Dana wishes she’d have just followed one rule...
The Mystery of Windesta Creek
CHAPTER
24
Lil-tening Strikes Twice (In Dana’s POV)
“She’s...dead.” I uttered, half expecting thunder to crack, even here underground. But it was far worse, the silence of brutal acceptance. This was no hoax, this was no trick- she really was gone. All our efforts to save her had been in vain. We never could have achieved anything, I realized. There was nothing left to fight for. We had to give up now, had to surrender. Lil had won. We might as well give up. Lightening flashed in my eyes, scarring my eyes.
“Let’s go, guys.” I told them, slinking into a dark corner.
“Dana... Are you okay? We can’t give up now! We’re so close, I can almost taste it.” Gwen said.
“No!” I cried bitterly. Gwen shrank back.
“Lil’s won! It’s futile to do anything now! Miss. Hollis is dead! And there’s no saving her now. There’s no saving us now. Lil is ruthless. She’s going to hunt us down, and no one will ever see us again if we don’t leave. And I don’t just mean leave the Catacombs. I mean leave Windesta Creek, forever. Go get your parents. They’ll come with us.” I growled.
Gwen and Parker just stood there in sheer shock. It was there own faults. They had brought us down there. They had to face consequences sometimes, too.
“What are we going to leave in,” Parker sneered, “A hot air balloon? The plane is done. The ferry isn’t coming for another week.”
“Hmmm, maybe that isn’t such a bad idea.” I mused.
“Yes, it is. Trust me, if we actually want to leave, we would have to swim to Beige Town. It’s improbable.” Parker shook his head. His scowl grew deeper, which probably wasn’t good for his face muscles. They might freeze up.
“You said improbable, not impossible. Isn’t it improbable that I walked onto the wing of a plane, fixed it up, and actually survived?! There’s a chance, and we have to take it. Trust me. Haven’t I done enough to earn that yet? Or do you still refuse to see what I think even after I saved you? I saved everyone from Elwes, Parker!”
Parker and Gwen stood, a unified front, together. It was two versus one. It always was. But then I saw then gazing up in surprise. Maybe even fear, too. Parker’s mouth gaped open. Was Lil back already? It would be pretty convenient for her, as we were right next to a coffin, after all. Way too easy for my comfort.
“It isn’t true, that you saved everyone from Elwes. Apparently, I don’t count, now?” Called a mocking voice from above. Charisma stood in a black body suit, above us. She looked so different from when she was in her Sweet Sixteen dress.
“Charisma! How did you escape? Did you get back to your Sweet-“ Gwen babbled, but was sharply cut off.
“I... I was never having a Sweet Sixteen. I’m not even sixteen. I’m four years older then that. I didn’t tell you the whole truth. I didn’t tell you the truth at all. But I think that you’ve done far more damage then I have, haven’t you?”
I gasped. Charisma wasn’t sixteen. She had blatantly lied to us? But why lie about a party? I mean, there was no rhyme or reason to it. Lie about something really important, that at least made sense, even if I didn’t approve of it. But to lie about a party?! And anyways, how had she escaped?
“W-what do you mean, you’re not sixteen? You told us you had been kidnapped from your party! I saw your party dress!” I pointed a finger at her, daring her to refute my claim.
“Listen, there’s a lot I haven’t told you. The important thing is, I was part of a classified mission to infiltrate Elwes. But the boss fired me. I escaped, how I did that doesn’t matter. But you need to leave Windesta Creek. I hate you for leaving me in Elwes with no way out, but I don’t want you to die. Someone is hunting you down, here. If you stay, you won’t survive.”
I took a minute to let her words sink in. She was obviously omitting something. But I had wanted to leave. Should I trust her, though, when her identity was just a cover. I didn’t know her back in Elwes. I still didn’t know her. But what choice did I have? This might be my one chance to convince Gwen and Parker that we had to leave now. If I let my mistrust cloud my head, I might blow it. And that was the last thing I wanted after seeing the grotesque, lifeless body of Miss. Hollis, in a nice blouse that was ripped to shreds on the arms like a massive, hungry panther had been let loose on her.
“Alright,” I agreed, “get us out of here and we’ll come with you.”
“This is a terrible idea.” Gwen whispered to me.
“What happened to solving the mystery?” Parker was so close, there was no way Charisma could have heard him.
“I value our lives more then solving the mystery, Parker.” I stomped.
“Guys, if we don’t leave soon, Lil will discover you. Then your lives will have no value, because you’ll be dead, kapeesh? You’re relatively intelligent children. And by intelligent, I mean you have IQs that are better then my shoe lace’s. Anyone with a brain would get out of here, pronto.” She said, a manipulative streak in her eye.
She held out her hand to pull us up. I hesitated. But then it seemed easy to choose. I mean, rot down here forever or leave the island? That wasn’t a difficult choice at all! Sure, Gwen and Parker felt dubious. But they had been sheltered here all their lives. They didn’t know much outside of Windesta Creek and Beige Town. They were biased because of how they both grew up, I told myself. I took Charisma’s wrist and she yanked me up, back into the Catacombs.
