Tuesday afternoon. Nice and sunny, not a cloud in the sky. Birds chirping, kids playing soccer baseball in the streets. The bus wheels pulled to a stop, where a girl got off. The girl was reading something, totally captured in it.
From the other direction a boy was walking listening to music, not watching where he was going.
It was completely by accident that the boy walked into the girl, knocking her over, making all her pages fly around, causing the disk fall into his open bag. The girl rubbed her head and started to pick up her lost papers. The boy apologized and stared helping her. After handing her the bunch of crumpled papers, he apologized again. The girl told him it was all her fault, she shouldn't have block her view. She started walking home again.
It only came to her attention that the disk was missing two hours later, once she wanted to work. It was a school project dew in the next day which she wanted to check over. The crumpled copy that she held in her hands was the only copy she had. She retraced her steps to where she thought she may have lost it, but it wasn't there. She figured she had forgotten it on the bus and went home disappointed. She didn't know what she'd tell her teacher the next day once she had to hand it in. The crumpled copy with dozen of different colors scribbled on it, would get her 60 percent, if her teacher was in a good mood that is. The story deserved more than a lousy 60 percent, so she cried to her mother. Her mother was really understanding, even now she knew she couldn't help.
The boy noticed the disk right when he got home. Curious as he was, he went right to his computer to check what it was. He hadn't remembered packing a disk. That made him a little more than curious. He entered Microsoft Word and went under "A:". There was one file with more than a million characters. The title of the document was "The Big change" by Andy Willis. He never heard of the boy before. This Andy person went to St Anthony's School in the eleventh grade. As he read on he realized the paper was dew in the next day. And that the story was pretty good, but a couple of mistakes were easily seen. Without thinking he changed the spots where he thought needed some improvement and saved it. He pressed the printer picture in the left-hand corner of the screen so the text would be printed out. He three hole punched it and placed it into a duotange. Before he could forget, he slipped into his bag along with the disk and his homework.
The girl was lucky that the guy had a heart of gold and that his first class the next day was cancelled. At 7:44 as the girl stood with her friends all of them talking with excitement about the stories, she stood there silently. She was never silent, but there was a first time for everything.
7:45 was the time that changed her life entirely. She saw the guy who had walked into her, walking towards her classroom. He noticed her too, because he waved.
He was really happy that Andy turned out to be a girl, especially the one he ran into. He didn't know what had drawn him to her, because she wasn't Ms. Universe. But he was still attracted to her. Now that he had done something nice for her, he knew she'd pay him back and felt happy to do something for someone.
She left the group silently, hoping nobody had seen her and walked towards him. She really didn't want to be watched, she didn't want any of them to get a misunderstanding and think he was her boyfriend. Not that he was ugly or anything. In fact he was the cutest boy she had ever seen.
Why she didn't want the others to miscomprehend was for a good reason. She had told them the day before she didn't want a boyfriend. One would just slow her down. That wasn't what she wanted. Definitely not. She didn't like when others called her a liar.
"Hello", she greeted him.
His face turned red, as he handed her the folder. He knew her whole class had stopped their discussion to watch what was going on. She looked at him with a happy look and gave him a hug.
"Thank you so much, you just saved my ass!" she thanked him, thinking she might as well put on a show for the others to gaze at.
"Well… I went in to take a look what it was and thought I better bring it in for you."
"That was so sweet of you. What do you want in return? Your wish is my command."
"Go out this afternoon for ice cream?"
"I can meet you at two o'clock at the same place that we ran into each other. "
"Sure, I'll be there."
"My name is Ryan, just so you know."
"My favorite boy's name…"
"And the name you gave your main character., the angel."
"You read it?"
"And corrected a few mistakes."
"I could kiss you, but it would make you probably feel even more embarrassed. You're red enough as it is."
"I presume you're Andy."
"That's what people call me!"
"Well I gotta go," he told her because he couldn't think about anything intelligent to say. He was really shy around girls whom he felt attracted to. He didn't like feeling uncomfortable.
After he left one of the girls in Andy's class asked her if the guy was her boyfriend. Happy with Andy's negative response, she asked for the phone number, which even if Andy had it, she wouldn't give to her.
