“That's how I got here,” Derek finished. He looked horrible. His eyes had dark circles under them, and the horrendous red splotches covered his face. His legs were bloody and immobile. Every few seconds a wince of pain would shoot across his face. “My legs were in splints, and I was using an oar for a crutch. They just called me a heretic as soon as they saw us. I was taken here to die. I don't know where they took Chan. I'm sorry, I'll be useless in a fight.”
“Don't be,” Zoey said. She reached down and hugged Derek tightly. “I'm just glad you're alive,” she continued.
He yelped in pain. “Don't hold me like that. These boils are painful!”
“Oh, right, sorry,” Zoey apologized. She picked up the splinter she used to cut herself free and cut Derek loose as well. “We need a plan to get out of here.”
“You're not getting out of here,” Cameron spoke up. “We've got guards all around. Besides, even if you do escape, you've still got the disease. You'll die in agony soon enough.”
“You don't have to be a pessimist you know,” Zoey shot back at him.
“Pessimist?” Cameron laughed. “I'm not a pessimist I'm a realist. Realisticly this disease has no cure. Thus we will die of it.”
“Oh come on,” Zoey responded. “There has to be some cure. These priest guys are supposed to be wizards with medicine and technology. They must have something!”
“They've been trying to create a cure for weeks. But science has no answer. The disease is from the devil himself,” Cameron retorted.
“We cant just give up!” Zoey shouted back.
“Wait!” Derek interjected into the argument. “Wait a second! When Cornwell was torturing me I heard a voice! It said that in the City with Wet Feet there was a cure for all ills. Maybe it can cure this disease!”
When Derek mentioned “the City with Wet Feet” Cameron sat bolt upright. “Do you mean Gonecity?” he asked.
“It's a real place?” Derek asked back. “I've been having visions... or dreams or something about it ever since the Well Well. I didn't think I really existed. I just mentioned it as a long shot.”
Cameron suddenly looked hopeful. “Gonecity is just a few miles north of here! If we can get there in time maybe we can be cured!”
“Whoa whoa whoa slow down,” Zoey ordered. “What exactly is Gonecity? What makes it the City with Wet Feet?”
“During the Last War and before it the Old Masters built gigantic buildings that touched the sky,” Cameron began. “When the flood waters came they did not go as high as the buildings. The tops of buildings remained dry. They became Gonecity. But from another perspective you could say the buildings – and the city – have wet feet!”
“Wow,” Derek muttered, “I didn't actually think it was real. I just... I just kinda thought I was loosing it. All the terrible food, the battle to survive, being friends with one of the Sphere's worst enemies...” he trailed off, and glanced at Zoey.
Zoey smiled. “I'm glad I met you Derek.”
“Oh, how sweet,” Cameron said. “But could you start figuring out a way out of here?”
“Right,” Zoey said. “Derek obviously can't fight. Cameron, how about you?”
“I can't move very fast,” Cameron said. “But I still got most of my strength. I could probably carry Derek if need be, but you'll have to do any fighting. I'm about the only one here who can help though. The rest are dead or dying.”
“Ok, I'll do most of the fighting then,” Zoey said, her voice shaking just the tiniest bit. “Cameron, you pick up Derek and follow behind me as best as you can.” She gripped the long splinter tightly. It didn't give her any more confidence.
“Wait,” Cameron said. “I never agreed to help you. I far as I know I'd help two heretics escape and get backstabbed by you the first chance you got.”
“We are not heretics,” Zoey said firmly.
“On who's authority are you not heretics? Father Connel says you are and he's in direct contact with God.”
“No he's not,” Zoey shot back.
“Says who?” Cameron dared her.
“Says... Father Clooney,” Zoey lied.
Cameron looked shocked. “Really? Clooney said Father Connel was lying? Did he say why?” A horrifying thought came to him. “Is Connel the real heretic?”
“Yes,” Zoey lied smoothly. “I heard him say it himself. Connel is a heretic. He's been lying to you. The only person he's really in contact with is the devil!” As Zoey added to her lie, she wondered why it was so easy. Why she didn't feel guilty. She shoved the thought to the back of her head. She took her splinter and cut Cameron free. He wordlessly lifted Derek onto his back, although it seemed to strain him a bit.
“This is a bad idea,” Derek said. “I mean, how do we know a guard isn't going to be right outside that door.”
“Hey, Chan taught me how to use a dagger,” Zoey said, holding up her splinter and mustering up her courage. “Same basic principle, right?”
“Zoey, you have a five inch splinter. They have guns. Those odds aren't good.”
Zoey built up her courage and tried to think of what Chan might say in this situation. “Yeah,” she said with half-confidence. “The odds are a million to one... against them.” That got a laugh out of Cameron.
Zoey crept up to the heavy wood door way and ever so gently pushed it. It didn't budge. She grumbled and pushed against it with most of her strength. It shifted, then opened a crack. She immediately stopped. Through the tiny crack in the door she could see the guard out side. She bit down an instinct to cry out in victory. The guard was leaning against the barn, his gun beside him. He was snoring.
Zoey pushed the door open further and slipped through, motioning Cameron to stay put. She crept up towards the guard on her tiptoes, more with anticipation then anything else. She readied her self and when she was close enough grabbed his mouth and brought the splinter up to his throat. He was dead before he could make a sound.
