The Amberly Chronicles Episode Six: The Lake.

Finally the next episode is here! Sorry I took so long to get it to you. If you have no idea what the Amberly Chronicles are, you will be confused if you read the following. To catch up you can read the first episode here, the second here, the third here, the fourth here and the fifth here.

Note: Joggers is the Australian word for sneakers/runners/trainers.

Episode Six: The Lake.

A woman laughs, a man joins her. I see a flash of hands grabbing a waist and then two blurred bodies swaying together. There’s a sound like a basketball on cement and an outline of a boy making a shot. Then I’m standing in a field, green stretching before me as far as I can see. I run. I’m slow and it’s frustrating because I know I can move faster than this. Grass whips against my knees and the sun beats down on my neck. There is something in the distance. I have no idea what it is, but I’m running toward it, and now that I know it’s there I try to run faster, desperation spurring me on, but it feels like I’m running through mud–

Bright light fills the room, waking me up. Tamara groans and shouts “Off” but the lights stay on. She grumbles about beauty sleep. A bell dings and a female voice announces breakfast will be in forty five minutes.
Tamara shoves a pillow over her head. I’m guessing she’s not a morning person. I get up and search my trunk for something to wear. I feel like running but I have no idea where I could run in this place. I wonder if there is a gym? I grab a pair of black shorts and a white single top. There are walkers in the trunk but no joggers. I go into the bathroom to get ready.
Tamara gets out of bed ten minutes before breakfast and is still getting ready as I leave.
My heart picks up as I reach the elevator. This is the first time I’ll see Oliver since our kiss. What am I suppose to say to him? Will he sit with me? Does he expect me to sit with him? Nerves clench in my stomach. What was I thinking kissing him? Now I’m stuck in this awkward situation without a clue what to do. He said he wanted to talk to me, but did that mean at breakfast? Will he think I’m too eager if I talk to him first?
Lyssa is waiting beside the elevator when I step out of it. She grabs my arm and starts to weave through the couches.
“So?” she demands.
“So what?”
“I saw you leave with Oliver.”
She doesn’t sound pleased about it. “He just walked me to my room,” I tell her.
She raises an eyebrow. “And that’s it?”
“That’s it.” She doesn’t need to know what happened between me and Oliver, it’s private. Besides, I don’t think she’d like the truth.
“He’s a man-whore,” she says.
I rub my eyes. “Yeah, you said that last night. But he seemed like a gentleman to me.”
She scoffs. “That’s the act he puts on to charm his latest victim. He’s been with half the girls here, if not more. If you’re new, you’re his next target.”
“Thanks for the advice, but I can handle Oliver.”
She shakes her head. “I think you should stay away from him.”
We enter the kitchen and my heart leaps into my throat when I see Oliver. He is sitting at the end of the table with a few guys surrounding him. They all look at me.
“C’mon,” Lyssa says. “You’re sitting with me.” She pulls me down to the other end of the table. There is a platter of fruit running the length of the table, and bowls of yogurt on either side of the platter. Lyssa grabs the empty bowl in front of her and starts piling it with fruit. I do the same.
I glance at Oliver. He smiles at me and I smile back. Lyssa rolls her eyes. After we have eaten, Oliver comes over.
“Hello,” he says.
“Hey.”
He leans against the table. “We’re heading up to The Lake today, want to join us?”
There’s a lake here? We’re going outside? I can’t believe it; this is the chance I’ve been waiting for. “Sounds fun,” I say, holding back my excitement.
“Perfect. See you there in thirty.”
I nod. He saunters off, leaving the kitchen with his friends.
“So there’s a lake here?” I ask Lyssa. “And they let you go out and swim in it?”
“It’s not outside,” she tells me and slides off her stool.
“What do you mean it’s not outside?” I say, my heart starting to sink.
“You’ll see.” She tilts her head for me to follow her. “You’ll have a bathing suit in your trunk. Let’s get changed and I’ll walk you there.”
#
I am both awed and disappointed when we get to The Lake. It’s still in the building, which is the disappointing part, but the fact they have managed to get a full sized lake into a room has me awed. The room is massive and is illuminated by fake sunlight, though it feels real. There is a beautiful blue sky and even a slight wind. There are trees and a strip of golden sand, followed by a row of pebbles and then a clear lake stretching out as far as I can see. But it has to end, it’s a room, and I am determined to get to the other side and see what’s over there.
