No Place Like Home
Suddenly, as had been the case the previous night, there came a thunderous crash from the rear of the cabin, sending wooden planks flying. “Guys, this way, hurry!” came Andrea’s shout. Amy looked up to see the outlines of five new snowmobiles protruding through the back wall. Covering her mouth to keep out the smoke, she rushed for them. “On here, quick!” a girl she didn’t immediately recognized grabbed her hand and all but dragged her onto the snowmobile she was seated on. She quickly shifted into reverse and backed out of the cabin-and not a moment too soon, as it started groaning and then collapsed into a flaming heap. “Hey, what are you kids doing!? Get away from there!” Nevin had now seen the new arrivals. Shots started ringing out, making Amy duck down low on the snowmobile as it spun around and started zooming away from the cabin’s wreckage. “Thanks,” she looked up at the driver, “How’d you know where we...?”
“Took a lucky guess, and thank god we were right. It’s Amy, right? I’m Beverly Snow; my locker’s just down the row from you,” the girl took her right hand off the handlebars for Amy to shake, “My boyfriend and I were horrified to see what you were put through and wanted to help,” she gestured at the boy driving the snowmobile to her left, which Craig and Beth had latched on to.
“Where did you get these?”
“My dad sells them at his store, along with motorcycles,” declared the other new boy driving with Monica on her right, “He’s probably going to be mad we took this many snowmobiles out, but when lives are in danger, especially Monica’s,” he glanced back fondly at her, “You do what you have to do.”
“So you’re Tim?” Amy inquired.
“That’s him,” Monica confirmed it, leaning her head against Tim’s shoulder, “And I guess this means you do love me without any doubt, Tim?”
“Yes, I do, Monica,” he leaned his own head back against hers, “This is...”
A barrage of shots rang out behind them. Amy spun to see the thieves giving pursuit in the van and on their own snowmobiles, all of them with guns in hand. “Do you know the way back to civilization!?” she shouted at Beverly, who obligingly increased her snowmobile’s speed, “We’ve wandered around here for hours without...!”
“Yeah, we basically do,” Beverly shouted back, hunching down as more shots rang out, “We just have to get down to the lake unharmed; then we’ll have reinforcements for the rest of the way to the highway.”
“You’ll see when we get there, Amy, and you’ll like it,” Kyle called over on the far left, where he was transporting Patrick and Judy on his snowmobile. “In the meantime, split up, guys,” he shouted to the other drivers, “Stay in sight of each other, but force them to focus on one of us at a time!”
The snowmobilers split off in different directions as they reached the top of the hill they’d been climbing, Beverly taking Amy down a deep ravine that quickly formed going down the hill. “So where’re you from, Amy?” she asked her passenger.
“Philadelphia. You live here your whole life, Beverly?”
“Yep. And you’re a soccer player?”
“Have been most of my life. I feel great to have lucked into a group of friends who like it too so quickly. How about you?”
“Nope; I’ve wanted to cheer my whole life, and so I’m one of the top girls on the squad,” Beverly told her, ducking low to avoid a log lying over the ravine, “I prefer watching athletics rather than participating. I want to say, Amy, I’m sorry I didn’t reach out to you on your first day,” she gave Amy an almost apologetic look, “I was too caught up with my own clique to notice you, and I can’t help wondering if I...”
“Don’t blame yourself, Beverly; how could you have known I’d’ve been kidnapped?” Amy absolved her, “I’m just glad you’re here now, and...”
She and Beverly both jolted as their snowmobile was rammed from behind. “You’re not getting away from me, Amy!” a deranged-looking Dylan bellowed, grabbing her around the waist and trying to pull her backwards onto his snowmobile.
“Get your hands off of me Dylan Wilson, you perverted animal!” Amy shouted furiously at him, squirming around wildly to try and break out of his grasp.
“Leave her alone!” Beverly roared at him as well, grabbing Amy with her right arm and straining to pull her back.
“Let go of her, Beverly; I don’t want to hurt anyone I don’t have to!” Dylan threatened, pointing a gun at the cheerleader.
