‘3 More Killed by Military Police as Tensions Rise’ was the headline of all major news channels.
The small Arkansas town was shaken to the core, as well as the rest of the US. The citizens were filled with rage and resentment towards their new unwanted leader, who had taken over by force after the Great War, where most government officials were killed. There were even rumors going around that there was a group of rebels forming to try to take the White House in a coup and force President Josiah out of power. I just couldn’t believe this was really happening.
“Stuart! Dinner’s ready!” my twin sister, Abigail, shouted up the stairs.
“Okay. I’ll be down in a minute,” I hollered back.
We were having burgers tonight. My mom makes the best burgers in this tiny town. As we all sat at the table, I just couldn’t wait to bury my teeth into one. But Mom’s rule was that the cook gets first pick at the food, so I had to wait until she took one to launch myself up from my chair and reach over my plate to grab the delicious sandwich. As soon as I grabbed it, I took a huge bite out of the juicy, savory meat. And the crunch of lettuce, the tang of ketchup? It was just the perfect burger. I’ve never had a better one in my life.
“Uh, maybe you should try not to choke yourself. Small bites,” Mom suggested.
“If I did that, Dad would take all the other ones before I could finish!” I complained back.
“Fine,” was the only response.
As soon as I finished my third burger (I would’ve eaten more if Mom hadn’t stopped me), I went up to take a shower and go to bed. The exquisite taste of the burger had almost made me forgot about the riots. Almost.
The shower had cleared my head, and I was getting exhausted from all the energy used shoving the burgers into my mouth, and I was ready to get some sleep. I hopped in bed, and soon I was fast asleep, dreaming of burgers.
When my alarm went off in the morning, I could barely get up. I felt incredibly weak and my arms had a numb sensation, as if thousands of tiny pins were poking me. I dragged myself out of bed, and crawled down the stairs, as feeble as a newborn deer.
Abigail saw how weak I was and helped me to my feet.
“Come on,” she said. “These weak periods aren’t supposed to happen after you turn 15, and our birthday was last week. The doctor said your Effiprex was nearly cured,”
And to be truthful, it almost was. This was by far the shortest outburst, and it definitely hadn’t been the worst. As I regained my strength, the numb feeling faded away, and I soon could walk again, though still shaky. Abigail offered to make me a cup of hot chocolate, and she told me Mom and Dad had gone to work. They both worked for a big law firm in Fayetteville, and basically controlled the finances for the three brothers who did the actual lawyer stuff. All five of them were friends from high school, and that’s why the brothers called on Mom and Dad to help.
When Abigail was finished making me hot chocolate, I decided to turn on the TV. Since it was on the news channel from last night, I could read the headline.
‘Government Air Force Bombs Fayetteville as Rebels Declare War.’
The headline hit me like a brick. I couldn’t believe it. And right there behind the camera was Mom and Dad’s office. Completely destroyed. Gone. I was awestruck. I couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe. When I turned away, I could see Abigail, who also appeared to be in a state of shock, her mouth gaping open so wide that I could see her golden tooth in the back of her mouth. I didn’t understand. My mind was racing faster than a cheetah, and I couldn’t comprehend what was happening. Mom and Dad are dead? Why would the government do that? Is all of Fayetteville really gone? What’s happening in the war? And most importantly, when is it all going to end?
The next few hours were a blur. I mainly just stayed in my room, listening to Abigail crying downstairs. We got a phone call confirming our parent’s death at 11:00 at night. As soon as I hung up, I went upstairs and cried myself to sleep, the warm tears comforting me as they dripped down my face.
When I woke up, I felt a kind of fire inside I hadn’t felt in a long time. I wanted revenge. As I climbed down the stairs, I saw Abigail, tears rolling down her cheeks, a blank stare on her face.
“I have an idea” I said to her.
She just kept on staring.
“I heard there is a rebel base at the border, just north of Rogers. I say we head up there and see what we can do to help in the war.”
“I don’t want anything to do with the war. It took our parents. I don’t want to lose everything else too.”
“Fine. But wherever you go, I’m staying with you.”
After she went upstairs, I turned on the TV to see what was happening with the rebels. The headline was, ‘Thousands of Rebels Killed After Surrender in Massacre.’
Again, the tyrant had ordered the deaths of thousands of people, most of who were fighting for rights lost after Josiah had taken over. My ears stung with rage and turned the color of a ripe tomato. ‘He will pay,’ I vowed to myself. ‘He will pay for what he’s done.’
With that, I shut off the TV and went upstairs to find my sister.
“We have to help somehow!”, I shouted at Abigail.
“No, we don’t. And I’m not going anywhere near the war. I’m staying here.”
“Fine. But if the government does one more thing, I’m going to the rebel base.”
With that, I marched downstairs and turned on the TV. And of course, there was breaking news.
‘Little Rock, St. Paul, and Denver Bombed as Government Tries to Wipe Out Rebels.’
For me, that was the last straw. I called Abigail down to take a look.
“If you’re going, I’m going,” she said, which filled me with relief.
“We’re leaving tomorrow morning. Get yourself packed,” I replied back.
And as I went up the stairs to pack my clothes and some food, I couldn’t help but smile in the face of the ensuing chaos.
At the crack of dawn, we set off, heading towards the border between Arkansas and Missouri. The woods weren’t too thick, and we traversed through them quite easily. With the sunlight on warming my face, and the breeze flowing through my thick, black hair, I was as happy as I had been since before my parents died. As we walked, I saw a couple of deer grazing, skittering away when we approached. The crispy, dry leaves crunched under my feet. It was clear winter was coming, as it was quite chilly outside today.
