Insane, but yes, I was dangling from my balcony in my favorite pair of pink pajamas. The sqaure wood my hand had curled around was hard, thick, and slicing into my hand. The wind picked up, my whole body swayed back and forth as if I was riding a wave on a boat. I was worried about dropping five stories, that would kill me, if not it would most certainly imply life-long complications like being paraylized. Thats when my common thought processes kick in, there was no way this could be real, it felt like... a dream. I had to be dreaming, and if I was I just had to wake myself up. If I was dreaming would I die? I heard people say if you die in your dreams you die in real life.
Then they came. They were dressed in ski masks and black. They tried to make me slip by smashing into my hands, but I wouldn't dare fall."What, why, what do you want?" I managed to ask as fear surged through my body I was jolted into an alertness I had never felt before. Who were these masked men? Why would they want me? I used all my stregnth to hold on to the bulky wood.
The tallest figure said, "You," in a deep pitch.
"Stop! No, no, no stop!" my brother, Timmy shouted, running into the room, thrashing, kicking, and screaming when the people grabbed him.
They were trying to hold Timmy back. Figures were trying to grab, and crush my hand. This was officialy insane. I had no clue what they wanted. I was pretty sure I couldn't stay up here this long as it was. Things went in and out of focus as I squinted chanting I'm dreaming, its okay your just dreaming, just dreaming, dreaming, dream...
As I registered this a new problem arose, the wood had cracked, it was cracking, splitting right down the middle. As it gave away I tried to grab the other wooden pole beside it, but my fingers were clammy and the shaft slipped out of reach. As I plummeted downward I let out a blood curdling screech, but I reminded myself your just dreaming, your going to be fine, your going to wake up wrapped in your cozy comforeter in your bed.
Before I begin to tell you this there are some things you should understand about me:
1) I am not a spy, at least I don't refer to myself as a spy. More like a world helper, maybe, somebody that helps keep people from getting killed. Being a spy is too overrated, and way to much of a political word for a eighteen year old. (I didn't choose this life, but I wouldn't trade it for the world.)
2) I do not work at a regular organization like the CIA, FBI, NCIS, NSA, DEA, yet it could be considered similar. If I've sparked your interest continue reading. (It can be difficult to understand the conditions of the job, but when you live with the boss the condition can waiver.)
3) I am an average girl, mostly. I am a few IQ points higher than the average Joe, though. In some ways I am regular. I love karate, music, and learning. In some ways I am not average. I know five different types of fighting. I know about ten languages, and excel at English, French, and Porteguese. (Try not to think of me a super hero, even though that would give me a definite ego boost, I'm just like you in some ways.)
4) My mom and dad used to think that we (my brother and I) had been kidnapped. We weren't allowed to tell them or ever see them again becuase of our job, but we have found a way to contact them over the years. (I used to think this was only used in spy movies, but it applies in my life too; 'expect the unexpected'.
Some parts are fuzzy, but please take into consideration that this has happened over a year ago, but without further ado this is my story.
Chapter 1 Kidnapped
Where am I? In a large room. My hands are strapped to the table, by restraints, they are tan, made of thick leather. There is a black, business chair in the corner. There are tables and bookshelves with hundreds of books lining and stacked on them, one was a textbook that said Anatomy in big, bold italics. I blinked more as the fuzziness in my vision increased.
What had happened? I was eating with my little brother, Timmy. We were in my brand new car I got for my sixteenth birthday, in the parking lot behind our piece-of-crap theater, and we planned on seeing the new Avengers movie when we where done eating. Then, like in the dream, they came. They took me out of the car not even bothering with Timmy. Then, of course, he came running out and they took him too. I managed to hit one in the throat. That is the last thing I remember before my dream.
A guy had came, and I sat up with effort to get my hands pushed in the right spot as my head swam even more.
"How are you?" the guy asked. He was wearing all black. He had red spiked hair with green eyes that complemented his hair.
"Fine," I said, my voice ice cold. "Where is my brother? What do you want with me? "I was praticly panicking, the food I had been eating felt like it was rising in my thorat, the panic attack was rising because I was so worried about Timmy. Aside from the said panic on the inside I tried to appear confident on the outside. I waited for an answer and when I didn't get one I asked, "What do my charming abductors intend on doing?" using all of my will to not sound terrifed, giving him a slight grin, and daring him to go on.
The guy sat in the chair and stared at me like he had won a prize," Look Jasmine, you have what we need. You know martial arts and languages. You have a good IQ and plenty of common sense, just like special agents, spys, do, but you are not a spy, you also have no idea of any protocol, you are perfect."
I'm not in a spy movie, and this is a fairytale; theres no way this could be happeing," Fine, let's play make a deal. You tell me where Timmy is, first. Then you tell me what you want with me and why."
He ran his hand through his hair,"Timmy is safe. We need you to go with some of our other youngsters," he paused, trying to find the right words, I assume, "to, to spy on the ...some federal locations. We don't really know why, but its imperative that you trust us, we are here for you."
"What!" I screeched. "You don't know. Don't know! How could you not know?!" I was fighting hard but the restraints simply wouldn't come off. Then a tough gray haired guy had a syringe and I slowly slipped into unconsciousness, again.
Chapter 2 The Van
When I woke I was lying in the back of a van. Yes, Timmy was sitting right beside me, unharmed. "Where are we?" I groaned, still groggy.
He thought for a second then said, "We are in the back of a white van. You have been asleep for approximately four hours. It is about 2 p.m. . . Yeah, I know this is crazy, but the rest is slightly confusing. Eat, then I will get them to explain."
The kidnapping and being told we were going to be force to spy definitely hadn't effected Timmy any, at least I thought so for awhile.
I was sitting by now. Instead of kicking and thrashing like a maniac I just grabbed the bag and stuffed french fries in my mouth. I was about to explain how we couldn't spy and to escape from these lunatics.
As if on cue Timmy saw the look on my face and countered, "What they want us to do makes a lot of sense. Let them explain at least, please. What could it hurt?" He had always been the more empathic one.
"What they want us to do is completely irrational, we could get killed," I shouted, I then realized I shouted a little too loud.
A woman dressed almost just like the other guy had appeared. She warned, " If you keep doing that, we aren't going to get anywhere," she said," every time you do this you are going to get knocked out again."
Whatever, who cares. I would rather get knocked out again then try too deal with this, again, but looking over at Timmy I knew I couldn't do that. I had to be slightly reasonable so I whispered, " Tell me; no loopholes or leaving things out. I want it straight, and now, please," I added because even if I hated these people she looked and sounded nice, like a mother.
Somewhere in between this the other guy I had spoken too also came out from the front of the van.
The black haired lady spoke up, "My name is Linda. This is Jake, he will be explaining to you the history and major things we are about. I will explain why we choose you," her voice was soft and smooth. Like a mother telling her child "good job", and to be a spy she looked very delicate. Not somebody that wanted you to spy on a federal agency or whatever the crap they were talking about.
The guy had a more alerting voice, "We have been around for about a century, give or take a few. We are smart people. Some of us are regular people, like you. A few of us are drop out fugitives, as in no longer on the run, so in jail.
"We have been trying to make more of intelligent kids like you. This is the unbelievable part," then he paused, like he had before, and I wanted to scream for him to finish, "some part of the government are getting slightly eratic and curropt. For the most its not a big deal until whole unit or departments are taking the countries intelligence for granted or using it in a manner for their personal adgenda. At this point its our job to step up, and ever twenty years or so we have to have more people. This isn't the type of thing that you can just apply for. People like us have to learn not only how to spy, but how to spy on people that spy for a living. Sorry I kind of took your part Linda." He apologized in a shy way, like when a boy has a crush on you and he walks over to talk to you but unintentional bumps you and your books fall on the ground then he blushes while telling you he is sorry, what, its happened before.
She smiled, "It's okay and we'll give you time to think," she stood up from the bench and they went back to the front of the van. Somebody else must have been driving because the van hadn't stopped.
I wasn't sure how to take this, so instead of trying I laid on my back, looked over at Timmy and asked, "Where are we going?"
I heard Timmy, my beautiful twelve year old, 5 ft. 4in., blonde with natural brown specks brother, never going to belong in any spy business, whisper, "Some kind of safe house."
When he said that my stomach flopped and I thought the french fries might come back up. Timmy shouldn't be here. He knew more about this than me, probably, but he shouldn't be here. He wasn't smart, he was so easy to break and light-hearted, I hadn't ever seen Timmy hurt a fly. It wasn't fair that he was here because they were after me in the first place.
I tried to say it like my old annoyed self, but I am not sure I succeeded, "Well," I snapped my fingers holding my hand in the air, "when will we be there?"
I could have sworn I saw the faintest glow, smile, or even a brightness in his eyes, but it vanished by the time he said, "Five minutes ago we were in that town you took ballet in that time and we are maybe going to some town in Ohio, I am not sure," he shrugged.
