Home For The Unwanted: Chapter 30

Hello once again. Today is the last day, and with that, because I’ve already ended it off where I wanted to, today will only be a short epilogue type chapter. It’s honestly been crazy and it’s been a blast doing NanoWrimo, and I would totally opt in for anyone to try it, I know I’ll be doing this again. But yeah, it’s been a long journey, and hopefully I can get more short stories and more posts for the next coming months, I have some things planned and some things I’ve been meaning to do, some of which, doesn’t necessarily involve stories at all, but…. we’ll see on that. For now, here you go, Home For The Unwanted, “Chapter 30” Epilogue. 

 

“Black?”

“You know me well.”

“You don’t change.”

“Perhaps so.” Amanda gave a sly smile and brought her cup to her lips, allowing the black liquid to drain into her mouth.

“Any new jobs?” Amanda looked at the file in her hand and skimmed through the yellow pages.

“Can’t say there are.”

“Loose leafs?” Amanda nodded her head and placed her cup on the table.

“Dry air?” Amanda gave another sly smile and walked over to the window and peered through the blinds, seeming to be searching for air.

“Cold winds?”

“Enough!” Amanda waved her off and gave a causal smile. She turned towards her and leaned on the window.

“Too formal, it’s not like you.” Amanda went over to pat her on the head. She smiled and went over to peer out of the window.

“It’s not. But it’s fine, right?” Amanda gave it some thought, and then scuttled over to her desk. A folder of white paper was spilled on the desk. Amanda reached over and tidied the pile.

“It’s fine.”

“Long work day?” Amanda picked up the folder and grabbed her coat.

“To make amends? Yeah.” She walked over to the door and opened it slowly, her white shirt being brushed aside.

“James is going to laugh at us again.”

“Right. But he knows we saved his sorry self.” She nodded vehemently, and came to Amanda’s side.

“Ever hear from them?”

“It hasn’t even been a year.”

“Right,” Amanda said wistfully, “Right,” Amanda said with a sigh of relief.

“But–” She paused, “It would be sad if I did, I think.”

“Really?” Amanda said, only understanding one part of her story.

“Yeah. After all, I lied to them.” Amanda didn’t reply, but as they began heading for the exit of their building, she perked up.

“But you did apologize, right?” Amanda only knew one part of the story. And even that was a lie.

“Yeah. I did,” She replied, lying once more. Although, she would digress, and she would say that anyone looking for apologies would find them in the right place. Anyone looking for retribution would find what she had left, and anyone looking to seek out right from wrong, would be able to find her. Although, finding her now was a question of pure morals, not smarts, she thought. Finding her now, wouldn’t be quite as good as it was back then. But she lived with it. She had to. That was her resolution. She made no mistakes.

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Home For The Unwanted: Chapter 29

Hello once again on this Sunday morning/afternoon/night. This is the last chapter….. well, it’s the last chapter of the last arc which is the finale, but there is still one more day left, and technically you don’t really need to read the epilogue/ chapter 30. It’s probably going to be really short and just give a small sense of time skip. But yeah, this is where I want the  story to be, this is how I want the ending to be, so here it is. Man has this been a ride. It’s been crazy, and I can’t believe I was able to see to it till the end like this. Word count: 63,470. Here you go, chapter 29 of “Home For The Unwanted”.

 

Ryan and the children ran among the night’s veil, none worrying about the noise that they were creating. The only thing they had in mind, was the destination. Ryan fluttered the note as he was running, and soon placed it in his pocket. There was a single word written on the note, and it was a place that Ryan and the children had to place their trust in. After all, Lorna had placed her trust in it as well, and that much was enough for them.

“Where are we going?” Winter asked.

“The bridge!” Ryan couldn’t help but shout as he ran, his breath was waning, but he had to endure it.

“This is fun!” Runner exclaimed. The situation was quite dire, but despite this, Runner still had a level head, he was still himself, and this made Ryan happy.

“Don’t count on it,” Walker said as he lagged behind. Walker never seemed to be the type to be able to run fast, or long, Ryan thought. He seemed to be having a harder time than Ryan, and this made him slightly happy, although, Walker was younger than him.

“We could have taken her on!” Spark said, trying to race ahead of Ryan.

“Yeah right!” Carrier added, “You would have been cleaned.”

“Hah! I can take you on any day, you can even bring Hailstone!”

“I’ll wipe the floor with both of you!”

“Guys….” Sunflower said at their playful bantering. Although their talk was nothing more than running noise for Ryan, it still made him quite happy, and made the other children relaxed. The energy and the feelings that these children had were all special, Ryan thought. They were all so endearing, and they were all precious. Lorna had a good family. Ryan had a good family. His norm was slowly piecing together. His norm was slowly forming again. His heart ached, but his face gleamed a big smile. Ryan couldn’t have been any happier in such a harrowing state.

“If we keep this up, ghosts will come and get us!” Spear said, being the loudest of all the children.

“Forget about the ghosts, my legs are killing me!” Ryan started shouting. Everyone began laughing, and as their voices filled the dead of the night, they all couldn’t help but smile. Their worries were slowly fading, and the weight on their hearts had slowly started draining. What seemed to be the end of their world, and the end of the norm they had all resided in, was gone.

“You better not die on us!” Hailstone said cheerfully with a toothy grin. Ryan’s legs were giving in, but Ryan pressed on. He knew that he needed to bring them to the bridge. He knew that he needed to trust in Lorna. He knew that his norm was coming back together. Ryan didn’t want that feeling to end again. He didn’t want to betray his norm. Ryan pressed on. Ryan continued to run, and he continued to lead.

“We’re here!” Runner said as he pressed ahead. Once Ryan had arrived at the bridge, he moved towards the grassy hills and laid facing the starry night sky.  His eyes began tiring, and he felt the energy from the run drain quickly out of his body. Ryan wanted to fall into a deep sleep, and Ryan wanted the whole world to be enveloped in a shroud of darkness. The stars ahead were bright, and they gave way for nice company. Ryan wanted to sleep.

“She did tell me there would be eight of you–” A voice resounded beneath the hills, it was Shooter, who Ryan didn’t recognize. Despite the cloak of the night, Shooter still opted to wear sunglasses. He made his way up the hill and examined each of the children with one hand on his chin.

“I see. Well, she found a good bunch,” Shooter concluded.

“And–” Shooter turned towards Ryan, who was still lying on the grassy hills.

“You must be Ryan Ray.”

“I am. Are you Lorna’s plan?” Shooter laughed. Ryan wondered who Shooter was, and wondered his relations to Lorna. Ryan wondered if he was a friend, or a person who used to be under the care of Lorna, and had found his own home. If that was the case, Ryan wondered where he would be bringing them, or if he was going to bring them anywhere. And if that was the case, Ryan wondered if he was an ally, or if he was an enemy. And if that was the case, Ryan wondered what Lorna had done in her past; the same past that Ryan knew so little about.

“I don’t know if I’m Lorna’s plan. But I am here to bring you kids to a safer place.”

“A safer place?” Ryan asked.

“Yeah. If you guys are here, I’m assuming you guys finally got caught, right?”

“Right.”

“And I don’t think that you guys would like the kind of things they have in store.”

“They bring us to a place worse than prison, right?” Spear asked.

“According to Lorna.”

“How much do you know?” Ryan asked.

“I only know as much as Lorna knows. She’s the one gathering the info. I’m the recorder.” Shooter looked towards the sky, his eyes still blocked off with his sunglasses, and his expression was lax. Ryan got up from his position, and stood beside Shooter, who was much taller than he was.

“How do you know Lorna?” Ryan suddenly asked. The question itself had no real pertinence towards the situation. However, there was an urging feeling in Ryan that made him want to ask that question. Ryan wasn’t sure if it was jealously, or simple curiosity that he wanted to know his relations toward Lorna. Shooter found the question amusing.

“The same way you know her.”

“She took you in?”

“You’re looking at a first generation,” Shooter proudly proclaimed.

“That’s means that you lot are her second generation.” Ryan quickly understood what he meant, and realized that Lorna must have been taking care of people for quite some time. To have multiple generations, means that she must have gone through multiple families, Ryan thought.

“Were you caught, as well?” Ryan asked to Shooters better amusement.

“No. None of us were caught. None of the first generation. We all left on our own accords.” The thought of Lorna’s family leaving her made Ryan sad, but at the same time, it seemed she was very stoic. Lorna never talked about this first family she had. She never seemed to bat an eye towards them, and to Ryan, that seemed like she had moved on. She had finished her job, and she had no more obligations towards those who are now wanted, to those who are now unfit for the home for the unwanted. Ryan was such a person, and now Ryan was trying his best to cling to that norm. Ryan wondered what that made him, and wondered if in doing so, he was heading into un trodden territories. After all, his mother, and his uncle were waiting for him.

“But enough of me. I heard that you guys all keep a diary, right?” Ryan didn’t, but the other children did, and they all took their diaries out.

“Good,” The sentiment was quite strange to Ryan, and he wondered why that was important.

“Where’s Lorna?” Winter asked.

“I wish I knew.”

“You mean she won’t be coming with us?” Runner asked.

“No. She told me to wait before I left, and to bring you along so I could drop you off to some place safe.”

“With all of us, we can take on the ‘bad guys’ and save Lorna!” Spark excitingly added.

