Somehow They're Alive (part 21)

All right, the moment we've all be waiting for has arrived! This is the big rescue part! I know that you've all been waiting anxiously for this! I'm not

sure how many more parts I'm going to have to this, but I know that I'll be wrapping up shortly. However, the finale is still a ways away. Enought rambling. Enjoy the story!

Created by: Topaz

  1. ***Jaslina's Point of View/Purple Mountain: Twelve Hours In *** We’re walking down the last tunnel drawn out on Landon’s map. We’re nearing the end of it, so we must be close. Whether Audrey and Rayla are thinking the same thing I am unsure. Really, I guess none of us are thinking right now. At this point using logic is practically useless, so hoping is all we can do. Seriously, would any logical thinker believe that there are secret tunnels dug into Purple Mountain? If they somehow did believe that would they believe that they run so deep down that it takes twelve hours to reach the end of it, and that at the end of it is a man and young girl that have been hidden there for the past sixteen years? When you get to thinking about it through blunt logic it sounds completely illogical. Everything I’ve been through in the past two summers sounds illogical. Being kidnapped, being taken to a secret plantation in Saudi Arabia, almost being murdered for your religion and having to escape; A secret level on a slave ship, an underground elevator that goes only sideways leading to the secret plantation, a fire in a secret room underneath some Iraqi hotel that you barely escaped from; Realizing that the boy that helped kidnap you willingly betrayed his family to help a girl he hardly knows, and then the girl falls in love with him. All of the things that happened last summer sound unbelievable, but they happened. All of the things that have happened this summer sound just as unbelievable but are still unfolding around me into another incredible story. Only, just like in the Middle East the summer before, I have no idea what’s going to happen to next. I take a deep breath and come out of my moment of mentally going back in time. I’m not in Baghdad, Iraq right now. Right now I’m in Killarney, Ireland trying to find my long lost father and long lost sister. They’re so close by at the moment that I can almost feel myself welcoming them into my embrace. I run my fingers through my hair happily at the thought and realize my hair is starting to feel oily. I really need a shower. After that, if there’s time to eat anything, I need to make myself a sandwich, brush my teeth and go to bed. I don’t know the time exactly, but it must be nearing midnight. I wish I had the wristwatch and not Audrey.
  2. I turn toward Audrey, who happens to be illustrating another dove, to ask her what time it is when Rayla shouts something out. “Guys, I can see the end of the hallway! I think there’s a door!” We rush up to where she’s standing before peering down the dim, narrow, corridor. Faintly I can see what she’s talking about. When angling the flashlight just right you can see the golden shimmer of a brass doorknob. None of us says a word before running down the pathway as fast as our throbbing legs will carry us. Once there we discover that it’s the most unimpressive door in this entire place. It’s thick and wooden with a simple doorknob and slide latch. It’s easy to tell that the slide latch is there due to the bolts showing through the door. Feeling victorious, Rayla turns the doorknob. Soon after she turns it her eyes start to water and she drops to her knees. At first we think it was rigged with an electric shocker or a blow dart gun but then discover that she’s only distressed. “No!” she shouts from the ground in fetal position. “It’s locked! It can’t be locked! No! No! No!” Great. It’s locked. What do we do now? This would be an especially great time for Ryan to show up. He won’t though; Michiko and Chuck wouldn’t let him and Jay leave them alone with Tammy plus all of the housework. Really, even if they would let him, Ryan would probably stay anyway simply because it’s the right thing to do. So, having said all of that, I guess we’re on our own. My gaze travels from Rayla’s fatigued and stressed form to Audrey’s. She’s not on the ground in fetal position having a freak attack, but she’s leaning against the wall looking agitated and tired. Feeling unable to move another step I want to collapse to the ground in exhausted tears. I don’t though. Instead, as fatigue is about to overwhelm me, something comes to mind as I observe the door and notice the hinges. “Audrey didn’t you bring a portable letter opener with you?” “Yes. I brought it to pick the locks, but I don’t think it will work here. Look at the bolts in the door. See? There’s a slide lock.” “Well, can you get it out anyway? Please?” She shrugs. “As you wish.” I watch her crouched form as she rummages through her florescent yellow duffle bag. “I don’t think it’ll help much, but here you go anyway.” “Thank you, Audrey. This is all I need.”
