A Beautiful Nightmare

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"I'm gonna do it, I'm getting us back home to our families," I tell them. "How?" "Just trust me. We're not staying here much longer." The others nod. Malachi Blake is one of many that have been abducted in the woods while out with a group of friends. His dog, Velocity, tried to fight off his abductors but lost before the two of them along with Malachi's younger brother, Caden are taken against their will. They find themselves there for three whole years, a family that believes they’re dead, and Malachi a leader among the boys that have been snatched too and are also presumed dead by there family, at least that’s what they believe. The other boys enjoy finding ways to speak to the girls that are only two doors down from them though Malachi wasn’t ever the type to be into that. Until one specific girl catches his eyes, Felicity Harton, who’s always nose deep in a book or writing down in a notebook. She’s got dreams to be freed and believes that one day she will be, and maybe, just maybe, the others might be able to get her and themselves freed too. The question is if each of these children is going to find a way to escape this nightmarish version of Neverland though others might argue it isn't that bad. Will these children make it back home, or will they be doomed to stay against there will without their families?

Drama / Other
Kiyah K. Berry
Age Rating:

Chapter 1

I was one of the first ones. The first to be taken away from practically everything I loved, and one of the first to become a practical lost boy. They say Neverland isn’t real, maybe some type of twisted limbo, they say Peter Pan isn’t real either, but I guess you could say it’s kind of true. Not that fairytale version where you get to stay forever young by touching that soil and staying there forever, but in a more reasonable way.

When I first came here, I was 12 years old and with my 8-year-old brother, Caden. He used to cry every night before we began to get some of the privileges as the other two boys, Chance Averton, and Michael Lewis, who was brought here only a month before me and Caden.

We got the chance to watch TV and for the most part, we’d sit and watch whatever Caden wanted to watch since it made him feel better. Almost every Friday we would watch the newest episode of Once Upon A Time with him, it was a twist on the stories the two of us were read to by our parents and older sister, Jennifer.

That showed me the insight of the Neverland that we’ve somehow found ourselves in. Peter Pan or our abductors, took us since they had this giant place, a mini-mansion actually, and they didn’t want to live in it alone any longer. They tried having children for years and things just never worked out for them, and so they resorted to this.

It’s not bad living in this place, but it’s not what we want. We want to go back home to our real parents and see our family members that we haven’t seen in years. We want to see the other children more than just at suppers or when we go to “school” in the big classroom they have set up in this place.

It’s gotten to the point where some of the older kids that have been taken don’t fully remember their parents and have chosen to call the couple that took us, Mom and Dad. I refuse to call them that and I refuse to allow Caden to do so either, but he claims he likes them and since our parents aren’t around that he wants someone around as a parent.

Believe it or not, we are a family. The boys and the other girls, I don’t consider the people that kidnapped us family members. They’ve taken us, and it doesn’t matter if we’re living in this mansion, with good food, and access to the internet though they’ve tapped these laptops and everything from permitting us to go on any social media beside Youtube and blocked us from being able to make videos. We also can’t use e-mail or anything that can be used to message others.

Nobody can even trace these back, that’s how much money these people have. That’s why I never got why they haven’t just adopted children instead of kidnapping us. They live sad lives when nobody else is around to see or notice from when Andrew, the guy that took us comes back here. He’s this CEO of a large company so I don’t believe he’d take as much heat since he’s got a magical thing called hush money.

I’ve learned the rules of this cruel ass world that never plays fair. He’ll probably get a slap on the wrist if someone figures him out. It sucks, but it’s true, I just hope that one day Caden, Velocity, and I get the chance to go back home along with the others. They deserve their happily ever afters though others actually are happy here.

“Mack,” Chance’s voice comes to my ears before I turn my head to look at him. I lay back on my bed as I let out a yawn and stare at him. His dark chocolate hair stops right before his grey eyes that watch me. A bit of stubble on his chin makes him look just a bit older than he actually is, especially knowing that he’s 17, a year older than I am. “Dude, come on.”

“Where?” I ask while grabbing the blanket from beside me and throwing it over my legs. “I’m planning on staying right here and on my laptop. I’ve got things I need to do,” I say as I reach into my dark blue sweatshirt with Penn State written across the chest with their mascot for my wireless earbuds. It’s where Jen was going to college when Caden and I were taken, by now she’s what, 23 years old? I wonder what she’s up to right now. I guess I’ll find out soon enough.

