Lucid

~The Sequel to 'Little British Girl~
- Decide which side your on -
Three and a half month after Luci kidnapped her birth father, Xander Moore, Elia and her friends are on the run. Both north and south are engulfed in complete and utter chaos, and the resistance and the rebellium are gaining power through an alliance. Both sides want them out of the way, and they have nowhere to be, nowhere where they belong. The four friends must choose a side, the alliance, or the government, a decision that will forever haunt them all.
Nothing is certain, nothing is safe, nothing is lucid.

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12. Chapter 12

The journey to California was swift, we made sure to take as little time as possible, none of us felt comfortable around the general public. We’re fugitives now, we don’t know who we can trust. Any one of the many people we pass by in the street could notice my black hair is in fact a wig, and realise who I am, then all they have to do is phone the police, and we’re all busted. We didn’t all travel together too, which helped. Annabeth and Max paired up, and I stayed with Daniel. It gave us some time to talk, fantasizing yet again about Watson & Jackson, and the life we wished we had together. When I wasn’t dreaming away with Daniel I was thinking about my birth father. We’re pinning everything we have on this one man, will it all be worth it? What if he turns out to be like Xande? Selfish and egotistical, obsessed with achieving order even if it means torturing people by trapping them inside stone cells. Or Beverly? Unable to put aside logic and reasoning to help her child? We’ve all been through so much, we need this, something good, something secure, something to bring us a little bit of hope. I don’t care what Luci thinks, finding my father is the only way forward for me, and for everyone else. That’s clear to me- even if everything else isn’t…

We’ve been walking around California for hours, it’s too risky to get on public transport, or to get a taxi for that matter. If one person recognised us then we wouldn’t be able to run away. It was a sound idea in theory, but in practise, it’s extremely painful. My legs feel like they’re about to drop off they ache so much. My ankles buckle with each step I take, tilting that little bit more each time. Not to mention my frozen quads- with only cheap thin fabric from my supermarket-bought trousers to protect them from the freezing wind they’ve turned into blocks of ice, crunching down on my kneecaps. I’m running on the energy I got from a ninety-nine cent energy bar I got from a service station about six hours ago, and I’m half-convinced I might pass out at any second.

“Here we are, Haskell Road.” Annabeth sighs as we all turn the corner, as relieved as I am that we’ve finally made it. I look at the landscape around me, there’s about thirty houses on this road, fifteen on either side, and one of them houses him, my birth-father. The problem is...which? Call at the wrong one and it could be the end for us, though calling at the right one could mean the end too…

“Which one do you think it is?” Max asks me, following my train of thought.

“How should I know? It’s not like I have some sort of psychic link with him.” I say, my words coming out more angry than I mean them to.

“It’s that one- number 21.” Annabeth speaks suddenly, sounding certain.

“How do you know?” Daniel checks, taking my arm before I can rush over, being extra-cautious.

“See the yellow sign in his window? It says ‘No cold callers here’, and the front door has four different locks. Definitely and ex-official, paranoid and isolated.” Annabeth explains.

“It’s still not much to go on-”

“It’s enough, it has to be, it’s all we’ve got.” Annabeth stops him before he can finish his sentence, remaining firm, “Go on, Elia.” She ushers me.

“What about you guys? Aren’t you coming too?” I take Daniel’s hand in mine, not wanting to let go, but he brushes me away, giving me a gentle nudge forwards.

“We all decided a long time back that if we ever got to this stage, you’d be the one to ring that bell, alone.” Annabeth shakes her head, smiling encouragingly.

“This part of the journey isn’t about us, it’s about you, finally meeting your real birth-father.” Max adds. I look at all their supportive faces and know their minds are all made up, besides, they’re right, this is my part of the journey.

I turn around and walk over to the house, I’m not sure if my legs are numb due to pain or nerves, either way, I’m glad that they’re no longer throbbing like a drum beat. When I reach up to ring the doorbell I realise my hand is shaking, my fingers wobble like a jelly, fumbling around as they press the smooth, plastic button. I few seconds later I hear footsteps as he comes to the door, and before I have a chance to take one last deep breath, it swings open…

...and I look into the eyes of my father.

He’s tall- taller than Xander anyway, and definitely fitter, his belly doesn’t bulge out of his trousers like stuffing pouring out of a turkey. His eyes are brown, but a lighter shade than mine, they almost look golden in the sunlight, and they’re underlined subtly by small, round wrinkles. I think what struck me most though is his short, cropped, blonde hair...exactly the same shade as my own, it even seems to bear the same smooth texture- it falls in exactly the same way.

“What do you want? Didn’t you see the sign? No cold callers.” He grumbles, moving to shut the door, but before he can I wedge my foot in, keeping it open.

“Please, I need to talk to you Mr Ryans.” I beg him, pleading more than I meant to. This isn’t how I expected this to happen. He was supposed to look at me and just know, like I did.

