Despite the warm day, the ocean's breeze bit into Isabelle's skin like icy teeth. It wasn't in her best interest to spend the night in a cold wind, so Isabelle decided it was best to pack up her little camp on the beach. She slammed her cooler full of sodas shut and wrapped her sandy towel around her body. She had several trips to make to the car. Isabelle gazed out to the ocean, wondering what time it was. The sun was far down beneath the horizon, and so was her mood.
Isabelle had invited a few friends for a beach part. The San Diego beaches were probably one of the finest in the state. Isabelle picked La Jolla Cove because it was close to home. This beach was a little too popular for her liking though, because when she began to set up towels and drinks, more than the invited came along. For Isabelle, it heightened her stress and irritability.
She had a problem with stress and depression. She swallowed her pills every morning, but it did little to help her financial situation. She was supposed to go back to school in September. It was August 15th. She was supposed to have an apartment by now. She lived with her parents. She was supposed to have a job. She was fired four days ago. Whenever Isabelle tried to have fun with her friends, something always managed to irritate her. This time it was the impossible weather.
Bill Newman predicted clear skies and a high of ninety eight degrees. Isabelle experienced cold ocean spray and thirty eight degree wind. It turned the party for her, because she never felt completely warm in her new bikini. She wasn't comfortable through the duration of the afternoon. By five thirty that evening, Isabelle was sitting in the shade with the beach umbrella as her shield. Some of her friends even stole glimpses at the guy she liked, which made her mood plummet. Fortunately for her, people began to leave around ten, when it began to get a lot cooler.
Isabelle pressed a button on her car keys and heard her Subaru beep. She eased opent he trunk and slid the cooler and a large umbrella into the back, not worried about the fold in seats. She got everything back to the car after her third trip, and by then, she found herself shivering violently. It wasn't normally this cold at night, but then again, it was after midnight, and she was still in her bikini. She shoved the trunk door closed and rounded to the passenger seat. By now the wind was licking her bare back like a hot fudge Sundae.
Isabelle pulled out a tee shirt and shorts and hurriedly slid them over her swimsuit. She put her beach bag onto the floor of the car, telling herself it'll be okay there until she got home. Isabelle bent to slide on her sandals when a gust of wind slammed into her and the truck. Her papers on the dashboard lifted and swirled around her in a flurry, several taking flight into the dark.
"Shit." Isabelle grabbed the closest papers and threw them into the front seat. She shoved the door closed and locked her car doors. Her heart was thumping as she began to chase the runaway papers. Her guess was that one of them was her resume for work.
It was hard for Isabelle to see in the dark, but she could see flashes of white fluttering everywhere. Sometimes the wind would die down and she found a paper lying on the ground, but more would soar back into the air again. Her feet slapped onto the ground as she sprinted, half-tripping, half-leaping. Isabelle had made so many turned and jumps over fences, that she didn't know where she was anymore. Itw as some ghetto part of town for sure. All around her was the eerie silence of mugging country and a lot of broken homes and buildings. Most people were asleep, but there were more than enough people on the streets, staring at her as she flew past them.
By the time the last paper touched the earth, Isabelle's lungs burned and her feet felt as if they were on fire. She scooped up the paper into her hand and smashed it tightly to her chest, afraid she might lose it again.
It took Isabelle a considerable amount of time to cool down and catch her breath. Above her was a dim, silver street light casting a sickening orange glow down on her. The roads were covered in trash and dead rodents. One side of the road was lined with housing projects while the other side had a lone, beat up looking restaurant sagging in the dim glow.
The door was wooden with many cracks surrounding the door frame. From what Isabelle could see, the building's exterior walls were supposed to be white, but it was spewed with mud and appeared off white. The entire restaurant looked poor and neglected to her, but one sign threw her off.
She crossed the deserted street and approached the window. The Street light reflected her image: frizzy blond hair, wide blue eyes, and a California girl body, complete with the curves and tan. But she was red in the face and panting hard. Isabelle forced herself to ignore her image. Instead she pressed her face to the dirty glass and peered inside.
She saw a few grimy tables, upturned chairs, and a person asleep on the couch. From what Isabelle could see, the restaurant was in shambles. A front counter sat solidly in the middle of the room with a black chalk board hanging crookedly above it. The windows weren't much better than the tables, both grimy and boarded up. A dim light radiated from the back door where she assumed was the kitchens. It presented a sickening spotlight on a handmade paper sign that wrote "Bruce and Family", probably presenting the name of the restaurant.
Swallowing hard, Isabelle crinkled the papers in her hands and stepped away from the window. I should get out of here, she thought, just as she turned back to the street light above her.
It seemed as if her heart became impatient and fearful as the full predicament dawned on her. San Diego had more than enough muggers and rapists, and she figured being on the streets past one in the morning wasn't worth risking.
She gazed once more at the restaurant, then looked ahead. Through the haze, Isabelle made out a group of guys walking her way. One look in her direction, and they would know she was here. The street lamp was a spotlight on her. She had two choices: Flight or Fight.
Well, being the wimp she was, she chose flight. Isabelle side stepped out of the light and ducked behind a beat up mail box, hoping her figure was concealed.
As the band of boys drew nearer, Isabelle felt a burning shutter flow through her body. She didn't know who these boys were, but they looked dangerous and strong. She knew she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Her options were few: try to outrun them, fight them, or hide and wait them out. Her heart was beating like a mockingbird's wing beat, and her tongue was as rough as sandpaper. Isabelle chose to wait.