“No!” Beverly shot him down, zooming sideways so that both snowmobiles scraped against the side of the ravine. Dylan howled as tons of snow dropped all over him, but still held on to both Amy and the gun. Amy twisted sideways and started kicking at him. “I am not some toy for you to play with as you want, Dylan! I’m a human being, and I’m stronger and smarter than you think I am!” she angrily told him off.
“Stop fighting, Amy, damn it!” he shouted, yanking her harder backwards.
“No I won’t! I’ll fight you to the last breath, Dylan!” she kicked him repeatedly in the side, although he still refused to release her despite more agonized howls.
“If you’re not going to come willingly, Amy, you’re going to pay a brutal price!” he twisted the gun towards her.
“Go ahead and shoot me, Dylan! I’d rather be dead than back in your hands!”
“You just don’t understand, do you!? All these years I’ve watched every other guy get the girl except me, every girl shove me off because I was poor, and finally I get the chance to have one of my own, and this is how you treat me...!?”
“Yeah, I see, it’s all about you, and you scoring a pretty girl! We’ll I’m not the weak shrinking violet you want me to be, Dylan, and I never will be! Now let go of me...!”
“OK Amy, have it your way!” Dylan cocked the gun, aimed for her forehead, and reached for the trigger...
“Get your hands off of her!” came Laurie’s furious roar to their left. Amy turned to see her, clutching on to Andrea and Shawn on a snowmobile that was zooming closer to Beverly’s and Dylan’s. With another roar, Laurie started bashing Dylan with the branches now serving as her crutches, forcing a groaning Dylan to loosen his grip on Amy. Fuming, Amy spun around and kicked him hard in the face with both feet, sending him toppling off his snowmobile and rolling backwards...
...right towards his uncle’s trailing van. And although Nevin saw his nephew fall and tried to swerve, he ran him over hard. “Oh my god!” Amy gasped, horrified at the accident, “Oh my god, I didn’t want that happen! If I hadn’t...!”
“It’s all right, he had a gun on you, Amy,” Laurie called to her, staring grimly backwards, “I’d’ve done the same.”
“But...But he might be dead...and I killed him if I...oh my god, what kind of girl am I to...!?”
“Amy, it was self defense; you were completely in the right, trust me,” Beverly consoled her.
“Here we are, here we are!” Andrea now shouted, waving a free hand. Amy looked up, and was surprised to see about forty or so other high schoolers on snowmobiles by the lake at the bottom of the hill they and the others were coming down now. The newcomers started their engines and began zooming away once the Sidekicks’ snowmobiles got close, those in the rear closing in behind them to form a protective circle around them. “Everyone OK?” the boy riding the one now directly to Amy’s right called to the escapees.
“We are now,” Beth called back, looking stunned, “All you guys came out here to help us...!?”
“When we saw she was in trouble,” the boy pointed at Amy, “We all felt like we had to do something. Once word got around that Kevin was looking for volunteers to help out,” he pointed at the driver of Beth’s and Craig’s ride, “we all came out here. Everyone keep them in the circle; don’t let any of those guys get near them,” he shouted to the rest of the volunteers, pointing to the van and remaining snowmobile giving chase behind them.
“Got it, Adam; back off, pal!” another boy shouted at Fred, who was trying to pass him on his snowmobile. He and the girl to Fred’s left sandwiched him hard, then drove him towards a large tree. Yelping, Fred dove off at the last minute before his snowmobile crashed hard into the tree, bursting into flames. He stumbled to his feet, but was rapidly left behind. Amy breathed deeply in relief. “It’s Adam, right?” she asked the leader of the volunteers.
“I am, and I guess you’re Amy. Good to meet you,” he reached over to shake her hand.
“Thanks so much for getting so many people to help with this. How close are we to the front of the park, or anything where we can get help?”
“Should be no more than three miles straight ahead, which means we should get there in about five minutes,” Adam pointed right ahead, “A couple of us told our families to call the police, so we should...”