  3. Stepping over Rayla, I slide in next to the door. Unfortunately for the White-dressed Woman, she wasn’t thinking when installing this door. Nobody who’s hiding a kidnapped man should ever put the hinges on the outside of the door. It just isn’t smart. Slowly and as accurately as I can, I shove the blade of the tiny letter opener under the first peg. With some sawing, pushing, and pure effort it pops out easily. Soon I move on to the second one. Rayla who is now sitting up says, “Oh, now I get it! Good idea, Jaslina.” Audrey chuckles. “Why didn’t I think of that?” “Why didn’t you? We’re all exhausted, that’s why! I’m surprised that I thought of it!” “I’m not. Your boyfriend is Ryan Caroga, high school genius. I’d be surprised if you hadn’t thought of it.” “I’ll take that as a complement,” I say. “You should. It was meant as one,” replies Audrey. Eventually all three pegs are out and in a neat little pile on the floor. Handing the letter opener back to Audrey, I begin tugging and kicking at the door. I give more effort than actually necessary because two kicks are all it takes for it to tumble down. The three of us work together to shove the heavy broken door out of the entryway so we can pass through without stepping on anything. When walking inside we’re unsure of what we’re about to face. Is this a torture room or a dungeon? Does she store the bodies of her kidnapped victims in here? However nervous we walk in anyway. Although, we don’t leave each other’s sides’ until one of our hands hits a light switch. Once the room is light up we’re pleasantly surprised and a little disappointed at what we see. This isn’t a dungeon at all; far from it. We’re surrounded by what looks like a paradise to three girls who’ve been walking for twelve hours straight. As long as there’s a bed and a kitchen it’s paradise to us. Of course, to any person’s not fatigued and well rested mind I guess it would look like a disaster zone. The room we’re standing in is a medium sized combination of a kitchenette, dining room, and bedroom. The part that’s supposed to be a bedroom has a queen sized bed which looks to have been hastily made, a slightly worn sofa, and a dresser. The sofa, dresser, and some areas of the floor are cluttered with clothes, high-heeled shoes, and expensive make-up. The dining room and kitchenette are in about the same condition as the bedroom area. The small square table and the counter between the fridge and the microwave are jumbled with boxes of corn flakes, instant oatmeal, and TV dinner trays. There’s nothing much in the sink except for silverware, a couple of bowls and a plate. Attached to the kitchenette is a door hanging wide open. Through it we can see a shower stall, a vanity, and the edge of a toilet. Even at this distance I notice a hair dryer, brush, combs, and mascara sitting on the vanity. There looks to be crinkled towels and more clothes sitting on top of the toilet and over the shower stall.
  4. “Something tells me that this is Sapphire’s room,” whispers Rayla. “Really? With how clean the place is I didn’t notice,” I say. “Should we leave and go somewhere else?” asks Audrey. “I don’t think that this is where Jaslina’s dad is being hidden.” Rayla yawns and then replies, “I don’t think so either. Of course, whether we stay or go is up to Jaslina.” Before I can even answer I feel myself yawning too. My brain wants to continue onward and keep up the search. My aching legs and heavy limbs are telling me otherwise. “You know what guys? Maybe we should just stay here and get some sleep.” “Sleep here? In Sapphire’s room?” asks Rayla. “I’m not in love with the idea either, but we do need some sleep. Here in Sapphire’s room there’s a kitchenette, a shower, a couch, and a bed. Even if it is Sapphire’s bed and couch at least they’ll be comfortable.” “Okay, whatever. You don’t need to tell me twice to go to sleep,” Rayla says already shoving clothes off of the sofa and digging her blanket out of her duffle bag. Audrey shrugs and walks toward the bed with her own bag. As they’re getting on toward slumber I take my pajamas, shampoo, soap, towel, and alarm clock out of my bag. Before heading toward the bathroom I set the alarm clock and place it on the dresser. I don’t care if it is Sapphire’s bathroom I’m using to take a shower in; I have to get clean somehow. My face and hair is starting to feel like its being coated in oil. As I’m walking toward the shower Audrey calls to me, “Jaslina, what time do you have that set for?” “Eight o’clock. That way you and Rayla will have time to take showers in the morning and all of us can get breakfast.” “Alright, sounds good. The quicker we can get out of Sapphire’s room the better.” I smile. “You took the words right out of my mouth. Good night, Audrey.” “Good night, Jaslina. See you in the morning.”
