Eve is on a mission now. She doesn’t look back and I can barely keep up with her. Granted my injuries aren’t helping anything. The Geek has decided to finally start helping again by choosing more upbeat music selections. Gotta Get Thru This by Daniel Bedingfield. I melt into the music, allowing it to take over me so I can keep up, trying to ignore my skin pulling against the stitches.
For over an hour we run at top speed. My legs are well past tired and I don’t stand a chance against Eve’s newfound second wind. Just as I’m about to tell her I need a break, we come to a clearing. In front of us is a large lake. Impossible to cross. To the south lies an old dam. The dam looks like it’s been shut down for a while, but the water is still running beneath it.
Without pause, Eve turns south to head across the dam. I follow. As we near, she stops in her tracks. I catch up and bend over and take the opportunity to try and catch my breath.
She stares forward. I don’t hear her breathing, which is impossible considering how fast she’s been running. I straighten up to stretch, pain shooting through my side as I do, and look forward to see what has stopped her so suddenly. A man in black is standing in the middle of the dam.
“Eve,” I say, “let’s go the other way around. He hasn’t seen us yet.”
“No, he’s seen us.”
“Fine, we can still go the other way around.”
“He’ll just be waiting for us over there.”
“Okay, so, we head north, he wouldn’t expect that.”
“It won’t make a difference Cyrus. He can find us anywhere and if he’s here, there’s no way we can get far enough ahead of him to be safe.”
“Alright, so, we face him head on. We took on the army, we can take on one guy.”
“This one’s different, Cy.”
“Of course it is.” I say shortly. “Alright, well, why don’t I run up there and talk to him, you stay here and come up after I take care of it.”
“No? No what? What is our other option?”
“There is no other option. I have to face him. Alone.”
“No. Not a chance. Last time we saw him he had a bowie knife to your neck. I’m not letting you do this alone.”
“This is something I have to do.”
“No, it’s not. Look, Eve, there’s no reason you need to do this here, or now. Maybe I can talk some sense into him. Maybe I can, I don’t know, do something, anything that doesn’t involve you facing off against him alone.”
“No.” And without any additional words, she runs toward the dam. I want to run after her, but the pain in my side tells me that by the time I get there whatever happens will be well past my help. I jog after her as fast as I can muster, which unfortunately isn’t that fast.
“You’re really going to let her go out there by herself?” The Geek asks.
“I can’t catch her.”
“So, you’re going to let your girl fight your fights for you?”
“She’s not my girl, Billy, and this isn’t my fight.”
“That cute little scene where you were snuggling together says differently.”
“Look, she was holding me back. I needed to do whatever I could to get her back up so we could complete this run.”
Eve has reached the dam. Grant still hasn’t moved. I reach into my pack and pull out my Taser, hoping it still has enough power for another go.
“I seem to remember you saying something about how you ran alone. Seems like you had the perfect opportunity to lose her back there,. And now for that matter.”
“Things have changed.”
“Yeah? How’s that?”
Eve walks slowly toward the man in black. If I had to guess, I’d say they were talking, but I can’t make out any movement coming from Grant.
“It’s complicated, alright?” I reply, only half paying attention to our conversation.
“Yeah, complicated. You’ve got a thing for her. It better not screw this run up. Remember, that guy up there is looking to collect on your bounty. If you were a smarter man, you’d run and leave Eve to deal with him.”
“Well, like everyone keeps telling me, I’m not all that smart.”
“Fine, I’m just saying—”
“Well, you can quit saying.” Suddenly, Grant lunges at Eve and tackles her to the ground. I’m only halfway there.
I move as fast as possible, the pain in my side not even a second thought, fearing every second I’m not there is the second she ends up dead. I reach the edge of the dam and hear myself yelling at the top of my lungs.
“Get your hands off her!”
I run straight at the man and tackle him to the ground. As his head hits the pavement, I jam my Taser into his neck and press the button. His body quakes. I jump to my feet and turn to look at Eve.
“What do you think you’re doing?!” she asks angrily.
“Saving your skinny butt,” I yell back.
“I had it under control!”
“Sure you did. That’s why he had you on the ground with a knife to your throat.”
“He didn’t have a knife,” she responds vaguely. I become immediately aware of what I had happened across. He wasn’t attacking her, he was, well. . .
“Were you two making out?” I ask, uncertain why I even care.
“Yeah, well, I–“
“You were making out with him?” I scream, feeling an emotion well up within me that I can’t quite figure out.
“I was doing it for you–”
“Great, it makes me feel wonderful knowing you were thinking of me while your tongue was down his throat. This guy wanted to kill you the last time he saw you, how in the world is it possible you suddenly find him to be the kind of guy you want to swap spit with. And with me watching?”
“I don’t even know what to say,” I’m crazed now. I can’t believe that what we’ve gone through together means nothing to her, not to mention how she would somehow find this guy at all appealing.
“Cyrus, you don’t understand.”
