The Red Monarch

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: House of Drama & Adventure
Alex' time at the Red Monarch High School is about to end. In his last weeks he discovers that the staircase for teachers lead to another floor. Together with his best friend Evan and his girlfriend Olivia they start to discover things that should have stayed undiscovered.

Submitted: August 07, 2016

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Submitted: August 07, 2016

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THE RED MONARCH

 

The “Red Monarch High School” was still new to me when it happened. It happened pretty early in the ninth grade. It was the first lesson at a cold winter morning. The sky still dark and everyone sleepy and passive. The lesson progressed very sluggish. It felt like it would never end but then it happened. The moment that changed my life. Suddenly someone banged on the door multiple times very aggressively. Immediately everyone turned to the door. Besides one person. Our teacher Mr. Rakin. He started acting very strangely. Nervously holding the piece of chalk in his hand he stared to the ground with an expression as if he knew who it is and what's going to happen. Rapidly the door opened and the headmaster, Miss Roth, entered the classroom with a scowl. She is an older, bigger woman with shoulder length straight black hair. Mr. Rakin slowly put the piece of chalk on his table with his head still down and a very anxious look on his face. Miss Roth scanned the classroom from right to left as if she was looking for someone specific. I started to worry.

'Is it me that she is looking for?' I asked myself. 'Have I done something wrong lately?'

I looked to Evan, my best friend, with an asking face but he just shrugged and knew as little as I. When the headmasters eyes passed me I was relieved and looked to my teacher who turned desperately to the windows with his hands behind his back. Suddenly Miss Roth called, 'YOU!' and pointed with her finger toward Ari. A shy boy who was relatively new in our class. I couldn't believe that he did something wrong. Ari was way too silent and coy. What could he have possibly done that the headmaster has to come in our classroom in such a mood? 'Stand up!' the headmaster ordered. Ari slowly stood up and looked down to the ground, anxiously, like my teacher. '

Do they know what's happening here?' I asked myself. The headmaster moved toward the door and said, 'Follow me!' Ari obeyed and desperately left the classroom. I never saw Ari again. When the door closed the lesson was finally over. Mr. Rakin turned around and left the classroom like he had never done before. I could see anger and anxiety in his face. The next few days he was still different than usual. I knew something was wrong but besides me nobody seemed to care. All they cared about was leaving the classroom. While Evan and I were walking down the hallway I asked him,

'What has just happened?'

'We had the most boring lesson ever. That's what happened!' he said.

'Do you believe Ari has done something wrong?'

'What? What makes you say that?'

'Didn't you pay any attention to the face of our headmaster and teacher?'

'I was busy with more important stuff.'

'What's more important than that?'

'Dude, it was an exciting tic-tac-toe match!'

I sighed and asked, 'With whom?' since he was sitting by himself because he was rather one of those louder students.

'Since when do you need two players for tic-tac-toe?'

Typical Evan. High school student but still plays tic-tac-toe on a table by himself. The worst part is that he thinks it's exciting. For the next 4 years we didn't talk about Ari again and I also never heard anybody else talking about him. In the tenth grade I fell in love with a girl from a parallel class. A beautiful and adorable girl with long, curly, brown hair and the cutest smile ever. Olivia is her name. That was the first time that I loved a girl that much. At the beginning I didn't dare to approach her. I was never good with girls but Evan, the wannabe player, convinced me and gave me some “amazing” tips. Although it was very awkward, to my surprise, it kinda worked out and since then she is my girlfriend. Liv, Evan and I are hanging around most of the time. In the 12th grade during our last weeks at the Red Monarch High school they started installing new elevators. We already had one but that was only for disabled people. They added two new ones that was allowed to be used by everyone. One day after recess I was walking upstairs to our classroom with Evan.

'Too bad they didn't add those elevators earlier,' I said.

'Yeah, then I wouldn't be one minute too late every time.'

'I don't think that you're faster with an elevator.'

'Of course you are, idiot'

'Not if it's just 3 floors and you run fast enough.'

'I don't believe it! We'll test that out as soon as they're finished!'

We reached our classroom but the door was looked so we waited. Leaned against a wall I looked to my right to the staircase that was only allowed to be used by teachers. We called it “Teacherstairs”. I had never noticed that the Teacherstairs didn't end at the third floor while the staircase for students did. I wish it would stay like that. But it didn't.

'Have you ever realized that the Teacherstairs lead to another floor?' I asked Evan. He looked to the Teacherstairs and then turned his head to the Studentstairs. After a few seconds he looked to me, shrugged and said, 'Probably just an attic. Who cares?'

'I do'

'Why? You think they're hiding Ari up there?'

Although it wasn't a serious question it caused an awkward silence for a few seconds. No one has mentioned Ari for the last four years. And the fact that Evan used his name in this context after all these years showed that we had the same strange thoughts. I guess we all just suppressed this incident. I tried to release the tension by jokingly saying,

'Maybe. We should take a look.' and chuckled awkwardly. Evan, though replied seriously,

'Yes, let's do it.'

'I don't know. It's only meant for teachers.'

'These are our last weeks. Even if they catch us what can they possibly do?'

'That's a good point.'

'So you're in?', I hesitated but I don't even know why. Actually I had the urge to go up there as soon as I saw that it's possible.

'Okay, all right,' at that moment I didn't know how big that mistake was.

'I knew you wouldn't let me down!'

'But not now! We'll wait for the next recess.'

'Fair enough.'

'But you don't really think...that he is...'

'Of course not. I'm just curious.'

'Since when are you curious about something? A moment ago you didn't even care.'

'I changed my mind. Maybe we'll find cool stuff up there.'

We waited impatiently for the next recess. The Teacherstairs were uppermost in my mind the whole time. I didn't care about the lesson. Neither did Evan, as always. It really reminded me of the day when Ari vanished. When the lesson was finally over we were the first ones who left the classroom. We waited for the other students and our teacher to finally leave the hallway.

'Okay, let's go. Now!' I said.

We moved towards the Teacherstairs as inconspicuously as we could.

'I feel like a spy from a movie.'

'You're not, Evan!'

'Why? I would be a good spy.'

