Black Pearl

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The Big Jump

Ally had ran right out of that palace and out. She didn’t really know where she was going. All she knew was at that moment, she needed to get away. When she got tired of running, she walked. Stores passed by her, carts, people. Finally, when her legs couldn’t take another step, she plopped herself onto the nearest available resting place: a chair to an outdoor restaurant table.

“And this...is exactly why I didn’t join track.” Ally breathed hard puffs and looked up. She saw that in the middle of the table was a wooden pole that turned out to be an umbrella. She opened it and the umbrella sprung open. “Much better.” After Ally rested for a moment, it didn’t take long for a waiter to attend to her table.

“May I take your order?” The waiter had a heavy accent and his words seemed forced but Ally was able to comprehend. Although she did have one problem though, she had not a single coin in her pocket..

“I...have no money.” Ally’s face reddened from embarrassment. Ally stood up from her chair. Her chair screeched as its metal legs scraped against the cement.“I’ll leave now.”

“Nonsense,” said a man’s voice. “I’ll pay!”

Ally turned to the direction of the man’s voice. He was still fairly young. The man was in his late twenties and was nicely dressed.She could also tell that he was foreign. Ally guessed he was Indian. Ally’s eyes went to the woman beside him. She undoubtedly beautiful. But it wasn’t her beauty that was so distracting. Her age was almost impossible to guess. At a first glance, any person would guess she was a teenager. But the longer Ally’s eyes lingered, it was as if that teenage girl had slowly morphed into a full-grown woman. And her hair, was exceptionally orange and purple. It was so vibrant but at the same time so realistic. No way a dye-job could’ve done that.

“No!” Ally shook her head. “I was just about to leave.” The man walked up the waiter and handed him slips of paper money. With a flutter of his eye, he spoke in the waiter’s ear. At first, a look of sheer annoyance flashed across the waiter’s face but as soon as the waiter counted the cash, he was out with a satisfactory look on his face.

“I hope you didn’t mind, “ the man said with his charming smile. “I ordered you the classic steak.”

“Oh, thanks.” Ally said.

“Come,” the man took Ally by the hand and pulled her chair to his table. “Let’s chat.” Ally’s smile faded when she saw the frightening look the girl gave her. Ally knew two languages: English and Girl. And now, she knew that that girl was telepathically telling her I hate you. The girl glared at her with her intense electric blue eyes. It reminded Ally of eels for some reason.

The man sensed her reluctance. “That’s Dr. Queen. I assure you, she’s harmless.”

The girl gave Ally another glare. She narrowed her eyes and Ally could’ve sworn she heard a quiet hiss. “Of course,” Ally said and nervously laughed.

“So tell me, what is a young girl like you doing out here all alone in Amsterdam?” The man raised his drinking glass as if preparing to make a toast.

“Well, I’m actually travelling with my friends.” Ally had to be careful with what information she was to give out. After all, didn’t everyone spend all of pre-k learning not to talk to strangers. And yet here she was right now, conversing and dining with a complete stranger.

“Are you having fun?”

“We sort of got into a fight.” Ally shrugged. The waiter brought her steak and she eagerly dug into it. “Thanks again for the meal.”

“It’s no problem at all. And I’m sorry about your fight.” The man smiled. “I’m Abhilash. Dr. Queen and I are...well, you can say we’re on a business trip. We’re both scientists, specifically, marine biologists.”

“How exciting.”

“I’ve always been so fascinated with the ocean. There is so much more out there than people think!” There was a glint his eye that pulled Ally’s attention. “And I’m awfully close to a new discovery.”

“What kind of discovery?” Ally asked.

“Abhilash!” Dr. Queen snapped.

“I wasn’t going to tell her anything,” Abhilash frowned at Dr. Queen and she backed down in response. He turned his attention back to Ally and said, “I apologize for my college’s behavior. She’s a bit grouchy today. I also apologize for not being able to tell you about our mission. It’s a secret.” Again, Ally caught the glimmer in Abhilasha’s eyes. There was something about the pair that was unusual but Ally didn’t know what.

BEEP BEEP

A darting sound came from the front of Abhilash’s pocket. He took it out and though he was careful to hide it, Ally saw a glimpse of the device. It was almost like a gps except it had a grip and a red pin that glowed brightly.

