"Same Old, Same Old", Part Two: A short story

Jasmine 

It’s like hell has come down to earth.

I’m frozen to the spot in the kitchen, listening to the sounds of people yelling, and watching the chaos outside through the small window. The strange people in black seem to be leaving. No-one thinks to go after them. No-one does anything but just stand there and panic. There are people who are obviously injured, lying on the floor, but no-one knows what to do to help them.

Someone yells from the front of the café. “Jasmine! Where are you?”

I cautiously step into the front of the café, terrified about what I’ll find. The scene I see makes me gasp in horror.

Ruby lies on the ground outside, just in front of the café’s door. Her face is pale and there’s a large bloodstain on her side. She was obviously one of the people who were shot.

Sophie, Clare and Laura are crowded around her. They all look more shaken than I’ve ever seen them. Even Laura looks extremely worried. “Jasmine, are you all right?” she asks. I nod wordlessly.

The sirens of ambulances can already be heard over the noise of the crowd, but it’s going to take them a while to get over to where we are. Ruby looks like she doesn’t have long.

I just stand there next to the others, unable to think what to do. There’s nothing that I can do except look out at the mayhem outside.

Directly in front of us is someone else who was also hurt. He’s surrounded by people who are probably his work colleagues, and I recognise the woman who comes to our café, the one with the dark hair and the dimple. She seems to know what she’s doing, looking after the man who was injured with a brisk efficiency.

She glances up and spots us with Ruby. She says something to the people around the hurt man, then comes over to us.

Clare and Sophie duck out of the way as she crouches down next to Ruby. “It’s okay,” she says to her. “The ambulances will get here soon.” She sets about patching Ruby up.

There’s something about the sight of Ruby’s blood that makes me go light-headed. The events of the past few minutes catch up with me, and it makes me feel dizzy. Before I know it, the world is swaying and going dark, and the floor seems to rush up to meet me.

When I come to I’m propped up on one of the chairs in the café. Laura and the dark-haired woman are leaning anxiously over me.

“Not good with blood, eh?” says the woman, arching an eyebrow.

I try to answer but my throat feels completely dry. All I manage is a kind of cough.

“Sophie, get her a glass of water,” says Laura, moving away from me. Sophie fills a glass at the sink and hands it to me.

I gulp down half of it, then set it on the table. My hands are shaking and I nearly knock it over, but the woman from the office steadies it.

“How’s Ruby?” I whisper.

“She’s on her way to the hospital,” says the woman. “She’ll be fine, don’t worry.”

I’m almost scared to ask the next question. “What happened?” I ask, still in that same whisper. “Who were those people? Why were…?” My voice trails off.

She sighs. “That’s a very long story, and not one you need to know. You just need to know that you’ll be safe for now.” She gets up from where she was perched on the table next to me. “Your colleague will be fine, and so will everyone else who was hurt. I have to go.”

“Wait!” I call after her. She can’t just leave. She obviously knows more about what happened than everyone else. “You can’t leave! I need to know.” I get up from where I was sitting, swaying slightly, and take a few steps forward.

She sighs. “No, you don’t.” She looks at me. “What’s your name?”

“Jasmine,” I answer.

“I’m Lindsay. Look, Jasmine, there’s no point why you should know about these things. There’s no point why anyone in this town should know. This has nothing to do with you.”

“Yes, it does!” I’m starting to get annoyed. Does she think I’m too dumb to understand? “Those people have come here and tried to kill people who live here! I think that makes it our business!”

She breathes in deeply, then looks straight at me. “All right. Come on. Outside.”

I follow her out of the café and into an alleyway nearby. She pauses near one of the walls along the sides of it. “Those people – and I say people in the loosest sense of the word – are called the Black Shadows.”

I shiver. There’s something about the very name that sounds creepy.

“They’re a gang of assassins who basically like killing people.”

“But why were they here?” I ask. I can’t imagine why anyone like that would want to come to Little Oaks Town, of all places.

“Well, that’s just it,” says Lindsay. “They’re after me.”

“You? Why?”

“Because a long time ago, I made them my enemies. I worked for secret organisation that tries to stop them.”

“A secret organisation? You were a spy?” The idea is impossible. Things like spies exist only in stories and in tales from distant places. They certainly don’t exist in Little Oaks Town.

