Fragmented

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+ Chapter Seven

As the dust and dirt started to clear around Megan, she shook herself out of the trance she was in. They were gone. But she was still shaking. Still terrified. But she couldn’t focus on that. She had to pull herself together. She had to survive. She was still in the middle of the desert. And she had to figure out a way back to the governor’s compound before they came back. Or she died of heat exhaustion and dehydration.

She stumbled. Pushing herself up on shaky legs, she tried to get her footing. Her hands were still zip-tied behind her. That might have been the most frustrating thing in her current situation. How was she going to do anything without getting them off? Vaguely, she remembered watching a video about breaking out of zip ties before the war started. She knew she had to pull it tightly and then use all her strength to pull it apart. She thought about it for a minute. She knew her best chance of survival was getting out of them. It would be the best way to defend herself if they came back. She also couldn’t drive the vehicle back in the off chance the keys were still in the car. She had to get out of the tie.

Megan thought about it more. When she had watched that video, she had become obsessed with trying to learn how to do that, just in case. She had convinced Liam to try too. She had gone first, letting him put the ties on her hands, and then following the instructions on the video, making the ties as tight as they could go and then trying to use force to break them. After about 30 seconds of trying and not making any progress, she started to panic. The ties were digging into her skin. They were cutting off her circulation and no matter how many times she swung her arms and pulled, they didn’t break. They just hurt her more. In tears, Liam had to cut them off her. When Liam had tried, he didn’t even have to move his arms in the same direction as the video. He didn’t put his arms up and then swing them down and pull his hands apart to try to break it with momentum. No. He just pulled his hands apart until they broke. It only took him all of 5 seconds to do it. He had shrugged and looked at her as if it was easy. Defeated, she decided that she would not try again, and just try to keep out of situations that might put her in ties. And if she did get into one, hope that Liam was with her so he could get them both out.

But now she was, alone, in the desert, in zip ties. The stupid video didn’t even show her how to get out if her hands were tied behind her. How would she swing her arms in this situation?

Megan shook her head in frustration. She was wasting time. She wasn’t going to try something she knew she couldn’t do. She also wasn’t going to attempt to do it again just to lose her hands to lack of blood flow.

She looked back at the black tactical vehicle behind her and started to move towards it. The doors were shut. They must have closed them when they had grabbed her. She looked into the car. The guard would be toast in this weather. You couldn’t leave someone in a closed locked car in this heat. But as she looked through the glass, she noticed that he was not in the passenger seat.

What the hell? Where did he go? Am I at the same vehicle? Or did they take me to another one? Did they take him?

Slightly panicking again, worried about the fate of the man that had driven her out there, she decided she had to get into the vehicle. She turned her back to the car, raising on her toes, she backed into the door. With shaking hands, she fumbled around behind her for the door handle. As she moved around her anxiety started to rise.

Where is it? Am I not tall enough?

She hooked her fingers around the hot door handle and sighed in relief. Then she pulled and to her astonishment the door opened.

Thank God.

She pulled the door open as wide as she could in her awkward position, sorta walking it open. Then she walked around it and started to search the vehicle. She climbed in, using her torso to balance herself as she climbed up the step and wiggled on to the driver’s seat. She readjusted herself, standing on the step she looked around. The man wasn’t there at all. She had to be in the wrong vehicle. Or something terrible had happened to him.

“We have located and searched for the blue vehicle. The sparrow is not here. Do we have any other leads?”

Megan jumped, startled at the sound, and looked down on the driver’s seat of the car. The walkie talkie was still here. She had to get in contact with them. Somehow. The step on the vehicle was narrow, and high off the ground. She was going to have to spin herself around to be able to grab the walkie talkie. She started to move her feet and slipped. Her leg almost slid between the vehicle and the step. If that happened, she could get stuck, or injure her leg if not lose it.

She paused looking down at the walkie talkie. She needed a new plan. She bit her lip in thought and then realized she didn’t need her hands for everything. She could be creative with this. Megan bent over the seat, mouth open, and bit on to the antenna on the walkie talkie as if she was bobbing for apples. When she felt she had a secure hold on it. She lifted it up and was shocked at how heavy it was. She wasn’t going to be able to hold it in her mouth long. She leaned back over the seat and moved her leg down, probing the air to try to find the ground. When her toe hit the ground, she slowly placed her foot down and then moved the other, sliding her torso across the seat and the outside of the vehicle for balance. In the process, the walkie talkie hit the seat adjuster and she nearly lost hold. She bit down on it harder, telling herself to move more carefully.

