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Leading Her Home

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Leading Her Home

“I cannot believe that I am doing this right now!” I mutter to myself, twisting and turning the bobby pin inside the key hole, trying without success, to gain access. “First, I go running off after Joyce without giving anyone so much as a hint to help them possibly find me, and then the next thing you know, I’m breaking into somebodies home!”

My hands were raw and numb from the effort of trying to unlock the front gate using an extra hair pin that I had been so lucky to find in my hair, which from my amazing coordination, or lack thereof, is completely beyond repair. “Come on Chanelle!” I continue muttering to myself, “You’ve got less and less time here, hurry up!” to my complete and utter amazement, the gate clicks open, and I see the dark path before me, my only hope of seeing Joyce.

*******************************************

A blast of cold air suddenly meets my face, making me smile, because the temperature outside was extremely hot, and although I love warm Florida weather, I did not enjoy feeling like I was being fried in a pot of boiling oil. I turn myself around on my bed to face my best friend Joyce Crown, and hopefully start planning our very first summer weekend of the year. Imagining what we could do with the summer ahead of us, I began to drift off into the land of dreams.

“Chanelle!” Joyce cried, just as another blast of cold air from my fan hits my face, “Chanelle! Calling Chanelle Baker back to Earth!”

“Sorry!” I said, jolting back into the real world, away from the joy of dreaming, “I kinda started to day dream! You know how it is with me.” A sheepish smile spread across my face as Joyce began to nod her head with complete understanding.

“What were you dreaming about anyway?” Joyce asked, looking curious, “You were way out of reality, and I mean farther then you usually are!”

“Just stupid stuff.” I said with a shrug of my shoulders, while throwing a pillow at her face with mock anger, “Stuff like people to see, things to do, the fair..”

“That’s it!” Joyce interrupted me with a shout, causing me to jump from my bed, and almost causing me to fall face first onto the floor, “We should go to the fair! That would be so much fun!” I smiled at her warily, knowing that for at least the next hour and a half we would be talking about the fair. That’s the kind of thing Joyce is good at when she’s excited, talking. Talking about rides, the people we might see at the fair, the food that we should try, and the games we should play there.

Next thing you know, I’m laying stomach down on my bed, looking at my laptop with Joyce, checking out the fair’s main attractions, and anything that could possibly be long term entertainment. “We could go to the House of Mirrors,” I suggest sarcastically, knowing perfectly well that she and I both hate the House of Mirrors more than just about anything, “or we could go on the roller-coasters that they just installed.” I continued cautiously, not wanting her to explode from all of the excitement.

“Oh my gosh!” Joyce squealed with delight, “We should most definitely go on the roller-coasters! We haven’t been on one in so long! This will be so much fun! I can’t wait!” By now she was jumping up and down on top of my bed, and rocking me back and forth so much that she caused me to fall off.

“Okay then Joyce, calm down!” I said sardonically, smiling at her, because I knew perfectly well that she would never calm down, “We’ll go on the roller-coasters.” Smiling, I handed Joyce my laptop and told her to find the rides that looked like the most fun, and then to write them all down for me. All at the same time though, I gave an inward groan because I knew that she was going to pick the most gut wrenching rides, especially because she knows that I hate the feeling. She thinks it’s funny to see the look on my face after I get off of one of those types of roller-coasters.

*******************************************

“It’s a fear that you have to get over.” Joyce said to me at an amusement park some two years ago, “You can’t just skip all of the gut wrenching rides, they’re the best!” In response to that last comment, I rolled me eyes in a silent reply to tell her that I did not agree at all. “Don’t you roll your eyes at me!” She exclaimed with fake offense, “As your best friend, it is my lawful duty to get you to overcome your fears. If I don’t, I would get arrested for not fulfilling my lawful duty to you!” Waving her arms in the air like she was giving out the most important speech of her life, she managed to heave me into the line of the roller-coaster, throwing me towards my doom.

She knew I couldn’t get mad at her, and if I by some chance did get mad, I wouldn’t stay so or very long because Joyce and I are best friends, and have been so forever. We like most of the same things, have similar senses of style, humor, and what our parents call, “A serious attitude problem.” Neither of us agree to that statement, but you can’t exactly argue with parents on that sort of subject. Joyce and I met each other in our school office after going through similar traumatic incidents, and we compared our injuries, (both mental and physical,) and began talking to each other. Immediately we hit it off, and since then, we have been inseparable. We are like each other’s better half, and when we aren’t with the other, we aren’t completely ourselves. We always know how to comfort the other, and how to make them laugh when no one else can.

