“-And he’s just like ‘get out kid before I kick you out myself’ like an annoying prick. But there was nothing else I could do because I sent Elvis in, but you know him he doesn’t even really care so he couldn’t do anything. I had to go in there myself, but apparently the taxi boss didn’t like my snooping.” I grumbled.
“Did you even try asking first?” Nikita asked.
“Well yeah obviously. I do have manners you know. But the guy kept shooing me outside, wouldn’t even listen to me! So I kind of had to take matters into my own hands.” I said, kicking a rock into our little pond.
“I still can’t believe you thought the taxi agency would willingly give you a list of everyone working that night.” Niki laughed.
“It was worth a try. It would be so much easier if someone told us who’d been in the taxi…”
“Niko, I told you. I don’t know. I wasn’t really looking at the driver at the time.” Niki replied.
“Okay, but tell me where Zac lives then.” I insisted.
“You know the red head.”
“I don’t know any more than you do. You can just wait till summer starts again you know? He’ll still be at school.” Niki repeated with a slightly annoyed tone.
“But that defeats the whole purpose! I need to solve this mystery before I get to summer camp.” I whined.
“Or you could just leave this to the professionals.”
“Professionals? Why when-”
“Jace!” Niki exclaimed, cutting me off to wave at her boyfriend.
I exhaled sharply through my nose.
“Hey you two. How’s it going?”
“Fantastic!” Niki chirped. “Niko was about to go out for his jog.”
“Are you chasing me away?” I asked, feigning hurt.
“Well, you can stay if you want to watch Jace and I-”
“OKAY NOPE SAY NO MORE. I get it, I’m gone!” I exclaimed shielding my ears as the couple laughed.
I started the timer on my watch and set off on my jog, gritting my teeth as I went along.
I mean sure I could totally just rely on the police, but honestly where’s the fun in that? And they’re all so busy with a bunch of other stuff, it might actually help if I solved this right? And it’s my sister, I should have shotgun.
Of course, doesn’t make solving this any easier. Pretty much hit a dead end here, what with the taxi agency threatening to ban me if I came again.
Which, if you think about it, is the same as banning me anyways.
And it’s not like Tyzel where everyone knows his last name, no one knows anything about Zac because nobody cares to.
“Niko, wait up!” Salandra called out as she jumped off her stairs to follow me.
“If you can’t keep up, don’t!” I shouted back, not slowing down at all.
Okay, maybe I slowed down a little. I mean the first few times she got stuck way behind she sort of abandoned and started crying…
I don’t even remember when this started, like a year ago? She was suddenly waiting on her doorstep asking if she could join me on my run.
I really didn’t think she could keep up, but after a few months she adjusted to my pace. And she can usually follow…for about half the trip.
“Niko, niko, niko-” Salandra started chanting behind me.
“What? What is it?”
“You know how you’re going to summer camp right?”
“I haven’t forgotten yet.”
“Well I convinced my parents to sign me up too!” Salandra exclaimed, a little out of breath.
“That way you won’t be alone.” She said, probably with that proud smile of hers.
“Hey look who it is!” Lucas called out as we reached the bridge.
“Guys, guys” Joel said from his spot on the wall. “I think the dog might actually make it to the other side.”
“My app won’t work. Why are you freezing on me now phone!?” Elvis exclaimed, shaking his phone a little wildly.
“What’s with all the running like always?” Veronica asked from her spot on her boyfriend’s shoulder.
“To keep in shape obviously.” I said, jogging to a stop to catch my breath.
“Doesn’t running destroy your spine or something?” Veronica scoffed.
“Oh my god I’m beat…” Salandra wheezed out.
“Not if you do it properly. Could do you some good.” I said with a grimace.
“Excuse me? Are you calling me fat Niko!?” Veronica demanded as she started to squirm in Lucas’ arms.
“Woah, woah, stop! Or I’ll drop you in the road!” Lucas warned, somehow still managing to keep a hold of her.
“I didn’t say a thing.”
“So how’d it go with the taxi thing?” Lucas asked. To that Elvis looked up from his faulty phone.
“He got us kicked out.” Elvis replied.
“Cause all El here did was stand around and film the whole thing!” I snapped.
“Oh yeah, ha, I have it all on tape. I’d show you but my stupid phone is being stupid.” Elvis sighed.
“I think the dog drowned. That or he found a bone at the bottom of the river.”
“So what now? We don’t really have anymore leads.”
“Yeah, I know. It’s going to be tricky-” I said, about to suggest some pretty daring/impossible ideas. In other words: cool ones.
“You know…” Joel spoke up. “Your dad is a powerful witch Niko. You could just ask him to find whoever you’re looking for. Hell we could ask my dad. He’s pretty good at finding people too.”
“Hey that’s right. We could’ve just asked your dad.” Elvis said as he tapped his phone.