“We aren’t going to do actual fighting,” Abigail said.
“We’re going to be spies or get information or something. We’re not going to be on the front lines.”
“Fine. I can do that,” I replied.
And we headed through the forest, off to the rebel base.
“What’s your favorite constellation?” I asked, gazing up at the stars.
“Probably Andromeda,” Abigail replied. “How about you?”
“Ursa Major.” I had loved that constellation ever since Mom had first shown it to me during our first cookout. I could still smell her burgers, and my stomach and my heart yearned to have her back.
“I miss Mom. And Dad,” Abigail said longingly, as if she could read my mind.
“I do too,” I responded. “We’ll avenge them. I promise.”
“I don’t want them avenged. I want them back.”
And with that, she rolled over and went to sleep.
In the morning, I awoke to the sound of crunching leaves and twigs, and nearly jumped out of my jammies when I saw the figure standing over me.
“Come on, Doofus. We’ve to keep moving.”
Of course. It was my sister.
I packed up my bag, and we started walking through the forest. Leaves were covering the trail, padding our footsteps. The leaves still attached to trees were turning bright red, brilliant shades of yellow, and many other vibrant colors. As we were walking through this Autumn wonderland, I heard the snap of twigs, as if something was walking through the woods, something very large. Then I noticed it wasn’t one large something, but many smaller somethings, walking towards us in the woods.
I grabbed the collar of Abigail’s shirt and yanked her off the trail, into a bush right next to the trail. I covered her mouth before she was able to scream at me. I put a finger over my lips, and she immediately stopped struggling and laid there, still as a statue as we waited for whatever they were to pass. It felt like an eternity, but eventually the beings came into view. They wore Army uniforms, and I could tell from the badge on the shoulder of the uniform that they were not going to be friendly to anyone they met in the woods this close to the rebel base.
“Through a walkie-talkie, I heard “Shoot him on sight. You know what? Shoot anybody you see on sight, except Army soldiers. Give anybody else you see one chance to join. If they refuse, kill them.
“Stay down!” I nearly screamed at Abigail when she tried to get up to better see who it was we were hiding from. I kept poking my face on the tiny branches of the bush, but we weren’t spotted. As they’re boots crunched in the distance, the noise slowly fading, I began to breathe again, which I realized I hadn’t been doing for the last minute. When the noise had disappeared entirely, I got up, and started to stretch, happy to be out from behind the incredibly cramped bush.
“I say we stay here for the night,” I said to Abigail. “You stay here, I’m going to go look for firewood.
I walked around a couple of trees and across an oddly colored pond, and grabbed a couple of fat branches. As I broke them apart, I looked up at the sun to see what time it was. It looked to be three or four o’clock. I was thinking what we were going to do for the four hours until nightfall when I heard a blood-curdling scream. As I ran back towards base, I saw a man in an Army uniform looming over my sister with a gun to her head.
“No!” I yelled, and crashed into him at full speed, knocking the gun out of his hands as we fell to the ground.
I leaped off him and grabbed his gun, which had landed in a pile of leaves. I picked it up, the smooth metal feeling ice-cold in my hands.
I pointed it at him, and he immediately grabbed his walkie-talkie and said, “Bronze alert in Northwest forest! Get me-”
Before he could finish, I shot him in the thigh, then grabbed his walkie-talkie and smashed it against a rock. I grabbed Abigail and shouted, “Come on! We gotta go!”
As we trampled through the forest I heard a vehicle humming down the path towards us. I turned my head back to see what it was, even though I knew that would slow me down. It was an off-roading vehicle, and it looked like a souped-up golf kart. I sprinted off the path into the woods, my sister close behind. The chilly air felt great as we sprinted off into the woods. The vehicle didn’t follow, probably because there were too many trees. We kept sprinting about 2 minutes after the sound of motor faded into the sounds of the forest. The birds singing their song, the wind blowing through the leaves. It was very serene, very peaceful. I would’ve enjoyed if my sister wasn’t nearly killed 5 minutes ago.
“I think we should keep walking. Judging from the sun, that ways west,” I pointed. “I think we should head north-northwest until we find the base.”
“I’m fine with that, as long as we get away from the Army.” Then she glanced at my hand. “You still have the gun.”
I didn’t even realize it , but I did still have the gun. “This should come in handy. I can’t believe I actually hung onto it. What luck.”
“I’m just glad we made it out of there alive. How many of those guys did you think there were? And what were they doing?”
“I don’t know. They could’ve been patrolling the woods, looking for someone,” I replied, thinking back to the voice I heard over the walkie-talkie.
“Maybe. But I don’t feel safe. I feel like we’re being watched.”
“I agree. We should keep moving.”
With that, we headed off through the forest, away from the Army and whoever they were searching for.
“We’re lost,” I said, looking at the hand-drawn map I had made before we left. It obviously wasn’t very accurate.
“No dip, Sherlock. I wasn’t aware that was the same dead maple we passed an hour ago!” was Abigail’s sarcastic response.
“Well, I think we should settle in for the night. We should probably go up in the trees so no one see’s us.
“Agreed. It’ll be tough sleeping though. We shouldn’t go too far up in case one of us falls out.”
As I climbed into the pine tree, the gooey sap sticking my hands to the tree, I wondered how I was going to be able to sleep tonight.
And sleep I did not. As the soft glow of the evening sun disappeared under the treetops and my sister began to snore, I laid there in the tree, my eyes wide open, my mind wide awake. I thought about our close encounter with the Army, and why Josiah did this. I also wondered how my parents were doing in heaven. I missed them so much. I wished they were alive. They hated Josiah as much as the rebels, and I was going to make sure he paid.
