My feet crunched the old forgotten leaves from last autumn as I made my way down the park path to meet up with my friends.
I frowned as the sun completely blinded my phone screen.
I wasn’t liking what I was searching up. Penalties for a hit and run aren’t as severe as they should be. How was anyone supposed to learn their lesson with a couple of months in prison and a simple fine?
This wouldn’t do.
I looked up to greet my friends.
“What…what’s Lucas doing?”
“Luke man what are you doing!?” I asked the pair of legs sticking out of the bush.
“Searching for ladybugs.” He replied as the bush rustled.
Elvis gestured impatiently. “Come on Sal, it’s your turn.”
“I’m trying, but it’s really difficult okay!” She snapped.
“We haven’t even started just move whatever.”
“But what piece do I move?”
“A pawn.” Elvis sighed.
“But which pawn? There are 8 of them!”
“Oh my god I should’ve gone first.” My youtuber friend exclaimed in exasperation.
“We need to talk about your latest video.” I said, crossing my arms and casting him an intimidating glare.
“Hi Niko!” Salandra said with a big smile.
“Don’t go getting all attitude on me.” Elvis replied. “Admit it, if your sister hadn’t been hit by a car you wouldn’t be so against me posting that video, so not having this discussion.”
“Get up Elvis.” I ordered.
I grabbed Elvis by the jacket and half pulled him up from his seat. Oh he was just asking for it today.
“Jeesus Niko!” He said, giving me a shove and readjusting his shirt.
“Jeesus Elvis!” I mimicked, giving him a shove. I pulled out my phone and showed him the mocking video he’d made of Nikita and Tyzel getting into a fight at prom.
“It’s just a video with a few edits. The news has worst stuff.” Elvis shrugged. Most of the time I put up with his assery, but this was about my sister who was at home right now in a wheelchair. I wasn’t in the mood.
“Take it down.” I demanded. Lucas got out from under the bush.
“No!” Elvis snapped. “It’s not even that big of a deal man.”
Oh well fine! I’ve been wanting to punch something for the last two days and apparently Elvis is volunteering to be that something.
“Woah, woah, what are you getting so worked up for Niko?” Lucas asked brushing off a stray leaf from his shoulder.
“No reason.” I snapped. Whatever, I have more important things to deal with than Elvis right now anyway.
“Is it because Niki got hurt?” Salandra asked, looking at me like she actually expected an answer.
“He almost got shot you know.” Elvis humphed. “He’s probably still in shock.”
“Shut your faces up I have important things to discuss.” I said before Elvis dug himself a hole. “Lucas what are you doing?”
“I think I saw a ladybug fly over here….”
I rolled my eyes. “Come on, I need all you guys’ complete attention on this. I know it’s a lot to ask but…yeah get over here.”
“Yes sir!” Salandra saluted before plopping herself down on the ground.
Lucas and Elvis shrugged and followed suit.
“Er…” I hadn’t really expected them to suddenly sit down.
“Let’s go, we’re listening. Wasn’t this REALLY important?” Elvis asked, checking the time on his phone.
“You all know my sister got hit by a car right? Yeah. Right in front of our school too. And it was a hit and run, which means the driver literally hit her and just kept going like he didn’t give a damn. Which he probably didn’t. And that – that’s not okay.” I said, my jaw clenching. “I want to find this guy – whoever the hell he was – and make him pay. Make sure he can’t do anything like this again and make sure he deeply – oh very deeply regrets putting my sister in a wheelchair.”
“That’s so mean…I can’t believe someone would do that. To Niki too!” Salandra exclaimed.
“Jeesus, she’s in a wheelchair?” Lucas muttered.
“Wow kind of sounds like you want to torture him…” Elvis trailed off.
“Wow gee Elvis. Like that’s my type of thing.”
“Hell if I know. You sure like punching people who piss you off.” Elvis said.
“That’s different!” I exclaimed, pointing my finger at him.
“Well…” Lucas began. “You do punch people a lot…”
“That’s cause they’re all a bunch of- YOU KNOW WHAT. This is off subject.” I said.
“The ground is uncomfortable.” Salandra said, playing with the hem of her skirt.
“Yeah it really is.” Elvis said, changing his position.
Lucas started pulling out pieces of grass from in between the stones. “How long is this going to take Niko?”
“You guys are a bunch of impatient jerks.” I let out an exaggerated sigh. “Let me rough it up for you.”
“I need to find this guy. I need to find him quick. So I need you guys to help search for the driver.” I said. “We’re going to track him down…follow him to his house…and then…”
“MAKE HIM SUFFER.”
Elvis snorted and Lucas burst out laughing.
“By sending him to the police obviously.” I responded to Salandra’s worried look.
“Oh my god your eyes!” Lucas said, lost in a fit of laughter.
“So are you guys in?”
Elvis shrugged. “I don’t know man.”