“What? No.” I immediately replied.
“Why not? It’d make things so much simpler.” Elvis countered.
“I…I don’t want to.”
“Come on Niko.”
“We did try our best after all. Maybe it’s time to ask for some help?” Salandra added.
I glanced at each of my friends, all of which we’re clearly too lazy to try and rough it out by ourselves. There wasn’t much I could do to convince them otherwise.
“Ugh fine, whatever.” I grumbled.
“Great tell us how it goes man.” Lucas said, giving me a pat on the shoulder.
“See you guys later.” I said, deciding my break had lasted long enough.
“Ah wait- nevermind. I can’t run anymore.” Salandra said, leaning on the wall.
“Oh wait, there he goes! He hadn’t drowned after all.”
Asking my dad!?
Gah just seems like admitting defeat or something. Like watching the walkthrough. It still feels like maybe there are still a lot of things I haven’t tried!
Maybe they’re all right in the end…no one explicitly said it but it was pretty obvious they were all thinking it.
Leave it to the professionals.
I’m just not good enough to try and solve stuff on my own. Sure you can have the will to, but doesn’t mean you have the talent to.
Feels like I’ve been having a streak of failures these days…
The basement at home, the one at the bank, and now my incapacity to solve Niki’s accident on my own.
I glanced around the cemetery. I kind of hoped that biker woman would be there. She kind of seemed to pop up at the best moments the last two times.
And I wanted to ask her how she knew there was going to be bank robbery at the address she sent me. Or if she ever knew at all.
I scratched the back of my head. Okay I’m going to ask my dad.
No one’s POV
“Hey pa’, is dad home yet?” Niko asked, coming back from his jog.
“No, not for another hour or so.” Edmund replied.
“I’m going to go give a ride to Nikita and her boyfriend. Don’t take too long in the shower okay, they’re about to arrive.” Edmund reminded his son.
“Annaliese, Traz and Jesse. Remember? You promised you’d babysit Jesse.” Edmund said.
“Oh yeah! Their brat Jesse!” Nikolas exclaimed. Ed raised his eyebrows.
“Don’t let him near my computer will you? I didn’t have time to make a backup.”
“Sure thing.” Niko said with a salute.
Edmund smiled and left, and fifteen minutes later, Jesse the brat was standing in front of Niko.
“So…is that bandana thing supposed to be cool?” Jesse asked.
“Oh? We’re starting with clothes insults? Well-”
“And I don’t care. Got any cookies? Or really any sort of junk food? I’m hungry.” He demanded.
“Sorry I’m not allowed to feed spoiled brats.”
“Don’t lie to me. Did you already forget that I can tell when people lie? Cause I can LIAR.” Jesse affirmed. It was a talent he’d gotten from his dad. Yes an actual talent.
Niko rolled his eyes. “Can’t even take a joke.”
“You’re always the WORST babysitter ever. Can’t we do something fun?” Jesse complained.
“Hey! I always have great ideas. Going to the park, playing video games, playing soccer,” Niko started to enumerate.
“Not your kind of fun, MY kind of fun.” Jesse insisted.
Nikolas rolled his eyes.
“Hey is that a fireplace? I forgot you guys had a fireplace. Can we light it?”
“Its summer we can’t light it. Plus I don’t trust you around fire.” Niko said poking him on the forehead.
“Maybe it’s dangerous if you play with fire, but mom let me light the candles on dad’s birthday cake.” Jesse protested. And with that he was already running towards it.
This is for cash, Niko reminded himself, cash.
Niko leapt forwards and caught the little brat before he could get any further.
“Oh no you don’t! Not letting you rampage the house again.” He said as Jesse squirmed.
“LET ME GO!”
And then something caught both their eyes. Jesse stopped squirming and Niko let him go.
There was something weird in the air in front of them.
Nikolas stepped towards it.
“What is it?” Jesse mumbled, staying off to the side.
Niko brought his finger up, his curiosity just yelling at him to poke the weird ripple thing.
“I think I see people in there…” He said, squinting.
“Don’t touch it Niko…” Jesse said in a small voice.
But he couldn’t not touch it. And not just because it was a weird gooey looking thing in the middle of the house! There was also something else drawing him to it. A strong impulse telling him it was essential that he did.
So, well, he did.
His finger met with compressed air, pushing against his finger until it felt like another finger touched his. And as it did, the image he’d seen became clearer and confirmed that there really were people on the other side. One of them that oddly looked like-
Niko’s finger started to get sucked in and then his hand and then his arm until his entire body was suddenly pulled through the ripple.
Niko found himself in what felt like an entirely different world. There went that odd feeling again: real yet not.
He spun around, surprised to find Jesse and the ripple were gone and the world was dipped in a foggy greyness. On top of that…he kind of felt taller? And these were definitely not his clothes.
