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I had to blink a couple of times to ensure my mind wasn't playing tricks on me.
I gawped at the opening. "You see that too, right?"
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"If I say yes, will you close your mouth?"
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I solemnly nodded.
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My mouth opened wider.
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No tricks were played. We had reached the end of the forest – we had actually, finally, reached the end of the forest!
And it screamed liberation from hours upon hours of boredom. No more counting trees. No more guessing what time it was. Oh, what sweet joy it was!
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Wasting no time, I charged towards it, at last exiting that wretched forest. The entrance to the forest was actually a park that stretched a fair distance into the town. But one element I admired most about the park was that it had man-made pavements – as well as other man-made objects such as the occasional trash cans and benches. But, the special thing about pavements was that it beat the filthy, bacteria infested forest floor.
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I took a deep breath. "Smell that? That's fresh air and freedom, that."
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"I'm pretty sure the air was fresher in the forest," I heard Everest mutter, but even his frostiness couldn't breakthrough the bubble of joy that build itself around me.
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So now we needed a new plan, and for the sake of my sanity, I hoped it would be easier than that uphill battle we pulled off back in the forest. This one needed to promise security, it had to prevent public residents from going "Hey, isn't that the girl with the cure to cancer?" It needed to deliver us to 87 Marshall Avenue, Canaby Street, London, namely Reynolds Corporation.
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Thankfully, I was a master in all things concerning improvisation.
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"So, here's what we're going to do," I said at the same time as Everest did.
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After spending a moment frowning at each other, I decided to go ahead and continue.
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"There's a nearby train station—"
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We synced again.
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"We'll take the train to—" And again.
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"Bromley—" And again.
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"You stop it!"
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With that, I chose to continue once again.
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"We will take the train to—" The fifth time we syncopated, I audibly groaned.
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"You know what," I marched back into the forest, – yes, I actually did that – thieving a stick from the floor, then walked back to him. "Whoever holds this, speaks!" I commanded, waving it in his face.
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Glancing at the branch, he looked ready to retaliate the biased reality of it already being in my hand.
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"Yes, good. I have it," I interrupted, before he can speak any further. "Now, for the third time, we will take the train to Bromley, and from there we take one of those expensive trains to London—"
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"You are not holding the stick!"
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He took it from my hand. "The c2c train will take us to Carnaby Street–"
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I took it back. "And a short walk from Carnaby Street Station should—"
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"Leave us at the doorstep of Reynolds and Co." Everest completed.
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"I'm sorry, are you holding the stick?" I inquired. "No? Then, let me finish!"
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He seized it from my hand and threw it into a trash can about twelve metres away. The clank of wood against metal established dead accuracy.
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I raised my eyebrows. "Cool... hey!"
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"If you are quite done wasting time, the front reception of Reynolds Corporation closes at seven pm."
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It was when we came out the park that I realised the gloomy colour of the sky. Usually, skies are associated with vast water coloured canvases – or something along those lines; all poetic and pretty. However, the sky right now didn't look so much like the water colour itself, rather like the murky water that's used to clean the brush.
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"It's going to rain soon," Everest made it a point to inform me.
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"Is it?" I mocked. "Because judging by all the blue in the sky today, I was beginning to regret leaving my sunglasses behind."
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Just as I said it, it started to rain. But, the look he was giving me could have morphed the rain to snow. It was a when we were about a block away from the train station when I saw it. A department store! And I think it would be a safe bet to assume they sold clothes. Clothes! Normal clothes! Not the glittery mess I was doomed to wear for a week straight! Normal clothes that didn't need to be lifted off the ground for every step I took. Normal clothes that would let me walk at the same pace as Everest!
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I just knew there and then, that my prayers had not gone to waste. Immediately, I started in the direction of the store.
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"What are you doing?" Everest swiftly approached me, upon realising my own movements were in the opposite direction to his.
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"I'm going in there," I announced, gesturing to the heaven incarnation of a building.
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"Have you lost your limited brain cells? That place will be swarming with people. A new outfit is the least of your concerns."
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"You've lost your brain cells, if you think I'm going to take one more step with you and away from my freedom!"
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"From this dress, you apathetic block of granite."
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"You will just have to cope with it. You can't go in there."
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"Of course I can! I've got two legs, haven't I?" I smiled through the glare he sent. "Well, see you in a bit!" I stepped away.
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He caught ahold of my arm without turning. "202, you are not setting a foot in there."
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"Yeah? Watch me," I smirked, prancing away. However, my prancing was short lived, when his stone hard body abruptly halted in front of me. Once an obstacle, always an obstacle.
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"If anyone recognises you in there –and believe me, by the looks of the headlines – they will, all of this will be for nothing."
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"Keyword 'if''," I pointed out.
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"Have you really travelled this far through that forest, to be caught for this? You are only walking closer to your death right now."
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I shrugged. "I mean, walking in this dress alone is killing me, so the way I see it, every step I take, regardless of where, is bringing me closer to my death." I half joked. Half. "Besides, if you think that dancing around London in a glitter coated dress won't draw attention, you've got another thought coming."
