When The Thunder Rolls

Emily Johnson, 17 years old, with a tough past and a lot of secrets. May sound familiar? But it's not.

This story is different.

When she was fourteen, she did something, no fourteen year old should do.

She witnessed something she will never forget.

Now she's running.

Hiding, along with her brothers.

Running to Stratford, she hoped that she could finally have some peace for a while, but when the thunder rolls, and the lightning strikes, memories flashes by...

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8. The past

Emily

Everything has been a bit boring lately. It has been one and a half month since the dinner, and ever since, I have done the same thing every day. I get up at six a.m. go for a run, come back, takes a shower, get dressed, walk downstairs, grab some breakfast, eats it and place the bowl in the sink, where after I go into the living room and check if there’s anything worth watching in the TV. When I find out that there’s not, I turn on the PS3 and play until Nathan pokes me and tells me that it’s time to go.

School flies by and I never really realizes when it is done. Ashley and I have official become best friends, and Justin and his crew watches over her when I have one of my bad days. They aren’t here so often anymore, but when they are, I’m in a really bad mood.

Justin is still the only one who knows who I really am. Ashley has asked about it a few times, but when I told her, I wasn’t ready to tell her just yet, she smiled and changed the subject.

I was currently in Math class, with Justin on my left and Ryan on my right. They were talking about some party that was supposed to go down at Friday, which was tomorrow. Justin had invited me, but to his surprise, I had turned him down. When he had asked why, I just waved him off.

“Em?” Justin said and poked me in the cheek. I shook my head and turned it to look at him. His brown eyes I had gotten lost in so many times before were full of concern.

“Huh?” I said. He chuckled.

“You really don’t sleep at night huh? I was asking you what you were doing this weekend since you aren’t coming to the party?” He repeated himself. I rubbed my tired eyes when a yawn took control over my body. Justin chuckled once again, and sent me a smile that said that it was okay.

“Um, I just can’t.” I lied and turned my attention away from him. I wasn’t sure on my plan, but I just felt like it was the right thing for me to do at the moment. I needed someone to talk with, and there were only a few people that I could talk to about what I had on the heart.

“Ashley’s going to be there.” Ryan lured. Yeah, and you better keep a good eye on her Butler or I’ll kill you. I didn’t say that out loud.

“Forget it, Ryan. I ain’t coming.” I said when another yawn attacked me without warning. The teacher caught me yawing and looked at me with a stern look.

“Ms. Johnson, am I boring you?” He asked and the whole class turned their attention to me. I tried to stop yawning, but it just slipped. “That’s it. The Principal’s office, now.” He said. Justin looked excited, he always loved when I argued with the teacher, but this time, the teacher did me a favor, so I just stood up and left the room. Even the teacher looked surprised when I past him without a word.

***

I sighed as I was allowed to finally leave the Principal’s office. I had been in there for forty minutes, and to be honest, I had fallen asleep. It was only because of the nice lady by the desk that I was now awake. I walked into the cafeteria and down to the table, I always sat at where Nathan, Cooper, Ashley, Justin and his crew was waiting. Ever since I had become friends with Justin, the rest of the crew followed.

The rest of the crew consisted of: Riley, Sean, Taylor and Noah. Personally, I liked Riley and Noah the most. Mostly because they were the only ones that weren’t flirting with me. Except for Ryan and Chaz f course.

 I sat down, pushed the trail with food away from me, and laid my arms on the table with my head resting on them. I heard Nathan sigh. Not because he was tired of me, but because he was tired of not being able to do anything. He hated to be so helpless when it came to me and the rest of the family.

Ashley ran her hand up and down my back in a soothing way, telling me that she was there for me. All I had told her was that nightmares were keeping me awake at night.

Ashley had changed a lot from the day I met her to now. She stood up for herself whenever someone said something nasty about her. Her style had changed from insecure to confident, but still her. She was wearing less makeup to cover up. I had convinced her that makeup didn’t cover up her flaws, and that she had to play on her flaws, because that was what made her, her.