It took forever for two o'clock to come, but it came. Andy arrived a couple of minutes before Ryan did. She greeted him with a big hug, most likely still happy for his kindness. He was happy that she embraced him. He really like this Andy girl and hoped she was free.
They walked side by side down the road to the ice cream parlor, talking about different stuff. They both had a lot in common, like favorite movie: Starship Troopers", "Form Dusk to Dawn", "The Mask" and "Fierce Creatures", favorite show: Simpsons; favorite author: Stephen King and they shared music taste. She found out Ryan was a computer genius, which was good because she was having a couple of problems with the computer. At the ice cream parlor Ryan suggested he went over to her house after the ice cream right away. Andy had nothing against it. They sat down at a booth and became quiet for the first time since two o'clock.
Andy looked at the menu. She wanted either a hot fudge brownie sundae or a banana split. Both looked really good and tasted good too. Since she had moved there three weeks ago, Andy had been more than a dozen times to the ice cream parlor.
The time came for her to decide since the waiter arrived to take their orders. She decided on the hot fudge brownie sundae, the three flavors of ice cream being cookies n' cream, mint-chocolate-chip and Oreo. On top she wanted sprinkled M&M's.
Ryan took the banana split also with three scopes, but he went wild. One scope bubble gum, one butterscotch and one rainbow road (a mix of chocolate, marshmallows and caramel). On top scrunched Oreo's.
The waiter nodded, repeated their order to double check. Once he was gone, Andy had to laugh about Ryan's order. He looked at her seriously and told her it was his choice. Before they got their ice cream they got into a little fight about paying. Andy wanted to pay to say "thank you" and he asked her out. Andy ended up winning. Winning fights was one of her strengths.
The waiter came with their orders and Andy paid him, giving him a two-dollar tip. They wolfed down their ice cream without any words spoken to another.
Like a puppy Ryan followed Andy around. She walked up the first street on the right. Then she took a left, a right and then a left again. It was the eighth house on the left side. Ryan was grateful to see that she didn't live far away from him. He actually walked down her street unlimited times and never noticed her. His house was not even a block away. As he told her that she had a laughing fit and informed him that she had been living there for only three weeks.
The house wasn't a new sight for his eyes though, he had seen the house infinite times and always admired it. It was the biggest house by far in the suburb where they lived. And the urban area wasn't small either. There was about 10 000 habitants.
Her house was a big Spanish style house. It wasn't big enough to call a mansion, but with 32 rooms, it wasn't the size of a normal house. She told him earlier that they were an 8 person family plus a couple of pets. A couple of pets turned out to be hundreds.
One room consisted alone of ninety-nine tropical fish. 22 of them alone were guppies, separated in two tanks, one being for females and the other for males. There were only nine females, because the females were boring looking: around five centimeters and dull colored. The men on the other hand were all bright, mixed out of yellow, red, orange, green, blue, purple and some even black spotted. Their size was smaller, only three centimeters. Another tank embodied a couple of swordtails and black mollies. A big number of remaining fish were angel fish. The rest Andy had no idea what they were. Her father had gotten into fish marketing. At first he just bred the fish to sell them again, but he had grown a thing for fish. Now he yelled at anyone who even thought about eating fish.
The fish had been their cheapest pet by far. Ryan peeked into one room while walking by and saw a young girl playing with wolf. He watched as the big dog-like creature chased the stick the little girl had thrown. He rubbed his eyes, thinking to himself it might have been a dream. As he looked back into the room, the wolf was still there.
"It's a wolf," Ryan commented.
"We found it as a cub lying outside, dying. The mother was ten feet away. Her guts had been ripped out and the bones sucked dry. The cub was whimpering so we took him in. His name's Wolfie."
"And you house trained him?"
"Sure. Whoever thought a wolf would be a bad pet was wrong. Wolfie is so sweet."
"I'm afraid to ask what other kind of pets you have."
"If you think a wolf is bad then you don't wanna know!"
"Sure I do," he insisted.
"Okay you win, I don't want to know!"
They continued their journey down the long corridor. None of the doors - with the exception of one - were closed. It was so the animals could roam freely around. Ryan guessed Andy's family was animal friendly. He wondered what they thought about 'animal testing'.
