Riley was kidnapped at age six and for ten years she has been continuously tortured, with no chance of escape.
Then when a boy comes to work for the place where she is trapped he tells her thatb he will get her out, but what will happen when -or if- they do get out.
Will they find out why they kidnapped Riley?
Will they found out where Riley's brother Tariq is?
And will they ever be left alone?
â€œShouldnâ€™t be too difficult,â€ Jean told me, half supporting my weight, â€œAs long as we be quick, hopefully weâ€™ll get out before people can be notified.â€
The only response I managed to give him was a small smile, I couldnâ€™t work the energy to talk, and running was almost too much for me.
Jean began pulling me up the long hallway, and all I could think was that I hoped he knew where he was going. We made it down the hall, around a few corners and we were going down another hall that was almost identical to the one that we had started going down when we had gotten out of my cell earlier, if we hadnâ€™t gone past a random table earlier I wouldâ€™ve thought we were going in circles.
â€œWeâ€™re almost there,â€ Jean assured me, â€œJust up this hall.â€
Then one name came flying through my mind, forcing my legs to stop, and me to shake my head.
â€œThis is no time to be mucking around, Riley. We need to go.â€
I just continued to shake my head; I couldnâ€™t leave him, what if he was here? Being tortured like I was, what if they made it harder for him because I ran away? â€œI have to go back,â€ I managed to say to Jean.
Jean looked confused, but still tried to tug me forward, and was getting there slowly. â€œWhy, Riley, youâ€™re almost out, for good. You donâ€™t need to go back.â€
â€œTariq,â€ I said to him, â€œI have to go back for Tariq; he might be in here.â€
Jean sighed and looked me dead in the eye, â€œListen to me, Riley, I have been working in this building for just over a week, Iâ€™ve memorised this entire building and its surroundings, believe me, there is no one else here, and once we get out we can try to find this guy, but it wonâ€™t help if you donâ€™t get out.â€
I thought it over, what if Tariq really wasnâ€™t here? What if he had been taken somewhere else, or managed to escape or already be saved, Jean was right, they wouldnâ€™t be able to find him without my help, and I couldnâ€™t help if I didnâ€™t get out. I nodded and we began moving again, but my next thought almost made me stop again: What if Tariq was dead?
I shook my head and continued to move forward, why was it I was having y big escape and suddenly all these thoughts were coming to me, as if my brain didnâ€™t actually want me to leave.
Shut up, Riley, you are making things worse for yourself, move now, and think later.
Unfortunately, for Jean and me, the world seemed to hate us and shouting sounded from behind us, a couple of buff looking guys dressed in all black were at the end of the hall we had come from and were swiftly catching up to us.
â€œJean,â€ I whispered, panics filling my voice. We werenâ€™t going to make it, we were going to get caught and my life would be worse than before and who knows what theyâ€™d do to Jean and Iâ€™d never be able to save pr find out what happened to Tariq. It was all over.
â€œDonâ€™t worry,â€ Jean murmured to me before abruptly turning us around, causing a small scream to escape me. Using the arm he wasnâ€™t holding me up with, Jean reached into the waistband of his jeans and pulled out a small handgun.
Jean stretched his arm out, aiming towards the oncoming men and shot, hitting the closest right in the gut. The second guy realised what was going on and reached for his own gun, only to also be shot in the gut, then once he collapsed to the ground four more shots sounded and I realised Jean had shot the two men in the hands.
I stifled a gasp, my eyes wide and terrified as I watched the blood poor out of the men. â€œThey both have guns and phone; I canâ€™t risk them being able to use their hands,â€ Jean explained, tucking the gun away and tugging me back towards the exit, but my eyes wouldnâ€™t leave the bloody mess on the floor.
It was so weird that after so many years of being tortured and feeling as well as seeing myself bleed out and when I see a few people shot â€“people who have been keeping me in this place- and I feel nauseous.
â€œRiley,â€ Jean snapped, breaking me out of my trance. We started for the door again and within the minute we were outside, the hot sun hitting my face like a flame right up to my naked skin and the wind slapping me.