“I don’t think Lorna’s in any trouble. She would want us to leave. She would want you to leave.” Shooter’s voice seemed to go quiet. His comfortable causal tone had dropped, and it seemed the thought of Lorna had made him sad. Shooter remembered something, or rather, Shooter knew something, Ryan thought. Throughout the time Lorna had devised her plan, she had decided to tell Shooter about her past. Lorna told him everything, and about why she wanted to do what she wanted to do. It made Shooter angry at first, but he soon came to terms with it. He had no choice, it was the only thing he could do now to repay the debt he owed, Shooter concluded. And even then,  Shooter didn’t want to comply. Shooter knew what Lorna was going to do, and Shooter knew that it meant going against everything she wanted. Lorna was facing her past; she had never forgotten. Lorna didn’t want to, she knew that her past made up who she was, and she knew that her past was important, but she didn’t want to go back to it. She wanted to move on, with her new family, with her new experiences. It was only until she met her recent kids that she felt this way. Her feelings had changed. She wasn’t obliged to her chains anymore, she wanted to take care of them, because that was what she deemed as right and as her own mantra.

“Lorna’s strong. She’s really strong. You guys had a good guardian.” Shooter’s voice trailed off, and despite the sunglasses that blocked his eyes, Ryan could tell that he was on the verge of tears. Lorna wanted to cry as well, but she didn’t. Lorna knew she couldn’t cry, not now at least. Lorna walked back with Amanda, while the rest of her division scattered across the forest and some in the town to look for Ryan and the children. Lorna wanted everyone to be safe, and wanted everyone to leave. And most of all, she wanted Ryan to stay, and to live his life with the people he has. That was all Lorna could do for Ryan. It was all she could do after she’s learned so much from him. She’s learned to fly, and she’s learned to fight. Lorna would be living another life, and she would be accustomed to new norms once again. That was enough for Lorna. That was her plan. She made no mistakes.

“Why wouldn’t Lorna want to come with us?” Carrier asked.

“She has reasons. She has many reasons, and I think you guys will come to appreciate that when you get older.”

“You appreciate them because you’re older?” Walker added.

“Exactly.”

“Don’t give me that! Lorna needs to be here!” Hailstone suddenly interjected, yelling and rushing towards Shooter; who towered over her, “Don’t tell me that Lorna has reasons for leaving us! She has to come!”

“Hailstone….” Sunflower said, “It’s okay, Hailstone. It’s fine, if–”

“No! No, you don’t understand!”

“But I do, and it–”

“It’s all a load of crap! Lorna can’t leave us like this. She promised. She promised us that she would always be with us! That she’ll protect us…” Shooter had no words to quell her. Shooter couldn’t quell her. It wasn’t his job, nor did he know enough to be able to calm the situation. Shooter was just a transporter.

“I won’t leave without Lorna!” Hailstone exclaimed. The other children all looked towards the floor, their feelings mixed. Some wanted Lorna to stay, but some understood that she needed to be where she was.

“Come on, guys!” Hailstone looked up towards everyone, her face slowly contorting to anger, and just before she could yell out at them, Sunflower stopped her, “Reina!” Everyone suddenly jolted up towards Sunflower, who called Hailstone by her real name. Just like with Ryan, the thought of it was surprising, and more powerful then she would have wanted.

“Let’s go, okay?” Sunflower looked towards Hailstone with teary eyes and a sweet smile. It gave Hailstone a bitter aftertaste, and she swallowed her pride, “Fine.”

“We can always come back to find Lorna, right?” Sunflower asked Shooter.

“Right.”

“See? It’s going to be fine, okay?” Hailstone nodded her head. The rest of the children remained indifferent, and all looked towards Shooter. Ryan sighed, and asked, “So, we should head out now right?”

“Yeah. We should.” Shooter made a distinct emphasis towards the word “we”.

“Look. Ryan, I know this might be hard on you, but I have to–” Ryan gave Shooter a questioning look. Shooter took his sunglasses off, which revealed to Ryan that his eyes were locked towards the hills. He made a notion not to make eye contact with him. Shooter circled around to where the children couldn’t see and pulled out a small needle. It took Ryan a few moments to realize what was going on, but before he could do much, the needle had already been injected into Ryan. He slowly lost consciousness, and as he leaned forward, Shooter caught him. The kids were all visibly shocked, but Shooter casually laid him on the grassy hills and explained, “It looks like Ryan was a bit sleepy. Why don’t we all go ahead?” Shooter began herding the kids towards the bridge, with some protesting, and others saying how they should leave together.

“Don’t worry. I told him where we would be, okay? He needs rest. He’ll come when he can, okay?” Shooter brought the kids to the bridge, and was trying his best to herd them across. He needed to go now if he wanted to catch public transport. If he ever wanted to fulfill the promise he made to Lorna, he needed them to go now.

“Lorna told me about this. And Lorna said she would come watch over Ryan. Ryan has been really exhausted, so he has to sleep. Let Lorna handle, it, okay?”

“What about the ‘bad guys’?” One of the children asked.

“Lorna said that when we leave, she would have already beat the bad guys. She will take care of Ryan, but after that, she needs to stay to make sure they don’t follow us.” Those words seemed to have quieted the kids. Only one seemed to inquire about that statement, and only a few of them were entirely fine with the current events. To satisfy their doubts about Shooter, Shooter produced a handwritten note by Lorna, which seemed to be enough for them. Lorna’s handwriting was really distinct, and each of them knew of it very well. Lorna had written a simple message. It was a message that was enough to convince them that everything in their norm was going to be fine. Shooter hated himself for doing this, but knew that it was the only way. Lorna made no mistakes. Ryan was left sleeping while his parents and some of Amanda’s division had spotted him. Shooter was bitter. Their norms would never be the same again. Shooter took the note and read it himself again. It made him want to cry.

“Stay safe, and follow my friend, okay? I’ll come find everyone once I’m done with the bad guys!” Lorna made no mistakes. But Lorna, had lied. Shooter had lied. Their lives will never be the same. They could never go back to their home for the unwanted. And they could never go back to what they used to have. That was the bitter resolve that Lorna sought out to achieve. That was her plan. And if any of them were to ever come back, seeking her out, seeking the norm they once had, Lorna had another plan. She left a message scrawled on a notebook that would be placed at the front of the building. Lorna made sure that Amanda and her division wouldn’t demolish the building altogether. Lorna’s message was simple, and would be the only word she would ever want to say to them now that they have left with Shooter.

“Sorry”

Home For The Unwanted: Chapter 28

Hello once again on this fine Saturday morning/afternoon/night. Things are coming to a close. That’s all I can really say. Two more days, we’ll see what happens. We’ll see. And, in the end, this novella, will be finished. I guess. It was fun, it was really fun. I still wish I could have written more, and I can, but I won’t. This will be finished by the end of it. That is what I told myself. Word count: 60,851. Here you go, chapter 28 of “Home For The Unwanted”.

Ryan woke up with a strange feeling. He looked around him in his guest room. Everything was there. The small table. The small lamp. The scrawled poster. Ryan shifted in his bed sheets and closed his eyes to fall asleep. Seconds ticked by, minutes, but Ryan couldn’t slip into the realm of slumber. Ryan abruptly kicked his bed sheets off and turned his body towards the door. There was a strange feeling. Ryan couldn’t quite think what that feeling was. However, it ate at him, and Ryan desperately wanted to figure out what it was that woke him.

Ryan opened the door to his room, and peered out slowly, wondering if it may indeed be a specter; it wasn’t. Ryan stepped lightly into the second floor hallway, knowing full well by the moon’s light that he had not slept long in the night. Ryan walked over to the window, and took a peek to the fields. The glittering moonlight on the low grass made it seem almost unreal, combined with the low cold winds of nightfall, there was a strange sense of happening. Scheming was among them, Ryan thought. Amanda was near. She had told James to rest, but she had decided to partake in extra groundwork; something she never thought she would suggest. Amanda shuffled through the branches of trees, the outstretches of lush green bushes and broken acorns. She made sure to note every turn and every interesting trunk and every irregular patch she stumbled upon. Amanda was near, she was very near. She knew not of what to tell her superiors or even her division, but she knew she wanted this job done. She knew she wanted to go through and settle on it. Amanda was done.

“Well look at this,” Amanda said to herself. Amanda had stumbled upon a large building in a clearing. It was the same building that Ryan resided in, and it was the same building where Ryan had been peering out from. Ryan had spotted Amanda in the distance, she was small, and in the lowlight of the moon, couldn’t quite make out much. But Ryan knew it was no one good. There was a certain sense of it, she seemed surprised, Ryan thought. It was not Lorna. Lorna was missing. The person Ryan saw, Amanda, was tense, and inquisitive as she walked up towards the building. For a few moments as Amanda marched on, Ryan was frozen still, almost as if he thought she had saw him in the second floor window. Almost as if she was only marching on to investigate the figure. Ryan had planned to be a statue, but Ryan soon realized that it wasn’t the case. Ryan had to move, but he was frozen. He was stuck in place. He had become what he didn’t want to become. An observer. Ryan couldn’t move. He couldn’t do anything. Someone was coming, someone was closing in. It wasn’t Lorna. Lorna was missing.