The only door that was shut, was shut for a good reason. So the animals wouldn't chew up the computer. The wolf had a tendency to eat the keyboards. After the lost of the second keyboard, they started closing the door.
Andy opened the door only to let Ryan and herself in. To Ryan's relief there were no tigers or apes in this room, just a computer and a bunch of papers. He walked over to the computer to turn it on. It didn't take much of his genius side to realize the computer was a Pentium two with a 32 speed CD-ROM. From the way it looked to him, the Willis's had top quality. Surprising him the computer only took a couple of seconds to load. His took three times longer and he had a Pentium one. A wonder came to his mind: can she hack?
His cousin had showed him how. It had been a rainy cold Saturday. His cousin had come over to "pick something up" once the rain started to downpour. The cousin, who had been named 20 years earlier Vermit, because his mother had liked funny names and since she had gotten a plain name, Anna, she had decided to make her son's life difficult, was putting on his coat as Ryan's mother had told him to stay the day. She had spent her whole childhood sick and didn't want it to happen to anyone else. Vermit had token off his coat and had hung it back in the closet. Before leaving Vermit and Ryan alone Ryan's mother had asked Vermit what he had wanted to eat. Vermit had not had to think a minute. Ryan's mother probably made the best country fries in the world. What ever went with them Vermit had not cared. The mother had a big smile on her face, like she always had once she had been complemented. Ryan had not known his cousin had big problems. Vermit had changed the credit in his bank account from 200 dollars to over 2 thousand. Then he had also changed everybody body that he had hated to 0. Sooner or latter the bank found out, but not the person who had changed it. The police had been looking for him, close on his trail.
Vermit had followed Ryan up to his room. Up there they had been silent for a couple of minutes. The only sound to have been heard was the dripping sound of the rain. Drip, Drip, Drip…
It had been Ryan's idea to turn on the computer. Vermit had to yawn at the games, which Ryan had owned at the time. Ryan had told him there was nothing better to do. Vermit had needed a moment of silence to think over what he was about to do. He had started babbling away…
He remembered his cousin telling him not to show anybody how it works; the three easy steps to hack. But Andy was not just somebody and he wanted to impress her. He didn't know any other way to.
Coming straightforward he asked her if she knew how to hack. She looked at him and smiled.
"No, but I'll sure like to find out how!"
They forgot about the problems Andy was having with her computer. And her computer wouldn't be fixed for a long time.
It was completely by accident that he had pressed the wrong keys. He didn't notice he had hit the wrong keys. Somehow he had gotten them into a conversation, between a famous scientist LeBlanc and some unknown man. The name of the man wasn't important, from the way the conversation was going, Ryan could tell it was important. The no name man was telling LeBlanc where he had gotten the cash and how much it was. Well not the exact number, but it was over the sum of 30 million. It had been just enough money so that LeBlanc could try his illegal experiment. It was illegal otherwise the city would have paid for it that's what Ryan thought. The scientist wrote codes for 7 banks, and some other stuff Ryan didn't understand. Andy meanwhile sat there watching what was happening and couldn't believe her eyes. Accidentally she hit the "q" key. An uncapitalized q appeared on the screen, making their attendance noticeable.
The scientist wrote: Who are you?
Smart as he thought he was at the moment, Ryan wrote: A FBI agent who's gonna fry your ass.
Before any of them could trace them, Ryan pressed escape. All the scientist had was: Nothing else.
Vowing then not to tell anyone Andy and Ryan figured no one in their right mind would believe them anyways.
They couldn't go to the police, they didn't save the conversation. The police would think that they were liars, no help there. Andy reinsured Ryan that the scientist would forget about it.
Boy was she wrong.
Four days later Ryan and Andy were sitting watching TV at Ryan's place. His parents weren't home, like every other Sunday afternoon. So they had the place to themselves. Or so they thought.
They were watching a rerun of Simpsons, the one where SideShow Bob tries to kill Bart. Also where Bob runs for Mayor. They were laughing so hard they didn't hear the front door being unlocked with a bobby pin. They didn't hear the slow moving footprints of the three guys approaching them. The presence was only discovered as the one blocked their view of the TV. He wasn't like a typical robber, one who wore black, he was wearing a Hawaiian top and green jeans. He looked tacky. If he hadn't been holding a 9mm revolver, Ryan may have laughed.
