Fragmented

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+ Chapter Five

They drove for what seemed like hours. They drove through so many factions. So many massive walls. Each fraction was so different from the other. As they went the streets started getting dirtier, the houses started getting smaller and more run down. The amount of greenery faded, the air seemed darker. The people looked sadder. There was an overall feeling as if a cloud of despair floated among these fractions and the closer they got to the sorrows, the darker that cloud seemed to get. Megan also noticed that the fractions seemed to get bigger as they went. More and more people lived in the lower fractions. She estimated that in the smaller 4 fractions alone, the population was double the size of the top 4 fractions.

About thirty minutes in, Liam started to ask the guards and driver questions.

“I noticed, you called Megan, the sparrow…. What does that mean?”

Scott was sitting in the passenger seat. He turned back and said “we gave you both code names for safety purposes. We aren’t very creative though so they are usually animal names. We named you the eagle and the governess the sparrow. But if you would prefer something else, let us know.”

Liam tilted his head towards Megan, “Something to think about.” Megan could tell that Liam was trying to make an attempt to lighten the mood. But honestly, between being assaulted and harassed by Kyle, being kicked out of her life, and all the things she was seeing out her window, the last thing she cared about was her code name. So, she ignored him and continued to watch out the window.

Liam continued to talk to them throughout the trip, asking questions about protocol and what they could and could not do, their positions, their experience, about the sorrows, and about former governors. Megan tuned it all out. Watching the fractions speed by her had her interest. She didn’t want to think about anything else but the rapid decline of the communities, and the complete shock at their states. She never in a million years would think the other fractions would be like this.

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Hours later, they were in the middle of what seemed like nowhere. The desert around them seems to go on into the distance for miles and miles without any sign of life. There was such a big gap between the people that lived in the 9th fraction and the wall to the sorrows it seemed like they were different towns completely. The armored vehicles stopped at the last gate, the gate that they could never open again. Megan’s heart rate started to accelerate. The gate started to move open slowly as guards pushed back the curious onlookers and people trying to escape to the other fractions. This was it. This was the point of no return. Liam squeezed Megan’s hand. She couldn’t help thinking,

This is where I’m going to die.

They didn’t drive into the sorrows very far before they got to the governor’s compound. However, in that short amount of time, what Megan witnessed from her window was heartbreaking. The Sorrows was like a third world country. The homes were crumbling. The homes looked like they were made with what ever could be found. Random pieces of brick, wood, mud, anything. The people wore clothes that looked overly worn and hadn’t been washed in years. People were frail, skin, and bones and some looked visibly hurt or sick.

They came up to this walled-off compound. The walls seemed to stretch on forever, made with thick cinder blocks and lined with barbed wire. They were painted a yellow-tan but the color was chipping and there was dirt and graffiti covering the walls, that it was hard to see much of the original color. Next to the walls were rows to trees and a nice sidewalk. It looked the nicest thing in the city that they had seen so far. In the center of the wall was a large gate made with thick metal. The gate itself must have been hundreds of pounds in weight with how thick the metal was. The large gate opened slowly and they drove onto the property. As they drove away they heard it close with a loud grinding and bashing sound. Megan jumped. The sound was loud, but the meaning behind it and the way it made her feel terrified her. She was trapped like a zoo animal, to be watched before people grew bored of her and slaughtered her out of fun.

It was a large property, If she could guess it would be at least two acres of land. In the center, there was a large single-story building that looked like it was inspired by a mix of art deco and desert landscaping. It was the same tan as the wall was, had lots of pillars and wood accents. The windows were barred with thick bronze colored metal. Some of the windows were clear while others had beautiful stained glass art.

She looked around the property. There were a few other buildings scattered throughout the property that looked like additional housing. The landscape was essentially a groomed desert. Rocks, sand, a few palm trees, a few palo verde trees. Cactus sprinkled throughout. There were a few flower gardens around the front door. Besides those few plants, there was not much greenery. It was pretty bare. Around the property, there were not a lot of signs of human life either. She didn’t see any lights except the ones lining the driveway and at the front door. She didn’t see any outdoor furniture. Didn’t see any people besides the guards standing at the gate entrance and at the front door. There was no sign of anyone truly living here. It was like a ghost town. Either that or everyone was inside avoiding the heat. Either way, it felt eerie. It didn’t feel welcoming. It felt like a prison.

The cars stopped at the peak of the driveway, in front of the main entrance to the building. The guards that were standing outside moved towards the car and opened the doors on both sides. The man that opened Megan’s side was wearing a mask and sunglasses. His face was completely covered. She looked at him in terror. Through the mask, he muttered, “Welcome governess.”

Welcome? Were kidnappers always this polite?

She felt Liam get out of the vehicle from the other side. She didn’t want to leave his side but she also didn’t want to get any closer to this man. He seemed to wait for her to move, while she waited for him to grab her and run off with her. The tension grew. She felt her heart rate accelerate and her arms start to shake. She felt like she was going to faint. Like everything was going slower and she was looking at the man in a haze.

