17th February 2008 – Australia
“Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to you…” Missy stared all around the small crowd that surrounded her. Friends that were still ‘grounded’ but were there since their parent’s figured it would be punishing her and not them so much if their children didn’t come. Some old family friends she remembered from the funeral and of course Darwin was there too along with some other people she didn’t know. She scanned, searching for Pearl and Delian. Clutching her present Darwin had given her early that morning. Showing her the hidden photo of her sister behind the photo of him and her. On the other half of the locket was a picture of her parents and her as a baby. It was all she had to remember them by… photos and Darwin had used this particular one to be portrayed in her locket. It was her birthday party and she was sure everyone she cared for would show up, but Pearl, Delian and Heinz weren’t there.
When everyone cheered she blew the candles out, using her birthday wish to see Pearl again soon.
“Time to open some of your presents. Start with the biggest one!” Darwin pointed to a huge box wrapped in sea blue sparkling paper, not noticing the small halls that were made in the paper.
She could hear a soft whimpering sound and felt the box tremble slightly, scared she stepped back examining it.
“Go on open it.” Darwin encouraged. Trusting him, she tore and the paper only finding the big brown box with hole cut in, lifting the folded top and peering inside she could not keep her excitement contained.
“Puppy!” She shouted and the little dog gave a shrill bark.
“Here you go.” Darwin handed her the pup’s collar.
“Heinz got her for you. Her name’s Gemz.” Missy picked Gemz out of the box and hugged the ball of fluff to her chest before putting on her collar. When one of the Missy’s bully friends tried to come close to say something horrid, Gemz’s barked and gave a pup like protective growl.
“Seems like she already knows you’re her friend and that she has to protect you.” Darwin said next to Missy’s ear when she saw her not so friendly friend stay back and opting for silence.
“Good girl!” Missy scratched behind her puppy’s ear, the pup leaning into her hand.
Two stranger that Missy did not recognize were smiling pleasantly seeing Missy fawn over her puppy, the one took out his cell and typed something, receiving a message in return.
“I’m glad to hear she like Gemz. We have our next heat for tonight. Found anything out on my brother?” The text read the man typed a quick ‘no’ and hit send again another message flashed on the screen.
“That’s fine. Just make sure the girl is safe at all times, no matter what! I’ll deal with my brother latter, just continue watching.” Heinz message ordered.
With the cake having been swept, most of the party guests started to pile out of the home, saying the greeting and last birthday wishes. An hour later more people ‘had’ to leave, no longer obliged to ‘entertain’ the birthday girl and with most of everyone gone only her still good friends remain… Her best friend.
“Sorry Missy about not stepping up for you. I’m a horrible big ‘sis’ aren’t I?”
“No. You were just scared. Sera’s sister and her sisters’ friends are scary… None of them meant it. They were all scared.” Missy said, ‘acting’ mature.
“Thank you Missy!” The girl hugged Missy tight, relieved that Missy wasn’t mad at her.
“We have to go now. Mom grounded me too. See you at school tomorrow?” Missy nodded.
“And I’ll be sure to bring a huge present to your class! Make all of the other kids jealous!” Missy’s smile broadened, sure enough she at least did have one good friend, though older than her, they were friends none the less.
“Missy isn’t going to be at school this week, I’m taking her wherever she want to go and do whatever she wants; besides school.” Darwin told Missy’s friend having heard them say goodbye while he talked with the girl’s parents.
“Cool! You should make sure your uncle takes you to lighthouse and an aquarium! And to get lots of ice cream!”
“I already included ice cream as an obvious, don’t worry!” Darwin smiled assuring her he’d treat Missy to everything.
“Bye Missy.” They said goodbye and just like that everyone was gone.
“Time to clean up, right?” Missy was ready to start packing everything away when Darwin stopped her.
“Missy, that was very nice of you to tell your friend you didn’t blame her. I’m very proud of you!” He told the little girl, but was caught off guard when she started crying.
“What’s wrong?” Darwin asked picking the girl up.
“I heard her tell the others to help her get me to leave. I don’t want to go to school anymore, everyone is mean there!” Missy buried her head in his neck trying to hide and hold off her crying.
