When a shooting star crashes just metres from his house, Isaac Avery meets a young lad, who nicknames himself Harry, who doesn't speak a word of English. As his mum, Elenore, investigates, Isaac takes Harry under his wing. How will Harry cope in school? Is Isaac right to be worried about him?
With guards from Riverhampton's Security Precint asking around about strange goings-on in the forest, Isaac's number one concern is keeping Harry safe. However, Isaac realises he needs more than one pair of hands, even if it means embroiling best friends Arlen and Ava in something dangerous.
After being shut out by Isaac and Arlen, Ava takes matters into her own hands and investigates Harry further. She realises her wildest theories may not be so wild after all. Isaac is faced with a new challenge to protect Harry, but the emotion weighs heavier than ever.
Emotions piling up, Isaac tries to make sense of his feelings towards Harry, and vice versa. Having heard nothing from Ava, he and Arlen launch a mission to rescue her, though it involves someone very close to home for Isaac.
1: Friend Written by MarthaJonesFan
Eagerly awaiting the return of Big Brother on TV, Isaac had just minutes to go. He and his mum loved watching it year-in, year-out, and it was undoubtedly his television highlight of the year.
As always, his mum sat on the comfiest seat in their reasonably-sized living room. She made their pretty simple house as luxurious as she could. Being a single mum was never going to be easy, but she made it work.
Isaac had lived in Riverhampton, California for his entire life. It was a pretty nice town, and he could easily have ended up somewhere worse, given his less than ideal start to life. Isaac was a foster child, and the kids at school made a pretty darn big deal out of it. After all, his mum was black and he was as white as a sheet. Riverhampton was mostly a liberal and progressive town, but people seemed to have a hard time understanding a modern family.
The adverts were dragging. Isaac’s excitement was ramping up. He glanced out of the window, keeping himself occupied. Their house was situated on the edge of a forest. In fact, the forest was basically his back garden. During the daytime, it seemed like the coolest place ever, and he had so many incredible childhood memories there. However, it felt different at night. It felt scary.
“Here we go,” his mum grabbed his attention, just as Isaac spotted something cool in the corner of his eye. It looked like a shooting star. It was so pretty – he had never seen a shooting star before. Isaac never usually believed in superstitious crap, but he couldn’t help making a wish. Just like always, Isaac wished for a boyfriend. He was approaching seventeen years old, and hadn’t ever had a relationship. Not even his first kiss. Everybody said there was no rush, but most people in his year group seemed to be coupled up. It was as if there were a countdown ticking away, and anyone not coupled up by the end would be single forever. His autism undoubtedly played a part in that, though. Social interaction wasn’t his forte outside his best friends.
“Did you see that?” Isaac questioned. His mum looked confused, too busy watching the television, “There was a shooting star.”
“That’s lovely darling,” she responded in her clear English accent. She had been living in the USA for longer than Isaac had been alive, but her accent always remained as thick as ever.
As she spoke, the shooting star continued across the sky, moving towards them rapidly. Its trajectory spiralled downwards. It looked as if it were about to land in the forest.
It landed. Fire engulfed a section of the forest just a few metres from Isaac’s house. This was too good to miss.
“Come on,” Isaac encouraged. He took his mum’s hand, pulling her out of her comfy armchair. Isaac was so intrigued. He had to take a look.
Rushing ahead while his mum followed, Isaac knew exactly where he was heading. He wasn’t stupid; he knew running into a blazing fire was dangerous, so he didn’t want to get too close. Isaac just wanted to see the shooting star up close if he could.
The trees stood up tall all over the forest. They clouded the moonshine, leaving only the fire to light Isaac’s way. He knew roughly where he was going anyway – the outskirts of the forest were as familiar as the back of his hand.
Directly ahead of him now was the fire, burning brightly and ferociously. However, it looked so pretty and extravagant. The wisps of fire looked so graceful – it was a stark contrast from how damaging it actually was.
“Isaac, hold up,” his mum kept safety on her mind, “It’s dangerous here.”
“I know, I just want to look,” Isaac responded. He could watch the fire raging and burning for hours. It was so fascinating.
“I think we’ve looked enough. Come on, there’s nothing here,” his mum encouraged. However, as she spoke, Isaac spotted something impossible. Something that should never have happened. A silhouette appeared out of the smoke. A human-shaped silhouette, its features obscured by the masses of smoke. Isaac watched in amazement as they approached them. Their pale skin came into view – the pale skin of a teenage boy. His dark, floppy hair was messed up and frayed. He wore nothing to cover his scorched skin. Isaac was in pure shock. How could anyone have survived that?
“Hello, I’m Isaac,” Isaac called out. No response came, but as the lead reached them, he collapsed. Isaac fretted. Who the hell was he?
“This is your room for now,” Isaac explained. His new friend stood in the almost empty spare room with a very lost expression on his face. It was as if he didn’t understand the society he had just arrived in. He woke up not long after he passed out thankfully, and Isaac’s mum was a nurse practitioner; it saved them an awkward hospital trip. That said, she was determined to bring him to the sheriff station the following morning, but Isaac was unconvinced. Things didn’t add up with him – he had emerged from a burning fire, where a shooting star landed, without even a scratch on his body?
The room had a couple of Isaac’s old posters in there – one of Harry Styles from a magazine, and another of Cody Simpson; both posters previously decorated his own room but he wasn’t willing to throw them out.
“Get comfortable,” Isaac suggested. He wasn’t sure the boy even spoke English. He had to dress him up in some of his own spare pyjamas, as if he had never seen them before. He was unlike anyone Isaac had seen before. The lad hadn’t mentioned his name still. In fact, he hadn’t said a single word.
“My name is Isaac,” Isaac reiterated, speaking clearly and simplifying his language as much as he could, “Do you understand?” Isaac nodded then shook his head. Surely that was a language everyone understood?
Isaac had achieved a result. They could communicate somehow.
“What is your name?” Isaac continued.
“Isaac,” he spoke.
“Isaac is my name,” Isaac pointed to himself, before gesturing forwards, “Yours?”
“Three-four-two,” he quietly responded.
Isaac was confused. That wasn’t a name. How could that be a name? Then Isaac realised. That must have been his name. 3-4-2. He said he’d understood after all.
“Harry” 3-4-2 added. Isaac was confused. Was his name actually Harry? Isaac spotted the Harry Styles poster in the corner of the room, with his first name written clearly in big font on the front. He was able to read.
“Do you like that?” Isaac queried, showing his thumbs up to help clarify.
“Like,” 3-4-2 replied, “I Harry.”
“What about a surname? I’m Isaac Avery,” Isaac considered.
“Cody,” Harry read once again from the posters. This time, the Cody Simpson one.
“Cody’s not a surname, but Simpson, that could work,” Isaac considered with a polite smile on his face, “Harry Simpson.”
“Harry Simpson. Like,” Harry smiled back. He was picking up some words, “Like Isaac.”
Isaac’s polite smile turned into a genuinely proud one. Harry was adorable, and they had definitely bonded. It wasn’t like Harry had anybody else. Isaac adored his naïve nature. He knew he could trust him.
Finally, Harry had gotten off to sleep. Isaac was wide awake, though. His mind was performing somersaults at a rapid rate. He was desperately trying to solve the mystery of who Harry was, but nothing was coming up. Everything that happened genuinely seemed to defy the logic in his brain.
“I’m off to bed,” mum said, pushing herself up off her armchair, “Tomorrow we need to take him to the sheriff.”
“Mom, no,” Isaac protested, “Something isn’t right with him.”
“And that’s exactly why we need to let the professionals do their job,” mum debated, much to Isaac’s frustration. He needed to get her to understand from his point of view.
“He couldn’t even dress himself, mom. He can speak about three words of English, all of which I taught him tonight. You can’t say this is remotely normal,” Isaac reasoned.
“What should we do then? What if we find out his parents have been looking for him?” mum considered.
“You could ask,” Isaac suggested, “If there’s anyone missing. If he has parents out there, they will have reported him by tomorrow, right?”
“I suppose,” mum realised. Isaac was slowly but surely persuading her, “I just don’t want you to get into trouble. I’m the adult, I’m supposed to protect you.”
Isaac understood. If Harry had a family out there, it would backfire on both of them, but what sort of family gives their child a name like 3-4-2? Isaac knew in his gut that they were doing the right thing.
“He’ll need to go to school, though,” mum noted. Darn. Isaac had almost forgotten about school, “I’ll call them first thing. If he’s staying here, he needs to go to school.”
Isaac couldn’t disagree. People would learn about Harry’s existence eventually, and they had to be as normal as possible.
It was a shame Isaac knew very little about normality.
Stepping out of his small but suitable red car, Isaac wasn’t looking forward to another week of school. Sophomore year so far had been chaotic; the level of homework had stepped up, and Isaac was barely on-the-ball.
Until this weekend, that was. Isaac had forgotten all about homework, and had spectacularly tumbled off the metaphorical ball. Harry had been a pretty major distraction, deviating from his usual Sunday routine. He didn’t regret it by any means, because Harry had become his priority, but it was a stress on his mind nonetheless. He had hoped Miss Savill would forget she set math homework.
