Series 1 Episode 2
That was the only word Isaac could think of to describe the situation he and Harry had found themselves in.
The panic extended to Harry, too. He had an expression of pure terror in his eyes. He didn’t know what was happening, but Isaac knew it had to be related to Harry. It was too big a coincidence.
“I repeat, remain still,” the voice sounded again. The military-type guards weren’t moving, simply staring and pointing their torch lights. At least they weren’t pointing guns at them, though Isaac could tell they were armed – their uniform had gun holsters attached. He wasn’t even thinking of disobeying.
“No like,” Harry whispered, his voice quivering.
“Same,” Isaac calmed him down, taking his hand and gripping it tightly.
“Not here,” Harry mentioned. What did he mean? Harry had said a lot of stuff that made little sense to Isaac. He was an enigma; a mystery that Isaac was desperate to solve.
“It’s okay, they will let us go, they can’t do anything. We’re doing nothing wrong,” Isaac kept as calm as he possibly could to reassure Harry. He was reassuring himself too.
Two of the military guards approached. Isaac pushed Harry behind him, not letting go of his hand, protecting him in the only way he could.
“Isaac Avery, and this is Harry, he’s my brother,” Isaac lied. Anything to help get them out.
“He doesn’t look like your brother,” the other guard probed rudely.
“Watch your tone,” the first guard warned.
“I was adopted,” Isaac justified. He wasn’t lying that time either, his mum had the adoption records to prove it.
“Why are you here?” the first guard continued his interrogation.
“We live just there,” Isaac pointed at his house, just about visible among the tree tops, “We were just hanging out.”
“Head on home, you can’t be here,” the first guard replied.
Isaac breathed a sigh of relief, but somehow, he feared this was just the beginning.
Clicking the front door shut, Isaac breathed a sigh of relief. He had no idea who he had just escaped from, but he knew he was glad to be away from them.
Harry panted. They had sprinted away after the guard gave his warning, not wanting to be near them for any longer than necessary. Isaac knew it had to be connected to Harry somehow – the circumstances around his appearance were so odd after all, it had to have received some attention.
Isaac led Harry upstairs into his own bedroom. Harry hadn’t been in there yet – he’d slept in the spare room the night before. Pushing the door open, Isaac watched as Harry looked on in amazement. Isaac took an immense level of pride in his room – he had decorated the walls with posters and pictures of everything he liked, the bed was made immaculately with cushions he had bought from Redbubble placed on top, and everything he owned was tidied away neatly on shelving units. The room was his space, so he ensured it was as personal to him as he could make it.
“Harry,” Harry gazed in awe at the biggest poster in the room. Of course, the subject was Harry Styles, directly opposite Isaac’s bed next to the door.
“You like him, huh?” Isaac smiled. He had definitely been drawn quite strongly to Harry Styles so far.
“Like,” Harry smiled back, touching Harry Styles’ hair on the picture. He then touched his own hair, as if he were investigating it. Like he hadn’t paid any attention to his cute, floppy, brunette barnet before. Isaac found it pretty adorable.
Isaac picked up his laptop from beside his bed and made himself comfortable. School was over, and it was time to relax. Besides, Harry needed a hobby, and Isaac’s top hobby was just one click away.
“Sit,” Isaac patted the space next to him on the bed, inviting Harry to join him instead of standing awkwardly by the door.
Harry climbed on top, leaning against the pillows, copying Isaac’s body shape expertly. He didn’t even seem familiar with the concept of a bed; he had slept in the spare room the night before, but Isaac hadn’t ever considered that something as basic as a bed might be new to him.
“What do you want to watch?” Isaac politely questioned, scrolling through some of his Netflix favourites. Doctor Who. Teen Wolf. One Day at a Time. Then he reached the perfect show, “You’ll love this.”
Isaac clicked open the first episode of Miranda, immediately seeing Miranda Hart’s titular character greeting the audience. Even if Harry didn’t understand the words, it was very visual. Surely even he would crack a smile at Miranda falling over in a gloriously clumsy fashion?
“Girl,” Harry identified. That was a word Isaac hadn’t heard him use before.
“That’s right. What am I?” Isaac pointed to himself.
“Boy,” Harry replied confidently. His observation skills were top notch too. He was very clever.
“Yeah,” Isaac smiled proudly. Harry was a very fast learner. Perhaps there was something he could do to enhance his communication further?
Arlen couldn’t deny it – he was pretty darn curious about this Harry kid. He had known Isaac since they were in kindergarten, and he was a terrible liar. Isaac never lied because he knew he was the worst liar around.
Parking his car outside Isaac’s beautifully scenic house, Arlen was ready to get some answers. Isaac had promised him the full story earlier, but Arlen was almost more interested in why he didn’t get the truth the first time around.
