II. Enigma

II. Enigma

A Chapter by Writer #00

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

II. Enigma

            “Harri!” Salem called, pounding on my bedroom door, “Get up!  You have to be at Conifer Heights in thirty minutes!”

            I groaned, not comprehending what she was yelling about until I’d fully drifted into consciousness and the numbers 7:27 glowed an angry red from atop my chest-of-drawers.  The time was a hard punch into Reality.  The bus for the airport would be leaving from my school at eight, which was in thirty-three minutes, and the school itself was fifteen minutes away.

            I bolted out of bed, rummaging through my closet for a pair of basketball shorts and a T-shirt of arbitrary color.  Having dressed, I grabbed my bags, a boiled egg, and a banana, and headed out the laundry room door into the garage.  Loading the trunk with my duffels, I let out a grunt of irritation as I realized I’d need one of my parents to come with me in order to bring Sputter back home once I boarded the bus.  I turned to enter the house when a low whisper of a voice sounded behind me.

            “Don’t move,” it said, placing a thick hand on my shoulder and a pair of garden shears to my throat.

            “Oh, hey Dad,” I answered “can you drive Sputter back home for me?”

            He must’ve been watching those serial killer shows recently, I thought, removing the shears from their spot near my jugular and turning to look up at his burly face, “Can you drive Sputter back home for me?”

            “Aww, c’mon,” he replied, dropping his creepy prowler act, “couldn’t you’ve at least pretended to be scared?”

            “Ahh,” I said flatly, unlocking Sputter and climbing into the front seat, “I better get going while I have a chance to escape.--Seriously though, I don’t have much time to waste before the team pulls off without me.”

            Dad sat in the passenger’s seat, leaning the seat back as far as he could, which wasn’t very because Sputter’s seat levers had always been faulty.

            “Relax, Harri,” he advised nonchalantly, “if worse comes to worse you could always meet them at the airport--there’s only one in this city anyhow--call Kamila, and ask where they are.”

            “I guess,” I agreed-ish, opening the garage door and starting Sputter, which sputtered to life after a few turns of the key.  I know, I’m some punny.

            7:45 above the dashboard.

---

            Just as I’d been pulling into the Conifer Height’s parking lot, I saw the bus--full with the baseball team--pulling out from the other side.

            “Stalk it,” my Dad had suggested, locking his eyes on the back of the vehicle.

            So, I’d taken his advice and followed it all the way to the Angel City Airport.  No one on the bus had seemed to notice me at all and I’d wondered if someone’d realized I was missing.  Now, I sat in the airport’s departure lounge with the rest of the team, eating a breakfast sandwich my mom had apparently snuck into my carry-on backpack sometime this morning--probably with some other things, too.  I’d check later.  I looked around for Kami, but she didn’t seem to be anywhere in sight.

            I turned to the person next to me, Zion Flowers the not-backup shortstop, who was sketching something in a spiral sketchbook. 

            “Hey, Zion?”

            He appeared startled, closing his book abruptly, running his fingers through his mini-fro with one hand, and expertly spinning his pencil with the other.  “Yeah.”

            “Do you know if our manager came?  I missed the bus, so I didn’t see who was on it.”

            Zion shook his head, “Dunno--“ he tapped Josh Salazar who was reading something on his phone, though, from what I’d remembered, Coach had told us not to bring any electronics, “--hey, Josh, do you know if Kami showed up.”

            Josh shrugged. “I wouldn’t think she’d be coming…she is the only girl on the team, so…”

            Zion turned back to me.  “Sorry man, don’t think so.  Where would she sleep?”

            He left that question in the air, returning to his sketchbook; angling it in such a way that all I could see was the blank cover.

            “Thanks,” I murmured, leaning back in my seat and finishing off my sandwich.

            Someone tapped my shoulder hesitantly.  I faced the direction of the tap in hopes of seeing Kami, but it was only Dale.

            He flinched slightly when I made eye contact with him, as if he felt threatened, and didn’t say anything at first, resulting in an awkward silence in which he struggled to maintain eye contact.  I have no idea why he acts so strangely around me.  He’s actually pretty confident and socially inclined with everyone else on the team.  It’s as if he were genuinely intimidated by me--which was absurd considering he was two grades older than I and I’d just been moved up from JV last year…I wasn’t some baseball prodigy like Zion and Josh who managed to tryout right into varsity as ninth graders.  Maybe it was my facial hair, which I’d badly shaved down to stubble for the retreat, or my ability to make insouciant eye contact with virtually anyone.  I guess that could throw someone off guard.