“Damn it!” Ryan cursed at himself. The figure came closer. She was still a whiles away, and it was evident that she was very cautious. Amanda took note of everything that she saw from the building, how large it was, and how it seemed to be ancient. How it seemed to be ethereal, and how it seemed to be the perfect place for such a crime; Lorna would digress. As the figure came closer, Ryan could see her much more clearly, Ryan could see Amanda. Ryan knew that her arrival meant nothing but trouble. Ryan was stuck in his own frozen intrude, and Ryan didn’t know why. His norm, his feelings were all hinged on a tight rope, but Ryan couldn’t move. Ryan cursed, and he wanted to scream, but he feared that Amanda would hear. Soon enough, something flashed in Ryan’s mind. His feelings rushed across him in a flurry of blurs and whips. His face flourished in pain and  his hands shivered in a frigid cold. His body traversed in a valley of complete solitude.  Amanda was nearing. The low moonlight reflected off her face, and off her blue. Ryan was unable to move.

“Hello?” Amanda said as she knocked on the door of the orphanage.

“Anyone home?” Amanda sarcastically said, her hand hinged on her sidearm. Amanda wasn’t scared. She was surprised. She was happy. She was, indifferent. But Amanda wasn’t scared. She had partook in missions pertaining to the cloak of the night. She had been shot, she had been wounded, and she had been taken captive. Amanda wasn’t scared. She was relieved. She wanted to go home. She wanted to find Lorna. Amanda had paged James, wherever he may be, and told him that she had found their prize. The division will surely know about this if they down the mission now. This will be on their report. Their travesties. Amanda didn’t care. She would protect James, and she would move on.

“I’m coming in,” Amanda said, to no one in particular. As Amanda opened the door, the bell resounded, and rung loudly in the thick of the otherwise dead of the night. Amanda wasn’t alarmed, she kept quiet, she kept calm. Everyone in the building was suddenly alerted, and Ryan could finally move, as if broken from a spell. Doors opened, and children walked out. As some of the children soon realized, the person who had opened the door, was not Lorna. It was Amanda, and some of them stood in their doorways, terrified by the guest. Ryan ran down as fast as he could, explaining to those he could about who was at the door.

“Oh? Funny seeing you here,” Amanda said as Ryan rushed down the stairs. Everyone had gathered at the front of the building. Kids lined the top of the stairs, and both ends of the hallways. Some had already realized what was going on, and had grabbed their belongings. Spark and Hailstone shuttered at the sight of Amanda, but their hands tensed, and they were ready to pounce.

“You know, you’ve caused quite a bit of trouble, Ryan.”

“Have I?”

“Anna and Lenny, your mother and your uncle, are looking for you.”

“Are they?” Ryan played a strange tune, much like what Amanda was used to. However, she didn’t have time to play games.

“I have the right to detain you, and to bring you back.”

“You do?”

“And I have the right to abolish this building and to restrain everyone residing here,” Amanda said with her most authoritative voice. Amanda was lying. However, she knew that no one would know, and she knew that it was the only way to get them to comply. At least, that’s what she had hoped.

“Restrain?” Ryan asked.

“Yes. You will all come with me. Especially you, Ryan. You have someplace to be.”

“Where are you bringing us?” Winter spoke out. Everyone looked at her. It was odd, very odd, Ryan thought. He would never have expected Winter to speak out. But, through her words, and through her notion, it was quite clear to all the residents of the building that the situation was serious. Winter was strong, unbelievably warm, and strong, Ryan thought. Winter was strong, and cold. Her words brought a strange sense of relief. It was like looking at a kid standing up to a bully, Ryan thought. Except the matter was much more than a school trifle.

“Don’t worry. I won’t hurt anyone,” Amanda said. Her statement was weak if one knew of what entailed. Amanda didn’t, and she was simply told to bring them in. She was simply told, to leave matters to those in the proper division, and that no harm will be done. She was simply told to abide.

“Come quietly, and we won’t have any problems.” Hailstone and Spark were ready to leap at Amanda, but Ryan shook his head towards them, urging them not to go, and urging them to wait. Ryan didn’t know what to do now. Ryan really didn’t know what he  needed to do. The one person Ryan needed to see, the one person Ryan needed to conference, was missing. Everyone knew that the note was on the door, and that if they wanted to reach the door, they needed to head towards Amanda. Everyone was scared. No one wanted to talk. They knew they had lost. They knew their norm was ending.

“I can’t let you do that,” Ryan said with great bravado. His words resounded as much as Winter’s did, and they were a source of assurance. Ryan needed to be strong. He needed to be stronger. Stronger than everyone here. He needed to make sure that they were safe, and that they didn’t feel scared.

“There’s no need to be scared.”

“Lorna–” Spear suddenly jumped in. His voice was clear, and it wasn’t tinged with what Ryan would expect to be fear. It was tinged with surprise, and most of all, curiosity.

“Told me that if we ever go to the ‘bad guys’ that they will bring us to a place worse than prison.” Amanda was brought back by the inclusion of Lorna’s name. She was confused, but she casted it off, feigning it was someone else, hoping that she hadn’t been involved. Amanda didn’t want to believe that she was involved. It was impossible, Amanda concluded.

“I know what prison is, so I asked Lorna what she meant. She said she didn’t know, but she told me that it was like a training camp. And they told us that people will know about us and how to use us. She said that the system is very dirty and that government officials are not who they seem to be.” Spear finished, and despite his words sounding very solid, it was clear that Spear only had half of the truth behind those words. Even Amanda didn’t know what to say in response. Amanda understood Spear’s sentiments, and knew that what he said, and what he heard might have been true. For all Amanda knows, the people she worked for, are all corrupt and are all hiding a dark secret. If Spear’s words had come from Lorna, the same Lorna Amanda knew, then she would be inclined not to question it.

“Is that true, miss?” Spear asked, still with his questioning tone. It was strange, Ryan thought, it was almost like a child asking their mother about a murder they had just witnessed. It was filled with questions and strange things they learned from even stranger people.

“I-” Suddenly, a loud bang resounded outside. It was a gunshot. It made the birds cry, and it rumbled across the forest. Everyone suddenly closed their ears, and Amanda ran out, frantic. Some of the children used this chance to take their belongings, and once Ryan had saw that everyone was gathered, he reached out for the door and took the note.

“Everyone! Let’s go!” Suddenly, all the children poured out of the building and followed Ryan. Amanda noticed this, but couldn’t do much as they ran far too quickly for her to react. Another gunshot had resounded in the distance, and Amanda quickly turned in the direction, her sidearm now brandished. Amanda’s arm was shaking as she turned back towards the children. Amanda cursed, and quickly paged her division and James. She knew she was done now. Everyone would know, but it was the only thing she could do. She didn’t want to shoot. She couldn’t. Ryan and the children poured into the forest, and headed for the location written on Lorna’s note. The bridge. Shooter was waiting. After Amanda had finished paging everyone about the current events, she sighed, and brandished her gun. Lorna sighed in the distance, watching Amanda stand on the open grass fields, her head held high and her breath blowing beneath her. Lorna pulled down the sidearm in her hand, and dropped it in a bush. She removed the gloves on her hands, and placed them in her pocket, along with Shooter’s note. Lorna took a deep breath in, and then stepped into the moonlight, revealing herself, and calling out to Amanda. Shooter was waiting. Ryan and the children all ran, and they pushed past the forest. They were all thinking the same thing, and they were all worried. Lorna was missing.

Home For The Unwanted: Chapter 27

Hello once again. The time has come. The time is near. The ending is here. The characters will get their last laughs and screams. This chapter is something else, especially near the end. Please do read till the end. I rather like what I did at the end. Sorry if the chapter is a bit long though. It is, the biggest chapter I think? But these next few chapters will bring everything in nicely, I think. Yeah, things are going to end. People are getting betrayed. Lorna is missing. That’s big. This finale, is going to be awesome. I’m proud. I think I am. No. I am. Word count:  58,801. Here you go, chapter 27 of “Home For The Unwanted”.

“Morning,” Winter said as she stood over Ryan. He stayed overnight at the orphanage. He was given a guest room on the second floor. However, every room was practically a guest room, he thought. The building was convoluted,  but it wasn’t a bad feeling, Ryan concluded.

“Do you want something to eat, Ry–” Winter stopped. Her face soured and she made a notion not to look into Ryan’s eyes. Everyone in the building had heard the loud shouting Ryan and Lorna had done. One point that stirred their minds was the inclusion of Ryan’s name. Ryan was Ray, who was Ryan. The kids had only ever operated on a strict no-name policy. Runner was Runner. Spear was Spear. And Winter was Winter. Lorna was Lorna, but Ryan was Ray, and Ray was Ryan.

“It’s fine. Just call me what you want.” Ryan shrugged it off. To Ryan, the concept of a nickname was foreign. Ryan had a sense of it. However, that sense was fleeting.

“Okay,” Winter meekly said. Winter took a moment to think, but It didn’t require much strain for her to know her answer. The norm set out by Lorna, and the norm that Winter has straddled for herself had already found its place in Winter. She had no qualms about the happenings of the world, nor did she confront the travesties that unveiled themselves.

“Then–” Winter paused. She looked up at Ryan and smiled. It was a smile filled with warmth. It was a smile that despite the cold winds that blew across the morning fields, was warm.

“Would you like to eat, Ray?”

