It was late on a Saturday night when I heard a thud downstairs. I yelled down from my room to see if everyone was ok. I didn’t hear an answer, so I crept down the stairs. As I peeked through the railings, I saw my parents and sister lying on the kitchen floor. There was no blood, so I hoped they were just knocked out. I was about to run back to my room when I heard someone come up the steps. I turned to look as something heavy hit my head and everything went black.
Next thing I knew, I was in the backseat of a car. My hands were tied behind my back and my legs were bound at my ankles. I looked out the window and saw a road sign that said Darent Lane. A hot feeling of dread filled my chest as I realized I had no idea where I was. I figured my only chance to escape was to somehow untie myself. I tried for a while to get my hands out, but I only managed to give myself intense rope burn. I decided I would at least get my captors to talk so I could identify them. So, I started asked questions.
“Where are we going?” The man in the passenger seat turned around. He had bright blue eyes, freckles on his cheeks, and black hair. I was very surprised to see that he was my age. At least, he looked and sounded eighteen.
“You’ll find out soon enough,” he replied in a deep but smooth voice.
“I realize that, but I like to know things in advance so…please tell me.” I said while batting my eyelashes sarcastically.
“I’d love to tell you, but Shane is the only one who knows,” he told me while pointing at the driver.
“And I ain’t tellin’ you nothin', little lady,” Shane grumbled in a gruff voice.
“Okay whatever.” I turned away from him and to the man in the passenger seat, “So he’s Shane, do you have a name?”
“I do,” he replied smugly. “It’s Joseph, Joey for short." He stretched out his hand as if for a hand shake.
“Umm I am kind of inhibited at the moment,” I laughed.
“Oh yeah, sorry.” He blushed, clearly a little embarrassed.
“We’re here. So, stop yapping Joseph and get her out."
“Okay, okay,” Joey mumbled as he looked at me. “So, what’s your name?”
“Alexis, but you can call me Alex."
“That’s a pretty name. I’m sorry, but I have to take you into that warehouse now.” He seemed to genuinely regret it.
“I’d say that’s okay or I understand, but it’s not and I don’t."
“I get it. Now turn around,” he instructed.
“So that I can untie you."
“Oh, ok yeah,” I said while I turned around. I heard a knife cut through the rope and felt the pressure on my wrists release.
“Alright now your legs,” Joey said from behind me. He cut through the ropes around my legs and held me up, so I wouldn’t fall. As I turned around to face him, I tripped over my own feet and fell into him. He landed on the ground on his back and I landed on top of him. “If you liked me you could’ve just said so.”
“You wish,” I laughed. I got up and stretched out my hand to help him, but he declined.
“I’m a big boy I can do it myself,” he joked “Plus the guy is supposed help the girl not the other way around.”
“What are you, eighty? This isn’t 1950,” I said, jerking my hand back.
“I’m just old fashioned."
“Whatever. Can you continue kidnapping me now?”
“As you wish,” he smiled.
“Ooh, a Princess Bride reference. I figured that was inconceivable."
“I’m more of a nerd than you know,” he winked.
“If y’all are done flirtin’ can we get on with it,” Shane groaned.
“Yes. Let’s go, Alex,” Joey told him as he turned towards me. “Sorry he can be a little rough around the edges... and all throughout.”
“Yeah, I got that.”
“By the way Alex, I wasn’t flirting.”
“Whatever helps you sleep at night,” I teased. That remark ended the conversation with a laugh as we walked to the warehouse.
I could have run away just then, but I decided not to. I just knew that I had to stay. So, I continued walking to the warehouse with Joey and Shane. The warehouse was made of red bricks, it had a tin roof, and a huge metal door. As we reached the door, Shane took a keycard out of his pocket and swiped it on a scanner next to the door. The metal doors clanged open to reveal a room filled with bookshelves on the back wall. A single metal chair sat in the middle of the room. On both sides, there was a door in the middle of the wall.
“Take her to the chair.” Shane instructed Joey.
“Sorry,” Joey whispered in my ear as he grabbed my arm and took me to the chair.