I moaned and sat up, found a blanket, grabbed it, after putting it over my head I turned to face the vans wall. I started counting seconds as it sank in, I lying on a vans floor with strangers that had kidnapped me and told me to spy on the government in the past twenty four hours. The only thought that crossed my mind for the next five minutes, three hundred seconds in case you are wondering, is that my life just got a lot more complicated than picking out the perfect Christmas presents.
I started thinking about simple things. My friends and upcoming birthdays, my best friend Jeanette's would be in two weeks and there would be a big party with all the high schoolers plus her boyfriend, Jim, would perform with his band. The song, of course, would be about her like it had been for the last three years. There were also Christmas sales in Aeropostale I was missing. My favorite silky pink gown I was just wearing, like, two nights ago. My mom's new paintings, they were mainly abstracts and looked like scribbles drawn by a five year old. Ask my Mom what the mean and she could explain the whole thing to you, if you squint both your eyes until they are shut it starts to make sense. My ex boyfriend Justin, oh no Justin.
He was my incredible ex-boyfriend. He wasn't the fairytale, I am perfect for you kind. He was the laid back, whatever kind. He was really smart, I am no slouch either but he was like a genius. He went missing a year ago. I cried for days, I even missed two days of school. Okay, I ordered myself, think of other things.
That didn't help. I started thinking of things they, the kidnappers, had said. I still thought we had to get away. Then on the other hand the most they could to is force us to kill a few people, no big deal, yeah I know a really big deal. If we stayed we wouldn't have to go to school. I wouldn't have to do anything but train or something, then before the spying we could get away, after we had gained their trust. No, no that wouldn't work because of Timmy.
Timmy would miss Mom and Dad. Timmy wouldn't be a good fighter. Timmy would get home-sick. Timmy can't spy. Timmy isn't smart. Timmy would be scared. Timmy, Timmy, Timmy why is it always about Timmy? Can't it be about me, just once?
Well, that was rude. I am the nice type of person that likes to put other people first. My hair is brown, straight, and a few inches longer than shoulder length with side bangs. I can defiently be mean and rude if I want to. My friends have different names for my unlike personalities, I like to be a variety people, and then you can relate to other people better. My friends think it is weird. I want to be like a spy, have a cover, legend, and story entirely different than my real life. I would make a good one because, I know languages and karate. Maybe this is my big career start, or just a bunch of freaky lunatics that are quite right in the head, probably that.
An old saying that Justin used to say popped into my head. It was strange, I think he read it in a poem once. Whenever I got stressed or upset about something he said, "Go with it. Just go with it. Let the river take you where it wants. Let the wind blow you the way it wants." That is what I would do. I could fight. I would let them do whatever with us, when the time came I would fight for us. Finally a plan not a very good one, but still a plan.
I realized tears were starting to spill over my eyes and make their way down my face. I wouldn't let them. I had to be strong for Tim. I took the corner of the itchy, gray blanket and wiped my eyes.
"Hey, you awake?" Timmy asked, in a weary tone he used on long trips.
"Yeah," I still don't know if it was from the crack in my voice or what but Timmy did that mind reading thing again.
"I don't know what will happen," he said. "It will be okay. We can get through it," it sounded so smooth, like he was cheering me up because I had lost a soccer game. I almost believed him.
Now it was my turn and I had no clue what to say. Out of all the things I could have said I decided to make a joke, "While I was knocked out what did they do to you? Let me guess give you a dose of courage." It wasn't a very good joke I wasn't ever good at jokes, but close enough.
He had to laugh at that one. I couldn't tell if it was because he really thought it was funny or if it was a horrible excuse at a joke. I really wanted to get to my point so I didn't give him time to say whatever he was going to say next. "Tim you don't have to be so strong. Remember when I didn't make an A on that Biology test last year? You told me we were all made of the same stuff not superheroes."
Tim squinted his eyes at me," Translation: cry if you want, it is fine. FYI it is not fine cause News Flash those people can kill you one handed, probably even in handcuffs, you want me to cry in front of that." Most people would scream or yell when saying that, but he kept his voice perfectly even.
For some reason even with Tim here I felt alone and I wanted somebody, preferably, a trusted adult to be in charge, to bad we were out of those. I said it just like I usually would have," Okay I don't want to talk anymore. Is there anything to do in here?" I kicked the gray blanket over my feet, it was way too little.
"Okay," Timmy said grabbing the other blanket and turning his back to me," nite-nite."
I wasn't really in the mood for more sleep, I got up or well I tried but got the blanket tangled around my feet. Once I got up I walked over to the thin curtain that separated me from them.
I heard Jake first, he said, "We don't need trouble maybe we should take him back, she will be okay."
Then, I think, the gray haired guy that had knocked me out argued, "I don't know, if they start amber alerts something bad will happen."
I stepped in the doorway without them seeing me, " Number one, Timmy stays. I will call my mother and tell her what?"
Gray haired guy replied, "That you ran away. We have your car, tell her you ran away willingly, pretty simple."
Lie to my mother no, that's not as simple as saying it. "Give me the phone," I said annoyingly. They handed me my I-phone, seriously my phone. I scrolled through the contacts and found my mom's number. It rang six times before I got voicemail. Yes! I waited for the beep, when it beeped I just said it simply, "We left, sorry. Its not because of you, but Timmy and I have been talking about road trips for awhile. I know your really busy finalizing the divorce and getting on with you painting career. Don't call the police and don't try to find me. I love you, sorry again. Timmy is fine and safe, we both are, and we love you. Someday when the times right, we'll come home." I turned and walked around without a word, without looking at them. It struck me later that I actually did that willingly for people I didn't even know, and they thought I was intelligent.
Chapter 3 Hotels and Cabins
We stopped right before we got to Anstead, West Virginia. Linda and Jake went to a mall across the street to get clothes, games, etc. We went to a convenience store to get a drink and snack. I got a Pepsi and some barbecue chips, with M&M's, but I was still hungry because Timmy didn't like his chips and they didn't have the candy he wanted plus he likes annoying me, he said he "forgot" his drink. I gave him the chips, halved my Pepsi, but he only got five M&M's.
They picked up clothes and some things to play with. Timmy chose the game boy, I picked the notebook to doodle on. In less than ten minutes we all had food from Mc Donald's and in less than twenty minutes we were checked into a hotel.
Room 129 was located on the third floor in the middle of the hallway. The guys got a room to themselves, and then another room Linda, Timmy, and I would share. No one really spoke except for the occasional grunt or cheer of Timmy and that player. I put on a pair of snowflake pajamas, Timmy wore red PJs, and Linda's were a pink silk color, like the ones in my house, I seriously deliberated asking her if I could wear them. Timmy finally got done playing his game, by nine p.m. we were in bed and Linda was turning out the lights.
When I woke everything came back in a blur. By the time I had faded jeans and a purple shirt with the Hollister symbol on it I remembered everything. I decided to let Timmy sleep and wandered to the bathroom to see how much of mess my hair was.
About the time I got done detangling my hair, which wasn't hard since it was straight as a board and never got frizzy, Linda came in to stand by me her back against the doorway, "That's some pretty brown hair, looks soft," she complemented, then she took it up like a ponytail and started twisting it. My intial reaction was to lurch from the stranger, but something made me stay.
I didn't really mean to but after I had said, "What happened?" I had to say, "Why are you here? How?"
Linda was petite with tan skin and these milk chocolate eyes. Her hair was silky black, and straight, like mine. Then she actually answered, "When I had my first kid I lived in New York. My daughter was eight and I was twenty eight. Her father , my husband, had died in a car wreck. He worked in New York but now that he was dead I wanted to move and get away from the city. Two days before were going to move my daughter went to the playground, I turned my back to her for less than a minute to pick up her backpack and when I looked back she was d-dead. She got shot in the head by a gang member, he swore he wasn't shooting at her and, and," she trailed off.
I didn't push or anything, you could hear the pain in her voice. I just patted her on the shoulder and went to wake up Timmy.
It took two hours to get wherever we were going. For a few miles it was highway, then a town, then a dirt road, and now woods. After five miles of trees and Timmy blabbering on and on about the game he played last night I was bored with a capital B. Then looking out the front window we came upon a huge three story wood cabin that looked like it was miles long.
"Welcome home," Linda informed us.
When we first walked in I saw a small kitchen in front of me, to the right were two sets of hallways and a staircase, to the left was a steel door. The walls were painted tan and the kitchens outfit was bright red and green, it reminded me of Christmas, because it was only the tenth of December only fifteen days before the actual Christmas, and I would probably be stuck here on that day. The staircase looked old, like it might break any second. The hallways were long, long, long. It smelt sweet like cinnamon and lavender, but I think the lavender was just Linda's perfume.
I turned behind to see Jake scratching his head, worried, "I think we should get going, we're late, this way," he said motioning to the door on the left.
We got in and that was when I saw it was an elevator. He pushed the lowest number -3. We all fit in the elevator easily, it was big. When the door opened I saw a bunch of adults sitting in between groups of children on the floor. There had to be at least 100 to 200 average kids, like Timmy and I, and probably 50 adults.
