I’ve been so completely focused on my anger toward this entirely stupid mess of idiocy I’ve somehow gotten myself placed into the middle of, that I’ve forgotten I have my headphones wrapped around my neck. This just so happens to be the exact item I need to drown out the incessant cries for me to stop and reconsider my actions. Hopefully he’ll get the idea I have no interest in discussing my plans with him.
I don’t want to stop and fiddle with my music player and risk giving Bruno the idea I’m opening up for conversation, so I hit the random button. Almost as soon as I’ve hit it, my headphones scream the word “Help!” into my ears. The Beatles. Good tune. A little surprising, but a solid beat which keeps me moving steadily forward.
I melt into the harmony, the idea of Bruno and the rest of The Agora disappears and finally this run is about me and what I do best.
This field seems to run on forever. An interesting concept, this State Forest without any trees. I totally get the idea how some group, probably the government, maybe The Agora, decided to clear cut some area, you know, for whatever reasons people destroy entire forests. What I don’t get is how there seems to be absolutely no little trees here attempting to retake the area. Shouldn’t the trees come back? At some point?
There aren’t even stumps or anything, almost as if it’s been ages since this has been a forest of any kind. Nothing but grass. Really long grass.
I look down at my GPS, happy to know The Geek had the time to input my destination into the thing before The Agora took him off to wherever they take people.
What are they going to do to him? Why would they take him in the first place? How did they even know he exists? I know, it’s The Agora and they know everything. But still.
Besides, they must have known that once I nab Eve she was going to force me to go to Boston, right? Even without the kidnapping thing. She is the one who keeps harping on about doing what’s right and keeping to the plan or whatever. If they know everything, they definitely know that, right?
Of course, maybe prison really does change you. It seems to me if her detainment camp, as they like to call them, was anything like mine, she’d probably come out of the event even more certain about her hatred of the SPs and the people who run them, which means she’d probably be even more willing to let the rebellion do whatever nasty things they’ve been planning.
“Cyrus?” I hear from a familiar voice. I stop in my tracks, pull my headphones down and look crazed as I glare off into every direction to find the source.
“What’s going on, kid?” I hear from Bruno who stops beside me. I managed to forget about him for a moment.
Dejectedly, I turn back toward the west and return the headphones to my ears. The music is playing something light and cheery, Come on Eileen by Dexy’s Midnight Runners. The song goes heavily against the feeling now sitting in the pit of my stomach.
How could he possibly even consider having me leave Eve down there? Sure, he doesn’t know about all that’s happened between us. About the moment in the bathroom. About the kiss…
I can’t believe I left her behind. I can’t believe I was stupid enough to think it would somehow make her safe. That she somehow would stop being Eve and let it all go on without her. I can almost hear her voice calling out to me, crying to know why I would have abandoned her.
“Cyrus? Are you there?”
“Eve?” I say out loud. I again stop in my tracks and look around me.
Suddenly, I recognize the voice is coming from my headphones and I scramble to press the stop button on the music player as I shout in excitement. “Eve! Are you okay?”
Bruno is again at my side, looking at me in confusion.
“Yeah, Cyrus, I’m okay. Did you make it out alright?”
“Yeah, I’m out, and I’m on my way toward you.”
“No!” she yells abruptly.
“What?” I ask dumbfounded. “Why not?”
“It’s too late for me. Save yourself.”
“What do you mean?”
“They’re going to move me, Cyrus. To a new location. I don’t even know where, or when. I only know I don’t have long left. They’re going to move me for the execution and they’re going to do it soon.”
“Okay, then I’ll run faster.”
“And then what?” she asks. I can hear her voice tremble. “They’ve got me so heavily locked down in here. There’s no chance you’ll ever be able to break me out, even if Billy were around.”
“You know about Billy?”
There’s a pause on the line.
“They got to you, too, didn’t they?” I scream. “Those damned Agora freaks got to you, too!”
“It’s not like that, Cyrus. They said they wouldn’t even have to move me if you would do what they said.”
“And let you get killed? I don’t think so.”
“Please, Cyrus. You’ve got to do what they say. It’s too late for me, but it’s not for Billy.”
“I don’t care,” I say with a newfound determination. “I don’t care what they try to do. I’m not letting either of you die. Not for this. Not for them.”
Bruno places a hand on my shoulder. I look up to him and see he’s surrounded by a thick haze. Then I realize there are tears in my eyes.
“It’ll be alright, kid. We’ll get her out of there.”
“Who’s there with you?” Eve asks.
“A guy named Bruno. He’s going to help me find you.”
