Stuck in the Suburbs – Chapter 1
This is a new story I have written a few chapters of. I probably won't update it for a while until I have more done, but please read this and tell me if I should continue…
"Ohmygod I'm soo excited!" Ella squealed to me and Nudge. We were sitting on Ella's bed, watching her try on her dress for the upcoming dance. "Can you believe that he asked me weeks early in case someone else asked? It's just so sweet! I mean, we're practically together, and we already went to the Spring Dance, but still…"
Nudge leaned forward with avid interest and I leaned back, pretending to be listening as she told us this for the fifth time.
"What did he say?" asked Nudge excitedly. "I soo want a boyfriend!"
Yeah. When you actually meet some boys other than Iggy, Fang, and Gazzy, be sure to go looking for one. I smiled. "Yeah. Maybe someday, Nudge."
"Girls! Dinner's ready!" called Mom from the kitchen.
You could smell dinner from all the way down the hall – it was heaven. Mom, unlike Anne, knew how to cook Thanksgiving dinner to perfection.
And yes, I did say Thanksgiving. Yes, it has been an almost-year. To tell you the truth, though, not much happened.
See, the flock and I left Dr. Martinez's house around the end of February about ten moths ago. Everyone knows that part of the story. And, of course, you're probably expecting me to go into some full-blown rant about the exciting adventures we went on in the time we were gone.
I hate to break it to you, but really, not all that much happened. We went looking for Itex, but they and the rest of their facilities had been, thanks to the blog, exposed to the world. The blog, of course, is now more famous than ever thanks to the thousands of kids who helped spread the word. The flock and I were found in newspapers and stories about "Fang and the mysterious flying children" were all over television. Naturally, we had to fly under the radar and make sure nobody saw us. A few months of this and the flock got impatient and tired of doing nothing. Around this time Jeb contacted us – by way of the voice – and told us to come back to Dr. Martinez's house immediately.
I still didn't quite trust him, but decided to go, partly because the rest of the flock would have gone crazy if I didn't, and partly because I missed Mom and Ella. We flew over the ocean, this time without a plane, and it's not something I plan on doing ever again. It might have been the coldest I've been in my entire life; minus the time Iggy and Gazzy locked me out of our old house during a storm in my pajama t-shirt and noting else. (There were all laughing while I tried to get through the windows, until Fang saw that I was on the verge of hypothermia and let me in – I didn't talk to any of the boys for days)
We got here 3 days ago and have been loving the whole "place to sleep" thing. Food is good too. Speaking of food, the table was calling to me, so I ran out to the kitchen, where I saw a huge turkey and all sorts of other Thanksgiving food, and the flock around the table. Ella and Nudge were already there, and thanking God that I didn't have to sit between them I squeezed in to Iggy's left. Fang was on my left, and Jeb was next to him. Then came Mom, then Ella, followed by Nudge and Angel, and Gazzy, who was on Iggy's other side. There were 9 people and only 4 chairs, so I was sitting in a swivel chair so short that my head barely came above the table. I could see Fang struggling to keep a straight face as I attempted to adjust the seat, and shot him the bird when no one was looking.
A few minutes later we were all settled and Mom wanted us to give thanks around the table. I remembered last year, when we had Thanksgiving at Anne's. If they had only listened to me and left before then, we wouldn't have been stuck doing the stupid tradition. But they didn't, so now this is our second time. Joy.
"Here, I'll start," she said. "I know you guys don't like to do this, but it's something Ella and I have been doing since she was old enough to talk, so bear with me." I sighed and she took a deep breath.
"I'm thankful that I'm healthy and have a home, and plenty of food. I'm also thankful for my two beautiful daughters, one of whom I've really just met." I blushed and saw Fang and Iggy smirking at me out of the corner of my eyes. "I'm glad that all of you guys are here, and that I've gotten to know all of you, and that you've finally beaten Itex. I would say more but I'll let Ella go."
Everyone looked at Ella. She seemed embarrassed, but started nervously. "I'm thankful for all of you guys, basically. I'm glad for Max, because I have a sister who's really nice and makes me feel less lonely. Iggy and Fang are awesome too – Fang, you're really nice even though you're mostly quiet, and Iggy's cool because he can do anything he wants to, even if he's blind. And Nudge, you're awesome, and I love talking to you 'cause you're like my age and totally are just like me. Gazzy, you're a really cute evil genius and a cool almost-brother. And Angel, you're so sweet and cute and adorable and I can tell almost everyone loves you. And, of course, I love my Mom…and I'm thankful for all that other stuff she said."