Justin had changed too. He still ran the school, but he wasn’t going after innocent people any more. He was going after the people who were going after the innocent ones.

Ryan and Ashley had been on one date, but they didn’t know. They actually think that Justin and I blew them off for training. In reality, we had been sitting at my place, playing COD, blowing them off on purpose. However, they didn’t know that. I felt someone shake my shoulder, gently, I sat up and was being stared at by the whole table.

“What?” I asked tired.

“You were sleeping.” Ashley said surprised. Nathan digged into his pocket, and found a small box that contained some deep red pills. He handed me a glass of water, and two of the bills. I swallowed the pills without complaining.

“Ew, they taste gross every time.” I complained after swallowing them. Nathan chuckled.

“But they help. At least a little.” He said. I nodded in agreement.

“What are those?” Ryan asked and looked at the pills in the box Nathan was trying to get back in his pocket.

“B-vitamins. They should help you make up a bit. It’s almost the only thing she’s eating at the moment.” Nathan said. The truth is that they don’t, I just tell Nathan that they do so he will stop bugging me with it. They all kept talking, while I was using the last of my energy to stay awake. Luckily, I had a free period after lunch, so I was going to hide in the gym and take a nap.

I feel like a zombie. I can see everything around me, but I never really understand what’s going on around me. Everything I do at home is train and sleep. I barely eat, and when I do, it cereal. Everyone is concerned about me, but I don’t really care?

***

I dragged myself up the stairs and into my room where I immediately crashed on the bed. I had finally changed my bedroom into something more me. The posters on the walls were replaced with pictures of friends, places I want to visit and quotes. I had You Know My Name Not My Story written with black over my bed.

At dinner times, Nathan woke me up from the three hour nap I had taken and led me downstairs where he watched me eat the food they had made for me. After that, he followed me up to my room, where he watched me fell asleep again.

I woke up at three a.m. because of my phone. It was vibrating furiously next to me on my nightstand, signaling that I had an incoming call. I grabbed the phone and answered without looking at the caller ID. I opened the window and crawled out while answering.

“It’s Emily?”

“It’s me.” The familiar voice in the other end said. I was quiet for a few seconds before answering.

“And?” The person in the other end answered me and hang up. I immediately jumped in through my window and found a small bag. I threw a few sets in there, my wallet and closed the bag. I put my hair in a ponytail, covered my hair by a black cap and made my bed. Then I scribbled down a little note and place it on my pillow, before jumping out the window and crawling down the tree. The nice summer night made me wake up a bit. I started walking down the street when a voice made me turn around and stop dead in my tracks…

Ashley

I walked through the front door and expected to see Emily by my locker. Instead I saw Nathan and Cooper, and they didn’t look happy. I walked over to them, knowing that I hadn’t done anything wrong. I approached them like I always did, with a smile on my face.

“Hey guys. Where’s Emily? Is she having a bad day?” I asked, feeling sad for my best friend already. Nathan pursed his lips, like he was trying to prepare himself to tell me something.

“Ashley? You haven’t heard from Emily, have you?” He asked, low voiced. I shook my head no. I looked around for Ryan and his friends, they usually came over and said good morning. It was sort of a tradition.

“What about Justin? Have you heard from him?” He asked. Nathan and his question made me uncomfortable. I shook my head no, and hugged the books I was holding even closer to my body.

“Nathan, what is going on? If this is one of your pranks it’s nowhere near being funny.” I said. I had a feeling that told me that something bad had happened, but I didn’t know why.

“Okay look, I can’t tell you too much, because Emily said that she wanted to tell you herself. But-“ He paused when Ryan finally came over to us, looking concerned. He looked amazing dressed in a pair of grey sweats and a white t-shirt. I forced myself not to stare at him, and listen to what he said instead.

“Have any of you seen Justin today?” He said, skipping the good morning he always used to say with a happy smile on his face. We all shook or heads no.

“Damit.” He mumbled.

“Okay, you two -“ I pointed at Ryan and Nathan “- What is going on. First Nathan comes up to me and asks if I have heard from Emily, then Ryan comes and asks if anyone have seen Justin. You better tell me what is going on right now!” I said, getting frustrated.  Nathan looked at Cooper and then at me.

