Dong! Dong! Dong! Shoot! Sasha thought. I’m late for class. It’s five to nine, if I run I’ll be just barely on time. But there’s no running in the halls. I hope no one sees me.
“Late for class again, Ms. Tiddid? Detention!” Ms. Eleray said as Sasha not-so-sneakily snuck into class.
“Sorry,” she squeaked. “My sister held us up getting to the…”
“I did not ask for an explanation,” Ms. Eleray said.
“I can’t believe Missy got you detention again,” said Noel, Sasha’s best friend.
“I know, but at least it was only Ms. Eleray. Think what would happen if it was Ms. Triller,” Sasha said.
“I heard somebody was five minutes late and she took their textbooks and snapped them in half so they had to buy a new ones. Yeah, that’s right, all seven of them. At. Once.”
“One time, I heard somebody asked her what a word meant, but it was accidentally a curse, so she hung them from their pinky toes for two hours.”
“Yeesh. She is one tough teacher. Anyway, now I unfortunately have to go to math and I’m going to be late.”
“I have a free period,” Sasha said, “I have a social studies essay to work on.”
“See you in advanced science. I hope there’s no homework. I already have so much it touches the moon.”
“That reminds me. I also have to do an essay on the nine moon dusts and their uses for astronomy.”
A few miles away, something dreadful happened on May Street….
A scream cut through the warm air. Martin Tiddid lay dead on the sidewalk. There was a cut right across the middle of his throat. The papers he had been carrying lay strewn on the ground. It had been a peaceful morning, slightly over seventy degrees. But all that had been ruined now. “Martin, oh Martin. How could she tell the kids?” Maria thought. She got out her phone and called the school. Then she went back inside.
Tears dripped from Sasha’s cheeks as she ran toward home. “Want to come in for some tea, dear?” Ms. Willow called from her porch.
“No! Family emergency! Sorry!” Sasha yelled back.
“Oh! That’s nice,” Ms. Willow said.
Sasha ran on. “She is a bit wacky,” Sasha thought, “but all in all Ms. Willow is really very nice.”
Sasha skidded to a stop in front of her house. She walked to the gate and undid the latch. She looked at the flowers and right then every single one seemed to be an insult to her father. She opened the door. Right away something seemed wrong. Her mother wasn’t there to greet her like she usually was when she came home. But she was probably just upstairs in her room crying, Sasha thought. So she went up to check on her. She wasn’t in her bedroom either. Sasha looked through the whole house. She finally found her mother stuffed under her sister Missy’s bed. She had duct tape over her mouth and her hands and feet were tied together. She kind of looked like an upside down air balloon.
“Mmm mmm mmm!”
Boom! The door of Missy’s closet flew open and five guys dressed in silver burst out. They grabbed Sasha and stuffed her in a bag. She cursed. Loudly. Then she called them a few not-so-pleasant names. “You’ll shut up if you know what’s good for you,” said a rough scratchy voice. Then came a sound like a monkey being run over by a fire truck. Sasha realized it was laughter. Sasha heard a door slamming and she got hit on the side of the head by something that felt like stone. She heard some people talking in thick Russian accents.
”We better get moving before the people from Project Rosewell get here. They’ll flip if they find out someone else got in. Remember our cover story.” Thwack!
“We know the cover story, Grandolf. Shut up or she’ll hear us!”
“God, don’t hit me at least,” Grandolf muttered.
Sasha found the pocket knife she always kept for emergencies. She started sawing a hole in the bottom of the bag. It took a long time but her kidnappers were moving slowly. Eventually, she made a hole and fell out of the bag. Quickly, she kicked the guy who was holding the sack, tripped the guy next to him, hit him in the head, did a flip, hit one of the other guys and, while doing flips, conked the other guy out on the head with her fist. When she looked up she saw that she was in a cement tunnel but she didn’t know which way to go. She turned down the left passageway, scared for what was to come.
Sasha paused for a second to look at the wall. There was a little sword painted on it. Probably just an old scribble, she thought. She kept walking. About an hour later, Sasha came to a room. There were about twenty people bustling around. She stepped back into the hallway and peeked around the doorframe. They seemed nice enough, but you could never know. Sasha had learned that the hard way. Suddenly, a lady’s head whipped around. Sasha pulled back her head, but she thought the lady might have seen her golden hair whip through the door frame.
