Liz, Six Months Before Impact Day
After several hours, Aidan and I started to get worried. Neither of us could get a hold of Charlie, and it wasn’t like her to just disappear on us.
“Maybe she’s with Rachel?” Aidan offered, without hope.
“Does she still have Rachel’s tracking chip in her?” I asked.
“She should,” he said, “but that seems kind of invasive, don’t you think?”
“She said she was just going out for a walk. What if she got attacked or something?”
“It is better to be safe than sorry,” he said. “Alright, fine.”
He opened his laptop, and a few rapid keystrokes later, we had Charlie’s tracking data on screen. It wasn’t good.
“How did she just disappear?” I asked, staring at the screen.
“Some kind of signal blocker?” Aidan suggested. “Seems like the sort of thing Vengeance might think of.”
The thought sent a shudder down both our spines. The idea of what they might do to her, what they probably would do to her…
“What do we do?” he asked, not even trying to hide the desperation in his voice.
“I don’t know,” I said.
What could we do? My mind was already whirling, trying to figure out what came next. We had to find out where she was, then figure out how to get her out. If whoever took her knew to block the tracker, how much more did they know?
“I’ll try to find out where they’re keeping her, but I have no idea how long that will take,” he said. “I know you’ve wanted to avoid this, but do you think your parents—”
“No,” I said sharply.
“Okay. I’ll see what I can do. You…”
“I’m going to look for her,” I said.
“Dude, you can barely walk.”
“I have to do something.”
“What if they take you, too?” he asked.
“Maybe everything’s fine,” I said, not really believing it. “Maybe the tracker ran out of battery, or she went into a tunnel, or…”
Frustrated, I slammed my fist into the table. I knew something like this was going to happen! I tried to warn her, but she wouldn’t listen to me, would she?
Why did it have to be this? Why did she have to be so obsessed with being a comic book hero? Why did she have to go after the people who paid for my house, my school, my wardrobe? Why did I have to feel guilty about that?
Why didn’t she trust me with any of it? Why does she have to put herself in danger? Why doesn’t any of it make sense?
Why did she have to choose Rachel?
I shook my head, trying to throw out the negative thoughts. I needed to be focussed, needed to think about how to help. Charlie needed me.
I looked at Aidan, already desperately tapping away on his laptop, no doubt organising deals and messaging people and doing whatever else it was he did. It didn’t feel right that he was helping and all I was doing was feeling sorry for myself.
I massaged my leg, wishing I hadn’t been so clumsy. It was sloppy, and I should have been better. Now I needed it, and I was handicapped. It was so unfair.
All I ever wanted was a normal life. I wanted to forget about all my training, all the blood on my family’s hands, all the dark secrets I knew. I wanted to go to university, get a degree, get a normal job. I wanted to live my life without ever having to think about any of this again.
Charlie was always going to drag me back in, though. I knew from the moment I met her that she was going to shatter the fragile peace I was trying to build for myself. I just didn’t care.
She had this incredible gravity to her, this inescapable energy that nobody understood, but everyone felt. You couldn’t feel neutrally about Charlie, you either loved her or you hated her. Sometimes both.
And if you were lucky enough to get noticed by Charlie, you couldn’t help but feel like you were special, too. Like she was going to elevate you into greatness, or drag you into chaos, and whatever it was, you were happy to be taken along for that ride, because whatever happened, it just seemed right.
Or maybe that was just me.
I felt a buzzing in my pocket, and pulled out my phone. A message from Rachel. Already? Seemed suspicious.
Meet me downstairs, it said.
Okay, I replied.
“I’m just going downstairs,” I told Aidan. “Apparently Rachel is there.”
“That’s weird,” he said.
“She’s probably been obsessively watching Charlie’s tracker, like a weirdo,” I said.
“Maybe she can help.”
“Ugh,” I said.
“Fine, fine, you’re right,” I said. “I’ll see what she wants. For Charlie.”
“Be careful,” he said.
“What’s the worst she could do?” I asked.
Next Week: Useless