Chapter 4 The point
We were told to set with the rest of the kids. The adults came and sat beside us, I guess that didn't mean Jake because he didn't come sit beside us. The room was really big like at least one football field. The walls had no windows, they were gray and made of concrete, like the floor I was sitting on. It was damp and dingy, I wanted to ask questions but decided to wait as I was pretty sure this is when I may finally get some really solid answers.
Jake started to make his way to the front or maybe back, it was the same so I couldn't tell, of the room. He began to speak once the whispers quieted down, "You already know some about us. We are smaller than the others, but we can be much more powerful. Today we will learn whether we can keep you or not. Some of you already know about us and have lied to your parents. Some that didn't know about us said you ran away, but you can still go back, try hard today. One more thing, we, all of us are known as JOP, meaning "Justice of People". The ones you are here to go against is Black Toad, they are group of people that have come to unrightfully use the resource of the government for their own good. Your after the group Black Toad which is part of a government agency, although any further information is classified beyond your level. Be careful who you talk around and keep your eyes open." It sounded like some kind of pep talk but I knew better, even if I thought these people were insane, it was a warning.
Now Linda was on the other side of the room she clapped to get our attention, then said, "Your mentor or adult has a number, go out in the order of your numbers and let them take you to the track," this time she sounded more strict, but still like a mother when a kid gets in trouble.
Linda came back to sit with us. We left forty-sixth, a few of the kids looked terrified, a few were excited, and some were nervous. I don't know what happened to Gray Head or Jake but they weren't at the track.
My first thought when I saw the track was, that is huge. The second was, I can't believe something like this is in the middle of the woods, how do they hide it. It had ten spots for ten people to run. I didn't try to keep up with everybody. One girl, probably an eighteen year old ran ten laps which we were later told was five miles. Timmy went fifth; he ran two laps, only a mile. I waited until the eighth switch and came in overall the third length-wise, with nine laps but jogged the first and last ones.
Next we had to fight, we ended up fighting the adults. I can't believe somewhere in this I managed to get paired with Gray. He told me his real name was Mark, he was 48 years old. I got some good bruises on him and managed a black eye. The worst a kid did was give somebody a bloody nose, then, I was second with the black eye. The thing I noticed was the adults didn't really fight just defended themselves, they made it easier on us.
By now it was about 4 p.m. I was really tired. We took some tests, like the book smart kind, that were very easy. Then a common sense test. I was zoned out and just not paying attention to things or people.
After that we were told one hundred people were left and about eighty eight were leaving. Thank goodness Timmy wasn't leaving, I knew that it was because I had told them he stays, or I leave, there was no way he was smarter than some of the people leaving, not to be rude.
We ate in the living room on couches or the floor. I ate an apple and some turkey with corn. Then Linda gave me a room number and told us that we had the hallway on the right. I had four roommates, they were, Laniny, Conner, Cristy, and Timmy. I wasn't sure of much else except that I fell asleep the minute my head hit the pillow.
Chapter 5 Learning & missions
The next month went by in a blur. We learned a lot of new stuff about stances and how to run faster and longer. We all got in shape will sit ups and pushups, we did a lot of missions.
The missions could be hard or simple. One time you got paired up with four people or sometime three. Usually they were roommates. I only got Timmy twice. Some missions were going to town and being assigned someone then you had to tell your mentor where they went that day. Some were to pick people's pockets. Some were to tell what drink that person drank.
There were three subjects. Fight smart, common sense smart, and book smart. There were some people who only did one thing, a lot of people did two, and not many did all of them. I did all, and got good numbers, like grades we had numbers, five was the best, and one was the worst. I scored five in fighting and four in the others. Timmy only did the common sense smart and only scored twos and threes, I tried to cheer him up when he found out what I made, but now he just works harder. He stays on the inside mostly, and we don't talk as much as we used too, but he's actually made some good friends.
Today I was on a mission to find out what kind of phone this twenty year old girl named Suzie had. Conner, Laniny, and Cristy were with me, after tailing her for about two hours Conner broke the silence, "Come on," he said, aggravated, "The average person gets three phone calls per hour."
Then had an idea, I whispered, "That cafe, walk in it." Sure enough it had a computer. I motioned Cristy to sit at it, "Do your little hacking thing and look up Suzie or her account with AT&T."
Cristy sat and looked up at me with those water blue eyes and a devious grin, "How do you know that Susan has an account with AT&T?"
My mind flashed the dark red Honda and the bumper sticker on her car as I said, "There was an AT&T sticker thing on her car, and thanks because if you wouldn't have pointed out how pretty her car was I would have never saw it."
She was already hacking as she said, "Your welcome, by the way hacking these stupid café firewalls are hard. What's her full name again?"
Once Cristy got into the AT&T database she found Susan Briclane very easily, and used the companies tools to verify that this was the correct Suzie. The account said the only thing registered in Suzie's name was a Blackberry ST.
The car ride back was horrible with Conner throwing us around the vehicle every time we turned. Then there was Laniny who had her music turned up all the way and you could hear it through her head phones, not to mention Cristy that was rattling on and on about hacking, firewalls, and viruses after I asked her a simple question about the security on public computers.
By the time the time Cristy got done with her explanation and started talking about how she had a dad that taught her to hack, he was a criminal and got put in jail for hacking, I was sick of her voice, I looked at her, square in the face and said, "Shut up," like I was exhausted. Of course she didn't quit talking but started a new conversation about how in the sixth grade shut up was her favorite word. She finally shut up as we started the counter survalliance techinques to make sure not one was following us as we turned onto one of the ten road that would lead us back.
Once we got back we told them what we found then explained to Linda and the other mentors how we found it, which we said was that we followed Suzie to the store and her mom had called and talked to her for a whole two hours and in that time we learned what phone she had, none of us said anything about hacking because we didn't want to risk getting in trouble.
Later that evening before supper I was in –1, which means underground one level, reading a physic book and taking ten minute brakes every once in a while to do some AP Biology homework when Linda came in.
She looked me square in the face, just like when I had looked at Cristy, it was weird how much we looked alike, and asked, "How did you do it? Wait don't tell me you saw her use the phone again. That person is the sister of someone I know and she accidently left her phone at home," she sounded mad, but in a strange soft you aren't going to get in trouble way, Linda crossed her arms over her chest.
I was scared to tell her what we really did, then again was I suppose to say we went to her house and saw the phone through her window, no. Or maybe she went home and we followed then when we were looking through her windows we saw the phone. Possibly that we pretended we were doing a survey over what kinds of phones and asked her what phone she had.
Linda jumped in, "Sorry to interrupt but I would like to eat before next year."
The truth won, I took a deep breath and whispered, "What would you say say if we hacked into AT&T to find out?"
I was surprised, happy, and excited all at the same time as her frown literally turned upside down and she mouthed, "You came up with the idea too, didn't you?" she raised her eyebrows and with that grin you would have thought she won the lottery.
I nodded and then got back to reading. After about twenty minutes of boring stuff, like laws of motion and acceleration I went on a jog then off to dinner, five minutes late, like always, was so I ended up with a turkey sandwich.
Back in the room after dinner Laniny and Conner came in arguing about trigonometry, which Laniny got the question right, I just don't see how it took them two hours of yelling, explaining, and research to figure it out. I finally got to bed after that was over.
The next day I spent with Conner we talked about his family and my family. He told me he got all A's and loved karate, like me. He told me about his five year old sister and how she loved soccer and that her team won the championship in the little kids division. He said his brothers were trouble makers and once his seven year old brother even started a fire in their neighbor's back yard. After lunch I really felt like I knew more about him and we could be actually friends. He had started flirting with me at lunch and I came up with the excuse that I had to find Timmy because he was horrible at the flirt thing or maybe I just didn't want to hear how every time I take a step my hair bounces and falls at the perfect angle, yeah it was that bad.
Around two o'clock Tim, Conner, Cristy, Laniny, some others, and I got invited to a meeting. We learned that instead of book smart we would learn stuff about hacking, like how to make viruses and check security on computers. Spying cameras to spy on people and what angles were good to place cameras at. Spying techniques which was how the difference in the way you stand, hide, or making noise could affect weather you get caught or not. The last thing was costume on how to disguise yourself. We all thought this was kind of exciting. I noticed that all of the people in the room, with the exception of Timmy, took all three subjects and had high grades, wait high numbers. For the first time I felt like maybe I belonged here.
Chapter 6 Getting Caught
It had been over a month more like two, I think, since I arrived at the log cabin. It is funny how I keep up with time perfectly and can't even remember the day. We learned a lot of useful things in spying education. It was fun to hack and get to know Conner, but this was serious. We were in the van looking at the layout of the place we were going to spy on in about three hours. The layout consisted of ten connected rooms there isn't really a way to explain except maybe this:
We were told each building had a supply closet and each had different purpose. They were very secret and hard to get into without the right codes. Conner, Tim, Cristy, Laniny, and I were all sent there to get a CD that contained most or possibly all of the files/ information/ objectives of Black Toad with this the higher up would blackmail the group from there it was no longer our issue although if we choose to keep doing this it might be someday. James Bendin was the leader of Black Toad and if he was there we were suppose to get him too, but I honeslty hoped he wasn't there.
