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The Great Reset - Chapter 02

Updated: May 8

Ivy and Leo on the empty street.

Leo and I stepped out of the orphanage into the quiet street. It was nighttime, and the air was cool against my skin. The city felt empty and strange without any people around, like a storybook after the characters have all gone to sleep.

As we walked, Leo stayed close to me. He gazed up at the tall, empty buildings and the silent streets. "It's like everything just stopped suddenly," he whispered. "One moment everything was normal, and then suddenly, everyone was gone."

I nodded, the memory of that strange Wednesday clear in my mind. I had been in the library, lost in a book about machines, when a loud noise made me look up. A big book had thumped to the ground. When I looked around, all the adults were gone, and the library was eerily quiet.

"I remember that day very clearly," I said, feeling a sadness creep in. "I went outside, and the park was empty. The swings were moving by themselves. There were cars in the streets with their doors open, but no one was inside them."

I could hear other children crying then, and I saw their scared faces. I was just as confused and frightened, wondering why all the adults had suddenly disappeared.

For a little while, Leo walked silently next to me, his face thoughtful and sad. Since he had always been an orphan, he didn’t remember much about parents, but he clearly remembered feeling very sad and alone that day.

"Do you think... do you think they're ever coming back?" Leo asked quietly, his big blue eyes looking up at me, filled with worry.

Seeing his scared face, I felt a strong need to comfort him. Leo was usually so cheerful and brave, but now he seemed so young and vulnerable. I stopped walking and knelt down so I could look him in the eyes. "I don't know what happened, Leo," I admitted honestly. "But I do know we're not alone. We have each other, like we always do. And we'll figure this out together."

I squeezed his shoulder gently. "The adults might be gone, but we're still here. You and me, we're a team, okay? No matter what happens, that won't change."

Leo managed a small smile and nodded. "Team 'til the end," he said, his voice gaining a bit of strength. Those words seemed to bring him a bit of comfort.

I’ve known Leo since he was four and I was seven. He was always bursting with energy and liked to tag along wherever I went. While other kids sometimes found him tiring, I never did. I felt a special connection with Leo because, like me, he felt a bit lost in the world. Since then, we’ve been best friends.

Leo loved making up exciting adventures in the orphanage, pretending we were pirates searching for hidden treasures. I was always there to make sure he didn't take too many risks. Together, we helped each other feel less alone in a world without parents.

As Leo and I walked through the quiet street, I remembered one of our more adventurous escapades. With a teasing smile, I turned to him. "Remember when you tried to fly off the tool shed roof and broke your arm?"

Leo rubbed his arm as if he could still feel it and laughed. "Yeah, and you had to carry me to the clinic because I didn't want to wait for help."

"You've always been too stubborn," I chuckled, happy for the memory. "Good thing I was there to keep you out of real trouble."

But as we passed a lonely playground, the sight of the empty swings made Leo’s smile fade. His voice dropped to a whisper, heavy with worry. "What are we going to do, Ivy?" he asked, his eyes scanning the silent playground. "If the adults don't come back, how will we manage just by ourselves?"

I felt a twinge of worry too, but I squeezed his shoulder, trying to sound confident. "We're smart and strong," I said. "We can figure it out together." I smiled at him, hoping to ease some of his fears, even though inside, I felt scared too.

Suddenly, a soft whimpering sound cut through the quiet. We both stopped, listening closely. Hearing it again, we quickly followed the noise, our footsteps cautious and quiet.

We found a young girl sitting on the ground, her knees pulled up to her chest. Her eyes, wide and filled with tears, watched us as we approached slowly, trying not to scare her further.

Alice sitting on the ground alone. Her entire family disappeared

"It's okay, we're not going to hurt you," I said gently, keeping my hands visible and open. "My name's Ivy, and this is Leo. We're from Hope's End Orphanage just down the road. Are you out here all alone?"

The girl looked at us, her eyes searching ours, perhaps looking for a sign of trust. After a moment, she nodded slowly, wiping her tears with the back of her hand. "I'm Alice," she said with a shaky voice. "And yeah... yeah, I'm alone now."