“Now tie her arms.” Shane coughed as he lit a cigarette. Joey tied my arms to the chair. I noticed that he tied the rope very loosely. Then I realized he was drawing letters in my hand. I tried to figure out what they were. I knew the first one was “I”, then “W”, then another “I”, followed by an “L”, an “L”, an “S”, and then an “A”. He couldn’t finish because Shane yelled at him for taking too long. Shane was a very scary looking man. He was bald but had scruff covering his chin and upper lip. He had a scar that went from the left edge of his nose across his lips and ended at the right side of his chin. His teeth were yellow, and his breath smelled like smoke. His eyes were a very dark brown, almost black. He was not a man you wanted to mess around with. So, Joey had to stop his message and I was left to wonder what he meant. I think and hope he was saying “I will save you” because that would make sense. He seemed like he didn’t want to kidnap me. He tied the ropes loosely to the point where it wouldn’t take much effort to get out of them.
Shane told Joey to watch me while he went to get something from the car. Once the metal doors closed behind him, Joey turned around and started talking fast. He explained to me that he was also kidnapped, and that Shane was forcing him to kidnap other kids. He said that I wasn’t the only one they had kidnapped and that there were others in rooms on the floor below them. He said that Shane was kidnapping people who had a specific birthmark. He then lifted his shirt to show me the birthmark on his side. I rolled my sleeve up a little to show him my birthmark on my wrist. He nodded his head in recognition but had a slight glimmer of sadness in his eye.
“I wish you didn’t have it,” he told me “then we could let you go.”
“Why does Shane want kids with this birthmark,” I asked timidly.
“He believes that only people with this birthmark can use this book.” Joey explained, “The legend is that only truth can be written in the book and if an untruth is written in it, the book will change the past, present, and/or future to make it true. I think that Shane wants to find that book and use it for himself. He says we are called The Time Changers.” I stared at him in disbelief. “I’m serious,” he argued.
“I got that. I just don’t know what to say.”
“I understand that,” he assured me “I have an escape plan though. Here’s what we’re going to…” He didn’t get to finish because Shane came in and interrupted.
“Alright let’s get to it,” he bellowed, “Joseph did you brief her on her mission?”
“I did,” Joey responded.
“Now little lady,” Shane piped, “I want you to look at the books on these bookshelves and tell me which one is the special one.”
“I can’t really get up. Seeing as my hands are tied to this chair” I stated matter of factly.
“’Course. Untie her Joseph,” Shane barked. Joey walked towards me and untied the rope. As soon as I was untied I stood up and walked toward the first out of ten bookshelves. “It’ll glow if you see it” Shane declared. I scoured all the shelves of the first bookshelf but saw no glowing books. I did the same with the second, third and fourth bookshelves. When I got to the fifth bookshelf I noticed a book on the third shelf that started glowing. I knew I had to keep this a secret, so I passed on and searched the rest of the bookshelves.
When I finished searching the last bookshelf I reported to Shane that I didn’t see the book. He looked at me intently for a second and then slapped me. “I saw your face change when you looked at that fifth shelf,” he growled.
“I said I didn’t see the book,” I yelled and then proceeded to punch him in the face as hard as I could. He stumbled back and then collapsed on the ground. Joey ran over to check his pulse.
“He’s still alive,” he reported “but you knocked him out. Where did you learn to do that?”
“Did I forget to mention I am a black belt in Tae Kwon Do?” I chuckled.
“Well I’m officially impressed,” Joey confessed.
“Thanks. Now we need to hurry and tie him up before he wakes,” I instructed while gesturing towards Shane.
“Ok let’s do it. We can ask him why he wants the book and then take him to one of the cells downstairs. Then we can let everyone else out,” Joey offered.
“Sounds like a plan,” I assured him. So, we dragged Shane over to the chair, sat him up in it, and tied his legs and arms to the chair.
A few minutes later Shane started to wake up. “You little scumbags. How could you do this to me?” Shane wailed.
“You shouldn’t have slapped me you deadbeat,” I yelled.
