People say there’s two worlds, the rich and the poor, but I think there’s more. There’s levels to both. I’ve been at the highest level since I was born, and I can’t deny it.
Up until primary school, I was tutored. Then middle school came along, and I started at a private school. I was all alone, my mom was my best friend.
Today is my first day of high school. At lunch I went outside to sit in the grass. I brought a little picnic blanket to school today and it was nice and peaceful outside. The sky is the type of blue you see in fake skies and there are hints of clouds here and there. I get my lunch out and open my book. But I look up and realize I'm not alone. I guess I didn’t notice there were a lot more people in high school, because there were a lot more people outside.
“Hi, I’m Austin, I’m new here, could I join you?” he comes up to me. He was Austin Edward Livingston son of Sarah and Jonathon Livingston owners of the Livingston Law Firm. He was 5’8 and was already studying for law school. He had moved into town just a month ago. I was forced to learn all of my peers’ backgrounds as a matter of research and networking, although it never came in handy anyway.
I freeze, not knowing how to react. I’ve never really talked to my kids my age. I was forced to go to work parties and be nice to the kids there, but none of them ever really clicked. “Uhm, yeah, sure, I’m Anastasia Hope Beverly An.”
He takes a seat and asks, “Cool, are you reading Divergent? I love that series.”
“Yeah, read it at least 20 times.” We started talking about books and our classes.
He starts coming to sit with me every day. We start getting close and he was actually my first real friend I wasn’t forced upon. We decided to go hang out downtown after a week, this was my first time hanging out with a friend.
We meet up at a corner and I ask, “Hey, Austin, wanna go get a drink? I think there’s a cafe somewhere nearby.” We head over and sit down, and talk about school.
“Yeah. Did you finish the chemistry lab?”
“Almost the changing colors in the fire was really cool. I can’t believe she taught us how to light a fire and set a bomb. You would think that’s illegal,” I reply. I finally felt normal. I was so grateful for my parents and how I grew up, but I had to find out how normal kids acted through books and tv shows.
We decided to walk around. It was around afternoon and we just turned a corner and it was dark. Then suddenly we heard gunshots. My heart was racing, and we ran to hide into a pile of trash bags. I peek over the bags and I see a brown haired man on the ground, not moving. There’s blood seeping from the back of his head. My mouth opens and he puts his hand covering it, motioning to be quiet. Two guys wearing all black walk out and I run over to the man on the floor.
“Sir? Sir, what happened?” I ask, panicked.
“Jackson… Nixon,” he barely says. His eyes go still. I shake him trying to get him to come back.
Austin feels his pulse. “He’s gone,” he says.
“Let’s go,” I state, getting up, “we’re gonna go report this at the police station.” I start shaking. He pulls me into a hug, he’s shaking too. We continue walking to the station and I try to focus on the floor, the different clouds, or anything else to distract me. I see a shadow from the side, “Did you see that?” I ask.
“No, see what?” Austin asks.
“Nevermind, it was probably nothing.” We continue walking and suddenly three guys in full black head to toe grab us and pull us into a van. They blindfold us and tie our hands and legs up, so we cannot escape.
“Who are you, why were you there?” the first guy asks us, shouting.
We look at each other and Austin answers, “We-we were just walking around we took a wrong turn, thought it was a shortcut.”
“Like we’re stupid enough to believe that. We know who you are,” and he turns to look at me, “Melanie Miller. Everyone believes you’re sweet and innocent, but we know how many times you’ve tried to ruin our plans. Plastic surgery can’t fool us, you’ve played that trick one too many times. You were about to rat us out to the police.”
“What? I don’t know who you’re talking about, I’m not Melanie Miller. I’m Anastasia and this is Austin, we were just hanging out. We don't know anything about this,” I replied, trying to keep my voice steady. Who is Melanie Miller? What is going on?
They shove us back to our seats and blindfold us. We’re dragged onto the ground and inside a room. I hear the door shut and the sound echoing. It was a large room with not many objects. We hear muffled voices. They are talking about what to do with us and whether I am Melanie Miller.
“We need to kill them,” I hear one say. I’m grabbing onto Austin. I need to hold onto something that would hold me down. My whole life I’d lived almost like Rapunzel, but a much roomier tower. This is what I saw in movies. This is what Tom Cruise went through in Mission Impossible, nothing two high schoolers could do.