One man grabbed Ryan's arms. He knew better not to struggle. Andy was just told to stand up. The men commanded them to head for the door and get into the black Windstar that was awaiting them. Never fight with men with guns, a policeman had told Ryan in the fourth grade. He had never thought of being in such a situation. But there he was.
One man sat in the passenger's seat up front while one sat between Andy and Ryan, the last one sat behind Andy. The car pulled off right once they got in. Ryan, not being as cleverly minded as Andy, asked the driver, where he was taking them. The driver answered, "Well can't you figure that one out?"
"You're taking us to LeBlanc, ain't you? He has to eliminate us since we know his evil schemes," said Andy.
"Wow! The girl has some brains!" said the sexist driver sarcastically.
"I hope his accomplices get something too," said the man sitting between them.
Andy felt hands touch the back of her neck. The hands slowly moved forward until the man sitting between them told him to stop; the boss's rules. Groaning the hands left her neck. She muttered a sign of relief.
The last words that Andy ever heard from Ryan's mouth were, "Andy, I love you so much. I wish I had time to…"
He was the one would had been tied up and tortured. All in front of Andy's eyes, they took his left hand and slowly ran a butcher's knife along it. Blood poured everywhere. His screams were horrifying. The blood had run down Ryan's tee shirt, slowly dripped to the floor then got faster. It made it all the way to where Andy was standing. The blood drenched Andy's brand new Nike sneakers, but Andy didn't care. As much as Andy liked Ryan, she couldn't close her eyes as they were torturing him. She couldn't shed a tear, she couldn't tell them to stop. She felt heartless hearing Ryan's voice turn into girlie screams.
One of the men smiled at Andy and handed her what was supposed to be a piece of Ryan's arm bone still full of blood. She starred at it, didn't say anything, didn't throw it down. It intrigued her somehow, the man knew it would. He also knew that she'd be quiet.
Once Andy presumed Ryan was dead was the time they left the room. Andy wanted to shed tears but couldn't.
"Not able to cry are you?" the person who had handed her the bone asked. "I thought you wouldn't."
"Why did you have to do that?" she asked, her voice sounded normal, demanding, not low and squeaky.
"You're a writer. You have some kind of sick imagination, am I right?"
Andy remanded silent for she knew he was correct. She was thinking about how he knows so much about her.
"I know so much about you, is that what you're thinking? For a writer you are not too bright."
"You read my mind."
Andy swallowed and didn't want to talk anymore. She was thinking about Ryan. She missed him already.
The person led her into a room where none other than LeBlanc was sitting. LeBlanc, Randy LeBlanc was a short man. He was bald and wasn't a pleasant sight to look at. One of his eyes was bigger than the other. He was also hunchback. He looked more like an Egor than like a mad scientist.
"You had to be snoopy. Press a couple of wrong buttons and got into a conversation that caused one person's life. Why didn't you go to the police? Was it because you couldn't prove it? Or because you didn't want to get involved? I wasn't sure if it was really an officer of the law, so I took my precautions. 16 year olds? Wouldn't have believed it until I saw you today."
"Illegal experiments? What will your followers think?"
"Why they'll start them too."
"You're awful. First you slay thousands of animals daily to test your experiments. Then you kill a 16 year old kid. And you expect me to keep my mouth shut?"
"Actually I don't test on animals anymore. I've moved on to humans."
"Yes. Take that man who gave you the bone. I, as the genius I am, found out a way to make people think with more than a tiny section of their brain. He thinks with over 80 percent. It enables him to read minds, know what you've been up to and allows you to speak to various animals, which even talk back."
"That man over there, I advanced his seeing capability. He is able to see what will happen in the future or in the past. He could also see out of other peoples eyes."
"That's ingenious if you use it for good reasons. Take a man who's intestines are sprawled on top of his chest, his eyeballs are found in his mouth and his heart still full of blood, you could find out who did it to him."
"I did not invent it for those reasons."
"Why are you telling me all this?"
"My latest experiment changes peoples minds around. Makes the past different from the real one. For example you will remember watching your friend get stabbed but you will not remember by whom and why. None of this conversation will be remembered. The rest of your past will not be changed."
"I need my genie pigs. Animals don't work too well."
