I knew I shouldn't, but I ran after Nat. He seemed desperate to find this other boy. He’d helped my mum and saved me from the second deadly bombing. Still, I felt terrified. I felt like my heart was pounding at my ribs. I was supposed to be running away from the smoke, not into it.
Suddenly, I felt something grabbing at my shoulder. I quickly turned to see a fully-armed cop in a tight navy-blue uniform. He had a gas mask strapped over his face and had a hardened expression like, If you don’t come with me, then I suggest you run. I screamed and fought against his unbreakable strength. Apparently, no reinforcements were coming to his aid. I lashed out kicking and struggling and ran free. I quickly caught up with Nat who was scanning the streets trying to find this boy. Next thing we knew, a flood of cops streamed up behind us wailing,
“Put your hands in the air, or we’ll shoot!”
“Nat” I said cautiously, “Something tells me we should run.”
In an instant, Nat nodded and lunged for the nearest alley-way. I wasted no time in following him.
“What’s going on?” I shouted to Nat as we ran.
“They think we did it!” he called back, “They think we planted the bombs!”
Great, I thought, my mum nearly dies and now I’m a murder suspect.
Behind me I could hear the clattering of the cop’s plastic shields against one another. I kept running. We had to lose them. But I was getting tired and I couldn't keep it up much longer. Suddenly, there was an ear-splitting BANG! Then another. And another. The cops were shooting at us. I wanted to plead for them to just let us go but that would show my weakness. And if there’s one thing I've learnt in my lifetime, it’s to never show any sign of weakness or things could get messy.
The cops kept shooting and Nat and I kept running. All of a sudden a deep screech echoed through the streets. The cops stopped shooting and quickly retreated. Up ahead I could see Nat hunched over another boy who was sprawled on the ground breathing heavily. I ran over to them and saw the horrific wound in the boy’s stomach.
“My flat isn't far from here” I said, “We need to get him inside.”
Nat glanced at me thankfully and we hauled the boy over our shoulders. He wailed in pain but Nat told him he would be okay.
A quarter of a mile down the street, we came to a block of apartments. We entered the lobby that was filled with tropical plants, trees and a cage full of squawking parrots. I felt a sudden urge to set them free but I forced myself to reach into my coat pocket and grab my set of keys. Up a flight of stairs we went, holding the boy securely so he didn't fall. I edged closer to the nearest grey metallic door. The stench of pollen and nectar from the virtual jungle experience was unbearable. I turned the key and the door swung open. The boy looked desperate as if he wanted to tell us something. Nat lay him down on the vintage carpet my mum loved. His wound was worse them I had previously thought. I got up from the floor to get him some water but he grabbed my leg. He winced but managed to shake his head in protest.
“Don’t worry Lucas” Nat said, “You’re safe now.”
Lucas must have been the boy he was looking for, I thought.
“But you aren't” he croaked, “The bomber is still around. He is looking for you. He’ll kill you both.”
Nat and I exchanged nervous looks. Lucas turned to Nat. “You’re fully trained. If you don’t stop him, he’ll destroy human civilization as we know it. Forever.”
He was going to say more but his life was ending. His eyes closed. His pulse stopped. Nat wasn't crying but I could tell he was upset.
“What did Lucas mean about you being fully trained?” I asked carefully.
“Charlie, it doesn't matter. You are in danger.” Nat replied.
“Charlie! None of it matters!” he bellowed, “We are both in grave danger and only we can save the world! We’re on our own now. Lucas is dead.”