Chapter Sixteen: Charisa
Like previous mornings, I wake up to the sound of my cell door screeching open.
But this isn’t like other mornings.
The moment Faith steps in, the door closes again. Then I say, “Two. Four. Six. Eight.”
“I’ve got Tim and the card,” Kyle answers abruptly. “Keep talking so I can find you.”
“Okay.” I turn to Faith, who is shakily climbing into her bed.
“Faith,” I say loudly, “Kyle and Tim are coming to bust us out. We’re going to escape this horrible place and be free.”
Faith blinks at me. Then she says, “No.”
“No? What do you mean? Don’t you want to leave?”
“I don’t want to see what I’ve missed all this time. At least down here, I can believe that this is all there is.”
“But this isn’t all there is. And- and Jin won’t be able to force any more chemicals into you if you come with me.”
“I don’t want to find out who I was meant to be. Who I wasn’t for all this time.”
Huh? “But don’t you want to come… with me?”
I feel desperation building up inside me.
Then the door opens behind us and the desperation explodes with the pressure
“No,” Faith says again before disappearing.
The desperation implodes.
“No!” I cry, reaching in after where I had seen her last.
Suddenly, someone grabs me around my waist and pulls me out. I turn around and see Kyle, and behind him, Tim.
“We have to go now,” Kyle says.
“Where is she?” Tim asks, wildly scanning the room.
“She turned invisible,” I answer. “She doesn’t want to come.”
“What?” Tim rushes back into the room. “Faith! Please don’t do this to yourself. Faith!” He turns to Kyle and me. “Don’t you guys have super hearing or something?”
“I can’t focus,” I gasp. “I can’t hear her-”
“We need to go now,” Kyle repeats, pulling me towards the open door.
“You can’t force someone to see the truth,” Kyle answers.
“Faith!” I call one last time. “I’m sorry about what was stolen from you, but you can still get part of it back! You can still have freedom. You just need to see the Truth.”
Faith doesn’t answer, and Kyle pulls me out of the room.
Tim begins to follow us, but then pauses. “It’s not too late, Faith. Even after we leave, it won’t be too late. Please choose the truth. Never stop seeking it.” He follows us into the hallway before pausing and looking back. “Goodbye, Freya.”
Then Kyle, Tim, and I dash down the hallway super fast. We turn the hallway and continue running, passing several guards in the process. However, we’re going so fast that all they feel is a breeze.
At the door to the Cure’s lab, Kyle whips out a key card with Jin’s picture on it.
I scan the area. “Where do you think Jin is now?”
“Unconscious in my ex-cell.” Kyle pushes open the now unlocked door.
We run into the Cure’s lab and quickly shut the door behind us. The Kyle dashes over to the elevator and inserts the key card into it.
Meanwhile, Tim bashes open a medicine cabinet, revealing vials of chemicals. Grunting, he knocks the whole thing down.
“Could you have been any louder?” Kyle demands. “You know, this elevator is being rather slow.”
Tim turns his now intense gaze to Kyle. “I don’t want them using these against Faith. Not anymore.”
Someone knocks on the door. “Is that you in there, Jin?” Wanda calls.
We all stiffen.
“Did you drop something?” she asks. “Here, I’m coming in.”
I will the elevator to get here faster.
Then, suddenly, an earsplitting alarm goes off.
I cover my ears and drop to my knees. “What is that?!”
Somehow, Tim hears me over the noise. “That’s the alarm that goes off when we take off our anklets.”
We all look down at our anklets. They’re still on.
“Guards!” Wanda cries outside, but her voice sounds further away, like she’s running the opposite direction. “Guards, go find the one who removed the anklet- now!”
“Faith,” Tim whispers. “She did it.”
The elevator finally arrives.
“We have to go help her!” Tim cries.
“No.” Kyle steps into the elevator. “We can’t. It’s too late.”
I sigh and follow Kyle. “Just because she’s choosing to help us doesn’t mean she’ll come with us.”
Tim glances back, but he follows us on the elevator.
He bows his head. “I’ve failed her again.”
“She made her own choice,” Kyle says. “And then she chose to help us. Let’s just hope her helping us doesn’t shut down the elevator.”
