“I love Pearl Street Market. It looks like an old fashioned market and it smells like a new book which is the best smell ever.”
SLAM! I crash to the ground. “Ow!” I say. Asher slammed his locker door and “accidentally” kneed me in the stomach. That’s how tall he is. Not that I’m short.
“Hey! Watch where you’re going!” Connor says.
“How about she watches where she’s going!” Asher says while he walks away.
“Are you okay?” Emma says. Connor, Emma, Lisa, and I are a group.
“He’s a jerk,” Lisa says.
“He should be suspended,” Connor says.
Suddenly, I get dizzy. Having people say a bunch of things at once doesn’t help a throbbing head. But then I start wondering, Why does my head hurt when he kneed me in the stomach? I hear more noises:
“Hey! Back off!”
“What was that for?”
They grow fainter and fainter…
”Olivia. OLIVIA!!!” My eyes dart open. Lisa is standing in front of me. “Hi,” she says.
I look around me. I am lying on a bed in the nurse’s office. I see Emma talking to the nurse, and Connor talking to the principal.
“Whats happening?!” I ask. Everyone stops to look at me.
“You’re awake!” the nurse says.
“Yeah,” I say. I pause for a second. Something is wrong. I’m forgetting to do something. “OH NO!” I scream. I grab the Band-aid on the nurse’s desk. I forgot to wash it. I walk to the sink and run the Band-aid under cold water. I smile as I turn the water off and dry it. Everyone is staring at me. “What?!” I say. I place it on the nurse’s desk. I walk back to the bed and lie down.
3 YEARS LATER
“Wake up!” my mom says.
“I am awake!” I tell her. “It’s summer! Why are you waking me up?!”
My mom sighs. “It’s too late to be sleeping still.”
Under the covers, I take a look at the clock. It reads 8:48. “What do you mean by ‘too late’?!” I reply. Silence. I realize what she meant. I told her yesterday I would go shopping for her at the Pearl Street Market. “Ugh.” I roll out of bed at start picking out my clothes as my mom leaves the room. I decide to wear a beach cover up. It looks like a dress so I’m pretty sure no one will notice. I walk into the bathroom and brush my teeth and brush my hair. I walk into the kitchen where my mom usually is. “Mom, I’m ready!” Silence. “Hello?!” Silence.
“Hello big ten-year-old sister!” Liam, my little brother jumps out of the kitchen. He is only four years old.
”It’s not my birthday. I’ve told you a million times to buy a calendar. I’m already ten!” I say back to him.
“Oh,” he says. I walk away from him and look for my mom. I find her in the living room, staring at the TV, wide-eyed with my other little brother, Jackson. She looks scared. On the TV, it says BREAKING NEWS.
“Mom, I’m ready.” She looks at me and turns off the TV quickly.
“Okay sweetie, be safe,” she says.
“Yeah, be safe,” Jackson echos. I give him a weird look.
“Oookay. Bye, Mom. And, uhhh, Jackson.” I walk outside and hop onto my bike. Out of the corner of my eye I see my mom and Jackson waving. Jackson’s acting too mature to be eight years old. I get so lost in my thoughts. Why are they acting so worried? What happened on the BREAKING NEWS? I get so lost that I forget to make a left on Pearl Street and go so far that I’m in front of the “Welcome to Beach Haven” sign. I turn back and (finally) make it to Pearl Street Market.
I lock my bike and walk inside. I love Pearl Street Market. It looks like an old fashioned market and it smells like a new book which is the best smell ever. I stall sometimes because I don’t want to leave. There is always a bowl of Hershey’s Kisses on the counter, so I take a couple and put them in my pocket. I pick up the basket and grab everything quickly. I wasted a lot of time getting lost.
Out of the corner of my eye I see BREAKING NEWS on the TV. I do a double take. I stare at the TV just like my mom did. The news reporter says, “…got in a fist fight at McDonalds due to… ”
“Ow!” I say.
“Sorry!” the girl says. She’s about to walk out the door when I stop her.
“Emma?” I say. She turns around and looks at me.
“Oh. Hi,” she replies.