Harry grabbed Isaac’s arm. He was wearing one of Isaac’s t-shirts – one that was a little too big, which was perfect for Harry’s height. He had a worried expression on his face. He was in an unfamiliar setting; a feeling of anxiety that Isaac was more familiar with than most.
“It’s okay, you’re with me all day,” Isaac comforted, “You and me.”
“Isaac Harry,” Harry said, perking up slightly. He took Isaac’s hand for comfort. Isaac smiled as butterflies began to populate his tummy. Harry gave him such a warm feeling. He was too adorable and innocent for a place like school.
“Hey fags,” the sound of a repugnant male voice yelled over. Isaac’s blood boiled. He didn’t even recognise the voice; it was a random student he didn’t even know. A simmering rage ran through Isaac’s body, but he chose to ignore it. Reacting got him nowhere. He just had to be grateful that Harry almost definitely couldn’t understand that.
“Hey Isaac,” a more familiar, pleasant voice called over. It was the friendly tone of Ava, who rushed over from the front entrance to see him. Her soft, auburn waves blustered in the gentle breeze, making her look like a movie star, in addition to the light sprinkling of make-up that complemented her rusty brown eyes.
Jogging behind her, as casually as ever, was Arlen – Isaac’s other best friend. Ava and Arlen were the only two people in the school Isaac particularly cared to speak to – otherwise, he preferred to mind his own business.
“Hey, who’s this?” Arlen smiled casually, looking towards Harry. As he spoke, Arlen pushed his hand through his floppy hair, as if he were trying to neaten it, though it landed in more-or-less the same place as before.
“Hey, this is Harry, my…” Isaac paused. He hadn’t thought of an explanation for who Harry was yet. He had to think fast, “Cousin. He’s from Sweden, so he doesn’t know much English, that’s why he’s here.”
“Oh, you’ve never mentioned him before. Hi Harry,” Ava smiled, before bouncing back off towards the front entrance. It was nice to know she was so trusting of what Isaac said. No further questions were asked.
“I’m Arlen, she’s Ava,” Arlen put a hand out for Harry to shake. Harry looked back blankly. Clearly, he had never seen a handshake before. An awkward silence ensued, before Harry cutely tapped Arlen’s hand. It was an attempt. Arlen nodded in a friendly manor, though his eyes spoke of his confusion. Regardless, he jogged back over to Ava.
“It’s okay, they’re my friends,” Isaac smiled gently. He gave a thumbs up signal. He was quickly realising that body language as key for making Harry understand.
“Like,” Harry smiled nervously.
Perhaps this wouldn’t be quite as difficult as Isaac worried.
Waiting patiently at the sheriff station, Elenore was keen to find out more about this so-called “Harry.” Isaac had taken a shine to him, such was his empathetic nature, but Elenore wasn’t sure. Isaac was right in saying something wasn’t right with Harry, but it wasn’t their responsibility. Ultimately, Elenore couldn’t stop a mother possibly reuniting with her child. She knew it would kill her to lose Isaac.
“Ms. Avery?” the Sheriff poked his head around the door.
“Please, call me Elenore,” she smiled politely, as if she were dealing with a patient at work. Elenore always had a good bedside manner – it was part of the job of nurse practitioner. She had a busy, crazy job, but it was always service with a smile in front of the patients.
Sheriff Herron led the way into his office. He was a tall man, slightly older than she was, and dashing in every way. He was charming and easy to talk to, which made this unusual job of going to the sheriff station that little bit easier.
“What can I help you with, Elenore?” he smiled, oozing with charm.
“I overheard my son saying he saw a kid in the forest earlier, naked, alone, and lost,” Elenore told a version of the truth, “I was wondering if there were any reports of missing kids.”
“Do you have a description please?” Sheriff Herron enquired, bringing a file to hand.
“Male, tall, late teens, dark hair,” Elenore explained, giving a vague description of Harry.
Sheriff Herron scanned up and down the file carefully, before reporting back, “Nope, nothing here. Do you want me to put an APB out?”
“No, I’m probably over-analysing,” Elenore politely declined, “Probably him and his imagination, as always.”
“Alright, we’ll keep an eye out just in case. Thank you Elenore,” Sheriff Herron smiled, getting out of his seat to escort Elenore out. Elenore wasn’t sure what to do next, but she expected Isaac may have been right the entire time.
Ensuring Harry took the empty seat to his left, Isaac felt on edge in math class. He was almost certain that Miss Savill was about to collect the homework in, so he sat with butterflies filling his stomach. Isaac was worried about how Harry would see him.
Arlen was sat to his right as always. He leaned in towards Isaac, obviously keen to probe further about his so-called cousin. Ava may have been satisfied with his explanation, but Arlen never looked so convinced.
“You’ve never mentioned a cousin,” Arlen enquired, as if he were making an accusation.
“Distant relative, he’s staying here while his parents are away for work,” Isaac lied. He knew he wasn’t the best liar, but the real explanation was far more complicated.
“Dude, you’re a shit liar, you said he was here to learn English,” Arlen caught him out, raising an eyebrow.
“Alright, I’m sorry. I’ll explain later,” Isaac gave in. Perhaps he could do with some extra help to solve the mystery?
“Okay class, I need three volunteers to the board please,” Miss Savill began the lesson as assertively as ever, “Harry, here’s your book, please keep it safe and tidy.”
Harry looked at the book in his usual state of confusion. Isaac understood why mum wanted him to go to school, but he couldn’t have been more out of his depth. He didn’t understand humanity enough. Maybe he wasn’t human?
No, that was too far-fetched, even for something as ridiculous as Harry’s situation.
Isaac demonstrated with the front cover of his own book. “Name,” Isaac illustrated, “Use the pen.” Isaac then showed Harry how to hold the pen. He hadn’t considered this being a problem.
Harry managed to write his name, and intriguingly, he spelt it perfectly.
With curiosity in his eyes, Harry looked at the board. Isaac had seen the terrifying trigonometry questions on there. He could use SOH CAH TOA to solve the right-angled triangle questions, but the sine and cosine rules were much less friendly.
Interestingly, Harry began writing, as if he couldn’t stop himself. Isaac kept watching, desperate to see the end result. Was he drawing something?
Pen down. Harry passed his book to Isaac, as if he were keen to show off what he had worked on. Isaac examined the book. All of the math questions done, within the space of a minute.
“Woah,” Isaac was amazed. He didn’t think – numbers were a universal language, and obviously Harry was damned smart. Maybe school wouldn’t be so tricky after all?
Showing Harry how to work his locker at lunchtime, Isaac was surprised at how just smoothly the day had gone. Miss Savill hadn’t collected the homework in, so he was given a reprieve on that front, and Harry had been finding the lessons okay. Obviously, his grasp of the English language was low, but he had no trouble grasping the dates in history, or technique in art.
“Like,” Harry siled as Isaac slotted his ever-growing selection of books into his locker.
“You’re clever,” Isaac complimented, “I really wish we could talk.”
“Isaac friend,” Harry added. A word Isaac hadn’t heard him use before. Progress. “Home.”
“We can’t go home yet, we have one more class,” Isaac responded.
“No. Talk,” Harry took Isaac’s hand and led him out of the corridor, and out of the school. He pointed at the car and signalled a driving motion with his hands.
“We’ll get into trouble for skipping class,” Isaac defended, always keeping his eye on the right thing to do. He preferred to play by the rules.
Harry nonetheless opened the passenger door and sat inside. Isaac knew he had to follow his lead. He needed some answers.
Isaac followed Harry’s directions for the duration of the journey. He had a very strong sense of direction, much like Isaac himself, though he was only communicating through hand gestures. Isaac had to pay extra special attention to his left or right hand movements without taking his eye off the road – it was an art in itself.
They arrived at Harry’s destination: the scene of the fire. It had been put out overnight by the fire service, and it looked far less majestic as a result, but Isaac could still see the damage. The trees had scorch marks scattered across their branches, and that was only if they were still standing, as a pile of burnt down trees were scattered across the centre.
Harry immediately began attempting to shift some of the tree trunks, with little luck. He then tried clearing the pile of leaves decorating the ground that autumn. He was looking for something specific.
“What is it?” Isaac tried to be useful, looking around the forest ground himself, but there wasn’t much he felt he could do.
“Home,” Harry replied, acting frantically and emotionally.
Isaac didn’t know how to help. He felt useless and hated how he couldn’t communicate more effectively with Harry. He wanted to be the helping hand Harry obviously needed.
“Come on, there’s nothing here “Isaac gently encouraged. Harry swung round to react, almost hitting Isaac.
Isaac hadn’t seen him like that before. He looked angry, though that quickly dropped into a regretful, remorseful expression. Harry began to cry. Tears formed in his eyes, the sunlight reflecting off the droplets of water as they began to trickle gracefully down his perfect skin. Isaac knew he didn’t mean his reaction. He needed to learn a new word.
