Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Chapter 21 - Micah

           Ice cold water bit at my skin. The cut on the back of my head burned as the ocean water seeped through. Each stroke became harder than the last. The island looked only a short distance away but never got any closer. I gave up. A few times. Each time my body sank lower into the ocean before taking over and swimming back to the top. One more try, I thought.
No I can’t do it anymore. It’s too hard, I’ll never make it.  
            A groggy voice crept through the current. Micah! I resurfaced and continued swimming, a dark silhouette waited on the shore. Micah! The voice pierced deeper, but the island stayed far away. Wave after wave crashed over my face. Then my body refused to move. I sank like a dead man tied to an anchor. The ocean water grew blacker and blacker until no light passed.
            “Micah! Wake up!” A sobbing voice suddenly sounded overhead. A salty tear dropped into my dry mouth.
            I groaned. My headed pounded. I tried to recall why I’d come to on my back looking up at a grey ceiling of a van.
            “Micah! It’s okay you’re going to be fine!” My vision finally cleared. I recognized Eve’s face. Tears still ran down her puffy eyes. Her blond hair stuck to the side of her head. A dirty face contrasted her white teeth.
            “Looks like you’ve had a long night?” I tried to smile.
            “The rebel reinforcements beat the ATS back for now. Most of the team that brought you here are traitors except Gabe, he’s the only one we can trust for sure.”
            I sat up and recognized the other faces in the van. Tanner sat quietly at the back of the van; a limp body lay at his side. Darion sat in the passenger seat with his body twisted around, watching me take in the scene. Two other rebels from my unit stood outside sliding door. Gloria and Able.
            “How’s Gabe?” I stared at my fallen comrade in the back of the van.
            “Not good,” Tanner finally spoke, “He took a bullet through the abdomen, if he doesn’t get help soon he’ll die.”
            “What about the rebel doctors? Can’t they help?”
            “They don’t have the equipment they need to fix him up. Boy needs surgery to remove the bullet and patch up his insides. Dr. Braga--”
            My eyes fixed on Tanner, hoping for news that Olivia had left the rebel camp at Zion.
            “Dr. Aloisio Braga,” Tanner continued, trying to clear the confusion, “Is supposed to fly in this morning. We’ll try and contact him with a coded message, but there’s no guarantee he’ll get it in time.”
            “No.” I stopped him. “We can’t risk blowing his cover. We have to assume Isoli has men following us. If we go to Braga’s house then we’ll lose someone on the inside.” My mind went to Olivia. I couldn’t risk her cover. “We’ll have to find another way.”
            “I may know someone who can help.” Darion’s gaze shifted to Eve and then back to me. “I have some friends who work at the hospital. They might be able to help with supplies. Then one of the rebel doctors can treat him.”
            “OK,” I said. “Take Able, we don’t have much time. The sun will be up in a couple of hours. We have to disappear before then.”
Tanner sat up and crawled out the side door. “Micah, we need to talk. There’s something you have to see.” He motioned for me to follow him outside the van.
            I climbed outside and took my first step. Tanner steadied me from the side as I nearly toppled to the ground. I paused and turned back to Eve, who was still staring at me.
            Tanner spoke up to assure her of my safety. “We’ll just be around the corner. Don’t worry, Gloria will signal us if anything looks fishy.”
            I followed Tanner around the corner, and we watched as Darion and Able disappeared in to the darkness. “Gabe told me what happened. What do you remember?” Tanner dug his hand into his pocket, digging for something.
            “Not much, we were on top of the building. I just finished taking out the third comm station when Blake turned on us. I tried to fight but he was already on me. I heard a gunshot right before I lost consciousness.”
            Tanner pulled his hand out of his pocket as he started to speak. A flash of metal caught my eye. I jumped back before realizing what he held. “Gabe saw a man approaching from roof stairway. He tried to distract Blake, hoping the man was an ally. Blake shot Gabe in the stomach but the distraction worked. The man strangled Blake from behind then dragged you and Gabe to the van. Gabe said he counted at least five dead ATS agents at the entrance. He passed out shortly after.” Tanner rubbed the side of his chin. “Gabe obviously didn’t alert us to your location.”
            “Then who did?”
            “The same guy who took out Blake and the ATS agents. He found us, led us to the van and then said he had to leave. He gave me this.”
            Tanner passed me an over-sized silver locket, shaped like a heart. The locket was about the size of my palm. A chain hung from the top of the heart. The heart was too big to be worn as a necklace. I flipped the latch and opened the locket. My breathing stopped as I stared at the picture inside. My parent’s eyes stared back at me, smiling, oblivious of the surrounding dark night. I bit the inside of my cheek as I wondered who delivered the locket. I couldn’t let myself believe my dad had delivered it himself. He wouldn’t have left so soon. Besides he couldn’t be alive anyway. He would have found us sooner. He wouldn’t have let us raise ourselves.
            “Did you see him?”
            “I didn’t get a good look. I’m sorry Micah, if I’d known I could’ve--”
            “It’s okay, it doesn’t matter now. Did Eve see him? Does she know about the locket?”
            “No, I didn’t tell her. I wanted you to see it first. I think there’s a note behind the picture.”
            I removed the picture and pulled out a folded up piece of yellow paper. “Did you read it?”
            “No, I just saw the paper.”
            I unfolded it and began to read. The note was scrawled in poor handwriting; it looked like it had been written in a hurry.
                        Sorry I couldn’t hang around. I was a friend of your father’s. I knew you as a child but
                        you won’t remember me. I picked up some info that warned you might be in trouble.
I have to move quick. I’ll try and contact you later. I hope you enjoy the locket and the        picture.

