Nowhere

She is hanging below me, clinging to a loose rope. I reach out. She’s too far away. She is too afraid to let go, and I am too afraid to lean out any further.
She’s helpless.
The rope creaked ominously. I look up instinctively, and in that second I see the rope snap high above us. My head snaps down in an instant. Just quick enough to see her fall.
I hear my own screams mixed in with hers.
“Megan…!”
***

Lauren's friend, Megan, died five years ago and Lauren has never really gottten over it. Finally she decides that it's time for her to face her fears. She goes back to the place Megan died, hoping to find it in herslef to move on. What she doesn't bargin on is what she discovers about her death. What really happened? And what has it got to do with Lauren? All the while she finds herself falling for boy she'd have ben better off running far away from...

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9. Secret Service

When I slowly open my eyes, all I can see is a bright light. It hurts my eyes so I quickly close my eyes again. I become aware of the rest of my body.  My head aches, my arm feels limp and useless at my side and I feel a stinging, throbbing pain in my leg. I try to ignore it, but it keeps pestering my, reminding me that it’s there, like a little voice in the back of me head saying, ‘Your leg hurts Lauren, what are you going to do about it?’

  I try to remember what happened, but the last thing I can remember is walking through the woods... Oh crap. It all rushes back to me at once. Yasmin, the knife, falling, being stabbed in the leg, getting into a car... but then it all goes black. Who was in the car? Where am I now? Please don’t say they found me.

  I try to work out where I am, but since it’s too painful to open my eyes, I strain my ears instead.

  I can hear two voices, one of them I recognise, but the other I haven’t heard before. They sound like they’re agreeing about something... me, I realise. They’re arguing about me.

  “Tyler, what have you gotten yourself into this time?”

  “Mum it’s complicated.”

  “Don’t you give me that! You can’t turn up at my doorstep without out even a phone call, carrying an unconscious, bleeding girl, and then not explain it. What happened?”

  “They were going to kill her, I couldn’t leave her.”

  “Yes, I’m saying you should have left her, dear. But who was it?”

  “The unit I was working for.”

  “What?! Are you saying that your unit was doing this? What on earth have you been doing? I don’t care about laws of secrecy, I’m your mother, and I need answers.”

  I hear Tyler sigh loudly. “I know, but I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. It turns out it must have been a rogue unit of the government. Like the government gone bad.”

  “And why didn’t Luna tell you?”

  “She would if she’d known. Mum, this is the government we’re talking about, these things are buried so deep that not one person knows everything. I doubt anyone besides those in charge of the unit actually know what’s going on.”

  “What is going on?”

  “I just told you I don’t know! I was told she was a psychopath, so I was only doing my job.”

  “Well, what do you know now?”

  “Hardly anything. I don’t know how much of what I was told is true, but I don’t think any of it was.”

  “Well, then what do we do with your girlfriend?”

  “She’s not my girlfriend.”

  “Sure she’s not.”

  “Mum-“

  I groan from the pain in my leg and I instantly regret it. The conversation stops and I hear hurried footsteps coming my way. I feel the weight of someone sitting on the bed and a hand pressing against my forehead. I open my eyes but this time I force them to stay open until they adjust to the light. Squinting up I see a woman leaning over me. She must be in her forty’s, she has blond hair and dark framed glasses perched on the end of her nose. From what I heard of the conversation, she must be Tyler’s mum.

  She frowns at me worriedly, “Are you okay dear?”

  It takes me a minute to find my voice. “I- I think so.” But my words are contradicted by my wince at the pain in my leg. Whatever painkillers she must have given me are wearing off.

  “Oh dear, of course you aren’t - is it your leg?”

  I nod weakly.

  “Tyler, get the painkillers.” She snaps, and then she speaks to me more gently. “Is it just your leg?”

  I think for a moment. “My arm doesn’t hurt so much anymore. I try and look at my arm, but I can’t see it while I’m looking down. I try to sit up, but with only one arm and a head that feeling like a tonne of bricks it’s difficult. Tyler’s mum supports my back and helps me lean up against the headboard.

