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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19. Chapter 19

“...Elia...Elia, Elia wake up!” My eyes jolt open as I feel a shove in my left arm, the sound of my name bringing me back to the real world. Tiredly, I tilt my head to the right, feeling a sharp pain in my neck as I do so, and look up to see Max leaning over to the passengers side form the driver's seat. “Good morning.” He smiles. I sigh, stretching out as much as I can from inside the car, rubbing my eyes gently.

“What time is it?” I ask, still a little hazy. The last thing I remember is waking up at half past four in the morning, and getting dressed as quickly as I could so Max and I could leave for Los Angeles.

“Twelve-thirty,” Max tells me, “You’ve been asleep for most of the drive, in fact, you only stayed awake for about the first thirty minutes.”

“What about you?” I check, “You must be tired.”

“Oh I am…” Max nods, “But I don’t think I could sleep if I tried, I don’t know if it’s nerves or excitement, but I can’t stop my mind from racing.”

“Well I’d suggest you channel that energy into finding your old friends, we’re on a deadline, remember?” I say, opening the door and getting out of the car. Once outside, I’m finally able to stretch out my legs and arms fully, reaching up high to ease the tension in my back. Every single inch of my body aches, my body feels ten times heavier than normal. Once the pains of sitting hunched up in a car for nearly eight hours has eased, I look around, and I find myself smiling. I’ve travelled around so much since I first woke up in the northern zone, but I still get taken aback by each new place I visit. Los Angeles is no exception. It’s one of the most surprising and curious things, the feeling you get when you travel. Every mile of the earth somehow manages to have a whole other atmosphere and feel to it than its neighbour. I find it confusing how some people manage to stay in the same place their entire lives, not even stepping outside of their hometown. I wonder, do they know how it feels? Are they aware of what they’re missing out on?

“According to the address I found, they live just a few blocks away from here.” Max tells me, turning so he’s facing the right direction. I walk over to him, placing my hand gently down on his shoulder.

“Then let's do this.” I grin, taking the lead and walking onwards. Max doesn’t even hesitate, he walks alongside me, his stride powerful and determined. I try to copy his confident expression, masking my own doubt. I really really want this to work, but I’m more than aware that there’s a good chance it won’t, and most of all I’m scared of what failure might do to Max. This has to work, somehow I’ve got to make it happen.

To distract myself from my own worries, I look around as I walk, studying the landscape. From the architecture to the fields, I take it all in, embracing the energy this city has. I focus on the feeling of the warm sunshine hitting my skin and radiating all around my body. It’s January, but you wouldn’t know it.

Max was right, the place wasn’t far away. In fact, the walk is all too short. Before long we’re paused outside a small semi-detached house, wondering what to do next.

“Are you ready?” I ask him, speaking slowly, hiding the fact that my heart is beating twice as fast as normal.

“I think so.” Max decides, “Besides, I didn’t wake up at the crack of dawn and drive for over seven hours just to change my mind at the last minute and chicken out.” Before he can change his mind again, he steps forward and rings the bell, not allowing himself to back down. For a few seconds a tense and nervous silence fills the air, ended by the sound of approaching footsteps. I’m worried that Max might turn and run, I’m worried that I might turn and run. But, before either of us can sprint away, the door swings open, and a tall woman stands in front of us, her wavy mahogany brown hair covering the right side of her face, including her eye. “Frannie?” Max identifies her, his voice breaking a little at the end, “Francesca Walker, is that you?” I can see that Max is a little awestruck, he hasn’t seen her in years, and she must have changed a fair bit.

“Who are you?” Frannie speaks at last, her voice barely a whisper, “How do you know my name?” She speaks so quietly that we have to lean in closer to make out what she is saying, which makes her step back, scaring her even more.

“Frannie it’s me, Max Hills,” Max tries to calm her down, his tone gentle and kind, “We used to work together. Don’t you remember me?” Frannie takes a hesitant step forward, out into the daylight, so she can see Max more clearly.

