Hey everybody! This is the first story I've ever really written and put out there so reviews are really appreciated! I could use all the help I can get on this. Thanks!

If it all happened as quickly as they say it did, then why was every single detail constantly replaying in slow motion in Allie's mind? All of the yelling, the screaming, the flashes of light, the blood…Everything about "it" was constantly replaying-the only clear thoughts in her muddled mind. Nothing else mattered to her in those moments. How could anything else ever matter again? Her parents had disappeared and all the other adults in her life weren't much help in the search for finding them.

Alenka was nearly always alone in her apartment and never left unless of her parents came and got her. They always said it was far too dangerous to go outside. Usually she'd at least see them for a few minutes every day. She knew something was wrong when three days went by without her seeing them. Even though she was sixteen, she was too afraid to go outside to school. She had the feeling she knew how her parents got kidnapped. She always suspected that their jobs weren't exactly… legal. Their disappearances probably weren't accidents… and now Alenka Jones felt sure that she was the next target.

She felt sure that she must take matters into her own hands, but how could she, when she was a minor that was probably going to one of "those" places soon? The girl couldn't possibly ask any of her friends' parents to take her in, especially when she kept all of her friends at arm's length-or at least tried to. She really didn't have a family in the normal sense. Alenka always looked after herself with next to no one's help, and she felt content doing so…


The distraught girl finally snapped out of her daze and realized she was going the wrong direction to her class and only had a minute left to run there. She started to take off at a brisk walk when she looked up and caught the time-11:00 AM. It wasn't time for class, she realized. It was time for her lunch, and she was now headed to her 4th block class that was the opposite direction of the cafeteria. There were so many people going the opposite direction, how would she turn the other-

Everything was dark. After a few moments, she realized that she got knocked over and fell to the ground.

Allie? Allie? Allie!?

Her eyes fluttered open. Allie knew the owner of that voice. Raylenia Naiht. She looked up at her friend kneeling beside her, whose dark hair was slightly covering her shadowy turquoise eyes were filled with concern.

"Oh man, I'm so sorry Ray, I-I wasn't looking where I was going!"

She responded, "Hey, don't worry about it. You alright? Hey, I need to talk to you for a sec."

Raylene gathered all of Alenka's books together and gently put them back into her arms.

"Umm, yeah, I'm alright, thanks, but I need to go to class now."

Allie reached for her bright pink backpack, but Raylene grabbed it before she could take hold of it. She proceeded to grab Allie's hand and hoist her up, and then she cornered Allie until she found herself leaning against a locker.

"Can you please give me my bag, Raylene?" Allie asked very flatly.

"Nope, since I've caught you on your way to lunch, and I can afford to be late to my next class, I'm going to ask you some questions, since you do owe me some answers. For one, why are you such a mess today?"

Ray pulled a mirror out of her backpack and Allie was forced to see her dirty face, with some scratches that were still healing, the deep purple circles beneath her spring green eyes, and how full of static and messy her normally neat, strawberry blonde hair was.

"What happened to you, Al? Where have you been the past few days?"

"I….just…. it's really not fair of you to trap me like this, please don't keep me from eating. It's not your business anyway. And even if it were, here and now's not the right place or time!" Alenka didn't notice that her voice was gradually getting louder and louder and then too loud until it was too late. She saw one of their teachers from freshman year, Mrs. Gold headed towards them, when her classroom was the opposite direction.


"Girls, you need to get to class now!"

Raylene set Allie's backpack at her feet. She put a hairbrush in her hands. "Don't you dare think that you've been saved by the bell. Just because I have to go now, doesn't mean this conversation is over. Please go do something about your…." She motioned at Alenka's entire body. "You…ness. You should present yourself better than that, Allie. I'll see you after school." With that, Raylene ran out of her sight.

Tch, Alenka thought. What the heck was her problem? Telling me how to care for myself… Who does she think she is, my mom?

Thinking this sent a stabbing pain to Allie's chest. She started walking to the commons area where she could hopefully scavenge for some food. She passed a trophy case and glanced at…. Was that frizzy-haired, ghostly animal really herself? Allie had to admit to herself that Raylene was right when said she looked awful.