With feet planted safely on the ground, she moved a few steps away from the door and dropped the walkie talkie on the ground. Then kneeled down, turning her body, and searched for it with her bound hands. Grabbing the device she searched with her fingers for the largest button and pressed it as hard as she could. She heard the sound go out. That either meant that she had successfully held the button to be able to communicate with whoever was on the other side…. Or that she had turned it of. Sending up a prayer, she yelled as loud as she could, “Sparrow speaking! Please help me!”

Megan released the button with a sigh. She knew she had to yell. The device was behind her. It wasn’t near her mouth like it should have been. She just hoped, if she did hit the right button, that they heard her clear enough.

A sound went off, and then a man’s voice responded back, “Sparrow, what’s your 20? Are you at the SUV?”

Megan was so happy, tears started to stream down her face. It had worked. She was able to contact them. She smiled in relief, sighing, and looking up at the sky, she whispered, “Thank you” to herself. As if thanking the universe for whatever fortune they had bestowed upon her to have helped her.

She pressed down the button again and yelled, “Yes, I am at the SUV.”

The man said, “Copy, we have been trying to find you. We will circle back. Stay in your position.”

Not unaccustomed to the terms used when communicating with a walkie talkie, she pressed the button down again and yelled, “Copy.”

Megan closed her eyes. It was going to be ok. She was going to be ok. Hopefully, they would get her out of these zip ties. She looked down and realized that the shirt she was wearing was still cut down the middle. She cursed. Maybe her clothes were still in the vehicle. She turned to look at the vehicle and then shook her head. It wasn’t worth it. They should be there soon anyway, especially if they already knew where the SUV was.

But how did they know where it was?

Megan looked at the vehicle in confusion. Then she thought about the guard.

That would make sense…

They probably tracked the location of the vehicle… probably took the man out of the vehicle already. That had to be why he was missing…. They just got there too late to save her from the harassment she had just suffered through.

Thinking about those men again, made her heartbeat accelerate. She couldn’t just sit here. She had to figure out a way to protect herself. What if in the off chance the men on the other side of the walkie talkie meant her harm? Or were associated with the group that took her? She quickly pushed herself up from her knees and went back to the vehicle. She didn’t bother to climb back on the step this time. She figured if there was a hidden weapon, it would be under the seat or in the side door. And if she didn’t find one in either of those places, the middle console or the glove compartment would be the next best places. The only problem was that those two places required her to climb up into the vehicle and she didn’t want to do that again. Not only was it difficult to do and a little dangerous, but it also put her in a compromising position that wanted her little to no ways to defend herself.

She started to search around the two spaces, moving her head around like a bird. Bobbing around, turning it at weird angles to see if she could determine if something was there before reaching in. To her luck, she saw a small compact knife in the side door. She turned around to reach into the side door, and as she did, she saw a black vehicle approaching at a rapid speed with a plume of dust accumulated behind it. She felt her heart drop. She couldn’t determine what kind of vehicle it was. Was this someone coming to help her or bring her more torture? She desperately started to move her hands around the door, standing on her toes to try to get a better angle. As the vehicle got closer, she noted that it was another tactical vehicle like the one she was standing next to. She felt a sense of relief at first, then she realized that the kind of vehicle didn’t mean she was safe either. The vehicle stopped a few yards from her. Dust and dirt covered the air. She coughed, the particles getting into her mouth and lungs. She tilted her head, blinking to try to get the fragments of sand out of her eyes. The doors of the vehicle opened. Her heart couldn’t beat faster if it tried. She still didn’t have a hands-on the knife. If these men meant her harm she was screwed.

Through the dust, she saw two men approaching. “Sparrow, are you alone?”

Megan sighed. They were from the compound. Relief flooded her veins. She felt like the constant relief mixed with panic and fear was sending her on a roller coaster. One minute she was happy and thankful and the next she was panicked and terrified. It was getting exhausting. But for the first time since the gunshots went off, she finally felt safe.

“I am alone, to my knowledge. I…. I don’t think anyone is in the vehicle or hiding somewhere.”

