Illusions: light in the darkness


Nicole Schroeder

Illusions is a novella written by Nicole Schroeder and Ashley Tanner, about a girl named Gemma who has the ability to see people’s true character at a single glance. Each post in the following blog series is one chapter of Illusions.Gemma let out a sigh and frowned into her plate of pasta, pushing a stray noodle around with her fork. After Elijah had sent the cryptic texts about James, he’d stopped responding. She’d heard nothing from him since then, a fact that worried her more deeply than she cared to admit.
“Hey,” Irene said, placing a hand on hers comfortingly. “It’ll be okay. There’s a whole slew of things that could’ve happened to keep him from responding. Maybe he’s just away from his phone, or it died or something —“
She shrugged. “I guess that’s true.” She knew it wasn’t, though — that just wasn’t like him. He was attached at the hip to his phone, and even if it had died, he would’ve gotten a replacement before the day was over.
“I mean,” Irene said, her brow furrowing as she thought, “how long exactly has he been off the grid, anyway?”
“Thirty — no, 31 hours now. His last text — the weird one that wasn’t finished — was at 1:00 yesterday.”
Irene visibly swallowed, and for a moment, Gemma saw fear flash in her eyes. That moment was enough, though, and her heart hammered in her chest at the realization.
Elijah had been missing for 31 hours. Something was wrong.
“C’mon, Irene. We know something’s happened. Whatever it is, whether it deals with Wolfgang or not, it’s bad.” For the first time that night, her friend glanced at her food and nodded. Gemma opened her mouth to speak, then closed it again. “What do we do?” she finally asked, her voice suddenly feeble and soft.
Irene remained silent for a moment, studying her plate. Finally, she looked up at her friend. “I have no idea,” she said, painful honesty piercing each word. “But I know someone who might. I’m going to go make some calls.”
With a newfound determination, she stood up from the table, grabbing her phone from the nearby countertop as she headed back toward her bedroom. Gemma stayed behind and resumed pushing the food around on her plate. She felt numb inside. She didn’t want to think about what had happened, or the fact that she had most likely caused all of this. Whatever had happened to them, if anything had happened to them, it would be her fault, and she knew it. Besides, what else could’ve happened to both James and Elijah except Wolfgang?
It was a few minutes later when Irene returned, her eyes bright with determination and a twinge of excitement Gemma recognized instantly. She walked past the table and took the keys from their hook on the door. “Grab your jacket,” she said, her voice almost commanding. “We’re meeting someone at Elijah’s office.”


They pulled up to the office only 10 minutes later, and in spite of her fears for the boys, Gemma was slightly thankful their hadn’t been many other people on the roads with the way Irene had driven to get there. As they pulled up into one of the parking spots outside of the law firm, it only took a moment for Gemma to spot the small black car across the way.
A woman was getting out of the driver’s side, her curly blonde hair tied back in a ponytail. She carried with her a backpack slung over one shoulder and a stack of papers in her arms. A plain ballpoint pen was tucked behind one year, and a wisp of hair hung just beside her right eye. She seemed, to Gemma, like the person who’s disorderly chaos somehow managed to make perfect sense when you got to know her.
Irene waved to the woman in an attempt to catch her attention, although it was apparent she had already seen them. Gemma followed her friend hesitantly, trying as much as she could to stay in the shadows and out of direct view of the other woman. It wasn’t that she didn’t trust Irene in her decision, but she was weary, and with a situation as unique as her own, she figured it would be better for her to do the majority of the talking.
“Irene,” the woman said as the two groups finally met. “It’s so nice to finally see you again.”
“It’s nice to see you, too, Ava.” Irene held her hand out warmly, greeting the PI as an old friend. For all Gemma knew, she was.
As the two exchanged courtesies, she shifted on her feet, wishing slightly that it had been brighter so she could’ve seen her eyes. For once, Gemma felt blind without her power and nervous without insight into the woman’s intentions.
“You’re looking for my eyes, aren’t you?” the woman asked, suddenly turning to Gemma.
She jumped at the accusation, stammering as she tried to think of an excuse.
“It’s okay,” Ava said, a smile spreading across her lips. “Irene told me about your gift. People say eyes are windows to the soul, but it seems you know that more than the rest of us.” She paused and stepped under a nearby street lamp, illuminating her face for Gemma to see.
Uninspired. Imaginative. Maternalistic.
Gemma sighed with relief. The woman’s appearance made it more than obvious which of her Labels was false — the woman seemed anything but uninspired.
“So, now that we have that out of the way,” she said with a grin, “should we hit the road? I’ve done some research, and I think I know where we can find your friends.”
Gemma smiled. Ava Sampson sure loved her idioms. “Lead the way,” she said, waving in front of her.
Without another word, the three of them began their walk of determined silence toward Ava’s car, their steps a little lighter than before. No, they didn’t yet know where Elijah and James could be, or what could’ve happened to them. But at least now they had somewhere to start, and that was enough to fill the girls with hope.[vc_empty_space]What do you think has happened to the boys? Will the girls find them in time? Leave a comment below.[vc_basic_grid post_type=”post” max_items=”10″ grid_id=”vc_gid:1458967828751-8771c891-8fab-4″ taxonomies=”12779″]