            “Sh-she’s restrooming,” Dale said finally, “Kamila is.”

            “Um…thanks, Dale, interesting way of putting it,” I replied, suddenly noticing something different about him, “You wear glasses?”

            He nodded.  “For practice, I usually contact--wear contacts.”

            I chuckled mildly at his slip-up, “Okay, good.  I was beginning to worry I hadn’t noticed them all year.”

            “No,” he tapped the frameless rectangular lenses, “these aren’t usually on my face.”

            Dale stood there for a sec, not sure whether he should continue to stand behind me or leave.  I would have offered him a seat, but the only one that was open I was saving for Kami.  Awkwardly, he turned and left, sitting beside Pacer, our catcher, and commencing a perfectly normal conversation with him.

            A moment later, Kami came walking over to me with a smile.  “Hey, Catmouth.  Wasn’t sure if you were coming or not when I didn’t see you on the bus.”

            “I had another one of those dreams--I was up all night afraid to fall asleep again,” I explained as she took a seat beside me.

            “Aww~ did you sleep with the light on?” she teased, poking my cheek playfully.

            Yes, actually,” I informed her, which shut her up spontaneously, “it’s becoming a habit.”

            “Oh…”

            “No need to get all sympathetic.  I can handle it…I think.”

            “I hope you can, because there’s a lights-off sleep policy Coach Jung--“(“Your dad.”) “--likes to enforce on his retreats.”

            “Speaking of sleep policies,” I started, remembering what Zion’d speculated on earlier, “where are you going to be sleeping?”

            She rolled her eyes, “In my dad’s cabin, probably.”

            I raised a brow.  “Why didn’t you call him Coach Jung?”

            “What do you--oh, I guess I subconsciously realized how awkward that would’ve sounded if I had.  Anyway, guess who sat next to me on the bus ride here since you weren’t there?”

            “Phayton?”  I guessed, naming a random member of our team.

            “Nope.  Guess again.”

            “Arnav?”

            “Keep going.”

            “Mich?”

            “Nuh-uh, do you give up?”

            “I gave up at guess one.”

            “Okay,” she continued excitedly, as if she were about to divulge the existence of vampires or something, “It was Cane.”

            I nearly choked on my own saliva.  “CANE?!”

                Despite what my reaction may have led you to believe, the two of us weren’t enemies or anything--he had actually been one of my best friends until middle school--it’s just that he left town to visit his dying uncle in Japan and when he came back two years later…he didn’t seem to want to have anything to do with Kami and me.  We both credited his behavior to a form of grief and agreed not to force ourselves on him, but now he was putting himself on us.  At least Kami, anyway.

            “Yeah?” Cane responded to my accidently way-to-loud reaction, looking amongst his teammates for the speaker.

            “Sugar…” I improvised, as the departure lounge quieted down and all eyes were on me, “I was talking about cane sugar…”

---

            I was stuck spending a good four hours sitting between Ali Nazari, our backup third baseman, and Sasha Zolisomething the first second baseman (his last name’s too long for any of us to remember; one of those ones that just sounds rambley…and Sasha was quite the rambler, so I discovered).  I half-listened to whatever Sasha was going on and on about--I think it involved his pet chickens?--while staring longingly diagonally from me where Kami and Cane sat.  Yep.  Just before we entered the plane, Cane had the nerve to approach me as if he hadn’t been ignoring me-ish for the past two years and ask if it was okay for him “to steal Kamila for the flight?”.  To which I suppressed my irritation and replied: “Why don’t you ask Kami?  She is right next to you?” Yeah, in hindsight, maybe I didn’t suppress my irritation well enough….

            As you can conclude, Kami abandoned me for a chance to re-recruit him into our friendship, leaving me to be tortured by the oral bullets of Sasha--and I mean rapid-fire, machine-gun bullets: they just kept coming my way.  I began to contemplate on whether or not I’d prefer being bombarded by machine guns…bullets…machine gun bullets…or the machine guns themselves--heck, hit me with a bulldozer, anything other than this!

