“Alexis?” my dad’s voice interrupted my scrolling through Instagram.
Despite my physical freedom, I did have access to the internet. A few years ago I made an Instagram and Twitter account, posting my cell phone photography and saying whatever was on my mind. I had about ten thousand followers on both, so I guess people cared about what I said. But to obey my dad’s wishes, I used a different name, and completely different information. To everyone else in the world, I was Valerie Green.
“Dad.” I said, my voice coming out more miserable than I meant.
“I’m leaving, I should be back by ten.” He said grabbing his briefcase off the island I was sitting at.
“By ten you mean tomorrow morning right?” I swiveled around on my stool.
He turned around and gave me an almost guilty look. I know he hated leaving me here by myself, but his job required his full attention. Besides, if he really was that concerned, I wouldn’t have been cooped up in this stupid mansion for the past eighteen years.
“You know how things are at work honey, I’ll be home as soon as I can. And I promise that tomorrow we’ll watch the basketball game.” He said kissing my forehead.
I didn’t have the slightest idea about how to play, but basketball was my absolute favorite sport. As a family, we’d watch it every Saturday morning. It was the same routine, yet I never got tired of it. I’d run down stairs and sit in between my parents on the couch, I would be the ref, and my mom would go for one team, and my dad for the other.
It was like we recreated the game in our living room. Saturday mornings had to be the highlight of my week. But ever since mom died a few years back, its been the highlight of my life. I’m lucky if dad’s even able to be home with me anymore.
I zoned back in to reality after having the flashbacks of our old Saturday mornings, and saw like a mirror on my dad’s face, the broken expression I had on my face. I tried to hide from dad how miserable I really was, he was the only person I had in this world and I don’t want him to feel bad or annoyed because of me. But after so many years of hiding, I think my heart just gave up.
“I love you.” He said giving me a small smile.
“I love you too.” I watched him walk out the door, and as soon as it shut, I heard something shuffling across the floor.
“Morning Rafiki.” I smiled hopping off my stool and bending down to pet him.
Rafiki is the closest thing I have to a friend, he’s like my baby brother. And no he’s not a dog, he’s a cheetah. If anyone knew that my dad and I had a cheetah living with us, he’d be fired just like that. So he was our little secret. He’s not full grown yet, only a year old. But then again, animals tend to grow a lot faster than humans.
I stood up straight and started to walk out of the kitchen, and up the stairs to my room with Rafiki right next to me. I shut my bedroom door behind me, not really knowing why since I was home alone, I guess it was just a habit. I sat down at my desk, opened up my laptop, and saw my master plan open in front of me.
I had done hours upon hours of research, figuring out exactly what to wear, where to go, and how to get there all while being unnoticed. Knowing that my dad works latest on Friday nights, (like tonight) I knew that it would be my best shot. I was finally going to get out of this house for real. Chicago has been at the edge of my fingertips for the past eighteen years, and tonight, it would be sitting right in the palm of my hand.
Connor let me have the book for the night, noticing my curiosity towards it. I was almost scared to touch it again after I touched it the first time. I put it in my backpack as securely as I could and held it tightly to my chest as I walked up to my apartment. For some reason, as much as I tried to reject the offer from Connor, it felt like I had to take the book. It was just so… tempting.
I quickly walked into my apartment and shut the door behind me and locked it. I pulled the book out, and dropped my backpack to the ground. I ran to the couch and sat down, staring at the book in my hands. I ran my hand over the cover and felt a shiver run through my hand. My eyes focused on tiny print in the corner and I read it out loud.
“Alesa Morenav.” I whispered. Then I felt a rush of wind and my breath caught in my throat. My eyes widened and my hands gripped the book so tight my knuckles turned white. I flipped the book open and started ripping through pages.
I couldn’t breathe, it felt like my heart had stopped and a ghost had entered my body and possessed me. I didn’t know what I was looking for or why, I wanted to stop but I couldn’t. I had no control.
My vision was blurry, the book turned an orange-red color and so did everything else surrounding it. Suddenly I could breathe again. I took a big intake of air, followed by multiple coughs. I set the book down on the couch next to me and gripped my stomach, my ribs felt like they were on fire, I just wanted to die. I didn’t realize my eyes were closed the whole time but I was scared to open them.
I decided to pry open my eyes slowly, and saw that everything I looked at was the same orange-red color of the book. I blinked a few times but nothing changed. I stood up and stumbled down the hall into the bathroom. I switched on the light and as soon as I saw my reflection in the mirror, it felt like I had stopped breathing again.
My eyes were the color of the stone Connor had showed me, and the same thing happened to him when he told me what it could do. I leaned closer to the mirror and stared deep into my own eyes. This isn’t a natural eye color, I knew it wasn’t. Forgetting my eyes, my mind went back to the book.
