Scarlet walked out of school, her two ‘friends’ complaining about a Maths test or something.
‘Scarlet, what do you think?’ One of them asked. Scarlet turned, glaring. The two girls cowered.
‘I think that you wouldn’t be complaining as much if you had been paying attention in Maths instead of drooling at Travis.’ She scowled and kept walking. The girls looked at each other, looked back at Scarlet, realised they were being left behind and caught up with her.
‘Scarlet, you can’t treat us like that. You lucky to even, like, be talking to us.’ The second said. Scarlet stopped and faced them again.
‘Lucky? Lucky? How could anyone possibly think of me as lucky when I have two morons following me everywhere? Your constant chatter is turning my brain to mush. Goodbye Charlotte. Goodbye Jessica.’ And with that Scarlet walked home by herself, feeling like she should’ve done that three weeks ago when the two idiots had started to follow her like lost puppies. Scarlet sat down on her favourite bench at the park and started doing her homework. About five minutes later, a boy sat at the other end of the bench.
* * *
Two boys peeked around the corner. They were looking at an enormous set of doors. The doors were tall and grey. They looked like steel, but the boys couldn’t tell from the distance.
‘Dude, it can’t be true.’ The first said.
‘Shush! Travis, if they hear us, we are dead meat.’ The second whispered frantically. Travis laughed.
‘It is! I swear, it is.’
‘Prove it.’ Travis smirked.
‘Okay. Look at the entrance. If it wasn’t the entrance, why are there people guarding it? And why are there chains and locks around the door?’
‘Ace, it could be a prison.’ Travis said.
‘Travis! You know that isn’t a prison. You took me to the prison.’ Ace groaned.
‘True. But I still don’t believe you.’ Travis said. Ace sighed.
‘C’mon, if we stay any longer we’ll get caught.’
‘Fine.’ Travis grinned. They headed back to Ace’s house.
‘Travis I am sure that was the place.’ Ace insisted, walking in the gutter.
‘Why? Ace, really, why?’ Travis asked.
‘Because it makes sense. The doors would be small or decorated if it were for, say, the town hall.’ Ace was about to continue, when he saw a girl walking on the other side of the road. ‘Sorry Travis, got to go.’ Ace ran after her. Travis watched him go and shrugged.
* * *
Scarlet ignored the boy, concentrating on her homework. The boy said nothing. He sat, watching Scarlet intently and didn’t say a word. After twenty minutes Scarlet sighed, put her work down and scowled at him.
‘Are you here to stalk me, or tell me something? Because I don’t like people breathing down my neck while I work.’ She said, impatiently. The boy said nothing. Scarlet glared at him, something that generally made people cower. The boy stared back at her. Scarlet frowned slightly and glowered again. She inspected him. He had short black hair. His eyes were dark and his skin was pale.
‘Scarlet Grant, you have an assignment.’ He said. His voice was deep and menacing.
‘I do. I have a Maths assignment and a Science assignment and a History assignment- I could go on all day. But I am sure that isn’t what you mean.’
‘You are correct. Here.’ He handed her a folder. ‘You have one week to decide whether you will comply or not. If you do agree, I shall be seeing you again. If not, it was nice meeting you.’ He got up and walked away. Scarlet watched him walk away, very confused. She shook her head and finished her homework. Then she checked to see if anyone was around. No one was. She picked up the folder and looked at the outside. It was cream and made of cardboard. It looked very, very professional. Scarlet opened it up and started reading.
* * *
Ace followed the girl, silently. Eventually she walked into an empty alley.
‘Hello again Ace Collins.’ She said, not turning. Ace had been approached by the same girl and few days previously. She had long, straight black hair, dark eyes and pale skin.
‘I showed Travis. He didn’t believe me. And I want to know your name.’ Ace replied.
‘My name isn’t important. I told you that boy didn’t trust you. Are you ready?’
‘Your name is important. Show me the folder.’ He said, narrowing his eyes. The girl turned around and handed him the folder.
