She was hiding in the restroom on the third floor when the alarm sounded. Even though she expected it, the shrill, high-pitched noise still startled her. “Oh no, I’ve got to get out of here,” sixteen-year-old Molly whispers to herself.
Molly had been asked to join Mrs. McCreary, head of the Homeward Family Care Center for Orphans, in her office to meet with a man and woman claiming to be Molly’s long-lost aunt and uncle, Jack and Amelia Sullivan. Although they don her last name, Molly had no recollection of ever having met them. Cheek-pinching Amelia was overly sweet and giggly. Borderline obese Jack had flashed Molly a kind of evil, conniving grin that did not settle well with her.
Her instincts triggered her response to run. However, as not to attract attention, Molly simply asked to be excused to go the restroom.
While pacing the restroom tile floor, she ponders what to do next. Molly hears the children rushing through the halls to get outside as quickly as possible like they were taught in fire drills. Molly even overhears a girl say, “What’s the rush anyway? It’s probably just another drill.”
Molly knows the alarm has been activated because of her. She had been excused over thirty minutes ago. As the orphanage is still being evacuated, the alarm persistently sounds.
Eventually the alarm stops. Everyone has made their way outside, except for Molly. Mrs. McCreary sends her two male assistants, who the orphans refer to as her henchmen, back into the building to find Molly.
Molly, having retreated to her room by this time, scrambles to cram everything in her bag. She keeps looking over her shoulder anticipating someone to walk in at any moment. She has been able to get all her clothes and her personal items in her overstuffed tote bag. All that was left were her sneakers. There was just enough room for her left sneaker. She tries stuffing the right sneaker in the bag, but it just would not fit.
Her face red with frustration and sweat on her brow, she almost gives up. Taking a deep breath, she pauses to pull her long reddish-brown hair up into a ponytail.
Still frequently peeking over her shoulder, she takes both sneakers and ties the laces together. She slings them over her shoulder, and while picking up the tote bag, she bolts for the door.
Before reaching her exit, she suddenly stops. She feels she is missing something. She glances back to make sure she has everything. She sees the metal bedframe with that horrid mattress and that ugly green blanket that scarcely kept her warm at night. Her eyes slightly divert to the right. Then she sees it on the nightstand. She says to herself, “You dummy, how could you have forgotten that?”
Rushing back, Molly nearly trips over one of the other beds in the room. She regains her balance before returning to the nightstand to retrieve her notebook. It is not just any old notebook. This tattered, black notebook is the single most important thing in her life. She snatches the notebook from the nightstand and holds it close to her heart.
Just then she hears a thump. It is coming from outside of the door. The very one she was just about to escape through. Panicked, she tries to figure out what to do. Then the door handle jiggles.
She fears as though her heart is going to beat out of her chest. She runs to the closet before the room door bursts open. In the closet, she holds her mouth in an extra effort to keep any sound from escaping.
There is nothing Molly wants more than to go back to that time where she felt safe and loved. She remembers her mother, Alexis, and how her warm embrace always made Molly feel better.
Molly remembers a time when she was six or seven, she was afraid of the boogeyman she thought she saw outside her window. Alexis came into Molly’s room to give her assurance there was nothing to be afraid of, then gave her daughter the most loving, reassuring hug.
Molly now holds on tight to the feeling of that embrace and pairs it with the memory of her mother’s smell still wafting through her nostrils.
She then remembers her father. What a strong, handsome man he was. Even with his burly strength, Molly managed to keep him wrapped around her little finger.
Her mother and father travelled often for work. Before every business trip, her father, Mark, would leave a little black notebook with her. The very first time Mark gave it to Molly, she became fascinated with the little elastic band that held it together. Mark told her to keep it safe for him while he was gone. Every time since, he would return, and Molly would proudly hand the notebook back to him. It became a memento that gave Molly security in knowing her father would always come back.
