After a near kidnapping, Rylee Damien's "paranoid" parents send her off to the Atlas Academy for protection. She doubts this school will offer much in protection, until the supplies are revealed to her. And her parents past with the school.
This school is not a normal academy, and it doesn't turn out normal graduates, either.
“It was just like any other day.” I began, finding it hard to speak in the busy police station. People bustled passed, carrying seemingly important papers or leading handcuffed criminals to their next destination as I sat in my cold plastic chair across a desk from a cop by the name of Paul Veneto. Though of course it wasn’t so much the fact that desks crowded the large room, or the predatory looks I attracted from some of the criminal men, that made it hard for me to continue, but the memory itself that sent a chill up my spine.
“Yes?” said Officer Veneto, bringing me back to the present. He gave me a warm smile and said, “I’m sorry Rylee, but I have to ask you these things ok? I promise it won’t last long, okay?” I nodded and he asked, “Okay, so just tell me what you were doing right before it happened and go from there.”
Mom squeezed my shoulder, standing behind me, as I started again. “Well, I was going to the library, returning a book. It was fourth period and I was done with my work, so I decided to check out another book before I went home. And that’s when I saw them.” I said, the horrifying nightmare like a movie in my mind.
I had almost been to the door, inches from touching the handle, when they had rounded the corner. There were three of them; the first a short man, fat, middle-aged, black hair, and pock-marked skin who was obviously the leader. The second and third were taller, one with small eyes, a bulbous nose, and matted dark brown hair, the other a blonde with tangled shoulder-length hair, a hook nose, and one lazy eye.
“Well, well, well,” the short one said, putting his hands on his hips and smiling to reveal teeth like a checkerboard. “Why Ms. Carson, we were just lookin’ fah you. Wasn’t we, boys?” He looked back glanced back at the two meat heads and nodded in my direction.
At the sound of my name, my blood had frozen in my veins and my heart skipped a beat. I bolted back up the hall as they lunged at me. My mind was spinning out of control. Why was this happening? Why now? Why here?
I called for help down the hall, running faster than I thought I could, not being in the best running shape. I screamed and a few doors whipped open immediately to see what the yelling was all about. Taking in the sight of two NFL sized men being almost upon me and a squat man behind them carrying a pistol, they gasped and slammed their doors with a bang. A few minutes later, the diamond alert came on and the sirens filled our ears.
“Alright boys, that’s our signal! Grab her ‘n let’s get outta here!” Squatty yelled hoarsely over the alarm.
The one with the beady eyes jumped for me then and grabbed my ankles, causing me to face plant into the carpet. Pain shot through my face as my nose broke. I rolled over quickly as they tried picking me up and managed to kick Beady Eyes in the face twice, hoping his nose was flat. He howled in pain as the blonde picked me up into a bear hug so tight I couldn’t move or breathe. I couldn’t even scream.
They started back where we’d come, the blonde still squeezing tighter and tighter. We were face to face, blood running from my nose into my mouth and to my chin. He looked at me and smiled. I glared back and spit blood in his face. It got in his eyes and in his mouth, making him growl and spit it on the floor. He glared dangerously back and said, “Aw, we’re gonna have some fun when we get you home.”
“I call first dibs.” said Beady Eyes, sneering at me with his crooked and swollen potato of a nose.
“And you know the rest.” I said, Officer Veneto recomposing himself as he'd been shocked and growing enraged. And he did know, because he was there when they’d rescued me. The three thugs had only gotten as far as to throw me into the open van before four squad cars surrounded them, six loaded pistols aiming for their hearts. Officer Veneto was actually the one whose chest I cried into on the way to the hospital.
He nodded and said, “Yes.”
A moment of awkward silence followed and then Mom asked from behind me, “Is that all, Officer Veneto?”
He smiled at us and said, “Oh, yes ma’am, that’s all. I can assure you ladies, these men will be serving a long time. Not only because of this but they had several outstanding warrants in several states for a lot of other crimes.”
Mom nudged me to stand and smiled as he stood too. “Thank you so much, Officer Veneto, for saving her. I’m so grateful to everyone who helped.”
He shook her hand and said, “It was my pleasure, ma’am, and I’m just glad we got there in time.” Then he turned to me and smiled warmly as we hugged, softly though because I was covered in dark bruises and had a brace over my nose . “Stay safe, okay kiddo?” he said and I nodded, trying my best to smile.
We started to leave, but then he said, “Oh wait!” We turned and he handed me a few bucks. “Get some ice cream or something, I promise it’ll help take it off your mind at least for a little while. It’ll go away.” I could see the pain and sympathy in his eyes for me, and I just smiled again and nodded.
“Thanks Officer Veneto.” I said, and then we left the station.
The following five months were something I’d rather forget, including the event itself. As it turned out, my nose had only been severely cracked, not broken, so that didn’t take long to heal, but my cracked ribs were another story. The bruises stayed black and blue for well over two weeks, and it took almost two months to fully heal to wear I could actually turn my body without severe pain.
Even after that I refused to go outside the house, not even stepping onto the porch to retrieve the mail. Though that was only part fear and part hiding from the cameras, because since the day it happened the news channels had been hounding my parents, and camping outside our house. My story got national attention, and we ended up moving from Gainesville, Pennsylvania to Montgomery, a small town in Oklahoma, and no one, meaning the press, knew where we were.