I kept wondering what our final test was on the way to wherever there was. A few days ago I heard an adult and Mark discussing finals. I thought it was a final test but maybe the actual spying was the final.
"Okay lets go," Timmy said, holding out his hand. I hadn't realized we were already there. I suddenly got very afraid for half a second and questions- like what will we face? Will we die?-arose from by brain. My vision got cloudy and the tears were pleading to come down my face but now wasn't the time to fall apart. In the most casual way possible I wiped my eyes and grabbed Timmy's hand.
We ran to the back entrance after being informed to be careful, Linda also hugged all of us and beamed like a light bulb. Getting through the first room was a piece of cake.
"We should take the shortcut," Cristy argued over Laniny who had opted for the original route.
"I think we need to go the real way in case the easy way is booby trapped," Conner stated.
"Who the heck cares, look there isn't any time to argue over this, take the dang shortcut for crying out loud," I demanded.
We ended up in room 6 and saw a couple of people running to the back entrance, probably to the diversion that the more experienced kids were creating. This was a little confusing, the rooms were small but had a lot of turns and corners.
After getting through 6 we ended up in an enormous room. It would be room 4 the room the CD was said to be in.
We spread out and covered every corner in the huge room including the supply closet, still no CD. Cristy and Laniny were looking in drawers and shelves, Conner, Tim, and I were looking at the walls and anything that could be a hidden passage way.
Out of nowhere Cristy let out a small squeaking screech and jumped out of the supply closet. A guy followed her out the room he had a ski mask on, but it was obvious even with it that he was no older than twenty, wearing casual clothes. For a few seconds it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. Cristy broke the silence by a roundhouse kick right around the time that four more people decided to visit. Conner did a punch that if from the right angle could send a person's heart up their back. I made a nose dive for the one charging at Timmy.
After that things got confusing. I know that the guy grabbed me and punch me so hard I saw black. Punches were being thrown from Conner, Cristy was a kick machine, and Laniny and I were the defense for them and poor Timmy who couldn't even kick right. Finally about ten of them arrived and dragged us up and away, but I refused to let go of Timmy. We were then took into what I think was the supply closet and blind folded, at that point we were literally kicked into the back of something.
"What's up?" What the? Unless I had really lost my mind I swear that is Linda, with a raspy voice.
Laniny must have caught on first because she was already asking, "What, Linda, where are we? What the heck is going on? Linda, Linda, wait just a second."
Conner was next, "What, What?" he asked followed by some foul language I probably shouldn't repeat.
My mind kept flashing back to the word "finals". I needed the upper hand, so I cut of whatever Linda was going to say only thinking half a second about the fact that if this wasn't finals I would sound like a fool, "What did we make on finals?"
This time Jake jumped in, "A 3 maybe more just depends you about a 4, Cristy probably a 3 1/2, Conner and Laniny a 4 and Timmy a 3."
By now our blind folds were being taken off, I realized we were in the same van. The one I almost cried in, the one I found out Timmy was still alive in, that all felt like lifetimes ago, at least I hadn't broke anything or got shot at, yet.
Jake looked at us in a serious, or more serious than he usual is, way and corrected us, "I trust you not to make the same mistakes again. Next time you won't get grades, you get dead or alive. Cristy no screaming at times like that, Jasmine be faster defend better, Conner don't just punch, Cristy don't just kick you were taught routines, use them. Timmy next time use your head and don't let two girls defend you, your still here because your creative you think outside the box. Laniny don't exert to much energy into defending just the amount you need, it doesn't need to be more complicated than it is.
Now rule number one, don't get caught. Rule number two notice things see everything at once, I make to sound harder than it is. Cristy, five seconds before that guy came out there was five blue blinking lights on the computer by the webcam, you were looking right at it, but didn't notice it. So follow rule two and you won't screw up rule one, easy enough."
I wasn't really sure I should be happy that it wasn't real or not. Why me? I tried to answer the question the whole way back, but came up with zip zero. Other than being smart, but a lot of kids were a lot smarter than me. That got me thinking about the rules and if there were more so of course I interrupted the silence, "Can I ask you something," innocently.
"Of course," Linda beat Jake to the answer, "what is up?"
I was thinking about how to word it, what is rule three, too straight forward. Is there a rule three, too dumb. How many rules are there, no I would get a number, not what I want. Before I found the right way to say it words started spilling from my mouth, "Why me, like is there a reason you picked us or were we picked randomly? The others don't have this test do they?" It was pure curiosity.
Now it was Jake who answered, I would be surprised if Linda knew, if she was told. "Why you? Well things just happen sometimes. No nobody else has to do this because the whole reason we are working on this project is to get the CD, you have the hardest most valuable task. The team was chose because you work best together, each of you are like a piece to the puzzle and together you fit, you blend in."
We were back home, or at the closest thing I have to a home, by now. First, after putting more comfortable clothes on, I went to the dining hall to find Linda and ask her about today, turns out she wasn't there. After an hour and a trip to all four levels of the cabin plus to her bedroom, the bathroom, and the track, I was kind of scared and mad, walking in no particular direction, I ended up in a barn. There Linda was in the barn lying on a haystack, she was facing the wall, not door so she didn't see me, and I was amazed at how her hair was perfect though the wind was blowing.
Before I was completely in the door she whispered, "So you found me, Jasmine?"
What did that mean? Now I was confused even though I had probably been all day, not really sure what was going on I just murmured, "Hey," in a soft tone.
"Hey," she responded she tried to swallow it but I still heard the crack in her voice. It reminded me of how I sounded after crying, which reminded me of Justin, my boyfriend, because that was the last time I cried. If she had been crying it would make sense, her voice was raw in the van.
I wanted to back out of the barn and not get in the way or be trouble, definently not pry, instead I found my regular voice, "Watcha' doin'?"55
She gave me a warm smile sitting up and patting the spot beside her, what she said next was, well, shocking, "I never finished telling you the story. After she, um Isabella, my daughter, uh, " she paused, swallowing, and trying to find a stronger voice, it didn't work," died I was lost, lonely, and probably depressed. One day at a coffee cafe I was staring out the window and a bomb went off, Jake just barely saved me I looked pretty bad for a while and," she trailed off again but quickly finished, " that explains why I am here dosen't it?" Even through the hurt in her voice she found that lovely smile again, and it made the confusion simmer down, I knew it was a forced smile but I didn't care.
I wasn't sure if I was right but there where thousands of things she could have said and she chose that one. Maybe it was a hint, a hint that would explain the crying. I should have said sorry or something, I did the opposite by asking, "How long?"
"Four years," she almost added something and I would bet you a thousand dollars it would have been today, four years today.
I was going to ask her, I probably should have, too bad she got up and walked away before I had the chance too.
It would've been better if I got up and followed her to dinner, but no, that I did not do. I wasn't entirely certain whether it was because I couldn't face her or if I just wanted some alone time. I pushed two of the square haystacks up next to each other and laid out flat on it. I wanted to think about things only that thinker part of my brain wasn't working properly. I kept dozing off .
I was covered in blood, my own blood. Dizzy and my knees were weak, my head felt delicate, like if I moved it too much it would fall off. My elbow was throbbing and swelling, I couldn't move it. Yet I was running, a slow run, I could hear the bullets behind me whizzing past me. I need my balance only I felt so faint. Then it hit me, a bullet in my back, it hurt so much. The ground was hard on my knees but I couldn't hold myself up. It felt so real and I, I.
"She's dead," I heard but it sounded far away, in another dimension.
I snapped my head up and was automatically sitting, beads of sweat covered my forehead, while I gasp for air.
"Are you okay, hey, Jaz, everything ok?" It was Conner, to tell you the truth I really didn't care who it was, I had my arms around him before he was done with question.
"They tried to kill me, and I was running and," The words wouldn't come out right, probably because I was crying and sniffling my nose.
"It was just a dream," he reassured me, "it's okay, none of it was real, sh, sh, sh."
All of those tears I had wanted to cry came out, for so many reasons. I missed my friends, my bed, my clothes, my parents. I wanted an adult I knew to tell me what to do. I wanted to have my friends to tease me about being so smart. I wanted to have my life back.
Back up, how did Conner find me? Not that I cared, I wanted somebody to be here, but still. I was so tired I didn't ask, I vividly remember him carrying me and me walking, almost hitting the lamp when I stepped in the door to our room.
Chapter 7 It
This was the second time I was about to spy on something. Last time it may have been serious but this time it was scary serious. Jake had made plans and explained them all to use in a business-like way. We would walk standing straight up but Cristy, Conner, and I already did that. Cristy was assigned the code name Hack, for her hacking skills. Conner was described as a Puppy, don't ask why or how it is confusing is all Mark said. Laniny got Rabbit, don't ask that either let's just say she is good at jumping. Timmy was Auto, he was the best at driving, and he is only twelve for crying at loud, I don't know how Jake came up with that but it is what he said. Me I'm the freaking Snake, yeah how stupid, I was told it was because I could blend in and sneak up on someone, one word WHATEVER, it's my favorite word.
