Hello everyone! First of all, thanks for reading this. I've been writing a lot of realistic-fiction type stories, and I'm going to try and write a fantasy one soon. This will probably be my last realistic fiction for a while. I hope you like it. :D
I’m never going to go back there. Never ever again.
I took another quick drink of punch. The party crowd around me chanted with the TV:
“Ten! Nine! Eight!”
I looked up at the screen and saw the glowing ball in Times Square, New York City. The very place I vowed to never return to. The place where my best friend was shot and killed.
I shuddered as I pictured Jenny. The bullets hitting her in the neck, then the stomach, then the legs, then everywhere else; her arms and legs bound so she couldn’t move. Me, tied up as well against a pole, bound and gagged, as the kidnappers shot her repeatedly. The flashing cop car lights as they came seconds too late.
“HAPPY NEW YEAR!”
The house shook with the partiers’ screams. I heard countless clinks of glass coming together as the people started to sing “Auld Lang Syne” along with the TV. A hand rested on my shoulder, and I nearly spilled my punch as I jumped and looked up.
Gosh, was he good looking. With his wavy dark brown hair, icy yet warm blue eyes, and high cheekbones, he looked absolutely perfect. He had been my friend since our freshman year of college, when he sheepishly asked me to be his biology partner. But he had remained a friend and nothing more.
“Hey, Crystal.” he did his usual half-smile.
“Hi, Mason.” I offered him a cup. “Fruit punch? I made it myself.”
“Nah, I’m fine.” Mason shrugged and put his hands in his pockets. “You wanna go somewhere?”
Mason clicked the bathroom door shut behind us, and I sat down on the toilet, running my fingers through my hair. He leaned against the counter, one eyebrow raised a little. “So, Crys. What’s on your mind?”
I stood up and looked in the mirror, checking my makeup, then back at him. “Nothing, Mason. It’s New Years. I’m fine.”
“Crystal…” he ran his fingers through his wavy hair, looking at me skeptically. He smiled a little. “I know I’ve only been your friend for a year, but I can tell when something is wrong.”
“I- I don’t like thinking about New Year’s. We were in New York to go to Times Square for the first time on New Year’s Eve, and then everything happened…” I trailed off, looking down at the floor uncomfortably. Mason and I were close, but I wasn’t sure we were close enough for me to be having this conversation with him. Too late now.
Mason nodded slowly. “Yeah, I get it. A little. I wish I had been there with you. That must have been horrible.”
I shrugged, remembering the first BANG of the gun. “Yeah. I wish you had been there too.”
“We both lost her.” a shadow crossed his face, remembering his old girlfriend. “But I didn’t lose her as much as you did, watching that.”
Why was he so insistent on talking about this? I looked up at him. “I’m glad you didn’t have to watch that happen to her, Mason. It was kind of horrifying.”
He chuckled a little and put his arm around my shoulders. “I can only imagine.”
I turned my body and wrapped my arms around his waist, squeezing him a little closer. “Thank you.”
He recoiled a little, surprised, then wrapped his arms around my shoulders and rested his chin on my head. “For what?”
“For listening. Even though we didn’t really talk.” I squeezed tighter, feeling his back muscles pulse against my arms. He felt warm and safe and comforting, like a big, athletic teddy bear.
“Yeah,” he whispered. “Yeah, of course.”
Come on, stupid bell. Ring ring ring ring ring.
I grumbled under my breath, looking up at the clock on the lecture room wall as my biology teacher droned on and on about the mitochondria being the powerhouse of the cell. I had an A in this stupid class, so what was the point?
The bell rang out shrilly, and I nearly flew from my chair in relief. FINALLY, I got to go out for the evening with my friends for Chinese food. I gathered up my books and pushed the door open, but suddenly, two arms wrapped themselves around my shoulder blades and dragged me into a side classroom.
I shrieked loudly and kicked against the attacker, but he let me go and fall onto the floor and started laughing.
I knew that laugh.
“Mason, what the heck!” I shrieked, using the desk to pull me up to my feet. “What were you thinking?”
Tears rolled down his cheeks as he screamed with laughter. “Oh my gosh, Crys, you should have seen your face! That was-”
I punched him in the gut, making him cough and wheeze for air. “Oh jeez, Crys, you mad?”
I crossed my arms and stared at him grumpily. His hair curled into his eyes a little as he looked up at me, hands on his knees. “Wow. You have a good punch.”
“Thanks.” I rolled my eyes. “What do you want, Mason?”
“Look.” he pulled two tickets out of his pocket and handed them to me. “I won the essay contest, Crys! They have me two tickets and an all-expenses-except-food-paid trip!” he wrapped his arm around me and jostled my hair playfully. “We’re going on a trip in our favorite rocket ship, zooming through the skies-” he grinned at me, then frowned at my empty expression as I stared at the tickets. “Little Einsteins, Crys. The best show when we were kids.”
