Monday, August 29, 2011

Chapter 31 - Micah

            A small glint of light caught the corner of my eye as the sound of a metal chair grating against cement echoed across the hall. I stood up and watched the light jump around. The plastic security card swooshed as the guard slid it through the card reader. The metal wheels attached to the prison bars ticked methodically; the door skated open. At least I guessed it had. I still couldn’t see it. Only the small white spot danced around in front of me. It belonged to either a flashlight or a shiny belt buckle reflecting the light from the prison hall.
            “Show me your hands kid.” The flickering spot that belonged to the guard spoke like he’d just woken up from a nap.
            Instinctively I wanted to attack the guard in his weakness. The light gave away his position. I held off, knowing that after taking him out I would still be stuck. I had to cooperate until my vision returned. I held out my hands submissively. The guard locked the hand cuffs over my wrist and cinched them down tight.
            “Get movin; they’re waitin’ fur us upstairs.” The guard tugged at the cuffs and led me forward. “Thought you’d be able to see by now. Guess you’da missed the execution any ways.” We moved forward faster and the light disappeared. “Well that’s why they call it’n expe’ment I s’pose.”
            Doubt wormed its way inside me. An experiment? Would I be blind forever? It was taking longer than they had expected to regain my vision. An escape seemed impossible. My shoulder slumped. I listened to the echoing sound my feet, shuffling towards someplace I couldn’t see. The guard’s shoes squeaked with every step. Creak, clunk, creak, clunk.  I imagined where we were. The frequent twists and turns made it useless. We finally climbed a set of stairs. Before we reached the top, I heard the guard push open a door. If we went outside I could locate the sun and at least identify our direction.
            The door flung open and light flooded my eyes. I squinted trying to block the sudden infusion of radiance. I stared at the sun, just peaking above the horizon. My hampered vision darkened it’s rays like an expensive pair of sunglasses.  I turned my head and tried to take in my surroundings. I could scarcely make out anything I saw. Objects that looked like people blended into their backgrounds. Buildings and roads meshed into one. Colors were hardly discernible. I held my hand up to my face and narrowed my eyes. It almost touched my nose before I saw it clearly, normal.
            Three blobs now moved in front of me. One of them tugged me toward a large silvery white box. Another blob pulled a dark oval at the back of the box and it sprung open.  It made the sound of a door. The last blob flung me inside what had to be a security transport vehicle. The door slammed shut.
            “Micah!” Eve’s voice bounced off the walls of the metal box.  Footsteps rushed towards me then a faint outline stopped abruptly a few feet away. The feeble light from the vehicle made it more difficult to see. Eve crashed to the ground. I reached out but felt nothing; my depth perception obviously still lacking.
            “Keep still girl, you’ve given us enough trouble already.” The voice came from another outline that moved around in front of me. The guard grabbed my wrists and slung me against the wall. I grunted. Pain shot up my side. The silhouette jumped back and rested on the wall opposite me. Two other guards sat next to him.
            “Eve? Are you okay?”
            “Keep quiet. I don’t want to hear from either of you until we get to the extraction point.” The voice came from one of the shadows on the wall.
            “Or what?” Eve sneered. She spoke from my right. “You’ll hit us with your fancy flashlight? I mean, they didn’t even give you a gun.”
            Eve’s cavalier attitude surprised me. I liked the new persona. “They don’t have weapons?”
            One of the dark, fuzzy outlines moved closer. I reached out my hands in self-defense but my eyes struggled to pick up motion. A hard plastic cylinder smashed into my temple. I fell to the side. Blood trickled down my cheek.
            “Get away, you cowards!” Eve’s hand touched the side of my head where the guard had hit me. The guard moved back to the wall and the other guards chuckled.
            “Micah, you barely moved. What’s wrong?” Eve scooted closer and examined my wound.
            “They shot me with a new paralyzer bullet. It made me go blind.”
            “Is it permanent?”
            “No, I’m getting my sight back slowly. When I’m outside I can see better.” I paused. I’d avoided asking the one thing I wanted to know, afraid of the answer. “Do you know where Olivia is?”
            “I’m sorry, I tried to save her. I found her at the capitol with Isoli, but I... I’m sorry I didn’t mean to-”
            I sat up and stared at my sister her face, only a few inches from mine, it remained fuzzy but clearer than the guards a few feet away, “Is she alive?”
            “Yes, yes, she’s here in the truck. It’s just that... I accidentally shot her with a paralyzer bullet. It was an accident, Micah. I’m sorry.”
            “You shot her?” My cloudy vision made it harder to think. Maybe the bullet had affected my hearing also. She repeated it. I wanted to accuse her but Olivia was still alive, so I held back my anger. I forced a smile. “You came. That’s what matters. I don’t see her though?” I looked around trying to focus my vision.
            “She’s up front with Isoli. He gave her some sort of liquid. It seems to be making her heal faster. She’s still paralyzed, but she was starting to move her fingers and talk before they threw me in here.”