'My name is not important. You have one week to decide whether you will comply or not. If you do agree, I shall be seeing you again. If not, it was nice meeting you.' And with that she turned and left. Ace watched her go, then left for a nearby park. He sat down near a pond and looked at the folder. It was cream and cardboard. It looked extremely official. Ace opened it and started reading.
* * *
Scarlet finished reading the folder and looked at the bottom of the last page. There was a dotted line where she would sign if she agreed. She checked her watch. She needed to go home. She got up, thinking about what they were asking her to do. It was ludicrous. Scarlet was only fifteen after all. She got home and walked straight to her mini library. She dropped her stuff on the floor and placed the folder on her desk. She then scanned her bookshelf, looking for her book on law. Scarlet picked out the book and flicked to the table of contents. Chapter Twelve- Laws. She checked up the list. Accepting the assignment would result in her breaking several laws. But she wanted to know more. She looked at the folder. It had said something in it about working with a partner. Who? She didn’t want the black-haired boy. He was creepy. And the first person Scarlet had met that didn’t react to her glare. People could meet it, and then shy away. But never stare back. It worried Scarlet greatly that anyone could do that. She looked across at her desk again. This was exactly what she had been wishing for. But now it was waiting for her she wasn’t so sure.
* * *
Ace walked back to the doors as he was reading. The girl had said that the doors were The Entrance.
‘The entrance to what?’ He had asked.
‘The Entrance to The Vacuum.’
‘What, you mean The Vacuum?’
‘Yes.’ She answered.
‘The Vacuum to, y’know. The other side?’ Ace asked, nervously. The girl nodded.
‘Yes. And, I’m afraid, if you can’t say the place’s name, you can’t get the job.’
‘Fine.’ Ace tensed. ‘The Echo Side.’ The girl smiled.
‘And you’ll have to stop flinching.’ And with that the girl had walked away. Ace shuddered. The Echo World. That place was mysterious and terrifying. There was the world that Ace knew and loved and the Echo World. The Vacuum was the space in-between. In the side Ace was standing in, people could be mean, bad and disgraceful. But on the Echo side there was a version of Ace. A version of Ace who was pure evil. The was a version of Travis who was pure evil. The Echo land was called that because it was like and echo of society. Like something that’s been broken and out back together, but not quite right. Something had to change. The people, activities the places were all the same on both sides, but on the Echo side, it was lined with hate, spite and evil. Ace finished reading and looked at the doors again. It was going to be dangerous. And life-threatening. Ace was in. He ran home and signed the paper.
* * *
The next morning Scarlet woke up and got ready for school. She eyed the folder and put it in her backpack. She trotted to school, feeling good about getting to sit with her real friends again. She got to school and walked to her locker. She put her bags away and looked for her friend Sara. Finally, after ten minutes of looking, Scarlet found Sara. Sara saw Scarlet and scowled.
‘Sara! How are you?’ Scarlet asked. Sara kept scowling. Scarlet frowned.
‘Sara, I swear, I don’t know why I was talking to those morons. I’m sorry about what I did, and I want to make it up to you.’
‘Why should I trust you? You deserted me.’
‘Because yesterday I told Charlotte and Jessica that they had about as many brain cells as a plank of wood.’ Scarlet smiled. Sara smiled as well.
‘Welcome back buddy. Lets get to class.’
* * *
At lunch Ace was walking to the library when he saw a girl holding the same folder that he had gotten yesterday. He watched for a moment, and then kept walking. It had to be a coincidence. He scampered to the library, and started to do the homework he was meant to be doing yesterday. After a few minutes he saw the girl with the folder walk in. She was in some of his classes, but he couldn’t remember her name. She had ash brown hair, and turquoise eyes. Her skin was pale, and had a couple freckles. She sat down at a desk at the other end of the library and opened up the folder. Ace watched her get out a pen and read the folder. It could be her homework. She could be doing homework, in a cream cardboard folder. She could be finishing off an assignment, which was encased in a folder. It could be hundreds of things. But he was still curious.