The man nodded.

Safe. It was a strange feeling. She didn’t know these men from any other man. She didn’t even know their names. How could she feel this confidence that she was safe with total strangers? This morning when they had arrived at her house she looked at them with dread. She felt like they were the enemy. And now they felt like they were her heroes.

Megan wondered if this had been staged. If they had done this to gain their trust. She shook herself and realized that wouldn’t have made sense. Not only would it have been a dark manipulative trick, but why would they injure their own men badly enough that they could have killed him? No. It was a big stretch for her to assume that they had set this all up.

Two men were walking up to her. The one that had asked her if she was alone was on the right of her. He had gotten out of the driver’s side. The one on the left had yet to have spoken. They moved with purpose. They didn’t run but were walking up to her hesitantly while also looking around the area. She assumed they thought that they were being watched or that she wasn’t truly alone.

The man on the left quickly glanced down at her, running his eyes over her body. Not in a distasteful way, but as if to quickly search or assess her. His eyes snapped up quickly when he noticed her chest was exposed. She blushed. She was embarrassed about the condition she was in. But she really couldn’t do anything about it. She just hoped they wouldn’t hold it against her or harass her further about it. She looked down, a set of fresh tears running down her cheeks, creating rivers through the dirt.

“Can you move closer to us? We don’t know about the state of the vehicle.” The man on the right said.

Megan’s eyes grew wide. She hadn’t even thought about the vehicle being rigged with a bomb. She removed her hands from the door and quickly started to move closer to them. As she got closer, the man on her right nodded to the one on the left. The man on the left kept hesitantly moving forward to the vehicle, rounding it and searching around the area. As he did, another plume of dust started to from behind it. She heard the sounds of a vehicle approaching but couldn’t see it with the parked vehicle in her way. The man saw her concern and said, “They are with us. No need to be alarmed.”

Megan nodded. He was still being hesitant with her which she appreciated. In a sense that was. She was a little worried about their caution regarding the overall situation. Which made her want to tell him to hurry up and get them out of there. She had no want to be stuck here any longer. He holstered the gun he had out and reached into his pocket. He grabbed her arm and Megan jumped, flinching at his touch. The man looked at her and said, “Easy, I’m going to cut you out of the tie.”

Megan nodded. The man was very direct. His responses and tone didn’t leave any room for emotion. He was like a robot in a sense. Which felt a little cold but was expected. She didn’t know this man. Why would he care? She turned and he grabbed on to the zip tie and quickly cut it off.

“Thank you” Megan muttered as she moved her arms back around to the front of her, rubbing her wrists trying to get the sting and pain to dissipate.

The man nodded and then looked down. He coughed as if he was uncomfortable and said, “You were wearing a different shirt when we arrived at your former home this morning. Can we locate it for you?”

Megan nodded looking down in embarrassment. She muttered, “I threw it in the back of the vehicle.”

The man nodded. Megan pulled the scraps of the shirt she was wearing together in an effort to cover herself. He looked past her to the man who was looking around the vehicle. He yelled “She said she has a top in the back seat. I’m going to move her back to our rig, can you grab it?

The other man said, “Yeah, the vehicle seems clear by the way.”

The man standing next to Megan said, “10-4” then looked down at Megan and said, “Let’s get you home.”

Home.

A strange concept. The first image in her head when she thought of home was her house in the fourth fraction. She knew he did not mean he was taking her back there. He was taking her to her new ‘home’ in the Sorrows. A chill went down her spine at the realization. Then she nodded to the man and walked back with him. He opened the back door to the vehicle and she hopped in. The man jumped into the front seat and hit the button on his walkie talkie stating, “We have the sparrow, unharmed.”

Someone on the other end said, “Copy, are you returning to the base?”

The man said, “Yes, waiting for Wallace to return to the vehicle, and then we will begin the transfer.”

The voice on the other end said, “Copy, we will expect you.

The man then looked back at Megan who was crouched in a ball in the back trying to keep the shirt together. He squinted his eyes at her in question and said, “Are you injured?”

Megan shook her head. Besides her pride and her mental state, she was fine. “No, I’m ok.” The man nodded. Megan then thought about Liam and the man from the vehicle. She looked up at the guard who was watching her. “What happened to the man that was in that vehicle? The one that drove me out here?... and Liam? Is he ok?”