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And so he did. Think, that is. He thought for another moment. After a third moment, dedicated just for the thinking, he spoke and stepped aside. "You have five minutes."
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Ah, I knew I'd through to him.
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Just then, a flash of light attacked the sky, shortly followed by the sound of thunder. British weather.
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Upon entering the store, I immediately noticed the lack of customers in the building.
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"About 'swarming with people'! It's practically empty!" I emphasised. "And look, they have sunglasses! We definitely need those. If we're on an escapee, we need to look the part or it's just ridiculous."
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"Get what you need, and get out," The mountain spoke.
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A thought pondered my mind. "Have you got money?"
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"How are we going to pay, then?"
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"Get what you need and get out," he repeated.
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I gasped. "That's stealing!"
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He gave me an empty look. "You have four minutes and thirty three seconds."
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Convincing myself it was in need of an pure desperation, and that I'd return the money, I ran around, picking up a black hoodie, a t-shirt with pineapples on it – those were always nice, not particularly the way they taste, rather the way they look, highly aesthetic – and a pair of black jeans (Everest threatened to abandon me at the airport if I dared to pick out clothing that was brighter than navy blue on the colour spectrum. "Draws less attention," he said.)
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"I'm done!" I sang the last word out.
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He gave my clothing selection a cold look. "Pineapples?"
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"Those are lighter than navy blue. Put them away."
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"You are not serious."
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"What did pineapples ever do to you?"
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"Nothing to write home about. But, what they will do to you if you wear a t-shirt like that in public, might be.
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"Don't you think you're being a tad dramatic? You can barely see the damn things anyway."
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"You have two minutes and nine seconds. Get something darker, or nothing."
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Just then, a lone flash went off, followed by several more of the same flash. Either the weather had found its way inside the building, or someone just took several photographs of us.
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Turning around proved it to be the latter.
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Everest moved in the direction of the flash, but I beat him to it. In a heartbeat, I pinned the cameraman — and judging by the size of his camera, it would be a safe bet to call him a paparazzi — to the wall, and effortlessly seized the camera from his hands as if stealing sweets from a child.
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I could break it. But I don't know the troubles this man went to buy it.
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"How much does your camera cost?"
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"What are doing?" Everest interfered.
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"Shut up," Without breaking eye contact with the man, I repeated, "How much?"
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"T-three thousand pounds."
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Shoot! I can't break it!
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"Damn, what is it, like 4k ultra HD or something?"
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"202!" Everests growl brought me to my senses.
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I could always ask, or rather, threaten him to delete the photos, but from my pre-fame lessons with Amanda, I heard these guys had backup for the backup.
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Looking at his precious camera, the pap looked ready to burst into tears, any second now.
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I couldn't! It was three thousand pounds of this man's money!
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But Emerald, it's also your life on line.
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Suddenly, the camera was yanked out of my hands.
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I realised my reaction was little too late, when I met his eyes. Eyes that promised destruction.
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"No! No, please. Not the cam—" The paparazzi's pleas came to a halt, when in an instant, what once was his beloved camera, crushed into a fragmented mixture of glass and plastic under Everest's hand.
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Damn, that was brutal. I felt that in my heart. And it wasn't even mine. Gazing at the man, well, he looked as if it was his literal heart that had been crushed.
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What flashed across his face the next moment, was pure fury. I didn't blame him, I'd be pissed off too if someone broke my three thousand pound camera. But frankly, he must have been suicidal if he was thinking to pick a fight with Everest.
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A green glister on my wrist captivated my attention. Amanda thought it would be all poetic for Emerald to be wearing emerald at the launch evening, hence she had a small emerald stone embedded into a bracelet and forcefully demanded that I should wear it.
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Letting go of the man, I took swiftly took off the bracelet and tossed it to him. "Consider this as a debt paid." I leaned – threateningly – close to him. "But, if anyone hears about this, I will throw you off several cliffs."
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Before we could attract anymore attention, quickly and slyly, we egressed out of the building, and I can shamefully admit, it was with the clothes.
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"That was mean," I pointed out to Everest, as walked to the train station.
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"If you want to be back at the Front that badly–"
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"You know that's not what I meant."
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He stopped. "You and I have an empire size of a security team on our footsteps. You cannot afford to feel sorry for people, right now."
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Easy for you.
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"We need to change," I averted the conversation.
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He didn't say anything for a while, and then, "There are toilets in the train station."
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Ew, I thought, but didn't say anything more.
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I soon came to realise why the store empty. All the people were in the train station. Ah, rush hour; the very spontaneous invention that kindly demonstrates how human civilisation can deteriorate in the space of... well, an hour, to be technical.
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So, I'm sure Everest's gentle manner in this chapter has assuredly made him grow onto you.
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Alright, enough with the rubbish sarcasm, what do you think of Emerald and Everest's criminal – but they can't really help it, because desperate times call for desperate measures, and besides, Emerald promised she'll pay them back – behaviour?
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Please like, comment, and share. Thank you!
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