Suddenly, I heard a crack of twigs. But it wasn’t lots of cracks, like when the army came through. It was one slow crack after another, as if whatever was making that sound was limping. I sat entirely still, not breathing, waiting for the thing to pass. As he came into view I saw it was a man limping. He was breathing heavily, and blood covered his shirt and pants, he leaned against a nearby tree, and his breathing slowed and soon turned to snoring as he fell asleep.
I sat there, motionless, until the break of dawn, when orange streaks began shooting out from the horizon. I woke up Abigail as soon as the crest of the sun appeared over the skyline. I tried to ignore the man, but Abigail walked right up to him and shook him awake.
“Do you need help?” she questioned.
“Yes,” was all he managed to croak out.
“Excuse me and my sister,” I spoke up. “We need to have a quick chat.”
I walked out of earshot, and whisper-yelled at Abigail, “We can’t help this guy!”
“Because we have more important things to do!”
“But he’s hurt!”
“We have to keep moving!”
“But we’re lost! He could give us directions.”
“Fine. We’ll ask for directions. Nothing more.”
I walked up to the man, and asked, “Do you happen to know where the rebel base is? And how to get there?”
“He managed to squawk out, “ Up north, 10 miles, head west 2.” He then preceded to cough out blood and some disgustingly thick black liquid that I couldn’t name.
“Thank you,” My sister said. “Do you need help walking? We’ll help you get there.”
Of course. My sister just had to help.
“No, I can’t walk. Sit down, talk with me. Please.”
“Okay.” And she promptly sat down, and looked at me demandingly, expecting me to sit down.
“Fine,” I was too soft.
“So how did you kids get out here? And why are you looking for the rebel base?”
“Well… it’s a long story,” I really didn’t want to have to tell it.
“I’ve got time.”
“Okay… so did you hear about the bombing of Fayetteville?”
“Oh… you poor kids.”
“When I heard they bombed St. Paul and Denver, I vowed to help. My sister tagged along, and now we’re looking for the base to see what we can do to help.”
“Okay, my turn. I was one of the hackers for the rebels, and I got caught hacking into their servers on a library computer. I’ve been on the run ever since.” He then winced in pain and held his side. That part of his shirt was the most blood-soaked. He had been shot there.
“Excuse me kids. I think I dropped some bandages over there when I was walking through the woods last night.”
As he wandered off Into the woods, I wandered why he wasn’t dead yet. He got shot in the stomach, which means the bullet should’ve hit a major organ. Unless he was shot from close range, and someone shot him right where they knew he wasn’t going to die. And unless he’s with the Army… the old man was heading back towards camp…
I grabbed my gun out of my homemade holster and ran towards my tree. And sure enough, he was up in that tree, combing through my stuff.
“Hey!” I shouted.
He turned his towards me, and sneered. “You never saw anything, boy.”
Then he pulled out a pocket knife and charged me.
Suddenly, I heard a loud bang, and an eardrum-slicing ringing exploded in my ears. I looked down and saw bright red blood on the ground, hoping it wasn’t mine. then it hit my like a train. I had shot the old man.
“Abigail!” I called, my head spinning around like a top looking for her.
“Stuart! What did you do?”
“I’ll explain later. We have to go. Now!”
“Why? Stuart, wait!”
I grabbed my stuff out of the tree and took off through the woods, heading North. I realized the old traitor had said that, but I decided to take the risk that he was telling the truth on that one. I ran through a couple of oaks 5 feet apart, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw a lone Army soldier raising a gun in my direction. I ducked behind a large round oak tree just as he fired, and the bullet flew by. If I hadn’t ducked behind the tree, if I had kept running he would’ve hit me. I saw Abigail had also ducked behind a tree. I peeked my head out to see where he was. He was slowly creeping towards us, gun raised. I made a split-second decision to take off, and Abigail followed. I ran full speed through the woods, ignoring the bullets peppering the trees around my head. Abigail yelped as one nearly hit her. I kept running. And kept running. And kept running, regretting not doing cross country when my mom suggested it.
“Stuart! We got away. Why the heck are we running away? And why’d you shoot the old man?” I could tell Abigail was completely terrified, but her annoyed voice hid it well.
“He was part of the Army,” was my excuse. “He was going through my stuff, and he charged me with a knife when I caught him. I think that’s why the soldier was there too. That man was looking for rebel information. He was just playing wounded.”
“Wow… this world has completely lost it. It’s like… Armageddon or something.”
“Yeah, well. We better keep moving. I just want to get to that base.”
“We took off running again but this time at a slow jog. I kept my gun in my hand, though I really did not want to have to use it. I just couldn’t see myself as the type of person to shoot somebody. I know, I did it to the old man, but that was a reaction, when I had no idea what I was doing. Suddenly, the memory of our first encounter with the army came flooding back. I had shot a soldier. ‘I was in shock then, too. Besides, he was threatening my sister.’ I thought to myself.
I was lost in thought so deep, I didn’t realize Abigail had stopped.
“Stuart. I think it’s been 3 miles. We should rest now.”
And sure enough, it looked like the sun was roughly at 10:00.
“Yeah. We can stop and rest. I didn’t realize how tired I was. My legs felt like spaghetti noodles, and a cold sweat dripped down my back. I sat down on a rock. Suddenly, I felt my body start to fall as the rock caved in. About 10 feet and a bruised tailbone later, I was surrounded by men, holding guns pointed at my face. I was kind of getting tired of having guns pointed at me.
“Uh, who are you guys? And where am I?
One man stepped forward. “Why, I’m a rebel. And you’re at the secret entrance to the rebel base.”