The man-made a face and then devoid of any emotion said, “The eagle is hit but should be fine. His wounds were not bad. Kittsburg, the man that drove you out here, for your safety, was taken back to base when we found the vehicle. His condition is still unknown. He was alive when he was transported.”

Megan nodded. She hoped this Kittsburg man survived. She did owe him for saving her. Even if that group of men did eventually find her, at least she was not shot.

The passenger door opened and the other man came in. He jumped on to the seat and closed the door saying, “Let’s go.”

The driver nodded and took the vehicle out of park and started to drive back to the Sorrows. The man in the passenger seat, looked back at Megan and reached out his hand, handing her the clothing she had left in the back of the other vehicle. She blushed realizing that her bra was on top. The man noticed and smiled. He said, “I would love to hear the back story.”

Megan scowled at him and grabbed her things out of his glove clad hand. He chuckled, showing much more emotion than the driver did. When Megan did not reciprocate his reaction his face went back to being stoic and robotic. He coughed as if to clear the awkwardness and said flatly, “We know you value your privacy. If you want to get dressed, we don’t have a way to cover you from the front of the vehicle, but we won’t look until you give the all-clear.”

Megan looked at him, trying to gauge if his words held any truth. After a while, he said, “Gentleman’s promise. We are here to protect you and keep you safe. Not disrespect your boundaries.”

Megan nodded and muttered, “OK. Don’t look.” The man nodded and turned back around. Megan made quick work of putting her bra back on then taking off the cut t-shirt and placing her shirt back on. When she was adjusted she said, “Ok, I’m decent.”

The man nodded and looked back. “Any injuries?”

The driver said, “I already asked, she said no.”

The man in the passenger seat raised his eyebrows and said, “There’s no foul in asking twice. I didn’t know.”

Then Looked back at Megan expecting an answer. “I’m fine.” She muttered.

The man in the driver seat said, “although my partner here asked you in an unprofessional way, we do need to know what happened to you so we can prevent anything from happening like that again, and so we know if there are any other threats in the pipeline… or anything physically that we should be aware of in case an injury arises later.”

Megan looked at him in question. She didn’t know them well. She didn’t feel like telling them her most recent trauma and crying her eyes out in front of two strangers.

The man continued, “If you don’t want to tell us now, that’s fine. But the Sergeant

Is going to ask you when we get to the compound. So you may want to prepare for that.”

The man in the passenger seat said, “I didn’t mean to be rude. I just can’t understand why… or even how you were able to undress Kittsburg. I am dying to know.” he said as he turned back to Megan with a smile.

She sighed and said “I was trying to protect myself. Trying to disguise myself.” She couldn’t tell them that she was trying to disguise herself as a man so that she could drive back. They would arrest her on the spot. She had to be careful with the words she used and the details she was willing to give.

Might as well practice now before I get interrogated.

The man-made a face as if trying to understand and said, “Makes sense.” Then turned back around to face the front of the vehicle.

Megan watched out the window as they approached another massive wall. The wall outside the hive that kept everyone inside. So the man had drove her out of the Hive.

How did he accomplish that?

She didn’t even remember seeing the wall to get out of the hive. She would have assumed that there was a gate to go through. That they would have had to stop to enter it. As she thought that, she saw the gate. But as they got closer, it started to open.

She muttered, “No code to this gate? No gatekeepers?”

The driver said, “No, at least not now. Usually yes. But the vehicles have sensors on them so that we can drive in and out as we like…. The people try to leave so often, it was such a pain to stop at the gate to try to get to them quickly. So they just made an auto-open sensor for the vehicles.”

Megan swallowed in fear. These guards that she felt safe with, were the same ones that went after people that tried to escape? That hunted them down like animals and killed them or sent them to the prisons? She was in a car full of monsters. How could she ever think of these men as good, as safe, as her heroes when they treated people so disgustingly?

The man in the passenger seat seemed to sense her thoughts. He added on to the driver’s comment, “It is not our job to chase escapees. It doesn’t happen often that we do. But if the governor requests we do, or there is a person of interest that does, then we will breach the wall to go apprehend the person or persons and bring them back. There is a different branch that is in charge of chasing down people that escape. Wall patrol I think they call themselves. They are…. An interesting group of men to say the least.”