Just one french door separated us from our goal. Suddenly I heard someone calling my name.

'Alex? Where are you guys going?' I immediately recognized that voice. It was Olivia my girlfriend.

While we were slowly turning around I whispered to Evan, 'That's why you're not a spy!' Before we could finally see Liv we slapped on a smile.

'Hey Liv. What are you doing here?' I said and gave her a kiss.

'I wanted to ask you guys the same question.'

'We...erm...well,' I tried not to lie but also I didn't want to tell her the complete truth.

'What Alex is trying to say is that we wanted to check out the attic.' I couldn't believe it. He told her what our intention was. I knew if she would know it she wouldn't let us go alone and I didn't want her to be involved in this. If we would get caught it would be my fault.

'What attic?'

'Yeah, I know. We just found it out after the last recess too,' I said. 'The Teacherstairs actually lead to another floor and we wanted to check it out.' Her glimpse past us and roamed to the Teacherstairs. I could see her worried face so I asked,

'Is everything ok, Liv?' She forced a smile for a second and said,

'Yes.'

'I don't think so. You can tell me.' She looked down and sighed sadly.

'I just had strange thoughts. It's ridiculous. You don't want to know it.'

'Olivia. I see something's eating you. Please tell me.' She looked up avoiding eye contact, hesitated but finally started talking.

'I've never told you this but last year we got a new student. Eden is her name. She wasn't a friend of mine but she was kind. Maybe a bit shy but a good person. One day Miss Roth entered the classroom and took Eden with her. That was the last day I saw her.' Evan and I looked at each other with a shocked face. She went on,

'I always felt like the school has something to do with it because they've never told us where she is. But we also never dared to ask. And now seeing this mysterious staircase caused some strange thoughts, you know. I don't think they're hiding Eden up there. That would be absurd.' We were so shocked that she noticed it.

'Is everything ok guys?' I wasn't sure whether I should tell her about Ari or not. By telling her too much I felt like that I drag her into something perilous. But I also felt like that it's wrong to withhold this story from her.

'Four years ago when we were new at this school something similar happened to us. The headmaster took Ari with her. Also a rather shy student. We have no idea where he is.'

'This can't be a coincidence,' she said.

'No it's probably not,' I acknowledged.

'I don't think that they're up there but we should check it out,' said Evan.

Liv agreed, 'You're right. Let's do it.'

I didn't like it. I didn't like it all that Liv was involved in this. We moved toward the Teacherstairs, opened the french door slowly and sneaked in the staircase hoping that nobody was downstairs hearing the heavy door open and close. We slowly tiptoed upstairs and kept looking behind us. As expected we had to turn right twice. The second time we turned right we looked up to a heavy metal door.

'Let me guess. It's looked,' whispered Evan.

'We won't know it unless we try it,' replied Liv.

'Wait here guys. I'll try to open it,' I said and went up. I had the doorknob in my hand. Just one moment before I could bring it down we suddenly heard a door open in the lower floors.

'We have to go! Now!' whispered Evan. I was so close but I had to release the doorknob.

'The steps are getting louder,' said Liv putting me under pressure. We moved down again. This time a bit faster. Turned left once but before we turned left again I had to check if someone's coming toward the Teacherstairs through the hallway. I raised my hand to tell Liv and Evan to stop. Squat down and looked through the french door. And indeed our headmaster Miss Roth was on her way to the Teacherstairs and the steps from below were still getting louder too.

'We have to go up again. It's Miss Roth,' I whispered. We went up to the metal door even faster than the last time but still quiet enough.

'If the door is looked there is no other way out,' said Evan. I brought the doorknob down slowly because it was quite squeaky. I pulled the door, knowing that Evan was right, but hoping it wasn't locked. But it was. I looked to the others and slowly shook my head in desperation.

'It's over...we messed it up,' Evan said accepting that there's nothing left to do.

'No. Not necessarily,' said Liv. 'Who says that they're coming up here?'

'She's right. We still have a chance,' I said.

'We'll know it through the sound of their steps,' whispered Liv. Suddenly the french door opened and we could hear her set of keys rustling. Whether she's coming up or not was not a question 

anymore. The fact that we could hear her keys already told us that she was coming up to open the metal door. And when the rustling and her steps got louder our fear was confirmed. I gave Evan an angry look. I think he didn't understand why. We knew that there's no hope anymore so I started thinking and so, I assume, the others as well about an excuse. I'm usually not good at thinking under pressure but I came up with the “very original” idea that a teacher sent us up here to get something. I knew that this excuse would cause follow-up questions but those questions had to be answered spontaneously. Unexpectedly we heard the teacher who was coming from below saying, 'Ah, Miss Roth. I was looking for you.' Abruptly the sound of the keys and the steps stopped. For a moment there was complete silence. We all looked at each other in surprise and hope.

'What is it?', said Miss Roth annoyed.

'Max hit someone...again. I told him to come with me but of course he doesn't listen. It's a bit out of control right know.' Miss Roth sighed.

'And what am I supposed to do?'

'I need you on the schoolyard. You're the only one whom he listens to.' Miss Roth became really mad.

'Fine.' They both went down. I couldn't believe it but we actually did it. We gasped for air because we all held our breath all the time. When were down in the hallway we finally started talking.

'That was way too close,' Liv said.

'We shouldn't do that again,' I said agreeing.

'We can't anyway. Not without a key,' she said.

'Since when do you need a key to open a door?' said Evan with a grin.

'Evan, no! Don't even think about it!'

'If they locked the door there must be something important. Something that they don't want us to know,' retorted Evan.

'He's right, Alex. Maybe we should go up there again.'

'And how do you plan to open the door?'

'Leave that to me. Just don't let me down, mate.' I hesitated again but not because I didn't want to go up there. It was because of Liv.

'Okay. Tomorrow. First recess.'

'Yes! That's my buddy!'

