8 Years Ago - The Gang
The next morning, I woke to someone shaking me rough but gently. I woke up to see Mike standing near my bed.
“ Good morning, little one. Come, breakfast is ready.”
“ Okay. Can you help me?”
“ Of course, little one. Now you better get dressed.”
I hopped out of bed and grabbed a black shirt, jeans, under clothes, and a knife out of the dresser. I changed and walked out the door and found Mike leaning against the wall. He walked and I followed. Before we entered, he crouched down to a little taller than me.
“ Okay, little one. You better be good and if any of them start to underestimate you just use the knife but don’t hurt any of them too bad just a little nick. Okay?”
“ Okay. How did you know?”
“ I hid them to test how smart you are and so far you’re passing.”
“ Passing what?”
“ The test to see if you can officially be a part of our family if you want.”
“ Okay. Can we go eat? I’m hungry.” I whined
“ Okay, little one, just first I’ll introduce you.”
He banged the doors open and led me to a table of about 10 people. They were all guys about 6 feet tall and with lots of muscles. They looked like they are teenagers from age 15 to about 20 years old.
“ Guys. This is Riley.” He shouted to the group.
“ Riley this is a few of the members of the gang. Kaden, Kris, Ryan, Brian, Cody, Jordan, Nate, Sam, Cullan, and Shaun.” He introduced each of the people at the table.
“ Hi.” I said shyly.
“ Hi.” They said at the same time.
“ What is a little girl like you doing here?” I think his name was Shaun asked. Shaun was about 6 feet tall with blond hair and stormy gray eyes.
“ I was kidnapped on my way to school.” I said shrugging.
“ Why were you kidnapped?” He asked.
“ I don’t know. Ask Mike, he was the one who kidnapped me.”
“ Boss. What is she doing here?” He asked Mike.
“ She is here to join if she would like. I believe that we need a little girl to brighten our family.” Mike said.
“ Why? I bet she can’t even defend herself. How will she be able to live with the gang?” Shaun said.
“ You think that then you should test her. Come on, Shaun. Prove that she doesn’t belong.” Mike said with a smirk.
While he was saying that, I slid the knife out of my sock into my hand.
“ Fine. I will. Come on Riley, let’s fight.” said Shaun with a smirk.
“ Okay the rules are no guns or tasers and no killing each other. Now fight.” Mike shouted.
Me and Shaun walked to the middle of the room where they cleared some tables out of the way. We circled each other at first. Shaun was the first to strike but I ducked and stashed him in the leg. Shaun cursed out loud and started to bleed but didn’t give up. He sluggishly tried to tackle me but I ran around him and slashed his other leg thinking about the girls and boys at school that made fun of me at school for being smart. He cursed again and fell down holding his legs so they wouldn’t bleed anymore.
“ Do you surrender?” I asked him pointing the knife at him.
“ Yes. I surrender. **** you are good with that knife.” He said.
“ Thanks. I used to practice with kitchen knives incase anyone tried to break into the house while my foster parents were gone.” I said with a smile. Flipping the knife in my hand.
“ Good thing. We didn’t kidnap you at your house. Ow. Did you have to cut me in the legs though?”
“ Of course. If you cut the legs then they can’t use their legs to run after you without lots of pain. Duh.” I said.
“ How do you know so much?”
“ I taught myself lots of things while my foster parents were away for business trips. Nothing to do except watch tv, read, or play. So I used the time to learn a little self defense so I could protect myself from intruders. The internet and books were a big help with that.” I said thinking about when I was 3 alone in the house bored.
“ Wow. Okay. Where did you say you found his girl, boss?”
“ I found her walking to school in Quaker, Ohio. I was on a mission there when I saw her in the street punching a tree crying. So, I followed her around for days and then took her.” Said Mike shrugging.
“ Oh great. I thought no one was watching me.” I said with my head down.
“ It’s okay little one. Your punches had lots of power just no technique behind them. If you stay we can help you with that. I believe that you can be a great fighter one day, little one.”
