The train swerves around the tube twisting this way and that, throwing most of the dreary standing passengers off balance. After a while I glance up at the tube map on the ceiling, I might as well know where I'm going. I discover I'm on the northern line headed towards Washington DC, although the last few stops have been coloured over it doesn't take a large stretch of the imagination to figure out why. Washington DC was one of three American states to get nuked during the war, the others were Nebraska and Mississippi and no one goes near them any more due to the radiation, though I've always wondered why the Russians would bomb such neutral states, why not target more populated areas? The last stop available on this line is Woodbridge, on the outskirts of Dale city, far enough away from Norfolk to lose my tail and I could probably find somewhere to stay for the rest of the night while I'm there.
The journey takes just under eight hours and sitting here on the quiet tube my adrenaline levels start to drop and my heavy breathing returns to normal, I think about checking my phone for any news updates but, then I remember I don't have that luxury anymore and I resort to people watching. Most of my fellow passengers look like they're about to fall asleep where they stand, though I don't blame them, it is three in the morning and I feel like I could drop off at any moment too but I have to stay awake, there's still the chance the suits could find me at the next station. At every station more people board the train and fewer get off each time and after seven hours of sitting here I'm really rather glad of my seat as the rest of the train is full to bursting with people. I've never been good with tight spaces so I keep my gaze fixed out of the window behind me, although there's nothing to see except for the odd flash of light on the tunnel walls, and my own reflection staring back at me.
I've barely seen my own face for the last week and I hardly recognise myself, my hair is one thing that seems different, I can't put my finger on it but somehow it just doesn't look like me, falling over my shoulders the way it always does. Then there's the grime I've collected over the last few hours, it really builds up quickly when your hiding in dirty alleys and it's kinda hard to get used to garbage can perfume! Staring at my distorted reflection I can't help but think of Katelyn and the last time I saw her over a week ago, a sudden sense of guilt washes over me. I can't believe I left her the way I did, I should have gone back and tried to help her escape too, I shouldn't have left my friend to whatever fate awaited her. Then I remind myself that there wasn't anything I could have done other than get captured too, maybe there's someone here who could help me? The soldiers were American after all, maybe there are others like Moran and Sara who could help me track Kate down, but somehow I doubt it.
The train pulls into Dumfries station, the next stop is the end of the line. Somehow more passengers manage to board the train as a few squeeze off, they all look like sardines packed in here like this. After a moment the doors slide shut with some difficulty and the train hauls itself through the last leg of the tunnels. It takes another ten minutes to reach Woodbridge and I can hear the breaks squeak as the train approaches the station, the people closest to the doors prepare to leave but the rest of us just wait patiently, trapped as we are. Finally the dark tunnel opens out as we near the station above ground but it's no lighter up here, the breaks slam on hard but everyone's packed in to so closely that they barely move with the motion of the train. We pull into the floodlit station which is almost empty at this time of night but there are a few people dotted about. The train comes to a halt, the doors slide open for the final time and people just seems to pour out of the doors and onto the platform, I wait until my carriage is almost empty before getting to my feet and leaving the train. I scan the platform looking for the exit but my eyes find something else entirely.
Dark blonde hair, strong masculine features and staring right at me with deep faded blue eyes. For a moment I don't know whether to run or wait but for some reason I have no say in the matter, my feet won't move and I can't stop staring at this guy. He starts to move towards me but then he stops as if he can't come any further but then he shakes his head and approaches me, I tell myself to run but my commands seem to be overruled by some other force. Finally I manage to move and turn to run but my arm is caught and I'm swung back around to find myself face to face with the mysterious man. He doesn't speak, he just stares at me with wide eyes, breathing heavily due to his quick sprint to my side. I just stare back to scared to speak or move, his hand still tightly gripping my arm holding me to the spot but as I stare into those blue eyes I can't help but feel comforted by the softness of them, like they speak to my very soul.
"Alexis!" Everything's so silent even one whispered word makes me jump, I struggle against his hand and he relinquishes his grip letting me go, I move back a few paces but stay staring at him, "what, how did you get here?" he asks wistfully but when I don't reply he takes a step forewords, I reply with another step back so he stops.
"Who are you?" I ask, my voice shaking slightly, he looks at me as if I just slapped him across the face.
"What?!" He says breathlessly, "Alexis, you must know me, it's Ethan, Ethan Marks, stop messing about!" He reaches for me again but I increase the gap between us.
"I don't know who you think I am but my name isn't Alexis, now I have to go." I turn away from Ethan but to my horror I'm now staring at three suits standing at the end of the platform outside the pool of light where I couldn't see them before, I have no choice but to turn back to Ethan.
"Can you get me out of here?!" I ask helplessly as I hear the suits start to walk towards us, Ethan looks over my shoulder at the suits then back to me, he nods.
"Follow me" he states softly but firmly, holding out his hand for me to take. I hesitate for a moment but when I hear the suits pace increase I grab his hand and we start to run along the platform towards what I assume is the exit. Ethan leads me inside the station and through the empty hall towards the main doors, a shot is fired behind us but it hits a wall to my right, missing me by inches. Dashing through the doors Ethan guides me across the parking lot behind the station where there are only two cars on the dim lit asphalt, a sleek black saloon and a tired old Land Rover. To my dismay we run towards the Land Rover on the far side of the parking lot whereas the suits slide into the saloon and start the engine just as Ethan unlocks the Rover and we throw ourselves inside.