“It’s okay. I know you’re sorry,” Isaac comforted, drying Harry’s tears with his hand.
“Sorry,” Harry repeated, “Best friend.”
Isaac pulled him in for a hug. Harry was so precious, and needed all the looking after that Isaac could give, “Best friend.”
Torch lights shone. Dogs barked. People in a dark, military-style uniform surrounded them.
“Remain still,” and order was given. Isaac felt terrified, but this was nothing compared to what Harry must have been feeling. He had to get them out of there.
2: Protection Written by MarthaJonesFan
That was the only word Isaac could think of to describe the situation he and Harry had found themselves in.
The panic extended to Harry, too. He had an expression of pure terror in his eyes. He didn’t know what was happening, but Isaac knew it had to be related to Harry. It was too big a coincidence.
“I repeat, remain still,” the voice sounded again. The military-type guards weren’t moving, simply staring and pointing their torch lights. At least they weren’t pointing guns at them, though Isaac could tell they were armed – their uniform had gun holsters attached. He wasn’t even thinking of disobeying.
“No like,” Harry whispered, his voice quivering.
“Same,” Isaac calmed him down, taking his hand and gripping it tightly.
“Not here,” Harry mentioned. What did he mean? Harry had said a lot of stuff that made little sense to Isaac. He was an enigma; a mystery that Isaac was desperate to solve.
“It’s okay, they will let us go, they can’t do anything. We’re doing nothing wrong,” Isaac kept as calm as he possibly could to reassure Harry. He was reassuring himself too.
Two of the military guards approached. Isaac pushed Harry behind him, not letting go of his hand, protecting him in the only way he could.
“Isaac Avery, and this is Harry, he’s my brother,” Isaac lied. Anything to help get them out.
“He doesn’t look like your brother,” the other guard probed rudely.
“Watch your tone,” the first guard warned.
“I was adopted,” Isaac justified. He wasn’t lying that time either, his mum had the adoption records to prove it.
“Why are you here?” the first guard continued his interrogation.
“We live just there,” Isaac pointed at his house, just about visible among the tree tops, “We were just hanging out.”
“Head on home, you can’t be here,” the first guard replied.
Isaac breathed a sigh of relief, but somehow, he feared this was just the beginning.
the front door shut, Isaac breathed a sigh of relief. He had no idea who he had
just escaped from, but he knew he was glad to be away from them.
Harry panted. They had sprinted away after the guard gave his warning, not wanting to be near them for any longer than necessary. Isaac knew it had to be connected to Harry somehow – the circumstances around his appearance were so odd after all, it had to have received some attention.
Isaac led Harry upstairs into his own bedroom. Harry hadn’t been in there yet – he’d slept in the spare room the night before. Pushing the door open, Isaac watched as Harry looked on in amazement. Isaac took an immense level of pride in his room – he had decorated the walls with posters and pictures of everything he liked, the bed was made immaculately with cushions he had bought from Redbubble placed on top, and everything he owned was tidied away neatly on shelving units. The room was his space, so he ensured it was as personal to him as he could make it.
“Harry,” Harry gazed in awe at the biggest poster in the room. Of course, the subject was Harry Styles, directly opposite Isaac’s bed next to the door.
“You like him, huh?” Isaac smiled. He had definitely been drawn quite strongly to Harry Styles so far.
“Like,” Harry smiled back, touching Harry Styles’ hair on the picture. He then touched his own hair, as if he were investigating it. Like he hadn’t paid any attention to his cute, floppy, brunette barnet before. Isaac found it pretty adorable.
Isaac picked up his laptop from beside his bed and made himself comfortable. School was over, and it was time to relax. Besides, Harry needed a hobby, and Isaac’s top hobby was just one click away.
“Sit,” Isaac patted the space next to him on the bed, inviting Harry to join him instead of standing awkwardly by the door.
Harry climbed on top, leaning against the pillows, copying Isaac’s body shape expertly. He didn’t even seem familiar with the concept of a bed; he had slept in the spare room the night before, but Isaac hadn’t ever considered that something as basic as a bed might be new to him.
“What do you want to watch?” Isaac politely questioned, scrolling through some of his Netflix favourites. Doctor Who. Teen Wolf. One Day at a Time. Then he reached the perfect show, “You’ll love this.”
Isaac clicked open the first episode of Miranda, immediately seeing Miranda Hart’s titular character greeting the audience. Even if Harry didn’t understand the words, it was very visual. Surely even he would crack a smile at Miranda falling over in a gloriously clumsy fashion?
“Girl,” Harry identified. That was a word Isaac hadn’t heard him use before.
“That’s right. What am I?” Isaac pointed to himself.
“Boy,” Harry replied confidently. His observation skills were top notch too. He was very clever.
“Yeah,” Isaac smiled proudly. Harry was a very fast learner. Perhaps there was something he could do to enhance his communication further?
Arlen couldn’t deny it – he was pretty darn curious about this Harry kid. He had known Isaac since they were in kindergarten, and he was a terrible liar. Isaac never lied because he knew he was the worst liar around.
Parking his car outside Isaac’s beautifully scenic house, Arlen was ready to get some answers. Isaac had promised him the full story earlier, but Arlen was almost more interested in why he didn’t get the truth the first time around.
“Are we going in or what?” Ava impatiently queried. Arlen had told her they were hanging around Isaac’s house, just as they often did after school, but it was partly so his plan didn’t feel so unusual or forced. Ava didn’t know that, though. She was smart – smarter than all of them, not that she ever wanted to show it off. Before long, she would undoubtedly piece everything together herself, but Arlen wanted to make headway first. More than one voice could backfire.
“Right,” Arlen nodded awkwardly as he opened his car door. He looked around at the forest. Arlen was always in awe of the view from Isaac’s front door. The tall trees, the leaves whispering the secrets of the forest to each other, and… the military guard.
Huh? Why was there a military guard stood on the cusp of the forest? He was staring purposefully directly in their direction, too. Arlen tried to brush it off, opening the front door using the key Isaac had given him years back, pretending he hadn’t seen the guard at all.
“Hey Ms. Avery,” Arlen waved towards Isaac’s mum in the living room. It looked like she had just gotten home from work – she still had her white nurse practitioner coat on. Arlen loved how authoritative a white coat made someone, and it certainly suited somebody like Elenore.
“Hi you two, Isaac’s upstairs, I’ve not seen him yet,” Elenore explained.
“Alright, thanks,” Arlen smiled, remaining polite. He had known Elenore just as long as Isaac, and she had been more of a mum to him than his own for much of his life. He had the utmost respect for her raising Isaac on her own; Arlen had seen first-hand that it wasn’t always easy.
Upstairs, Arlen heard laughing coming from Isaac’s room. Two different laughs. Harry was there too. Arlen hadn’t heard him speak yet, but he saw him acing the maths questions in class. He clearly knew a thing or two.
“How’s it going?” Arlen led the way into Isaac’s bedroom, holding the door for Ava. Isaac and Harry were lying on the bed in front of the laptop, obviously recovering from their rapturous laughter.
“Oh, hey you guys,” Isaac greeted. He looked shocked to see them, as if they had interrupted something.
“Sorry, are you busy?” Arlen queried, not wanting to get in their way.
“No, not at all, the episode’s just finished,” Isaac perked up, “Come and sit.”
Arlen looked Harry in the eyes. He seemed so sweet and innocent. This made him all the more curious. What could have been so bad about this sweet kid that would make Isaac want to lie?
The evening passed quickly, and Isaac enjoyed having a good laugh. It felt awesome to have both of his friends meeting Harry properly, like they were a true team. Harry didn’t utter a word the entire time, but Isaac wouldn’t have expected him to. However, he definitely seemed comfortable and at ease with Ava and Arlen, and that meant a lot to Isaac.
“Didn’t Miss Savill have to explain it to you five times?” Ava laughed at Isaac’s expense.
“Hey, it was hard,” Isaac defended himself, as was in his nature.
“I know, dumbass, just pulling your leg,” Ava smiled playfully. She was used to Isaac not always understanding the joke, and it was why Isaac was so appreciative of his friends. Making new friends was hard because they didn’t know his quirks and oddities like Ava and Arlen did.
Harry was laughing along with the group, though Isaac wasn’t sure he knew what they were laughing at. Nevertheless, he was pleased that Harry was understanding social cues and making the effort.
Arlen prodded Isaac on the shoulder, signalling that he wanted a word. Isaac hadn’t forgotten their discussion at school earlier that day. In fact, it had been front and centre of his mind ever since, much like everything concerning Harry. Arlen wanted the full story, and honestly, Isaac wanted somebody else to confide in. Someone who wasn’t his mum, who had a greater sense of responsibility.
“He seems nice,” Arlen began, pulling the bedroom door to behind him. Ava was talking away to Harry, who couldn’t get a word in edgeways even if he wanted or was able to.
“He is. He wouldn’t hurt a fly,” Isaac replied, keen to sing Harry’s praises to an obviously doubtful Arlen.
