Sunday, March 23, 2014

TRAPPED Sunday Serial Part 16

Part Sixteen

My heart gallops as fast as those people coming at us are running.
“We're not done for.” Mrs. Kennedy has a lazy grin spreading across her face. She stomps her foot.
The thundering footsteps grow louder and louder until the sound makes a heartbeat of its own in my chest. I turn.
There are giant wild beasts—dogs, cats, elephants, crocodiles—stomping towards us. Amber's two thousand people turn, and we all watch them as they advance.
“We're underneath the giant lab.” Mrs. Kennedy speaks, and a grin splits her face.
My face is going to burst with relieving joy. “Oh my word. I thought we were done for.”
“We're not going d0wn without a fight!” Amber shrieks, and the entire space becomes a whirlwind of blood.
“Go to the animals and use them!” Mrs. Kennedy tosses out thin whistles, and I start to run through the crowd.
Somebody grabs my hair, and another person yanks at my arm. Some man dives for my leg, and it buckles in pain.
“So this is what it feels like to be you!” I shout at Kenneth, who's miraculously free of people and warding them off.
“I've got experience. Use their energy against them!” He knocks out a guy cold with a slick one-two.
Use their energy against them? What does that mean? I'm contemplating just kicking them in the stomach when fat fingers encircle my throat, cutting off my air supply.
I'm trapped.
My body relaxes, my throat pulsating for air. My heart goes into overdrive.
Must—have—air. My thoughts grow foggier and foggier, but just as I'm about to black out, the fingers slip slightly.
Instinctively, I jerk out of their grasp and hit the ground running through the people going berserk.
Gulping in great quantities of air, I reach a giant German shepherd and haul myself up.
“Oh, no you don't!” Amber snarls. I kick her despite the fireballs exploding in my right leg.
Oof!” she lands on the ground.
My CommChip blares. “Use the animals to surround them,” Mr. Kennedy orders.
Got it. I slap my dog. “Go to the outside of the circle, boy!”
I see Slick riding Oliver; Kenneth on a giant tabby. Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy are riding an elephant—how they got onto it, I'm not sure. But as the wind whips by my ears, I catch a motion out of the corner of my eye. Mr. Kennedy leaps from the back of the elephant to the back of a monstrous Chiuahua that's yipping and yapping everywhere.
My heart swells with something—pride?
And maybe, just maybe, love.
We gallop to the edge of the people, who are useless. Some of them are waving around guns, but with a multitude of animals, there's no use. And besides, these creatures are huge.
I wonder what they give them. Steroids?
Slowly, ever-so-slowly, like an amoeba, we squeeze the people into a giant blob. The animals surround them, and all five of us get off.
“What do we do now?” Kenneth asks.
The answer hits me.
I heave back onto my German shepherd and yell, “AMBER TALINA SHARPINA HARTTMIN!”
Silence.
The crowd ripples slightly, and Amber's blond head appears.
I look down at her, thinking I've never seen her look so small.
My heart softens.
She's just my age.
But then she kicks my dog's leg with all her might, and any pity I have towards her disappears.
“Why?” I yell. “Why all of this? For money?”
I gesture to the vast underground canyon. The animals. The people, huddled into groups. I'll bet my PFP baseball cap that many of them don't even want to be here.
“It's survival,” Amber says coldly. She cocks her head. “Like you would know anything about that. You have everything handed to you on a silver platter. That's why you can't think for yourself.”
I can think for myself, thank you very much.” My name isn't Echo.
It's Emily Hudson.
I hate Phantom FunPark.
Why am I sitting on the back of a giant German shepherd? Talking to a deranged girl who convinced me to join a conspiracy?
Suddenly my body droops, and any adrenaline in my body drains.
My eyelids drop, as if Amber put twenty-pound weights on them.
I can't do this anymore. I can't.
“I knew from the instant you set foot in Phantom FunPark, you were a wimp.” Amber spits the word out, like it tastes bad. “A big, fat, plain old wimp.”
“Excuse me, wimp is selling for big bucks these days.” Kenneth gives me a quick look as he talks. “Ever heard of Jeff Kinney? Greg Heffley? Diary of a Wimpy Kid?”
Her lip curls. “I bet even if Echo did have a diary, she wouldn't have anything to put in it.”
“That's uncalled for.” I slide off the dog and put my face in front of hers until we're practically nose to nose. “Yes, I actually would have something to say. Maybe I didn't before, but now I do.” I pause, my heart soaring. “What did I ever do to you, to deserve this? What did we ever do to you? You want our money, take it? But why drag me and Kenneth and everybody into this? What are we to you? You still haven't answered that question, you know.”
She gives me a really? You're that dumb? kind of look. “So you can go out and do things that I can't do. You know the world. You and Mr. Bored could steal stuff. I couldn't. I have other responsibilities.”
The nerve of this girl. But at least she's given me the last piece to this puzzle.
Wait.
“And how exactly would you make us do the stuff you wanted?” I ask.
“Really, Echo?” She snaps, and the entire crowd stiffens. “Bring in the other three.”
The other three.
No.
It can't be.
Chills rush down my spine.
The crowd parts.
Dad, Mom, and Courtni walk down the aisle, their heads hanging.
Amber's full-on grinning now. Like she's got me in a corner. Trapped. “So, Echo,” she says coyly, glancing at my parents and Courtni, who look dazed, if not in shock. “Feeling up to stealing something for me?”

**FINALE: Next Week!**


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