            I stood up to move closer to the front of the van. A shadow from the back of the van jumped up and moved closer to me. I balled my fist and swung wildly in his direction. I hit nothing. I’d swung way to early. I prepared myself for another crack to the face. Eve moved behind me and dove at the guard. She took him by surprise and he crashed against the wall groaning in pain. Eve must’ve gotten the best of him.
            “Leave him alone. He’s not hurting anyone.” Eve returned to my side. “I don’t think he’ll bother you anymore. He just got beat up by a girl.” The other two guards laughed. The light slumped lower to the floor.
            “Thanks.” I felt more than a little embarrassed that my sister had to fight for me. I looked down and decided I needed to get my pride back.
            I nudged Eve with my elbow and looked in the direction of the guards. I hoped she understood my intentions. At least she would follow my lead. The guards wouldn’t expect another attack from a girl and a near blind man. They would assume that three of them could handle us. With the old Eve they could have.
            I leapt up from the ground and crashed into all three guards at once, creating a massive pile up. One guard crashed into the door and staggered before gaining his balance. Eve flew into him knocking him to the ground before he could fully recover. My fist swung wildly hoping to connect with something important. One guard groaned and fell to the floor as my first swing found his nose. I smiled at my luck. Another guard slammed onto my back and my head collided with the metal floor. I reached back, grabbing for his head. Suddenly he flew off me. I heard his skull crack against the floor. The truck turned silent.
            “Did we get them all?”
            “Yeah I think so; they’re all unconscious.”
            “Get their keys and un-cuff us, and cuff them while you’re at it. If they wake up before we get there just club ‘em in the head with their plastic sticks. It shouldn’t be too hard with their hands tied up.”
“Umm... There are only 2 pairs of hand-cuffs?”
“Just cuff them all three together than. Put the big one in the middle.”
            I sat down and rubbed the lump on my forehead. Eve continued working on the security guards. After a few minutes she sat back down next to me.
            “So what’s the plan, chief?”
            “I was hoping you had something in mind.”
            “I figured you’re the one leading us to our death, I’d let you make the decisions.”
            “Okay, I’ll think of something but no one is gonna die. Is that clear?” I tried to sound stern and reassuring. “How far to the extraction point?”
            “I heard them say 20 minutes back at the prison so I guess that leaves us another 15.”
            The truck ran along smoothly on a paved highway. I questioned Eve about the guards as I tried to formulate a plan in my head. I held my hand up to my face to check my vision. Even in the darker truck I could see my hand more clear than I had when I first left the prison.
            “Who else is with us besides Isoli? Are there any more trucks?”
            “Just this one. I only saw one other guard with Isoli. He’s driving the truck. He didn’t have time to get his regular guards. They’re taking us to a helicopter and then to a jet. From there I think they’re planning on taking us somewhere to the east coast.”
            “So I guess you’ll get your wish after all?”
            “Shut up.” Eve’s elbowed jabbed into my side. “I think he’s meeting someone else at the extraction point. He said that whoever it was would be excited to see us. Probably some mad scientist who’s been waiting to use your DNA.”
            “Okay, okay, here’s the plan. We’ll assume that there is only one guard with Isoli and two or three more waiting at the helicopter. I think we’ll need to take Isoli before this other person shows up. When the truck stops, you’ll wait behind the left side of the double doors. Wait ‘til the right side opens and then move quick. They may already suspect something from all our rolling around back here. It’ll take me a second til my eyes adjust to the light, and then I’m not really sure what I’ll able to see. Grab the guard and smash his head against the metal or whatever it is you did to these guards.” I pointed to the still unconscious pile of guards at the back of the truck, “Just get his gun and slide it to me. Hopefully I’ll be able to see by then. You get around the side of the truck to get Olivia while I take out the guards I can see at the helicopter. We’ll have to wing it from there.”
            “Smash his head against the metal or whatever you did?” Eve snorted in disapproval, “I’m not a barbarian. And just so you know, even if we don’t die in 30 minutes, I’m not going to join your army or anything. I still don’t like to fight. Maybe I’ll be a cook or something.”
            “That’s a start I guess. I can think of one soldier who would be very happy to hear that.” I smiled, hoping to get a reaction. I waited for a jab to the side but Eve stayed silent.
            After a few minutes the truck started bouncing up and down on what felt like a gravel road. Where ever we were going, it was close.
            The truck finally slowed to a stop. Eve moved into position. I barely heard the front door slam open then shut. The transport vehicle had to be nearly sound proof. My muscles tensed, ready for action.
            “Hey Eve?” I whispered.
            “I won’t always want to fight either.”

