It is a chilly Sunday morning, the bitter cold nips at the tip of my nose and the tops of my ears and even with my fluffy, grey scarf wrapped snuggly around my neck and my big, black woolly jumper I can still feel the chilled air against my skin.
‘Becka should be here soon.’ I think as I wrap my arms around myself, trembling hands going under the arm pits for warmth, ‘Or at least I hope she will be.’
Wanting a distraction, I reach for my phone, hand quickly swiping across the screen to Find my IPhone. Nothing has changed since I woke up this morning, Carma, wherever she is, has not moved.
“Still there?” Becka asks, emerging from the depths of absolutely nowhere. Becka has always seemed to have this strange ability to walk into a room without a soul noticing her or, when she wants, make such an impression with the way she holds herself she catches everyone’s attention. I, on the other hand, always seem to fade into the background whether I like it or not.
“Yeah, she’s still there.”
“Good,” Becka says as she opens her bag discretely, the glimmer of metal shining out.
“Is that a machete?” I whisper harshly.
“Yeah, the one my mum keeps by the bed in case of intruders.” Becka says with a shrug, “I texted you saying bring weapons.”
“Yeah, non-incriminating ones,” I reply.
“Well what did you bring then?”
My head drops, single plaits falling into my face in embarrassment, ” A frying pan.” I mumble.
“What about a baseball bat?” She says.
“I don’t own a baseball bat.”
“It doesn’t matter anyways. A weapons a weapon.” She says, determination settling into her features, “We should get going.”
I nod and we both begin to walk quietly down the road, lost in our thoughts. For all we know, Carma could be dead when we find her. Maybe that’s why she hasn’t moved...because she can’t.
I shiver noticeably as I try to gulp down my unease. Though that only makes things worse as I get a horrible sinking feeling in the pit of my gut.
“I think the bus stop’s over there.” Becka says over her shoulder. She is powering ahead now; focused. I know that sometimes she pretends to be cold and indifferent but deep down she really cares, for her friends at least.
“What stop is it again?” Becka asks.
“Lumley street.” I reply.
“And how many more stops is it?”
“And what’s the hotel called again?” With each question Becka’s voice gets harsher and quicker, her frustration clear.
“Look, here, these are the directions for the journey.” I pass the piece of paper to her and watch as she scans the paper over and over again, committing every detail to memory.
“We’ll find her.” I say, a lousy attempt at trying to console Becka.
“Yes, but in what condition?” She replies, voice raised in concern.
“I don’t know,” I whisper solemnly.
I pull the drawstring of my hoodie tighter as I stare up at the building in front of me. The weathered, grey-end paint has begun to crack, flecks of it littering the floor around the building. Vines have begun to spiral up the sides of the infrastructure, reaching almost to the second floor of the three story building.
The dim lighting inside streams out of the grimy windows, the light refracting through the cracked glass. Slowly we walk up the pavement, towards the door of the hotel. Becka opens it.
The receptionist at the desk looks stunned, almost as though she can’t believe her eyes. “My, my we’ve had so many guests lately.” The receptionist speaks. She is a short doddery, old woman with thick framed glasses on a smallish head. She pulls her turquoise cardigan closer around her body as a gust of wind blows in as we shut the door.
“Well, welcome to the Pleeza Hotel. How may I be of assistance today?”
“Hi,” I start, “We’re looking for a friend. We haven’t seen her for a couple days and we were able to track her location to here. We were just wondering if you’ve seen her.” I open my phone and find a picture of Carma, showing the lady the photo. She studies it hard, too hard, eyes peering with fake assertiveness as she looks at the photo. “I’m sorry, dears, I have not.” She says solemnly, “It’s a shame though. Someone so young going missing.”
“Yes, yes it is.” I reply, giving her a harsh look.
She swallows, her throat bobbing but otherwise keeps up her sad persona.
“Can we use your loo before we leave. Haven’t had a chance to all day.” Becka says.
“Of course, follow me.”
We follow her down a short corridor, taking a sharp left out of view from the receptionist desk. “Just here. Can you ladies remember how to get back?”
“Uh, yeah, thanks.” I reply. She smiles before walking away.
