I finally tire and lay on the cold concrete floor to look at the ceiling. Until now, I had never really understood the reasons the rebels had for being so heartily against the U.S. Government. Even all the things Eve had been telling me seemed to be nothing more than minor complaints. Now that I’ve been placed underground and have seen these things firsthand, I’m beginning to understand.
However, I find myself questioning whether the rebellion offers much better in return. The discussion I had with Alvin showed a much darker side to this effort.
Maybe it’s best I’ll be dead in a week. Now that I’ve seen all that I’ve seen, I don’t want to be a part of any of this any longer. I didn’t want to be part of it in the first place. But now it’s all changed and I’ll no longer be able to ignore what’s going on. Not now that I know the dangers of both sides of this war.
But, The Geek, Billy. I can’t leave him alone in this world. It’s only a matter of time before at least one of the sides of this war finds out he is involved. Both sides would have more than enough reason to try and silence him.
I don’t have a choice. I have to come up with some way out of this. I have to keep Billy safe. I have to save Eve, too. I might be the only chance for either of them.
Alvin said there might be a way out of this mess if I create a diversion. Is that even feasible down here? Maybe he was giving me false hope, provoking me to do something while I’m down here to bring even more attention to my execution. But why fly out here and talk to me just to provoke me? Surely there was some greater purpose for him to visit me. But what?
There’s a quiet knock on my cell door and another guard enters swiftly.
“Mealtime,” he says. He looks nicer than the other guards. He’s not scowling at me or threatening to harm me in some way. He places the tray of food on the floor and disappears again. I don’t want it. Maybe starving myself would be enough of a diversion, if not to save me, to save Eve. If Eve got out alive, maybe she could save Billy. It’s not much, but it’s something.
I sit in the corner of my cell, looking at the food. I’m ravenous, but I don’t want to eat. Eating means I’m giving in to my fate. I can’t yet. At least not without knowing where Eve is and what is going to happen to Billy.
The kind guard reenters.
“Hey, kid,” he says as he enters the room. “I’m supposed to tell you that you’ll really want to eat.” He nears me. I cover my head and curl into a ball. “A mutual friend of ours really wants you to eat.” He bends over and opens my shackles. “He also said you might be able to eat better if you don’t have these on.” He walks out of the room without another word.
That was weird. Could this be what the conversation with Alvin was all about? Does he have a plan? Was the whole conversation we had just a way to make sure I was prepared for what he was going to do? If this is from him, I don’t know if I want to be a part of it.
I haven’t eaten in what feels like days. When was the last time I ate? Tonawanda, in the house above the tunnel? I think that all came up during the run from the drones. There must have been something since then, right?
I pull the tray to me. Not much for excitement in the food options here. There’s a cold sandwich with a side of cold corn. I pick up the sandwich and take a look at it, making sure it’s not going to kill me. Alvin wouldn’t be trying to poison me with this meal, would he? Having such a high profile rebel like me die right after they capture me would probably be a pretty good diversion, but this is too soon.
The sandwich has a hole cut out of the bottom. I look back down on the tray and see it had been hiding an earpiece. One of The Geek’s earpieces. I hastily push it into my ear.
“Geek? Geek?” I yell excitedly. “Is it you?!”
“How’s it going?”
“Billy!” I scream. “Wait. . . you’re asking how’s it going? I’m stuck in some sort of concentration camp awaiting my execution. How do you think it’s going?”
“It was kind of a rhetorical question.”
“Never mind. Eve? You hear us?”
“Hi Cyrus,” I hear Eve’s voice. It’s weak, hoarse. She coughs loudly.
“Eve! Where are you? Are you okay?”
“Eve’s being held in a FEMA detainee camp just outside of Buffalo,” The Geek answers.
“FEMA? You mean the disaster guys? Why would they want her?”
“Same reason they want you. They’re the ones who run these prison camps.”
“Are you okay, Eve?”
“I’m doing alright. They weren’t too happy when they found out you were alive.”
“Yeah, Cy, you could’ve done a bit better with the advantage we had given you.”
“See, you should have had me around to keep you from doing something so stupid,” Eve sputters.
“Well, you weren’t supposed to turn yourself in. The whole reason I had run off on you was to keep you safe.”
“Yeah, yeah, you both failed miserably at trying to keep each other from being caught. Can we move on, please?”
“Sure. How in the world did you get an earpiece in here?” I ask.
“That was easy. A guy who owed me a favor knows a guy who knows a guy. There are actually a lot of rebel sympathizers working in Devens. I guess that’s bound to happen when stuck around a whole bunch of rebels awaiting execution.”
“So, what’s the plan? We’ve got one, right? Are you the diversion Alvin was talking about?”
“Alvin?” Eve asks.
“Yeah, Alvin Alexander, the rebel dude from back in San Francisco.”
“You talked to Alvin?” The Geek asks.
“Yeah, he hasn’t talked to you?”