“Right. It’s personal, right? It’s always personal with you! I should have listened to The Geek when he told me to run.” Eve’s eyes widen at that remark. “Seriously, I can’t believe I’ve allowed you to –”
“Cyrus!” Eve yells as she points behind me. I turn to look at what she’s pointing to and before I’m able to complete my turn, I hit the ground, my back pinned to the asphalt, my face looking directly into the angry eyes of Grant.
Probably shouldn’t have forgotten he was there.
“Grant, no!” Eve yells.
“That was a pretty smart trick there, Eve. Can’t believe I fell for it.” He pulls his giant knife from behind his back and places it against my neck. I try to swallow, but my throat is dry. “You should have killed me, Cyrus.”
“Grant, please!” Eve yells, running to his side. “Cyrus thought you were trying to hurt me. He didn’t know.”
“Yeah,” I gasp, not wanting to move much in case his hand slips. “I didn’t know.”
Grant looks to Eve, the rage in his eyes subsiding slightly. “Really?” he asks, looking down at me.
“Yeah, man. I thought she was in trouble.”
“So, you really meant it?” he asks Eve. “Everything you said was true?”
“Of course, every word.” Grant looks down at me, looks deep into my eyes. I can tell he wants to rip me apart, but something in him gives and he jumps off me quickly. He reaches out to help me to my feet while sheathing his dagger with the other hand.
“Sorry, kid. Don’t like anyone getting the drop on me, you know.” I refuse his help in getting to my feet and step back several feet from both of them as I stand.
“Don’t worry, Cyrus. He’s going to help us out.”
“I don’t need his help.” I sneer. “I don’t need help from either of you.”
“Fine by me,” Grant says. He grabs Eve’s hand and pulls her away. She stands firm and stares at me.
“Go!” I yell.
She allows Grant to pull her. She walks backward. Her eyes never leave mine. I can’t believe she’s actually going to leave with that psychopath. One minute he’s trying to kill her, the next he’s trying to impregnate her. How does that even make sense?
I watch as they climb into his new vehicle together, a black SUV like the type the SPs drive. It starts up and pulls away. I feel hurt. Really hurt. The tears scream to be let out. But why? It’s not like she and I had anything going on, right? Plus, I did want to get rid of her, didn’t I?
Through my blinking to contain the water inexplicably appearing at the corners of my eyes, I see Grant fall out of the car as the driver’s side door is flung open. The tires spin out as it switches to reverse, speeding directly toward my location.
“Hey, soldier,” Eve smiles through the open window, “you didn’t really think I was going to let you get rid of me that easily, did you?”
I don’t know how to respond. I just stare. Grant runs toward us at top speed. I can almost feel his feet pound against the ground. Whatever good-will Eve may have gained with him is completely gone. He’s got murder in his eyes. I’m going to have to join up with Eve if I want to stay alive, no matter how pissed I may be at the moment.
I run around to the opposite side of the vehicle and jump in as she peels out, driving right at Grant. He stands steady, ready to let Eve take him down with this beast of a vehicle. Just as she’s about to hit him, she swerves out of the way. Somehow, Grant manages to grab hold and we suddenly have three passengers on this joy ride of crazed emotions. He pays no attention to me. His rage is completely directed at Eve while he pulls himself up on the vehicle.
He’s attached to the front bumper on the driver’s side, hanging on to the hood. He pulls himself forward and reaches the side-view mirror, using it to pull himself further forward. It gives way under his weight, causing his right arm to flail wildly behind him. He manages to keep hold with his left. Eve looks at me and then at the Taser still gripped in my hand.
Although I want to allow Grant to take Eve, I realize it could only mean bad things for me. I roll down the window and reach over the front windshield. I can’t reach him. I strain, trying to pull as far forward as I can, but he evades my weapon.
I make a last ditch effort and toss the weapon at his face. It hits him in the eye, but doesn’t do anything more than turn his rage on me. He glares at me; I can almost see the steam pouring out of his nostrils. I decide I’ve got to take things into my own hands. I climb out through the window and slide onto the hood, holding as tight as I can to keep from falling below.
This is a very bad idea. I can barely hold on, much less actually remove Grant from his hold beside me.
I slide my feet up to my side, both hands holding onto the hood as tightly as possible. Grant grabs at my feet. I evade him and kick directly at his neck.
Grant’s eyes bulge wide and he falls back. He hits the ground hard before rolling into the ditch. I tighten my grip on the hood, Eve looks behind her, sees that Grant is down and out. She stops quickly, causing me to slide off the hood and onto the ground in front of two tires that threaten to roll over me.
“Get up, you idiot!” Eve yells.
I jump to my feet. “Are you just going to leave him here alone, after all that just happened between the two of you?”
“Shut up and get in!”
I see Grant stir and decide I don’t want to wait around to see what he’s got planned for me now that I’ve just attempted to collapse his trachea. I run around the car and jump into the passenger side as Eve peels out once again. I look behind us and can barely make out Grant screaming at us as we drive away.
Go to Chapter Twenty-Four