“Yeah,” Ryan smiled back. They made their way towards the stairs and towards the kitchen. As Ryan opened the door, he was immediately greeted by the turning of seven heads. The only one missing, was the one that mattered the most, Ryan thought.

“Lorna’s out,” Walker said with a monotone expression. Walker was sitting in a corner of the room, eating indifferently by himself. He was trapped in his own world. but not in the same vein as someone like Ryan. He was gleefully trapped, Ryan thought.

“In case you’re wondering, she was really mad at you,” Walker added.

“She spent all night pacing back and forth in the break room,” Carrier said.

“She was fending off spirits! I heard her mumbling!” Spear insisted.

“Aren’t you worried?” Hailstone said. Her usual brash nature was missing from her tone. It was strange, Ryan thought, It felt too warm. Things were too warm. For some reason, Ryan was uncomfortable.

“I am,” Ryan said, “I’m worried.”

“Don’t worry, Ry-” Sunflower paused. But once her thoughts had gathered, and once her words had lined, she continued.

“Ray. Lorna will be back. She’s worried about you, too.”

“The ‘bad guys’ are coming over, right?” Spark jumped in with his usual go-getting attitude. The room felt the shift as Spark was still valid. The issue of those in power who can end their norm was still looming on their heads. Ryan was curious. Amanda was coming. Lorna was gone.

“The ‘bad guys’ can’t hurt us,” Carrier said. His voice was reassuring to some as Carrier was often strong and reliable. However, even Carrier’s strength was not everlasting. Carrier couldn’t stop the tree from growing. He could cut the branches that sprouted, and he could rip the roots, but the tree had sprouted

“Lorna told us to leave if they came. We’ll be safe,” Carrier added.

“She gave us a note, right?” Runner asked; Lorna did. Lorna had written the note in front of Ryan. However, he couldn’t catch onto what was written. Lorna had placed the note in front of the door. It faced forward, and she had instructed only to open it in case they came.

“Directions,” Walker said, “She gave us directions. To where we should go.” Walker was the first to stand. He walked to the kitchen door and left. Walker wanted to stand by the windowsill and keep watch. However, he forgot to mention it.

“Ah!” Hailstone suddenly exclaimed, causing every person in the room to turn their heads.

“I’ve had enough! I’m heading out,” Hailstone jumped from her seat and walked out.

“Wait! Lorna said not to leave.” Winter stepped in front of Hailstone with her arms outstretched. She gave Hailstone a strong stare and tried her best to puff out her chest. Winter wasn’t scared. Winter didn’t want her friends to be in danger, but Winter knew she was small.

“Winter…” Hailstone was torn. She was angry at the stifling atmosphere of the room, but she didn’t want to worry her friends either.

“Fine,” Hailstone said with a breath of resignation. Hailstone turned and began heading to her room, with Winter following suit.

“I’m going to go scout!” Spark said as he ran out and climbed the stairs.

“Guess I’m going to watch him,” Carrier added.

“Lorna told us to pack our things, right?” Sunflower asked Runner. Runner nodded, and then a glow of realization had sprung across his face, “I still need to pack!” Runner made a beeline for his room, which prompted Sunflower to follow shortly thereafter. Sunflower had already packed, but seeing Runner’s nonchalant attitude made her feel at ease.

“I’m going to go investigate,” Spark said as he frantically ran out. Ryan was alone now. He was alone in a room filled with norms, and he was alone in a room filled with memories. That was all going to break soon, Ryan thought. That was all going to crumble, and all Ryan could do was hope that he could do anything. Ryan was lonely. Even surrounded by his friends, and by his new family, Ryan was lonely. Ryan was lonely, and Ryan was sleepy. His eyes started drooping down, and before Ryan could do anything, he had fallen asleep on the kitchen table.

“Hey!” Hailstone began shaking Ryan, but elicited no reaction.

“Ray?” Hailstone continued to shake Ryan. His eyes were closed shut, and Hailstone had to resort to her sure-fire method of waking somebody up.

“Alright. You asked for it.” Hailstone went over to the sink, and filled a cup with water. She then walked back over to Ryan, and began shaking him one last time, “If you’re not awake in the next ten seconds, you’re getting a face full of it!” Hailstone began counting down as she shook Ryan’s sleep filled frame.

“Is he awake yet?” Winter asked impatiently at the kitchen door.

“No. But he will be now!” Hailstone dumped the cup onto Ryan’s head, immediately causing him to stiffen up and take in his surroundings. Water dripped from his face to his clothes, and he soon began feeling a cold shiver down his body.

“What’s going on?” Ryan asked.

“Figured you needed something to do,” Hailstone said. Hailstone grabbed Ryan’s arm and dragged him out of his chair and towards the door way. Winter walked in front of them and they began heading to the second floor.

“Is Lorna back?”

“No.” As they arrived at the second floor, Ryan noticed that it was dusk. They were still safe, Ryan thought.

“Where are we headed?” Neither Hailstone nor Winter answered.

“Where is everyone?” Neither Hailstone nor Winter answered. At the end of the right wing on the second floor was an empty classroom. Much of the desks and chairs were all stacked towards the chalkboard, but the children had moved one particular desk and chair in the middle of the room. The windows were covered in curtains, and as Ryan walked into this room, he noticed a palisade of people. They were all lined up in front of the desk, each taking turns writing inside a notebook.

“What is this?” Ryan asked out loud.

“Oh! You’re here, good!” Runner said from the side of the classroom. He was situated a few steps away from the door.

“We’re all taking turns writing in the diary now.”

“The diary?”

“Yeah. We’ve kept a big diary for everyone.”

“We’ve been writing in it for quite some time,” Walker said, somewhere in the line.

“And you want me to–”

“Yeah,” Winter said, interrupting Ryan.

“Why?” Winter gave Ryan a warm smile, and said with a quiet tone, “Because you’re a part of the family.”

“Why else?” Hailstone added. Everyone in the room seemed to agree, and all nodded. Ryan was attended to. Ryan was needed. Ryan was wanted. Ryan had no place in the home for the unwanted, but that didn’t stop him. Ryan would remain there, with everyone. Ryan would care for his friends. Ryan would cry for his friends. Ryan would laugh for his friends. Ryan felt like crying, his eyes were watering, and his heart began aching. The only thing that boggled Ryan’s mind, was where Lorna was. Likewise, Anna and Lenny had begun their search and had filed the authorities about Ryan’s whereabouts. Amanda knew now that Ryan was running away, and Amanda knew that she had let him go. Amanda was angry for herself for letting that by. However, she had more matters at hand to attend to. James was in the forest, scoping out every last branch, and scribbling down every  patch of dirt. He was drawing ever so close.

“Thank you,” Ryan said with a weak voice. The only looming shadow over Ryan, was the fact that Lorna was gone. Lorna was missing. Shooter waited. And time seemed to stop for Ryan. Everything around him slowly became clear, and he could clearly see what he needed to see. He could see what he always wanted to see. He could see his feelings erupt from the wooden floor tiles that lined the classroom. He could see his despair, his anger, his happiness, his nostalgia, his jealousy, his kindness, his sympathy, and his loneliness. They all circled across the room, and they all resided within the residents of the building. His feelings were bursting from the seams, and they were wrapping themselves on the neck of each child. Time seemed to stop for Ryan. However, he was suddenly brought aback as his feeling all raged on a storm of dust, and his vision began clouding. Ryan didn’t want to slip back into his fanciful days, Ryan didn’t need to. His stupor wasn’t needed. His fantasy wasn’t needed. Lorna was missing.

“Ryan?” Spark called out as he got out of the seat. Ryan was the last one left. Ryan walked his way over to the desk, and sat down. There would be one empty seat in school today, Ryan thought. And that thought, made him smile. Ryan grabbed the pencil in front of him, and looked at the open notebook. There were eight different excerpts from the page he was looking at. Eight different feelings, and eight different memories. They were all precious, Ryan thought.

“Lorna said we might be leaving soon. But I want to still play games with everyone! Even if we leave, we’ll still have lots of fun! Every day will be filled with fun! I hope everyone can still have fun. I hope everyone will still play with me. I don’t want to play by myself. But I know Sunflower will play with me! Sunflower is always with me. I want to always have Sunflower with me. She always plays games with me.”

“If we do have to leave, I hope we all stay safe. Runner might get too excited and want to start playing games with everyone. He might get hurt. I hate seeing him get hurt. But sometimes, when he’s running around and having so much fun, I can’t help but join him. I’m worried about everyone, and sometimes I worry that I might seem too sad. I want to always be happy, and I want everyone to always be happy. Lorna said that I’m really bright sometimes. Lorna is always happy. I want to be like her.”

“If the bad guys come, I’ll fight them! They won’t see what’s coming!…… Lorna, please, I don’t want to leave everyone. I want to stay with everyone. I want to protect my sister. I want to protect Laina. I won’t let them touch her. Or anyone. I’ll fight. I’ll keep on fighting. I’ll break everything they have, and I’ll keep everyone safe. Spark will help me. Spark’s brave. Spark will lead the charge, and then Carrier will be there to help everyone. But we can’t do it alone. Lorna, you told me that we can’t do it alone. You told me this. That we can’t be alone. Lorna, you can’t leave us.”