            I envied Ali.  We were only thirty minutes into the flight and he was slumped forward, headphones over his ears, in a deep sleep.  Seriously, I clearly recall Coach saying “We’re going to be completely immersed in nature on this retreat--so don’t bring any electronics.  Mrs. Diaz and I will provide a phone for emergencies only.”.  Who knows, maybe I misheard that bit, and maybe Ali wasn’t in that deep of a sleep.  I couldn’t tell…he wasn’t snoring, but his breath was rhythmic, as if it had slowed to the steadiness of his dreams.  I wonder what he dreamt about.  If he dreamt at all.  He was probably the quietest guy on the team, so I couldn’t help but imagine that he made up for this with his thoughts.   This is sad.  Why am I analyzing Ali’s way of sleep?

---

            “And so, long story short--“ (This was about the fifth time Sasha’d said this in the past two hours…what he really should’ve been saying was: “so, long story shorter.”), “the chicken wasn’t even actually a chicken, but a rooster, and that’s why she--oh, wait, he--wasn’t laying any eggs.  Actually, there was this one time when my dad thought sh--he’d--laid an egg, but it turned out to just be a bunch of feces clumped together in a sort of ovular way (see, notice how I said ‘feces’ instead of ‘poop’ because ‘poop’ sounds gross and no one wants to hear the word ‘poop’�"unless you’re two, and even then there’s a limit--”

            “The chicken,” I moaned, trying to steer him out of even more vulgar territory.  If this kid was a speeding train with no brakes and I was stuck on it, I’d at least make sure the food was good.  Don’t ask how, I just would.

            “Oh, right: Dollie, the rooster. I’m so relieved because my parents said that if she--he--turned out to be defective they’d kill her--him--and sell him to the butcher.  Now that it turns out she’s--he’s--just a normal rooster and not a defective chicken, I’ll be able to keep him--which is good because I’ve become really, really attached.  He’s like my little brother.”

            “Isn’t it illegal to own a rooster in residential areas?” I asked, unable to block him out to take a nap.

            Sasha’s eyes widened with horrific realization, “R-really?”

            I nodded solemnly.  “They’re a noise violation.”

            “Wh-what do you think they’ll do to Dollie?”

            I shrugged.  “How should I know?  Probably do what they would’ve to a defective chicken.”

            Sasha gulped, his eyes beginning to brim with tears, and patted his face nervously. 

            “E-excuse me,” he stammered, standing up, “I’ve got to go to the restroom.”

            I let him pass awkwardly, and he marched off, head down, to the bathroom at the back of the plane…which wasn’t that far from where I sat considering I could hear his muffled bawling.

            Ali opened one eye.  “Really, Harrison?” he admonished before going back to sleep.

            I’d love to say I regretted what I did, but in all truth, after the hours I was trapped listening to Sasha drone on and on in what probably wasn’t a drone but began to feel like one after a good forty minutes or so, it served him right.  Besides, it was better than having him come home from the retreat to: “We’re so sorry son, but Dollie flew away.”

---

            Sasha stayed in the restroom for a good twenty plus minutes, and probably would’ve stayed there for the rest of the flight if it hadn’t been for Coach.  He knocked on the bathroom door.  There was no answer, (I guess the little second baseman’d run out of tears), so Coach knocked again, this time louder, so loud that most of the team turned to see from where the sound originated.

            “Sasha!” Coach shouted, more than likely vexed by his frequent emotional outbreaks, “What’s the matter this time?!”

            Yes, this is not the first time Sasha’s had this reaction to the death or potential death of an animal.  I remember sometime last year, when we were both in JV, someone’d found a cockroach in their locker and killed it.  When its death got to Sasha’s ears, he ran crying for the bathroom and locked himself in one of the stalls.  Coach Jung had to give him mini-grief counseling from outside the bathroom.  I can only imagine what passerbys had thought.

            “Go away!” the sophomore returned like a tantrumming two-year-old.

            “I can’t help you if you don’t tell me what’s wrong.”

            “There’s nothing you can do!”

            “You don’t know that.  Just come out of the restroom and tell me what the matter is.”

