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Chapter 17

After sneaking away from the building, Lilly yet again found herself walking the streets alone, and scared. Eventually, she remembered the piece of paper Horace had given her, which she’d thrust into her pocket. Pulling it out, she saw an address in St. Charles, MO written on it. Underneath the address, she saw the name of a bank and a string of numbers. Underneath that was a signature, which Lilly thought might be Horace’s.

Conveniently, the bank whose name was on the paper was directly in front of her. With no ideas of what else to do, she walked into the bank, and stopped once she entered. She looked around, not knowing what to do, or really why she was even there.

“Can I help you, young lady?” a woman asked, as she approached Lilly.

“I’m not sure. I was given this, but I don’t know what it’s for,” she said, showing the piece of paper to the woman.

“May I hold that?” the woman asked. Seeing Lilly’s hesitance, she said, “You can hold it, but I need better access to it.” After a moment, the woman said, “How about this. I’ll take you over to the photocopier, and I’ll get a copy, which I’ll work from. Will that be alright?” she asked.

“I guess so,” Lilly finally agreed. A moment later, the woman had Lilly seated in her office, with the door closed, and the blinds drawn shut. She was working at her computer, and periodically looking at the copy of the piece of paper.

“Were you told anything about this account?” the woman asked.

“No, ma’am,” Lilly replied.

“Well, Mr. Horace Wetherby has set up a trust account. Before I can give you any more information about the account, I need to establish who you are. Do you have any identification?” she asked.

“I have my student ID,” she replied.

“May I hold it?” she asked. Lilly pulled it out, and handed it over, a little less reluctantly than with the piece of paper.

“Well, Miss Pimlott. You are the beneficiary of this trust account. With this trust, you’re allowed to withdraw no more than $10,000 per month, without direct approval from Mr. Wetherby. We can issue you a debit card so you have access to any of our ATMs around the country, not to mention using it anywhere you wish to shop. Would that be something you’d be interested in?” she asked. Lilly was just staring at her for a while, before she finally replied.

“How much does it cost?” Lilly asked, as if money mattered, with her being able to get $10,000 a month.

“It doesn’t cost anything. It’s a benefit, but not everyone elects to take it,” she said.

“I probably can’t. I’m not sure where I’ll be when it gets mailed,” Lilly then said.

“We can make it right here in the bank. You’ll leave here with it, if you elect to accept it,” she said. At Lilly’s emphatic nod, the woman smiled, before returning to typing on her computer. She then withdrew a card from a drawer, stuck it in a machine and turned a small keypad toward Lilly.

“This allows you to enter your personal identification code, your PIN. Only you will know it, and I strongly advise against giving it out to anyone,” she said.

“I just choose some numbers?” Lilly asked.

“You can choose up to 12 digits, but most people keep it closer to six, so they can remember it easier,” the woman said.

Lilly thought for a while before entering 12 digits. When she was done, it prompted her to enter it again, for confirmation. She had no problem, as it was digits she’d never have any chance of forgetting.

“Here’s your debit card, which can be used without charge at any of our ATMs across the country and in any store that accepts Mastercard. If you use it at any other financial institution, you may incur charges. Do you understand?” she asked, and Lilly nodded.

“Now, would you like to access your funds now, or use the ATM? I can go ahead and make a withdrawal for you, if you want,” the woman said.

“I can get any amount I want, as long as it’s less than $10,000?” Lilly asked.

“That’s correct,” the woman replied.

“Can I get $2,000, then?” Lilly asked, having no idea how much she might actually need.

The woman typed on her computer for a moment, then slipped a small piece of paper into a printer. When she pulled it out, she slid it toward Lilly, along with a pen, “I need your signature for the withdrawal.”

Lilly signed it, and the woman slipped it into a small stack of paper, then walked out of the office. A few minutes later, the woman returned with an envelope. After counting it out, she returned it to the envelope and extended that to Lilly.

“Be careful with that, alright,” the woman said.

“Yes, ma’am,” Lilly agreed.

“Is there anything else I can help you with today?” the woman asked.

“No thank you,” Lilly replied.

“Well, have a wonderful day, then,” the woman said, and stood up, opening the door for Lilly.

“Thank you, ma’am,” Lilly said, as she walked out of the office, more than a little dazed.

“You’re very welcome,” the woman replied, and watched Lilly leave.

The entire experience was surreal for Lilly. How did she manage to get a bank woman to give her two thousand dollars? That should not have happened, and she could’ve gotten a lot more.

