Chapter Four – Mel

I looked around skeptically at the Alias-like scenario. Scary men dressed in black, missing students, bombings, and gun shots firing at random intervals. This was my dream. And in it I was the beautiful dark-haired heroine fabricated by the ranks of the most deadly assassins trained to kill. Only now I had turned from bad to good, wrong to right to save the world from evil Russian spies, vampires, and other such creatures of the night. I mused at the thought. Who was I kidding? I’m no Jennifer Garner or Sarah Michelle Gellar. I wish. Here I was, helplessly clinging to Yaya and Soso (not that they’re bad company) walking timidly and cautiously around the destruction of the PLC grounds. I could barely recognize it. Three lost girls, no hope in the world and a million thoughts flashing across my mind.

I bit my lip and turned to face my two companions.
“So uh-” I paused with uncertainty. “This is the way to maintenance.” I nodded trying to seem sure of myself.
“Is it?” Yaya asked, her eyes getting wide.
“Mel, is it?” Soso followed and halted abruptly, turning to face me. I let go of her arm, in which I was desperately holding onto for comfort, and cringed ever so subtly.
“HUH? Mel you don’t know the way?!” Soso exclaimed with a dramatic look on her Korean-face and then paused thoughtfully. “How long have you been here? Seven years?”
“Eight actually and I plan on making it to nine unless I die first,” I said with a tone of sarcasm. At that moment, I knew I had said something wrong. Their faces turned dark and sullen against the moon light and the shadows of the willowing trees above.
“I’m sorry. We can do this.” I tried to smile but I was sure they could tell it was fake. They both smiled faintly and we clung to each other once again.
“I mean, if I die, I’m taking others with me.” We came to a halt in the linked-arms-chain again. “Okay, I’ll shut up-,” I was about to formulate yet another pathetic apology but Yaya got to me first, clapping a small hand over my mouth.
“Shhh!” Soso pointed at the two mysterious men walking towards the swimming pool with wide grins on their faces. Without thinking I clamped Yaya and Soso by the arm and pulled them towards a bush outside the boarding house, opposite the PE centre.
“What are we going to do? I don’t want to die here,” I whimpered softly and buried my hands in my face.
There were two options; hide here till we starved or try and die. It was black and white to me, with no shades of hope. I was expecting at any moment that tears would come streaming down my face but that didn’t happen. Instead, Yaya took my hands and uncovered my face and as I looked up at her I saw something I hadn’t seen for a long time; one hundred and ten percent of determination. As I recognized it I reminisced cycling camp. It was harder than anything we had ever done before and physically demanding. If we could survive seventy kilometers of hills, we could do anything.Okay, don’t get too ahead of yourself Mel and stop talking yourself.
“There! Maintenance is over there!” Yaya pointed out. To our left was maintenance, a small square building with one level and perhaps a basement. It seemed like the only place that was untainted. No bullet marks on the walls or hulky men lurking around, though it was hard to tell. We were still twenty metres away and we had to get closer.
“Mel, go,” Soso beckoned inattentively to my pitiable anxiety.
“What? Me? Why?” I protested with hands on hips, whilst trying to pout.
“Because you’re smart and-” Soso started.
“Strong!” Yaya contributed. I wasn’t sure if it was sarcastic or not. “You know.”
“No. What?”
“Cycling camp, and you have big muscles.”
“Thanks, I love hearing how manly I am, especially in a life or death situation,” I growled though it came out more blunt than I would have liked. “You know, you’re lucky I’m gullible,” I added standing up slightly scanning the open area in front of the maintenance building. The court had come to a decision. Looks like I was going to fly or die trying. But it obvious which option I had to choose since I had already ruled out the part about flying; I had already tried when I was five and as hard as truth was, I didn’t have wings. I couldn’t just fly away unfortunately.

