“Where are you going?” Bruno yells after me as I run.
“But the lady said we needed to go to Boston.”
“But Eve’s in Buffalo.”
“Look, kid,” Bruno says as he catches up to me. He stops me by pulling on my shoulder. “I think you’re missing the point here. That lady is planning on killing your brother.”
I turn toward him, rage burning my eyes. “Who are you and why are you helping me?”
“I’m Bruno. I’m helping you because, you know, you’re Cyrus Rhodes. The guy who’s going to help change things.”
“How do you even know who I am?”
“Everyone knows who you are.”
“But you’ve been in prison, right? Didn’t seem like the type of place which would let you stay up to date on current events.”
“Alvin sent me to help you. You know Alvin, right?”
“Yeah, here’s the thing about Alvin. I talked to him a few minutes before the power went out. He told me he was more than willing to let me rot down there, not that I was going to be allowed to stay down there long enough to rot. He wasn’t providing me any help.”
“Of course he was.”
“No, he wasn’t. But there’s one even more important thing you need to answer about yourself and why you’re here with me.”
“I told you, I work for the rebellion.”
“No, you don’t.”
“I’m telling you I do.”
“Then explain how you knew she had my brother?”
“What do you mean, she told us—oh.”
“Look, Cyrus,” Bruno back tracks. “I was sent to help you along, I didn’t—“
“Save it.” I frown, turn, and run.
“But you don’t understand,” Bruno says, following me. “They’ll kill him. For real.”
“I know,” I answer.
“Then why are you going to Buffalo.”
“Because they’re going to kill Eve, too.”
He stares at me in silence. I use the opportunity to run faster and attempt to lose him.
I don’t even dare look back. I don’t even care if he’s following me. I know what I need to do and I’m not going to let anything stand in my way of getting it done.
After five minutes of running in silence, a shadow crosses my path and Bruno steps out from behind a tree, cutting me off.
I almost trip over myself as I change direction to avoid him.
“No, wait!” Bruno leaps at me and latches onto my shoulder.
I fall to the ground under his weight.
“What do you want?” I scream and wrestle myself free from his grip.
“I want to help you.”
“Then use that stupid tech you use to get yourself around so quickly to get Eve back and to get The Geek to my side.”
“You think I would waste my time sitting around with you if I could pop around to wherever I want? You aren’t nearly as fast as you think you are.”
“Alright.” I turn to face him, spit escaping my mouth as I yell, “tell me exactly how you intend to help me.”
“I know how to get you to the goal without getting you killed.” He removes himself from on top of me and stands slowly, his eyes never leave mine.
“Fine.” I stand and brush myself off. “But there’s one thing you don’t understand about me.”
“Yeah. You see, I don’t care if I get killed.” And I turn away again and begin running. This time Bruno’s right by my side, effortlessly keeping up with me. I can’t help but wonder if I’d been wrong all those years I thought I was the best runner. First Eve shows me up, now this random guy from The Agora? It must be the hurt leg, maybe the foam takes a while to finish the healing process. Either way, I push harder and finally begin to pull away from him.
He strains to keep up.
“I get you, kid,” Bruno says through labored breath. “I really do. But there’s something you don’t know about me.”
“Yeah?” I ask.
“They’ve got someone I love, too.”
“No, I’m asking you, who took her?”
“The Agora. That’s why I’m working for them. They promised to let me out of Devens in order to help you, but they took my little girl as an insurance policy.”
I stop in my tracks, Bruno stops a few feet past me, bending over to catch his breath.
“I’m sorry, man. I didn’t know,” I say, honestly feeling bad for him, even if I still don’t trust him.
“Don’t be sorry. It’s my own damned fault. I should have known better than to make deals with The Agora.”
“You’ve dealt with them before?”
“No, but you hear things, you know? When you’re down in the hole.”
“I didn’t think you guys got to talk to each other much down there.”
“Not much, but we’ve got our ways. Mostly at night.”
“What sorts of things do you hear? I can’t imagine The Agora wants many people to know how much they run things.”
“I think that’s exactly what they want, at least in the prisons. They’re known for making deals, for getting people out of the hole.”
“As long as you’re willing to work for them for the rest of your life, huh?”
“If only that were the worst of it, kid.”
“What do you mean?”
“The Agora ain’t known for its half measures, Cyrus. They’ll do everything they can to ensure what they want done gets done. So, like I said, they might have offered me freedom, but they also took my kid. They might have let you out of the hole, but they also took your little brother.”
“But I didn’t make any deal.”
“Ah, but I’m thinking that there clever brother of yours might have.”
“Billy,” I scold under my breath.
“So, Cyrus, what do you think? Will you let an indentured servant like myself tag along with you, you know, so I can get my girl back?”
“The Agora already knows I can’t turn down a situation like that, don’t they?”
“You can bet on it.”
“But why you? Why would I need you along?”
“What did you do before all of this, you know, before you got tossed down in the hole?”
“Let’s say I’m perfectly suited to help you on this mission.”
“Great.” I frown. “Another running partner who chooses to keep me in the dark.”
“So, we headin’ to Boston or what?”
“Yeah.” I nod.
“Great!” Bruno claps his hands in excitement. “I know the perfect spot to hide out until the drop-off date.”
“Wait a second.” I smirk devilishly. “I didn’t say we were heading there first.”
“Really?” Bruno scowls. “I’m sure if you talk to Miss Nile she’d throw in Eve as an additional reward for helping them out.”
“If there’s one thing I’ve learned on this run so far, it’s how I’m not going to expect anyone to do what they claim they’ll do.”
“That’s a pretty cynical way to go about life, isn’t it?” Bruno asks.
I bend over to tighten my shoelaces. “From everything I’ve been told these past two weeks, it’s a cynical world. Don’t slow me down, alright?” Without another word, I leap forward and head off into the shadows of the trees ahead.
Go to Chapter Four