The voices get closer and closer until I can finally make out the words they’re saying.
“So, did you get what I asked for?” A hoarse voice asks.
“Yes, Sir.” Comes the reply from the other voice, and I can’t help the uneasiness at how familiar it sounds.
“Good that, hand it over.”
There’s a moment of silence in which I assume, was the time the second person is taking to hand whatever they’re talking about to the first man who sounds like his superior.
“Great then, the serum is back in safe hands. These creatures will never reach it this way, not after this moment.”
“Marcilus, I wonder why it bothers you so much. If I remember correctly, it weakens their kind. Don’t you think it’s in our favour to have it within their reach?” A third calm and superior voice asks.
Marcilus. The leader of Xolina himself is in this very creepy room where it all started. I bet he’s looking with nostalgic eyes at the preserved body of his father, or grand father, I don’t exactly know.
There’s something else I need to worry about if the ’creatures’ they’re talking about are Poliners, then this conversation might as well be critical.
“Oh, Jonathan, my dear brother, I feel quite sorry for your lack of useful information. Have you heard of Pancer?”
Pancer; the type of cancer that affects only Poliners, which means it clearly doesn’t exit on Earth, or Xolina.
“I think you’re going off topic, Marc. What are you trying to say?”
“Don’t insult me, I know where I’m going. What I’m trying to tell you is that this disease is not random or coincidental as everyone believes, it’s much more based on a strong cause, and what you don’t know is that there is a permanent cure. In fact, I’m holding it between my fingers.”
A cure? For Pancer? After decades of thousands of deaths and misery, there had always been a cure? I can’t believe how cold and feelingless these creatures are, hiding the cure from us all these years!
But, there’s something I can’t understand yet.
“Jonas, always asking for more explanation. Don’t you get it? Our blood causes Pancer in their bodies, but it takes different time periods to be in its active state, so they think they’ve been well all this time, when it was born with them from the start. Utterly pathetic, don’t you think?”
“So if they have it, they’re weak, but if they don’t-”
“If they don’t, they die.”
I swallow the lump in my throat. I can’t believe what I just heard. All this time, we’ve had Pancer? All Poliners since birth, that’s unbelievable. But how can the cure weaken us if it treats the disease, I don’t get this.
There’s a sigh of contempt and then the sound of a footstep away, as if one of them shifted his weight.
“Oh, by the way, Max, I’ve heard your sister and her pathetic ally are here. Have you two met already?”
Max. Of course it’s Max; who else would work for them and sound so familiar at the same time.
“Yes, Sir, a few days ago.”
“What secrets have you told her, young lad?” Jonathan asks.
“None, Sir, none at all.”
“We’ll see about that. You know the punishment of betraying your commanders, don’t you? I wouldn’t take any risks if I were you.” Marcilus threatens
“Yes, Sir, I’m quite certain of them.”
“Good. Now that we have got what we needed, let’s get going; this room is anything but friendly.”
“It probably treats you the way you treat others.” Jonathan states.
“The room is unliving, Jonas, it doesn’t have the brain for emotional decisions.”
The sound of the footsteps fades away in the distance. I let out the breath I was holding and squeeze myself out of the cabinet.
Jo struggles to get out of an opposite cabinet while Edward and Peter get out of the shadows.
“Okay, what the hell was that?” Jo speaks up, rubbing the dust off her outfit.
“We need to get that serum.” I address to them.
“You can’t be serious, we don’t even know what it exactly does.” Edward argues.
I sigh in impatience. “You heard them, didn’t you? It cures Pancer, what stronger reason do you need?”
“I know, I wasn’t deaf to that conversation, but we still don’t know all the side effects of that serum. I also heard him saying it weakens us.”
“It we have it, we’re weak, but if we don’t, we die. I have to get it.”
“Zoey is right, Ed. If what they’re saying is true, then we’re all sick here.” Peter says and I nod.
Edward sighs, finally giving in. “Fine, but you need a plan. It’s Marcilus we’re talking about, it’s not going to be easy.”
“Sure, it’s not easy, but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible either.”
“So,” Jo starts, “are you guys done, or we’re staying in this stingy room any longer?”
I roll my eyes. “Edward, can you go check if it’s clear?”
He nods and makes his way to the door, carefully opening it and sliding his head through. Moments later he’s back in and turns to face us.