“ Really? I’ve always wanted to fight but my foster parents said that I was too weak to fight.” I said looking into his eyes.
“ Really, little one. And you’re stronger than you think, little one.” He said smiling a little. I smiled at him.
“ Can you show me some of your fighting please?” I said giving him my puppy eyes.
He laughed and said “ Of course, little one. But first breakfast then fighting.”
I ran up to the table and took a plate. For breakfast we ate bacon and french toast. It was heaven on earth. The french toast cooked for just the right amount of time and the bacon so crispy. After everyone finished we walked down a few halls to what looked like an indoor gym.
I looked around at the black walls and many different equipment also weapons. There were guns, targets, bows, knives, workout bikes, weights, and a practice ring. The ring was in the middle and the floor was covered in padding all across the floor. We walked to the punching bags in the corner. Where Mike put on a pair of boxing gloves and got into a fighting stance. I watched as he put perfect punches on the bag making it swing back and forth. I promised myself that I would be that good some day. After an hour he stopped and smiled at me, I smiled back.
“ Can you please teach me?” I asked giving my best puppy eyes.
“ Okay, little one but later. You need to join first then I’ll teach you everything.” He said laughing.
“ Okay. I’ll join. Now, can you teach me?” I asked.
“ Fine. But first we have to test you to see your strengths and weaknesses. Come on, little one.” He said.
“ Okay. But I don’t know much, just what I have read and watched.” I said looking down.
“ It’s okay. You will learn but first we need to see what you know right now.” He said lifting my head up to look into his eyes that held kindness and hope.
“ Okay. What do I start with?” I asked excitedly.
“ Let’s start with knives.”
I ran across the gym to the rack of knives and picked out a medium knife that was silver with little roses on the handle. I walked up to the target, lined up, and threw the knife. With a little wobble the knife stuck into the target just shy of a bullseye.
I looked back at them and saw Mike give me a smile. With that I went and picked up another knife. This one was a gold colored, short knife. I breathed in and out as I lined up to the target, aimed. And threw it. The knife stuck right in the middle of the target, bullseye.
I smiled at them and saw everyone’s shocked expressions except for Mike, who was grinning at me while nodding his head.
“ What’s next?” I asked him.
“ Hand to hand combat against me, little one.” He said.
“ Why against you?”
“ So I can tell how hard you hit. And none of the others are willing to go against you. No weapons so knife out of your sock.”
“ Fine. Here.” I said while taking out the knife and placing it on the rack with the rest of them.
I walked up to the ring and got in with Mike.
“ Gloves or no gloves?” I asked.
“ No gloves only your hands with wraps.”
He wrapped my hands in a white sort of cloth. I got into a sloppy fighting stance trying to mime his. I punched first at his leg, he dodged it. I felt a rush of something then everything focused just on him and his movements slowed down. I watched his fist as it came at my stomach but I moved away. He stumbled a little from the surprise and I attacked him with a punch to the stomach. He looked at me and grinned. He faked a right and went for a left but I saw both the punches coming. I got out of the way by diving between his legs. The perks of being small. I kicked the back of his knees and he turned around. I smiled at him before running around him and jumping onto his back, where he couldn’t get me. I pressed the pressure point on the side of his neck and he fell in pain. I jumped back off doing a flip and landed in a perfect landing. Mike, the pressure now off turned around with a smile.
“ I surrender. You win, little one. You did good.” He said.
The other guys looked like I just killed someone. I glared at them and they backed away. I loved this new found power over these grown men.
“ What next?”
“ Guns. I bet you’ve never shot one. Am I right?”
“ You’re right I have never shot one but I know how to.”
I walked over to the gun area and grab a pistol in my hand. The pistol was a black one with a comfy grip. I loaded a clip into the gun and walked up to the target. With my arms outstretched, I fired at the target until the clip was empty. The shots went everywhere but a few hit the target.
“ I guess I’ll have to work on that.” I said looking at a grinning Mike.
“ I guess you will.”
“ Why are you grinning I only got a few shots on the target.” I said looking down.