“She’s at the street outside of the Koninklijk Paleis Amsterdam! And she’s heading towards us too!”

“Who?” Ally asked.

“It’s nothing,” Abhilash quickly dismissed the subject. Ally sighed. She wasn’t stupid; that was a total lie. Abhilash impulsively glanced at his wrist. “Oh, look at the time!” He wasn’t even wearing a wrist watch. “We must be going, it’s been very pleasant chatting with you but we are very busy.”

The two marine biologists stood from their chairs and left in a hurry, their eyes glued onto that strange device. Ally was alone again. She thought about how her day had gone. So many things had taken place. First their fight, now her meeting with the strange scientists. They were rather strange. Dr. Queen had said something about the Koninklijk Paleis Amsterdam. Weren’t the girls there too? And they had claimed to be marine biologists. It didn’t make sense. What would a pair of marine biologists be doing outside of a historical attraction? Shouldn’t they be studying a whale?Unless that whale wasn’t a whale. Ally’ gasped. It finally hit her. That whale was Alima.

“So where do you think your sister went?” Alima asked. She scanned the city for a frolicking blonde girl but it was almost impossible with the large crowds of people in the streets.

“I don’t know,” Freddy said and scratched his head. “She usually goes out whenever she’s upset.”

“Go out where?”

“Again, I don’t know.” Freddy sighed and rubbed his shoulder. “Maybe we should just head back to the museum. It’ll be impossible to look for her in a crowd like this.” Sounds came from every direction. People covered every corner. The whole atmosphere was filled with mixed conversations.

“So we’re just going to give up? You’re not worried something will happen to her?” Alima said. She studied Freddy’s face. He seemed so confident, so sure. There was not a single worry wrinkle present on his face. Although he didn’t seem like much with his round youthful face and boyish figure, his calmness proved it all wrong.

“No. She’ll turn up eventually.” Freddy stared at her and wrinkled his nose. “Why are you looking at me like that?”

“I guess you just remind me of an old friend.” Alima blinked and kept her lids shut for a moment as if she was replaying moments in her mind. But her bittersweet nostalgia did not last for long. Running towards them was Ally. She pushed her way through the crowd, ignoring their dirty looks. She was sweating buckets with her damp blonde hair stuck to her neck and the sides of her face.

“Ally!” Alima grinned. But Ally didn’t smile back. She snatched both Alima’s and Freddy’s wrists and she ran. Ally whisked them through the crowd and they darted around food carts, people, and if Alima was right- the real princess of Saudi Arabia, and she did not look too happy.

“Why are we running?” Freddy asked as he sprinted to keep up.

“I’ll explain more when we get back to the palace. For now,” Ally’s grip on Alima’s wrist tightened. “We need to get you to safety.”

“I-I don’t understand.” Alima panted.

Ally pushed cut in front of another man. This man was wearing a fine sash across his shoulder and a black formal suit with a blue tie. “Sorry!” She shouted. “Oh geez, I think that guy’s important.” Ally pulled them into a floral shop and took a moment to appreciate the fragrant aroma of flowers. She became serious again. “Alima, I know I might be paranoid but I just had lunch with a pair of scientists.”

“So what?” Freddy said.

“Let me finish!” Ally snapped. Freddy immediately hushed and gave her his full undivided attention. Ally usually never snapped at him so when she did, it was blown-out sign something was urgent. “They also so happened to be marine biologists and they had this-this weird device. It looked like a tracking device. Seriously!” Ally’s eyes widened. “It had a radar and everything!”

“So...you think those scientists must be tracking down Alima?” Freddy turned to Alima. Her startled grey eyes stared back at him. He shook his head. “To track something or someone down, it has to have a chip.”

Alima got right to it. She examined herself from head to toe, rolling up the sleeves of her dress, under skirt, under her arms, her ankles, but she had no success. “Y-You don’t think it could be inside me...right?”

“Check again.” Ally said. She and her brother checked Alima’s body. Just when they were about to give up, Freddy swept his hand underneath Alima’s long black hair and swept it to the side.

“Found it.”

It was exceptionally tiny in size. The chip was a tan beige to match the color of Alima’s skin with little silver lines across it.

“What are you waiting for? Take it off!” Alima demanded.