â€œHurry up,â€ Jean urged me, â€œI have people not too far away, waiting for us, we need to get to them, then weâ€™ll be safe. But people know youâ€™ve gotten out now.â€
He was right, if the guys in the hall were after us, which probably meant that people knew we were on the run, which meant soon enough others would find out those guys lost us and others would find us.
My breathing came out laboured and I was stumbling over my aching legs now despite Jeans support, sweat coated my whole body and I just felt completely gross and sore and like I couldnâ€™t make it, but I continued to move, feeling as if I couldnâ€™t let Jean down after everything he has been doing for me, so like the good, confident, fit girl I was, I continued to run and refused to complain.
Soon we heard more shouting behind us but this time we didnâ€™t stop and shoot, or even look behind, just from hearing it was plain there where many people behind us and a small gun couldnâ€™t take them all out, we would be lucky if we out ran them.
â€œI see them, I can see help,â€ Jean panted and squinting my eyes I saw a large black van roughly one hundred meters from us, and I saw a few people running towards us. Just as I was filled with hope that we were really, truly going to make it Jean grunted loudly and instead of supporting me, he pulled me to the ground with him, causing me to let out a yelp.
Jean had landed on top of me and I squirmed and wiggled, using the most of my energy to push him of me, gasping loudly when I saw Jeans hands covering his stomach and dark, crimson blood seeping through his pale fingers.
â€œJean,â€ I gasped, tugging on his arm and trying to stand up and help him too, which was failing considerably. I knew the large group of people behind us were advancing quickly but I refused to look, fearing of how close they may be. â€œCâ€™mon Jean, youâ€™ve been supporting and helping me all this time, now I have to do it to you, but I canâ€™t without some contribution by you.â€ By now tears were cascading down my cheeks, fear causing my body to shake considerably. We were so close; we couldnâ€™t fail now, not when we were so close!
I was still trying to tug him up when I felt a set of large hands grab my shoulder, I didnâ€™t even look at the person, I refused to go back to that hell hole, I couldnâ€™t go back, I struggled to get out of the grip of my captor but failed miserably, I was torn away from Jean and let go of when I was standing, confused, I looked over to where the people had been advancing towards us, they were still coming, they hadnâ€™t made it yet, but they were close, so close.
I glanced to had ever stood me up before and found him picking up Jean, slinging the injured boyâ€™s arm over his shoulder. He glanced at me, â€œHurry up,â€ he commanded.
â€œWho are you?â€ I asked, I didnâ€™t know whether I could trust the guy, but the other group of people got closer with every second wasted.
The guyâ€™s eyes flickered to the advancing group, â€œIâ€™m the help that Jean hopefully mentioned, and you need to come with us, now.â€
I nodded deciding it was safe but I almost fell when I tried to walk, luckily I was caught, looking up I realised another one of the â€˜helpâ€™ had come, and it was a woman this time. â€œLetâ€™s go,â€ she said in a tone that was commanding, hard, frantic and friendly all at the same time. She put my arm around her neck and put her arm around me waist for support.
We set off once again towards the car and I heard more gunshots, I knew it wasnâ€™t the woman holding me because she was still going strong and fast. I glanced at Jean and the other guy to find that the guy supporting Jean was the shooter and was taking down some of the closest people in the group.
Once I saw a few go down I looked forward, focusing my eyes on the car, refusing to look back, no matter how many gun shots I heard.
It seemed like it took eternity to make it to the car but when we did I had such an intense feeling of relief I thought that that alone would make me pass out. The lady that had a hold of me threw open the sliding door on the side and pushed me in, not checking if I was okay or anything before running to the driverâ€™s seat in the car.
Just a few moments later Jean and the other guy dived into the car, quickly closing the door behind them as long bangs hit the outside of the car, creating small dints of the inside and making me flinch with every deafening bang.
â€œDrive,â€ the guy who had helped Jean at yelled and immediately the car sped forward sending the three of us flying to the back of the van, considering there were no seats to stop us, all the seats lined the edges of the van, the middle was empty space.