  “Thank you...”

  “Call me Alicia dear.”

  I attempt a smile. “Thank you Alicia.” I look around the room. It must be the spare bedroom: cream walls; pretty blue curtains and a simple rustic dresser. I look down and gasp. The lacy bed sheets have been stained a deep blood red. It takes a second to process that it’s my blood. “Oh my...” I trail off lost for words. I look up at Alicia’s worried face, “I’m so sorry, I’ve ruined you’re sheets...”

  She shakes her at my reaction. “It’s fine dear, it’s you we should be worried about.”

  I hear someone chuckle and I turn to see Tyler leaning against the door frame, holding a medicine bottle. He looks terrible. His hair is sticking up at all angles, he looks exhausted and there are blood stains all over the front of his white T-shirt. He can still manage a smile though. “You take one look at the blood all over the bed, and rather than thinking, ‘damn, my leg must be bad’ you’re first thought is, ‘damn, I ruined the sheets’” He shakes his head, chuckling again. I feel a smile pull up at the corners of my mouth, but then I remember that I’m mad with him. That he dated Megan. The thought sends a shiver down my spine.

  I shake it off, glancing at Alicia, she glares at her son, snatching the medicine bottle out of him hands. “Leave her alone Tyler, the poor girl was almost killed.

  I smirk at him, raising an eyebrow as if to say, ‘yeah Tyler, leave me alone’. He just rolls his eyes in response.

  Alicia turns back to me, “Hear, take these, it should ease the pain,” She hands me two pills and a glass of water from the bedside cabinet. I take them gratefully. “You’ve lost a lot of blood and really you should be in hospital.” She glares at Tyler again. Wow, he’s getting a lot of bad vibes from his mum.

  Tyler sighs, exasperated, “I’ve been through this; she can’t go to hospital because the moment her name appears on the computer screen, they’ll know where she’s gone.”

  “Oh, and you’re so sure they won’t find her here?”

  “No, they won’t. We won't be here long enough to work it out.”

  “What do you mean; you won't be here long enough? You’re not staying?” Alicia sounds worried, and I can hear the pain behind her voice. She might look like she’s mad at Tyler, but she loves him really and doesn’t want him to leave.

  A bit like me.

  No, I did not just think that!

  “Mum, do you want them to kill us?”

  “No, of course not-”

  “Well then, we can’t stay or they’ll find us, bust down the door and we’ll all be goners.”

  Alicia sighs in defeat, turning back to me, but not looking me in the eye. I frown, looking between Tyler and his mum. Even after I overhearing them talking, I’m still not entirely sure what’s happening. Something about the government and a rogue unit? “What’s going on?”

  Alicia shoots Tyler an ease-her-into-it-slowly look, but neither of them says anything. “I was almost killed – I deserve to know what’s going on!” They remain silent and I glare at them both, though I feel bad for Alicia since none of this is her fault. From the sounds of it Tyler just turned up on her doorstep with me, so I direct my glare at Tyler instead. He looks uncomfortable. “Tell me.” I demand.

  Tyler sits on the end of the bed, but Alicia gets up and motions for him to sit beside me and leaning against the doorframe, folding her arms and waiting for the explanation.

  “Right, well...”

  “Go on.” I say impatiently.

  “Alright, but just hear me out, okay? Don’t start judging until I’ve finished.” I frown, we both know full well that I’ve already judged him for what he did, and I’m not about to stop now. He looks at me pleadingly, and he looks so desperate, that I sigh and nod. “Well I have an older sister, Luna,”

  I remember her name being mentioned before, but I have to stifle a laugh, despite the seriousness of the situation. “You realise that’s a Harry Potter name, right?”

  A smile tugs at his lips. Why am I looking at his lips? I direct my eyes northwards. “Her real name’s Lana, but everyone calls her Luna. She’s always been obsessed with Harry Potter, so the nickname stuck.”

