Tym grabbed my hand and ran for the door. How he knew where it was in complete darkness, I wasn’t sure. But I followed him.
We burst into the main room of the warehouse and down the stairs and went to Tym’s room where he grabbed an old canteen with a strap, which he draped over my shoulder, a note board, which he put into a satchel and slung over his own shoulder, and a battered army jacket, which he tossed to me.
“Put it on,” he said, pulling on a sweatshirt. “It’s going to be a late night.”
Then we were running. In between each warehouse was an alley filled with abandoned cars, overflowing trash bins and mountains of garbage. We ran by a few empty warehouses then turned a corner. Then ran by some more. I had no idea where we were. I felt like a rat trapped in a maze. All the warehouses looked the same. Covered in graffiti and dirt, with gigantic roll away doors.
We were about three blocks away when we heard the sirens.
“Damn,” Tym said.
We turned another sharp corner and kept going.
My lungs stung and I found it hard to keep up, but Tym dragged me along, the whole while cursing under his breath and formulating escape plans.
“Nope, can’t go that way, they’ll have that exit covered. Damn! Alright, let’s try this. Hell!”
When we reached a chain link fence, Tym opened a hole held together with twisty ties and shoved me through, then crawled through himself on all fours.
On the opposite side of the fence he took my hand again. We ran down the block of old empty factories, then turned a corner and found ourselves in the middle of a fish market.
Booths with rotting fish stank the block to high heaven. I immediately gagged, but since I’d thrown up all the food in my stomach before, it was only bile. Tym saw me struggling but didn’t slow down. He pulled my hand. I kept my other hand over my mouth to keep from spraying the crowd of people with vomit.
There were no cars on the block, only booths and a throng of people. There must have been hundreds, all packed together. The people shouted, haggled and fought with one another. It was bedlam.
“Keep your head down,” Tym said.
I pulled the collar up on the army jacket then covered my mouth again, choking, and put my head down. I blindly allowed Tym to lead me through the crowd.
I couldn’t understand why people were buying the rotted fish. But the street was packed. Old women with baskets, young mothers trailing toddlers, young men with bloody aprons. We bumped and pushed through them like a bulldozer. Tym didn’t even bother to apologize as he shoved people out of the way.
“Where do they get the fish?” I asked.
“This isn’t a fish market,” Tym said, not slowing his pace.
I heard the sirens in the distance. They didn’t seem any farther away, which meant they were gaining on us.
“What?” How could it not be a fish market when the booths were lined with fish and sloppy bloody ice?
“The fish is just a ruse. This is the black market. You ever need something? It’s sold here. You just got to know who to buy it from.”
“Don’t look up! When we reach the end of the street, up and to the left there’s a big black glass building,” Tym said.
“The bridge is next to that building, okay?”
“Sonya and Doc will meet you there. If neither one of them shows up, you come back here to this street and you talk to Eron. You hear me? Eron. He’s an old friend. He’ll get you out of Central.”
“Don’t look up! Don’t let anyone see you!”
“We’re almost to the end of the street. When I say run, run! And no matter what you hear, you run to that bridge and you don’t stop. Okay?”
“You don’t stop, you understand?”
“Okay, I understand.”
“Alright, here we go,” Tym said.
I looked up.
At the end of the street there was a security squad car coming to a stop. I instinctively slowed, but Tym pulled me along. I looked behind us and saw two squad cars parked from where we had entered the street. The guards were making their way through the crowd, headed right towards us.
We were trapped.
“What about through one of the shops?” I asked.
“The shop keepers would shoot us dead in a second. You ready?” Tym asked. We were feet from the edge of the market.
“Does it matter?”
We reached the end of the block, Tym pulled me onto the sidewalk and we strolled in the opposite direction of the security guard, who was pressing his finger to his ear and talking.
“Head down,” Tym snarled.
I put my head down, nearly falling over my own feet trying to keep up with Tym’s feverish walk.
I looked up and to the left and sure enough, there was a big black glass building.
Tym saw me notice and gave a small nod. He then looked behind at where the guard had been.
“Stop!” the guard yelled.
Tym let go of my hand. “Run!”
I tripped. My face hit the sidewalk like a sledgehammer. Tym helped me scramble to my feet and then I stumbled to a run.
I could hear Tym running behind me. His boots slapped the pavement with heavy clunks.
“Stop!” the guard shouted again.
There was a sharp and loud pop.
Tym wasn’t running behind me anymore.
I looked back. Tym was on the ground. I slowed but he was screaming.
“Run! Run! Run!” His glasses had broken from the fall and dangled from his face.
The security guard had a gun aimed right at my head. Our eyes locked for just a second before I turned away.
Oh my God, I just left Tym to die!
But I kept running.
Tym was screaming at me to run.
Like the biggest chicken shit in the world I ran.
I heard another pop and a sob erupted from my lips.
I expected to feel the bullet pierce my back but it didn’t. The sound was behind me.
My feet couldn't slow. They moved without my consent.
My arms pumped and with a burst of speed I whipped around the street corner and ran right towards the big black glass building. It was a few blocks ahead of me now. I ripped off the army jacket and dropped it on sidewalk and kept going.
Up ahead, on the boulevard, rows and rows of ethanol cabs lined the streets looking for work. I crossed the street in between them and ignored their honking.
Sobs clogged my throat.
My eyes burned with hot tears.
On the opposite side of the street, people filled the pavement on one end, piles of trash on the other. I assimilated into the crowd without missing a step. I slowed to a fast walk, and wiped my wet face with the back of my hand.
My heart beat so fast it hurt.
Oh my God, Tym.
He’d known. When he was telling me no matter what I heard, to keep running. He knew. We were surrounded. That was it.
But the guard.
He’d had a clear shot on me and he hadn’t taken it.
Why’d they let me go?
The sirens had stopped. I glanced around at both ends of the boulevard and no security squad cars were in sight.
The guards should be out in force to capture me. I was the whole reason they’d been in The Corporation Headquarters to begin with! It was all my fault. Yet, somehow, I had gotten away and everyone else had gotten captured. Or killed.
Oh God, Tym.
And Sonya. And Dr. Bennett.What a nightmare.