“Like what?” Chance launches himself onto my bed beside me. I give him a look as he laughs at me.

“I found a way around their blocks partially so that I can see my family’s social media accounts,” I whisper to him in case there are prying ears. He shakes his head shocked. “Yes, I did, and I won’t leave any comments, but I can see what my family is up to and you can too.” I’m so damn happy I was able to do it because I’ve been working on this for so long.

“You’d let me see what my family’s up to, what if there’s a limited amount of time?” Chance asks with his eyes wide as he stares at my still closed laptop. I place a hand on his shoulder.

“Look Chance, you are family. And Michael can see what his family is doing too and how they’ve coped on everything that’s happened. There’s a limited amount of time but it’s twenty minutes before the person has to be out, once the twenty minutes are up we’ve got thirty seconds to sign out. We can do that as many times as we want,” I quickly explain to him. He leans a bit closer to me and looks into my eyes before placing a hand on my head and ruffling up my already messy strawberry blonde hair.

“Alright there Mack, don’t forget how to do that and don’t go telling anyone else. Just you, me, Michael, and Caden can know. You got it? If one of the kids that sees Andrew and Kristen as their parents find out they’ll go to them and it’s good riddance to this,” his voice is frantic and so damn solid that I only nod to him.

I’ve never seen this look on his face before, but I do know that I’ve given him something he hasn’t had in so long. Some answers to questions that could’ve never been answered before, and hope. He lost it after being here for a year and a half, once his birthday passed and his sisters and brother weren’t there for it, his parents didn’t get the chance to say happy birthday to him and that they loved him. That’s when it was final for him and there wasn’t anything left. He didn’t believe there was a chance at anything anymore.

Now he watches out for the children here as do me and Michael. They listen to us for the most part and when they don’t we’ll grab Caden who speaks them down. He’s closer to their ages and for the ones that are just 6-8 he was once in their place and speaks to them about those times. We’re a bit like the older brothers of it while the girls do things similarly over there from what the boys have been telling me.

“Let’s wait until later tonight to do this, the others are either with the girls or outside playing football with Andrew. I try to avoid him but you know them, they like being outside and we can only be outside if one of the abductors are outside with us, I heard Andrew takes off the suit to play with them sometimes,” I nod slowly.

I couldn’t give a shit what Andrew does. He’s a nice person, he really is, and I do feel bad for him and for the fact that he couldn’t have children with the woman he loved, but that doesn’t mean I like him. I feel bad for him, yeah, but that doesn’t mean he should’ve taken us away from our families with the help of his wife. They truly aren’t bad, hell, I’m willing to forget this shit happened, I wish I could if it meant going back home.

I love the friends and second family I’ve made here, but I believe in fate to an extent. I believe that even if we weren’t taken that eventually, we’d all meet. I wish that’s how it happened instead of the kidnapping and having to console each other when each of us realized that we’re never making it back home.

We all have had those moments, at least the boys have. I don’t know fully about the girls seeing that I haven’t seen them since lunch. We don’t have conversations about anything like that when the adults are around us. Nobody’s really ever seen the angry side of them, though they have heard it, and it’s better to just avoid that.

“How’s Ember?” I asked changing the subject.

“She’s good, she turns 17 next week and since I can’t get her anything I’ve started to make a painting for her, but I don’t know if I can give it to her. What if Kristen goes through her room and finds it, what’s she supposed to even say for that?” I don’t know if he’s asking me for advice or not, but I decide to give it to him.

“Ember is smart, she’ll put something together if she has to, plus, she can lie and say that one of the girls ended up painting it. Isn’t Hayden really artistic too?” I ask him with a gentle smile. Chance’s eyes widen in realization before he jumps up from the bed, jostling me around just a bit before I give a friendly glare. “Either keep your ass still or don’t sit on my bed anymore, capiche?”

“Get over it. Anyway, you want to see the painting so far?”

I don’t say anything or move before he’s already moving across the room and to an easel that was purchased for him by Andrew when he found him painting one day. It was an attempt to buy his affections and it didn’t really work that much, though it did stop him from leaving the room every time Kristen or Andrew would walk into the room besides one of our meals and “school” time.