  “So, your sister...?”

  “She’s five years older than me, so a few years back, when she’d finished university she went off and joined the secret service. None of us liked it much because we hardly ever got to see her. Most of the time she does undercover work, she could get an Oscar for her acting.” He shakes his head, smiling fondly. “I was depressed because Megan had died, Dad went off to America-” At this he shoots a glance up at his mum, who looks pained, but nods at him to carry on. I have the feeling he didn’t just go on a business trip, but I don’t want to pry. “And then I never saw Luna. One day she called us and Mum told her about how I wasn’t taking any of it well, so she went off and found me a job.”

  My eyes widen, “A job, like a job in the secret service?”

  “Yeah. They needed a boy, around my age, to do some undercover work near here. They had more qualified people of course, but Luna convinced them that I would be prefect. It was just what I needed to take my mind off everything, so I accepted.” He looks up and me, worried and guilty. “I swear to god Lauren, I had no clue what I was going to do, I just agreed, not really caring what I was going to do.”

  I see Alicia watching me worriedly as well. I start to panic, what does all this have to do with me? But somehow I thing I already know the answer. “What did you have to do?”

  “Well, I had a couple of years special training because without they wouldn’t even consider letting me loose. Then they gave me my first assignment. I had to spy on a girl. I had to spy on... you.” My eyes widen so much I’m surprised they don’t fall out of their sockets. Me? Why are the government interested in me? What have I ever done? Maybe they really do think I killed Megan... Wait. Tyler is spying on me. I begin to panic, trying to get out of the bed sheets, but I wince in pain when my leg doesn’t allow it, instead I shuffle as far as I can away from Tyler.

  He frowns, looking pained. “You said you wouldn’t judge.”

  “You’re spying on me; how can I not judge?!”

  “Lauren.” He reaches out and puts a hand over mine. My first instinct is to pull it away, but the warmth and weight of his hand on my makes me stop. It calms me, and slowly my heart rate slows down, but it’s still faster than normal.

  I take a breath. Don’t judge. Don’t judge. “Okay fine, carry on.” It takes all my will power to keep my voice steady.

  “I was told that you were a psychopath, that you killed Megan. They were just trying to get me on-side, convincing me that you were evil, but I listened to them.” He sounds angry at himself. “I was just too eager to stop and think. I thought I could finally get revenge for Megan’s death. I promise you, I didn’t join just to get revenge, I told you, I didn’t know until after I agreed.” He looks at me, desperately trying to convince me. I nod stiffly. “I was introduced to Yasmin and told she was undercover as well, but they needed me to get close to you.” He winces as he says it. “I’ve never been as good an actor as Luna, so it was hard to pretend I didn’t hate you.”

  “You hate me? Wow, what a surprise.” I say, sarcastically, but inside I’m trembling, not wanting to know the rest.

  “For god’s sake hear me out!”

  I sit back, surprised. I see the instant regret in his eyes for raising his voice. “Okay. I swear I won’t interrupt again.” I say solemnly, meaning it this time.

  “Sorry.” He apologises before continuing, “When we were by the lake, I liked you, but then I realised who you were and I lost it. I didn’t know what to do. They told me you were evil, but there you were cute as hell and definitely not a killer.” He blushes slightly as he says it. “So I tried to hate you again but it was hard. I started to have doubts. But all I could think about is what I had to do. I just couldn’t see you as a killer and I just couldn’t believe everything they told me was true...”

  He trails off. My instinct is to urge him on, but I keep my promise. Finally he goes on. “I didn’t know what to do, I thought I should do it sooner rather than later, but I just kept talking myself out of it.”

  “What did you have to do?” This time it’s not me interrupting. Alicia stands frowning at Tyler; it sounds like all this is new to her as well.

  He hesitates. Finally he lifts his head and looks me in the eye. Tears fill the chocolate brown eyes as they drill into my own blue. “I had to kill you.”

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