Sean stood up from the small wooden table in the middle of the kitchen. The dimly lit room gave off an eerie feeling as he walked slowly to the door. He opened it, hoping to see the face of his father, but instead was greeted with nothing but the looming darkness that hung outside.
Sean pulled a small envelope out of his pocket, it was worn from being opened and closed time and time again as Sean waited to see his father. He had gotten the letter two months ago. Inside the letter, his dad told him that he would be home for his birthday.
He looked at the carefully written words that scrawled across the card. He sighed, looking out the door one more time. The sun had set hours ago. His mom had gone to bed, light from the TV in her room peering under the door.
He felt betrayed as he looked out into the darkness that engulfed his neighborhood. He closed the door quietly, hearing the metallic click of the door falling into place. He walked over to the kitchen table and sat down.
He stared at the plate of cake in front of him. Somehow, seeing all the fun colors that covered the cake made him feel even worse. He got up from the table and grabbed the two plates, walked over to the trash and put them in.
He went to the light switch in the corner of the room and turned it off. He didn't need the light to navigate his way through the shabby one floor house, as he had memorized some time ago.
He walked into his room, closing the door, careful to make sure that it was open slightly, and climbed into bed. Tears fell from his eyes as he buried his face into his pillow. His dad had not shown up, even after he had sent the letter saying he would.
After the divorce, his dad left for California, leaving without notice. Sean had received letters from him when he had left. They came every day, until they started coming once a week, and then once a month, and then stopping all together. The letter in his pocket was the first letter Sean had gotten from his father in the past five years. He sighed, closing his eyes, and soon drifted off into sleep.
He awoke the next morning to the smell of his mom cooking breakfast, the mouth-watering smell of bacon and eggs. He sat up slowly and stretched. He got out of bed and walked to the kitchen.
"Good morning," said his mom.
"Good morning," replied Sean, rubbing his eyes with the palms of his hands.
Sean went to the refrigerator and grabbed the milk, then went to the cabinet and took out a glass. He poured the milk into the glass and sat down at the table. His mom put a plate in front of him.
"Thanks mom," smiled Sean grabbing the fork next to his cup of milk.
His mom ruffled his hair, smiling back at him. "Don't forget you made plans to go to the mall with Connie and Chloe today."
Sean looked at the small clock above the oven. It was only ten. He had plenty of time before he had to go. He ate his breakfast slowly, savoring each bite as the perfectly cooked meal slid across his taste buds.
After he finished his meal, he walked to his room and grabbed his ukulele. He had only been playing for about a year, but he was bent on getting better at it. Not long after he sat on his bed with his ukulele, he hear yelling from across the street.
Sean looked out his window to see a group of kids playing a pick-up game of basketball in their driveway. He never liked basketball. It looked like a pointless game to him, but then again, every sport looked pointless to him.
After a while of playing, he decided that it was about time to head to the mall. It was only a ten minute walk from his house, but Sean had to pick up Connie and Chloe first. He figured it would be about twenty minutes before they started making their way to the mall. Chloe lived in his neighborhood, but Connie lived roughly twenty minutes away from Chloe's house.
Sean walked as fast as possible to Chloe's house. He hadn't called her because he knew Chloe's phone broke the other day, and her family was barely able to scrounge up enough money for dinner, so he knew her phone wouldn't be fixed.
When he got to Chloe's small, one floor house, he rang the doorbell. He waited a minute until Chloe's mom came to the door. "Why hello there, Sean! How are you doing!"
"I'm well. How are you, Mrs. Brook?"
"I am doing just marvelous! I assume you are here for Chloe?"
"Yup. Do you know where she is?" asked Sean.
"Sure do. She is in her room. You can head on over to her."
"Thanks Mrs. Brook," smiled Sean.
"Anytime darling," replied Mrs. Brook with a smile on her face.
Mrs. Brook moved aside to let Sean in. He loved Chloe's mom. She was always really nice to Sean. Maybe it was because Chloe didn't have too many friends, or maybe it was because Mrs. Brook was just really nice. He wasn't quite sure.
When Sean reached Chloe's door, he knocked once. "Who is it?" a voice called from inside the room.
"It's Sean," he replied.
"Oh, come on in."
Sean opened her door. He had been in Chloe's room before, but it looked different. He couldn't quite pin what was different about it, but something was definitely different. She was in blue jeans and a salmon pink t-shirt. He thought she looked pretty. He thought she always looked pretty, but sometimes she looked like a different person altogether. This was one of those times.
"What's up?" asked Chloe.
"Ready to go?"
"Sure thing!" she replied, grabbing her purse from her dresser.
Talking and laughing as they usually did, they made quick progress to Connie's house. As they walked up Connie's front porch, the door flung open wildly, causing Sean and Chloe to stop in their tracks.
Connie burst out of the entrance, her face red with anger. She slammed the door behind her, took a deep breath and looked at the two standing in front of her.
"Well are we just gonna stand here or go have fun?" she asked, a smile appearing on her face.
"What was that about?" said Sean, glancing at her tentatively.
Connie ignored the question, giving him a look that said she didn't want to talk about it.
"Well, we should get going. We don't wanna waste anytime we could be having fun!"
The mall they were going too was the biggest in the area. Usually it was pretty populated, since most of the kids from school ended up going there to hang out after school, especially on weekends. Not to mention it had some of the best food, which was the reason Sean loved to go.
Entering the mall, they were greeted by the chatter of people making their way about the towering building. Not very far from the entrance, kids could be seen running about, as their parents tried to keep them close by.
Multi-colored signs were littered everywhere, some advertising health and beauty products, while others had posters of upcoming movies plastered on them.