We were in room -3, the team, Fantastic Five going to get a CD to stop the world from being slaves at 5:30 a.m., I still smelt like hay, Conner's cologne, and tears, but I was the only one that could smell them. From what I heard Jake was going to explain something, who knows what, to us. Linda would dress us. Mark would tell us how to get in because he got in once before when the building was still regular CIA zone.
I guess it was Jakes turn to talk, if I could give him a code name it would be the Informant or Talker. I missed his first sentence it went something like, this is it, maybe. "We have a game plan similar to football players. There are going to be sixty people spying at the exact same time you are, in different places, of course." Duh don't treat us like were stupid just because we got up at four and got about four hours of sleep. "You are spying the highest secured building, the people from last year will create a diversion just like last time except this time it is real. We have never tried this before, you may only have five minutes or you could have an hour. There shouldn't be as many people but there will be some."
Mark hopped in when Jake took a break, "You will be alone, sadly we can't risk putting earpieces in. The back door needs a code, which is 44557816421. It is 11 digits, one of you will have it in your pocket. Do not put your fingers on the bottoms, one of you will have gloves, and no finger prints on the keyboards either. Like last time the CD should be in room four, no one has made it back alive to tells us, yet." First we are treated like retards, now like actual people that are going to spy, but telling you that no one has made it back alive doesn't exactly give you hope, I physically shivered to shake the words away. He continued, "We don't know exactly what it looks like do your best, you guys are the best," he smiled and I discover that it was the first time I had ever seen him smile, his teeth were white as a pearl. Even though Jake wasn't very friendly he had even smiled a few times, mainly at Linda, I think they are in love.
Linda waved her hand in the direction of the bathrooms and we all followed. When I came out I noticed we were all in the same thing. Black pants that felt like leather, they were comfortable and easy to run in, especially if we were to run outside they would be warm. A thin bulletproof vest, that would hold up as long as there were no automatic guns or such, like the AK-47, I asked. A gray t-shirt and a leather jacket, on the inside were secret pockets, mine contained pepper spray, the code, and a ceramic lock pick set, I asked Linda why I needed it and she said, "Better safe than dead," in a soft tone when Jake would say it in a flat lifeless voice. There were gray running shoes also, the stylish non slip kind that don't make your feet hurt.
We were discussing out best flips and punches when we got there. It wasn't in the middle of the woods but it was close enough to be in the woods. I saw guards running out of the building to the left, Mark gave us signal to go and a go get em' smile. Cristy got to punch the code in, she was the one with the leather gloves.
The room had a lot of filing cabinets, it was an open room and there were coke cans, open files, even a gun or two just sitting there, I could almost imagine it. It was like the file room, there were about ten computers, ten laptops with all kinds of files open on them too. We easily bypassed a camera and three motion detectors, it was easier when you worked as a team, a couple people looking around, one standing, guard, and two to keep you from getting seen by a camera or motion detected.
Then we were in room 8, I only knew because on the wall next the door was an 8. This was like target practice, inside, guns all over the place, and the people leaving must have had guns plus these. Most were loaded. It was painted a make you want to puke brown, there were couches and coffee cups. Just imagine people sitting here drinking coffee, and chatting while aiming their gun at the targets on the wall and shooting above the others head. The room was separated into three rooms, all identical. We passed three cameras, five motion detectors, which were easy, unless Laniny forgot to look to her left and Timmy didn't reminded her until she was half way into her step.
7 was confusing, it looked like the evidence room, a maze of shelves. They were metal, hard, and tall. Boxes lined them on both sides and a number was on each white box. We split up, I didn't think if was the smartest thing to do with out earpieces, but I was out voted. There were occasional whispers from all of us until Tim and I were walking and Cristy turned the corner.
We were about to pass each other when Cristy whisper-shouted, "Don't move," to Timmy and I.
Conner asked, "What is it?" from a couple of rows over.
I was the one to answer, "Looks like a trap."
Laniny had found us, and Conner finally came around the corner once we gave him directions. None of use were sure about this, we had only learned the basics. It could have a net, or it could have posion gas inside it for all we knew. Timmy was the smart one he grabed a box from a shelf and dropped it on the wire quickly backing away. The box made a popping noise and there was smoke, the wire cooked the box like it was a snack. Even before the sizzling noise stopped, an alarm sounded and we saw a guard.
I grabbed Timmy by the arm and we were running, I knew they, the Black Toads, were following. I had to slow down a little so I wouldn't make Tim trip, he was my main concern at this point. I made sure he got up front with Conner then worried a little bit about myself.
Once we lost the guards, after fifteen minutes of silence and junk along those lines, we got into room 4. We gained a gun, in 6 Cristy had to knock out a guard and we found a gun in his coat pocket. Then Laniny came up with the idea to stash him in the supply closet. It would be funny to see the look on his face when he woke up, wondered how he got in a supply closet, lost his gun, and had a knot the size of a fist on his bald head.
Right now the CD was suppose our main focus, we ruled out trying to catch James Bendin. Just like the other place we couldn't find the CD. The room was big but not enourmus. There were camreas everywhere, some motion detectors in random places, even a few laser beam things, which Cristy deactivated on the computer. We saw three more of those wires, if you stepped over them, not on them, nothing happened.
There was a desk on the right, a loveseat in front of a tv in the middle, a shelf. That was the main room there were also four little rooms in the corners of the main room. I never went in them.
We had looked for over forty minutes I was sitting on the edge of the table that had the tv on it, I kept thinking about all that I had learned. Out of nowhere it struck me like a lightning bolt, we blended in that is why we were chose, these Toad people must have known that is why we were picked, if we blend in maybe the CD blended in as well. They called it a CD not DVD.
I walked to the couch, was about to step on it and I saw the beam , a laser. It wasn't red, Laniny had done something to make all of the active ones red, but I didn't want to take my chances on getting fried to death. I whispered, "Guys. Can we fix the laser thing." This laser was unique and it was pointed right at a CD player.
"Of course," Cristy said walking to the computer, "but why?" she asked already typing with the leather gloves. I didn't answer, after about two minutes she demanded an answer, "Ok , there you go now will you answer me."
I opened the CD player that was sitting on the shelf and it was there. I handed it over to Cristy, all of us watching the computer screen carefully, I saw three passwrod locks labeled 'CD authorization, 60 seconds to disarm' before Cristy verifed, "We don't have time to hack it here, it may take days, lets blow this place," she was already putting the CD in the pocket on her jacket.
We got through room 3, it was the hardest so far, then, in 2 havoc struck, I still don't know how the Toads found out about us being there, excpet maybe the people we ran away from. The lights overhead all started flashing blue. The walls turned and people had guns. Timmy bumped into Conner and they knocked files off of tables. Cristy punched one. I kicked one and yelled for Conner to get Timmy out in a harsh tone, even though I knew Conner would listen no matter how I said it. Laniny got punched, before stumbling into me. I wasn't sure what the correct thing to do was, we never had a lesson called The Lights Are Flashing Blue And Over Twenty People With Guns Are Trying To Kill You. I heard a gun shot, hoped to God they had missed, while decieding anyone in their right mind would run so I grabbed Laninys hand and knocked a gun out of somebody elses hand. I tugged on Cristy arm, hard, and we ran out the door, through 1 making sure we didn't step on any electric wires.
After finding Timmy and Conner, and thanking Conner for doing what I said, I even hugged him until Cristy reminding me we were running from killers. Roughly twenty seconds later we were out the gate that Cristy had to open for us, because you need to hack it. I tugged on Timmys arm, and we were running through the trees, jumping and ducking Cristy slipped. I had no idea where we where going or where we were at. When I heard the gunshot I had a weird feeling fo déjà vu, remembering the woods and me covered in blood, I shivered.
We had heard six gunshots, now there was nothing, no guns, no footsteps. We had ran for at least thirty minutes, my lungs burned as I gasp for air. Conner found a road and said he perfered to walk on it until we got somewhere. None of us argued, eventaully around dark we ended up at a place called Holly street, I knew that, it was in Ansted, WV.
Once we found out exactly where we were, we had to find a way to tell them we were all right, a way to get back. Timmy found a wad of cash in his pocket, it was halarious the chi ching noise he made when pulling it out, but it wouldn't get us anywhere, only sixty buck.
After getting some ice for Laninys black, swelling eye, getting off brand pain relivers for Critsy and her sprang ankle, that she was , by now, limping on, we got band aids for some scratches and the gash in my forehead that I had no clue how I had gotten, and food for all of us there was forty bucks left.
"What do you suppose we do now, walk the rest of the way?" Conner was beginning to sound hopless, I figured it was because he was tired.
"Who knows,or cares why don't we get some cheap chessy hotel," Cristy offered.
I would have suggested that but I had a plan of my own brewing, it was michevious, risky, and possible dangerous, somehow a smile still slid across my face as I qustioned Conner, "How good of a mechanic, wirer person are you."
He looked at me like I had lost my marbles and responded, "Good I worked as a mechanic at my uncles shop once."
