Lee appears to be your average sixteen year old living off the streets of Boston.
|*Author's Note. ▼
A House Robbery
I scanned side to side through the bleak darkness that had enveloped the neighborhood. Only the moaning of the wind broke the dead silence of the night. Nothing moved, save the branches of trees and brush. My watch read two-thirty and I knew it was time. Slowly, I crept out of the brush and began my trek across the street. It didn't take long to cross and find myself on the front lawn.
I took a look at the sky and saw the clouds eerily passing in front of the moon. This gave me comfort as well as dread. Light guided those lost in the dark, but also exposed those who didn’t wish to be found. My nervousness confused me, yet made sense all the same. I was no novice to this line of work, but this particular job was far from my normal gig. I was more comfortable picking a pocket or swiping a purse. This was a bit out of my league. I had a knack for what I did, with things working in my favor most of the time and my success gained me street cred, which put me in the situation I was in. The only thing that really worried me, I guess, was why I needed to do this, and what would happen if I didn’t.
I stood there, in the grass for a while, waiting for my opportunity to arrive. Within a few minutes the light faded. I allowed myself a moment to breath and moved on. The closer I came to the house the more my heart raced. This wasn’t something I wanted to do, but it was something I needed to do.
I finally approached the side the house itself and paused. A random car was coming and I dropped to the ground, rigid, like a stick. Only several seconds after it was gone did I allow myself to begin looking for what I was after, an entrance. I was a bit happier when I found the basement window and would no longer have to worry about being spotted.
Gently, I placed my duffel bag down and removed a crowbar. I knew this next part would be risky. If the wood snapped or the glass broke the homeowner might be alerted to my presence. I carefully slid the pronged end under the window and forced my bodyweight upon it. I was startled by the lock snapping, but managed to keep my composure. Up went the window and down went my bag followed by myself.
It didn’t take too long for my eyes to adjust to the dark, so I could search for my score. The homeowner was obviously well off as the basement was completed and fully furnished. Large-screen television and leather furniture was about, but I wasn’t interested in these. No, I wanted what was in the corner in a large wooden crate. Grabbing my bag I crept over to the crate, my nerves intensifying. This was what I’d come for. This is what would save me, or damn me if I was caught.
With the help of my crowbar I pried open the crate and gazed at what was held within. Amidst the packing peanuts and bubble wrap were seven beautiful stone figurines. Of course, I didn’t care much what they were or where they’d go, but how much they were worth. And from what I’d been told, a lot. A lot was enough for me; enough to pay off debts and enough to get away from this terrible city; enough to start again and have an actual life, a life without risk, a life without loneliness, and a life without fear.
Cautiously I began transferring the contents of the crate into my bag. I was holding the last figurine, when from behind me I heard someone shout, “Hey! What are you doing?” I was so startled that I lost my grip on the figurine and it fell. I heard the voice again crying, “No!” but could care less as I was sprinting towards the window, bag in hand. I tossed the bag out the window and reached to pull myself up, when I lost the will to move. My arms wouldn’t respond to my urging. In fact, my entire body refused to function. I was stuck in place, desperately reaching for my freedom, but not ever being able to grasp it.
I was truly scared, but of what I didn’t know. “You’re lucky I caught this. My dad would have had a heart attack if it’d broken.” I believe I’d heard other voices as I began to lose consciousness, and fade away into a deep, dark sleep. The only comfort at the back of my mind was that if I was dead, then I didn’t have to worry anymore. That was a messed up thing to be happy about.
I regained consciousness slowly. My vision was hazy and my hearing was off. The only thing I was sure of was that I was tied to something, and that there were three distinct voices I was hearing.
“The solution is simple Thomas,” I heard from what sounded like a middle aged woman. “We call the authorities and let them deal with this.”
“You know as well as I do Marianne, that they can’t do anything about this. By George the boy broke through Brady’s seal.”
“Yeah mom, cops can’t deal with this.”
The woman made a groaning sound, “Brady, you’re as addlebrained as your father. And Thomas, you know quite well what I meant when I said authorities. Honestly, sometimes I don’t know what to do with you two.”