Joyce is really nice, funny, happy, energetic, and outgoing. She has long, silky, straight brown hair, and has natural light brown highlights as well. Her warm, brown eyes accent the lighter brown highlights of her hair, and her eyes always seem to be smiling at you, even if her face isn’t. Beautifully tanned skin and long arms and legs make her gorgeous on the outside, and on the inside. She is’t like one of those beautiful but cold people, she’s more of the warm, nice, beautiful people, whom you can’t help but love. The perfect sixteen-year old girl, who never seems to do anything wrong, or have anything wrong with her.

I, on the other hand, am the clumsy, defective, sixteen-year old girls who’s got just about every problem out there. If I really tried to, I could be nice, happy, funny, energetic, and outgoing, but I’m more of the keep to themselves type of person. Around Joyce though, I’m not afraid to be loud and out there, and I don’t always keep to myself around her. I have unruly curly red hair that sticks out in every which way, and no highlights whatsoever.

My green eyes only make the curls in my hair more obvious, and seem even worse then they are. Long gangly arms and legs help make me really uncoordinated, and if I stay in the sun for too long, or if I don’t use enough sunscreen, I burn to a crisp. Everyone I know says that I’m really quite nice and sweet once you get to know me, but who’d take the time to get to know the clumsy, awkward girl named Chanelle?

*******************************************

The moment of truth has arrived. I’m sitting outside of Joyce’s house, waiting for her to make herself “ look presentable” in her terms, so we can kill ourselves on the dangerous carnival rides and the possibly poisonous carnival food. Losing my patience, I begin to tap my foot up and down with anticipation as if doing it could make her move any faster then she sees necessary. Just as I’m about to lose it entirely, Joyce saunters out of her front door, with a smile that tells me that she knew exactly what she had been doing to me by making me wait.

“There!” Joyce exclaims with a sigh of satisfaction, a smile lighting up her face, “I believe that I’m ready to go!”

“Then let’s move out!” I replied with exasperation, trying not to be rude, and failing. “Really!” I thought to myself as we made our way down the driveway to my car, “How long could it possibly take for one person to get themselves ready for a fair? All that you really ned is a light t-shirt and shorts!” We jumped into my car and began to pull away, and Joyce suddenly began to jump up and down excitedly in her seat.

“This is going to be so much fun!” She exclaimed in delight, obviously thinking that the past week had been far too long for any normal person, especially one who had something to look forward to, such as a fair. As we began to get closer to our destination, Joyce began to jump up and down even more in her seat, a funny look on her face. The closer we got, and the more time that passed, the more that Joyce began to jump up and down in her seat.

“Joyce,” I asked her with some concern in my voice, “do you need to use the restroom?” By now she was jumping so much that she was literally moving my car up and down with her. “If you don’t need to use the restroom though, I am going to have to ask you to stop bouncing so much her, because I really do need to drive, unless you’d rather die!”

“No, I don’t need to use the restroom, thank you very much!” Joyce replied indignantly, and suddenly she had a little less height in her bounce, “I’m really excited for the fair, and I’m tired of waiting for us to get there!” The more she talked, the louder she got, and the louder she got, the higher she bounced.

“Well...” I drawled, pausing slightly for effect, “If you don’t need to use the restroom, then please stop bouncing up and down! You are going to make us roll over!” Dramatically I turned my head towards her, then quickly back, meaning to emphasize my words.

“Sorry!” Joyce replied, immediately subdued, “I’ll stop now.” She stopped bouncing as soon she said those words, and the car slowly started to stop bouncing, and then it was’t moving up and down at all. Immediately, Joyce’s face lost its funny look, and she didn’t seem as happy as she had before, and I felt guilty. The rest of the ride over to the fair, neither of us said a word, although it was clear that we both had something on our minds, and I felt slightly responsible for it all. I was wishing at that point that I hadn’t practically yelled at her for being excited, and from the look on her face, she was wishing the same thing.

*****************************************

“Okay,” I began as soon as we pulled up to the fair, “what do you want to do first?” I had to do my best not to be sarcastic, because I knew perfectly well that Joyce would want to go on the new roller-coasters that sadly enough, had been explained to me in sickening detail by Joyce, and just by listening to how they worked, I was almost sick myself. Apparently the new roller-coasters were the fastest that the fair had ever installed, and they were the gut wrenching, make you sick kind of rides.

“The roller-coasters silly!” Joyce exclaimed, her eyes lighting up with excitement, “Who doesn’t love a good roller-coaster?” With a smile and a flip of her hair, Joyce begins to trot off in the direction of the rides of doom. I roll my eyes at her retreating back hoping beyond hope that I would manage to convince Joyce that it would be a really, really, really bad idea to get me on even a mild roller-coaster. As I did my best to keep up with Joyce as she made her way through the crowd, moving quickly to the line of the roller coasters. I reached her once she stopped, and looked up to my absolute horror, at an over the top, gigantic, gut wrenching roller-coaster.