"Then you can go hotwire that car over there," I pointed to the corner of the gas stations parking lot before adding, "she went in to work about ten minutes ago, its Suzie the AT&T chick."
"Now I really think your insane, did you get a banged on the head back there," he responded looking at my head, he meant it as a snappy comeback but I didn't care. I laughed while grabbing his hand and pulling him toward the car.
I asked Conner, who was driving to, "Please find a pay phone I want to call Linda with the cell phone number she gave me a couple weeks ago, I am certain that she is worried to death by now."
He did and after ring, ring, ringing seven times Linda answered, "Hello, who is here?"
"Linda," I expected it to sound like a exclamation, but failed miserably. I t was more like a sigh with a lot of relief to it.
"Jasmine are you okay is everything alright, how is everbody, okay I hope?"
I choked on a sob making it sound like a laugh, "Were alive, we'll be there in about twenty minutes alright where are you?"
"At the house, cabin place," she answered quickly trying to get her question out, "We can come get you or, did you find the cash, I thought you might need it."
"We found it, and the CD, I think the car we high jacked is enough to get us back but she may report that her car was stolen to the police."
Linda let out a short natrual laugh and said, "Okay then we can fix that just be here ASAP."
"Bye, and I love you for being a nice person it helped me whenever I missed my family," I decided there was no better time than now to admit it, and hung up the phone.
By the time we arrived Conner and I were the only ones awake. Jake, Linda, and even Mark meet us inside the little kitchen with Cristy who looked like she had been awake the whole time unlike Timmy and Laniny who were still half asleep.
Linda hugged me, Jake did a half smile and asked, "You got it?"
Cristy nodded taking the CD out of her jacket in a extra slow motion, even fiddiling with her zipper just to make Jake more impatient.
"Good job," Linda smiled at the same time Conner said, "When can we sleep?"
Mark looked amused at this as he said, "A few minutes," and chuckled, I knew he was lying, but didn't want to be the one to say so, I figured Conner realized it too.
I was right, a few minutes turned into two hours worth of questions. By now we all wanted to go to bed, I was so tired my head felt like it was floating. My eyes were half shut when the moment of truth arrived, had we really done it, found the CD.
Jake stuck the CD in and there it was, a set of files that quickly changed too the place on a computer were you type passwords, execpt there wasn't just one place one there were three, I guessed the look from Jake wasn't the best and then Mark got this weird squint in his eyes and I thought, we are scwered.
Chapter 8 the hack
We got four hours of sleep just to be woke up at three o'clock in the morning. Linda was softly shaking me saying something like wake up sweetie
"What?" I gurgled, but it sounded more like the word hat.
"Get up and dressed be down in fifteen, sorry to wake you up but get up." Linda said, even though she was whispering it was more like yelling to me.
I got up and waited for Cristy, Laniny, and Conner to get done. Timmy was already down there, in –3. Conner let me go before him and I learned that the cut on my head was swelled but not like Laninys black eye had been, it also hurt, and my headache felt like I was getting beat in the head with a hammer, so I took some of the pain medicine ecause iot was for your head too.
By the time we got down there they were already dicussing and debating what they should do, Conner and I just shut up because neither of us could hack, at least not very good.
Around 8:00 a.m. ,Conner and Laniny were both half asleep, Cristy came running in and yelled, "I got it I think I have it. Look, look. If you can get past the firewalls, the password locks should break, so we insert this disk with the virus on it and paste it on the firewalls, then once we past the firewalls I-"
Jake was already shaking his head, "You would only have like-"
Cristy cut him off, "You have one minute after pasting the virus too break the firewalls to cut it before it can invade the files, there is no other way this might not even work, we don't know what kind of secuirety they have. I will do it, I created the virus, I can do it manually." Mark shook his head, but Cristy still plowed on, "It is a long shot but either we take a chance or don't get anywhere at all."
I nodded while Timmy said, "We should do it."
Jake took a deep breath and got out of the chair, that was behind the laptop. "Fine," he murmered, like a kid having his toy took away.
Cristy sat and putting the disc in her hand into the other slot on the laptop. Ten documents popped up on the screen, she exited out nine of them. She highlighted the words in one file and clicked the Copy button. Then she found where the password locks were, when things got confusing. Finally she pressed the paste button. Then there was a crackling sound as the computer shut itself down.
Laniny, still only half awake mumbled, "Shut down method," in a weak little whimper.
"Why didn't I think of that?" Cristy said scolding herself.
Linda informed us of something I already knew, "We are going to have to know the password anything else will shut it down."
I needed to think and planand use my brain but my eyes kept closing.
It was grainy like watching a movie in black and white, and staticy. I heard a yell and made out the word shock they were talking about me, I was in shock. My eyes fluttered open and the pain were I had been shot felt like it was fire, when you get burnt by a cigrette, that little pain multiplied by one hundred. And before I could figured out where I was I saw my Mom.
Her face and my Dads face, they were hugging me so tightly I could hardly breath, I regeistered the memory insantly, it was the time I had took the wrong bus home, I was thirteen. Once I had saw the sign that read we were going out of town, I immediately told the bus driver and called to them. Just as quickly as I saw that it left me.
Jakes face was the wrong color, more black and white then it should have been. His voice was the same, strong and informative. Sometime things just happen, he had said. You blend in was his answer too why I was chose. The CD had been there because it was obvious, it was like I was back there at Black Toad and had just saw the CD.
"Her pulse is below zero," the voice roared back up inside my head. The metal was chilling against my hands. I wanted to scream that I was alive but again the pain was excrusiating like someone was ripping my spine and even with the coolness against my hands it felt like I was rolling in fire.
I was screaming in Conners arms, Linda was right beside me saying something that I couldn't hear over the roaring in my ears. The rest of them were all staring at me like I was mental.
Once the pounding finally ran out I said something that even surprised me, "May I try the passwords, please?"
Linda actul raised her eyebrows and drew back a little, yeah she was totally shocked, "Of course, sweet heart," she struggled to say it right.
Once I sat I tried to focuse on the passwords and not the bizzaire series of dreams, plus the one with me dying that seemed to countine you every time I tried to sleep.
In the first password bar I tried: Shut Down, for the Shut Down method, negative, it was wrong. I took the deepest breath in my entire life and tried: CD, yes, positve it worked.
On to the second one, I decied to try CIA since as far as I understood, Black Toad was part of the CIA. Thank you, yes, I got it right, way to go Jaz.
The third I didn't even take a deep breath, I was so confident in my answer as I typed: Brick House, that I didn't even see it was right until next thing I knew there were cheers, Linda kissing my on the cheek, a bunch of pats on my back, and Conner even hugged me.
Of course if I was with my friends we would hae gave Conner the you think your hot enough to hug me stare down. Then Sarah would tell him to scamper off, while Kaite said toodles in her prep voice and then Jenifer, acting like a dare devil would kiss him on the cheek before pushing him out or back.
The diffrence was that I wasn't with my friends so I just hugged him and whispered, "Your hair blows in the perfect angle too."
While Conner and I giggled about our inside joke Jake explained details and then more details of what exactly a debrefing was.
Somewhere in the explaination Linda leaned over and mumered, "What did you type?"
"Shut Down, CD, CIA, Brick House. They were the most obvious, the CD was in a CD palyer so why would the passwords be any different."
Linda smiled biting back a laugh.
Chapter 9 bye byes
Wow, my mind was stunned by the fact that just two months ago I was a normal teenage girl, too consumed with makeup and boys to ace ever test, I was getting straight F's yet my state exams were flawless, I knew that I would never be that again and I was loving it more and more by the minute.
I got to talk to my Mom by phone, say bye and let Timmy say bye even though I had to take the phone back beacause he was about to cry. I knew it didn't really matter because less than an hour after that they announced on new that Tim and I had died in a fire, I got chilled and scared to know how much truma I am putting them through, but I don't want to go back to that life this is like the dream I have had since I was old enough to hide in plain sight at our house. I am now officaly dead to my Mother and Father.
My current home is a wood cabin somewhere in South Dakota, it reminds me of a farm. There is a big two story house out in the middle of ten acres of land, with a little red barn about a hundred yards away from the house, the rest is just grass, open grass. Since Timmy liked it, I liked it too. Considering that I have a job and work, Timmy can't stay there alone so guess who is living with us. Linda and Jake, they teach Tim school stuff, I am happy and safe with them here.
Today is cold and frigid. The wind felt like shards of glass, I found Linda in the barn curled around a hay stack. I felt so much like déjà vu that I could have been back in those woods in Virgina and I wouldn't know the diffrence.
"What cha doin?" I asked just like I had before.
She smiled but it was cracked and sad, not like the warm smile she occasinaly forced, "Nothin," at least she sounded like herself.
Hmm, "Whats… wrong?" I floundered.
"Nothing," she said again, smaller and quieter.
In a tattle tell voice I chimed, "Somebodys not telling the truth."
She said, "Timmy likes it here. Hey, Jake and I maight get married. I will miss you."
What did that mean, "Why will you miss me? I am right here," I said in a duh tone that made me sound like my old self.