Ally used her long nails to pick the chip off but Alima roared in pain. She winced and breathed heavily. “What did you do?” She gave Ally the most hurtful look as if Ally had betrayed her.

“N-Nothing. I just tried to take it off you, that’s all.”

“Then why did it hurt so much?”

“It must be attached to you from the inside.” Freddy said grimly. “This is bad. It means we won’t be able to take it off without doing serious harm.”

“How?” Alima and Ally said in unison.

Freddy scratched his head. “Well...if you’ve been paying attention in anatomy like you were supposed to_”

Ally gave Freddy a dirty look. “Not helping.”

“It must be attached to you from the outside-in. You’d know that the spinal cord starts at the neck. The spinal cord is pretty much the home of all your nerves. If we damage that, Alima might be permanently paralyzed, or maybe even dead.”

All the color from Alima’s face washed out all in that entire moment. “So we just leave it in?” Alima said hopelessly.

Ally felt almost as scared and helpless as Alima. It really was scary because Ally knew Alima was old. She’d been living for almost a millenia; she’d probably seen all the bad and ugly before. If something like an unattachable tracking device was able to spark fear in her…

“You have to leave me.” Alima said. “Go back to the palace and take the girls with you. Find the princess.” The florist standing across the cash register was watching them. He probably didn’t understand a word they were saying but even he knew what was happening was heartbreaking. Alima gave him a soft wave and her turned away.

“No.” Ally said firmly. “We’re NOT leaving you! We’re going to find the princess, everyone’s going to get their prize, and we’re going home.” Freddy took her hand and held caressed it. He shook his head, telling her to stop.

“I’ll be fine Ally.” Alima said, more annoyed than sad. “I’m really good at hiding if you haven’t picked it up by now. Really, I’ve been avoiding them for four years-four years since I’ve came here on land.”

“Who knows what they’ll do when they find you! They’ll-They’ll dissect you and examine your organs. Or they’ll torture you until you ’fess up secrets!” Ally had tears in her eyes. She choked on them. Her face was red and so were her eyes.

Alima petted her blonde head. “Why do you grieve? You have no reason_”

“I don’t want anything bad to happen to you! I’m going to miss you!”

Alima gasped. No one had ever said that to her before. Alima looked down at the child in front of her- crying her eyes out. The poor thing, she thought. So naive, so foolish. Alima thought it was foolish, to care so much about someone to the point it could hurt them. But then she realized that this was Ally that was grieving over her. And with a solemn thud of a heartbeat, she discerned that she did care about Ally. She never noticed that all this time, this young girl had grew on her.

“It’s for the best,” Alima said, struggling to put on a straight face. “I’ll distract the scientists from the others. Ally-”

“Yes?” Ally tilted her head up to look at Alima for what she thought would be for the very last time.”

“I’m really sorry I dragged you into this.” Alima ran her hand through her hair. After all these years of life, she still wasn’t used to apologizing. She still felt awkward even though it was genuine. She turned to face Freddy who had his hands behind his back in a defensive stance. “I’m sorry to you too. Now you both must go into hiding.”

Freddy nodded and flashed her a brave smile. “Apology accepted. It’s been an honor knowing you.” He extended his hand. Alima acted on cue and extended hers as well. But on contrary to what Alima expected, Freddy yanked her arm and she fell onto him. She felt the urge to push him off but she didn’t.

“You at least owe me a last embrace,” he said, grinning.

“Yeah, I guess I won’t slap you for it.” Alima said with a sigh.

They detached themselves and prepared to depart their separate ways.

“So I guess this is goodbye.” Alima said and looked to Ally one last time. Ally had her head lowered with her blonde bangs covering her eyes. She couldn’t take it anymore.

“I guess it’s goodbye.” Freddy said. He took Ally by the hand and with his free hand, pushed on the shop door. The surface was ice cold to the touch; Freddy shivered. The door didn’t budge.

Freddy thought to himself that perhaps the door was heavier than he had originally thought. He pushed on it again. It didn’t budge.

“Is it stuck?” Ally asked.

Freddy looked back at the florist behind the cash register who had been trying to subtly watch them the entire time. He gave them a shrug and said in a heavy accent, “It’s open. Push.”