* * *
Scarlet was sitting in the school library, reading the folder again. She wanted to sign, but was way to nervous. As she got closer to the end, the hand she was holding the pen in was shaking slightly. She got to the end and stared at the dotted line where she was supposed to sign her name. Scarlet wished that the line would fade under her gaze. She blinked, snapping her out of it and glanced up. In the short look, she realised that a boy was staring at her. She closed the folder and put the pen in her pocket. She wasn’t signing while someone was watching. No way. She got up, and moved to a place where she could get a proper look at the boy without being conspicuous. She looked at him then pretended to get a book out. Scarlet thought his name was Ace, but couldn’t be sure. It might’ve been Alec or something. All she knew was that he hung out with Travis. Which means she didn’t like him. His hair was shaggy in length and sandy in colour. His eyes were emerald green. His skin was slightly tanned. He made eye contact with her and she scowled at him. When he had made a suitably disconcerted face, she walked out of the library. She met Sara on the way back to her locker, and they chatted till it was time for class. Scarlet finished talking with Sara and smiled. Sara provided a level of intelligence to the conversation that Charlotte and Jessica would never be able to compete with. Scarlet walked to the park after school at sat at the same bench she had yesterday and began working on that day’s homework. About half an hour later the boy from school sat at the other side of the bench. Scarlet was getting annoyed.
* * *
Ace followed the girl out of school, to the park. He stood by a tree as she started her homework, and eventually went to sit near her. She looked up at him. She then realised who he was.
‘Dude, what the hell? You were watching me in the library today, and you followed me here. What’s your problem?’ She asked, clearly angry.
‘Look, my name’s Ace, and I saw you with a folder at lunch.’ He stammered.
‘Mine’s Scarlet. That folder is private.’
‘Yes, I know it is, but I have one just like it.’
‘So? You can get those folders anywhere.’ She said, doing her homework again. Ace leaned forward.
‘Yes, I know, but I didn’t get it. Someone gave it to me.’ When Ace said that Scarlet looked up again.
‘Black hair, pale skin, dark eyes?’ She asked. Ace nodded.
‘Did you sign it?’ Scarlet asked quietly. Ace nodded again. Scarlet grinned and got out her folder. She signed it.
‘So, what now?’ She asked. Ace was about to say that he had no idea when the black-haired girl arrived with someone who looked like his brother. They stood looking at Ace and Scarlet. Then the boy spoke up.
‘Ace Collins, Scarlet Grant. You have both decided to comply with the contract. Here is the equipment you will need.’ He said, placing two black backpacks on the bench. Then the girl continued.
‘Your instructions are in the bags. You are each others partners if you hadn’t figured it out yet.’
‘Yeah, we figured that out.’ Scarlet said. The black-haired pair smiled, which was a bit creepy.
'We won't be seeing you again.' They said in unison. They walked away for the last time, leaving Ace and Scarlet by themselves.
The next day, Saturday, Ace and Scarlet met outside the Entrance. They were dressed in black and they had weaponry strapped to them in case of an emergency. Scarlet was pale.
'Are you sure we can pull this off Ace?' She asked. Ace shrugged.
'I don't think they would be the kind of people to have an error of judgment.'
'True. So, when do we go in?' Scarlet was referring to a small set of doors to the left of the Entrance. Ace shrugged again.
'The note said wait for the signal.'
'But what signal? Ace, this could be a disaster.'
'Again, I doubt they would've picked us if we weren't the right people for the job.' right after Ace said this, every guard sprinted off to the right, where an alarm was going off.
'I bet that's the signal. Let's go.' Ace said, his eyes lighting up. The pair sprinted across the court, stopping outside the smaller set of doors. Ace tried the doorknob.
'Shit. It's locked, what do we do?' he said, kicking the door. Scarlet sighed and got out the lock picking kit in her backpack. Ace frowned as she did so.
