Street lamps emitted yellow beams of light that shone across an empty street that night. All was quiet, until the sound of footsteps broke the silence. Hurry, hurry, they seemed to say, at the same time saying stay away. The sound stopped and another begins. The low sound of voices.
Two figures, caught under a street lamp.
"Do you think you can do it?" one said, the walker, handing a slip of paper to the other.
The one who had been waiting unfolded the paper and looked at it.
"Oh, I suppose so." The paper disappeared. "You have the payment?"
The walker put a hand inside his jacket pocket, then hesitated.
"Um, I'd rather if we waited until the job was done."
"And let it disappear? I don't think so."
Quickly now, the walker brought out a wad of crisp bills, and handed them to the waiter. They were counted, and, satisfied, the waiter put them away.
"Now, you know I don't want anyone dead." The walker seemed concerned.
"No, we wouldn't want to you gain a reputation as a murderer." And the meeting ended, leaving the street as dark and as quiet as it had been before.
Cheers sounded through the train car containing the Henry Albertson Hawks. Halifax was only half an hour away, their destination and home of the 2007 Junior High Mixed Basketball Championships. Michelle and Brendon peered out of the window at the darkening sky.
"This is the first time Henry Albertson has made it to finals, isn't it?" Michelle said excitedly.
"Yup." came the reply.
"Wow, I can't wait to play on Saturday!" Michelle was almost hopping with excitement. "Just think! Two days from now we'll be playing the best team in the league, AND we get to miss school on Monday!" At this point, Michelle actually did begin to hop, throwing her arms around Brendon.
"Gosh, Michelle!" he said, staggering back. Michelle let go of him and screamed softly.
"FINALS!" She threw herself down onto a seat, stuffing her face into a pillow and beginning to giggle hysterically. Brendon shook his head.
The train shook violently and the lights flickered and went out. Darkness engulfed the train car, and the team was silent for a moment.
"Um, Brendon?" Michelle squeaked.
The other team members moved closer together in the dark, unknowing of their surroundings.
"I'm right here. Are you alright, Madeline?"
"I guess so."
"Hey, Evan. Don't hyperventilate."
"Ah, no, phewph, I'll, hhhh, try not t-ahhhhhhhhh!!" Evan screamed and crashing was heard as he fell to the floor.
"Evan!" someone cried, probably Madeline.
The lights came back on with a soft humming sound and the team looked around. Evan lay on the floor, his face pale. He was breathing hard, though the others could not see why.
"Something touched me!" Evan said, his voice strangely high. "Something cold and wet touched me!"
Evan lay on the other side of the train car. All of the others were grouped by the seats.
"It wasn't me, Evan." Brendon said seriously.
"I'm not wet." Madeline went and helped Evan from the floor, showing him her hands. "See?"
"It couldn't have been one of us." Luke reasoned. "No-one moved when the lights went out."
Coach Werner came into the car, looking pleased and unconcerned.
"You guys should try to have a quick nap before we arrive. I'm sure we all know just how much sleep you 10 will get!"
"Coach, did you see the lights go out?" Madeline asked. He frowned.
"What do you mean? The lights didn't flicker once."
Everyone was silent before Michelle spoke up.
"Yes they did. They went out for a long time, and Evan felt something wet touch him."
"Imagination is a crazy thing. I'm afraid you're all stuck in a dream." Typical adults, every one of the team thought. "Now do some real dreaming and get some sleep!" With that, Coach Werner left the car, leaving the team to look at Evan.
"I didn't make it up, I swear!" he exclaimed, seeing the looks on their faces. "Besides, you all know the lights went out."
"Yes, Evan." Madeline said, sitting down next to him. "I believe you."
Though the lights were on and the journey was normal, the people in car 131 were uncomfortable, and couldn't help but feel a wave of foreboding wash into them that had nothing to do with the upcoming game.
Halifax drew closer and closer, but the friends didn't notice. Taking their coach's advice, they had all curled up in a seat and fallen fast asleep. Soft snores came from Luke, and Leah, his twin sister, was sprawled across her chair with her limbs dangling towards the floor.