            You’re probably wondering why the kid’s still on the team.  If he were on any other coach’s team…well, he’s not so I don’t want to start meaninglessly fantasizing.  The answer’s simple: the boy’s an inhuman batter.  He can hit anything--even the pitches that’d normally strike someone out.  It’s quite remarkable, really, and Coach is aware of that…which is why he puts up with Sasha’s extreme philotherianism…why any of us put up with it.

            There was a pause, which I just filled with that back-story material, then:

            “My parents [sniffle] bought some chickens [sniffle] and one of them [sniffle] wouldn’t lay any eggs.  So [sniffle] they told me they’d butcher her--“ [and so and so forth].

            Coach nodded.  “Why don’t you just ask them to keep him?”

            Sasha burst into hysterical crying.

            “Calm down Sasha.”

            “[sniffle] Because Harri told me it was illegal to own a rooster and now my parents are going to kill Dollie while I’m away.”

            I felt the need to lower my head.  I could feel Coach and all the team members Sasha’s fit had awoken glaring daggers at me.

            “Why don’t you call them and ask them to sell Dollie to a kind and loving farmer?”

            “I can’t.”

            “Why not, Sasha?”

            “Because you told us not to bring any electronics.” (Aha!  I knew Coach’d said that!)

            “If you come out, I’ll let you use my cell phone when we land.”

            And so Sasha returned.  Luckily, he was too worn out to say a word.  I actually felt bad for him--apologized, even--, but he just stared out the window, probably thinking about his doomed chicken-rooster. 

---

            With Sasha…depressed?...I found myself able to doze off, but not for long.  After about the third attempt at sleep, around forty-five minutes before our estimated arrival, I decided to give up and stay up; enjoy the peace and quiet.  I was beginning to become bored when I remembered my carry-on, which I’d stashed beneath the seat, and pulled it onto my lap, rummaging inside to see if Mom’d added anything else that morning. 

            What I’d packed:

            -a Sudoku book

            -my baseball and batting gloves (if I could’ve fit my bat, I would’ve)

            -a fruit cup (I’d completely forgotten about it)

            What Mom must’ve packed:

            -apple slices

            -a salad (soggy from the dressing that’d soaked into the lettuce for over six hours)

            -Hamlet (required summer reading for eleventh grade)

            -a…little jewelry box?

            It was small--maybe the size of my palm--made of maple wood--like a baseball bat (a real one, not the cheap aluminum one I had stuffed in one of my duffle bags)--and the shape of a stop sign (stop signs are octagonal, right?).  It was fairly simple, the only design being of a weirdly carved ‘H’ on the lid, with a lock that you’d find on an old diary or something.  I searched the backpack for a key, unzipping every pocket, but only found a folded piece of paper.  I opened it.  A note from Mom:


            Hey there Harrison!


            I’m not sure how long you’ve been at the island, if at all), but I hope you’re enjoying yourself so far.  Anyway, about the box.  You may have noticed that there is no key, which is fine because there’s nothing inside of it.  I’ve had this box for a while--it’s pretty and good for keeping things in--but it has too many things I’ve been wanting to forget, so I’m giving it to you with a special mission: find a good place on that island to put this--don’t destroy it--and never tell me where it is.  Thank you, and I’m sure you’ll have tons of questions when you get home, but please try not to bring it up. 


            Love & Hugs,


            Mom


P.S.: Weston didn’t want me to tell you, but Coach Jung offered him a position as his assistant for this retreat, so he’ll be there with you!  Act surprised when you see him, though, and say hi for Salem, Dad, and me!


            I groaned, stuffing the box and note back in my backpack.  I love my brother.  He’s awesome--the one who got me into baseball, which I also love despite my…mediocre skill--but he had this…inability to appropriately gauge the social situation.  I mean, he once brought up Chanukah at one of his friend’s Christmas parties.  I was worried he’d start telling “funny” family stories which would become embarrassing family stories for me...I was already one of the worst players on the team, I didn’t want to have yet another thing that could be used against me.

            I shook the thought out of my head as the “please buckle-up” light came on with the captain’s voice telling us we’d be arriving at our destination shortly.  I’d deal with Weston when I got there, for now I opted to preoccupy my mind with speculation on the box Mom’d given me to hide.  When I’d shaken it, I’d heard a clatter of some sort, meaning that the box most definitely was not empty…meaning that whatever was inside so haunted Mom she lied about its existence.  It wasn’t the box she wanted to get rid of, I realized, but the enigma hidden inside of it.