Loud bangs and screams rang out behind them. They looked back to see the van right behind them, violently smashing snowmobiles aside and sending their occupants flying into the snow. “You filthy wench, you’re going to pay for what you did to my nephew!” a livid Nevin bellowed at Amy, “Ram ’em, Vera!” he ordered the driver.
“With pleasure!” an equally angry Vera smashed into Beverly’s snowmobile from behind. Screaming, Beverly struggled to maintain control and righted herself, then screamed again as gunshots started ringing out and ducked down. “Stop it!” Adam reached over and grabbed hold of the gun Nevin had thrust out the van’s passenger window. He struggled hard to try and push it upwards. Snarling, Nevin grabbed his forehead and shoved him off his snowmobile, sending Adam tumbling down an embankment towards the river. “Knock them down!” he ordered Vera, who had pulled alongside Beverly’s snowmobile. The woman smashed hard into it from the left, sending it reeling dangerously close to the drop-off, which was now much steeper. “Get us out of here!” Amy shouted at Beverly, gulping at the jagged rocks and fast flowing water below.
“I’m trying!” a scared Beverly struggled to stay on the high ground. Another crash from the van, though, left her half on the trail and half over the edge. Amy gripped her new friend hard, knowing one more impact would likely send them over the side. And the van was now setting up for it-and Nevin was taking aim right at her head anyway. Grinning sadistically, he reached for the trigger. Amy shut her eyes, expecting the end one way or the other...
...when suddenly she heard cries from some of the other teens, following by a scream from Vera-and then a loud bang. She opened her eyes as Beverly abruptly hit the brakes, and saw the van spiral in circles in front of her and topple off the embankment, where it crashed over and over all the way to the bottom, then burst into flames. “Huh? But how...!?” she spun to her left and saw a snowplow lurching to a stop next to her. Then she saw the familiar faces in the cab. “Mom!? Dad!?” she exclaimed, her spirits rising.
“Amy!” her mother tore out of the cab, rushed towards her, and gave her a strong hug. “Oh my baby, you have no idea how glad your father and I are to see you alive!” she cried, kissing her repeatedly, “We were so scared to see what happened to you!”
“Amy!” her father pulled her into his arms and smothered her with kisses himself, “Oh if you’d been killed, I don’t know what I would have done! I’m so sorry you were put in danger like this...!”
“Dad, it’s all right, I’m OK now,” Amy told him, fighting back tears of joy and relief. “Where’d you get this!?” she gestured at the snowplow.
“We stole it, to be honest, but it was the fastest way we could think of to get to you. We heard the gunshots and drove towards it, and it looks like we got here just in time. Are you hurt at all!?”
“I’m a little sore, but I’m all right now, thanks to my friends-all my friends,” Amy turned to the other teens, who’d stopped to watch. They slowly started applauding the reunion. “Bless you, bless every last one of you,” Mrs. Newberry gratefully commended them, “You all have our eternal gratitude for helping Amy.” She turned to her daughter. “How about we go get you checked out with the doctors and police and go home?”
“Fine with me,” Amy nodded, leaning her head into her mother’s chest, “Home’s exactly where I’d like to go...”
“...and this was the triumphant scene earlier this afternoon, as Amy Newberry was led safely out of the woods in this snowplow with her parents at the wheel, and her new classmates providing an escort,” the announcer for the eleven o’clock news declared on the TV inside the Newberrys’ living room, “Mr. and Mrs. Newberry admitted to authorities that they had stolen the snowplow, but considering the circumstances at hand, the police declined to press charges against them. Authorities commended Miss Newberry’s friends, who had risked life and limb in the woods to try and rescue her...”
“There I am, there I am!” Beth pointed excitedly at the screen, where she was being interviewed by the reporter on their efforts to get Amy back safely. Curled up in blankets on the sofa behind her, Amy smiled. Beth and the others had more than earned their moment in the spotlight for everything they’d done for her.