I haven’t seen her since the first day of third grade, when I got a concussion. We were lost so we ended up in the middle school floor. Then Asher kneed me in the stomach and I banged my head on the ground, and… stuff. I changed schools because my mom didn’t want me at that school anymore, even though Asher got kicked out of school. In that school, you get kicked out easily. Emma walks back inside.
“Did you hear what happened on the news?” I ask her.
“No,” she says and stares at the TV. I stare at the TV also.
“The person who got in a fist fight just seems so familiar,” I tell her.
“But my brain’s telling me not to look anymore.” She looks over to me with wide eyes.
I hear the TV say, “Asher Gray….”
I look at her with wide eyes also. “No way,” I tell her. I look back at the TV.
“Asher Gray, the person who started this fight, attacked Leonardo Smith. Asher did run away after. If you have anymore information, call 1-800-CRIME-STOPPERS.”
I turn back at her and say, “We have to find Leonardo Smith.”
“Why in the world do we have to find Leonardo Smith?” Emma asks.
“Because,” I tell her, “We want to know information about where he might have gone and then report it to the police.” I say it all in one breath. I gasp.
“Well,” Emma says. “Where are we going to start?”
“McDonalds,” I tell her. I drop my basket and run to my bike. She follows me. We both hop on our bikes and start pedaling.
“Where is this McDonalds?” Emma asks.
“I don’t know,” I say.
Emma rolls her eyes. We start pedaling around until we find a McDonalds. There is a bunch of caution tape around it.
“I think this is it!” I tell her. We are only on Main Street, so we aren’t that far away from home. Home! What if they think something bad happened to me!? And the breaking news that they saw…
We arrive at the McDonalds. Looking through the window, we see knocked over chairs, garbage everywhere, and tables knocked over also. “Okay,” I whisper to Emma as we jump off our bikes, “here‘s the plan. We pretend that we are cousins of Leonardo and are longing to know where he is. Got it?” She nods. We walk in the McDonald’s and see police talking.
“Excuse me?” Emma says.
“Hey! What are you kids doing here? Get out!” the policeman says.
“No, please! We are cousins of Leonardo! Do you know where he is?” I say.
“Why didn’t you come to the hospital when your family went?” the police officer asks.
“We were uhh… ” Emma says. She gives me a kick in the shin.
“Ow!” I say. “I mean we were uh… camping,” I tell the police officer.
“Yeah. Camping,” Emma adds.
“Okay,” the police officer says.
“Your cousin is in the Beach Haven hospital — ”
“Okay, thanks!!” Emma says. We jump on our bikes and head toward the hospital.
“Emma. My mom is going to be so worried. She was looking at the TV like she was scared this morning. She is going to think something is wrong,” I tell her. She says nothing back. I tell her to make a right turn. When we get to the hospital I hit a bump and I feel my bike go lower and slower. “Stop!” Emma slows down. We stop in front of the hospital. “Oh no, oh no, oh no!!! I think my tire broke,” I say. I set my bike down and look at the tire. There is a small hole, and it doesn’t go all the way through. In the trash I see a roll of duct tape. I take it out and measure a piece. I think about how I’m going to cut it, but I use all of my strength and pull it off. I put it on the hole.
“It probably should still work!” I say to myself. Emma and I lock our bikes and walk in the hospital. We walk up to the front desk.
“Hello,” Emma says. The receptionist turns around to look at us.
“Why hello there,” she says. “What can I do for you?”
“We would like to see Leonardo Smith please,” I say. She click-clacks away on her computer.
“Alright then. Is he expecting you?”
Emma pauses. “Um… we are… We are detective cadets for the police and we need to find out more information. About, you know.”
“You’re cadets for the police?” the receptionist asks. Not like she wants to know, she asks like she wants to know if we are kidding.
“Yeah. We are more mature then we look, you know,” I tell her.
“Alright,” she says. “Room 515.”
We walk through all the long hallways. 407, 408. “Where’s the elevator?” I say to no one in particular.
“515 is on this floor you know,” Emma says.