© 2013 Writer #00


Author's Note

Writer #00
Okay, so here's the second chapter of SOS. I hope Harrison didn't become too rambley on the plane ride. Feel free to point out anything you think could be improved on, errors, things that just annoy you, whatever you want...if you feel like it. Thanks in advance for viewing/reading/reviewing (or any combination/singularity of these).

Some notes:
philotherianism--> adoration of animals
enigma (all three apply, I think)--> 1 :an obscure speech or writing
2: something hard to understand or explain
3: an inscrutable or mysterious person

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Reviews

I instantly liked Dad.

About the writing style... It's really wonderful except that 26 times you stuffed something inside brackets. If you do it once or twice per chapter it's rather unnoticeable. But, when you use them so often, it doesn't really look so good. Most of the brackets-imprisoned thoughts could have been introduced just like that, without using any funky punctuation tricks.

The most of the chapter didn't suck me in too much till the mysterious scene with the box. I understand though What you're aiming for: you want to lure the readers into the false sense of security and then hammer-smash them, don't do? I was frozen while reading the last part and now I can't wait to read the next chapter. It's the best way to end the chapter, Thumbs up for you.

In case ye're not clear on the matter, I like your story. Thank god it has more chapters.

Posted 7 Years Ago


Writer #00

7 Years Ago

Glad you liked Dad, I decided to make him really odd since he won't be popping up again.

read more
Uh oh! Something is in the box! What is in the box? It was nice when you had the teenage drama and conversations going on to fill the chapter but there clearly is something suspenseful coming up! I can only see where this goes for the third chapter! Must read more!

Posted 7 Years Ago


Writer #00

7 Years Ago

Yep, you got me. All the social banter is a cover-up for where this story is REALLY headed *rubs ha.. read more
Xerclipse

7 Years Ago

All stories have social banters as a mask or a way to progress the plot! Anyway happy fourth of July.. read more
Writer #00

7 Years Ago

Yes, yes they do (even though you're pretty good at putting meaning behind most of your dialogue). .. read more
I want MOAR! (XD I intentionally change the spelling so... hahaha)
So here's some errors that I feel like pointing out but I promise this doesn't really hinder your "AWESOME" story. I was just concerned, since this might be because of some faulty process when you saved this and posted it on WC.
So here they are:
hadn'tbeen, dadthought, justwould, normalrooster, reallyattached, embarrassingfamily- they all need spaces. (:

Anyways, I was supposed to review this on Friday or tomorrow so I saved it on PDF form on my iPad so I can read it. After reading, I was overwhelmed so I posted this earlier that intended.
Hmm.... and a question suddenly popped on my mind. I love the flow actually since you're revealing a question chapter per chapter and slowly answering it. I don't actually mind even if we get to how many chapters because of the "AWESOMENESS" of your new book.

Wait. I strayed from the question pardon me (XD)
The title says, "Song of the Sirens" so I was guessing that maybe this is somewhat related to mermaids and Harri will meet one by the time he spent on the island. So am I right? or am I wrong?

~Keep writing~

Posted 7 Years Ago


Rhianne Ney

7 Years Ago

I logged in for a little while, haha, not really, I'm not that organized. I can choose to be organiz.. read more
Writer #00

7 Years Ago

I meant 'you' in my other comment, not 'yous'.... Well, then you are very organized when to be organ.. read more
Rhianne Ney

7 Years Ago

Yeah. true
I liked it all and was sadden to find i had run out of chaptes. Excellent writing.

Posted 7 Years Ago


Writer #00

7 Years Ago

Thanks again for reading, I hope to finish chapter 3 tonight and if not then then by tomorrow night .. read more

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Added on June 30, 2013
Last Updated on July 23, 2013
Tags: song, of, the, sirens, SOS, baseball, Harrison


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Writer #00
Writer #00

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I'm participating in the Summer Writing Project through Jukepop.com, an online serial website, those entering had to submit a novella on Jukepop.com. The finalists will be decided by the number of +V.. more..

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