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And She Fades Away
Orange, crunchy leaves fell before my feet as I glided towards my high school. My best friend, Catherine,-not knowing what was going to happen to her that day- skipped along beside me. She talked of high spirited things.
We discussed how much we hated our Spanish classes when we entered the buzzing halls that held weary teenagers, all angry at their alarm clocks. The school seemed normal for a Monday.
Catherine and I sat next to each other in math class and tried to stay awake. It was flu season, so we had a mumbling substitute. To make matters worse, the sky opened up and cried. Students moved to the slow rhythm of the rain and went into our next classes. My dad had warned me that this day would be mournful.
My next class was chorus, which was an upbeat class. That was one of the classes I enjoyed the most, even though Catherine wasn’t in it.
Soon the bell rang again, then again, and we all shuffled to our last class. We whispered as though we were afraid to speak louder than the rain. I sat down in my usual chair, but the one next to mine remained empty; Catherine’s chair.
At first I had thought nothing of it; maybe she went home sick, I thought, maybe… I shook my head, she’s fine.
That night Catherine’s mother called me and asked if I knew where her only daughter was. Her voice was panicked. I paused, “Sorry Mrs. Galvin,” I said wishing I could put the pieces together. “You should try Allison.” I could tell by her mother’s short breaths and edgy voice that she was in tears. And that’s when it clicked, Catherine was gone.
Three days passed and the police never found Catherine. My best friend’s empty chair was a constant reminder that something horrible could have happened to her. There were no leads, and they didn’t even know the precise time she disappeared. Things weren’t looking good for her.
“Jay,” the policeman said to me, “If you get ANY information about Catherine, even if she doesn’t want us to know, you have to tell us.” I nodded and promised I would. They were determined that she ran away, but I knew otherwise.
Our lives go on, even when other’s don’t. The school continued with extra “don’t talk to strangers,” and “don’t do drugs” speeches. And I noticed for the first time that the empty seat next to mine was filled with a new girl nobody seemed to notice.
She was pale and had dull, grim eyes, but her hair was very dark. Her clothes were ragged, filthy, and torn. She didn’t talk and nobody talked to her. She looked so out of place. People bustled past her not acknowledging her existence and the teachers never read her name for the attendance. I began to think that I was going crazy.
School ended, and I waded through the leaves to my rusty, old car. The girl ran up from behind and jumped in front of me. I had to stop. She was silent. Even her soft footsteps didn’t crunch the leaves below her feet. I could tell that she was determined with her eyebrows pulled together and a solemn look. Walking away from her wouldn’t work, not that I had a choice.
The girl put her hand in her pocket and pulled out a picture of Catherine. In the picture, she had terrified eyes, crazy hair, and was tied to something in what looked to be a dark warehouse.
“Catherine!” I nearly screamed. She put a finger to her pastel lips and turned away from me. She got in the passenger seat of my car, but the weird part was… she went through the car door. Hesitantly, I opened my door and got in. With a sigh of defeat, I asked, “Where is she?”
She pointed at the school entrance. I followed the girl’s directions until the sun had set in the dreary sky.
The girl then looked as panicked as I had felt as she motioned to a large warehouse at the end of the gravel, country road. I flipped off my lights and pulled in slowly trying to be as silent as the ghost girl.
The huge, metal doors were slightly open to the eerie building. With a pocket knife in hand and my dead cell phone in the other, I stepped inside.
My heart beat so fast that I thought it was going to explode. It was like I could feel my pulse everywhere and hear it in my ears. The darkness engulfed me. There was soft clattering and a slight murmur that filled the icy air. A single, dim light shone in the middle of the maze-like structure. I weaved around shelves careful not to give myself away.
The light got brighter and the chattering grew clearer.
I crumbled to my knees frozen with fiery fear. Crawling, I peered around the corner. My best friend was tied up and on the floor in a puddle of blood. The light bulb swung loosely above her. The familiar voices came from two familiar men standing around her. I was too scared then to fully look at them though.
“So what’re we gonna do with her?” One asked the other as he paced back and forth.
“We’ll have to kill her like we did the other gal. They didn’t understand the ransom, and the cops are getting too many leads. They’ll be here in a matter of days.” The other answered as he stared at Catherine.
I thought through a reasonable plan, because that’s what I’m known for, being reasonable. I took a deep, silent breath and wrapped my fingers around a slick, frosty object then chucked it as far as I could.
It landed with a CLANG! and a metallic noise that echoed throughout the warehouse. The two men grasped something at their sides and ran towards the human-made sound.
Catherine’s face portrayed betrayal as I sprinted towards her. My pocket knife sliced through the tight ropes and I dragged her behind me. Her feet were sluggish and I wasn’t strong enough to pull her.
We made it to the parking lot with the bad guys gaining with every step. I pushed Catherine at the car, “Drive!” I screamed. If I couldn’t get out of here, I would at least of wanted Catherine to escape and tell the police who the men were so nothing like this could happen to anyone else.
The gravel was difficult to sprint on, and Catherine was too scared or panicked to do anything herself. Two separate movements crept around the corner. Then dark figures raised something in their hands. I screamed with pure terror and turned for the car.
Gunfire exploded everywhere around us like fireworks on the Fourth of July. I sprinted at the passenger door and flung us both inside. Scrambling, I crawled over her and tried to get my keys out. Meanwhile, the windows were pierced with bullets, they shattered, and glass rained down on us.
We ducked as my keys struggled against the car that refused to start. The men began to jog closer to us. With my last attempt to end this, I grasped the closest thing to me-which was a wrench that I kept under my chair in case of car trouble that happens frequently- and threw it with all my strength through the broken window.
My car finally stuttered to life as one of the men was struck in the head. He dropped to the ground with a fierce cry. Deep down, I knew who the struck man was, but I couldn’t think it or understand it. I slammed my foot against the gas; we sped away.
Later I called the police from a payphone unable to answer any questions about how I found her. Catherine was taken to the hospital and I stood by her side. The ghost girl sat by her too; she looked up at me with a smile and tears rolling down her pale face, then she faded away.
My father didn’t come home that night; he was arrested along with his friend.