“What do you think, I want your honest opinion. It can be criticism, I can take it,” Chance’s voice is light as he showcases his work of art. All I can do is say “wow” over and over, it’s beautiful. It’s a portrait of Ember and shows her sitting on a step and staring at this sunset in front of her.

The golden swirl of colors making her usually black hair this bronze color, that takes your breath away, I can’t help but stare at that specific aspect of the painting before moving my eyes just a bit to face everything else. Her hazel eyes are so bright and show how happy she feels just watching that sun over the ocean of trees.

It’s a masterpiece, and it hurts to know that there’s a major chance nobody in this world is going to see it besides the children in this house.

That smile on Ember’s face in this won’t be seen to her family as this picture has them featured in it. I remember she said she has a younger brother Teddy that she nicknamed shorty pot since he was one of the shortest children in their neighborhood and in his class, but she explained to him that it wasn’t a bad chance. One day he’d grow to be taller than everyone in his grade and his height didn’t change who he was as a person.

From what I’ve heard, she’s an excellent older sister.

I remember Jennifer used to call me Mackle Tackle since I used to always try tackling her when I was younger and she trained me to tackle some people on command. When I started playing football and doing wrestling the nickname began to fit me just a bit more, then on the day she left for college, I was ready to hold her hostage. I miss Jennifer, and Mom, and Dad.

“Chance, it’s perfect. You should give it to her tonight.” He shakes his head before placing the painting back where it was in the corner.

“I can’t. Her birthday isn’t until next week, and I still have to add some things to it and make it perfect, but I don’t know if this is good enough to give to her. I don’t know if she wants something that has something to do with her family, I mean, I added them in it because they were in the picture I based this on,” he speaks so quickly that I almost don’t catch every word but I do and huff before forcing myself up from my bed.

“What are you talking about? Chance, this painting is amazing, one of the best ones that you’ve ever done, don’t insult it… and I think Ember would enjoy having something else to remind her of her family. I miss when I had more of them. All I’ve got are pictures, memories, Velocity, and the jacket I wore when I was in the woods that day. Dad gave it to me once it became too small for him,” I sigh at the end. Ember’s lucky to have someone like Chance and he’s lucky to have someone like her.

It’s crazy. Even in times like these, the majority of the girls are dating the boys. It wasn’t just one of those moments where they just got together because they are here, but because they’ve managed to fall for each other. I’m happy for the people that that has happened to, but it just hasn’t worked out that way with me. Some of these guys are actually in really serious relationships too.

“Alright, thanks,” he says before moving over to me and clapping me on the back. I laugh off the pain that comes with it. “Now can you please just come with us to see the girls for once?” I huff out before moving over to my nightstand and bend down in front of it to pick up my Jordan 1s; I pull them onto my feet and move over to the closet door. “Finally.”

I grumble something underneath my breath before squatting down and moving onto my hands and knees. I hold a hand out in front of me to push some of the jackets and sweatshirts out of the way so that I can feel the small secret door. My hand touches the knob as I shiver just a bit. It’s been a while since I’ve done this.

“You coming?” I ask Chance while pulling it open and moving halfway through it. I hear Chance’s reply before moving through and taking out my phone from my pocket to get some light for this dark tunnel.

I move straight ahead just a bit before turning right at a corner and move straight just a bit more to get to the other side that’s already open. I hear a bark as I get just a bit closer to the light at the end of the tunnel before turning my flashlight off and getting through all the way. Licks of Velocity’s tongue get my face wet as I let out a small laugh and hug him before petting the top of his head.

“Good boy,” I said before kissing his head. I look around just a bit and notice more than half of the girls’ eyes on me before my cheeks turn a tomato red. “Hi, everyone.” They only smile. “So you guys gonna make a habit of taking my dog?” I ask while staring at my German Shephard. His tongue hangs out of his mouth as he breathes out and when seeing Chance coming he walks over to him before licking him too.

“Not the face, Vel, come on, man. You know we talked about that,” Chance whimpers out. I laugh at him as Ember does the same. I look to her before standing up and moving closer as Velocity trails behind me. Chose the girls over me and now he wants to follow me. I shake my head with a smile. I love him so much.