There was silence after her speech. Her cheeks turned bright red. "Nudge, your turn," said Ella.
"Okay! I'm glad for you Ella, because you're awesome, and my flock. And I'm glad for boys, cuz they're so cute and sometimes they're even nice and don't act like idiots. And I'm glad that I'm pretty and I'm going to be a teenager. And also that Itex is gone. Okay, Angel."
"I'm thankful all the bad guys are beaten and it's just us now and we can relax, and that Jeb says we can go to school again so I can make friends and Nudge can get a boyfriend. I'm also glad for Max, because she found her Mom and her sister and that we don't have to sleep in caves anymore. And Nudge also wanted to say that she's glad the flock is still together, and I do too."
"Uh…" started Gazzy eloquently, "I'm thankful for everything Angel said, especially that the flock is together again because it sucked when we weren't. And I'm thankful for things that blow up."
I stared at him but he was looking at Iggy. "Glad for the place to stay, Itex is gone, flock is together," he said. "Max."
"Um, I'm thankful for my new Mom and my sister, and my flock."
I looked at Fang. "Glad for the flock – the whole flock, as in, all together – and for the food and place to stay here."
"And Fang also says that he's thankful for Max especially because she's his best friend–" she shot a glance at Fang that I didn't quite understand –,"and that Ella, Dr. Martinez and Jeb aren't evil, that the whole flock is safe and no one's hurt, and that his blog saved the world from Itex."
"Thanks, Angel," Fang muttered sarcastically, his cheeks turning a bit red, and glared at Jeb, telling him that it was his turn.
"I'm thankful for all of you, and that you've finally started trusting me. I know it will take a while, but I'm willing to wait. I love you all, and I hope that eventually you will come to confide in me. I'm very glad you are all safe and developing well."
"Can we eat now?" asked Gazzy.
Dr. Martinez laughed. "Dig in," then she smiled and added, "And don't worry, I made enough for 6 growing mutants – there's about 5 more helpings of everything in the kitchen.
We didn't hear the second half of her sentence because we were already eating. It was good to be home.
After our bellies were full, Jeb cleared his throat, telling us to be quiet. I wondered what he wanted to say so I shut up – I had been in the middle of telling Gazzy not to try to shove food up his nostrils.
"When you first came here, I told you that you were here because we needed to hide you. I hope you have realized that this is not a proper place to hide, seeing as this could be a place that they would look. Luckily, I have already wiped my and Mrs. Martinez's names here off of all the Itex records, so we should be safe.
"I hope you realize that the remnants of Itex are still looking for you, as you were the ones to destroy them. They are out to terminate you, and you need to be well hidden."
"Well, that's what we've been doing for the past year, and it hasn't really been working so well," I said.
"Yes. You need to be hidden, comfortable, and able to interact with people your own age. Now that your tracer chip is gone, Max, they can't find you if you're well hidden."
"And where exactly are we supposed to hide and do that?" I asked skeptically.
"Well, see, I've been pondering that question for some time, and I think I've finally come up with an answer. It's located in the suburbs of California, in a very low profile community. Basically, a place they'd never expect you to be. It's a town called Sunnyvale, California. You'd have to be careful about your wings, but it's perfect."
My eyes widened. Me? Living in the suburbs…the thought was utterly ridiculous. Maybe, though, that was exactly the point. Sunnyvale…it just sounded, I don't know, too…sunny.
"Can I see them?" Angel asked Jeb. "Please?"
"Of course," said Jeb, and pulled out three flyers. "I've found a neighborhood close to all of the three schools you guys will need. There are three homes for sale there, and I thought I would let you choose.
"This first one," said Jeb, pulling out a flyer of a house with a very manicured front lawn, "Is a nice two story, 5 bedroom, 2 bath house, and its only a short walk to the elementary school and only slightly longer to the middle school, but I've done research and across the street is a man with practice for his rock and roll band once a week and a mother with two rowdy 7 year old twin boys." Even Angel, who was 7 years old herself, and Fang, who loved rock and roll, winced at this.
Iggy made a buzzer noise. "Next!"
"This next is a large one story house, with 4 bedrooms and two bathrooms, but a large backyard. It is, however, next to the trailer park so you may get bright porch lights shining through the windows at inconvenient times during the night. It also comes with all the sounds from the trailer park if you open your windows."