“Are we going in or what?” Ava impatiently queried. Arlen had told her they were hanging around Isaac’s house, just as they often did after school, but it was partly so his plan didn’t feel so unusual or forced. Ava didn’t know that, though. She was smart – smarter than all of them, not that she ever wanted to show it off. Before long, she would undoubtedly piece everything together herself, but Arlen wanted to make headway first. More than one voice could backfire.
“Right,” Arlen nodded awkwardly as he opened his car door. He looked around at the forest. Arlen was always in awe of the view from Isaac’s front door. The tall trees, the leaves whispering the secrets of the forest to each other, and… the military guard.
Huh? Why was there a military guard stood on the cusp of the forest? He was staring purposefully directly in their direction, too. Arlen tried to brush it off, opening the front door using the key Isaac had given him years back, pretending he hadn’t seen the guard at all.
“Hey Ms. Avery,” Arlen waved towards Isaac’s mum in the living room. It looked like she had just gotten home from work – she still had her white nurse practitioner coat on. Arlen loved how authoritative a white coat made someone, and it certainly suited somebody like Elenore.
“Hi you two, Isaac’s upstairs, I’ve not seen him yet,” Elenore explained.
“Alright, thanks,” Arlen smiled, remaining polite. He had known Elenore just as long as Isaac, and she had been more of a mum to him than his own for much of his life. He had the utmost respect for her raising Isaac on her own; Arlen had seen first-hand that it wasn’t always easy.
Upstairs, Arlen heard laughing coming from Isaac’s room. Two different laughs. Harry was there too. Arlen hadn’t heard him speak yet, but he saw him acing the maths questions in class. He clearly knew a thing or two.
“How’s it going?” Arlen led the way into Isaac’s bedroom, holding the door for Ava. Isaac and Harry were lying on the bed in front of the laptop, obviously recovering from their rapturous laughter.
“Oh, hey you guys,” Isaac greeted. He looked shocked to see them, as if they had interrupted something.
“Sorry, are you busy?” Arlen queried, not wanting to get in their way.
“No, not at all, the episode’s just finished,” Isaac perked up, “Come and sit.”
Arlen looked Harry in the eyes. He seemed so sweet and innocent. This made him all the more curious. What could have been so bad about this sweet kid that would make Isaac want to lie?
The evening passed quickly, and Isaac enjoyed having a good laugh. It felt awesome to have both of his friends meeting Harry properly, like they were a true team. Harry didn’t utter a word the entire time, but Isaac wouldn’t have expected him to. However, he definitely seemed comfortable and at ease with Ava and Arlen, and that meant a lot to Isaac.
“Didn’t Miss Savill have to explain it to you five times?” Ava laughed at Isaac’s expense.
“Hey, it was hard,” Isaac defended himself, as was in his nature.
“I know, dumbass, just pulling your leg,” Ava smiled playfully. She was used to Isaac not always understanding the joke, and it was why Isaac was so appreciative of his friends. Making new friends was hard because they didn’t know his quirks and oddities like Ava and Arlen did.
Harry was laughing along with the group, though Isaac wasn’t sure he knew what they were laughing at. Nevertheless, he was pleased that Harry was understanding social cues and making the effort.
Arlen prodded Isaac on the shoulder, signalling that he wanted a word. Isaac hadn’t forgotten their discussion at school earlier that day. In fact, it had been front and centre of his mind ever since, much like everything concerning Harry. Arlen wanted the full story, and honestly, Isaac wanted somebody else to confide in. Someone who wasn’t his mum, who had a greater sense of responsibility.
“He seems nice,” Arlen began, pulling the bedroom door to behind him. Ava was talking away to Harry, who couldn’t get a word in edgeways even if he wanted or was able to.
“He is. He wouldn’t hurt a fly,” Isaac replied, keen to sing Harry’s praises to an obviously doubtful Arlen.
“Who is he then?” Arlen wondered, almost impatiently.
“I don’t know,” Isaac responded honestly, “A shooting star crashed out there and he walked straight out from it like it was nothing.”
“He could be anyone,” a sceptical Arlen noted, “How do you know this isn’t an act?”
Isaac’s stomach turned. He hadn’t thought about it this way. Harry could be anyone, and there was no way to prove that he was genuine.
That said, Isaac thought about the look in Harry’s adorable green eyes. He had to be genuine. The sheer confusion at just about everything a typical human would know. He would need to be a darn good actor to keep that up for approaching twenty-four hours, especially as Isaac had barely left his side.
“You didn’t see him earlier, in the forest,” Isaac thought back, “We saw these guards, and the look on Harry’s face. He was horrified. It was completely unfiltered.”
