I wake up with Eve’s head on my lap. It’s good to know she’s moved since we were rescued. At least she’s alive. My leg throbs. I bend over to pull up my pant leg to take a look at it and feel a sharp stabbing pain in my side. As I press my hand against the ache, I feel a cool sticky substance seeping through my shirt. Pulling my hand away, I find it covered in blood. I slowly remove the shirt from the injury and lift it high enough to take a look. There’s a small cut. Was I shot?
Glancing at Eve, the only thing I notice is a giant welt on her forehead. I can’t see any other injuries from this angle. Charlie notices me moving around and passes me a headset. I place it over my ears.
“Hey kid, how you feeling?”
“I’ve seen better days. What time is it?”
“Just about seven in the A.M., Cyrus. Only a little over an hour from the drop off point.”
“Boston?” I ask, suddenly excited this may all soon be over.
“Oh, no. Sorry, ain’t going to be able to get you that far. I’m surprised we haven’t been shot out of the sky already, but the further east we get, the worse our chances.”
“Okay, so, where?”
“Wisconsin, a little town called Eau Claire.”
“Wisconsin?” I ask, thinking it seems way off course.
“I just do as I’m told, Cyrus, old boy. Sounds like they’ve got a little rebel camp up here of their own. Alvin says it’s safe. I sure hope so. I doubt I’m going to be getting out of here too soon.”
“In case you didn’t notice back there, we’ve gotten ourselves into the middle of a little war. It’s barely safe to be in the sky on a good day, but now…” he trails off.
“A war,” I say, the realization slowly dawning on me. “So, did we win?”
“Don’t really matter much whether we won or not. There are always more of them army folks to throw at us. For now, we’ve just got to be happy we ain’t in the middle of it and that we might have a bit of time before those SPs find that out.”
“Hrngh,” Eve wrestles with waking.
Without thinking, I stroke her hair. She lifts her head groggily, wincing from the headache I’m sure is raging through her skull.
“Hey Cyrus,” she says as a contented smile wraps around her face.
“We got rescued.”
“Yeah, I know. Are you alright? I noticed a lot of blood.”
“Nothing big enough to stop me,” I grin. “How’s that bump on your head treating you?”
“I’ll make it.”
“Looks like we both made it,” I say proudly. “Now we can just settle down and relax.”
“Settle down?” she asks.
“Yeah, you know, hunker in a bunker, keep out of sight, that kind of thing.”
“Seems like the only option we have left, isn’t it?”
“Umm,” she says slowly, as if not understanding my indication, “shouldn’t we finish delivering the package?”
“Not our problem anymore,” I say, honestly disappointed by it, but still somehow comforted. “Got blown up in the Jeep. I was going to go back to get it, but–” Eve pulls some papers from under herself and shows them to me.
“Do you really think I would’ve let the package stay behind?”
“But,” I stammer, “you were unconscious, how–”
“I thought I’d take a look at them while you were doing your little standoff with the general, but never got the chance.”
“Oh, well, that changes everything.”
“Not really. Sounds to me like we’re still doing what we’ve been doing.”
“Charlie, how long till we land?”
“About an hour, kiddo. Working on a running strategy?”
“Something like that.” I pull off the headset and put on my headphones. “Geek, you there?”
“Holy crap, of course I’m here, you idiot. I’ve been sitting here waiting for you to check in with me for the past 5 hours.”
“Sorry, had a bit on my mind.”
“I’m sorry too, Geek,” Eve says.
“Jeez. Well, anyways, I’m glad you two are alright. I’ve had an eye on the chopper. Looks like you’re heading straight for Wisconsin.”
I look to Eve, she says, “Yeah, Eau Claire.”
“I thought that’s what I heard Charlie say, but I can’t for the life of me find it anywhere. How’s it spelled, O-H or just an O, or what?”
“It’s French, Geeky-boy,” Eve smiles. “It’s spelled E-A-U.”
“Oh, there it is. Okay, perfect. So, it’s on the western side of the state. Looks like you’re cutting off almost a thousand miles from your course. That’s awesome.”
“Yeah,” I say. “So, what does that mean?”
“It means,” The Geek continues, “you might actually have a chance at pulling this off, if you don’t consider all the people trying to kill you with big loud guns.”
“Well, if you run a standard 70 miles a day it would take you about 18 days.”
“We’ve got 12 though, right?” I ask.
“Right, but here’s the thing. You’ve got a couple Great Lakes to cross, unless, of course, you decide to go around them.”
“Cross, like how?” Eve asks.
“Ferries. I’ve got a couple leads on some ferry owners who might be willing to help out. I’m still looking into them.”
“Ferries?” I ask, confused as to how this would save us any time.
“If we plan it just right, which you know I will, we can put the ferry rides in during the time you’d usually be sleeping giving us an extra 250 miles of area traveled during time you normally wouldn’t be traveling.”
“That would cut off almost three days of travel time,” Eve says excitedly.
“Right. Ferries don’t go too fast, but that’ll put you around 15 days away from the finish line.”
“So, getting closer,” I respond.
“I did the math and if you can make it 80 miles a day, which we both know you can, you’re totally in with some change to spare. Which means–”
“Which means that for the first time in this entire run, it’s actually possible we complete it?” I finish his sentence, realizing that 80 miles might be a stretch, considering my current injuries, especially. I decide not to mention them for the time being.
“Right. Granted, that’s not accounting for all the additional SP activity which is sure to crop up. But, right now they still think you’re somewhere on the battlefield. They’ve been combing through the area looking for your bodies. That should give us a fair amount of time before we have to deal with them again.”
“Awesome,” I cheer.
“Awesome is right. We just need to hope they don’t start looking elsewhere before you get off the ferries. There’s not much worse that could happen to you right now than to get caught in the middle of one of the Lakes with a bunch of SPs hunting you down.”
“I’ll make sure to remember that,” I smile. “This is some pretty good news.”
“It still doesn’t answer what we should be doing right now. You know, when we land,” Eve mentions.
Charlie yells back to us, “They’ve got a big meal waiting for you folks up in the city ahead. After that, I’d think you’d probably best start running.”
I smile. Running. That’s something I know how to do. I just hope my injuries won’t cause any problems.
Go to Chapter Twenty-One