“ You did better than these guys did their first time.” He said pointing at the guys.
“ Really?” I asked.
“ Yes. They didn’t get any shots on the target their first time.”
“ What’s next?”
“ Next is bedtime for you little one. It’s almost 6:00 at night. You need to be at your best tomorrow.” He said smiling.
“ Okay. Can you help me to my room?”
“ Of course, little one. Follow me.” He said walking towards the doors.
I followed him through the halls to my room. I got in and changed into some red pjs. I walked into the hall. I saw no one so I followed the smell of food to the dining room. I took a plate and went to Mike.
“ Hi. What should I call you?” I asked Mike.
“ You, little one. Can call me whatever you want?”
“ Can I call you dad because you seem more like a dad than my foster dad? Please.” I said looking at him.
“ Sure, little one.”
“ Okay, dad.” I said testing it out.
I sat down and ate my hamburger and fries. After eating I left the dining room to find my room. I finally found it after a few other rooms first, most were empty or a bathroom. I fell on the bed and fell asleep.
I woke up the next day with a smile on my face. I got ready and ran down the halls to the dining room. I slammed the doors open and run, jumping on Mike’s back.
“ Dad. Can you take me to get some breakfast?”
“ Sure, little one. Here we go.” He said laughing and walked towards the table with plates on it. He grabbed two plates and went to the table with the rest of the group.
“ Hey guys!” I shouted from his back.
“ Hey, Riley!” They shouted back.
I jumped off his back and grabbed my food from his hand. I sat to eat.
“ Do you know that you are a weird girl?” Shaun asked.
“ What do you mean?” I asked.
“ You were kidnapped and you haven’t tried to escape yet.” He said.
“ I was supposed to try to escape? Why?”
“ You’re kidnapped against your will. Don’t you want to go back to your family?”
“ Nope! I love it right here with you guys.” I said.
“ Why do you not want to go back?”
“ If you have been listening yesterday. I told you that my foster parents go on business trips all the time and leave me all alone in the house well with my alcoholic babysitter, Katie. I mean they are barely parents and Katie only makes food for me. At age 5, I was walking myself to school everyday. They have never said I love you, Riley. They are so busy all the time so you at least talk to me and play with me.” I ranted.
“ Okay. Now, I get why you didn’t escape.” He said looking down.
“ It’s okay. I always found something to teach myself like the time I taught myself archery. I bought a bow and arrows under my parents name online so they wouldn’t be suspicious. I used an apple to practice on. It took forever to get really good. Do you have an archery range?” I ranted again.
“ Of course, little one. Actually after breakfast that was going to be the next test.”
I ate fast and ran to the gym. I grabbed a pink compound bow and some white feathered arrows. I walked up to the target as they came in. I smiled and lined up to the target. I turned towards the target and pulled the string back to my cheek. I breathed in and out slowly. I focused on the target lining up the string to the target and let go. After I saw it stuck in the bullseye of the target and lowered the bow. I smiled at the guys.
I nocked another arrow and let loose the arrow, it robin hooded the other arrow straight down the middle. I looked at them with a smile.
“ Can I keep the arrow, please? That was my first robin hood. I never have enough arrows to do that.” I said.
“ Sure, little one. Go ahead, you can pull it.” He said laughing.
I jumped up and down then pulled the split arrow out of the target. I held it up and smiled. While looking at their shocked expressions and the smile on Mike’s face.
“ Did I do good Dad?” I asked him.
“ You did wonderful, little one.”
“ What else do I need to do for the test?”
“ There’s a mental test. And a strength test.”
“ What’s the strength test?”
“ Just punching the punching bag.” He said shrugging.
“ Can I do it now?”
“ Yes, little one. Come on.” He said walking over to the punching bags.
I followed him with my broken arrow in my hand. He fitted some gloves on my hands and took the arrow for now. I stood in a sloppy fighting position and punched the punching bag. I heard the smack as the glove made contact with the bag moving it a little bit. I punched it again, the bag moving a little more. The background blurred as I started punching the bag more and more. The bag started to swing on the chain. After a while I started to tire and stopped with sweat on my face. I looked around and saw Mike standing there with my arrow. The rest of them were sitting on the floor.