“Oh no!” I groaned, “This is the roller-coaster you want me to get on? Are you kidding me?” I was on the verge of insanity from just looking at the roller-coaster, and I hadn’t even seen anyone on the coaster yet. I began to panic, and I knew that if I even sat down in the seat, that I would immediately get sick. Suddenly, I felt a rush of cold air whip by my face, and then I heard the screaming of petrified people, and then I heard Joyce squeal beside me.

“There it goes!” She exclaimed in delight, “Doesn’t it look like lots of fun?”

“Sure!” I replied, my voice dripping with sarcasm, “I just love losing everything that I’ve ever had to eat on one roller-coaster, especially one like this!”

“Oh, don’t be such a spoilsport Chanelle!” Joyce cried, making it obvious she couldn’t tolerate much more of my complaining, “Roller-coasters are absolutely necessary for the full fair experience!” As a silent reply to her tolerance, I rolled my eyes good-naturedly, my way of telling her that my complaining was very minor to what she would be hearing if she forced me onto the roller-coaster, or any ride that I thought would be gut wrenching, or anything that could possibly upset my stomach at all.

Disappointing me greatly, the line for the roller-coaster was moving quite quickly, and every time that I saw someone exiting from the roller-coaster, they had an unnatural green pallor to their faces. Suddenly, I felt as if I was going to be sick, and I whispered to Joyce, “Can I go now? I almost got on the roller-coaster, isn’t that good enough?” At his time, I was jumping up and down from the nerves that were causing me to be sick. “Joyce,” I began to plead with her, “please can I go? I think I’m going to be sick!”

“No,” Joyce began with an expression of complete exasperation, “you have to get on the roller-coaster, and I don’t care if you get sick! These are new roller-coasters, and if you don’t do it, then you can’t say that you did anything over the summer break! That would be like committing social suicide, and you know it!” I shrugged my shoulders half heartedly because in the back of my mind, I knew it. I knew that I couldn’t saunter into next years classes and say that over the summer I went to the fair, but I chickened out of the roller-coasters. That would be social suicide.

“Fine then!” I mumbled, angry that she had won the argument, “I’ll go on the stupid ride, but don’t think I’ll ever do anything like this ever again!” Joyce turned from me with a shrug of her shoulders and a very triumphant look on her face. I was extremely tempted to push her, walk out of the line, say something rude, or anything at all to wipe the grin of satisfaction off of her face. The suddenly, I remembered that she was the one who was saving me from social suicide, and keeping me from disappearing completely into the crowd of nobodies.

After five too short minutes of standing in the line for the ride of death, we reached the end of the end of the line, and the start of my death. “Come on Chanelle,” I began to whisper to myself as I made my way ever so slowly to the seats of the car Joyce and I were to share, “you can get into the seat, put on the safety belt, and then hopefully live through the entire ride without becoming sick.” I had to keep myself from snorting, because I knew perfectly well that not only would I get sick, but I would also die promptly after getting off of the ride, assuming that I lived even that long.

Trying not to throw up then and there, I threw myself into the seat of the death ride, buckled myself in, then promptly shut my eyes. “Open your eyes now.” I heard Joyce demand from next to me, shaking me violently, “You are going to open your eyes, and then you are going to keep your eyes open the entire time, and not get sick. Do you understand me?” I had to do my best not to burst out laughing at the fact that she was sounding just like my mother, so instead I just nodded my head with mock solemnity. “Good!” Joyce replied with satisfaction, a smug look on her face, “Because we are just about to start!”

I groaned inwardly as we began to slowly move forward, and begin to ascend the coaster of doom. Just as we reached the top, we tilted forward, moved backwards, then suddenly shot forward like a rocket. As soon as we rocketed forward, I felt my stomach fly to the back of my body, probably with the rest of my insides. Immediately I began to scream, hearing other people screaming as well.

The only difference between their screams and mine were; they were screaming out of joy, and I was screaming out of complete and total terror. I looked to my left to see Joyce laughing while being thrown in all directions from the twists and turns on the track. Suddenly, I felt my head jerk forward to see with immense gratitude that the ride was over, and we were back at the beginning.

As quickly as possible, I staggered out of the exit and into the “fresh” air of the fair, breathing in the smell of the food, people, and slightly unfortunately, the animals as well. I began to walk around to try to calm my stomach, and to gain the use of my legs. Breathing in as deeply as possible, I did my best to stop all thoughts of what had happened from my mind, and smell the hay and the greasy, delicious, fair food.

Suddenly, I heard a loud “Yippee!” from behind me, and I turned to find a exultant Joyce staggering out of the exit. “That was fun wasn’t it?” She asked me, slinging an arm around my shoulder, “You enjoyed yourself, you just don’t want to tell me which is why you bolted out. Isn’t that right?” Annoyed that she could know everything about me and still think that I enjoyed the death ride, I shook her off and began walking to the food. “Come on Chanelle!” Joyce exclaimed in mock distress, “I was joking! Besides,” she continued, hurrying to catch up to me, “you can’t eat right after a roller-coaster, especially after one as good as that one!”