“Hello Ember, since you’re almost turning 17, you know what that means?” She shakes her head with a small smile. “It means that all the kids get to make you this giant cake that you can eat and just savor that amazing taste and you can get ice cream along with it. You also get a claim over the TV.”

“I don’t want claim over the TV when I can sit in my room on Netflix or Hulu.” I nod. That’s very respectable. I do the same on a day to day basis now, except for school when we’re in the classroom. Then I do my work. We don’t ever get homework, we just have to get all the classwork done before we leave that room.

“Very well said, Ember. It’s what I would do,” I say before Velocity nudges me to the side. “Really dude, you’ve got to pick a side at this point. You’ve been with me since you were a puppy just five years ago. Doesn’t it mean anything?”

Chance moves closer before moving around me to pull Ember into his arms. She smiles before pecking his lips as the other girls in the room awe. I only turn my head away from them and notice Vel moving away from me and over to the quiet girl in the corner of the room who has a book in her hand and turns the page. This golden hair cascades down her body and stops over her boobs… I force myself to look up. He moves his head into her lap while pushing the book just a bit away to snuggle closer.

She lets out a sigh before grabbing a bookmark and placing it to hold the page she was reading in. When her eyes leave the book I notice how green they are and feel my jaw drop just a bit. This isn’t just a quiet girl, this is a damn goddess. Those eyes, then when she looks up into my light blue eyes I can feel my heart give just a bit.

Why the hell haven’t I noticed her before?

I know I’ve seen her before I just never noticed her which seems so damn crazy now. All anyone else calls her is Girl With A Book because whenever you see her she has a book or is writing in her notebook. I never believed that to be her name but I never once walked up and asked her what her real name is either, she’s been here for about three years and we’ve held conversations with each other before. I’ve just never used her name.

“What book were you reading?” I ask her as I take a seat on the floor beside her and move a bit closer.

“Uh, the Darkest Minds,” she answers shying before bringing a hand up to a stray hair and tucking it behind her ear.

I watch and don’t say anything and smile when I notice her cheeks becoming a rosy red. She holds her hand out for me before I take it into my own, this tugging begins at my heart and I don’t understand what it is. How foreign it all feels. I’ve never felt something like this inside of me. I feel weird. Awoken in a way that’s brand new and right now, I just wish I had my sister to talk to. She’d probably know what it is and how to help me.

I never believed in love at first sight, it just doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t think I’m in love with her, I know I’m not. It’s impossible. I know she’s the type of person Mom would like me to be with if she had a say since this girl is always mindful of her manners, even as an abductee and she cares about reading. It’s almost all she does. It’s all I’ve really ever seen her doing, well besides eating and drinking at the table.

“I’m Felicity Harton,” she introduces herself. I smile before shaking her hand instead of just holding it. I hope she doesn’t know that I didn’t know her name.

“Malachi Blake, but people call me Mack,” I tell her.

She nods to me before Velocity jumps up from her lap and begins to pull her just a bit closer to me. I shake my head at him as he uses just a bit too much force and Felicity somehow ends up in my lap. Her breathing picks up as she stares into my eyes, mine doing the same as one of my arms wrap around her waist.

“I am so sorry about Velocity, he sometimes doesn’t know how to stop when he sees someone beautiful,” I say before blushing and looking to the side. Damn, I didn’t mean to call her beautiful in front of her.

“You think I’m beautiful?” she asks shocked.

“Yeah, I do, why do you seem shocked? Hasn’t anyone told you that before?” I ask her. I feel myself getting a little too comfortable with her in my lap, but I try not to think about it or else I’ll find myself in a compromising situation.

“No, they haven’t. Nobody pays attention to me, I’m just the girl with the book,” she sighs at the end before I shake my head mostly at her words but partially to myself. Even I knew her as the girl with the book which I know is bad but I have had conversations with her but not full on conversations like I have with Michael or Chance.

“You aren’t just the girl with the book, you’re kinda like if Apollo and Athena, they are-” I start before she cuts me off by placing a finger over my lips.

“I know who they are, all I do is read, remember?” she asks. I nod before I find myself bringing a stray of her hair onto my finger and play with it. The ends of her hair are curled while the rest of it is all naturally straight, she screams goddess. “And thank you, Mack, your name is fitting, messenger, angel, that’s what you are to most of the children here.”