“You can record all of it and put it on the net if you want.” I said.
“Ok sounds good.”
“Follow him to his house though?” Lucas asked. “Wouldn’t it be simpler to just give his address to the police?”
“As long as he’s brought to justice.” I said. Lucas shrugged in agreement.
“I’m in too!” Salandra exclaimed. “For Nikita.”
“Do you have a lead or something?” Lucas asked as the three got up from the ground.
“There’s only one thing I know for sure because Niki is so tight lipped about what happened.” I said. “Tyzel Gallivant was there. He’s the one who called the ambulance. He must’ve seen something.”
“Anyone have his phone number?” Elvis asked looking around. “…or know where he lives? Yeah okay, so this is starting off well.”
“Oh!” Salandra was struck with an idea. “Aren’t you a witch Niko? Can’t you just cast a spell?”
“Um…I…well…I am a witch, but…”
“What he’s trying to say,” Elvis cut in. “Is that it’s just a title. He can’t do crap with his powers.”
“My dad hasn’t taught me the locating spell yet okay!” Or more he tried to and I just couldn’t get the hang of it.
“Then we’ll have to do this the old fashioned way.” Lucas declared.
“Who even has a phonebook anymore?” Elvis asked.
“I do!” Salandra said, raising her hand.
My phone beeped.
“So this is great guys, we’ll continue this later.” I said as I read the new text.
“Whaaatt? You get us all ready to solve a mystery and you ditch us right off the bat?” Elvis whined.
“Sorry but its my dads. I can’t ignore this.”
“Tell Niki I said hi then!” Salandra said.
The fact that the text was only Come home, I have a feeling it’s not going to be a very happy discussion…
And I was entirely right. I’d barely made through the front door that my parents were sitting me down to finally have that dreadful talk.
“Did something happen Nikolas?” Pa’ asked.
“No.” Nothing. There’s absolutely not a monster in the basement, and gee thank you for reminding me.
“You’ve been acting impatient and you’ve been avoiding us for the last few days. We’re here for you, you know that right?” Pa’ pushed on. I guess ‘no’ isn’t a sufficient answer. I have been a little mean, but I’ll fix it! I just want to forget the basement thing ever happened right now. It probably was just a dream too. I mean a monster?
“Yeah, yeah, but nothing happened.” I insisted a little impatiently.
“Nikolas.” Dad simply stated and it was enough to remind me that my dad has a special sixth sense. Well of course he knew something had happened.
I wrung my hands under the table.
“We aren’t trying to ground you Nikolas. We just want to know what’s going on.” Pa explained. And I just really didn’t want to involve them. If I did they’d probably just take over the whole situation because teenagers can’t do it by themselves.
But…I need to say something to get them off my back.
“Okay so…something did happen. But it’s done now, and I’m over it. I’m sorry for being all mean and stuff. The uh…the bank robbery sort of jostled me back into place.” I let out. I actually had this elaborate lie in my head, but not only would dad probably have picked up on it, but I’ve never been able to lie to my parents.
Pa’ and dad exchanged a look as I added an ‘I swear’.
Dad spoke up. “We’ve decided to send you to summer camp this year.”
“Woah wait a second! I thought you said you weren’t going to ground me!” I exclaimed.
“We never said anything about you lying to us on prom night.” Pa’ said. Oh sh*t that’s right…
“We’re not sending you there to ground you.” Dad said. “It’ll be good for you to get out of Ridgevalley for a few weeks. A lot of things happened in the last week, and it’ll be fun.”
Well sure I discovered a monster in our basement, almost got shot at a bank robbery and my sister got run over by a car. Which is exactly why I should stay! Like I’d just up and leave when my sister needed me!
But no matter how hard I tried to protest, my dads minds had been made up. All about how it’ll give me some time to unwind and summer camp has a bunch of activities they’re sure I’ll love and-
Do they blame me for Niki’s accident? Because since I lied I wasn’t there with her to stop her from getting hit?
Ah gee, going to summer camp means my time to solve Niki’s accident just got reduced – by a lot.
“Hey Niki? Where are you?”
“In here.” Niki replied from inside the dance room.
I walked in only to find my sister parked in front of the window. There was a song she often danced to playing on the radio, and the whole room just lacked its usual atmosphere.
Because, well, usually Niki was practicing at this hour.
Actually at this exact hour, the dance competition was taking place.
“Uh what are you doing here?”
“Looking outside. I never realized, but it’s really pretty outside isn’t it?” Nikita said.
“Um, sure. Nice view of a…hill.” I muttered. “If you want to go outside I can help you.”
“Oh Niko its fine. Don’t worry about me, I don’t want to go outside right now.” Niki said, reaching over to poke me in the side. “It’s not like I’m going to be in a wheelchair forever either so don’t make that face.”
