Disclaimer Note: Maximum Ride belongs to James Patterson, however the ideas of this story belong to me. The title of this story is also the new title for the book 8 which J.P totally owns.
Do you know how it feels to loose almost everything you've ever cared about all in the same week? No, of course you don't, because those things only seem to happen to me.
I had lost Fang, my first and perhaps only love. Not to mention my best friend, right winged man and second in command. He left me (Maximum Ride AKA Max) and the flock (Nudge, Iggy, The Gasman – Don't go there, and Angel) with nothing but a note. Now he had his own flock of merry mutants, including Maya (My clone) who has replaced me in every way. (Check out the other Max chronicles if you're interested.)
On top of that, my Mum, Dr. Valencia Martinez, was missing along with Jeb, my oh so wonderful father who is nothing but a lying, manipulative weasel.
My half-sister Ella was also gone. She decided she was always meant to have wings and snuck off while we were asleep around a campfire in the desert so we couldn't exactly stop her. (We were experimented on in a lab that we call The School and avian DNA was grafted into our genetic code giving us wings and other amusing attributes.) She left us a note in the dirt and that was it. My own sister, wanting to be more like me. What I wouldn't give to be more like her.
Lastly Angel, my baby. Not literally but like my own all the same. She was the youngest of the flock, the little sister of Gazzy. They're the only blood relatives in the flock, which explains why we all look so different. But that doesn't matter now because Angel is gone.
A bomb in Paris was set to go off and as skilful as Gazzy is with explosives, he couldn't stop it in time and Angel was caught in the explosion. Luckily everyone was OK. Except Angel. She was only seven years old.
Anyway, after saying goodbye to Fang and his gang, the flock and I were heading back to find Ella. Then we would find my Mum and maybe even Jeb, if he was still alive. If not no biggie.
"Max, do you think there's a possibility that Angel could still be alive? I mean she could have been caught by someone and held captive and not be able to reach us, or she might be stuck underground somewhere and…" Nudge began but stopped herself before I had the chance. She was torn up about Angel. We all were.
"I'm sorry Nudge, but I don't think so." I said forcing out my words. I felt the warm prickle of tears blurring my vision. I had to stay strong for the flock. I didn't even want to believe any of this was really happening. As much as I tried to deny the fact that Angel was gone and my Mum and sister were missing, I knew that I had to live up to reality. They were gone. But I promised myself I would find them no matter what it took.
I looked back at Nudge, her light coffee coloured skin pale and her scrawny body weak. She held on tight to the only thing we had left of Angel - one of her sneakers. Gazzy was still crying on and off but for now he seemed OK. I mean, as OK as a nine-year-old mutant bid freak can be after loosing his sister. Iggy was also quieter than usual. He like the rest of us blamed himself for what happened back in the tunnel. Angel was like a little sister to him and with Ella missing too, he must have felt pretty down right now. Ella is his crush and all.
That only left Dylan. He was the only one of us who didn't shed a tear amongst all this mess. He stayed strong throughout, helping the flock get back on their feet and making sure we were okay to fly. From all the 'excitement' our bodies felt as though they weighed 50 tons making flying seem like swimming through quicksand. I could tell the flock were fighting to keep their eyes open and their heads up and that was before we got back to the jet.
I looked down for a place to land so that we could stop and refuel. There was a small English diner not far from our position and I flew lower signalling the flock to follow.
"I want four cheeseburgers, two pint glasses of Pepsi, two large fries, three spicy chicken wings and apple pie for desert." Gazzy said in a flat tone as we landed. That was an unusually small order for him, but seeing as muggins here is paying and considering everything that happened I just nodded.
"I'll have four hamburgers, one large fries, two hot chocolates with marshmallows, cream and hundreds and thousands and I'll have six spicy chicken wings with BBQ dip and a chocolate fudge cake for desert." Nudge listed. Again, small order but I could see they really weren't in the usual eating mood.
"I'll have the same as Gazzy." Iggy mumbled running his fingers though his gritty strawberry blonde hair.
"Okay I think I can remember that. Angel what would you like?" I asked without thinking. Oh Max…
I paused for several moments catching a glimpse of the flock as they stared at me probably thinking 'is this a joke'? I looked up at Dylan horrified by what I had said that I felt tears begin to form all over again. He came closer and wrapped his arm around my shoulder.
"I'll have a look at the menu." He smiled squeezing me tightly against him, pretending that I had meant to call him Angel. I brushed myself down quickly and ran my fingers through my tangles trying to make myself look half-decent.
The flock headed inside first as I waited outside to gather my bearings.
"Things will be alright soon. I promise. We'll find Ella and your Mum and we'll all go home together." Dylan convinced me. He kissed me on top of my head and pulled me by the hand in to the diner.
Inside I saw happy families laughing and joking and playing tricks on each other. I remembered the good old days when the flock used to play tricks on each other and have food fights in the kitchen when I wasn't around. I remembered sparring with Fang and kicking his behind until he was good enough to do the same to me. All the memories of the flock flooded back making me smile and cry at the same time. Dylan noticed the tear streaming down my cheek and stopped before we got to the table.