'I didn't get one of them. How come you got one of them?' He asked.
'Because,' She said through her teeth as she picked the lock, 'They must've known that I can do this sort of thing.' She grinned and opened the door. 'Just one of my many talents.' She said smiling. They walked into a dark, grey hallway. They didn't say a word as they walked through the passage. Eventually they came a door. Ace checked the map of the indoor complex and nodded. Scarlet opened the door and the pair walked into the next room.
‘Whoa.’ Ace said, as he pulled Scarlet into the shadows with him. They had walked into a room full of guards. They were walking around the room like clockwork. It was a miracle that Ace and Scarlet hadn’t been spotted. At the center of the room, there was a column of wiring leading to the roof. It was thicker than a redwood tree trunk. Scarlet scanned the room, and pointed at a door at the other end of the room. Ace consulted the map.
‘That’s the one. How in the hell are we supposed to get there?’ He whispered.
‘Well, using your brain is a start. We got equipment for a reason.’ Scarlet said, digging through her backpack. Ace grinned and did the same. They pulled out what would be useful, and looked at what they had. Not much. Ace gripped a box of matches.
‘Do you have anything flammable?’ He asked under his breath. Scarlet nodded and opened her backpack again. ‘How much stuff does she have?’ Ace thought. Scarlet pulled out a notebook. She then got out a pencil and wrote: ‘I always keep an empty one on hand.’ She handed him the note book and whispered,
‘What are you going to do?’
‘Burn it.’ He slid along the wall until he was under a sprinkler. He then lit a match and set the notebook on fire. He then motioned for Scarlet to pack everything up and head to the other side of the door that they had come in by. She did so, and Ace met her about ten feet from the door that they had entered.
‘When the fire alarm goes off, I assume that they will exit that way. When they do, we move to the target. Okay?’ Ace said. Scarlet nodded and shoved her backpack underneath a row of pipes sticking out of the wall. She then did the same with Ace’s backpack and then wedged herself in as well. She beckoned for Ace to do the same. Ace jammed himself in, at the very edge.
‘This is uncomfortable, to say the very least.’ He grumbled.
‘Would you rather get caught or be uncomfortable for a few seconds?’ Scarlet hissed.
‘Fair enough.’ He murmured. A couple of seconds later the alarm went off and the guards left the room. Ace poked his head out and saw that there was no one left. He got out and stretched. He then helped Scarlet pull out the bags and together they ran across the room. Scarlet got out her lock-picking kit again. Ace sighed; knowing that time was of the essence and kicked the door of its hinges.
‘No one’s going to hear it over the alarm.’ He said, smiling. Scarlet scowled and pushed him through the door. Ace stumbled through and scowled back at Scarlet. He then faltered and checked the map.
‘We have to walk up these stairs, and go into the room above.’ He headed up the stairs, followed by Scarlet. They walked up the stairs and headed into the next room.
* * *
Danielle looked over her shoulder as the door opened. She had ignored the fire alarm when it had gone off ten minutes previously. To her surprise, there were two teenagers standing in the doorway. They looked just about as shocked as she felt. She faced her keyboard again and finished what she was doing. She then turned around and faced the kids again.
‘Who the hell are you?’ She asked. The two kids looked at each other.
‘I don’t think we should tell you that.’ Said the girl. Danielle snorted.
‘My name is Danielle Clark. Now, who are you?’
‘No offence Danielle, but knowing your name doesn’t really alter the situation that much.’ Said the boy. Danielle smiled.
‘Okay, so I’m not about to find anything out about you. Can I ask why you’re here?’ The pair looked at each other and shook theirs heads.
‘Fine. What happens next? You obviously didn’t come here for fun.’ Danielle narrowed her eyes. ‘Who sent you?’
‘We don’t know. We don’t know who sent us. They never told us.’ Said the girl..
‘Hmm. What did they look like?’
‘Black hair. Dark eyes. Pale skin. Scary.’ Said the boy. Danielle sighed.