“So you kids, you want to help,” The man who told us we were at the rebel base asked us.
“Yeah,” Abigail replied. “But we don’t want to do any actual fighting. We just want to be spies.”
“Well, that’s perfect. We have a shortage of spies at the moment… oh, how rude of me. I forgot to introduce myself. I’m Tom, this is Johnny, and this is Gabe. We are the guards of this secret entrance to the rebel base, In case an Army soldier stumbles upon it. Or random strangers, like you.”
“I’m Stuart, and this is my sister Abigail.”
“You two twins?”
“Good. Now, as I was saying earlier, we have a shortage of spies. Gabe we’ll escort you too the main part of the base, where Sergeant Jack will give you orders.”
“Come on kids. Follow me,” said Gabe, and he started walking down a narrow tunnel, with the smell of mold and damp wood. We followed, and he took a right down a tunnel that led to what looked like a garage door, with a keypad on the wall next to the door. He punched in 4 numbers, and the door opened up. In the garage appeared to be 3 or 4 of the Gator Utility Vehicles that he Army had chased us on. He grabbed some bright yellow keys off the wall, hopped in a kart, and said, “Jump in. Let’s take a ride.”
We hopped in the back, and he took off, flying through the old tunnels. They looked like they had been dug out years ago, probably for the Great War.
“So why do you want to help?” Gabe asked.
“Well…” I started, but luckily Abigail cut me off.
“That’s not important,” She replied. “What’s important is that we stop Josiah. What do you think Sergeant Jack’s going to have us do?”
“Well, we’ve sent most spies to try to get information about the Army’s plans. Unfortunately, they have said information in a briefcase, and no one has been able to get it. Let’s hope you’re the first.”
As we approached another door, again had a keypad, Gabe jumped out an punched in 4 numbers. The door hissed open, and into the war room we walked, all the rebel leaders staring us down.
Gabe walked over to the man in a suitcoat, who I guessed was Sergeant Jack. He whispered something in his ear, and the sergeant turned his head towards us and smiled.
“Okay kids,” He said. “Did Gabe already tell you what you were doing?”
“Infiltrating the Army base and stealing the briefcase, right?” I clarified.
“Yes, good. Now we need you to get familiar with the building and the base. We will likely start tomorrow morning at dawn, when there is the least amount of activity.”
He handed me a map, and I studied it, then handed it to my sister, who had a photographic memory. We wouldn’t have to look at that map again.
“You guys are done with it already?” Jack asked.
“I have a photographic memory,” Abigail replied.
“Oh. How handy. Well, you two should go get some rest. You have a long day ahead of you. Gabe, please show them to their rooms.”
Gabe walked off, with us trailing behind. He walked down a long hallway with marble floors and lots of doors on each side, like a hotel. He opened a door and pointed at Abigail, and she walked in. He showed me mine, which was right across the hall.
As soon as I stepped into the room, I knew It should’ve been in a five star hotel, not underground. It had the biggest flat screen TV I had ever seen, a king sized bed with about twenty pillows, and a hot tub in the bathroom. I crawled into the bed, and it was the comfiest thing ever, like laying on a heaping pile of feathers. As my head landed on the pillow, I felt my eyes begin to droop. Before I knew it, I was asleep.
“Stuart!” Abigail shook me awake.
“What?” I asked wearily.
“It’s two o’clock. We’re getting equipped and preparing to leave.”
As I crawled out of bed, I felt a weak surge coming on. My Effiprex was acting up again. I shook myself, and the feeling left my body. Weird. I went down the hall to the war room, where Jack was waiting.
“Are you ready?” he asked.
“No,” was my only reply.
He grinned. “Good. Through that door,” He pointed to the right, “is the equipment room. Get bulletproof vests and helmets on, I’ll help you with the rest.”
I walked into the room, and inside was every weapon imaginable. Guns lined the walls, with boxes full of ammo on large shelves. Vests and helmets were laid out on a table. I grabbed a vest that was my size, and pulled it over my head. The vest was slightly large for me, but I didn’t really care. I pulled on a helmet, and walked out into the war room.
“Nice,” Sergeant Jack. “Let me help you hook up the ear mic system, and I’ll put a camera on your helmet. As soon as we get that stuff on, we’ll ride you to the base.”
As he hooked this stuff up on me, I glanced over at Abigail. She was getting equipped by Gabe. She looked tired, as if she hadn’t slept at all.
“Done,” Jack announced. “Let’s move out. I’ll drive the Gator.
We went into a back room, and a gator was sitting there, with a garage door that most likely led outside. Jack inserted keys into the ignition, and the garage door opened, leaving us to the night sky and the full moon.
We took off through the night, heading towards nowhere.
“You kids enter through the side entrance. We’ve hacked into the cameras, so they shouldn’t be able to see you. Once you’re in I’ll lead you from there.”
Suddenly, the vehicle stopped. “Alright,” Jack said. “We’re here. You guys know what you’re doing?”
“No,” Abigail and I said simultaneously.
Jack grinned. “That’s what I like to hear. Cracking jokes at a time like this? Way to stay lighthearted.”
He paused, and jerked his head to the left. Nothing moved in the darkness. “Okay kids. This is it. Good luck. You’ll need it.”
With that he took off into the darkness, leaving us alone at the Army base.
“Well?” I asked, and Abigail cracked a grin.
We went In the side door, and I said into my headset, “We’re in.”
The crackling voice of Sergeant Jack came through the earpiece. “Go down that hallway. The second door on the left, go in that one. Stay low until I give you the heads up.”
We ran down the hallway, which was so bleach white it was hurting my eyes.
“This one?” I replied, pulling open a metal door.