“I haven’t done anything to be considered an angel,” I tell her which is a hundred percent honesty and modesty.

There’s no way these children can see me as a type of angel, all I do is keep them out of trouble and when the younger ones make a mess I clean it along with Michael, Chance, and sometimes Caden. I watch out for them and they look up to me for some reason, but it can’t be like an angel.

“You are like their guardian angel, you keep them out of trouble and protect them from any bad that could come their way. I don’t know how you don’t see it,” Felicity’s voice is light before she slides out of my lap and I feel this cold feeling that wasn’t there when she was sitting in my lap. It used to be this warm feeling, I miss it. “Here.” She holds out her notebook for me to take so I do so and open it up to reveal this image of two little kids that look like Kylie and Tommy, who are two of the younger children in the place.

They’re both only five years old and were only two when they were taken. I remember the day they came in I was chasing after them for the longest, they are some quick kids, but they made it easier for me by constantly sticking together.

Neither of them really have memories of their real parents and think that we’re all one big family, none of us have the heart to tell them we aren’t. Some of us have gotten close, us children know we have to stick together to not lose our minds, but Andrew and Kristen are not a part of the dysfunctional family we’ve put together. The younger children don’t really understand that much so once again, we don’t say anything.

When I look at the picture I see them running away as I clean up the bag of sugar that they ended up spilling off the counter. They usually stir up trouble so I sighed before picking it up as I usually always do, it feels like I have to since I’m one of the oldest and I don’t need little kids getting in trouble when I can easily solve the problem.

This actually happened. It was only last year actually, which is hard for me to say. Only last year, it’s been three and a half years of me and Caden being here. A bit longer for Chance and Michael and then the others have just started coming in gradually as time went on. Then Andrew and Kristen stopped bringing them in just after the arrival of Tommy and Kylie. They felt completed or whatever.

Right now there are 13 children here, 6 girls and 7 boys including myself. For some of the children I know it was a better option for them to be taken here. Being one of the older ones, I know every single child that is here and their story, except for Felicity. I don’t know her story but maybe I’ll ask her later.

I know that Nico, one of the two ten-year-olds who are here was in and out of foster homes since his birth parents gave him up. At the time he was taken he was wandering the streets by himself trying to find a home, he didn’t want to be taken back to foster care. They weren’t treating him well.

If we get out of here he’d end up right back in the system, but that doesn’t mean I’m willing to let that happen. I want to take Nico in if that time for us to leave ever does come, which I hope it does, but it’s not practical of me to dream about that. Mom would love him, Caden already sees him as a brother of sorts, and I always watch out for Nico a bit more than the others since he’s been through a lot.

Dad, well I wonder how he’d react to Nico. He’s always wanted to have another boy, but maybe he’d want to forget the fact that Caden and I have been separated from him for so long. What if Nico was a constant reminder of that for him? It’d be stupid since Nico has had to go through all of this with us and he needs a good home that we could provide for him. But he lost two sons, or so he believes, and we’re here.

I want to find a way to get all of us out of this place and back home to our families, which is difficult. If one kid went missing they might not think much of it, but all thirteen, that’d be insane, so we’d have to be quick. I’ve read each of our reports and know where each of these children was taken from.

There are three towns, each only twenty minutes apart from each other, that we all came from, maybe there’s a chance we’re around them? Doesn’t work though, because I’ve tried to escape before. I snuck out at night, past all the points in the grass where I know the cameras are set on, I learned the security system, the areas to avoid to not get figured out. I got off of the property before running for hours, I was forced to leave Caden behind because I knew he’d slow me down.

I needed to be quick so that I could tell someone and grab help to get us free from this house that way before Kristen and Andrew woke up. I needed to get to town, but it’s as though we’re isolated from everywhere. Nobody ever comes here, Andrew has a P.O. box for their mail and never allows them to come up here. I wouldn’t be surprised if nobody knew this mansion even exists.

When three hours reached and I still couldn’t find a town or anything like that so I had to go back to them. Caden was so excited to see me that he ran up to me and crashed into me, he held me as he cried. I knew my saying bye to him made him feel as though he’d be isolated and that there wasn’t a chance that I would come back to him though I’d never leave and not come back for him.

