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The Vessel

CHAPTER 1 "The Start of a Long Journey"

"Get off him! Get off him now Sean!" I can hardly hear her. The muffled sound barely finds its way to my conscious mind. I feel a good sensation as I squeeze harder. As I squeezed his neck even more, I find myself feeling sorry for him, and I let go. I get in his face clenching my teeth quietly telling him, "say that again!" I speak louder, "Say it!" Carl leaning against the wall slips down coughing and gasping for air.

That day I was expelled from school. It's weird how you can't stop yourself when you're in this zoned out phase of emotions that overwhelm you. I did not want to go back home; I can already imagine the disappointment in their eyes. So I decided to skip the subway and walk down Broadway towards the Empire State Building to clear my head. I can't stop thinking that living in a structured society is really not for me. Waking up, going to school, coming back home, eating doing my homework, sleeping, and doing it all over again just drives me crazy. Damn, but I only had a month left to graduate from high school.

As I cross the road, some guy far up ahead of me started to fill his back pack with a thick amount of cash taken out from the Atm. He must have put at least five thousand in cash in the bag. I thought it was odd, but I moved forward and resumed pondering how boring and redundant life can be. I'm pretty sure I could have gotten that job in a cubicle at LHC. However, the thought of a nine to five job really did not fuel my regrets. "Who the hell is that?" I noticed the same guy putting another thick pile of cash into his backpack from another Atm. I followed him to the next Atm and see him do it again.

That day this guy took out cash from a dozen Atms. He probably took at least hundred and fifty thousand in cash. At that moment, all the thoughts of losing my parents; moving from one foster home to the next; and to be expelled from countless schools rushed through my head. I wanted to end this life and be able to get access to that kind of easy cash. So I followed him to this run-down neighborhood. All the houses in the neighborhood seem to be built in the 1970s. I saw the guy walking into a white old house. It has been a few minutes already since the guy with the backpack went inside the house. So I muster up all my confidence and move up the broken-down stairs to the front porch. CLICK, at that moment I can feel all the blood in my head rush out as I feel a cold sensation in my head. It's the first time I ever felt a gun to the back of my head.

It was cold and gloomy. I can hear the distant thunder rumbling. The rain started to pound the roof above me. I can barely breath because my heart was pounding so hard. The legs under me could give out at any moment. Damn it. This was the stupidest thing I ever did. 

"Get in." The guy with the gun spoke calmly in a southern accent. So I cautiously opened the door and saw two more guys in the house. I can smell the moist mold in the air and see the dirt stained red carpet. Some of the wall paper came off. Out in the left I saw one of the guys sitting at a barely lit, kitchen table that is four feet by four feet. He sat slouched forward with his thick arms supporting him. He had brown curly hair. His glasses seem to make his eyes look like the size of a green pea. The Nike sign on his green T-shirt bulged out forward because of his man boobs. He looked like he was at least 18 years of age. They both did. I noticed he had scribbled something on his iPad. All I can make out is numbers and equations. The other guy was sitting on a white-trash bag that he laid on the floor counting the money with latex gloves on. He looked up at me with dumb founded eyes. The sunglasses worn on top of his head partially covered his black hair that was parted to the side. He was slim and short. I couldn't really tell because he was sitting. I didn't notice it before, but I think he is Asian. He was the one that stole the money.

"Wow, what's with the gun Mike? Who is that?" Is he the guy?"

"No, you idiot. You think I would put a gun to his head if he was the guy?" Mike snapped back at him.

"So who the hell is he then?"

"Well, why don't you tell us kid? What the hell are you doing here?" Mike spoke with a sly southern tone while throwing another bag of money on the floor.

Mike was a leanly built and a tough looking person. I can tell by his angled jaw bones and military-style crew cut. He looked like he hasn't shaved in days. He wore tight denim jeans; a white shirt; and a nicely fit, black jacquard blazer.

I squealed unintentionally," I ~" I cleared my throat and try to speak again in a lower tone

"um i." At that moment I knew. If I continued to act in this way, I will either be shot in the head, or I will get a really good beating. So I thought screw this and toughened up and swallowed my throbbing heart. 

"Do you have any idea how much of an idiot your friend is? If you withdraw money from consecutive ATM's in large amounts it will raise flags in the NSA. The secret service is looking into credit card frauds too. I wouldn't be surprised if they were here now. Think- I was able to follow him." I tried to speak like Clint Eastwood and with a bit of his facial expressions as well. "By the way, the way, answering your question, I'm Bryant Kobe." I spoke quietly murmuring swiftly. I was scared as heck. Mike just stood there with his dead eyes staring at me for a really long time. 

