Waking Other Lives

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Chapter 34: Seeking Refuge

I lay down on the ground, taking deep breaths to calm my racing heart as I watched Seth in the sky fighting with his kind. It was getting hard to focus, my burnt arm felt like hell, and I was about to faint from the pain, which is what had already happened to Mina.

Baran ran to my side. “We need to get out of here. We’ll come back for Mina and your brother later on,” he urged me, trying to lift me up by using my good arm. ” C’mon Sierra, move! We need to leave before they come back. I knew this was going to happen. I knew it, I told you, but did you listen? This time, we are getting the hell out of the direction of the Palace, you hear me? I don’t care about your visions, hallucinations, or whatever the hell they might be. I will keep you out of this mess, and I will keep you alive, that’s all that matters.”

“No, let me go. We will be all right,” I murmured, as I fought for my consciousness. “He is here. We will be okay, he won’t let anything happen,” I said, but I felt I was blacking out. My vision was blurred, and I felt dizzy. “Travis....Mina...” I murmured. The searing pain was however beyond my endurance, and I welcomed the blackness which soon engulfed me.

******************************************************

I felt my fumbling fingers touch a neck, thick, wet, and unmistakably masculine. Where was I, what had happened to me? When I opened my eyes, I realized Baran held me within his arms; he was running, and my whole body was bumping with each step he took. Sweat was dripping from his forehead, his muscles were tense, his breathing ragged, his face focused on the path ahead. He had wrapped my burnt arm with the inside of his shirt, securing my arm at my waist by tucking my hand inside my jeans. I bit my tongue not to cry out; my arm was juggling painfully despite his slow but steady pace. I could see Elvan way ahead of us; she was surveilling the vicinity for any Drakon activity; her gun held steady in her hand.

“We need to stop,” said Elvan. “You can’t continue any longer.”

“We can’t,” Baran said, refusing to put me down. “She won’t make it if we can’t make it to Hayley, she is already burning with fever. She needs medicine. Immediate medicine,” he said. “Hayley is our only choice,” he stressed.

I heard the words, but say it was the fever or all the crap that had happened; they didn’t register. Not really. My brother was probably dead. And Mina, too. Where was Seth, had they killed him, too? I felt the tears slowly gathering an army beneath my eyelids, threatening to surge forward any minute now. I couldn’t bear it any longer. Baran was saying I was also going to die. Screw the mission, screw Rawonia; I wanted nothing to do with all this. I wanted to die and be at peace. I was tired, exhausted from trying to achieve the impossible in a world in which I did not even know who was friend or enemy. I wanted to be done with it once and for all. Death could not be worse than this nightmare. I sought it; I wanted it. “Let me die,” I whispered.

“I won’t,” Baran said. “You will be okay. I’ll make sure of that.” And, on that note, he went back to running.

I felt his desperation with every step he took. He was trying so hard to keep me alive, all his actions so far confirming his devotion, affection to me, just like Abby had said. Poor Baran.

“Thank you,” I said, not because I cared to live, but because he did.

“I love you, Sierra,” he said, his voice croaked, like running, carrying my weight, and the stress were all depleting his energy.

And, for the first time in a long time, I believed him. He was certainly the dependable, loving boy I once used to know; I knew that now.

Though his pace slowed down to almost a quick stride, Baran didn’t stop for hours, the determination to make it to Haley spurred him on, giving him the nutrition to keep pumping his legs. I lost consciousness from time to time, delusions seized me, muddling my brain. Both the pain and the fever were making it hard for me to differentiate what was real and what was imaginary.

Once, I remember clutching Seth’s neck, realizing with glee that he’d replaced Baran, and was now carrying me, instead. I smiled, “When did you come?” I asked him. “Did you beat them?”

“Ssh,” I heard him say. “Don’t exert yourself, just sleep.”

When I woke up, I was in the arms of Baran again. I was so damn confused.

I kept begging, asking Seth to stop running, asking Baran to stop running, asking whoever was holding me to stop running, I just wanted to lie down so badly. But, the running did not stop.

“We can’t get there by running; we need to find a damn vehicle. We need to get off this path and get to the road,” I heard him say.

“But, what about the Drakons?” Elvan asked.

“We don’t have a choice,” he shouted in frustration.

Where were we? I tried to focus on the surroundings, but there was no building or person visible around us, it was trees and more trees stretching ahead of us. I could see them in a blur rushing towards me, the fallen leaves scattered around with the breeze, as the cooling air blew into my face with each step. “You will be cold,” I said to Baran, my feverish mind worrying over that, rather than the devastating circumstances.