“Hey you!” the woman shouted.
“Who, me?” said a man walking past the door.
“Not you, Arnold! Her. Show yourself!” the woman yelled.
Sasha raced back down the hall, heart pounding. She turned a corner but kept running. Her feet started to hurt. She stopped to catch her breath. The hallway split off here. Sasha didn’t know which way to go. The hallways looked exactly the same. She turned left and ran into a small room. It connected four hallways, including the one Sasha had come from. She slowly turned around. At once she saw that she had made a mistake. Now she didn’t know where she had come from. She ran through the passageway in front of her and came into another room. She saw a piece of paper on the floor and picked it up.
It read: Dear Martin, Happy Anniversary. 20 years! That’s a big achievement. They have another mission for you soon, but enjoy your day off. From Diego.
Martin was her dad’s name. It must be a coincidence. She put the paper in her pocket. Then she ran down the hallway to the left. She was about to turn right, but something caught her eye. On the wall was a small arrow drawn with a sharpie. It was pointing straight ahead. Sasha wasn’t sure what to do. Half of her wanted to follow the arrow, but the other half of her wanted to run home screaming bloody murder. She decided to follow the arrow. She went down the hallway and she came into another room that looked exactly like the other three. She saw another arrow on the wall. Again, she followed it. When she got to the next room, she saw it was much bigger. There was a grand staircase that split off to either side in front of her.
There was a huge balcony on either side of the stairs. All of a sudden, Sasha heard footsteps coming down the stairs. She saw a passageway off to the side of the stairs and went through it.
Sasha peered back around the doorway and saw a tall woman with beautiful blonde hair in red shiny heels and a black suit walking through the passageway where Sasha had just come from. As soon as the lady had disappeared around the corner, Sasha ran up the stairs. She walked across the balcony and went through a doorway that lead to a small room with walls covered with bookshelves. There were thousands upon thousands of books. She started looking at the titles: Karate for Dummies, Fiddling 101, World Records, The Diary of Jan Yavonich, and many more. She looked around for her favorite book: Treasure of the Ruby. She found it and sat down for a second to look it over. She had lost her copy of it a few years ago and had never known where it had gone. When she opened the front cover, she found, to her surprise, it was her old copy with her name in it.
“What? How did this get here?” she wondered aloud. She moved to one of the loveseats by the windows. Soon she was absorbed in the book. She didn’t move for hours. Sasha was awakened from her trance by the sound of footsteps on the stairs. She dove under her chair. A woman wearing a gray sweater and black jeans walked in. Sasha was hoping the woman would just grab a book and leave, but the woman sat down in the chair across from Sasha, picked up a book called Matters of the Mind and sat down to read. Sasha spent the next few hours stuck under that chair with a leg cramp. The woman would not stop reading. Eventually, she closed the book and Sasha thought, “Phew. Now I can get out from this chair.” But the woman just picked up another book and began to read.
A few minutes later, a man walked in and said to the woman, “Allie, we need your help in the office.”
“Okay,” the woman said. “I’ll be there in a sec.” The man left the room. The woman put a bookmark in the book and closed it. She left the book on the chair, left the library, and closed the door. Instantly, the light shut off.
“Must have an automatic light system,” Sasha thought. She crept out from under the chair and opened the door and, instantly, the lights flicked on. She walked out and closed the door quietly. Sasha walked down the hallway. As she walked, she said to herself, “Wait a second… what the heck? How could all this fit under my house?”
She stopped walking and spun around. “Aha!” she said. “I thought I saw something green behind the radiator in the library.” Behind her was a big burly guy with a handle bar mustache. He looked like a strong man that had just escaped from the circus. Sasha flipped backwards and did a cartwheel kick. The man was knocked out cold. She heard footsteps mounting the stairs and so she ran through the nearest door. This room was weird. It looked like she had just stepped into a giant fishbowl. It was giant and round like a globe with a huge hole in the top, but the hole was covered with duct tape. Sasha held her ears to the door. The footsteps passed the room. She heard a door open and then close. Sasha left the room and ran straight down the hall into another one. She was curious about these rooms now. She burst into the next room and immediately regretted her decision.
