I’m pretty sure that when Rihanna’s talking about ‘the city of wonders’ in ‘Disturbia,’ she was talking about London. Everywhere you turn there’s something important. After only five minutes here I was in awe of everything. The Buckingham Palace was right by our hotel, and Big Ben wasn’t that far away. Everything felt close together for some reason. London was absolutely perfect. Europe was perfect. After taking my first few steps out of the airport, I was practically in love with the city.
When we approached the hospital, I was shocked at how glorious a hospital could be. It was completely fancy, marble floors with wonderful chandeliers hanging from a combination of an orange and yellow ceiling. The only thing that didn’t fit in was the furniture. Whereas the building and walls looked as if they could be from the seventeenth century, there was a white desk along with black, sleek modern chairs and couches. Elizabeth and I approached the front desk with caution, a woman looked up with a smile, glancing at the two of us.
“May I help you?” she asked politely.
The woman had an English accent, as we’d noticed nearly everyone did here. She had dirty blonde hair tied up in a pony tail, yet she wore too much make up to be considered beautiful. She might have been beautiful without the white coloring all over her face. It almost made her face look like snow, and her blonde hair fit in. The immediate image that fit into my mind was the queen from Narnia. Hat it not been for the fact that the desk was so high up, I would have been able to see what she was wearing. Which was most likely business attire.
“Yes, we’re looking for someone by the name of Anna. She would’ve been here at least a year ago.”
“We don’t have one...” Elizabeth admitted. A long silence followed.
The woman sighed. “I can’t help you if you don’t have a last name.”
“Do you have age ranges?”
“I can do that.”
The woman typed slowly on the computer, touching each key individually. I hated it when people took forever to type. Especially when they got their hands and only used their index fingers. It drove me completely insane. “Past five years?”
Elizabeth glanced at me and I nodded. “Yes.”
I calculated the fact that it would’ve been about a year ago, when I would’ve been either fifteen or sixteen. So the age range most likely would’ve been about twelve to sixteen. “Twelve to sixteen in the past five years with the name Anna.”
She scrolled through some things, trying to find someone by that name and that age. “I’ll need some more information. I’m sorry.”
“Blood type O,” I offered. Out of all the things I’d been told at the doctor’s office, my blood type was all I could remember.
“I’m sorry, you’re going to have to make the search less broad...”
“Jones!” I exclaimed, remembering the name the nurse had used to refer to my supposed parents. She typed in the name Anna Jones, but she shook her head. But the nurse. She had called me by my name. She had said the word Anna. There had to be some other explanation...The woman paused, squinting at something.
“I have a Teresa Anna Jones, age fourteen, two years ago. Blood type O.”
I glanced at Elizabeth, shrugging. The age fit, there was an Anna. And a Jones. “What else does it say about her?”
“All of our records are confidential. I’m sorry, I can’t give you any further information concerning Teresa. Are you relatives?”
“Yes!” I lied. Well maybe it wasn’t a lie.
“Then I suggest contacting her yourself.” She didn’t believe us. Why would we not know her last name if we were relatives? Why wouldn’t we just call her? Why did we not use the name Teresa?
“No, we need these files. At least give me contact information!”
“I’m sorry, but these files are confidential!”
“I don’t care! We need the records!” I insisted. I slammed my hands on the desk, and despite Elizabeths attempts to calm me down, I found myself shouting things at her. “Give me the files! Now I need those files!”
“Security!” the woman shouted, and before I knew it men in black were on their way.
“I have a valid reason for those files!” I demanded as the man grabbed me.
“Really? And what’s that?” she asked me quizzically, raising her blonde eyebrows.
“I had amnesia and it’s the only memory I have!” Another lie.
“Am I really supposed to believe this? Please escort this young girl and her mother out,” the woman insisted.
Five minutes later, Elizabeth and I were standing on the sidewalk outside of the hotel, glancing around awkwardly. “Well...That went well, wouldn’t you say so?”
“Yes it was extremely helpful.”
“If only you had kept your temper...”
“Shut up,” I replied. I was in a bad mood, and Elizabeth realized that. So she didn’t protest my rude words.
Later that day we decided to visit the Buckingham Palace. When we arrived, Elizabeth signed us up for a tour so we could browse around. Might as well do some sight seeing while we were here as well. I had a feeling she wasn’t all that interested in browsing around the palace though.