"You do know there's no way we can outrun them in this!" I pant at him as I buckle up and Ethan starts the engine taking us out of the parking lot and into the town.
"Don't worry the old girl's still got a few tricks left up her sleeve." He looks at me expecting me to react to his humour, but when I don't he goes back to focussing on driving.
We leave the station and drive into the heart of Woodbridge, it's now three thirty and the streets are clear, great for a quick getaway but not so great when our pursuers have a car with twice our horse power and there's no traffic to hide us. Ethan drives through street after street in an attempt to lose the men in the saloon but it's no use, they always manage to stay right on our tail. As we pull out onto an empty main road someone fires a shot from behind, it hits my door mirror shattering it, Ethan smiles but I fail to see what's funny about being shot at. He turns the car headlights off and puts his foot down as we approach a crossroads up ahead, still smiling he places his hand on the hand break but before I can say anything he yanks the leaver up and the car skids sideways violently towards the junction. I close my eyes ready for us to collide with something but to my surprise Ethan manages to keep control of the vehicle and takes us round the corner to the right into a dark alley, he releases the hand break and drives calmly down the alley, he stops suddenly.
"What are we...?" I start to ask but he shh's me and reverses the car into a gap between two buildings, turns off the engine and stays completely motionless.
We sit and wait and in no time at all the saloon drives right past, the darkness hides the green Rover from the suits, as soon as they're gone Ethan starts the engine and slowly pulls out of our hiding place. I look behind us as we drive back along the alley to see the suits car driving away from us in the opposite direction, I smile at Ethan to tell him I'm impressed and he smiles back proudly. Why does this feel so familiar? Driving around a quiet city with Ethan in this beat up old Land Rover? We make it out of the city unseen and emerge onto the North bound highway heading towards Washington DC. After around ten minutes Ethan finally breaks the silence but I wish he hadn't.
"Told you I'd get you out of there Lexi" He says in a rather 'I told you so' manner.
"You did, but can you please stop calling me Alexis, or Lexi" I reply still slightly suspicious of this guy.
"But it's your name, why are you acting like a completely different person?" He asks and I'm sure I saw a glimmer of pain behind his steely exterior.
"I'm not, whoever you think I am ok?" I tell him trying to get through his stubbornness, he frowns and suddenly slams on the breaks stopping us in the middle of the highway throwing me forewords, luckily it's four am and there's no one else around, but I kinda wish there was.
"What's going on?" I ask trying not to show my fear.
"You tell me!" Ethan almost shouts which just scares me even more, all of a sudden his face softens and he leans closer to me, I try to move back but I'm trapped inside the car and I can't avoid what's coming. He plants his lips against mine but I use all my strength to push him off then slap him hard across the face. He reaches to touch his face but keeps his eyes locked with mine, this time for certain I can see tears of genuine pain brimming in his eyes, I didn't even hit him that hard so it must be something else.
"What's going on here?! Tell me or I can find my own way" I warn him sitting back up in my seat. He sighs and seems to regain control of his emotions before speaking.
"I'll tell you but you're going to have to trust me for the time being, can you do that?" He asks calmly. I pause for a moment weighing up my options, but he did just save me from the suits so I nod in reply.
"Good," he restarts the engine and drives on along the highway after a moment he resumes conversation, "so what is your name then?"
"Carla, Carla Brooks" I inform him warily, he just nods like he's taking in the information.
"And what are you doing in America?" He asks.
"I'm on the run" I reply quietly but I don't elaborate and he doesn't ask any more questions. The it hits me, his voice, Ethan's voice, it's the voice from my dream. The voice I heard when I was dying and again when I fell asleep on the plane, the voice that was a comfort in the darkness, it was Ethan. But how could it have been, I don't even know him, I've only just met him, how could I have dreams about him. I glance at him in the driver's seat to my right but quickly look the other way to avoid his gaze. I do trust him, but why? We spend the rest of the journey in silence and after 25 minutes we're approaching Washington DC.
"Hay, where are you taking us, Washington's not safe, it's a radiation zone we can't go near there!" I try to explain the danger but he just keeps driving towards the city, in three minutes we're driving towards a heavily guarded security post outside Alexandria, floodlights reveal at least fifteen soldiers, all armed. I give Ethan a pleading look but he's reaching into the glove box in front of me, he pulls out a Beretta M9 and tosses into my lap.
"What's this for?" I ask eyeing the gun warily.
"Just in case" He looks at me suspiciously then shakes his head as we pull up in front of the gates where a solder waves him down, Ethan rolls down the window and addresses the soldier.
"Evening gents" Ethan greets the soldier casually.
"Bit late for you Marks" The solder states peering into the Land Rover and eyeing me apprehensively, Ethan notices the soldier's wandering gaze.
"She's with me" he states quickly.
"She got a security pass?" The soldier asks in a demanding tone.
"I said she's with me" Ethan states again this time he lowers his tone and looks the soldier in the eye. They stay that way for a moment then the soldier turns to his fellows and waves his free arm, the one not holding the gun that is, at someone inside the small post beside the gate.
"Alright lads let em through, nothing to see here mates" the solder walks back towards the others allowing us to pas, the gate is raised and Ethan drives foreward.
"No, please we can't go in there, we'll die!" I try to pull Ethan's rather muscular arm from the wheel but his grip is solid. He drives on through the gate and I hold my breath and close my eyes, I'm going to die, again.
The story will continue in 'Remembering' coming soon.