“Henry here. You know, I don’t usually like talking to people, unless they can keep up. You see, I sometimes tend to trail on, or I zone out. I’m always in my own world, they say. That’s not true. That’s not true at all. You told me this, Lorna. Please, come back. We believe in you. I believe in you. That’s rare. For me to believe in something. I think. Sometimes I say I do, but then I think that it’s not true.”

“Even if aliens come, and even if you do have to fight spirits, I hope you can win. Everyone here is my friend, and every day I can feel at home. Every day is fun, and I have people to talk to. I’ve never had people to talk to. Never. Ever. Had. At all. It’s funny, right? Ha. Ha. Ha. It’s funny. It really is. What a life.”

“Sometimes when I feel cold, I like to think about everyone here. Runner is so energetic, and Sunflower follows him to keep him safe. Hailstone is mean, but she’s really kind. Walker and Spear always talk about complicated things, but they’re really nice too. Carrier and Spark are always up to something fun, but that’s because Spark keeps doing bad things. Carrier is really nice. Even Ray is really kind too. He helped me out when I met him. Lorna sometimes tells me that Ray is learning new things, and that he’s like a baby. I don’t get it. But Lorna seemed to really enjoy it, and she laughed. I like Lorna. She’s warm. Whenever I feel too cold, I like to go to Lorna. She’s really warm.”

“We have to leave this place. I know it. I can feel it. But I’ll still try my best to protect my friends. Especially Spark. All my friends are precious. I like them all. They’ve all helped me become who I am. I can help them. I will help them. I don’t have anywhere else to go, after all. Really, all I can do is follow them, and help them. I will pick them back up, and in turn, they will give me their friendship. I want strength, and they sometimes tell me I have strength. I don’t think I do. That’s why I want it.”

“Hello! Jordan here! You know! Hey, if I keep writing like this, I might end up like Spear. Spear’s a cool guy. My name is cool too. Spark. I like it. I shouldn’t be here. No. I shouldn’t be here. But Lorna let me in. She let me stay. She knows my secret. I shouldn’t be here. That’s why I act so excited all the time. That’s why I try to make everyone follow me. That’s why I’m always the first to go. I want to make the most of the time I have here. I shouldn’t be here. I’m lying. I lied. I’m scared. Please. Lorna.”

“My name is Ryan. No, that’s weird, right? Is that how you start a diary entry? No. Right? Well, either way, I’m writing here. I don’t know what to say, but I’ll just write. Ever since I came here, ever since Runner found me, my life has changed. You know, it’s like winning the lottery. Everything changes. I met people, I had new and fun experiences, and I felt emotions that I never thought I could. Before I came here, to this building, I was broken. I think. I was so contained in my own space that I never bothered to break from it. It was scary how I could have lived like that. But something drew me in here, and I kept coming back. I gained so much. I don’t want to see any of that go. Lorna, you don’t either, right? You told me. You’ll come back, right? Please, let’s go through this together. I know I don’t belong here, but let’s try our best. I’ll try my best. I’ve forsaken my mother, and my uncle, but I know that my family, and my home lies with everyone here. I have to be here. Please, trust me. Like I trusted you. Out of all the new emotions I’ve obtained, I don’t think I’ve ever felt love before. Well, I love you all as family and friends, but I mean love more than that. The kind of love that makes you want to marry. Though, I think, if anything, you’ve come the closet to giving me that. “

Home For The Unwanted: Chapter 26

Hello once again, 4 more days…… This finale is shaping up. People are yelling, people are screaming, and people are getting to understand. People are seeing an end, and Lorna has a plan? Will this end in every single character getting what they want? Of course not. Will this end nicely and all neat and packed in the next few days? Hopefully. Word count: 55,956. Here you go, chapter 26 of “Home For The Unwanted”.

“Lorna?” Ryan said as she opened the door of the building. Lorna had more or less simmered down, and was trying her best to appear calm and composed despite the severity of the situation.

“Ray?” Lorna refused to call Ryan by his name. Ryan would only be known as Ray to her. Nothing more, nothing less.

“Didn’t I–”

“You did.” Ryan was anxious. The answers he wanted were right in front of him, and all he needed to do was ask. Ryan only wanted the truth, and it would be this truth that would drive him. Ryan was tired of running from the truth, and he was tired of chasing it. Ryan wanted answers. He wanted to know.

“But I stayed.”

“Ray, you have to–”

“I’m staying.” Ryan stood his ground. He was just as involved as she was, Ryan thought. Ryan was attached, he wanted these norms to last. For once, Ryan felt wanted, but he failed to see the implications of having those feelings.  He failed to see that if he stayed to protect his norm, and to protect his family and friends, that he would be staying in a home for the unwanted.

“Ry–” Lorna stopped. Her voice had gotten louder, and she was getting unconsciously  frantic over the situation. Lorna knew that she had to remain calm, and she knew that the children would be affected by her if she were to have an outburst. Lorna didn’t want to involve Ryan, but the more she sees him, the more that feeling dissipates. The more she sees him, the more she wants her norm to last. Ryan was an integral part of her life, he had shown her just how much she could do if she focused and had a goal in mind. Ryan was Ray, and to Lorna, he was a ray of hope. Ryan’s norms and experiences were all culminating, and Lorna was left with only a small portion. She only had one slice of the pie, but that slice was important. That slice was the opener, and that slice was an investment. Lorna saw a sky of muddied clouds, but once time had eroded, it became pitch perfect. It became a beautiful blue, and it became clear enough for Lorna to see the sun. It was almost blinding.

“Ray,” Lorna said.

“I can’t have you here anymore,” Lorna was speaking in a rather somber tone. Her voice was low and concise, but her eyes were locked straight on Ryan. The others were huddled in a nearby room. They were listening, but most of all, they were waiting. They all had answers they wanted. However, they may never get to hear them. That fact scared them. The children didn’t want to leave or be separated, but they knew that it was inevitable. What the children wanted to know, was if they were going to get closure, whether Lorna was coming with them, or if Lorna was going to fight the ‘bad guys’. And if so, will she win?

“Go back. There are people waiting for you, right?” Lorna wanted to say more, but her voice began trailing.

“I’m staying,” Ryan paused, and before Lorna could give a response, Ryan stretched out his arms in a big motion and walked forward towards the stairs. Ryan looked up towards the second floor, and then turned his head towards both ends of the hallway before continuing.

“This place has become my home now, Lorna. It’s my second home. And I want to protect that feeling.” Ryan lowered his arms and stepped to the window.

“I don’t care about what’s happening in my home unless I know that this place, this feeling, is safe.” Ryan paused.

“This building, this home, means so much to me, Lorna.”

“Ray–”

“I’ve changed because of you, because of everyone here.”

“Look–”

“If this norm is ending, then I want to fight. I want to be here with everyone else.”

“Everything–”

“You can’t tell me to leave when I’ve become so attached. You can’t tell me to leave when I’ve poured my new life into this experience. You can’t tell me to leave when my friends and family are in danger!” Ryan was shouting at this point. Words were spewing from his mouth, but the only thing he wanted to say was accomplished in merely six. His emotions ran across his mind, and his mind was filled with gray. Everything he wanted to say slowly started mixing. Ryan was changing, yet to him, he was merely adapting.

“Calm down, Ray.” Lorna waited for Ryan.

“Everything will be fine. No one is in danger,” Lorna’s eyes wandered across the wooden tiles until they locked with Ryan’s.

“But, I can’t involve you anymore,”

“I’m–”

“No!” Lorna shouted over Ryan. Her calm and collected voice had risen a storm. Lorna was torn by her decisions, and by her mistakes. Just as much as Ryan, Lorna wanted the whole world to stop. She wanted everyone to stop talking, and she wanted a sense of assurance; she got neither.

“I know how important this is to you. Trust me, Ray–” Lorna stopped and allowed her voice to settle before finishing.

“But you have somewhere to be. We both know this. Your mom is waiting, right?” The sound of the word  ‘mom’ made Ryan feel a burst of disgust. Ryan had made up his mind. Years of longing wasn’t what he had. It was years of self-indulgence. Ryan’s condition wasn’t a result of his own insolent attitude, but it was built up through the shattered puzzle pieces that Anna had left.

“So go back. You need to be with her, right?” Ryan’s temper began rising, and he slowly realized that his hands were scrunching up into fists.

“Rebuild while you can, this is your only chance.” Lorna had deciphered Ryan’s situation. Lorna knew that  Ryan was missing something. He was missing a real family. However, Lorna was often pretentious, and she often jumped into untrodden territories. She often did this when she was still playing with wood and strings. However, Lorna allowed herself to read into Ryan more than usual, and allowed herself to create a stigma. Lorna didn’t care, all she wanted was for Ryan to be safe, and for Ryan to be casted away from the norm that he had entertained.

“It’s for the better, so go and–”

“No!” Ryan yelled at Lorna.

“Stop!” Ryan’s face contorted into one of pure anger.

“Stop. Please,” Ryan’s tone quickly shifted from one of anger, to one of sincerity. His face mellowed, and he looked like he wanted to cry, Lorna thought. Ryan was pleading to Lorna, pleading for her to stop and pleading for her to allow Ryan to be with them. Lorna had no words.

“I won’t go back.”