  5. ***The Next Morning/ Twenty-one Hours In***The eight hours of sleep have gone by quickly, and now we’re packing up and ready to continue our journey. Audrey and Rayla were actually awake a little bit before me and were taking their showers. I guess that makes me the late sleeper as usual. Having taken my shower last night I don’t mind. Once I woke up and got dressed we all ate breakfast, so that should keep us filled up for a while. While Rayla shoves things around in her bag to make her other things fit, Audrey and I are sitting at the table peering at Landon’s homemade map. “I don’t understand. We are in the very last hallway on the map. We’ve traveled down all the others. How is Mr. Rowe’s room connected to the end of this hallway?” says Audrey. “I don’t know either,” I reply eyeing the tunnel she’s pointing at. “There’s no way on earth this is possible.” She slams the map down on the table and tugs at her hair. “Well, that’s it then. It’s over. We aren’t ever going to find them. It’s either we leave now before Sapphire gets back or we risk our lives by staying and looking.” I sigh. “Those really are our only two options aren’t they.” Rayla who is finally finished packing her bag walks over to join us. There’s something curious in her eyes. “Guys, I know that you’re distressed at the moment, but can I see that map for a second?” “Sure,” says Audrey. “It’s useless to us anyway.” Carefully she scoops it up off of the table. “Actually it might not be useless. This morning before you two woke up I took the liberty of looking at it. I noticed something very interesting drawn between the end of the last hallway and Mr. Rowe’s room. Without looking carefully it’s really easy to miss.” We gather around her to see what she’s talking about. Sure enough we notice it once looking closer. Overlapping the cross-section between the tunnel and my dad’s room is a square with zigzags inside of it. Truth be told I had noticed it. I only thought that Landon made a typo. Maybe it isn’t an error at all. Before I can finish examining Rayla flips the paper. Toward the top is a little note from Landon. Also in the same spot as the tiny square with zigzags it says Sapphire’s Room/S.E. “What does S.E. stand for?” asks Audrey.
  6. “I’m not positive, but maybe Landon tells us.” Rayla clears her throat and begins reading out loud. “If you wind up in Sapphire’s living quarters you’re in the right place. Your dad’s room is directly beneath it. I’m certain that there’s a secret entrance somewhere in the room, but I’m unsure of where it is exactly. She always blindfolded me to take me down there. Don’t quote me on this, but I think it’s somewhere in the bedroom area of her room. Good luck. Landon.” “Wow, that’s convenient,” says Audrey. “Don’t I feel dumb,” I say. “The White-dressed Woman would be just the type to build a secret entrance inside of secret tunnels. We should’ve seen this coming.” “Well, then, we’d best start looking. There’s no time to lose.” With hope once again restored we drop to our knees and start searching. In that span all sense of time is lost to me. We relentlessly shine our flashlights on the floor looking for the slightest abnormality in the cement. A crack, an indent, a slight difference in color, anything will do. Sadly, there’s none of that. All of it is smooth, even, and not cracked. Without hesitation we move to the walls in search of the same flaws. We even start feeling around to see if anything will start to cave in. Unfortunately nothing does and we move on to the dining room. The only time I notice something odd about the wall is when I’m standing next to the sink and looking at it from across the room. Directly across from me are a picture Sapphire and her friends from school. In it they’re standing in front of Hollister wearing matching outfits. It probably had something to do with spirit week at our school. Honestly, that picture is a perfect example of why I tend to avoid both the mall and spirit week. There are many photos similar to that one hanging all over the walls. However, this one sticks out. By that I mean literally. “Audrey, Rayla, look at that picture for a second.” “Which picture?” Rayla asks me. “There must be two dozen of them.” “The one right across from me. Matching silver clothes. Hollister.” “Oh, now we see it. What about it? You know, other than the fact that it’s kind of disturbing.” “Just look at it and compare it to the other pictures. Is it out a bit further than the other ones or is it just me?” Without taking her eyes from it, Audrey replies, “Now that you mention it, yes. It’s out quite a bit further than the others, come to think of it.” “Great! I knew that it wasn’t just me! Let’s go take a look.”
  7. We all drop what we’re doing and rush over there. How did we not see this sooner? The second she gets there Rayla jerks it off the wall and tosses it onto Sapphire’s bed. Her aim is poor because it tumbles off and breaks. “Ooh, Sapphire’s gonna have to replace that,” she remarks. We ignore her and turn our attention the space where the picture was. Sure enough there is a small red lever pushed into the wall with a small golden key strung over it. “Wow, she didn’t try hard enough to hide that at all,” says Audrey. “She probably thought that she didn’t need to hide it that well. All things considered, it is a twelve hour walk to get this far.” “I must admit, Jaslina, you make a good point.” After a slight pause, “Who wants to pull the lever?” When Audrey asks that I’m already pulling it. Just as Landon’s diagram had intended to show us, stairs open up into the ground between the sofa and the bed. With smiles and hugs all around, Rayla scoops up the golden key and we jog down the dark steps in hope of rescuing my father and sister. Not even when I saw those helicopters in Iraq was my heart this filled with hope.
