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Next: "Liberation"

Series 1 Episode 3

“Isaac,” a timid, nervous voice jolted Isaac awake. He had been fast asleep for… he wasn’t sure how long exactly, but from the lack of light penetrating the curtains, it wasn’t time to wake up yet.

Opening his eyes and struggling to focus on what was directly in front of him, Isaac tried to make out the silhouette in front of him. He could see the now-familiar mop of jet-black hair dangling down, a sight he had seen for the past three nights on the trot.

“Outside,” Harry’s cutely bossy voice said. Isaac knew what he wanted to do. The forest outside was empty at night – no guards were searching or watching, and it would have raised too much suspicion for them to cordon it off, meaning it was free game for them.

Isaac spun round to look at the clock on his bedside table. The bright red light glared 03:00 at him. It was the exact same precise time every single night.

Late night adventures aside, the past three days had been mostly smooth. Harry had settled in well at school and he was picking up new words really easily. Arlen had been a massive help, though they had both been avoiding Ava. Isaac wasn’t sure what to say to her, so he was choosing not to say anything at all for now, even if he knew it was a bad idea to keep putting it off.

Harry threw Isaac his dressing gown and picked up the pair of slippers he kept at the bottom of his wardrobe. Begrudgingly, Isaac sat up and slipped on the dressing gown over his short-sleeved pyjama top. Harry had noticed the routine quite quickly from previous nights, so was one step ahead of Isaac now. Besides, winter was approaching, and it was getting chilly outside, so he needed to keep warm.

Excitedly, Harry held Isaac’s hand as he pulled him out of the house and into the very familiar forest area where they first met. Isaac watched on as Harry basically picked up where he left off the night before. He rummaged through the chunks of destroyed tree chips, piles of leaves and mud that littered the carpet of the forest.

Isaac didn’t want Harry to lose hope, but they hadn’t found a single scrap of whatever he was looking for yet. Surely after a total that now stood at four nights, something would have shown up. That said, Isaac didn’t have the heart to burst Harry’s bubble.

“Isaac,” Harry called. He sounded excited, more than he usually did. Like a child receiving the Christmas present they desperately wanted.

Intrigued, Isaac approached. He’d found precisely nothing so far, so even the tiniest discovery could help piece various parts of the jigsaw together. Harry held up a tiny piece of what looked like a translucent brown plastic.

“What is that?” Isaac wondered in bewilderment.

Harry paused, not sure which words to use. Isaac had to help him out.

“Is it part of some sort of pod?” Isaac thought. Harry, wherever he came from, had to have arrived in something.

Harry nodded. Lucky guess.

“Come on, we can look at it more in the morning, let’s go to bed,” Isaac smiled, leading Harry inside. Maybe his questions were finally about to be answered?

One more day until the weekend. That was what Ava kept telling herself, anyway. Two whole days away from school, meaning she didn’t have to see her two so-called best friends ignoring her.

Ava wasn’t stupid – she knew why. They were hiding something; something to do with Harry, and Ava was determined to find out what.

Despite that, though, Ava couldn’t help feeling gutted. Arlen and Isaac were meant to be her friends. All three of them had been tight as anything for so many years. Being excluded from the Harry situation was pretty disappointing.

“Mind if I sit here?” came the cutely soft British tones of a young lad. Ava was sitting on the steps outside the school building, not really paying attention to her surroundings.

Looking up, Ava saw Newton Sheppard, from her chemistry class. She hadn’t spoken to him much – he often preferred to hang out with the “popular crowd,” but she had spent many a chemistry lesson admiring him from afar.

“Not at all,” Ava smiled politely, fixing her hair quickly. As Newton sat down, he fixed his hair too. It was pretty long – cascading just past his shoulders – and suited his slightly tanned skin and gorgeous maroon eyes.

“You look like you need a friend,” he mused.

“I’ve got a couple of vacancies,” Ava replied nervously, keeping the tone light.

“Not sure I can fill both but I guess I can try,” Newton chuckled. He seemed easy to be around, which was exactly what Ava needed – a positive distraction.

“Where are your other friends? You three never seem to be apart,” Newton observed.

“Long story,” Ava deflected. The whole story was too complicated for her to know where to begin. Not to mention how few details she was actually aware of.

“I’m not in a hurry, class doesn’t start for twenty minutes,” Newton persisted, not intrusively, but out of what seemed like genuine concern with a dash of intrigue.

Ava was trying to find the right way to explain what was a ridiculously messy situation to an outsider, but it wasn’t bringing much up.

