K prompted Drake to go along with the request and act like he didn’t know what was going on. It wasn’t a stretch since he really did have no idea. All Drake had was that his parents told him to trust K only. So he went back into the classroom and retrieved his belongings, keeping S on the line.
As he walked down the hall, he quietly asked K, “What’s going on here? And where are my parents?”
“I’ll explain everything later,” she promised. “For now, though, you need to trust me. Describe everything you see, and just be prepared to follow my lead.”
“I really don’t have a choice, do I?” Drake asked rhetorically.
“Not if you really want to know what’s going on,” she answered.
Drake set the phone on speaker and slipped it still open in his pocket so he could keep both hands free and still talk to K. Drake rounded one more corner and stood in front of the main office. The receptionist’s area was fronted with all glass, so Drake could see who exactly was waiting for him.
For a second, Drake hoped it was his parents, but instead he saw three men in dark suits. The receptionist noticed Drake appear through the glass, and the men turned afterwards. In suits and dark sun glasses, they all looked the same; the only thing that set them apart really was their hair. One had a shiny bald head, one had sleek black hair and the last had grey hair.
“What do you see?” Drake heard K ask from his pocket.
“Men in suits looking at me,” Drake said as he started backing away.
“Run,” K ordered.
Drake did not need telling twice. He spun on his heels and dropped his bag to make him lighter, bolting down the hallway. Within seconds he heard the three men run after him, but he wouldn’t look back. Drake had to get to his bike, which was chained outside the cafeteria, on the other side of the building. The only thing left was where to go.
He pulled the phone out of his pocket and turned off speaker. Holding it up to his ear, he asked, “Where do I go?”
“I’ll call you back in two hours with a location,” K said. “For now, just lose them as best you can. Don’t go back to your house; they may be watching it.” At that, she hung up.
Drake closed the phone and concentrated on getting away. He turned around just in time to see bald guy dive for him. Drake darted to the side as the man skidded to the ground with a grunt and went full speed. One of the other guys was yelling at him to stop, but Drake wasn’t listening.
Drake had natural athleticism and high energy. He channeled this natural agility in running and parkour free moving. That, plus years of practice gave Drake incredible control over his movements. As he zigzagged through the halls, he could tell right when to stop running and allow himself to slide on the tiled floor and keep running.
Suddenly the school bell rang and kids started pouring into the hallways. Drake obviously had more experience moving through this crowd, and was able to get ahead. He rounded a corner and darted into the second classroom on the right side of the hall, trying to blend in with other students taking seats.
After half a minute he ducked back out of the class and backtracked around the corner he came around. The suits must’ve continued down the hall as Drake had hoped they would.
Drake sneaked his way to the cafeteria, hoping that those guys had gotten turned around. He made it to the cafeteria undetected, but the second he walked in Bald guy and Grey Hair came in through another door. They spotted him and ran after him. Drake had to cross the cafeteria to get to his bike, but a mess of tables and chairs stood in his way. Drake hopped up onto the tables and made a bee-line for the door. Jumping from table to table made him incredibly faster than the suits trying to dodge and weave through all of the debris.
With a front flip and an action role he leapt off the last table, made it to the door and was outside before the men chasing him could clear the tables. Immediately in front of him were a set of stairs, the railing to which his bike was chained. He jumped over the railing and landed lightly on his feet, unchained his bike and rode away just as the two men got outside.
Drake was almost home free when a car came around the corner, driven by his last chaser. He actually almost hit Drake, but Drake skirted out of the way just in time. The other two men got in the car and went after him as Drake left the parking lot.
“It never occurred to you that they meant no harm?” I ask the boy.
He just shrugs, and then says, “At the time, no.” Then he adds sarcastically, “I would’ve never thought that people running at me just wanted to talk.”
“Watch it,” I warn. “Did you ever see a badge or any indication of who they were with?”
“No,” he answers. “Just black suits and dark sun glasses. I never thought people actually dressed like that outside of the movies.”
I don’t reply to his comment, but ask, “What happened after that?”
“Well, I waited,” he answered. “Like I was told. Scared, confused, worried about my parents, but I waited. I’ve never felt that alone ever or since.” He then leans forward and begins questioning me. “Have you ever felt like that? You ever felt so alone you just want to roll in a ball and cry? No parents to run to, no one you can trust, looking over your shoulder and jumping whenever a shadow moves; you ever been that alone?”
I have no choice. I lean forward and get in his face. “Listen, kid, don’t challenge me, because you’re not going to get anywhere.”
When the phone rings again, Drake answers it immediately. “Hello?”
“Did you lose them?” came K’s voice.
“I think so,” Drake said as he poked his head out of a plastic tunnel and scanned the area. “I haven’t seen those guys in a while.”
“Alright,” K replied. “Those guys weren’t alone. They just pulled their friends from watching your house to help find you. We’ll meet in your backyard. Think you can make it?”
“Yeah,” Drake answered.
“Be careful,” she advised, “and good luck.”
K hung up and Drake moved out. Drake looked at his watch; it was five o’clock, so schools would be getting out. He’d just be another kid, one out of thousands, just riding home. Still, he moved as quickly but as cautiously as he could.
Drake’s street was empty, and his house looked cold. Drake noticed a red car he didn’t recognize as he entered through the garage. It was weird for him to be sneaking into his own house essentially. He went in, calling out “Hello”, but nothing replied. The house looked normal enough. He could’ve just beaten his parents home. Dishes were put away, lights were off, and Drake even went up to his room to find his bed made.
He went out to the backyard to see a girl sitting in one of the patio chairs. She turned around to face Drake, and Drake actually recognized her. “You!?” he asked with shock in his tone.