‘Of course it’s them. Look, I need to know your names. Just your first names.’ The two kids had been walking towards Danielle as the conversation progressed and they were right in front of her now. The boy opened his mouth to answer, then shot his fist at her chin. Danielle’s head rocked back and her vision clouded.
‘You little shits.’ She said as she passed out.
* * *
Ace grinned as Danielle fell to the floor. He shook his hand and blew on his knuckles. Scarlet rolled her eyes and knocked him over.
‘So this is it.’ Scarlet said as Ace got back up again.
‘Yeah, I guess. What do you think will happen afterwards?’
‘Lots of running. Lots of running.’ Scarlet said. Ace got out a pair of scissors and Scarlet sat down at the keyboard. She typed a message onto the screen, as she’d been told. ‘I believe that we’ve won this battle Danielle.’ Scarlet looked down at Danielle. She was fast asleep. Scarlet then proceeded to delete every single document on the computer. Ace went up to the mass of wiring with the scissors. He cut the six nearest wires and then something sparked.
‘Time to go!’ He yelled. Scarlet got up and ran for the door. Ace was already on his way down the stairs.
‘Wait up!’ She shrieked. Ace stoped briefly then started running again. They ran out and sprinted across the court. They were running back to Ace’s place.
‘This way!’ He yelled, speeding into a side street. He jumped a fence and skidded to a stop when he heard the crash of Scarlet hitting the fence.
‘Ow…’ She groaned. Ace looked at her disbelievingly.
‘Have you never jumped a fence before?’
‘No. That hurt. I didn’t see the fence cause I was looking over my shoulder and I turned and jumped and hit the fence. Help me over.’ She scowled. Ace grabbed her wrist and pulled her over the fence. Ace was having a hard time not laughing at Scarlet. She growled at him.
‘Okay, Scarlet, we need to jump over three fences to get to my place. Can you handle it?’ He said, smirking. Scarlet scowled.
‘Yes. In fact, race you!’ She started running in the middle of her sentence and was laughing at the end. She raced towards the fence, jumped, put her hand on the top of the fence and vaulted over. Ace followed, thinking he could catch up easily. Scarlet was a nerd after all. He sprinted and landed next to her after the third fence. She had stopped and was looking at a café across the road.
‘I’m hungry.’ She said. Ace was red and panting.
‘You want to have lunch?’ He spluttered. ‘With me?’
‘Sure. I have money in my backpack.’ She smiled and pulled Ace across the to the café. They sat down at a table up the back. The waiter came and gave them menus. They sat and ate together, chatting. They discussed school and teachers for about an hour. Scarlet paid the bill and they walked back out.
‘Ace, I think the waiter thought we were on a date.’ Scarlet said quietly. They looked at each other and laughed awkwardly. Ace rubbed the back of his head and grimaced.
‘Yeah… Stupid idea huh?’ He said.
‘Yeah, stupid.’ Scarlet trailed off. There was a moment of silence and then Scarlet shrugged.
‘I need to go, I’m meeting Sara in the park later and I need to get changed.’
‘Yeah, I need to- where in the park?’
‘By the really big tree. Why?’
‘I’m meeting Travis near the lake later, that’s all.’ He said. As Ace said Travis, Scarlet recoiled.
‘I was right. You are one of Travis’s pawns.’
‘What!? No I’m n-‘ Ace began.
‘No, Ace. Just, no.’ Scarlet stormed away. Ace watched her go and sighed. The waiter walked up beside him.
‘What happened? You looked so happy together.’
‘We aren’t dating. I don’t even think we’re friends.’ Ace trudged home.
* * *
Scarlet kicked a rock. She knew it. She knew that he was one of Travis’s pals.
