Kamryn had the clear, open field to herself. She spread her arms out wide, feeling the cool air flow through her fingers as she twirls around in the high grass. It's against the law for common townspeople to be outside of Capital City walls. The only people ever allowed outside are the guards, and whomever has permission from the General. She wasn't able to sneak out often, only when the guards go on supply deliveries to local cities and villages. The guards that man the front gates to the city rarely check the carts being transported by other guards, so she's able to sneak into the back of the carts and go through undetected. As long as she's back around sunset to sneak back into the carts, she's free to do whatever she pleases. The people she lives with don't care much about what she does, as long as she doesn't get into serious trouble, and is back before dark.
A stream runs along the dirt path that connects Capital City to other cities and villages. Three decent-sized rocks lie in the water, acting as stepping stones for Kamryn to cross.
She extended her right leg, and planted it firmly on the first rock. She hopped across to the other rock, and jumped to the other one.
As she was about to jump across to the other side of the stream, she noticed a small fish swimming in between the last stone and the stream bank. She bent down to get a closer look at it, but it was startled, and swam underneath a flat rock beneath the water.
She was left with only her reflection. She studied the person staring back at her. Her dark hair that hangs just passed her shoulders seems to fade into the water, and her green eyes seemed to do the same. She wasn't a beauty queen, but she thought she was good enough not to be deemed ugly, or a freak. From pictures she has in a small box by her bed, she looks a lot like her mother.
She gets up, stopping herself from thinking of any negative thoughts, and pats her knees free of dirt, and finishes crossing the stream.
On the other side of the stream was a thick wall of trees. She goes this way every time she sneaks out of the city. In the middle of this dense forest is a small clearing with an old truck sitting in its center. It's hard to tell if it was originally orange, or if the rust has altered its color. What isn't orange, is green, covered in moss and grass that has decided to grow there.
Getting to the clearing was another story. The trees were either tightly hugged together, or had fallen, creating several obstacles for her to crawl over. She didn't mind though, as long as she got time to herself without the hum drum of life within those walls, she didn't mind much of anything.
Climbing over the last fallen tree limb, she arrived at the clearing. The truck had some subtle changes from when she was there last month. The flowers that were only budding on the bed of the truck were now in full bloom. Looked like clematis. They were purple little flowers, growing against the back window. The weeds have the tailgate glued shut. She had to find another way in. She raised her leg and planted it on the fender on the back of the truck and boosted herself onto the truck bed.
She lied down on the moss covered truck bed, wrapping her finger around stems. This truck was clearly old. No one even uses motor vehicles anymore. They've been replaced by the horses towing carts around. Kamryn would remember her father telling her stories of when his grandfather was a child, and how they used motor vehicles for almost everywhere they went, although after a while pollution from the cars had built up within the country. Once General Houser's father had stepped in to take control of the country, he immediately put a ban on any motor vehicles being used. Most of them got sent to scrap yard where they stripped the vehicles and recycled all of the metals. This one must have just been left here and no one had found it.
Kamryn was glad that this car had been missed in the mass recall. This was the perfect place her her to just come here and think. To be alone and think to herself about whatever without fear of being disturbed by anyone in the house she lives in. She thinks of this place as a sort of a safe haven. It's a place where she could be safe from all the corruption inside Houser's Republic. She closed her eyes, and allowed the warm summer heat to absorb into her skin.
She must have shut her eyes too long. When she woke up, the shining sun was gone and the stars were out.
Shit, falling asleep at a time like this, she thought. She sat up, and quickly jumped off the bed of the truck. She stumbled around when she landed, still groggy from her nap. She ran through the forest, hoping that there aren't too many guards around. She dropped into a crouch behind a big bush the instant she saw bright lights shine.
Two beams of light were shuffling towards her. If she were caught she'd immediately be thrown in jail, without a trial. Being outside of the city without permission, especially after curfew, is one of the highest offenses within the Republic. She definitely did not want to be caught.
Kamryn ducked down, and rolled herself underneath the bush. The guards kept walking towards her. She felt a sharp sting in her side from one of the branches, but she dare not move.
"Hey, look!" One of the guards shouted. She instantly froze, and shut her eyes. If she was found and arrested, she didn't want to see it. She didn't want to see their faces, much less see where they would take her.
She had friends in the city that would tell stories of what guards do to some of the people they find outside of the city. They were horrible things, talks of torture and abuse. One friend in particular had claimed that he witnessed one of the guards arresting someone outside of the city. He said that they beat the poor guy into a bloody mess before finally giving him a break and took him to prison. Although the boy who told her was notorious for spitting out false stories, she didn't want to test her luck.