“Actually Joyce,” I replied turning around abruptly, “you can eat after a roller-coaster, especially after one like that!” Turning around once more, I began to work my way over to the concession stands. After a quick scan of the area, I found a concession stand in a secluded area with no line, selling corn dogs, one of the only things that I’ll eat at a fair.
*************************************

“Hello, and welcome to the Hot Dog on a Stick!” I heard a cheery voice exclaim once I reached the stand, ‘We sell hot dogs, corn dogs, lemonade, and much much more!” I saw a cheery looking girl standing at the counter wearing a read, green, and yellow striped t-shirt smiling brightly at me. “How may I help you?”

“Um hi?” I replied with a slight confusion, “I’ll have a have a hot dog and a medium lemonade please.”

“Would you like normal, strawberry, or lime lemonade?” She asked me again, still smiling at me.

“Strawberry please.” I replied, smiling to myself as I heard the skid of shoes on the gravel behind me, and the heavy panting, indicating Joyce’s arrival.

“Is that all for you today?” The girl asked me again, this time while looking at Joyce, “or would your friend like something too?”

“I think that’s all,” I said with a smile, turning around in place to face Joyce, “unless Joyce here wants to eat. Only,” I began, enjoying the slight look of terror on her face from what I might say, “she just went on a roller-coaster, and you just can’t eat after a roller-coaster!”

“Yes you can!” Joyce replied indignantly, shoving her way past me to the counter, “I’ll have a corn dog and a medium lime lemonade please.”

“Alright,” answered the girl at the counter, “is that all for you today?”

“Yes,” Joyce replied, turning to me with a smug smile on her face, “I believe it is.”


“19.50 is your total!” I heard the girl exclaim, still smiling happily at me. Grumpily, I handed her the money, and waited for our food to be made. Suddenly, I heard a slight squeal behind me, and some gravel shifting.

“Wow Joyce,” I thought to myself rolling my eyes, “it’s only hot dogs we’re waiting for, not anything important!” Quickly, I turned around to tell her his, and I saw that she wasn’t there, all that was there was a little scuff in the gravel, in the spot where she had been standing only a minute before.

“Oh no!” I exclaimed in horror, “Where is she? Joyce?! Joyce!” I began to turn around in panicked circles, hoping that Joyce was just around the corner, and not making her way unwillingly to some other state or country.

“Your orders ready!” I heard suddenly behind me, and turned to see the cheerful girl behind the counter holding out my food. “Where did your friend go?” She then asked me, confusion clouding her face, “She was here just a second ago!”

“Uh,” I said, speaking really slowly, and trying to think about fifty times faster, “I think she went to the bathroom, I don’t know, she told me, only I can’t remember.”

“Oh!” The girl replied, a cheerful smile replacing the slight worry lines layering her face only a moment ago. “Well, here’s your order,” she continued, shoving the food into my hands, “and have a nice day!”

“You too.” I replied half heartedly as I turned around, and began sprinting towards the main attractions, hoping with all my heart, that Joyce was there. “Joyce! Joyce!” I cried out in desperation, turning in every direction, and running through every fair attraction and line, ignoring all of the funny looks that people gave me as I passed them. “Joyce! Joyce!” I was sobbing now, not even caring that people were walking by me, and watching me with a mixture of horror and fascination. “Joyce! Where are you? Please Joyce, please!”
*************************************
“Chanelle!” I hear floating up to me, the sound of my mothers voice, impatience layering every inch of her voice. “Come down here!” I just rolled my eyes, despite the fact that she wouldn’t be able to see me. “Chanelle Baker, you get yourself down here this minute, or I will ground you for the rest of the summer!”

“I’m coming!” I bellowed in reply, annoyed that I would have to leave the safety and security of my room. “Although,” I began again, this time to myself, “I don’t see much of a point anymore.” Quickly, I began to make my way down the stairs, to come face to face with Mrs. Emily Baker. As it turns out, my mom is nothing like me, oh so fortunately for her, but she’s sophisticated, elegant, and beautiful. She has short, silky, brown hair, that just reaches her shoulders, then curls in just a little. Her eyes are sky blue, and always have a little speck of light reflected into them. Amazingly, she is 100% coordinated, and her skin is perfectly tanned, and as far as I know, she has never been burned in her entire life. She is the complete opposite of me, and I am so completely jealous.

“Yes?” I asked her, once I had reached the bottom of the staircase, and made a show of jumping off the last two steps, “you wanted to see moi?”

“Yes,” my mom began, slight worry lines creasing her forehead as she spoke, “it’s just that, Chanelle, it’s been three days since Joyce was kidnapped, and you haven’t even left your room! Your father and I are beginning to get concerned. It’s your summer break, and the police are already on the case, so will you please go out?” I folded my arms and looked at her and replied, “I don’t see what the point is, Joyce is like, my only friend, and so, if she’s not here, then why should I do anything?”