While going home that day I thought about what happened and how childish our behavior was. To believe that Miss Roth has something to do with the disappearance of Ari and Eden. To try to go up to the attic where they most likely hid no one and nothing from us. To accept that Evan's gonna break that door. That was just immature. I tried to think more rational and not like a kid who has watched too many movies. Maybe they just moved away and since they were both new in the classes nobody felt that it's important to let us know? Or they didn't shed light upon that because their parents didn't want us to know the reasons for their move? No matter what it is, there must an explanation I thought. And I was right. But my speculations were not.

The next day, the first thing I wanted to do at school was to talk to Evan. I had to talk him out of the idea of breaking into the attic. I came into the classroom and told him to come out but he grabbed his book bag, came toward me with a big grin, dragged me to the hallway and opening his bag he said,

'Dude, look at this!' I didn't. Instead I looked at him with a scowl.

'What? Now look at it!' he insisted. I sighed and expecting anything but something good I took a look. It was nothing that I had seen before but it looked very similar to a bomb. I looked him in the eyes and saw his thrill of anticipation. He was so thrilled he didn't even see the anger swelling in me.

'Are you fucking kidding me? A damn...' I stopped, glanced left and right and went on a bit quieter, 'bomb? Do you wanna blow up the school?'

'Oh, come on...this is not a bomb. We'll just open the door with that.'

'Open the door or blow up the door?'

'Well, actually we'll just blow up the lock.'

'Evan! We are not the kids in the ninth grade anymore.' he looked at me very disappointed.

'Man, I paid 100 bucks for this. It was made to open doors. There will be a tiny explosion that is completely silent and won't harm anyone. You can't even get this in the States. This is from China!'

'From China? Splendid! That makes it even better!' even more disappointed and a bit upset he said,

'But you said we'll do it. You promised it! Don't you wanna know what's up there?'

'We have to think more rational, Evan. It's just an old attic. Not worth the trouble.'

'Fine. I'm sure Liv is still interested.' that was the worst thing he could have said.

'Do not even dare to think about it. You will not drag her into this even more!' we looked at each others eyes. Both of us full of anger.

'Okay. Then I'll do it alone.' he closed his bag and went into the classroom.

Although I was mad at him I, of course, didn't want him to do it alone. But first I wanted to get Liv and me out of that mess. Next I had to talk it out of Evan.

At the first recess, when everybody left the hallway, Evan passed me with his bag without a word and moved toward the Teacherstairs. I just stood there and didn't know what to say. Suddenly Liv came from behind and called my name,

'Alex? Why is Evan going alone?'

'Listen Liv. What he's doing is foolish. What we have done yesterday...that was foolish.' I saw that she didn't expect that. She was surprised.

'What? Why? But you told me about Ari and...you said it yourself. That this can't be a coincidence. What do you wanna do? Let him go alone?' I looked to my right and saw that he was close to the french door.

'Evan!' I cried. He stopped right in front of the french door but didn't turn around. 'You don't have to do this.' A few seconds there was complete silence. Slowly speaking he said,

'Do you remember when I said that I do not believe that they are up there? Maybe they are not. But I am hundred percent sure that there is at least a hint at where they could be. I am hundred percent sure that this school has something to do with their disappearance. Yes, Alex. I have to do this. With or without you.' he opened the french door and sneaked into the Teacher-staircase. Liv started following him which I couldn't allow so I grabbed her arm tightly.

'Let me go! He can't do this alone,' she cried.

'Liv. Please. Just forget him,' I said grabbing her even tighter since she fought even harder to free herself.

'What are you trying to protect me from, Alex? You too still believe that this school is behind their disappearance! You're just afraid. Admit it!' The truth behind her words hit me. In shock I loosened my grip unconsciously. Because of this mistake she could free herself and ran to the Teacherstairs. I stood there. Alone. Feeling like a fool. All I wanted was to protect them. Now both of them were gone. I turned around to the Studentstairs, thinking about going outside to the schoolyard. Just doing what everyone does. Just being normal. Not messing with something that I shouldn't. But I didn't think about it very long. It took me a second and I turned around again and moved towards the Teacherstairs.

When I reached the metal door Evan was trying to attach his bomb to the lock. Liv was helping him by holding the instruction and telling him what to do. They knew that I was coming as soon as they heard the door but they didn't react to me at all. They knew I was standing behind them. Watching them. But they didn't even bother to turn around.

'Good,' said Liv. 'Now take the yellow wire and plug it here.'

'Like this?'
'Yes. Perfect. And now I think you must take the rod and put it through the hole. Make sure it doesn't touch the door.'

'Done. How much is left?'

'That's it. Now we just need to push the button.'

'Finally. It was complicated enough wasn't it?'

'Yeah, especially because it's Chinese.'

'I hope we have done nothing wrong,'

'We'll see when you push the button.'

'No, I do you the honor of pushing the button.'

'Awww, thank you,' she said and pushed the button which caused a very faint sound.

Liv gave him a high five and said, 'Well done, partner!'

'I had a good instructor.'

'Oh please. I just interpreted sketches.'

'Good, that we didn't blow up the school then.' They laughed together while I was slowly coming up to them. They still didn't say anything to me. Not even looked at me.

'Okay. Let's find out what's in there,' said Evan and put his bomb in the bag while Liv was slowly opening the door. Evan stopped her by getting in front of her and softly pushing her back with his arm. I saw how his arm slightly touched her breasts. I'm not sure whether it was on purpose or not but I know that Liv didn't react to it.

'I better go first,' he said and entered the attic. Liv followed him. Lastly I got to see the attic. Immediately we all held our noses and started coughing. A stench, as horrible as that had never reached my nose before. Dust was expected but I did not expect to swim in it. I had never experienced such a stuffy air. There were no windows at all. The only light source we had came from the staircase. Evan used the flashlight of his smartphone to light the attic. It wasn't big. Maybe 4 Steps and you were at the end of it. Left and right old mold infested bookshelves full with ancient cobwebbed books. And at the end of the attic. A rectangle wooden box as big as a refrigerator but lying laterally and with a lock on it. While Evan and Liv slowly moved towards the box I closed the door just to make sure that nobody hears us. I followed them and every step we took caused a squeak because of the old wooden ground. While Evan and Liv were standing right in front of the box I was at least one meter away from it.

'Seems like the content of this thing is the source of this disgusting reek,' said Liv.