“Guys, come on! You can’t stay there with a body.” I argued. They acquiesced, joining me with Charisma, but they both looked regretful. They also looked like they wanted to stay, safe in that hole. But they wouldn’t be safe there, not now, not ever. I was saving my friends lives, once again, and they didn’t appreciate it.
“No time to waste, if you can’t keep up, I’m glad to leave you here.” Charisma sneered, and began sprinting, even though there was so little air. I trailed behind her, panting and dragging my feet. She was quick. Her feet were almost invisible at her speed. She could have been a professional runner, if she wasn’t a lying, undercover spy.
We struggled to make it out, and almost collapsed with joy when we finally tasted the electric fresh air, skipping across our lungs.
“You need to be faster then snails if you want to survive.”
“Hey! There was barely any air in the Catacombs! How can you expect us to be perfect? We aren’t part of a spy agency.” I protested.
“If you didn’t realize, I’m not part of any spy agency either. I was fired. The job I had wanted forever- I’m never going to get it back, because of you. You’d better be grateful if you don’t want me taking you right to Lil.” Charisma continued to jog, now.
Overhead, I saw the clean, glintingly malicious helicopter, with that horrible ensignia. A snake, a ship, one squashing the other.
“They’re here!” Gwen screamed, and we rushed for the place we’d be the safest, the woods.
“We stole their plane! How are they here?!” I cried.
“I don’t know. Maybe they had more then one vehicle, genius.” Charisma said sarcastically.
The chopper dipped lower and lower, and I saw a man in the front hoist up a massive grey gun, aiming it towards us. There was no doubt that he was a sniper, a perfect shot. They were going to kill us if we didn’t make it into the woods! I willed my stubby legs to go faster.
Finally, panting, we reached the edge of the woods just as the sniper took the first shot that missed Parker by three inches. We scurried under the green canopy, where they couldn’t find us with a chopper. It turned away, going in the other direction. We were safe. Lil had given up so easily!
“This is too easy.” Charisma grunted my exact thoughts, “we need to follow them.”
We had just escaped them and we were going to go after the bad guys?! No way. That was just asking for disaster.
“Why?” I said quizzically.
“Your memory is very deficient, I see. Let me refresh it. I own your soul. If you don’t do what I tell you, I’ll turn you into Lil, and she’ll put something right through your head. Is that really what you want?” Charisma relished every word.
“No.” Gwen whimpered.
I knew that it had been the wrong choice to follow Charisma. She was threatening our lives, not saving them! If we followed the helicopter, the
I knew that it had been the wrong choice to follow Charisma. She was threatening our lives, not saving them! If we followed the helicopter, they would shoot us, and I bet that Charisma would just laugh. She was sending us on a Death March. But we were basically her prisoners. We had no choice now but to do what she said.
“Fine. But we won’t get close.” I snapped.
“Just keep in mind that you can either do everything I say, or end up just like Miss. Hollis.”
We followed that helicopter all around Windesta Creek. Obviously we couldn’t catch up to it. But it seemed to be circling around, waiting for something. We waited too.
Just then, we saw a flash of a mirror coming from the old lighthouse. It was their signal. The chopper headed towards Miss. Hollis’s home. We rushed to it. But the helicopter didn’t stop there. It passed right by the Hollis Manor.
It was heading for Lil’s house. But why? Lil was their leader!
I ran for her house as the helicopter hovered over my room. They
I ran for her house as the helicopter hovered over my room. The men inside took out a grey sphere. They pulled out a plug from it, and dropped it right into my room, shattering the window. I rushed towards the door, but Charisma shoved me to the ground.
“You can’t go in there! That’s a grenade! We need to run, now, or the blast force will kill us all!”
A bomb was in my room?! How was this happening! How was this happening! My most important possession was in my room. My painting collection. As I ran away, I took one hopeless look back at my room.
BOOM
The deafening blast shook the ground, and shrapnel flew as my hands covered my head. In that moment, everything, everything was gone, broken, or smashed. Most of it was charred and melted. Just piles of ash. I didn’t care about the house. I cared about the paintings.
I was safe from most of it, but a piece stabbed my hand, and I couldn’t even hear my own screaming.
The house was in flames, every single room engulfed in the blaze, all except one. The protected one. The Forbidden Room. I watched helplessly as three men jumped out of the plane, took the paintings from the Forbidden Room in gas masks. They went back into the plane, and took off. They were gone.
I was bleeding, my hand oozing red. I didn’t even notice. It didn’t seem to really matter when everything was gone.
“My paintings. Gone.” I said breathlessly.
“We need to get you medical help. I know what to do.” Charisma said. I tried to make a run for it before she could try and help me, I ran towards the house, and tried to get in. But no, I was greeted by black smoke clouding my vision and I passed out.
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