“Who is he then?” Arlen wondered, almost impatiently.
“I don’t know,” Isaac responded honestly, “A shooting star crashed out there and he walked straight out from it like it was nothing.”
“He could be anyone,” a sceptical Arlen noted, “How do you know this isn’t an act?”
Isaac’s stomach turned. He hadn’t thought about it this way. Harry could be anyone, and there was no way to prove that he was genuine.
That said, Isaac thought about the look in Harry’s adorable green eyes. He had to be genuine. The sheer confusion at just about everything a typical human would know. He would need to be a darn good actor to keep that up for approaching twenty-four hours, especially as Isaac had barely left his side.
“You didn’t see him earlier, in the forest,” Isaac thought back, “We saw these guards, and the look on Harry’s face. He was horrified. It was completely unfiltered.”
“Wait, you saw them too?” Arlen mentioned.
“Yeah, they told us to go home,” Isaac replied. They must still have been in the forest when Arlen arrived.
The front door knocked three times.
Isaac’s heart jumped. He peeped out of the landing window curiously – they weren’t expecting visitors and rarely got any, postman aside. However, the same two guards who spoke to Isaac and Harry earlier were stood waiting outside the front door.
Now it was time to panic.
There was something cute and sweet about Harry, Ava thought. He laughed at just the right moments, but he never said a word. Apparently, he didn’t know much English, but he was acting like he understood. Perhaps he was simply good at reading expressions and the tone of her voice.
“Whereabouts are you from?” Ava queried, interested to learn more.
Harry stared back blankly, as if he had no clue how to answer her question.
Ava thought on her feet. She slipped her phone out of the back pocket of her tight-fitting jean shorts and searched for a picture of a baby. In another tab, she loaded the world map.
“Where…,” Ava showed the map to Harry, before switching tabs, “…were you born?”
Harry thought. His eyes drifted as if he were looking hard for the answer he wanted to give. He pointed outside the window.
“Here?” Ava guessed. She wasn’t getting any of the answers she was hoping for, “Not Sweden?”
A confident shake of Harry’s head followed. That only made Ava more befuddled.
“Can you show me?” Ava placed her hand gently on Harry’s. She wanted to do this independently, while Isaac and Arlen were whispering to each other. If they were going to keep secrets, they couldn’t be shocked at Ava doing the same.
Pulling the stiff front door open, Elenore was taken aback to see two reasonably young army grunts or guards on her doorstep. It wasn’t immediately clear who they worked for – there were no logos on their solid black combat gear.
“Hello ma’am, are you the owner of this property?” the guard on the left queried.
“May I say some identification please?” Elenore assertively queried. She had seen far too many drama shows where a murder would have been avoided by a simple ID check.
The left guard nodded to the right. Evidently, he was the one in charge. Elenore was taking mental notes on everything she saw in front of her, because it could come in useful, particularly if they weren’t who they said they were.
Both of them held up an identification card each in unison. Each card was labelled with the Riverhampton Security Precinct logo. Elenore knew the precinct – she drove past it on the way to work daily. She didn’t know much about it though; the precinct was quite the urban myth around town. One thing Elenore did know was that it was controlled by the council. She knew she could proceed.
“I am the owner, yes. How can I help you?” Elenore acted politely. She was doing her best to appear unphased, but she knew Harry was upstairs; the wonder-boy who appeared out of a crashed shooting star without a scratch or a scar on him. She couldn’t crack, but nevertheless, Elenore wanted every bit of information she could gather.
“It’s actually your sons we’d like to speak to, if you don’t mind,” the guard explained.
Elenore noted the plural in that sentence. Isaac couldn’t stop himself sometimes.
“Isaac!” she yelled upstairs, before turning her attention back to her visitors, “You’ll need to come in.” The smile on Elenore’s face was forced, but she knew she had to keep up the pretence that nothing was out of the ordinary. Besides, she was too far in now, and Isaac was in even deeper. He was always her top priority.
Keeping out of view at the top of the stairs, Isaac felt terrified. His mum had just called his name. He was sure the guards were there to ask about the shooting star, and specifically, Harry. He had to keep Harry away from them.
“You can’t hide away,” Arlen advised, looking Isaac directly in the eyes.
“I know,” Isaac averted his gaze, as he often did when talking, “But Harry…”
“He doesn’t need to know anything. Come on, we’ll both go down now,” Arlen encouraged gently. Isaac was pleased Arlen was able to think so clearly, because he knew he couldn’t do it himself.
Taking a large dose of oxygen to prepare and calm his anxious self, Isaac led the way down the stairs and into the living room. His mum was sat in her usual chair, though instead of her usual relaxed slouch, she was almost hanging off the edge. The guards were next to each other on the sofa, though Isaac could only see the backs of their heads from the doorway, owing to the layout of the room. The atmosphere in the room could be cut with a knife.
“Isaac, these men would like a quick chat, they say they saw you in the forest earlier,” Elenore explained.
“Yeah,” Isaac nodded, sitting himself on the pouffe next to his mum’s armchair.
“Is your brother here?” the first guard questioned.
“No, he’s out right now,” Isaac lied.
“Alright. This will have to do, for now,” the guard ominously said. Isaac’s mind wasn’t put to rest hearing those words, “How long were you in the forest for?”
“Not long,” Isaac replied truthfully, “Maybe ten or fifteen minutes?”
“Any reason for going out there?” the guard continued as his colleague remained silent.
“Hanging out, we always have,” Isaac continued. He wasn’t seeing the point of these basic questions. They were obviously avoiding the questions they really wanted answers for as they involved more specific information.
“Did you notice anything…unusual?” the guard continued his ambiguity.
“It looked like a fire had burnt down some of the trees,” Isaac mentioned. It would have appeared more suspicious if he didn’t mention the obvious.
“Anything else?” the guard probed further and further.
“Like what? If you need to know something specific, just say it, or I will be on the phone to your superiors within an instant,” Elenore intervened. Isaac was pleased she spoke up; having her and Arlen in the room with him was a comfort. That said, Arlen had mostly been on his phone. So much for the support.
Her phone buzzing furiously and incessantly, Ava stopped in her tracks. Her hand was in the doorway, ready for Harry to lead her outside. Now she had to check what all the fuss was about. She had three new texts, all from Arlen.
“Why is he texting me? We’re in the same house,” Ava muttered under her breath.
“Isaac?” Harry wondered. That was the first time Ava had heard him speak. His accent sounded American, interestingly. His tone was protective and worried.
“No, Arlen,” Ava mentioned, opening the texts up.
“No time to explain, but get Harry out.”
“Come quietly downstairs and go out the back door.”
Panic filled Ava’s mind. What was the emergency? Why did she need to get Harry out? Was he in danger?
“Okay, don’t get scared, but we need to get out of here, quickly and quietly,” Ava explained, before realising that Harry likely didn’t understand a word she said, “We need to go,” Ava reiterated, gesturing to the door, “Quickly,” she demonstrated a running movement, “And quietly,” she lowered her voice and raised her finger to her lips.
Harry nodded. Success; he had processed the instructions. He clasped Ava’s hand tightly. It was like a symbol of support, yet also a cry for help. Together, they crept out of Isaac’s room and towards the staircase. Ava braced herself. She knew how creaky Isaac’s staircase could be. She was having flashbacks to getting a drink when she slept over with Arlen once before; every stair made a noise and Elenore got woken up at three in the morning.
Once again, Ava held her finger to her lip, so Harry knew it was vital to stay totally quiet. He nodded again just as Ava lowered herself down once step. So far, so good.
Slowly and cautiously, Ava continued down the stairs. Harry hadn’t let go of her hand for even a second, which was a relief; she always knew he was never more than a couple of steps behind.
“I’m sorry Isaac, I’m just trying to paint a picture of everything you saw,” Ava heard a male voice coming from the living room.
Ava paused. That noise could definitely be heard around the house. The voices stopped.
“Who was that?” the same voice questioned.
“Nobody, just the old house settling,” Arlen covered for them.
Ava’s heart was beating like crazy. Whatever this was, it sounded very serious.
Harry stepped on that same stair.
The voices in the living room stopped once again. Ava knew it was harder and harder to cover their tracks with each creak.
Well aware of the loud noises his staircase made, Isaac knew the creaking sounds were not a result of the house creaking. The guards could tell, too, because two identical sounds came within seconds of each other, and the staircase was on the other side of the far living room wall.
Isaac had also spotted Arlen with his phone, as if he were anxiously waiting for a reply. Isaac put two and two together. Arlen was trying to get Harry out, but Harry was now in danger, possibly with Ava too. He had to keep talking.
“Trees looked like they had been chopped down,” Isaac recalled the vision of the forest post-shooting star, “Something had been there overnight because it wasn’t like that yesterday.”
“Did you hear anything last night?” the guard queried. Just as he spoke, Isaac spotted Ava and Harry reaching the ground floor and turning to head out the back. The hardest part was over, now Isaac could wrap it up.
“No, I’m sorry, we stayed in last night,” Isaac lied as best as he could, trying his hardest to keep eye contact.
