Hi, my name is Ornette. I am 11 years old. I have 17-year-old twin sisters, named Chelsea and Sarah, and 8-year-old twin sisters, named Violet and Maya. My parents are journalists, and we keep moving from place to place. My parents keep going to different places for work, so we come with them. Right now, we just moved into our new home in Hawaii. I didn’t want to, but I had to. I just wanted to stay in California.
My mom just called us for dinner, and we went to eat. My mom cooked chicken and rice, and we ate it. Everything felt different, and I wanted to go home. New house, new food, new neighborhood, new school. It was much busier here.
“We might move to a new place. We just want to tell you so that you know. If the conference call tells us to go somewhere else, we have to. Be prepared,” said mom.
“Already?” asked Violet.
“I want to go to bed,” I whispered as I quietly walked to my room.
I felt the wind blow through the new house and the floor creak as I walked up the stairs. As I lay on my bed, I remembered all the friends I had at my old school, before I left. I wish I could’ve spent more time with them. It made me feel upset. I really missed them. I remembered my first day of school was tomorrow. I felt very scared, but I had moved from place to place before, so I knew how to make new friends. As I told myself this, I fell asleep.
The next morning, I woke up and I walked down the stairs again. They were still creaking. The sun was out today, and it was very hot. At breakfast, my mom showed me pictures of the school and all the classrooms. They looked a little like my old school! I got really excited and started to eat faster. I accidentally spilled cereal on myself because I was eating so fast.
“Brush your hair and teeth, and then it is time to go to school!” said mom.
I brushed my hair and teeth very fast. I was still very excited. My mom took me and my sisters to school. As we walked, I saw lots of children, and I felt more excited than ever. I was so excited to make new friends! When I saw the school, I froze. It was full of lots of children. I had never seen a school this big before, or this many children in one building. I was so scared I was going to get lost. My mom said goodbye to all of us, and my big sisters walked me to my classroom before going to theirs. The teacher met me at the door.
“Welcome to the class. My name is Ms. Fish. What is your name?” she asked.
“My name is Ornette,” I said.
The teacher led me to my desk and winked at me. The girl next to me turned.
“Are you new here?” she asked.
“Yes” I responded.
I felt like she was going to be my new best friend.
“I moved here from Kansas last year, and I had a really good experience,” she said, “My name is Isabel!”
“My name is Ornette” I said, “I moved from California, and I keep moving from place to place.”
“Oh, do you think you’re going to move again soon?” asked Isabel.
“Maybe, I don’t know,” I replied.
Then, the lesson started. As the lesson began, I looked at the schedule. I saw it was time for math.
“Math at this school is really fun, you should be really excited,” Isabel whispered to me.
We got into partners, and we got to pick them. I picked Isabel. We played math games that we were assigned to play.
After math, it was time for reading. We started reading picture books, and the teacher assigned levels for us to read at. The levels went from one to eight. I got level seven. I was really proud! Isabel got level seven too.
At recess, we went up to the rooftop. I saw a really big jungle gym there. It was really tall. It had hundreds of slides on it and lots of things to climb on. There was a twisty slide, and I ran to try it out. It made me very dizzy. Then I saw Isabel playing with a few other girls. I went over to play with them. The other girls’ names were Sadie and Rose. We decided that we wanted to play tag. I had so much fun!
After school, Rose asked me, Sadie, and Isabel to come over to her house. I said yes, and we left together on the school bus. I found out that we lived next door to each other. When I got out of the school bus, I told them I had to ask my mom first. I went back home, and I asked my mom. She said sure. I went back to Rose’s house. When I came in, I saw there were hot cookies on the table and glasses of milk. Rose, Isabel, and Sadie were all eating the cookies. I started eating the cookies too. They were chocolate chunk cookies. They were really good.
After we ate the cookies, we started to play Monopoly. It went surprisingly fast. Sadie had played Monopoly a lot and was very good at it. She won!
“How do you like school?” Sadie asked.
“It’s fun,” I said.
“What would you do at school if you could?” asked Isabel.
“I would want to take a field trip to California and stay there for two months,” I said.
“That would be cool!” said Rose
“What would you do?” I asked
“I would write a thousand books!” said Rose. “Sadie?”
“I would eat cupcakes for lunch.” said Sadie. “Isabel?”
“I would make a medical class,” said Isabel.
“By the way, I am having a karaoke birthday party. And you are all invited!” said Rose. She gave us invitations with pink bows on them. After that, I went home.