She shifted around, giving the smile to each of her parents, who were seated on either side of her. Once they’d brought her out of the woods, they’d taken her to the nearest hospital to be checked out. Fortunately, she had been fine apart from her ribs, which were still sore now, although at least not broken, the doctor had told her. A few members of the rescue party that Nevin had slammed into had sustained more serious injuries, but none were life threatening, and she’d heard they’d be fine in a few days, thankfully. Once she’d been medically cleared and had given her statements to the police, she’d been driven back to the hotel to pick up her things, and then had been treated to a big dinner at the largest Italian restaurant in town by her family and friends. Once she’d gotten home, she was drained and tired out, and so had immediately showered, changed into her pajamas, and crashed on the couch for the rest of the night, grateful her ordeal was over. The Sidekicks and the rescue party had come over as well; she had gotten to meet most of the latter who hadn’t been injured, and had already become friends with many of them over the last few hours. The majority of them had by now gone back home for the night, with the exception of Tim, Kevin, Beverly, and an only slightly injured Adam, who’d all asked to spend the night with her, along with the Sidekicks, who had all promised to stay with her at least until school resumed again. They and her new friends were all splayed on the floor in front of the TV, where they all broke into applause at the footage of the neighbors standing in front of the Newberrys’ house holding a banner reading WELCOME HOME AMY as the Newberrys’ car pulled back up. Amy found herself clapping as well; the support she’d received from everyone had been genuinely touching. “See, Amy, I said you’d fit in well here in the end,” her father rubbed her shoulder.
“Looks like it, Dad,” she grinned at him, “I think I’m really going to like it here now.”
“Great, great,” he squeezed her close. Her expression dropped slightly, however, as the news report continued: “...suspects, identified as Nevin Collins, the latter’s nephew Dylan Wilson, Vera Black, and Fred Phills, were taken into custody afterwards; Collins and Wilson suffered major injuries during the rescue attempt and although doctors will not release any information about their conditions, reports are they are in comas, and their injuries may be serious and long term...”
“You’re still worried about Dylan, Amy?” Monica had noticed her expression. The brunette crawled back to her. “Like we told you earlier, you were only defending yourself when you kicked him away,” she comforted Amy, “So please don’t bring yourself down like this.”
“Yeah, Amy, and he had a gun on you too,” Laurie added from the corner, where Shawn had his arm around her, “It was either do what you did or die.”
“I guess so. It’s just...I’d hate to see him be in a permanent coma...besides, before all that, he was nice to me, even if it was a charade, and that felt...you know...”
“We understand, Amy. But it was a charade in the end. As for us, though, we genuinely care,” Patrick told her warmly, crawling over himself, “And don’t ever forget that.”
“We certainly won’t, Patrick,” Mrs. Newberry stood up and stretched. “Well, Amy’s father and I are going to bed now. All of you kids can stay up as long as you want; just keep it quiet down here. And thank you again, all of you,” she gave them all a grateful smile, “We’ll never forget what you did for Amy today.”
She and her husband turned to their daughter. “You need anything else before we go, Amy?” she asked her.
“I’m OK now, Mom, thanks,” Amy said, rising up herself, “I love you and Dad so much, I want you to know that. I’ll always be grateful that you were both there today when I needed you the most. You’re both the best parents I could have ever asked for...”
She sniffed happily. “We love you so much too, Amy,” her father said, throwing his arms around her in a warm hug, followed moments later by his wife, “We’d do anything for you, anything at all. You’re our whole life; I don’t know what we’d do without you.”
“We’d be lost without you,” her mother told her affectionately, “If you need anything tonight, Amy, our door’s open all night. Sleep well.”
She and Mr. Newberry both kissed their daughter’s cheeks and squeezed the hugs tighter before walking out of the living room and ascending the stairs. Still sniffing, Amy sat back down on the sofa and turned to her approaching classmates. “Guys, I don’t know what else to say,” she mumbled at them, “I can never thank all of you enough for everything you’ve done for me this weekend: taking me in as a friend, making me realize I was a much stronger and successful person than I’d thought I was before, going the extra mile to make me feel welcome here in Coalport, doing everything to cheer me up whenever I felt down, saving my life, I can’t...” she broke down sobbing as the Sidekicks all hugged her in unison, followed by the popular teens, “I’m the richest, luckiest girl in the world right now, thanks to all of you...!”