Sunday, August 28, 2011

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Monday, August 22, 2011

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Chapter 30 - Eve

Something wasn’t right. I looked at my watch. If it had stopped, I was screwed. Every one I talked to on my way from Tolleson to Sun City said Isoli would execute Olivia and Micah at six a.m. at the prison execution block; death by firing squad with real bullets so they’d both feel all the pain.
But it was already five--pink rays of light glinted off the dark gray stone of the prison--and there was no activity near the execution point. No activity around the prison at all. I reached for the radio and flipped it on again, cringing at the burst of noise.
“Pima Freeway gate has been breached. I repeat, Pima Freeway gate has been breached.”
I turned it off again. With the rebels now inside the city (they took Tolleson a mere three hours after I fled it) the radio was more of a hindrance than a help. Every time I tried to glean information from the frantic messages Isoli’s men relayed back and forth I just opened up another opportunity for them to find my hiding place.
I sighed. Pima Freeway was only thirteen miles from the Sun City gate. If the rebels had that in their control, Isoli might not chance a public execution at all. I stood up, pulling my backpack onto my back.
Where is Olivia and how can I save her? I owed Micah this. He’d tried to save her and already gotten caught. Think, Eve, think. Where is Olivia?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Chapter 29 - Micah

           The musty smell of the cold stone floor roused me from a groggy sleep. I rolled over on my back and stared at nothing. The pitch black room combined with my inability to keep track of time made it hard to stay awake. The last time I’d awakened, I could still see. I tried to remember how long it had been since they took Olivia. Had they already executed her? Had the rebels already attacked? Did they fail? I finally gave up. My mind couldn’t make sense of anything that had happened since I got shot with a paralyzer bullet.
I realized I had actually been awake several times. Always for just a few minutes. Everything that had happened seemed to be all jumbled. Once I woke up and someone had stitched the wound in my side. Another time I noticed all the “furniture” in my cell had been removed except the stainless steel latrine attached to the wall in the corner.
            I felt more alert than before. I sat up and crawled, feeling for the wall with my fingers. I leaned my back up against rough surface of the wall. This was the first time I’d woken up without being able to see, at least the first time I’d noticed.
            I began to hear a soft buzzing sound, like a broken radio, stuck on static. I couldn’t tell where the sound came from. It disoriented me. I remained listless against the wall. I tried to come up with a strategy, something to change my situation but the irritating sound made it almost impossible to concentrate.
            The more I gazed into blackness, the more my senses began to abandon me. The rough surface of the wall started to disappear. The musty stench of the dank cell vanished. The buzzing sound faded into the back of my mind. Images appeared in front of me then dissolved. After a while the hallucinations stayed. At first I ignored them. I told myself they weren’t real. The sensory deprivation was playing games with my brain. Then I gave in.
            Olivia sat next to me. She didn’t say anything. She didn’t move. She just stared ahead. I didn’t move. It felt like a dream, if I moved she might disappear. I wanted to touch her, run my fingers through her hair. I needed to hold her, feel her skin, and know she was still alive. My hand finally moved to caress her cheek. It went right through her and instead I felt the cold, jagged stone wall. The image dissolved.
My senses returned, better than before. The buzzing sound rang in my ears. I stood up with new buoyancy. I used my hands to feel the wall as I circled the cell, trying to gain a mental picture of where they held me. I found the first corner and started counting my steps. Each step I knew measured about three feet. The first wall took two steps. I took two more and reached the metal bars closing off the cell. My hands brushed across the steel bars as I counted six more feet and reached the final wall. The cell measured six feet by six feet, about the same size as my old cell.
A thought entered my mind. Not a new one, but one I had refused to entertain before. Was the room pitch black or just my eyes? Maybe in an effort to keep me put, Isoli had blinded me. I moved my hands up my cheeks and felt for my eyes. My eyelids instinctively closed in protection. My eyes were still in place but that brought no conclusion. I decided to speak. If a guard had been placed outside my cell, maybe he would tell me.
“Hello?” I spoke through the metals bars. My voice echoed down off the hard walls of the prison. No one answered.
“Hello?” I yelled louder this time. Again no one answered. I held the metals bars with both hands and stared straight ahead. I tried to focus, hoping to catch just a little light from somewhere in the hall.
“Keep quiet and sit down.” A harsh voice finally answered from somewhere in front of me.
“Someone’s there?” I asked to the voice in the darkness.
“No, I’m just a ghost.” the voice joked. “Of course someone’s here.”
“Am I blind? Why can’t I see you?”
The guard chuckled. “That’s right you haven’t had a chance to try out our new paralyzer bullets, make you go blind as well as paralyzed.”
I paused before asking the question that part of me didn’t want to know the answer to. “Is it permanent?”
“Not ‘nles we did somethin’ wrong. Should wear off jusin time fur u to see you girlfriend’s execution. It’s brilliant I think, don’ have to worry ‘bout you escapin’ if you can’t see.” The guard laughed again. “The execution’s tomorra mornin’ so I reckon you’ll be gettin’ your vision back real soon.”
I turned back toward the dark cell and felt for the wall. I sat down again, relieved that Olivia was still alive. My vision would come back, but it might be too late.
I tried for what seemed like hours to come up with a plan. I tried coaxing the guard into helping me find the urinal but he didn’t fall for it. Even if he had, and I managed to shoot him, I had no chance of escape without my sight. I would be a sitting duck. I sat back down against the wall. My only plan left was to hope for a God-send.
I started to doze. The invisible guard’s radio came to life and jerked me awake. For the first time I noticed the buzzing had gone.
“Alpha One to alpha four come in?”
“Alpha four copy.”
“Get the prisoner ready for transport.”

