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Chapter 11

Wednesday, March 14th, 2029


There is a heavy smell of rubber and gasoline when I wake. I open my eyes and see that I’m lying on the floor of the back seat of the small Prius. I push myself up and look to the front seat. Sarah and Iris are out cold, bruises line their faces and arms. I have to get them to safety. I reach for the handle to the car door and I push on it. It stays put the first time, but on the second bout I shove it open and it screeches horribly as it does.

I crawl out of the car on the passenger side of the car and land on the cold wooded ground. I try to get to my feet, it’s a much more difficult a task than I’d originally thought. I make it to a kneeling position and when I try to switch my weight over to my left leg I hear a snap. I scream as I fall back down. I grab the handle to the open car door for support. I pull myself to the side of the car seat and look back in.

“Sarah! Iris! Are you awake? Please wake up!” I yell.

There isn’t any response. The car buckles slightly as a small noise sounds, I think this car may blow. My body is running completely on adrenaline now. I hop onto my right leg, using the car door for support and I hop over to the passenger door. I grab for the handle, but it is locked. I think for a second, my leg getting sore, I then realize I have no other choice, it’s too far to hobble back and unlock the door. I take my elbow and smash it through the window. Pain sears through my arm as glass shards puncture it through my shirt.

I grit my teeth and use my other arm to reach in and unlock the door. I pull on the handle once more and the door opens. I fall to my knees again and look at Sarah and Iris. I can see Iris’ chest rising and falling slowly, because her head is propped to the side, but I can’t tell if Sarah is breathing or not, since she is resting against the steering wheel.

“Leave them! Save yourself!”

What? Who said that? I look around me, in every direction. There isn’t a single person to be found.

“Leave them to die! Rot in the metal and fabric!”

“Wh-Who is saying that?” I call out. There isn’t any answer.

I can’t leave them. Why would I? I need to save them.

“Save them? They’re going to turn on you. You can’t get rid of the seed of doubt once it’s been planted in someone’s heart.”

I shake my head and unbuckle Iris from her seat. I start by standing up on my right foot. I pick her up in my arms and wince when my left foot hits the ground. I let the adrenaline course through my veins as I carry her away from the car. I make it about thirty feet from the car and I lie her down against a nearby tree. I limp back towards the car, my strength fading. Now I can see that there is smoke rising out of the hood of the car. Its black color suggests that something bad is going to happen real soon.

I hop around the front of the car, holding my breath as to not inhale any of the toxic fumes. I reach the driver’s side and open the door. Fortunately, it isn’t locked. I throw open the door and unbuckle Sarah as fast as I can. I catch her body from falling to the side and breathe a sigh of relief when I see that she is indeed breathing. She’s bleeding from a blow to her temple, but I think she should be fine.

I pick her up in my arms and my knees begin to buckle. I breathe once heavily and continue on. My leg is absolutely killing me, I think it’s sprained, but my main thought is getting Sarah to safety. I make it to the tree where I’d set down Iris. Looking back at the car it’s about thirty feet away from us. I put Sarah down beside Iris and collapse to the ground, my legs no longer able to handle my weight. I’m facing the smoking car and then in another instant I hear a sound like a cannon being fired right beside my head. Then I see the car erupt into various oranges and reds.

My ears ring and the sound of the explosion precedes all else.

“You should have left them in there.”

N-No. I did the right thing, I saved them.

“They’re going to turn on you, you’re going to be locked up for being the freak you are.”

I take a breath of brief respite. “J-John…?” I turn my head to see Sarah waking up.

I look to her and give her a thumbs up. “It’s...okay. You’re safe. We’re all safe.”

“We were in a car crash.”

I nod my head.

“And...you saved us?” she asks.

I nod again.

“T-Thank you so much,” she says, a tear escaping her eyes.

“It’s...it’s no problem.”

Sarah looks at Iris.

“I’m sorry for what she said, I know you heard…”

“Don’t worry about it. I would have thought the same thing if I were in her shoes,” I say.

I see Iris open her brown eyes. They dart around, looking at our new surroundings.

“Wh-What happened?”

“You freaked out and we crashed. John pulled us out while we were out,” Sarah says.

“Why would he-”

Iris looks over at the burning heap of metal that used to be a 2027 Prius. A look of realization dawns on her face.

“Oh...I’m so sorry.”

“It’s fine…” I say.

“No, I...oh jeez I’m sorry.”

I look to her and then down to the ground. Sarah stands up. “Okay, that’s good, I don’t think I broke anything,” she says, inspecting her body. Iris stands to her feet as well, but has a little bit of difficulty.

“I’m aching all over and I think my ankle is sprained, but I think that’s the worst for me,” she says.

I stay on the ground. “I’m pretty sure my left leg is either fractured or broken, so I don’t think I’m moving anywhere anytime soon.”

“You got us out of that car with a broken leg?” Iris asks in shock.

“Don’t think too highly of it. It was just the adrenaline kicking in,” I say, pulling myself to my kneeling position.

“Here, let me help you,” Sarah says, grabbing a hold of one side of me.

“Oh, yeah, me too! I can’t let this go unpaid,” Iris says. They both bring me up to my feet and I stay off of my left leg.