“I am not a deadbeat,” Shane bellowed as he tried to get out of the ropes.
“Yeah, ok, sure,” I said sarcastically. I turned towards Joey. “Watch him and make sure he doesn’t get out,” I instructed “I am going to go downstairs and talk to the other kids.”
“I can do that,” Joey replied “There is an elevator in the wall to the right. Press the basement button and that will take you to the floor where the kids are kept. The keys to the cells are in a secret hatch just to the right of the elevator. Talk to the kids before you let them out.”
“Ok,” I said, and I ran toward the elevator. I pressed the down button and waited for the doors to open. As I waited I went over to a shelf near the elevator door and grabbed a knife just in case I needed protection. As soon as the doors opened I ran in and pressed the basement button. The elevator lurched, and I fell into the railing in the back.
The ride was short and smooth after that. When I reached the basement, the doors opened to reveal a dark corridor. I stepped out of the elevator and saw an indentation in the walls to the left and to the right. I looked to the right and saw a hatch that blended in so well to the dark wood floors it was almost invisible. I pulled up on the corner and saw a flashlight and a ring with many keys on it. I took both and closed the hatch. I turned the flashlight on and shined it down the corridor. On both sides, there were five cells with thick iron bars and a keyhole. I walked to the first cell on the right side and saw a girl who looked to be about my age asleep in the bed. I gently knocked on one of the iron bars and she bolted up to a sitting position.
“Who-Who are you?” she stuttered her green eyes filled with terror.
“My name is Alex. I’m like you,” I told her, then I rolled up my sleeve to show her my birthmark. She turned around and lifted her blonde hair off her neck to reveal her birthmark.
“So how did you get away from Shane?” she questioned suspiciously.
“I will answer all your questions as soon as you tell me your name,” I bargained.
“Elizabeth, but I go by Liz.”
“Ok Liz, I got away from Shane by punching him in the face and knocking him out, then Joey and I tied him to a chair.”
“W-Wow,” Liz stuttered in amazement “I-I could never do that.”
“I think you could if you really tried,” I assured her.
“Thanks, I honestly really appreciate that,” she smiled.
“Anytime,” I laughed. “So, what do you know about this prophecy?”
“Well I know that there are eight kids with the time changer mark, but that’s really it.”
“Wait did you say eight?” I asked, “But there are only five cells down here with people in it and Joey and me. That’s only seven.”
“Yeah,” Liz realized “I guess Shane didn’t find the last one.” Suddenly I had a flash back to when my best friend Renee and I were five and had just met. She saw my birth mark and showed me hers, which was located on the back of her shoulder. We figured it meant we were meant to be best friends and kind of forgot about it over the years. I realized that she was the last Time Changer and I had to go find her after I talked to the rest of the kids.
“Thank you so much Liz,” I beamed.
“You’re welcome,” she smiled, “Can you let me out now?” she asked, looking at the keys in my hand.
“Sure,” I said while adjusting the knife I tucked in my belt loop so that it was in a place I could easily grab it if I needed to. I looked at the top of her cell and saw the number 1. So, I looked at the keys on the ring and saw a key with the number one on it. I inserted the key in the lock with my left hand, while my right hand rested on the handle of the knife. I turned the key and my hand tightened around the knife. I took a couple steps back and let Liz open the door.
“It’s ok. I’m not going to hurt you,” Liz assured me, “You can let go of the knife.”
“Sorry,” I sighed, “I just get a little nervous.”
“I get it,” Liz agreed, “You don’t know me, and I could be really aggressive. I’m not though.”
“Yeah. Can you wait by the elevator and warn me if I get near anyone who might try to hurt me?” I asked her.
“I can do that,” she affirmed. I smiled at Liz and walked to the second cell. I shined my flashlight in and saw a boy also my age sitting at a desk.
“Hello,” I called. The boy turned around. He had shaggy brown hair and light brown eyes.
“Hi,” he smiled, “Um…who are you?”
“Oh, right sorry. I’m Alex, a fellow Time Changer. I escaped from Shane and Joey helped me tie him up. So, what is your name, and may I see your birthmark?”
