I just realised it’s been about six weeks since I posted an episode of the Amberly Chronicles. Sorry about that, Decemeber was just too busy, but things should get back to normal now. If you haven’t read The Amberly Chronicles before, you can read episode one here, two here, there here, four here, five here and six here.
The Lake: Part Two.
Previously in The Amberly Chronicles:
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.
-Computer, take note: 9009 has shared another intimate moment with 7008.
-9009 still has not shown signs of having a talent. She shows interest in the sport known to them as running, which is of no interest to us.
-9009 is still showing signs of defiance and I want her closely monitored. Have guard AIRGU0012 follow her tracker at all times and to take immediate action should she get through the facilities defences and breach restricted areas.
I’m actually going to be able to get across the lake without having to swim it.
It’s a small white dinghy, perfect for two. Oliver walks over to it and lifts the oars out.
“What do you say?” he asks. “Want to go for a ride?”
I do, but if I go with him I won’t be able to explore to the extent that I want to.
“Maybe we should just head back to the others and go for a swim,” I tell him. I can come back later when everyone is gone, that way I can do all the exploring I want, and if I get caught I’m not getting anyone else into trouble.
He smiles and it’s got a cheeky slant to it. Boy he is beautiful. “C’mon, I can tell you want to.”
“Will we get in trouble?”
“I never have before.”
I bite my lip. I can’t let him come with me if he doesn’t know what I’m planning. I walk over to him so I can whisper my plan to him. “To be honest, I only want to go over there to see if there’s a way out, and I don’t want to get you into trouble.”
“I’m not afraid of a little trouble,” he whispers back. “Besides, you’re not going to find anything, so there won’t be any trouble.”
Waiting for everyone to leave will be annoying, and if he’s not scared to get in trouble then. “Fine, I’ll go with you.”
His smile widens and he holds out his hand, helping me into the dinghy. He pushes it into the water and then climbs in. He starts to row. Nerves summersault in my stomach. What if there is nothing over there? Oliver and his friends have been across lots of times, and obviously they didn’t find anything, but they might not have been looking. But what if I do find something? What if I find a way out? What if they shoot me as I try to escape? My heart picks up at the thought. Dying today would suck epically.
Tears prick my eyes as anger builds. This isn’t fair. Why is this happening to me?
“Are you alright?” Oliver asks, pulling me out of my thoughts.
I blink my tears away. “I don’t know? I’m…angry, about this whole situation.”
He stops rowing and leans forward, taking my hands in his. “I’ve been there. You’ll drive yourself insane if you dwell on it.”
I look at our hands, watch his thumbs as they swirl over my skin. “I just want to know why.”
His hands slide out of mine and he grabs the oars, rowing once again. “I know it doesn’t seem like it, but we all want to know that too.”
He’s right, it doesn’t seem like it. I look behind him. We’ve made it about half way across. I put my elbow on my leg and lean into my hand. I could be close to finding something, or close to finding nothing at all. All this uncertainty is doing my head in.
“There is one good thing about this situation,” Oliver says.
I drag my eyes from the distant shore to look at him. “What could that possibly be?”
He smiles, his eyes sparkling. “I got to meet you.”
I shake my head and roll my eyes, smiling a little. “Always the charmer, huh?”
“That’s why they call me Prince back home.” His smile falters. “I had forgotten about that.”
I reach out and touch his knee. I don’t know what to say, remembering is hard. At this point I’m not even sure it’s good remembering anything at all. It hurts more to know so much is missing.
Now that I’m focused on him, I notice how hot he is while he rows. His shirt hangs half open, revealing his smooth chest, sweat is trickling down his skin, and God Almighty look at his arms! I bet it would be nice to be wrapped in them.
I jerk back, removing my hand from his knee. I shouldn’t be thinking these things right now, I’m on a mission. I stare over his shoulder, at the shoreline. ‘Focus, Amberly, focus!’
Oliver jumps out of the dinghy and then helps me out. My feet hit pebbles as I wade to shore. Oliver pulls the dinghy up onto the sandy bank. I glance around while I wait for him, looking for anything that might stand out. Of course there isn’t anything obvious, they, whoever they are, wouldn’t make it that easy for us.
When Oliver is done, I march over to the wall. I don’t care if it takes me all day and night, I’m going to look at every inch of this wall to see if there’s a hidden door.
“I told you, there’s nothing here,” Oliver says, catching up to me. “I looked the first few times I came over here.”
“I need to check myself,” I tell him, keeping my eyes focused on the wall.
He disappears behind me and it sounds like he sits down.
I look over my shoulder. He’s sitting on the sand, arms resting on crossed legs. “What are you doing?”
“Admiring the view.” His eyes linger on my bottom.
I arch an eyebrow. “Really, you’re just going to sit there perving on me instead of helping?”
His eyes meet mine. “I told you I’ve already looked here. Besides, I’m getting you back.”
I turn to face him. “For what?”
A smirk slides across his face. “I saw you perving on me while I was rowing.”
I scoff. “I was not!”
He lifts his arms, flexing them. “Do my arms do it for you?”
I screw my nose up at him. “I wasn’t perving. There just wasn’t anything else to look at.”
“Right,” he nods. “Same here, there’s just nothing else to look at but your fine feminine form.”
My eyebrows shoot up. “My fine feminine form, seriously?”
“Would you like me to be more brash? Because I can be.”
“I bet you can.”
I turn back around, taking a step to the side and check this part of the wall. Oliver stands and comes over to me.
“So, it’s just you and me here,” he says.