“And we’re rich and lucky to know you too, Amy,” Judy told her, squeezing her hug tighter, “Don’t ever change.”
“I’ll try not to, Judy,” Amy mumbled softly. Her friends held the hug for well over a minute before letting her go. “And Craig,” she turned to him, her smile widening, “I think you’ve earned this...”
She leaned towards him and planted a deep kiss on his lips. “For standing by me all this weekend, for treating me like a queen, for making me see myself as a better person, for being a chivalrous person when I needed one around, for defending me in a heartbeat without a second thought, you deserve that,” she commended him, “I love you, Craig Klein, and I’ll be glad to take that date you offered me.”
“I love you so much, Amy Newberry,” Craig said, looking utterly lovesick for her again, “You’re a very special girl, and I’d do anything for you, anything at all.”
“Craig...” smiling even more, Amy kissed him again. Behind them, she saw Beth smiling as well. “Thank you, Amy,” Craig’s sister mouthed at him, “For bringing all this out in him and giving him the chance to love again.”
“Glad to help,” Amy mouthed back, “It was the least I could do for him after...”
She was cut off by the sound of Amy’s cell phone ringing on the coffee table. “Who could that be?” Amy mused, breaking away and bustling for the phone. “Vicki!” she exclaimed, recognizing her former best friend’s phone number. She eagerly activated it. “Vicki, it’s so good to hear from you!” she declared as Vicki’s face came up on the screen, “I’ve missed you so much!”
“So’ve I, Amy. But is everything OK?” Vicki asked, worried, “I’d heard some story that you’d been kidnapped or something!”
“Yeah, I was, Vicki, and it was terrifying, but I’m OK now, thanks to my new friends,” Amy held up the phone to show the Sidekicks behind her.
“Hi Vicki, I’m Monica, and we’re the Sidekicks,” Monica said, waving at the phone, followed by the rest of the group. “It’s good to actually hear from you,” she approached the phone, “Amy’s spoken so highly of you.”
“Oh she has, has she? Good to know I made that much of a difference in your life,” Vicki grinned at Amy.
“You were the main reason I was happy in Philadelphia, Vicki; saying goodbye to you was the hardest part of moving.”
“I see. Well then, maybe this’ll make you feel happier: I asked Mom and Dad if I could go spend Christmas up with you. It took some convincing, but they said yes. So expect us about three or four days before Christmas. And I’ll ask around to the rest of the girls in the neighborhood to see if they can come along too.”
“That’s wonderful!” Amy exclaimed, excited, “Oh it’ll be great to see you again in person, Vicki.”
“Yep, it’ll be great to meet you,” Patrick leaned close to the phone, “We can see about making you an honorary Sidekick too.”
“Sidekick?” Vicki frowned.
“That’s the new group I’m in, Vicki. Soccer and fun are everything with them,” Amy gestured at them again, “You’ll like them, trust me.”
“That sounds nice. Well, I’ll let you go, Amy, since it’s late; just wanted to make sure you were OK and let you know I’ll be coming. Have a merry Christmas till then.”
“Merry Christmas, Vicki, see you soon,” Amy hung up. “You’ll all like her when she comes, she’s a great friend,” she told everyone else.
“I think we will, Amy,” Beth said, yawning, “Well, shall we head on up?”
“I guess so,” Amy walked over to the Christmas tree and unplugged it. “Just to check, you feeling OK, Adam?” she approached him next.
“Ribs are still a bit sore, Amy, but otherwise I’m fine,” Adam told her, “Glad you’re OK too-and that you seem to have made a whole lot more friends today. It looks like the outsider just became one of the most popular girls in school already.”
“Yeah I know, it feels great, Adam. Now I know I’ll never be alone here for sure.”
“We really like you, Amy,” Kevin took her hand, “And we’d be honored to have you come hang out with our circle of friends too when you get the chance from now on.”
“Plus, I’d also be honored if you agreed to sleep over my house next week too,” Beverly offered her.
“Another sleepover?” Amy laughed, “You know that I’ve got about three or four I have lined up already, Beverly? Monica wants me to come sleep over her house...”