  8. ***Twenty-three Hours In***The stairwell is damp, dimly-lit, filled with cobwebs, and to put it simply, just plain creepy. The frightening appearance of our location can’t possibly dampen my anticipation. Know why? Because at the end of the hallway, after only twenty minutes of walking, is a large metal door. Finally, at long last, I get to see my father and sister. For sixteen years I’ve been dreaming of this moment. In the split second when the door comes into view I have a flashback. A flashback of all the sleepless nights wondering what happened to my father; all of the daddy-daughter dances at my elementary school that I had to take my grandpa Rowe to instead of my father; every single Father’s Day when I didn’t have a daddy to give a card to or to cook breakfast for; every time I came home and was greeted by only my mother rather than my father. Then there were all of those days when I so deeply yearned for an older sister to play with me or to go shopping with or to talk to when my mom wasn’t around. So many years were wasted. Luckily, they can be resolved now. Dropping the key into my opened palm, Rayla says, “You’ve been waiting a long time for this. Are you ready, Jaslina?” I feel so, so happy right now, yet I’m also nervous. “Yes, I sure am ready for this.” Slowly but unquestionably I step forward. The door may be thick and metal, but the lock is simple. All it takes is a simple twist of the key for it to come creaking opened. The three of us together, we step inside of the wide and dark doorway. At first we’re taken aback by the dreadful stench of unwashed bodies. It takes a long and endless second for me to gain my composure, but once I do I’m able to find the light switch. Part of me is afraid of what the light will reveal to me since the stench is this bad. How have they been treated in their years down here? No time to find out like the present, I tell myself. Holding my nose I flip the switch.
  9. “Ouch! Sapphire, if you still insist on keeping me trapped here I do wish that you wouldn’t do that! You know that the light hurts my eyes! Haven’t you tortured me enough?” Before we can respond to his voice, we take in our surroundings. There isn’t a lot to take in. We’re in a small room that’s made of nothing but stone. All its furnishings consist of are a toilet in the corner and a twin sized bed that looks to be on its last leg. Other than that there’s nothing but stone and dirt and stench. Well, those things, and the man lying on the ratty old bed with his face in the dusty, sweat-stained, pillow. The sight of him makes me want to cry. He wears jeans with holes and grime covering nearly every inch of them. His white t-shirt and red flannel cardigan have gone black and nearly to pieces with age and filth. The last time he had a shower must have been sixteen years ago. His hair is long, snarled, and oily along with his beard. The sweat staining his clothes and the mattress can be seen from a mile away. Still not looking up at us, he snaps, “What? No sarcastic comments? No threats or vulgar remarks? You’re letting down Sapphire, you really are.” I tear up at his voice. Even though I was only one when he disappeared I can still remember it. It’s the voice that I’ve heard in my dreams. It hasn’t changed a bit in his captivity. When nobody responds to him he sits up. When he sees us the anger in his face melts away into a hopeful confusion. Sadly, the hope is so weak in his eyes that you can barely see it. “Who are you people? How did you find me?” Finally I find my voice. “Are you Carson Rowe?” He rushes over to us and collapses onto his knees at my question. I think he’s even starting to cry. “Yes! Yes I am! Thank goodness you’ve found me! My name is Carson Rowe! I’ve been trapped here for over a decade and a half by some crazy woman and her daughter! You have to get me out of h—“
  10. “I know,” I say cutting him off. I’m in full fledged tears now. He stops. “You know? This is great!” After a slightly terrified pause, “What do you mean you know?” Now I am sitting on the ground next to him crying tears of joy at his presence. I can’t believe he’s alive! Nothing can describe my intense mixture of joy and relief. Through my curtain of tears it can be seen that he’s confused. Even though I can’t be understood, I say this anyway. “Dad, it’s me. Jaslina!” When he doesn’t understand my words I remember something my mother told me once long ago. I have a large cherry shaped birthmark on my left forearm. I shove up my sleeve, lift up my arm, and attempt to repeat myself. “Dad, it’s me! I’m your daughter, Jaslina!” He must finally understand because he accepts the embrace that I bestow upon him. The stench and the grime don’t even occur to me. We must have sat there for forty-five minutes hugging and crying. When the tears are gone he naturally starts to quiz me as he ascends the stairs with Rayla, Audrey, and I. However, being his daughter, I get all of the questions right. Even the trick ones such as, how old is your brother Johnny, and what color does your mom dye her hair. We’re so full of happiness and joy that none of us even notice that there wasn’t a nineteen-year-old girl with curly brown hair trapped in the room with him.

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