513, 514, 515! I peek through the window and see Leonardo laying in the hospital bed. He has several bruises on his face. I can’t see the rest of his body, and I’m kind of glad I can’t. He could have some really bad injuries. There is no doctor or nurse in the room that I see, so I push open the door with Emma trailing behind me.
“Hello?” I say. I’ve now confirmed that no doctor or nurse is in the room, so Emma and I walk in further.
“Hello,” Emma says to Leonardo. “We are police cadets. We need to find out more about the fist fight at McDonalds. So. Tell us everything.”
Leonardo looks at Emma like she’s a madman. “What?” he says.
“Did you not hear me correctly?” Emma asks politely. “What I said was we are police cadets and we need to find out more information about the fist fight at McDonald’s. What we really need to know is, did you see where Asher went after he ran away?” He nods like he’s taking it all in.
“What?!” I say a little too loudly.
“No,” he says. “But I saw where he ran away to, not where he went after he ran away.” Emma and I sigh with relief. Not only was he believing the story about being a police cadet, but he knows where Asher ran away to!
“He went to the apartment right next to the McDonald’s. That’s all I know.”
“Okaythat’sgreathanks!” Emma says excitedly as she pulls me by my arm out of the room. We run back down all the hallways.
We run past the receptionist, who shouts, “No running!!” She’s probably thinking, I should have never let them in. We finally make it outside. I look at the tire on my bike. It is still duct-taped, but it looks fine. It should just go a little slower. We get on the street, and I find out my predictions were correct. It goes a little slower. Okay, a lot slower. But I can’t do anything about it now. It takes us thirty minutes longer than we planned to get there. I check my watch. It reads 11:38. I cringe. Mom is going to be sooo mad. We park our bikes in front of the McDonald’s where the fist fight happened.
“Oh gosh,” Emma says with a sigh. The apartment looks gloomy and old and unwelcoming.
“We need a break,” I say. Emma’s stomach growls loudly.
”A lunch break,” she says. I feel bumps in my pocket. I take them out and see that they are Hershey’s Kisses from Pearl Street Market. Emma takes half of them and eats them quickly. Chocolate is her favorite food. I eat the rest of them. “Are you ready now?!” She groans as a response. I take it as a yes. I drag her onto the parking lot of the apartment. I almost stick my hand inside a cobweb. I shiver.
We make it to the end of the parking lot. Now in front of us are big numbers that read 675. There is a door that leads to the dark, gloomy, (you guessed it) lobby. The light is flickering. There is no lock on the door, so Emma pushes the door open. There is an elevator in front of us, and the staircase to the left.
“Let’s take the elevator,” Emma says. We walk in the elevator and I really don’t want to because it’s creepy and scary and I want to get out. Emma is already one step ahead of me. ”What floor should we press? How about six?” She answers her own question. She presses the button and the doors close. I double take on the button six. It says, FLOOR CLOSED.
“Why the heck did you press that if the floor is closed?!”
“Because it make it more mysterious!! Oooh!” It’s like we switched places. She was scared to go in first and I wasn’t. Now she’s not scared and I am! We make it to the sixth floor and manage to step over the caution tape before the doors close. Standing in the hallway of the sixth floor, there is no caution tape. But over one apartment there is caution tape.
“Let’s go in that one!” Emma says.
I hide in my fear. “Sure,” I say.
Emma pushes open the door. Surprisingly, it’s unlocked. There is broken glass right near the doorway. We step over it walk inside. The whole time I’m scared that someone will jump out of nowhere. To the left I see a picture of Asher.
“Emma. This is Asher’s house,” I whisper. There is a ruffle sound. My heart skips a beat. We look around and see nothing. In front of us is the living room. Emma motions for us to go there. The room has a TV sitting on top of a shelf. There is an orange couch across from the TV. The walls are a dark yellow and peeling. I walk closer to the TV and see that it’s on. The Cartoon Network flashes on the TV. I step back. I hear another ruffling sound. A vase tips over, spilling water and flowers and glass all over the floor.
“Emma, we should leave,” I whisper.
“I’ve told you a million times!” says a high pitched voice.
“Emma! Who said that?!”
“Geez,” she says. “It was the TV.”
