Authors: Katarin Haley Pope
you guys.” I say with a huge smile.
Isaac hands me the pink bike. It’s so cute with the decorative flower seat, and it even has pink streamers coming from the ends of the handlebars.
“It’s no problem, Breanna.” Agni remarks. “I thought the dogs might enjoy the ride, too.”
“You guys be careful.” Isaac says.
“We will. Thanks for your help.” I say to him. “You know, you’re more than welcome to come with us.”
“My grandmother and brother are at home.
I have to get back to them.”
“Oh, yeah, I forgot. Well, you be safe.”
“Thanks for helping me, Isaac.” Agni responds.
“No problem, guys. Good luck.” Isaac turns and goes back down the alley.
Agni asks, “Are you ready?
Yeah, I’m ready.”
I put Miss Kiki in the
sidecar that looks like an oversized pink square box. It has paintings of purple and pink pansies all over it. She’s as happy as a little princess on a cushy throne. Her tail is wagging, and her happiness makes me happy. King gets in the same car with her, but Agni makes him get out. He looks at Agni with disappointment as he loads in the sidecar that looks like a boxy rendition of a cherry red Ferrari. His pouty expression gives way to great pride. King discovers he loves his new carriage. I giggle at those two silly dogs. They know they’re in for a nice ride.
put our backpacks in the sidecars with the dogs, and we hop on. My pink chariot rides smooth and easy. Miss Kiki is not heavy at all with her weight, and Agni looks like he’s not having problems cycling with King. We come out of the alley and take a right on Kangaroo Paw until it ends at 6
Avenue. To my relief, there are no dead bodies, and we manage to avoid the entire massacre and the soldiers altogether.
are hovering at the intersection of Sun Drop Highway and Calla Lily Road. They’re not making any moves to follow us. I’m relieved. I know they can see us, but we must appear nonthreatening with our funny bikes and dogs.
and I ride right down the middle of Snow Drop Highway. The road is clear. The land is flat all around us with houses spotted here and there. It’s a beautiful ride. Exactly what I need, and I’m so glad to get Allium Center further and further behind us. At least, I can breathe and see and be alive, even if it’s just for the moment.
We cycle for an hour
before we decide to take a break. Agni tells me we’ve made it halfway to Penny Valley, and I think that’s awesome. We’ve cut our travel time by hours using the bicycles.
a huge shade tree not too far off the highway that promises shade and rest. King stretches out on the soft grass, and he falls asleep. Miss Kiki starts picking at him. She nips at his ears and tries to pounce on his head, but King isn’t interested in playing. She is disappointed when he refuses to respond, and she decides to snuggle up beside him to catch a nap, as well.
Agni takes out a plastic bowl
, and he pours out water for the pups. Neither one of them makes a move to drink, but Agni leaves it out for them just in case they do get thirsty. He takes out two turkey and cheese wraps, and he hands me one. I’m so hungry that I barely thank him. I bite into it and roll my eyes with satisfaction. It’s not the best. It’s dry without some kind dressing, but my taste buds are savoring what flavor there is.
I start thinking back to the speech today and how badly it ended. I take out
the radio and turn it on. I want to know if there’s anyone talking about it. Every single channel on the radio is silent. I wonder what the rest of the world is dealing with.
Agni remarks, “You know we forgot to turn the radio
on at 12:00 o’clock.”
it was more important to try and get as far away from Allium as possible.” I bite off another piece.
I don’t think our parents are home, anyway.”
That reminds me of Isaac, and I ask Agni,
“Do you think Isaac will be okay getting home? He looked like he was in a lot of pain.”
“I think he’ll be fine, but I hope he gets that toe looked at real soon.
With no doctors around, he might be in trouble in the long run.”
When he said his brother was home, I thought for sure that maybe Chloe had made it. They ride the same bus home every day.”
“That would have been good news. You wouldn’t have to leave home.”
“I think we would have made this trip anyway. Your aunt needs her meds. The only difference is that Chloe would be with us.”
We sat quietly for
a moment as we both finished our sandwich. The dry thing left me thirsty but full.
I ask after I wipe my face with a napkin, “
Agni, where did you find those bicycles?”
“The bicycle store, not too far from Allium Cultural Hall. The front windows and glass doors were all shot out. So
, me and Isaac went in and got the bikes. We took them out the back because they were too wide to get through the front door.”
