“There you are,” a booming male voice says from behind me. I turn to look and see he is on foot. He’s dressed like a cowboy from an old movie, complete with a gun strapped to his hip in a holster. I can’t help but wonder where his horse is, or the other people who were riding with him.
“Oh, no, don’t move,” he says. “Just stay right there. Yeah, just like that.”
“I, I, I,” I stutter, the fear keeping me from even the most simple of sentences.
“There’s no need to speak. Just keep quiet. Just for a little while longer. We don’t want them other boys to know about my prize before I’ve gotten to enjoy it.”
A dangerous look crosses his face and an evil glint appears in his eyes.
“No,” I stammer. “Don’t.”
“I promise I’ll be quick.” He reaches for his belt just as I hear something stirring in the bushes behind me.
A look of shock crosses his face. I turn to see what caused his sudden change in demeanor and find at least a dozen young men and women stepping out of the brush. I turn to look at him again and see another dozen come from the other side, creating a circle around us.
The man reaches for his holster and three of the newcomers jump at him, tackling him to the ground. Another two come to my side and lift me up, dragging me back into the darkness they came from.
Loud screams sound from the man as I’m being dragged away. I can’t see what they’re doing to him. But I’m also pretty sure I don’t want to.
“Alright kids, time to wake up,” I hear my Mom say. “We’re here. We’ll be waiting for you up front.”
I groggily open my eyes to find I’ve somehow managed to get completely twisted up in the bedsheets, which makes unlatching myself from the roll belt quite difficult. Eve and The Geek are on their feet and staring at me before I manage to untangle myself.
“I could have gone for at least sixty more winks,” I say as I finally get out of the bed.
“Now you know what it’s like working The Corral while you’re out on a run,” The Geek snarks.
“Oh, yeah, I forgot how bad it was for you to sit in a chair and play video games while I was out risking my life.”
“Calm down, you two,” Eve cuts in. “We’re all tired and hungry. Let’s not start fighting against ourselves.”
“What’s got you all cool and collected?” I ask.
“Just nervous, I guess,” she answers.
“Nervous about what?”
“Well, I can’t help but think how this might all be a terrible idea.”
“What do you mean?” The Geek asks.
“I’m not sure, but everything feels wrong. I don’t know, maybe I’m just being unnecessarily suspicious,” Eve continues. “It’s not like your parents have done anything to make us feel like they’re against us.”
“Well, you know, outside of abandoning me and The Geek here so they could do whatever the heck they’ve been doing these past ten years.”
“Bad parenting isn’t exactly proof that they’re working for the bad guys,” The Geek retorts. “Maybe they thought they were doing what was really best for us by trying to fix the country.”
“So, maybe this is all just a whole bunch of worrying about nothing. At the very least, we’re not dead yet, right?” I continue.
“And you did say your parents would put out a spread for us?” The Geek asks with hope in his eyes.
“That I can certainly guarantee,” Eve answers.
“Then I say we go for it. It’s not like we’ve got much of a choice in the matter anyways,” The Geek concludes.
“Alright,” I agree. “But, Eve’s right. We should keep an eye out for anything funny.”
The door to the compartment opens and my mom sticks her head in.
“Are you three ready to go? We don’t really have a lot of time to waste right now.”
“Sure thing, Mom,” The Geek forces a cheerful smile. “We were just heading out.”
Go to Chapter Thirteen