Seventeen: "It's a surprise."
Do you know those moments in your life where you want to disintegrate into thin air? Pretend like you’re not really present whenever you may be. You really want to escape, you know, those feelings. Now, quadruple them and that would describe my situation. I could not comprehend how a situation so exemplary could turn the complete opposite, multiplied by infinity.
Lucas speaks in a bold and valiant tone, “What the hell do you want?”
He snickers, leaning forward in his mahogany chair, “You got us into a lot of trouble, the police tracked us down after our little meeting.”
“That’s not possible, Philippe,” Jake says, his free hand curling in his fist. “We cleared our names out, and when we did, you were free too.”
“No,” Philippe states through grinding teeth. “They checked our place for precaution. Luckily, we got tips and got out.” His smirk reappears on his chapped lips sending my blood-curdling. Jake’s warm hand was helping me from not falling off the chair in hysteria. “You have two options. We drag you to a place where you need to help us get a job is done or you come with us willingly. Honestly, the second option requires much less work.”
“No.” Lucas states after skimming through our terror-struck faces. He nods making a decision in his head. The decision’s number one priority to keep us safe, like he always aims to. “No.”
“Listen, kid.” Philippe says, “You don’t really have an actual choice, you’re coming with us either way.”
Emily straightens up, her overprotective side showing just like Lucas’. “We actually do, since we’re human beings not your fucking lab rats.”
Philippe leans back in his chair, he bites his lip trying to conceal a full-on hysterical laughter. “Look under the table.”
With slight hesitation, I pull up the table cloth and glimpse underneath seeing the two buff guys sporting handguns in their palms. My head shoots up, and my body stiffens immensely and I feel my nails pierce through Jake’s skin so I pry it away, to prevent pulling his skin off. Alexie and Jack raise to their feet at the same time, looking at us to follow suit.
Once we leave the cafe, we see their ride. A rental vehicle in all it’s glory parked in the front of the cafe, painted in a coat of poorly maintained orange. “Get in kids.”
“Woah,” I say, not like how any of this was turning out. “Woah, no.” I feel a sharp object slammed onto my head, the last noise I hear is the repeated yelling of my eight friends in horror and panic.
I blink my eyes a couple of times but still see darkness. I shift in my seat, consternation raising to above normal rates. “Ally, where are we?” My voice cracking and my legs fumbling around. “Am I blind? No, I can’t be--”
“Ash, shut up.” She antagonises, “We have bags on our heads. They’re taking us somewhere.”
“Where’s everyone else?”
In sync, everyone else just says something to indicate their presence. We were all kept with bags over our heads and a rope over my wrists. What could possibly go wrong huh? “Kidnapped,” I say and they sigh. “That’s the one thing that hasn’t happened for the last two years.”
Jack says sounding convinced, “Oh yeah, let’s just experience this while we’re at it.”
The rumbling of the engine pipes down and the vehicle comes to a stop altogether. The door opens and two pairs of feet walk in. The lights come on, seeping very slightly through the bags. As the bag is ripped off I flinch at the intensity of the dazzling light. I see one of the buff men’s face as soon as my vision clears up. Next, I see everyone else and the vehicle we were in.
Once the two men take off the bags, they cut the rope off. “Come outside when you’re ready.” One of them says in a husky, but not even close to seductive, voice since he looks almost in his late thirties.
Zoey snickers coldly, “Are you sure you won’t just drag us out? Not like we have any form of choice.”
Philippe pokes his head in, smirking constantly, “Just like your brother.” I lose a heartbeat as he says so. “Don’t take too long in coming outside, it’s just one job then you can go home to your petty normal teenage lives.”
Normal sounds pretty satirical right now. Nonetheless, we couldn’t talk in private since the two robust guys stood in the vehicle staring at us blankly. When we suggested they leave, they gave us a simple no before staring at us blankly again.
Eventually, we got out of the vehicle into the blistering cold winds of wintertime. Philippe looks at us with all pride, “You see that party there?” He says pointing to the building across the street from where we were. The neighbourhood seemed to be completely unfamiliar to me, and a little shanty for my liking. “Get us in there and we’ll take care of the bloody business.”
Diane widens her eyes, “That’s it?”
Philippe nods, “Yep, we just needed teenagers and you owed us.” His eyes pierce into us, his tone getting awfully serious suddenly, “Just don’t interfere with our plan, don’t want to get mixed up in a murder now do we?”
Chase shakes his head, “There’s no way we are helping you kill someone. Do you even hear yourself? We’re high school students, we don’t--”
Philippe chuckles loudly, causing Chase to shut up. “You aren’t normal high schoolers, you have quite the history don’t you? Stealing, drinking and getting involved in people’s businesses. It cost you a person, didn’t it?”
We don’t reply, our hearts too frail for any mention of our past.
Philippe smirks, “Let’s not dig into that, shall we? You can actually pull this off better than the normal group of teenagers. We promise not to have you involved in the murder itself.”
“You don’t get it,” I mutter. I lift my head up to him, shaking my head. “This is murder, why the fuck are you doing this?” I breathe slowly and see Lucas’ eyes sparkler under his gaze at Philippe’s papers which he clenched in his hand. “Give us a minute.”
Philippe shrugs, “You don’t have a choice but whatever.”