“Yes. Open it quietly, and hit the deck.”
We did as instructed. The room was pitch black, in sharp contrast to the bleach white hallways, so I pulled out my mini flashlight and switched it on. It appeared to be some sort of janitor’s closet. We each curled ourselves into a ball on the cold ground, and suddenly a huge BOOM shook the building. There was a lot of yelling and running around outside the door, and one loud slam from a door being shut. Jack’s voice crackled through, “Okay, we’ve blown up a Gator on the other side of the base. Slowly go out the door, and to the room directly across from you. Once you’re in, shut the door behind you. There will be three doors. Go to the room on the left. The briefcase is in a safe in that room.”
“Wouldn’t there be alarms?” I asked, worriedly.
“Oh crap,” Jack cursed. “I completely forgot about that. Once you get the briefcase, get out of there. Repeat, get out of there as fast as you can after you get the briefcase.”
“Roger that. Stew and Abs out.”
“Stop calling us Stew and Abs. We don’t need spy names,” Abigail complained.
“Never,” I grinned stubbornly. Abigail rolled her eyes. I loved getting on her nerves.
We ran across the hallway, and ducked into the room. The room looked like a cafeteria, it was so big. Yet nothing was in it, except the doors on the left, the right, and straight ahead.
Crouched low, I crawled to the left door and quietly pulled it open.
“We’re in the safe room. What’s the code? I want to get out of here this place gives me the creeps,” Abigail told Jack.
“The code is 3066. Repeat: 3066,” Jack replied back. “Get ready to run once you grab the briefcase. We’ll send an extraction team once your far enough away from the base.”
“Okay. Here we go,” I said softly, trying to hide my worry.
I walked up to the safe, which looked like a microwave instead of a safe, and punched in the code. The door clicked open, and the briefcase was sitting there, and I was ready to take it. I grabbed it, and took off back the way we came, Abigail in close pursuit. An alarm buzzed, and I could hear the roar of boots as soldiers ran down the hallway, right towards us. We sprinted out the door, and dodged towards the back of the base. All was going great. I ran full sprint, saying to Jack, “We’re going around the back to get away. Tell the extraction team to meet us-“
Suddenly, Abigail screamed and fell to the ground with a thud. Blood exploded out of her stomach, and her face went slack. “ABIGAIL!”
I ran over to her and held her. She was barely conscious, and I knew the Army was right behind us. We had to hide.
I found some bushes and dove behind them, pulling Abigail with me as I went. Many soldiers passed, but none of them found me. I sat there waiting for hours after the soldiers gave up, hoping help would come. But after the soldiers were gone nobody came to help. I was alone, and my sister was dying.
After hours of waiting still and nobody in site, I decided it was best to keep moving. I tended to my sisters wounds, then I put her over my shoulder like a fireman’s carry, and took off through the woods.
I wandered around the woods for hours, hoping to find some help. When the sun peaked out over the horizon, I knew it was hopeless. I gave up looking and wandering around and sat down for a minute. I unwrapped Abigail’s wounds, which didn’t appear to be getting any better. I knew she would have to find help soon or she would die.
The forest suddenly became eerily silent. I heard whispering sounds and the crackling of a fire. I wandered over to investigate. I ducked behind a tree, peaked out to see who it was. to my surprise there was a group of stragglers surrounding a fire. And one of the people surrounding that fire was none other than Sergeant Jack himself.
“ Sergeant Jack!” I yelled, revealing myself to the rest of the group.
“ Stuart! What are you doing out here?” he asked.
“The better question is where are you you’re doing out here? What happened why are you out here?” I asked back.
“The base got attacked after you guys Took the briefcase. A few other people and I were the only ones to make it out alive. Do you still have the briefcase?”
“Yes I do. It’s right here,” I said pulling out the briefcase.
“then we might actually have a chance. As for your sister, where is she?”
“She got shot when we were running away. She’s seriously wounded. I was able to carry her through the woods. I’m lucky I found you.”
“Very lucky. We have a former surgeon with us who survived the attack. She’ll be able to operate on your sister. Meanwhile, though, we need you to take the briefcase to another rebel base. It is the biggest of the rebel bases, and it is headquarters for the general and the code crackers. In other words, it is the best place to take the briefcase. It is East of here, in Nashville. You will need to get them the briefcase. If you don’t, the Rebels operation could crumble, and all would be lost. Are you up for another big trip?”
“Heck yeah. I’m ready to leave now.”
“Before you leave, take this,” he said, giving me 50 dollars’ worth of rolled up tens. “Ok. You may go. But be careful. The world is depending on you now, Stuart. May God be with you on your perilous journey. Good luck and take care.”
And with that I took off through the woods, towards Nashville in the east, towards the rising sun.
“Can I have a coffee and an egg and sausage biscuit, please?” I politely asked the waitress.
“Sure thing, sir. I’ll get that right out for you.”
I had found a small town at the Arkansas-Tennessee border, and I had stopped for breakfast. It had been two days since I had left my sister in Sergeant Jack’s care, and the only food I had eaten were berries I had found on shrubs in the woods. The only reason I knew it was on the border was because I asked the waitress where I was.
“Here is your sandwich, sir, and your coffee. Is there anything else you need?”
“I’d like to pay right now. I’ll take this stuff to go,” I handed her a 10, which covered the cost of everything, and walked out the front door.
I bit into my biscuit as I walked down the street. The egg tasted great and the sausage was exquisite. It was a great little diner. I wish I could’ve stayed longer, but I had a world to save. And a tyranny to crumble.
I took the final bite of my sandwich, then sipped the last of my coffee and threw it away. I took off running, briefcase in hand.
