The Agora Files – Part I – Online Edition – Chapter Thirty-Three

I awake to the sun shining through my eyelids. I open them and look down on the city below. If The Geek were around, he’d have all sorts of ideas about how best to tackle this last leg of the run. Instead, I’m by myself, so I try to think like him, considering all of the different obstacles in my way.

One thing’s for certain, in a city as well lit as this, there’s very little difference between running in the daytime or at night, outside of how many people would be awake to spot me as I make my way. However, with how tightly locked down this place must be with SPs, I’m not sure there would be a difference.

Actually, perhaps the best option is to enter the city during a scheduled travel time. That way I wouldn’t be as easily noticeable. If I pull up my hoodie, I might be able to keep from being recognized.

Maybe.

Looking at the sun, I’d guess it’s getting close to nine in the morning. So, I’ve got a couple hours until the lunch time travel period.   That should work out pretty well, right? I can make my way into the outskirts of town, wait until I start seeing people moving about, and duck into the nearest crowd.

My GPS beeps at me. Weird, it’s never done that before. I take a look at it and see it’s started working again. That’s even weirder. I decide to not question my fortune and go with it.

It tells me I’ve got ten miles between me and the drop off. Must mean it’s all the way on the other side of the city. If I push myself, I should be able to do that in an hour, which would fit well within the lunch period. That doesn’t leave me any time to get out, but what are the chances I’ll actually be getting out anyways, right?

I slip my headphones on and press play on the player. The Denial Twist by The White Stripes. I slide my hoodie up over my head and head down the hill. I see a housing development off to the south east. Seems like a perfect place to wait. I run down the hill toward the houses. There’s a small creek dividing us, but an old foot bridge is available for crossing.

Within minutes, I’m outside a line of privacy fences. I walk along the fences and try to determine which one would give me the best position to start my run. I find the one closest to the exit of the subdivision.

I hop over it easily, but hit the ground rather hard. I stand up, brush myself off and look around to find a spot to hang out for the next couple hours.

Then I see her.

In the window of the house which presides over this yard is a middle-aged woman. She stares at me, her mouth wide-open in surprise. Not much of a question as to what that face means. She’s recognized me. Guess my plans are going to have to change. She reaches toward something out of view and pulls a phone to her ear. Her eyes never leave me.

Crap.

I jump back over the fence. Plans don’t mean anything now. In no time, the whole area will be flooded with SPs. I don’t stand a chance. I sprint toward the drop off point.

Just outside the housing development is an eight-lane highway, filled with transport vehicles delivering supplies around the nation. No way I can cross here. Off to the north I see an overpass.

I climb the hill at its side and find that this overpass hasn’t been used in a long time. It’s crumbling under my feet as I cross. No time to be careful, I’ve got to move fast. I can hear sirens in the distance. The SPs. The other side of the bridge is overgrown with trees and brush. I push through continuing on as straight a path as possible.

Another break in the trees and I see the on-ramp to the highway. Luckily it looks like the overpass is continued through here as well. This section is in even more disrepair than the other. Halfway across, the ground gives way beneath me and my foot falls through. I’m stuck. I pull as hard as I can to free my leg, which finally gives way. My shoe doesn’t make it, however, and I watch as it falls to the street below.

I just got these shoes!

I kick off the other shoe, knowing I need to stay balanced, and sprint across the rest of the bridge, hoping the faster I go, the less chance of having the entire thing disintegrate under me.

More trees and brush. I stumble through them. The sirens are getting louder now. I hear the early warning signs of drone swarms being released. The high pitched squeal of them fills the air and pierces my ears. Ten point two nine miles left and I’ve already got the entire squad after me with. I’m sure, the rest of the SPs of the entire nation are on their way. I’m going to have to stay out of sight. Not that it will make a difference.

Just on the other side of the trees is an old train station, filled to the brim with abandoned train cars. Would have been a good spot to hide on a good day. Today, however, they’re not good enough. I weave my way through the cars and dilapidated buildings. The sound of sirens comes from all directions. I haven’t even made it into Boston-proper and I’ve already got everyone on my tail.

Nine point nine eight miles. On the other side of the station I see a tunnel leading under the road. Should buy me some time. I duck through and it leads me easily to the other side of the road. Don’t think I’ve been spotted yet.

Helicopters. Coming in fast. Going to have to find some cover, so I won’t get sighted from the air. The other side of the small tunnel takes me into an office park. No air cover here. I bolt forward. On the other side of the group of buildings is a line of trees. Perfect!

I enter them and am quickly disappointed. On the other side is a golf course. What’s with all the golf courses in the northeast? Helicopters are directly overhead now. I wait until I hear them pass and make a bee-line for the trees on the other side of the greens. I must have cut through the small part of the course, because there are houses here. Luckily, there’s still a great deal of tree cover and no fences.

I hear people scream as I run through their yards. Not going to be long before my hiding gets to be too little to keep me safe. I imagine the SP hotline is filling up with calls of sightings of the notorious rebel Cyrus Rhodes.

Nine point four six miles left. Feels like I’ve been running for hours, but I haven’t even made it a mile yet.

The helicopters pass by again and I hear something. Drones? It’s not a swarm. It’s weird, but it sounds like there’s only one of them. It’s not that familiar chorus of buzzing and humming, just a single solitary mechanical chirp. There’s a football field ahead of me. Not going to risk it. I round it, keeping under the trees where ever possible.