My mom sighed, turned around and said over her shoulder, “Do what you want honey, but you sulking isn’t helping Joyce at all!” I rolled my eyes at her back, and hopped up the stairs to my room. After some thought to her words though, I realized that my mom was right. I wasn’t helping Joyce at all right now, and I had to do something.

I quickly grabbed my backpack and flung it over my shoulder, and began stuffing everything I saw into the bag. Flashlights, towels, clothes, bottles, and even shoes were being thrown into my bag in a great rush, my fear for Joyce driving out all common sense.

Once again, I sped down the stairs as quickly as I possibly could, and shouted into the kitchen, “I’m going out okay?!” I looked in quickly to see an almost imperceptible mod come from my mom, and quickly I hopped into my car before I could even think, and began my personal search for Joyce.

Driving down the freeway, I began to think more clearly, and I couldn’t believe myself. “What are you doing Chanelle?” I silently scolded myself, “You have no idea where Joyce is, and you are afraid to even go on a roller-coaster, so what the heck possessed you to do this?” As I thought more about it, I truly had no idea what I was doing, or what I was going to do. I was completely on my own.

Suddenly, my car gave a great lurch, and threw itself from the road into the brush nearby, and began rolling forward into little plain of plants. All I could do was scream in horror, especially once I realized that I was holding down the gas pedal, and not the steering wheel. Suddenly, my foot slammed down on the brakes, and my head slammed into my wheel, and I promptly burst into tears, my chest heaving with great sobs of relief and fear.

When my tears dried, I looked up to see that there was a mansion of sorts sitting atop a hill. Looking from the mansion slightly, I saw a path just big enough for a car leading up to the hill, with fairly fresh tracks also. “Finally,” I muttered to myself, a slight smile on my face, “progress!” Putting my foot back onto the gas, I began to make my way onto the path, and to the dark, looming house seated above me.

My whole body shaking with the gravel underneath my car, I began to make my way slowly up the precarious path to the silent house looming dangerously above me. Suddenly, I felt my car lurch from beneath me, and I turned to see to my horror that the path underneath me was slowly crumbling away. As soon as the realization dawned upon me, I slammed my foot onto the gas and began speeding as fast as possible up the path.

As the adrenaline from the moment began to wear off, I slammed my foot on the brake, wondering if I was unconsciously trying to commit suicide. Once again, I very slowly began to ascend the path, when from the corner of my eye, I saw a small parking lot, and two or three cars parked side by side.

“Well,” I whispered to myself, pleased that I wouldn’t have to drive along the dangerously thin and weak path any longer, “I believe that our parking spot awaits!” A smile on my face, I parked my quickly and quietly, and then as quietly as possible, began to make my way up a narrow foot path.

All too soon, darkness fell over me and the house, and I grabbed one of my many flashlights from my backpack, grateful that even in my rush, I had still packed some necessities. Flicking the switch upward, I kept my head down to watch the light, and to watch the ever so small edges of the path.

Then, the edge of the light found a small black iron post, and I lifted the flashlight and my gaze to a great iron fence, guarding the entrance into the looming mansion. A quick scan of the perimeter showed me that the fence was the only way in, but it was locked tight.

Dropping to my knees, I began to search frantically around the fence, until I finally found the “sacred” padlock that I so desperately needed. Another quick search, this time of the ground, gave me slightly heartbreaking results, that there was no extra key lying around, and the lock was securely in place, and not moving for anyone without a key.

******************************************

“I cannot believe that I am doing this right now!” I mutter to myself, twisting and turning the bobby pin inside the key hole, trying without success, to gain access. “First, I go running off after Joyce without giving anyone so much as a hint to help them possibly find me, and then the next thing you know, I’m breaking into somebodies home!”

My hands were raw and numb from the effort of trying to unlock the front gate using an extra hair pin that I had been so lucky to find in my hair, which from my amazing coordination, or lack thereof, is completely beyond repair. “Come on Chanelle!” I continue muttering to myself, “You’ve got less and less time here, hurry up!” to my complete and utter amazement, the gate clicks open, and I see the dark path before me, my only hope of seeing Joyce.

As quietly as possible, I began slowly walking up the long, twisted path, until I finally reached the great wooden doors. With a sigh, I reached into my pocket for the bobby pin in case of a situation like the fence, and with almost no hope, I tried the door. Much to my surprise and pleasure, the door wasn’t locked, and it swung open without a sound, almost grudgingly inviting me into the house.

Quietly and tentatively, I stepped into the dark hallway, wrapping my flashlight in my shirt to dim the light, and hopefully keep anyone from knowing of my presence. As silently as possible, I began to weave my way through the dark hallways, until I found a dark and deserted corridor, in which I promptly began to explore.

