“Cyrus, please. We should hear them out before running off and doing something stupid.” Eve chases me as I storm down the stairs and out the door.
“I don’t care if they’re telling the truth or not. They intentionally put The Geek into the hands of those Agora creeps. They’re exactly like everyone else in this stupid country who thinks they can use me for their wars. I don’t want to be a part of it anymore. I’m going to find The Geek, then head somewhere I can hide for the rest of my life. I really liked Canada, or maybe Eau–”
“Cyrus, stop,” Eve pleads, freezing in place as I continue toward the tree line. “Cyrus!” Eve screams at me.
I finally turn to look at her. The rage burns, seeping out through my eyes. “If you want to stay here and help these guys, be my guest. I’m gone.”
“Not so fast,” a voice says from within the trees. Out steps a face I had hoped to never see again. The grim grinning face of Grant.
“Grant!” I hear Eve scream from behind me. I don’t dare take my eyes off the man who is now brandishing his signature knife toward me, but from the sound of the loud and fast footsteps behind me, I can guess Eve is on her way to step between us. Any help she might want to give is too late, as in one swift movement, Grant grabs me around the neck, spins me, and presses the knife against the skin on my chin.
“Don’t move, Eve! Unless you want your boyfriend here to have a new mouth hole.”
Eve stops immediately. I attempt to struggle out of the hold, but he’s too strong for me and each movement I make brings him to dig the tip of the blade deeper into my chin. I don’t think he’s cut anything yet, but I’m certain the skin will break at any second now.
“Grant! What are you doing?”
“What do you think I’m doing, Eve? I’m taking him in, like he deserves. You didn’t really think the whole deal in Wisconsin would be the last you’d see of me, did you?”
“I had definitely hoped it would be,” I mutter. He presses the blade deeper against me and I feel something drip onto my chest.
“I’d hold my tongue, if I were you,” Grant says maniacally in my ear. “Or would you prefer me to cut it out so you can hold it more easily?”
“Grant, come on,” Eve says softly. “I know I played a terrible trick on you at the dam, but maybe we could take a moment and talk about it? I’ve learned a lot about Lyman and the rebellion which I think you might want to know about.”
“I’m not falling for your tricks this time, Eve,” Grant sneers. “You’ve fooled me too many times. Unfortunately, I’m only supposed to take Cyrus in right now. But don’t let that get you down. I’ll be back. For you.”
“You’ll never find me,” Eve yells in frustration. “I’ll take the tracking chip out and then you’ll never know where I am, unless you sit down and talk to me now.”
“Girl, if that chip could come out, I’m pretty sure those folks who had you locked up in that prison would have done so. Don’t threaten me with things you can’t follow through on.”
“Fine,” Eve huffs. “But I still know some things I think you might want to know about.”
“Too late for talking, Eve.” Grant grunts as he pulls me into the forest. “Come on, boy. Let’s get you back into a little cell, okay?”
I pull against him, but he is strong. Almost effortlessly, Grant pulls me through the trees to a road on the other side where a still-running black SUV waits. Looks like the SPs are still willing to hook him up with transport. I guess they’ll be happy to have taken the risk, since Grant seems to have gotten his prize this time.
He takes me to the back of the vehicle and opens the trunk, still keeping the knife at my throat at each step. With his free hand, he pulls out a set of plastic drawstrings.
“Put your hands behind your back,” he barks at me. I comply and he slips the tie around my wrists, tightening them to the point where I feel the blood flow to my hands slow to a crawl.
“Alright,” he growls, “get in.” He shoves me toward the open rear of the vehicle, causing me to fall headfirst against it. I struggle to lift myself inside. He helps by giving me a kick in the butt and pushing me the rest of the way in. The door slams shut behind me and I hear him stomp toward the front of the car.
Another few grunts and he’s in the driver’s seat and cursing as he shuts his door.
“You’re lucky we’re close to Boston, kid,” he yells back to me. “Or else I’d be calling the cavalry to take you in. I’d guarantee they wouldn’t be nearly as kind on the retrieval as me. Instead, I want to make sure you’re there in as pristine condition as I can. Gotta make sure they don’t have any reason to keep me from getting my full bounty.”
I decide not to respond, choosing to use this time to plan my escape, or, you know, at least try to figure one out. Grant responds to my silence by turning up the radio loud enough to cause my ears to bleed. It doesn’t help the music is horrible. Something loud with nothing but a man trying to pretend to sing and yell at the same time, but ultimately being drowned out by electric guitars and drums. The energy is strong, but it ultimately makes me want to rip my ears out with each pound of the drum beat. I can make out Grant screaming along with the vocalist as he pounds on the steering wheel in near rhythm to the music.
Of course he’d be a metalhead.
The drive goes on for what feels like forever, but I can’t really tell. I’m not sure the first song has ended yet, considering there has been no pause in the noise, but it seems like it must have been at least half the album by now. Suddenly, a loud crashing sounds as glass shatters all around me. I hear Grant yell before several gun shots go off and he speeds up. There’s the sound of a loud engine behind us.