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Chapter 28 - Eve

“Out. Of. The. Question.” Tanner slammed his hand down with each word, emphasizing his anger.
I folded my arms across my chest. “I’m not waiting to march in with the rebels.”
Tanner laughed harshly. “Since when were you doing that, Eve? I thought you were headed east.”
“And you’re mad because that’s what you wanted? Weak little Eve out of the way?” I leaned over, placing my palms on the table and glared at Tanner.
Tanner looked across the table to Darion, who sat in the chair next to where I stood. Tanner’s look seemed to ask, is this really Eve? Darion shrugged, a smile playing across his lips.
“We can’t spare anyone to go with you.” Tanner shoved his chair back as if he meant to end the conversation with that.
“I know Darion can’t go. He has to take my wayward brother’s place. I’m asking for one helicopter and one pilot.” I gripped the back of the chair. “He’s my brother.”

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Chapter 27 - Micah

            That night the moon didn’t shine. I snuck out behind Senator Castle’s old office where an almost brand new, black Toyota Tundra sat unused. I didn’t want to take any of the rebel’s vehicles so the truck was my best option. However, I had no idea where the keys were so I would have to pick the lock and hotwire it. I’d done it a few times. It would only take less than a minute; unless the wires were well shielded, in which case I’d have to access them by popping the hood.  
            I approached the truck and picked the lock in no time. I removed the steering wheel cowling and got to work. The wires were pretty well protected. I reached down to pop the hood. I stopped at the sound of crunching gravel. I peeked around the door and saw Zoe walking slowly towards the truck.
My mind raced through a million scenarios. I put my hand on my gun and prepared for the worst.
“You know it’s a lot easier to start if you use the keys.”
I laughed nervously, “uh... yeah... I was just... um...”
“I thought you could use these.” Zoe tossed me the keys and stopped a couple feet from the truck.
“Oh...thanks.” I didn’t know what to say. I still didn’t want to trust her.
“I’m sorry about the other day. I didn’t want to lead you on. Seth thought it would be the best way to sell my cover to my dad. I guess it didn’t really work. I should have known about the kidnapping sooner. I’m not a very good spy.” Zoe smiled. It seemed more genuine than a few days ago.
“Don’t worry about it. You helped save my life anyway. It’s better late than never, right?” I smiled back. “Listen I gotta run. Thanks again for the keys.” I jumped back in the truck and fired up the engine. The tires spun lightly on the gravel as I hit the accelerator. The rebel camp was quiet.
I stopped at the only checkpoint outside the rebel base and rolled down my window. One of the two security guards approached the truck. I flipped on the dome light, and he immediately recognized me.
“Micah, we didn’t expect to see you tonight.” The guard smiled and looked like he wanted to ask for my autograph.
I grinned. “Can I get through here?”
“Oh yes, of course, sorry.” The guard waved to his partner and signaled for me to pass.
“Thanks, keep up the good work.” I rolled up the window and continued down the two lane highway.
The 388 mile trip to Phoenix would normally take 7 hours. I didn’t have that much time. Speeding wouldn’t be a problem in Utah, but the beefed up security in Arizona was always a problem. I slipped on the night vision goggles I’d managed to take with me. The new technology allowed me to keep my depth perception in-tact. Older night vision goggles made depth perception extremely difficult so driving with the old ones on would have been out of the question.  I switched off my headlights and jammed on the accelerator.
At 130 mph the trip would take just under 3 hours. With no headlights on, the Seazan who happened to catch me on their radar gun would have no time to react. That meant clear sailing all the way to Phoenix. It also meant there’d probably be a large welcoming party and a road block or two outside the city.
The trip through Utah passed as uneventful as it can, traveling at 130 mph. I reached Kanab, UT and the Arizona border in less than 20 minutes. A patrol car sat waiting a few miles past the border but showed no signs of seeing me. The Seazan was either sleeping or he’d already radioed ahead to another patrolman. I’d hoped for the first but had to expect the second.
Two hours later I finally passed the “24 miles to Phoenix” sign. I hadn’t seen any patrol cars since the one sitting at the Arizona-Utah border. I ditched my night vision goggles and turned on my headlights. The street lights and bright signs would make them useless anyway. I dropped my speed to 100 mph and kept my eyes peeled for more guards. I started to grow tired. It had been over 36 hours since I’d slept. My body screamed for me to shut it down. The high speeds kept me from dozing off.
With only 15 minutes remaining until I reached the north city gate, I went over the plan in my head to get to the prison. Ram the north entrance with the truck at full speed. Shoot all four guards. Steel a motorcycle. Race to the national prison. Shoot my way in. Find cell keys; find Olivia. I tried to convince myself that the plan was simple, but I had to be smart enough to recognize all the variables that could go wrong. I had to hope I remained conscious after crashing into the gate at 90+ mph. I had to hope I could shoot all four guards before they could radio for help. I needed a miracle to get into the national prison. I counted on Isoli’s arrogance and assumed he’d keep Olivia in my old cell. There was a good chance he’d locked her down somewhere else. Then I still had to get back out of the prison and hide until the rebels attacked in 24 hours. So far I’d been lucky.