When the tour was walking down a hallway, I couldn’t help but notice a maid walking out of a door, and leaving it half open. The part of the room that I managed to catch a glimpse of intrigued me towards it. What was I getting myself into? But as soon as I spotted an insignia on a suitcase with a bird on it and something that read falcon, I couldn’t resist. The man on the boat. His boat. It had been named The Falcon. There had to be a similarity somehow. I could just feel it.
As soon as the tour was going on up ahead, I slipped into the room quickly. Elizabeth turned around, noticing what I was doing. She followed into the room, glaring at me. “What do you think you’re doing?”
“What does it look like I’m doing? I saw something that looked important!” I insisted, glancing around the room.
Immediately I felt like I was in a five-star hotel bedroom. It was classy, of course. It was a palace after all. A marvelous guest room. There were many old-fashioned paintings on the walls, some of which looked much too beautiful to be man-made. But I stepped towards the bed, where the suitcase was. There was the insignia all right. I glanced around, leaning back and forth as if to see if anyone was there. But no one was.
So I opened up the suitcase. Papers. And more papers. Stacks and stacks of them. All of them had the same insignia on them. And all the stacks had that red stamp that read TOP SECRET on it. I had to have them. I grabbed Elizabeth’s camera, what tourist didn’t have a camera? Soon I was taking pictures of all the papers, browsing through them and such. As soon as I was done, I nodded towards Elizabeth and handed her the camera. She rolled her eyes and nodded back, and we headed out the door.
We walked back out into the hallway, only to find another tour approaching. As soon as the back of that line came, we slipped in. Who would notice two extra people? The rest of the trip was boring, I honestly wasn’t that interested in the painting on the wall. It wasn’t as if it would help me in any way. Elizabeth, however, was wrapped up in all of the history in the walls. She was much more interested in the furniture, considering she was a homeowner herself. But the style in the palace didn’t exactly match the modern theme that the Davidson house had going. The style which I loved so very much.
You see to Elizabeth, a house wasn’t just a house. Especially a home. A home describes the people who live there. The theme represents their personality. What they like, what they dislike. Who they really are. For example, if you were into hunting you’d most likely put your biggest prize on your wall, not cover it in pink sparkly wallpaper. And those words spoke true to Elizabeth. You had to put your life and soul into your house. Would you want to live there? Not whether it’s beautiful. But is it you?
I could just imagine her pondering something along the lines of ‘Is this really me?’ as she stared at the old wooden furniture that queens and kings might’ve sat in at one point. Now if that certain chair or couch really portrayed who that person was, I had no idea. I mean it wasn’t as if they had complete control over the furniture in their kingdom’s palace. After all, if they kicked out all of the chairs that were in the room, they’d practically be disgracing all of the kings and queens that came before them, wouldn’t they?
“What was that all about?” Elizabeth asked as we entered the hotel room, setting the camera down on the bed. She crossed her arms, glaring at me. “You can’t just go into random rooms in a palace and take pictures of files that read ‘Top Secret!’ What if you were caught? People would think you’re some sort of terrorist!”
I shrugged, picking up the camera and sorting through the pictures. “Well we weren’t caught, were we?” I asked her unemotionally.
“But why did you decide to go into that room? Did you just think ‘oh well we can’t go in this room on the tour so I might as well snoop around in here!’”
I really didn’t want to talk about the man on the boat before I was attacked and how the queen’s house had anything to do with that. But I couldn’t lie to Elizabeth. It would break her heart if she found out, and it just might break mine as well. “Because. There was a connection that I saw on the briefcase.”
“Connection to what?”
“There was a boat before I was attacked by a shark. As soon as I was attacked, he just sped off. He waved, so I know he saw me. In a way, I sort of felt like he was there to make sure I was attacked or something like that. Maybe I’m just crazy, but that was real. He was there, and he saw me being attacked. He saw my leg being bit. And he drove off. And I don’t know about you, but to me that’s just not human nature. I know that if I was on a boat and saw someone being attacked that I might try to stop and help them out a bit!”
“And what does that have to do with anything in that room or the papers that you photographed. Which, I’m pretty sure is illegal!”
“The boat’s name. The Falcon. That was the boat’s name.” She raised her eyebrows, still not seeing the connection. “Didn’t you see the briefcase?” I pulled up the first photo which had part of the briefcase on it. “There’s an emblem of a falcon. It says the word falcon on it. And it might be a coincidence, but it sure doesn’t seem like it to me. Something is happening, and I’m going to get to the bottom of it. And I don’t care if you try to stop me.”