It was at this point that my vision returned to me. I saw that I was tied to a chair in the same basement I had snuck into. I was also surrounded by three seemingly agitated individuals. It didn’t help me that I was the source of their agitation. The first of them who had spoken was as I had imagined, a middle aged woman. Her hair was brown going grey, and a few wrinkles could be seen, but she held herself with dignity and seemed to command respect from all of those deemed below her. The second speaker who I guessed was “Thomas” looked to be a middle aged man with a receding hairline. His was brown, same as the woman’s, and he wore glasses. From my perspective I couldn’t be sure, but it also seemed that he was shorter than most. The last speaker looked much younger than the other two. He was tall and broad, equally with brown hair.
None of them were looking at me and I took that as my chance of making some effort of escape. The ropes that held me were tight because as much as I struggled I couldn’t loosen them. Instead of focusing on what they were saying like I should have been doing I was busy wondering why they had tied me up. I didn’t normally rob houses and was used to the occasional slap on the wrist the few times I had been caught doing other, not as serious, illegal activities. Still, I found it odd that I’d been tied up. The reason I hadn’t escaped had been blocked out of my thoughts at the time.
I assumed I was out for a while due to the aches I had where the ropes were tied. At the time I was actually looking forward to going to jail. It would have given me time and an excuse. Fortunately, I wouldn’t need to worry about things as trivial as prison. There are worse things that could happen to you in this world. That was what I was about to find out.
I had given up struggling as it was only giving me rope burn when the younger one whose name I thought was Brady glanced in my direction and noticed I was awake.
“Mom, dad, he’s awake,” he said to the two older ones.
“You see,” said the woman called Marianne. “Your blockheadedness is going to get us killed one day. Brady. Stop him from moving. And put up a shield or something, I don’t know just make it so that he can't harm us.”
“Got it mom,” Brady replied. He moved his hands around in the air strangely and I swore I saw colors appearing where his hands moved. Then, to my utter astonishment a bubble appeared around me and I lost all feeling in my body, everywhere except my head felt numb. My thoughts faded and I could think of no answers to the questions forming in place of my original thoughts.
“Now why are you here, and what do you want,” Brady said crossing his arms over his chest.
“Brady, honey. Let your father and I do the talking. Good job with the magic, now let us be the adults here.”
Brady deflated a bit and replied, “Alright mom.” He backed off behind his parents, but still glared at me like he was in charge of my fate. Thomas came at me wagging his finger in my face seeming more flustered than angry.
“Now see here you… you delinquent. I don’t know what you think you’re doing trying to steal from me. I’ll have you know I come from a long and powerful line and the council won’t have it.”
“Yes honey, I’m sure he is quite afraid. I do not know why you wanted my husband’s toys and I do not care. All I want is you taken care of.” Thomas, let us summon the council and end this. He will probably just be hanged back in his home region and we can forget about this whole ordeal.”
“Marry,” Thomas pleaded. “I must ask him if he knows anything about the figurines. If he does, and that’s why he was attempting to steal them, then my research could be moved forward by weeks.”
Marianne groaned louder than last time. “Fine. Just be quick with it. I’m going back to bed. Brady. Stay with your father in case things get out of hand with our uninvited guest.” She then turned and stormed out of the room. It seemed to me she had control issues and I knew then I wouldn’t want to be on her bad side. I also didn’t want to be around these people long enough for that to be something to worry about either.
“Good,” Thomas tried to reassure himself. He went back to interrogating me. “Now, why are you here and what did you want with the figurines?” I was obviously still in shock from his son’s light display and couldn’t form a cognitive thought to answer. My lack of an answer seemed to fluster Thomas more. “See here,” he raised his voice. “What tribe did these figurines belong too and what rituals were practiced with them? Answer me damnit!”
Brady intervened. “Dad. I’m wondering how he got past my seal. It’s my best spell and even Mr. Roeburn couldn’t break it when we asked him to try, remember?”
“That’s a good point,” Thomas mused. “How did you break Brady’s seal?” I had no idea what they were talking about and was afraid I had been taken captive by crazy people. After seeing that light show, I was starting to think I might have been. “How did you break the seal?” he repeated.