I held my breath, seconds from impact. Sirens already rang from the entrance. My knees stayed bent, my right foot jammed on the accelerator. I tucked my chin into my chest. My hands held the seat belt tight. The truck slammed into the iron gate. The seat belt locked into place. The airbag pounded into my forehead. I hugged the safety restraint. All my internal organs lurched forward, pressing against their boundaries. Dust filled the air. The gate skidded in front of the smashed truck. I locked up the breaks. My head rang; a sharp pain dug at my ribs. I tried the driver’s door but it didn’t budge. I turned sideways and kicked it a few times before it finally swung open.
My beat up body rolled out of the truck and onto the pavement. I landed on my feet and held myself up on the truck. My hand instinctively pulled the gun out of its holster. I waited for the guards to exit the brick control room. Three guards sprinted out the door. They fell in order to the sound of three fluid gun shots. I waited again. The fourth guard stuck his head out the door and tried see who killed the other guards. A mistake. One shot pierced his head just above the left ear. The last guard slumped to the floor. I half jogged half limped, cautiously to the door to make sure there were no guards left.
I peered around the entrance. All clear. I turned my head, searching for one of the Seazan’s motorcycles. I whipped it back around as the radio crackled to life.
“Bell Road Gate, this is dispatch. Are you there?”
A pause. The operator repeated the message.
I improvised, grabbed the intercom and spoke. “This is the Bell Road Gate. We have a security breach.”
Another pause. “Go ahead. What do you have?”
“Three guards are down. The suspect is headed west along the north border. It looked like Robin Hood. I think he’s headed for the rebel compound on the west side. Send all units.”
“Roger that. Units are on the way.”
I set down the radio and left the building. I found the motorcycle keys hanging on the wall and took a bike from the west side of the building. I fired up the engine and headed southeast on a back road, towards the national prison. Sirens rang a few blocks away and the 6 or 7 patrol cars passed a couple blocks from where I drove.
I reached the national prison and ditched the motorcycle a block from the entrance. I snuck around to the back side of the prison where Darion led me out just a few days ago. I got down on my knees next to bush and started digging.  I only dug two feet before I found the plastic. Got it. I took the plastic security card and slid it into the slot. A green light flashed. I pulled out the card and opened the door.
I found the stairs and headed down to the bottom floor. The hall was dark but I didn’t have any problems finding my old cell. The cells down on that floor stayed mostly empty; reserved for only the worst enemies to the President.
I turned the final corner to my cell. A single guard sat in front, meaning they kept someone inside. My heart skipped a beat. Maybe I could pull this off after all. I screwed the silencer onto the end of my pistol and took aim. I pulled the trigger and the guard slid off his chair and onto the cold cement. Someone inside the cell gasped. I sprinted to the guard and removed his security key. Olivia ran to the metal bars.
“Micah! How did you get in here? Security is everywhere! They’re all looking for you!”
I slid the security card and opened the metal bars. I ran inside and took Olivia in my arms. “I don’t know. I think I got lucky,” I spoke into her ear. Her hair smelled dirty, her cloths were damp. I hugged her tighter. “I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t have told you to go back to Phoenix.”
“It’s okay.” Olivia’s soft voice consoled me. “You couldn’t have known.” Olivia took her head off my shoulder and stared at me. Before I could close my eyes she kissed me. A long one. I relaxed and kissed back. It felt good. I felt relieved. Not just because I had her, but now I knew she was mine. She pulled back and smiled. “You’re here now. That’s all that matters.” This time I closed my eyes, and I kissed her. Another long one. I concentrated on her smooth lips. I hoped it wouldn’t stop. I tried to imagine that we didn’t still have to escape from the prison.
A cold, steely voice interrupted our paradise.
“I was starting to think you wouldn’t come for her.”
I froze. I didn’t want to around. I squeezed my eyes shut. Maybe when I opened them I’d realize the voice wasn’t real.
“This was much easier than trying to take you in by force. Who knew you would just walk right into your cell. That just shows you what love will do to you. It clouts your judgment. I can’t believe you didn’t get suspicious when there was virtually no resistance. Did you really think I would let you just waltz into Phoenix and leave with your girlfriend?”
I finally turned around and faced my tormentor. Isoli smirked back at me. I pulled Olivia behind me, instinctively trying to shield her from the evil.  I just glared at him. I had nothing to say. I’d been duped. Somewhere inside myself I smiled. Because I knew if I had another chance, I’d do it again exactly the same. Just for that one moment.
Isoli spoke again. “Take the girl away. Leave the boy here.”
Two guards stood at the President’s side. They moved into the cell at his command. I kept Olivia behind me and charged at the first guard. I caught him off guard and knocked him to the floor. His gun slid across the floor and clanged against the metal security bars. A hot bullet sunk into my side followed in close succession by electric jolts across my body.
“NO!” I cried out. My muscles froze. I stared at Olivia as she raced towards the free gun. Too late. Both guards pounced. They restrained her and sucked the cuffs down around her wrists. She turned her head to look at me. She bit her lower lip as she tried to force her way back into the cell. I fought to stay conscious. I didn’t want her to go away. The guards pushed her out the door and into the dark hallway. Isoli’s smirk broke into a full blown smile.
“Don’t worry Micah. She’ll go down like a true hero. The people love a good execution. “
The prison door slammed shut. Every nerve in my body burned with pain. I closed my eyes. In the darkness, alone, I still smiled; I still hoped.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Non-Wet T-Shirt Contest