'Yeah, most likely.'

'You think we can use your strange Chinese tool?'

'Not necessary for this old shabby lock,' he said and kicked the lock head-on which caused minor damages to the wood. Liv kicked it next, caused even more damage, but lost the balance. Evan put his arm around her to catch her. After she was standing securely he dropped his arm and I saw how he touched her butt with his fingertips. Again no reaction whatsoever from Liv.

'Good job, one kick more and it should be broken,' he said, took a step backwards, raised his right leg above the lock and kicked it with his heel. To my astonishment the lock fell apart.

'Nice,' said Liv. 'We just broke two locks!'

'We're such a dream team.'

'I hope they didn't hear us, though. It was pretty loud.'

'Nah! Don't worry about that. No one will hear us up here.'

'Then let's see what's in there,' she said and bent down to open the box. She had already raised it a centimeter but Evan bent down too, pushed it down again, looked in her eyes and said,

'This is the worst stench I've ever smelled and,' he hesitated for a second. 'They say that the worst smell that exists is the smell,' he hesitated once more, this time a bit longer. 'Of a dead body. So I think you shouldn't see this, Liv.' Slowly they straightened themselves again. I saw how Evan's gaze went down to use this last opportunity to take a look at her cleavage for a moment.

'Thank you for the warning Evan but even if it's indeed a dead body, I should be able to take it.'

'Ok then. If you say so. But at least, let me open it.'

'Yes, go ahead.' He slowly opened the box. I moved closer to them to see what's in there but before I could see it I saw Evan's confused face.

'It's just a piece of paper,' he said disappointed.

'A huge box and they put a piece of paper in it?' said Liv also disappointed. He took it out and I saw an old yellowish brown page with writing on it. Most of it blurred. Evan smelled it carefully with a disgusted face and said,

'No, that's not the source of the smell.'

'What's written on it?' asked Liv. He squint at the paper.

'That's what I'm trying to find out. It's really hard to tell but it looks like a list with names and right next to it there are dates.'

'Do you recognize any name?'

'Those dates are all from the last century. One of them is even from 1750. But The Red Monarch High School was founded sometime in the 19th century wasn't it?'

'No, actually it's 1760. At least according to our teacher who used to repeat that often in the 11th grade. But maybe those aren't students.'

A red book in a shelf on my right caught my attention. That book just stood out. It was cleaner, thicker and brighter than the other books. I had the urge to take a look so I moved towards it.

'Who those people are doesn't matter. I still want to know where this stench comes from. Maybe we should move the box,' said Evan.

'What do you expect underneath it? A hatch?' she asked jokingly.

'We'll see it when we move the box. Can you give me a hand?' he said, closed the box and put the paper on it. I took the book slowly out of the shelf. There was no need to free it from dust. It was completely clean. No picture or text was on the cover. That book looked so mysterious. Forbidden. And so important. I raised my head to see if they'll find something. They moved the box toward me so I couldn't see what was underneath it. But the disappointment in their faces told me everything. I thought. But then Liv said,

'There's something behind it!' She pointed at the wall.

'Indeed!' said Evan surprised and squat down to analyze the wall. So did Liv. I couldn't see them behind the box so I lowered my head again and examined the book but kept listening to them.

'Looks like a small secret door. Probably the stench is coming from behind the wall!' said Evan.

'But of course it's locked. I don't think we can kick this one. It's massive.'

'Let's use my strange Chinese tool then.'

'Shall I interpret the sketches again?'

'Please! I can't do it without my instructor.'

Of course he could have. If he would have wanted to, he could have done it without her. He could have avoided the slight touches and the glance. While they were busy with the door I finally opened the book. On page one there was the logo of our school which is simply a silhouette of a Monarch and beneath that it said “Red Monarch ~ Founded 1750”.

'Guys, the Red Monarch High School was founded 1750 not 1760.'

'Doesn't matter,' said Liv.

'It's weird because...' Liv interrupted me.

'It does not matter, Alex!'

On the next left page there was a short strange paragraph which I read aloud:

 

Founded in 1750 by Zachary Roth.

He did not choose to start this.

He was not chosen to start this.

He will not choose the one.

He will not create the one.

He will find the one.

The one will be born.

Two centuries it can take.

Perhaps more, but never less.

~ Red Monarch

 

Evan and Liv stopped working on the bomb and stood up, looking at me with anxious faces.

'So that was written by someone called “Red Monarch”?' asked Evan. I shrugged and said,

'No idea. But even more strange is that it says that Zachary Roth founded this school. Isn't there a picture in our entrance hall of another man, whose name I forgot, but is known as the founder of this school?'

'Yes, that's what they wanted us to think,' said Liv. 'Do you think it's a coincidence that our headmaster has the same surname as Zachary?' said Liv.

'I think so,' I said and looked at the right page where I found a mind-blowing list of names.

'Here's a list of all former headmasters! All of them have the surname “Roth”. Above that list it says: “It shall stay in the family”.'

'You think that means...,' hesitated Liv.

'Yes, incest most likely,' I said.

'Geez, sick stuff is happening in this school,' said Evan.

Suddenly and utterly unexpected the fire alarm went off. We all looked at each other, confused and a bit afraid.

'A drill during a recess? This doesn't make sense. ' said Evan.

'Maybe it's not a drill?' said Liv.

'Whether it's a drill or not, we have to leave now! They'll be looking for us,' I said.

'What? You're about to discover the truth about this school and that's what you care about? I won't leave now. Liv will you help me with this damn door?'

'Let's do it.' They squat down and started working on their bomb again.

'If the school's indeed burning, the truth won't safe you.'

'I'm dead sure, this fucked up school ain't burning.'

Loudly and rapidly the unforeseen happened. The metal door opened.

'You're right. The school's not burning,' said Miss Roth.

Evan and Liv stood up and looked at her with a shocked face. So did I. She stood straddle-legged with her hands on her hips. Seeing her with a scowl was nothing new but I had never seen her with such a dead serious face.

'You're too late, Miss Roth. We know your secret. Tell us how many dead students are behind this wall?' said Evan furiously.

