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Chapter 2: A Dark Summer Evening
Under the darkness of the night sky, Lock City still kept its fierce glow through the radiance of its wide array of artificial light. The streets emptied of their daygoing traffic, save for the questionable lurking-types wandering about in the poorer areas, and the night life concentrating around the modern shopping and entertainment hub, Rederton Square, just a few blocks down from Riverside Place.
For the second time that day, as promised, Olivia and Logan arrived at Emily's door. The tall teenage girl, dressed in her pajamas instead of her tank top and shorts from before, turned on a lamp, and put on some music as her friends regrouped on the couch as before.
"For whomever finds this box, and is curious enough to view this secret noting, let it be known that these contents are not random. A specific order will reveal more than what is on paper. Make sure to be in Unit 405 of Riverside Place..." Logan recounted the message from the box.
"Emily, do you remember what order these papers were in when you found them?" Olivia asked...and quickly noticed the futility of her question.
Emily looked out upon the mess of papers all over and around the table. "Uh...can't say I do." She shrugged.
"Well, why don't we try and see if all these have anything in common," Logan suggested, "That way, if we do find out the order, we'll have a place to start looking for the secret meaning."
Olivia thought of something, "How did you even get out here anyway? I thought you said your parents would shatter you like glass or something if you stayed over." Olivia mocked Logan.
Logan looked off to side, slightly embarrassed. "That's...not exactly what I said..."
He heard Olivia and Emily start to giggle. "Who are you calling a fragile baby-child who needs mommy to tuck him in at night?!" Logan reacted hilariously.
"Haha, okay, okay, that's not what we meant." Emily calmed him, still sort of laughing. "I wonder where to start looking for what these papers have in common...it could be anything." The three regained focus.
3 HOURS LATER
In the yellow light of the lamp, the scene of Emily's living room being a mess would be the understatement of the century. At the center of the room, next to the overturned box on the table (which had been moved farther away from the couch to make room on the floor for the papers), a similar cardboard container held a single slice of a pizza, and around that, six 20oz bottles of soda, all empty laid knocked over, one on the floor.
Olivia laid with her back on the floor, in the midst of all the papers, and her legs shaped to the right angle of the rising couch. Her feet rested near Logan's as he himself laid out on the couch. Emily laid flat on the floor, save for her head on a throw pillow.
"What are we even doing...how long has it been?" Olivia was too tired to check the time herself.
"We've been trying to figure this damn thing out for about three hours now..." Logan answered her, then added, "Remember when we all used to hang out as kids...it was much simpler than all this, that's for sure. Why'd you have to trip over this stupid box anyway, Emily?"
Emily held back a burp. "What kind of question is that?" The girl replied in a half-asleep stupor.
"Did we ever figure out that thing...?" Olivia asked deliriously, trailing off into sleep as well.
"Uh...nah, don't think so..." Logan was drifting off to sleep himself.
Olivia slowly slid her legs off of the couch, and started to get up. As she did, in her fleeting sleepy eyesight, she noticed something, and began to get newfound energy.
"Hey guys...I think I found something." Olivia announced.
"What, Olivia?" Emily slowly sat up, still very tired.
"The papers...they all have headlines with the first letter in bold..."
"You're telling me no one noticed that earlier?" Logan asked, thinking something like that would be quite obvious.
"Well, did you?" Emily retorted.
"...No." Logan admitted.
"Maybe they need to be in alphabetical order or something...?" Emily guessed.
"I think you're right...they do need to be in order..." Olivia looked over all of the papers, "But not alphabetical...I think these letters spell out another message."
Emily and Logan stood up to join Olivia. "Here, write the letters down." Emily handed Olivia a pen and a post-it from the side table off of the couch.
O K N E T E A P L O U D R H L M
"It's official: we've lost it; I can't read anymore." Logan concluded based on the randomness of the letters Olivia was writing.
"Well, it isn't anything yet," Olivia refuted Logan's conjecture. "Emily, go on the computer and find something to unscramble this." Olivia handed the post-it to Emily, who ran off into her bedroom to look it up.
"...Hey, focus." Olivia said quietly to Logan, who was trying to stare at Emily without being noticed. Clearly didn't work.
"...What?" Logan faked being deliriously tired. Olivia seemed to believe it.
Suddenly, Emily bolted from her room and picked up the lamp from the corner of the room.
"Guys...look." Was all she said.
"What did the message say?" Olivia asked, walking closer.
L O O K U N D E R T H E L A M P
"...Look under the lamp."
"What the hell is that?" Logan asked upon looking.
Underneath the lamp's base, a mysterious symbol was engraved. The design was very intricate, but seemingly abstract.
"Hey...I think I've seen that--" Emily started to say, but...
Just as Olivia got a good look at it, both it and her hand began to glow with a brilliant white light.
"Holy sh--AGGHHH!!" Olivia screamed, experiencing a great amount of pain in a single instant. It was something she had never felt before, and the light from both her hand and the symbol on the lamp stand reflected this, as if it were a reaction.
"Woah, woah, woah, Olivia, Olivia, what's happening?!" Logan rushed to her side along with Emily.
"Guys, get away!!" Olivia shouted. "Quickly! I can't--" For some reason, Olivia understood what was about to happen.
A great flash of light emitted from her entire body, blinding her two friends and sending them flying into the wall across the room, along with pretty much everything else in the vicinity. The windows of the apartment shattered, raining glass onto the empty sidewalk below.
• • • • •
A man and woman stood in the kitchen of Olivia's home. "...I am feeling something I did not expect this early on." The man commented.
"I know, I know," The woman consoled him, "Our little girl's all grown up, and staying with her friends alone in the city. It's...scary."
The man looked down. "Yeah...something like that..."