A week later, on Saturday, I went to Rose’s birthday party at a karaoke place in our town. My mom drove me and my two big sisters. They both had another birthday party to go to on the way.
When my mom dropped me off, I saw the building. It was super tall. My mom parked the car and brought me to the 10th floor. I said goodbye to my mom, and I saw Isabel. She was eating a chocolate dipped strawberry. Then I saw the giant stage that Rose was singing on. She was singing a song that I did not know. Isabel came over to me and offered me a chocolate strawberry. I ate it, and it was the best chocolate strawberry I had ever had in my life. After Rose finished her song, we had pizza and cake. The cake was a chocolate ice cream cake. Then, I took a picture in a photo booth with Rose, Isabel, and Sadie. After that, the party ended.
When I was driving home from the birthday party, I saw many signs that said “MISSING” on it, with a picture of a girl. Her name was Scarlett Rover. The girl had glasses, short black hair, and lots of freckles. It said she was about my age, and she was last seen at the airport. When I got home, I started to sketch the girl on the posters. When I finished sketching, I called Isabel and told her to meet me at the park in half an hour.
When she met me, I started to tell her about the girl on the posters. I stared at one of the posters in the park. Then I went and grabbed it.
“Why do you want to find this girl?” asked Isabel.
“I’ve wanted to find something big for a long time,” I responded.
Isabel nodded, even though I don’t think she knew what I meant. My mom drove me and Isabel to where she was last seen, the airport. I told my mom there was a historical plane we wanted to look at. My mom really likes history, so she agreed to take us. It took 45 minutes. When we got there, I took out the poster and asked the flight attendant about the girl.
“Yes, she was here about two hours ago. I was on her flight when it took off but when I went back to check on her, she was not there,” said the flight attendant.
“Do you know anything about the girl?” I asked.
“Yes, I do. I am her grandfather, and she comes here a lot” he frowned. “I really miss her, and I would really appreciate if someone could find her.”
I nudged Isabel.
“This is our chance!” I said. I turned to the flight attendant.
“We are here to help!” I said. “Do you know where she lives?”
“Yes, she lives 45 minutes away, on 81st Street. It’s a brick house with three windows on top and nine in front. There is a big staircase that leads up to the door. You can’t miss it!”
“Thank you!” I said.
We left to find the house.
We found a house that matched the description that the attendant gave us. We walked up the big staircase. Then we knocked on the door. It did not open right away, but a woman came out a few minutes later. She looked really dizzy and almost sick.
“What are you here for?” she asked.
“I would like to figure out what happened to your daughter,” I said.
The mom waited for a few seconds before speaking.
“I’m not her mom. I am her aunt. Her mom disappeared along with her, and her dad is on a long trip. He won’t be back for a couple of months. My name is Lora. I came here because I was supposed to watch over their house while they went to visit her dad,” I thought for a second.
I thought about how that wouldn’t make sense, because she went to the bakery.
“Thank you,” I said, and then I left.
Rose looked embarrassed and upset. We went back to the park.
“What do you think, Rose?” I asked.
Rose pulled me to the side.
“My cousin is missing too!” she whispered. “She has been missing for two months!”
I started to listen closely.
“I last saw my cousin going to the airport, and she was going far across the country. She sent me a letter every day, until I heard from someone else. He had messy handwriting, and didn’t spell things correctly. He signed the letter “the man,” and he said that I would never see my cousin again. On the back of the letter, there was a little spiral.”
“Maybe that is the same man who captured Scarlett Rover!” I suggested.
It was getting dark, and I had to go home.
On Sunday, I went down for breakfast and ate all of it. I asked my mom to go back to the airport, and we drove back. We saw Scarlet’s grandfather.
“Can you show me the plane your granddaughter was on?” we asked.
“We will have to wait, because it is coming back from Scarlet’s destination,” he said.
We waited 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, and then the place came in. He led me and my mom onto the plane. He showed me where Scarlett Rover was sitting. I started to look over and under the seat. There was a little carpet on one side that said “plane” and had a picture of a plane. I heard banging under it, so I took off the carpet to reveal a little door. It was small and narrow but it looked like at least two people could fit through. While my mom was looking around, I decided to look at what was in the trap door. I went through lots of twists and turns, and I finally came to a little door at the end. I opened the door and found a rope. There was a messy knot, it even sort of looked like how Rose described the man’s handwriting. The rope looked like it had been cut with something sharp. On the rope, there was another poster that said “MISSING” with a picture of the same girl on it. I heard my mom calling for me, so I went back up.