Gunshots started to go off. Instantly snapping out of her panicked daze, she looked at the man clearly, thinking it was his doing. The gunshots didn’t stop. She heard yelling all around her. The man’s arm reached into the car, pushing her back by her chest and slammed the door. The door that Liam had gotten out of also slammed. Both doors slamming sounded like bombs going off all around her. She fell awkwardly on to the seat and then the car lurched forward, seemingly accelerating at a fast pace. At the movement of the car flying, she fell onto the floor. She looked around searching the car for Liam.

He’s not here. I’m alone.

She heard more shots go off and the sound of the bullets hitting the glass and metal of the vehicle. She covered her head and stayed down on the floor, trying to protect herself from being hit. She had no idea who the driver was, or where he was taking her, let alone what was happening. She hoped he had her best interest at heart and this wasn’t an elaborate kidnapping.

Was the man driving the car one of the guardsmen? Or was he a rogue? If he was a rouge, then where was he taking her?

Her mind was spinning. At the moment though, all she could think of was that she didn’t want to get shot. It was just all going too fast.

They seemed to drive for a while. Eventually, the gunshots started to fade and then disappear altogether. The SUV suddenly stopped. Megan hesitantly pushed herself up off the floor. She started to look around the vehicle first. It was just her and the driver. Megan then looked out the window. They were in the middle of nowhere. None of the surroundings looked familiar. She didn’t see any sign of life, any roads, any homes anywhere around them, or in the distance. Just desert and mountains.

Megan looked at the driver. He was bleeding profusely from his left arm. The amount of blood splattered and smeared on the window next to him made Megan’s stomach lurch. She was going to get sick. He was breathing heavily. Despite being queasy, she knew she had to do something, or else this man was going to die. She assumed since he was hurt that he had to be on their side. That he didn’t mean to hurt her. He was also wearing the same outfits the guards had been since they arrived this morning. Though she didn’t recognize him from earlier, she figured with those two facts that he must have driven out here to try to keep her safe. If she was wrong, she would regret it. But right now She had to do something to save his life. He might be the only thing between her and whoever was trying to shoot her. She took a deep breath trying to calm herself, getting into a mindset to ignore the blood and push through the faintness so she could help him. She looked at him and said, “First-aid kit. you need to patch that up or you will die. where’s the first aid kit?”

He moaned in pain and muttered through clenched teeth, “It’s in the back. Don’t leave the car.”

Megan nodded. He was probably afraid there was still a threat outside. She couldn’t blame him. He looked like he wasn’t going to be much help in his current state if they were attacked again. She climbed over the back seats and searched around their bags and boxes of personal items before she found a black bag in a square shape with a white cross on it. That had to be it. Megan grabbed it and crawled back over the seats to the front. She crawled into the front passenger seat. And opened the bag on the middle console. “I… I don’t know much about medical things… I assume we need to wrap it?” The man nodded. “Do I need to disinfect it?”

He shook his head and muttered, “Just stop the bleeding. Bandage it as tight as you can.”

Megan nodded and started to search through the box for something that she could use to wrap his arm. She found some cotton gauze, tape, and a cloth wrap. She then held it up for his approval. He nodded. She then realized that she was not going to be able to get to his arm unless he moved or she got on top of him. “Can you turn? I… I can’t really get to your arm over here. The man nodded and pushed a few things, moving the steering wheel up and the seatback to give him room to turn. There was blood everywhere. Megan felt the blood drain from her face, then shook herself remembering that she had to do this. She had to save this man that had done so much to save her. She took a deep breath and started to wrap the wound.

The cotton gauze and wrap quickly turned red. She looked at the man in panic as the color changed. He looked at her and said, “keep going. Tighter.”

Tighter? She already thought she was pulling too tight? But what did she know? She was not a doctor or had any formal first aid training.

She nodded and proceeded to pull the wrap tighter trying to stop the bleeding as much as possible. Then secured it with a metal clip that she found in the box.

When she was done he turned his body back to sit in the chair properly, falling back onto it with a thump. She asked, “Where are we?”

He said, “Safe.”

She looked at him in confusion. That was not enough information. But before she could ask, his eyes fluttered and he went limp, passing out. She saw he was still breathing, so at least he wasn’t dead. But if he kept losing blood like he was, he might be dead soon. And that… that would not be ideal to be stuck in a car in the middle of nowhere with a dead body. As she watched him in shock she started to realize that not only would she be in a car with a dead body…. She would also be completely defenseless. She already was. She started to panic. She had to do something. Had to figure out where they were and how to get back.

“Shit… shit… SHIT! What do I do now??”

She had to try to get out of there. She had to drive them back. In order to do that, he had to move him. She grabbed him by his uninjured arm and tried to pull him across the middle console, into the passenger seat. She struggled for a bit before deciding she was going to have to get out of the car and pull him across. Megan looked around the car, looking outside for any sign of danger. Any sign that someone was coming that might hurt or take her. She saw no one. Deeming it safe, she unlocked the doors and got out. She hooked her arms under his armpits and used her entire body weight to pull the massive man across the car into the passenger seat.