I didn’t say anything. Those two plane tickets froze me.
Mason put his hand on my shoulder and looked down at me, eyes wide and sad. He smiled a little. “Crys, if you don’t want to go, that’s fine. But I think you have to replace those bad memories of how Jenny died with new memories of me and you.”
“I- I’m okay,” I said quietly, breaking myself from the ticket trance. “I’ll go, Mason. I think you’re right.”
“Yeah, two Sprites and two chili dogs.”
“I can pay for this,” I offered, pulling my wallet out of my drawstring bag, but Mason waved it away. “Nah, it’s fine. I got it, Crys.”
“You also bought these ridiculous hats, though,” I countered, shoving his hand away. I forked over the six dollars and pointed to my white hat that screamed I <3 NEW YORK on it.
Mason grinned, pushing his hat to the side with a playful grin as the cart guy handed us our Sprites. We cracked them open, but before I took a drink, Mason held his up in a toast. “To new memories.”
“To new memories,” I echoed, and we bopped our Sprites together before taking a drink.
“Here ya go,” the hot dog cart guy grumbled. “Happy New Year.”
“Thanks, you too!” Mason said cheerfully.
We grabbed our hot dogs and started walking. I checked my watch. 7:30 at night. “Where should we go?”
“Well, our hotel’s night check-in doesn’t start until 8,” Mason replied around a mouthful of hot dog. He looked around. “Want to catch a movie, or something?”
I shrugged, smiling. “Sure. I don’t care. I’m just happy to be here, Mason.”
He chomped down the last of his hot dog and smiled at me, putting his arm around my shoulders. “Yeah, whatever. What are friends for, ya know?”
“Yeah.” I grinned.
“Gosh, that was a crappy movie.” I yawned.
“You’ve got that straight,” Mason mumbled, rubbing his eyes. “Let’s get back to the hotel. It’s 10 and it’s getting dark.”
“You ain’t goin nowhere.” Suddenly, I felt a hand tighten on the back of my neck.
I screamed, but another rough hand slapped over my mouth and muffled it. I looked over, heart racing and saw Mason grappling with a heavyset man in all black clothes.
“Stop!” the man holding me roared in a gruff voice. “Stop fighting or she gets it.”
I felt the cold barrel of a gun press to the side of my skull, and I shrieked against my captor’s hand. Mason stopped fighting immediately, panting for breath, the other man’s arm around his neck and the other arm holding his hands behind his back. Mason’s wide eyes pierced into mine as the man slowly removed his hand from my mouth. “If you scream, you die here and now.”
“Let him go,” I whispered, pleading. “Let him go and you can kill me instead.”
“What a nice offer,” the man holding Mason grunted. “Whaddya think? I like that.”
My captor traced the cold gun barrel down my jawline to my neck. “I don’t. You forgot the ski masks, remember? So what if the pretty boy over here gets our faces to the fuzz?”
“He won’t,” I said, making his grip tighten around my neck as he adjusted his arm, trapping me in a headlock. “Mason wouldn’t.”
Mason glanced fearfully from his captor to me, eyes wide. The captor turned to me, and I nearly toppled over in surprise.
I knew those icy green eyes. They stared into mine before they turned away and focused on ripping bullet holes in my best friend’s body.
“YOU KILLED HER!” I screamed, kicking and fighting to get away from my guy. “YOU KILLED JENNY! YOU’LL PAY FOR THAT!”
I slammed my teeth into the hand by my chin, making the man cry out and drop his gun. Mason kicked the other man in the place, and we ran for our lives, down the street and towards our hotel.
I sank into the hot tub, feeling my neck. It ached a little from where it had been grabbed.
Mason slid in across from me, pulling his shirt off and tossing it to the side. “Wow.”
“After this, I’m never coming back here. And I mean it,” I snorted. “I have horrible luck here.”
“You were so brave, Crystal.” he smiled shyly, his blue eyes meeting mine. “I never could have fought them off like that.”
“It was nothing.” I sniffed a little. “I hope I broke a finger. He deserves that.”
“I can’t believe those were the same people who killed her.” Mason hung his head.
I let my arm float up and brush the bubbles on top of the hot, foaming water, and Mason lifted his own and laced my fingers with his. “I’m glad you came, Crys. Even with all that happened.”
I nodded. “We can make new memories still. Tomorrow, in the daylight.”
“I’d like to make one right now.” he put his other hand on my cheek, pulling me in close, and kissed me for the very first time, pushing the alley right out of my mind.