Finally, he spoke. "You got some balls kid. Hey, Jimmy what is he talking about? Don't tell me you went to every ATM you saw in front of you?" Mike Spoke with his eyes and gun still pointed at me. 

"Um...So what, I know other skimmers that did that and got away with it." Jimmy spoke in a confident manner. 

"I got to hand it to you kid you are right... Hey, Jimmy, stop counting the money. I want you to be on the lookout for any cops," said Mike.

"I see that you don't know the Target incident. After 40 million credit card numbers were stolen the secret service is out there looking for people like you." I told them this was some serious stuff now. 

"Yeah, he is right." The fat guy at the kitchen table spoke. He startled me. I had forgotten he was there.

"I can help you guys." I spoke to Mike like it was for my life.

"No, first tell me who you are. And don't give me that crap, your name is not Kobe Bryant. You think I wouldn't know if you said it backwards. How old are you? Thirteen? Your like a little kid." Said Mike in a frustrated tone.

"I, I'm actually fourteen" I told mike cautiously. 

"This gets better and better." Said Mike like he couldn't believe what I just told him. 

"So what do you got for me kid." Said Mike.

"Bread crumbs." I Spoke as if I was all smart.

"Bread crumbs?" Mike asked.

"Yes, if you can eliminate them, you can get away with anything. Yes, I know that's not news, and it's something all criminals are trying to do. If you can figure out ways to avoid cameras, and even if there are cameras if you can be able to look like someone else when walking down the streets of Manhattan without bringing any attention, the skies the limit." 

"I can build an app just for us. I already started working on it with my iPhone using Swift. I worked on it while following Jimmy here. It can pin point every camera that is linked to the Internet, whether it's your phone or cctv's. So its like Waze but hundred times better with none of that messaging crap. It can locate every cctv and phone cameras that are in the vicinity. It will route the way to your destination avoiding them. It also can warn us if there are cops coming. It's not like waze where other people tell you where it is. I will use a visual tracker using all cameras and audio word recognition on the police scanner that can track all cop cars. 

Suddenly, Jimmy jumps in, "yeah; I can make a program that hacks into the NSA, CIA, and FBI. Using their data, I can work out a probability algorithm on how to avoid hot spots and people."

"That's a little overboard but its cool!" I spoke with so much enthusiasm. 

"I also worked out a rough draft of a mind-blowing invention that uses the Samsung thin bendable AMOLED display combining it with a shape-shifting magnetic liquid in compartmentalized cells with electrical microchip inputs on each cell. They will work in hives to control-" 

"Okay stop; That's enough no more technical crap." Mike spoke while rubbing his cranium. " Um Mike, I think I see a cop car parked way up front. I dunno if it's after us. " Jimmy Spoke in a scared voice.

"Ah crap, they are probably there waiting for backup. You stupid son of a..." As Mike restrained,

"Bitch" Jimmy Finished Mike's sentence. "Dude there were other people that got away with it" said Jimmy. 

"Wait to let me check the traffic cameras manually." I spoke while hassling my iPhone. As I looked through all the traffic cameras, it seemed like two black SUVs coming our way.

At last mike uncocks his gun and tucks it into his waistband and tells jimmy to go check the back of the house to see if there are more cops waiting. 

"Hey, kid... your theories... They don't sound too practical. So why don't you just stay here and tell the cops what really happened, and maybe they will understand." Mike spoke in a hurry and limped to the window and peaked through the blinds." 

"My name is...Sean...And I can show you how practical I can be." 

"Okay, Sean, show me." I showed him my prototype app. As Mike took the phone out of my hands, He saw blue dots all over Newark, New Jersey and a small cluster of them coming our way and one dot behind the backyard fence and one in front near by. 

"How long did it take you to make this?" Mike asked. 

"It took me about an hour or so. There are programs that are already created to do this; Well, not specifically for this. I used programs such as waze, image recognition software, sound and word recognition software, and you get the idea. All I did was get all the source codes and combine them; although that is the genius part: trying to make several computer languages to" 

"Shut Up!" Mike spoke abruptly. At that moment, Jimmy came back. "Hey, bad news, there is a cop behind the house too. 

Both mike and I spoke in unison, "I know."

"Trust me, I can get you guys out of this." I urged him. 