Her voice broke as she spoke again, fresh tears making tracks down her cheeks. "My mom and dad... Tina, my sister, they were..." She paused, a sob catching in her throat. "They were just there one second in the car, and then they were gone!"

My heart sank as I saw the despair on Alice’s face. She looked so lost and frightened. I could only imagine how terrifying it must have been for her to see her family disappear right before her eyes.

Leo and I exchanged a glance, both of us feeling a deep sadness for Alice. I moved closer, crouching down in front of her. "I'm so sorry, Alice," I said softly, my voice full of sympathy. "I can't even imagine how scary that must have been for you."

Alice sniffled, hugging her knees even tighter. "One minute we were just driving and listening to music like normal. The next, there was this weird... I don't know, shimmer in the air or something?

Then poof - my mom, dad, and Tina were just gone! Their clothes and everything, just there on the seats."

As Alice’s tears flowed again, she looked up at us, her voice trembling. "Why did everyone disappear except for me?" Her question echoed softly in the quiet street.

I reached out and gently touched Alice's arm to comfort her. "We don't know why this happened either, Alice. But you're not alone. Leo and I are here, and we're finding other kids who need help too," I said, hoping to ease some of her fears.

Leo chimed in, his voice hopeful. "The city's empty of adults, but a lot of us kids are at the orphanage. It’s safe there, and we'll all figure this out together."

Alice looked at us, her eyes still filled with uncertainty. "How do I know I can trust you? Maybe you're just pretending to be nice," she said, her voice small and wary.

I understood why Alice would be scared. To her, we were just two strangers when she had just lost everything. I thought quickly about how I could show her we were trustworthy. I took off my old watch—it was broken but beautiful, with gears you could see through the cracked glass. I had found it in the orphanage garden years ago, and it was very special to me.

Holding out the watch to Alice, I said, "I want you to have this. It’s very special to me, and I’m giving it to you to show we mean to help you, not trick you."

Alice hesitated, then reached out slowly to touch the gears, her fingers tracing the intricate details.

"You really trust me with this?" she asked, her voice a mix of wonder and doubt.

I smiled warmly at her. "Right now, we might be strangers, but we could become like family. We need to stick together. Leo and I want to be there for you, like a brother and sister."

Leo nodded eagerly, adding his own reassurance. "Yeah, we’ve got your back, Alice! The orphanage is a safe place with lots of other kids. We’ll figure this whole crazy situation out together as one big family."

Alice looked back and forth between us, the tears in her eyes giving way to a hopeful glimmer.

Slowly, she stood up, holding the watch carefully in her hand. "Okay," she said, her voice small but steadier than before. "I'll come with you guys. I don't want to be alone out here anymore."

Feeling a surge of relief and happiness, I gave her shoulder a gentle squeeze. "You made the right choice, kiddo. Now let’s get back before we miss Cass’s bedtime story hour!" I joked, trying to lighten the mood.

As we walked back, Alice carefully tucked the watch into her pocket and seemed a bit happier, knowing she wasn't alone anymore. The silence of our walk was a comfortable one, each of us lost in our thoughts about the day’s strange events.

Breaking the quiet, Leo started sharing his own memory of that day. "It was just a regular day. I was playing basketball alone after school," he began, his voice thoughtful as he kicked a soda can along the pavement. "Then, there was this strange pulse, like ripples spreading through the air after you throw a stone in water."

Leo wrapped his arms around himself, shivering a little as he remembered that day. "Then, just like that, the adults vanished. Mrs. Abrams was telling me to get off the picnic table, and mid-sentence, she was gone. Just like that, poof. Her voice just...stopped."

I felt a chill run down my spine listening to Leo. The way he described it was so chilling. I couldn't even imagine how scary it must have been for him.

Alice listened to Leo with wide eyes, her voice tinged with fear and curiosity. "So they just... disappeared? Just like that?" she asked.

Leo nodded solemnly. "Yeah, it was instant. All that was left were their clothes and things, just falling to the ground. It was like someone emptied out the people but left everything else."