She turned around, looked down and gave somebody a sign by raising her hand. We heard more than one person running up the stairs. Miss Roth made a step to the right and three heavily armed men with balaclavas stormed into the attic. They looked like a SWAT team but they didn't belong to the authorities. They pointed their assault rifles, stocked with laser pointers, at us. I dropped the red book and raised my shaking hands in fear. Evan and Liv did the same. The fire alarm which was still running made the whole situation more tense than it already was. I tried to release the tension,

'Miss Roth, listen, this is not necessary. We have done a mistake. Forget what we have done and we'll forget what we have seen.' She slapped on a deprecating smile. Evan didn't like my offer,

'Bullshit! This was the best thing we could have done and the whole world will know about it! “The Red Monarch High School abducted students.” Sounds like a killer headline or even more destructive: “The Red Monarch High School killed students and inbreeds for centuries!”'

'Shut up, Evan! This is inappropriate!' I said to make sure the situation doesn't get out of control.

'Show this gang of burglars our new elevators!' ordered Miss Roth. The three men moved toward us and frogmarched us off.

On our way to the elevators I tried to speak to Liv again because it felt like that this was the last opportunity to do it. It felt like we are on the way to our execution,

'Liv? This is what I was trying to protect you from. I'm sorry I failed. Can you forgive me?' Eagerly I waited for a response but I didn't get any. She withheld me to hear her voice one last time. I had the urge to free myself, go to her, hug and kiss her. But all that was withheld from me.

When we reached the two new elevators. Liv, Evan and the men that held them went into the left elevator. I and Miss Roth into the right one because one wasn't big enough for all of us. She pushed the “B” button.

'So we also had a secret basement all the time?'

'Unlike your friend, you're not stupid, Alex. You know when to shut up. So why don't you shut up now?'

When we reached the basement and the door opened I didn't saw what I expected. I think the attic made me expect a similar basement. But the basement was well-lit, clean and much bigger. It was a big square room with gray walls and one red metal door. Big metal shelves were at the walls. Full with folders. As soon as we got out of the elevator and the door closed the man released me and started guarding the elevator. Tensed I looked to my left where I saw a wall right in front of me. Immediately I turned to my right where I saw Liv and Evan again who were released too. Now I could do it. I could run toward her. See her cute smile one last time. Feel her curly hair one last time. Hug her and kiss her one last time. I wanted it so bad but she didn't even look to me so instead I slowly walked to them without saying anything. Miss Roth moved towards one of the doors. She opened it slowly, entered the hallway but before she closed the door again she ordered,

'Kill them!' The three men started their way toward us.

I expected it all the time so it didn't shock me that much to hear it now. But I saw how Liv's head went down and on the verge of crying she went through her hair with her hand, sighing and raising her head again and turning away from me. I wanted to comfort her by going to her and stroking her and talking to her but I didn't dare to because she was so aloof in the last minutes. Suddenly Evan started to stroke her back. I couldn't take it anymore. I didn't care. It was the last minutes of my life so I pushed him saying,

'This is the fucking third time you touch her today!' and then punched him in the face which made him fall. Thereupon I turned to Liv but she slapped me in the face.

'What's wrong with you?' she said weeping.

The men kicked us in the calf which made us fall on our knees. Evan slowly tried to stand up but before he could stand they kicked him in the calf too. He was too weak to fall on his knees so he almost fell on his stomach. But before that happened they straightened him, dragged him and Liv in front of me and pointed their guns at our heads. There we were. Weeping on our knees in a circle, avoiding eye contact. Fearing the death that was awaiting us. Just because we broke into an old attic. The man behind Liv said,

'You will die first. Any last words?'

'No! Please kill me first! I don't wanna see her die! I don't wanna see anybody die!' I cried.

'She will die first!' the man retorted.

She wiped her tears away with the sleeve of her cute t-shirt she was wearing and said,

'None of this is your fault, Alex.' she looked to the ground while saying that but it still made me smile in our desperate and hopeless situation.

'I love you!' she said, finally looking me in the eyes. Then she smiled at me. She allowed me to see her cute smile again. I felt a warmth in me. So secure. I had forgotten what was happening. Not the fear of death but her beautiful smile made me cry. I had the urge to stand up, to go to her and to clasp her in my arms. I actually almost did that but then I heard the shot. He shot her right in the back of the head. She fell on her stomach with her cute smile turning into a look of vacuity.

'LIIIIIIIIIV!' I cried.

'Your turn. Any last words?' said the man behind Evan. He was looking to the ground, not crying anymore but still with a desperate expression.

'She lied. She loves me. She told me.' the man shot him in his neck.

'NO!' I cried shaking my head. 'You're lying! That's a lie! A lie! A LIE!'

The man behind me said,

'Any last words?' Another man replied,

'Just shoot him. He's the last one so who cares about his last words.' I kept repeating,

'A lie. A lie. A lie.'

Suddenly the door opened and Miss Roth entered the room.

'He will not die. Go guard the elevators.' The man took his gun away from my head. It should have felt like a relieve but I didn't even care. I just kept repeating,

'A lie.'

'Stand up, Alex and follow me,' she ordered. I heard her but I didn't care. I kept whispering,

'A lie.'

She was already going towards the door but when she realized that I didn't listen she turned around and kicked me in the face. That's where I stopped. I fell to my side and colored the ground with my blood. Whimpering I slowly stood up.

'Now follow me!' Miss Roth shouted. We went to the metal door where, as I had seen before, a short hallway awaited us. At the end of it another red metal door and on the right a small cell. She unlocked the cell with the set of keys we had heard before, opened it and waited. She didn't even bother to say something and it was clear anyway. Since I didn't have much options I just went in. She locked the cell and went to the door at the end of the hallway. The cell was roughly three square meter big but the rusty metal bed without a mattress filled the cell almost completely. Sighing I sat down at the end of the bed. Too much had happened at once. My head was so full. So full that I started getting a vicious headache.

'Now I could use Evans bomb.' I thought with a faint smile but at the same time with full eyes.