“Well, yes, if you want to put it that way. The Black Shadows wanted to kill me, so they made a distraction down here while they sent someone to get me at my work.”

“But how do you know that they won’t come again?” I sound scared, like a lost little girl.

“Because I’m leaving,” says Lindsay. “I’m leaving and I’m making sure they’ll know I’ve left. Then I’m going to keep moving. I’m not making the same mistake I already made more than once.” Her eyes look distant, like she’s remembering something. There’s something bitter about her expression. Right now, she doesn’t look like the cheerful woman who came into the café, who smiled at me as she ordered her coffee. I was right – the whole smiling thing was just a façade, but it wasn’t to hide that she was like all the other indifferent workers. It was hiding something much deeper and darker. Something I don’t blame her for wanting to keep hidden.

“So what happens next?” I ask her. She snaps to the present and narrows her eyes at me.

“What do you mean, what happens next?” she asks. “What happens next is that you go back to your normal life and forget this ever happened, and I catch the next train out of Little Oaks Town. Simple as that.”

“But I can’t just forget this,” I protest. I don’t know why, but the idea that I can just keep living my boring life after this doesn’t make sense.

“Yes, you can. Oh, and I think they’re looking for you in there,” says Lindsay, nodding towards the café. I turn around, and through the foggy windows I can see Sophie looking for me. When I turn back to Lindsay, I find that she’s gone.

I walk slowly back to the café. The café is still open to customers. There are some people inside. It’s like everyone is already starting to forget what happened. Lindsay was right. Everyone’s going back to their normal lives, and I should too.

I bend over to clean one of the tables, scrubbing it with a paper towel. I think back to what Lindsay said. She said she was leaving on the train. She obviously has enough money to pay the train fare. If only it was that easy for me to leave Little Oaks Town. I might have enough money saved up to pay for the train fare, but after that I’d have nothing left.

I replay what happened in the square with the Black Shadows and I shiver. It makes me nervous that there are people like that in the world. That this sort of thing happens sometimes. Lindsay seemed sure that they wouldn’t come back, but what if she was wrong? What if they did come back?

I can’t go back to my life. I know it. Everything has changed for me now.

As I straighten up from cleaning the table, I see a small white card lying on the ground near my feet. I bend down and pick it up. It’s a business card. I look at the name – Lindsay Northman. Is it the same Lindsay I just talked to? Probably – the work address listed under the name is the address of the place where I know she works. It must have slipped out of her pocket or something when she came inside here when I passed out. I scan the card. Further down it is another address, her home address.

An idea starts forming in my mind. It’s so reckless, so completely impossible, that my brain wants to dismiss it as soon as I come up with it. But I have to try this. If I don’t, I’ll probably regret it the rest of my life. And if it works, then perhaps I’ll finally find a way to make my dreams come true.


Lindsay

I have to leave. I don’t have a choice.

I keep up a brisk pace all the way back to my flat. While I walk, my brain is making plans. I need to pack my bags. I won’t leave straight away, though. I’ll take the first train tomorrow. The Black Shadows won’t come back for me today – I’ll be fine. I’m not really sure where I’m going, I just know that I need to get as far away from here as I possibly can.

How do I make sure the Black Shadows know that I’ve gone? Easy, I’ll just resign from my job. The Black Shadows probably have access to the company’s computers – that’s probably how they knew that that was where I worked – and they’ll know if I’m no longer working there. Then they’ll start looking for me again, but this time I’ll make sure they never find me.

For some reason, I keep remembering the girl from the café, Jasmine. I can’t shake off the feeling that I should’ve done something for her. There was something desperate about her eyes, like she needed my help. But for what? And why should I worry about her? I barely know her. We have nothing to do with each other. I’m probably never going to see her again in my life.

I take the lift up to my apartment, then once I’m inside I search around for a suitcase. I’m not going to take everything I have with me – maybe one day I’ll be able to come back here. I’m just going to take the important things, like clothes. I open up my wardrobe and start stuffing clothes into my suitcase. Then I move around the house, deciding what I want to take and what I’ll leave behind. Finally I get back to my room, and look around. My eyes alight on the framed photograph on my bedside table. It shows my parents and my sister, Agatha. It’s the only picture I have of them. I pick it up and pause before I pack it away into my case. Agatha was fourteen when that photo was taken. Her bright green eyes look up at me from the picture, and she’s smiling, happy. I miss her so much.