I took off through some wooded area, mostly pines and oaks shielding me from the sun. After running for half an hour, I rested a bit, and looked out into the wildlife around me. One object caught my eye in particular. Down a hill, and behind a large bush, was what appeared to be a small hut, just out in the woods. As I wandered closer, I saw a strange little man come out of the hut. He had beady eyes, a crooked nose, and weirdly misshapen ears, with a long gray beard. He looked like a witch with a beard. I walked up to him and said, “Excuse me, sir.”
Apparently he hadn’t seen or heard me coming, because he jumped a mile high.
“Jeez, mate. Could you give me a little warning first before you decide to sneak up on me like that?”
“Uh…” were the only words I could muster.
“Never mind that. Come inside, will you? It looks as if it’s about to rain.”
Huge gray clouds were moving across the sky towards us, the ones that were usually accompanied with thunderstorms.
“Yeah, sure. We can go inside, I guess.”
The man creaked open the old wooden door, and inside I could see a small table with two chairs, a small kitchenette area, and a cot on the wall to the left. It was very homey, and the old man was sharing his hospitality. He was very kind, but I was still suspicious.
“Take a seat, sonny,” He said to me. “I have something to give you for keeping me company.”
He walked over to the kitchenette and pulled open a drawer. He grabbed something small out of it and tossed it in my direction.
“It’s my lucky rabbit foot. I’ve had it since I was a young lad. Here, I want you to have it.”
I caught it with one hand. It was black, and the fur was unbelievably soft.
“Why? I mean, why give it to a random stranger?” I asked.
“Well, I have a special feeling about you. You’re an unusual young man.”
“Oh, looks like the storm cleared up. You should get going.”
With that, he shoved me out of his little house and slammed the door shut.
“Well then,” I said to myself, starting to wander through the woods. I wondered why the old man had given me his lucky rabbit foot. He was weird, but I felt like there was a certain… aura about him. I stuck the rabbit foot into my pocket.
“Strange,” I muttered, then ran off to the east, straight to Nashville.
“Thank you for the ride, sir,” I said to the taxi driver, then gave him a $20 and walked into the city as the cab drove away. Nashville was beautiful, the music city glowing bright in the night sky. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any time to enjoy the beautiful scenery, as I had to go find the rebel base. Jack told me that the building looked a lot like an apartment, but it had an very large awning across the top of the top floor windows. I was told it was on Fourth Street, so I asked the guy to drop me off there. I turned a corner, walked down an alley, and turned another corner.
There it was. It was four stories tall, and it was very, very bright blue. I knocked on the door, and it slid open.
“Password?” some man asked.
“Jungle fever,” I responded, remembering back to what Jack had said about the building.
“Come on in, rebel. Nice briefcase.”
“Actually that’s the reason I’m here. I come from the Northwestern Arkansas base and I need to drop off this briefcase because it had information about Army plans.”
“ Thank goodness. We’ve been expecting the plans for about a week now. When did you leave Arkansas?”
“About a week and a half ago.”
“Well then, you made a pretty quick time. Good job. Now hand over the briefcase, and I’ll give you a room to stay in for tonight. Laura here will show you to said room.”
“Hello, sir,” she said to me, and I caught my breath.
She was astonishingly beautiful. She had big, brown eyes, and a smile that lit up the room. Her dirty blonde ran down her shoulders, and she walked with a kind of arrogant pride I hadn’t seen from anybody… other than my sister. And lucky for me, she looked no older than me, maybe 14.
“Uh…where’s my room?” I asked stupidly.
“Follow me,” she said, her voice flowing out like a milkshake.
She opened a door, turned down a hallway, opened another door and spread open her arms, guiding me in.
“Here’s your room. You’ll stay here for the night.”
“Uh… thank you.”
“Your welcome. I’m right down the hall, if you need anything.”
“Ok. Will do,” I mumbled, trying not to drool.
“By the way, what’s your name?”
“Laur-, uh, I mean Stuart. Yeah, Stuart.”
“Ok. Nice to meet you Stuart,” As she walked away, she giggled.
I walked into the room. It was rather small, barely bigger than the old man’s hut, with a desk off to the left and a bed to my right. There was a bathroom straight back, and over the bed was a window. The room smelled old and musty, as if it hadn’t been used in a long time.
I felt exhausted from the long trip. It had been 10 days since I left, and I missed my sister. I collapsed onto the bed, the face of Laura fresh in my mind as I fell into a dreamlike state.
I woke up bright and early the next morning, but I didn’t have anything to do. When I entered the main room, Laura, the man who had let me in, and another man. The second man was tall, maybe six-three, and had sandy blonde hair.
“Hey, Stuart,” the man said to me when I walked into the front room. “I don’t believe we have formally met. My name’s Ryan.”
“Nice to meet you. What were you guys talking about?
“Ah, good question. Laura, would you like to explain?”
“Sure. Stuart, follow me,” She responded, grabbing my hand and pulling me towards a door directly across the room from the hallway my room was in.
“Ok, so we’ve figured out that there is a prison base in the center of Washington, and they’re holding the rebels are being held there. So if we can free them, We’ll be able to charge the White House and take down Josiah,” She finished up. She suddenly pulled away, her hand loosening from mine. I hadn’t even realized it, but we hadn’t let go.
“So we enter here,” she said pointing at a window. I moved closer, as I couldn’t see where she exactly was pointing. My fingertips found hers, and we locked hands again, and our eyes met. I stared deep into her chocolate brown eyes, and I felt like I could get lost in them forever.
Unfortunately, the moment didn’t last long. Ryan called from the other room, “Laura, we need you in here!”