'It's not a bomb. It was made to open doors.' I whispered weeping. It was probably still in the attic. Still attached to the small door behind the box. That thing almost discovered the truth. My goal was clear at that very moment. I didn't just want to flee somehow. I wanted to destroy this sect or whatever it was. I wanted to bring the truth to public. I lost all sense of time and space after a while. Maybe one hour passed, maybe even two but maybe only 5 minutes. I seriously don't know but suddenly the metal door at the end of the hallway opened and a big man with baldness and a white apron came out. It was blood-stained. He just passed the cell without even looking in my direction and left the hallway. It was impossible not to think that he murdered students that the school had abducted. A couple seconds later the door opened again. This time it blew my mind. I couldn't believe it when I saw it. Buttoning his blazer a man in a suit came in. He was moving towards the other door without looking at me. I thought he didn't see me so abruptly I stood up, pushed myself to the grid and whispered hopefully,

'Mr. Rakin! It's me. Alex!'

He already knew that I was there because he ignored me, didn't even stopped for a second or glanced at me. Not even a short glance! I couldn't see any sign of surprise in his face when he heard my voice. He knew I was there. But he didn't care. After he left the hallway I desperately let my self fall on the ground. Leaned against the wall I hugged my legs and thought,

'What has happened to him? The day they abducted Ari he was angry and anxious and now he's a part of this insane sect. What has this school done with him in the last four years?' After a while I must have nodded off. I had a very vivid dream. I was at Liv's home in her room. We were alone and we were making out. Suddenly she vanished. I was holding her in my arms but she just vanished in front of my eyes. I started crying and shouting her name. Normally I would wake up in such situations but I kept crying and crying. Out of nothing Evan appeared and kept repeating,

'She loves me. She loves me.'

Finally, I woke up because Miss Roth opened the cell. I was bathed in sweat and I had actually cried.

'How long am I here?' I asked wiping my eyes.

'Stand up.' I didn't react because I was still sleepy and the headache was still there too. Thereupon she kicked me in the face and again my blood colored the ground. I slowly stood up and followed her. We went to the metal door at the end of the hallway. Miss Roth stopped right in front of the door and said,

'Open it, go in, close the door and don't make anything stupid.' I did not dare to hesitate so I immediately opened the door and saw a small room with a round table in the middle of it. Five chairs were around the table and on two of them a boy and a blonde girl bout my age were sitting on them. 'Come in and sit down!' said the boy in an oddly kind way. He didn't smile but he was still nice. Reluctantly I did what he told me to do and sat in front of them. While the girl was starring at me and I nervously tried to avoid eye contact, the boy was browsing a thick folder. His stressed face told me that he was looking for something specific. I didn't dare to look at the folder since I was assuming that it's top secret. I think there were just ten seconds of silence but it felt like an hour. Finally, the door opened and Miss Roth came in. She sat on a chair to my left without a word. The girl was still observing me, the boy still browsing his thick folder and now Miss Roth started tapping on the table in rhythm with her long black painted fingernails. Nothing was happening but those moments when nothing's happening are the most tense situations. Those situations end normally in the biggest disaster. Suddenly the door opened again and Mr. Rakin entered the room. He said nothing and just sat to my right. The boy stopped browsing his folder, looked up and said,

'So since we're finally all here, let's start.' The girls glimpse finally wandered away.

'Alex, I'll make it short and direct. I want you to impregnate Eden,' said the boy pointing at the girl.

Shocked, I hesitated for a moment. I couldn't believe it. Stuttering I tried to talk,

'E-E-E-den? The Eden from Liv's class? I reject that completely!' Exasperated they looked down.

'Don't make it harder than necessary, Alex,' said the boy. Mr. Rakin added,

'Listen to him, Alex.'

'A man can't sleep with a woman at gunpoint!'

'I'll rip out your balls if necessary!' said Miss Roth seriously.

'What has happened to you? Mr. Rakin? You were angry that day. When Miss Roth came in and abducted Ari. I saw it on your face! And you Eden? You don't seem like you hold anything against this bullshit. What have they done to you?' No response. They all just sighed and looked away angrily.

'You think you're in the know?' said the boy annoyed.

'Bring me into the loop or I won't discuss this any longer!'

'We're not here to discuss this matter. We're not here to reveal anything to you!' said Miss Roth.

'We should tell him. He has the right to know it,' said Mr. Rakin.

'You think he'll cooperate after you've told him everything? Think again! It's just a waste of time.' said Miss Roth impatiently and upset.

'I think he will be more accepting when he knows why he's here,' said Eden. Suddenly they all started arguing loudly. Just the boy remained silent but I could see the anger in him.

'Enough!' shouted the boy. 'I'll tell him what he needs to know. Not more, not less. Listen carefully. I will tell it once and I will not repeat myself. No follow-up questions allowed. Do you understand?' I nodded slowly.

'1730 the Red Monarch, Zachary Roth, was born. 20 years later, 1750, he started looking for the possible next Red Monarch. The way he approached things was illegal so 10 years later, 1760, he decided to cover it up by founding a school. “The Red Monarch High School” was founded. Since then the school is looking for the individuals that resemble the descriptions of the parents of Zachary Roth. Almost four centuries passed and we couldn't find anyone. But you and Eden are the perfect pair, Alex. Eden will bear the next Red Monarch and you will be his father.'

'This is a poor description of what happened!' I said furiously. 'What about the inbreeding? Why is the Red Monarch so impo...' he interrupted me by banging his fist on the table, standing up rapidly and shouting,

'I said no follow-up questions!' I looked him straight in the eyes, that were full of anger and after hesitating for five long, painful seconds I said,

'You will kill me.' The boy slowly sat down and said,

'I give you my word. You will live.'

'You don't need me. Who knows how many students died through the hand of this sect. Once I impregnate her, you will kill me. If I don't do it, you will kill me.'