“Pearl left me. She promised not to leave me when she came to get me. I don’t want to go back to that place, please don’t let me go back!” Missy sobbed her heart out.
“Don’t worry, you can stay with me for as long as you like. I promise!” Gemz sat at Darwin’s feet whimpering.
“Look you even have Gemz now to take care of you, she doesn’t want you leaving either.” Darwin noted out for Missy, the girl drying her eyes and looking at her puppy.
“Why didn’t Uncle Heinz come?”
“He probably is busy with work, you know how busy he can get.”
“I know. But I don’t want the Monsters to get to him…”
“What Monsters?” Darwin asked suddenly alert, having only heard Pearl mention something about how certain people were sensitive to ‘Monsters’, people who would ‘kill’ for power, specifically the power of Pearl and her kind. It was often normal everyday people who have some connection with the sea, stronger than most, such as Delian and children of the sea who still had to complete their Rites who had this sense.
“The Monsters that killed Mommy and Daddy. I can feel them watching us. They want to hurt you too. Because you know about us.” She whispered into Darwin’s ear.
“Missy, are you sure?” Missy nodded and Darwin’s fear grew, his brother was in danger.
“Missy go pack your bag; pack only what you really need!” He directed Missy to her room.
“Come on, come on!” Darwin tried calling his brother, but he wasn’t picking up. Grabbing a bag from on top his closet he threw in a few clothes and found himself searching for his passport and Missy’s he was able to get for her now that he was her legal Guardian after Pearl brought Missy to him and after her running away a few times not trusting of anyone but Pearl then. But Heinz didn’t know that, Pearl didn’t want him to know about Missy and her being related in anyway.
But when he saw Missy in the park talking with Pearl… They were able to make him believe that Missy had just met Pearl and that she seemed to like Pearl a lot. Needing to separate Pearl and Missy so as to keep the both of them safe from Heinz’s ‘crazy’ side; they used her nearly drowning in the Heinz’s neighbors pool when Pearl was supposed to keep an eye on her as the reason and trigger for Missy to not go looking for Pearl. Of course when she wouldn’t eat, Pearl came to explain somethings to her when she was sure Heinz wouldn’t notice.
“I’m done.” Missy said her bag propped full with clothes.
“Do you have your locket?” Missy nodded and showed him the pedant around her neck.
“Good. Make sure you keep it safe! If ever you want to see your sister again you’ll need that. And I see you already figured out how to get Gemz’s harness and lead on. Smart girl!” He ruffled Missy’s hair.
“Let’s go. We’re going to on a trip. You always wanted me to take you out on my boat.” Missy started jumping excitedly. Darwin had refused to let her near water since she couldn’t swim yet, and after Pearl refused to teach her and made it clear to Darwin not to let Missy go out to sea, she was sure she’d never get the chance. When Missy suddenly went quiet Darwin couldn’t help but feel nervous.
“What is it?”
“The Monsters… They’re watching… They won’t let us go. How are we going to get past them?” Missy asked.
“Leave that to me. I think I know who they are and how to make them loose us.” Getting his phone he tried calling his brother again.
“What are you doing?” Darwin shouted over the phone, keeping his finger over his lips, to tell Missy to keep quiet.
“What do you mean?”
“Mind explaining why you had your goons enjoy Missy’s party instead of coming yourself?” Darwin could feel his brother winch.
“The more the merrier?”
“Don’t! Missy’s worried about you.”
“Tell her I’ll see her tomorrow, and that I’m fine.”
“Tell that to her yourself! Besides, I promised I’d take her out on a trip this week we’re packing right now. She wants to leave tonight, said she wants to wake some place new on her birthday. She has something though she wanted to give you, so seeing as you’re busy tonight, if my ears do not deceive me, can she give it your goons that are watching us outside?” Darwin could swear his brother just got the surprise of his life, not having expected that Darwin would realize he was having him watched.
“She can if it to me when you get back.” Came Heinz’s replay. Darwin quickly writing something a piece of paper hand it to Missy.
“Wait, here she is now, tell it to her yourself.” Handing the phone to Missy as well.
“Uncle Heinz, where are you?” Missy asked innocently.