I left the bathroom and took my previous position on the couch with the book in my lap. While in my possessed state I flipped to a page that had the same words that were on the cover, Alesa Morenav. There was nothing else on the page except for a flower that had faded and there were tiny words on the petals.
“Free her, and free yourself.” I said cautiously, I didn’t want some weird thing to happen again.
That same annoying chill shot through me again and my eyes slammed shut again. I opened them and looked around the room. My vision was back to normal, and I could see everything in its normal color.
“Free her, and free yourself.” I said again, what does that mean?
It couldn’t be directed towards me, this was Connor’s book. I guess it was his job to free someone and then he would be free. But free from what? He was ten years old and didn’t seem to have a care in the world. I looked back down at the book and let out a small gasp. The flower was gone, so were those two words. The page was blank, like nothing had ever been there before.
I suddenly didn’t want to be here anymore. The tiny apartment now had a weird and creepy aura floating around. I pulled my cell phone out of my pocket, and looked at the time, six forty five. I needed something for dinner and that was the perfect excuse to get out here.
I stood up and grabbed my leather jacket off the couch followed by the book. I walked over to the door and slid the book and zipped it shut. I went back outside to my motorcycle and hopped on. As I road, not really knowing where I was going, I thought about the million questions I would ask Connor tomorrow.
I wish I lived in Florida, where there were sunny skies and the warm air could flow through my hair. It’s far too cold in Chicago and the cold air was only amplified as I was riding as fast as I could on the bike I had “borrowed” from our closest neighbors. They wouldn’t miss it anyway, they were over sixty years old and I had never seen them use it. I was about five minutes outside of the city now and I could just hear it, the sound of cars and people and glasses clinking together in celebration of Friday night.
A smile grew on my face and I couldn’t contain it. I’ve never been in the city before and I was so close, I could feel the excitement running through my veins. I hadn’t really planned what I would do when I got there, probably just stare at all the lights like an idiot. But I was more than ok with that.
The lights were getting brighter and my heart was beating faster. I was taking a shortcut I had found that ran through an alley that was behind some tall buildings. I decided that I didn’t need the bike anymore and I hopped off leaning it up against a wall. I shoved my hands in the pockets of my hoodie and started walking.
Farther behind me I heard a crash, not loud enough to be a car and not quiet enough to be an animal. The only other thing in between that was a person. Suddenly I felt a hand grasp the back of my neck and my legs were knocked from underneath me. I let out a shriek and would have fallen on my face if it wasn’t for the rough hand holding me up by my neck.
“Well, look who we have here.” A deep voice said.
I kept my eyes shut and held my breath, which wasn’t a smart idea. A heavy kick hit my back and I coughed, wanting to fall to the ground but I couldn’t make it.
“Alexis Brown, looking as beautiful as ever. Even with your choice of outfit.” That voice sounded too familiar.
I opened my eyes and standing in front of me was the only person who I had ever developed pure hate for.
“What are you doing Tyler?” I choked out.
His brown hair was a tangled mess and even though it was dark, his striking brown eyes pierced me like a knife. He was grinning down at me and his partner gripped me even tighter.
“Just visiting. It’s been awhile and I just wanted to stop by and… have a chat.” He squatted down on his hunches and leaned in my face.
“Alexis, you have something I want. Something I need. And I would greatly appreciate it if you could give it to me now. I won’t hurt you and Jon will let you go.” Why did his voice sound so… fake?
“I don’t have anything of yours.” I muttered, my neck was aching and I could already picture the big purple bruise that would be there. I guess I would have to wear my hair down for the next couple weeks.
“Yes you do. All the signs, all the people have pointed to you. And you obviously don’t need it, so just hand it over.”
“Hand what over?” I snapped.
“The Sun god necklace.” His breath came out like a cloud of smoke and hit my face.
“I don’t know what that is. Tyler let me go, I obviously don’t have what you’re talking about.” I tried to move my legs that were just dangling on the ground, but it felt like they weighed a million pounds.
Tyler stayed in his position and just watched me struggle like it amused him. While we were “dating” he never did anything physical like this, even after I got rid of him. He would send all these threats and warnings but I just ignored them, I never thought he would really do anything. Especially over some random necklace.
He looked up at the guy holding me, Jon I think his name was, and suddenly I fell to the ground, my hands only easing the blow to my face. I thought he was done, but he grabbed me by my ponytail and forced me to stand up. He shoved me against the wall and held me there by my throat, making my breathing come out in short pants.
“Alexis don’t play dumb with me. I know you’re a smart girl in every aspect. Do something stupid and it could easily be the end of you.” He said roughly in my face.
“You’re just bluffing,” I choked out, “y-you wouldn’t kill me.”
“Wanna bet?” Next thing I knew there was something warm and thick running down the side of my neck, and Tyler was gripping something far too sharp for my liking.