The elevator begins to rise.
Then it stops.
“Great,” I mutter.
“The anklet didn’t do it,” Tim says. “Or it would have stopped earlier. Right?”
Frowning, Kyle scans the elevator. “Someone in the control room must have realized that it’s not Jin using this elevator and shut it down.”
“What now?” I ask. “I’m not going back.”
“Me neither.” With that, Kyle jumps up and pushes open a panel on the top of the elevator. Then he climbs up onto the roof of the elevator. “Come on; we need to climb the cord.”
My stomach misses the memo and drops instead. “Just great.”
Tim joins Kyle on the roof of the elevator.
I take a deep breath and jump up after them.
“We’re going to have to be quick,” Kyle says. “Once we start climbing, we can’t stop, no matter what.”
Tim nods, grabs the wire, and shimmies up the thing super fast.
Kyle turns to me. “Now you.”
I bite my lip and grab hold of the wire. Heights. It had to heights.
“Don’t worry,” he assures. “I’ll be right below you.”
“How comforting. I’ll be able to take you out too if I slip.” Taking another deep breath, I grab onto the wire, and climb.
And climb. I focus on putting one hand above the other, on pulling myself upwards.
Then I reach the top.
“Over here!” Tim calls.
Not missing a beat, I swing myself towards his voice and release the cable.
And land on Tim.
We both slam onto the ground in a tangle of limbs. Kyle soars over us and lands a few feet ahead. He quickly sits up and glares down at us. Then Kyle clears his throat.
Tim takes that as a cue to quickly disentangle himself from me.
I sit up and find myself in a run-down-looking shack with an elevator entrance standing in the center of it. The elevator entrance doors are wide open with hand indents in them.
“Wow, Tim,” I say. “How did you…”
Tim gets up and brushes himself off. “I’m super strong and desperate. Now let’s commence with the escape.”
I jump to my feet and hurry to the door of the shack. It has a high-tech lock that stands out against the decrepit door as much as the elevator entrance stands out against the rest of the shack.
“Allow me to show Tim here the civilized way to open doors,” Kyle says, sliding the key card into the lock.
Tim nods. “Using stolen key cards. That’s very civilized.”
The door clicks and Kyle pushes it open, revealing a grassy field. Then he grabs my hand.
My other hand grabs one of Tim’s hands. Then, without a word spoken, we all three run super fast across the field to a street.
Kyle studies a distant sign with his super sight (40/40 vision or something). “We’re in Virginia.”
“Again?” I ask.
He nods. “So, if we want to get to Alabama, we’ll have to run in that direction.”
“Alabama,” Tim breathes.
I turn to him. “What is it?”
“It’s… it’s my home. I remember it now.”
“Can you- can you remember anything else?”
Tim focuses for a moment before shaking his head sadly.
“Not that it matters at the moment,” Kyle says. “We need to focus on getting out of here first. So, we’re all in favor of going to Alabama, right?”
Tim and I both nod.
“Then let’s go.”
We all run again, still linked. Kyle runs ahead, since his super senses make him the best navigator.
We run and we run and we run. Then we run some more. Finally, Kyle halts, sending Tim and me forward to the ground. I don’t bother getting up.
While regulating my breathing, I glance around the deserted side road we have stopped at the best I can without lifting my head. “Where do you think we are?”
“I don’t know,” Kyle answers between pants as he holds his knees. “Tennessee? Maybe Alabama.”
“If we’re in it, then we’re in the northern part. We still have a long way to go, and I just don’t have the energy to run anymore right now.”
“What? I still have some energy- especially since we might be in my home state right now-”
Kyle frowns at me. “Yes, but I’m the navigator- you just have to blindly follow. And I haven’t eaten today.”
My stomach rumbles, reminding that it’s undergone the same cruel treatment.
“I don’t suppose any of you have any stolen food on you,” Tim says, lazily reading my mind (figuratively, of course- if he were telepathic, I would be forced to absolve our friendship).
“Nope,” Kyle answers. “Or money either.”
“Money?” Tim pushes himself up into a half-sitting position. “Oh, yeah; that’s what you use to get stuff up here, isn’t it?”
Kyle blinks at Tim. “How long have you been in that bunker again?”