“You really need to reconsider this, Cyrus. These Agora people don’t—“
Her voice cuts off and the line goes silent.
“Eve!” I scream. “Eve, are you there?”
“I’m sorry, kid,” Bruno says, his grip on my shoulder getting firmer.
“Shut up,” I yell at him and pull away from his enormous hands. “You don’t even know what’s going on here. Just leave me alone.”
“Cyrus.” He follows me on my slow tromp across the field. “Cyrus, I know what you’re going through. I know what this is all about. And I think I know how I can make it all better.”
“I said, shut up!”
“And I said, I can help you. I want to help you.”
“Yeah?” I ask. My face feels like it’s about to melt from all the heat pouring off it. “And how do you suppose you’re going to do that?”
“We’ve got to save your little girlfriend, obviously, and I’ve got a plan.”
“I’m done with planning. That’s what The Geek was for. I’m going to stick to what I know.” I resume my run. Bruno keeps pace with me easily.
“Look, kid. The Agora’s not so keen on you trying to get Eve out of Grand Island. Apparently it’s one of the few places they don’t have any control over, for who knows what reason.”
“What are you talking about? They have power over everything. How couldn’t they with their sparkle power?”
Bruno pulls on my shoulder once again, bringing me to a stop. He picks something out of his left ear and holds it out in his palm in front of me. It’s one of The Geek’s ear pieces.
“Where did you get that?” I ask, barely able to breathe from the wind getting knocked out of me.
“I guess they’re Agora special issue. I got one when I signed up to—“
“No, The Geek built those. Where did you get it?”
“I’m trying to tell you. The Agora sent me one when they convinced me to—“
“Where did you get that earpiece?” I scream and grab the large black man by the lapel. “Tell me!”
He pushes me off easily and a confused frown covers his face. “Look, kid. I know what you’re going through, but I don’t know anything about where this came from outside of howThe Agora gave it to me when we made our deal. It’s how they keep in contact with me. Since you seem to have something similar in your ear, I thought I should let you know.”
“That lying little snot,” I mutter to myself.
“I have a feeling The Geek knows a whole lot more about what’s going on right now than he’s been letting me in on.”
“Okay,” Bruno says slowly. “So, can I tell you my idea now?”
“What?” I ask. I’m distracted as I try to think about what deals The Geek might have been making over the years which would lead to me using Agora tech. “Oh, yeah. Go ahead.”
“Great. So, like I was trying to say, The Agora doesn’t want you going after the detention center in Grand Island–”
“Good, because I’m headed to Buffalo.”
“Grand Island is in Buffalo. It’s where they’ve got Eve.”
“Right. Anyways, they don’t want you heading there because it’s off limits for them.”
“Are you trying to say there’s someone who’s got more power than The Agora?”
“Kid, I’m telling you what they’re telling me, which ain’t a lot. All I know is they seem mighty scared of whatever building your girl is locked up in.”
“Fine then, tell them to sparkle her out of there then and we can call it a day.”
“The way I hear it, with the way the building is arranged or whatever, they can’t use their teleporter.”
“Right. Sounds like a flat out lie to me.”
“But that doesn’t matter,” Bruno continues. “Because I have a plan.”
“Like I said before, when you’re down in the hole, you hear things. I know a thing or two about Grand Island.”
“Yeah, like what?”
“For one, I know where the prison is.”
“So do I.” I frown. “The Geek put it in my GPS before he got taken.”
“But did he give you an idea of what you might be up against when you get there?”
“No,” I say cautiously.
“Because this place ain’t just another big hole in the ground. It’s an island, covered with electric fences, guard posts, and all sorts of other defense which make it all but impossible to just walk right through the front door and pull someone out.”
“Okay, then I guess I’ll have to be extra sneaky.”
“Yeah, if you want to get killed.”
“Fine, what do I need to do? What do you know that they don’t?”
“I don’t think so, kid. As long as I’m the only one who knows, you have to keep me around. And if I want to have any chance to get my daughter back, I need to keep on you like stink on a pickle.”
“I don’t think that’s how that phrase goes.”
“You ever smelled a pickle, kid?”
“Then you know what I’m talking about.”
“Alright, so, you know all sorts of secrets or whatever. So, can we get back to running now?”
“There’s one more little problem there, kiddo.”
“Running takes a long time, and neither of us are exactly in prime condition.”
“Right, so it would be great if we started moving as quickly as possible. As it is, it already feels like I’ve spent more time in this field than I spent on any other part of the run since home.”
“What if I told you I had a better way of getting to Buffalo?”
Go to Chapter Five