“Emma we should really go. Someone is in here besides — ” Clank!
Emma and I run out of the apartment. Run as fast as we can!!! We take the stairs instead of the elevator, and I slip and fall. “Are you alright?!” Emma asks. I get up and keep running. We finally make it to the lobby of the apartment and run out the door and through the parking lot. We run to our bike and pedal.
“TO MY HOUSE!” I shout to her. She wouldn’t have heard me if I didn’t shout because the wind was blasting in our ears. I pedal as fast as I can because of my tire. We make it to my house in a good amount of time. I freeze at the front door.
“Just open it,” Emma says. I don’t want to open it. I’m scared. When my mom gets mad, she gets MAD.
“Prepare for.. .well… you’ll find out,” I laugh nervously. It takes all of my bravery to push open the door.
Jackson and Liam are watching TV on the couch. Jackson looks at us. “Olivia’s here!” he says to Liam and and turns off the TV. “Where have you been?!” Jackson demands. “You are four hours late. You scared us to death!!!” Jackson says, not noticing Emma behind me.
“Well, we were just trying to find a little more information.” I start walking around the living room slowly. “About the um… fist fight that you didn’t tell me about… ”
Without skipping a beat, Jackson says, “Mom didn’t want me to tell you because she thought you would be scared.” I realize I don’t see Mom anywhere.
“Where did she — ”
“There was a fist fight?!!” asks Liam. “That’s totally radical,” he smiles. I roll my eyes. He doesn’t know anything about what really happened.
“Where is Mom?” I ask as I finally get a chance to finish my sentence. My heart is beating out of my chest. That stuff that happened in the apartment really creeped me out.
“You are so lucky.” Jackson says. “We — ”
“Mom is taking a nap. You are so lucky we aren’t going to tell on you,” Liam interrupts. Liam loves to interrupt.
“Yep. She started taking a nap right after you left,” Jackson adds.
“Wow. That’s so weird. Why would Mom be taking a nap in the morning? And she must be napping hard if she’s been napping since I left,” I say. All of a sudden, Liam starts bursting out laughing. Jackson also.
“BUNNY EARS!” Liam shouts. I turn around and Emma is smiling. Now I realize that they were laughing because Emma was doing bunny ears at me. I roll my eyes.
“I just want to get to the good part!!” Emma whispers to me. “Allow me to explain,” Emma announces just as the boys stop laughing. “We are trying to find Asher and report him to the police. We just visited his apartment. Well, most likely his apartment. There was a lot of paranormal activity. We didn’t get to visit it long enough so,” she says. “Who wants to go back?”
The boys shout,“MEEE!”
“What?!” I say to Emma.
“We can’t just leave them here!” she says.
“We can’t just take them with us!” I shoot back.
“Let’s go!” Emma says and runs outside. I sigh. This is going to be a long day.
Jackson gets his bike from the garage. Emma and I are ready to go. Except one person. Liam.
“Where am I going to go?!” Liam asks. Emma looks at the basket on my bike, then at Liam, and back again. I can see where she’s going.
“No,” I tell her. “You are not going to — ” Emma picks Liam up and drops him in the basket.
“Yay!” Liam says excitedly.
“Is this even legal?” I ask Emma. She doesn’t say anything. “Liam, hold on really tight. Okay?” I tell him.
“I will. Stop worrying!” he says. Emma does a head count. We all head back to the apartment. This Liam-in-the-basket thing actually works, except everyone is staring at us. Emma shouts directions to everyone. She has a good memory. The one thing I always liked about Emma is that she is really brave. Her not wanting to leave that apartment is somewhere between kind of weird and brave.
“Faster, faster!” Liam shouts. I try to go a little faster. I’m still creeped out. My heart is beating really fast. I do not want to go back to that apartment. We make it to the apartment and I have to use all my bravery to get off my bike and lock it. Jackson and Emma wait for me to get Liam out of the basket.
“That was so fun!” Liam shouts. I shush him and tell him that in the apartment, we have to whisper. Liam looks at the apartment in terror. He is about to scream but I shush him again. We walk silently across the parking lot. Same things as last time. Finally, we are standing in front of the apartment door. It’s so scary. I can see it on everyone’s faces also.