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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Chapter 26 - Eve

They all told me time and time again at some point I had to choose a side. So maybe I had. And really I chose the side they wanted me to. Apparently I just didn’t believe enough to follow my brother and save the world.
I thought about the day I told Isoli in desperation that Olivia was a rebel; that I thought she dragged my brother into the cause. One of my stupid, misguided attempts to save Micah from death. I was wrong about her. I was wrong about Isoli. I was wrong about everything in life. Even now that I seemed to have figured out I didn’t want my old life back anymore I couldn’t please them.
“Eve? Are you going to talk to me?”
“Sorry, Darion.” I sighed, pushing the green beans around my plate. Fresh. Grown on the base. They should’ve been good, but they felt like tasteless mush in my mouth so I’d stopped trying to eat them.
“Nobody blames you for...what happened,” he insisted. He rubbed at the base of my neck.
“Micah does. And he should.”
“You’ve always done what you thought was right for Micah. You’re still trying to do it. You made a mistake. Micah will get past it. He’s a good kid.”
“I know.”
He sighed. “Just let him cool down, and you two can talk this out.”
I pushed my plate away and turned to face Darion. “So we can have the same argument? I meant everything I said, Darion. I really did.”
Darion bit his lip. “All of it?”
I nodded. “All of it.” I swallowed, preparing myself for the hardest part because I already knew it wouldn’t do any good to try and convince Darion. “Isoli is an awful man. I’m not deluded about that at all. What the rebels want is good. They’re just trying to save people. I believe all that. But this is going to get a lot of people killed.” He opened his mouth to interrupt, but I waved my hand at him. “And you believe it’s worth it. Maybe you’ll win...” I let the sentence drop off. I didn’t believe that. Even deep down. “I’m going to the Eastern States.”
Darion stared at me. He stood up, took my hand, and led me out of the cafeteria. When he’d pulled me into a private corner he stopped. He put his hands on my shoulders. “Eve--”
“I’m going to the Eastern States,” I repeated. “And I know you’re not coming with me.”
They gave me a pile of clean, sturdy clothes when I checked in at the base. I felt guilty about taking all of them. I chose a few pairs of jeans and some shirts from the pile, leaving the majority in the dresser.
“I didn’t believe it. I was so sure Darion was kidding.”
I turned to the door, not surprised that my roommate returned from her dinner to try and stop me. “Don’t start, Gloria.”
She put her hands on her hips. “I knew I shouldn’t have cut your hair like that. I let all that pent up sass out.”
A faint smile crossed my lips. “It’s your fault, I guess.” I shoved some socks down into the backpack. “I know you tried to make me look the part. It just wasn’t enough.”
“You think getting out is going to be any easier than the fight down in Phoenix, Eve?” Gloria plopped onto her bed and folded her arms. “Especially with all the president’s men on the lookout for you.”
“Thanks to you, none of them will recognize me.”
“You ever considered why everyone in Phoenix hasn’t up and migrated to Rhode Island?” Gloria snapped. “It’s hard to get out. Fine. You don’t want to go fight. Can’t you just stay here? This place is nice.”
“This place is for people who believe, Gloria. I’m not one of them. I’m a waste of space if I stay here. I can make a difference if I go to the Eastern States. People there can’t know what life is like here. Somebody has to tell them.” I shoved the clothes in deeper, trying to make room for food.
“Wow, Eve. You jumped from one naive pool into the next.”
A knock interrupted my retort. Gloria hopped off the bed and opened the door. When I saw Darion I sighed. I thought he understood and wouldn’t try again to talk me out of going.
He chuckled when he saw my face. “Don’t worry. I’m not here to argue with you anymore. Micah left this for you.” He held out a folded sheet of paper toward me.
“Left for me?”
“Don’t tell me it surprises you that Robin Hood up and left to go after Olivia.” Gloria cocked an eyebrow. “That boy is risking everything for a girl. Tanner is going to blow a gasket. That boy is risking everything for a girl. And I’m not one bit surprised.”
Darion put his hand on Gloria’s. “Come on. I think Eve wants to be alone for this.”
“I hope he tells her how stupid she’s being for trying to go east,” Gloria muttered, leaving with him.
“I don’t think it’s that kind of letter.” Darion shut the door behind him.
I opened the note, dropping distractedly onto Gloria’s bed as I read.
I probably don’t have to tell you I’m going to Phoenix to get Olivia. Don’t blame yourself anymore for it. It’s okay. You probably thought you were helping me somehow. Probably the same way you thought all those pancakes would keep me from being hungry.
I laughed to myself, remembering how much I wanted to cook him eggs.
We had different lives, and I’m not just talking about the three years we spent apart. Even before that we saw the world differently. Maybe I’ll die, Eve. That doesn’t mean you failed in any way to protect me. I’m going because I love Olivia. Just like you tried to “save” me time and time again because you loved me.
I’ll look you up out east. I hope you have a better life than you have here.
Love, Micah.”

