In Hot Water – Chapter Nine

Someone’s out to… eliminate them.

Keisha, Tess and Leesh wanted to get Amanda and Kristy as well as the boys, but Amanda and Kristy had already made plans.

“Sorry,” Kristy apologised.

“We’re going to hang out with Jack and Brady,” Amanda said.

“Oh, okay. That’s fine,” Keisha smiled.

“Ooh, you’re friends with Jack and Brady?” Tess asked. It was natural of her to want to get involved with popular guys. After all, it was Tess.

Amanda and Kristy nodded, grinning.

“Aw, you guys,” Leesh pouted. “Rock climbing!”

“Jack and Brady!” Kristy and Amanda, who were practically twins, said together.

Keisha laughed.

“T.T.Y.L.,” Kristy and Amanda said in unison before going back to their suite.

“Alright, let’s go see if Daniel and Ryan can come,” Keisha said.

The three girls walked further down the corridor until they reached Daniel and Ryan’s suite. Daniel and Ryan were good friends of the girls. They knocked softly on the door.

“I said I don’t want a cleaner!” Ryan yelled, frustrated.

“Um, it’s Keisha!” Keisha called out.

“Oh. Right,” Ryan said, embarrassed. He opened the door and said hi. Ryan had short, messy black hair and warm brown eyes.

“I see you’ve been taking care of this place well,” Tess joked.

Keisha peeked into their suite and saw covers that had fallen on the floor, chip packets thrown around carelessly and dirty clothes hanging in the strangest places. Daniel, with his chocolate curls and blue eyes, dropped down from sort of shelf above the door frame and landed on the ground sloppily, though he wasn’t harmed at all.

“Ouch,” Leesh said quietly.

“Ta-da!” Daniel grinned.

Leesh clapped slowly.

“Uh, anyways, wanna come rock climbing with us? I booked it last night. We’re the first on the register,” Keisha said hopefully.

“Sure,” Ryan grinned.

Daniel shrugged and quickly pulled his sports shoes on. Ryan already had his on.

“Let’s go!” Leesh said happily.

They ran over to the rock climbing centre, following the map carefully. The rock climbing centre was an enclosed, well-lit room with a giant rock-climbing wall stretching up to the roof. To the left was a desk, a woman with a smart suit sitting behind it. She was tidying up some papers and busily typing on her laptop.

She smiled as the five kids approached her.

“What can I do for you, loves?” she said kindly.

“We’re here for our ten o’clock booking. I’m Keisha,” Keisha said, leaning on the counter.

The woman scanned her clipboard. “K… K…” she browsed. “Keisha Gerard, first to climb?”

Keisha nodded.

“And these are your friends, Daniel, Ryan, Theresa and Alicia?”

Keisha nodded again.

“Wonderful. Caleb here will get you ready and then you have a whole two hours to climb,” the woman said, turning back to her laptop.

A short man in overalls approached them.

“You young ‘uns going climbing, eh?” Caleb said, bringing them to a sort of store-room which smelled like peanuts.

“Yep. We’re gonna be seeing who has the fastest time,” Daniel grinned.

Leesh scowled. She wasn’t a fan of strenuous physical activity and neither was Tess. But Keisha was up for it.

“Bring it,” she said cheekily.

“Ah, youths,” Caleb sighed happily, remembering his own wild days.

Caleb got the harnesses out of the store-room and suited the kids up.

“Start climbing, young ‘uns,” Caleb said.

“Can I go first, Kesh?” Daniel asked.

Keisha sighed. “Alright.” She started her watch’s stopwatch.

Daniel grabbed onto his first plastic stone and felt around for a foothold. He half hauled, half pushed himself up and brought himself even higher with another stone to put his feet on.

“Whoa…” Daniel said suddenly. He stopped himself mid-climb.

“Scared of heights?” Ryan asked.

“No… It kind of feels like my rope is thinning… I dunno,” Daniel sighed and continued climbing.

Keisha gave Tess and Leesh an alarmed look. She knew his feeling wasn’t his imagination. And she knew why the rope was thinning.

“Daniel!” Keisha yelled up to Daniel. “Do not let go of the wall! Climb down slowly and keep a really firm grip on the stones!”

“Why? It’s still my turn! I haven’t reached the top yet,” Daniel said, still climbing up.

“Oh no,” Keisha whispered to herself.

Daniel climbed the final stones and gave the golden bell at the top a little flick. It chimed loudly once, and then Daniel cheered. He grinned.

And jumped off.

At first, he descended slowly, as any person in a rock climbing venue would do, but then his fall became a faster, a little at a time. At the top, the rope was, indeed, thinning.

And soon the rope broke.

Daniel was free-falling, screaming his head off. Tess, Leesh, Keisha and Ryan, who’d all backed off when Daniel started climbing, rushed forward to catch him. Keisha was the only one who reached him in time, but she didn’t fully catch him. Her strength was only enough to break his fall, and Keisha also fell to the ground, Daniel lying on top of her in pain.

“Ow,” Keisha wheezed. She rolled Daniel over so that she could get up, but regretted her actions because Daniel screamed. Keisha got up, rubbed the bump on the back of her head and rushed to help Daniel with Tess, Leesh, Ryan and Caleb following.

“Daniel!” Keisha said, alarmed and panicking. Tess was on the verge of screaming when she looked at Daniel’s arm, though there wasn’t any blood anywhere. Caleb rushed over to Daniel.

“Young man, where does it hurt?” Caleb asked.

“Everywhere,” Daniel wheezed.

“Where does it hurt most?” Ryan asked.

“Arm…”

Keisha’s mouth turned into a big black oval when she saw Daniel’s elbow. It was bent at the wrong angle and looked sickening.

“I think it’s broken,” Ryan whispered, though why he whispered, he didn’t know.

“I knew I needed to replace the ropes!” Caleb said, sighing. “Just one of those unlucky accidents, eh?”

Keisha leaned down to Daniel closely. “This was no accident…”

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