As I saw that the coast was clear, I moved in, half-crouching half-standing, slowly then quickly as silhouettes loomed around me only to be the trees whispering to the wind. With a sigh of relief I reached the double doors unnoticed.
“Quick!” I motioned them to follow. They precariously prowled up to where I was standing.
“Hello? Is anyone inside?” Yaya tapped gently on the door.
“What are you doing? We’re not going inside to say hi,” Soso said elbowing Yaya.
“Well,” Yaya picked up a shovel leaning against the wall next to a ladder, “we can hit them.”
A long awkward silence.
“Clever Yaya!” Soso cheered.
“What?” I scratched my head feeblemindedly.
“Weapons DURR Mel!” Soso filled me in.
“Oh… OH! Now we can torture, maim and kill those ugly black men with a spade. Great!” I grinned maliciously as my overactive imagination, induced by a Buffy the Vampire Slayer marathon, became possessed by images of blood and guts.
“I mean I’m thinking spade against gun could get pretty pointless but other than that, it’s a start…” I trailed off as I tried the door handles. Locked. An in genius idea came to mind.
“Give me the spade for a sec?”
Yaya hesitated as if she was expecting for me to do something nefarious with the instrument. Either way, she shrugged and handed it over.
I examined the double doors; made of wood, metal handles, and … two glass panels at the top, just big enough to climb through using the ladder.
Taking one deep breath I gripped the handle tightly and smashed the metal spade against the glass windows of the doors. At that moment, the world stopped in freeze-frame as the tiny pieces of glass came shattering down on the ground.
“Don’t you think someone heard?”Soso sounded uneasy.
“Don’t know, don’t really care,” I grinned baring my perfect white teeth (I know what you’re thinking; ‘lucky’ right? Well braces cost a lot of money and A LOT of pain!). Oh yeah, I’m bad.
Something rustled in the bushes over to our right.
“Quick, get the ladder!” I whispered harshly. Soso and Yaya brought the ladder over to the windows and I desperately climbed up and peered into maintenance but inside was engulfed by darkness. I closed my eyes. Have faith. And as I counted to three I slid myself through and landed hard on the concrete.
An ‘ouch’ was followed soon after Soso and Yaya toppled on me as well as the shovel.

“Roger, I have sighted two or three suspects near the PE building, assumed as students. I’m in pursuit, I repeat, in pursuit.” A male voice barked into his walkie-talkie a few metres outside.
“Do you need backup?” A fuzzy voice replied through the radio transmitter.
“No, I can handle it. Over and out.”
Our hearts synchronised with the footsteps nearing us. Louder, louder, faster.
“Have any other bright ideas Yaya? Soso?”
“Pray?” Soso suggested.

Everything later was a blur and seconds went by like days. I remember the gunshots firing through the doors leaving holes in the wood and someone braking into the room. A tall, buff man hovered over the two bodies and secretly guffawed at their dead faces.
“Roger, two suspects, both dead.”
“Are you sure?” “Yeah, I told you I could handle it. Over and out.” The man let out a sigh and took off his balaclava, wiping the sweat off his forehead, then a deathly silence shrouded the room.
I watched from a dark corner behind the door just like Boo Radly had but believe you me, I wasn’t shy and I wasn’t going to hug anyone any time soon. Adrenalin rushed through my body as I lifted up the heavy metal instrument and … thump. I had done it. I had rendered a man unconscious with a spade.
Vigilantly I prodded the body checking to see if he truly was unconscious. He murmured out of pain and I whacked him hard again and again with the shovel.
“Mel, I think he’s dead by now,” Soso commented, dusting herself off the floor.
“Sorry, it’s just… that was insanely fun,” I said shaking a bit.
Yaya sat up and kneeled next to the body, putting two delicate fingers on his neck.
“He’s still alive,” Yaya muttered.
“So…” Soso paced around the man. “What should we do with the body?”
“Maybe we should tie him up.” I suggested, rummaging around cabinets and desk drawers looking for rope or wire.
Soso and Yaya exchanged tricky glances.
“Computer cables!” I said occupied in the maintenance office, the only room with a computer. I thought of Grace’s resourcefulness and came out carrying a bunch of wires I had forcefully unplugged.
“Guys we have cable! Cheer!” I grinned with pride, even though I rightfully knew brains were Grace’s turf.
The two girls stood silent and still with blank faces.
“Or not,” I smirked, working my way to the hulk. As I crossed over to the middle of the room where the man lay, Soso and Yaya moved forward, blocking me.
“I like his clothes. Very-” Soso began.
“Black, like the-” Yaya interrupted.
“Night!” Soso summarised.
I raised an eyebrow; were they twins in their past lives? Both cute, Asian, intelligent, and even sentence-finishing was present. What are the likelihoods of meeting such people in PLC? I thought about it for a second: very high.
“I think the word you guys are trying to find here is ‘ugly’. What, with the black-lace up boots, the tights and v-neck t-shirt. I mean, it’s not even close to what real spies wear,” I sneered.
“Mel, maybe if you tried on his clothes you’ll know what we mean.”
They both smiled and it was creepy and in no way, cute. They were either doing a bunch of drugs or they really wanted me to put on mystery guy’s clothes and pose as a soldier… oh.
“I am not going to put those on! Besides he’s about ten sizes bigger than me and let’s not forget that I have obligations to my feminism!”I protested.
“Mel, you have to!”
“Do it for the sake of our friends!”
“Make PLC proud!”