"Why didn't you use Ryan for an specimen?"
"That I am my dear."
"You're one sick man, Mr. LeBlanc."
"I feel a dislike for you already."
"Go suck an egg," was the last sentence she had said to him.
Four days later they found her in a ditch. Aside from a couple of bruises she wasn't harmed. Many people asked her for Ryan's whereabouts however she couldn't recall. She didn't remember watching him die or the conversation with the ugly mad scientist. Not about the plans or what had happened to her. Later as she found the bone in her pocket, she remembered it being a dinosaur bone and not what it really had been.
She was considered mentally disabled and dangerous only four days after rescue. Therefore she was put in Catherine's institute, a place for all disturbed teenagers. Her mother wasn't too thrilled about the idea of putting her into the home, but she couldn't really do anything against it.
There were only twenty disabled people in this home, most of them had never had thought of their own.
Andy's roommate couldn't even write down her own name let alone talk. The girl's appearances weren't very delightful and that had been the reason her mother put her in the Sanatorium. She couldn't bear going over to friend's houses and seeing how perfect their children were. None of those friends knew she had a teenage daughter and she wanted to keep it like that. Her friends would have also laughed at her that had been her point of view. The girl, Suzy, never got any guests, the poor girl would even cry herself to sleep. Crying was one of those things that everybody in the institute knew how to do, even if they were seriously disabled. Andy was an exception, the only exception. Andy never cried, not once as she was in the institute.
Even if it was a proven fact that she couldn't talk, it wasn't proven that she couldn't think. Suzy knew her mom and missed her. Her mother, omit the fact that she was embarrassed by her daughter, really cared for her. She did everything in her power to help her daughter get through the pain she was in. Her daughter meant the world for her but not once had her mother come by. It had hurt Suzy's feelings that her mother had abandoned her.
The truth was, was that Suzy's mothers life had ended three days after signing the papers. The doctors didn't tell her for they knew it would be a complete shock for the girl, which they didn't want.
There were some better off than Suzy. Like Colin. He seemed pretty normal at first, conversational, open and a lot of other good traits. But he couldn't tell the difference between reality and fantasy. At some point he had thought he was superman and had started jumping off stuff: from little hills to bridges. He had serious injured himself more than once. The day after he'd be released from the hospital, he'd return. The doctors had told his parents he had needed help, so they had put him in the house.
The other eighteen patients had their own stories, but Andy didn't have any contact with them, so didn't really know why they were in there. But she supposed they had been too disabled to talk to.
Andy was not entirely handicap, she had been put in because her imagination got to out of hand. She exclaimed she had stuck the knife into Ryan's body for she had wanted to see what intestines looked like. Then, according to her, she went around eating people's brains until she had gotten dizzy and fallen down.
Some nights she had strange dreams about people with too much thinking capability, people that see too much or stuff in the future and other people who change other people's minds around. Those dreams were probably keeping her alive.
It was a clear fact that all Andy's friends came by to try to cure her trauma. Little by little Andy became more focussed. One day she had to say "goodbye" to Suzy. Suzy was sad, because Andy had really tried to make sure all was right. Andy knew the girl had cried.
The day after Andy left the institution Suzy died.
Girl died today in institute a natural death.
Seventeen year old Suzy Jacken's died during the night a natural death. After living for almost a year in the disabled institute, the poor little girl's life hadn't been to easy. Being born with without being able to talk or ever think (Andy knew that this had been not true, Suzy did have feelings, therefore she could think) it wasn't an easy life. The girl's sole family member, her mother, died in a car accident three days after Suzy was admitted into the hospital. It would be appreciated if you would come and pray for the little girl on Saturday, so that she could have a good stay in heaven.
That's what the paper wrote about her. It sounded corny but Andy went. Andy knew it had been Marco, a doctor. He had felt sorry for the girl, no one had cared enough for her. He injected the double amount of morphine. Knowing that was what the girl had wanted, if she could have expressed her feelings in words.
Over forty people came to Suzy's funeral, a couple of the doctors and nurses and a lot of old people Andy dragged along twelve of her friends who had met Suzy sometime or another. Even though they didn't know Suzy very well, all in tears. Accept for Andy, she couldn't cry. But she hadn't cried either as she watched Ryan get tortured.