Chapter One: Hero


I heard it before I even turned onto the block. The yelling. My parents were going at it again, both probably four sheets in the wind by now. Taking out my house keys, I ran the rest of the way as I made out the frustrated screams of my baby brother melding in between my parents yells. Opening the door, I snuck past my mom and dad, who were going at it in the kitchen, up to the second floor bedroom that I shared with Henry.

He looked over at me as I came in, grabbing at the bars of the crib hopefully. Sitting my bag in the crib, I picked the two year old up, hugging him close to my chest and swayed back and forth to calm him down.

This was all usual for my parents, even usual for me since it had been going on since I was six, but I hated that my baby brother got mixed up into it.

I looked up into the mirror and almost screamed at the sight of a dirt covered, horror movie like girl, crawling through my window like the girl off The Ring. The girl must have heard my gasp, because she crouched down and place her finger to her lips, smiling slightly at me.

As the girl stood up, albeit still staying slightly hunched, I sat my brother back in the crib and reached into my bag for the pepper spray I kept in there at all times. However when I turned back around the girl grabbed my hand and twisted my wrist until I either dropped the spray or broke my wrist.

"Be quiet, I'm here to help. Go down, through the window and to Cadillac in the driveway." She said quietly before releasing my wrist and continuing down the stairs.

I grabbed my brother and slung my bag over my shoulder, not understanding why, but following the strange girl's instructions.

I paused while climbing down the eaves as my father's voice rang out.

"What the fuck—who the hell are you? W-what are you doing? Stop! STOP!" Then the screams started, sometimes my mother drowning out my father and visa-verse. However this was nothing like the yelling they were doing earlier. This was agony filled screams that begged for mercy until suddenly everything fell silent.

Reaching the ground I considered running, but where? There were no other houses for miles and it's not like anyone would hear my cries for help.

Hugging Henry close, I opened the Cadillac's door, got in, and locked all the doors behind myself. The only sound was my heavy shuddering breaths as I sat in the car, eyes wide.

The handle click and I looked over to the driver's window. The girl was standing there, blood splattered across her face and frowning down at the enabled lock. She cocked her head to the side and looked at me as if I was an interesting new organism that she had yet to analyze. Like a mad scientist.

I looked down at the lock then back up at the girl and shook my head. The girls shoulder's hunched even more and she reached into her pocket, pulling out a key chain loaded with little trinkets, and to my horror, a car key.

I shrunk back against the passenger side door as the girl unlocked the door and climbed in.

"Oh stop, I'm not going to hurt you. If I wanted to, I would have just killed you in that upstairs room. Name's Sheri by the way." The girl, no Sheri, said as she started the engine and pulled out of the driveway.

"W-what do you want with me and my brother?"

Sheri ran a hand through her matted hair and looked over at me before focusing on the road again. "I want to take you somewhere safe, away from here. There's an orphanage in Winchester that I can take you to."

I shifted Henry a little so that he was cradled more comfortable against my chest. "Why us?"

Sheri stayed silent for a while, thinking over her answer, then: "I want to save someone before I leave."

The car lapsed into silence as I pondered over that sentence. 'I want to save someone before I go.' Go where?

I stayed quiet as the miles melted away until they reached a hotel. Sheri handed me a credit card as she parked the car in front of the office. "Get a room with one bed and preferable a heater and Wi-Fi." She said. I got out of the car, Henry now asleep against my shoulder and walked into the office. The teenager behind the counter eyed me up and down before turning away while cracking gum in her mouth.

"Excuse me, how much is a room?"

"Twenty dollars a night with reservation." The girl replied while tapping her nails on the counter. Clack, clack, clack, clackity, clackity, clack.

"I don't have a reservation and we're only staying a night. Are there heaters in the rooms and internet access?" I asked, handing the card over. The girls swiped it and handed it back.

"Internet's free with the room, heater is under the window. Your name?" she commanded and my mind went blank. Sheri didn't tell me her last name! What would I say? Technically, it wasn't my card and I wasn't completely sure it was Sheri's either.

"Um…Sheri?" I finally replied, wincing as it came out sounding like a question. The teen rolled her eyes and looked down then looked back up.

"It looks as if you are already in the system, Miss Shereene Cooper. Sorry for the inconvenience; you will be in room number twenty-eight, feel free to call the office if you need anything." The girl said with a brilliant smile. I hid my shock—barely—at the complete one-eighty in behavior, took the key and walked back to the car.

I handed Sheri the key as I got in and she drove to the rear of the hotel and parked in front of the room. She reached into the back seat and pulled out a black and grey backpack before getting out, the car door creaking in protest as she slammed it shut.