My mom was sitting in the seat across from the secret passageway. She looked very curious. Of course I had to tell her about the trap door. After I finished, we said thank you and drove back home. I asked my mom to stop at Isabel’s house for a minute.
When I arrived, I knocked on the door. Isabel answered.
“I need to talk to you with Rose and Sadie!” I said.
I took her by the hand and took her to Sadie’s house. I said the same thing to Sadie. I took both of them by the hands over to Rose’s house. I just gave Rose a wink. I took them all to the park.
We sat on a bench, and I told them about what happened on the plane. I told them about the trap door, the messy knot, and the sign on the door. I told Sadie and Isabel about the man, and I told them everything. After I finished, I started to talk with them about what could happen next, what the man could do, and where he could have taken the girls. Sadie and Isabel looked confused. There was a silence.
“Can I help with this mystery?” asked Sadie.
I nodded. Then I looked at Isabel, and she nodded.
“I would like to help too!”
We all winked at each other and agreed to meet at the park the next morning, before school started.
Early the next morning, I set my alarm clock for 6 AM. We would spend about an hour to plane before the bus came. I left a letter for my parents:
I left early to go talk with my friends about something that is happening. We would like to talk privately. I will get to school safely on the school bus. I do not want you to worry about me.
As we walked to the park, I spotted more and more signs of Scarlett Rover missing.
“What are we going to do?” asked Sadie.
“I don’t know,” I replied.
“Isn’t it really quiet?” asked Rose.
I gave her a dirty look. I thought for a second. I realized – it was really quiet! The town was usually really busy. Even at 6 AM, you could usually see at least 50 people and 30 cars on the street. But today, we only saw 20 people and 10 cars.
“Maybe everyone in the town knows about the man and that’s what scared them away to another town!” I said.
Sadie, Isabel, and Rose nodded. Suddenly, there was a loud thump. I looked for Rose, but she was not there. I was scared! Then I heard two more loud thumps, and I saw that Isabel and Sadie weren’t there. Then, I heard the biggest thump of all. I was unconscious.
The next thing that I remembered was that I woke up in a big, dark garage. I saw lights flash. I couldn’t see so well from being in the dark for so long. I tried to get up, but I found out I was tied to the ground. When I could see well enough, I saw a shadow creeping around, in front of me.
“WHAT IS GOING ON?” Isabel screamed.
I looked at Sadie. She was awake. Rose looked like she couldn’t see well.
“Did Isabel wake you up?” I asked.
They both nodded and yawned. Then a man came into the light. I knew it, it was the shadow that was swinging around before I saw the light.
“I am the man, also known as Killer!” he said, “I am trying to take over the town, and I want you to help me.”
Rose screamed and froze in her spot. Killer glared at her with an evil look, and she fainted.
“You started to get onto me, and it got in my way. It became a danger to my plan. I want all six of you to help me take over the town!”
“But there are only four of us,” I said, “Who are the other two?”
“Scarlett Rover,” he declared as a light turned on from the ceiling.
There was Scarlett, tied down the same as us, trying to escape.
“How long have you had her?” asked Sadie.
“Four days and 12 hours exactly,” Killer replied. “I need Scarlett because she can trick her parents and give me access to the ink industry. I’ll be rich!”
Just then, Rose woke up again. Rose saw Scarlett.
“We found Scarlett! We did it!” she said.
We all frowned at her. Then, Rose spotted a dark figure in the opposite corner.
“Who is that, in the opposite corner?” asked Rose.
“So glad you asked. It’s Chantel Brook!” said Killer as another light turned on.
Chantel was tied up too, sitting on the floor. Chantel had short blonde hair, looked very tall, and was wearing a fancy white dress. Rose gasped. Chantel looked up and saw Rose.
“ROSE! Why are you here?” Chantel asked, surprised.
“Long story,” said Rose.
“SILENCE! Chantel’s mom is the mayor, so if she wants to move, they will move. If there is no mayor, I can take over!”
All of the girls were very scared.
“I will give you one hour to decide if you want to be on my team and take over the town with me, or you will be locked up in here forever!” Killer said as he left.
Rose took her arm out of the rope and pulled out a pair of scissors.
“If I’m going to be here, I should maybe cut my hair while I can!” she said.
I looked at Rose.
“You’re a genius!” I say.
“Where did you get those scissors?” asked Scarlett.
“Oh! Scarlett!” I said.
