“How are we gonna get past them?” Said Noah.
I sunk to the floor, I thought we were happy, I thought we were safe it was all for nothing. “Oh.”
“Who's the fastest runner?” Asked Vespa, who kept strangely calm about the whole thing.
“Cassie.” Said Noah.
“What?” I was so confused. It was like an iron curtain has been swept over my mind it now seemed everything was pointless. We were never gonna get out of there. Vespa hit me over the head.
“Hey.” I shouted, instantly covering my mouth.
Vespa stared down at me. “Look you need to pull yourself together because you're going to get us caught with your constant wallowing. Get up.” Vespa pulled me up roughly and pushed me against the tree. “Ok I have a plan so you need to get your head straight. Focus.” I rolled my eyes. Vespa's hand was across my face before I could blink.
“Vespa.” Said Noah, moving to step in.
“I said focus. I am not losing my only chance at freedom for some stupid, snotty cry baby, you got that.” I stared open mouthed at Vespa as she explained the planning. As I walked away I felt my cheek, it was burning with pain and humiliation.
I stood in the woods waiting for the perfect moment. For it to go silent and I couldn't help but feel that it was only me who's freedom was on the line. Vespa had taken the bag I was alone in the woods. I was the bait. I kicked the floor, Vespa didn't want me there, she didn't like me and now I was going to risk my freedom for her and Noah. Noah, I guessed it was the only reason I was doing this, Vespa was the by product but Noah was would be safe and that's what mattered. This was for him. I was his diversion.
I braced myself took a deep breath and screamed. Loud, high pitched and primal. Once again the forest fell silent and I listened carefully. There was crunch after crunch and then finally a shout.
“Over here.” That was the cue. I turned to the right and began running. The idea was they would run to where I had screamed and the three of us would be able to get over the fence. But it all depended on how fast I was and how good the guards were. Vespa and Noah had hid somewhere and would run when the guards had vanished. After 100 meters or so I turned to the left, the direction of the gate. For a moment I paused and looked through the trees, sure enough I could the see the guards in the exact position I had been in mere seconds ago. I began running again, skipping over logs and ducking under branches. I was getting used to the running and if there wasn't the threat of danger I think I would of enjoyed it. Running seemed to clear my head in so many ways and it made me feel alive for once, the rush could only be explained by the wind in my hair and adrenaline of my feet pounding on the floor.
Trees scratched at my legs, arms, face as though they too were trying to catch me. I breathed as deeply as I could but I just ended up screaming in pain. I could them behind me, getting ever closer and close. It was then I admitted to myself that I couldn't do it. I collapsed behind a fallen tree trunk and began taking in giant breaths, paying off my oxygen debt. That was when I heard them, right on the other side of my tree trunk. “She went right, I’m sure of it.” Said one of them, they were as out of breath as I was. Keeping my hand over my mouth I listened as they walked away. Seriously, they walked away. When I could no longer here them at all I let a sigh of relief pass out of my mouth. Hesitantly I got up. Before I could smile a hand was over my mouth and I was being dragged from my hiding place.
“Wait, ssh. I'm not going to hurt you.” Was it Noah, no the voice was completely different. My eyes widened as I realised who it was. Spencer.
“Hey guys she's...” He didn't finish. I kicked backwards, aiming for his crotch and with my big boots I got him, hard. He dropped me and somewhat crouched into himself his face twisted in pain. I scuttled away from him.
“Stop.” He grabbed at my leg but I kicked him away, again and again. I fell on top of my, his hand once again over my mouth, his body weight crushing me entirely. I screamed, or at least tried too. In an effort I managed a squeak.
“I don't want to hurt you, we need to get you back to the hospital where you're safe.” I bit at his hand and when his fingers rose I whispered, “I remember you.” His eyes widened and in that second he was off guard. I kneed him in the groin and he groaned loudly rolling off of me. It didn't take long for me to be up and running again leaving him on the floor.
I had cut my hand in the struggle but I didn't care, it didn't hurt, I was completely numb to any of it. As I ran through the woods all I could hear was 'In the Mood' that same old song playing. I had come to realise that it was the music of my life, I couldn't remember where exactly I had heard it but it was the clarity within my blurred memories. I was grateful to hear it as I ran, it spurred me on, made me more determined to be free. I had tastes freedom, it tasted comforting and safe and just a little bit cheesy (or maybe that was the lasagne) and like an addict I wanted more. Freedom was my legal high, or in this case illegal considering they so desperately didn't want us to have it. I stopped again not knowing where I was. The woods wasn't silent and I could here them as the music faded from my ears.
“GET HER.” It was loud, to the point, it was Spencer. Leading the hunt. I began running again, zig zagging like Noah had said to. And then I saw it, the fence. That glorious fence that seemed to glow in the sunlight. Freedom was so close.
I sped through two trees getting close and closer to that beautiful fence that marked the bounderies of our hell hole. One step closer and I was there. I hurtled over it not bothering to care for my safety. I was over. Scraped and cut but what did that matter, I was free. I got up and turned. Thinking suddenly of Noah and Vespa, surely they'd of had to of got there quicker than I had. Realising that they must have been gone was like a knife in my heart. Sure Vespa was slightly horrid but they were my family. I spun to the fence I had just gotten over and stared at them. Vespa and Noah sitting behind the two trees I had sped through holding what looked like a fishing wire between them.
“There!” Shouted Spencer pointing directly at me. A smile passed over my lips as I realised what was going to happen. I watched as everyone of the guards fell, like toy soldiers.