I put the picture into my suitcase and close the case. I’ve probably missed something I want to take, but I’ll just pack it later.

Then I have to call my work and say that I’m leaving. I can’t say the real reason why, I just give some excuse about family problems. They seem to accept it. No-one at my work knows me well enough to know that I don’t have a family.

My doorbell rings. Who could it be? I don’t have time for time-wasters. I open the door, ready to slam it shut again in the face of whoever is calling, and see that it’s Jasmine, of all people.

Surprise makes me snappy. “What the hell are you doing here? And how on earth do you know where I live?”

She looks slightly taken aback. She takes a deep breath, like it’s taking all her willpower not to turn and run back where she came. “I found this,” she says, holding up what I recognise as one of my business cards.

I sigh. “I must have dropped it.” But I’m a little worried. It seems that since I left Blue Lake City I’ve gotten careless. How on earth am I going to survive being on the run? The Black Shadows will find me in days.

“I just thought I’d come and give it back,” says Jasmine, handing me the card.

Liar. She’s obviously got something else on her mind, something much bigger than a stupid card. But what?

She shivers in her old, worn coat. It’s chilly out in the hallway of the building. I should just thank her and shut the door, but something stops me.

“Why don’t you come in for drink or something?” I ask.

She looks uncertain. “I don’t want you to go to any trouble. And shouldn’t you be leaving soon?”

“Nah, I’m not leaving until tomorrow,” I tell her. “I’ve just finished packing.”

She smiles. “Thanks, that’ll be great,” she says.

I lead the way back into my apartment. It’s odd to have someone around. How long has it been since I last invited someone to my house? Two years at least. I don’t think anyone apart from me has ever been inside this flat.

“Sit down,” I say, indicating the kitchen table. “Sorry everything’s in a bit of a mess – I was just packing.” I look around the kitchen and realise I have absolutely nothing interesting to drink. “Well, I have water, and…” I open the fridge and rummage around inside. I pull out a bottle of something. It’s been in there so long I don’t remember actually buying it. “Um, unidentified orange liquid.”

“I’ll take the water,” says Jasmine.

“Good choice,” I say, filling up two glasses at the sink, and passing one of them to Jasmine. I sit opposite her. “So, why are you really here?”

She looks surprised. “I told you, to give you the card.”

I arch an eyebrow at her, but she doesn’t seem to want to say anything else about it.

She looks around the kitchen. “Do you live here alone?” she asks.

“Yep,” I answer, leaning back in my seat. “Why?”

“Nothing, I just didn’t think you’d be the kind of person to live alone.”

“Well, it’s not like I have much of a choice,” I say bitterly.

“What do you mean?” she asks.

I look at down at my glass of water. “Everyone I care about seems to end up dead,” I say. “It’s the problem with being an agent.”

“That’s awful,” Jasmine whispers. She looks genuinely upset for me. “What about your family?”

I pause. Why should I tell her about my family? I haven’t told anyone about that, not for a long time. Why would I trust some kid I don’t even know? But there’s something about Jasmine’s wide, honest eyes that makes me want to trust her.

So I tell her about how my family died, and how I left my life behind and ran away, and how I’ve spent all this time blaming myself.

She looks really sad when I’ve finished. “That’s terrible,” she says. “No wonder you left and came here.”

“Yeah, well,” I sigh. “What else could I do?”

“But you shouldn’t blame yourself,” says Jasmine. “It’s not your fault they died.”

I want to explain that it was my fault, but she wouldn’t understand. She’s just a kid.

“What about you?” I ask. “You got any family?”

She shakes her head. “My parents died last year,” she says quietly. She looks like she’s close to tears.

“I’m sorry.”

She takes a deep breath. “It’s okay,” she says. “I’m over it.”

We sit there in silence for a moment. We come from completely different backgrounds, we live completely different lives, but deep down we’re the same. We both have no family, no-one to count on. We’re both alone.

“Where are you going to go to?” asks Jasmine after a while. “When you leave?”

“No idea,” I answer honestly. “Wherever the first train tomorrow takes me, I guess.”

She looks at me for a second, and it’s like she’s having an internal struggle with herself. Finally she seems to make up her mind.