“It’s the new kid, isn’t it?” Newton guessed.

“He’s lovely,” Ava basically confirmed his thoughts, thinking back to her chat with Harry. He trusted her. He wanted to show her something, out in the forest, but they never got the chance to go, “But stuff doesn’t add up, and it started when he arrived.”

“Why don’t you just ask them what’s going on?” Newton wondered, as if he were a guidance counsellor.

“You think I’ve not tried that?” Ava laughed; she knew if she didn’t laugh, she’d likely have cried.

“Well, have you got any better ideas? There’s no use wallowing here,” Newton reasoned.

“There is something,” Ava pondered, “Come on, let’s go.”

“Class starts in fifteen,” Newton reminded.

“Shame we both happen to be at the dentist at the same time,” Ava chuckled, standing up and holding her hand out to Newton, inviting him along.

Newton gazed back at it, as if he were considering whether this was a good idea or not. Ultimately, he grabbed Ava’s hand and flashed a cheeky, excitable smile.

Perhaps he was the only friend she needed after all.

Another tedious English lesson began. Isaac was already bored by just reading the lesson title – “Romeo and Juliet.” The story was a classic, but Isaac didn’t believe in soppy love stories like that. Mainly because he hadn’t even caught a whiff of one for himself yet.

Harry smiled over from the desk to his left. His cute face radiated in the intrusive sunlight beaming through the windows.

Perhaps Isaac wanted something a little less traditional.

“Have you seen Ava?” Arlen whispered indiscreetly from behind.

“Not since yesterday,” Isaac responded. Her desk, completing the four corners of a square behind Harry and on Arlen’s left, was unusually empty.

“Maybe she’s sick,” Arlen considered.

“Ava’s not had a sick day before. Ever,” Isaac mentioned. He’d had more than he could count, but Ava was always asking after him. The only days off she’d had were for funerals or unavoidable appointments, and even then, she would catch up on what she missed.

“I’ll text her,” Arlen cautiously positioned his phone under the table. Mr. Woods was notably strict when it came to phones out in class; he always confiscated them.

“Mr. Edison,” Mr. Woods spotted. He must have some Spidey-sense.

Arlen sighed a heavy sigh. He had never been caught out before. In fact, he was usually the ninja when it came to texting in class.

“I’ll look after that for today,” Mr. Woods smiled smugly as Arlen reluctantly handed his phone over, “You can retrieve it in detention tonight.”

Frustrated, Arlen’s head collapsed onto the desk. Isaac felt partially sorry for him, but it was a little funny, and he couldn’t deny it.

In the corner of his eye, Isaac noticed something highly concerning. Exactly the type of thing he thought he was safe from. Two guards from the security precinct. The same two guards from his front door. They were outside the window, approaching the front entrance. Immediately, Isaac’s protective instinct for Harry took over.

He had to keep him safe.

Though she had little idea what she was looking for, Ava was keen to find something, or anything, that would identify exactly why Harry pointed outside. He wasn’t the type to joke around; Ava wasn’t even sure he knew how to joke. There must have been a clue somewhere.

“Why are we here? I thought we were going somewhere, you know, fun,” Newton remarked.

“Get looking,” Ava ordered, ignoring the obvious connotations.

“Looking for what?” Newton queried, his face painting the perfect picture of genuine perplexity.

“I don’t know yet, just anything that’s out of the ordinary,” Ava explained.

“These trees don’t look ordinary,” Newton observed, “They’ve not been chopped down, they’ve been well and truly destroyed.” Ava examined the various chunks of tree scattered all around her. They were inconsistently shaped and sized, and cut very sloppily. No human would have done this. Then Ava remembered: the article she read.

“There was a fire in the forest the other night. I read it online. There were rumours a shooting star landed in the forest, but nobody commented to confirm or deny it,” Ava recalled, delving deep into her memories.

“You must have been really bored,” Newton jested.

“It was the night before we first met Harry,” Ava had a terrifying realisation.

“What does Harry have to do with a shooting star?” Newton was clearly getting more and more confused. There were so many details to keep up with.

“He pointed out here when I asked him where he was born,” Ava explained.

“Born? Yikes, that must have been one hell of a labour,” Newton joked. Ava opted to ignore him, focusing instead on piecing the jigsaw together.

“He knows no English, barely seems to understand basic concepts before they are explained to him,” Ava processed, thinking aloud while Newton continued browsing the ground, “And he arrives conveniently the day after a shooting star crashes next to Isaac’s house.”