He didn’t even bother answering, but took a sharp right, getting off the trail we’d been following. When I opened my eyes again, he was lowering me down on the dirt road which was littered with trash, leaves, and twigs.

“I will be back in a vehicle to take us out of here, take care of her,” he said.

“But, where will you find one?” Elvan asked, worried. “We are in the middle of nowhere.”

“I know exactly where we are. I’ll find one, don’t worry about that. Worry about keeping her safe and alive while I’m gone, that’s all I ask of you.”

“Okay, hurry back,” she said, giving up.

“I will,” he said, and that’s the last I heard of him for what seemed like hours, though I didn’t know as I constantly shifted in between sleep and awareness.

Elvan was continuously pacing around impatiently, her eyes watching, searching movement beneath the trees, watching shapes in the cloudless sky as if waiting for a Drakon to emerge any moment.

“Where’s Seth?” I asked. “He was here a moment ago,” I said.

“Sweetie, Seth is back in the rebel unit. He is not here with us, remember? It was Baran you saw, and he went to find us a vehicle.”

“No, he is fighting with the Drakons. Where are the Drakons?”

But, she was silent and no longer answering my questions.

“I hear an engine,” she said, as she ran ahead to see better. She was still cautious, holding the gun, pointing it at the approaching vehicle. “Thank God,” she exclaimed in joy, her gestures animated, as if in disbelief that Baran had made it.

Baran left the engine running, and came out to lift me up and carry me to the back seat.

I felt the move of the car, but I was oblivious to our surroundings, just breathing, just surviving.

“Where did you find the car? I was losing hope,” said Elvan.

“It wasn’t easy, I found an abandoned vehicle on the road, but there was no gas in it, so I had to go further until I found another. By a miracle, this one was standing in front of a knocked down house. They had some supplies of gasoline in the enclosing shed which was still standing. It’s not in good shape, but it should suffice to take us to Hayley’s. They have a medical facility there, and they should be able to help her. God, I’m hoping they will,” he said, his voice shaky.

We traveled, and traveled, I was now oblivious to the pain, I felt my mind was floating in a dream-like state.

“We are here, Elvan just hop off and have the door opened,” Baran said, as he parked the car. He got out, taking me in his arms as he walked towards the huge building which apparently held the commander of all the rebels. The building was still standing amidst this war, and it was out in the open. It seemed they were very confident in their ability to fend off a possible Drakon attack.

I could hear Elvan knocking on the door, to the point of breaking it. The door opened by someone holding a gun right at Elvan’s face. “What do you want?” asked the voice rudely.

“We seek refuge,” Elvan explained. “I’m with Baran from rebel unit 1, and I’m from rebel group 2, please tell your commander that.”

“Just a second,” he said, closing the door right on her face. Baran was still holding me, patiently waiting for the door to open. He was not budging from where he stood.

“Baran, give her to me,” I heard someone say right behind us.

I have no idea whether my feverish mind conjured him, or not. Was it the fever, was it real, I had no clue, but he was standing right behind us. Seth was looking at me, at us, and he was stretching his hand towards Baran as if to seize my body.

“I’ve been looking all over for you, I finally managed to find your trace, give her to me, she needs help,” Seth said, taking a step towards me.

I was looking at him, was it Seth? And what was I supposed to do? He looked incredibly handsome. He was very dangerous, right? That’s what Abby had said. She had told me to kill him, wasn’t that right? I was so confused, and Baran lowered me down as he took a threatening stand towards Seth.

“Get out of my way, she needs urgent help,” Seth said.

“Yes, and that’s why we are here, asshole!” Baran responded. “I got her here, I’ll also get her the help she needs, we don’t need you, she doesn’t need you,” he warned.

“I’m on edge here, don’t test me,” Seth responded. “I’ve been trying to get to her since... since,” he said, not finishing his sentence.

I had a headache; I looked at Seth. What happened afterward was so reflexive, so automatic, I would not even recall it. I took the gun that Elvan had once given me, still clutched beneath my jeans. I took careful aim at Seth and pulled the trigger. The sound of the exploding gun was distinct, loud.

The door then opened as if on cue.

“Haley,” Baran said, in greeting, completely disregarding the fact that someone was hurt, or that I was the culprit.

I looked at the emerging figure, utterly confused. “Abby, what are you doing in here?” I asked.


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