The guards approached the bush, she could only see up to their knees. Their feet were pointed towards the bush.
"Are these berries edible? The General made us work through dinner and I'm starving." One of the guards grumbled.
"I don't know, why don't ya eat some and find out," the other one joked.
The bush started shaking, some berries fell in front of Kamryn. She tensed up as she saw them hit the ground. Her heartbeat pounded in her chest. She felt as if it was loud enough for them to hear it.
"Looks like raspberries to me," one of them said. There was a short pause, before a smacking sound was heard. More berries fell to the ground.
"Don't you know you have to wash those first?" One of them scolded. "They could have some bad bacteria on them."
"If you know all this, why don't you just go be a scientist?" There was a sarcastic tone in the man's voice.
"I would have loved to, but Capital City's employment office said otherwise." Their heels turned, and she watched them walk away. Their chatter faded in the distance.
A huge sense of relief washed over her. She waited until she could no longer hear them talking before she crawled out. She rubbed away the pain that was in her side, and stuck low to the ground. She couldn't see the flashlight's beams anymore.
Just need to get back into the city, and I'll be fine, she thought. She darted through the tall grass to where the stream divides the field. She glanced around to make sure none of the guards were around her. She saw their flashlights bob up the stream, walking away from her. They were in the distance, but still close enough to hear her if she'd make a noise.
She carefully planted her foot on the first rock in the row. She began to lean to the left, losing her balance. She shot out her hands to steady herself, and kept going. She planted her foot on the next rock. Her foot slid, and she found herself soaked head to toe in the stream. The splash was loud, and she hoped the guards didn't hear her, although she knows they did.
The lights shined on her, and she was paralyzed, like a deer in the headlights. They ran towards her, shouting. All she could do was stand there. She snapped out of her paralyzed trance when one of the guards tried to reach for her. She ran in the opposite direction of them, into the forest. She ran as fast as she could. She had trouble breathing as she weaved in and out of the trees, and jumped over the fallen tree trunks. No matter how fast she ran, they always kept a constant speed behind her.
Getting desperate, she panicked and was in need of a hiding spot. They were far enough away that the dark would help mask where she hid. Another fallen tree was coming up. Maybe if she hid up against it they would pass her up without even noticing. She hopped over the next tree, and lied down, pressing her back up against the tree bark as much as she could.
She watched as the beams of lights crossed over her, followed by dark shadows. They stopped just after the jump and scanned the environment in front of them. Kamryn scooted as close as possible to the tree, praying they didn't turn around. The thoughts of prison raced through her mind. The lights shined in her eyes, and her heart dropped.
Before she was able to even stand, they grabbed her, and forcefully picked her up. They bent her over the tree trunk, shoving her face into the bark, and slapped a pair of handcuffs over her wrists. They ripped her up from the tree, and shoved her over it. She stumbled over the tree, smacking her knees hard off the ground. They only picked her up, and shoved her forwards again.
She tried to struggle at first, but the guards gave her a quick smack in the back of the head, and she was forced to quit.
"I was on my way back to Capital City, I swear. Can you just let me go this one time?" She pleaded.
The guard on her right shook his head and grunted. "No way, you know the rules. Curfew is at seven o'clock, and it's almost ten-thirty li'l lady."
"Plus, the General will have our hides if we let you go an' he finds out," the other guard added.
Kamryn watched the moon shine in the sky as the guards walked her out of the forest. The Stars were all scattered around it, fanning out the further away from the moon. She always loved the stars. She liked the aspect of them being free to do as they please. She had always dreamed of the day she would be able to freely travel outside of the city, able to visit other cities without being disciplined for going outside the walls.
But, she knows now, even if the day that the General decides to loosen up and let people outside that she wouldn't be able to celebrate along with everyone else. No, she would be stuck inside a prison cell, only to look out of the barred off windows. Shivers ran down her spine as she thought about life in the prison. Although, she had to admit it would be about the same as it would be living in Capital City, a smaller living space is the only difference.
Shadows flew by them, Kamryn only able to see them by the corner of her eye. Another one quickly flowed it. The guards didn't seem to notice. Maybe she was just seeing things. She pushed out of her mind, and kept walking.
She heard loud, short grunts followed by thuds on the ground. She looked behind her and saw the two guards knocked down on the ground. One guard tried to get back up, was immediately shoved right back to the ground by the shadows. They both lie there, unconscious.