“They know too much. You need to end this now!”

We begin walking slowly around. To our right is the cliff that we’d fallen from. It’s about sixty feet up from where we are now and meets the ground at a near ninety degree angle. We move forward and then I hear the sirens in the distance.

“It’s too late now! They’re out for you!”

We continue on, about five minutes of complete silence and we find an incline in the landscape. We take it slow up the incline, both of the others making sure that I don’t fall and cause any more damage to myself. We’re about halfway up the hill and the voice continues on.

“You’re walking right into your imprisonment! Kill them now!”

I don’t have to listen to you, you’re just a voice inside my head. You don’t even exist.

“I exist enough to know a traitor when I see one, and I see two.”

My breathing begins to speed up, but I am not going to let this voice conquer me. We continue our pace up the hill. We reach the top and I can tell that Iris and Sarah are both exhausted from lugging me up all the way.

“Let’s just take a rest by the side of the road, maybe we can hitchhike,” I say.

They both nod. We all sit down and recuperate. Just then, I hear the sirens from before coming ever closer. “Is...is this it?” Iris asks.

“You don’t have to worry, we haven’t done anything wrong. There’s just been a crash,” Sarah says.

“You guys need to hide,” I say.

“What?” Iris asks.

“What if they know? What if they’ve been following us this whole time? They’d get you guys on account of being accessories,” I say.

“How would you think they know?” Sarah asks.

“I don’t know! I don’t want to take that chance though.”

“I’m not leaving you here to get yourself arrested,” Sarah says.

“I’m not either, dude. We’re in this together, like it or not,” Iris says.

“You really changed sides on the flick of a switch,” Sarah looks at her.

“I’m not fond of owing people anything, so you can think of this as me paying you off, alright?”

I chuckle. “I guess we just hope for the best, then.”

“Indeed,” Iris says.

“We’re here for you,” Sarah says.

The sirens increase in volume and frequency and then I see a car bend around the nearby gate and sure enough it’s a police car.

“Calm down, John. I can see you tensing up from all the way over here,” Iris says.

I look towards her and then back at myself and I can see my hands are gripped tight.

“I mean, how are they even going to connect it to you?”

“My parents…” I say, remembering.

“T-They could be two totally different accidents…” Sarah says.

“Whoever did this made sure it was no accident. I’m not sure the police will think of them as separate if they know about my parents,” I say.

“That’s putting a lot of faith that they do know,” Iris remarks.

The police car approaches and begins to slow to a halt. It comes to a complete stop and I’m left lying on my side, staring in hopeful anticipation as the car door opens. A man steps out of the car and steps hard onto the gravel below. His figure is familiar and then I see his long brown hair, albeit it is a bit trimmed since I’d last seen it. Detective Ace Harde.

This could only mean one thing if he was sent here alone. He opens his coat up and grabs out a dated looking walkie-talkie from the pocket.

He presses the button and speaks into the receiver, forcing clarity.

“Yeah, I’m on the scene sir, over,” he finally looks over to us, but it’s only for a second. He listens close to the voice that responds back, but it’s too distorted by static for me to understand.

“Yeah, I’ll take him in, over,” he says. My heart stops.

“You had your chance to save yourself. Now you pay the consequences.”

Detective Harde puts the walkie-talkie back into his coat pocket and then walks slowly over to us. We sit there in silenced horror as he approaches ever closer. I don’t think any of us have any strength left in us to move or even react to him. He completes his stride and looks down at us all, shaking his head.

“You aren’t making my job any easier,” he says.

“Wh-What does that mean?” Sarah asks.

The cop grabs my collar and yanks me to my feet.

“John Baker, you have the right to remain silent...”

Detective Harde drones on about the Miranda rights, but the feeling behind them seems hollow.

“On what charges, officer?” Sarah calls out, standing up slowly.

Harde looks over slowly, but with a look of boredom in his eye. “I’m sure I don’t even have to tell you, miss.”

I’m not even fully listening. I feel like I’m lost in some dream world, but then I realize that this is all really happening. Detective Harde practically carries me to the police car and he nearly throws me into the back seat. I can hear Sarah and Iris yelling, but he pays them no mind. I’m left sitting in the backseat of the police car, my arm resting on the door handle on the other side of the car and I watch as Detective Harde shuts the door and hops into the front seat.

He throws the car into ignition and drives off, leaving Sarah and Iris behind.

“I’d advise you to buckle up, it might be a bumpy ride. Of course, you could choose not to listen to me and deal with it,” Detective Harde says.

“And you’re just going to leave them back there?” I ask.

“Certainly, my orders are to arrest you, nothing more, nothing less.”

“What kind of officer of the law are you?” I ask.

“I’m the officer that follows the rules that are given to him.”

The car seems to bounce along the gravel as we travel down and sitting on the seat the way I am is getting a little uncomfortable. I sit up and put on my seatbelt, but I make sure to grunt as I do it to show that I’m doing it for me, not because he told me to. He makes no response, so either he didn’t hear, or didn’t care to hear. My eyes suddenly feel heavy. I can’t keep a hold of consciousness and isn’t long until I pass out again.

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