Falling to Grey,

Skyler's life is falling apart right in front of her. Her mother is missing, her stepdad pretends to care, but once the cameras have gone home for the night, he really loses interest in his family. The case has been closed due ot lack of forensic evidence, or rather, any evidence at all. Her older brother, Evan, her safeguard, has gone off to university, leaving her alone with three siblings and a monster. All she has left is her sister, Tessa, her two stepbrothers, Cole and Austin, and a whole lot of unanswered questions. She's locked in a basement mostly every night and weekend, kept under lock and key. One night, Sky does the unthinkable and decides to break all the rules. She goes on the adventure of a lifetime: the quest for answers.

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1. One,

 It's been seven and a half weeks. Almost two months. That's how long it's been since I last saw my mother. How long I've been grieving over the unanswered questions that cirlce around my ears, through my head and usually, out my mouth. I know Tessa feels the same way. I mean, she's only fourteen. Imagine what this has done to her. What good can come from a loss? Someone had to have said that at one point or another.

It's getting dark in here. Cold too. But when is it not? The air is damp, musty maybe, and i can just barely see my breathe through the darkness of the oncoming night. Yup, it's that cold and we only have one tiny blanket to share between the four of us. So, of course, Tessa, my sister, and Cole, my stepbrother, end up stealing the enitre thing for the two of them, leaving myself and Austin, my other stepbrother, to shove out hands under our armpits like the Eskimos to conserve heat. I don't mind giving up the blanket for Tessa. I can see out of the corner of my eye that she's shivering.

It's warm in the rest of the house. But we never spend any time in it. We have to stay in this tiny basement with four beds, one mini-fridge and a microwave that looks like an Easy Bake oven. We stay hidden from thr rest of the world, the outside, the connection between people and freedom, because, apparently, it's safer. Oh, and we can't. And by can't, I don't mean like we don't want to. I mean we physically can't.

When Frank, my stepdad, feels like it, he'll shove us into the basement and that's it. He usually has friends over. I mean, I can't be sure, since I've never seen them, but I can hear thumping around on the floor, Metallica blaring through the stereo speakers and screaming and laughing to the clinks of beer bottles. The thing is that when Frank has his friends over, he beomes a bachelor. He lies to his "friends." I'm pretty sure they only come for the beer. He hides his wedding ring, locks his family in a 30x30 room and expects them to live off whatever is left in the rusty cupboards. He lies and says he's a bachelor with no one but himself.

The old and creaky wooden door is bolted form the outside. No one goes in or out of the basement until the boys go home for the night. Or the weekend. Or the week. One time they stayed for six days. Six days of non-stop heavy metal music, drifting in and out of consciousness from the stinging sweet and sour taste of too many drinks, and vomiting.

The windows are bolted shut too. But the curtains have long since rotted away over time. I mean, the house is old. It's been around for decades. No one lived here for forty years before we did. The curtains that are no more means that whatever little light gets through the thick panes of buleltproof Gorilla Glass gets to shine on our faces.

There's no electricity down here, so it gets dark and cold at night. There's a small toilet underneath ine of the two windows which gets full often when you live with two boys, So, it has to be emptied, but there's nowhere to empty it in this freaking room. So it just sits there and sitnks up the room until we can come out.There's a basin of water that's ice cold next to it too.  The four beds, or should I say cots, are spread out an equal distance form each other.

But under one, there's a plastic Ziplock bag tucked inbetween the plastic frame and the woven-together plastic fibre thingies. A bag that holds all I have left of my mother for now. Whatever money she could find inbetween couch cushions, under the beds, in the kitchen, anywhere really, is in that Ziplock. And I know that if my mom could've told me to keep one thing close before she went missing, it would have been that bag of money. 

Out of the corner of my eye, I see that Tessa has stopped shivering. She's fallen onto her side on the floor near her bed, and her chest rises and falls in a slow, but steady beat. I don't know how she fell asleep with all the noise, but she did. i realize that I've been staring at the back of  Cole's head for probably close to an hour.

It's getting late; I can see through the small window on the left that the moon is fully aware that it's duties must begin. It shines brightly but it's not bright enough to completely illuminate the room. Aaustin sits across the room, leaning upright against his bed. He stares out the window. I can see that he is focused on the moon. I think he's saying a prayer, or at least asking for the strength to not cry, to seem strong, to make it through the night, to see the sun rise the following morning.

I know that Austin and Cole's mom died a couple of years ago, and after that Franki fell into a sort-of daze. I don't know exactly what happened, but I try not to bring it up around them because it makes them emotional and angry. But according the stories I've heard from the other kids at school, apparently, Frank lost interest after his first wife died. He resorted to drinking and locking anything that reminds him of her away. I get it, but I think it's a shitty way to deal with your problems. What really bugs me is, he doesn't act the same way for his second wife that he did for his first.

Austin whispers something from where he's sitting.It's inaudible. Mostly everythign you say down here is inaudible because of that stupid music that constantly blares.

"What?" I whisper back.

Again, he tries to whisper back but I can't hear him. I know he can't see me, so I scootch on my bottom over to where he's sitting, being careful not to make too much noise, so Tessa, and now a softly snoring Cole can sleep peacefully, or at least semi-peacefully. Once I get over to him, I say again,

"What?"

Aaustin keeps his eyes locked on the moon. And, on this particular night at this particular moment, I can see his face against the dim moonlight. His eyes are red and his shirt has some water stains on it from  his tears, although there is a faint little smile across his face. he'd been sobbing so quietly, alone, that I didn't even consider for a moment that he might be upset. For such a "tough", "cool" guy, the guy with the reputation that everyone wants, he's soft. I never expected a guy like Austin to cry, but everyone had secrets.

" I said, what are we going to do tomorrow?" He says quietly, still looking at the full moon. Then, the faint smile grows and he laughs and he crwals into bed. I giggle and I feel my eyelids growing heavy. I crawl like a baby, on all fours, over to my bed, and just like I do every night, I pat the Ziplock and pray that tomorrow morning I'll see my mother walk up the driveway and realize that marrying Frank was a mistake, and then she'll take Tessa and and I away, back home, along with Cole and Austin.

"Goodnight guys,"  I whisper inaudibly, as I close my eyes to the moonlight and the sounds of Metallica screaming though the speakers in the distance.

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