Newton was hardly listening, but Ava didn’t care. She had to try and visualise the timeline of events for it to make sense to her, just like the detective she one day aspired to be.

“Maybe he’s an alien?” Ava theorised. She knew she sounded crazy, but it was the only logical answer she had so far.

“Do aliens wear rings?” Newton randomly questioned. Intrigued, Ava jogged over to him. Sure enough, he had found a ring. It was a pretty expensive-looking piece of jewellery. The material looked like real gold, decorated with diamonds all around the circumference. Unusually, it was slightly oversized for a typical finger, with sharp spikes facing a few millimetres inwards.

“This looks like some sort of torture,” Ava observed, seeing a latch stopping the spikes sinking further.

“Who the fuck would wear a ring like that?” a disgusted Newton wondered, before trying to get a laugh from it, “A masochistic alien.”

“Remain still,” a voice commanded loudly from behind Ava. A tingling sensation of fear trickled fiercely through her body. Cautiously, she spun around to where the voice was coming from.

Blocking the way between the edge of the forest and Isaac’s house were three of the guards she had seen interrogating Isaac just days before. All three had guns pointed at her and Newton, much to Ava’s absolute horror.

Her theories were right – something more was going on.

Moving anxiously through school to find a safe space, Isaac wasn’t having much luck. The corridors of school were filled with guards, as if every exit had been blocked.

As he pushed backwards and forward through the crowded corridors, Isaac made sure never to lose his grip on Harry’s hand. They needed to stay together, and if Harry got separated, he wouldn’t be able to fend for himself.

“What are they doing here?” Arlen queried, bringing up the rear.

“I don’t know, but it can’t be good. We can’t let them find Harry,” Isaac responded, determined to keep him out of view.

Harry himself had a variety of expressions displaying on the blank canvas that was his face. Fear, worry and confusion seemed to prevail through his eyes. Isaac sympathised, as he felt exactly the same.

Another exit blocked. The security precinct guards really had covered the building. Something serious must have gone down.

“Attention all students,” the voice of Principal Stewart sounded through the loudspeaker. Isaac stopped in his tracks; any information could be vital, “Please make your way to class for an important announcement.”

How irritatingly vague. There was nothing Isaac hated more than ambiguity.

“Scared,” Harry muttered. Isaac could hear the fear translate across his delicate, quivering voice. Isaac’s protective instinct had never been higher.

“Find somewhere to hide. I’ll cover for you,” Arlen offered.

“Thanks,” Isaac smiled. That lifted his load slightly. At least the teachers wouldn’t be desperately worrying where they were.

The corridors were beginning to empty as students filtered into class. The smell of canteen food lingered while crisp packets left by idiotic kids who couldn’t use trash cans littered the floors. Before it got truly empty, Isaac knew he had to make a move. He needed to make it as difficult to be followed as possible.

“Come on, up here,” he encouraged Harry, heading to the adjacent staircase.

Isaac had no idea where he was heading, but he knew wherever it was, it was going to be the safest place he could get.

It had to be, for Harry’s sake.

Complete darkness. That was all Ava could see around her. She had been blindfolded, which made her feel more uneasy than anything. Her greatest sense had been blocked, meaning she had next to no understanding of what was happening. Of course, she had tried to struggle, but she stood no chance against the hunky, burly guards.

In the absence of sight, Ava had paid extra attention to the rest of her senses. After all, it was important to remain calm, and every clue was vital.

Ava had definitely been moved, on two separate occasions – to and from a vehicle. She couldn’t ignore the loud rumbling of the road, and the fierceness of the vehicle’s engine. Now she had no idea where she was. The smell was fresh and clean, like a brand-new office block. There was even the distinct aroma of coffee sprinkled around. It felt oddly glamorous considering they had just been kidnapped.

Throughout the ordeal, Ava was certain she still had Newton by her side. Their mouths weren’t gagged or taped, so they could still communicate – it wasn’t like they could yell for help from the inside of a moving vehicle anyway.

“Ava, are you still there?” Newton called out. It sounded like he was talking right into her ear. He can’t have been far away.

“Yeah, it’s okay, I’m here,” Ava spoke softly. She needed to keep him calm, even if she was panicking on the inside.

Ava’s blindfold was harshly yanked off. Her eyes adapted to the comparatively unforgiving lights. Sure enough, just as she thought, they were in an office room. However, despite its vast space, there was one sole desk – the one Ava was sat on one side of. Newton was to her left, and on the other side of the table was a woman in a smart, stylish suit.