“That’s why I saw you coming through the adjoining alley.”
“Yep, the back entrance opens up to that alley.” Agni remarks with a smile.
Why did Isaac go back down that alley? It’s a dead end.”
“He went to go get a new bike, too. He’s pretty sure the one he had was probably messed up considering he had to dump it before running out of there during the shooting.”
Another question pops into my head, but it’s off the subject. I ask Agni anyway. “When they put up the registration stations, will you do it?”
He cleans his hands and face with a wet wipe before answering,
“I may not have a choice. None of us will, by the way it sounds.”
don’t think I’m going to register.”
“You heard what that woman said
, Breanna. There are consequences.”
I really don’t care what she said. It doesn’t feel right. As a matter of fact, it’s not right at all.”
hands me a wet wipe, and I clean my face and hands, too.
“I think the Enlightened is trying to scare people with lies so they’ll do what they want. It’s all about spreading fear to gain control.”
So, what will you do if you find your family, and they’re already registered?”
I shake my head and answer, “They won’t be
what if they are?” Agni is now staring at me waiting on an answer.
I have to admit, h
e asks a good question, and I consider my answer for a minute. If my dad is registered, he’ll try to convince me to do the same. He’ll set forth his argument to prove how it’s best for the family. I’ll argue my point, and he probably won’t push the issue. My mom is a different story. She’ll make me flat out do it rather I want to or not. There will be no argument and no pouting. Well, I’ll pout regardless. It’ll be interesting to see what she says if I do see her again.
“Agni, I hope it doesn’t come
to that. I just don’t believe in the Enlightened. After what I saw today, I don’t want anything to do with them.”
If my dad is alive, I know for a fact he’ll register. He’ll be the first in line.”
“Why are you so sure?”
“Because of what you just said. Fear,” he points out.
eyelids start getting heavy, and he’s beginning to shut down. He leans against the tree with his legs crossed at his ankles.
For some reason, I’m not sleepy at all. After doing the unscheduled triathlon
of walking, running for my life, and cycling for an unknown amount of miles, I still feel like I can go on and on. Maybe, the fact I’m trying to get to Chloe is what’s driving me.
Soon, Agni’s eyes
are closed. His head is slumping forward, and he’s snoring. This is my chance to go pee. I’ve had to go for a good while, and I can’t hold it any longer.
I get up hop
ing not to wake Agni. There is a huge open field that leads to the beach and the Gulf of Mexico. On the other side of the road is the forest. The only privacy I’ll find. I cross the street and go a few yards in the woods. I realize as I’m about to squat that I don’t have toilet paper. I can’t do this without having something to wipe with. That means I have to go back across the street and risk waking up Agni. Fine, I’ll deal with the shame of telling him I came back for the toilet paper. I rather be clean than feel nasty.
Much to my happiness,
Agni is still sleeping when I return. I dig in my backpack for the toilet paper. My fumbling around awakens King, and he looks over at me curiously. I put my finger to my lips telling him to keep quiet, and then I wonder does he really understand what I’m saying? It doesn’t matter. He can’t answer if I ask him, and I don’t have time to try and entertain a conversation with a dog. My bladder is about to burst. I take off running back across the street, and that big silly dog is right at my heels.
King watches me as I pee
. I find it really creepy, and I tell him to turn around. Not only does he do as I say, but he does a complete 360. Great, he’s watching me again. I shake my head. Silly dog, anyways.
When I finish,
I feel a ton better. After I get myself together, I watch King as he’s sniffing around. I call to him, but he’s not interested in coming to me. I wait for him for a little bit, but I soon grow tired of watching him sniff and pee on everything. I figure he’ll come back to the shade tree when he’s done.
The moment I step out of the woods, I see
Agni. He’s across the street standing with his back to me, and he’s gazing up at an approaching helicopter. It’s coming in from the direction of the Gulf. That thing is smoking and has a loud high pitch whistle. I’m not an expert on helicopters, but I know black smoke is not a good thing.
My heart is beating out of my chest as I watch
a man with a briefcase in his hands bail out of the side door of the helicopter. He lands hard. His knees buckle, and it’s not long after that the helicopter nose dives into the field. The explosion knocks me and Agni clear off of our feet, and the pieces of the helicopter is flying and raining down all over the place.
I’ve never felt anything so powerful like that before.