“Okay, look. Emily is gone. She ran away during the night, and we don’t know why. We found a note on the pillow that said that she loved us and that she would be back. But the problem is that we have no clue what might have triggered her to leave. Last time, it was because of – “ Nathan stopped himself before he could finish his sentence. I was just about to ask what he meant when Ryan spoke.

“That’s weird. Pattie, Justin’s mom, called me this morning asking if Justin had stayed over at my place during the night. Apparently he ran away too and Pattie don’t know why!” Ryan explained.

I felt my heart sink. Emily was gone, she had left. My mind wandered off to what Caroline said the first day Emily was here Let’s hope she doesn’t run away like the last one did. I felt my eyes watered, and before I knew it, I was crying.

Ryan stepped forward and pulled me into his, telling me that they would get back. I really hoped he was right. Nathan ran a hand down my back in a soothing way, before telling me that Emily always came back after running away. That made me a little happier.

I asked them why they didn’t just call her, but Emily knew what she was doing. She had left her phone at home, same with Justin. Wherever they are, they didn’t want us to find them.

Justin

I sighed as the plain finally landed in L.A. Emily and I had been sitting on a plain for about four hours. Emily hadn’t closed an eye the whole way. This would be my first time in L.A, but the circumstances weren’t what I had expected them to be.

When the plain finally landed, Emil put her cap back on, and pulled the hoodie over her head, covering as much of her face as possible.

We walked off the plain with our small bags that was just small enough to be seen as hand baggage. Emily’s idea.

Emily hurried over to the girl’s bathroom, and when she came back, I could hardly recognize her. She came out, wearing a dress! Her real brown hair was suddenly blond and the bag she had brought with her in, hang over her shoulder.

“So much effort for not being recognized?” I asked as we were settled in the back of a cap, on the way to the address Em had given the driver. She didn’t answer.

Now where we were back in her home town, she should be happier, but she only looked more depressed than ever. Emily had told me some about what happened, but when I found out that she was going back I wanted to join her. I needed to know the whole story. And I knew that Emily needed someone to share it with, other than her brothers.

We drove in silence for about an hour, when the cap stopped in the middle of nowhere. I was sure that the driver had gotten the address wrong, but Emily opened the door and stepped out. She handed the driver the hundred bucks she owed him, and he took off as soon as we had gotten our bags.

“Em, you do realize that we are in the middle of nowhere, right?” I asked her. The sound of my voice seemed to bring her back to reality. Her now blond hair was flying around her head, revealing some of the brown hairs underneath.

“You said you wanted to see where it happened. So I’m showing you exactly where it started.” She said with a sad voice. She pointed down the road and started telling me about the day, her life changed for real.

 

Back in time. May 20th

Third person

The wind blew through the street, while the sun was shining. It was a beautiful spring day when Emily walked down the street. The school bus couldn’t drive her all the way home, so she got off in the middle of nowhere. She smiled as she walked through the small hidden path she knew that was between the trees. Her house was just on the other side of the small line of trees. It wasn’t big enough to be called a forest, so she just called it a line. After all, she was only ten when she named it that.

Emily walked down the path with a smile on her face. She was so happy, and she couldn’t wait till she got home, so that she could tell her mom that she had gotten her first kiss at school today. She couldn’t tell her brothers, they wouldn’t like it. They always treated her like a baby. The kiss was the reason that she was home later than expected, so she had to lie to her brothers and tell them it was because of detention.

She walked out of the line and, onto the gravel driveway. She looked around for her brothers, but they were nowhere to be seen. Emily cleared her throat and listened very carefully. No music either. Something was wrong. Her brothers would always be outside playing soccer, even when it was raining they would be running around outside, laughing at each other when someone slipped in a puddle of mud.

There would always be music coming from the house, her mom hated the silence. Even when Keith was playing music in his room on max volume, she wouldn’t care. And when her dad told him to turn it down, her mother would be there to say, that it was okay for a teenager to listen to loud music, and that her dad would just have to deal with it.