‘God damn moron.’ She muttered. She hated Travis. A couple of years back, Travis had been an even bigger bully than he was at the moment. He had been the classic ‘wedgie, swirly and slam people into their lockers’ bully. But one day, two years, four months and eleven days ago to be exact, Travis thought it would be fun to add something to his repertoire. His test subject? That strange and dorky new girl; Scarlet Grant. Scarlet had been walking through a hall, holding all of her books, trying to figure out which classroom to go to when Travis had come up to her, offering to help. Unaware that he was a complete dick, Scarlet had smiled and thanked him, piling half of her books into his open arms. Scarlet had no idea how Travis managed it, but he had obtained Scarlet’s pencil case in the process. He somehow flicked a pen out of the case, and quickly scribbled: ‘Mr. Blandy is a shit.’ Onto her Math book. She had Math next. He knew that she had Math next, and that Mr. Blandy was her teacher. He also knew that Mr. Blandy was the meanest teacher in the entire school. Travis earned Scarlet three weeks detention and a counseling session. Even when she told the people around her that she had no idea where the message had come from. It was only when she had learnt Travis’s handwriting did she realize the truth. She had been so angry, but the event had taken place too long before, and making a fuss would’ve made her look bad. She arrived home and got ready to meet Sara.
* * *
Ace met up with Travis at the park, his mind still whirring for the morning’s events. He had gone over Scarlet’s exit inside his head a hundred times. He didn’t understand what he had said or done to annoy her. Ace sat down near the lake and put his head in his hands. Travis crept up behind Ace and grabbed his shoulders, shoving him forwards then back.
‘Got ya!’ He yelled. Ace got up and whirled at him.
‘Not cool Travis! Don’t do that.’
‘Chill man, I wasn’t gonna let you drown.’ Travis laughed. Ace scowled and punched Travis’s shoulder. Travis punched back. The two started fighting and rolled around on the grass. When they had finished they got up and brushed themselves off. Ace looked around and spied Scarlet sitting in one of the lower branches of the tree. She was sitting next to a girl, who he a assumed was Sara, and was smiling, but Ace could tell from her eyes that Scarlet was sad. Sara said something and Scarlet laughed, and then pushed Sara out of the tree. Ace was about to say something when Travis tackled him from behind.
* * *
‘Hey!’ Sara yelled as she fell out of the tree. Scarlet giggled. Sara clambered up the tree and stood on the branch. Scarlet stood up, and the two of them grappled on the branch. The branch sagged and the girls lost balance and fell off together, shrieking. They got up laughing.
‘It’s your fault. You were the one who brought it up!’ Scarlet smiled.
‘Yeah but’s that’s only- what’s wrong?’ Sara asked. Scarlet was staring into space. Sara followed her eyes and saw Travis.
‘Oh. C’mon, lets get out of here.’ Sara said, pulling Scarlet away. Scarlet glanced at Sara, pulling her arm back.
‘It isn’t Travis.’
‘Then who? The boy there with Travis? What’s his name?’ Sara trailed off.
‘Ace.’ Scarlet said. Scarlet turned and walked away. Sara ran after her.
‘Scarlet, what’s up? Why don’t you like Ace? You’ve never even spoken!’ Sara said. Scarlet stopped suddenly, turned around and sprinted towards the boys. Sara watched her fly past and scratched her head. What was Scarlet doing?
* * *
Ace wrestled Travis off and got up, only to be tackled into the lake by Scarlet. Ace screamed and splashed into the water. He pushed away from Scarlet, and kicked his legs, shooting towards the surface. His head emerged and he gasped for air.
‘What the hell just happened?’ Travis yelled. Ace’s eyes were burning. He saw Sara run up and yell something. He didn’t hear. Ace twisted in the water and scanned the water for Scarlet. She hadn’t surfaced yet. He dived again, and saw Scarlet thrashing under the water. She had managed to get her ankle wrapped in a fleet of seaweed. She was panicking and making it worse. Ace tried to remove the seaweed, but Scarlet was kicking to hard. He came back up for air.
‘Where’s Scarlet!?’ Sara yelled.
