I have to take a break; my legs are jelly. I have no clue how long I’ve been running, but what I’m doing now could barely be considered such. It’s more of a falling-forward-and-catching-myself-type of movement.
I finally collapse to the ground, knowing it’s fully possible I may never get back up.
Before my mind fades off into darkness, I hear a man talk-sing about a secret chord that would please the Lord.
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah…
I step through the gate, feeling resigned to my fate. This may not be my first time in prison, but it very much feels like my last. I turn as I enter; Eve right behind me. The Geek winks at me before spinning on his heel to face Alvin. He shoves Alvin with his left hand and with his right, he manages to pull the gun from Alvin’s grip.
I watched it and even I can’t believe it.
“Alright now, I think we know how this goes. You’re going to let us walk right on out of here, unless you want me to start shooting.” The Geek sounds confident. Like he’s done this before. After all I’ve learned about him and his work with Golden Dawn, I’m beginning to wonder if maybe he has done this before.
“Where in the world did you learn to pull off a move like that?” Eve asks The Geek.
He blushes and says, in a deep voice, “From the same guy who taught me how to drive a boat.”
I have to think for a moment, but Eve is already grinning at the comment. She mouths the word “Simulator” to me.
Really? What can’t that boy learn from a computer? I don’t even have the slightest clue of how you could possibly learn how to do something like that from a computer screen..
Alvin, who had fallen to the ground, sits up and laughs.
The Geek points the gun directly at Alvin’s temple and pulls back the hammer.
“What do you think is so funny? I’ve got your gun. I’ve got the power. If I wanted, I could end all of this right this very second. End you. End whatever you’re up to.”
“But that’s exactly what’s so funny. Even if you pull that trigger, that won’t change anything. Do you honestly believe stopping me will stop Mackenzie-Lena? Look around you.”
“Fine,” The Geek says, realizing his error. “But at the very least we’ll be able to get out of here.”
“And how do you suppose you’re going to do that?” Alvin smirks. “You’re in one of the most heavily guarded prisons on Earth. There are cameras pointed at you from every angle as we speak. The only reason you don’t already have a dozen guards pointing guns at you is because, well, why don’t you have a dozen guards pointing their guns at you?”
Alvin looks around concerned.
I’m suddenly aware of how dire our situation should be and quickly glance to the lady behind the desk, whom I would have expected to have called in the big guns by now. She smiles a big smile at us and raises the pinky finger on her right hand.
I’ve never been so happy to be a Runner in my life.
“Come on!” The Geek shouts, running down the hallway toward the staircase which leads back to the helipad. Eve is already out the door in front of him.
I look at Alvin and can’t help but think about how terribly badly I want to lay him flat. But the kid with the gun is already outside the door and I’m up against three people who have much more experience fighting than I do.
Ah, screw it.
I pull my arm back and lay into him hard. My knuckles crunch against his jawbone, sending a sharp pain through my entire arm. But I don’t care. That felt good. Watching him crumple to the ground feels even better.
Grant gets to his feet and brings me back to reality. I turn and run after my friends.
“It won’t work,” Grant shouts after me. “Even if you get back up in the air, you’ll be shot down before you get over the water.”
We run up the stairs, open the door to the helipad, and see the helicopter already spinning to life, with Charlie looking resolved, sitting in the cockpit.
We run to the helicopter as it lifts from the ground. Charlie doesn’t notice us and can’t hear us over the loud propellers spinning overhead. Eve and I run to reach for the skids, which we find already out of reach and quickly becoming further so.
The Geek, however, had run in front of the chopper and is now jumping up and down, waving wildly while screaming for Charlie. Then, realizing he still has the gun in his hand, he fires a shot straight up in the air, seeming surprised at the kickback and dropping the weapon.
The helicopter twitches slightly before changing direction and landing again.
Charlie swings the door open. He has tears in his eyes, but a toothy smile to greet us. I can barely make out his words over the sound of the chopper.
“How the hell did you three manage to get out here?” he says.
I don’t take the time to answer, and, instead, am already climbing into the back of the helicopter, with Eve and The Geek right behind me. Before I can even get my belt buckled, we’re lifting off again. I slip on the headset just as The Geek starts asking questions.
“—concerned they’ll shoot us down?” my brother asks.
“Your buddy who came in here guns a’blazing did a suicide run on the guard tower on the southeast side of the island. If we do a straight shot over the tower, I think we’ll be clear of any other weapons.”
I look ahead to the smoking remains of what I’m guessing was the guard tower. Below it I see the fiery wreckage of what used to be my favorite red seaplane.
“Bruno!” Eve gasps.
“Hey, at least that means he got out of Pewaukee okay, right?” I offer. “That means his kid should be safe.”
“That’s something, I guess,” Eve says sadly. “All he really wanted was to get Maya out safe. But I—“
“I don’t mean to mess up your pity party back there or nothin’,” Charlie says. He’s leaning over the controls, deeply focused on keeping a straight line out of Grand Island. “But if your friend hadn’t sacrificed himself down there, there’s no chance you three would be getting out of here, no matter what you might have done to get onto the roof in the first place. I’m guessing that guy knew what he was doing when he came out here.”
“But couldn’t we go down there and see if we can pull him out?” Eve says, a sense of hope washing over her face.
“Even if there were anywhere I could land down there, I’m guessing we’ve got seconds until a whole bunch of folks in much better fighting machines than this one are on our tail. We need to take every second we can to get out ahead of them.”
“We might not have quite that long,” I say, looking out my window. Three cloud trails mark the arrival of the three fighter jets headed toward us. Whoever this Mackenzie-Lena group is, they definitely aren’t screwing around.
“Crap on a biscuit!” Charlie exclaims. “Alright, looks like we’re going to have to move onto Plan B.”
“We had a Plan A?” I ask.
“I got you up in the air, didn’t I?” he says through clenched teeth. The helicopter tips forward and we head closer to the ground. “But this is as far as I can take you. I’m going to get down as low as I can and then you three are going to have to jump.”
“Oh great,” I groan. “Alright, where are the parachutes?”
“No parachute, kid. Just you hitting the ground.”
“What?” Eve, The Geek, and I shout at the same time.
“I don’t want to say that parachutes aren’t a great thing or nothin’, but what do you think will happen if those folks see the three of you gliding down softly to the ground with a giant balloon strapped to your backs.”
“He makes a good point,” The Geek agrees.
“Really?” I shriek.
“Come on, Cyrus,” Eve attempts to convince me. “It won’t be that bad, really. At least you won’t be dealing with heights.”
“Fine, alright, so, just tell us when,” I say as we fly directly above a lush forest, tree branches cracking against the skids.
“Now!” Charlie screams. “Get out now!”
I look to Charlie in confusion, but Eve doesn’t hesitate. She opens the door on the side of the chopper and leaps out. The Geek is right behind her.
“Aren’t you coming?” I ask Charlie.
“Someone’s gotta fly this thing to keep them from finding you, right?”
“No buts, get your cheeks off my chopper before those birds shoot me down!”
I stare at him, dumbfounded.
He startles me with how loud he yells and without thinking I leap out of the open door and into the not-so-open air.
Go to Chapter Eight