I felt dead tired and literally collapsed on the ground after everyone that knew I was sleeping saw I came. It was one of the worst feelings coming back to tell them they weren’t gonna make it back home that night or the next day because I couldn’t find anything. It was a lot to hold on my shoulders for a long time.

“Do any of you ever just wonder what it’d be like to go back home? For them to see us after thinking we’re… you know…” Each of the three girls in the room nod as does Chance. “Do you think about the ones that don’t have anywhere to really go back to?”

“What do you mean?” Abby, a fifteen-year-old with dark brown hair and tan skin asks.

“I mean, the kids like Nico, if we get the chance to go home I want to ask my parents if they’ll take him in. Before he came here, he didn’t have a family, he was in the system and ran away from his foster home. He was just six and wandering those streets on his own to find a better home when he was approached by Kristen and Andrew.

“They told him he could get some food, a good bed to sleep in at night, and a family unlike what he had at that moment, so he came with them willingly. He doesn’t have a home, but yet he sees the kids that have people at home waiting for them and he wants to help us find a way back to our families. That boy is the most selfless person I’ve met, and so I want to ask my parents if they’d want to take him in.

“If he wants to help all of us and then end back up in a foster home, but worse than the one that he was in before coming here. I can’t let that happen, he’s like a brother to Caden and I, he needs a real family. We’ve almost all come to bond with each other, the only people he’s bonded with is Caden, Michael, Chance, and myself,” the rest of them nod at my words before I sigh and look down to Velocity, his body now sitting on one side of me while Felicity is on the other, not saying a word again.

“You’ll be his knight in shining armor,” Chance says with a golden smile.

“Maybe, but first I’ve got to be my own knight, to do that it means me finding a way to get the hell out of this mansion and get the each of us back home. There’s got to be some way to get each of us home or a message out to someone to come to us,” I sigh out at the end before leaning back against the wall. “The question is who do we send the message to and how?”

We each look around the room for any chance of prying eyes before we look back to each other.

Leah Dentwood, a girl that’s my age and arrived two weeks after me and Caden stands from her twin sized bed and adjusts her red comforter on the bed. Her dark brown hair is pulled back into a ponytail and stops just before her shoulders. Those light brown eyes set on the rest of us before she gets on the floor in front of Felicity and me, but she leaves a decent amount of space between us.

She’s nice, at least she is when you don’t aggravate her. She also happens to be Michael’s ex-girlfriend, I think she’s cool as she made him happy and he still has a thing for her, she just doesn’t know about that. It’s funny we still go through high school drama though we’ve never even set foot in a high school before. Well actually, Michael set foot in a high school since he went to high school orientation before being taken, not to mention he’s gone to events for his older sister.

It’s not what I meant though by setting foot, I meant it in the way of us going for school instead of sitting in the classroom in this house. It’s stupid to think about high school when I’ve missed more than just going to a dingy school over the years, but it’s hard to not think about it. I remember Jen used to speak about high school every day.

She’d either say, “You’re so lucky you’re only in middle school and don’t have to go to high school yet,” or on a good day, it’d be, “You don’t know what you’re missing, Mackle Tackle. When you get to this place, you’ll be the most memorable thing until college and real life starts. In high school, you might meet a girl that you really like and if she doesn’t feel the same and hurts you instead, know that you deserve better and there are other people that are going to make you feel like you’re flying. You change a lot but it’s a great change, I promise you,” that’s what she told me before going off to college. I guess I never got the chance to go to real high school, but now I know that flying feeling she was talking about.

It’s crazy to know that just this morning I didn’t know that feeling at all. I knew what it felt to be tired of the same old schedule but be so damn used to it that you don’t even need an alarm to wake you up in the mornings to get up at the same exact time. I do the chores around here that everyone else refuses to do, I clean after the younger children when they make a mess, I clean the younger children that still haven’t put two and two together about getting cleaned in baths. I’m just glad I get the help of Chance, Michael, Ember, and some of the others.

“I don’t know who to send the message to, but I do know who might be able to figure out how we can send a message,” Chance says grabbing each of our attention. “Malachi, you’re great with technology and other things, you can work on it, and Michael knows a bit about the computer too, you guys can work on it together.” I nod slowly.