For one thing, she wasn't a very fast sprinter, and there was no doubt in her mind that one of those boys were pretty fast. She decided it would be best not to fight them either. They had a lot of switchblades. In the end, limited options and endless curiosity made Isabelle choose to stay and wait. She felt as if she needed to do something useful while caught in the situation, and what better way than to see what these boys were doing?
Possibilities strangles her mind, but the top three were drugs and alcohol, vandalism, or maybe even a theft or murder. These guys looked like bad news, and for a minute, Isabelle felt bad for being so stereotypical. However, these guys were real. They all had the low pants, bandanas, weapons, piercings, and white shirts. Most of them had quialities that differed from the others, like a bright blue Mohawk, gages in the ear lobes, guns slung around their hips, or long, dangling gold chains. It was like witnessing a Hollywood movie come to life for her.
Crammed against a thick, boxy mailbox and the base of the street lamp, Isabelle strained to hear what was going on.
"C'mon Dex, light a joint and let's light this baby up," A deep, raspy voice muttered a reply to the confident, first voice. "Don't want to be out too late. My girl is waitin' at home." There were a bunch of laughs from the surrounding boys; which ended abruptly.
For a minute, Isabelle was scared for her life. She didn't want to breathe, yet she had a sudden urge to move and see what they were doing. She heard a thump, and the shivering of a metallic baseball bat. "Yep, this thing works fine." A new voice said.
Soon most of the footsteps were near her and the restaurant, and Isabelle's stomach dropped. She could smell a faint whiff of smoke. Slowly, her aching muscles twisted and she lifted her head over the mailbox. They were lighting the restaurant. There was a bit more laughing and a few more lighters that flipped on. One of the boys had a tub full of kerosene, which startled Isabelle into jumping up to her full height. Before she made a sound, one of the boys caught the movement and called out to the others. It was a shame she didn't have her cell phone.
She backed away from her vulnerable hiding place and towards the far end of the street as a few other boys followed her menacingly. "Whatcha doing here, hunny?" They slurred, which led Isabelle to believe that they were drunk.
The words stuck in her throat, so she said nothing. What could she have said anyway? Maybe this could buy the family inside the restaurant time. She forced the words out as best she could, because her fear was overwhelming. "Y-you can't burn it down!" It was merely a squeak.
"What was that?" A burly, brunette boy taunted. The one with the blue Mohawk was standing behind him.
"You can't burn the restaurant down!" She demanded more loudly.
"Who do we have here?" He seemed like the leader, but he strode up to her and glared down at Isabelle. "We don't like witnesses…"
Isabelle wet her lips cautiously, hoping to get a good whistle out. Her friends always told her that her whistles were loud, so hopefully she could project enough air to warn anyone nearby. First, she had to see what these guys wanted. "You're not very good about scoping the crime scene out first." She was surprised she could actually sass him back.
His hand shot out to grab any part of her body that he could, which could have been her neck, but she ducked in time. Without wasting time, she let out a shrill whistle that hurt even her own ears. The whistle threw the other gang members into action, most of them coming at her with a fierce aggression she didn't anticipate. Two of them ran into each other when she traced her steps and juked towards the left, but the burly brunette took his chance to wrap his huge arms around her shoulders like a vise. She struggled and kicked and screamed, but she couldn't get free. Her only hope was that they took their sweet time in torturing or raping her, so that her whistle could take effect.
"I can't believe this," The Mohawk kid sneered, "I thought you checked this place, Dex."
Isabelle was practically shrugging with the brunette, knowing that this one was called Dex. "I thought I did, but apparently she came after I checked. What are those?" He jerked his chin towards the pathetically crunched up papers all around them. Her resumes and art.
"Work," She muttered, but no one heard her.
"Alright, we'll take her with us; just make sure she's quiet." The leader rolled his shoulder back towards the restaurant, "We want this done quickly."
Dex handed Isabelle off to some other strong kid, and was forced to watch the boys pull out the gasoline and liters. Her heart sunk, because she thought that she might have been able to help, or at least stop them for a long period of time.
"HEY!" She called to the leader, "Hey Ugly!"
He spun around to glare at her, "Shut her up!"
"You think JUST Kerosene is going to work?" She taunted, "Because I know a better way if you're just going to burn up a building."
"She's bluffing, keep going." He barked at the others.
"I'm not bluffing!"
They ignored her. Which was expected, but Isabelle had to put up more of a fight than that. "Hey," She murmured to her captor, "You wanna loosen your hold? I swear my arm is asleep."
"Good." He growled.
It took her a few more seconds, but Isabelle realized she still had a free mouth. Once again, she desperately repeated her loud whistle. This time, a light snapped on from down the street.
"Oh shit!" One boy cried out, pointing at the window. Isabelle's captor covered her mouth in a desperate attempt to silent her, but she was already done with her siren. More windows lit up in the night, and the boys began to clean up their supplies. The restaurant's lights turned on then, and Isabelle felt her heart begin to soar. It worked!
"Let her go! She doesn't know anyone but Dex, c'mon guys!" The man let go of her and they all took off into the night, leaving Isabelle stumbling forward, just as the restaurant owner ran out to help her.
"You're welcome." Isabelle murmured to him, before collapsing from the rush of blood and her own tired, relief.