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Cora stormed out of class as soon as the bell rang and grabbed his bicycle in an infuriated mood. He cycled and cycled for all its worth until he reached his secret hiding place somewhere near a big yellow bungalow where an old tumbledown house stood. He flung his bicycle to the ground and stooped on the floor, his blood boiling like soup in a cauldron.

He had one of those heaty fights with some of his classmates. They were not very bright students in the class and the only thing they did for fun was annoying the smart students, disrupting their studies and deliberately talking loudly in front of them. Cora was one of their victims. He did not think himself as a smart student because he does not study as hard as the really smart students, but he loved drawing very much. He was scribbling as usual on pieces of A4 paper when all of a sudden, the annoying group who called themselves ‘The Tiresome Three’ began their usual ‘project’ on him.

“Hey, look, guys! Our little girly-named Cora is doodling again,” said Buck, the leader of the group.

“Yeah, and look how ugly it is! Their motions looked so awkward!” chimed Zedd sarcastically.

Cora decided to pay no heed but when they laughed madly and teased his name and called him ‘Chicken’, Cora exploded. No one insults him and gets away with it. Cora gave them a piece of his mind by shouting the class down and calling them all the names he could think of. When the monitor and vice monitor of the class called for the class teacher, Mr. Morgan to break up the fight, Cora obliged but still was not satisfied for the Tiresome Three only get a simple scolding.

“They should be spanked!” grumbled Cora, kicking out at a broken window pane. “They should be spanked in front of the whole class like mothers do when their kids get naughty. That’ll teach them a lesson!”

Cora talked on and on to himself in the empty house, saying that his drawings were far better than The Tiresome Three and he was very proud of his name although it did sound a little bit girlish. He meant it too, because his father named him after the famous Queen of Film, Cora Ebbs, and he was born during Cora’s 20th birthday. He hated being called a chicken too, because he was not afraid of anything, and mind you, he really was as brave as a lion.

Suddenly, he heard footsteps echoing in the empty house. He hushed himself and listened. The footsteps were coming nearer towards him and he had no choice but to hide. He was annoyed that someone dared to trespass his secret hiding place and decided to peek and see who was the culprit so that he could shoo him or her away. He hid his bicycle as well so as not to warn the trespasser that he was there.

When Cora peeked out, he saw two burly-looking men looking anxiously to see if anyone was watching. They did not notice Cora who was hiding behind the bathroom door. After making sure that they were alone, they spoke in low voices that echoed throughout the empty house.

“Have you brought the goods?” one of the men said. He was wearing a pair of sunglasses and was bald.

“Have you brought the loot?” the other man asked. He dyed his hair gold and looked as if he had not cut it in years.

Both of them nodded and started exchanging their things. The bald man passed him a thick envelope and the golden hair man passed him a package wrapped in newspaper. The bald man tore a small portion of it and tasted something white with his little finger. Cora’s eyes widened as he recognized his actions in one of the scenes in Cora Ebb’s debut film. It was how drug dealers tasted their drugs.

‘I have to get to the police quick!’ Cora thought, picking up the bicycle he hid behind the sink, ‘I have a good description of them and I’m going to report this to the inspector himself! Ha ha, look who’s chicken now, Tiresome Three!’

Before he could completely moved out the bicycle, a thread from a spider cobweb tickled his nose. Cora sneezed immediately and sniffed automatically, for his nose was very sensitive. He felt like kicking himself for giving himself away.

“Who goes there? Come out, I tell you!” The voice of the bald man echoed down the hall of the empty house. Cora wasted no time and mounted his bicycle to escape. But luck was not on his side. The golden hair man swiped him off from his bicycle seat before he even had time to ride away. He clutched him hard to his chest and no matter how Cora struggled, he could not escape from his grasp.

“Wriggly little thing,” said the golden hair man and shook Cora hard. “What shall we do about him? I’m sure he saw everything.”

“See what? I did not see anything! I just got here!” Cora tried to act innocent but was slapped real hard by the bald man.

“Don’t tell tales! It’s all your fault, Shawn! You should’ve checked the place from top to bottom,” the bald man growled at the golden hair man.

“How was I to know this little brat is here?” Shawn rebutted. “You are the one who always want to be in charge!”

“Let’s not stay and quarrel. I got the goods, you got the loot, and that’s final. I’ll have no part of this. You take him back and deal with him yourself.”

They both separated and Shawn popped Cora into the car and blindfolded him. He bounded him up real tight and drove. Cora could feel the car swerving to the left and to the right and even bobbed up when they came into road bumps. He could not hear what was going on outside for the car was soundproof.

“Please, sir, let me go,” Cora begged. “I promise I won’t tell. Just let me go and I’ll forget the whole thing.”

“I’m not taking any chances, kid,” said Shawn roughly. “I’ll take you to my boss. He’ll know what to do.”

Cora shuddered. He had seen such scenes in Cora Ebb’s debut film, and now he was in it, in the reality. He cursed himself for not watching the film till the end for he would have found a solution to his situation.

When he was finally taken off the blindfold, he found himself sitting on a chair bounded up with ropes and a few man in back were watching him. Then Shawn came in with a fat, stout man holding a cigar. He was dressed finely and Cora could guess that he was the boss. The fat man took a look at him for a moment, puffed the cigar smoke at him and asked, “What is your name, boy?”

“Cora. Cora Lundsen,” Cora replied, after a great deal of coughing and spluttering.

“Keep him here,” said the fat man. “He makes a very good member of ours if well trained. He’s built and strong, although his name sounds girlish. Cora, ha ha! What a joke!”

Cora scowled as the door closed behind him. Not only The Tiresome Three scorned his name, but the leader of a drug-dealing gang as well. He lost all hope in escaping because he knew it was impossible unless sheer luck does exist. He knew all that. He watched Cora’s films.

“Psst! Psst! Cora!”

Suddenly a familiar voice called him. He looked around, his eyes still adjusting to the dark. When he could finally see, he saw Buck, Zedd and Tantor undoing his ropes.

“Tiresome Three! How did you get here?” Cora was surprised and grateful.

“We followed you. At first we wanted to sneak into your secret hiding place to join you and ‘share’ your little secret space, so we followed you. But before we could get into the house to jump on you, the golden hair man was dragging you out into his car,” explained Buck when he finally undid his legs.

“We followed the car and came here. Then we sensed that you’re in trouble and went into the hot-air chute and slipped in. You’re not the only fan of Cora Ebbs, you know,” said Tantor, smiling in friendliness for the first time.

Cora smiled back and escaped gratefully together with The Tiresome Three through the hot-air chute out into the open. He promised himself that he would thank them properly. He did not know what would happen when the drug-dealing gang found out that he had escaped and he did not want to know. He knew it would be a long time before he could get over his terrifying experience.


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