A very thorough scan showed no sign of life, or that there had been any life in at least two or three years, I silently opened one of the room doors. Inside was an obviously grand room, although covered in cobwebs, I could tell that I was in a room for royalty. The draperies for the window and the bed were made of delicate red velvet, and the furniture had coordinating colors, with gold carefully flecked into each pattern.

With a sigh of content, I got a few clothes from my bag, and made myself a makeshift bed atop of one of the couches, and immediately fell asleep from exhaustion and relief. When I woke up in the morning, I first thought that I was in my bed in my nice and comfortable room, when I looked around the room with tired eyes, and suddenly jolted wide awake.

“Oh no!” I groaned to myself, falling back into the soft, warm couch, “Joyce might actually be here, and I broke into this house, and practically disappeared into thin air! Great,” I continued to myself, my speech coming out faster the more I began to panic, “I will never be able to leave my room again once I get back, if I get back.”

Slowly, and doing my best not to make too much noise, despite the fact that I was currently in a deserted wing, I got up from the couch, and padded my way through the soft carpet to my backpack. “Alright!” I said to myself quietly, flinging my backpack over my shoulder, “Joyce, I’m coming to get you, and I’m going to lead you home.”

As soon as I whispered the words, I felt cheesy, but I knew that I spoke the truth. I was about to lead Joyce home. Chanelle Baker, awkward sixteen-year-old without a clue of what she was doing, is going to save Joyce Crown, and will not under any circumstances, let anyone get in her way.

Timidly and silently, I opened the bedroom door, and scampered down the hallway into the large entrance hall I had entered through the day before. Even in the daytime, the house was dark and gloomy. Doing my very best to regain any courage, I darted through the hallways until I didn’t even know where I had started. I turned a corner, and saw a single door at the end of a long, dark, deserted hallway.

Quietly, I tiptoed my way down the hall, looking behind me every few steps, suspicious of everything that I see. Suddenly, my head turned behind me, arms in front of me, I feel the smooth wood door beneath my fingers. Ever so slowly, I turn my head towards the door, and see the great looming door before me, and an iron knob level with my head.

Taking in a great breath, I put my hand to the knob and turned. Peering in cautiously, I saw nothing but a dark room, with a slightly rancid smell being emitted from a far off corner. Grabbing my flashlight from my backpack, I switched it on quickly, and began to scan the room.

Tentatively stepping into the room, I began to make way to the only wall I could see, located on my far right. Slowly, I began to walk the perimeter of the room, my flashlight reaching only about four feet away from seemed to be the middle. Continuing, I began to venture to move my light up to the wall and the ceiling, and to my slight shock and horror, I saw shackles attached to the wall by chains.

Further exploration of the walls proved that there were nooses attached to the ceiling, and shackles went along the entire wall. Swallowing down my disgust, I continued making my way down the wall. Having made it about halfway across the room, I was afraid of what else I would find, and who might find me.

Finally, I made it around the room, and then I walked to the middle of the room. Holding the flashlight at waist height, I cautiously walked to what seemed to me the center. Suddenly, the beam of light went over some shape. Quickly I jerked the light back, and I saw that it was a foot.

Moving my flashlight up slowly, I saw to my utmost horror that there was a girl hanging from a noose right above me. “Joyce?” I tried to scream, but all that came was a whisper of panic. “Joyce! Please Joyce!” I didn’t know whether or not it was actually Joyce, all I knew was that she was covered in blood, and dead. Suddenly, I turned around from the blood-matted body, and began to cry. Composing myself as best I could after seeing the hanging girl, I ran.

I ran through the hallways, rooms, shortcuts, and closets. I ran everywhere in the terrible house, and I ran without seeing anything. I ran through curtains into walls and statues, looking for a possible escape, and for any sign of life. Finally, my panic began to subdue itself, and I found myself in a brightly lit hallway. Looking around I saw that there was a sliding glass door, leading to a pathway outside.

Breathing a sigh of relief, I threw the door open, and threw myself into the open air, not caring who heard me. Taking in great heaving gulps of air, I began to walk around the little square of cement before the path with my hands above my head, trying to catch my breath.

Looking as far down the dark stone path as I could, I began to silently convince myself that the pathway was a key to finding Joyce. Curiosity getting the better of me, I began to make my way down the stone path. Covered by tall, looming plants, the path was very cool, and I felt better immediately, having overheated in the grand house. Flashing my flashlight beam from side to side, I saw nothing but the tall, cooling plants, and some occasional fencing. Suddenly, my beam found the menacing face of a man in all black, watching me from the shadows. My breath flew out of me in an instant, I panicked, and ran.

I ran through the stone path turning random corners, and sometimes straying off of the path, trying to lose the patter of footsteps behind me. Stretching out my legs as far as they could go, I began to pump myself faster and faster through the path, the footsteps behind me dimming slightly.