Emily sensed that something was wrong as soon as she realized that there wasn’t any music. Her family was all about the music and training. Often, they two thing went hand in hand. Emily walked towards her home with slow steps. She walked through the garage, but stopped when she saw that the door that led into the house was open. It was never open. You always had to find the spare key and use it to open the door.

Emily threw her school bag on the floor and found her dad’s old nine-millimeter gun. She wasn’t supposed to know where he hid it, but Emily was a curious girl. As soon as she had found out that he had a gun at home, she had started searching for it. She checked the magazine for bullets and saw that it was already full. That was weird? Her dad always removed all the bullets. She had seen him do it.

She loaded the gun and took of her shoes so she wouldn’t make a sound if the burglar were still in the house. She was sure that someone was there she could almost feel it.

She walked through the door and into the house. She walked through the laundry room and into the kitchen. Emily made sure to check the sides before entering. It was exactly like when she and her brothers were having a paintball fight inside.

She walked past the counter, and the sight that met her was horrible. Her dad… Emily felt herself smile a little. There, you got what you deserved you bastard. Emily walked past her dad’s dead body and tried to forget the sight. His skull was parted on the middle, and blood was everywhere. His eyes were open, but missing. And he had a huge R cut onto his back.

Emily took a deep breath and listened carefully. If there was one thing Emily knew, it was that her mother would do everything to keep her away from the danger.  She stood as turned to stone and listened carefully for anything that was out of place. A small whimper, not loud but exactly loud enough for Emily to hear, came from upstairs.

Emily lowered the gun, placed it in one hand, and started walking up the stairs, making sure not to step on the steps she knew made a sound. She skipped three steps and was finally upstairs. She raised the gun again and secured the hallway. All of the kid’s rooms were down one long hallway. Emily noticed that the door to her room was open. And Emily never let her door stay open.

She walked down the hallway, slowly, when she heard a familiar voice. The voice was talking, and the closer Emily got, the more she could hear. She stopped right outside her room, and allowed herself to take a look inside.

Her brothers. What had he done?!

Emily’s brothers were all tied up with duct tape. Marc, the one who had a temper like Emily, (she was proud of having Marc to share that with) were lying on the floor, unconscious. The anger was boiling in Emily’s veins. Her mother was lying on the floor in front of her sons, almost naked.

Emily was just about to say something when that son of a bitch did.

“Where is my dear niece? I would love to see her try to get out of this.” Her mother tried to speak up, but he hit her. Her face was ruined. He had hit her several times in the head, and the bruises were starting to show. Her mother’s left eye was blue and she couldn’t open it.

“She will come, eventually. Meanwhile, who shall we kill first, Martha?” He asked her, smirking. Her uncle pointed his gun to each of her brother’s heads. Her mother was trying to say something when her uncle ripped off the duct tape.

“Don’t you touch my boys!” She yelled. Her mother caught Emily’s eyes, they were screaming for her to run. But Emily wasn’t one to back down from a fight. She stayed where she was. When her mother realized that she wasn’t going to move, she muttered the words I love you guys so much, before speaking up.

“You are one son of a bitch! No wonder I chose Michael over you! You’re worth nothing!” Emily watched as he hit her again. He grabbed her by the hair and pushed the gun to her forehead.

“And that is exactly why you’re going to die. Everyone always chose him over me. But I got what I wanted in the end. I raped you in front of your own sons. I killed your beloved husband, I will kill your children. But now, I will kill you. If you had just chosen me back then, nothing of this would have happened. I would have given you the world, Martha. I wouldn’t have let you home alone to go on a business trip. I would have raised our kids to be polite, helpful and not temperamental. I would have learned them to help others and forgive people. The job you and Michael have done is crap. Just look at your son! He is lying unconscious, because he thought he was better than I was! Your kids all think that they are better than everyone else, that is a mistake, and know they will pay for yours. Some last words to your kids? Maybe you should tell them to beg me for forgiveness. Maybe then I will kill them fast and painless.” He said evilly. Emily’s mom looked Emily in the eyes for a second before laughing.