I struggle to get myself up high enough to look and see what’s going on outside the car. The ride is bouncy now, not making it easy, considering I don’t have the use of my hands. And I also realize it’s better to be cautious, seeing as regular gun fire seems to be coming from at least two locations: Grant and whatever is behind us.
I finally make it upright enough to look over the seat to the now-broken window and see nothing. The sound of the engine still rings in my ears, even over the music, but doesn’t manage to bring any peace to my pained skull. And I’m still not sure if I should be grateful for it. It could definitely be another person looking to get the bounty on my head. I look all around the car and see nothing which should cause Grant to drive like he is. Nothing that should bring out the guns. And nothing that could be the source of all the noise.
The SUV lurches forward once again, causing me to fall to my back. Before I fall, I manage to catch a glimmer of something, just barely visible, flickering in the mid-day sun.
“Bruno!” I shout to myself. I may have said it out-loud. I wouldn’t be able to hear myself even if I had. The seaplane must be here to save me. Seems a little overkill, but it definitely appears to have caused Grant a fair amount of grief as he shoots out at the air.
Something rams into the SUV or at least that’s what I’m guessing, considering the whole thing is tipping over. Grant manages to regain control and puts us back on four wheels, but as soon as we land, the vehicle lurches to the side and is back on two wheels once again. I search around anxiously, trying to find something to hold onto, since it’s now pretty obvious what’s about to happen. The best I can find is a seat belt in the center of the bench in front of me.
With as much difficulty as can be had when reaching over your head with handcuffed hands, I manage to grab hold of the belt as I’m knocked off my knees once again from another collision. I land against the side window as I work to wrap the belt around my waist. This could completely cut me in half for all I know, but it’s better than nothing. Maybe.
Another hard hit, bringing along with it the sound of crunching metal and breaking glass, before the SUV finally gives and lands on its side, skidding along the ditch as I tumble around the back of it. When the world stops spinning, I find I’ve somehow managed to fly out of the back of the vehicle and into the middle. One door is above me. I’m sprawled out on another. I can stand, but there’s no chance I’ll be able to reach up there with my hands still tied behind my back. I hear Grant grunting as he works the door open and climbs out on top of the flipped vehicle.
“Come on!” he screams into the air. “Show yourself and face me like a man!”
I look around, hoping I can find something to cut my hands free. I don’t see anything. Then I remember the knife. Maybe Grant lost control of it during the crash. I crawl around the seat in front of me to look for the sharpened steel.
“What? Don’t you want your boyfriend back? Or did you want to kill us both? If so, you had better come back and finish the job, because at least one of us is still around!”
I don’t see the knife anywhere. I can’t manage to get to the glove compartment, but with how quickly he tore out of the camp, I can’t imagine he took the time to stow it nicely. I look behind me to see if I can find anything which might work to free my hands.
There it is, buried deep in the seat, directly above where I had landed after the vehicle tipped.
If I weren’t so lucky, I’d be dead.
I turn my back toward the knife. It’s a little higher up than I would like, but I lift my arms up over it and pull down against it with the center of the ties. My arms free easily and I spin quickly to pull the knife from its resting spot as Grant appears at the window above me.
“Ah, so you did survive the crash.” He grins. I point the knife at him shakily in response. “It looks like your friends have left you for dead. How long do you think we can keep this little standoff of ours going before you finally break? I can’t imagine that head of yours is feeling too great right now.”
“It’s feeling fine enough to slice you in half,” I murmur. I’m huddled down against the side of the car, finding it difficult to keep my balance, even in this crumpled state. Maybe he’s right. Maybe I did hurt my head. I didn’t notice it hurting any more than before the crash, but I can’t help noticing the image of Grant seems to be splitting into two.
“Besides.” Grant’s grin grows larger, “I don’t need to bring you in alive to get the bounty. I’m fairly certain that even if I were to blow this thing up, they’d still give me at least half. Five million should be enough, especially since I’ll be able to sleep easier at night knowing you won’t be able to escape again.”
“I’d die happy knowing I took another car from you,” I sneer.
“No,” Grant begins with a chuckle, “on second thought, blowing you apart wouldn’t give me any pleasure at all. I’d much prefer tearing you to pieces myself.”
He reaches down into the car as I swing the knife at his meat hook of a hand. I can’t seem to control my aim, everything is blurry. Suddenly, Grant disappears and I hear a loud yell coming from outside the vehicle. I shudder in fear at what might cause him to scream before hearing what sounds like the thudding of a fistfight.
I begin drifting in and out of consciousness as the faint noises outside continue.
The door opens and another face appears. One I’ve never seen before. I swing the knife wildly and hear an “Ow! Goddammit,” as the world fades to black.
Go to Chapter Fifteen