“And you’re stating the obvious because?”
He runs a hand down my arm. “The day is young, Amberly, there is plenty of time to look for doors. Maybe we can have a break from the serious and have a little fun.”
I shake my head. “I knew I should have come by myself.”
He slips his hands around my waist, pulling me around to face him. “Coming by yourself is fun, but coming with someone else is way more fun.”
I gasp and slap him.
He smiles, leaning in. “I told you I can be brash.”
His lips brush mine. I push him away and slip to the side. “And I’m here to look for doors.”
He follows me. “So no fun then?”
I gulp and shake my head, my pulse erratic from the near the kiss. ‘Focus, Amberly!’
“Fine, we’ll look for doors. But you are very distracting in those little shorts.”
He is very distracting himself. I’m completely aware of him as he stands beside me, his arm pressed against mine as he stares at the wall in front of us.
“Maybe you should go back,” I tell him.
He looks at me, eyebrow cocked. “And leave you stranded here?”
“Leave the dingy and swim back,” I suggest.
“Thanks. Happy to know you have such faith in my lust inducing arms, but I’d rather not.”
“You’re arms are not lust inducing.”
“Really, because having your arm against mine was causing quite a stir.”
I frown at him. “Stop. Please, Oliver. Just stop. I need to know if there’s anything here and I don’t need you distracting me.”
He takes a step back, turning serious. “Alright, but trust me, Amberly, there aren’t any doors here. There’s nothing here except a cave.” He points over his shoulder with his thumb.
My eyes widen. “Show me.”
We walk until we almost reach the end of the room and there it is: a cluster of rocks coming out from the wall. It’s not huge, about as tall as Oliver and no wider than a small car. I step into the stream of water running out of it and enter the cave. Why would there be a cave here? Are they hiding an entrance? They didn’t hide the door on the other side of the lake? I stretch out my arms, feeling each side of the cave as I go further in. It’s not deep and it doesn’t take more than about twenty steps before I reach the back.
Something wraps around my ankle and I yelp, looking down to see a purple tentacle curled above my foot. A small door opens above the water, sucking in the creature – which looked to be a cross between an octopus and a crab – before whooshing shut.
Oliver splashes behind me as he runs up, grabbing my shoulders. “What is it?”
I drop to my knees pushing against the rock, but it doesn’t budge. “There’s a door here!”
He kneels beside me and pushes against the rock with me. “There’s nothing here.”
“I saw it!” I snap. “There was a thing…a, a, an octocrab or something.”
“Yeah, that’s what it looked like. A door opened here and sucked it up!”
“It’s dark in here, Amberly; you probably didn’t really see what you thought you saw.”
I stand, gaping at him. “You don’t believe me.”
He stands, ducking so his head doesn’t touch the roof. “I don’t know, Amberly. Octocrabs don’t exist.”
“I know, but I saw something and I saw a door.”
“I believe that, I do. But it couldn’t have been what you thought it was.”
My mind is spinning. I don’t want to believe what I saw either, don’t want to think about what it means. Are they doing interspecies experiments here? And if they are, why do they want us?
-Computer, check the records of all the staff that work in this sector. I want to know who let that crustovian into that cave, now.
–Analysing staff records.
-And activate a storm at The Lake. It’s time 9009 and 7008 returned to their rooms.
–Initiating synthetic storm.
A loud boom fills the air and I look up, eyes wide. “What was that?”
“It sounded like thunder?”
Oliver darts out of the cave and I run after him. Dark clouds are gathering in front of the sun.
“It storms in here?” I ask.
Oliver’s brow is furrowed. “It never has before.” He grabs my hand. “C’mon.” We run down the bank. Crap, I must have really made them angry. I wasn’t meant to see that octocrab, or whatever it was, and they are going to try and kill me with a storm.
Oliver pushes the dinghy into the water. I’m panting as I tumble into it. He climbs in after me and starts rowing.
More thunder booms overhead, making me jump, and then the sky rips open. The rain is cold as it hits my skin. I huddle in on myself to try and keep warm, praying we don’t capsize and drown. Even though Oliver rows hard, it feels like forever before we reach the other side of the water. We jump out of the dinghy and race up the sand towards the door.
Lyssa is standing under a tree by the entrance. She runs out to us when we get closer.
“Are you okay?” she shouts over the rain.
I nod. “Let’s get out of here.”
We run out into the dry entryway, the door to The Lake slamming behind us and locking.
“Are you okay?” Lyssa asks again, handing me my towel. It is drenched so I don’t bother wiping myself.
“Just wet,” I tell her.
“That was crazy. It’s never rained here before.” She wipes hair out of her eyes. “We need to get dry. I’ll take you back to your room.”
“I’m okay,” I tell her. “You go back to your room and dry off.” I don’t want her to get mixed up in this if Botcop comes for me.
She frowns. “Fine.”
We huddle in the elevator, all of us shivering. When Oliver tells it to only go to my floor and Lyssa’s, Lyssa’s frown deepens.
Lyssa has to get off first. “See you at dinner,” she mumbles, not looking at us as she exits.
“You okay?” Oliver asks, placing his hand on my back. I shake my head. I’m not, not really. Not after what I saw, and that storm.
The elevator stops. “C’mon,” Oliver says, nudging me forward. “Let’s get dry and we can talk about it.”
I nod, relief filling me. I don’t want to be alone right now. His arm moves from my back, wrapping around my shoulder.
“It’ll be okay,” he assures me.
I doubt it, but I hope he’s right.
©Rochelle Sharpe 2015