“I-I think so,” she stammers, “I remember those eyes...I think.”

“I used to go on missions with you brother Kyle, sometimes you’d come along too. Remember?” Max urges her along, trying to help her connect the dots.

“You’re the boy who told us to storm the meeting…” Frannie trails off, her lips quivering, “I-I got arrested because of-of y-you.”

“No, no Frannie that was Timmy,” Max corrects her, “Timmy was the captain, remember? He was the one in charge.” Frannie stares down at the ground for a moment, taking in Max’s words. Obviously this all confuses her.

“I remember Timmy…” she nods, “But when we got back to base he said it was your idea.”

“Timmy lied.” Max states firmly, “It was all his idea, he just didn’t want to face the blame.” Before Frannie can reply, someone else walks up behind her.

“Frannie who's at the door…? Oh. Max? Is it you?” A man stands behind her, with the same brown hair, placing a hand protectively on her shoulder.

“Yes Kyle, it’s me- oh, and this is Elia, she’s my friend.” Max introduces us.

“Why are you here? Shouldn’t you be in Arizona?” Kyle quizzes him.

“Not anymore,” Max sighs, “I need your help Kyle.”

“H-he was talking about Timmy…” Frannie tells her brother, trying to help.

“Timmy? What does Timmy have to do with anything?”

“Look, I’ll explain everything, but can we do this inside rather than on your doorstep?” Max requests, not wanting to draw attention to ourselves.

“Sure...come on in.” Kyle parts from the doorway to let us through. I let Max step inside first, creeping in behind him, keeping quiet.

Once inside the narrow hallway we quickly remove our shoes and move on through to the much more spacious living room. It’s not in the best condition, the burgundy wallpaper is peeling, and the dull grey carpet is covered in red, brown, and black stains. Reluctantly, I sit down on the aged cream sofa, stiff as a plank. Max comes over to sit beside me, whilst Kyle draws the curtains, and Frannie sits down opposite us. Kyle doesn’t sit, he leans against the wall with his arms folded across his chest, staring down at Max with a confused look on his face.

“...You were going to explain what you’re doing here.” He prompts him, getting impatient, tired of the silence.

“Right, right,” Max nods, coming back to life, “I’m here because I need your help, your help and Frannie’s. I want to come forward about what really happened all those years ago when Timmy told us to storm that meeting. He’s gotten away with what he did for far too long, it’s time he got what’s coming to him. Nobody will believe me if I can’t prove it, so I need you to tell the resistance the truth.” Kyle nods, taking it all in, his expression unreadable.

“You’ve kept quiet for years, what’s different now?” He asks, looking Max dead in the eye. If it were me receiving his look I’d not have been able to keep my cool, but Max doesn’t even flinch under Kyle’s glare.

“I want to disrupt the alliance, break up Beverly and Grace, and save somebody whose life I value to a stupid and silly extent.” Max replies honestly, not holding anything back. This sparks a reaction from Kyle, who seems a bit taken aback by his answer.

“You don’t work for the alliance?” He checks, stunned.

“No, I don’t.” Max clarifies. Kyle looks away, shaking his head. “What? Did you think I was here to try and recruit you or something?” Max guesses.

“Something like that…” Kyle trails off, a disturbing edge of bitterness in his tone, “So, this plan to destroy the alliance, I’m assuming it all stems from Beverly turning on Grace?” Kyle swiftly deflects back to the original conversation topic. I can tell he’s hiding something, but I’m in no position to pressure him for information.

“Yeah, once we expose Timmy it won’t be long before Beverly turns on him, and when she does Grace will defend him. All the tension between them will finally get too much and they’ll split. Grace will probably join the rebellium, and Beverly will take over the resistance. With the two forces fighting again they won’t have the time or resources to hurt anyone they shouldn’t.” Max summarises.