This man had to be 1,000 pounds… he had to be… why was this so hard?

When she got him over the main threshold, she fell back, flying into the dirt behind her. Her hands got scuffed up from the rocks. She looked at them and brushed the dirt and pebbles off of her hands. She took a second to breathe. She wasn’t unfit. She was a normal healthy weight for a 5’5 woman in her mid-20s. But she was not fit. She was not an athlete. She had her fat rolls around her belly. She had thicker thighs. She could not remember the last time she worked out if she was honest. And she did not have near the strength she needed to pull a man of this size… that was passed out … across the car.

She looked around to make sure there was still no one coming and saw nothing in the distance. The dirt that was around them before was now pretty much settled. She could see a lot further in all directions. She still didn’t see any sign of life. Was she even in the sorrows anymore?

Did he drive out of the Hive?

She looked up, praying for whatever was out there to help her out. To give her the strength she needed to pull this man the remainder of the way. Then tried again until he was sitting in the seat. He was not in the most comfortable position… but he was out of the driver’s seat enough to give her the space she needed to drive. She buckled his seatbelt and then closed the door, pushing his body in while she did so.

When the door was closed she ran around the front of the car and got in the driver's. Seat. She looked at all the things in front of her and felt a sense of panic. It had been so long since she had been in the driver’s seat of a car. It was a… strange experience to be back in that seat. She looked around and pressed the button to start the car, pushing the brake down. She looked at the dashboard to make sure the vehicle was still driveable. There was still half a tank.

Megan thought about it for a minute. She knew that there were serious consequences if a woman was found driving.

I have to hide my identity. They will pull me over immediately if I am caught… and I’ll be killed on the spot…

She looked at the man next to her, and then back at herself. She was in a low cut tank top and form-fitting jeans. Her womanly assets were very much visible. She had to look more like a man. She noticed the guard was wearing a camo baseball hat and a bulletproof vest.

I can hide my hair in the hat, and push my breasts down under the vest….

She reached over, taking the man’s baseball hat and put it on, tucking her hair into it. Then she unbuckled his vest and tugged at his shirt until she got that off him. Megan looked down at her shirt and breasts and realized that her bra was not helping the situation. She was wearing a push-up bra. Pushing them up to the sky for everyone to see was not going to help her look more like a man. She unclasped the bra, taking it off and throwing it and her shirt into the back seat. Then she shrugged into the man’s shirt and the bulletproof vest. She secured it as tight as she could but realized that the vest was made for a much wider torso. There was a lot of room to move around in the vest. In fact, it shifted around her body as she moved. She sighed. Megan was hoping that she could use the vest to push her breasts down. Instead, they were holding the vest up like a trophy stand.

She looked over at the man and realized he had a belt around his waist. She cursed. “I hope you won’t be too upset when you wake up… if you wake up…. I’m trying to save us…. Please don’t hate me for this. I swear I’m not taking any liberties…” as she said that to the passed out man, she pulled his belt through the loops and off of his limp body.

Megan looped the belt around her waist trying to push the vest tighter. When she deemed it tight enough she readjusted the hat that had lost most of her hair while she was taking off and putting on clothing. She looked down and realized that if she was pulled over she would be screwed.

I just have to get to the compound…. If people think I am a man until then, that is all I need.

Megan sighed and moved the seat up and adjusted the steering wheel to a height that suited her size better. She grabbed the gear shift to move the vehicle into drive.

“Marco, do you read? Come in Marco, what’s your 20?”

Megan jumped like a cat to water. If she was not wearing a seat belt she probably would have hit the ceiling she was so startled. She realized it was a walkie talkie radio. But where? Megan started to look around the car, trying to find the source of the noise when it went off again. It was coming from the guardsman. She looked around him.

At this point, there are not many places it could be…

She had his shirt and vest on. And she had taken his belt as well. Where else could he have kept it? She looked down and saw a walkie talkie connected to the pocked on his pants.

How did I miss that?

She grabbed it, unhooking it from his pocket, and located the button to talk. She held it to her mouth and then hesitated. Megan didn’t know who she was talking to. I should wait until they give more information.

That way I will know for sure I am talking to the right people….

A few seconds later the voice on the other side of the walkie talkie said, “Marco, do you have eyes on the sparrow?” Megan recognized the name. Out of all the conversations and questions Liam had in the car on the ride to the sorrows, she was thankful that she heard the conversation about the code names. The man on the other end had to be a guardsman. Why else would he know her identifier? She sighed in relief. She might not have to drive into town after all. She can just have them come to her.

Megan pressed down on the button and responded back, “Sparrow is here. Marco is…. injured...”

The man on the other end responded back “Are you safe?”

“I am unharmed. But in an unknown location.”

The man simply said “Copy”

Megan realized that this man would have probably been back at the governor’s compound. He probably knew where Liam was. A sick feeling washed over her.

Had he been shot? Was he killed?

Megan pushed the button down, “Where is the eagle?”

the man said The eagle has been hit.”

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