I wake to the sound of a ukulele playing a song which feels somehow both sad and happy at the same time. A man with a sweet voice is singing about rainbows and dreams and birds.
I open my eyes and the world slowly comes into focus.
Where am I?
Every inch of my body hurts.
And I’m thirsty.
My legs don’t want to move. They’re completely useless.
Then I remember why I’m here. How I got here. What I’m supposed to be doing.
But even remembering my motivation, I can’t get my legs to do anything.
I’ve overdone it for real this time.
I have no clue how long I was out and if I can’t move, who knows how long I’ve got before they find me.
“Come on, Cyrus, let’s go!” Eve yells at me.
I leap to my feet, my legs screaming at me from bouncing around tree branches like a pinball on my way down from the helicopter.
The sound of machine gun fire rages past overhead, just before a loud bang, accompanied by the ground shaking.
“Cyrus!” The Geek yells through labored breath.
I jump to life and chase after my two partner fugitives. The Geek appears to be managing a fairly good clip. It’s surprising what the rush of adrenaline can do for a body, even an out of shape one like his. But I know it won’t last long. None of us will. And we’re running away from folks with fighter jets. Folks who have more power than Miss Nile. Folks who—
“Cyrus, Billy!” a shout comes from ahead of us. I look up and see Mom and Dad about twenty feet away to the left, looking quite anxious.
“Mom? Dad?” The Geek says. Although he’s confused, he doesn’t hesitate to run up and give them both a hug.
I stop in my tracks. What in the world are they doing out here? Eve doesn’t seem to be concerned either as she joins The Geek in greeting them.
“Cyrus!” My dad says urgently. “There’s no time to waste!”
No matter how my parents ended up being here, they are our only chance at not being captured. I may not trust them, but I don’t really have any other options at this point.
I run to their side and without a word, Dad opens an invisible door. It hovers a few feet off the ground. He climbs in and shuts the door behind him. A loud noise sounds as though an engine is revving to life. My Mom opens another door, near the first one, and I can see the inside of an SP SUV.
“Go on,” my mother says before walking around the invisible vehicle and disappearing inside another invisible door.
I look to The Geek and Eve, but before we can even do the whole shrug at each other thing, they have both climbed into the car, so I’m left to shrug at myself before joining them.
“Buckle up!” Dad says as the vehicle lurches forward. “This thing might be all-terrain, but driving through a forest at top speed is not exactly going to be a cake walk.”
Five more jets fly across overhead and seconds later the forest erupts into flames around us, as though someone just lit a giant match.
“What the—“ I yell.
“Napalm,” my mom answers. “Or maybe white phosphorus. Either way, not good.”
“What?” I ask.
“Think of it like a sticky fire which burns hotter than normal fire,” The Geek answers. “It’s used to completely level out an area.”
“And this is the part where you tell us how we’re safe because of some cool gadget Golden Dawn has cooked up for this car, right?” I say anxiously.
“I wish, kid,” Dad replies, jerking the wheel to the right in order to avoid a fiery tree falling down in front of us.
“Napalm isn’t exactly something you can plan for, Cyrus,” Mom explains. “It can burn at approximately five thousand degrees. Even if we were to have somehow made this car able to withstand the heat, it would get hotter than an oven in here.”
“What do we do?” Eve asks.
Dad pulls the wheel hard to the left and the car swerves to a stop.
“We get out,” he says, unbuckling quickly. He opens his door and jumps out, leaving the car idling. Mom follows his lead and the pair run to a nearby tree before they both disappear.
Not at all sure of what’s going on, but seeing the fire growing ever nearer our current location, The Geek, Eve, and I all follow suit and exit the car headed in the direction we last saw our parents.
“Moooom!” The Geek yells.
“Daad!” I join in.
“They wouldn’t have left us, would they?” The Geek asks.
“They’re your parents,” Eve replies, as if that’s an answer.
“The fire’s coming down on us mighty fast, we don’t have time to figure out if they ditched us or not,” I offer. “We’ve got to get running.”
A loud creaking noise sounds behind me and I turn to find a large rock rising from the ground. It opens and the faces of my parents show from beneath it.
“Get in!” Mom shouts.
I glance quickly at the fire and jump into the hole under the rock.
Go to Chapter Nine