“How did you do it?” Brady asked.
“How? How? How?” they repeatedly asked me. The question buzzed in my head, tearing at me. Eventually I couldn’t take it anymore.
“Who the hell are you people?” I screamed back at them. They were taken aback by my sudden outburst, but I didn’t notice, or care, and continued on in a rant. “I don’t know what you want. I don’t know what you’re talking about. I-I-I don’t know what I did or what’s going on. I just needed money. This was supposed to be easy. I was just supposed to hit the house, grab the loot, and bail. Sell it and get out. All I wanted was to get out. Why are you doing this?” My words deteriorated into incoherent babble after that last question and I can’t recall what I said. I was confused, terrified, and desperate. Normally I’d say anything to get myself out of a situation like this, but I didn’t have any answers for their questions.
I lost myself and began crying. I don’t know why, but in the chaos of the situation I couldn’t think of anything else I could do to help me. I felt helpless and afraid. In a situation like this, when I can’t do anything at all, there’s nothing more to do for me other than submit defeat. After a minute of tears rolling down my face, my vision cleared and I saw my interrogators’ faces. They looked just as confused as I was. It was apparent my confusion at the subject of their questions confused them. Thomas straightened up and regained himself before Brady.
“What do you mean you don’t know?” he asked softly. “Only a mage could have broken Brady’s seal he cast on our house for protection.” His glasses had slipped down his nose and he pushed them back up. “You are a mage are you not? No, of course you are. Only a mage could break the seal.” He seemed to be talking to himself at this point. Brady stepped up as his father mumbled to himself.
“You’re either the greatest liar in the world or you truly don’t know what’s going on, do you?” I slowly nodded my head in response. My tongue was caught in my mouth after my rant and I couldn’t form words to speak. “If you aren’t a mage, then what are you?” he asked cautiously. Thomas interjected before I could form an answer.
“He must be a mage. He must be a mage,” he repeated forcefully. “There’s no other explanation. The only way this is confusing is if he,” he pointed at me, “is lying, or,” he paused. “Or, if he truly is unaware that he’s a mage. But that’s impossible.”
“Why’s it impossible dad?”
“Because every mage is accounted for in the records since the end of the great organizing. Brady have you learned nothing in school? No, not important. What is important is if he really is an unrecorded mage.”
“Maybe he just has amnesia?” Brady asked.
“No no no,” Thomas said. “He clearly isn’t from our area or we’d recognize him. If a mage had amnesia and went missing from one of the other cities then we’d have heard of it. He’d be pursued and hunted by the government, we both know that.” I couldn’t take much more of the madness at that point and managed to find the will to speak.
“I’m not a-a mage or whatever you called me. I’m just a guy. A thief, yes, but a human thief. I think you guys need some serious therapy. I’m sure if you just let me go we can all forget this happened. I didn’t take anything so maybe we can forget this?”
“No, if you’re a mage and you are lying then you know as well as I do that the penalties for theft, even attempted theft, are quite severe,” Thomas answered. “Brady can you perform a lie detecting spell?”
“I doubt I’d be able to cast it.”
“Damn. We’ll have to deal with this on our own then. My curiosity is getting the better of me and I’m truly intrigued now.” He gestured for Brady to come closer then whispered something I couldn’t catch in his ear.
“You sure dad?” Brady asked. “You know mom isn’t gonna like this.”
Thomas jauntily replied, “Oh, I’m sure. If nothing else we’ll be entertained by the results. On one hand we might just have to call the council and have them take it out of our hands as an attempt at petty theft. On the other hand we might have a genuine anomaly right here in our midst.” He said that last bit with a chuckle and patted Brady on the back. He then turned and gave me a serious glare as he indirectly said, “Best to do this now in case we are just dealing with an exceptional liar. Also best not to anger your mother,” he added.
Brady stepped forward, “Alright dad. I’ll do the test while you get your… What is it again?”
“Memrovercur. It’s called a Memrovercur. My god boy do you pay attention to my work at all?”
“Dad you know the answer to that. Just go get it so we can get this over with.”