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Chapter 25 - Micah

            “What do we know about Zion?” I yelled over the roar of the helicopter, “I mean have we identified the traitors?”
            “We took Senator Castle into custody this morning. That’s all we know about,” Tanner replied.
            “What about Zoe? Shouldn’t we have her locked down too?”
            “Apparently she’s been acting as a double agent. Seth Jarvis has been helping her get info from her dad. I think she warned Olivia last night about Castle’s plan. A little late, but luckily Olivia knew who to contact.”
“If she’s been feeding us intel, shouldn’t she have known about the planned kidnapping a little sooner?” I was still skeptical.
“I didn’t say she was a good double agent. I’m guessing Castle knew she was working for us and fed her a lot of false info. He probably let the kidnapping slip when he thought it would be too late to do anything. Again, without Olivia you would’ve been toast.”
“Do you think she blew her cover trying to save me?” It worried me Olivia might be in danger. “If she’s still at Zion, we need to keep her on base.”
Tanner paused. “She already left with her dad to Phoenix this morning. Don’t worry man, she’s really, really good at what she does. Unless someone from our side blew her cover then she’ll be fine.”
Eve scooted closer to me. “If she’s lasted this long without getting caught then I’m sure she’ll be okay.”
“Thanks.” I bit the inside of my cheek and tried to fake a smile. Something made me nervous. I wanted to believe that Olivia would be safe, but I couldn’t.
The helicopter finally touched down in Zion. Everyone climbed out; I waited until they had all gone. I left the chopper, staying a few steps behind. I needed a chance to be alone and gather my thoughts.
Tanner called back to me, “We’re meeting in the war room. We have to make plans to move ahead with the attack.”
“I’ll be right behind you.” My unenthusiastic reply made Tanner end the discussion. My mouth felt dry. I couldn’t shake the nervous feeling that something was about to go terribly wrong.
I started blaming myself for letting Olivia leave the base. Maybe I’d made the right decision though? I tried to convince myself. If she’d stayed at the base, the Senator might’ve gotten to her before he was arrested. I laughed inside at my paranoia. I didn’t even know if her cover had really been blown. As far as I knew she was safe in Phoenix. I let my mind rest and picked up my pace towards the war room.
I stood outside the door for a few seconds and straightened my tie. I’d left my jacket in the SUV and my white shirt was splotched with dirt, but I wanted to look composed. I knew they’d be relying on me to lead the attack.
I opened the door and stepped into the room. Ten pairs of eyes locked on to me. Tanner stared down at the ground. His face was white. He looked like a doctor preparing to tell a client their mother had terminal cancer. Tears ran down Eve’s cheeks. She turned her head away when she saw me looking at her.
My heart sunk past my stomach. My arms and legs suddenly felt like they carried 50 lb. weights. A knot formed in my throat. My mouth went dry. No one told me what had happened. They didn’t have to, I already knew.
“Is she still alive?” My face remained without emotions. I hid them behind steely eyes and stony features.
The room was silent. Tanner pointed to the screen at the center of the wall. I walked confidently, each step defined by the heavy sound of my rubber shoes striking the wooden floor. The footage on the screen began playing. I immediately recognized Olivia’s dark hair and green eyes. The recording appeared to be taken from a security camera at the north entrance to the national prison. Three guards led her to the door and out of view. Her eyes showed no fear.
I pushed off the obvious question of how and turned to my captive audience. “Then we’ll attack in two days. If we go fast we can surprise them. We’ll go in two groups. Tanner will take half and I will take the other half. Have the rebels mark two spots on the west side of the city at 1 am. We can attack the fence at those two spots and then move to the capitol building. If we gain the strength of some of the poor plus the rebels already in the city, then we should have enough strength to force Isoli to flee. Once he does his troops will surrender. After we take the capitol we’ll have the support of the other rebel cities.” I turned towards the exit. “Tanner, get in contact with the rebels in the city, relay the attack plans only to Jason and Emily. I don’t want them getting back to the President. Tell the other soldiers here at the base that we plan to attack in 2 weeks in case there are more traitors.” I continued to the exit. I stopped just outside the door and made a decision. “Take Zoe into custody. Find out if she’s blown anyone else’s cover.”