The crash sent a wavelength of painful energy through my body. It’s the most overwhelming, shocking thing I’ve ever experienced. It’s just hard for me to believe. It’s like my reality has been shaken to the atom. That thing was flying just a few minutes ago, and there was living, breathing human beings in it. Now, they’re all dead, burning, and there’s nothing I can do about it. I can hardly stand to watch. That flying piece of machinery is no longer the master of the air. It’s now just a burning coffin.
I see Agni get
back on his feet, and he grabs Miss Kiki. King runs right by me to Agni. He avoids burning and charring parts of the helicopter to get to his side. I follow King’s path, and when I get to Agni, I hug him. I’m so glad he didn’t get hurt.
He asks me, “Are you okay, Breanna?”
“I’m okay, Agni. How about you?”
“I have all my body parts.” Agni
answers as he moves to see around the tree.
We hear coughing
, and we realize the man that jumped out of the helicopter is alive out in the field. He is dragging himself to get further away from the fiery mangled mess. Agni hands me Miss Kiki, and he tells me to stay where I am. As soon as he takes off, I’m right with him. I don’t want to be by myself. Agni realizes I didn’t listen to his command when he’s halfway to the guy, but he doesn’t make me go back to where we were. He smiles gently, reassuring me I guess, and he continues on.
When we get to the man, he’s on his side. He has a
massive open wound on his belly and his right thigh. I can see organs, bone, and blood. Despite his state, he still has the energy to point a gun at us and hold on to his briefcase. The guy is trembling like a leaf, but his strength is failing miserably.
starts to growl at him, but Agni stops him by yelling something in what might be German. “Nine!” His voice is firm, and King must get what he means because he sits and looks up at Agni like he’s expecting some sort of treat.
the injured man says hoarsely.
“Let us help you.” Agni remarks in a gentle but serious voice.
“I don’t-” The man can’t even finish his sentence. He is fading, and he drops his hand with the gun. I can’t help but flinch at the blood gushing out from his stomach wound. He leans forward barely able to breathe, and he ends up almost prone over the briefcase.
That guy is dying
right in front us, and there isn’t a thing we can do to save his life. His labored breathing stops. He’s gone.
close my eyes. It’s so sad, and I hide behind Agni just so I don’t have to look at the dead guy anymore. I’ve never really seen anyone just die like that. One minute he’s talking, and the next he can’t even open his eyes.
Agni steps closer to him, and he puts the back of his hand to his nose. He then takes
the radio from his belt, and he pries the briefcase from the guy’s hand. Agni stands and backs away. He tries to hand me the radio, but I’m not taking it. It has blood and guts on it, but Agni is insistent. I hesitantly take it with two fingers.
He then starts looking at the briefcase. He’
s fiddling around with the lock and turning it upside down. He hands me the briefcase, and he squats down to the dead guy. To my surprise, Agni starts going through his pockets. When he doesn’t find anything, he starts unfastening the top two buttons of the guy’s uniform. There he finds a chain with a key attached to it. Agni takes it from around his neck and takes the briefcase from me.
“What are you doing?” I ask him curiously.
He doesn’t answer. Agni is determined to see what’s in the briefcase. When he unlocks it, I go behind him to see what he’s looking at. There is a brown sealed envelope with the words ‘TOP SECRET’ stamped on the front, and there’s another key beside it.
s that key for?” I ask.
“Maybe, whatever’s inside the envelope will tell us.” Agni
says as he opens it.
A gold card slides out of t
he envelope right into his hand. It’s the same size as any normal credit card, but it looks to be pure gold. It’s shiny and reflects the sun. I take it from Agni, and I turn it over to see what’s on the other side. There’s a black strip going across the top of it.
“It’s a card,” I say as I turn it back over.
“This stuff must access a weapon of some kind.”
“Do you think we should keep it?”
“I don’t know, Breanna. Honestly, what can we do with it?”
I don’t care. The card looks gold, and
I decide to keep it. Honestly, I do feel bad for taking something that doesn’t belong to me, but I’m not giving it back. The guy is dead, and he doesn’t need it. More than likely, I won’t need it, either, but still it’s a neat thing to have.
with a dead body is giving me the heebie-jeebies. I’m too close, and it’s even weirder that five minutes ago he was talking. I rush back to the tree, and Agni is behind me.
I notice that Agni has the key
from inside the briefcase, and he’s hanging it around his neck. He’s worse than I am. I wonder if he feels bad for taking that key.