Michelle opened her bright blue eyes and turned over. Try as she might, she couldn't sleep, so she sat up and looked at her friends. It wasn't until her gaze reached Evan that she realized she wasn't the only one awake.
"Asthma bad?" she said sympathetically.
"Nope." Evan sounded stuffed up. "Allergies. I think the seat is dusty." He sneezed into his blanket so as to not wake anyone.
"Coach Werner probably has some Benedryl with him." Michelle said, throwing off her blanket.
"I know he does." Evan sniffed. "I gave him some to hold for me."
They made their way through the train cars up to Werner's bunk. Snoring sounded through the door as Michelle raised her hand to knock.
The world turned upside down, throwing everyone back. A horrible cacophony of screeching reached their ears, the sound of the train straining to stop. Michelle and Evan were tumbled together against the wall.
"Come on, Evan!" Michelle called, untangling herself from him. He lay, whimpering slightly.
"Evan!" Michelle dragged him to his feet. "Come ON!"
They stumbled back towards their car in the still-lurching train. Now screams had begun to echo throughout the cars Michelle and Evan passed through, and almost everyone was thinking the same thing.
Oh, God, they all thought. Oh, God.
Brendon had been shaken awake by the movement and sound of the train suddenly stopping the same way the other passengers had. Madeline cried out in shock as she was thrown back into him. Brendon caught her and looked around the car. Leah and Luke were there, sleepily rubbing their eyes and trying to hang onto their seats as well. He still held Madeline, poor, gentile Madeline, who was shaking slightly. There was Ariel, over on the other side of the car and Bianca sat on the floor beside her. Matt and Geoffrey were there too. So where were Michelle and Evan?
The train eventually stopped, but not before a horrible heavy thud was heard.
"What the…" Luke started, but Leah cut him off.
They listened for a while to the confusion. Some people ran through their car, looking worried.
"Where's Michelle and Evan?" Brendon said, breaking the silence in the car.
Leah looked around, frowning.
A stranger entered.
"Are you guys the Henry Albertson Hawks Basketball Team?"
They nodded mutely.
"Good. The train has hit a car, so we will be stuck here for hours. A car is on the way to take you to your hotel in Halifax."
"Hit a car!" Madeline exclaimed. "Was anyone hurt?"
The stranger faced Madeline.
"Nothing has been confirmed. If you all will just sit tight until- ah, here's the car now." Headlights shone through the window, and the stranger began to usher them out of the train.
"What about-" Leah began, but once again she was cut off.
"Your coach and luggage will arrive separately. He wishes you 8 to be well rested."
Leah began to protest, but Brendon silenced her with a subtle shake of his head.
"Something isn't right. They'll be fine." was all he could offer as an explanation to head strong Leah, while they approached the van.
Their friends were gone when Michelle and Evan entered the car. It had taken quite some time to get back, as people milled about, trying to make sense of the situation.
"Where'd they go?" Evan said, searching through his suitcase.
Michelle didn't answer, just gazed at the slip of paper she had picked up from the floor. It was typed in a spidery font on a crisp square of paper, so neat.
Here we are then, the team gone in a city unknown to them. Who will find them? Not the police. They don't search for missing people until 72 hours has passed. You'd be wasting your time, and who knows what can happen in 72 hours. The coach? He's gone too. No help there. No, you'll have to do it yourself.
Evan reached down to grasp a pamphlet that had rested under the note.
Point Pleasant Park
"I think either he, or she, really, we don't know, wants to get found or thinks they can't be found.
Michelle's bright blue eyes were out of character. They emitted no happiness or laughter, but showed hopelessness.
"How are we supposed to find them?" she whispered.
Evan thought about this for a second.
"Um, we… look for them?"
This made Michelle giggle and she regarded the pamphlet with new determination.
"So it begins…"
"What?" Evan said curiously.
"Evan, you just ruined a very dramatic moment."
Brendon awoke to the dampness surrounding him like a glove. He coughed, his lungs hurting as though he was sick. He felt drowsy, unnaturally drowsy. Brendon pushed himself onto his elbows.