We encircle ourselves on the other side of the rental vehicle. Our hearts beating out of our chests, the adrenaline pumping through our veins like it used to. In a way, it made me feel alive but also, terribly terrified all at the same time.
“You guys saw the papers he was holding?” Lucas asks and we nod, “Okay, now listen.”
We made groups of two to carry out the well-structured plan. Many people would call us psychotic if they heard what we were about to do. Our plan was definitely getting involved if we didn’t who knows the people that would die for not paying to a guy like Philippe and whoever he works for. I know that the people Philippe is going to kill is due to financial issues, it always has been. I’ve had enough experience with these kinds of people in the country. They’re ruthless and do what they need to, to get money and revenge.
Lucas put Jake and me together. Surprise, surprise. Note the sarcasm. Even when we were in a life and death situation, he still tries to find a way to knit us together. Not that I mind or anything.
Jake frowns slightly, “Lucas, tag along with someone. You aren’t an expert, you could--”
Lucas shakes his head, convinced he can do it. I don’t doubt he couldn’t but he’d be safer coming along with any one of the groups. “No, I’ve got it. This will work.”
As we enter the front of the building, the bouncers easily let all of us in including Philippe. His goons couldn’t enter since they were too suspicious looking according to a conversation I eavesdropped on. The music was loud, so loud that if we were kept in its presence long enough, I would probably lose my senses.
Jake gives me a knowing look, and we tread behind Philippe cautiously. Our job was to steal the paper which had names of the people he wanted to kill, if we got the paper, we could help them get out in time.
It may sound foolish to you, a bunch of high school students trying to sabotage a professional drug dealer’s plan. If you were in my situation with the knowledge that people would die, as unbelievable as it may sound, you would try to stop it, if you were the kind of people my crew and I were.
“How do we get the paper?” I ask, my eyes glued on Philippe who was approaching a door.
Jake grabs my wrist and pulls me with him to the door that Philippe disappears in. Jake pushes the door slightly and sees Philippe enter another room before placing the papers on a table. He nods and we both file into the room, tiptoeing across the floor. The room looked like royalty with pastel light grey decorated the walls which had expensive paintings strewn on nails. Completely different from the club area but refreshing to the eyes. The carpet we step on was soft as well, slightly sinking with every step.
Jake approaches the table with the paper and takes it in his hand. He reads across the paper and states that there were ten people that were going to going to spend their last day on earth today if we didn’t try to help them.
I feel my knees weaken as a cold object is lightly tapped on my forehead, at the back. A hand snaking to my waist and pulling me closer to the person. The grip of the lethal weapon in their hand tightens on my head.
Jake drops the paper in his hand, his face losing colour. “W-Wait, stop.” He kicks the papers at his feet, “We won’t get involved, sorry. Let her go, please.”
The voice near my ear sends uncomfortable shivers down my neck to my spine. “This isn’t about the papers, Jake. This is bigger than all of that.”
I squeeze my eyes shut after stealing a final glance of Jake’s trembling body. His baby blue eyes piercing into mine speaking more words than actions were. “Please.” He says, his lips quivering. “Please.”
The persons hand was still lingering on my waist, and moving up. I wince at the movement but his grip tightens when I do. He chuckles softly, “Love birds make me sick to be honest, the sick love you have in your eyes boy. It’s all a lie.” He leans his head close to my neck, breathing in furiously. “Because you can never protect the ones you love as much as you think you can.”
“Who the fuck are you?” I ask, making him snap from his involuntary spiritual talking whilst his hands roamed my body.
He tightens his grip on my waist, his nails digging through the shirt into my skin. I prevent a yelp from my mouth, looking at how Jake was already panicking, I didn’t want him to do something that I wouldn’t bear to see. I level my breathe and try to calm my burning blood from punching this asshole behind me with the gun.
“It doesn’t matter who I am.” He says, going back to sounding spiritual again. ”We are a chunk of your past.”
Jake moves forward slightly and the gun points to him, this time making my heart flutter. Jake’s jaw clenches and unclenches, his fists curling and uncurling. “Stop touching her.”
I grunt, not really caring about that factor because this asshole’s whole purpose of doing it was to piss Jake off. The asshole laughs into my neck, pecking it which felt like barbed wire. I really wanted nothing more than to gut him but the gun was on Jake so I really couldn’t move now. He stops and looks at Jake’s raging figure, “Oh sorry, did you say something?”
“What do you want?“Jake asks, his eyes looking at me. The only part of his body that wasn’t burning aflame. His eyes were calming almost telling the scared part of me, which I was digging deep under, that everything would be okay.
I notice the music in the hall tone down, and eventually, it completely turns off. I try to focus on the noises outside but I forget the stronghold and digging nails in my waist, restricting any movement. His head moves to my hair, sniffing it deeply and exhaling into a relief sigh. “High school girls are all the rage these days, y’know?”
“What the fuck do you want?” Jake repeats, his voice raising under the heavy stillness of the air.
“I need you two to come with me.” He finally replies, his grip on my waist loosens and his head moves away from my bare neck. Jake’s muscles relax slightly as the asshole pushed me off him into Jake. He holds me up and worry overcomes every single anger emotion inside of him. He wraps me into a hug and I snuggle in the warmth. He doesn’t say anything. “What did I just say?” The asshole says and bangs the metal table with his gun. We depart, jumping back from the echoing clanking sound in the room.
“Where are we going?” I ask.
“It’s a surprise.”