“Wow, that was a lot of information to process,” he laughed, “I’m Perry and if you are who you say you are, show me your mark first.”
“Ok,” I answered while rolling up my sleeve and showing him the mark on my wrist.
“All right,” he said, “That seems legit.” I laughed at his remark as he rolled up his pants leg to reveal the Time Changer mark on the inside of his right ankle.
“All right. So now that we got that out of the way. What do you know about this prophecy?” I asked him.
“I only know one thing, but what’s in it for me if I tell you?” he smirked.
“How about I let you out?” I offered.
“Sounds like a fair trade,” he approved.
“Ok, so what do you know?” I questioned.
“All I know is that all of us here are eighteen and that there are two reasons for that. The first reason is that when a Time Changer turns eighteen their powers develop and they can identify and use the Book of Truth. The second reason is that once a Time Changer turns eighteen, they become immortal and the only thing that can kill them is a bullet to the brain,” Perry informed me.
“Wow, so we are all eighteen forever,” I said in disbelief.
“Yep, that is how being immortal works. Now hold up your end of the deal” he demanded. I looked over at Liz and she gave me a thumbs up. So, I found the key to Perry’s cell and unlocked it. He opened the door and dropped to the ground. I looked down and saw that he was kissing the ground outside his cell while chanting, “I’m free! I’m free!” I laughed and then told him to get up and go stand with Liz.
“Why should I listen to you?” he argued.
“Because I’m the one with a knife,” I said, lifting my shirt up just enough to reveal the knife I had tucked into my waistband.
“Ok, ok,” he chuckled nervously, “I’ll go.” He started to walk towards Liz and as I looked at her I could see she was stifling her laughter. I knew then that she would be a lifelong friend. As soon as I saw Perry reach Liz I walked the third cell. As I shined my flash light in I saw a boy with black hair and blue eyes just sitting in the middle of the room.
“What are you doing?” I asked a little louder than I should have. The boy jumped back and hit his head on the bed post.
“What on God’s green earth do you think you’re doing?” he asked me his voice still sounding a little startled.
“Rescuing you. How did you get scared, your eyes were open?” I questioned.
“They were? It finally worked,” he exclaimed, “I slept with my eyes open!” I chuckled as he danced around a little. “Wait did you say rescuing me?” he asked while sitting down on the bed.
“I did,” I assured him.
“But how did you get away from Shane?” he asked excitedly.
“That’s a long story,” I sighed, “Let’s start with names and Time Changer marks.”
“Right, Right. I’m Amos and here is my mark,” he said while stretching out his arm to show the mark on the inside of his forearm. “Now you,” he demanded.
“I’m Alex,” I said while showing him the mark on my wrist. “Now here is the deal,” I bargained, “You tell me what you know about the Time Changers and I let you out. Deal?”
“Deal,” he agreed.
“Now, what do you know,” I asked expectantly.
“I know that Shane was working for a secret society call The Keepers who are looking for this book,” Amos divulged. “I also know that Shane kept this warehouse’s location secret from them, so they don’t know we are here. However, we cannot leave because this society knows who we are. So, I propose we use this place as refuge for now.”
“Wow is that all?” I said sarcastically. Amos laughed.
“Yes, that’s all I know,” he assured me, “Can I be free now?”
“Of course,” I said while looking at Liz and Perry. They both gave me a thumbs up, so I unlocked Amos’ door. “Go stand with Liz and Perry,” I said while pointing towards them.
“Ok,” he agreed and walked over to them.
“See how easy that was, Perry?” I sassed.
“Easy is no fun though,” Perry jested.
“Yeah, yeah,” I replied while walking past the last two cells on that side. I shined my flashlight in each and found they were empty. I then walked to the first cell on the opposite side.
When I shined my flashlight in I saw a girl sleeping on the floor. I gently tapped her foot to wake her up.
“Don’t steal my meatballs,” she mumbled half asleep. I started laughing and then Liz, Perry, and Amos joined in. Soon after this happened the girl woke up and slowly sat up rubbing her eyes.