"On second thought," she softly muttered, "Maybe that's just what I need." She shook her head. Crazy talk. She's just a close… friend. Certainly not my new family.

Raylene ran into her classroom and hastily got into her seat for her algebra class. Her classmates stared at her and Ray glared back. Her teacher, Ms. Aynimo, was not amused.

"Okay, since you didn't think it was so important to join us on time, why don't you go ahead and solve this problem?" She gestured towards the board, where several different numbers and figures were chaotically skewed together into some sort of exercise.

Raylene politely said, "Yes ma'am," and went up to the board and solved it within a minute.

Raylene's teacher cleared her throat. "Hmm, yes… Very well. Not how I would've done it, but your lucky guess work suffices. You may sit down Miss Naiht."

Geez, what the heck is wrong with you, Allie, trying to keep the truth from me? Of course I know about your situation. I know exactly where your parents are. But how can I slap some sense into you-I mean-have a nice, calm discussion about what's really going on-when you won't give me the chance?

Raylene's mind wandered off to a very faded memory from around seven years ago, when she and Allie had first officially met. It took place one dreary, grey, and windy fall morning, right before their elementary school day started. Raylenia was dropped off at school too early for the doors to be unlocked, so she decided to go "exploring" around the school. She walked through the playground, past the school building, past the blacktop covered in multicolored sidewalk chalk drawings, until she was near the side of the building that was opposite the main entrance nearby a dumpster. That's where she saw little Allie-in a dirty yellow dress with her face buried in a book.

"Hey, what's your name?"

Allie didn't respond. Raylene persisted. "Hello? Hey? Come on, now, I don't bite…"

She knelt down next to the girl and saw that she was actually fast asleep. She poked her on the shoulder, then after a few moments, she proceeded to shake her a little. The girl still wouldn't wake up. "Hey, kid!? C'mon, get up, are you alright? Get up!"

Even though Ray didn't even know this girl's name, she started to feel panicked. Ray'd seen her walking around the playground all alone before during recess. She'd always be walking around reading her books. Being a loner herself, Raylene never bothered to say hi…. And now it seemed like she could be… could be…

"Mm… what? Who are you? Has school started yet?"

Totally. Safe. Thank GOD. As if there even were such a thing looking after this-oh forget it!

"What the heck are you doing here, sleeping by the dumpster!?" Raylenia shouted.

"I-I-I… I'm what!? Oh geez, I had to get dropped off very early, like... an hour or two ago! So I came here 'cause my parents always tell me to keep out of sight since nothing good happens when it's dark y'know? But I was really tired so I accidentally-Wait, a second. Who are you, again?"

Raylene stood there staring at her in shock for a few moments, until she started to look very uncomfortable. "I-I'm… I'm Raylenia. I don't care what ya call me. Ray, Lee, Aylee, whatever. I'm new to school this year, so nobody really calls me anything yet. I'm a 2nd grader. Nice to meet ya." She held her hand out for the girl to shake. "And you're…?"

"Oh! I'm Alenka," she quickly got up, dusted herself off, and took Raylene's hand. "You can call me Allie if you want, that's what my mom always calls me… I've lived here my whole life. I'm a 3rd grader."

"Really? I thought this whole time that you were younger than me…"

Allie laughed awkwardly and looked down at at her shoes.

. . .

Alenka was very hungry, but she had no money. Her mother used to pack her a lunch every morning. Unfortunately, she still wasn't used to this horrid new routine. She opened her backpack to see if maybe she had loose change in there for lunch and, to her surprise, found a sack lunch.

How on earth… OH! …oh.

Allie realized that Raylene was the only one that had touched her backpack other than herself today. She felt a pang of guilt for being so harsh towards her friend… then a sudden jolt of shock.

How did she know that I didn't have lunch? That incident with my parents, no one's supposed to… Oh. It was probably on the news. Duh. And she played dumb because… She knew it was a touchy topic. Oh. Geez.

She kept feeling guiltier and guiltier over the incident from earlier. Her friend had only been trying to look out for her, and Allie paid her back by yelling at her in the hallway, causing her to be late to class. Great. Allie made a mental note to try and think about others before herself from now on.