“I did.” Freddy said. “It’s locked.”

Freddy pushed and pushed but it really was locked.

“What now?”

Freddy pressed his hands on the door for a final push until he made eye-contact with a bulky-faced man from behind the glass door of the window. He yelped. The man was dark skinned and wore pitch-black glasses. He reminded Freddy of the Men in Black.

“Open up!” The man barked. “We’re the SOTS!”

Alima cursed. “They found me.”

“We just want to talk!” The man shouted. “We come in peace!”

“That’s so reassuring…” Ally said sarcastically.

“Is that the police?” The florist said with wide eyes. “Why are they here?”

Freddy waved his arms and shook his head wildly. “No police! That’s not the police!” He enunciated his words slowly so the florist could understand.

“We call for Alima Tuma!”

Alima took a deep breath and said as sweetly as she could, “Please leave. You all are mistaken. Alima is not here.”

Alima’s siren song was so powerful that the remaining customers of the flower shop became drowsy began slowly zombieing their way out of the shop. Freddy and Ally had to block the door. But the man from behind the door was not swayed. “Nice try, but your siren’s’ song does not work on us.”

“Siren’s song? I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Alima lied. She sweat through her dress so she fanned herself.

The man sighed. He said in his deep husky voice, “Listen, we really did come here in peace. But if you keep trying to resist, my crew will bust down this door. You understand?”

Alima looked at her friends. Freddy and Ally nodded in agreement. She knew what she had to do. “If I talk with you, you won’t hurt any of my friends, right?”

“Those were our orders.” The man said.

“Okay,” Alima said. “I’ll try to open the door. But I’m giving you a head warning that it’s going to take a while. The door was locked from the start.” Alima headed towards the door. Her feet felt like they were being weighed down by bricks.

“We have all the time in the wor__” The man’s voice was cut off. Alima thought that was strange. She pushed on the door and the door opened up immediately. Outside, she saw nobody. The man was gone and so was his crew. A gust of wind blew and grazed her face.

“What?” Alima looked back at her friends and saw that they were even more confused than her-well, besides the customers. The siren’s song had worn off. The poor customers were left scratching their heads and asking each other all sorts of questions.

“They’re gone,” Ally said.

Freddy turned in all directions. The street were crowded with tourists like it was normally. There were no signs of the men in black anywhere. “It’s like they just vanished.”

“What now?” Alima asked.”

“I guess we go back to the girls.” Freddy said. “They need to know. Plus, I think it’s best if we leave the palace for good. We kinda bumped into one of the royals-the one you were impersonating-we should go before they find out.”

“Okay.”

Even after they returned to the palace, they still didn’t have time to rest. Freddy, Ally, and Alima found out that after the fight, most of the girls got mad at eachother and split up. It took another hour to track the girls down. Finally, when the team was back together again, they made their way back to the hotel. One of the male employees had winked at Freddy when he saw that Freddy was heading to his single room with six girls. Freddy couldn’t help but feel grossed out. Freddy took his key, swiped the door, and they all collapsed onto the floor.

“No more drama,” Maria groaned.

“Agreed,” Victoria said and rolled over onto her stomach.

“Oh please,” Garai remarked. “you were downstairs the whole time flirting with the press and the ambassadors.”

“One more argument and I’ll feed you both to a mako shark. I know one personally.” Alima said.

“Oh that’s genius.” Phoebe grinned. “I thought I was going to have to do the dirty work.”

“This applies to you too new girl,” Alima growled.

And it worked. The girls and Freddy drifted to sleep. The next morning, they arose from the floor and dusted themselves off. They took turns using the bathroom. Freddy made breakfast. While he was laying out seven dishes for the each of them, he switched the t.v on and watched the news. Freddy turned on the subtitle option and watched attentively.

“Breaking news!” said the news reporter. He gripped the microphone close to his lips. His eyes were alert. Freddy knew something was wrong.

“The bodies of eleven government agents were found buried in a dumpster of a local bakery-Hartog’s Volkoren. Investigators are horrified when they examined the bodies. All eleven bodies were drained of blood. Their necks were pierced with what seems to be teeth-marks. And each torso was impaled with a wooden steak. Here is what our head investigator has to say about the bizarre case.”