She sighed, and turned away from me, saying, “You should get some more sleep, Stuart. You’ll need it.”
It was only 4:30, and I wasn’t the least bit tired, but I slowly drifted back to my room. I climbed into my bed, and imagined getting lost in Laura’s eyes again. With that thought in my mind, I was out like a light in no time flat.
“Stuart! Stuart, wake up!” I heard me sister shaking me awake.
No, not my sister. That was Laura. She was shaking, and her eyes were bloodshot.
“Stuart! Come on! The base is being attacked! We’ve got to get out of here!”
We raced around the corner to the main room, outside, and down an empty alley into the next block.
“Stay here. I’m going back in,” Laura yelled over the sound of small explosions.
“What? You can’t! That would be suicide!” I screamed back.
“I don’t care! I’ve got to save them! They’re my friends!”
She took off running straight for the building. As soon as she got in, the building exploded shards of glass and debris flying everywhere.
“NO!” I screamed, but there was nothing I could do.
I sat there, watching the rest of the building burn down through my teary eyes, when I noticed something approaching from behind me.
“Oh, you poor thing. Lost your friends, your precious base. Your sister, too. She’s dead, and it’s your fault,” The man’s voice sneered.
I turned to face him. He was wearing an Army uniform, but had lots of small medals decorating his coat pocket. A lieutenant by the looks of it.
“What do you want? You’ve already taken just about everything,” I replied coldly.
“Oh, you have no idea how much you still have left. But don’t worry. I’ll kill you before you can feel that pain.”
He pulled out a gun and pointed straight at my head.
Then, I did the stupidest thing ever. I charged him.
I didn’t have anything else to live for, so I might as well go down fighting.
I wrapped my arms around his waist and pulled him down as he fired, a stray bullet whizzing away into the ruins of the old base. I punched him in the face and jumped up, ready for a fight. He crawled to his knees, and I kicked him in the groin. He coughed, and blood sprayed out. His grip on the pistol loosened, and I kicked out of his hand, sending flying down the alley.
“Listen, bud. I’ve lost a lot lately, and I have far more to fight for than you. So I’m going to let you go back to president Josiah, but you give him this message. I’m going to find him, and I’m going to make him watch everything crumble before his eyes.”
I lifted him up, and shoved in the direction he came from. He ran off, forgetting his gun. Exhausted, I collapsed, and broke down into tears.
As I walked down Fourth Street, I hatched my plan to crumble the president’s grip on the government. I was going to get a plane ride to Washington D. C. He would free the fellow rebels from the prison camp, and they would charge Washington together.
I hailed a cab, and pulled open the door before the cab was even fully stopped.
“Airport,” I said to the driver, and he took off, hurtling down the street. I leaned back and closed my eyes, thinking out my plan. The control and security room was on the second floor, right next to the staircase I would use. I would have to break in a window, but the stairs were right next to it, so it was worth the trouble. Once inside the control room, I would probably have to take out a couple of security guards in there. From there, all l had to do was hit the button that opened all the cell doors.
“We’re here,” said the cab driver. “That’ll be 5 dollars.”
I handed over an Abe Lincoln and climbed out of the car. The airport was right in front of me, and I was ready to go.
I walked inside and went off to find the ticket window for Washington, D.C. There wasn’t much of a line, as the only people trying to get into Washington were government workers. I would have to stay low and look unsuspicious. My flight would be leaving at 7:30, so I had 3 hours to kill.
I decided to rest my weary eyes, as I was going to have a long night ahead of me. I sat down on a chair, and slipped into a dreamless state of sleep.
“Washington, D.C. 7:30 leaving in 15 minutes,” the sound of the loudspeaker jarred me awake. I looked for Washington, D.C. flight 710 on the terminal and saw the tunnel up ahead to the left. I ran ahead, showed the lady my ticket, and walked onto the plane. My seat was a window seat, so I claimed. No one sat down beside me, and there appeared to be only about twenty-five people onboard. As the plane was taking off, shaking with turbulence, I looked out my window, wondering if I could pull this off, and hoping that if I didn’t that the rebel army could still find a way to win.
“Please buckle your seat belts everyone, we approaching the airport and preparing to land,” the pilots voice crackled over the intercom.
I strapped myself in, and the plane bumped as we landed. It slowed, and the pilots voice came over the intercom again, “Ladies and gentlemen, we have safely landed, feel free to get off the plane now.
I got up and stretched, my joints creaking like rusted metal as my bones popped back into place.
I walked into the middle aisle, and slowly wandered to the front of the plane and out the gate. I walked into the terminal, towards the front doors. I had no bags to pick up, as I had come empty-handed.
I walked out the front door and hailed another taxi. I told him to drop me off a couple of blocks away from the prison camp. I waited on a park bench until I saw all the lights go off from the windows. It felt like days, but in reality it was only about half an hour. As soon as the last light went out, I ran down the street towards the front gates. I climbed over it, thank goodness it wasn’t electric, and ran around the side of the building until I found the window I was breaking. I found it on the far left side of the building. I had a baseball I kept in my pocket, the one I found in the rebel base before it blew up. I took a deep breath, reared back, and threw the baseball as hard as I could.
It went right through and made a circular hole in the middle of the window. I pushed on the glass, and the entire thing caved in. I jumped in, grabbed my baseball, and ran straight for the stairs.
I climbed them three at a time, straight to the second story door. I pushed it open and tore down the hall. I shoved open a door with the words ‘Control Room’ on it in bright red letters. There were three people in the room. The only girl had bright blonde hair and a nametag reading ‘Maria.’ Another was a very tan man with dark black hair and no nametag. I threw my baseball at him, and it hit him square in the forehead and knocked him out. Maria screamed, and I punched her hard in the face. Her jaw slacked, and she fell out of her chair. That left the last guy, who sat in the back of the room. He had thick glasses and light brown hair. I stared him down, and a dark stain appeared, running down his paints.