Without delay, Becka takes out her phone from her pocket and finds Carma’s detail. “I’ll stay down here and do the first floor, you do the second and then whoever finishes first can do the third floor.” Becka says.
I nod, ” Ok, but if one of us finds her, we tell the other before we go in. We might put ourselves in more danger if we don’t.”
“Fine.” Becka replies.
I turn around and make my way up the stairs, finding Carma’s number as I do so. I press call and turn the volume down on my phone, listening intently for the sound of her ringtone.
Nothing, absolutely nothing. The corridor is silent. I ring again as I slowly walk down the hallway, ear almost pressed against every door every time I call.
After finally being satisfied that I hadn’t missed the sound, I decide to make my way to the third floor.
Again, I repeat the same process, ring Carma’s number, listen for her ringtone. And again I can’t hear anything . By now my heart begins to slam against my chest. ‘I shouldn’t have gotten my hopes up,’ I think to myself.
I call once again and it seems that Carma isn’t here at all and I am just about to turn around when finally I hear the faint sound of music chiming from the door in the farthest corner of the corridor. I run hastily, pressing against each and every door. Until I get to the last door. My heart shakes in my chest and my hands mimic the action as I call Becka.
“I think I’ve found her.” I say, “Third floor, last room.”
I don’t get a reply, instead I hear her steps thundering up the stairs and down the corridor.
“Which one?” She asks, “I point quickly to the door.
“How are we going to—” Becka takes a step back before driving her foot forward into the cracking wood. It slams open, smacking the wall behind.
A sigh of relief leaves both our chests as we see Carma’s small form, curled into a ball on top the bed sheets. Her hair sprawled over her face. From closer inspection, she looks, physically, unharmed and quite peaceful. I stoop down to her level and gently shake her.
“Carma,” I say, “Carma, bro, you need to wake up.”
Becka stoops down as well and with a slightly rougher push, startles her awake.
“Becka? Mae? What are you guys doing in my room?” Her obvious confusion has me concerned.
“Carma, we’re not in your room.” Her eyebrows pull in towards her nose. She looks around the room, realisation taking shape on her features.
“You don’t remember being taken by anyone?” Becka questions, “Whose room this is?”
“The last thing I remember is getting you water then, well, nothing...” Carma’s lips purse together in concentration, “...I can’t remember going anywhere really. I thought I, I thought I’d gotten home.”
“I think it’s best we get out of here,” I say, “Stop hanging around. You’re okay to walk, yeah.”
She nods with no words, her eyes clouded over as she still continues to concentrate, to remember anything.
“And that bag, we’ll take that bag. There might be something important in it.” Becka motions to a blue duffel bag that sits, half slumped over on a chair.
I pick it up and swing it over my shoulder reluctantly, the material seeming to sear my skin even with my layers of clothes. I didn’t like the fact that I was so close to something Carma’s kidnapper owned.
We walk down the stairs through the lobby where the doddery old women sits behind her desk, tapping away furiously at her keyboard.
When she hears us she looks up from her screen and with slightly widened eyes realises that we have found who we are looking for. She looks frightened for a second but quickly recovers with a smile.
“Doors broken on the third floor.” I say and then I don’t say anymore because I know that she was lying earlier and any other sentences that come out of my mouth will include the words, fuck and bitch,a whole lot.
We walk a few paces down the road and then congregate together in a little huddle.
“We have two phones so we can call the police and Kaiko and Logan at the same time.”
“And my parents.” Carma says, “I think that they would like to know I’m safe.”
“I’ll ring the police.” Becka says as she begins typing the number in.
“I’m just going to text Kaiko and Logan and then you can ring your parents.” I type quickly and then hand my phone to Carma.
There are a few seconds of nothing before Carma smiles slightly at the sound of a voice and then begins to speak down the phone.
It is only now that the feeling of relief fully sets in. The tension within my body dissipating as it finally feels like Carma is safe and my life can start to resemble some sort of semblance of normal once again.
I hope you are enjoying the story so far. If you are please Vote and Comment, the feedback is really appreciated.
I’m currently trying to rewrite this story whilst doing my A-levels. So please, in the words of Tilly, ‘bare with.’
I will try to update as frequently as possible.
In the mean time have a great day and I hope you’ll continue reading my book.