Sunday, January 26, 2014

TRAPPED Sunday Serial Part Eight

Part Eight

“Are you kidding?” Mr. Bored asks. “Are you, like, for real? Quit joking with me, Emily.”
“I'm not kidding.” I gulp and step back. My shoe squishes against the concrete. “I've never swum in my life.”
“Oh my gosh.” Mr. Bored groans, and I hear him swimming back. “Why, of all people...”
“I'm sorry!” My voice is shrill. “I've hate water. I almost drowned when I was four.”
My mind shivers at the recollection. It's a hazy memory, but all I remember is pain-gripping terror and the sensation of sinking down, down, down. Not being able to breathe.
I haven't been near a largish body of water since.
I can sense Mr. Bored rolling his eyes. “What do we do now?”
“Can you, like, drag me along, maybe?” I ask, sounding hopeful.
I can hear him shift around in the water, and suddenly I'm conscious of the shouting behind us. It's louder...much, much louder than before.
“At this rate, they're going to catch up to us.” Mr. Bored sounds determined. “We can't.”
We're. Trapped.
In more ways than one.
“We'll have to go by the red lights,” I say dully.
Mr. Bored's silence signifies that he agrees with me. “But she told us that the green lights, no matter what anything may seem like.”
I blink. Mrs. Kennedy's wording is slightly off.
“May seem like?” I say.
“What are you talking about?” Mr. Bored sounds irritated as he stands up, soaking wet. Water rolls off his clothes and skin. “Let's hurry. We have to go by the red lights.”
“Kenneth, I think you should haul me.” My voice is firm and crisp. “She said go by the green lights, no matter what anything may seem like. I'm guessing it's go by the green lights no matter what.”
“What?” Mr. Bored looks toward the direction we came from. “Emily, we're going to, like, be caught.”
“We have to follow the green lights.” My heart pounds at the prospect. “You have to drag me.”
“What about if I go down the green light tunnel and you go down the red?” he asks, still uncertain.
“She said never to split either,” I remind him.
“So it's either get caught with the flash drive, or not follow one of Mrs. Kennedy's directions,” says Mr. Bored.
I'm practically begging. “Kenneth. Please. Just. Listen. And. Trust. Me.”
The voices are distinguishable now. He looks back, then at me. Apparently he can tell that I'm not budging, because he says, “Fine.” His teeth are gritting. “We'll have to go piggyback. I can't drag you.”
Normally, I would shiver in distaste at the fact that I'm riding Mr. Bored's back, but money, and, possibly, lives are at stake here. “Okay.”
He shifts me up onto his back and puffs out a sigh. “Whew, you're heavy.”
I open my mouth to say something, then shut it as the voices get closer. No point in arguing.
We slide into the water, and my brain immediately swirls with thoughts like, You're going to die! What if you drown?! Do you really trust this kid?
He's all I have left, so I have to, I tell them as I take one deep breath and sink underneath. Mr. Bored starts swimming with broad, even strokes, then comes up for air. I manage to inhale one quick gasp—along with twenty other water droplets—before going down.
Panic seizes my chest, but then Mr. Bored comes up for air again. He's on a roll now, and my hands can feel his heart beating fast and furious.
Good to know that I'm not the only one that's scared here.
It goes on for a couple of minutes, and then he coughs out, gasping, “That's all I can do. I need a rest.”
We hear splashing, and shouts.
We look at each other.
We're doomed.
Then he gives a quick gasp of pain. “Ow! My knee!” he squawks, grabbing at it, and in the process, I spill off of his back into the water.
My shriek is cut off by my descent.
My eyes shut of their own accord, and I flail around, a panic attack controlling me. I'm going to die. We're all going to die. I'm going to drown. We're going to lose.
Then my hand whacks something awfully close, and it pushes up of its own accord.
I'm soaking wet. And I'm also standing in two-foot water.
“It's only two feet! Hurry!” I tell Mr. Bored.
I can imagine his facial expression changing, lighting up. “Let's go!”
I begin running, hesitant at first, but as I hear them gaining on us, I pick up the pace and manage to match Mr. Bored's strides. Then, gradually, the floor picks up, and I'm on solid ground, with no water to hinder me.
A cry of joy escapes from my lips as I realize.
I just survived water!
I'm so proud of myself!
I'm soaking wet, but I don't pause to think. I'm running, running, running. My heart's pumping hard and fast. I can feel Mr. Bored lagging right by me, but then, he's just swum. The voices fade, and suddenly I see a pinprick of light in the distance, at the end of the tunnel.
“We got this.” The words spill out of my mouth. Encouragement has never been my strongest suit, but it seems necessary now. He's panting. “We're almost there.”
He just nods, but even in the darkness I can tell his face is red from exhaustion.
Come on, I think. You got this.
The pinprick of light grows bigger, and bigger, until I can see what causes the light. It's a giant room, with hundreds of computer screens on the walls. A giant panel of buttons and levers sit underneath the screens.
The screens show hundreds of different scenes, from hundreds of different cameras, I'm assuming. There are dozens of ones with a bunch of solid-colored guys moving equipment around, several with unsuspecting tourists going on rides, and a couple—I squint—is that Amber? And Mrs. Kennedy? that brown blur Slick? They're battling dozens of her parents' henchmen, and even though they're outnumbered, it's clear: they're winning. Slick is practically a tornado of karate chops.