She whipped around in a panic. She didn't know who or what those figures were. For all she knew, they were going to target her next. She glanced around frantically, looking for the shadows in the dark. They stood in front of her, and her heart dropped to her stomach. She shut her eyes, expecting them to do something to her. They walked passed her, over to the downed guards. They searched through the unconscious bodies. Taking a few things as they got up, sighing and rubbing their heads.
A flashlight flicked on, and Kamryn could see both of them clearly. They were two boys, looking somewhere around her age. The boy holding the flashlight had neat black hair that hung down to the tips of his ears. He was fairly tall. The other boy had short brown hair, he was shorter than the other boy, but still taller than Kamryn.
"They don't have much we want," the brown haired boy said.
"Then the flashlights will have to do for now." The black-haired boy looked up, and made eye contact with Kamryn. For a second, she stared back. Not wanting to cause any trouble, she quickly turned away. The boy crouched back down by one of the guards, and took something. Kamryn's body shivered as he grabbed her by the shoulder, and slid it halfway down her arm. She heard a small metal clank sound, and the handcuffs on her wrists fell off.
She rubbed her wrists where lines were from the tight cuffs. She looked back at the boy, puzzled by his actions.
"Jake, why'd you do that?" The other boy asked.
The black-haired boy, named Jake, shrugged his shoulders. "Why not? She doesn't look like she'd hurt anyone."
"You don't know that, she could actually be some cold-blooded killer!"
Jake looked over at her, with a skeptical, scrunched up face.
"What were they arresting you for?" He asked.
" Uh, I was out past curfew," she answered, trying not to stumble over her words.
Jake looked back at the other boy, and gave him a sly smile. "See Ren? She isn't going to hurt anyone."
The other boy, Ren, folded his arms, and looked out into the dark field in front of them. Kamryn heard him mumble "Yeah, whatever."
The boys turned around to leave, with the guards still lying unconscious. They would wake up soon, and she had nowhere to go. She can't get back into Capital City now, not this late, and not without being noticed. The only way back into the city would be another delivery run made by guards. The next one isn't scheduled until at least next month.
She also didn't understand these boys. Why were they out of the city too? There was something off about them to her. It wasn't just the events that just took place, their clothes were different from the rest of society. In Capital City, the citizens are required to be properly dressed in the streets, unless their work requires otherwise. This law had just recently been passed, not more than a few months ago. Kamryn never liked that rule, she would always find some excuse to get out of dressing nice. Once she had even lied to the authorities, saying that she worked for the postal, so she could wear what she wanted.
She didn't want to trust them, but she had no choice. If she were to stay, she would be arrested immediately. There's no way she could sneak back into the city without being caught. Then again, she knows nothing about these boys. She has no idea why they looted the guards.
"Wait!" The words slipped out before Kamryn knew what she was even doing. She bit her lip as they turned their heads. They waited for her response. She immediately regretted speaking. She hesitated, knowing that it's not a good idea to trust them. She thought again about going to hide out in the abandoned truck, so she wouldn't have to deal with the boys. The thought of being caught stopped that idea.
"Can I go with you guys?" She asked. They gave her a look, as if saying why would we help you? She swallowed hard, trying to think of the words to say. "It's just, these guards are going to wake up soon, and I don't want to be around when they come to."
"Why can't you just go back home?" Ren asked coldly.
"Uh, I can't. The guards won't let me back in unless they're arresting me. The only way I can get back in is if the guards go on supply runs. The next one isn't for another month," Kamryn faltered.
"No," Ren said abruptly.
"Now wait a minute, Ren," Jake said. Ren snapped his head over to Jake, shooting him a nasty scowl.
"You can't be serious. We just met her!" He protested
"She needs help though. She'll be arrested if we don't help."
"We can't trust her!"
"I won't do anything shady, I swear! I just need somewhere to sleep for tonight. Please," Kamryn pleaded. The look on Ren's face was skeptical. He was still unsure if he wanted to trust a complete stranger.
"I can leave in the morning. Just a few hours and I'll be gone."
Ren squeezed the bridge of his nose with two fingers. He raised his hand up to his forehead, and let it drag down the side of his face, letting out a loud and long sigh on the way down."Fine. One night." He groaned. He walked away, leaving Jake and Kamryn, mumbling to himself. Jake shrugged it off, and walked away. Kamryn quickly followed. She wasn't entirely sure why she wanted to go with them, but it was better than staying out in the open waiting to be arrested.