Lyssa sets down our towels and we sit. I wonder how deep the water is? How big the lake is? If I can swim it?
“Is there a boat?” I ask Lyssa.
She shrugs. “I’ve never seen one.”
“Is the water deep?”
“Not that deep. I think in the middle it barely goes above my head.”
“Has anyone ever swum to the other side?”
She narrows her eyes. “What are you planning now? Do you want to be confined to your room again?”
“Nothing, I was just curious.”
She doesn’t look convinced. Laughter erupts and I look up to see Oliver walking in with a group of boys. I swallow hard, the nerves I felt at breakfast returning. His eyes meet mine and I give him a small smile. The boys chuck there stuff down and run straight for the water. Oliver makes his way over to me.
“I’m glad you came,” he says. “How about we go for a walk?”
I nod and get to my feet; Lyssa stands as well. Both Oliver and I look at her.
“I was thinking just Amberly and I could go for a walk,” he says to her.
She looks at me. “And what do you think Amberly?”
“I kind of just want it to be me and Oliver,” I tell her.
She huffs, but sits back down. We head off, walking along the pebbles beside the water.
“I can’t believe there is a lake in a room, that’s pretty amazing,” I say, tucking my hair behind my ears.
“Yeah, it’s pretty cool here.”
“How long have you been here?” I ask him.
“Um,” he runs his hand over his jaw. “It’s been about five months for me.”
“That’s a long time. Do you miss your family?”
He screws up his nose. “Well sort of, but you know, I can’t remember them.”
I stop and he stops too, turning toward me. “And you’re satisfied with that?”
“Look, Amberly, these feelings you’re having, everyone has them when they first get here. They pass.”
I step away from him. “I don’t want them to pass. I don’t want to become complacent. I want to remember who I am.”
He frowns and I realise I shouted the last line, but I’m not sorry, these people obviously need to be shaken up, to remember that they don’t know who they are or where they are or why.
I start walking again and Oliver keeps pace with me.
“I’m sorry,” he says quietly. “Sorry that you are here, that any of us are. But we haven’t been hurt and it’s honestly not that bad.”
I swallow my words because I’ll scream at him if I don’t. It’s not right that everyone thinks this place is good.
“You can have a lot of fun here,” he continues. “What’s your talent?”
I put my hands in my pockets and shrug. I’m not ready to tell him that I don’t have a talent and I’ll be gone by the end of the week. My heart races at the thought and I feel hot. I move around Oliver and dip my feet in the water.
“Okay, I’ll guess.” He stops, looks at the sky and purses his lips while he thinks. I have the urge to run my fingers over his jaw, pull him closer and kiss him again.
“Artist?”
I shake my head.
“Dancer?”
I shake my head and look down.
He takes a step closer and runs his fingers down my neck. I look up and our eyes meet. “You’re a singer, yeah?”
I kiss him so I don’t have to answer. His fingers slide from my neck down my shoulders, along my arms and rest on my hips. I squeeze his arms and pull away. Then I run. I may not have a talent, but I’m good at this, I’m sure of it.
Oliver chases me, but he can’t catch me. I finally slow to give him a break, but I could easily keep going. He stops beside me, bending over, hands on knees and panting heavily.
“Wow, you can run,” he says between breaths.
I turn and peer across the water. Oliver comes and stands beside me, our arms brushing. “Have you or your friends gone to the other side?” I ask him.
“Yeah, of course.”
I turn to him, eyebrows high. “Really? How?”
He takes my hand and I follow him. We walk over a small hill and I stop. The wall on the other side of the room looms above us. It’s painted to blend in with the surroundings, but I can see an outline of a door.
I shake off Oliver’s hand and jog over to it. There is no handle so I tell it to open. Nothing. I put my hands on it and try to force it open but it doesn’t budge.
“It’s locked,” Oliver says. “And as far as I know it’s never been open.”
“What’s behind it?”
He shrugs. “No one’s gotten past the door. But this is how we got across the lake.” He grabs my shoulders and turns me so I’m facing the water again.
And then I see it. See what I had been hoping for.
A boat.

To Be Continued…

©Rochelle Sharpe.

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