“Even–”

“Even if my mom is waiting. Even if my uncle is waiting. I’ll stay here. I’ll stay here with everyone else!” Ryan seemed desperate, Lorna thought.  Lorna didn’t understand it, and neither did Ryan. Ryan wanted to give his mom a chance to prove to him that she would stay by him, but his norm, and his feelings had overwhelmed him. Ryan was intoxicated by Lorna, and by the children. Ryan couldn’t leave, he couldn’t go back if it meant that his second home was going to disappear.

“Ryan,” Lorna said with her somber tone. Her voice was clear as ice, and it tinged with the aftertaste of steel. Lorna continued to stare into Ryan’s eyes. Ryan was at a loss for words. Lorna’s alluring eyes had captivated Ryan, and the calm and melancholic expression on Lorna’s face  had fixated him.

“We’ve spent time together, with everyone. I can’t ever say that I would want to take that time back, because the time we spent was ethereal.” Lorna gave off a smile small. It was a self contained smile, that was filled with pity, and regret. It was a smile that deserved more malice than rejoice, and even Lorna felt bad for giving Ryan that smile.

“But, that time, can’t last forever. We all have to move on, Ryan. I have to move on. You have to move on. And…. I’ll make sure that the kids can move on as well. After all, they’re my responsibility.” Lorna paused again, walked over to the door, and slowly opened it.

“I did this, because I needed to,” Lorna took one step onto the porch.

“But it slowly turned into want. It turned into a poisoning want.” Lorna jumped from the porch and into the dirt, which prompted Ryan to walk to the open doorway, and stand by the ledge.

“I realized, Ryan, that the time I had, and the time I was going to get, were all wrong. I loved the time I had, and the time I was able to get. But it was all wrong. I was wrong. The world is wrong.” Ryan remained quiet. For some reason, Ryan wasn’t able to talk. He was simply awestruck. He was simply listening.

“I want this to last, Ryan. Please trust me when I say this. Please.” Lorna turned towards Ryan, and smiled again. This time, it was a bitter smile. It was a smile filled with all of her sadness, and all of her happiness. Ryan had to look away, Ryan had to focus his eyes. Ryan couldn’t bear to see Lorna in that state.

“I trust you,” Ryan said.

“Thank you.”

“But, my feelings are real too. And the time that we spent, and the time that we had, is something irreplaceable to me. I want this to last. So please, let me–”

“Ryan. You can’t do this anymore. You know this. You’re wanted. There are people other than us, that need you. You will be attended to. You’re not an orphan. You’re just a lonely kid.” Ryan wanted to yell out at Lorna, but knew that doing so would simply lead them into a cycle of cynicism. Ryan was done. His world had stopped crumbling, and he made it so. He didn’t care anymore. Ryan was going to stay. He was going to see to it that the norm he was in, wasn’t going to be left unattended to. Ryan didn’t care that he had a family, Ryan didn’t care that he was given a chance for bloodied love anymore.

“But I guess, you’re not leaving, no matter how much I tell you,” Lorna said.

“That’s right.”

“And I guess, that no matter how dangerous this may get, you’ll still stay?”

“You just said that it wouldn’t be dangerous,” Ryan remarked suavely.

“I said that no one was in danger. But, that could all change. I can’t say for certain what will happen from here on out.”

“And I don’t need you to. Simply being here is enough. And simply getting through this is enough.”

“Have it your way.” Lorna gave up. She jumped back onto the porch, and walked inside.

“I’ll tell you more about our situation. The kids already have a gist of it.” Lorna walked up to the second floor. Ryan followed suit, and walked back inside the building, closing the door behind him. Ryan was relieved, and he was happy. Despite the situation, Ryan was happy. The day wasn’t going to get longer, and Amanda and James weren’t going to find them yet. However, they were close, and they were dangerously close. Their days were going to end. Lorna knew this for a fact. What Lorna also knew, was the truth. And that truth, was going to be stretched for Ryan. He would learn of the  ‘bad guys’ but what he wouldn’t know, was what Lorna had planned.  Lorna didn’t make any mistakes. She had her plan. And she was going to adhere to it. Lorna was leaving.

Home For The Unwanted: Chapter 25

Hello once again….. 5 days left till the 30th, till the end of the  month. As you are about to read, the finale is upon us. How will Lorna and Ryan deal with the problems being faced? We’ll see. Will it be a happy ending? We’ll see. Has this been the most crazy and fun month I’ve ever had the pleasure to live through? Yes. A bold yes. A never ending yes. Word count: 53,981. Here you go, chapter 25 of “Home For The Unwanted”.

“Ray!” Runner called out towards Ryan, who was desperately trying to catch his breath. Ryan’s face was covered in red, and his legs were barely able to hold a stand. It took Ryan quite a while to catch his breath, and even then, he had to grab onto Runner to speak.

“Lorna!” Ryan paused. His breath had ran, and he needed another moment to speak again.

“Where is she?” Ryan felt like collapsing, his lungs wanted to give in, his legs were stinging, and he wanted to fall and seep into a deep sleep. Ryan wanted the world to stop, he wanted the crumbling to stop. He wanted his norm to last.

“Ray?” Sunflower appeared behind Runner. She looked frantic. Her eyes widened at the sight of Ryan, and her breathing began fluctuating. It was the first time Ryan had ever seen Sunflower in such a state. Usually she was more worried, more caring and more reserved, even if Runner was off doing dangerous things. What she was now, was jumbled, Ryan thought.

“Lorna said that the ‘bad guys’ are coming!” Ryan wasn’t surprised. He had a sense of it before Lorna had even finished. What Ryan didn’t understand was why Lorna had kept it to herself all this time. After all, Ryan didn’t believe that this problem had only became relevant now. There must have been some sort of build up, some sort of sign that told Lorna that the end was coming, and that sign was kept hidden from everyone else, Ryan concluded.

“Where is she?” Ryan asked again.

“She’s not here, she left!”Sunflower exclaimed. Ryan felt like screaming, but he held it in. Ryan knew that if Lorna had left, that she had a good reason for it. There was no way that Lorna would tell everyone about the impending danger and simply leave, Ryan thought. Lorna was still here, she was still with them, and she was still planning. Ryan didn’t know what Lorna had in mind, but he knew that she wouldn’t have just left like that.

“Where’s everyone else?” Ryan asked. Ryan had faith in Lorna, and placed his hope and his trust in her, much like she did. If Ryan couldn’t get his answers now, then he would simply have to wait.

“They’re all inside. Lorna told us not to leave unless we see ‘bad guys’,” Sunflower said.

“Then what about you two?”

“Lorna told us that if you showed up, that you had to leave and stay home. We came out to tell you that.”

“Lorna said that?” Sunflower and Runner both nodded their heads. Something wasn’t right, Ryan thought, the norm that he was in, the people and experiences that he had, they were all real. However, Lorna was telling Ryan to stay out of it. Lorna was telling Ryan that he didn’t need to be with his family, to be in his second home as it was on the verge of breaking. Lorna told Ryan that he wasn’t responsible, and that he shouldn’t be. Lorna was telling Ryan that she had it all under control; she didn’t. Lorna was just as lost and just as scared as Ryan. Lorna wasn’t doing any better, and the only thing Lorna wanted to do was to curl up and let the world around her fall apart. Lorna knew that Amanda was coming, she didn’t know when, and that made her even more scared. She had told the children to stay put until she came back. It didn’t matter to Lorna how long Amanda took to come to them, but all Lorna wanted was everyone to feel safe, and for everyone to know that things were going to be okay. Lorna wanted everyone to be together, and once the time had come, wanted everyone to move on with smiles on their faces. Lorna didn’t want anyone to regret the time they had spent. After all, she didn’t regret it, neither would Ryan. Lorna just wanted the whole world to crumble around her, and for her own norms to be enacted. She just wanted everything to make sense again.

“Shooter!” Lorna yelled as she ran for the bridge. Shooter often made rounds across the towns with underground orphanages that he was aware of. He didn’t want to arrive in those towns to listen to bad news, or to harbor bad news either.  However, Shooter felt like he had an obligation.

“Lorna? Fancy seeing you here. Came to hang out with little old me?” Shooter had his sunglasses on despite the midday clouds that blanketed the riverside. His posture and casual tone had contrasted with the urgency of Lorna, and he could tell that something was wrong.

“Shooter. Bad news. Bad news.” Lorna was trying to catch her breath despite her good constitution. It was strange, Lorna thought. She grew tired, restless, from the situation at hand.

“You look like you’ve gone through hell.”

“Shooter. I want you to listen.”

“I’m listening.”

“This town. Cadence. Mark it.” Shooter’s eyes had dropped. Through the vagueness of Lorna’s words, Shooter had fully understood the scope of the dilemma that Lorna had found herself in. The last thing he wanted to know, was that Lorna and her home was shutting down. The last thing he wanted to know was that the home he once resided in, the home that nurtured him to where he is now, was shutting down.

“Right now?” Shooter asked.

“No. I don’t know when. But it will happen.” Shooter sighed.  Lorna couldn’t see Shooter’s eyes, but she knew that he was disappointed. Shooter and Lorna had both shared memories in that orphanage, so did Lorna and Ryan, and Ryan and the rest of the children. These were all precious memories.

“Lorna–”

“Stop! Stop.” Lorna looked down. Her eyes were on the verge of tears, but she knew that she couldn’t cry. Not now, at least not now, Lorna concluded.