If the wire hadn't gotten them, their fellow guards had and I couldn't help but laugh as I watched them lying in a pile, each groaning. Laughing too, Noah and Vespa sprinted past them and over to me. Soon they were on the other side of the fence. We ran together, sprinting away from the fallen guards, laughing our heads off once again high on freedom.
“Welcome to Old Rock Village.” Said Vespa, reading off the little white sign, it's writing candy pink and loopy. I smiled, ignoring the pain in my cheeks. We were in the little seaside town and it was beautiful. We were stood on the hill and from there we could see it all: the picturesque ocean, the labyrinthine paths and the luscious green fields. My legs could barely keep me up but I just wanted to run, like an animal. The sun was hot on our backs and I pulled my bottle green sweater off, letting the sun warm my arms. I closed my eyes and breathed deeply. The air was salty but there was something else behind it, sweetness.
“Come on, we better find a place to stay for the night and then we'll find out about boats tomorrow.” Said Noah, taking off his jacket too. He was right. We had to find somewhere to sleep, my legs were literally screaming now. Vespa wiped her brow tiredly and began walking down the hill. It took us a while to find anything because all we passed were houses, there was a little lane going down to a horse stables but eventually we found our way into the main village.
It was like something out of my books. Every shop just looked perfect, with complimentary colours on every shop front. It seemed that although the town was little it had just about everything. There was a Pub, a cute little sweet store and an aged looking book shop, its wood panelled front painted deep blue and the front window glistened with make shift moons and stars.
“Fifty Shades of Grey.” I said reading one of the book titles. “That looks interesting.” I said practically pawing the glass. We walked further and further down the hill, searching for a simple hotel.
“Hey guys look.” Said Noah going over to an odd looking shop front. 'Help Wanted' read the sign.
Vespa moved over to him her arms crossed and her face bored. “Can we just find a hotel.” She said glumly.
“You won't find an empty hotel around here.” Said a voice. We turned round and stared at the boy who was hanging in the door of the shop.
“Excuse me?” Said Vespa, somewhat rudely.
“I said, you won't find an empty hotel around here. It's summer all of the hotels are fully booked.” The boy smirked as though he found Vespa's grumpiness amusing. I guessed he was about Vespa's age if a little older but then again I always found boys to look older than they are. His height didn't help either, he easily towered over me.
“I'm Freddie, by the way.” He said tilting his head and resting it on the door frame. His brilliant blue eyes sparkled in the light and his cheeky attitude made me smile. He seemed as happy I was. For a moment there was silence and Freddie slide a hand through his messily cut blonde hair. It was short at the back but his fringe was long and fell to the top of his cheek bones. The lines going towards his mouth that was stretched in that ever curious smile, for some reason he reminded me of the Cheshire cat.
“I'm Cassie, this is Noah and you've met Vespa.” I paused to stare at Vespa who was standing moodily to the side. “We're new in town and we really need a place to stay, we've been walking for a long time.” He turned his head and something glinted in the sunlight. There was a ring in his nose.
“Gran.” When he turned I looked him up and down. He seemed strangely edgy for a person living in this town, with suede boots, skinny black trousers and a grey loose tee, the only thing that gave him away as a seaside townie was the sunglasses folded on the neck of his t-shirt. He caught me staring and I smile awkwardly at him. Noah and Vespa remained silent.
“Freddie, Honey I have customers I can't come at your every beck and call, what is it.” A little old lady came to the door way. She was strangely cute and utterly different to Margaret. She was tiny compared to Freddie and was even shorter than me. Her face was soft looking and deeply wrinkled but her blue eyes stood out and they were as beautiful as Freddie's. Seeing her made me want to smile too because that's what she did when she saw us. She smiled and looked at her grandson lovingly.
“I think I found you some new workers.” Said Freddie.
“Oh good I...” The lady was interrupted by somebody shouting for her. “Can you sort them.” and then she was gone again, disappeared into the shop.
“What do you mean new workers.” Said Vespa angrily.
“Well you need a place to stay and we'll offer accommodation for you if you work for us.” Freddie smiled, it was so simple for him, it could have been simple for us.
“Um, we were thinking of leaving tomorrow, we wanted to catch a boat.” I said nervously, I didn't want to seem rude.
“A boat? This isn't Dover.” He said. “Come on take the offer, you're just needed until the end of the holidays and then... and then I’ll drive you into the main land and you can go anywhere you like.”
It sounded like a good offer and I wouldn't of minded staying in the little village. I could learn to swim and I could get a suntan.
I turned to Noah and Vespa and began pleading.
“No.” Said Vespa loudly, “We need to get out of here, it's unsafe.”
“Come on a few weeks won't hurt and we need to rest before we make an decisions.”
“Vespa I agree with Cassie.” Said Noah, standing a little closer to me.
“No. Are you out of your mind we need to get out of here.”
I turned to Freddie, who looked like he was amused watching our little tiff, he seemed amused all of the time. “Vespa lighten up. You can go if you want but I’m staying here.” I said firmly. Vespa stared at me opened mouthed and then she stormed off. Noah followed behind her. I sighed and rubbed my head. I turned back to Freddie.
“I guess I’m your only new worker.” I muttered. “What is this place anyway?” I asked looking the shop up and down.
“It's half music shop half café. The music's to attract teenagers, the café to attract the oldies of the town. It's a pretty cool dynamic I’m not sure why they don't have these kinds of things in the main land.” I heard a moan a little far away and then Vespa was back, her arms once again folded, with Noah right behind her. He smiled, “We'd like to take you up on your offer.” He said proudly.
Freddie flashed a cheeky grin and motioned for us to step inside 'The Dusty Guitar'.