“Wait, you saw them too?” Arlen mentioned.
“Yeah, they told us to go home,” Isaac replied. They must still have been in the forest when Arlen arrived.
The front door knocked three times.
Isaac’s heart jumped. He peeped out of the landing window curiously – they weren’t expecting visitors and rarely got any, postman aside. However, the same two guards who spoke to Isaac and Harry earlier were stood waiting outside the front door.
Now it was time to panic.
There was something cute and sweet about Harry, Ava thought. He laughed at just the right moments, but he never said a word. Apparently, he didn’t know much English, but he was acting like he understood. Perhaps he was simply good at reading expressions and the tone of her voice.
“Whereabouts are you from?” Ava queried, interested to learn more.
Harry stared back blankly, as if he had no clue how to answer her question.
Ava thought on her feet. She slipped her phone out of the back pocket of her tight-fitting jean shorts and searched for a picture of a baby. In another tab, she loaded the world map.
“Where…,” Ava showed the map to Harry, before switching tabs, “…were you born?”
Harry thought. His eyes drifted as if he were looking hard for the answer he wanted to give. He pointed outside the window.
“Here?” Ava guessed. She wasn’t getting any of the answers she was hoping for, “Not Sweden?”
A confident shake of Harry’s head followed. That only made Ava more befuddled.
“Can you show me?” Ava placed her hand gently on Harry’s. She wanted to do this independently, while Isaac and Arlen were whispering to each other. If they were going to keep secrets, they couldn’t be shocked at Ava doing the same.
Pulling the stiff front door open, Elenore was taken aback to see two reasonably young army grunts or guards on her doorstep. It wasn’t immediately clear who they worked for – there were no logos on their solid black combat gear.
“Hello ma’am, are you the owner of this property?” the guard on the left queried.
“May I say some identification please?” Elenore assertively queried. She had seen far too many drama shows where a murder would have been avoided by a simple ID check.
The left guard nodded to the right. Evidently, he was the one in charge. Elenore was taking mental notes on everything she saw in front of her, because it could come in useful, particularly if they weren’t who they said they were.
Both of them held up an identification card each in unison. Each card was labelled with the Riverhampton Security Precinct logo. Elenore knew the precinct – she drove past it on the way to work daily. She didn’t know much about it though; the precinct was quite the urban myth around town. One thing Elenore did know was that it was controlled by the council. She knew she could proceed.
“I am the owner, yes. How can I help you?” Elenore acted politely. She was doing her best to appear unphased, but she knew Harry was upstairs; the wonder-boy who appeared out of a crashed shooting star without a scratch or a scar on him. She couldn’t crack, but nevertheless, Elenore wanted every bit of information she could gather.
“It’s actually your sons we’d like to speak to, if you don’t mind,” the guard explained.
Elenore noted the plural in that sentence. Isaac couldn’t stop himself sometimes.
“Isaac!” she yelled upstairs, before turning her attention back to her visitors, “You’ll need to come in.” The smile on Elenore’s face was forced, but she knew she had to keep up the pretence that nothing was out of the ordinary. Besides, she was too far in now, and Isaac was in even deeper. He was always her top priority.
Keeping out of view at the top of the stairs, Isaac felt terrified. His mum had just called his name. He was sure the guards were there to ask about the shooting star, and specifically, Harry. He had to keep Harry away from them.
“You can’t hide away,” Arlen advised, looking Isaac directly in the eyes.
“I know,” Isaac averted his gaze, as he often did when talking, “But Harry…”
“He doesn’t need to know anything. Come on, we’ll both go down now,” Arlen encouraged gently. Isaac was pleased Arlen was able to think so clearly, because he knew he couldn’t do it himself.
Taking a large dose of oxygen to prepare and calm his anxious self, Isaac led the way down the stairs and into the living room. His mum was sat in her usual chair, though instead of her usual relaxed slouch, she was almost hanging off the edge. The guards were next to each other on the sofa, though Isaac could only see the backs of their heads from the doorway, owing to the layout of the room. The atmosphere in the room could be cut with a knife.
“Isaac, these men would like a quick chat, they say they saw you in the forest earlier,” Elenore explained.
“Yeah,” Isaac nodded, sitting himself on the pouffe next to his mum’s armchair.
“Is your brother here?” the first guard questioned.
“No, he’s out right now,” Isaac lied.
“Alright. This will have to do, for now,” the guard ominously said. Isaac’s mind wasn’t put to rest hearing those words, “How long were you in the forest for?”
“Not long,” Isaac replied truthfully, “Maybe ten or fifteen minutes?”