“I just kind of took them from my house” said Rose.
“Okay, you can use the scissors to cut your ropes,” I said, “And then cut our ropes too! And then…”
“Guys! Look at that bird over there!” said Isabel.
I looked at the window.
“Great! I forgot what I was saying!” I said.
Chantel looked at me, and then Rose, and then at the walls.
“Oh wow! A window!” said Chantel, “I’ve never seen that before!”
“Why don’t we try and climb out through the window?” asked Scarlett.
“How?” asked Sadie, “It’s too tall for us to reach!”
Then, we all noticed a big pile of wood, and Rose had an idea. She looked for her backpack, and she found glue. She picked up the wood, and started to glue pieces together so it looked like a ladder. She pushed the ladder to the window so she could climb up and get out. Then, she spotted a small, brown rock.
Rose picked the small, brown rock up and took it up the ladder. When she got to the top, she used it to break the window. She dropped the rock to see how far it would be. It was very far down. She did not know how to get that far down without hurting herself.
“What’s the matter?” asked Scarlet.
“It’s too far down for us to jump, and there is no way to climb down!”
“YOU HAVE HALF AN HOUR LEFT UNTIL YOU DECIDE!” said a speaker on the wall.
We all jumped a little. Scarlett picked up the rope from the floor.
“The ropes Killer tied us with are long enough to use to climb down. We can tie it to something up there and use it to get down!” she said.
Sadie was very quiet.
“I’m not gonna do that!” said Sadie.
“Just try it,” I said.
“How are we going to keep the ropes steady?” asked Chantel.
Sadie looked crazy.
“Maybe we could glue the wood to the window frame and tie the rope to it!” suggested Isabel.
“Great idea!” I said.
Everyone else nodded.
“Fine.” Sadie said, though she looked like she was going to cry.
I went first. I thought it went well. Then Isabel, Chantel, Rose, Scarlett. We were all safe. Then Sadie. When Sadie got halfway down the rope, it started to break a little. As she went down, it broke a little more. We were all calling her to jump. Sadie started to sweat. The rope broke fully, and she had no choice but to jump. As she hit the ground, she looked very excited. She was still holding most of the rope.
“I just faced my biggest fear!” she said.
We looked around. We saw lots of grass and some cows. In the distance, there was a little town. We looked back and saw that we just escaped from a white box. Chantel motioned for us to follow her, and so we did. Chantel lead us to the front of the box. There was a garage door and a mat in front.
“I remember that when I was first here, I saw Killer put keys under this mat,” Chantel said.
She started to look under the mat and found the keys to the garage.
“If we lock the garage, there is no way he can get out!”
Chantel locked the garage door and put the keys in her pocket. Scarlet saw a car, and they all went to it. We all got in it, and Scarlett started to look for the key.
“Where do you think the key is?” asked Rose.
We looked everywhere in the car, but we could not find it. Chantel decided to look on the keychain she found under the mat.
“Guys! The key was here the whole time!” she said as she held up a key labeled “car key.”
“Does the car have GPS?” I asked.
My mom’s car has GPS, and I know it can tell us where we are. Scarlett put the key in, and a GPS system turned on with the car.
“There we go!” said Scarlet.
She put her address in, and it said we were 5,000 miles away. We were so surprised! We drove for 5 hours, until the car ran out of gas.
“Okay, what are we going to do now?” I asked.
“There’s nothing for us to do but walk!” said Scarlett.
We started to walk. It started to get dark. We saw the town in the distance, but it was very far. We found a pond with some blackberry bushes. We settled down and made a fire.
“I’m hungry and tired!” said Sadie and Isabel.
We went over to the blackberry bush, and we all picked berries. We sat next to the fire. I yawned. Isabel blew out the fire, and we all went to sleep.
We woke up and got right to walking. Day after day, the same thing happened. On the fifth day, we reached the town. The first thing I saw was that there were more signs than ever. I also saw signs for us! People who were walking by saw Scarlett, and went over to ask her questions. Scarlet was overwhelmed. After Scarlett answered all the questions, we walked back to her house. Her aunt was really pleased to see her. She pulled Scarlet in for a really tight hug and did not let her go. When she did, we went to the police office to tell them about what happened. After that, we all went home. When I got home, my mom was cleaning the pots and pans.
“Ornette, is that you?” she asked.
“Yes,” I replied.
She ran to the door to hug me. Then, I went back to my room and laid on my bed. I thought about how all my other friends’ moms reacted, and that made me fall asleep.