He turned back to her and said, “By that I mean, I am sure you have heard the rumors. But they are also very difficult to work with. Have a rogue sense of mind. Not really a military state of mind. I don’t want to scare you, but if they had found you….” He looked down at her chest quickly and then back up at her and said “in your state that we found you…. I doubt they would show you much respect. I suggest you stay far away from them. And it would be pretty great if you refrained from having us work with them often.”

The driver said, “You know as well as I do that she has no say in that.”

The man in the passenger seat smiled at Megan and said, “They say behind every good king is a queen telling him what to do in the shadows. Thought I would test my luck.”

The driver said, “What you are suggesting is illegal. The governor cannot talk to her about any matters regarding the leadership over the Sorrows. Don’t put ideas in her head.”

The man in the passenger seat chuckled and said, “You gotta stop sucking on the dick of the big man. It makes you a shitty person. And now she knows that you are already against her, won’t respect her, why would she trust you to keep her safe?”

The driver sounded frustrated, getting angry with the man in the passenger seat. He muttered through clenched teeth, “It’s my job to keep her safe. That should be enough trust that she needs. She’s not going to think past that. She’s a woman. You are giving her too much credit. She’s not smart enough to realize what you are saying.”

Megan opened her eyes wide. The red flags going off in her mind like wildfire. She was used to men like this. They ran rampant through this new world. But that didn’t make it any better for her. Didn’t make it any less disturbing. What she had learned was to just ignore men like that. They were going to say what they wanted and she could no longer speak out against it. She would ignore their words and steer clear of them and she would be fine. That’s really all she could do.

The man in the passenger seat turned back to her. She backed up in her seat raising her head. The man smiled and said, “She seems… different. Stronger, smarter than the governesses before. I wouldn’t be so quick to judge her. She patched up Kittsburg pretty well and she came up with a plan to disguise herself. Did it work? No. But was it something any of the other governesses would have done? Hell no. They would have coward in the SUV screaming bloody murder. This one is different… she reminds me of my wife.”

The driver didn’t respond. But you could feel the tension and anger radiating off of him.

The man in the passenger seat winked at Megan and said, “don’t worry governess, you are safe with me. And, I won’t let anyone know that you have a brain under those pretty hazel eyes of yours.”

He then turned back to the driver and said, “In the very least, you owe her your respect. She is the governess.”

The driver muttered, “I’m not the one asking her ridiculous questions.”

Megan rolled her eyes at the man. But she couldn’t help but feel a lot better knowing that this man wasn’t a sexist bigot. If his wife was like her, then that meant she was a powerful force before the new rules were put in place. She was smart, independent, successful in her own way. And it didn’t seem to threaten him. He seemed…. Happy about it. Supportive, and maybe excited. Megan couldn’t help but also think that if this man didn’t seem friendly and genuine, his words would have come off as a threat. There was something about this man beside his words and actions that made her think that she could trust him.

At least she hoped she could trust him. She didn’t even know his name.

She thought about the driver. He posed a threat to her. She did not feel safe with him and she wondered if in the off chance he took the man in the passenger seat’s opinion of her to heart, if he would raise the red flag on her and make her life hell. She didn’t want that to happen. She looked at the driver in fear and thought. The more she thought about the consequences of her attempting to drive the vehicle… and this man’s opinion of women, she realized that she made a smart decision not saying that she was trying to drive out of there.

As Megan thought about the things that had happened to her in the last few days, and the last few hours, she realized that she was living in a much more dangerous world than she had ever thought before. She had been infected by a man-made drug at a dinner party, then drugged and kidnapped by a doctor, murdered and brought back to life by some mystery person from the dynasty fragment, that mystery person also took her home away, she was forced to the Sorrows which is a death sentence, then was shot at before she even made it out of the car, attacked by a dangerous gang, and then put in a car with a guard who should be protecting her and respecting her who was doing the exact opposite.

She had so many people to be afraid of.

The people in the dynasty fragment. The doctors. The people of the sorrows. The gang that kidnapped her. And her guards. At what point could she trust people? At what point would she ever not look at someone and wonder what ill intent they had brewing for her?

This new world was hell. And everyone around her was nothing less than a demon. Who could she trust?

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