Illusions: in the wolf’s den


Ashley Tanner

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.
Ava, Irene and Gemma entered the building and headed straight for Elijah’s desk.
It was like it always was, files strewn across the wooden surface, protein bar wrappers huddled in a pile in the corner of his desk and a Camelback half-filled next to his keyboard.
Gemma approached his desk slowly, fearing the worst. His phone was to the right of his mouse. She picked it up and swallowed back the fear that was bubbling to the surface.
“Where is he? What’s happened to him?” Irene wrapped her arms around Gemma and embraced her, not knowing what to say.
“It’s already been long enough, we gotta get moving,” Ava said quietly.
They left the offices and piled into Ava’s car. They first stopped at James’ house to see if he had gone home, but the lights were off. Irene knocked on the door, and it crept open. Glancing around, it wasn’t hard to spot the deep gouges in the exposed wood near the door lock. Someone had forced their way in.
They all wearily entered the dark house, but soon found out it was empty. Other than the door being open, nothing else seemed out of place. His car keys were lying on the kitchen counter, and his phone was blinking with notifications.
Ava picked it up and unlocked it. There were many missed calls from Elijah, a few texts from Gemma and some work emails. Ava noticed James had a draft text message to Elijah, ‘they’re comin-’ he never had time to complete it.
Gemma had to use every ounce of strength she had to keep her composure. No matter how much she wished she didn’t, she cared for him greatly.
“It’s probably a lost cause, but let’s head to Elijah’s house. Maybe we can find some clues there.”
The ride to Elijah’s place was silent. Their hope of finding the boys was diminishing by the second, leaving only worry in the empty space between them.
They arrived at Elijah’s. Unlike James’ house, his door was locked and no one appeared to be home. Gemma and Irene slowly walked back to the car, unsure of anything else they could do. Before they got back in, Ava seemed to be listening to the radio intently.
“I decided to check the police scanner, to see if they had detected any suspicious activity,” Ava blurted out before they could ask her anything.
“The vacant warehouse on birch street,” The police dispatcher said. “Seems to have one too many cars in it’s lot, car 404 go and check it out.”
Ava immediately turned on the ignition and sped off towards birch street.
“I know this warehouse, it’s been vacant for years. It was built after World War II when the industries began to pick up again. It started off making housewares, but ended up being a toy factory. It closed down in the late 90s, and has been shut down ever since.”
The rest of their short trip to the warehouse was in silence. None of them knew what to expect. James and Elijah could be dead, or badly injured. They could be walking into a battle zone. It could be nothing.
The giant warehouse soon came into view, it was gloomy, as to be expected. But it had a sinister edge. Gemma knew the odds of this turning out alright were slim, no matter how much she hoped.
They and got out of the car slowly. Ava silently pointed towards the grouping of cars near a small entrance, and then put her finger to her lips. The best chance they had at rescuing Elijah and James was the element of surprise.
As they approached the entrance, Irene noticed the police weren’t there yet, making this horrible situation seem even more eerie.
Ava slowly pushed open the rusted door, and looked around. The only thing she could see from the dimly lit entryway was a long, narrow hallway with rusted lockers on both sides of the walls. It seemed as safe as this situation could allow, so she signaled the other two to follow her in. They could hear faint yells coming from deep within the warehouse.
They made their way, slowly, down the corridor. They began passing other hallways that branched off of the main one, but continued straight. The further they went, the louder the yelling got.
Gemma’s stomach was in a knot, she was happy she had found them, but wasn’t sure what condition she would see them in.
They came near to the main room, and the shouting was louder than ever. Wolfgang was giving them demands to tell him what they know. He was threatening their lives, and the lives of their loved ones.
It was almost unbearable for Gemma, Elijah was here because of her, because of her gift. She was going to get him killed.
Ava waved her hand to get their attention, she crouched low and pointed towards some small crates. They crouched and followed her. From behind the crates, they could see everything. Elijah and James were strapped to metal folding chairs, they were beaten and bruised. She could also see Wolfgang, wearing his usual black suit, but his jacket was on the floor and his sleeves were rolled up. Standing near him were two others, most likely his henchmen. Each of them wore jackets emblazoned with a strange logo on the back, the word SAINT scrawled underneath.
Gemma looked back at Elijah, but in that moment his eyes already locked onto hers. His Label flashed in her mind and she grimaced, trying to think of a way out of the situation. All she could focus on, though, was the three men surrounding them and the pleading look in Elijah’s eyes. Gemma braced herself for the worst.
Things were about to get ugly.
What do you think is going to become of the boys? Leave your comments and questions below.