“Where is the car?” I ask Edward.
We were out of that old building faster than I expected, but now we need to find something to drive us away from it.
He rolls his eyes to me.
“You couldn’t even tire yourself a little and turn around. It’s right there.”
I look at the spot he’s pointing at and find Mr. Garfield’s black car parked on the side of the road.
He sighs exaggeratedly and fiddles with his pockets until he finds the keys and tosses them at me.
I catch them in mid air and stride to the car.
“Hey, guys?” Jo calls.
We stop and turn around to face her, struggling to catch up to us. “Yes, Jo?”
With her chest heaving, she walks a little faster to us. “Slow down, will you? I have short legs.”
“Jo,” Peter says, “Your power is speed; what exactly are you talking about?”
She rolls her eyes, “Duh, of course it is, but I only use it when nece-”
The loud sound of gunshots cuts her off, and I find myself running to the car and sliding in the driver’s seat.
“Well, that was necessary.”
“My goodness!” I shriek, and she snickers in the back seat.
“We get it, you’re fast, but damn girl, give us a warning first. My heart almost dropped at that.”
“Really? Then what about the gun firing outside?”
The door next to her opens and Edward Slides inside.
“It’s them, we need to move!”
“Where is Peter?” I ask, already gripping the steering wheel in panic.
Edward shifts in his seat a little to have a glance outside and looks back at me. “He’s waving at us to drive to him, he’s trapped.”
Without thinking twice, I push on the pedal and turn the car in a dangerous full 180° turn. Spotting Peter ahead, I push faster to where he’s standing, not stopping for the safety of any of those surrounding him, not even Max.
They seem to slowly realise their lives are in danger, because they run away from the path, and I halt to a stop. Peter jumps in the seat next to me, and I turn back on the main road.
“Are you okay?” I frantically ask Peter, not daring a glance away from the road.
“Yes, yes, I’m fine,” he replies, still breathing fast, “Try moving a little faster they’re right behind us.”
I glance in my side mirror for confirmation, and there they are, just a few feet behind us. I sigh, trying to hold my panic before pushing harder on the pedal.
I keep going faster and faster until the only thing I can make out from the surroundings is a blur of indistinctive colours. My heartbeats increase and I can feel the speed deep in my bones, but I can’t stop and I can’t slow down either.
Another glance in the mirror confirms they’re still behind us, and what’s worse, they seem to be catching up on us.
A left turn appears on the path, and without thinking, I turn sharply, not slowing a ms-1 for it. Another turn appears just a few meters ahead, and I smirk, knowing that there is a chance even if it’s narrow to get them lost in the chase.
“Where on earth are you taking us?” Peter yells in my ear.
“Just wait and watch, I think I can do it.”
“Just remember there’s a few other living souls on this vehicle than you, Zoey!” he yells again.
“I’ll focus the moment you shut the mouth of yours, Peter!” I yell back, frustrated at his impatience.
Like give me a minute to think, people, just one minute.
The glass shatters behind and I duck to avoid bits of glass hurting my hands, I need them now. But then a scream from the backseat startles me, and I look in the rear mirror to check where it came, and there she is, her face contorted in pain, and she clutches her bleeding shoulder.
The bastards shot her, how dare they shoot my best friend!
“Edward, keep her safe and duck whenever you hear gunfiring, I’ll try to get on the route to the hospital.”
He nods and wraps his arms around her.
Think, Zoey, just think!
And then I remember something I wish I hadn’t forgotten earlier.
The gun I always carry with me since my days in Polina, and if I remember correctly, it must be strapped to my boots right now, the one I’m currently wearing.
He gives me a dumbfounded look, clearly indicating he doesn’t know what I mean.
With no caution, I press on the brakes and he hits the front of him from inertia. I glare at him, and he finally gets my point and nods.
Quickly we exchange, and we’re back at that crazy speed before we know it.
A little distraction is all we need, especially if they chose the violence first. What’s fair is fair, and now is the time. I reach to my boots, and let out a sigh of relief when my fingers feel the metallic outline of the gun.
Pulling it out and readying it, I roll down the side window, ignoring the confused glares Edward is throwing at me. I balance myself on the window and face backwards. Their car is getting closer and closer to us, and I shoot directly at them, but they dodge to the side and I miss.
Cursing under my breath, I aim for the driver, but as the distance between us narrows to the extent that I can recognize who he is, I lower my gun down.