I made my way down the hall, determined to retreat away from everyone.
Eve’s voice called after me, “Wait Micah, it wasn’t Zoe.” Eve ran to catch up. She collected her breath, and I let her continue. She sounded on the verge of a meltdown. “Zoe didn’t turn Olivia in.”
“How do you know?” My eyes narrowed. I glared straight at her. My mind guessed at what she’d reveal.
“I didn’t mean it, much has happened...” She stared at the floor.
“Why?” My hard face softened. The anger retreated deep into my heart.
She dropped her voice to a whisper. “It seems so long ago now.” Small drops of water dripped off her face and landed on the floor below her. I stared at the way they reflected the light, waiting for her to answer my question.
“I doesn’t matter now. I don’t know whose side you’re on Eve. I don’t think you can do any more damage.” I turned around ready to leave. It didn’t matter if I saw Eve again. I stopped, “Unless you want to give Isoli a call and tell him about our plans.”
I continued my walk down the hall and ignored Eve’s voice as she shouted after me.
“I should’ve told you! I know that. I told Isoli while you were in prison. I thought you’d stop this--this crazy plan if she wasn’t influencing you--”
I stopped again. Infuriated, “You still don’t get it do you? It’s not about me or you. People’s lives are at stake!” I turned again, determined to leave this time.
Her footsteps stopped. “And who made it your job to save all of them?” she shouted. “Or mine? Or Darion’s? Why is it our responsibility?”
“Three years ago I stole bread to feed myself. I started bringing the bread back to an eight year old boy who hadn’t eaten in TWO days.” Another lump formed in my throat. I could sense I was losing it. “His mom, she looked at me... she was crying. She couldn’t stop thanking me. She made it my job to save people.”
“And dying is going to feed them? If we go fight, we’re going to lose.” I couldn’t help but face her now. We’re going to lose, Micah!” she continued, her voice shaking. “No matter how much faith in this cause you have. A haircut doesn’t change reality. It might suck for those people, and I’m sorry about that. I wish I could change it. But going to Phoenix and getting slaughtered in the streets isn’t going to change anything.”
“If it changes life for ONE person then I’ll go by myself. No one is forcing you or me or Darion or Tanner to fight. You can leave anytime you want.” I looked into her eyes for another second then left.
Her voice, softer now, followed me anyway. “I’m sorry, Micah. I really am. If I’d known you loved Olivia, I honestly never would’ve turned her in. There was a lot of stuff I didn’t understand then that I do now. But I can’t follow you to Phoenix. I can’t throw myself into something I don’t think is going to work. I’m sorry. If you don’t die, look me up out east somewhere.”
I ignored Eve and finally exited the building. I needed to go somewhere to be by myself. I had a few hours before Tanner would hear back from the rebels in the city. Eve seemed dead to me now. Olivia was gone. I was alone again.
I reached the top of the canyon after a 30 minute climb. The sun had partially ducked behind the horizon. Sweat dripped down my face. I sat on a jagged rock and watched the fading sun. The cuts of betrayal burned deep. Fire stirred up inside me. Anger threatened to take over my emotions. The sun grew darker and began to disappear. I welcomed the darkness. The sun finally vanished. I thought I would be happy. I thought when the darkness finally came that I would be comfortable. But just before the sun had gone down there was a green flash of light. Barely discernible but it was there.
I heard a voice in my head. I recognized it. I longed to hear Olivia’s voice. My heart was turning black and she wouldn’t accept a black heart. I felt at the end of my rope so I did what I had to do.
I forgave. Not because Eve deserved it. But because I needed to. I did it to save my life.
I got up from the rock and headed down the cliff, filled with a new type of courage. Not a courage born of hate and anger but one that came from hope and love.
It only took me 10 minutes to write a note to Eve. Next I confirmed with Tanner that we’d gotten the message to the rebels in the city. Everything was ready to go. But I wouldn’t be there. I found Darion and delivered my note.
“I’m leaving tonight. I can’t stand by and just hope Olivia is okay. I need you to take my position and lead my half of the troops. Give this to Eve after I’m gone.” I handed Darion the note. “I’m giving it to you because I know you’ll understand. I know you won’t try and stop me.”
“I do.” Darion replied. “I understand.” I turned to leave. I had everything ready to go to Phoenix that night. “Micah,” I stopped “If you need a way into the prison, check the left side of the bush by the back security guard entrance. It’s buried just a foot or so down.” Darion smiled, “Good luck, I’ll see you in Phoenix.”