“Okay, thank you for your time Isaac and Ms. Avery,” the guard stood up, his colleague following suit.
“I’ll show you out,” Elenore led them to the front door.
“Come on,” Arlen gestured for Isaac to follow him. They had to find Harry and Ava. Isaac jogged behind Arlen as they headed through the hallway, kitchen and then to the back door.
Much to Isaac’s delight, they hadn’t gone far and were just hidden out of sight next to the door. He pulled in Harry tightly for a hug.
“They’re gone, you’re safe,” Isaac smiled, hoping Harry would see his positive body language. Sure enough, Harry replied with a smile back.
“Thank you,” Isaac turned to Ava, appreciative that she managed to take care of Harry.
“Of course,” she half-smiled back, “But can someone please explain what the hell is going on?”
Arlen looked at Isaac blankly. Isaac wasn’t sure what to say. Ava was in too deep now.
3: Security Written by MarthaJonesFan
“Isaac,” a timid, nervous voice jolted Isaac awake. He had been fast asleep for… he wasn’t sure how long exactly, but from the lack of light penetrating the curtains, it wasn’t time to wake up yet.
Opening his eyes and struggling to focus on what was directly in front of him, Isaac tried to make out the silhouette in front of him. He could see the now-familiar mop of jet-black hair dangling down, a sight he had seen for the past three nights on the trot.
“Outside,” Harry’s cutely bossy voice said. Isaac knew what he wanted to do. The forest outside was empty at night – no guards were searching or watching, and it would have raised too much suspicion for them to cordon it off, meaning it was free game for them.
Isaac spun round to look at the clock on his bedside table. The bright red light glared 03:00 at him. It was the exact same precise time every single night.
Late night adventures aside, the past three days had been mostly smooth. Harry had settled in well at school and he was picking up new words really easily. Arlen had been a massive help, though they had both been avoiding Ava. Isaac wasn’t sure what to say to her, so he was choosing not to say anything at all for now, even if he knew it was a bad idea to keep putting it off.
Harry threw Isaac his dressing gown and picked up the pair of slippers he kept at the bottom of his wardrobe. Begrudgingly, Isaac sat up and slipped on the dressing gown over his short-sleeved pyjama top. Harry had noticed the routine quite quickly from previous nights, so was one step ahead of Isaac now. Besides, winter was approaching, and it was getting chilly outside, so he needed to keep warm.
Excitedly, Harry held Isaac’s hand as he pulled him out of the house and into the very familiar forest area where they first met. Isaac watched on as Harry basically picked up where he left off the night before. He rummaged through the chunks of destroyed tree chips, piles of leaves and mud that littered the carpet of the forest.
Isaac didn’t want Harry to lose hope, but they hadn’t found a single scrap of whatever he was looking for yet. Surely after total that now stood at four nights, something would have shown up. That said, Isaac didn’t have the heart to burst Harry’s bubble.
“Isaac,” Harry called. He sounded excited, more than he usually did. Like a child receiving the Christmas present they desperately wanted.
Intrigued, Isaac approached. He’d found precisely nothing so far, so even the tiniest discovery could help piece various parts of the jigsaw together. Harry held up a tiny piece of what looked like a translucent brown plastic.
“What is that?” Isaac wondered in bewilderment.
Harry paused, not sure which words to use. Isaac had to help him out.
“Is it part of some sort of pod?” Isaac thought. Harry, wherever he came from, had to have arrived in something.
Harry nodded. Lucky guess.
“Come on, we can look at it more in the morning, let’s go to bed,” Isaac smiled, leading Harry inside. Maybe his questions were finally about to be answered?
One more day until the weekend. That was what Ava kept telling herself, anyway. Two whole days away from school, meaning she didn’t have to see her two so-called best friends ignoring her.
Ava wasn’t stupid – she knew why. They were hiding something; something to do with Harry, and Ava was determined to find out what.
Despite that, though, Ava couldn’t help feeling gutted. Arlen and Isaac were meant to be her friends. All three of them had been tight as anything for so many years. Being excluded from the Harry situation was pretty disappointing.
“Mind if I sit here?” came the cutely soft British tones of a young lad. Ava was sitting on the steps outside the school building, not realty paying attention to her surroundings.
Looking up, Ava saw Newton Sheppard, from her chemistry class. She hadn’t spoken to him much – he often preferred to hang out with the “popular crowd,” but she had spent many a chemistry lesson admiring him from afar.
“Not at all,” Ava smiled politely, fixing her hair quickly. As Newton sat down, he fixed his hair too. It was pretty long – cascading just past his shoulders – and suited his slightly tanned skin and gorgeous maroon eyes.
“You look like you need a friend,” he mused.
“I’ve got a couple of vacancies,” Ava replied nervously, keeping the tone light.
“Not sure I can fill both but I guess I can try,” Newton chuckled. He seemed easy to be around, which was exactly what Ava needed – a positive distraction.
“Where are your other friends? You three never seem to be apart,” Newton observed.
“Long story,” Ava deflected. The whole story was too complicated for her to know where to begin. Not to mention how few details she was actually aware of.
“I’m not in a hurry, class doesn’t start for twenty minutes,” Newton persisted, not intrusively, but out of what seemed like genuine concern with a dash of intrigue.
Ava was trying to find the right way to explain what was a ridiculously messy situation to an outside, but it wasn’t bringing much up.
“It’s the new kid, isn’t it?” Newton guessed.
“He’s lovely,” Ava basically confirmed his thoughts, thinking back to her chat with Harry. He trusted her. He wanted to show her something, out in the forest, but they never got the chance to go, “But stuff doesn’t add up, and it started when he arrived.”
“Why don’t you just ask them what’s going on?” Newton wondered, as if he were a guidance counsellor.
“You think I’ve not tried that?” Ava laughed; she knew if she didn’t laugh, she’d likely cry.
“Well, have you got any better ideas? There’s no use wallowing here,” Newton reasoned.
“There is something,” Ava pondered, “Come on, let’s go.”
“Class starts in fifteen,” Newton reminded.
“Shame we both happen to be at the dentist at the same time,” Ava chuckled, standing up and holding her hand out to Newton, inviting him along.
Newton gazed back at it, as if he were considering whether this was a good idea or not. Ultimately, he grabbed Ava’s hand and flashed a cheeky, excitable smile.
Perhaps he was the only friend she needed after all.
Another tedious English lesson began. Isaac was already bored by just reading the lesson title – “Romeo and Juliet.” The story was a classic, but Isaac didn’t believe in soppy love stories like that. Mainly because he hadn’t even caught a whiff of one for himself yet.
Harry smiled over from the desk to his left. His cute face radiated in the intrusive sunlight beaming through the windows.
Perhaps Isaac wanted something a little less traditional.
“Have you seen Ava?” Arlen whispered indiscreetly from behind.
“Not since yesterday,” Isaac responded. Her desk, completing the four corners of a square behind Harry and on Arlen’s left, was unusually empty.
“Maybe she’s sick,” Arlen considered.
“Ava’s not had a sick day before. Ever,” Isaac mentioned. He’d had more than he could count, but Ava was always asking after him. The only days off she’d had were for funerals or unavoidable appointments, and even then, she would catch up on what she missed.
“I’ll text her,” Arlen cautiously positioned his phone under the table. Mr. Woods was notably strict when it came to phones out in class; he always confiscated them.
“Mr. Edison,” Mr. Woods spotted. He must have some Spidey-sense.
Arlen sighed a heavy sigh. He had never been caught out before. In fact, he was usually the ninja when it came to texting in class.
“I’ll look after that for today,” Mr. Woods smiled smugly as Arlen reluctantly handed his phone over, “You can retrieve it in detention tonight.”
Frustrated, Arlen’s head collapsed onto the desk. Isaac felt partially sorry for him, but it was a little funny, and he couldn’t deny it.
In the corner of his eye, Isaac noticed something highly concerning. Exactly the type of thing he thought he was safe from. Two guards from the security precinct. The same two guards from his front door. They were outside the window, approaching the front entrance. Immediately, Isaac’s protective instinct for Harry took over.
He had to keep him safe.
Though she had little idea what she was looking for, Ava was keen to find something, or anything, that would identify exactly why Harry pointed outside. He wasn’t the type to joke around; Ava wasn’t even sure he knew how to joke. There must have been a clue somewhere.
“Why are we here? I thought we were going somewhere, you know, fun,” Newton remarked.
“Get looking,” Ava ordered, ignoring the obvious connotations.
“Looking for what?” Newton queried, his face painting the perfect picture of genuine perplexity.
“I don’t know yet, just anything that’s out of the ordinary,” Ava explained.
“These trees don’t look ordinary,” Newton observed, “They’ve not been chopped down, they’ve been well and truly destroyed.” Ava examined the various chunks of tree scattered all around her. They were inconsistently shaped and sized, and cut very sloppily. No human would have done this. Then Ava remembered: the article she read.