The camera zoomed onto a woman with thick glasses. When she spoke, her glasses seemed to wiggle on the bridge of her nose.

“I’ve never seen anything like this before! But with our recent evidence, it can be concluded that this was a single-man murder. We are trying our best to uncover the truth.”

The reporter took the microphone from her and asked, “Locals are claiming that this was a vampire attack. Do you believe in vampires? What do you have to say?”

The head investigator took back the mic. and said, “Vampires are not real; they are mythical. Do not fear.” The woman looked straight into the camera with a sense of heroism. “We will uncover the truth. Until then, lock your doors and only go outside during the day. Always go with a partner. And please, stay safe.”

The reporter took back the microphone and nodded. “Thank you. Now back to sports.”

Freddy turned off the t.v and gathered the girls. Most of them except Garai were waiting in line to use the bathroom.

“We need to talk.” His eyes went to the bathroom. “Is Garai in there?”

“Yes,” the girls said in a sorrowful union.

Freddy knocked on the door. “Garai? Can you hear me?”

“Most definitely!” Garai shouted from behind the door. It followed with a loud splash.

Freddy told the girls what he heard on the t.v. He received mixed reactions. Maria was positively interested, Phoebe was lost in thought, Victoria was in disbelief, Ally didn’t seem surprised, and Alima was horrified. And the splashes from Garai came to a stop.

“So we have a vampire on the loose.” Maria said and she giggled. “It’s been awhile since I’ve heard from the likes of them.”

“And they’ve killed the agents?” Phoebe said and she grinned. “This is great! They’re gone so there’s nothing to worry about!”

“No.” Alima said in a low voice. “We have absolutely everything to worry about-exposure, capture, our lives…and it’s my fault.” Alima said. She slid her back to the bathroom door and slid to the floor and she crouched.

“Why do you assume it’s your fault?” Garai’s voice was muffled behind the door.

Phoebe lightly touched Alima’s shoulders with her hands and she gasped. Her eyes flashed a bright pink and reverted back to normal. “You created him.”

Alima speed-walked to the nearest window and peered outside. Sure enough, the agents were there. Except this time, they brought weapons. They held large metal guns. Some had grenades attached to their belts. Alima even saw a taser.

“I’ll tell you all everything. Right now, we have to evacuate this continent.”

“This continent?” Ally said. “As of all of Europe?”

“Exactly.” Alima said in a songlike tone that radiated magic.

“And to where, exactly?” Phoebe asked.

“I’m thinking Africa.”

“Africa doesn’t sound so bad.” Maria said and shrugged. Maria heightened her volume. “What do you think Garai?”

“Motherland!” Garai shouted.

“Freddy?” Alima’s voice softened.

Freddy sighed. “Africa it is.”

“But what about the princess?” Victoria said with concern.

“The princess can wait.” Maria said. “As of now, it’s our lives or her’s.”

The door to their hotel pounded. BOOM BOOM BOOM.

“Great,” Freddy said. “We’re trapped.”

The bathroom door creaked open. Standing there was Garai fully clothed in blue jeans and old t-shirt Greg and Antoine gave her. She seemed confident standing there with her fierce eyes and defensive stance. “There’s another way out.”

Victoria gave her a strange look. “Last time I’ve checked, there’s only one exit and that’s the front door.” The door continued to pound. “I don’t think it’ll be wise-”

Garai rolled her eyes. “I mean the bathtub.”

“The bathtub?” Victoria was still skeptical. And nobody blamed her.

“Trust me, I’m a river mermaid.”

“As if that’s any better.”

KABOOM The front door was down. The men in black were in and there were a lot more of them than last time. Freddy didn’t want to waste time counting.

“Okay,” Victoria said nervously. “Work your magic river mermaid.”

The girls hoarded themselves into the bathroom and locked the door. The bathtub was still full to the rim. Garai closed her eyes and chanted in Shona.

Kosha mvura e pasirose

Tora isu ku edu sarudzwa nzvimbo

Apo kubva utata

Mberi i i wo maningi nonoka

The water in the tub swirled in both directions simultaneously.

“Hop in,” Garai said and jumped. The water swallowed her and she was gone. The other girls were apprehensive to follow her. They watched the water swirl until they heard heavy pounding on the bathroom door. Then, they jumped.

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