Being pursued distracted me greatly from looking at my surroundings, and I failed to notice that I had turned onto a gravel path of sorts, and had lodged my toe under a large stone. My arms flying out in front of me, I heard the footsteps gradually get louder, and I scrambled to my feet as fast as I could, and began tripping my way back into a sprint. Suddenly, I came upon a four-way path. Slowing down to a stop, I looked around hesitantly, trying to decide what path would be best. I could turn around and take another path divided by a wall, possibly leading to where I started; I could keep going forward; turn left; or turn right. Feeling bold, I turned myself around quickly and sprinted in the direction I came, just on a different path.

Throwing myself around the next corner, I fumbled for my footing, turning my head every which way to find another possible path, when all of the sudden, looking forlorn in a corner, sat Joyce. “Joyce?” I cried out, relieved that she was not the girl in the dungeon, “Joyce! Oh, you’re alive!” She smiled at me slightly, almost with an amused expression, when suddenly her features registered panic.

Joyce opened her mouth as if to say something to me, then I felt a sharp pain in the back of my head, heard a high pitched scream, then nothing.
**************************************

Waking to a thin stream of light falling on my face, I groaned and rolled over on my back, only to feel a sharp pain in the back of my head. Memories came flooding back into my head of the day before, and burst into tears, heaving great sobs of regret. Sitting upright slowly, I began to look around. I saw that I was in a cell, and the same cell I had seen Joyce in, but there was no Joyce.

Breathing a small sigh of relief through my tears, I began to see the cell more clearly, and saw that I was chained to the walls, and my only “companion” was a small bucket sitting in the farthest corner, to which my chains could not reach. Falling silent in horror, I almost missed the quiet whisper of voices coming from behind the wall I was chained to.

“What?” I heard an angry voice exclaim, with a very heavy accent, “You mean to tell me, that you had one of the girls, captured the other, then lost the first? I need both of the girls for this to work. Do you hear me? BOTH!”

“Y-y-yes sir!” I heard as a timid reply, with a much less accented voice, but accented none the less, “I will do my best to find the other girl, and keep them down.”

I heard a very menacing laugh and then, “See that you do, otherwise you may just end up like-well, you know.” I heard a sharp intake of breath, and then some kind of whispering I couldn’t make out, and then the brisk footsteps of one of the men walking away.

“So,” I whispered to myself, panic surging over me once again, “I am now either a part of an experiment, or part of some scare tactic, just like the girl in the dungeon.” A sudden chill passed over me at the thought of ending up like her.

“Pst!” I hear from a frantic voice at the gate of my cell, “You in the corner!” I squint into the blinding sunlight to see a panicked Joyce looking at me from the outside.

“Joyce!” I cry joyfully, although dehydration makes my voice just above a whisper, “You really did get out! I’m so glad!”

“Chanelle?” She asks in reply, her eyes bugging out in surprise, “Is that you?”

“Yeah,” I reply with a small laugh, “it’s me. I probably look like I was buried alive, but yes, Chanelle at your service.”

“Oh no!” Joyce groaned in reply, “We have to get you out of her, and now!” I nodded my head in agreement, pain and fatigue making it too hard to fully understand her. “Okay,” Joyce continued, paying no attention to my partially drugged state, “I have the key to your cell, which one of the idiots left around, and I will toss it to you okay?” In reply I simply nodded, for I was on the verge of sleep. “Then, you are going to unlock your shackles, and then hopefully, get out of here!”

With a flick of her wrist, Joyce flung the keys into the cell, right at my feet. A small smile taking some of the damper off of the dreary settings, I began to work on the locks on my wrists. With a slight pop, the cuffs popped off, and I slid my wrists out, flexing them.

Reaching down, I began to work on my ankles, when I heard footsteps approaching the cell. Frantically, Joyce sprinted away, signaling as she went she would be back once the person left, and I wrenched the wrist chains back down by my head, and feigned sleep.

“I told you!” I heard a triumphant voice crow, “I told you that she was sleeping, and I told you that my keys were at my house, which is why I can’t find them!”

“How can we be sure?” I heard a much more menacing voice growl, “How do we know she doesn’t have the keys?”

“Good question,” was the reply, “but honestly, if she had the keys, she would be gone by now. She’s been in there for like, three days!”

“Whatever.” I heard being grumbled, “Let’s just go!” Breathing a small sigh of relief, I listened to the footsteps die away before I sat up once more. Looking around again, I saw Joyce emerging from the brush, looking extremely relieved, and motioning for me to hurry up.

Moving quickly, I began to undo my cuffed ankles, trying to ignore the throbbing inside of my head. With a click, my cuffs came off, and I was freed. Quietly, I made my way to Joyce, and handed her the keys through the bars. Working off of her panic, Joyce unlocked the cell quickly, and ushered me out. Running into some nearby brush, we began to wait for nightfall.