“Clever.” Kyle sighs, “It’ll probably work too...Frannie, would you go and put the kettle on?” Frannie nods and smiles, getting up and leaving the room. A few seconds after she leaves Kyle walks over to us, sitting down beside Max on the sofa. “I can’t help you Max, I’m sorry, I wish I could.” He confesses, “I can’t draw attention to myself.”

“What? Why? Kyle, if you’re scared of what Timmy might do then-”

“No, no, it’s not Timmy.” Kyle cuts him off, shaking his head, “It’s bigger than Timmy.” Surprisingly, I catch on before Max does, piecing it all together. The low living standards, the inconspicuous location, the secrecy.

“You’re in hiding.” I realise, “But from who?”

“About thirteen months after the mission-gone-wrong, me and Frannie were assigned a new mission...a dangerous one. I think Timmy might have even arranged it, worried that we might talk eventually. Anyway, it went badly, me and Frannie were the only ones who got away, and the others were tortured for information before they were killed. We weren’t safe, the intelligence agencies were after us, so we were given new identities and lives over here, and we haven’t moved since.” Kyle explains, hurt leaking into his tone, “It’s why Frannie’s so nervous all the time, what happened that day changed her, and always having to look over her shoulder hasn’t helped.”

“That sounds...awful.” Max says, staring down at the floor, “But why does it mean you can’t help me?”

“When the alliance formed one of the conditions was to call in all available assets, a guy came around a few months back asking me to rejoin, the only problem was they didn’t want Frannie, they wanted me to leave her behind. The only way to stay with her was for us to leave the resistance, all we got to keep was the house. Since then we’ve had to live without electricity or decent heating just to afford a meal each night. The alliance ditched us. Without my resistance membership I have no legitimacy, my word is worth just as much as yours. I’m useless to you now.” I listen to each word intensively, trying to think up ways around the dilemma, but to no avail. An awkward and painful silence fills the room, looking at Max I can almost see his heart sinking as he realises the depth of what Kyle is telling him, so much so that I have to look away. Frannie re-enters the room, smiling slightly as she hands us all mugs full of cheap instant coffee, turning to return to her seat on the other worn-out sofa.

“What now?” She turns to Kyle, looking to him for guidance, unaware that we’re already finished here.

“We can’t help them Frannie, they need us to talk to the resistance, but the resistance wouldn’t believe us, not any more.” Kyle summarises, his tone sympathetic, though I’m not sure if that’s for Frannie’s benefit or Max’s.

“Why?”

“We’re not members anymore, remember?” Kyle reminds her, remaining patient with his sister.

“You.” Frannie says, sparking confusion in us all.

“What?” Kyle leans forward, unable to understand her.

“You.” She repeats, as if the meaning behind her words is as clear as the sun in a cloudless sky.

“I don’t understand Frannie…” Kyle sighs, “Can you explain it for me?”

“You. You’re not a member anymore, you said we’re not members, but that’s wrong.” She spells it out for him. It hits me at the same time it hits everyone else, Frannie was correcting him.

“Oh, right.” Kyle realises, “Yes, that’s true, I’m the one who left, technically you’re still a member, even though they don’t want you.”

“I can talk to the resistance.” Frannie offers, looking to her brother for permission after she speaks.

“I’m not sure Frannie, it might not work.” Kyle mumbles, not keen.

“Actually, it should.” Max steps in, “She is a member, and she was on that mission.”

“But-but look at her Max,” Kyle walks over to him, speaking too quietly for Frannie to hear, “She’s not the same person she used to be. Do you really think they’ll believe someone in her mental state?”

“I don’t need them all to believe her,” Max shakes his head, “I just need Beverley too, and she will.” Kyle stares at him for a moment, still unconvinced. I decide to try and sway him in our favour.

“It’s Frannie’s decision Kyle, not yours. If she wants to help, you shouldn’t try to stop her.” I keep my tone gentle to ease my strict words, and it works, Kyle buries his head in his hands, and when he looks up again, he is beaten.

“Fine,” he agrees, “Just...be careful with her.”

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