Startling Sob Stories

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Tamra's P.O.V.

Those very words caused the entire room to fall silent once again. The only noise there was in here was the soft sobs coming from Austin and...

Parker? Why would he be crying about this?

As the intelligent teen rubbed his eyes a bit, something on his ring finger caught mine. But he moved too quickly for me to further inspect it. 

My eyes drifted over to the picture once again. Austin and Parker looked so happy, so innocent, including the girl they were holding. I compared their young selves to their current figures; oh how much has changed over the past years.

I turned back to Austin. "Mind telling the rest of us?" I whispered.

He hesitantly nodded. Didn't know that'd actually work, I thought to myself.

It took both of the boys a few minutes to get their act back together; not that I blame them. Something as tragic as a little girl's death seems worth crying over, depending on how close she is to me.

"Back at my old house," Austin began to say unsteadily. "Jane, Parker and I would always stick together. Every day after school and clubs and practices, the three of us would run back to the house to play video games. She was even on our old Cyber Guardians team." He looked at me and Trey. "Do you remember her code name?"

A small lightbulb flickered on above my head. "She was Giga," I guessed. "I remember a wile back that a player dropped out from our CG team. She dropped about two years ago."

"Yeah," Parker confirmed, sighing. "Judy - their mom - decided to log her out from the game forever, unless someone has her password and logs in. Jane was such a creative yet complicated coder, she didn't use a password, but a pass code. That prevented practically everyone from breaking into her account or sabotaging it. And she never shared the code with anyone ever."

"Anyways," Austin continued. "Sometimes my dad allows the three of us to play with a few of his inventions in his lab in the garage. At some visits, he would let us test his virtual reality headsets."

Trey smirked. "So your dad really did like the idea of putting humans into the internet."

Austin and Parker shared  a small smile. "Yeah, apparently," Parker replied softly. He turned to his best friend and gestured him to continue once more. 

The boy next to me nodded. "One day, we went to play in the lab while my dad was out working. We were around eleven so we just fooled around. Eventually we all went back inside the house for a break.

"I soon realized that we left one of the games out and running. Jane volunteered to go back and dashed out the back door. Time flew by quickly and Parker and I didn't give a second thought about Jane. Until we heard her screaming at the top of her lungs, mixed with firer crackling loudly. But at the same time, I heard my dad yelling for us too.

"We ran out to find the garage on fire. The only piece of evidence that made us realize Jane and my dad were inside was them yelling our names repeatedly. I tried to yell back at them but I wasn't sure either of them could hear me. Parker found a nearby crowbar and attempted to use it to pry the door open. I helped him but the door was stuck for some reason. Jane continued screaming our names again and again...

"Until we gave the crowbar a huge push and the doors crashed inwards. There was a smoke and debris everywhere. Once we were able to see again, and breathe properly, the screaming stopped. There was nothing but fire crackles and siren blares.

"The police found my dad crushed under a bunch of burning ceiling boards, but weren't able to find Jane's body. They tried to explain to me, Parker and my mom that she was most likely dead - nobody would've able to survive a fire like that - but we just hoped she ran away and stopped screaming. 

"That's why when we moved into this house, we set up a room for her. We always hoped that one day, we'd find her again and she'd come back home. But when we celebrated her twelth birthday a few months back, that hope began to die, until it eventually faded away."

Another couple of tears ran down Austin's cheeks, which he quickly wiped away. Parker sunk into Jane's desk chair and buried his face in his hands. It was complete silence between the five of us except for a few soft sobs and sniffles.

"I'm so sorry guys," Trey mumbled, using one hand to rub his temples.

I placed a hand on Austin's shoulder and forced him to sit down on the bed. He sighed at my touch. "This is stupid," he muttered wiping his eyes with his sleeve. "I'm still crying over something that happened over two years ago when I should've gotten over it."

"Both you and Parker have the right to," I spoke openly to my team members. "Jane sounds like a good person, even though we heard very little of who she is."

"She was," Parker whispered, his voice sounding like he was being strangled. "She really was."

"What made her so great?" Trey asked sincerly. 

Austin took a deep breath. "As you can see from her room, she loved music. She'd have afterschool classes for dancing, acting, singing. After Cyber Guardians, she devoted her entire life to performing arts."

"Hey Austin," Parker slightly chuckled, lifting his head out of his hands. "Remember Jane's signature move?"

His best friend managed a smile. "The Spin and Stretch?" He guessed.

Parker nodded. "Took her over three months to 'perfect her technique' without falling on her butt."

Austin turned back to the rest of us. "Jane would dance with so much emotion," he tried to explain. "She'd include so much energy in her routines, that we use to consider a few of her dances as 'dance fighting'. So we made sure to keep our distance and not interrupt her practices. She tried her hardest to show her best."

"On top of that," Parker added. "Her coding methods. She was such a tech guru, I wouldn't be surprised if she was part of technoology herself."

That comment, for some reason, caused Austin to flinch and become guarded. "Not that she was," he said. "Though, if Jane were still here, she'd be a fantastic guardian."

"Yes," V.E.R.A. confirmed, smiling despite the current situation. "Giga was a great guardian."

We all turned to V.E.R.A.'s calm state in shock. "Jane was a guardian?" Parker nearly yelled.

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