****************************************
Sprinting silently through the night, Joyce and I began to make our way back to the great stone house, and the cause of our imprisonment. Being cautious, we stayed in the brush, but keeping an eye on the path. Quickly, the looming house came before us, and we began to pave our way around the house, rather than the more dangerous through.

We quickly found ourselves on the thin foot path leading to the parking lot, and hopefully, our freedom. Slowly and carefully, I took out my flashlight, dulled it’s light with my shirt, and began the descent. Very quickly we came upon the parking lot, and we sprinted to my car, and quickly shut ourselves in.

Cautiously, I started the car, and began to make my way down the treacherous path. “Chanelle?” I heard Joyce ask me timidly, “Where do we get out of here?"
    Turning to look at her with an exasperated expression, I replied, "I don't know, I flew off the road and then next thing you know, here I am!"  Joyce rolled her eyes in mock sarcasm, both of us trying to shake off the fear that we had picked up.  Making good time even with our slow speed, we quickly made it to the end of the treacherous path.  To my great relief, I saw that you could see the faint outline of my tire tracks from the day almost a week ago that I had thrown myself into the brush.  Stomping my foot onto the gas pedal, I lurched the car forward through the brush, and back onto the main road.

Despite the fact that Joyce and I were the only people still on the road, I stayed well within the speed limit, afraid of the spectacle coming ahead.  Turning into our street slowly, I saw news reporters in front our houses, neighbors comforting our parents, and police asking for information.  As we began to get closer, people began to see Joyce and I in my car, covered in dirt and blood, and probably a lot more.  Soon, we began to receive shocked looks from people, and exclamations were being shouted in every direction.  Our parents heads popped up with shock, having heard one of the exclamations claiming our return.

Suddenly, everyone's features registered relief and happiness, and everyone began to hug each other, and smile.  Pulling up into my driveway, we slowly stepped out of my car, and made our way to our parents.  Ignoring the dirt and blood coating our clothing and bodies, they ran to envelop us in their embraces.  Promptly, we all burst into great heaving sobs of relief and gratitude.  "Chanelle! Joyce!" Our parents cried in unison, "You're home, you're safe! Thank you, thank you!" Prying ourselves from their crushing embraces, we smiled tolerantly at them, then grinned at each other.

"Where have you been young lady?" I heard my mom demand through her tears, "We were so worried about you having just disappeared like that, don't you ever do that again! Do you understand me?”

"Yes mom," I replied quietly, staring down at my dirt caked shoes, "I understand."  In reply she laughed and swept me into another bear hug, grabbing my head to her neck.  "Ow!" I cried out, feeling the tender lump on my head, "Watch my head, it hurts!" My mom immediately pulled back, and looked at me with terror and concern.

"What happened?" She replied, panic forcing her words to become slurred, and her voice to rise, "What did they do to you?"

"Well," Joyce replied, looking at my mom, "you might find it in your interest that she was hit over the head with the fallen limb of tree."  I looked at her in surprise, and my mom in absolute horror.

"Oh my!" She replied, and all at the same time we began to register the news reporters and cameras surrounding us in our joyful reunion, trying to get any angle of the recently returned teens.  "Why don't we go inside," She continued, ushering us into my house, "and you can both tell us what happened." Looking at each other, Joyce and I began to laugh, and I replied, "Mom, we wouldn't even know how to tell you what we went through!"

*******************************
A blast of cold air suddenly meets my face, making me smile and relish in it's coolness, and turn to face my best friend.  Laying stomach down on my bed, we are planning our official "first day" of summer, and planning maybe, the rest of it as well.  "Well," I began, drawing out the "e" of the word, "Joyce, our summer awaits!" Smiling in reply, Joyce picks up my laptop, and begins to search for the summer.

"Okay!" Joyce squeals, "Let's take a trip to California, and go to Disney Land! Or, we could go swimming, and I could get you to go off the high dive!"

Laughing at her vigorous enthusiasm, I threw my pillow at her, effectively shutting her up.  "To start," I replied with a smile, "Let's go swimming.  Here," I ventured to say, "Why don't we go now?"

*********************************
    Ascending the treacherous steps of the high dive, I walked slowly to the end, and tried not to be sick as I looked down to see Joyce waving at me from the edge of the pool.  Taking in a great breath and swallowing my fear, I walked until my toes were curled around the edge of the board.  I took another deep breath in, plugged my nose, clamped my eyes shut, and jumped.
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Timekeeper This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 31, 2011 at 5:45 am:

You have some nice talent, but you haven't updated this in so long! Is there more LHH on the way?

 

Please check out my novel SuperNOVA on the front page of the novels section and leave your thoughts on it. Thanks.

 
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