There were voices speaking. My eyes were closed, but I could hear them. The deeper voices and softer tones sounded quiet compared to the loud clicking and revving of what I assumed was an engine. It was probably the engine of the tech-forward ship I remembered boarding hours earlier. Had it been hours? I’d lost track of time.
I had been a bad girl and fallen asleep. Way to go me.
I couldn’t remember when I’d fallen asleep or I didn’t know why I hadn’t woken up to make sure I wasn’t in danger. I’d been taught only to sleep soundly when I was in a safe area, otherwise I was supposed to wake myself up. For some reason, that hadn’t happened.
I highly doubted the hard thing that I was laying on was ‘safe.’
Shifting off my side and onto my back, I opened my eyes to dim lighting. Before letting my eyes adjust to the lighting, I closed them again and reached a hand up to rub the crusty bits from my eyes. Blinking them back open, I realized how reluctant my eyelashes were to part; they felt like they had been glued together by some sort of sleep goop, the likes of which I wasn’t too pleased to have on my face.
I tried not to think about how it felt like the mud in my shampoo that my brothers had pranked me with years ago. I shook my head roughly, trying to get away from the thought.
Your family is gone, I told myself, clenching my teeth together. Stop making yourself feel sad. It’s weak.
I shifted my arms under me, trying to push myself up. A slight grimace crossed my face for a moment when they didn’t want to push me up. I must’ve been laying down for longer than I thought I had been. On the bright side, I wasn’t tired anymore.
As the lighting seemed to grow brighter, I tried to push myself up from the ground again. I rested my head on my knees, telling myself that it was because I wanted to listen to what the voices in the room were saying instead of the headache that was building. I stared blankly in front of me, not seeing whatever I was staring at as I waited for my eyes to adjust to the hazy lighting. I wasn’t sure it even deserved to be called ‘hazy’ since it was nearly no light at all.
Well, someone isn’t overly concerned about needing to see down here. The thought was wry, but at the very least, I knew that the headache that was disappearing as suddenly as it came hadn’t affected my natural snark.
Let’s see how many comments you can entertain yourself with, Calypso.
“We’ll be back soon, Your Highness,” a gravelly voice said.
I blinked in surprise. ‘Your highness?’ What did I walk into? Heaven knows the United States doesn’t have royals. There is no way I could be on another continent already.
Where was I?
A long sigh replied to the gravelly voice, but even as I looked around, I couldn’t see who it belonged to. I found that I was surrounded by wooden crates covered in dark blue, green, and black tarps, through which I saw cracks of light trying to widen the rips. It explained the lack of light at the very least.
So, the people who built this might not be able to see in the dark like I first thought. They just don’t need to see what’s under these tarps. I wonder if they have rats on the ship. That would be funny.
In my mind, I got the picture of random people, dancing around and squealing because there were rats running underfoot. I only barely stopped myself from cackling when I realized that I was supposed to be hiding.
Way to go, Calypso. Let’s reveal you by laughing your girly laugh in a room where the only voice seems to be talking through a mouthful of rocks. I’m sure they won’t be able to tell that you’re a girl.
The sarcasm didn’t make the thought of being found any more appealing.
“Zach and the others need to detach before my parents see the ship. Otherwise, we’re all in some serious trouble.” This new voice sounded like someone my age was speaking. I could tell what the voice was saying easier than the gravelly voice, which was pleasing.
I always liked to easily overhear things. I had no idea who this Zach person was though. I didn’t know whose ship I was on. I wasn’t with anyone either.
Zach might be bad news.
“We know, Cole,” a moderately deep voice growled, sounding high and squeaky compared to the gravelly voice but more grown-up than the voice it was replying to. “We’re working on it.”
It sounded like something one of my brothers would’ve said. They didn’t like being told what to do. That said, neither did I.
I almost growled at myself for thinking about them. Stop it, Calypso. They’re gone now. You’ve got to forget them just like you forget everyone else you lose. You can’t be weak anymore.
I shoved myself to my feet and crept closer to the crate on my right, feeling a bit lightheaded. I’d gotten up too fast, apparently.
I should’ve chosen a different ship to sneak onto back home. Or… not home anymore, I suppose. I had just left that. It was where I used to live, not my home.
Still, there were so many ships and I chose this one? There were bleeping royals! What am I supposed to do with royals? They didn’t exist back home. UGHH.
I shook my head, trying not to think about things that would just frustrate me. Then again, my best snark came when I was frustrated.
Maybe you should think about things you shouldn’t, I told myself. Hm. That was also confusing.
I focused on the fact that I hadn’t been found yet. It was a relief, but at the same time, I was holding my breath, waiting to have to evade things. If I was found, I was in trouble. I had nowhere else to go and I needed to find myself some answers about what this place was before I got myself into any problems somewhere else. No information wasn’t helpful.
I knew how to run from things, I knew how to lie, I knew how to make myself seem like someone else, so I shouldn’t have been nervous, but I was more uncomfortable with the situation than I should’ve been.
You’re Calypso right now! Stop acting like a Callie. You aren’t weak!