She reached down and took his shotgun. She had never used a gun before, but she figured anything was better then a splinter. She rifled through his pockets and found several more shells.
“Stop!” the voice came from behind her. She turned and saw a young boy, probably about as old as Derek. His shaking hands were pointing a revolver at her. “Put the gun down. Somebody come quick!” he turned to yell over his shoulder.
Zoey didn't put the gun down. Instead, she brought it to her shoulder and pulled the trigger.
She had never fired a gun before, and the sound and recoil shocked her ears sent her sprawling to the ground. For a moment she sat there, dazed. But then she was back on her feet and yelling. “Cameron! Derek! Let's go!”
Cameron came out of the barn with a surprising dogged speed, carrying Derek on his back. Zoey had no idea how to reload the shotgun so she took up the now dead boy's pistol. She tried not to think about the people she had just killed as she ran after them. Afterword when she thought about killing the boy she would tell herself that her finger had slipped. It eased her mind to lie.
The barn was about half-way between the monastery and the village. They were racing towards the village, through a field that was made up of tall, tan, and somehow sharp grass. Zoey felt her legs get cut up as she ran through it.
The shot had alerted just about every militiaman on the island to their presence. Only a few dozen feet behind them three armed men were running after them. They were those that had been guarding the barn. But a glance around told Zoey that those were not the only ones casing them. About ten men were running from the monastery, and about twenty were coming from the village towards them. The two groups were converging on both sides. In a few minutes, Zoey, Derek and Cameron would be trapped by thirty men.
“How do we get...” Zoey trailed off. Then she got an idea. “Get down in the grass! We might loose them!” She immediately went to ground, getting dirt and mud all over herself. Cameron half-threw Derek down and then got down himself.
“Now what?” Derek asked.
“We should try and crawl through their lines to get to town,” Zoey said.
“Why is getting to town so important?”
Zoey paused for a moment to consider. “I really don't know. I'm making this up as I go along. But it might be easier to hide in town.”
“Right,” Derek said, rolling his eyes. They started their slow but invisible crawl. Zoey had it the easiest, although the grass now cut her hands and face. Derek could only use his upper body, as his legs were still broken and useless. Cameron, on the other hand, was a big man, and had to keep his body as flat to the ground as possible to remain concealed. Even a slight move of his head might give away his position.
“You're good at this stuff,” Derek said as they crawled.
“You know. Leadership. You're a natural leader.”
Zoey almost laughed, but that would have been fatal. “No I'm not. The Society Test said I was a cleaner. The test is never wrong.”
“You sure? I think you should be a-”
“Shhhh!” Zoey interjected, putting a finger to her lips. They both stopped moving. Derek cocked his head and listened.
“There somewhere around here. We've got to find them,” a nervous sounding voice said. The line of militia had advanced on them.
“What if they pop up and shoot us? Like they did to Tom and Bill?” an even more nervous sounding voice said. “I don't wana die. Who'd take care 'a Clair?”
Zoey risked taking a look above the grass in front of her. After less then a second she had to pull her head back down before they noticed her. She bit her lip to stop for screaming. They were right on top of her! Two militia armed with shotguns. In ten seconds they'd find them and she and Derek would be dead.
“You know I'd take care of Clair for you,” the less nervous man said.
“We're screwed,” Derek hissed. He had taken a glance at what was coming too. “Where's Cameron?”
Right as he said the name Zoey saw Cameron rise out of the grass about ten meters away. He must have kept crawling, was her first thought. But why did he stand up? They're going to kill him! was her second.
“Oh damn that's one of 'em!” the nervous man said, bringing his gun to bear. Then a second later he continued. “Cameron? Is that you? Why are you helping the heretics?”
“They're not heretics,” Cameron said. “That's why I'm trying to help them.”
That's when Zoey suddenly realized. “He's giving himself up as a distraction!” she whispered to Derek. “Let's move!” She and Derek started moving again while Cameron talked it out with the farmers.
“He's sick! We gotta shoot him or he'll make us sick too!” the nervous man said.
“What do you mean they aren't heretics?” the other man said. “Father Connel says they are.”
“Father Connel is the heretic,” Cameron said forcefully. “I've got proof too!”
“We gotta shoot 'im!” the nervous man said, sounding a bit hysterical.
“What do you mean you've got proof?” the other man said. “It'd better be strong proof.”
“It is,” Cameron said confidently. “They heard it right from Father Clooney's mouth that Father Connel is a heretic who's trying to mislead us!”
“Are we gonna shot him or not!” the nervous man screamed.
“Father Clooney is in a coma,” the other man said. “He can't of told them anything!”
“What?” Cameron said in sudden anger. “The hell do you mean! They lied to me. Damn it they lied to me! Well I'll tell you now that they're-” BLAM!
Cameron's lifeless body fell back onto the grass. The nervous guy shook uncontrollably as he held his smoking gun. “He was sick. He woulda made us sick. I don't wanna die. I don't wanna hurt nobody.” He tried to make excuses and then broke down in sobs. The other man tried to comfort him.
Neither of them noticed Zoey and Derek crawling past.