Seeing Leo so quiet and sad about remembering that day made me want to do something to make him feel better. I reached out and squeezed his hand, giving him a small, reassuring smile. As we continued our walk to the orphanage, I felt like sharing our scary memories made us all feel a little less alone.

"Well, we're here now," I said firmly, trying to sound strong as the orphanage came into view just up the road. "Safe and sound, together. That's what matters most."

As we approached the big, old orphanage, I saw lights shining through the windows and heard the sounds of other kids inside—talking, sometimes even crying. It made me feel a mix of happy and hopeful.

"Look, there are lots of other kids inside. Maybe everything will be okay," I said, trying to keep my voice cheerful to boost Alice’s spirits.

We went through the big gate, which creaked loudly as it swung open. Walking toward the warm, glowing windows, I felt the night’s fears start to melt away a bit. Seeing the orphanage so lively made the evening seem a little less scary.

Inside, the noise of kids talking and laughing made the place feel safe and busy. There were kids of all ages everywhere—some playing games, others just sitting and chatting. It was comforting to hear so many voices; it made the big, spooky house feel more like a home.

"Tonight, we can forget about the scary stuff and just be with new friends," I told Leo and Alice as we stepped inside. We all felt tired but relieved to be in a safe place. I knew tomorrow would bring new challenges, but for now, we had found a new family.

Ivy, Leo, and Alice looked at each other and smiled. We were ready to support each other and figure out what to do next. But first, it was time to rest and make new friends in this busy, comforting place. We weren't alone anymore, and that felt really good.

As Leo, Alice, and I stepped into the orphanage, Cass approached us, her eyes scanning our little group curiously. "Who do we have here?" she asked warmly.

"This is Alice," Leo said quickly. "She was waiting for her family to come back."

Cass smiled gently at Alice, extending her hands in a welcoming gesture. "You’re safe with us, Alice.

You can stay as long as you need. How old are you?" she asked kindly.

Alice hesitated, then her voice came out as a quiet whisper, almost like it was getting lost in the wind, "I'm thirteen."

A murmur spread through the group of kids around us. Thirteen—the age at which everyone else had vanished. Cass looked puzzled, sharing confused glances with the older kids. "But that can’t be," she murmured mostly to herself. "Everyone thirteen and older disappeared."

The other kids gathered closer, their faces showing a mix of curiosity and concern. I watched, trying to understand what this might mean. Leo, always trying to help, chimed in, "Maybe it's because Alice and her twin were born just minutes apart. Maybe it was so close that whatever caused the disappearances missed her by just a couple of minutes, maybe even seconds."

Cass thought about this, her forehead creasing as she worked through what Leo had said.

"Come on inside, all of you," Cass finally said, leading the way up the steps. "We've got a place set up for everyone in the common room."

As we followed her through the doors, the noise of dozens of confused and frightened children washed over us. The entrance hallway was lined with kids sitting on the floor, wrapped in blankets or sleeping bags that had been gathered from around the orphanage. Many looked tired, their eyes red from crying.

Kids at Hope's End Orphanage

"How many are here?" Leo whispered to Cass, his eyes wide as he took in the chaotic scene.

"More keep arriving every hour," Cass replied, her voice serious. "We're running out of places to put everyone."

She led us down the hall to the common room, which had become the heart of our little community. It was a big open space that had been transformed into a makeshift shelter, with rows of bedding laid out and small groups of children huddled together.

I noticed some of the older kids, teenagers about Cass's age, handing out water and protein bars that had been found in the kitchen. They looked a bit overwhelmed but determined, their voices carrying over the noise as they gave out instructions and comfort.

"We've set up a rotation for keeping watch through the night," Cass explained, raising her voice so we could hear her over the din. "And the big kids are taking shifts looking after the little ones, helping everyone get settled."


Just then, as if to show us exactly what Cass meant, a little boy near us burst into loud tears, his face scrunching up with fear and tiredness. Immediately, a teenage girl left her group and rushed over to him. She scooped him up in a gentle hug and whispered soothing words that calmed his cries.