“ How long have I been punching?”
“ About 3 hours. I was surprised that you didn’t tire before that. You have good stamina. Your stance could use some work but your punches were powerful. I’m proud of you little one.” He said.
“ Thanks, Dad.” I said smiling.
“ Do you want to do the mental test now or later?”
“ Now.” I said while he took off the gloves and wraps. We walked towards the door and he gave me back my arrow. I took it to my room while he sets up the other room for the test.
Mike came into my room and took my hand. He led me down the hall to one of the empty rooms. There was a table with a chair and weapons in the middle of the room. I took a seat in front of the table. Mike walked around to the front of the table and placed a packet of papers on the table.
“ So for the mental test. You have to answer these questions to see how much you know from school. Next will be a test to see how your skills are and a few other things. Then a small personality test, to get to know you better. Ready?”
“ This packet has questions from kindergarten all the way to high school. You have all the time you need. Good luck.”
He walked out of the room leaving me in the room to do the test. The first ten pages were easy and the rest was a little tricky but I knew most of the answers. I finished in about an hour. Mike came back with Shaun.
“ Done. Now, what?” I said.
“ Now Shaun will test you on these different weapons. I’ll be back with your test results.” Mike said.
“ Okay. Ready?” said Shaun.
“ I’m always ready.” I replied.
“ Okay. What is this weapon, what is its uses, and how do you use it?” He asked picking up a sword.
“ That is a short sword. It’s used for cutting. You use it by holding onto the handle and slicing in arcs.”
“ Good. How about this one?” He said picking up a bow.
“ That is a longbow. It is used for shooting arrows. You nock an arrow, draw back, and fire.”
After he went through all the different types of bows, swords, knives, staff, crossbow, grenades, bombs, guns, and a few other weapons. I got them all correct but you probably already knew that. But let’s just say I was extremely bored after we got done and waited for Mike to come back.
He came into the room with a piece of paper in his hand and a smile on his face.
“ I’m pleased to say that you got every question right.” He said still smiling.
“ What? Every one. Isn’t she only in 2nd grade?” Shaun shouted.
“ Yes. I’m in 2nd grade but I took online classes and graduated high school early. As in when I was 6.”
He looked shocked, again how is he shocked. I am a smart, well taught girl. Okay, yeah I am only 7 years old but I’m a genius so what can I say.
“ Now, can we continue the test?” I asked.
“ Sure, little one. Next show use your gymnastic skills that you used in the gym.”
I walked into the middle of the room and did a back handspring into a cartwheel then flipped. Landing in a perfect split. I got up dusting myself off.
“ Do you have a beam or balance bars?” I asked.
“ Yes. In the gym. Come let’s see what you can do.”
I ran to the gym and jumped onto the beam. I did a flip and landed on my hands, walking down the beam and flipped a few times. Did a cartwheel and flipped off the beam into a perfect landing. I took gymnastics since I was 3 so I had roughly 4 years of practice.
He clapped and pointed towards the bars. I ran and jumped up and swung myself so I was straight up on the bar. I swung around a few times then jumped to the other bar. I went back and forth a few times before doing a triple spin off the high bar.
He clapped again and hugged me. I was a little surprised but I hugged him back.
We went to a room filled with computers. I jumped and clapped my hands.
“ Someone is excited.” said Shaun laughing. I turned and glared at him.
“ Now this is a test of how good you are with computers. You will hack into the computer and turn the screen whatever color you want and then do some sort of surprise for Shaun and me to see.”
I grinned and picked a computer. I got to work turning the screen purple and pink. Then I picked a picture of cracked screen as the picture that pops up when you log on. I left the picture up and went to tell them.
“ Dad and Shaun. Come in here I think I broke the computer!” I yelled.
Mike and Shaun came rushing through the door and looked at the computer then back a me. I saw their expressions and couldn’t help myself as I bust out laughing.