'Alex, if I wanted to kill you, I've could already done that. I'm starting to think that I'm wasting my time with you. Dourness was not an attribute of Zachary Roth' parents.' Mr. Rakin said,

'Distinctions can occur. Besides that I wouldn't say that Alex is a stubborn person. He's just confused.' He came close to my face and squinting his eyes he went on,

'I'm sure he'll come to the correct decision.' With a curious smile he added,

'Won't you, Alex?' Disgusted by this madness, I leaned back and looked away. Smiling and passionate Eden said,

'The father of the Red Monarch is a very important person. So the mother. We'll become important persons, Alex. You and me. We are perfect! We'll conceive the Red Monarch!' I sighed and looked down.

'You should be honored, to be the one who has the power, to bring the Red Monarch back,' said the boy.

'Please refuse!' said Miss Roth. 'Ripping out your balls will be more fun.'

'I...I love Liv,' I said and tears flooded my eyes. Miss Roth sighed and said annoyed,

'Were Zachary's Parents crybabies?' The boy said,

'This is not about love. Apart from that Liv is dead.'

'But I still can't do it with another woman. You have to understand.'

'I don't. But I'm sure we can conduct an artificial insemination.'

'This is a waste of time and money. He either fucks her or I'll rip out his balls,' said Miss Roth.

'If you rip out his balls we would have to conduct an artificial insemination too. So let him give us his sperm voluntarily. If he's not ready to make it with another woman, we should accept that,'

said Mr. Rakin.

'I think the Red Monarch should be inseminated naturally,' said Eden with a smile.

'Alex wants to do it artificially so give that man a container and a bit of privacy,' the boy said and left the room beatifically smiling. The others followed.

A minute later, Eden came in again with a plastic container in her hand. She put it slowly on the table, looked me in the eyes and said,

'Too bad, you've chosen not to fuck me.'

'Maybe someday. When I get over Liv. After all we'll be parents, right?' I said forcing a smile. She liked that and smiled.

'I can help you with filling that container. Or is even that too much?' she said in a horny way.

'I'm afraid I'm not ready for that yet.'

'At least try to think of me and not Olivia. That would be a good start,' she said. I had never such an urge to hit a woman as I had in that moment. Finally she left the room. As soon as the door was closed I stood up. The folder was opened on the table. I thought the boy has forgotten it but I wasn't sure because that would mean that it can't be that important. Of course I took a look, anyway and found an interesting letter:

 

Dear Sir or Madam,

 

we checked the description of the girl with the description of Zachary's mother and we are sure that you are mistaken. This is not the first time that something like this happens. So we ask you no to discuss this again and just trust us.

 

The Red Monarch will be born. But Eden is not the right mother. Don't forget:

 

Two centuries it can take.

Maybe more, but never less.

 

All we need is patience.

 

Yours faithfully

 

Faron

 

Suddenly someone banged on the door and said,

'Are you done?' It was Eden.

'I've only just started.'

'Let me talk to you while you're doing it. You have to get used to it!'

'Eden, please! This doesn't make it easier!' I didn't get any response but heard how she was moving away from the door. I tried to find more information about the Red Monarch. I browsed the folder under pressure, very quickly and every few seconds I glanced at the door, afraid that someone will come in. I saw letters, lists of names, pictures of students and teachers but none of those things seemed relevant. Finally, I found an interesting transcript of a telephone conversation from 1890. It was between someone named Lisa and, to my surprise, Zachary Roth.

 

Zachary: You are better not Lisa.

Lisa: It is me, Zachary. Please listen.

Zachary: What do you want again? One wrong word and I'll hang up.

Lisa: You are starting to become like them. You know that you're not the Red Monarch.

Zachary: I am 160 years old and you tell me that I am not the Red Monarch?

Lisa: See? You've become so much like them that you even forgot your true age. You forgot that the Red Monarch does not exist!

Zachary: I am the Red Monarch.

Lisa: *weeping*

Zachary: He did not choose to start this.

He was not chosen to start this.

Lisa: *crying* You did not start this!

Zachary: He will not choose the one.

He will not create the one.

He will find the one.

Lisa: *sobbing* You are insane!

Zachary: The one will be born.

 

I was so confused after reading that transcript. I was not sure what to think. Of course I didn't believe that someone like the Red Monarch exists. Neither before reading the transcript. I started browsing the folder again and even began to sweat. Not just because the room was hot but also because of the pressure. I looked at every document maybe one second, at most two. I felt like the door could open any moment. I knew I was missing important information but I had to make sure that I only acquire the most relevant knowledge in that short time frame I had. Suddenly someone banged on the door again. This time even louder than the last time.

'Are you done? I hope you are because I'll come in now,' said the boy.

'No! Not just yet.'

'I forgot the folder.'

'Okay, give me a second,' I said, grabbed a metal chair and positioned myself right next to the door.

'You had enough time,' he said and rapidly opened the door. The container still on the table but no sign of me and my chair. I could see how confused he was which was a pleasure to watch. Even better was his shocked face when he turned left and saw me, knowing that it will hurt. I hit him with the chair at his head. He slowly fell over on his stomach and his blood started to cover the ground but it wasn't that much, unfortunately. After all that didn't kill him, it just made him unconscious. I wasn't sure what to do next, though. I couldn't pass the armed men with a chair. I glanced at the hallway and saw how the door at the other end slowly opened. I couldn't allow that person to see the boy on the ground so I jumped over him and hoped, whoever it was, that he's not armed. When the door was completely opened I saw Mr. Rakin. With a shocked face he ran toward me. I hauled off and just one moment before I could hit him he grabbed the chair leg tightly. I couldn't move it at all which surprised me because I had never expected that Mr. Rakin is that strong. I didn't release the chair to make sure he doesn't get the control over it. He looked me in the eyes with a serious expression and said,

'Drop it!'

'You can't kill me Mr. Rakin. No matter how much they brainwashed you, you won't kill me.'

'You're right. I will not kill you...'

'But I will kill you all!'

'I will not kill you because I want to help you!'

'By brainwashing me too? Then I rather die!'

'I will get you out of here!'

'Oh, come on Mr. Rakin. That's pointless. You know I would never trust you!' Still holding the chair leg with one hand, he pulled a knife with the other hand.

'I could stab you to death. Right now!'