“Take me with you!” she bursts out.

I just stare at her. “What?” I ask. “Are you crazy? Why on earth would you want to come with me?”

“I’ve always wanted to leave Little Oaks… I’ll pay my own ticket and everything… I won’t be any trouble!”

I stand up. “Are you out of your mind?” I say. “I’m running away from people who want to kill me. Do you think it’s going to be a picnic in the park? No! There’s going to be danger!”

“I know!” She sounds desperate. “I don’t mind! Just please, let me come with you!”

“Absolutely not,” I say firmly. “You’re safe here in Little Oaks, why would you want to leave? You’d probably end up dead if you come with me.”

She stands up as well. “Do you think my life’s a picnic here?” she yells. “I’m going to lose my job soon, and then I’ll end up on the streets! Anything would be better than that!”

I’m slightly taken aback by her outburst. For a moment she reminds me of my sister. Agatha looked just like that when she got angry.

She seems to lose all her energy, sagging against the table. “Please?” she says quietly.

I turn towards the window. I can’t take her with me. She’ll probably end up dying if I do, and it’ll be Agatha all over again. I can’t go through that again.

But if I don’t, she’s going to end up on the streets, and it’s going to be a cold winter – how long would she survive? One way or another her fate is in my hands, and there’s nothing I can do about it.

I stare out at the familiar scene outside my kitchen window. For the first time in two years, I see my situation at face value. I’m lonely. I’m depressed. I don’t have a choice but to leave my home. Would it really be such a bad thing to have someone with me?

I turn back to Jasmine. Her grey eyes are wide, hopeful. I hesitate. Can I really let her come with me?

“All right,” I say finally. “All right, you can come. But if it all goes wrong, don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

She looks like she can’t believe it. “Really? You’ll take me with you?”

“Yes,” I say. “But I’m leaving tomorrow as early as I can, so you’d better be there on time, or I’m leaving without you.”

“Don’t worry, I will!” Jasmine’s face has lit up. “I’ll pay for my own ticket, too.” She pauses, then throws her arms around my neck. “Thank you, thank you, thank you!” she squeaks.

“Hey, it’s ok,” I say, patting her awkwardly on the back. It’s been years since the last time anyone hugged me and it feels very strange.

“See you tomorrow!” she says, then runs out of my apartment. A second later I see her tearing down the road, hair flying back in the cold wind.

“Kids,” I mutter, but I feel happier than I’ve felt for months. Maybe at last I’m doing something right.

I lean against the windowsill, and realise that I’m in far better spirits than I was a few minutes ago. Maybe having to leave isn’t such a bad thing after all. Maybe it’ll give me an opportunity to start a new life, forget the past. Jasmine was right – I have to forgive myself, let it go.

I don’t know what’s going to happen next. But whatever does, it might not be so bad. The Black Shadows won’t be after me forever. After a while they’ll forget about me, and maybe then I’ll be able to really start living my life. And now I have someone to be with, too.

It’s strange how bad things sometimes end up being good things, and how you make friends with the most unlikely people. Life always seems to manage to find ways to surprise you. Who knows what will happen to me next – but it’ll probably be something I never expected. 


Jasmine


I don’t believe it, I don’t believe it, I don’t believe it.

I’m leaving Little Oaks Town! I’m actually leaving! I’ve wanted this since I was a little kid. And now it’s happening! I run all the way back home, the icy air biting into my cheeks, but I barely feel the cold. I open the door to the building, sprint up the stairs to my room, and collapse against a wall, panting for breath.

I can’t believe Lindsay agreed to take me. I barely thought it was possible – I just thought it would be worth a try. And it worked! I’m leaving. I don’t have to worry about getting fired from my job, either. I’m quitting.

And the good thing is I’m travelling with someone. The thing that always held me back from taking a train out of Little Oaks was that I’d be all alone with no money wherever I chose to go to. Now I’ll stick with Lindsay, at least for the beginning of my journey.

I like Lindsay. She’s not like I expected her to be when I knew her before – she seems a little grumpy. But there’s something about her that’s likeable, and I get the feeling that she needs me as much as I need her.

