Tiana opened her family’s apartment’s door; the Byrnes had a good sized apartment, just big enough for the four of them. Her uncle and aunt took care of her and her little brother, Jax.
She locked the door behind her, knowing neither guardians would be home until later that evening, and Jax was spending the night at a friend’s place.
Her dark blue eyes were wide as she flicked on the lightswitch to her room; a tinted envelope was resting on the end table by her bed.
She picked it up, her name was written on the back in large, curly, elegant cursive. She opened it carefully, breaking the black wax seal.
The seal had an imprint of a rose, but it was barely noticeable in the light.
'Miss Tiana Byrne,
Follow my instructions carefully. Go into your room, put on some of the clothes on your bed that have been laid out for you. Put on some running shoes, and comfy clothes to travel in.
I will be waiting for you at the mall closest to your apartment. Wear the pendant enclosed in this.
Don’t ask questions, just listen. Listen. Be there at 8 P.M. tonight. Wear black, grey, and red clothes. You will find an array of clothes on your bed.
Now, I’ll give some instructions to you when we meet. Either follow the instructions, or… Well, nothing good would occur in your favor.
There is one hint to who I am: I am The one who gathers, and the one who breaks and tears.
Tiana shook as she read the letter. She looked at her bed, the clothes were laid out by color, size, and then types. She looked at the pendant of a black rose on the silver background.
It was beautiful, yet reminded her of her worst nightmares. She picked up a thick black sweater, and grey pants. Her black boots would match, she thought.
Who is “C”? She asked herself, tugging the boots on.
The better part of her concise said to ignore the letter, and just stay home where it was safe. But something in her told her that she should listen to whoever “C” was.
She scribbled a note to her uncle and aunt, saying she’d be home later. She left, her drawstring bag was slung across her back, packed with some food and a water bottle.
The falling leaves of October littered the ground with red, oranges, yellows, and browns; they made a crunching sound as Tiana walked to the strip-mall that was only two more blocks away.
She took a deep breath through her nose, smelling the sweet, crisp autumn air. The sun was setting in colors like the falling leaves, casting shadows everywhere.
Tiana made her way carefully through the last block, knowing older teens lived here and liked to beat up people or torture them until they handed over whatever it was that they wanted.
She let out a sigh of relief as she saw that none of them were home. She saw the mall just ahead, the shadows stretched out on the road as a few cars drove by.
She took the letter out of her pocket, where she had put it so her uncle wouldn’t call the cops on a false kidnapping… If it wasn’t really anything at all,
she didn’t want them getting worried for no reason. It hadn’t said where to meet, but the clock on the mall’s front said almost 8 P.M. She looked back at the writing.
She nearly dropped it as the ink disappeared, showing new writing. She read it aloud softly, barely above a whisper. “Go to the store-room of the first food joint to your left.
They will let you go through.” Tiana sighed, then walked into Wendy’s. She went past the counter, then down the stairs to its store-room. She looked for the lightswitch, but found none.
Tiana took her flashlight from her bag, turning it on quickly. She knew Jax had her phone in case something happened, so she didn’t bother to see if he forgot about it.
She groaned as the flashlight flickered and dimmed. “Please don’t die on me.” She whispered, talking to the flashlight like it was a real person who could control life and death.
It grew dimmer every second.