Dana wishes she’d have just followed one rule...
The Mystery of Windesta Creek
CHAPTER
18
Elwes
We were shoved off the plane, and I promptly vomited onto Suits clean, polished leather shoes. He pulled out a wipe and cleansed them until they glinted in the glaring sunlight.
“Hey, Suit, I think I know how you fix your hair all the time. You use your shoes as a mirror!” I scoffed, in the most brassy tone I could muster.
I felt different, in a way. Maybe it took someone saying it out loud, but I didn’t feel like so much of a good girl any more. Maybe a kind girl, maybe a cautious girl- but my once squeaky clean track record had some grime on it. And that might have been a good thing. I needed to stand up to these people, these vile creatures that I could hardly consider human.
“Just get in the truck, Dana.” Suit gritted his teeth.
A rusty white pick up truck pulled up to us so fast that I smelled burnt rubber. A man stuck his head out the cracked window. Stubble sat on his face, and between his chapped lips, a foul stick blew a horrid stench.
“Come ‘er kids, I won’t bite. Or maybe I will, ya little nosy teenagers. Whatever it is, nothin’ is your choice no more. You’re in Elwes.” He guffawed, a raspy noise.
Nothing was my choice, huh? They would see about that.
“Get in Jed’s truck.” Suit commanded. We filed in, feeling the rough leather beneath our hands, wishing for a way out.
Just then, Gwens face got very, very red, and her breathing went from steady to very rapid. She gasped for breathe, her entire body shaking, tears flowing from her pained eyes. Her eyes darted all around, and she put her head between her knees, quavering.
“Wuz goin’ on with that brat? Cry babies ain’t goin’ do anything good, Gwen. Ya can’t act like you’re a wee toddler, girl!” He chuckled and ate an entire Twinkie.
“Isn’t it obvious she’s having a panic attack?” I said, my voice rising.
“She needs help, right now. Give her a bag, anything! It actually helps. Scientifically speaking-“ Parker chimed in, but was instantly cut off by Scruffy.
“I don’t care about your geeky science, we’re not getting out of this car. She think she’s a great actress, doesn’t she? Fit for Broadway or the Big Screen? Well, I have two words for Gwen. Shut up!” He spat.
Gwen continued to choke, and she gripped my shoulder to steady herself. Her nails dug in, but she was obviously not feeling okay. I got it. I had a panic attack once, and I knew it wasn’t just a freak out, it was for real.
“I have a lunch bag.” Parker claimed.
Parker whipped out a brown paper bag that had a grease stain. But I didn’t care, I cared much more about helping Gwen. She huffed into that bag, and soon, I saw her face relaxing a little and her breathing slowing down. She was still feeling awful, but calmer.
I pretended my eyes were lasers and glared at the three men.
“How could you have just let her panic like that? Who are you!” I marveled at their callous manner. The only person I knew like that was Kasey. She would let Gwen become a human cherry, and sit back sipping a soda.
We drove on, until I saw some buildings up ahead. We were near a town! Elwes, probably, but there had to be someone that could help us get back to Windesta Creek. Or better yet, my very own small town.
“Get out.” Suit clipped. The car braked abruptly, and I was grateful for seat belts as I was flung foward.
“Ow!” Charisma shrieked. Her beautifully polished nail tip snapped clean off.
“Charisma, come on! You can redo your nails later.” We shuffled foward, and ahead, I saw a street sign.
Lock Lane.
My stomach whirled around in an amusement park roller coaster, that metal contraption that went up and back, upside down until you vomited. I wanted to do the same as I did then, but this time, I was able to keep it down.
The sign was covered in graffiti, and the end had fallen off. On the street was a bar that had certainly seen better days; it had a flickering glow sign that advertised it’s beverages. Three letters were out, and the door was rotting. A pigeon flew out of the gaping hole in the roof.
Next to the bar was a series of homes that looked extremely terrifying. Tattooed men and women stood in front with greasy hair. A Doberman with a pink shaved spot on his head was chained to a broken lamp post, and snarled at me as we strode by. The house was littered with cans and a picture was on the wall, a picture of The Sheriff of Windesta Creek, was covered in darts.
I shivered as I passed that picture.
“Why...is the Sheriff up there? Why is he covered in darts?” Gwen said in a very tiny voice, so different from her usual chattiness.
“Because,” Scruffy sneered, “he’s a simpering busy body. And if you don’t want to be on that wall, you should stay quiet. Because the people here don’t take kindly to some stupid kid coming to town. Your nose is so lovely- what a nice shape. Be a pity if something were to happen to that nose, eh?”
Gwen whimpered a bit. Would he really hurt us? We hadn’t een done anything wrong!
I began to wish that I had never stolen that bobble head, just stuck to the rules as we were forced down a flight of stairs, into a pitch black darkness . I would have never been in such a spot if I had just told Kasey and Michelle no. I was foisted into a room alone, while Gwen and Parker were separated.
“Charisma, you’re coming with us to be interrogated. You will tell us everything you know!” Suit roared, and I saw one last look on Charisma’s terrified face before the door to my room was slammed.
Poor Charisma. Would she be okay? I sure hoped so. We were all in the same bad situation here.
But now I was all alone in this gloomy cell. I had no phone, no window, and no barrette to pick the lock with. There was no way to leave this place. And I lost hope.
I curled into a huddled ball and failed to tell myself it was okay. I definitely couldn’t run for president basically ever if my speeches didn’t even convince myself. Oh, well.
“Dana, is that really you?” I heard a weak voice from the corner of the room.
“Who are you!” I backed up into the door due to the initial shock of hearing someone. Was I losing it already in this dim room?
“It’s me, Kate! From the diner, ain’t you remember me? ‘Cause I did give you free food, after all. And you tried to clear my name.” She recalled.
I couldn’t believe Kate was here!
“Kate, how did you even get here, this is Elwes, not Beige Town!” I was frankly confused at all of this right then. What in the world was going on?
“Th-they sent me a letter with this seal of a snake strangling a boat or ‘sompin. It said that they knew I was innocent and could help me. But they were they ones who set me up! That Lil and her minions said I kidnapped Miss. Hollis, which I would never do, and then threw me in this dungeon.” Kate fumed.
Just then, I felt a piece of this whole puzzle fit in.
“Lil is here?”
“Well, no. I just know that she has more then a few secrets, some she will never tell you and I. She used to be such a nice, kind woman, I tell you, going around to the mainland to help a hospital. But only a week after she moved to Windesta Creek, she began to get kooky, and keep more to herself, see. But Jim, he was let off. I don’t know why they only chose me, kid, but here I am.”
I was lost now. What I knew was that Lil was an art thief. So why would she frame Jim and Kate anyways? And what was with the Catacombs in her backyard? I had so many unanswered questions.
“All I have with me is my hair stuff an’ the clothes on me back.” Kate sniffed.
A lightbulb flickered on inside my head, and an escape plan was born.
“Did you say hair stuff? Do you have barrette?” I felt hope rising in my stomach.
“Yeah, why, kid?” Kate muttered.
“I can get us out!” I shrilled. She handed over the black barrette and I pressed it into the lock, and began to pick it with zeal. Finally I heard an audible click. We were free!
“Let’s get out of here, quick before they see us!” Kate directed.
“No! I have to save my friends, Gwen, and Parker. Plus this girl Charisma. I am not leaving them behind.” I asserted with as much determination as I could possibly muster.
The urge to run was strong, but I combated that urge with the right thing to do. To save everyone, not just myself.
“You’re insane, kid,” Kate countered, “ but you’re brave. Much braver then I’ll ever be. You’re doing the good thing. I’m coming with you.”
So we picked the lock on Parkers room first. It was much more difficult then our door, because it hadn’t decayed at all. But I got him out in a flash.
“That place stinks!” He cried. As soon as he egressed through that solid door.
“No, it smells like muffins and roses!” I said drily. But in reality, I was so glad to see him.
Next, Gwens door was a piece of chocolate cake. Or maybe, as I hadn’t eaten all day, I was just hungry. Either way, I picked that lock like nobodies business.
“Dana! Let’s get out of here now!” She whispered. But I shook my head. Charisma was on my list too. As I headed towards the interrogation room, I felt a comforting hand on my shoulder.
“Go throught the air vents and take out the cameras.” Parker advised me. So I hopped on his shoulders, and took the grate off the air vent. It took a little squeezing, but I got in, scurrying through to save someone I barely knew.
When I reached the room, I took out the cameras using the bobby pin to reach and crack the lenses. The interrogation room was nothing but two chairs and a small table. Charisma glanced up at me eagerly.
“Get in!” I called to her. She oblidged, by standing on a wobbly chair. Now we were all safe.
We returned through the duct, to a hugging Gwen and Parker. I saw them through the vent. I figured it was kind of a private pal moment and I didn’t want to spoil it.
The moment they were finished, I hopped out of the duct with Charisma, and she actually gave them a brief ghost of a smile.
I checked around the corners for anyone watching us, and couldn’t believe my great luck when no one was there.
Now we can go.” I reassured my friends.
“Oh, no you can’t.” Responded a grinning Scruffy, emerging from the shadows.
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