Disclaimer: The song and music video that inspired this story is property of 3Doors Down. The plot is mine. Also, Alexandra Palace is an actual place and at the time I started writing this, it was being considered for demolition, though it’s been more than a few years so I’m no sure what came of that. Little fyi there, for any of you who actually live in the area (I don’t). Looking back at the beginning of this, And how life was
Just you and me and love and all of our friends, Living life like an ocean
But now the currents slowly pulling me down It’s getting harder to breathe
It won’t be too long and I’ll be going under. Can you save me from this?
Noah sighed, staring down at his scuffed converses. His name was Noah, just Noah. You didn’t need a last name when you lived on the streets, after all, not unless you were slow enough to catch police attention. He toyed with the lighter in the front pocket of his black hoodie, anxiously. The busy street passed him by. Men and women, businessmen, mothers with children, fathers on their way home, people on their way to work or the store. People just living their lives, unaware how fragile their existence really was. All of them seemingly unaware of the small boy watching them from the corner. His just too big jeans were torn at the knees and at the bottom from when he had misjudged a jump and gotten caught on a fence during one of his first runs. His watch, lifted from Goodwill, beeped. 5:32 pm. Time to go.
Without another thought, he turned the corner and began to run. Noah ran as if the Devil himself were on his heels, trying not to smirk too hard at the various cries of outrage as he passed well-to-do shoppers on his way. He didn’t need to look to know that on the opposite side of the street, his fellow gang member and friend, Anya, was running, perfectly adjacent to him. People gasped and cursed as he ran through the crowd but he played them no mind. They had a job to do, a run to complete. Anya was keeping time with him absolutely, as usual. They had perfected this operation over the years. Today’s menu? A four car pileup right in the middle of downtown London. He ran as fast as he could, his black dredlocks swinging and the digital clock on his wrist counting down the seconds, measuring out the last moments of four lives.
The intersection was just ahead, barely eight meters. They could make it! The adrenaline was pumping through his body and his partner on the other side had her eyes narrowed in concentration. The destitute teen’s lavender eyes widened. The light was starting to change! They weren’t going to make it! Anya and he ran out into the street, doing a perfect mirror of each other as they rolled over the car in front of them and jumped on the hood of the two cars that would have caused the wreck. They had made it! Yes! The woman in the SUV in front of him looked angry until not a second later, a semi barreled through the intersection right where she would have been if he had not stopped her. His heart was hammering in his chest but he gave her shaking figure a nod, sparing the little girl in the back seat a glance before he darted down the street, Anya already running with him opposite. They had done it. They had saved those lives. His watch was beeping out their deadline and he could hear his partner’s doing the same. The tanned street kid grinned just as they slipped into a little known alley and they used the rusted ladder to jump onto the protection of the roof.
Using the tops of the buildings, they free-ran across town, dodging chimneys and cable antennae, until they were as far from the scene of the almost accident as they could get. Anya shot him a grin once they had stopped, standing on the rooftop of the abandoned theater that they called home. Noah laughed, out of breath and elated at their success. High on the arenaline of victory, he began looking his partner over to make sure she hadn’t been hit too hard by the car. She was 5’5” with waist length red hair that she kept in a tight French braid down her back. Her brighter than normal blue eyes were the type that you only see on Alaskan huskies but that seemed to be a trait all of the members of their rag-tag little group shared. All of the Prophets had oddly colored eyes. Noah’s own were lavender, not that odd shade of blue but, honest to heaven, purple. Her soft laughter joined his own and eventually the two friends were cracking up as they slipped down the roof way entrance to the building.
Antony was standing by the back door already, a cigarette in between his fingers. He rolled his eyes at them as they came giggling through. They always posted someone at the back door to make sure everyone came back from their runs successfully. Antony was the one who made sure they weren’t discovered. He was the one who made the call if they had to change hide outs or not. Antony’s eyes were the color of bright fresh green spring grass.
“Did you make it?” He asked, taking a drag and observing them calmly.
“You bet! No pileups today! The traffic report’s gonna read all clear.”
They earned a sardonic grin from the usually stoic nineteen year old.
“Ooh, don’t tell Zoey that. You know she and Carson have that stupid competition going on.” He sniggered.
Noah left them talking jubilantly and continued further into Alexandra Palace. Their entire group lived there. Compared to others, they were probably small, with a total of twelve of them. The Prophets weren’t just any street gang though. Each of them had a peculiar ability. They each received visions, minutes before the visions occurred, of deaths. Not just any deaths either. These were possible deaths, as in ones that they could prevent. They had made it their personal mission in life, as the ones given this ability, to prevent each death that they foresaw. Shaun was their unofficial leader, a muscled teenager who taught them all free running, a type of urban gymnastics that helped them get to their targets in time. They had named the times they went to save lives “runs”. They were aptly named, as his still pounding heart could attest.
Despite the fact that they had come together, most of them streets kids, orphans or runaways, to save lives, they were a rowdy and fun pack that stuck together like most families never understood. He made his way into the theater room that they used as their sleeping quarters and plopped onto the place he usually slept in the big pile of curtains and old seat pillows that lay on the stage. Peyton and Nathaniel were curled up across the large room, bent whispering over a newspaper. They gave him a short smile and a wave as he sat down. His tattered, several times mended bag sat next to his space holding all of his belongings in the world. It wasn’t much but it was his. Noah had come to the Prophets at the tender age of eleven, after ditching out on a foster home he had lived in, just one of many that had bounced him back and forth over the years. He had no one to go back to and no one that would miss him except the group he had now. He rolled over and tried to catch a few winks, waiting for the others to come in. “I got eaties, guys!” Zoey’s voice cut through the fog of sleep and Noah sat up with a sigh.