"Your going to Paris soon, it will be fun. Send me a postcard."
"For… ," I wondered, sounding confused, not that I minded going to Paris I have always dreamed of seeing the Eiffel Tower but why was I going.
"For Brick House," she explained.
I knew a lot about them but it was so confusing sometimes trying to keep it straight, I had never asked anyone so what the heck I might as well give it a shot, "Explain why or what, nevermind just explain Brick House, please," I added.
It must have been the right thing to say because I sat and she put her arm around my shoulders before her explaination, "It is like CIA or FBI. It is not a group inside of the CIA, Black Toad is a group of people within the CIA. You could say it stands alone, I guess. We have two headquarters in the US and work to achive different goals. Wether it be what you just did or killing a terriost. We wash out the bad things. We are probably most unique because we aren't exactly spies even though we are called that, a spy gives intel and gets it form other countries. We are also the only ones with this type system of bringing in newbies."
I nodded, "Do you think I will ever get to see my Mom again?" I have absolutly no clue why asked to this day, but after it escaped my mouth I wanted an answer.
Her smile slowly faded as what I said sunk in, "You know the answer. Of course I would love to take you today, I know Timmy misses them. I am not going to sugar coat this for you either Jasmine, in my professional sense though the next time you see your parents they will be dead."
She was right I knew that.
"Jas, Jasmine you have a ph-phone ca-ll-l," Timmys voice echoed through the bone chilling wind.
I smiled at Linda and went to recive my phone call from a Brick House operater.
This is probably why I was surprised when a familiar voice said, "Did you hear we are going to Paris. No you didn't well I called to say we are. I am coming too, isn't that just awsome."
I had to swallow a laugh in order to say, "Yes, when do we leave?"
"In a week," Conner said chewing on something.
I rolled my eyes like he could see through the phone, "Finish eating, talk to you later."
Back then I couldn't wait for Paris, but now, more than ever I wished I had declined the offer and talked Conner into staying here in the US. I want to be average and even though I swore I would never want to be regluar, Paris made me want to. Right now, I decied to write this story which took place a little longer than a year ago, because it would take my mind off Paris and the things that are no gone, if I could just go back and change Paris. If I could get what I lost. Then again this isn't some dream like I thought it was it is real life and you can't change it, time machines don't exist, yet.
Paris Chapter 10 Searching
Conner and I walked down the mostly vacant streets of Paris quickly sipping our hot chocolate and trying not freeze on the way back to our hotel. We were just crossing a street called Rue de Rivoli which mean we had another five long freezing minutes until we got to a heater.
Conner stopped shivering long enough to ask, "Where should we look tomorrow?"
I shook my head, like I had a clue. We were hear in mid-Februrary in about thirty four degrees weather, and had done about the stupidest thing ever today, forgot our jackets. There was no time to go back and get them because we had to cover another piece of the city looking for Durant Moreau.
Durant was smart, in my opioin we were in way over our heads. He got all A's from the first to twelveth grade, in a school that was rated five stars for its difficult curriculm. He soared through his college years in The University of Paris. Now as a twenty five year old arichet he has got invloved in some bad things, like killing innocent people. Until now he wasn't a major threat but there are some rumors, so its better to stop him and his people before things get out of hand.
I didn't want to talk about where we should look. We had looked and looked, I douted Brick House operitives could hide this well, looking for anything related or close to Durant, otherwise known as the Snake, and came up with nothing.
Another thing was Conner, he liked me and showed it. Once by hugging me then a few days ago he put his arm around me, like my ex boyfriend, Justin, that got kidnapped and never showed up again, always did. He had done it a few more times, and I had came so close to crying the first time he asked me what was wrong and I didn't really answer. I mean Conners great and I like him but I promised myself no more boys until, either, Justin came back or the police found out who took him.
I still remember the last time I saw Justin, we had been dating, or whatever that word is for teen relationships that parents assume isn't ging to last, about four years, since sevnth grade. We were in the towns park with his younger sister and she was playing with her friend. He was trying to dump me but I acted dumb and just asked him to tell me the truth.
I remember his words like they had been embeded in my head, "Honestly, the truth is I love you, remember that," he had said, "I love you."
When he said that I got dumbfounded and hadn't known what to say back. I wish I would have said love you too.
We arrived at the hotel wordlessly and I went straight to bed still in my jeans and long sleeved shirt not risking any conversation or hugging time.
Chapter 11 Attack
I awoke to a bright light, as I sat up I found the sun was in my face, the curtains were opened. Conner came out of the bathroom a few minutes later, and looked at me with a genuine smile while saying, "Good morning," then he threw a pair of clothes at me, "how did you sleep? I let you sleep in, hurry up, its ten we shoulda left an hour ago."
"I slept pretty good," I figured since I hadn't had that dream I kept having more and more that I'd slept well, even if I felt all wacked from sleeping in jeans, not to mention that they were the rough kind.
The phone rang, I picked it up clumsly trying to get the shirt over my head and it to my ear, "Hello," I finally said.
It was Jake, his voce hard, soft, and worried all at the same time, "Briannas shop, eleven o'clock," then the phone went silent. What was Jake doing here, in Paris?
Brianna, the Brick House contact in Paris, I hated her. I know hate is not a word to use lightly and all but I really hated her. Maybe it was just the bad feeling I got when I saw her. It could have been how I wondered someone could be all bright and smiles when talking about killing and killers. Or how she could say the meanest things and not even mean it in a harsh way. Possibley that I am jealouse of her white blind hair and baby blue eyes.
"Who was that?" Conner snapped into my thoughts, handing me a cup of my favorite, coffee with three sugars and four cremes.
"Jake. Briannas, 10, we shouldget going," I looked at my digital watch that read 8:56.
He didn't question it or look at his clock, but he did grab the leather jackets off the hooks and throw one towards me. I liked that about Conner, Timmy always has do double check, unlike Conner who trusted me, I know Timmy does too but it just bugs me when he does that double check stuff.
We walked out with his arm around my shoulders, ugh this would be almost perfect if he would stop that mess, I want to enjoy the first time I go to Paris, not have some dumb guy crushing on me, making me think of one of the most trumatic events in my life, losing my first boyfriend.
I got four comments on my cute outfit, three in French, then one from Conner which would've been a good joke but I think he meant it, so I had to bite back a laugh.
I saw Jake through, Briannas boutiqe window and remembered I still had no friggin' clue why he was here.
"Hi! Hi! How are you? I bet your great. Are you? Want some lemonade? Hows Timmy? Did you know that Durant guy is planning an attack of some sort. Jas your hair is all oily looking did you take a shower today. Remember to tell Timmy hi for me when you talk to him!" This is why Brianna is offically weird. You don't go from lemonade, to Timmy, to Durant, to oily hair in one paragraph ecspecially when you are so excited you are praticaly screaming and jumping up and down, like a kid on Christmas. I wanted to tell her not to call me Jas and to not speak of Timmy when she knew I hadn't talked to him. Then I felt like slapping her for tell me my hair was oily.
I gave Conner this look between misery and anger, he just smiled, "Hey, Bri, what up?" he said sitting at a wooden table in the coner, while taking a grape out of the clear glass blow, yesterday there had been bananas in it.
"Nothing really. Oh a lady bought a pair of two hundred dollar zebra print pants today, and there is the thing with Durant but it is not a big deal." Did she just say a terriost palnning an attack is no big deal, what?!
"Well that sounds fun, I'm good."
I almost laughed at how good the lie was. He could lie about anyone or anything from the color of something to what time it is, and make them believe it.
Jake interuppted their conversation by saying, "I can't exactly say, 'I'm good' . This guy has not been seen by any Paris or U.S government officails in over three, for a new amuter that is a long time. One of his men, Marc Herbin, works for somethign called, Bombster, just a nickname, and there was a message sent about a bombing on our only headquarters. You have to understand that these, Bombsters have been here since the last year of the Vietnam War, they don't bluff."
This time there was a hint of serious in Briannas voice, "That headquarters is our second biggest, we can't let it happen, we will lose all the files. You are going to get your team and another more experience team to come help you. The headquarters is already evacuated."
"What or where is the catch?" It was me sounding annoyed.
"What catch?" Briannna narrowed her eyes at me.
Jake was ataring out the window, "The catch is that it is a bi- Down now!" he yelled
We all immediately dropped to the ground. I tilted my head to the point where my neck hurt but I could see out the window. My mind first registered the fact that something looked very diffrent than a couple of minutes ago. There were men in suits, like the fancy kind you wear for work, lined up on the sidewalk looking for something, no someone, us.
Then there was a car, Timmy and Linda were stepping out of that car with guns pointed to there head. Tim was trembling but still didn't look as bad as Linda, her face was bruised all over and she has two gashes on her head, she must have fought.
My human insticnts told me to run and get them, but the training and order form Jake must have overrode them because I stayed there.
"What the" Conner said, stunned.
"Oh, oh, oh," was all Brianna could say.
"No, no," Jake even whimpered.