He was in a square room, dark, except for the light that shone in from the open small balcony, only as big as a doorway. He could see that there were grates over the opening. That didn't stop the wind from howling through though.
Brendon curled himself into a ball, protecting himself from the wind.
"Do you know where you are?" someone asked him. Brendon looked up to see a dark figure leaning against the stonewall. Brendon shook his head, no.
"It's called the Dingle. Used to be a watch tower, in the war years."
The figure seemed amused as Brendon struggled to his feet, seeming determined to not let them have any advantage over him.
"Who are you?"
"That is not really necessary to know, is it?" The stranger said. The voice and figure seemed to be a bit feminine, but he couldn't be sure. A hood was pulled over their face. "You can call me, oh, how about, Eos. I've always wanted to be called that."
"So, you're a girl" Brendon was struggling to stay standing. "Eos, goddess of the morning."
Eos clapped her hands.
"Very good! I see you know your Greek mythology."
Brendon had to sit down. His legs were so tired.
"Where are the others?" His eyes were beginning to close. He couldn't stop them.
"Oh, they're scattered around. I'll go to them later." Eos waved her hand dismissively.
Brendon ducked his head down against his knees. Michelle… She couldn't have Michelle. Or Evan. No, they would find him and the others. Everything would be okay, he told himself. Everything would work out.
Michelle and Evan trudged through the darkness away from the train, quarrelling.
"I am not going anywhere except to the hotel and calling the police."
"The police won't do anything Evan. Not for 72 hours."
"Michelle, a whole team is just GONE! You can't honestly say that the police will just treat it like some random person disappeared."
"They have to. Because we're a sports team coming for finals, our coach could have taken us so he can frame the other coach, or the other coach would have done it so that their team wins by default. They don't know."
Evan stopped and held out his hand.
"They'll listen to evidence. Give me the note, we'll go down to the station now."
"You have the note! And do you think we'll be able to find a police station? I don't think we're even in Halifax."
"I don't have the note" Evan said. "Just the pamphlet. I put the note in your pocket."
Michelle polled out her jacket pocket. It was empty, except for some grey ash.
Evan swore softly.
They were now at the top of a hill they had climbed, looking down at the train.
"Okay, here's what we do." Michelle declared, spreading out a map. "Point Pleasant Park is here, and where we are is the Windsor Junction train crossing. We can follow the train tracks to Halifax and go from there."
Evan looked upon the map, frowning.
"It's a long way."
Michelle chose to ignore this.
"Got your puffers? Benadryl? Good, let's go." She stuffed the map and the ash into Evan's hands and marched away.
"Where'd you get the map Michelle?" he called, hurrying to keep up with his friend.
"Swiped it from the train."
Evan wondered how she could be so calm when she had just stolen a map.
Madeline shivered and glanced at Ariel. They were wet, making little puddles on the ground. The blonde girl was muttering to herself, scratching the dirt with a stick. Ariel was brilliant, at a grade 11 level in school, though she chose to remain at the junior high.
As soon as they had wakened from their drugged sleep, she had cased the joint of their surroundings. They were in a small, worn down shack, the wind whistling in through the partially boarded windows. The sound of crashing waves drifted to their ears, and the door hung at an odd angle on broken hinges.
Seconds later, a figure stepped into the shack.
"Ah, you've awoken."
At this point, Ariel slumped back onto the wall in a dead faint. A dead, fake faint, as Ariel had also excelled in drama class. This had been acted out to Madeline before, so she played her part and rushed to her friend's side.
"Ariel! Oh, I knew this would happen. She has such a faint heart!" Madeline also was among the top 3 performers in drama.
The figure frowned and checked Ariel's pulse.
"Shut up, girl!" Eos said to Madeline who, was now sobbing realistically. "She's not dead."
"What do you want from us?" Madeline demanded angrily, tears streaming down her cheeks.