He glanced at his watch, annoyed. He had only been asleep for an agonizing twenty minutes. Oh well. Zoey and Carson walked through the door carrying a plastic bag with the name of the grocery they used, Tesco’s, on the front. Carson and Michel were the only ones who had jobs, working in the deli at the food market and in a book store respectively. They were responsible for the sole income of the group. Saving lives doesn’t really pay well when no one knows that you’re doing it but since they didn’t have rent to pay or anything, then there was usually enough to put food in their bellies. They all gathered round in a circle, like always, to see what the two had brought back. They never traveled out without a partner, for safety reasons and because you never knew when you would need an extra hand to fulfill a run. Carson and Zoey were two of their best runners, partners for the last two years. Zoey began to set out their meal for the day while Shaun retrieved the dishware they shared as a group. A loaf of yesterday’s bread from the bakery, two jars of peanut butter and several cans of chicken, soups and ready made ravioli. It wasn’t much but it was enough to get something in each of them. They were used to having very little by now. It was always a hope that one day they could get a real home for all of them to share but realistically, the money that was left over went into a fund for medical emergencies and backup, in case one of the bread winners lost their job.
Nathaniel sat down lightly next to him with a meek smile on her face. Noah liked the quiet girl, though Shaun encouraged everyone to think of Nate as a boy, hence her masculine name. It was safer that way. On the streets, terrible things could happen to girls and she just wasn’t as tough as Zoey or Anya who were both natural fighters. Nathaniel was sixteen, like him, but she had been the personal property of a pimp before Shaun had rescued her. The man’s prostitution ring had fallen to a sting not a week later and he was put in prison although not after he had hurt the teen dearly. Nathaniel was shy but her meek attitude was in large part because of the thick ropey scar that vivisected her face, cutting over the soft planes of her forehead, down between dark eyebrows to stop at a hidden collarbone. Despite the flaw, Nathaniel was one of the only girls that Noah had ever considered beautiful. She had a fragile, waif-like build with dark hair that curled lightly, spilling around her face. Golden amber eyes were more often than not smiling out at the world. Nathaniel was sweet, innocent and kind and Noah respected and liked her for it all the more. She had been no more than a pet to a man who cared nothing for her feelings or well being past keeping her alive long enough for his own profit, and yet she was still such a loving person.
Noah pondered this thoughtfully as he chewed his peanut butter slathered sandwich and took a bite of chicken from the cans as they were passed around. Maybe he would lift a bag of apples from the street vendors that set up shop on the other side of town. They weren’t very attentive when they were tending to other customers. The big fat green apples…His mouth watered just picturing the shiny skin. They almost always had bread because the bakery would just throw the extra loaves away at the end of the night otherwise and yesterday’s loaves costed very little. Every so often though, it was nice to have something different. The problem was affording something different for twelve growing teenagers.
~ o ~
Nathaniel smiled at the others enjoying all the scrumptious goodies Zoey had brought the group of misfit angels. She looked over at her closest friend and watched him bite into the bread and meat offered. Noah was clearly thinking of something blissful at the moment. He just had that goofy look about him. Nate happily nibbled on a piece of chicken wrapped in a clean slice of bread. She pretended it was a hot chicken sandwich she once seen her former…employer eat when she was still, um, ‘working’ for him. That was all in the past now though. Sad the way he disappeared out of the blue like that. After she chewed it thoroughly enough to swallow, she excused herself from the joyful pile and when to her place. It was a secret little spot hanging above the stage with a view of the city, that Shaun had provided her with on her first night with everyone. Despite living in one giant puppy pile, personal space was still a must when living with twelve people. She reached under the comfy cot and pulled out a ragged looking bundle of rags. In these rags was the second most valuable treasure Nathaniel owned. Her trusty hand-made notebook. It was filled with her most private thoughts and dreams. In the past it was her only friend, the only one she really had to listen to her. She unraveled the rags and hugged the notebook tenderly. Silly? Maybe. But she could stand being called silly. Not that anyone would ever find this treasure but, nonetheless, she didn’t mind.
Nathaniel took out her little box filled with pens, colored pencils, crayons, and all sorts of other writing devices that she had picked up from all over the city. A crayon or two from the clinic when Antony sprained his arm, a pink pen from the table at the May Day fair, and many more. She finally chose a dark green marker for tonight’s letter, opening up the book and walking over to a small crease in the wall. This little hole was big enough to curl up in a ball and there were spaces in the wall outside which offered enough light to write by. She jumped up and got comfortable, book balancing on her knees, and began to write.
Deer Mum, Pleez do not worry aboat me now. Im in very gewd hands. My nue frends are very kind. My partnar is namd Noa. He does not talk too much but, he has a big hart and thats all that reely matters rite? I trust my litle Lily is safe and hapy. She is allmost 2 now write? I will show my love for her on her berthday. I am so lucky to have so meny kind new frends. I told u abowt them a few leters ago. Shaun is the kindest in my minds iis. So meny peeple have bin saved thanks to us. I am onlee hapy to be used for somthing gewd now. I am sad to end my leter to u, but the lite is going. Gewdnight mum.
With all my hart, Nathaniel
She closed her book and said a silent prayer. She didn’t know who she was talking to but she hoped tomorrow would be as good as today was. That’s all she really could ask for. That, zero injuries and maybe that Noah would keep teaching her how to write and spell. One day she would be able to write a real letter to someone. They may even write one back and she would be able to read it. Nate wrapped her book back up after she made sure all of the ink was dry and tucked the patchwork binder back into its hiding spot. With a sigh, she laid on her bed unsure whether or not he should go back downstairs tonight.