I peeked around the crate only to see a small group of people dressed in various colored jumpsuits of sorts. There was a blue one, a black one, some more black ones… Hmm. Maybe there were just black and blue ones.
The blue jumpsuit had a few different shades of blue, but there was no mistaking that it was blue. The jumpsuits all looked like glorified jail clothes in solid colors, but yet, they also looked like an indescribable style all of their own. The best thing I could compare them to was some sort of jumpsuit turned into a royal outfit.
Maybe they were royals, too. I rolled my eyes at the thought, but I kept the option open. Let’s just assume everyone’s a royal and scoff at them because they’re so useless.
A young man dressed entirely in black looked around with a careful eye, slowly skimming over everything within his sight. I just happened to be on the outskirts of the boundary.
As he turned, a single, dull, silver buckle on his belt glinted weakly in the overhead light. I didn’t dare move as his gaze passed over my location, but my eyes were drawn to the lone piece of metal. Who else has metal on them? Jumpsuits didn’t usually have any sort of metal on them. Is this some fancy onesie?
I restrained a snicker.
I belatedly hoped he didn’t see me since my head was laid up against the crate and poking out of a tarp. I was still wearing the suit with a cape my father had given me last year as a Christmas gift, so if I was awake enough to remember what I was supposed to do with it when sneaking around, I’d be safe, but if I had just pulled a stupid move and basically shouted that I was in here, I’d be in big trouble.
Just the thought of using the amazing hiding cape wrong made me miss my father, reprimands and all.
“You forgot to have confidence in your disguise, Calypso.” I could almost hear him scolding me. “You let the cape part flutter as you move and you blend into the shadows with the glimmering movement that seems still when you look directly at it. You must be confident. Become one of the shadows.”
The thought of him faded and I remembered what I was scolding myself for. Don’t be the one who gets in as much trouble as a person could get into, Calypso. Yes, it’s a completely new place and there are completely new people who are ridiculously confusing. They don’t seem like they would be happy to find a stowaway. If you get caught, it’s because you were sloppy.
I steeled myself, my teeth grinding together as I pushed away the flash of annoyance at calling myself ‘sloppy.’ I was never sloppy. If I was, it was because nobody else could do things better.
That’s how I worked.
I glanced quickly around the area, which looked entirely grey other than the wooden crates and black tarps. The walls looked to be made of metal, though I was sure that I had climbed onto just another modern ship back in the port back where I’d come from.
Somehow, I could feel something moving beneath my feet. Nothing had looked like it was moving when I looked around though. I checked again. Nope, nothing is moving.
Well, I guess we’ll see if I get seasick.
The whole thing looked odd. There were screens along a wall and the rest of the room looked like an old storage room exploded. You had screens, then crates and holey tarps.
There were doors on opposite sides of the room, one on my left and the other on my right, but I couldn’t see what they led to from this angle. I noted them, but I’d prefer not to run right into something that I didn’t know was safe.
Come on, Calypso, I chided myself with a smirk. You love to be reckless.
A girl dressed in a green jumpsuit studded with polished silver buttons along the seams walked in confidently from the door on the right, narrowing her eyes ever so slightly at the boys as her arms stopped swinging at her sides, one settling on her hip. “Ship’s ready,” she said with what sounded like false cheerfulness. Despite her confident stance, she seemed to be on edge. I couldn’t help but wonder why.
The person in the blue jumpsuit straightened. I saw his face for a moment and noted that he was a boy. He cast his eyes up in exasperation as he muttered something under his breath.
“I figured, Justice,” he said as he tilted his head towards the girl, his voice carefully level as though he were restraining himself from doing something. “Now, would you mind helping us load our ship?”
Loading? We were moving. Unless I was insane, the ship was not docked. It was moving too much.
If I’m wrong, I’m going to be annoyed, but I’m not a ship expert. Whatever.
He picked up a large crate and brought it down the hall the girl had come from. Something was clanking with every heavy step he took, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was yet another odd accessory on their otherwise plain outfits. I noticed as he walked that the splashes of other shades of blue looked like they were zebra stripes.
Why are they shaped like that?
“Well,” the girl, Justice, huffed, but grabbed a crate and followed him, hips swaying like she wasn’t affected by his attitude. She looked just as confident as she had been when she walked in.
As they left, the boy in black glanced around the room. It was silent other than the occasional click behind me.
I glanced back and noticed that it looked like a heating vent. Turning back to look at the boy, I kicked a tarp aside, making space for my feet. When I heard the rustling noise it made, I froze. Somehow, the little plastic scraping sound echoed, and I realized that I’d just given myself away.
Oh, you’ve goofed, girl.
My eyes widened as I peeked through the crack between the tarps and the crates that I’d been looking through. My breath shallowed and I swallowed, forgetting who I was for a moment.
I was Calypso; I wasn’t helpless anymore. I wasn’t ever afraid.