“Yes, yes, yes,” he muttered to himself as he headed for the stairs. Brady turned to me with the return of his previous glare and arms crossed.
“Alright then,” he said cracking his knuckles. “Here we go.” His fingers moved methodically much like they had done the first time I had seen the lights emanate from them. After a few seconds of hand waving and finger waggling more colorful streams of light came from him. This time they didn’t dissipate in front of him like they had before. They swirled around him several times and flew towards me.
I instinctively closed my eyes and if I’d had the ability to I’d have covered my face with my arms or shriveled into a ball on the floor. I was tied to a chair and unable to move any part of my body to even attempt to protect myself, if I even could have, from these strange, magical lights. I didn’t feel the pain I had been expecting. In fact, I didn’t feel anything. Not like the first time when I lost all feeling and movement in my body. I just felt nothing different. My body relaxed as I opened my eyes.
Nothing looked different at first until I saw myself. Looking down I saw quite clearly that I was glowing. It seemed as if I was enveloped by a blue aura. My mouth dropped open and I had no idea what this meant or what it was doing to me.
Brady just muttered to himself, “Figured,” and turned away to see his father coming down the stairs with a wooden box. I was already afraid from the last minute of glowing and magic lights and weirdness and tried one last time to escape from my bonds. My efforts proved worthless and only left my arms aching all the more. Thomas approached me with his wooden box and set it down in front of me. He opened it and presented a clear, quartz-like crystal about half a foot long. He held it carefully and I could tell he was excited about it, but was also trying to be careful not to drop it. He held it up to my face and bade me look into it. He also gestured for Brady to come over and see as well.
I struggled to avert my eyes and not comply with what this seemingly crazy man wanted. Unfortunately, the gem seemed to call to me and my will was not as strong as I had hoped. I looked deep into it and it seemed to return the gaze. Before all of our eyes, familiar events to me played out on the crystal. Some I could recall, but they played by on fast forward and it was hard to keep up. I was only able to discern places and faces from it and they were my memories. As much as I should have been stunned by this I was too engrossed watching them play out on the crystal. Some brought back joy and others accomplishment, but the most prominent feelings the memories brought up were sorrow and loneliness.
The show stopped at present time with me being in the chair and looking at the crystal and it looking back at me. This seemed to play in fast forward as well, and the crystal began acting strange. The image faded and it smoked. Thomas dropped it proclaiming pain. It would have shattered if Brady had not caught it and placed it lightly in the wooden box it had come from. I was too bewildered by the crystal that I hadn’t even noticed that I had stopped glowing. Thomas and Brady seemed just a bit startled and surprised as well, but whether it was from my memories or from the crystal I couldn’t tell. They conversed a bit and the only words I could hear were: “unbelievable, broken, genius.”
“Dad, if we don’t turn him in…” Brady said.
“I know son, but I can’t let an opportunity like this slip through my fingers. It’s more valuable… He’s more valuable than all of my research before. He makes it seem petty in comparison.”
“What are we going to tell mom then? You know she won’t like this.”
“Oh I know I know. Let me think.” Thomas began pacing, his hand under his chin, thinking. After a minute he stopped. “I’ve got it!” he proclaimed. “We won’t tell your mother.”
“Just listen to me, boy.” Thomas continued, “We’ll keep him hear for a day or two without your mother knowing. Then we’ll let her find out. We couldn’t keep it hidden for longer than that without her knowing anyway. At that point even if she wanted to turn him in she couldn’t because we’d all be sentenced for harboring him.”
“Things are gonna get ugly when she finds out.”
“Don’t worry about that, I’ll take the fall. If there’s anyone in this world your mother will forgive it’s me. Besides the less you know, the less she can be angry at you for. Go off to bed. I’ll take care of the rest.”
At this point my fear had mostly subsided and was being replaced with the anger usually associated with confusion and containment, in other words, animal instinct.
“Do I get a saying in any of this?” I asked. “I don’t want to be held here against my will with you crazy people and I sure as hell don’t want to be a science experiment.”
“Shut up,” they said in response. With that my fate was sealed. Brady went back upstairs and I was left alone with Thomas, and many questions lacking answers.