“How do you know who I am? Who sent you? If it was head office tell them I’m done, I don’t work for the government anymore.” He snaps, assuming I’ve been sent to recruit him. He shoves the door against my foot, trying to get me to move it out the way.

“I don’t work for the government either, please, just give me a moment to explain.” I try to get him to listen. He looks up at me for the first time, starting right into my eyes. For a moment I actually think he’s realised who I am, but then he says,

“You don’t have the look of an official...very well then, but you can’t come inside.” I sigh, a tad disappointed, but I refuse to let it discourage me.

“I don’t need to,” I assure him, “I just need you to listen.”

“Go ahead.” He permits me, taking a small step back and widening out the door. In return, I retract my foot.

“In 1991, you went on a business trip to the Southern zone as the PA of Xander Moore, the soon-to-be head of Northern security. Is that correct?” I begin.

“Yes, but how do you know about that?”

“Whilst there you and Xander bonded, and decide to go out for a night of fun, drinking, and gambling.” I avoid his question, “There, you both met women, who you decided to spend the night with. The woman you met was called Jemima, right?”

“She told me her name was Catlin…” he trails off, “What’s going on?” Catlin, my mum’s middle name, she used to use it as an alias.

“Never mind, we’re talking about the same woman.” I promise him, “Anyway, that night you slept with her. In the morning you parted with her, and got on with the trip, you probably would have forgotten all about her, that is, if she hadn’t become pregnant with your child. Nevertheless, you returned home to the states, but you never stopped thinking about her, her and your baby. A few days after her fifth birthday you decided you couldn’t take it anymore, you quit your job and moved out here.”

“How do you know about that? How do you know about any of this?” He snaps, getting agitated. I take a small involuntary step backwards, not wanting to start a scene. I have to tell him, it’s now or never.

“Because- because, well, Jemima, or Catlin, or whatever she told you her name was, she was, uh, my- my mother.” I finally blurt it out, looking up from the ground to meet his confused gaze, “And you’re my father.”

“You-you don’t look an awful lot like me or her…” He stumbles, trying to make sense of what I’m telling him. I smile, realising I’m still in my disguise. I step into his porch, away from the public eye, and remove my wig, shaking out my hair. I look up, allowing him to see the real me.

With a quivering hand, he runs his fingers through my hair, leaning in closer. Without warning, his arms wrap around me, and he’s pulled me closer, hugging me so tightly I wonder if he’ll ever let go.

“It’s really you...you’re here at last…” he mumbles, mostly to himself. He finally pulls away, his cheeks red and damp, I realise I’ve been crying to, wiping away my tears. “Wh-whe-...why? Why are you here? Why now?”

“If I knew where to find you, I would’ve come sooner.” I spit my words out, fighting back even more tears, “B-but I didn’t, I thought-never mind, it doesn't matter what I used to think. Now I know who my father is...and he’s you. As for the reason I came here now, well, I need a favour.”

“Anything.”

“It’s a big favour…”

Anything.

“I’m guessing you’ve seen the news about Xander’s kidnapping?” I check.

“Of course...wait, you haven’t- have you?” He fumbles, worrying about what he might have got himself into.

“No, no, it wasn’t us.” I assure him, setting things straight, “Last year I was kidnapped by a group called ‘the rebellium’, who were under the impression that I was Xander’s biological daughter. I came to the south and fell into the hands of the resistance, and there I met a girl called Luci, who told me she’d found files proving he was my dad...but it turns out she was lying, she was his real daughter, I was just a convenient cover, you see, you weren’t the only one who met a woman that night. Anyway, Luci used me and the resistance to get close enough to Xander to kidnap him, then she made it look like we did it. Now we’re on the run, the resistance won’t help us, so I thought that maybe…?”

“You thought I might keep you safe.” He realises, taking a moment to think. To my surprise, he only takes half a minute or so to make his mind up. “Bring your friends inside, I’ll get the fire going, you must all be freezing.” He turns around to go inside, but I grab his wrist before he can.

“Wait- are you sure?” I double-check, he has to know just what it is he’s getting mixed up in. He turns to look at me, cupping my face in his hands.

“My daughter, I have waited over twenty years for this day. I didn’t get to raise you, or clothe you, or tuck you into bed at night when you were younger, but that doesn’t mean I won’t do anything now to keep you safe and out of harm's way. I don’t know anything about you, I don’t know what your first word was, what your favourite colour is, or whether or not you have any allergies. I don’t know if your heart is pure or damaged…but I do know that I owe you this much, and more than anything, I know that I can’t wait a second longer to find out all the answers to my questions.”

I smile so hard I almost dislodge my jaw, and rush outside to grab the other's, tears streaming down my face.

For the first time it what feels like forever, I feel true, solid, untarnished hope.

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