"Too small," said Gazzy, who had no intention of sharing a room with Angel, and Jeb pulled out the third one.
"This, I think, would be your best bet," he said. "Two story, 5 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms. This house is convenient because the fence in the backyard is the only thing that separates it from the park and elementary school, so Angel and Gazzy can simply hop the fence in the mornings to get to school. Nudge should have no problem getting to the middle school, and Max, you, Iggy and Fang will only have to walk a few miles, and you three, obviously, can do that far more quickly than the average human."
"Ooooh! Oooh! I want this hooooooouse!" screamed Nudge. "And I can walk to school every day, and get a boyfriend, and it'll be so much fun! And we can go to the park when we want to and hang out and Max and Fang and Iggy can go to the high school! And then Iggy can -" Fang and Iggy simultaneously reached to put their hands over her mouth.
Jeb smiled as Nudge gave Fang - he won - the evil eye. "I can get the house within a week - is that fast enough?"
"Yes!" said Angel. "And the address rhymes too!"
"Huh?" I asked.
"2005 Lupine Drive! It sounds cute and we can remember it, too. And no, Max, I'm not hyper, I'm just really excited!"
"You guys," I asked, "do you remember what happened the last time we went to school? Or lived like normal people?"
"Max, this time Jeb is trying to hide you from Itex, not place you back in its clutches," Mom tried to explain.
I almost chuckled at her choice of words, and then saved myself. "Oh yeah? Are you sure about that?"
"Yes," said Mom. Then she did something that surprised me. She grabbed Jeb's hand and held it in her own on top of the table.
I raised my eyebrows at Fang and he shrugged.
"I still think that we'll have to discuss this," I said. "I mean, we're not like normal people, and we can't act like it. Could we stay in the house and not go to school?"
"Noooooooooooooo," Angel and Nudge whined at the exact same time Jeb said, "That's truancy - it's against the law."
"Because the flock and I have been known to listen to authority," I remarked, getting angry. Why doesn't the flock learn from their mistakes? Didn't they get that last time we went to school it ended in disaster, and it would start all over again? I was smart enough not to mention that there would probably be red-haired bimbos for Fang at the new high school, too.
"I'll give you guys tonight to think it over - just know, Max, that by staying here you might be putting Ella and Dr. Martinez in danger."
I said nothing and walked towards the door leading outside the house.
"Where are you going?" asked Jeb.
"Out," I said, and slammed the front door. I sat on the porch steps.
Max, think about it practically, Jeb warned in my head.
"GET OUT OF MY HEAD!" I yelled. I placed my head in the palms of my hands and sighed. Either Jeb was giving me a headache or I was getting a natural one from the stress of the day.
A few seconds later I heard Fang sit down on the steps next me. I still didn't know how he managed the whole silent thing.
"Nice dramatic exit there," he said. "Seriously, 'out?' I hope you realize you've already started acting like a normal teenager. There's no way out now."
I sighed and rubbed my temples, ignoring him.
"You know, it's natural for girls your age to fight with their fathers,"
"Go away, Fang," I groaned.
"You know he's just trying to help."
"Everyone seems so sure of that. Because sending me to my impending doom makes it seem like he's just looking out for me, right?" I mumbled the words into my hands.
"Max, it's a home and a school, not a torture chamber," he said. I sensed he was looking at me like I was out of my mind, and decided not to look up. I remembered how Fang had pressured us to settle, and realized how much he wanted this.
"Maybe not for you. I happen to have bad memories concerning high school."
"I was in the same school as you were. None of us are used to leading a normal life, Max, but the kids enjoy it."
"And so do you," I mumbled.
I mumbled something incoherent about lovely, respectable girls who would grow up and have lovely, respectable jobs concerning skimpy outfits and street corners.
"Max, the kids are really excited about this. And Iggy wants to meet girls. Don't take that away from them."
"I know that I don't have a choice, Fang. I can't put Mom and Ella in danger, and we both saw the looks on Angel and Nudge's faces. But that doesn't change the fact that I hate it."
He pulled my hands away from my face and held them in my lap, forcing me to look at him. "It'll be fine. The flock will be there. I'll be there. Itex won't be able to find us. Everything will be fine," he repeated. When did he get so good at comforting people?
I sighed, giving in. California, here we come.