Sunday, December 22, 2013

TRAPPED Sunday Serial: Part Three

Part Three
Before I can scream, a small but callused hand claps over my mouth, thrusting a gag into it.  After landing on the floor with a soft thump, I’m dragged through a secret passageway and into a small, empty room floored with linoleum and lit by a single fluorescent bulb.
The bulb lights up the room just enough so I can see who was imprisoning me.
It’s the girl I’d seen in line, dressed in all pink!
She yanks the gag out.  I almost vomit when I see that it was an oily rag, formerly white but now gray.  
“Whatever you do, don’t scream,” she says sharply--I think I hear a tinge of unknown accent in her voice--“or they’ll find us.”
Who’ll find us?” I retort, thinking about calling for help.
She shoves the rag back in, and I choke on the oil.  It tastes like gasoline--damp and earthy and GROSS with all caps.
“I’m Amber Talina Sharpina Harttmin,” she says, putting her hands on her hips.  “And I’ve saved you from almost destruction.”  Her voice is low, guarded.
I want to say, How have you saved me from almost destruction? but naturally, I can’t.  So I just bite on the gag and breathe through my nose.
“Nod yes or shake no to my questions.  Have you noticed a lot of people dressed in one color?” she asks.
I nod yes.
“Are you wondering why I’m dressed in all pink?” she asks.
I nod.
She yanks the rag out.  “Tell me your theory.”  She sits down next to me.
Once again, I deliberate screaming.  But I find that I’m curious.  Too curious to pass this opportunity up.
“I said I thought it was a flash mob, but I don’t think so,” I tell her.  “Bill Myrey looked like he was about to rob a bank.”
She snorts through her nose.  “My dad told him he could just wear his jumpsuit, but, oh no, poor Mr. Myrey thought it would look better if he wore all black.  As a result, an innocent civilian gets in the way.”
“What are you talking about?” I ask Amber.
She looks at me, surprised.  “A conspiracy, of course.  I’m the ringleader’s daughter, and I want you to be my copartner in rebellion.”
She says this as matter-of-factly as if she were announcing she was going to do her math homework or something.  
“What are you talking about?” I ask, once it’s all sunk in.  “A conspiracy?  The ringleader’s daughter?  Copartner in rebellion?  First I have to know what this conspiracy is.”
Amber Talina Sharpina Harttman takes out a nail file and starts filing her perfectly polished pink nails, as if inviting a person to be part of a rebellion is no big deal.  “My dad’s planning to trap all the tourists in the park with his army of men, robbing all the money here, and getting back to our country.”
The accent.  I shake my head, undoing the weirded-out cobwebs that have been growing in it.  “Your country?”
“Nobody knows we exist.  We’re more like a colony.  We live under the Rocky Mountains,” Amber tells me.  “My ancestors came up the mountain during the pioneer days because they didn’t want to use new inventions.  And we’ve just been living there ever since.”
Her accent is slightly British.  Barely perceptible, but still, you can hear it in certain words.
“So…” I say, looking at her pink jogging outfit that’s clearly been bought from Pink.  “You don’t have, like, cell phones up there?”
“Oh, we do,” she tells me.  “We’ve reformed.  We realized that it was useless to run away from change.  We have our own cell phone tower and Wifi and stuff like that.  We never got around to moving back down there, and lately we’ve been having...financial problems.  Hence, the conspiracy.”  
I still can’t get over the fact she’s acting like it’s no big deal.  “Financial problems?” I repeat.
She just looks at me.  “What are you, an echo?  Yes, financial problems.  We need money, too.  What, you think we just, like, stole the materials for the tower and our houses?”
I’m not really quite sure what to think.
After a short reflective pause, Amber says, “Well, actually, we did.  But there are stuff that’s hard to rob.  Like bamboo.  And computer chips.  So we have to buy.”
“Um, you know that stealing’s against the law, right?” I decide right then and there that I don’t want to be part of Amber Harttmin’s rebellion.  I’m not sure if it’ll be much better than just joining the conspiracy.
“Of course.  And I’m really sad about it too.”  She doesn’t look that sad to me.
Then Amber tosses aside the nail file and stands up.  “You’ll be my copartner in the rebellion.  We’d foil my parents’ plans and save everybody in Phantom FunPark.  Not too difficult, right?”
“Um, sure, not too difficult.”  I say this with as much sarcasm as possible.
She interprets it differently.  “Great!  We’ll snap this up in no time, I’m sure.”
“No, what I meant was, Amber, we can’t do this.”  My mind is whirling.
Tilting her head, she puts her hands on her hips again.  “Why?”
“We don’t even know what your parents’ plans are--” I begin, but she pulls a gigantic phone--at least, I think it’s a phone--from her pocket and taps on the gigantic screen.  “Voila,” she announces calmly, handing it to me.
The phone must weigh ten pounds.  I hang onto it with both hands, trying to keep from dropping it.  There’s a map of PFP on it, with a bunch of blue squiggly marks and symbols that I don’t recognize.  “Do you know what those mean?” I ask her.
Amber just shrugs.  “Yeah, sure.  They’re basically going to surround the entire park with their cars, use their Phone Disabling satellite to disable all electronics, make a distraction for the police, and get away with the money and credit card info, which is being acquired with a special virus.  Problem solved.”
“Um.”  When you put it that way, I think to myself, it actually sounds easy.
“Do you know what we’re going to do?” I ask.
Amber shrugs again.  “Sure.  Press the green button.”
“Um, which one?” There are about a dozen of them on the sides.
“The one on the middle left.”  I press it.  The screen changes to another map of the park, this time with red squiggly arrows and symbols.  I stare at it.  “That’s our plan of counterattack?”
She shrugs, for a third time.  “Yep.”
This one’s not much for words.  “Amber, how many people is your dad bringing?”
Amber says, “I think about two thousand.”
Two thousand?”
“Echoing again.”
“Sorry.  But Amber, how many other people are in this rebellion?”
She grins.  “Just you and me, Echo. And then some.”
“My name’s Emily.”
“I’m calling you Echo.”
I shrug.  It’s not the worst nickname I’ve ever received.  “Um, Amber, how are we going to defeat an army of two thousand with an army of two or so?”
She leans in close.  “It’s called recruiting.”
Then she claps her hands together.  “Let’s go get some more people to join our cause, now shall we?”
“Wait--” I begin to say, but she’s already out the door.

What on earth have I gotten myself into?

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