“Oh please say you’ll come,” Beverly begged her, “I feel like I owe you...”
“You don’t owe me, Beverly; everything you did for me today more than made up for anything. But yeah, I’d be glad to come sleep over when I get the chance-and then you can come to the all girl sleepover we’ll be having at Judy’s at some point in the near future.”
“Wonderful; mark me down for it,” the popular girl beamed, yawning herself now. The teens started ascending the stairs to the second floor. Amy paused a quarter of the way up, seeing Laurie hitching slowly up the stairs step by step. “Need a hand?” she asked her.
“Actually, you know, I think I wouldn’t mind some help, Amy,” Laurie acceded, letting Amy take her arm and help her up the steps more swiftly. “Again, I’m so sorry for everything, Amy. You are a great person; I’d never have discovered Shawn without you pointing me to him. So I’ll tell you what: I know Patrick promised to give you some pointers on playing, but I’d like to help you there too. I think I can make you a great player. And you can keep my Sidekicks’ jersey if you want; I can get another easy.”
“Thanks, Laurie. You know, you were right about soccer back at the hotel: you do have a sensation of flying when you’re racing down the field after the ball,” Amy told her, “I love having that feeling, and I can tell you do too. So once you’re good to go, I’d enjoy sharing it with you.”
“I’d be glad to, Amy, and thank you, for pointing me back towards living again,” Laurie hugged her on the top step, during which she looked upwards to whisper, “How am I doing, Dad?” Amy grinned; somewhere, she suspected, Mr. Hurst was proud of his daughter again. The two of them entered her room, where everyone else was spreading blankets and sleeping bags on the floor. Laurie hobbled towards Shawn, who greeted her with open arms. Amy walked to the window and stared out at Columbia Street, now buried in snow, but also lit up with Christmas lights. “It is beautiful, isn’t it?” Monica joined her at the window.
“It sure is,” Amy nodded, “The last time I was in this room, Monica, it felt empty, and the street seemed lonely and dead. Now, I feel like I’ve really, truly come home, like I really belong,” she smiled down at all her friends getting ready for bed on the floor.
“You do belong here, Amy Newberry, trust me on that,” Monica hugged her again, “And I’ll be at your side the whole time going forward.”
“And we’ll be there for you every step of the way too,” Craig added, walking over as well and putting his arm around her, “Is there anything else you need before we go to bed, Amy?”
“Nope, I’m good now, Craig. I just hope...”
“Well, just that I don’t have nightmares for the rest of my life because of everything that happened to me...”
“You’ll be fine, Amy,” Beth joined her brother at Amy’s side, “You’re strong, you’re a survivor. And all of us’ll be here for you if you need us at any time.”
“And so you know, Amy, I can call Christy Bryant if you want,” Monica offered her, “I do still have her number. Maybe if the two of you met and talked over your ordeals, you can heal each other. I know she’s still pretty badly traumatized, so sharing with her might help her, and you.”
“I’d be open to it, Monica. And so you know, don’t cancel any future campouts at the hotel because of this,” Amy turned back to the Kleins, “I want to go back there, I want to have more fun there, I want to face the demons there...”
“No problem there. And that’s a good start in the healing process that you want to face them,” Beth commended her. She yawned again. “Well, I’m done for today. Good night, Amy.”
“Night Beth, Craig, Monica,” Amy bid them all a good evening. She made her way through the minefield of blankets to her bed and slipped under the covers. “Night everyone,” she bade the others good night as well, switching out the light.
“Night, Amy,” came the greetings as one. “Sleep well,” Judy added, squirming aside closer to Patrick to allow Monica to lay down right next to the bed, “You’ve earned a good night sleep by now.”
“A good night sleep sounds great, Judy. Good night,” Amy pulled the blankets over her head and closed her eyes, the smile still on her lips to have so many loyal friends with her. Perhaps, as she had surmised earlier, she truly had come home now.
Did you enjoy my story? Please let me know what you think by leaving a review! Thanks, Fulmer82Write a Review