We talk for what feels like hours. I slowly answer their questions, looking at Chance every now and then to make sure I’m saying the right things. Who knows what he does and doesn’t want me to say to them?
“How did you manage to escape?” I finally ask. Lyra, Cole and Alan all look at each other, and then Cole finally speaks.
“After you left the prison, it turned into a war zone,” he explains, “the prisoners started rioting, and eventually took down at least half of the guards all on their own. After that, only a few of us managed to escape.”
“I’m not sure,” Cole goes on, “maybe a dozen? It seems like they had reinforcements or something like that, but luckily us three managed to escape. We kept running until we found this apartment building. Saw blood, so we ran upstairs and found him,” he points to Chance, who smiles wickedly at me. “Anyway, what are you two planning on doing?”
Chance looks over at me, and I nod, “we’re going into the city,” he says, “of course, feel free to join us.” Chance doesn’t strike me as a people person, but plainly I was wrong. He gives them all a handful of nuts each and a sip of water each, then puts it back in the bag along with a stack handful of more food he apparently found when I was asleep.
As Chance packs up the rucksack and makes sure that there is nothing else of any use to us, I watch the three of them. Cole has brown eyes, warm and welcoming, and they remind me of sunset. Alan’s eyes are like mine, bright and blue, like the sky that I’ve hardly seen. And then there are Lyra’s eyes, harsh and green, looking from me to the boys.
Then Cole leaps out of his chair and grins, “shall we go then?” I only now notice that Chance is framed in the doorway, the rucksack over his shoulder. I get up and brush my hands on my legs. Then Lyra and Alan are there too, all heading out of the door when a hand touches my arm. It’s Cole.
“What’s your name?” He asks, not letting go of my arm.
“I told you,” I say, ripping my arm from his grasp, “its Blaire.” Something crosses his face, and I’m sure that it’s there. He thinks I’m lying!
“We all have secrets!” He shouts after me, but I’m already gone. Running down the stairs until I reach the bottom. Lyra and Alan are starting to walk away from the apartment building down the street, but Chance is waiting by the door, his eyes curious.
“Everything alright?” He questions, probably seeing the annoyance on my face. I shrug, and he takes my hand. Maybe it’s not for show after all. Although I’m irritated with him, irritated that he won’t tell me anything, I hold onto his hand and offer to take the bag, but he reclines. Whatever.
It’s good to feel fresh air on my skin. Coming to think of it, I should have taken some hair bands to tie back my hair that is being tossed around in the wind. Too late now.
An hour later, Chance manages to somehow hot wire a car to drive to the city. Annoyingly, Lyra, Alan and Cole had already climbed in the back by the time I run over to the car after going back to the apartment to retrieve some hair bands. Guess I’m going in the front.
I climb in next to Chance, who fiddles around a bit and then starts to drive. I hold onto the door, not quite sure how to take it. I’ve never been in a car, not that I can remember anyway. After a few minutes, I start to relax again, lean forward and fold my hands in my lap. I’m nervous, there’s no denying that. I can see the city from here, the buildings stand tall, hardly any damage that wasn’t already there before the virus hit. But it’s what’s hidden in the streets that worry me the most.
Clearly noticing how nervous I am, Chance pulls over outside a row of houses. “Want to stretch our legs for a bit?” We climb out, and I walk around at the front of the house whilst the others go to explore behind. Chance touches my shoulder whilst I pace back and forth, and sits me down next to him on the front steps.
“So,” he begins, “you want to tell me what’s up?”
I drop my head in my hands and sigh. “You didn’t see the pictures,” I breathe.
“No,” Chance puts a hand on my back, “but I have an imagination. I can’t imagine what it’s like to not remember anything from before, but maybe sometimes it’s better that way. I mean…” he trails off a bit, and I look up at him. There is so much hiding behind his eyes, and it’s almost as if I can suddenly read him like a book. He remembers! How? Why? So many questions suddenly come into place, and it’s like adding another piece to the puzzle.
“You remember,” I say, not asking, but saying. He nods slowly and buries his head in his hands, as if he doesn’t like it.
“You know,” I start, not sure where I’m taking this, “maybe it’s better for you to remember. I had to learn a lot of things, figure things out. But for you, well, you already knew.”
Chance looks up at me. He closes his eyes and moves closer to me, and for a second, I think that he’s going to kiss me. Even if he is going to, he doesn’t get the chance. Cole, Alan and Lyra all appear around the corner.
“Well,” Cole grins, “should we get going?” Chance walks over to the car without me and I grimace. Was he really going to kiss me? Why would he do that? I shudder from the wind that has picked up dramatically since the last time I properly stood outside and climb into the car.
It doesn’t take Alan long to figure out that there are CD’s in the back. He tosses them forwards to me, his black hair in his eyes but smiling nonetheless, and I follow his instructions to turn on some music. Before long, music is blasting out in the car, and I get a sense of unease.
I think I can see something. Up ahead, walking out of the city. A person? How? I lean forwards and squint, no one else seems to notice the figure, but it is definitely there. A black outline of a person, slowly coming into view.
“Chance,” I say, a hint of warning in my voice. He doesn’t answer and I look again. The figure is a man, definitely a man.
“Chance,” I say louder. I look at him, but his eyes are fixed out of the window and not forwards. How is he managing to drive straight? I look back in front and he is there, right in front of us.
“Chance!” I shriek, but it is too late. Before there is any time to react, I feel the callous impact. The screeching of tires and screams ring in my ears, and my body slams hard against the seatbelt. Shattered glass is flying everywhere, slicing my arms and my face until finally we hit something that makes us stop with a big jolt. I’m on my side, the seatbelt cutting into my stomach making me wince in pain. I lodge my foot on the door so that I don’t fall down onto broken glass, and reach over and unclip my seatbelt. On my hands and knees, cut and bruised, I climb out of the broken window, being thankful for my small size that allows this. It turns out, we hit a tree. When I’m finally out, I move every joint in my body. Making sure nothing is broken or hurt internally. Once I’m sure that I’m okay internally, I look at my arms and legs. My arms are sliced, bleeding quite a bit, but not enough that I’ll need to bandage them up. My legs are just the same, my feet, and my face.
Then I look up. We seem to have fallen down the side of the motorway and into a small forest type place. I can see the road above us, but instead of crawling up the bank I wrench Chance’s door open.
“Blaire,” he coughs, and blood splatters out of his mouth, “get me out.”