“There was a fire in the forest the other night. I read it online. There were rumours a shooting stat landed in the forest, but nobody commented to confirm or deny it,” Ava recalled, delving deep into her memories.
“You must have been really bored,” Newton jested.
“It was the night before we first met Harry,” Ava had a terrifying realisation.
“What does Harry have to do with a shooting star?” Newton was clearly getting more and more confused. There were so many details to keep up with.
“He pointed out here when I asked him where he was born,” Ava explained.
“Born? Yikes, that must have been one hell of a labour,” Newton joked. Ava opted to ignore him, focusing instead on piecing the jigsaw together.
“He knows no English, barely seems to understand basic concepts before they are explained to him,” Ava processed, thinking aloud while Newton continued browsing the ground, “And he arrives conveniently the day after a shooting star crashes next to Isaac’s house.”
Newton was hardly listening, but Ava didn’t care. She had to try and visualise the timeline of events for it to make sense to her, just like the detective she one day aspired to be.
“Maybe he’s an alien?” Ava theorised. She knew she sounded crazy, but it was the only logical answer she had so far.
“Do aliens wear rings?” Newton randomly questioned. Intrigued, Ava jogged over to him. Sure enough, he had found a ring. It was a pretty expensive-looking piece of jewellery. The material looked like real gold, decorated with diamonds all around the circumference. Unusually, it was slightly oversized for a typical finger, with sharp spikes facing a few millimetres inwards.
“This looks like some sort of torture,” Ava observed, seeing a latch stopping the spikes sinking further.
“Who the fuck would wear a ring like that?” a disgusted Newton wondered, before trying to get a laugh from it, “A masochistic alien.”
“Remain still,” a voice commanded loudly from behind Ava. A tingling sensation of feat trickled fiercely through her body. Cautiously, she spun around to where the voice was coming from.
Blocking the way between the edge of the forest and Isaac’s house were three of the guards she had seen interrogating Isaac just days before. All three had guns pointed at her and Newton, much to Ava’s absolute horror.
Her theories were right – something more was going on.
Moving anxiously through school to find a safe space, Isaac wasn’t having much luck. The corridors of school were filled with guards, as if every exit had been blocked.
As he pushed backwards and forward through the crowded corridors, Isaac made sure never to lose his grip on Harry’s hand. They needed to stay together, and if Harry got separated, he wouldn’t be able to fend for himself.
“What are they doing here?” Arlen queried, bringing up the rear.
“I don’t know, but it can’t be good. We can’t let them find Harry,” Isaac responded, determined to keep him out of view.
Harry himself had a variety of expressions displaying on the blank canvas that was his face. Fear, worry and confusion seemed to prevail through his eyes. Isaac sympathised, as he felt exactly the same.
Another exit blocked. The security precinct guards really had covered the building. Something serious must have gone down.
“Attention all students,” the voice of Principal Stewart sounded through the loudspeaker. Isaac stopped in his tracks; any information could be vital, “Please make your way to class for an important announcement.”
How irritatingly vague. There was nothing Isaac hated more than ambiguity.
“Scared,” Harry muttered. Isaac could hear the fear translate across his delicate, quivering voice. Isaac’s protective instinct had never been higher.
“Find somewhere to hide. I’ll cover for you,” Arlen offered.
“Thanks,” Isaac smiled. That lifted his load slightly. At least the teachers wouldn’t be desperately worrying where they were.
The corridors were beginning to empty as students filtered into class. The smell of canteen food lingered while crisp packets left by idiotic kids who couldn’t use trash cans littered the floors. Before it got truly empty, Isaac knew he had to make a move. He needed to make it as difficult to be followed as possible.
“Come on, up here,” he encouraged Harry, heading to the adjacent staircase.
Isaac had no idea where he was heading, but he knew wherever it was, it was going to be the safest place he could get.
It had to be, for Harry’s sake.
Complete darkness. That was all Ava could see around her. She had been blindfolded, which made her feel more uneasy than anything. Her greatest sense had been blocked, meaning she had next to no understanding of what was happening. Of course, she had tried to struggle, but she stood no chance against the hunky, burly guards.
In the absence of sight, Ava had paid extra attention to the rest of her senses. After all, it was important to remain calm, and every clue was vital.
Ava had definitely been moved, on two separate occasions – to and from a vehicle. She couldn’t ignore the loud rumbling of the road, and the fierceness of the vehicle’s engine. Now she had no idea where she was. The smell was fresh and clean, like a brand-new office block. There was even the distinct aroma of coffee sprinkled around. It felt oddly glamorous considering they had just been kidnapped.
Throughout the ordeal, Ava was certain she still had Newton by her side. Their mouths weren’t gagged or taped, so they could still communicate – it wasn’t like they could yell for help from the inside of a moving vehicle anyway.
“Ava, are you still there?” Newton called out. It sounded like he was talking right into her ear. He can’t have been far away.
“Yeah, it’s okay, I’m here,” Ava spoke softly. She needed to keep him calm, even if she was panicking on the inside.
Ava’s blindfold was harshly yanked off. Her eyes adapted to the comparatively unforgiving lights. Sure enough, just as she thought, they were in an office room. However, despite its vast space, there was one sole desk – the one Ava was sat on one side of. Newton was to her left, and on the other side of the table was a woman in a smart, stylish suit.
“Where the hell are we?” Newton questioned, frantically looking around.
“I’m sorry for the inconvenience. Please, have a drink,” the lady politely smiled, gesturing to the two paper cups of water on the table. She was in her late thirties, perhaps early forties. Her gorgeous long, dark curls were tied back into a perfect bun, and her light grey suit complemented her immaculate make-up.
“Where is this place?” Ava reiterated Newton’s question, ignoring the cup of water. Her heart was beating like crazy; it felt like it was about to burrow out of her chest.
“Somewhere safe,” the lady replied, “Providing you co-operate.” Ava felt a chill run down her spine at the end of that sentence. She knew she had to watch her mouth.
Ava took a gulp of the water. She needed all the strength she could get.
Slipping into last period just a few seconds late, Arlen knew he had one task to complete. Not only did he need to provide an alibi for Isaac and Harry’s absence, but he was their eyes and ears. He was ready to relay every piece of information he could collect and send it straight to Isaac’s phone.
Arlen had forgotten.
His phone had been confiscated. He had no way of getting in touch.
Arlen’s mind was thinking at lightning speed. He looked rapidly around the classroom. Who could be trust?
“Hey, Alesha,” Arlen turned to his immediate right. He faced the gorgeous Alesha Hartley, the most beautiful girl in the year group. Her glistening hazel eyes twinkled as her auburn waves bounced on her shoulders. The sunlight from the windows behind him made her tanned skin become radiant. Arlen had been smitten for years, though he had barely said a word.
“Oh, hi,” Alesha awkwardly smiled back. Their only real encounter in the past had been in junior high, when a couple of idiots were picking on Arlen. Alesha was the only one to stand up for him. Ever since then, he knew he could trust her, even If she was very much part of the popular crowd.
“Can I borrow your phone please? I need to text my mom,” Arlen pretended.
“Err, sure,” Alesha seemed confused, but she handed the phone over. Evidently, she trusted him too.
Quickly, Arlen signed Alesha out of her Facebook account and into his own.
“Alright class, listen up,” Miss Savill addressed. Arlen kept the phone under the desk, as he often did, keeping it out of her view.
He was ready for operation ‘Get Harry Out.’
Isaac’s heart had never pumped so fast. He was absolutely terrified for the first time in his life. The stakes felt high, even though his knowledge of the situation was still lacking. One thing he was sure of was that it linked back to Harry – the security precinct guards weren’t hovering around the forest and asking about the shooting star out of pure coincidence.
Isaac and Harry were surrounded by pens, pencils and paper. They were hiding in the supply cupboard on the top floor, which was barely used even during a typical school day.
The worry had never been more vivid on Harry’s face. He was very expressive, which helped Isaac to understand his feelings when he couldn’t verbalise them. Nevertheless, it wasn’t a sight he enjoyed seeing.
“We’ll be okay, you got me,” Isaac reassured.
“Scared,” Harry timidly replied. Harry knew just as much as Isaac, and he hadn’t signed up for any of it. He was surely the victim of whatever was going on.
“I know, but it’s okay, we’re a team, aren’t we?” Isaac smiled, trying to keep himself composed. If he panicked, he knew Harry would too.
“Team,” Harry repeated, nodding. A tear slid down his cheek. Isaac had never seen him cry before; it broke his heart to see Harry so sad. He wiped it away for him, though Isaac felt teary himself too. It took a lot to make him cry – usually it was quite easy to disassociate himself, but that wasn’t possible in such an unusual and intense scenario.
They were huddled together closely, sat on the floor, as if they had to preserve heat. Harry rested his head on Isaac’s shoulder. It felt oddly intimate, considering they were supposed to be hiding, but Isaac could have stayed there forever. He was always at ease with Harry, even if his arrival had brought so much drama. His stomach felt different, some sort of sensation that he hadn’t experienced before. It felt pretty good.