“Who are you?” she questioned, still not fully awake.
“My name is Alex and I am here to help,” I said while showing her my mark.
“Anne,” she replied while revealing the mark on her hip.
“Hi Anne,” I said softly, not wanting to startle her.
“How are you going to help me?” she asked while brushing her brown hair out of her face to reveal her eyes, almost the same shade as her hair. She seemed fully awake now.
“With the help of Joey, we have taken care of Shane. Now I am here to let you out in exchange for information on the Time Changers,” I explained to her.
“Well all I know is that The Keepers aren’t the only ones looking for this book, there are two other secret societies looking for it as well. The Searchers and The Book Masters, but that’s it,” Anne stated.
“That’s very helpful,” I praised. I looked over at Liz, Perry, and Amos and they all gave me a thumbs up, so I let Anne out. I told her to stand with the others and she complied. I walked to the last cell and shined my flashlight in. I saw a boy with a mop of brown hair and brown eyes punching his hand over and over. I cleared my throat loudly to announce my presence and he glanced at me then looked back at the wall. A second later he looked at me again.
“You’re new,” he remarked still looking at the wall.
“Yeah my name’s...”
“Alex. I know,” he interrupted. “I heard you talking to the others. Am I being offered the same deal?” he asked.
“Yes, you are,” I groaned, frustrated with his rudeness.
“Great,” he said, still not making eye contact.
“Go ahead,” I urged him.
“So, all I know is that The Keepers were trying to train us and use us as soldiers against the other two societies. Let me out now,” he demanded. I looked over at the others and saw that they were all shaking their heads. I showed them that I saw and signaled that I would be careful. I slowly turned the key in the lock, while my right hand clenched into a fist. As soon as he opened the door he tried to grab my wrist. I blocked his hand and grabbed his ear in a way that hurts everyone.
“Ow, ow,” he groaned, “I was just trying to check you mark.”
“Well you should have given me warning,” I informed him, while dragging him over to the others. I looked up and everybody else looked amazed.
“Nobody treats him like that,” Anne gasped.
“Well I’m not nobody,” I declared.
“So, what’s your name, tough guy?” I asked him still holding on to his ear.
“Antonio,” he groaned, trying not to let his pain show.
“Ok Antonio, I’m going to call you Toni ok? Great! Now show me your mark,” I demanded while letting go of his ear. He turned around and showed me the mark on his back. “Great, now let’s go upstairs and get some information from Shane. We all piled in the elevator and I pressed the ground floor button. This time I expected the lurch and grabbed the back railing. I saw everybody else except Toni do the same. As soon as the elevator lurched all of us who grabbed the railing stood standing. I looked down as saw Toni sprawled on the ground. “Get up,” I said, while poking him in the ribs with my foot.
“Okay, okay. Stop,” he complained while swatting my foot away. He stood up and pretended not to notice that the rest of us were laughing at him. When the doors opened, we were back in the room to the right of the room with the bookshelves. I told the others to wait here while I made sure that Shane was still restrained. I opened the door a little and peeked through the crack. I saw Joey sprawled on the floor. My heart started beating fast. I didn’t think I cared that much about him but seeing him and not knowing whether or not he was dead actually scared me. I peeked a little more and saw that Shane was sitting in the chair, but he was knocked out again. I needed to see if Joey was alive without getting to close. So, I went over to one of the shelves and picked up a box of rubber bands.
I began to shoot Joey with the rubber bands over an over until one hit him in the eye. As soon as it hit him. He sat up, holding his eye.
“Geez, Alex. I was just trying to mess with you,” he whined.
“Well I don’t take that well. Just ask Toni over here,” I explained, opening the doors and walking towards Joey. The others followed close behind. “I see you found everyone.”
“Yep,” I said, I then informed him of all the information the others told me.
“Wow that’s a lot of information,” he started “I agree with Amos, we should stay here. About the whole immortal thing, that’s freaking awesome.”
“I agree,” I said, “But about the whole eight Time Changers thing, I think I know who the last one is.” I then told everyone about Renee.