"Oh, I don't want anything." Eos shook her hair from under her hood. Ariel noticed it was bright red. "I was just hired, though my orders on you weren't especially clear…"
A knife appeared in Eos' hands. Springing towards Ariel with amazing speed, it was slipped neatly between her ribs. Ariel gasped, her eyes springing open.
"I knew you'd faked it." Eos whispered, turning to Madeline.
Madeline was frozen with shock.
"Ariel?" she whispered, turning towards her friend. She was breathing heavily, blood oozing from the wound.
The door was blown open, off it's hinges. A man stumbled in and Madeline recognized him as the coach of the opposing team.
"I told you not to kill them!" he cried upon seeing Ariel.
"Relax," Eos told him. "The girl's not dead."
"I don't care. I just wanted my team to win!" he was shaking with anger now, and pulled Madeline behind him. Eos began to laugh as he pulled out his cell phone and dialled the police. She continued laughing still when the boats came and took the assassin away, along with the coach who confessed on the spot to hiring her.
The police pulled her hood away from her face to reveal her features. She had long, straight red hair, and green eyes with madness swelling around in them.
"Sabrina O'Heron." Said one of the officers. "We've been looking for you for a long time."
An ambulance boat came to pick up Ariel. The paramedics assured Madeline that she would be fine, and the main priority was finding the other team members. The ocean spray showered Madeline's face, mingling with her tears as she was taken back to shore, away from Devil's Island, and the search began for her friends.
"Hm. Point Pleasant Park. No what?" Evan and Michelle stood at then entrance to the park, people milling around them. Michelle flipped through the pamphlet.
"Ummm….Martello Tower? Doesn't seem like a bad place to hide someone."
Evan agreed, and they began the walk down the main path.
"We've just found two in the Married Quarters, and one up at Citadel Hill." A police officer reported to the chief. Madeline and Ariel, who was bandaged, and looked slightly like an unravelling mummy, sat, waiting for more news. Bianca, Matt, and Geoffrey were lead into the room, looking drawn, and pale. Brendon sat in a corner, murmuring things about red Greek mornings. He had been rescued earlier.
"There's still four out there. Go and get them." The chief commanded. The officer turned, and left the station.
Michelle and Evan approached Martello Tower, not knowing that almost everyone had been recovered. They tried the door, leaning against it with their full weight, but it wouldn't budge.
"Can you hear anything?" Evan asked, glancing at all of the people walking their dogs and running.
Michelle placed her ear to the door and shut her eyes. Blocking out all other sounds with her mind, she concentrated, and then heard something.
A ticking sound, like the tone you hear when you punch in numbers on a phone.
"A bomb, a bomb, oh, God, someone help us!" came the faintest voice form inside.
"Evan! There's a bomb, and someone's in there!" Evan's eyes grew wide.
Michelle franticly looked around her, and ran. Following her, Evan saw her run up a flight of steps on the outside of the tower. Throwing her full weight against the door, along with the momentum, she broke through the old door, not as new as the main door.
Evan paused, took a breath, and followed.
Inside the tower, the ticking and voices were louder.
"Help! Oh, God, HELP, SOMEONE!"
"Leah!" Michelle called, running down a spiral staircase.
"Michelle? Yes, Michelle! A bomb, Michelle, there's a bomb!"
Running, running. Evan couldn't keep up to Michelle's longer legs.
Suddenly, they faced the bomb. Evan screamed, and Michelle only just suppressed one. The timer said 1:27.
"Go, go!" Michelle said, pushing Evan past the thing. Into a room, Leah and Luke were tied up tightly. Their hands fumbled over the knots. By the time they got out, the timer read 00:11 at them in bright red writing.
"I LOVE YOU MICHELLE!" screamed Evan, quite sure he was going to die.
"Shut up!" she said back, pulling at the bolt across the door. It came loose, and the four sprinted, alarming many people. They were even more alarmed when Martello Tower exploded into smithereens behind them.
The team and Coach Werner were back together. After 24 hours that had seemed like years, they were going home, the Championships called off.
Michelle was crying. Someone took her in their arms and cradeled her, as one would a baby.
"Shh." They said. "It's over. It's done.'