There was a long, wooden table with dozens of people around it. For a moment there was only silence. Then someone yelled, “Grab heeeerrrrrrr!!!” Everybody surged towards her. They strapped her to a board and nailed her to the wall.
“What do you know?” asked a lady in a baggy grayish brown shirt and gray sweatpants covered in dirt and dust.
“N-nothing. IhadjustheardthatmydadhaddiedsoIranhomeand…” Sasha went on and on and spilled out her entire story and ended with “andsopleasedon’tkillmeit’snotmyfault.”
“Really? Go get the truth serum, Malin.” A man came back a few minutes later with a small bottle of yellow potion. They forced a drop of it into Sasha’s mouth. It tasted like banana smoothie.
“Where are the Silvers hiding?” the lady asked.
“I don’t know. Who are the Silvers? What are you talking about?” Sasha asked.
“Oh,” the lady said. Suddenly, the women pulled out a small perfume bottle and spritzed her with it. Sasha fell unconscious. She woke up in her house, not remembering a thing from the day before. She walked to her sister’s room and kicked open the door.
She yelled inside, “Get up you sleepyhead and get ready for school!” like she did every morning. Usually her sister grunted back but today there was no reply. Sasha didn’t notice. She had seen the closet door opened and Missy’s shoes strewn all over the floor. Then, she remembered what had happened the night before. She left Missy’s room, not saying a word. She flattened herself against the wall and peered around the door frame. When she was sure it was safe, she ran back to her room, grabbed her army knife, her emergency first-aid kit, her emergency fire kit, and a jump rope she had from when she was little. She stuffed it all in her backpack. She crept back into her sister’s room and dropped through a trapdoor, into the cement hallway she had been in the night before.
She retraced her steps but when she got to the room with the four hallways on each side, she forgot which way she had gone before. She decided to bear left. She searched every nook and cranny in that room, but there wasn’t the sharpie arrow from last night anywhere. In her search, Sasha had forgotten which passageway she had come in through. She went down the hallway to the right. This room looked just like all the other rooms she had been in in this maze. “Because that’s exactly what this is,” she thought, “a maze!”
She wandered around for a little while before sitting down in one of the rooms. Sasha jammed her hands in her pockets. She felt a piece of paper and pulled it out. It was the letter from last night. She studied it. Now that she thought about it, she recognized the name Diego. Then a memory came flooding back to her. She remembered a hooded figure entering her house at night. It was about 9:00 p.m. Sasha was a little girl. She was hiding behind the door frame. “Diego!” her dad said. “How are you?”
“Great,” the man said. He pulled back his hood to reveal big eyes and bright red cheeks.
“So, how are we doing this?” Martin asked.
“Simple really, though it might hurt a bit. I take a bit of your blood with a needle and you sign the contract with it.” Then the man, supposedly Diego, took out a long thin needle. Sasha’s dad held out his hand. Diego put the needle ever so lightly on his finger and then pushed down. Hard. He pulled the needle back. Martin took the needle and signed the contract. The memory ended there.
“Diego made Dad sign something. But what?” Sasha said to herself. She got up and walked down the hallway to the right. She turned left and couldn’t believe it! She had found the staircase! She was curious, she wanted to know about what the people in the room had been doing before they nailed her to the wall. She creeped down the hallway and peeked into a door. It was the room. She recognized the long oak table. The people were there again. Sasha overheard them talking.
“Martin is in the Cropher Dome. He will come out when the time is ripe. I feel bad for Maria. She had the worst part of it,” said a high, squeaky voice.
“The most important thing is, how did Sasha get in here? You don’t think Martin disobeyed orders, do you?” said another voice, this time low and deep.
Then the first voice said, “Nah. He’s one of the best. Y’know, the Silvers probably attacked her the day Martin staged his death. They think he’s dead, after all.”
Sasha crept away from the door. She tried not to get her hopes up. But it was hard not to. Her father might be…alive?