Mike paused for a moment... Closed his eyes... "Alright, I don't believe I am going to trust a Thirteen-year-old to save me from the cops" Mike spoke while shaking his head. 

"Yeah, isn't that food for thought, and I'm not thirteen. I'm fourteen." I cracked my knuckles and shook my hands. I never felt so excited and scared out of my mind like this before.

"Okay let's do this... Jimmy, are you really good at coding?" While motivating myself, I asked him in doubt.

"You're looking at the 2 consecutive ICPC gold medalist." Jimmy spoke with pride. 

"No way, really? Okay then can you program a basic joystick controller app with an input video feed plug-in for Teamviewer in Swift code?" 

"Yeah I can. What is it for," jimmy spoke with one eyebrow up. 

"I don't have time to explain; we have to figure out a way to get out of here first. Most likely, we won't be able to get out of here without being seen.

Suddenly, that fat guy comes up to us. "Hey, cuz, is there anything I can do?" 

"No, just stay close to me." Mike spoke gently. Mike then limped towards the wall feeling it out, "How is there no side windows... This is dry wall and plywood. I can punch a hole through here. Get me something heavy And big." Everyone starts to look around and stops right at the couch. Next minute, we all are ramming the wall with the couch. First through the drywall, then through the two-by-fours, and finally the plywood breaks through. We pull back and see rain decimating the dirt. "Um, mike don't you think the cops will still see us whichever way we go?" I stopped to think and asked mike. "No... There're bushes out in the back where we can creep behind. I ain't that stupid kid." Mike spoke with that southern accent. I glared at him and grumbled, " my name is Sean."

Mike ducked beneath the sharp, broken two by four and edgy splintered plywood. As he jumped out. "FREEZE!" The police officer shouted. That sound sent shivers through my spine. I thought to myself that it was over before we even started. Mike put his hands up surrendering. The cop slowly reached for his handcuffs with his gun pointed at Mike and inched his way to him. A lightning strike suddenly rips through the air near by. It sounded like a shotgun went off near my ears. The force of the sound waves reverberated through my body as I clasped my ears. I came to my senses and saw Mike hit the gun out of the cop's hands. As he reached for his own gun, the cop broke away mike's hand reaching for his gun and kicked Mike in the gut. They both wrestled and beat each other in the rain disheveled mud. Mike then knees the cop in the chest and sends him to the ground. The cop crawls in pain, reaches out, and picks up his gun. As the cop tries to aim, Mike then grabs the cop's arm from being raised up at him. The cop is using all his strength to slowly aim up, while Mike is pushing the cop's arm down. Rain is dripping down both their faces. Suddenly, the sound of the gun shot crackled through the pouring rain. Both their eyes widened in shock. There was a bullet hole in mike's left leg. All of a sudden, Mike's cousin, the fat kid, rams the police into the wall and knocks him out unconscious. It turns out that the cop shot Mike's prosthetic leg.

Two sets of gun shots flew right near us. There were cops on every corner. As we ran away, Jimmy found a Mini Cooper and broke into the car. "No...we're really going to use THIS?" I screamed in a hushed voice while pointing my finger at the car. Jimmy quietly screamed back, "You never saw the Italian Job?" 

"The what?" I asked. Just as we were getting in, more police cars showed up far behind us, spotted us, and started to accelerate our way. They came closer and closer while Mike quickly ripped out the wires under the steering wheel and hot wired the car; As he pedaled the accelerator, The tires screeched and smoked the asphalt. At that moment, The cops rear ended us thrusting us forward.

While Maneuvering away from the cops, I told Jimmy to start on that program. To make matters worst, the channel five news helicopter approached above us. "Damn it! I had a feeling this was going to happen. Now I really need to find that car... Okay...hacking into the onstar system......and......viola! Yes! I just turned on all the GPS locations for these cars. We need to get to one of these cars," I told Mike. "Turn right here on Bergen street. We need to pass the cross road up ahead of Clinton Avenue and Bergen street before the cops hit that four-way. There are more cops coming east on that road towards us." I spoke nervously to Mike. 

"Why are we going to the cops?" Mike asked me like I was crazy.

"I need to get to a 2015 platinum Ford F-150, and it's easy to hack into. The only parked car near us is at Westside Park."