‘Help me!’ Ace yelled back. He beckoned for Travis and Sara to help him and dived back under. He attempted to remove the seaweed again, but Scarlet was thrashing more than ever. He then saw Travis dive in, followed by Sara. Sara grabbed Scarlet’s legs and held them together. Travis pinned Scarlet’s arms to her body. Ace swam downwards and untied the plant from Scarlet’s ankle. Sara and Travis let go and the four of them surfaced. They crawled out of the water, dripping. Travis, Sara and Ace stared at Scarlet, who was pale.
‘I think that worked out worse for me than anyone else.’ Was all she said. Sara broke the silence. ‘Why did you do that?’ She asked.
‘I don’t know.’
‘Scarlet, why did you tackle me?’ Ace asked. Scarlet blushed.
‘Because I was angry with you.’
‘Was?’ Ace inquired.
‘Yes. Was. I was angry with you. I am no longer angry with you. I’m sorry. I don’t think I have a grudge against Travis anymore either, but that doesn’t mean I enjoy his company.’ She said.
‘You had a grudge against me?’ Travis asked.
‘Yeah. If you pretend that you don’t know what I’m talking about, I will have a grudge against you again, so tread carefully.’ Scarlet said, eyebrows furrowed. Travis thought for a moment.
‘Oh… You’re Scarlet…’ He said, ‘I’m sorry. I didn’t know how it would turn out and, I didn’t want it to end up quite so severely for you.’
‘You aren’t used to apologies are you?’ Sara said. Travis scowled.
‘No. But I do feel bad about what happened to Scarlet. Again, I’m sorry.’ Ace got up. Scarlet also got up. Sara and Travis looked at them.
‘You going anywhere?’ Sara asked. Ace and Scarlet looked at each other and nodded. They walked away, leaving Travis and Sara very confused.
* * *
Ace and Scarlet walked away from Sara and Travis.
‘They’re going to be suspicious Ace.’ Scarlet whispered. Ace nodded.
‘I know that, but we can’t let them know.’ He said. They turned a corner and waited. After about thirty seconds a man with black hair, dark eyes and pale skin walked up.
‘You did a good job this morning. You will be giving new assignments when they come. But if you wish to continue, you need to train. Scarlet Grant, you will start either Judo or Karate. Ace Collins, you will begin learning how to speak either Portuguese or Russian. Do you have any questions?’ He said.
‘Yes. If we do keep doing this, we want to know whom we’re working for. I assume it’s a family thing, considering the similar features.’ Scarlet said, her eyes boring into his head.
‘Yes. We are The Recollection. Anything else?’
‘The Recollection? Okay. We kind of meant names but that will do, I guess.’ Ace said, avoiding the man’s gaze.
‘Excellent.’ He walked away. Ace and Scarlet shared a look.
‘The Recollection?’ Ace said. Scarlet shrugged.
‘I’ll see if I can find anything when I get home. And, I’m really sorry I tackled you.’ She paused, ‘Into the lake.’ She finished. Ace smiled.
‘I forgive you. It’d be nice to know what I did wrong though.’
‘I don’t know. That’s what worries me. I shouldn’t be tackling people for no reason. So, what language are you picking?’
‘Russian. You? I mean, which form of martial arts?’
‘Judo. I wonder what we did today.’ Scarlet replied. They chatted for a bit until they had to go home.
* * *
Danielle smiled. Sure, the boy had knocked her out, but these two were promising. They had done as they were instructed and had made their way through the complex without getting caught, and didn’t give away any important information. Ace and Scarlet. They are going to be busy in the next few months. Danielle eased back into her chair and watched people scurry about below her. Everything was according to plan.
Two Months Later
Scarlet spoke into her headset.
‘Hurry up Ace, I can only keep the doors closed for twenty more seconds.’
‘I’m working on it.’ He said back, stuck in a broken lift, trying to fix it. Scarlet was sitting in the surveillance room of a skyscraper, using three keyboards at once. They were on holidays and in the time that they weren’t spending on an assignment, they were having combat training or learning a new technique of some sort. They had been to classes for computer technology, engineering, acting and slight of hand. Ace held two wires together and the lift jumped upwards.