“Okay. This is really scary. Like, I’m scared. And you are. And… okay. Well everyone is,” I say nervously. “Just, don’t… or try not to… scream.” Everyone nods.
“Who wants to do the honors?” Emma asks. Nobody answers. “Okay then,” Emma says, “I will.”
Emma pushes open the door. We step over the broken glass, and walk into the living room. The TV is still on, but right when we walk in, it changes to Law & Order. There is a ruffling noise. We all turn around. Liam gives me puppy dog eyes.
“Fine,” I say. I pick him up. He smiles.
“Stop it. No. PLEASE!”
We all get scared. Who said that?
“It was the TV,” Jackson says. Emma starts walking down the hallway. We all follow her, even though we are scared out of our minds. The silence rings in my ears. The hallway is a light blue. I think that’s a strange color choice, but I can’t focus on that right now. There are pictures of Asher and his family on the wall. This is definitely Asher’s house. We come to the end of the hallway and I hear Liam whimper. There is a closed door at the end of the hallway. Emma opens it and we all walk in. It’s a bedroom. It must be the parents’ bedroom, I think to myself. White walls with a red canopy bed. It looks like a normal bedroom, except it has a weird vibe.
“Let’s split up. Jackson and I explore the hallway. Olivia and Liam in this room,” Emma whispers. Everyone nods. Emma and Jackson go to the hallway and shut the door.
I cringe. I walk back to the door and open it. I look up and see that something is weighing down the canopy on the top. I’m about to put Liam down and investigate more, but the bed skirt ruffles. Like something or someone is ruffling it. Liam, at the worst time, screams at the top of his lungs. I jump and cover his mouth with my hand. Emma and Jackson run into the room.
“What is it?” Jackson whispers. I point to the bed skirt. Nobody moves. We just stare at the bed skirt. It goes like that for a long while. Suddenly, I have a plan.
I put Liam in Emma’s hands, who is very surprised and not quite ready and almost drops him. I carefully climb onto the mattress and grab the thing that was weighing down the canopy without looking at it. It’s a box. I unlock the the chain and I’m about to open it when…
“Hello?!” says a voice. It’s a familiar woman’s voice. I can see Emma’s face go from confusion to scared.
“I don’t think they’re in here!” the voice says.
“Well, we have to investigate, don’t we ma’am?!” a deeper voice says. We hear footsteps in the living room. Where are we going to go?! I do not like the situation I just got put in. We are in an apartment that we didn’t even know about until a few hours ago, trying to find someone who started a fist fight, with paranormal activity, with my brothers and best friend, trying not to get caught, and now there are people in this weird apartment. What the heck are we going to do?
“Let’s sit in the living room and talk about this,” the deeper voice says. Emma quietly points to the closet in the hallway. It’s a large closet, big enough for all of us to fit in. I wonder how we are going to do this. Emma quickly runs to the closet and opens the door. She signals for us to come in. We run in as quickly as possible, with my heart beating really hard. We all make it in and Emma closes the door. SLAM!! I give Emma a look.
“What the heck?!” I whisper-shout to her. She cringes.
“Sorry!” she whisper-replies.
“What was that?!” the voice says.
“I don’t know. Want to go take a look?” the deeper voice says. I’m shaking my head. No. Please don’t take a look. Please don’t!
“As long as I find my kids!” the voice says. Suddenly, I get a horrific thought. The voice wasn’t just “the voice” anymore.
It could be my mother.
I use sign language to to tell Emma, “It might be my mom.” My teacher taught us sign language. She gives me an “OMG” look. Jackson looks at us like we are the weirdest people alive because he doesn’t understand sign language. We hear footsteps come closer and closer.
“Do you want to open it?” The deep voice asks. I assume it might be a police officer.
“Wait,” my mom says. “My kids could be anywhere. I just saw their bikes outside.”
“If they could be anywhere,” the police officer says, “They could be in here.” I close my eyes. Liam actually starts hugging me. This has never happened before, so I hug him back. The door creaks open. Without even looking I say, “Mom?!”