Alice moved closer to me, her eyes wide as she looked around at all the noise and confusion. Leo took her hand and mine, his face showing the same mix of worry and exhaustion that I felt.

"It’s going to be okay," I found myself saying, trying to believe it myself. I pulled them both into a side-hug, feeling a little stronger just being close to them. "We’ve got this, yeah? We’re all in this together now."

Cass watched us for a moment, her face thoughtful, then she seemed to decide on something. She raised her voice so everyone could hear. "Alright everyone, listen up! It's getting late, and we could all use some rest. Who wants to help me find extra pillows and blankets from the supply closets?

We’ll make sure everyone has a cozy place to sleep tonight."

Kids began to volunteer, looking a bit more hopeful as they got something to do. Cass turned back to us with a smile. "Why don’t you guys grab a few of those protein bars for now? We’ll sort out something more substantial in the morning. Then I’ll show you where you can sleep for the night."

Walking through the crowded room, I felt a sad tug in my heart. These kids, some in pajamas or holding onto worn-out stuffed animals, looked so small and lost in the big, noisy room. It reminded me of how Leo and I felt when we first came to the orphanage, all alone in a big, confusing world.

But even with all the fear and confusion, I realized we weren’t completely alone this time. The little group forming around us was shaky and new, but it was ours to hold onto amid all the craziness.

After grabbing a handful of energy bars, I handed them out before Cass guided us to a quiet corner of the room. We sat down on a pile of musty blankets, huddling together and nibbling on the dense, bland bars.

Slowly, the room began to quiet down as the night grew deeper. One by one, like our little group, the other children started to fall asleep, worn out by the day's emotions and chaos.

Cass made one last check around the room, draping spare blankets over kids who had fallen asleep. Soon, a deep silence filled the common room. In the quiet, all I could hear were the soft, even breaths of the sleeping kids around us—the confused, the frightened, the hopeful, and the resigned, all indistinguishable from one another in sleep.

Alice's warm weight leaned against me, her eyes already closed in sleep that she badly needed. On my other side, Leo was trying so hard to stay awake, his eyelashes fluttering like butterfly wings.

He was clearly exhausted.

"You should rest," I whispered, giving his shoulder a gentle nudge. "No telling what tomorrow will bring."

Leo looked at me, his eyes blinking slowly, almost like an owl, before his head finally drooped and he fell asleep too. My own eyes started to feel heavy, but a worrying thought kept flickering through my mind. What if this wasn't just a strange dream? What if, when we woke up, nothing had changed and the adults were still gone? The thought was too big and too scary to dwell on.

For now, I pulled my friends a little closer and let the wave of sleepiness take over. We would face whatever this new world had for us tomorrow, when we were awake and together. But for tonight, we could hope that when morning came, everything would be back to normal. Tonight, we could dream that it was all just a bad dream, and in the morning, everything would be okay again.

As we snuggled together, the room was filled with the soft, rhythmic breathing of children sleeping. I was just about to drift off when a loud cry startled me awake. It was a baby crying!

Leo rubbed his eyes, looking as confused as I felt. “Did you hear that?” he whispered.

“Yes,” I replied, my heart starting to race. We heard the baby cry again, this time even louder. It sounded like it really needed help.

Together, we rushed to the front door, following the sound of the crying. When we opened the door, we found a tiny baby wrapped in a blanket, lying on the doorstep. The baby's cries echoed in the quiet night.

I gently picked up the baby, and almost like magic, the crying started to quiet down. The baby looked up at me with big, scared eyes. Around us, other kids from the orphanage peeked out, wondering what was happening.

“What do we do now?” Alice asked, her voice small in the quiet night.

“We look after the baby,” I said confidently, holding the baby close. “We look after each other.”

We went back inside, the door closing softly behind us. The baby was quiet now, and I felt a new sense of responsibility. We were all together, and now we had a new little one to take care of. We were not just survivors anymore; we were a family, and we would face whatever came next, together.

A baby left a tghe doorstep of the orphanage

The Great Reset - Chapter 02


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