'These tricks don't work on me, Mr. Rakin!' Suddenly a voice from behind said,

'There's no way out, Alex!' It was the boy. He was slowly standing up, holding his head in pain and moving toward me. Unexpectedly Mr. Rakin threw his knife in my direction but it passed me pert near and hit the boy's head. I looked in the tearful eyes of Mr. Rakin. Both of us still holding the chair tightly he said,

'I've just killed my son. Do you trust me now?' I was not sure whether I should or not. I could have released the chair, pulled the knife out of the boy's head and killed Mr. Rakin with it. But it was more likely that I could trust him so I slowly loosened my grip, so did Mr. Rakin.

'Go get the knife and give it to me.' Hesitating and reluctantly I did what he said. Suddenly the door opened and Miss Roth came in. Mr. Rakin, though stayed calm and put his knife away.

'What are you doing? Kill her!' Miss Roth' glanced at the dead body and said,

'I'm sorry.'

'It had to happen, anyway,' Mr. Rakin said, looking to the ground sadly. 'Is everything all set?'

Miss Roth nodded and said,

'Let's get out of here,' She opened the door and moved toward the guarded elevators. I followed them because I had no other choice, not because I trusted them. It all could be just an act. There was nothing that I didn't expect. After everything that happened, I was ready for everything. When we reached the elevators the three men pointed there guns at us. Abruptly we stopped.

'No one gets out,' said one of the men.

'Who the fuck gave you that order?' said Miss Roth. 'You are under my order!'

'We are under no ones order, anymore. The Red Monarch High School is falling apart. It needs better leaders. You either choose to be under our order or you choose death.'

'You are right!' said Mr. Rakin. 'Things need to change. You shall make the Red Monarch High School great again. But there's no need to keep us here. We have work to do in the attic. So now if you excuse us, please let us pass.' he said and slowly took a step forward.

'No one gets out!' shouted the man. Miss Roth and Mr. Rakin looked at each other. Both afraid. Even they started to loose control of the situation.

'Okay. Since we're under your order now there's no need to point the guns at us,' said Mr. Rakin. The men didn't listen.

'This boy here needs to impregnate, Eden. They'll be the parents of the Red Monarch,' said Miss Roth and moved toward the elevators but the men turned on their laser pointers, pointed them at our foreheads and said,

'No one uses the elevator today!'

'What the fuck do you want us to do?' asked Miss Roth.

'Do whatever you want, but stay here.'

'No problem,' said Mr. Rakin. 'Just take the guns down and we'll stay here.' Of course they didn't do it. Suddenly, one of the men, the man on the right pointed his gun toward the others and started shooting. He killed one of them with a headshot but the other one had more time to react so he shot him in the arm, which he used to hold the weapon. This was the closest situation I had ever seen in my life. If the man on the right wouldn't have managed to kill the other man, despite his wound , we would have been dead. In pain moaning he got his arm up again and in the last second he shot him in the leg. The man on the left fell on his knees and dropped his weapon. He slowly moved toward him.

'Traitor.' said the man desperately. The man pointed his weapon at his head, waited a second, and shot him in the head. He turned to us and removed his balaclava. Mr. Rakin nodded faintly and said,

'Next time you should make it a bit more exciting. I mean I already knew what would happen.' The man smiled and said,

'That's why you're sweating?' Mr. Rakin moved toward him and gave him a pat on his shoulder. So did Miss Roth and said,

'Good job. How's you arm?'

'Just a graze shot,' answered the man. Mr. Rakin picked up a gun and said to Miss Roth,

'Take the other one.'

We all went into the elevator. While we were driving up I looked at the mans face knowing that he just saved our lives but at the same time he either killed Liv or Evan. I hoped so much that he stood behind me during the execution. Mr. Rakin gave me his knife without saying anything. But the fact that he gave it to me told me that I'll probably need it. Not liking that fact I slowly took it. He smiled and nodded. When the doors of the elevator opened, two things surprised me. It was already night so I must have spent a lot of time down there and Eden was waiting for us.

'What took you so long?' she asked.

'We had some complications,' said Mr. Rakin. 'We have to hurry.' We started running to the parking lot. I didn't know why we had to hurry but I just followed them. At that point I still wasn't sure if trusting them is a good idea. Mr. Rakin opened his car and told us to go in,

'Alex, you sit in the front seat.' I did what he said and once we all were in the car we hit the road. I had no idea where we driving. There we were. Sitting in a car with Miss Roth, Eden, a man who perhaps killed Liv or Evan and right next to me Mr. Rakin. Such a strange situation. Today I ask myself whether I had a choice over getting in the car or not. Maybe I could have decided to go my own way but I just followed them. Not knowing if it's right or not. Today I know it.

'Open the glovebox, Alex.' I slowly opened it.

'Do you see the little remote? Pick that up and push the red button.' There was only one little red button. I picked it up but didn't do it.

'What will happen?'

'You will finally trust us.'

'I will never be able to trust you completely, Mr. Rakin. No matter what happens,' I said and pushed the button. I heard a huge explosion from behind. No one besides me turned around. I saw how my school was burning and collapsing. The Red Monarch High School was destroyed within seconds. Eden looked me in the eyes and said,

'I'm sorry. What I have said and the way I have behaved. That wasn't me. I'm sorry that you had to lose your friends.' I didn't know what to say so after a few seconds awkward eye contact I just turned around again. Shocked I let myself fall in my seat.

'Is it over?'

'No!' said Mr. Rakin. 'This was one of many Red Monarch High Schools. They're all over the world. They will chase us and when they find us, they'll kill us. It has just started, Alex. And it will not end. You can't just get out of this mess anymore. You have to fight for the rest of your life but together, as a team, we'll win this fight. Important is just one thing, Alex. Do you trust us?'

I couldn't believe where I was. Where I was just because we had broken into an old attic. All my life I thought that only the big choices matter. What difference does it make when I break into an attic? It's immature. Foolish. Inappropriate. But it won't change my life. Something as simple as that can't change your life. Well, I'm the living proof that it can. It can because it's not just about the big choices in life. Every single choice, no matter how irrelevant it seems, will change your life. So did my next choice.

'Yes.'

 

Written by Ahmet Koctar


© Copyright 2017 Ahmet Koctar. All rights reserved.

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