“So, we’re calling this a failure?” Someone spoke.
“ZAC!” Nikolas exclaimed. He winced a little at the sudden pain in his right hand, but quickly ignored it. “I’ve been searching everywhere for you! Well not everywhere – I have questions about my sister’s accident. And about how you managed to be in two places at once.”
Zac was completely taken aback by Niko’s sudden attack. “What the hell are you talking about?”
“Don’t tell me you’ve already forgotten, it hasn’t even been two weeks! Niki is in a wheelchair because of your pestering.”
“Wait a minute…how old are you?” Zac asked.
“Just answer the question.”
“Ha! It did sort of work!” Zac exclaimed, confusing Nikolas.
“What worked? What’s going on?” Niko asked, taking a look around again.
“Listen up, here’s what we gotta do…”
“Niko? What just happened?” Jesse asked, more confused than ever.
“Hey! It’s mini Jesse!” Before the boy could react, he was suddenly swooped up in the air.
“Look at you, you’re so cute.”
“Stop it, put me down!” Jesse complained.
“Are you kidding? Gotta appreciate this tiny version of you while I still can.”
“You’re being weird.”
“Aw so cute. Don’t worry Jesse, it’ll be over soon.”
Just as those words were being said, Jesse suddenly got flipped upside down.
“HEY!” Jesse complained as the blood rushed to his head.
“Now we just have to wait for them to figure it out.”
“For who? You don’t make any sense! Put me down!”
“There they are.”
Jesse couldn’t care less about the ripple that had appeared yet again. He was too busy trying to wiggle his way free. But soon after he was put down on the ground, oblivious to the exchange being done through the ripple yet again.
He was fuming with anger once the ripple disappeared.
“Holy…you won’t believe what just happened. I’m not even sure what just happened.” Nikolas said with awe. He was confused, yet incredibly intrigued. The whole thing had kind of felt like that time he’d had a weird vision at the bank. Was it connected? Why was Zac there? How did Zac seem to know more about the foggy greyness than he did? Why had he been wearing different clothes? The questions and theories were swirling in his mind.
“I. DON’T. CARE.” Jesse shouted, punching Niko in the back. “I HATE YOU NIKO.”
He needed to write all the details down before he forgot them.
“Hey dad…” I hesitantly said as I walked into the kitchen. Dad was finally home from work, it was time to ask for help. Gah, even if I really don’t want to.
“Hi Niko, how was your day?”
My day? Actually pretty eventful. “Oh you know…” I shrugged. “Anyway, I need your help for something.”
“What is it?”
“Me and my friends are searching for someone but we’re having a real hard time and they suggested I ask you to do a spell to make things easier.” I blurted out, balancing on my feet.
“Who is it?”
“I’m going to need more than that if you want me to help.” Dad said with a smile.
“Right um…a taxi driver.” I replied.
“A taxi driver?”
“Yeah…the one who hit Niki you know.” I rapidly said.
“That’s what you’ve been doing? Playing detective?” Dad smirked.
“It’s not playing – I just need an address or something, or maybe you could cast the spell to find the red head at my school cause he was at the scene too. But if you don’t want to that’s fine, you know, just say the word!” I said.
“Ha, I already cast the spell Niko.”
“The day of the accident, I cast the spell and reported it to the police.”
“Well – that’s – what a waste. All of that for nothing? You knew who he was all along?” I exclaimed. What!? “I was actually so pumped for this. I thought I could figure something out before everyone else. But turns out the police already knows. Geez, what a disappointment.”
“Sounds like you went after the wrong mystery.” Dad said.
“I didn’t do enough research. I should’ve known that – ugh.” I want to solve a mystery! Before anyone else! But so far it’s all been for naught…the basement too, I wasn’t expecting that kind of ending.
“I hear there’s quite the mystery at that summer camp.” Dad said with a sly tone.
“You can try but it won’t work. Still not liking the summer camp idea. You won’t get me with mere rumors.” While I was talking, dad pulled out a folded piece of paper from his back pocket. “What’s this?”
“Fruits of a little bit of research.” He said as I took it from his hands.
My eyes skimmed over it quickly, catching onto the word treasure.
“Woah…are you sure? This sounds awesome!” I exclaimed, clutching the paper.
“Summer camp doesn’t sound so bad now huh?”
“Yeah I’ll admit it has some attraction to it.” I said, shoving the document in my own pocket.
Treasure? Might not be so bad at all.
End of Volume 1 Arc 1
(This was most likely the shortest arc of them all. Arc 2 might be a short one too…but essentially Arc 1 is an intro)
INFO: Since, it’s taking me so much time with these chapters, I’ve taken to posting teasers for the next chapter on my tumblr. If y’all are ever curious 😉
I’m aiming to get myself a good per week routine eventually for this generation.