            “What’s it say?”
            “Nothing, just that he knew my father. Someone warned him, and he said he would try and contact me later.”
            I walked toward the van to show Eve the locket. I shoved the note in my pocket and replaced the picture. I knew I should tell her, but I didn’t.
            I sat on the hood of the van and stared at the rising sun. Eve limped around to the front of the van and pulled herself up next to me.
            “What happened to your leg?” I tried to start a conversation that would let me avoid the locket.
            “Got in a fight.” Eve ran her fingers through my hair and tried to straighten out my unruly locks.
            “Who won?” I mused
            “You know, I didn’t think I’d see you again.”
            “Don’t talk like that Eve. You have to believe we’ll make it out of here alive.”
            “What’s the point? There are too many of them to fight. Even if me make it out this time they’ll get us sooner or later. IF we make it out of Phoenix we have to run. We have to go east.”
            I paused and tried to think of what to say. “At some point you have to pick a side Eve. I know you’re scared. I feel it too. The hero and the coward both feel the same thing, but the hero uses his fear to take down his enemy, the coward just runs. They both fear. The difference is what they do with it.”
            Eve didn’t answer. I continued.
            “I know you’re not as weak as you make yourself out to be. For every person that runs from this fight there are 5 others stuck in a lean-to shelter with barely enough food to survive. You were never like that. You care about other people.”
            The sound of footsteps broke our conversation and we turned toward the sound. Gloria and Tanner readied their guns as the footsteps got closer. Darion and Able rounded the corner at full speed, each carrying an armful of supplies. A third man followed close behind.
            Eve screamed Darion’s name and tried to run towards him. I shoved her back into the van and closed the door. My mind tried to block out Eve’s screams as she pounded on the glass windows. I peered through my scope. Darion’s face suddenly came into view on my cross hairs. I breathed in sharply. Blood ran down the side of his face. A shot fired and misty blood sprayed out the front of Darion’s left arm. He crashed to the ground, 200 feet from the van as I locked in on his assailant. One shot and the shooter skidded to the ground, 15 feet behind Darion’s motionless body. 

1 comment:

  1. Very, very good chapter! Exciting and carries the story further. I hope Darion's okay, relatively speaking.