“I have to go now.” Lorna turned around, but Shooter grabbed onto her arm before she could make much distance. Lorna turned around in a flurry with watery eyes, which made Shooter surprised. Lorna was suppressing her tears, and she was suppressing her screams, Shooter thought.

“Crying ruins your pretty face.”

“Shut up.” Lorna hit Shooter on the side with her free hand.

“I’m not crying,” Lorna added.

“I’m not crying,” Lorna repeated.

“I’m not crying,” Lorna concluded.

“Look–” Shooter paused, took off his sunglasses, and looked into Lorna’s eyes.

“I don’t know what you may have with your current kids,” Shooter considered his words. He let go of his grasp, and he looked into the river. It was dark, it was very dark, Shooter thought. The gray clouds that hung above his head and the bitter winds that blew across the riverside made Shooter sad.

“But if you want to get through this, you have to be calm,” Shooter spoke from his past experiences. Shooter had seen many homes come and go, many families come and go, and many memories fade at the blink of an eye.  Shooter wrote it all. Shooter collected the memories and the experiences that these people had felt and gone through. Shooter didn’t want to do the same for Lorna. It would be hard for both of them, but he also knew that the business Lorna ran, came with such a cost.

“What the kids want most from a situation like yours, is assurance.” Shooter looked behind Lorna, to the grass fields that were swaying ever so slightly in the bitter winds.

“They want to know that everything is going to be alright, and they don’t want to see their guardian flustered. That’ll just scare them, and you don’t want that. You want everyone to feel connected, and you want everyone to get through it together. ” Shooter sighed.

“I’ve seen many things, many people, and many families. I’ll tell you this now, because you’re my friend, and because you’ve done so much for me. Seeing your family break apart is the worst feeling you can ever get, but seeing the person who brought the family together break apart, makes you want to burn the world.” Shooter had a bitter after taste in his mouth, and his expression turned sour. He was remembering things he would rather not, but he knew that if he were to ever relay the feelings he’s obtained on his travels, that he should be able to handle those emotions. He needed to stand by the memories he’s vowed to record, and stand by them with a smile.

“Losing your family like this shouldn’t be bitter. It’s a stepping stone, Lorna. I can’t say that for certain, but I know that for a person like you, Lorna, losing your family like this, is something you can do with a smile.”

“You don’t know anything, Shooter. You only know–”

“I only know what others know. I know that I can’t really speak for those that have to go through that kind of experience, but I’ve seen it. I’ve seen it Lorna, I’ve seen it so many times. I’ve been to so many places. I had to leave on my own, but, I’m not any different, right?” Lorna knew that Shooter had seen many orphanages. Lorna hadn’t personally taken a look at his notebooks, but she knew that he had enough of them to warrant a novel.

“You can tell me all about it later.”

“Shooter…”

“If you comply, they’ll probably just detain you for a few days.”

“But that’s not the worst of it.”

“They have the right to place those found in institutions. I…. don’t know much other than that. After all, once an underground orphanage has been busted, those that were in it usually never see me again.”

“Because once that happens, you’ve already moved on?”

“Yeah. Plus, with a person like you, I’m sure you can just convince them to let you out anyway.”

“Why’s that?”

“Keeping a pretty face like yours all to themselves is a crime; word will get out quick.” Shooter smiled, and even Lorna couldn’t help but smile along with his banter. Lorna hadn’t been around when the issue of underground orphanages became a vital topic, so she didn’t know much about the procedures. The little information she was able to gather from Amanda didn’t tell her much either, but she could tell that it was more than just shutting down the orphanage and giving a new home to its kids. There was much more, and Lorna didn’t want to wait around and see what being caught entailed.

“So, come back.” Shooter grabbed his sunglasses and put them back on before finishing.

“Once this all blows over, come see me. I’d love to hear your story and I’ve love to record it.” Shooter took out a small note and a blue pen. With a few quick motions, he had scrawled something on the note and handed it to Lorna.

“May your history and family ever be trusted in my services, and may their story be kept safe in the memories of whomever may come across them.”

“Fancy lines you have.”

“It brings business,” Shooter said sarcastically.

“Now go. You have some place to be, right?” Lorna nodded, and turned towards the orphanage. She needed to go back and ensure that everyone there was safe, and that everyone wasn’t scared. She had an obligation to see to it that this process doesn’t end in tears. At least not bitter tears, Lorna thought.  Lorna opened the note that Shooter had scrawled on, and read it. It made her smile, and at the same time, made her angry, sad even. Lorna had no right to grieve, nor did she have a right to talk to Shooter. What Lorna wanted to do went against everything she knew. It went against her norm, and it went against her ideals. What Lorna wanted to do would inevitably create a norm filled with  misconstrued ideals. This would be the last mistake Lorna would make. Lorna hoped the best for the children, and hoped that they would respect her decision. What Lorna wanted to do was dangerous, and at the same time, was the only thing Lorna could think to do. It was why Lorna wanted Ryan to stay away from the orphanage, and to keep to his own norms, and to make his own home, and to make his own family. Lorna didn’t want Ryan to be involved anymore. He had done enough, and his presence was  merely an oddity to her.  He was an aberration, and Lorna wanted those who were unwanted in the home for the unwanted, to be wanted. Ryan had that chance. He had to fight his own battles. Lorna knew that. However, what Lorna didn’t know was that Ryan had already intertwined himself in the norms she had created.  Ryan was just as involved as Lorna, and Ryan had his own responsibilities, and Ryan had his own ideals about the whole situation. Ryan was going to stay, and he was going to fight for what he held true. Ryan had changed, even more then Lorna could think of. Ryan was here to stay. Or at least, he would die trying.

Home For The Unwanted: Chapter 24

Hello once again and damn, are things really getting going now. The finale is upon us, we have 5 more days. 5 more chapters, and these characters, these people will finally get their endings. It was a long journey, and I really did wish I could have more time in adding into the story, giving more characterization to those who couldn’t get that much. But again, this was a 30 day marathon, and just being in the home stretch is simply amazing. I more or less have a game plan set for this finale, and the ending is going to be more or less strange, to say the least (probably). Anyway, we also hit 50,000 words(The overall goal to “win” National Novel Writing Month) Word count: 51,780.  Here you go, chapter 24 of “Home For The Unwanted”.

The world was crumbling. Ryan was running. Everything he once knew slowly turned fragile, and it all threatened to shatter like glass. The norms he had worked so hard to keep, and the norms he found himself in were all breaking away, and Ryan had only one chance to stave it off. Ryan only had one chance to make sure that he would be able to live in a norm he could proudly call his own. Ryan was scared. He knew what fear was, and he had already felt it with his friends, his family. However, the type of fear he was experiencing now, was something he never thought he would ever feel. It was the type of fear that made his stomach want to turn into itself. It was the type of fear that churned and ran across his mind without warning. It was the type of fear when everything that was once normal and fine was slowly turning to dust. It was the fear of loss.

“Ryan?” Amanda called out towards the running Ryan, who ignored the words and ignored the world around him. Amanda had been informed of his name by Lorna, but to Amanda, his cooperation in the case was less vital. Amanda and James were on the verge of cracking a major case, and they were on the verge of having to break laws; section laws.

“Hold on!” Amanda grabbed Ryan as he ran past her, his vision narrowed, and his ears closed off everything but his own thoughts. Before Ryan realized it, he had slipped into a small stupor, he had ignored everything that didn’t concern him, and he was fixated on his own ideals. He was fixated on keeping his norms, and keeping his family and friends, and experiences.

“What’s the matter with you?” Amanda said as she held Ryan into place. Ryan hadn’t fully realized what was going on until a few moments had passed. His breathing fluctuated and his face turned beet red. His hands were shaking, and he could barely stand. Surprisingly, his weak constitution paid him no heed, and he didn’t find himself having to gasp for air.

“You okay?” Amanda asked. Ryan had slowly calmed down, his world was crumbling. His breathing steadied, and his eyes widened, surprised as to where he was, his world was crumbling. His feet slowly gave in, the rush of the run kicking in, and his lungs felt like they would collapse at any moment, his world was crumbling. Ryan was scared, he was scared, but he wasn’t scared because of Amanda, nor was he scared because of how he ignored his mother, or his uncle, he was scared because of what Lorna had said, he was scared because of what everyone had said. His world was crumbling.

“Ryan?” Amanda asked, quite persistent in trying to get Ryan to speak. Ryan simply gave Amanda a blank stare, which prompted Amanda to reply with her own confused stare. Amanda had no idea what was going on, and at this moment, had no obligation to continue her search. Her work had long past, and she was simply on a normal patrol. James was out at the moment as well, and if anything, Amanda just wanted to help him. Ryan seemed frantic, Amanda thought; he was like a frightened sheep after a herd of wolves had passed. However, Ryan wasn’t a sheep, he was a farmhand.

“Where am I?” Ryan asked, his voice shaking, and his expression implying his ignorance of the marathon he just ran.

“What time is it?” Ryan’s speech heightened, he spoke quickly, less clear, and with no regards to accentuating.

“Where are they!?” Ryan was almost yelling at this point, his eyes widened greatly in a frenzy, and he was shaking Amanda, thinking she had the answers to all his vague questions; she did.