Elizabeth sighed, sitting down on the bed. “Anna. You don’t know what you’re doing. You can’t just go browsing around the Buckingham Palace! Maybe this was a bad idea...Perhaps we should just go home.”
I clenched my teeth. Why was she backing out of this now? She was supposed to help me, she’d promised that she would help me find out who I was and what had happened to me!
“You’re saying you want to go home?”
“Anna, I don’t think you understand. You aren’t being yourself.”
“How do you know who I am? As far as I’m concerned, I don’t even know who I am! So who are you to say that I’m not being myself? For all I know, this could be me!”
She sighed again. I was surprised that she wasn’t yelling back. I’d always admired the fact that she was so calm, that she didn’t flare up about little things. Or even big things. I’d never once heard her yell at anyone, she and Connor hadn’t even been a fight that I was aware of.
“Anna, please try and be rational. What if you do get caught doing something like sneaking around the palace? You could be arrested! You need to think about what you’re doing. You need to plan ahead for once.”
“When I do not plan ahead?”
“I just think that we should leave this all behind and head home before things get too out of hand.”
“And go back to what? I finally have a break in who I might be and you want to back out!”
“Why would I do anything to stop you from finding out who you are?”
“Because you’re afraid!”
“Afraid of what?”
Elizabeth managed to remain calm during all of this, something I was obviously failing at. I’d never yelled at her before, and I wasn’t enjoying it much.
“You’re afraid of losing me.” She tensed, looking at me with wide eyes. “Afraid of losing your daughter. And I completely understand that. But I’m sixteen, maybe even seventeen at this point. I need to find out who I am. I have to know. And you’re afraid of me finding out something that I won’t like. Finding out that my parents are dead or something. But have to know. I know you didn’t exactly have the best parent-daughter relationship, and that you don’t want the same thing to happen to me. But you don’t know what it’s like to have your entire history like an open book.
“Everyone else always says something like ‘well my ancestors are from Italy’ or ‘when I was seven-’ I have no stories like this. And you may think you’re doing me a favor by trying to protect me from a horrible past, but not knowing only makes things worse. And I’m sorry, but it’s true. You promised that you would help me. You told me that if you ever wanted to back out, that I should remind you of that moment in the hospital when you promised that you would do whatever it takes to find out who I am or who I was. And this is me, reminding you of that promise. So please, Elizabeth, stick to that promise and help me.”
Bingo. “You’re right. I made a promise. And I’d be bad influence if I didn’t keep that promise. So this is me, keeping that promise. I will help you find out who you are, Anna. No matter what the cost is. I’m doing this for you. Now, what’s first?”
A grin formed across my face as she spoke. Another step towards the truth. Another step towards the real me. “To get these photos printed out. And after that, I have no idea. Let’s just sorta go with the flow. How does that sound?”
She nodded. “But Anna, can you promise me one thing?” she asked me seriously. I nodded. “Please try your hardest not to do anything completely crazy that will get you in trouble. I don’t want you getting arrested.”
I laughed a bit, nodding. That was certainly doable. “All right. I promise that I’ll try my hardest not to get arrested as long as you stick to your promise to stick to your promise that you’ll help me no matter what.”
“Shake on it?”
By now we were both smiling. I reached my hand out, and we sealed the deal by shaking. After that, we grabbed the laptop and began printing out some pictures.
Hours later, I was sitting on the couch examining them. I took in a deep breath, getting ready to read the first one. Now I doubted that this would directly lead me to my past, but it had to at least be some sort of a clue. After a few moments of simply staring at the pages, I managed to get myself to read them. My eyes wandered down to the front page that read ‘TOP SECRET’ in red. There was the same falcon insignia on the front page as there had been on the briefcase.
Nothing made sense at first before I realized I was reading French. At least that was one language I did know. I stood up and walked over towards the desk, grabbing my journal, that was empty. Sitting down again, I began to slowly translate, making sure that everything I wrote down was accurate.
Trouvez la fille. Find the girl. Those were the first words that I read. Was that supposed to be me? Or not? Was everything I’d though in the past that I thought meant me really not? Was I just overreacting? I sighed, I couldn’t go on making random guesses about things. I’d just have to face the facts.
Tuez la fille. Kill the girl.