I need to be worried about checking in on our families for longer than the given twenty minutes… but if Michael and I figure this out it means we won’t need to do that for the next however many years to come. We could see them in person which is better. Chance and I can look into our family later tonight and I start on this tomorrow.

“Speaking of Michael… where is he?” Leah asks while looking at her pair of joggers.

“He was told he needed to help Kristen around back, I don’t know what he’s doing though. I just hope he’s okay,” I say while looking to Leah with a blank look.

She’s always worried about him as am I. One thing about Michael Haze Lewis is that he knows how to take care of himself, he makes that clear every day, but that doesn’t stop Leah or anyone from worrying about him. I mean, look at all of us, we are abductees that haven’t seen our family in years, besides the one that we’ve made here.

“He’s alright,” Chance tells us. “He always is.”

“That doesn’t mean anything, that’s like saying nothing can ever happen, you’ve seen where we are, right? Our families believe we’re dead and none of us really are, what if one of us ends up dead before we make it home?” Leah asks while her breathing gets deep and heavy. I stand from my seat next to Felicity and move over to her before pulling her into my arms for a hug like Michael does when he’s here for it. I know it’s not the same as when he does it because nobody can ever match the hug of someone else when you’ve fallen in love or found a habit of ending up in that person’s embrace.

I miss Mom’s hugs and Jennifer’s. I miss the way Mom would run her hand through my hair to calm my nerves and then place a kiss on the top of my head when she believed I had fallen asleep. Every small gesture that I’d once taken for granted, I want it all back even if she wants to place a kiss on my cheek in front of my friends. I don’t care. I want everything back that I once had, Caden and I both deserve that, don’t we?

“You’re going back home, we all are. You’ve got to believe it. If you don’t then there’s nothing else for us. We need to have hope that we’ll end up back home, that we’ll see our parents again or our siblings. Everyone that we love. We’ll get it all back,” I tell the each of them.

“What if I don’t think we’ll make it?” Ember asks; Chance turns just a bit to give her a look as though it made him shocked. “Look, maybe you were right, Chance. Maybe it makes me delusional to dream about going back home because I do, but that doesn’t mean I believe I’m making it back.”

“There’s this saying in the book I’m reading, it says, ‘The only ones that can help us, are us,’ in the number of years we’ve each been here we’ve had to put that much together already, right? The police have given up on searching for all of us, our parents believe we’re dead and we don’t know if they’re okay. But if we give up on getting out of here or thinking there’s a chance, then that means we’re doomed to be here until they die or one of them dies and we try escaping with only one,” Felicity’s voice is a firm and confident one, and she’s just saying all the right words. She’s perfect, she really is.

“What if those younger kids never get to go back to their real parents and have the childhood that they deserve instead of barely ever being allowed outside or having more children around their age around them. If you can’t keep believing in it for yourselves, believe it for them.” They each nod and I watch as Chance pulls Ember closer to him and rests his head in the crook of her neck.

“Are you alright, Le?” I ask her. She nods into my shoulder before I let her go from the hug. “Michael’s alright. We’re all okay. And one day we’re getting the hell out of here and back to the families we have at home, but we’ll all look in on each other, right?” Everyone nods before I move over to Felicity and hold a hand out for her to take to help herself up. She takes it into her own before our chests brush against each other. Holy shit. I don’t think this feeling is a good one for me.

“You’ve got a way with words, you’re amazingly beautiful,” I sigh out while my arms wrap around her waist just a bit more snuggly.

“T-Thanks,” I smile before nodding.

“Hey Mack, sorry to interrupt your moment but we’ve got a minute before Kristen makes the girls bring Velocity back to our room which means she’ll come in here,” Chance tells me. I nod again and this time unwrap my arms from around her which is totally unfair, they just got around her.

“Sure, yeah,” I move over to Velocity before patting his head, “you know the drill boy,” he nods his head in the direction of the closet.

I move over to it, Chance already starting to crawl through it; I do the same. When we reach to our side we adjust the jackets to hide it and close the closet before I kick off my shoes. My pants follow soon after and when I pull my sweatshirt off I hear a knock at the door before I can even put a shirt on.

I move to the door in just my plaid boxer briefs and pull it open. It’s not like the girls haven’t seen me like this before, we do have an indoor pool. We barely use it, but when it’s used I usually only go out in briefs, rarely ever my swimming trunks. I don’t really know why though.