"I was just thinking about the good old times with the flock and how so much has changed." I told him, realising that I've hit a new low of pathetic.
"Things change all the time Max. But you've got to learn to accept that there's nothing you can do to change the past. Just live for the future." Dylan said in a soothing tone. Sometimes I thought he sounded like my voice. But then I realised something. Dylan couldn't be my voice, because Dylan never laughs at me, even when I do the dumbest things. Dylan never tells me off for doing something I want to do. He agrees with everything I say and has never stood in my way. That and the fact that I had my voice long before he was made.
"Guess your right." I said rubbing the tears off my cheek. I put on a brave face and sat with the rest of the flock waiting while Dylan decided what he wanted.
"I'll have seven double cheeseburgers – no onions, they give me gas, three large fries, one large pepperoni and cheese pizza, one large coffee and a strawberry sundae please." Dylan finally said. Gazzy smiled at the gas comment and Nudges eyes were wide at how big his order was. There was me thinking he eats healthy, high protein foods. Where did all his muscle come from?
"Oh-kay then." I said getting up to order. I made a note on my way over to the counter to mark potential escape routes if needed. You can never be too careful.
Whilst waiting in the queue, I felt someone sneak up from behind me. I turned slowly, fists ready but as I turned I realised it was only Dylan.
"Jesus, don't do that!" I whispered loudly. He gave me an apologetic look and stood next to me.
"I'm Dylan not Jesus and I figured you'd need help remembering everything we ordered so here I am." He smiled holding his hands behind his back.
"Thanks, I'm sure I've got it though. But you can grab the straws and the cutlery." I pointed and he nodded. But he didn't move. I glared at him curiously for a few seconds until he looked back at me.
There were those eyes again. I find that whenever I'm close enough to him, I feel myself being pulled in like I'm in the middle of the ocean and the tide is carrying me out and I just can't escape. I couldn't take my eyes off his and then I found myself staring at his perfect model lips and imagined kissing them repeatedly. Wait, what am I thinking! I tried to shake such thoughts from my mind as if that would actually work but of course it didn't. Dylan smirked at me and I suddenly felt hot all over. Why was this happening to me?
"It's happening because you're attracted to him." A voice spoke loud and clear inside my head, sending shivers down my spine. Great, its back. I have a voice inside my head that likes to tell me how I feel and what I'm supposed to do with my life. I didn't know if it was a male or female voice. I just knew it was a voice. An irritating one at best. I ignored my voice's comment and cleared my throat.
"Feeling hot?" Dylan asked. "Me too." He grinned finally looking away. I wanted to slap him right there and then but decided against it. Suddenly my thoughts skipped to Fang and part of me wished he were here.
"Is Fang going to get you through the apocalypse? Is Fang going to be the one by your side when you need him most? No, but Dylan is. The sooner you accept this, the better it will be for everyone. You've seen what happens when you get close with him, why don't you see where it can take you?" The voice lectured me.
"What's wrong?" Dylan asked.
"Nothing. It's just my stupid voice." I replied sighing.
"What did it say?"
"Just stuff about stuff." I said knowing how idiotic that sounded.
"What stuff? You can tell me." He smiled putting his arm around my shoulder. I felt nervous about telling him but I couldn't lie, he would see straight through it. No pun intended.
"I was thinking about Fang." I began and Dylan's smiles soon faded. Whoops. "I wished that Fang could be here and the voice reminded me that you're the one who's here, not him." I explained lightly.
"And…?" Dylan asked becoming more curious as the conversation went on.
"It said that I should stick with you. See what happens." I finished abruptly as it was our turn to order. Thank God.
"Hey, I'd like to order…" I started but Dylan pulled out a small piece of paper from his pocket and handed it to the woman behind the till. It had all our orders on it. She seemed quite surprised at the amount of food we ordered but let us off nonetheless.
"Stick with you, see what happens? Explain." Dylan leaned on the counter smiling. This was awkward.
"Tell him how you feel when you're close to him." My voice demanded making me jump about a foot in the air.
"See if we live through this apocalypse or something." I said trying to deflect the subject. I don't think Dylan was buying it.
The woman behind the counter took my card, swiped it and handed it back smiling at Dylan. She ran her eyes over his body twice until she saw me frowning at her. As we walked away, her eyes were glued to his butt and for some reason I felt furious.
"Jealous?" Dylan asked sticking his tongue out at me. I laughed like I didn't care, but deep down, it bothered me. It bothered me a lot.
I could honestly say I was glad to be out of there. The flock and I took to the air, heading towards the jet, and hopefully towards finding Ella and dragging her butt home!
"Hey Max, what do we do when we get to the Jet? Do you know where we're going?" Nudge asked possibly making that the shortest sentence she has ever said.
"I think we're headed back to the facility in the desert, the one with the kids and their guns." I said having a flashback of the blind kids shooting the hell out of Dylan and me on our last visit. "That'll be the only place Ella could go right?" I asked hoping someone would back me up.
"Sounds like a plan to me." Dylan agreed and the flock each stacked their fists on top of each other's and gave a faint whoop.
They were slowly healing. Little did I know, things were about to get a lot more complicated. I mean, don't they always?