Just one week ago, Mark and Alexis had a last-minute meeting come up and needed to catch the red eye to Los Angeles. Tragically, their plane crashed. The crash had been declared a complete fatality with total loss of life. When informed, Molly did not want to believe it.. She had been adamant about making sure it was her parents, Mark Andrew Sullivan and Alexis Janay Sullivan. The authorities confirmed her parents were on that flight and they asked Molly if she had any relatives she could stay with. Her parents had always been very private about their past lives, so she knew truly little about her extended family.
As a result of her parents’ untimely passing and having no known relatives, Molly ended up at Homeward Family Care Center. Now she is standing in a closet unsure of her fate.
The footsteps from the intruder get closer and closer. Then, they stop. Molly sees a shadow through the crack in the door.
Molly squeezes her eyes shut. The closet door slowly creaks open. A girl whispers, “Molly, hurry, get out of here.”
Molly opens her eyes and sees Katie, another orphan whom she befriended.
“Hurry,” Katie says, almost inaudible, using overly animated gestures to get her point across. “I heard the henchmen coming up the stairs saying your name. They are down the other hallway right now, so go!”
Without verbal gratitude, Molly smiles, then grabs her belongings and darts for the open door.
Carefully, Molly peeks around the door as to not be seen by her pursuers. She tries to creep down the stairs without making noise. Unfortunately, this is an old Victorian style building, and the stairs were very creaky. On her second step down, one of the henchmen sees Molly and lunges toward her.
Fearing she will get caught, Molly now runs full speed down the stairs. She heads for the cafeteria where she knows there is a backdoor in the kitchen. With the henchman on her tail, she makes it through the dining area and into the kitchen. She hits the exit door so hard it swings open and she loses her balance, falling onto the cobblestone sidewalk in the alley behind the orphanage. She struggles to regain her footing. Once stabilized and nearly within reach of the henchman, Molly starts running as fast as she can through the alley.
Jack and Amelia were asked to evacuate outside like the rest of the occupants of the building. While they are waiting to be let back in, they see Molly running out of the alley and heading for the main highway. Jack says, “Look, there she is!”
Seeing Molly with the notebook in her hand, Amelia yells out, “Give me that notebook!” Then both Jack and Amelia join the pursuit to apprehend the clever orphan.
Molly’s adrenaline is the only thing keeping her going at this point. While running, she desperately tries to figure out where to go. She hadn’t thought this far ahead. She is also wondering why Jack and Amelia were chasing her, too.
Concentrating more on escaping instead of the chaos in her head, she spots a taxicab dropping off a fare. Just as the taxi is about to leave, Molly yells, “Stop! Wait!”
Molly is relieved when she sees the taxi’s break lights illuminate. However, noticing her hunters are still on the chase, she doesn’t slow down until she jumps into the back seat of the taxi. “Go!” exclaims Molly.
The driver, seeing that his current customer is being chased, slams his foot on the gas petal and Molly flies backward.
Trying to catch her breath, Molly is barely able to get out words, “104…Chest…nut Street…” Molly does not know where else to go, so she tells the driver to take her to her house.
The taxi driver does as he is told and chauffeurs Molly to the address she has given him.
As Molly sits in the back seat, she finally has a chance to breathe. Realizing she is holding the notebook with a death grip, she peels her fingers away from the book and decides it is time to open it. She still had not opened it since the crash because she wasn’t ready to accept the reality her father was dead. She wonders why Amelia yelled out for it. Molly knew there was something wrong with that whole situation to begin with.
Slowly, Molly opens the notebook. First, she thumbs through the book and sees almost all the pages are full of her father’s handwriting. Once Molly has had a chance to examine the book, she notices a folded piece of paper taped to the inside of the back cover. The piece of paper has “MOLLY” written on it. Curiously, Molly takes the paper and unfolds it.
With a terrified look, Molly reads the letter to herself, it says,
To My Dearest Molly,
I am so sorry you are reading this right now. If my death is the reason you are reading this letter, please read further for instructions on what to do now. I am sure you are scared, but if you do exactly as you are told, you will be safe.
This notebook has codes and secrets that the government didn’t want me to know about. Your mother and I were government spies, and they think we went rogue. Although that wasn’t true, we were framed. So, they must have found a way to win and now our lives are over. However, your mother and I always wanted to have a plan for you in case something happened to us.