“Nothing from Arlen yet,” Isaac sighed. They were going to be there for a long time yet.
Catching Isaac off guard, Harry leaned in and pressed his lips against his own; kissing him. Isaac felt butterflies gathering in his stomach. He dropped his phone to the floor as his hands locked with Harry’s. It was like time stood still for a moment, and all of their worries could go away.
Harry pulled away and smiled awkwardly. Isaac didn’t know what to say or how to feel. How did Harry even know how to kiss? Did he understand what it meant.
That said, Isaac couldn’t deny the basic fact of the kiss.
He absolutely loved it.
4: Liberation Written by MarthaJonesFan
First day of high school. Isaac had never been more nervous for anything. Junior high didn’t feel quite as daunting when he started there, perhaps because Isaac was less self-conscious when he was younger; his biggest priority was getting the toys he wanted.
Now he was a teenager. Fifteen years old, and very self-aware. Junior high was not always easy, but at least it had become familiar. Now Isaac had to adapt to a bunch of new surroundings, and worst of all, new people.
“Isaac!” he heard a familiar voice call as he entered through the gates of Riverhampton High. It was the friendly tones of Arlen, who jogged over alongside Ava. Thank god for some familiarity.
“You look terrified,” Ava smiled. She wasn’t wrong – Isaac had barely eaten because he was so sick with nerves.
In the corner of his eye, Isaac spotted something he wasn’t used to seeing quite so openly at school. A boy and a girl, undoubtedly a couple of years older than him, snogging each other’s faces off.
Often, Isaac found cute kisses to be heart-warming, but this was borderline grotesque. The sort of snogging that involved a round of tonsil tennis and only needed to happen behind closed doors.
“Where’s the dignity?” Ava rolled her eyes, obviously picking up on it too. It wasn’t exactly subtle or out-of-view.
Isaac couldn’t take it off his mind. He could never picture himself kissing someone like that so publicly, especially when it was two popular kids who seemed to care more about status than love. To each their own, Isaac guessed.
All he knew was that he would be waiting for the right person to share his first kiss with.
Isaac wasn’t quite sure how to process his feelings, and it was quite the cocktail. Confusion, worry, but it was mostly elation and he couldn’t conceal it. Harry was Isaac’s first kiss, and although the situation wasn’t quite as perfect as he dreamed, everything else was pretty darn flawless.
Sitting coyly next to him, Harry seemed to feel just as content. It felt so right, even if Isaac had a few questions to ask before he jumped to conclusions.
“Like,” Harry said, confirming his happiness.
“I liked it too,” Isaac smiled back, “How did you know what that was?”
“Miranda. Gary,” harry answered. Suddenly, it all made sense. They had watched most of Miranda on Netflix now, and obviously Harry had learnt by watching Miranda’s love story with Gary unfold. It wasn’t far off the love story Isaac always wanted, either. Two people who were made for each other.
“Do you understand why people kiss?” Isaac questioned. He wasn’t sure Harry had any concept of love just yet.
“Like,” Harry replied naïvely.
“Love,” Isaac corrected, “Love is when you really like someone. Miranda loved Gary, and only Gary. Nobody else,” Isaac explained as clearly and concisely as he could, though words weren’t his strong point.
“Love,” Harry processed, “Love Isaac.” The accompanying smile was somehow both confident and shy at the same time. He knew what he was saying, and he meant it. Harry might not have known how to describe his feelings, but they were definitely genuine.
“I…,” Isaac went to reply, just as his phone buzzed, interrupting the moment unforgivingly. Annoyingly, Isaac knew it wasn’t something he could put off, either.
“They’re instating a curfew of seven o’clock after the recent forest fires, which they think were deliberate,” Isaac paraphrased Arlen’s series of excitable yet anxious Facebook messages, “That’s not even a good excuse,” he reacted.
“Fire,” Harry repeated what Isaac guessed was the only word he understood. Isaac really wished he had a better way to communicate, it was still the only real barrier between them, even if Harry had learnt so much in such a short period of time.
“We need to get home,” Isaac broke it down, before showing his trusty blue wristwatch, “by seven,” and he held seven fingers up.
Harry nodded. Success. Now they just had to wait for the all-clear.
The glare of the suited woman made Ava feel extremely uncomfortable. Though the office they were in felt pretty cosy and relaxed with the calming aroma of coffee gracefully filling Ava’s nose, the woman in front of her gave off an ice-cold vibe.
Though Ava was keeping a calm and collected exterior, Newton seemed to be struggling. He was visibly shaking and so far out of his comfort zone.
“What do you want to know?” Ava assertively wondered.
“Why don’t we start with why you were in the forest?” the lady smiled passive-aggressively.
“Our friend lives on the edge of the forest,” Ava sneered back. She could give it back just as easily.
“That would be Isaac Avery, who lives with his adopted mother Elenore,” the lady worryingly mentioned, “And his brother, who we have absolutely no record of.”
“Harry is Isaac’s brother?” Newton whispered in Ava’s ear, shocked.
“Something not ringing true, Miss Reilly?” the lady noted.
“Who the hell are you? Why are you stalking us? You can’t hold us here,” Ava argued. Now she wasn’t just defending herself, she was defending Isaac. Despite everything, he was still her best friend.
“All you have to do is start talking, Miss Reilly,” the woman bargained, “You’re not in trouble. All we need is the truth.”
“Just tell her,” Newton whispered. He was desperate to get out.
Fortunately, Ava was happy to sit pretty a little longer. She wasn’t selling her friends out, Harry included.
“I told you all I know,” Ava remained firm. Stubbornness was her key asset.
The lady sighed, “Take them in.” She clicked her fingers in the direction of the door and two muscly, scary-looking guards entered.
Newton looked horrified, but Ava felt safe. Whoever these people were, they needed her co-operation, so as long as Ava had more to give, her safety was guaranteed.
The all-clear had been given by Arlen and the school day had finished; Isaac was ready to go home.
The entire day had been a gigantic learning curve, just to tell him that nowhere was safe. However, he knew he could always find a way to protect Harry. Nobody else made him feel as warm and cosy inside as Harry did, and that was a feeling he would defend for as long as he could.
What felt so incredible about Harry was how he carried no judgements with him. Harry had no concept of how autism affected people, and to know Harry cared for him so much regardless was the most awesome feeling.
Isaac led the way to the main exit where he noticed Arlen waiting eagerly for them both. It was a comforting sight after the entire ordeal they had just experienced.
“Everything okay?” Arlen questioned.
“We can’t keep doing this. They’re not going to go away,” Isaac realised. He was exhausted, emotionally and physically. This could realistically go on for a long time.
“What can we do? If we don’t keep Harry hidden, they’ll take him. Experiment on him, or something,” Arlen guessed. Ultimately, none of them knew what they’d get from Harry, but it surely wasn’t going to be good.
“We need Ava,” Isaac concluded. She had the most logical brain out of everyone – surely she could think of something to unstick them.
“Can’t you call her?” Arlen queried.
“What happened to your phone? Didn’t you get it back?” Isaac queried. He avoided phone calls at all costs – his social anxiety went through the roof.
“School closed early, no time for detention, he’s kept it over the weekend,” Arlen groaned.
“Call on mine,” Isaac chucked his phone to Arlen, who caught it expertly. Arlen was used to making phone calls on Isaac’s behalf, so he called Ava’s number without further question.
“No answer,” he reported back, before tapping further on Isaac’s phone. His facial expression dropped to one of shock and concern, “You’d never believe where her phone is.”
Isaac took the phone back to see his Snapchat maps open. Terrifyingly, Ava’s Bitmoji was situated in the middle of Riverhampton Security Precinct.
“How can we get to her?” Isaac immediately asked.
“We can’t bring Harry,” Arlen immediately said, to which Isaac agreed. It was far too dangerous.
“Bad,” Harry uttered, showing his rough understanding of the situation.
“My mom,” Isaac realised, “She said she knows where it is. Her boss works with their staff, some sort of mutual agreement.”
Involving his mum any further was a last resort for Isaac, but he needed to help Ava, no doubt about it.
Feeling disgusted, Newton was pretty sure the cell he and Ava had been thrown in was worse than the typical jail cell he’d seen on television. It wasn’t like either of them had committed a crime, yet they were being treated worse than murderers.
The paint on the walls had mostly been scratched off; there was a tiny window which served as the only light source, and even then, it was behind bars; and the toilet was metal, and absolutely freezing.
At least they hadn’t been split up. Ava was still there with him, and she seemed to have a plan of some sort.
“Why aren’t you telling them everything?” Newton wondered, probing for some answers, “Is there stuff you’re not telling me?”
“No,” Ava quickly responded. She sounded frustrated, and with good reason too considering their situation, “It’s complicated, and they’re obviously listening to us.”
“Is that such a bad thing?” Newton pleased, “I want to go home. I’m hungry, tired and I need a shower. You don’t want to see me hangry.”
“Don’t you get it? It’s not all about you, it’s about a boy who’s caught up in something he doesn’t understand. He’s the victim,” Ava explained.