I thought for maybe twenty seconds about what to do. Stay there, run, help them. Staying down wasn't an option. Run, well why would I run away when the person I had vowed to protect, Timmy, was out there. I hopped up and was out the door before Jake had time to yell anything.
The people, I suppose, the Bombsters, had made a get through me to get them line, in front of them. There were strange stares coming from by passers and shop keepers. I was vaugley aware Conner was five feet behind me, at least no matter what he would always have my back.
The guy in the front made the first move, he tried to twist my wrist but I used his momentum against him and with that he sailed over my shoulder. The only ones with guns were the people with Timmy and Linda.
Where did they go they are not back at the end of the line. I saw them going toward the corner and ran for it, I wouldn't risk losing either of them. I had never been on this street, it was one we going to cover today, great unfarmilar territory.
I was closing the gap, only thirty feet left. Conner was right behind me. I found out it is hard to make someone run against there will. We went up flights of stairs, once we were to the top I saw that it was a long way down at least the 23 flights we had ran up.
From three feet I could tell the guns were not loaded they held them too loosely. Conner ran toward one of them and he pushed Linda to the ground in order to grab Conner.
The guy with Timmy shouted, "The code what is it?" Before I could figure out what they meant Conner had rattled off some fake code, and the guy had punched Timmy out of the way, yes he was safe, unconious but safe.
"Wrong," the one that had been holding Timmy yelled and pushed Conner.
Next everything happened so fast, it felt slow. As Conner lost his balance I reached for his arm, but he was to heavy. Linda was crossing over to help but he was slipping, then he let go and fell.
"Nooo," I screamed.
Linda had her arms around me shushing me, telling me it was alright, and I was sobbing.
Chapter 12 mourning
He shouldn't have been dead. He was the best lair, he didn't even know what the code meant. I did, Jake had explained it to me in South Dakota, it was a code if typed on a Brick House computer, could delete every thing in the Brick House database, everything, passwords, files, locks, missions, maps.
The rest of the day felt like a trance. I spent two hours getting debreifed, after Linda spent a hour telling me it was okay. It should have been me, I should be dead.
It really made me get a new perspective. I alway knew this was a dangerous way to live but never thought about it like this. That one second you could be crushing on a girl, then another you could be chasing down bad guys, and without any waring sign you could be dead.
Chapter 3 Easy
The night wasn't easy either. I was assinged a new hotel, Tim and Linda came to check on me every once in a while.
I didn't want to sleep but my eyes kept closing.
Conner was yelling, "Don't, don't let me die. You killed me. It is your fault." I wanted to wake up but I couldn't, I saw Conners face, the one smiling at me on the airplane ride here. The face that was full of concern the night I was crying.
I saw my Mothers face, the tears running down her cheeks, her mascara wasn't smugging, it was waterproof. I picked up the memory after I saw the casket, my grandmothers funeral, I was five.
There were pretty flowers on her coffin, as I used to call it, "Mommy," I poked at her side, "What kind of flowers are those?"
She sniffed, "Sweetheart, those are called Jasmine."
"Like my name!" I was excited.
"Yes, sweetie like your name, they were your ma's favorite. That is how you got your name, now baby why don't you go sit over there and please be quiet," she put her finger up to her mouth like she did when ever I was too loud in the library.
Next I saw a flashback of Justin, that sideways smile, those green eyes, the blonde hair. I saw him whispering to Jenny the day before he went missing except this time I could hear the words, "I am leaving... I have to...I will miss... I know... I am going to have to dum... I hate to...," I couldn't hear it all, did Justin know he was getting kidnapped? What?
I saw Conners' face again, wow, I could stay like this forever not thinking about anything, just have a peacefulness, "No, she is in shock," someone yelled, "Call the ambulence," another person said, "Her heart rate is falling," some body else screamed.
I shot striaght up sweat running down my back, the digital clock read, 4:58 a.m. I am not dead, I had to remind myself.
Jake came waltzing in around six in the morning, I was sitting straight up in bed, and had already had a bowl of ceral plus coffee. He made this long speech that I didn't listen too. In the end the main point was that my objective of the day was too take it easy.
Still, they gave me paperwork I had too file out and turn in later today. I don't know if you get how hard it is too take it easy. I needed to work, to have something besides a five minute form too fill out. I thrived too go out there and get you hands on that jerk that killed poor, innocent Conner.
I went to retervie Conners bag and all of his stuff that we left in the bicycle.
Around two Linda came in my room, "We can talk, you know?"
In the cockiest voice I could find, "I don't want to talk. I am fine, leave me alone," I spat at her, but knew I had done something wrong. I shouldn't take my anger and sadness out on her.
"Stop," I almost yelled. I sighed, "Just go, please," she left looking more worried than when she came in.
I didn't do the paper work first. I went to get some pizza then I ran for five miles. When I got back I still wasn't read to do what I needed to.
My hand shook as they got closer to the zipper on Conners bag. I found some of his clothes, a water bottle, and some band-aids. Then I went to the side zipper, I slowly and carefully unzipped it. What would I find? Would I want to find it? What if I found nothing?
Pictures, there were pictures. There was one of just me, I had a huge grin plastered on my face. I remember that day, we were tailing a suspect about one week after that big mission. We had been talking all day. Conner turned out to be quite the comedian when he felt relaxed. He was talking about something his cousin had done, and it made me laugh because I had a uncle that had done the same thing.
There was one of Cristy, Laniny, and Timmy together. The last few were pictues, of what I think, were his family. One of his brothers at a soccer game, celebrating a victory. One of his litte, five year old sister playing with barbies, paying no attention to the camera. Then the last was his Mom and Dad both smiling with their arms around each others shoulders. The last thing was a letter:
I just knew I had to write this. There is a chance that I might die someday and I want you too know that I care about you. Possibly is a girlfriend way, but I like to take it slow in relationships. I remember that my family used to tease me about this 6 month plan I had. By month six I was suppose to kiss her for the first time. I only kept that plan till I got in the ninth grade. I never really had a girlfriend before, I never fit in. Anyway, I want you too know that if I died on a mission with you then you have to finish the mission, for me. Please now turn that :( upside down :) .
Later that evening as I was walking into Brianna boutique to give her the paperwork back, something seemed differently. I immediatly noticed him, the hot one. His hair was carmel blonde. It was spiked only in the front, just a few inches long. He had on name brand clothes, if I didn't know anybody I would swear he was a model for the Hollister bag. What really seemed to make it all fall in place is the fact that I knew him.
I slid the folder over my face in case he might recongize me, even though I couldn't really see him, I could, if you know what I mean.
"Jas, your a doll. Okay? You need to understand that I am not doing this becuase I want too. I don't have a choice and I want to do it right. Some one better than me deserve such an adventurous, caring, pretty, divious, lovely," He tried thinking of more words, but eventually gave up, taking his hand in hers instead, "girl, understand what I am trying to say?"
For me it only meant one thing, heartbreak. Heartbreak that was worse than John Mitchell standing me up on junior prom night, then slipping on the floor, getting covered in punch and being humiliated in front of the entire middle school. I shivered at the thought but held strong, I wouldn't let him see me in pain, that would only give him statisfaction. I glumly stated, "Your breaking up with me."
He began to say I'm sorry, but I wouldn't let him lie, "No its okay, I'm fine, " I lied for him.
He nodded obviously not believing me," I love you," He whispered the pain, only now could I see the pain in his eyes. Before I hadn't seen it.
Before I could stop myself I let out the noise at the back of my throat froming a, "I love you," which rushed all together sounding like I'll owe you.
At that point Jake turned around to me, "Hey this is," He began, but I cut him off.
"I said, I love you, Justin," I finally put the folder down.
"Jasmine," His jaw dropped to the floor.
"I missed you," I addmitted, feeling the lump in my throat, that always happened when I cried.
He smiled and before I could figure out why he was walking toward me, he had his arms around me, many people would consider it a romantic gesture in the way he hugged me, but I knew better. He meant it to only be friendly, a casual act.
"How do you two know one another?" Jake asked trying not to sound stunned, but failing.
"Remember the girl?" Justin asked, as he rolled his eyes Jake laughed.
On the way back to the hotel, Jake asked, "How did they find you?"
I shrugged, "They just kidnapped me. I didn't want to go along with any of it, but something in me seemed to pull me to them like a stretching ponytail holder. Finally the elastic gets pulled so much it break, and I think it broke back in Briannas."
He chuckled, "I always knew you sucked at similes, but is that seriuosly the best you got?"
"Yeah," I giggled, "They told me to take a few days off, but I think I need to be back in the feild, you know? I mean I need the distraction or else I am going to drive myself insane. First I will cut off all my hair and then I will change my look and before you know it I will be in a nut house for those crazy loons," I joked.
He snickered, "We'll see. I bet they'll have you back before you know it. Probably tommorow."
Chapter 4 Back at Work
I awoke at six thirty, nightmare free. After I got dressed I got a call and a direct order. I was too report to a cafe a mile away from here and get more details.
I was informed that La Nadeo Vendos, the Snakes, men were definantly in the headquaters. At least 1/4 of them were there at this very moment