I can’t shoot Max, I have to aim for something else. Yes, getting the driver down would get them all down, but he’s my brother. There’s has to be an other way.
“Shoot the tires!” Peter says from inside.
The tires! Of course, that’s a brilliant idea! How come it never crossed my mind?
Focusing harder this time, I aim for the left tire and shoot. The skidding sharp sound that follows confirms I didn’t miss this time. I slide back into the car and strap the gun back in my boot. I won’t be needing it anymore, for now.
“Faster, Peter, we got a chance to lose them!”
“Why don’t you drive instead?” he yells back harshly.
“Well, I actually did! Now do it faster.”
His jaw clenches, “Fine,” he says, pushing harder on the pedal.
“Did we lose them?” Peter asks.
I glance in the mirror, and find no other car I’m sight.
He nods, his muscles relaxing and the car slows down to normal.
“Thanks for the tip, by the way.”
“It was in my advantage too, don’t you think?” he replies, and I can see his lips curving to a sly smirk.
“Sure it was.”
“Where to now?”
“To the hospital, we need to get that bullet out of Jo’s shoulder. It doesn’t look good.”
He nods and gets the location in the GPS of his phone.
“It’s close, about a mile from here.”
In no time, we were at the hospital’s entrance. I swing my door open and open the back door for Jo. I help her out of the car, wrapping her good arm around my shoulders to hold her balance. I think she lost a good deal of blood, she seems to be on the verge of unconsciousness.
I walk in slow small steps until a nurse guides me to a room, opening the door wide for us to pass. Pulling off the blanket, I lay her on the bed, and let out a breath I didn’t know I was holding.
“Will you stay in the waiting room, Ms.? I’m afraid you’re not allowed here now, we’ll call you once the operation is over.” The nurse says, flashing a civil smile at me.
“Okay, thanks.” I say, heading out of the room
“Zoey, there you are.”
I look up to see Peter heading towards me holding two cups of coffee, with Edward at his tail.
He takes a seat next to me and hands me a cup.
“Thanks,” I mutter, holding it with both hands.
Few minutes pass and none of us has said a word. I’m guessing they’re just as exhausted as I am.
Someone clears their throat, and I turn around to see the nurse standing at the doorway.
“You can go see your friend now, Ms., but would you mind giving me her parents’ number? I’m sure they’re worried about her whereabouts.”
Well, I should’ve seen this coming. Of course they’ll ask for her parents or any possible guardian, but that’s the problem, we don’t have guardians here.
“Um, I’m afraid you can’t, they’re out of Europe.” Out of the whole planet, young lady.
She tenses and opens her mouth to say something, but I race up to it first, “But, it’s fine, we’re all roommates, we take care of each other. I’ll be staying for the night.”
“Sure, if you want to. She’ll be out this week.”
“Thank you.” She smiles before heading back out.
I turn back to the guys who throw me some hideous looks.
“What?” I question.
“Seriously, Zoey?” Edward says, “You’re staying for the night, as in alone without us? No way, we’re staying too.”
“Go back home, Ed. It’s been long time since any of us went back to the apartment, Jimmy is going to worry. Plus, I think he started on that gun re-making thing, and he’d need people around to help. You too, Peter.”
He lets out an exaggerated sigh before huffing and standing up, clearly annoyed.
“Sorry, but we need to have things done. I can take care of Jo and myself, trust me.”
“Fine,” he gives in, “we’ll go, but keep us updated if anything happens, all right?”
Peter nods, aligning with him.
“Sure, no problem.” I say.
I pull them in a hug, and they leave the waiting room.
Throwing my phone in my pocket and grabbing my coffee, I make my way to Jo’s room and knock on the door.
“Come in!” comes her voice from inside.
I push it open, and smile once our eyes meet before sliding next to her on the bed.
“Are you okay, Jo?
“Fine, I guess, a bullet in my shoulder is nothing compared to anywhere else, so I’m grateful for that.”
I smile at her reply.
“Yeah, you’re right. I can’t stand anything worse happening to you.”
“Relax, Zoey, we’re all going to die some day.” She jokes.
“Sure, that’s true, but I won’t let you die alone, Jo, trust me on that.”
She hugs me tightly before rolling on her side and closes her eyes. I lay on my back and drift to a peaceful slumber.