Felicity stares at me a bit with her eyes a bit wide as my cheeks begin to feel like they’re on fire. I wish I didn’t try changing so fast. I notice her eyes roaming down my body and to my six-pack as I bite down on the inside of my cheek.

“Sorry, I was changing,” I say to her before Velocity pushes through the small space between me and the door. She only nods at me. She bites down on her lip and suddenly I feel this urge to kiss her. Why? I want to ask, but I know good and damn well the reason for my wanting to kiss her. She’s nice, has a way with words, is beautiful, I’m surprised nobody’s told her that before… I’ll make sure to remind her every day.

“Good night, Mack,” she tells me with a smile that reveals those pearly teeth.

“Good night, Felicity,” I say to her. She moves to walk away before coming back to me; my smile gets just a bit larger. “Anything else you wanted to say?” I ask. She looks around us to make sure the hall is empty before moving closer and placing a chaste kiss on my lips. My eyes go wide as my breath catches in my chest.

“You might not see yourself as an angel, but I see it, Mack. You are a hero. There’s at one hero to every story though it might not be obvious, in this case, it’s you, Chance, and Michael,” she tells me before walking away and leaving me standing there as I stare after her.

Now it’s not the kiss I was planning to have with her, but I will definitely take that. But did it mean anything to her or was it just a kiss? How does this feeling start with me in just a single hour and a half? None of this makes sense, but maybe I’m okay with it not making sense. Maybe for just once I don’t need to be the practical one. I can be the one to chase something that I probably shouldn’t have.

“So you like Felicity now?” Chance asks after I close the bedroom door. I move onto my bed and lay down beside Velocity who moves closer to me once I do.

“I mean, I think I do. There was this feeling I had speaking to her and when she was in my arms and in my lap, I don’t know, it made me feel this type of warm feeling inside, not to mention I felt like I was just awoken from a sleep I didn’t know I was even in,” I answer honestly before letting out a sigh.

Felicity Harton, the girl I most likely am going to have dreams about tonight.

“I know that feeling, you definitely have feelings for her. And you’ve been sexually awoken in ways different than you’re used to,” Chance turns on his side to look at me. I nod to him, he has more information than I do on the matter. I’ve never felt this way before for anyone, I mean, I’ve thought girls were kinda cute and have had my share of steamy kisses as you’d put it, but they never made me feel the way I felt tonight.

Before she even placed that quick kiss on my lips I was, addicted to her if that makes sense. It was like I needed more than what she was giving me at that moment, but what the hell does that even mean? “Dude, I am so confused.”

“What confuses you?” he asks in a gentle voice.

“For one, it was like the moment I got close to her that I was being pulled closer, it was like I needed to know more about her no matter what. When she told me nobody’s ever called her beautiful before I was thrown back, how does nobody see just how beautiful she is? How the hell do all these questions start forming in just a single hour? Is it crazy for me to feel this way about her already?” Chance sits up before shaking his head. He rests his head in his chin before his hand rubs away at some of the stubble.

“For the thing about her being beautiful, there’s a chance that others see it and just don’t know how to express that much unlike you who did it openly with your charm. If anyone hasn’t realized it’s actually better for you, it means that there isn’t competing for a girl that you seem to have really strong feelings for.

“All these feelings start blossoming in just an hour because in some moments there are times where our heart wants something so bad that we need to question if it’s right or not for us to move forward with our desires. Sometimes there are moments where we have to go with what our head believes is right instead of your heart. Asking questions is how you get an answer to a question like that.

“It’s not crazy for you to already have feelings for her, she’s a good girl and person that is naturally sweet, the type of person a guy like you deserves. Don’t let the amount of time that your feelings have been around change any of that. You understand?” Chance’s voice is full of authority but is gentle at the same time. It’s that voice he’ll use with the other kids after they make a mess and I end up having to clean it for them.

“Yeah, I understand, now let’s wait for Michael to come before we check up on our families, alright?” Chance nods.

“Obviously, I couldn’t ever imagine doing it without him.”

And so Chance and I stay in our beds and wait for Michael to come back to our room, but I end up knocking out before he even comes back. I guess we weren’t going to check in on our families tonight after all.

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