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In the summer of one particularly unforgiving year with her family, Jade Nelson runs away to a nearby train station with nothing but a sack of clothes and money she’s saved from since she was seven. There, she meets four other teens with similar stories and the same want: to escape town on the midnight train. They then decide on a better idea; to travel across the country by train and find other teens and minors trapped in hateful homes and smuggle them to freedom in homeless shelters and police stations.

Submitted:Mar 6, 2013    Reads: 8    Comments: 0    Likes: 0   

Chapter one

Jade Nelson

The sound of plates shattering announced the arrival of Jade's father, and all at once the peaceful atmosphere was shattered. From where she'd been lying peacefully on her bed, Jade lifted up her head and looked towards the door. Her chubby Alaskan malamute, Wendy lay sprawled out in front of it, and as Jade made her way across the hardwood floor in stocking feet, she looked at her with pale blue eyes filled with curiosity. Her curled tail thumped against the ground, and Jade did her best to ignore her as she opened the door and stepped over the dog to walk out into the hallway.

From where she stood, Jade had a clear view of the scene that was unfolding in front of her. Her father was standing there in the kitchen, the broken plate at his feet, along with her mother who was crying and frantically speaking in Spanish. Her brother, meanwhile, was sitting with his feet propped up on the couch, watching cartoons and completely ignoring what had just happened. Anger bubbled up inside of her, but Jade knew when to keep her mouth shut, and now was one of those times.

Ever since she was ten (she was now nineteen), Jade could remember her father having something of a temper. He wanted things done the way he wanted it, quickly, and if it wasn't done, he would get angry. She remembered that he'd started hitting her when she was around eleven or twelve, but never her little brother. Never her "perfect" brother, who could do no wrong. Whenever he did something, anything that broke the rules, it was either Jade's or her mother's fault. When she was younger, she didn't quite understand, but she knew now. He would never outright say it, but Jade knew that it was because her father hated women.

"What are you waiting for?" He yelled, and Jade was snapped out of her thoughts. "Get over here and clean up this mess!" Frowning, Jade crossed her arms and stared at him, brown eyes cold as the winter breeze that was currently making the trees hit the house loudly. "Move, girl!"

"No," Jade replied firmly. "You clean it up. You're the one who broke it." His face was turning purple with rage now; the muscles in his neck and face bulging. She didn't move, didn't flinch as he walked over and grabbed her by the front of the shirt and brought her face close to his. She turned away, but still managed to look him in the eyes as he screamed obscenities at her and whacked her hard across the face, but his hits didn't hurt anymore. They just made her angrier, angrier inside at the injustice of it all, and she shoved him off of her before taking off back down the hallway and diving into the safety of her room, managing not to trip over the dog as she shut the door and turned the lock.

The majority of their face offs usually ended like this, and Jade had to hide in her room until her father got bored of screaming at the door and went to do something like this. Jade had to admit that this routine was very tiring, however, and tonight was the night where she'd had enough. She wouldn't allow it to continue any longer, she told herself as she took one of her old backpacks that had been shoved in the deepest recesses of her closet. Throwing it on the bed, Jade burrowed deeper into her closet, shoving aside most of the clothes, books, and shoes. Hidden away in a deep corner was a collection of shoe boxes, but on closer inspection, it was revealed that it was not shoes they carried. Most of them were filled to the brim with money, bills and change, and Jade didn't hesitate as she packed them into the backpack. She knew if she left them here, someone would find the money.

Ever since she was seven, and when she and her family lived in less than pleasant living conditions, Jade had started saving every penny that she found or was given in these shoe boxes, hoping that one day she'd have enough money to pay for them to have a better life. Despite her efforts, after her father managed to get a job, they had picked themselves up on their own, so Jade decided to keep it in case she ever had to use it. She'd written "Emergencies only" across the tops in all-red caps to remind herself, and she figured that this would count as an "emergency".

The money boxes took up most of the space in Jade's backpack, but it didn't matter. She wouldn't bring any of her clothes or anything along with her; she had enough money to pay for that later. She couldn't waste any time, the last thing she needed was to be caught, and she went over her options in her head as she carefully put her guitar into its case. She couldn't take any of the cars, considering how she didn't have the keys for them, and if her mother ever decided to escape she'd need a car. Jade didn't have any friends who lived nearby, and if she waited at the bus stop, she'd be a sitting duck. As she took hold of Wendy's leash, an idea finally came to her, and she grinned. She'd just have to take the Midnight Train out.

Jade's family happened to live rather close to a train station, and every midnight like clockwork a train departed. It was known all around as "the Midnight Train", and it ran on a twenty-four hour schedule, returning to its first stop in Jade's hometown every midnight. Jade wasn't sure, exactly where the train stopped, but it didn't matter. As long as it was away from here, far away, she knew that her father wouldn't pursue her.

She waited until all of the lights went off in the house, and all of the sounds outside quieted. It was now 10:30, and Jade judged that she probably had a thirty minute walk to get to the station. If she started off now, she'd be able to get there with an hour to spare.

"Come on, Wendy, and don't make a sound," she whispered to the malamute, clipping the leash to her collar. The chubby red and white dog just wagged her tail, tilting her head as her pale blue eyes stared at Jade with question. "Don't ask, just be quiet." Slinging one strap of the backpack over one shoulder, and the guitar case over the other, Jade slowly opened the door. She prayed that it wouldn't squeak as it opened, and thankfully for once it didn't. Usually, whenever she tried to sneak out somewhere, the door would shriek and squeal treacherously, but tonight it was though the door understood that it needed to remain silent.

The rest of her escape was frightfully uneventful, nothing like any of the action/adventure movies that she'd watched. At this point, the protagonist would be facing some kind of hurdle, but Jade was able to make it out without anyone waking up or attempting to follow her.

And so, clutching Wendy's leash tight in one hand and the strap of her backpack in the other, Jade set off down the sidewalk of her neighborhood in the direction of the Midnight Train, never once looking back or thinking about returning home.


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