. The throbbing in my head was getting harder to bear.
“If you go to the school,” she said nervously. “Well, you’ll be trained to become a spy. This school is a CIA operated school. And they want you.”
I know, like, totally shocking right?
Anyways, Brianna left to give me time to think.
I came up with my answer pretty quick: there was absolutely no way I was going to let my brother do this alone because a) this was an adventure and b) well, he was my brother. If he was going to do something idiotic like this, I wasn’t going to let him do it alone.
The next few times I woke up, my best friends Sam and Luce were there. They both went to fine arts school – my fifth school – and somehow we managed to stay friends even once I got kicked out.
They gave me so much news and always wished me well but really, I only felt worse after their visits.
Because really, one of these visits would be their – our – last.
“I can’t believe I’m actually doing this,” I murmured. Brianna stood in front of me. She stared down at a computer.
“Uh huh. Don’t worry, Hon. It’ll be fine. Just die and I’ll take care of the technical details.”
After I told Brianna I would go, Brianna let me in on tiny little detail of what had to happen:I have to die. George’s already done it. And it’s not really dying. Brianna just tampers with the machine, makes sure no doctor succeeds in saving me, and vola. I’m dead. They pretend they burn me and there’s no evidence left behind. Brianna already replaced the video cameras so they wouldn’t capture the moment.
And I’m erased. No one thinks I’m alive and I’m dead according to every single record. At the new school I officially erase Hannah Kennington and a new character is born. My name, personality, maybe even my hair, will change. Hannah Kennington is dead.
Back to the present.
I nodded and pretended to drift off (by the way, drifting off in a hospital bed that you’ve barley left in the past week is really hard). I tossed in my ‘sleep’ and pretended to be deep in sleep. Apparently, Brianna’s been watching me, and I fall asleep almost instantly.
That’s when the beeping started. It was an intense beep and the only time I’ve ever heard it before is on one of those doctor shows where it’s always a close call and the patient miraculously survives. Except this time, I wouldn’t be surviving.
Brianna gave a small yelp. “She’s dying! Help! Doctor help!”
Through my eyes lashes I saw a man with greying hair come in. A white lab coat swirled around his ankles from running. He rushed to my side and immediately began pressing buttons, muttering to himself. I had to stop myself from pointing out that muttering to himself was a real pointless waste of time. If you were going to waste time, waste it good.
Slowly the beeping died down. Through my eyelashes, the man grabbed a needle from the table and made as if to put it through my heart.
Brianna quickly grabbed his wrist. “Doctor, that wouldn’t help. That has NHG in it and Hannah is highly allergic to it. Putting it through her heart would only make it worse.”
“It wasn’t in her file.”
“With all due respect sir, a lot of things don’t go into the files.”
The man slowly lowered the needle. “Then I’m sorry Ms. Aldra. I’m sorry you had to lose both George and Hannah in one week.”
Brianna pretended to just register the fact. “Both of them,” she whispered sinking down to the floor. “Dead. They were so young.”
And she broke down crying.
You know how weird it is to have someone crying over you as they bring you supposedly dead body out to a van waiting outside? It’s weird. Really weird.
My head rolled to one side and Brianna's crying intensified. “So young.....” she said through her tears.
I heard the van door slide open and my body pushed inside. Brianna climbed in after me, still crying. Once the door shut though, she stopped crying. “Oh good that’s over. Not that I’d be sad that you’d be dead Hannah, but gods, that was a lot of tears.”
I opened my eyes and struggled to sit up. Propping my head up against a wall, I looked around. To my left say a row of four computers with chairs to complete it. Brianna sat in one of those chairs now, fixing her makeup and drinking coffee. To her right sat a man with brown hair and glasses. He gave me a little wave. “Good to see the zombie’s up and about.” He laughed at his own lame joke.
Next to him sat a guy a little older than me with blonde hair and tan skin. His hair was short and his eyes were a sky blue. He gave me a grin and came across the car and swept me into a giant hug. “Hey sis. Long time no see, eh?”
I took a closer look. “George?” I asked in disbelief.
He winked. “Actually it’s Luke but close enough.” I laughed and he gave me another squeeze. “How was it?” He mumbled into my ear.
“It was fine.” I whispered into his.
“Mom and dad would have been proud of you.”
Proud? I just died. I just promised to go to a school where I would learn how to kill a grown man. Proud wasn’t exactly the word I was thinking.
I stepped back. “So why’d you change?” I asked. My voice sounded clear and strong, nothing like I was feeling.
George – I mean Luke – shrugged. “Mike figured we couldn’t have two dead bodies in one van.” He nodded towards the guy with the glasses.
Mike nodded, still looking at the computer screen. “Yeah. It was hard enough to kill you two. We couldn’t risk your brother looking like he used to. So Ron and I gave him a makeover. Ron’s driving the car right now.” As he said it, the car gave a little jerk and started to move. Luke grabbed my hand and pulled me into a spare chair.
I looked at Luke’s sandy, short, blonde hair and blue eyes. He wasn’t George. George had brown, long hair, and brown eyes. Wait eyes? You can’t change eye color.
“Mike –” I started.
“Color contacts.” He said not looking up.
I glanced at Luke. He shrugged and said, “You’ll get used to it.”
I gave an involuntary grin. “I guess I have to.”