“Where the hell are we?” Newton questioned, frantically looking around.

“I’m sorry for the inconvenience. Please, have a drink,” the lady politely smiled, gesturing to the two paper cups of water on the table. She was in her late thirties, perhaps early forties. Her gorgeous long, dark curls were tied back into a perfect bun, and her light grey suit complemented her immaculate make-up.

“Where is this place?” Ava reiterated Newton’s question, ignoring the cup of water. Her heart was beating like crazy; it felt like it was about to burrow out of her chest.

“Somewhere safe,” the lady replied, “Providing you co-operate.” Ava felt a chill run down her spine at the end of that sentence. She knew she had to watch her mouth.

Ava took a gulp of the water. She needed all the strength she could get.

Slipping into last period just a few seconds late, Arlen knew he had a couple of tasks to complete. Not only did he need to provide an alibi for Isaac and Harry’s absence, but he was their eyes and ears. He was ready to relay every piece of information he could collect and send it straight to Isaac’s phone.


Arlen had forgotten.

His phone had been confiscated. He had no way of getting in touch.

Arlen’s mind was thinking at lightning speed. He looked rapidly around the classroom. Who could be trust?

“Hey, Alesha,” Arlen turned to his immediate right. He faced the gorgeous Alesha Hartley, the most beautiful girl in the year group. Her glistening hazel eyes twinkled as her auburn waves bounced on her shoulders. The sunlight from the windows behind him made her tanned skin become radiant. Arlen had been smitten for years, though he had barely said a word.

“Oh, hi,” Alesha awkwardly smiled back. Their only real encounter in the past had been in junior high, when a couple of idiots were picking on Arlen. Alesha was the only one to stand up for him. Ever since then, he knew he could trust her, even If she was very much part of the popular crowd.

“Can I borrow your phone please? I need to text my mom,” Arlen pretended.

“Err, sure,” Alesha seemed confused, but she handed the phone over. Evidently, she trusted him too.

Quickly, Arlen signed Alesha out of her Facebook account and into his own.

“Alright class, listen up,” Miss Savill addressed. Arlen kept the phone under the desk, as he often did, keeping it out of her view.

He was ready for operation ‘Get Harry Out.’

Isaac’s heart had never pumped so fast. He was absolutely terrified for the first time in his life. The stakes felt high, even though his knowledge of the situation was still lacking. One thing he was sure of was that it linked back to Harry – the security precinct guards weren’t hovering around the forest and asking about the shooting star out of pure coincidence.

Isaac and Harry were surrounded by pens, pencils and paper. They were hiding in the supply cupboard on the top floor, which was barely used even during a typical school day.

The worry had never been more vivid on Harry’s face. He was very expressive, which helped Isaac to understand his feelings when he couldn’t verbalise them. Nevertheless, it wasn’t a sight he enjoyed seeing.

“We’ll be okay, you got me,” Isaac reassured.

“Scared,” Harry timidly replied. Harry knew just as much as Isaac, and he hadn’t signed up for any of it. He was surely the victim of whatever was going on.

“I know, but it’s okay, we’re a team, aren’t we?” Isaac smiled, trying to keep himself composed. If he panicked, he knew Harry would too.

“Team,” Harry repeated, nodding. A tear slid down his cheek. Isaac had never seen him cry before; it broke his heart to see Harry so sad. He wiped it away for him, though Isaac felt teary himself too. It took a lot to make him cry – usually it was quite easy to disassociate himself, but that wasn’t possible in such an unusual and intense scenario.

They were huddled together closely, sat on the floor, as if they had to preserve heat. Harry rested his head on Isaac’s shoulder. It felt oddly intimate, considering they were supposed to be hiding, but Isaac could have stayed there forever. He was always at ease with Harry, even if his arrival had brought so much drama. His stomach felt different, some sort of sensation that he hadn’t experienced before. It felt pretty good.

“Nothing from Arlen yet,” Isaac sighed. They were going to be there for a long time yet.

Catching Isaac off guard, Harry leaned in and pressed his lips against his own; kissing him. Isaac felt butterflies gathering in his stomach. He dropped his phone to the floor as his hands locked with Harry’s. It was like time stood still for a moment, and all of their worries could go away.

Harry pulled away and smiled awkwardly. Isaac didn’t know what to say or how to feel. How did Harry even know how to kiss? Did he understand what it meant?

That said, Isaac couldn’t deny the basic fact of the kiss.

He absolutely loved it.

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Next: "Liberation"

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