“I’m working, I’m sorry won’t be able to see you off, tonight. Darwin said you have something for me, I’ll wait for you to give it to me when you’re back from your trip.”
“But…” Missy did her best sulking impression she could, actual tears starting to fall as she read what Darwin had written after the instruction to her, it was just that sad.
“I…” Missy started to cry.
“Poor horsy…” She uttered, catching both the brother of guard, but Heinz luckily couldn’t make out what Missy said with her shrill sulking voice.
“I wanted…” She was sobbing now, just the idea that the horse’s ‘baby’ was taken away from its mother was hard enough on her kind heart, but to have read that the mother died in the dessert trying to find her baby… It tore at Missy. Darwin could always count on the girl’s soft and gentle nature that these kinds of stories would make her cry.
“Alright! I’ll tell the guys to pick it up and bring it to me.” Heinz had always hated to see or hear Missy cry, despite his hate for children and non-realistic threats about Missy, Missy was his weakness.
“Now?” Missy asked her sorrow still thickly layered, Darwin was already looking up pictures…
“Not right now, they’ll be there just before you should leave.” Hearing Heinz answer Darwin used Missy’s weakness against her once more showing her a lonely fill. Her crying taking on a whole new level.
“Alright! I’ll make sure they’re there in a few minutes. But it might not reach me until later in the morning…” Again he heard Missy’s crying steal her breath.
“Missy…” Heinz tried to still her, but it was futile.
“She wanted you to have it before we left.” Darwin took the phone from Missy, Missy clung to his jeans.
“What is it? Beats me. She didn’t tell me, it’s already wrapped and everything. All I know is she wanted an answer from you before we left.” Darwin told his brother, grinning and yet guilt ridden to have fooled Missy so, but it had to be done.
“I’ll have them bring it to me. Where are you heading anyways?”
“Menzies. Thinking about camping out at Mount Manning like we used to do as kids.”
“Sounds like she’s going to have a great trip.”
“She did ask to see where we grew up, remember?” Darwin tried to play on his brother’s emotions.
“I remember. I already told the guys to get her gift, they’ll be there in a bit. And Darwin, they’re only watching cause I’m worried about Missy. The trip will be good for her. If she’s out of town for a while I can rest easy knowing she’ll be safe. I might have stirred I demon’s nest…” Heinz half lied to his brother.
“Figures. I’ll leave you to your business then.” Darwin threw the phone on the bed. Grabbing a pen and paper he wrote a letter telling his brother that they were leaving but could not say where exactly, Heinz, was in danger and shouldn’t trust the people he allied himself with, of course it was written in code, something he and Heinz had done when they were children. Having asked Missy to find something that she really wanted to give to Heinz, she immediately handed him a plastic diamond ring.
“He always says how much he likes ‘rare’ things. This is my rarest ring. Only have one, found it in the cereal last week.” Missy told Darwin, causing the man to laugh at how children found the oddest thing as special and wrote down what Missy had said about the ring.
When Darwin and Missy headed to the kitchen to get the last of what they would need; Darwin wasn’t surprised to find the two ‘stalkers’ helping themselves to the cake that he had hid from the party guests.
“We’ll be off then. Can we take this with?” They asked referring to the cake. Darwin nodded just to get the men out of his house. Making sure that both left he scurried to fill a bag with food and drinks, thankful that he always kept his boat’s kitchen stocked.
“Come on, let’s go!” He took the bags and packed the car.
“Your phone!” Missy wanted to run inside to get it, when Darwin told her he wouldn’t need it.
At the harbor, he got Missy on the boat and into bed, telling her that she should rest and that it was going to be a long night and a busy morning. With all the other bags and equipment checked Darwin made sure to check the hidden camera’s that even Heinz knew nothing of. He had to be sure he was in the clear, he had checked the camera’s on a weekly basis to be sure no one else other than Delian and or Pearl was on his boat. At any given moment. Paying a random guy, and giving him instructions to his house and how to re-connect the GPS, he promised the guy a whooping thousand dollars to follow the GPS after putting in the coordinates to where he had initially told his brother he was going. He was sure that should anyone be following him they would get rid of them now.