They browsed around for a while, Chloe and Connie leading as Sean followed close behind. They ended up going to a makeup store and several clothing stores before they stopped for a break.
"Well, I'm kinda hungry," stated Chloe.
"Sure, we can get some food," said Connie smiling.
"Yea, lets go to the food court," said Sean grabbing Connie and Chloe's hands and leading them in the direction of the food court.
They all set their stuff down at a table in the middle of the food court and went to go and get food in different places. Sean was walking off on his own looking for somewhere to get food when a short girl dressed in dark clothes with dark blue hair bumped roughly into him.
"Watch where you're going" said Sean gruffly.
"My bad darlin'," she said winking at him as she walked off.
Sean shook his head, unsure about what just happened. He got his food after waiting in line for some time and went back to their table in the middle of the court. When he sat down he felt something hard in his back pocket. He put his hand in his pocket and pulled out a phone. He looked at it in awe, wondering where it came from.
"Sean? Are you okay?"
He looked up at Chloe and showed her the cell phone. Connie and Chloe gasped.
"Where did that come from?" asked Connie.
"I have absolutely no idea…" started Sean. He thought for a moment and then lightly gasped. "I know where it came from."
"Where?" asked Chloe.
"Some girl bumped into me when I was looking for somewhere to get food. And she must have put it in my pocket somehow."
"Have you tried to turn it on?" asked Chloe.
"No, not yet," said Sean, uneasy. He glanced up at Chloe and Connie. "Do you think I should?"
"I would if I were you," said Connie.
Sean pressed the power button on the side of the phone and it came to life and booted up. When the phone turned on, there was a message on the front screen from "Restricted."
"So? What happened?" asked Chloe leaning over Sean's shoulder.
"Well, it turned on normally and it says there is a message from "Restricted."
"Open it!" gasped Connie.
Sean pressed the notification on the screen and it opened up the message.
Sean, if you are reading this then you have received the cell phone intact. When you, Chloe, and Connie are in a quiet location please dial the number at the bottom of this message. I trust that you will follow these directions promptly.
Sean read the message over again and again. He had no idea what to do about it.
"So? What does it say?" asked Chloe poking his cheek.
Sean showed the message to her and then to Connie. They both read it silently and then looked at Sean.
"What do you think it means?" asked Chloe.
"I have no idea… I think we should do what it says," replied Sean looking up at her.
Chloe nodded. "Right."
"Wait! We just got here!" exclaimed Connie, "We are just gonna leave the mall because of this one small thing? We don't even know if this is real or not."
They all looked at each other and thought for a moment. Finally Chloe broke the silence. "I think we should go."
Connie rolled her eyes. "Sure. Whatever, I guess."
They all got up from the table and made their way out of the mall. They walked quickly to Chloe's house because it was closer to the mall than Sean or Connie's house. When they got to her house Chloe opened the front door and gestured to them to follow into her room. When they got to her room Chloe closed the door and turned the light on.
Sean took the phone out of his pocket and looked at it hesitantly. Chloe noticed his hesitation and put her hand on his shoulder.
"It's gonna be okay Sean. Whatever happens, Connie and I are going to be by your side the whole time."
"And besides," added Chloe, "the message mentioned us, too. You're not in this alone."
Sean sighed. "You're right. Let's do this." He turned the phone on and unlocked it. There was only one application on the screen and it was for phone calls. He pressed it and the dial pad came up. He typed in the number and put the call on speaker phone. The phone rang once and then a voice came through the phone.
"Place the phone on the ground in a dark room with the back of the phone facing up."
Sean put the phone down on the ground as the voice had instructed him to do. Connie quickly went to the other side of the room and flipped the light switch, causing the room to be engulfed in darkness.
As soon as the light turned off, a soft blue light emitted from the back of the phone. After a second an image of a girl with dark blue hair and dark clothes appeared in the blue light.
"That's the girl that bumped into me at the mall!" gasped Sean.
All three of them looked at the image of the girl being projected above the phone. When they did, a soft and silky voice rang out from the small speaker on the phone.
"Sean, Chloe, and Connie. I see that you have followed the directions on the phone as requested. I believe that all of you know that Sean has not seen his dad in the past seven years. Just recently we have discovered why."
The image being projected from the phone changed from the girl to the logo for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
"Seven years ago, George Sterling left for a highly classified mission for the United States Government. Two months into the mission we lost contact with Mr. Sterling. We believe that you three are the only ones that can track him down and find him." The voice and the image of the girl paused briefly and then continued.
"Of course this is not a demand, and all three or any of you are able to do it. Together or alone. However, you must commit soon." An image of Sean, Chloe and Connie appeared above the phone. "You three are the best hope we have. We hope you will be joining us soon." The image above the phone changed back to the girl. "If you choose to help us, meet me at the mall tomorrow at four pm where you first saw me. I hope to see you there."
The image of the girl faded away and Sean, Chloe and Connie all looked at each other. They stayed like that silent for a few minutes, a look of thought and worry across their faces.
"Well," started Sean, "I'm gonna do it."
Connie looked at Sean. "I don't know Sean… We have no idea if this is even real."
"How can you even say something like that Connie?" questioned Sean. "We just saw a hologram come out of the back of a cell phone. They knew the name of my dad!"
"But didn't you find it odd that she said he was working for the FBI?"
Sean hesitated for a moment. "You're right… I didn't really think of that. My dad was a scientist. He studied how different forms of energy affected the human body…"
Chloe looked at both of them. "Well, I'm going."
"Of course I'm going too," added Sean. They both looked at Connie waiting for her response.
"Well, I don't really have a choice now, do I?" said Connie, rolling her eyes and grinning.
"Then I guess it's settled," stated Sean.
"See you guys tomorrow at four," smiled Connie.