The flashing red and blue lights hurt my eyes as two police cars aligned themselves on each side of our car. Mike rammed each cop on their side and slowed them Down behind us. When we passed Clinton Avenue, we were at least four cars up ahead. At that moment, I switched the traffic lights to all green and created a blockage of crashed cars preventing the cops behind us and the cops coming our way on Clinton ave. sighing in relief; I looked forward to only to realize that there were more cops straight ahead charging towards us. I tried to turn the traffic lights all green on the four-way ahead of us again but nothing happened. As my hands were shaking, I felt sweat crawling down my neck. I was panicking but then realized on my iPhone app there were more Ford cars up ahead in front of the police cars. I hacked into their onstar system called 911 and remotely triggered the breaking system. The car spun out of control and caused another blockage ahead. I thought to myself," thank god, there were no fatal explosions." But a few cop cars drove right through them. The wet blurry windows and the helicopter chopping its way above us exacerbated the intense feeling I had in my stomach. I felt a big jolt of inertia as I was dragged to the right. Mike took a sharp left into the cemetery driving through the cluttered head stones and graves.

"Sean! Snap out of it. Where do I go from here?" Mike shouted.

"Get out through the west gate onto Springfield road. Hurry! We need at least a twenty second lead!" I shouted back as I grabbed the handle above.

Finally, we got to Westside Park with a five-second lead. The cops were almost right behind us. As we ran towards the F-150 Ford car, I used my iPhone to start the engine and unlock the car. Jimmy had to hop on to the moving car. I dragged him by his hand. "We need to find an overpass bridge... Jimmy find me an overpass bridge for me. I need to do some more programming." I hassled jimmy. "Dude , I'm not done programming. Why don't you look for it on your App?" Jimmy snapped back at me. "It's a prototype. It doesn't show bridges. Don't you know this area?" 

"No, I."

"Siri, locate all bridges," Mike's cousin suddenly asked Siri. At that moment, both jimmy and I stopped arguing, looked at each other, and resumed programming. I sent a few plug-in programs to jimmy's phone while listening to what Siri was listing. As Siri went through the list of overpass bridges, jimmy recognized the highway 78 overpass bridge and told mike to go towards that bridge. I also told Mike that we needed to go under the overpass. As we recklessly drove down Grove street, I used all the tricks I had up my sleeve and stopped the police behind us. Once that happened, all I needed to do was shake off the helicopter above us. We drove beneath the bridge.

The helicopter flew over the bridge and followed our car. Looking at channel five news live, the car pin balled its way out the other side of the overpass; accelerated through a few red traffic lights for good few minutes swerving around the other cars; It turned right off a bridge into the river sinking all the way down; and disappeared into the green murky water. Mike looked up at me from watching the live news and said, "good thinking kid." And patted my back. I used Jimmy's phone and my program to hack into the cars onboard computer through Blue tooth to gain access to the self-parking system. I left Jimmy's phone in the car as we jumped out through the window while underneath the bridge and gained access to Jimmy's phone via teamviewer and remotely controlled the car into the river. We quickly ran as far away from the bridge.

As we went into town and tried to cross the road, two black SUVs drove right up to us. Two men in suits came out from each SUV with submachine guns and told us to get in. With no options left to escape, we got into the SUVs and was driven to an abandoned warehouse. Mike, His cousin, jimmy, and I were shoved down by the suited men to kneel on the hard cold cement. There were four men with submachine guns pointed at us. I felt urine dripping down into my thighs. I couldn't stop shivering. If only I hadn't followed Jimmy Or if only I hadn't choked Carl.

The bald tattooed man shoved his gun into Mike's chest and asked, "You think we wouldn't put tabs on our mules. Where is the money?" 

"Go f**k yourself." Mike spoke while staring directly into the bald man's eyes. 

The bald man softly laughs. "I'm going to ask you again, and If you don't tell me in three seconds, I'm going to shoot your friend here right in the heart." The bald man spoke while pointing his gun at ME. "Look at him; he's wetting the floor."

"You're gonna kill us all anyway if I tell you," Mike blurted at the bald man. 

"Hey, who knows, I might spare your cousin's life. So WHERE IS THE MONEY!" The bald guy in front of me shouts at Mike.

"One," He nonchalantly counts.

"Wait, wait," Mike urges. 

"Two,"

The muzzle flashed in slow motion as I saw Sean's tears drip down his face... He was shot in the heart twice and flew backwards onto the floor. I tried to tell them where the money was, but I couldn't and was too late. Sean's eyes were still open, but I couldn't see any signs of life in his eyes. He was dead....

Then suddenly the ground shook.

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