“You’ve changed your tune. Earlier he was the biggest problem in your life,” Newton was struggling to keep up.
“Being kidnapped kinda changes your perspective,” Ava reasoned. She had a point – they weren’t exactly in a normal, rational scenario. He gave up the argument, letting a few moments of awkward silence pass.
“My mom is going to be wondering where I am,” Newton sighed, changing the topic. He was reflecting on what he would likely have been doing at home on a regular day. It was almost four o’clock, so he would almost certainly be on his first video game of the evening. Oh, how he wished he could be playing Fortnite with Charlie, Jayden and anybody else they’d find online.
“They will find us. Someone will,” Ava reasoned. She sounded pretty sure of herself, much to Newton’s bafflement.
“You mean Isaac? How is he going to get in here?” Newton doubted. He only knew Isaac from being the shy kid at school, they hadn’t ever really spoken.
“Just you wait,” Ava nodded, convincing herself just as much as Newton. He wasn’t sure anybody would be coming to get them, but he had to keep positive. It was the only thing going for him.
Isaac’s mum worked in a building just down the road from the security precinct, and boy, it was taking Isaac a lot of restraint not to storm in immediately to break Ava out. He had to be calculated, because whoever was in charge of this operation was certainly no amateur.
The strongest memories Isaac had of the doctor’s office came from his sick days during primary school. His mum couldn’t afford to miss work, so she took him along to sit with plenty of toys, books, games and plenty of imagination to keep himself occupied for a day of work. They made up some of his favourite childhood memories.
“Hey Isaac, are you looking for your mom? She’s free at the moment,” Mrs. Richards explained. She was in her eighties and had been manning the reception desk of the surgery as long as Isaac could remember.
“Thank you, Mrs. Richards,” Isaac smiled politely. He approached the door labelled “Elenore Avery N.P.” and knocked twice.
“Come in,” Elenore greeted. Isaac poked his head around the door, “Oh hey sweetie, what do you want?”
“What makes you think I want something?” Isaac felt caught out. It wasn’t like she was wrong, but it made him feel guilty.
“You only ever visit me if you want something,” Elenore smiled with her tongue placed firmly in her cheek. His mum’s sarcasm was a rare breed – he actually understood it.
“Okay, we need a massive favour,” Isaac said as he took the patient’s chair next to her desk, while Harry and Arlen hovered by his side.
“Why do I get the feeling this is more than borrowing ten dollars?” Elenore sighed.
“Ava’s gone missing, we think she’s inside the security precinct,” Isaac explained.
“Wait, I know exactly where you’re going with this and it’s a huge no,” Elenore immediately decided.
“Mom, you can get in, we have to help her,” Isaac begged.
“I have no connection to that place, it’s Dr Asahd who deals with them, not me, “Elenore reasoned.
“And you’re the nurse practitioner at her office,” Arlen interjected, “Her second-in-command, if you like.”
Isaac watched as Elenore looked to be deep in thought. She was actually, begrudgingly, considering the plan. Isaac desperately needed her to be on board, for Ava’s sake.
Packed with nerves, Elenore was amazed that she had let Isaac talk her into this. Sure, Dr Asahd had a good business relationship with the precinct, but Elenore had also heard the rumours and mysteries. Nobody had ever been inside the compound to see it themselves. Some whispers, if anybody googled hard enough, have even suggested they are keeping aliens in there. Not that she believed that for a second.
Elenore bottled those fears up and buried them deep down. She had a job to do; a very important one too. Ava was at risk. Elenore had seen Ava grow up into a fine young woman, and she couldn’t help feeling responsible for her predicament. Perhaps if she had spoken to the police sooner, Harry would have been safely returned to wherever he came from and this entire mess would have been averted.
The front gate of the precinct was extremely tall – just as tall as the building inside. The tall mounds of barbed wire looked terrifying, as if they were looking down on Elenore. Her heart was pumping faster than ever as she pressed the button on the keypad next to the gate entrance. She was rehearsing what she needed to say over and over in her head.
“State your name and intention,” a voice spoke through the attached speaker. It was a cold voice, with absolutely no emotion seeping through.
“Elenore Avery, nurse practitioner for Dr Asahd,” Elenore spoke as confidently as she could.
A moment of silence passed.
The gate buzzed. The door opened a few centimetres. Elenore entered with caution and proceeded to the building itself, just a few metres in front.
As she walked, Elenore sent Isaac a text: “I’m in.” She didn’t want to look too suspicious, so she promised Isaac that updates would be kept to the minimum and that he should focus on his homework to get it over and done with. He, Arlen and especially Harry were safer at home.
“Welcome Ms. Avery,” a guard greeted at the main door, “I wasn’t sure if anyone had been called yet, but I’m pleased you’re here. Where is Dr Asahd?”
“Busy on a callout, she asked me to cover, I assume that’s not a problem,” Elenore kept up the professional, polite chit-chat.
“Not at all,” the guard smiled as he escorted her inside the building. It was dimly lit inside, just like a warehouse, and equally vast in size too. Staircases and standalone rooms filled the vast, rectangular space, with not a window in sight. The place had a strong buzz of efficiency, with numerous guards walking back and forth as if they had places to be.
She passed a series of rooms as the guard escorted her through the compound. Every door she passed was shut, giving her no further indication about what was going on inside this place.
The trail continued for a couple more minutes, down an ominous staircase. They were headed into what terrifyingly looked like a series of jail cells.
Elenore felt increasingly uneasy. She needed to find Ava and get out as soon as possible.
Losing her gauge on time, Ava had no idea how long she and Newton had been locked up for by now. She was still certain that Isaac and Arlen would be onto her, even if she wanted to kill them for leaving her in the dark.
“I need to pee,” Newton groaned, staring at the freezing cold metal object vaguely resembling a toilet.
“I’ll turn away,” Ava sighed. The entire situation was far from ideal. They didn’t even give them separate private toilets. That said, she was definitely pleased she still had Newton by her side.
The lock rattled. The door swung open. Immediately, Ava felt terrified, and totally unsure of what was coming next. Much to Ava’s shock, a guard chauffeured Elenore into the room.
“Time for your medical,” the guard announced, leaving Elenore to it.
“Come on,” Elenore immediately said as soon as the coast was clear, “Both of you. We need to go now before anyone gets suspicious.”
This was music to Ava’s ears. She knew Isaac would have noticed her absence.
“I need to pee,” Newton restated impatiently.
“Do you want to get out or not?” Ava reminded him of the situation at hand. Newton sighed, knowing she was right. His bladder could definitely wait.
Checking the coast was clear, Elenore led the way out of the cell. Her plan seemed to involve them sneaking their way out – a risky idea. Ava felt terrified. So much could go wrong.
“Hey, there’s a fire exit here,” Newton wandered the opposite way, pressing the metal bar to open it.
“No!” Ava called out, knowing it would be bugged. It was too late, though. The door didn’t open, and an alarm had been set off. It rang loudly and intrusively, and the dim lights turned red.
“Back in,” Ava ordered, taking control of the situation.
“In there? No way,” Newton resisted.
“They’re all coming down here now, that is our only hiding place,” Ava reasoned.
“She’s right,” Elenore agreed. Ava led the way into the cell as Newton dithered. He was confused and cornered. Ava nodded – she needed to prove she was sure of what she was doing.
Newton finally rushed inside and Ava pulled the door to, carefully not letting it shut and lock entirely. Sure enough, guards filtered down to inspect the fire exit, passing the cell without question.
“Now,” Ava ordered, knowing this was their chance to escape with as few guards by the exit as possible. She slowly opened the door and slid out silently. Safe in the knowledge Elenore and Newton were following, Ava crept behind the soldiers as quickly and quietly as possible. They were out of the guards’ view, but not for long. Ava continued up the staircase and safely up to the empty main level.
“This way,” Elenore sped ahead. She had seen the way to go, so Ava trusted her. As they rapidly walked, Ava kept an eye out for any guards who might see them.
They passed an open door leading into one of the side rooms. Ava couldn’t help looking in as she passed. She noticed it was a surprisingly well-lit room, with white walls and flooring. It looked like a hospital room, with a bed in the middle, and what looked like a patient on top. Ava couldn’t help being nosey.
“Ava,” Newton hissed, still impatient to escape. Ava was too intrigued to not investigate further, though. She continued into the room, looking at the patient on the bed. It didn’t take long for Ava to notice how they were distinctly not human. Their skin was a gentle shade of blue, though the body was still very much humanoid. She saw only three fingers on each hand, with nothing to cover its naked body beyond some basic white underwear. Moving closer, she saw its face. It looked very similar to a human’s, though without a single spot or blemish tainting their flawless skin. It had long, dark hair flowing down towards its waist. Wires were plugged into its body, ruining the otherwise peaceful sight.
It looked so real.
“What is that?” Newton queried, as he and Elenore followed her inside, staring in shock.
Ava wasn’t sure what to think. Her logical brain told her it was a costume, but she knew it can’t have been. It had to be real.
“It’s an alien,” Ava identified.