“My kids, will end up being the death of you.” Martha laughed mocking. That sent Emily’s uncle over the edge. He pressed his gun to her mother’s forehead and pulled the trigger. The shot was loud and clear.

Emily looked at her now dead mother. The blood was running out of the small bullet wound. The bullet was to find in the wall behind. Blood spatter were all over the walls and her brothers were covered in their mother’s blood. Carl, Emily’s uncle turned to her brothers.

“Your death is your mother’s fault. If she had just chosen me from the start, you would all live.” He shrugged his shoulders. “A shame she didn’t.” He pointed his gun to Jack’s head. He smiled evilly. Emily stepped into the room and fired a shot to the arm he was holding the gun in. He lost the gun and his hand flew up to the wounded shoulder. He turned around and looked at Emily with a shocked expression. When he saw that it was Emily, he smirked.

“There you are sweetie. Just in time for the execution.” He had expected Emily to be shaking with fear when he found the small caliber gun he had hidden under his jacket. Emily fired another two shots to her uncle’s knees.

He fell down on his knees and screamed out in pain. Emily slowly walked over to him, and kicked the small caliber gun away from him. The other one had Nathan pushed out of reach with his feet.

“My mom was right; one of her kids will be the death of you.” Emily raised her gun to her uncle’s forehead, just like he had done with her mother. He was in too much pain to try to take it away from her. He looked at her with pleading eyes.

“Emily, please. You must understand my reasons! Please Emily, please.” He begged. Emily looked at him with a blank expression.

“Maybe you should try and beg me for forgiveness. Maybe you should cry me a river, and tell me a thousand reasons why I shouldn’t kill you in cold blood. Maybe, just maybe I won’t give a fuck and I will pull the trigger anyway.” Emily said cold-hearted.

When her uncle realized that he was going to die, he laughed.

“At least I got my job done. I got my revenge for all of the years in the dark. I killed your parents and now, you will end up on the streets until someone kills you. Have fun.” He said. Emily laughed.

“There is one thing you should know before I pull this trigger. We are the Johnson family, and a real Johnson will not give up without a fight. We will make it, I promise you that.” Emily said before she put the gun to her uncle’s head and pulled the trigger. The sound went through the house and a single blackbird took of outside the window.

The blood from her uncle’s body was floating around Emily’s feet. She stepped in it and went over to her brother. He looked at her with shocked eyes. She rolled her eyes at him and found the small pocketknife she always had on her. She cut the duct tape over and let her brothers free.

They all embraced her. When they let go, Emily walked over to their dead mother and kissed her hair.

“I love you mom.” Emily grabbed the simple necklace that was hanging around her mother’s neck and put it in her pocket. Jack convinced them to call the cops. When they got there, the sight that waited them was so shocking, so terrible. Seven kids, one of them covered in blood, two dead parents and one dead dog. Emily didn’t say much, she explained her part of the story and when the cops took them outside where the TV people were waiting, she didn’t even look sad. She kept a straight face.

A few hours later, Emily was sitting in a studio, explaining how she saw her mother die, how she so calmly pulled the trigger and killed another human being. When asked what she felt when she found her father dead on the floor, she answered:

“I felt nothing but happiness at the time. Now I hate myself for smiling when I found him dead on the floor. It wasn’t his fault that he had to travel for his company. I just wish he had stayed home more that is all. But the good times I had with my parents will always be clear in my head. That’s it, I have no more answers.” Then she stood up, ripped away the microphone and left the studio.

Her brothers were waiting in a silver BMW outside the studio, and that was how their first escape from the cops started.

Justin

Emily looked at me. We were now in the house where it all happened. The house hadn’t even been cleaned. She had taken me on a tour through the house. Showed me exactly what she did when she came home that terrible day. She walked up the stairs the exact same way she did that day. And right now, she was pointing a stick to my head, pretending it was a gun, while she told me exactly what she had said to her uncle, before she threw the stick away and walked over to me. She hugged me and did something, I had never expected her to do; She cried. 

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