“Any reason for going out there?” the guard continued as his colleague remained silent.
“Hanging out, we always have,” Isaac continued. He wasn’t seeing the point of these basic questions. They were obviously avoiding the questions they really wanted answers for as they involved more specific information.
“Did you notice anything…unusual?” the guard continued his ambiguity.
“It looked like a fire had burnt down some of the trees,” Isaac mentioned. It would have appeared more suspicious if he didn’t mention the obvious.
“Anything else?” the guard probed further and further.
“Like what? If you need to know something specific, just say it, or I will be on the phone to your superiors within an instant,” Elenore intervened. Isaac was pleased she spoke up; having her and Arlen in the room with him was a comfort. That said, Arlen had mostly been on his phone. So much for the support.
Her phone buzzing furiously and incessantly, Ava stopped in her tracks. Her hand was in the doorway, ready for Harry to lead her outside. Now she had to check what all the fuss was about. She had three new texts, all from Arlen.
“Why is he texting me? We’re in the same house,” Ava muttered under her breath.
“Isaac?” Harry wondered. That was the first time Ava had heard him speak. His accent sounded American, interestingly. His tone was protective and worried.
“No, Arlen,” Ava mentioned, opening the texts up.
“No time to explain, but get Harry out.”
“Come quietly downstairs and go out the back door.”
Panic filled Ava’s mind. What was the emergency? Why did she need to get Harry out? Was he in danger?
“Okay, don’t get scared, but we need to get out of here, quickly and quietly,” Ava explained, before realising that Harry likely didn’t understand a word she said, “We need to go,” Ava reiterated, gesturing to the door, “Quickly,” she demonstrated a running movement, “And quietly,” she lowered her voice and raised her finger to her lips.
Harry nodded. Success; he had processed the instructions. He clasped Ava’s hand tightly. It was like a symbol of support, yet also a cry for help. Together, they crept out of Isaac’s room and towards the staircase. Ava braced herself. She knew how creaky Isaac’s staircase could be. She was having flashbacks to getting a drink when she slept over with Arlen once before; every stair made a noise and Elenore got woken up at three in the morning.
Once again, Ava held her finger to her lip, so Harry knew it was vital to stay totally quiet. He nodded again just as Ava lowered herself down once step. So far, so good.
Slowly and cautiously, Ava continued down the stairs. Harry hadn’t let go of her hand for even a second, which was a relief; she always knew he was never more than a couple of steps behind.
“I’m sorry Isaac, I’m just trying to paint a picture of everything you saw,” Ava heard a male voice coming from the living room.
Ava paused. That noise could definitely be heard around the house. The voices stopped.
“Who was that?” the same voice questioned.
“Nobody, just the old house settling,” Arlen covered for them.
Ava’s heart was beating like crazy. Whatever this was, it sounded very serious.
Harry stepped on that same stair.
The voices in the living room stopped once again. Ava knew it was harder and harder to cover their tracks with each creak.
Well aware of the loud noises his staircase made, Isaac knew the creaking sounds were not a result of the house settling. The guards could tell, too, because two identical sounds came within seconds of each other, and the staircase was on the other side of the far living room wall.
Isaac had also spotted Arlen with his phone, as if he were anxiously waiting for a reply. Isaac put two and two together. Arlen was trying to get Harry out, but Harry was now in danger, possibly with Ava too. He had to keep talking.
“Trees looked like they had been chopped down,” Isaac recalled the vision of the forest post-shooting star, “Something had been there overnight because it wasn’t like that yesterday.”
“Did you hear anything last night?” the guard queried. Just as he spoke, Isaac spotted Ava and Harry reaching the ground floor and turning to head out the back. The hardest part was over, now Isaac could wrap it up.
“No, I’m sorry, we stayed in last night,” Isaac lied as best as he could, trying his hardest to keep eye contact.
“Okay, thank you for your time Isaac and Ms. Avery,” the guard stood up, his colleague following suit.
“I’ll show you out,” Elenore led them to the front door.
“Come on,” Arlen gestured for Isaac to follow him. They had to find Harry and Ava. Isaac jogged behind Arlen as they headed through the hallway, kitchen and then to the back door.
Much to Isaac’s delight, they hadn’t gone far and were just hidden out of sight next to the door. He pulled in Harry tightly for a hug.
“They’re gone, you’re safe,” Isaac smiled, hoping Harry would see his positive body language. Sure enough, Harry replied with a smile back.
“Thank you,” Isaac turned to Ava, appreciative that she managed to take care of Harry.
“Of course,” she half-smiled back, “But can someone please explain what the hell is going on?”
Arlen looked at Isaac blankly. Isaac wasn’t sure what to say. Ava was in too deep now.