I stayed still, waiting for the boy in the black jumpsuit to realize that the noise hadn’t been just another click from the heating vent. If he had seen me in his glance over, he’d have to make the first move, but I was sure he would come after me. Despite that, I wasn’t going to move on the off chance that he hadn’t seen me.
You’re fine, you’re fine, you’re—
“I know you’re in here,” he said levelly, eyes narrowed as he walked towards me. His eyes darted back and forth over the crates and tarps that surrounded me as he approached.
It wasn’t comforting that he only knew my general area, but it should’ve been.
I silently crept back towards the wall that was creaking. I half-wondered if it was an attempt to get me caught. I slid to the side, crouching down near a crate close to the wall. My breath hitched only for a moment as my hands fluttered down to my sides, letting the cape of my cloak shift only enough to make me blend in with the crate.
I’d learned long ago that too much movement made it all too easy to be found, despite what my father had said about using the cloak to move more. My guess was that he didn’t mean I could do jumping jacks without being found.
He started pushing crates aside and quickly peeked inside each. Much to my pleasure, the repeated scraping made it easier for me to move across the room. Even though each crate seemed to make its own noise and each seemed different, I could use it to mask my footsteps if I timed it right.
You’ve got this. You’ve got this. Just because you haven’t done this in a while does not mean you’re gonna fail. You’re not. That’s not how you work.
I slid left along the wall and reached the other side of the crate, poking my head out and glanced around the area to make sure no one was watching. Taking a slow, shaky breath, I walked out from behind the crate and began dancing across the room, using the noise as a cover.
I was still looking for my next hiding place when the sounds the boy was making stopped abruptly. The rustling of the tarps and the splintering of wood as crates were roughly shoved into each other disappeared until all that was left was the clicking of the heater and… me.
I stopped moving, but not fast enough. The soles of my soft, leather boots made two last squeaks on the floor that looked distinctly like linoleum before I could stop myself.
All at once, footsteps thundered towards me, echoing ominously in the huge room.
Refusing to let myself panic, I pressed myself against the nearest group of crates. I planned on using my cloak and tiny figure to my advantage by blending into the crates and tarps again, but my breath was still uneven and it refused to steady. I had to stop panting otherwise I’d get caught.
Holding my breath for a moment, I pulled my hood far over my face and squeezed between two crates, draping the cape of the cloak over the crates behind me.
I doubled over and looked between my legs, watching the ground behind me and wrapping my arms around myself to keep my balance. Never had I been so thankful to be flexible. It was one of the things I’d been forced to learn with brothers who thought it was funny to pick on you in the most creative ways. Unfortunately, I still only saw a small spot of grey linoleum from under the folds of the cape.
Slowly, I let myself breathe again. Waiting to be found or to be free. It was one or the other, but I wasn’t going to die because of lack of oxygen first. That would just be stupid.
After only a moment, I saw feet rush past.
“Come out, come out, wherever you are,” he called, his voice already fading as he went behind more crates.
Inwardly, I scoffed. No, thank you. I’m just fine here without any help.
When his footsteps faded into just another echo in the large, tin-can-like room, I slowly uncurled, knowing that he should be a good distance away. I was careful not to move too much as I cleared my line of sight by shifting my hood back from hanging over my eyes, but since my cape had been the main part of my momentary camouflage, I wasn’t going to succeed if someone was looking for me. Luckily, I heard the boy in black’s calling echo back to me, sounding distorted, so I knew that he wasn’t near enough to see me.
I breathed another slow breath and turned in one fluid motion, carefully looking out from under my hood.
The boy in blue stood at the end of the hallway, having returned, and was now looking directly at me, his eyes wide in a suspiciously unreadable expression. He gestured for me to come to him, his face straining slightly instead of leering like the creeps back home would’ve. I ignored him just like I ignored all those who leered at me. I refused to flee one person just to run right into the clutches of another.
Calypso is too good to just walk right into a trap.
I slowly got onto the balls of my feet, ready to run if needed. I glanced at the boy, my eyes narrowing in calculation.
The space was big enough for a race, now wasn’t it? There were piles of crates for me to climb up onto and tarps for me to slide under and hide in. This was a place where I couldn’t lose a race or a game of hide-and-seek. I was best at sharp, quick turns and hiding in dark places. This ship seemed to have an abundance of both.
“Zach! There was someone in here!” The boy in black rushed back over to the boy in blue, his face strained just like the other boy’s was. Oddly enough, I could tell that they were slightly different emotions, even though I couldn’t read them as well as I’d have liked from that distance away.
On the boy in black’s face, it was a tenseness that looked almost like anger, but he also looked slightly worried, like something would happen if he didn’t catch me. On the other boy’s face, there was a tenseness that seemed to hint at annoyance and jealousy, but he looked like he also cared for the other boy.
Then again, that could’ve just been my brain trying to confuse me.
Slowly, I shrank back into the crates, feeling the light reaching my eyes dim considerably as the tarp began to shield my head from the overhead lights that resembled department store lighting. My back hit a crate and I glanced from side to side quickly, not daring to move my head but letting my eyes look out from under my hood. I could run both ways if I had to run.
They should try to catch me now.