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Ward's Siren
Author: Stephanie Hudson








Evergreen Falls.

That’s what the sign said, one I might have missed had the sun already set, due to one broken headlight. Hence why I pushed this tin can on wheels to near breaking point, and myself driving it to the point of exhaustion.

I just had to make it.

This was my last hope.

“Edie, this is just one big mistake… and there you go, talking to yourself, yet again,” I said after glancing at myself in the cracked rear-view mirror. Now, how anyone gets a cracked rear-view mirror was beyond me, yet here I was, talking to myself with a crack in my face. Of course, that crack hadn’t helped me at all when trying to get the price of this heap of shit knocked down. But that’s what happens when you are desperate, you end up putting your life in danger every time you get in your car. One that you prayed didn’t get you pulled over by the cops, because your taillight was busted and your bumper was held on with duct tape.

Yep, my life had officially hit the shitter.

What was I thinking, my life had hit the shitter six months ago!

Just thinking about it had me looking at myself in the mirror, trying to force down the tears that threatened to fall from my light olive-green eyes. Eyes that hadn’t seen a lick of makeup since I could last afford the luxury. At least I had long dark lashes that didn’t need mascara, only a bit of curling as they mainly grew straight. Dark brows framed a pair of sad eyes that once upon a time had the sparkle of life in them, a light that had died out what now felt like an age ago.

At least I had managed to keep my bangs trimmed, though they always naturally split in the middle as I was always pushing my hair back out of habit, which made me often wonder what the point of having a fringe in the first place was. My bangs merged into the shorter parts that always came loose from the ponytail I had my hair up in now, a style I had usually kept cut at my shoulders. But then haircuts had been another luxury I couldn’t afford, meaning it was now slightly past my shoulder blades and would only get longer, as I wasn’t about to take up trying to cut what I couldn’t see. My bangs barely looked straight as it was, which meant for the first time, I was thankful for my natural wave as it masked my mess ups quite well.

As for the rest of my face, I had been blessed with my mom’s high cheekbones that matched my slightly pointed chin and slim nose, all of which made my eyes appear larger. However, I had no doubt inherited my lips from my dad, whoever the guy had been, as my mom had never spoken about him. But whoever he was, then I would have bet on his lips being full and a natural darker shade of pink like mine were. My mom had also been pale, so my easy blushing complexion I could also thank him for, I guessed, that and the slight speckling of freckles under my eyes. However, the scar under my chin and an inch along my jawline had been all me… the result of hitting a trash can with my bike as a kid. My meagre eight years of life had flashed before my eyes as I flew over the handlebars and landed into some rubbish that had overflowed from the trash can, part of which was a half-broken bottle.

I had just been thankful that it had only meant stitches in my face and the palm of my hand, and not a pierced jugular that would have meant no more years after those eight. As for the rest of me, I was short like my mom, at only five foot tall, had small feet that meant buying my sneakers in the kids’ section, and because of this I looked more top heavy than I was as my waist was narrow. It also meant that a pair of jeans was rather tight on my thighs or baggy on my waist, so there were the joys of that, I thought with a roll of my eyes.

Like now, driving this car with my belt buckle undone so it wasn’t sticking in my belly as I drove, but at the ready to do up the moment I had to leave the car so they wouldn’t fall down. Something they tended to do a lot more now I had lost weight due to only being able to afford to eat once a day. It was also the reason I hid most of myself away under a big navy knitted sweater that always fell off one shoulder. Three more layers lay under this, being a grey tank top, a long-sleeved red thermal, and a navy-blue T-shirt that had gold feathers falling to the hem floating down. But this was because I always seemed to be cold, something that became considerably more so since I was forced to live in my car.

Yep, a twenty-seven year old from the small town of Edenton, North Carolina, with a population of just over five thousand. A town I was named after, as my mom wasn’t exactly religious and hadn’t decided to name me after the biblical paradise, like some may think. No, instead she had named me after what she considered her own paradise, this being her hometown. Man, she had loved that town, loved it so much she had named her only kid after it. Well, despite everyone who knew me only ever calling me Edie, myself included. But then, when my mom had passed away, I could no longer bear being there, as it was just too painful. Every shop, street, corner and house seemed to hold a memory of us together, and I wasn’t on my own in feeling like this as my stepdad had moved us the day after the funeral.

That had been the last day I had seen Edenton.

It was also the reason that after losing my mom at the young and tender age of ten to cancer, I had clung onto the only family I had left. My stepdad and stepbrother, Jimmy. And Jimmy, well, he was the reason I was in this mess to begin with, that and my sentimental need to feel as though I had some shred of a family left.

Of course, had I been okay without it, then I would have been in this very moment blissfully unaware of any underworld drug cartel that involved him, and would be continuing to live my safe, mundane life. But, thanks to Jimmy, well he seemed to be a chip off the old block in regard to his father, who is currently serving life in prison for grand theft auto.

But I'm getting way ahead of myself and the reason I was currently driving to some gothic nightclub in the middle of nowhere, one mysteriously named Afterlife. It all started six months ago, and I knew the moment I opened the door to Jimmy to find him with a black eye, my life was only going to get worse from then on out. Just how much worse I never could have imagined.

It turned out that Jimmy had turned into the real-life version of ‘Gone in 60 Seconds’ promising some mob boss, drug lord person named Felix Gomez that he could deliver to them what they wanted, which I assumed was a car full of drugs. Even though Jimmy had been hazy on the details, from what I could gather the drop off went wrong, and the promise he made was broken the moment the DEA got involved, making Jimmy run for it. Well, now Gomez wanted what Jimmy had promised or else he would be swimming with the fishes… yep, Gomez liked to keep it old-school gangster, clearly.

I also knew that those weren't the only bruises he had the moment he came inside and winced as soon as he’d sat on the couch. That was the day he told me he needed money and if he didn't get it, they were going to kill him. That was also the day that I said goodbye to my comfortable safe life.

Because I was a sentimental sucker who was desperate for a family, I could be a part of.

So, I let Jimmy guilt me into believing all I needed to do was get out a loan for him and he would pay me back. Needless to say, Jimmy never paid me back. which meant I had to sell everything, just to keep afloat and soon it became one loan to pay off another and another loan to pay off the other two and so forth and so forth. It also meant that with one glance in that cracked mirror I could see everything I possessed that was left of my life, which included a rolled up sleeping bag because I had been evicted and had been sleeping in my car for the past week. As for Jimmy, he was in the wind and up until two weeks ago, I was unaware that he hadn't paid these people off. Oh no, in fact he had taken the money I had given him and done a runner. As for me, well, unfortunately the people that he had owed this money to weren’t big on letting shit like this happen and thanks to Jimmy, he had led them straight to me. Meaning that it didn’t take long before coming for what they considered the next best thing…

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