I ran up to the control pad, and he just sat there watching, a look of pure terror chiseled into his face. I scanned over the control pad, and found the button I was looking for. ‘Release all doors.’ I slammed my fist onto the button and I hear a loud beep, then the sound of airtight doors opening flooded the hallway. I clicked on the intercom and shouted into it, “Washington Monument!” Then I ran out of the room and down the stairs. I jumped through the broken window and sprinted towards the Washington Monument, away from the alarms of the prison camp.
“Ok everybody!” I shouted over the chatter of the hundreds of rebels gathered under the Washington Monument. We are leading a charge on the home of President Josiah! We will end his reign tonight. Now split yourselves into 4 groups, each with teams of two to lead them.
“Stuart, wait,” someone from the crowd spoke up. The crowd turned towards the feminine voice. I swear I’d heard it before…
Laura was pushing through the crowd, holding Abigail’s hand, pulling her behind.
“Laura! Abigail!” I ran forward and hugged them both. “You’re ok!”
“Of course we’re ok doofus,” Abigail croaked. She was obviously still in a lot of pain, but apparently the surgery worked. I couldn’t go and leave you alone, now, could I?”
“Probably not. Now let’s go take down Washington.
We all marched towards the old White House, which had been died bright green because that was Josiah’s “favorite color.”
We walked through the streets, hundreds of rebels unified against one horrible tyrannical leader.
As we approached the White House, I saw Josiah looking out the window, a weary look on his face. He had been worrying about this moment for years, and now it was happening.
“FOR BURGERS!” I shouted and we all charged up the front lawn, although nobody knew exactly what I meant. Except my sister.
We charged through the front door, facing no competition. In fact, it seemed Josiah lived alone. We charged up the stairs to the second floor and burst into his room. He was alone, and he looked ready.
Everyone in the room stared at the man, loathing every inch of him. You could feel the hate vibrate in the room.
Josiah started to speak, but before he could get the words out, everyone around me charged forward, and he was lost in a crowd of people.
Suddenly, Laura was at my side. “Come here, follow me.”
She grabbed my hand, and pulled me along into another room.
“Thank you for saving me,” she said pulling me closer. “Your sister stayed so calm in there, I was freaking out. I thought he was going to kill us,” she stammered, looking deep into my eyes.
“I would never, ever let that happen to you,” I spoke up.
“I know, just…”
Before she was able to say anything else, I pulled her in close and kissed her. It was the greatest moment of my life.
When I pulled away, she stared at me with an emotionless look on her face. I couldn’t tell if she was mad or what. She just stared at me. Then with lightning speed, she pulled me in very close, and I could see a look of rage beginning to form on her face. But she didn’t get mad. She pulled me in for another kiss, and I kissed back.
“Hey, will you too lovebirds get out here and help us?” Abigail said, poking her head through the doorway.
“What is there to help with?” I asked, slowly pushing away from Laura until we were just holding hands.
“Well, the one former congressman who is still alive wants to talk to you. And they’ve scraped together a couple of media personnel to broadcast it across the nation.”
“Really?” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
“Yeah, he’s waiting outside. You should get going.”
“Go ahead, doofus. I’ll stay here.”
I ran outside and onto the front lawn, where I saw an middle-aged man with brown hair and a handlebar mustache talking to a couple of people with big TV cameras.
“Ah, Stuart, I’ve been waiting to speak to you. You see, since most of the government has been destroyed, we need a new leader. And we want that leader to be you.”
I was stunned. “I’m honored, sir.”
He continued, “You’ll need to pick members to make up a new cabinet, and blah blah blah government stuff I’ll tell you about later.”
“Um, sir. I’m going to have to turn down your offer.”
He stopped, and looked at me with a concerned expression. “Are you sure?” He questioned.
“Yes, I’m sure. It’s just I’m only a teenager, and I have my whole life ahead of me. I don’t want to waste it on leading the country.”
He started to speak, but I wasn’t done. “Also, I will make one proposal. All Army soldiers and Army leaders will be given jobs like farming or teaching. They will be accepted back into society.”
“As you wish, Stuart. I wish you good luck in your future adventures.”
“Thank you, sir.”
He walked away, and Jack walked out up. I hadn’t realized how much I missed him.
“Jack!” I exclaimed, and ran towards him, giving him a big hug.
“Hey there, kid. You did a great job.”
“I couldn’t have done it without you!”
“No, you couldn’t. Jack saves the day, three cheers for Jack, yadda, yadda, yadda. Enough about me, kid. Where’s Josiah? I want to punch him in the nose.”
“Nobody knows. The mob charged him, and when it receded, he was gone.”
“Dang. I would really like to see that blockhead pay.”
“Something tells me he’s out there paying right now.”
“Good. He needs to. He ended millions of innocent lives. The least he could do is give his own.”
“Well, it was good seeing you kid, but I’ve got places to go.”
“Other adventures. You wanna join me?”
“If Laura and Abigail want to tag along, the sure!”
As if on cue, Laura appeared, with Abigail right behind her. “I’d love to!” Laura exclaimed.
Abigail responded with, “I’m down for it.” Then turned and smiled at me.
“Then let’s go!” I exclaimed.
“I’ve got my Hum-V waiting in the driveway. Come on, road trip time!” Jack said.
And with that, we all walked to Jack’s Hum-V, ready the next adventure of a lifetime.