I froze. Did I translate that right? Find the girl and kill her. It would make sense if the words were referring to me. Perhaps winding up the ocean wasn’t an accident, perhaps it was on purpose. I was attacked by a shark, and I’d had a dream about that. Nathan had been hurt, and maybe there really was something behind that. Maybe they were hurting him to get to me. Or maybe I was just overreacting about everything. Maybe I was just going insane.
The rest was completely random. In fact, it was a variety of pieces from famous writings. Shakespeare, Paradise Lost, the bible, Pride and Prejudice, and other pieces of Jane Austen. I jumbled through them, trying to find anything that might be important.
“Is that is?!” I practically shouted, slamming the things down on the table.
Elizabeth looked up from the table where she was reading a London newspaper. “What’s wrong?” she asked me, eyebrows raised.
I clenched my teeth, glaring at the papers. “What does this help?” That was when I came across the last piece of paper. A location was written with a description. “What is this?” I had to translate it, of course. The words spoke to me, an idea popping into my head.
Neuschwanstein. Germany Go there on the first of April, 2005. That date had already past. What a great help...Go on the first tour of the day, meet with the guide afterward. He will show you to your room, there you will meet someone who will give you instructions. From there, do as you are told. Burn these papers. Let no one see them. If anyone asks you about these instructions or these papers, kill them without any hesitation.
“Hey, Elizabeth?” I asked, raising up my eyebrows.
She turned from looking at the newspaper. “Yes?”
“I’ve got one more place for us to go...”
“And where would that be?”
Another hotel. Not exactly what the Davidsons were expecting all their credit card bills to be going to. I had a feeling that when Connor got all of the bills back at home, he’d be wondering why we were spending our nights at luxurious hotels instead of something like a Hilton that would definitely be much cheaper.
Munich. Winter was already approaching, we’d spent longer time than anticipated in London. We’d decided to rent a car, about time, right? After having a few extra days in England, considering we wanted to get our money’s worth in at the hotel, we headed on a plane towards Berlin. By the time the plane landed there, it was late. And Elizabeth was practically dying to see the Berlin wall, so we stayed there for a few moments. Then, after renting the car, we’d driven into Munich.
And here we were. Elizabeth had received many calls, announcing that Nathan had been a monkey for Halloween, and that Connor had much trouble in arranging everyone’s costumes. I’d even received a few calls myself, Nathan had insisted on talking to me once, and Taylor had called once to stop by and ask how I was doing. Jamie had said hello. Travis wasn’t exactly one for phone relationships, so I’d only spoken to him briefly.
The one thing that was making Elizabeth extremely tense was the fact that she might be missing Christmas with her family. It was the first time in years that she’d be away from them on Christmas, and last year things hadn’t gone so well at my first Christmas with them. Things had been slightly awkward with gift buying for me and me buying things for people. In the end, Nathan had been sick on Christmas morning and thrown up all over me in my new clothes, and my wonderful laptop. Another one had been bought by Elizabeth and Connor in an attempt to save Christmas.
So here we were, approaching the castle. The first tour of the morning. The only drawback, it wasn’t April 1st, 2005. In fact it wasn’t even April, and it was four years later. But it was the best we could do.
When we walked through the castle doors, I was overtaken by a sense of majesty. It had been grand and beautiful from the outside, but it wasn’t anything like I would’ve imagined it to be in here. It was much more majestic than the Buckingham Palace ever could’ve been. The Mad King had done well considering the fact that he’d been considered insane. In Disney’s attempts to mimmic their castle as their magical castle, I hate to say this, but they couldn’t even come close when it came to standing up to this place. No one could.
The tour was fascinating, if you enjoyed looking at old rooms and hearing an uninterested man talk about how ‘intriguing’ the castle was in it’s history and architecture. Afterwards, Elizabeth took the advantage of ‘if you have any questions come and see me...’ to give me a fair chance to browse around. I used this time to sneak into a bedroom that we hadn’t been in. Nothing. I went through a few more.
That was when I heard something. Voices. I was now in a bedroom, nothing like something that would’ve been used when the castle was ever in use, if it had been, I hadn’t been paying much attention. Instead it was a modern bedroom with blue walls. It was small compared to the rest of the castle rooms. It even appeared as if someone was living there. The voices were coming towards me. I looked down at the high-risen bed and held my breath. Without a second thought, I hid under the bed, a classic trick, and waited to see if anyone would come.
Feet came into view as I heard some people spoke. Two men. They seemed to be deep in conversation, arguing.
“What do you mean you can’t find the girl? One bloody girl can’t be that hard to fine!” one of the men snapped. He had an English accent. He seemed to be the one closer towards the door.