A new person walks in and says in an assertive voice, “Silence, did you men actually kidnap the wrong kids? You idiots.” We hear gunshots and bodies hit the floor, then silence. The man now calls someone, “I need two more down at warehouse #264 now. And you kids, I know you can hear me. Get over here.” We hop over with our hands and legs tied trying to find our way to him. Thankfully I was right about there being no furniture. “Who are you two really?” he demands.
“As we told the guys before, twice, I’m Austin and that’s Anastasia. We don’t know anything and we were just roped into this. She is not Melanie Miller and I’m not anybody other than Austin,” he replies exasperated. I hear a whip and a crash. I assume Austin is on the ground. He cries out in pain.
“Every hour you lie, I hit him again,” the man threatens. The two men show up and lock us in our rooms. We hear them talking and the man from before says, “One of you on lookout, one of you with the kids.” The door slams shut. Then again.
One of the men comes into our room and removes our blind folds. “Uncle Ricky?” Austin asks in shock.
“I knew it was you. Listen, I can take the guy outside, I’m going to untie you guys. When you hear the signal run out,” he instructs, “I’ll explain the rest on the car ride to the airport. I need to get you two out of here.” He leaves and a few moments later we hear his car horn honk. We run out of the room and to his car.
“Are you sure we can trust him?” I ask.
“Yeah he’s my uncle don’t worry,” Austin tries to reassure me, and fails miserably.
“Please let me help you, I insist,” his uncle says. I try to think of where I’ve heard his voice before. I decide it’s safer to get in either way.
“Listen, the guy you guys got captured by is a dangerous man. He kills for fun whether he’s with or against you. The only way to be safe is if you’re thousands of miles away from him,” he explains to us.
“What are you doing with him? Aren’t you worried about yourself as well?” Austin asks.
“I’m past worrying about myself, I’ve been through worse. Besides he pays a hefty paycheck,” he replies.
Realization strikes me, this was Peter Pain, Pain for short. “I really need to pee, can I just go off the side really quick?” I beg.
“Fine, make it quick, we don’t know how long until the flight,” he says gruffly.
I move to the back of the car and get out a small pocket knife I’d found in the car cup holder. I slash the tires and go back in. Soon after we start driving again, the car starts shaking then comes to a stop. Austin’s uncle starts cursing and gets out of the car.
“We have to get away from here Austin, this man is dangerous, I know who he is. Please trust me, there’s woods over there and it’s almost dark we could hide until he gave up,” I beg.
“He’s my uncle, what are you saying?”
“Please just trust me, I know this sounds crazy, but I promise I’ll explain once we get away from him,” I beg him.
“Fine,” he says reluctantly. He leans to the glove compartment and takes out some money. Two twenties. We slowly open the car door and get out. That’s when he spots us and we take off on a run. We head for the woods, and we hear gunshots. He’s shooting at us, but downlow. He doesn’t want to kill us I realize. Once we’re far enough away we stop. “Now explain,” he demands.
“Ok so, I’m not Anastasia, I’m… Melanie Miller. I’m so sorry. I promise I’m not what they said. They’re bad people Austin, I’ve been trying to stop them. And yeah, I got plastic surgery, but it was all for the job, I didn’t mean to trick you. I wasn’t even supposed to make any friends,” I explain. As each word passes my lips, his eyes grow wider and wider. I’m afraid he’ll run away. Before he gets the chance I say, “We have to get to the airport though.”
“What? Fine, but I’m not going anywhere with you once we find civilization,” his voice shakes. We trudge through the woods in silence. I can’t bear looking at my only friend I ever had. I had seen the feeling of being betrayed in his eyes. I would know, I’ve felt it and seen it many times.
After around 4 hours we come across some lights. We start running for a building desperate for a bathroom to clean up in and buy some food with the cash we stole.
That’s when we hear the gunshots, we duck and cover. We try to run to a building. Bullets are whizzing around, one knicks my shoulder, another hits my hand somehow. Then Austin falls to the ground. A flower of red blooms from his chest. I try to drag him away.
“Leave me, it’s too late anyway. Anastasia… Melanie, I forgive you,” he tells me. Then his eyes close and he goes limp in my arms. I feel relief from the apology, guilt that this was because of me, and grief for my lost friend. I run away, getting hit once in the leg and another on my left shoulder. I swear I am going to get vengeance. I’ll kill them one by one for the loss of my best and only friend. Not bound by their world or levels.