More houses, more trees. A road. I stop just at the trees, the chirping has gotten closer, and it’s right on top of me now. I duck behind one of the trees in this front yard and see the source.

This drone is nothing like the others. It’s at least a foot in diameter; the swarm drones are as tiny as flies. Unfortunately, it still moves just as fast. It seems to be keeping to the streets for now and blasts right past me. I’ve apparently avoided it for the time being. After it goes out of sight, I speed across the street to the next yard.

Nine point four seven miles. Seriously? Am I somehow moving further from my goal? I guess my run around the football field took me further off course than I had thought.

Only two houses on this side of the road before another street. I see off to the right that it ends in a cul-de-sac. I head for the houses at its end. I don’t know what to expect from this new drone and I definitely don’t want to test it. Six houses later and I find another tree line, no road to worry about here.

I enter the trees and find another golf course. Another golf course! I guess it could be the same course as before, but still… Apparently people in Boston are given plenty of leisure time. You’d never find this many recreational areas back home.

I use the same method as before, waiting until the air is silent before crossing the course into the next set of trees. I have to cross much more of the golf course than previously. I look down at my GPS to make sure I’m not heading in the wrong direction.

Eight point seven seven. Nope, not the same golf course. I’m beginning to think I should have moved to Boston years ago. It seems they’ve got it much better than we do.

I finally make it to another group of trees. On the other side I find more houses. More trees, houses, and roads. I haven’t heard the drone in a while. It must be searching another part of town. Good, I could use that little bit of luck. Actually, I don’t hear any sirens or helicopters either. Weird. Can’t get sloppy now, must use this to my benefit.

I’m fully in the suburbs now. Nothing but trees, houses and roads. I still hear the occasional scream as people notice me, but their phone calls don’t seem to bring anyone this way. Good. I hope.

As I continue through the neighborhoods, I come across several more playing fields. Football, baseball, tennis courts, and even some outdoor basketball courts. What’s up with that? These would never be allowed at home. And even if they were, no one would be given the time to use them. Instead, I see kids playing all around in these parks. They all run away at the first sight of me, obviously scared and trying to get as far away as possible from the monster they’ve heard about on TV.

I look down at my GPS. Six point oh four miles. Wow, this is going great. I wonder how long I can go without being seen. I really hate myself for giving up the earpiece. I could use The Geek’s input here. He’d at least have a pretty good idea on what the SPs are doing, or what these new drones are capable of, or why the heck I haven’t seen or heard a single sign of them for the last 4 miles.

And then I come across yet another golf course. Sheesh. I’ve hit this one at a horrible angle. There’s nothing but green available to run on if I continue toward my destination. After stopping to think about it for a moment, I don’t see the danger in going without cover. I haven’t heard a helicopter for miles now and that’s the only real reason to keep under the trees.

I come up with another reason quickly. The men playing golf here have taken to using me as a target. Golf balls fly toward my head at incredible speeds as I weave my way across the beautifully manicured grass. I guess they think they could get some extra points with the SPs based on how amusing the method they used to take me out is.

Three balls hit me on my right shoulder within seconds of each other, causing me to stumble and almost fall to the ground. I regain my composure and continue the run. It hurts, but I force myself to keep moving. Three welts appear on my shoulder and the pain there causes my entire body to ache.

I push forward, wanting to tackle the men who attack me so deviously, but I decide to continue to use the current lack of SP interference to my advantage.

I’m off the greens and on the other side of the tree line is a commercial district. I cut through the parking lots and try to avoid getting run over by every car that sees me.

The whole city is ready to take me on. Maybe that’s why the SPs have kept out of sight.  They are probably planning on having the average citizen bring me in after causing me some serious damage.

Their plan seems to be working. I narrowly avoid a car bearing down on me at full speed by jumping over a median in the road. It bashes into the concrete and breaks it into pieces. Car shrapnel is sent flying through the air.

I’m out of the area of commerce and into another park. There’s a big pond here, filled with people on boats, fishing, skiing, and whatever else. I’m beginning to see why these people are so quick to want to stop me. They haven’t seen the horrors this government of ours can produce. As far as they know, I’m here to ruin everything, not make it better.

Five point four seven miles left and it looks like all of it will be filled with every Joe Schmo available trying to perform a citizen’s execution on me.

On the other side of this lake are yet more recreational fields, as well as more people using everything at their disposal to stop me. It would appear they are now coming out specifically for me. It’s a city festival and stopping me is the main attraction.

I have to be quick now, quicker than before. People are showing up now with all sorts of vehicles in their attempts to run over me. Bikes, golf carts, and even one old guy on some sort of electric scooter are all implements being used for my destruction.

Maybe I really am the bad guy here. Why else would an entire city be so giddy about taking me down?

The sirens are back and getting louder fast. I burst through a group of trees and find myself once again in the midst of a housing development. Each of the houses are filled, I’m sure, with more people ready to tackle me to the ground, or worse.

Then the chirping begins. I find the first fenced yard I can and hop in, hoping I can buy myself just a couple minutes to catch my breath. I look up and see a little boy, playing in a sandbox, staring at me wide-eyed.

“Mooom!” he yells.

Go to Chapter Thirty-Four

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