“She seems to be wandering around. None of our attempts have been successful.”
“What attempts have you made?”
“We attempted to drown her, but she was found later in the ocean near Cape Cod.”
I froze at that comment. They must’ve been talking about me. I fit the general profile, being found in Cape Cod and all. Well, how many girls do you think were found in the middle of the ocean on average?
“She had amnesia. We didn’t think she held a viable threat...” There was a pause, I assumed they must’ve been glancing at each other, one glaring at the other. The man who was speaking cleared his throat, beginning to speak again. “But nevertheless, we sent a shark after her. This attempt to kill her was unsuccessful. We even made sure that someone checked into see that she was attacked.”
“Her leg was wounded. But she made a quick recovery. In fact, she made the local high school boy’s varsity football team shortly afterward without any trouble at all. We later tried to get her attention by attacking her adoptive four-year-old brother. He was in the hospital and sent a man who was apparently in contact with her. So she knows that something’s up about her, she just doesn’t know what.”
“That’s it? You have no information about her current whereabouts?”
“All we know is that she’s touring around Europe with her adopted mother. They went to the Buckingham Palace, saw a Manchester United game, and went to see the Berlin Wall. They’ve rented a car. That’s about all we know.”
“Then run the license plate number! Check all the security cameras you can get into! I want to know where this girl is and now!”
The other man gulped. “Yes, sir. We’ll be checking the license plates on all of the hotels and monuments we can find...”
“And run this place...I don’t care what it takes, if you have to rob all the hotels in Europe to get the details, do it!”
That was the end of the conversation. One of the men left, and the other sat down on the bed. Great. How long was I going to be stuck here, unsure of whether or not to risk coming out of the room.
A long time passed and I was just laying there, waiting for the man either to leave or to fall asleep. After what felt like hours, I figured he was asleep. Then I began my journey out from under the bed. At first I made slow, careful moves, trying not to make a sound. The castle was over a hundred years old, so I was sure that it wouldn’t exactly be the ‘quietest’ when it came to rickety floors. Finally, I managed to get out from under the bed, only to see a man laying there.
The man was wearing a suit and why he’d decided to take a nap in that, I had no idea. He was mid-fifties. His hair was black and graying. His skin was wrinkly, and he looked rather bland to me. There weren’t any notable features about him, a forgettable face. In fact, he looked rather worn out.
I glanced around the room, looking for anything with a falcon on it. But nothing seemed to have any sort of a bird on it. And, honestly, I didn’t want to be taking any chances about getting caught or the man waking up. So I turned around to find myself looking at two doors. Which one had I come through? The one on the left...But they were both on the same wall, which was odd. I hadn’t noticed the other one coming in.
I decided to take my chances and strayed towards the door closest to the bed, hopefully if it wasn’t the right one, it would only be a closet and I wouldn’t have anything to worry about. Unless the doors creaked. That wouldn’t be a fun adventure, especially if this guy was a light sleeper. But he’d slept through my getting out of the bed, which hadn’t exactly been smooth.
It was a hallway. But it wasn’t the one I’d entered through. Great.
There were many doors, it seemed as if there was a door every foot. How many rooms were in this place, they couldn’t be very big if there were so many. Well, then again, the castle was extremely huge.
I found myself greeted by an awkward, empty silence as I glanced around. Should I walk around or try and make it to the other door that I’d entered through? But suddenly, the door slammed shut behind me. Typical movie moment. I spun around, had the man gotten up and figured that it just hadn’t been shut all the way? If so, had he seen me at all?
“Well, well, well. Anna, isn’t it?” a voice asked.
When I tried to spin around, I found hands on my shoulders, stopping me.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” The grip on my shoulders tightened. “Well then, I’m afraid that you wont’ be joining us for dinner tonight,” the voice added. The voice from earlier, not the British one. Another one. When I tried to look down and spot the man’s hands, I couldn’t. He seemed to notice me doing this and tightened his grip on my shoulders.
The hands were released quickly, but before I could turn around something met the back of my neck or head. I don’t even remember. Something cold. Something metal. Something hard. Everything went black. I’d had this feeling a few times, and let’s just say I knew when I was about be knocked out. My field of vision faded until I could see nothing, not even blackness. I felt myself falling forward. And then I hit something. It must’ve been the floor. I could feel a throbbing feeling in the back of my head and neck. There was the taste of blood in my mouth. And after that, everything was a complete blur.