“ Riley. This is not something you should be laughing about you just broke a very expensive computer.”
“ No I didn’t.”
“ What do you mean the broken computer is right there.”
“ I can’t believe that you fell for it. I just put up a picture of a cracked screen but you should have seen your face. It was perfect.” I said laughing. I swiped the mouse across the screen to reveal the purple and pink background. Shaun had a horrified expression on his face as he looked at the screen.
“ You like?”
“ Pink and purple. Really?” said Shaun.
“ Yep. Tried to find the girliest colors. I thought that the broken screen trick would be funny and I was right.” I laughed.
The two guys looked at me angrily but then also bursted out laughing.
“ You will get along great with the gang, little one. Come you have one last thing till the personality test.”
“ Okay.” I follow the guys to a room with different traps in it.
“ Your last test is to get through this obstacle course but first you have to get out of the handcuffs. Good luck.” He said while placing handcuffs on my wrists.
They leave and I grabbed one of my hair pins. I moved the pin around in the lock until it popped. I then walked carefully to the door on the other end of the room. I step over the trick squares and dodged the things that shoot out of the walls. The bullets were tricky but mostly easy. You know the thing where everything slows down like in the fight, it happened again so the bullets went slow enough that it looked like I could pluck them out of the air. I got to the door but ropes dropped down on top of me so I had to use the knife I had in my sock to get myself out. And walked through the door to find Mike and Shaun. They were both grinning like cheshire cats.
“ Why couldn’t you have made it harder?” I whined.
“ Are you kidding me you were at the highest level.” shouted Shaun.
“ It was too easy.” I whined. Mike laughed.
“ Okay. Now, you got to do the personality test. Ready?”
“ Yep.” I said popping the p.
I sat down in one of the chairs in the room.
“ What is your full name?”
“ My full name is Riley Hope Maple.”
“ How old are you?”
“ I am 7 years old.”
“ When is your birthday?”
“ September 14, 2007.”
“ Who are your foster parents?”
“ Lily and James Fidlin.”
“ What is your foster parents line of work?”
“ They own and manage hotels across the world.”
“ Where are your biological parents?”
“ They died when I was 3 years old. They were killed when someone went to rob our house.”
“ Do you have any friends that you need to say goodbye to?”
“ Nope.” I said looking a little sad.
“ Where did you learn gymnastics?”
“ A studio around the corner for my house. I’ve been there since I was 3. I have been practicing there for about 4 years.”
“ Where did you learn to fight?”
“ At home with the help of an online instructor.”
“ What is your favorite color?”
“ I don’t really have a favorite color, I like all the colors.”
“ What is your fears?”
“ I don’t have any fears.”
“ Wait do you mean? Everyone has a fear.” Shaun interrupted
“ I don’t. I love the dark. Spiders and snakes don’t bother me. I’m not scared of death or heights. I have no fear. Well except when someone jumps out from in front of me like when I was kidnapped I was scared but I’m rarely ever scared.”
“ Okay. Do you want to join this gang?”
“ You guys are the first ones to not make fun of me for being smart. And you seem like nice people. Also I don’t want to be alone anymore.”
“ It’s okay, little one. You’re not alone anymore. I think that’s enough for now come it’s almost dinner time.”
I hopped out of the seat and ran to the dining room. I was so hungry when my stomach growled it sounded like a bear growl. Yeah, I know, it sounded like I was starving. I grabbed a plate of meat and vegetables.
After I ate, everyone came in to eat.
“ What took you guys so long?” I asked as they sat down.
“ You ran here and we walked. Also had to try and gather everyone here.” said Shaun
“ So, when do I get to be a full member?”
“ Soon, little one. First we have to tell the group the good news.”
“ What news?”
“ You passed all the tests and that we will be going back to New York city soon.”
“ Dad can I get my things from the house?”
“ Of course, little one. We can get your things tomorrow. Now, you need to go to bed. Goodnight little one.”
“ Goodnight everyone.”
I walk to my room and changed to go to bed. Asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow.