I wake up to my seat rumbling beneath me and the sound of something big rolling along uneven ground.
They found me!
Not like I should be surprised.
The only question now is, how in the world do I get out of here?
The vehicles are close. Really close. If I try running, they’re sure to see me. I think.
There are plenty of items to hide behind and get out of here without being spotted, but I can’t help question that if they can track me so well, how far am I going to get before they finally stop me?
And why have they let me get so far already?
My muffled screams aren’t heard and I’m pulled deeper into the darkness. I still can’t hear anything, due to the idiots firing off multiple rounds of fire in a small and enclosed space, but I’m fairly certain my captor isn’t stopping to talk to me anyway.
Why is it always like this? Whenever I begin to feel comfortable, some new craziness pulls me down again. Sure, I may have been awaiting my execution a few seconds ago, but I had a plan. Well, the idea of a plan at least. Look, I was getting everyone back together and that always means good things. But now…
And it’s with that thought I find myself laughing when seconds later I’m seated against a wall and a dim light shines to show me the face of Grant scowling at me. I can’t hear him, but my best guess at lip-reading tells me he’s whisper-yelling, “Shut up!”
“Grant?” I say loudly, then remembering the situation, I whisper it again, in case he didn’t hear me the first time. “Grant?”
He mouths something, but my hearing still hasn’t returned. I gesture to my ears, causing Grant to drop his shoulders in frustration.
He stares at me for a few minutes before shrugging, apparently determining I’m a lost cause, at least when it comes to attempting to explain our current situation. He gestures at me to follow him and walks off into the darkness. There’s a faint glow about him, almost like he has one of those little glow sticks in his hand, but other than that, there’s nothing but darkness.
I can barely make out Grant as I jump to my feet. He walks a few feet away from where we were and opens a door, disappearing inside. I follow him through and up a set of stairs to a long dark hallway. He cuts left and finds another door, which exits to the dark cool exterior of the building.
I have to say, I’m pretty impressed. It was almost like Grant had done this before, the way he was able to make his way through the dark building so quickly.
He looks at me and puts a finger to his mouth, as though he thinks I can’t remember that I’m supposed to be quiet.
He hops a small metal fence which has been knocked over and makes his way along the overgrown grass which runs along the building. He cuts left to head behind it, taking us to a steep hill. Heading over the hill, a mountain comes into view. He takes us up the side of the mountain, cutting around the rest of the creepy old house.
II can’t make out much of the details of the surrounding area, but he keeps moving forward. The terrain isn’t easy, almost as if this area was designed to keep people from crossing it. At points we are straight up scaling a wall made to look like a mountain, but definitely not part of the natural landscape. Finally, we make it to the top of a difficult climb and I find we’re standing on yet another building. There’s an old street approximately ten feet below us.
“How are we supposed to get down there?” I ask.
Grant shushes me, finds a ladder attached to the side of the building, and climbs down to the street.
I follow him down and he leads me to a nearby dumpster, which we crouch behind.
“Cyrus!” Eve whispers loudly. I jump in surprise before turning and finding she and The Geek are also hiding out behind the dumpster. Also, since that’s the first thing I’ve heard since being down in that room with those gun-toting idiots, it was a little surprising to hear.
“Great to see you guys made it,” Grant smiles. “See any sign of those SPs hunting around back here?”
“They certainly are out looking. But not here,” The Geek replies. “We heard those two who were holding you hostage as they left the building. They sounded pretty scared about having lost you. I’m guessing they’re going to see if they can’t find you on their own before alerting everyone else to their screw-up.”
“And what about you two?” I ask. “Anyone looking for you, yet?”
“I doubt it,” Eve answers, “considering we weren’t being held prisoner. We had it pretty nice in there. If Grant hadn’t said that you were in deep trouble, I would have been more than willing to hang out for a while longer. “
“Yeah, thanks for ruining it,” The Geek frowns. “They had just delivered dinner. They made me a Monte Cristo! And now it’s getting all cold because Eve said I couldn’t bring it along.”
“That thing was covered in powdered sugar.” Eve defends herself. “You would have left a trail straight to us if I had let you bring it.”
“I’m sorry I was right and everyone really does want to kill me,” I grump further.
“You three really do like to talk, don’t you?” Grant cuts in. “Do we have a plan for getting out of here or what?”
“Not as much of a plan as I have a destination,” The Geek chimes.
“Where to?” Grant asks.
“Back to our house.”
“Our house?” I nearly scream. “But that’s exactly where they would be looking for us.”
“Well,” The Geek says in a tone that I can tell means he is about to disagree with me, “considering we’re not up against the SP forces, well, you know, not ones connected to any form of federal government, they probably don’t even have a clue about where we live. And since M&L hasn’t popped up yet, they probably don’t realize we’re all the way on the other side of the country. And besides, Violet might have some ideas on how to get us to safety.”
“Violet?” I ask. “Our nanny?”
“Yeah,” The Geek says matter-of-factly. “She does work for Golden Dawn after all.”
“Why don’t we go back in and talk to our parents then?” I ask. “If we’re going to let Golden Dawn know what we’re up to, wouldn’t that be the better choice?”
“I’d love to do that,” The Geek replies. “But since you’ve got their bodyguards on the hunt and ready to kill you, I really don’t think it’s in our best interest to head back into the park. If I knew you were going to make our stay so short, I would have worked on getting some intel earlier on.”
“Okay, so, your house. Where is that?” Grant asks.
“In Burbank,” I answer. “Not too far from here. Although it’d be nice if we didn’t have to run.”
“I think I can do something about that,” Grant answers.
He runs to a nearby golf cart which looks like it has been sitting in the same spot for the last decade and begins fiddling under the hood. We all follow him to see what he’s up to.
“Do you really think you’re going to be able to get this thing started?” The Geek asks, peering over Grant’s shoulder. “It looks electric, which causes me to wonder when was the last time it was charged. And I can’t imagine those tires are going to be too great to run on, no matter how nice they look.”
“The tires are fully rubber,” Grant replies. “Shouldn’t be any trouble there. As far as the battery goes, that’s why I’m taking a look. You see,” he continues, pulling a long rectangular device out of his pocket, “I’ve got this jump starter which, since the battery isn’t too large, should do a fairly good job of getting the thing started. The only thing I’m trying to figure out is if I can rig something up to keep the battery charging by running it off the USB ports on my jump starter. I think it’ll have enough power to keep us running out to Burbank, or at least close, but only if I can keep it charging.”
“Is that USB 3?” The Geek asks.
“Of course,” Grant replies.
“Okay, the charge stream might be weak at 900mA, but I think we can rig something up.”
Eve and I look at each other and then decide to go back to our hiding place behind the dumpster as they work out their magic.
“So, we haven’t really had much time to talk, have we?” she asks me.
“What are you talking about? We’ve had plenty of time to talk. That’s pretty much all we’ve been doing these past two weeks in between people trying to kill us.”
“But since the explosions, the attack on Washington as they’ve been calling it. Since Grant, Alvin, and Maxine pulled us out of those tunnels.”
“That was only a couple days ago.”
“I know. But still, I feel like we should talk. We’ve learned a lot these past couple days. About your parents. About my parents. About everything.”
“Well, you know, um, on the roof back there. When you said you couldn’t trust anyone. You didn’t really mean it, did you?”
“I don’t know. I mean, I guess I did.”
“With everything that has gone on these past couple weeks, I feel like everyone is out to get me.”
“Look, I’m only saying that—“
“Cyrus, quit avoiding the question. Do you honestly believe I would ever do anything to hurt you? That I have lied to you in any way? That I can’t be trusted?”
I look at her, feeling the truth I’ve been hiding from burn at my chest. I don’t know how to answer the question. I haven’t even really considered what I truly think. All I know is that everyone, even my own brother, has been hiding things from me. Sure, I don’t really have any reason, outside of the fact that everyone else has, to think Eve has been doing the same, but isn’t that reason enough?
“No, you haven’t lied to me.”
“So, do you trust me?”
I pause again, thinking about whether I can truly trust her or anyone else. About how I really feel. About that time in the shipping container. The time in the bathroom. The moment I saw her face when she escaped from Grand Island.
“Look, I don’t know, okay? But it feels like every time I start to trust someone, they give me reason to regret that decision. Every single time.”
“But, have I ever given you a reason?”
“No, not directly.”
“What does that mean?”
And then, without warning, it all falls out. Every last thing I’ve been keeping from feeling. Everything I’ve been hiding from myself. Every fear I’ve held for the past few days since the world was literally torn out from under me.
“It means that you’re part of the reason I’m on this whole run. You said you were the one who asked for me to be a part of it. You’re a part of the rebellion which caused this whole mess, the rebellion which just so happens to be part of Mackenzie-Lena, which just so happens to be one of the many, many groups out there who want me dead. No, you haven’t done anything directly to cause me to question whether you’re trustworthy, but you’re a part of the whole mess which is completely screwing me over. And all I’ve wanted to do for the past week is to go back to Canada where I can be safe and every step of the way you’ve managed to convince me to stay. To fight. And for what? For a country who wants me dead? So, no, I don’t trust you. I don’t trust anyone. Not anymore.”
I can tell Eve’s hurt. Her eyes begin to water, but they disappear under a newfound steely resolve. And I instantly regret saying anything at all.
“Then why are you here, Cyrus? Why are you still here? Why did you get Grant to pull us out of that hotel? Why didn’t you run off to Canada since you love it so much? And why in the world did you decide to make me love you?”
I stare at her in response. She has a point. Why am I still here?
Go to Chapter Twenty-Three