I got out and watched her as she dragged a suitcase out the trunk before also slamming it shut. She carried both bags to the door and unlocked it, sitting the backpack on the little dinette table and the suitcase on the floor underneath.

"You and the kid can sleep on the bed, I'll take the chair. Get some rest; we got to go shopping before we set out." She said before closing herself in the bathroom. She took the keys with her.

I laid Henry under the cover and sat at the foot of the bed, taking in our surroundings. The room smelled musty and the bed was kind of hard. However the bedding and pillows were clean and the heater seemed to work. I flipped the TV on to a news channel and watched the reports for about five minutes before it got to depressing and I flipped it back off. Crawling up the bed, I got under the covers and pulled Henry to my chest before closing my eyes for sleep


I watched the dirty, red tinted water swirl down the drain as the shower water beat down on my shoulders, back, and neck.

Grabbing the tiny bottle of shampoo, I lathered my long, dark hair, and then rinsed it out quickly. I hate long showers.

Wrapping up in a towel, I left the bathroom and got an outfit out of my suitcase. Black combat pants, a white long sleeved t-shirt, a black knit cap, and my black army jacket. The girl and the kid were sleeping. I got dressed quickly and left. Pulling my car out of the parking lot, I set out for the supermarket I had passed on the way here.

I grabbed a basket walked through each aisle, loading things into the cart. Most of it was junk food; stuff that didn't need to be refrigerated.

Of course the kid would need formula and diapers, and the girl would need some feminine products since she didn't really have time to pack a bag. Throwing five bags of gummy worms into the basket I headed to the checkout line. Tomorrow we would have to get some clothes and find a tech store.

I handed the cashier my credit card and grabbed the back. Tucking my wallet away I threw the groceries in the back seat and headed back to the hotel. The kid and girl were still out of it, curled around each other. I felt my heart stir, thinking of my little sister Alice. I had a month to get these kids back and then Haley could take care of Alice. I knew she would; that's why I had picked her and Henry.

Sitting the bags on the counter in the bathroom that also held the coffee pot, I made some coffee and pulled out my laptop.

A large gothic "S" popped up on the screen along with a password bar. Typing in "shericat" I accessed the Wi-Fi network and hacked into the orphanage. Of course, at this time everyone would be asleep.

I surfed through the streams until I found a certain laptop, the slid past its security system and turned it on. Damien always kept his laptop open for some reason. Logging on, I opened the internet and went to YouTube and played the song Blood Sugar by Pendulum. I watched through the webcam as Damien flew out of bed, tripped over his jeans that he had left on the floor and tried to kick me out of the computer.

"Oh shit; fuck, don't do this. This laptop was a fucking gift. Shit!" I laughed; he had no idea it was me.

I watched him struggle a while longer, while playing tag with his mouse before open the note pad and typing.


His eyes widened. "Shit Sheri, what the hell; you scared the shit out of me."

'Improve your security.' I typed. He combed his hair back with one hand and looked at the web-cam light.

"How come you can see me but I can't see you?"

'I don't want you to see me, Damien."

He frowned. "You really suck, Sheri, you know that?"

'Yes you've told me that before, although circumstances were certainly much different, even if the bed was still included." I watched with a smirk on my face as he blushed.

"Uhh…wow…wow. Okay. Where are you, the directors been worried sick, saying that you left the facility."

'I did leave.'

"That's not good; you have to be back here before the end of the month."

'I plan to be, I'll be bringing a girl and her kid brother with me, so warn the director.'

"Sher, you know he's going to ask me where you are. What am I supposed to tell him?"

'Tell him the truth; you don't know. I have to go, I'll see you later.'

"Wait, Sheri, don't—"

I logged of his computer and retreated from the orphanage's tech system before going through the tiring process of siphoning money from over a thousand back accounts and into my credit card. I only took a little so no one would really miss it.

I curled up on the chair, arms hugging my knees as pain flared through my chest. This was going to be a long night.


I woke up as light streamed through the hotel room's window. Henry was still sound asleep at my side. I sat up carefully so as not to jostle him and looked around for our savior before feeling a small, sad smile grace my face.

Sheri was also asleep, perched in the chair at the small table, laptop sat on the table in front of her. Standing up, I went into the bathroom to relieve myself. When I came out I noticed the bags on the counter. After I washed my hand I went through them and almost groaned. There were six bags total and they were filled with nothing but junk food except the bag holding Henry's diapers, formula, and a couple other non-food items that would come in handy. I sighed and left the bags on the counter. Sheri definitely didn't understand babysitting.

As I passed the table, Sheri looked up and then over at the bags. "We'll go shopping today for clothes."