‘It’s working. On my way up.’
‘Great. Get out on floor sixteen, I’ll be waiting for you.’ Scarlet said. She quickly disabled all the cameras and got up. She opened the door quietly and peeked out. There was no one around. She stepped out and closed the door behind her. She made her way to the lift and waited. The lift doors opened and Ace stepped out. The pair took off their headsets and smiled.
‘And we can talk freely again. How did it go downstairs?’ Scarlet said, rolling her neck.
‘Pretty good. How was getting into the room?’ He asked, heading towards the stairs. Scarlet shrugged and followed him.
‘Boring. No one saw me.’ They walked down the stairs and took the emergency exit out of the building. They hailed a taxi and rode back to their town. Ace jumped out of the taxi when they arrived, and opened the door for Scarlet. She stepped out, smiling. It was the middle of the afternoon and Ace and Scarlet still had a few hours to relax. Ace closed the taxi door. The driver wound the window down.
‘Good work Ace, Scarlet.’ The river said. Ace and Scarlet faced him and saw that he was obviously a member of The Recollection.
‘Thanks? Do we have a new assignment already?’ Ace said. The driver shook his head.
‘No. The leader wants to show you something. That’s exciting. She only ever talks to the people she thinks are worth it.’ The driver handed Scarlet a note.
‘Go there. If you don’t turn up, it’s quite likely that she’ll get you killed. So I’d go.’ The driver smiled and drove away.
Scarlet and Ace met up at the address half an hour early. They looked at the building. It was a cottage, and it looked like someone lived there. They sat on the curb on the street across from the house and talked. Scarlet checked her watch.
‘Time. Lets go.’ She said, getting up. Ace groaned and got up. They walked across the street together. Ace knocked on the door. There was silence from behind. Scarlet felt nervous. She knocked on the door. Still no response. Ace and Scarlet looked at each other.
‘Maybe she didn’t hear?’ Ace said. Scarlet nodded. She didn’t trust her voice right then. Ace looked at her, noticed that she was nervous and held her hand. Scarlet blushed.
‘I’ll try again.’ Ace said, filling the silence. He rapped his knuckles against the door again. Finally, they heard movement come from inside the house. The door opened and an old woman stepped out.
‘Well come in! I don’t have all day!’ She said. The woman had grey hair and pale skin with deep wrinkles. Her eyes were grey.
‘Pardon me asking, but what’s your name’? Scarlet asked, taking her hand back from Ace’s grip. The old woman smiled.
‘Don’t you remember me?’ She said. The two kids squinted at her and shook their heads. She smiled again and pulled her hair off. She peeled away her skin and smiled. She now looked between twenty-five and twenty-eight years old. She now had medium copper colour hair and tanned skin. Her eyes remained grey.
‘How ‘bout now?’ She said. Ace’s eyes widened.
‘I remember you! You’re, you’re…’ He snapped his fingers trying to remember.
‘Danielle!’ Scarlet cried. ‘Danielle Clark! You were there on our first assignment! You’re in charge of The Recollection?’
‘Yes. I am. I’ve been watching you since the very beginning. You’re a good team.’ Danielle said. ‘By the way Ace, you are an incredible puncher.’ Ace turned red and then paled.
‘Uh, I-I-I’m s-sorry.’ He stammered. Danielle laughed.
‘It’s okay, you did the right thing in the situation.’
‘So, why did you want us?’ Scarlet asked. Danielle smiled again and led them to the back of her house. I looked ordinary in Ace’s eyes and Scarlet thought that the ornaments were pretty, but neither of them really saw the point in meeting here. Danielle was still smiling when she turned around and leaned on the wall next to her. Ace opened his mouth but Danielle put her finger to his lips. She then thumped the wall next to her. The wall opened to a staircase leading down. Danielle started walking down the stairs. Ace moved to step down but Scarlet grabbed his arm.
‘Can we trust her?’