Jean and I grunted at the impact, though I suspect Jeanâ€™s was more to do with pain from the wound, and the other guy didnâ€™t make a sound, he straight away grabbed Jean and secured him in a seat in the corner with the seat belt done in some clever way in which no strap went near the wound, when the guy decided Jean was securely strapped in he stuck his hand under the seat and pulled out a clear box with a lot of white things in it, bandages, bottles etc.
First aid kit, I realised, this guy was going to save Jean, I would have smiled if I wasnâ€™t so tired and shocked from the escape. Finally I managed to make out a question in a small voice, â€œD-Do you need any h-help?â€
The guy had just taken off Jeanâ€™s shirt and had been assessing the wound when he turned and glared at me, â€œYouâ€™ve helped enough,â€ he growled at me, â€œStay out of the way.â€
His tone of voice had scared me; it reminded me of the incident with Codas. I could hear the hate laced in his words just as I had with Codas. And though it was much quieter than Codasâ€™ had been, it was almost more frightening, the quiet growl freaked me out and I didnâ€™t want to make this guy even angrier so I obediently pulled myself up into one of the seat, put on the seatbelt with trembling fingers and then silently watched the guy work on Jean.
The guy looked pretty tall, maybe six-foot-three, around the same height as Jean, maybe a bit taller; he had brown hair that looked as if he had just jumped out of bed, but it kind of suited him, his eyes were a deep green and it was hard not to notice the concern in them, as well as the lines of concentration and anxiety in his forehead that gave it away, he looked a few years older than me â€“probably Jeanâ€™s age and had a fair amount of muscle, not enough though to look as if he was ready to go all body-builder disgusting.
There was something else about him that made me think of Jean, but I couldnâ€™t put my finger on it. Letting out a small sigh I finally let a small smile of satisfaction slip onto my face as I fell into a peaceful sleep; after ten long years, I had finally done it, I was finally out.
I woke up as the car jolted to a stop, causing me to lurch forwards and get caught by my seatbelt. My eyes fluttered open and at first I was confused, where was I? A car? Was I being taken somewhere new somewhere where someone else can have a go at torturing me?
All the possibilities came rushing through my head and I began to freak out, until I looked around and found Jean being unbuckled by someone and yesterdays events came rushing back to me.
The guy supported Jean once again and as he went passed me he kicked my seat to get my attention, obviously not realising he already had it, he wore the same glare as yesterday but it had softened, if only a little, â€œHurry up, weâ€™re stopping here.â€
â€œWhere are we?â€ I asked him.
â€œGet out and youâ€™ll find out.â€
The two boys exited the car, the woman who had helped me yesterday appearing just a few seconds later. She had long washed-out orange hair tied back in a messy bun with brown eyes and few wrinkles on her face; she seemed to be either late thirties or early forties and friendly.
â€œDonâ€™t mind Vance, heâ€™s not really mad at you, no matter how much it may seem like it,â€ She told me, â€œHeâ€™s just... worried, as am I, but how would you feel if your brother had been shot?â€
My stomach twisted at her words, I donâ€™t think she had any idea how close her words hit home, I donâ€™t actually know what has happened to my brother, but I could only expect the worse.
Wait... brother? Thatâ€™s what I saw between Vance and Jean; they had the same, strong facial features. Without a word I just nodded, undoing my seatbelt.
The woman held out her hand, offering me help and a small, friendly smile, â€œIâ€™m Melanie.â€
I took Melanieâ€™s hand, smiling back, â€œRiley.â€
She had a look as if it were old news but said nothing and just helped me out of the van, closing the door behind her.
I looked around to see pretty much nothing, there was the van we had just come out of, a smaller car that was light blue and then we were surrounded by almost completely flat grass land.
â€œShouldnâ€™t we go to a hospital?â€ I asked, glancing at Jean.
Melanie shook her head, â€œWe have to swap cars first, and next stop is the hospital.â€
I nodded and followed her to the car; I was happily given shotgun as Vance seemed to want to stay with Jean.
The trip to the hospital felt a lot longer than it should have, and I swear I could feel Vance glaring at the back of my head most of the time, preventing me from being able to sleep.