Lilly walked to the nearest bus stop, and waited. 45 minutes later, she found herself at the GreyHound bus station, looking at the board listing the bus schedules. Finally finding what she wanted, she walked to the counter.

“Can I get a ticket to St. Louis?” she asked.

“Is your mother or father here?” the man behind the counter asked.

“I don’t have any parents,” she replied.

“Do you have a legal guardian?” he asked, and she shook her head.

“I’m sorry, but I’m not allowed to sell tickets to unaccompanied minors,” he said, with one of those grown up looks that she read as, ‘I’m sorry, but life sucks for you’.

Without saying a word, she turned around and left, no idea how she was going to get to the address on the scrap of paper. Other than St. Charles, which was part of St. Louis, she had no idea where she was going or who would be waiting there, if anyone, although she had some thoughts about that.

With no idea what else to do, she made her way back to the park, her not so hidden hideaway. At her camp, she went into her tent, and curled into a ball inside her sleeping bag. It was only mid-afternoon.

She laid in her tent, her anger building, like a forge fire. Everything that had happened, her entire life, wasn’t fair. Sure, she’d done some bad things, but most of those were because of bad things happening to her first. She was only reacting to the crap that was constantly flung at her.

By the next morning, she was ready to breath fire. Well aware her anger might be due to a severe lack of sleep, she didn’t care. She wanted this crap to end, and she was going to figure out how to make it end.

Rolling out of her sleeping bag, she got up, ate a couple of cereal bars and started walking. Finding herself at the high school again, unsure why exactly she went there, she walked in.

“Mrs. Stiles, I want to know who’s trying to find me,” she said, as she walked right up to the principal.

“God I’m glad to see you!” Mrs. Stiles said.

“Tell me who’s after me,” Lilly demanded.

“Everyone. We’re worried about you,” she replied.

“Like hell!” Lilly said, turning around.

“You aren’t going anywhere, this time,” Mrs. Stiles told her, putting a firm hand on her shoulder. Students in the hall were beginning to make space around them, seeming to sense something was up.

“As usual, you aren’t helping me,” Lilly said, and turned around, her eyes telling Mrs. Stiles everything. The older, and larger woman, flinched under that gaze.

Knowing she only had a moment before the school cop came, Lilly dropped a little, dislodging Mrs. Stiles’ grip just a little. She ran.

“Lilly,” Mrs. Stiles yelled, but she was too slow. The school resource officer was in pursuit, but drew up short seeing several growling dogs in his path. He could only watch the girl as she ran into the trees.

Deciding there was no need to return to her camp, Lilly started walking, with no real destination. Occasionally, she’d see white vans or large sedan cars, all of which made her nervous. She had no idea if they were following her, or just normal people. She began jumping at the slightest movements.

As darkness descended, she looked out of the alley she’d ended up in, having no idea where she was. She had little food, although she did have plenty of money, and the ability to get more. There was no place for her to stay. She was scared, an emotion she’d experienced way too much in the past few days...or weeks...or however long this nightmare had been going on. She actually wished she could return to her dull foster care life.

Yeah, she was ignored, and occasionally abused, but with how things were going, being ignored and a little abuse wasn’t so bad. It was safe, and secure, and not being chased and potentially being the subject of some science experiment, or study, or whatever the hell they were wanting to do to her, sounded pretty darn good.

As usual, she saw a large sedan across the street, two people sitting in it. Like the many times she’d seen a similar thing during the day, she had no idea if they were following her, or not. Where they were, and them sitting there, was very suspicious, though.

Getting a sudden inspiration, she walked out of the alley and down a block closer to the car, and sat on the curb. She knew she probably looked like a prostitute, or something, but she didn’t care. Lilly knew most people that knew her already thought she was, so it didn’t concern her too much.

Although she appeared to be dejected, and staring at the ground in front of her, she was watching the car. What she wasn’t prepared for was the other car nearby. Barely catching the movement from the corner of her eye, she saw the two men just before they got to her. She rolled away, and popped to her feet. As her feet planted, she ran.

“Stop there!” she heard.

“Police, stop!” another voice called.

Lilly darted into the alley behind her, which she knew was a bad idea as soon as she entered. There was no good escape for her, but she kept running. Her bad decision became very apparent when she sprawled onto the pavement, scraping her hands and chest as she landed.

“You bastard!” she screamed, as strong hands held her down.

The two men were surprised at how easy the girl had been. From the stories they’d heard, no one had been able to come close to catching her, claiming she was fast, and slippery, and strong. She was just a little girl.