I have a lot to do before tomorrow morning. Pack, first of all. Do I even have a suitcase? If I do, then I haven’t seen it for a long time. I search inside one of the storage cupboards and eventually find an old, battered brown case at the back of it. I dump it in the centre of the room and start packing things into it. The suitcase is quite small, and it’s a good thing that I don’t have too many things to take with me. Once I finish, I look around and shiver. With my few possessions packed away, the room feels cold and empty. I shake myself. I’ve got lots to do.

I glance down at myself – I’m still wearing my waitress uniform. I quickly change into the change of clothes I left out on the bed, a blue shirt and dark trousers, and then dump my uniform onto the floor near the door. Not going to be needing that anymore.

That reminds me, I have to go back to the café – I can’t just decide to not turn up to my job one morning, just like that, I have to tell someone I’m leaving.

I don’t like the idea of having to go back to my workplace – I was there only a little while ago, but it already feels like a lifetime since I was last there. My life has changed since then.

I sit down on my bed for a second, and look around at my room. This is going to be one of the last times I ever see it. Will I miss it? I don’t think so. My future is waiting for me outside Little Oaks Town – I don’t think I’ll ever look back.


***


The next morning I wake up at six o’clock. This time I don’t feel like going back to sleep; I jump out of bed and into my clothes in a matter of seconds. Last night I checked the train timetables, the first train leaves at six-thirty – I have to hurry if I’m going to be there. I don’t think Lindsay really meant what she said about leaving without me if I wasn’t there on time, but I don’t want to take the chance. I pick up my suitcase and leave my room.

As I walk down to ground level I run into the landlady. She looks surprised to see me. “You’re up early,” she says.

On any other day I would have wanted to growl that I’m always up this early, that I don’t have a choice but to be up this early, but not today – I’m too happy today.

I take the keys to my room and drop them into her hand. “I’m leaving,” I say.

“Really? I didn’t know,” she says.

“It was kind of sudden,” I say. I’m already half out the door. “See you!”

I start down the road, dragging my heavy suitcase behind me. It’s drizzling, and the sky is a murky grey – the exact opposite of my mood.

It’s a fifteen-minute walk to the station, and I get there just as it starts to rain more heavily. I buy my ticket using the money I have in my bag, then step onto the platform. I look down the platform – it looks empty, but then I see Lindsay perched against a suitcase. I got here just in time – the train slides into the station just as I join Lindsay.

“Ready for the adventure of a lifetime?” she asks, raising an eyebrow.

“Ready as I’ll ever be,” I reply.

Without another word she picks up her bags and steps into the train. I follow her cautiously, dragging my suitcase behind me. I’ve never been inside a train before – this is all new to me.

We leave our suitcases in a small compartment especially for people’s luggage, then go through into a narrow passageway with seats on both sides. Lindsay sits down on a seat with a table in front, and I sit opposite her. I peer out of the foggy window – the only thing I can see is the deserted platform outside.

Now that I’m actually here, about to leave the town, I feel a little nervous. Was this a good idea after all? Where will Lindsay and I go? And will the Black Shadows follow us? Almost certainly. Lindsay warned me that this will be dangerous, but I didn’t want to listen.

Lindsay seems to read my thoughts. “Nervous?” she asks. “You can still get out, you know.”

But I shake my head. “No,” I say. “I want to do this.”

She nods. “All right.”

Someone outside blows a whistle and I hear the train doors close with a clunk. And then we’re moving, moving out of the platform, out of Little Oaks Town, perhaps forever.

I lean back in my seat and watch the town fly past, and finally disappear into the distance, until we’re surrounded by countryside.

I smile at Lindsay and she half-smiles back. She seems in better spirits than she was yesterday. Maybe she’s as excited about this as I am.

I let my eyes wander around the country as it flies past the train. Like Lindsay said, this is the adventure of a lifetime. I don’t care that there will be danger along the way. All I care is that I finally feel free. Free to do whatever I want, go wherever I want.

Finally, after all these years, I’m going to start living my life.

And it’s going to be amazing.

                                                                               

Well, I hope you guys enjoyed this story! I always intended to write a sequel to it, but I didn't really have any good ideas so I just left it like this. I believe in quitting while I'm ahead.

Don't forget to let me know what you thought about it in the comments!

-Indigo

Comments

  1. *Claps* I LOVED IT! The first sentence, like wow, talk about hooked! And the last sentence made me really happy!! XD

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    1. Thank you so much!! I'm so happy you liked it! :)

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