If you are not already home, go there now. There is a false wall in our closet. Behind that wall, there is another hidden compartment on the right side. You will see a black lockbox with a combination lock. The combination is 4-2-8. Once you are inside that box, there will be further instructions.
Molly, your mother and I love you very much! We never meant to bring you into this world of ours. Be safe and never trust anyone.
With all our love,
Mom and Dad
Upon arrival of the Sullivan residence, the taxi driver says, “That will be $25.80.”
Molly jumps when the driver speaks to her. Rushing to wipe away her tears, she digs into the bottom of her tote bag searching for her coin purse. She then remembers she didn’t have much money. She was able to give the driver a ten-dollar bill and two five-dollar bills. She then had to count out change to meet the balance of her fare.
Once out of the taxi, Molly stands in front of her house. She lets all the mixed feelings and thoughts swim around in her head for a moment. The taxi starts to drive away, and Molly realizes that she is now completely alone.
Molly walks up the stairs to her front door. She notices the door is ajar. She slowly pushes the door open and sees that her house looks like it had been turned upside-down. Someone had been looking for something.
Fearfully, Molly continues up the stairs to her parent’s bedroom. The entire house had been completely ransacked.
Upon entry into her parent’s room, Molly notices the false wall in the closet had already been exposed. Therefore, someone had already searched through the closet for whatever it was they were trying to find. Molly looks inside the false wall and notices the other hidden compartment had not yet been discovered. She accesses the hidden compartment and locates the black lockbox. She pulls it out and examines it.
The box is smaller than she imagined. She sees the combination lock and immediately starts plugging in the numbers that were in her father’s letter. She had already memorized them, perhaps trying to figure out what significance those three numbers carry.
Molly has successfully popped open the lock. She takes a deep breath before opening the box. She slowly lifts the lid. Once inside, she sees four stacks of money, a set of car keys, a small manila envelope, and another letter. By now, Molly is shaking with fear, excitement, sadness, and uncertainty.
Already feeling as though she couldn't take much more, Molly starts to read the letter. It says,
Molly, you did it! I am so very proud of you. I knew you could do it! You are an intelligent girl. Now that you are 16, you are capable of handling things on your own. I know it may be tough, but your mother and I have made provisions for you to have everything you need.
Enclosed is $20,000. Use this money to get on your feet. Also, you will see a set of keys. Make your way to the airport and in the extended stay parking garage you will find your new car, a cherry red BMW, in parking space E-34.
Oh, yes and open the envelope if you haven’t already.
Molly pauses reading the letter, then reaches for the manila envelope. She opens it, then tilts it. Out fall a passport, Driver’s License, and Social Security card all with the name Karma Alexander. Molly chuckles at the play on names her parents used: Karma is an anagram for Mark A. and Alexander is the male form of Alexis.
She continues to read,
I knew you would like the nice touch we put on your new name.
I’m sure you are overwhelmed at this point, but we wanted to leave you with everything you would need to survive. Inside the notebook, there is access to 5 different overseas bank accounts. All of them contain a million dollars each.
I have one more thing to add. Live your life like you mean it. Work hard, love hard, play hard, but never let your heart lead you. Always use your head and NEVER TRUST ANYONE!
Molly sits on the floor of her parent's bedroom for a long time, absorbing the information she just learned. She then gathers her belongings and calls a taxi to pick her up to transport her to the airport.
The cherry red BMW sat right where her father said it would. It was gorgeous!
Letting one tear escape, Molly climbs in the driver’s seat, turns the engine on, and drives.
While cruising down the highway, window open, and hair flying wildly in the wind, Molly asks out loud, “Karma, what are you going to do with all that money?”
Then answering herself, she says, “Anything I want!”
About the Creator
Long ago, a little girl loved to write. She loved to explore the depths of her mind and create the impossible. That little girl still sits in the back of my mind waiting to pursue those dreams. I am now 39, a wife, and a mother of three.