“What did he say?” Eve asks in a whisper.
“Well, just that we either need to create a massive diversion or that they’re more than willing to use our execution in its place. It turns out the package wasn’t important. We were. They’ve got something big happening in six days they want the government to be looking away from.”
“So, they were just using you?”
“That bastard,” Eve coughs.
“Yeah, my thoughts exactly.”
“Well, you may be in luck. I may have just the diversion you need,” The Geek says excitedly.
“It had better be good.”
“Oh, it will be.” Just then the lights go out and I hear the door click open.
“What the hell’s going on?” I scream.
“Cyrus,” The Geek says calmly. “Run!”
Not one to take such a command lightly, I jump to my feet and exit the door. It’s pandemonium out here. Not only is it completely dark, but from the sounds of it, I’m not the only inmate who has been released. People are shouting. I hear gunfire. I run down the walkway to the elevator and press the call button.
“Geek? There’s no power, how do I get out?”
“Pull the doors open,” he yells back at me.
Struggling, I manage to separate the doors. Inside is a deep elevator shaft, reaching down several floors.
“Okay, what now?”
“You’re going to have to climb up and out.”
“Move!” he yells. “I’m not going to be able to keep this power outage going for long.”
I look at the interior of the shaft. On the other side is a ladder going all the way up. I step back a couple paces and run at the shaft, jumping to the other side. I hit the opposite wall hard; my left knee takes the weight of the hit. I scream in pain as I begin to fall. I reach my hands out and make contact with a rung of the ladder. My fingers are barely holding on as I swing back into the wall causing my injured leg to hit the wall yet again. It’s painful, but I manage to keep my grip.
I fumble with my feet until they find a rung of the ladder as well and I begin climbing.
“Where are you?” The Geek asks.
“In the elevator shaft.”
“Jeez, Billy, give me a break already. Where do I get out?”
“You just need to go up one floor.”
I look up. Directly above me is the elevator compartment. There’s just enough room to squeeze behind it on the ladder. I make it to the top and look down. If the movies are right, there should be an access point into the compartment from here. I stomp down as hard as possible with my right foot randomly. After four kicks, the floor gives way and I fall into the compartment.
The doors are shut. I pull against the doors to open them. They give way easily, but there’s another set of doors behind them. I pull on them, but they don’t want to give. My hands ache from landing on the ladder. I close my eyes and try to think past the pain. I pull on the doors once again. They give way and I’m out.
It’s dark up here as well. I hear people yelling back and forth about needing to get downstairs to stop the riot. Then a large group of people run past me. It’s hard to tell in the dark, but it looks like they’re all wearing orange. That’s as good of a group to join as any. Within minutes we’re at the front door, sunlight beaming into our faces. More gunfire outside. Several people in orange fall to the ground.
“They’re shooting out here, Billy! What do I do now?”
“You’re going to like this,” he says as he laughs. I have a hard time believing there’s much I’m going to like about any of this.
But then, I witness a series of explosions, each occurring at one of the watchtowers around the complex. The towers crumble to the ground.
“Run!” The Geek yells at me. And I do. There’s a large gate up ahead. I run directly toward it, hoping my little brother has got some great plan to get me through it. I reach the gate and it still hasn’t opened.
“The gate’s still closed, what now?” I’m screaming now. I’m in the middle of a military base, so I know reinforcements aren’t far.
“Seriously, Cy?” he yells. I look around, knowing his sarcastic response means I’m missing something obvious. I am. The explosions have managed to blast a hole in the fence at each tower. I run toward the nearest opening as a man pulls himself up from the wreckage. He lifts a rifle into the air and points it directly at me. I stop in my tracks and my hands go above my head. He grins madly. He knows who I am and he’s really excited to be the man who kills me.
From out of nowhere a large man wearing an orange jumpsuit leaps at the guard, his fist flies square into the guard’s head. The guard falls back and the large man looks at me.
“Come on!” he yells. I run toward him. A man like him should be a great bodyguard.
I’m slow. My new companion recognizes this and, without a word, picks me up and throws me over his shoulder. I’m left only to watch as he runs through the trees on the back side of the complex.
He’s fast. Much faster than I would have expected a man of his size to be. And he’s doing this while I am just along for the ride like a limp sack of potatoes.
He finally stops once we reach a river. He sets me down against a tree as he works to catch his breath.
“Hey, I’m Bruno.”
“Cyrus,” I respond. “It’s really, really nice to meet you.”
“Oh, I know who you are. That’s why I saved you.”
“You know who I am?”
“Of course. Everyone knows you.” I don’t even know how to respond to this. “Here,” he says as he tosses me a backpack that looks suspiciously like my old one. “Thought you might need this.”
I have no clue what to say to the man. Luckily, Bruno realizes this and walks down the river out of sight under the pretense of looking for safe passage. I use the opportunity to check in with The Geek, while rooting through my pack.
Go to Chapter Thirty-Seven