“No…but you’re missing out on your dancing dream right now…” I said before I could stop myself. Nikita let out a small sigh.
“But hey!” I suddenly exclaimed. “Don’t worry I’m on it!”
“Me and a group of friends are going to find that driver and bring him to justice!” I declared, swinging my fist up into the air.
Nikita chuckled. “Like a little group of vigilantes.”
“Yeah! And it would help us a lot if you told us what happened.” I said with a coy smile.
“No.” Niki said.
“What do you mean no? It would really help you know.”
“Actually, I forbid you to go after that driver.” Nikita declared, finger pointed right at me.
I couldn’t help it, I laughed. “Come on sis. I can’t not. And it’s not like you can really stop me.”
“I thought you’d say something like that which is why I’m totally on board with you going to summer camp.”
“You too? Why does everybody want me to leave? Am I that bad to have around?”
“It’s not that and you know it Niko.” Niki snapped. “If you stay here you’ll just float around me with buckets full of pity-”
“No I won’t-”
“Yeah you will. You’ll feel sorry for me and blabla and that’s not helpful at all.” Nikita said.
“And if I promise not to?”
“Either way I’m not the one making the decision. And summer camp’ll be fun I’m sure.” Niki said.
“Yeah whatever.” I mumbled, sending us both into a harsh silence.
“Can you play a little bit of violin for me? I always love hearing you play.” She asked with a small smile.
It has been a few days since I picked it up. “Yeah okay. Just one though!” I said as I grabbed my violin. “I was doing something important.”
“Oh yes very important I’m sure.” Niki teased.
Summer camp huh.
Whatever, it’s just a minor setback. I’ll make sure to figure out who that driver is in the week I have left.
“Can’t believe those jerks ditched us.” I grumbled. Right after we’d found Tyzel’s name and number in the phonebook, Lucas said he needed to go home before his parents did and Elvis said he didn’t feel like Tyzel would cooperate if he was there (probably just an excuse to ditch really).
I still called Tyzel obviously and, after the initial surprise, he agreed to meet us at school – the scene of the crime.
“I can’t believe you’re not going to be here for the whole summer.” Salandra said.
“Yeah I know it sucks. I don’t want to go to some stupid summer camp, but my dads won’t budge on it.” I said.
“Oh, you’ll be able to find the person who did that to Niki first right?”
“Obviously!” I exclaimed. As if there was any doubt really.
“I hope Tyzel will be able to tell us.”
“He will, I’m sure of it. I mean he was there. He probably saw it all!”
“Not really.” Tyzel said, arriving on the scene.
I hopped off the bench.
“Tyzel! Took you long enough!”
“So this is about your sister’s accident huh?”
“Yeah, I need to find the driver who hit her. Tell me everything you know.” I said with a nod.
“I’ll write it down!” Salandra said, pulling out a notepad and a pen.
“Like little vigilantes.” Tyzel smirked.
That’s starting to sound condescending.
“Unfortunately I didn’t see the driver. I only saw those guys make her stumble into the street. I know it was a taxi though. That might help you out.” Tyzel said.
“What guys? They were pestering her? They pushed her in front of the car?” I pressed.
Tyzel shook his head. “It’s that delinquent gang. They were messing around with her and one of them grabbed her arm. When she shook herself free she stumbled in front of the car.”
“That’s practically pushing her! Who was it exactly!?” I demanded.
“Like I said. The troublemakers. That red head and his gang. The ones who thrashed the gym.” Tyzel explained.
“Hey isn’t that Zac from the bank?” Salandra exclaimed.
That can’t be…
“That’s all I have Nikolas. Do you need anything else?”
“Oh yeah!” Remembering the object in question, I pulled out a key from my pocket. “Here’s your key back.”
“Thanks.” Tyzel said, eyeing me a little weirdly now. “So…was there anything special behind that door of yours?”
“Uh no! Nothing. All pretty normal. Kind of a waste actually, but thanks anyways.” I rapidly replied. Jeesus it’s hard to try and not think about it when everyone keeps bringing it up.
Tyzel raised his eyebrows. “Hmm, that’s shame. Could’ve been cool if you found anything out of the ordinary.”
Cool? Not really. Not that cool.
“Anyway.” Tyzel said. “Good luck on your hunt.”
“Niko he was talking about Zac right?” Salandra said.
“Yeah…but that’s not possible.” I muttered.
“What do you mean?”
“He was at the bank with us.” I said, a little exasperated that I had to point that out.
“Well then how come he was here too? When Niki got hit?” I asked her.
Salandra frowned before she suddenly realized what I was saying. “Oh! That’s right. That is impossible.”
“Yeah. How the hell was this guy at the crime scene and at the bank at the same time?”
Reasons for tardiness with chapters : LIFE
And well, there’s a surprising amount of thinking I need to do for this generation. I really don’t want to mess this up.