Chapter 21, Part 1
Mariah stumbled after Kyle as he wove through the forested hillside. Sweat trickled down her back and her shirt clung greedily to the stream. They’d been going for almost an hour, dodging around trees and grasping bushes, Kyle pausing every few minutes to emit another one of his hair raising pulses. Mariah just prayed that Sam and Cassie’s new friends would be able to track them. The helicopter was still circling in the distance and Kyle seemed convinced that ground troops would be after them as well.
She tripped over yet another branch and barely retained her balance.
“I hate nature,” she muttered.
“Come on!” Kyle said and headed down an incline to where impressive rocks had long ago erupted from the hillside. She followed him around their bulk and found a narrow space they could squeeze through and rest without being seen.
“You okay?” he asked.
Mariah flicked an intrepid ant from her arm. “Just peachy. We have an actual plan right now besides ‘run for our lives’?” she asked.
Kyle scrubbed sweat from his forehead and leaned back against the rock face. “Not really.”
“Guess we should have just stolen a car, huh?”
His faint excuse for a smile appeared. “Probably would have worked out a bit better than this. Come on, we need to keep moving.”
Mariah stifled a groan but squeezed after him and forced herself to keep pace.
“Any idea where we are?” she asked.
“Don’t really care as long as it’s away from…Amelli and his guys.” There was the slight hesitation again right before he said Amelli’s name. But Mariah didn’t feel like it was exactly the time to bring up his daddy issues. They continued in silence until Kyle warned her to give him some space to give the signal.
Mariah shivered at the energy that tickled her and rubbed her arms, stepping a little further from Kyle. A distant noise sent her gaze flying back in the direction they had come.
“Is that a dog?” she asked. Kyle was instantly alert at the noise.
“I think it is, and I think we’re really screwed,” he replied, grabbing her hand to get her moving again. Mariah tore after him. Of course Amelli would have dogs that were happy to track them. Because their life wasn’t difficult enough already.
“Can we shake them?” she panted.
“Doubt it,” Kyle replied.
They wordlessly picked up their pace, Mariah silently praying for a miracle. The deep throb of the helicopter headed their direction and they darted for thicker tree cover. It appeared their brief stretch of luck was beginning to run out as the helicopter hovered above them, tracking them as they moved. It didn’t take them long to figure out they were being herded back down their trail. The dogs were beginning to get louder and they could hear human voices mixed in. Mariah looked to Kyle, her own desperation mirrored in his face.
“I can’t go back,” he said, electricity beginning to crackle around his fingers.
“Our best chance is to stick together,” Mariah tried to reason. “If they get us, do you think you can keep up your pulse thing?”
“Maybe. I could take them all out when they get close. If you run now, you won’t get hit by the pulse,” he said.
“No, I’m not letting you kill anyone,” Mariah firmly said. “Maybe Cassie’s friends can still track us.”
Kyle backed up, the sparks getting bigger as the noise of pursuit got louder.
“Just go, Mariah.”
“Don’t be stupid!”
“You don’t be stupid either. I’m not just going to leave you! Cassie will find us. I know she will.”
“They haven’t been able to yet.”
“Well now they know where we are and how to track us. And it’s up to you to keep it that way.” Mariah jabbed a finger at his chest. That seemed to get his attention and he calmed down a fraction.
“You don’t know what they’ll do to us,” he warned.
“I’ll save the freak-out for later. I’m tired of being scared and I’m about to tell your dad to shove it,” Mariah retorted. Kyle’s forehead wrinkled in an expression of disbelief.
“You might actually be crazy.” Was all he said. Mariah managed a smile.
“Maybe. Try not to get zapped with their stick things. We need you conscious to guide in the rescue team.”
Mariah almost took it all back as the first figures appeared and began to surround them. She held up her hands and Kyle slowly did the same. Thankfully the soldiers didn’t feel the need to use the taser sticks yet as they were boxed in and escorted away.
Better way late than never, right? 🙂 Anyway, sorry for the delay and hope you enjoyed!