“Okay, so, what now?” Mel asks.
“You’re the ones who nabbed me,” I respond. “What’s your plan?”
“Our plan in general has been to hide out in this cave.”
“Oh, what? No. That’s not a plan. I’ve got a herd of horsemen on my back. A cave like this isn’t going to do anything to keep them back.”
“You should be fine for at least a little while,” Peter says. “This cave has a hidden entrance. No one has been able to—“
A loud crash sounds from the cave entrance.
“Looks like they might have found our door,” Mel frowns. The crowd around me begins to panic and runs deeper into the caves.
“Okay,” Mel says, standing firm as she reassesses the situation. “So, we just need to get you out of here and get you to keep moving, right?”
“Right,” I answer.
“I may have something for that.”
“I know where that is!” I shout.
“Great, so that just means we—“ Eve’s sentence is cut short by the sound of the front doors slamming open. We turn on our swivel seats to see the angry face of Grant staring us down.
“You three are really starting to piss me off!” he shouts.
Eve, The Geek, and I jump up from our seats, but before we’re able to do anything, thirteen of the patrons of Flo’s jump up from their seats and latch onto Grant, holding him in place.
“Let go of me!” he growls.
“Not so fast,” one of the Flos says, approaching him. “This is a peaceful establishment. Not a place for settling old debts.”
“Oh, this debt isn’t old,” Grant seethes. “It’s mighty fresh. And I aim to get paid.”
“How in the world did you find us?” I ask, feeling a little more comfortable with the entire restaurant on our side.
“The tracking chip,” Eve says softly. “It’s starting to make a lot of sense as to why the rebellion had me get one.”
“That’s right!” Grant grins. “There’s no place on this earth you can go where I can’t find you.”
“Why?” Eve asks, stepping toward Grant. “Why do you want to stop us so badly? You used to be a part of the resistance. You used to want to make change. What happened to you?”
“Don’t you see?” Grant asks. “There’s only one way to the top of this mess of crap we call life and that’s to side with the guys who have the most power. It doesn’t hurt they just so happen to want you three dead, too.”
“Come on, Grant. You have to realize what happened at Lyman wasn’t my fault. Alvin was the one who made the call to stop sending resources.” Eve makes another step in Grant’s direction. “And with all we know about Alvin now, who is to say he wasn’t behind nuking Lyman in the first place?”
“Oh, I have plans for Alvin, don’t you worry about that. But for now, I’m happy enough to get my revenge on you three.”
“But what have we actually done to you?” Eve asks. “Everything that happened on the road we did just to keep ourselves alive. You can’t really blame us for that.”
“I can blame you for whatever I want.”
“Grant,” I say, joining Eve’s side. “Buddy. Pal. You and I got off to a really bad start. Sure, part of that is because you introduced yourself to me by putting a knife to my friend’s throat, but I’m willing to let that slide because I can tell that deep down inside, you’re not such a bad guy.” I really don’t believe a single word of this, but Eve appears to have found something to slow him down and I may as well work with it.
“God, you’re insufferable,” Grant spits through his words. “You really think I give a damn about the three of you? Once I ‘ve finished you off, I’ll be able to see who Alvin works for and show them what I can really do.”
“Wait,” Eve says, looking at Grant questioningly, “is this all a power grab? Since when do you care about power? You used to be a simple farmer.”
“You try having everything you know and love taken from you and see if you don’t come out the other end feeling powerless,” Grant answers.
“But things are changing,” I reply. “And if we can stop M&L, nobody will ever have to deal with their type of power again.”
“And what makes you think you can stop Mackenzie-Lena?” Grant asks.
“We stopped Miss Nile,” The Geek offers.
Grant laughs. “Yeah, barely. And she was nothing compared to what Mackenzie-Lena is capable of.”
“But what do you really think is going to happen to you if you keep on this path, Grant?” Eve asks. “Right now, you’re nothing more than a pawn in their game. What makes you think that will ever change?”
“Because it has to change!” Grant struggles against his captors.
“And it can change,” I add. “If you join us, we can stop them from being the jerks they are. We can take power for ourselves. We can be the ones in charge.”
The Geek and Eve both look at me with confused looks on their faces.
“What?” I ask.
“You want to take charge?” The Geek asks. “You? Really?”
I obviously don’t want to take charge, but if it will keep this maniac from slicing me in half, I’m willing to say pretty much anything.
After staring at me briefly, Eve returns her attention to Grant. “Ignoring whatever has gotten into Cyrus, the real question here is: If you really want power, is this the way you want to get it?”
Grant looks like he’s considering her question, which is definitely a lot more than I would have expected from the brute of a man.
“You and I used to have something special, Grant,” Eve says, stepping even closer to him. She places her hand on his face. At first he struggles against it, but quickly gives in. “And I know you. You were a peaceful man. This man who has been chasing us all over the country, he’s not you. But this feeling you’re having, of being wronged, of having people treat you poorly because they have all the power; that’s a feeling shared by people all over. That’s what brought us to the rebellion in the first place. Don’t you remember all the nights we used to spend in Lyman talking about how great it would be if things could be like it was there for everyone?”
Grant looks down at the floor. I want to say something, but manage to silence myself, realizing now may be the best time for him to simply consider what Eve said. The Geek opens his mouth, but I touch him on the arm and shake my head.
After a few moments, Grant finally looks at Eve and lets out an exhausted sigh.
“I should have been in Lyman when they blew it up,” he says. “But instead I was with you. Working on this whole crazy idea we had that we could make a change. That we could do something. My family was there when the bomb fell. It’s because of me they’re dead.”
“What?” Eve says. “No. It’s not your fault. Don’t let them win. You can’t blame yourself for the terrible things they’ve done. Your family knew what they were doing. They chose to be in Lyman. They chose to make a stand.”
“No buts. The people who are truly responsible for what happened at Lyman, for what happened to your family, those are the people who are telling you what to do right now. You really think you’re doing your family justice by following M&L’s orders?”
“No, you’re not. And Grant Caesar, you are better than that. You are a great man who is destined to do great things. And one of those great things is finishing what your family started by helping us take down M&L.”
“Really? You want me back?”
Eve pauses for a second.
“As a friend, yes,” she says, looking back at me. “We finally have a chance to do what we had talked about doing for years. And you can be a part of it. You can help us change everything. Fight with us, Grant.”
Grant gives me a long hard look.
“Okay,” Grant says softly.
“Really?” I find myself squeaking out.
“Yeah, okay. I’ll fight with you. But under one condition,” Grant counters.
“Anything,” I agree.
“Whatever happens out there, I don’t want to see Cyrus becoming the king of anything, okay?”
“Deal,” I respond quickly.
“Alright,” Eve says firmly. “Let him go.”
The two men holding Grant back look to me questioningly.
“What are you looking at me for?” I ask. “The General said to let him go.”
“Lieutenant, actually,” Eve corrects me.
“Are we sure we want to do this?” The Geek questions.
“If Eve trusts him, we should too,” I state.
“Fine,” The Geek gives in. “But I want to go on record as saying I think this is a really bad idea.”
“Noted.” Eve nods. “Now let him go. He’s with us.”
The men let him go, but stay close, looking ready to strike him down, should the need arise. Eve walks to a nearby table and sits. We all join her. The men return to their seats, but all eyes in the establishment are on us.
“Okay, so now what?” Grant asks.
“Now we have to meet up with Cyrus’ parents,” Eve answers in a hushed voice.
“Are we going to tell them about the message?” I ask.
“I’m not sure,” Eve answers. “But they’re our only way out of here and–”
“I can get us out of here,” Grant offers.
Go to Chapter Sixteen