Mr. Bored hunches down beside me, breathing hard.
“Where's the flash drive?” I ask, holding my hand out and watching on the screens.
Mr. Bored feels in his pockets. Then, a strained look on his face, he groans.
“NO!” I practically scream the word. “Kenneth, you didn't!”
He looks up at me and grins slightly, probably hoping that its whiteness will disable my anger. Haha, nope.
“I can't believe you did this.” I give him my most vicious Glare Stare. “My word, Kenneth.”
“And what's up with the Kenneth stuff, anyway?” he asks, standing up to his true six-foot height. “I thought it was Mr. Bored.”
I push him. “You are so irresponsible!”
I am stinking angry right now. What are we supposed to do?
“I'd rather be stampeded by my little fans that suffer the wrath of Echo,” he says sarcastically, rolling his eyes. “And you're the one who forced us to go in the water.”
“Whoa, the tiger's awake.” He flashes another grin, but it's more uncertain.
“Oh my GOSH.” I sit on the floor, at a loss with what to do. What's going to happen now? I can hear people shouting. We lost the flash drive. We were supposed to come here, use the drive, disable everything.
Well, we got here. But there's no drive.
“Maybe the buttons can do something.” Mr. Bored goes over to inspect the panel while I sit on the floor thinking.
“Wait.” A sudden flash of inspiration soars through my mind. I rush over to Mr. Bored's side and look at the buttons. There are a multitude, yet there's something—a little grid labeled in neat Sharpie. Microphone.
I look up at the cameras, where Slick, Mrs. Kennedy, and Amber are standing. Piles of unconscious henchmen surround them.
“Mr. Bored. Look.” I point to where the trio is standing. “We need to communicate with them. Maybe they know how to disable the system using buttons.”
Mr. Bored looks at me. Then he looks at the screen. Then he looks at the microphone, then me again. Then he says, “Maybe.” He randomly presses the red button sitting next to the microphone. A squawk of feedback temporarily deafens us, and then there's dead silence.
“Wow,” I say, and then hear my own voice say the same thing, magnified a hundred times over.
The henchmen stop yelling in the distance. On the computer screens, I spot flurries of movement: everybody is looking up at the camera.
“Whoa, they can hear us!” Mr. Bored actually sounds excited.
Screaming fills our ears. My heart hangs in midair. What's happening? Did the conspiracy colony people catch up with us?
No. I sigh as I look onto the screen that's smack-dab in the middle of the wall. A bunch of fangirls are screaming “Kenneth Pearson!”
“We've got to figure out a way to wire it so only Mrs. Kennedy, Slick, and Amber can hear us,” Mr. Bored whispers to me.
Even though it's the slightest whisper I could have managed, the microphone catches it, and a bunch of the solid-color-dressed people look at each other knowingly.
And wickedly.
“We don't have time.” I counter his statement. “Amber, Mrs. Kennedy, Slick. Do you hear us?”
All three of them nod, but Mrs. Kennedy is shaking her head violently, like this isn't a good idea. There's an alarmed look on her face.
“Well, what else are we supposed to do?” I ask. “We lost the flash drive, thanks to this guy.” I give Mr. Bored a shove. He says, “Hey!”
More fangirl screams. I ignore them.
Mrs. Kennedy is still shaking her head.
“Why won't you answer us?” Mr. Bored cuts in. “Like, what's the matter?”
Amber looks up at the camera. Then she makes a slitting motion across her throat.
“What?!” I can't believe it. I won't. Today is not my day. “They can't talk or something. Maybe the baddies used gas or something like that.”
Great. Now what do we do?” Mr. Bored's voice still echoes.
Amber is trying to say something, but she can't, obviously. But she's cupping her hand and holding—what? A ball? Her fingers are forming a circle...Wait. A microphone?
And she's mouthing something.
Tell them, her mouth forms.
Mrs. Kennedy's eyes widen with alarm as she sees what Amber's doing. She shakes her head violently, and her index finger too.
What a dilemma. Follow Amber or Mrs. Kennedy? I look back behind us in the tunnel. Voices call, but they're still indistinguishable.
“Amber's saying to tell everybody what's happening,” I inform Mr. Bored.
“In that case.” Mr. Bored leans his voice closer to the microphone. “Hello, everybody, this is Kenneth Pearson.”
Fangirl screams. Mrs. Kennedy buries her head to her knees, crumpling.
“What's wrong?” I ask Amber.
Amber rolls her eyes and puts her hands on her hips—very un-Amber-like behavior.
Phantom FunPark is under attack. Yes, I repeat, it is under attack.” Mr. Bored shoots a sideways glance at me and winks.
I resume looking at the screen, where Amber's flapping her hands around. I squint. Oh, it's sign language.
“I don't know sign language,” I say in the microphone.
“Of all the random things--” Mr. Bored begins, but I cut in over the microphone, suddenly determined to take things into my own hands. “What he's trying to say is, get out of the park before two thousand evil conspiracy colonized men take it over. I repeat, get out of the park before two thousand men take control of it.” I pause, and suddenly, I'm yanked back by a forceful hand. I stifle a yelp as a hand is clapped over my eyes.
Too late.” The voice is raucous and rough, and hot wet breath steams by my ear. “Already have.”

Then I smell something sickly sweet, like cherry cough syrup, and everything goes black.

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