Whatever they had said must have somehow brain washed me because ten minutes later we were ready. All the handy materials and weapon-like instruments we could find were stuffed into a large tool box and the almost-Full-Monty man was tied up. Our next plan of action was to find the rest of the gang.
“I look ridiculous,” I mumbled walking rigidly towards the entrance door whilst adjusting the balaclava. With an angry kick of my new and huge combat boots, the doors fell to the ground.
Three figures appeared out of the shadows.
The one in the middle wore the standard military uniform, though quite baggy, and carried a red tool box and the ones on the side had duck tape on their faces and their hands were bound with wires but there was no struggle for freedom.
“Follow me closely.” They both nodded and the pace quickened into a brisk walk in the direction of the middle oval. We had nearly reached the car park until Yaya kicked me in the leg.
“Ouch. What was that for?” I snapped, rubbing my bruised leg.
Yaya tossed her hair out of her face and gaped behind her at the PE centre.
A door slammed violently and someone was coming out.
“Move!” I ordered anxiously but it was too late. He had spotted us and broke into a jog.
“Hey you!” I stopped suddenly, along with the Soso and Yaya beside me. I could feel the sweat collecting underneath my disguise. Our lives depended on how I was going to respond next. Slowly I turned around and opened my mouth to speak.
“What do you want?” The words came out chocked.
The tall, broody man gave a fleeting look at the two hostages, clapped his hands mockingly and returned his attention back to me.
“Looky what shorty brought in. Ya got yourself two hostages. Not bad, for a kid,” he snorted.
I grit my teeth, trying to hold back my rage.
“At first I couldn’t see why Shadowblade wanted to recruit amateurs but,” he laughed sardonically, “I still don’t understand why. Half wit, they should be down there with the others or it might be easier if you just kill them here and now.” He grabbed Soso and flung her to the ground.
“No!” I said a little too emotionally. Composing myself, I cleared my throat, “No, we cannot succumb to temptation.”
I held my breath waiting for his response.
“What you say doesn’t mean anything to me, kid. Just get them there before I kill you myself.”
Where is ‘there‘? I bit my lip.
“What’s the shortest way to get there? These are such large grounds.”
The man sighed annoyed. “You’re really testing my patience. Where ever you see a bombing, idiot child.”
And with that he stormed off back to the PE centre, playing with a knob on his radio transmitter. Seeing that he was well gone, I helped Soso back to her feet and ripped the duck tape off their mouths. It seemed that the duck tape didn’t favour the hostage cover up.
“Sorry, are you hurt?”
Soso looked glumly at her frameless glasses lying on the dirt. “No, but my glasses are broken.”
“How many fingers am I holding up?” I put three fingers in front of her.
“Three. Mel I’m not that blind!” She scolded.
“Sorry two-eyes,” I apologised. “Let’s get going. The gang will be waiting for us at the oval.”
“Mel, wait,” Yaya spoke frigidly as if on the brink of something. “That soldier guy said we should be ‘down there with the others’, meaning other hostages, and then you asked where and he said ‘where ever you see a bombing’.”
Yaya was right. It must be …
“You think that’s where the hostages are being kept. But why at the hot spots?” I scratched my head.
“Because bombs make holes, and big ones,” Yaya explained.
“You’re thinking underground tunnels?” I cringed.
“It could be an underground city,” Soso replied, looking worried.
“They’d be completely hidden and it’s extra storage spaces.”
That clarified almost everything except …
“What are we going to do now?”
“Let’s do it,” Soso determined.
“Good.” Yaya and I both agreed.
“Um,” I lingered. “What’s ‘it’?” The question came out sheepishly.
“Well aren’t you bright for a soldier.” Yaya stuck her tongue out.
“Hey, I’m the one with a gun here and you’re both tied up and helplessly hopeless,” I smirked snobbishly. It was wrong to threaten them with my power, but it felt good.

With that all said and done, we decided it best to first head over to the middle oval to find the food group so we could equip and disguise them all. It was clear that no one was safe in any part of PLC and our biggest chance at survival would be working together. I could tell this wouldn’t be easy but it was a start and besides, I had a gun[insert evil cackle].


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