“Are you okay? What happened?” Amanda ignored his questions and simply inquired about his own state. Amanda has learned that simply answering their questions wouldn’t do much. If you need a witness, and if you need compliance, then you need to understand where they come from. It makes a world of difference if you can come to a mutual agreement then if you simply abide, Amanda concluded. Ryan wasn’t fine, he was far from fine, and what he needed right now wasn’t his answers, it was time to catch his breath, Amanda thought.  Albeit, to Ryan, the only thing he needed right now were answers, and he would stop for no questions.

“They–” Ryan paused. His eyes darted to the ground. It didn’t seem to Amanda like he was talking to her. Amanda was more like a mist, an afterthought to Ryan, she was simply there, watching.

“Are breaking,” Ryan said, speaking only to himself and only bringing it into context with what he knew.  What Ryan knew was breaking was his norms and his way of life. Perhaps it was too early to say, or perhaps it was an exaggeration, but Ryan’s mind flooded with these thoughts nevertheless.

“What’s breaking?” Amanda played on with Ryan’s tune, simply trying to get him to understand where he is and to explain the issue to Amanda. After all, she was still obliged.

“They’re leaving. They’re talking,” Ryan said.

“Who’s leaving? Who’s talking?” Amanda tried to get through to Ryan, but her attempts turned to cinder. She wasn’t what Ryan needed, she thought. Somehow, one way or another, Ryan was searching for someone, someone who was far away, someone who was misplaced, Amanda concluded. What made the situation so quaint was that Amanda had every right to be involved in his situation, and she was the direct cause of it all.

“I need to go. I need to find them!” Ryan attempted to run off, but was quickly stopped by Amanda, who grabbed onto his shoulder and stopped him from lifting his leg.

“Calm down,” Amanda whispered.

“Everything will be alright. Just talk.” Amanda’s voice had slipped into her assertive and commanding tone. What she needed to be now was the adult, and what she needed to be now was a clear source of justification.

“I have to go!” Ryan simply flailed in her grasp and attempted to break free, his path dead set on the building.

“You’re leaving me with no choice, calm down, now!” Amanda didn’t ask, she demanded. And as Ryan continued to ignore her, and continued his grovel, her patience had run out. Amanda moved her arm towards Ryan’s shoulder, and pressed down, she then used her left leg to sweep Ryan’s feet and quickly brought him to the ground. Amanda then brought Ryan’s arm behind him, and pressed her body weight into his back. Ryan didn’t show any signs of pain, and simply struggled to break free from her hold. The sight of it all made Amanda feel pity for him, he was clearly out of his mind, she thought.

“Willing to talk?” Amanda said as she held Ryan down, her face contorting into a small weak smile. Amanda hasn’t done any recent takedowns, and the change of pace has definitely changed her mood. It was exhilarating, although, to a target like Ryan, it was still rather bland, which made Amanda rather disappointed. Each time Ryan would try to break free, Amanda would only tighten her grip. What Amanda wanted to do wasn’t physically restrict Ryan, but to push him to talk. The only way a person like Ryan, in his state of mind would comply, would be physical exertion, Amanda concluded.

“We can do this all day,” Amanda said, as she continued to press down onto Ryan’s back. After a few moments, Ryan’s breathing had slowed once again. This time however, his mind had also been set back, and his stupor had completely dissipated. He realized where he was, and how he got there, and he realized why he was being physically detained. He also realized how much it hurt.

“Alright. I get it. I’m calm now. Let go of me,” Ryan said in annoyance. Amanda let go of her grip, but remained in position in case Ryan had another sudden outburst. Ryan got up, brushed off the dirt from his clothes, and sat at the curb of the sidewalk.

“Didn’t need to be so rough you know?” Ryan said with a suave tone.

“Didn’t want to.”

“Sometimes your wants and needs are construed, huh?”

“Following protocol, and following my own intuition.”

“Your procedures are full of it,” Ryan said, frustrated with the magnitude of the situation. Although Ryan didn’t know what was going on with Lorna, Ryan could figure that it had to do with the bad guys. It had to do with Amanda, and it had to do with them and them not liking their norm. It had to do with them not liking his way of life, and them not liking the things he’s worked so hard to build. It made Ryan angry, but he contained himself, he breathed in and out and tried his best to sit still. Ryan still didn’t have concise answers, and he knew he couldn’t act on pure speculation. That wouldn’t sit right with him.

“What the hell’s your problem, Ryan?” Amanda briskly asked.

“My problem?” Ryan considered his words, he wasn’t thinking straight. His mind was clouded with emotions and his mind was clouded with the chaos of everything. He couldn’t think, and he didn’t want to. The only thing Ryan wanted to do was break free and run to Lorna, to run to his norm and question. And in the off chance that he would get answers, he would fight.

“My problem is this goddamn world,” Ryan couldn’t hear the words coming out of his mouth. However, the words appeared in his mind, and they raced around him. What he had just said, felt nostalgic. It wasn’t his words. They were words of someone who was more attentive then him. They were words of someone who was playful, someone who always seemed to know, and always seemed to know where you were. They were the words of a person who started it all.

“It’s filled with aliens, and agents!” Ryan said, his voice turning into that of a sales person. It was assertive in nature, but not intrinsically implied. If listened to long enough, it was probably annoying, Ryan thought. It wasn’t his voice. It was the voice of a boy who was very strange in nature, but good at heart. It was the voice of a boy who was sharp but just couldn’t put his thoughts to words.

“It’s cold. The world is so cold, and at the same time, so warm.” Ryan spoke in relation to someone he had in mind. It was the voice of a person with a quiet tone, but a loud sense of morality. She was reserved, and that was her nature. She cared, and that was her nature. She was cold, but warm, and that was her nature.

“That’s not fair. It just isn’t fair. It makes my blood boil. It makes life exciting. It makes me want to go out and do everything,” Ryan spoke with the mindset of someone with an abrasive attitude. He was a daredevil, always out for adventure, and always out for excitement. He didn’t turn down a challenge and was always ahead.

“And your problem?” Amanda asked again.

“I want to be there for them. I want to be strong,” Ryan continued his soliloquy. His mind was now projecting a certain strength that he’s witnessed. It was the strength of a friend. It was the strength of a friend who could protect others. It was the strength of a friend who despite all odds, will continue to fight.

“Ryan….”

“But, it will be alright. Everything will be okay. I don’t want anyone to get hurt, so I’ll run with them,” Ryan had run Amanda’s patience dry. What Ryan needed was not reason, but assurance. Ryan had spoken with the intention of exhibiting affection and care. It was a borrowed ideal, something he agreed on, but knew wasn’t his. It was far too cheery for Ryan to have known on his own, especially in his old state.

“Even so, the reality of my problem is still scary.”

“Are you scared?”

“I am. I really am.”

“Why are you scared.”

“Because I know that they aren’t bad guys.”

“They?”

“They’re not bad guys, because I said they aren’t.” Ryan circled around Amanda’s question. He had remembered words of a time long past, of a time when he had only realized the norms he wanted, and he altered them, he made them his own. They were words that stuck with Ryan, and they were words that could never escape him. There was a certain sense of mysticism in that thought. A longing held tight only with verbal context. Ryan was sure to bring that up with Walker later.

“And I hate it all. I hate everything. I just wish they would all disappear,” Ryan’s nature had shifted to one of lightheartedness, to one of aggression. However, even that shift in nature, wasn’t Ryan’s. It was the nature of a girl who was afraid of ghosts, and despite this, still held strong and still holds her pride straight. It was the nature of a girl who despite caring about her friends, has a tough time expressing it.

“My problem–” Ryan calmed down, his breathing had slowed, and he gathered his own words in his head. Not the words he came to know, not the tone and the natures of the people he was surrounded by, but his own words. Ryan had to make his own norm, and he had to protect his own norm. It was Ryan’s job alone, and he knew that he was the only one who could do it. He couldn’t ask for help, he couldn’t be someone else, he had to be himself. Ryan was Ray, who was Ryan.

“Is that my worlds are ending.”

“What do you mean?”

“The norms I used to live by are falling apart. They’re becoming fragile. I can’t keep going on like this.” Ryan got up from his spot. Amanda tensed her guard, but noticed that Ryan wasn’t giving off any violent intent. Ryan was rather apathetic, and simply turned back towards his path. He didn’t show any intention to run, but rather slowly groveled his way. Ryan had long been past the panic and emergency of the situation. Ryan’s head was more than clear, and Ryan’s goal had still remained the same. Ryan needed to get to the orphanage, and Ryan needed to have a talk with Lorna, to figure out exactly what was going on, and what they were going to do. Ryan had no intention of giving an answer without this norm being fixed, Ryan concluded. Despite what Ryan may feel, he just can’t bring himself to move on when one of his norms are being crushed. If Ryan were to never see Lorna and the children again without saying a proper goodbye, then Ryan was sure that he would never progress. Ryan was sure that he would revert back to his previous self. Ryan was sure that his second home, his new family, and his new friends would all be left in a trail of miasmic toxin.  Ryan didn’t want that. Ryan walked, and as he walked, he picked up speed. And as he picked up speed, he began running. He began running again, and he trailed off into the forest. Amanda was left no answers, but her own answers would soon come to fruition in due time. Amanda simply stood there, watching Ryan run off, and sighed.  He reminded her of a close friend, of someone who also ran, and also chased after a norm that they wanted to create, and that they wanted to protect. He reminded her of the time when her own friend had sought out a life all on their own, and had made her proud. He reminded her of Lorna.