I paused in my journey toward the door and instead took the chair across from her at the table. She was now leaning on the table, head dropped in her crossed arms.

"Sheri we need to get some actual food. All that junk isn't going to help us." I told her sternly.

She looked up at me before dropping her head down again. "We'll go through a drive-thru."

I crossed my arms across my chest and leaned back in the chair. "That is still junk and you know it."

"Fine, we'll go to a restaurant." Came the muffled reply. I repressed the urge to scream in frustration.

"No, we are going to buy some real food, you are going to pay for it, and then we will go shopping for clothes." I insisted stubbornly.

"No. If you want something fresh it will be an apple or from some sort of food establishment. Is that clear? I have no way to keep any perishable food fresh; therefore they are not going in my car. We will go shopping first thing and then get food. If you have any preferences, allergies, or dislikes, please feel free to inform me now. If not, shut your mouth, stop nagging and—"

She broke off with a cough and fisted her shirt, eyes watering as she doubled over. The coughing fit continued until I saw blood seep through her clenched fingers. She got up and ran to the toilet before heaving up whatever had been in her stomach.

I ran after her and held her hair away from her face as she continued to dry heave into the toilet bowl, bloody bile now the only thing that came up. She groaned and collapsed against the wall.

"Stay here; I'm calling an ambulance." I said and started toward the phone.

She grabbed my ankle and pulled, causing me to crash to the floor with a curse.

"No…ambulances…I'll…be fine." She said hoarsely before omitting another cough although this one was weak.

"You need a doctor—"

"No! No doctors, no hospitals. If I get admitted, they'll find me for sure and besides it won't make a difference."

"You are coughing blood!" I snapped back at her. This time she didn't protest as I regained my footing and went to the phone. However, when I picked it up I got the "out of service" tone. Slamming the phone back down on the cradle and started to pace.

Alright I had a sick, possible mentally ill, person curled up in the hotel bathroom refusing treatment, I have no idea where the hell I am, and my little brother has now been shocked awake by the noise. I picked the toddler up and rocked him back and forth, while glaring at Sheri's back as she washed out her mouth in the sink.

Once she was done she pulled a bottle of pills out of the front pocket of her backpack, shook six out into her hand and swallowed them dry before pulling out a bottle of water and gulping it down greedily.

"You won't be able to call the ambulance since I blocked all phone signals in this room, including the land line. Calls may come in but if you try to send a call out you will get an "our of order" message. While I am touched by your concern for me, it is unnecessary and request that you refrain from acting in what you believe to be my interest. It is unneeded, unwanted, and discomforting."

I stared at her in shock as she gathered her bags and the groceries before heading toward the door.

"Please change the kids diaper before we leave, I do not want baby shit on my seats."

"We have names you know." I told her. "My name is Haley and his name is Henry, not kid."

"Fine Haley, please change Henry's diaper before we leave, I do not want baby shit on my seats." With that she left us in the apartment as she loaded the car.

I changed Henry's diaper quickly before redressing him and making a bottle of warm baby formula. Once it was heated up I went outside and got in the car.


Sheri pulled the car in front of the mall and parked. Making a mental shopping list, I led the way. She followed along, shoulders slightly hunched and I noticed that she pinpointed every camera in view with a passing glance before pulling out her phone and texting. She slipped the phone away again and looked around at all the different shops.

First on the list was a baby store. I needed a car seat, a diaper bag, some baby food, and clothes, especially clothes. Henry looked best in topaz blue, since it brought out his eyes and highlighted his hair. Sheri walked around the shop curiously while sucking on a gummy worm. It was a strange sight.

I quickly gathered what I needed before checking out. Sheri handed over her credit card and grabbed the bags, while I carried Henry.

Next, Victoria's Secret. This was also an interesting experience since Sheri once again seemed fascinated with every item in the store. However she picked out three sets of bras and underwear without too much hassle. I was a little bit slower but finally our underwear shopping was done, bras and bottoms placed in a big pink and fuchsia striped bag with the Victoria's Secret label marked on the side. Sheri held the bag gingerly as if embarrassed to be carrying it.

Sheri went onto multiple stores, picking out clothes that she liked, although mainly keeping to black, grey and white. However the only thing that I found strange was the ten disposable cellphones she bought, with 400 min each and about twenty, four hundred minute cards for each of the ten phones. Every article of clothing, accessories, shoes, etc. was charged to the credit card. I was starting to think her bank account—if it was even hers—was bottomless.

Finally every item on my list had been checked off, Sheri was practically invisible behind the numerous bags and Henry was starting to throw a fit since we had shopped through his nap-time. Sheri sat down in the food court with a salted pretzel and simply watched people as she ate.

And once again I thought about how strange this girl and our situation were.