“Shit!” one of them yelled, a rat clamping onto his hand. Less than a second later, the second man was also cursing. They began fighting a number of rats, as they worked to hold the girl down, but it was a losing battle.

In the confusion, Lilly saw her opening. She slipped out of their grip, and in a half crawl, began running, back the way she’d entered. By the time she made the end of the alley, she was at a full sprint. She knew she was going the wrong way, though.

Emerging from the alley, the first car she’d been watching was now empty. She saw them running toward her before they could get to her though, and the two from the alley were now in the chase, as well, having escaped the rats. Rather than let them grab her, she just kept running, straight into the heavy traffic, hoping the cars wouldn’t flatten her.

Tires were screeching, people were cursing, and the men were scrambling to catch her. This setting was to her advantage, though. She was small and agile. They weren’t.

“Stop, police!” one of them yelled.

By the time they managed to cross the first lane of traffic, Lilly was on the other side and running through the throng of people that had emerged from the MARTA station. She considered going to the subway, but realized pretty quick how bad that would be, and kept running.

The yells from the men eventually died out, and she slowed down, exhausted. She hadn’t gone very far, but she was unable to continue. This kind of running wasn’t something she was accustomed to.

Seeing a small copse of trees, she waited, wanting to make sure no one saw her, then she darted into their seemingly safe embrace. Knowing they had tracked her, and thinking back to their tracking device, she decided to try something. Reaching into the trees, the sky and the surrounding buildings, she called to every animal her mind could feel. She wasn’t sure if it’d work, but she couldn’t come up with anything else to try.

Peering out of the trees, she saw several cars, along with a couple of vans going back and forth. She could tell they were searching, which told her that her idea might actually be working.

She had a problem, though. Staying in constant contact with so many animals was hurting, and it was draining her energy, as well. She could feel it.

There was nothing she could do, though. If she stopped, they’d find her, and she knew she couldn’t run. Sitting under a bush, she just kept watching.

The pain kept building, like a boulder crushing her under it, slowly but surely, getting heavier and heavier. Struggling with all of her will not to scream, she instead collapsed.

“You had her?” Pascoe asked.

“Yes, and we lost her,” the commander replied.

“Explain, commander,” Pascoe demanded.

“A large number of alley rats attacked my men as they were subduing the girl. They received a fair number of superficial wounds, but during the scuffle, the girl managed to escape. We have no idea what injuries she sustained,” he said.

“A convenient distraction for her, wouldn’t you say,” Pascoe mused.

“Rats were everywhere in that alley, sir,” the commander stated.

“Why haven’t you tracked her?” the doctor then asked.

“Sir, we can tell that she’s in the area, but all we can see is a large blob. There’s not a point to focus on,” the leader of the extraction team said.

“The tracking system is absolute. It doesn’t show ‘blobs’,” Pascoe yelled through the radio.

“Doctor, whether the device is working according to your description, or not, isn’t my area. I only report what I see,” the leader replied.

“Yes, yes. Please forgive my frustration commander,” Pascoe said, and sighed. Then, “She’s likely at the center of this blob. Try searching there.”

“We thought of that as well. However, the blob isn’t stationary, and isn’t round. It keeps moving, even separating at times, into smaller blobs, before coming back together,” the commander told him.

“I’ll send some technicians to take a look at your equipment. It’s possible that it’s failing,” Pascoe told him.

“Yes, sir,” the commander replied.

“Tell me what you know about the girl, commander,” Pascoe said.

“Well, sir, she’s a little girl. She’s...scared,” the man said. After a short pause, he continued, “She isn’t anything out of the ordinary, other than she has a very keen awareness of what’s around her,” he said.

“That could be her telepathic ability, sensing you nearby,” Pascoe said.

“It could also be her being paranoid, and watching what’s around her. We almost got her, because she was watching one team and didn’t notice the other one. There was no telepathy in that, sir,” the commander stated.

That report confused Pascoe. It didn’t add up. Up to that point, she’d shown remarkable ability to know when someone was coming for her, yet she had been caught unaware. She’d also shown a similarly remarkable ability to avoid being caught. Of course, she still hadn’t been.

“Is she really that lucky?” Pascoe asked, not meaning to voice the question.

“It seems so, sir. However, you can’t discount how observant she usually is. What happened today just shows that she’s not experienced at this kind of thing,” the commander replied. “Other than that, she’s a normal, scared little girl.”

“Thank you commander,” Pascoe said, getting back to business. “A technical team should be there shortly. They’ll either repair or replace your monitors. Tell your team they’ve done well. Thank you, commander,” Pascoe said, and hung up.

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