I bite my lip. What are we going to do? We’re far from home with no money, no food, and no energy to do anything about any of it.
Suddenly, Kyle stands up. “Just up the street is a gas station. There will likely be drinking fountains. Go get refreshed, and then wait for me.” He turns to go down the street.
“Where are you going?” I ask.
“I hear park sounds this way.”
I blink. “That doesn’t really answer my question.”
“Just trust me.” With that, he dashes off.
I roll my eyes. “Oh, I have no energy- I’m just going to dash off super fast.”
“I heard that,” Kyle says for my ears.
Tim gives me a lazily curious look.
I blow at a strand of hair. “Honestly, I have no idea.”
Then, together, we go up the street, where we do find a gas station and do find drinking fountains. Several moments after we’ve quenched our bone-dry throats, Kyle saunters up the road.
I glare at him, but he ignores me and steps into the convenience store adjourning the gas station.
Tim yawns. “What’s he up to?”
“I still don’t know.”
Finally, Kyle rejoins us- holding three packages of beef jerky.
I try to frown, but my mouth just moves upward at the sight of food that I snatch out of his hand. “Do I even want to know how you got those?”
“Nope,” Kyle answers, handing Tim one as well. Then he saunters over to the drinking fountain.
I look down at the jerky, shrug, and then begin eating. Sometimes, it’s best to not know the truth about some things.
The jerky is good, and I can barely keep from gulping it down all at once. I’m still hungry when I finish, but it’s an improvement.
Tim finishes his jerky and leans back. “So, I do actually want to know how you got these.”
I raise an eyebrow. “You’re a curious guy, aren’t you?”
Kyle nods. “I’ve always known he was strange.”
Groaning, I roll my eyes. “That’s not what I meant. Tim just seems full of questions.”
“Well, I want answers,” Tim answers, picking at a blade of grass. “Like my name. Whether or not I have a family. How old I am. What I did with my life before I was kidnapped. Whether or not I have any allergies- or a girlfriend, for that matter. You know; important stuff like that.”
I bite my lip. I’ve forgotten my identity for short periods of time before- it’s not fun. But I’ve always gotten my memory back quickly. I don’t know what I’d do if I had lost it for as long as Tim…
“Don’t think you’ve distracted me.” Tim plucks a blade of grass and holds it up against the setting sun’s light. “I still want to know how you got this jerky, so I can do it again in the future.”
“Well, I bought them,” Kyle answers. “Chrissie here is starting to rub off on me.”
I raise an eyebrow. “And how did you buy them if you didn’t have any money?”
“Well… there was a wishing well in the park.”
I groan. “I hope those people wished to feed the hungry.”
“If they didn’t, that’s their problem.”
Tim licks his fingers. “Though, it seems silly to use money to wish the hungry fed instead of using the money to buy them food.”
I shrug and then yawn.
Kyle studies me before glancing around. “We should find somewhere to rest for the night.”
Pursing my lips, I glance back toward where we came. Were they searching for us already? “Do you think it’s safe?”
He nods. “We’ve got a state between us and them.”
Tim nods and stretches his arms. “That’s enough for me.”
I chew my lip. I want to get home really, really bad, but I’m also really, really tired. The three of us need a break-
It should be four of us. My stomach drops at the memory of Faith, and I suddenly feel all the more drained.
“I saw a lovely out of the way gazebo in the park,” Kyle says. “Follow me.”
We do, and he leads us to a larger than average gazebo in a remote, woody area of the park. No one else is around. Nor, by the looks of it, has there been anyone here for a while.
“This is nice,” Tim agrees, picking up a stick. “I’ll take care of the spider webs.”
Kyle picks up another stick. “I’ll help.”
I search for a fallen branch that still has leaves. “And I’ll sweep out the debris.”
Once the gazebo is as clean as we’re going to get it, all three of us plop down on the floor of the gazebo.
“Someone forgot to fetch pillows,” Tim mumbles.
“Uh-huh,” I agree, turning my back to the boys, and making a substitute pillow out of my arms.
“This is a nice place,” Kyle says suddenly. I feel his breath on the back of my head. “We should get married here, one of these days, Chrissie.”
I’m too tired even to argue.