“Well we have to go get her,” Amos suggested.
“We will,” I told him, “But first we need to lock Shane up and then assign jobs.”
“Ok let’s start with locking up Shane,” Joey suggested, “Alex you and I can do that, while the others stay up here and rummage for supplies.”
“Alright,” I agreed, “Let’s go.”
I walked over to Shane and punched him in the face again to make sure he was knocked out. Joey and I then untied him from the chair and pushed him on the ground, face down. We then tied his hands together behind his back and tied his legs together.
“You grab his legs and I’ll grab his arms, then we will drag him to the elevator,” Joey instructed. I did what he said and we dragged him over to the elevator. We pressed the basement button and I grabbed the railing I saw Joey do the same and we let Shane sit there on the floor. When the elevator lurched Shane slid across the floor and slammed into the doors. I had to stop myself from laughing when Joey gave me a weird look.
When we reached the basement, I flicked on my flashlight and pulled the keys out of my pocket. “Let’s put him in cell 1,” I suggested. Joey agreed so we threw him onto the bed and made sure there was nothing in the cell he could use to escape. There was nothing, so we locked him in there and went back upstairs.
We went back upstairs and gathered everyone in the main room. We gathered six more chairs and sat them in a circle so that everyone could sit and show what they found. Liz went first and showed us that she found a box of matches, another flashlight, and some documents with information on the Keepers. She set them down in the middle of the circle and told Anne to go next.
Anne explained that she searched all the book shelves in this room. She found books with lure on the Time Changers as well as the three secret societies. She placed these books in the middle and told Amos to go.
He showed us that he found eight backpacks in some storage lockers and a shotgun with two bullets in it and a box of fifteen bullets. He sat them in the middle and told Perry to go.
Perry explained that he raided the kitchen and grabbed six knives, he placed these in the middle. He then went on to explain that he found plenty of food in the kitchen, but he left it there. He said that he found a bunch of canned food, vegetables, frozen dinners, and fruit.
“That’s awesome, thanks so much Perry,” I exclaimed, “Now last and certainly least, it’s your turn Toni.”
“Haha,” he said sarcastically. “Here is what I found,” he said while showing us his stuff. He showed us what he found; handcuffs and some rope. He sat them on top of the stuff and then looked at me. “What now?” he asked me.
“Now we distribute supplies and give everyone jobs,” I explained.
“Sounds good,” Anne agreed.
“Okay first, everyone take a knife and a backpack.” I instructed. After everyone had taken a knife and a backpack, I looked at what we had left.
There was some rope, a pair of handcuffs, a shotgun, a box of bullets, a box of matches, a flashlight, documents on The Keepers, the books, and an extra backpack. “Ok, let’s split up jobs and then we can give out the supplies” I suggested. The others agreed. “Liz, I want you and Anne to research more, so take the documents and books read through them,” I instructed her.
“Ok,” she said and then took the documents and headed to the kitchen with Anne close behind.
“All right Amos, you and Perry explore the rest of the warehouse, but be careful. Take the flashlight and handcuffs,” I told them.
“All righty roo,” Perry said. I laughed along with Amos and Joey. Perry and Amos took the flashlight and handcuffs and headed to the elevator.
“Ok Toni, I want you to stand guard. Take the shotgun, bullets, and the rope. Leave your knife in the extra backpack so that Renee can have it and watch the door.”
“Fine,” Toni muttered taking his supplies and putting his knife in the backpack
“Joey, you and I are going to take the matches, backpack and knife and go get Renee. I know where she lives so it won’t be hard,” I said.
“Ok,” Joey said, “I have the keys to the car, so we can take that.”
“Perfect,” I exclaimed, “Let’s go. Toni make sure you are watching.”
“I will, I will,” he responded.
“Wait Joey, do you have the key card to the warehouse?”
“Yep,” he said, pulling the keycard out of his pocket, “I got it off Shane when I knocked him out again.”
“Awesome!” With that Joey and I left the warehouse, got in the car and started driving to Renee’s house.