One Mind-Chapter 15

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 15 (v.1) - The Journey Forward

Submitted: June 27, 2016

Reads: 104

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Submitted: June 27, 2016

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Chapter 15

Stella slipped back to the abandoned side of her world with Edward in tow.  “So I'm going from living at home to living in a banned wasteland?  At least it should be easy enough to find a place to stay for the night, I guess,” said Edward with a smirk on his face. 

“Edward what you've been told, what we've all been told is wrong in more ways than one,” said Stella.

“As in?” he replied.

“As in perceptions are not reality, at least not our society's perceptions.  Quick, down here against the wall,” Stella said as she saw an unexpected tracking drone scanning for life forms. 

Edward whispered, “I think it's gone, you okay?”

“Fine, let's go.”

“First I need an answer,” said Edward frustrated with the mystery unraveling before his eyes.  “Why are we hiding in a place where no one exists, with government officials wanting our heads?”

“All I can say is from that what you've said, they've figured things out.  You're not the only one at risk here.  You're going to just have to trust me.”

“Okay Sergeant, I guess I'm in this about as deep as you now but I do have one more question.  Does this have anything to do with Dad and El's disappearances?”

“In a round about way, definitely, maybe.”

“That's good enough for me, let's go.”

Stella glanced around cautiously, before moving faster than she ever had before.  Even her son the track star was having trouble keeping up with her.  Convenient shadows enveloped the two as they raced past the swing set and down several subsequent streets.  While up against another wall, a drone scanning once again,  Edward whispered  “Where do we have to get to?”

“That building over there, diagonally across and three down.”

 “How about we hide in here for now,” he continued, pulling at an easily opening door next to him.

No, we have to get there!” Stella said pointing urgently with her eyes.  “You'll see why when we arrive.  I realize we can't stay here, but we can't leave either, not without them.”

“Without who?” 

“Come on,” said Stella, not taking the time to answer.

  With the drones having disappeared again, the pair ran across the street and slipped into the building.  A rat scurried away into one corner with a treasure of a scrap he had been able to acquire as Edward looked around at the dilapidated interior.“Nice atmosphere! You and dad acquiring rental properties?”

“I'll ignore that remark.  Quick, up the stairs before the drone comes back and senses our movement.”

“That's almost impossible to do, unless they search the interiors, one by one.”

“With what I'm covering up that might just happen.”

“I'm intrigued.  What are we waiting for?”  The pair took the stairs two at a time, racing with an undisguised urgency, while trying to avoid loose boards and holes in the flooring. They stopped at the third floor, second door down when Stella turned toward Edward.  “So this it?” he asked.

“Sort of, wait here.  I need to introduce you first.  My kids have a hard time with new people.”

“So I have half siblings?”

“Edward, this is not a funny situation, there are a lot of lives depending on our actions tonight.”

“Alright, alright, let's get to it then,” said Edward, surprised at the serious turn to his mother's voice.

Stella slipped inside while Edward immediately sunk to the floor to make himself undetectable.  Several minutes later, Edward’s eyes widened as a high powered Xavier drone zipped by the window silently. He had read about these drones before, they were only called out in the most serious situations, like a threats to national security, which concerned Edward even more.  

“Shit,” muttered Edward, as he laid on the factory floor, “what has she gotten us into?” 

Two more Xavier drones appeared before Stella started to slip through the door.“You can...”

“Don't come out here, they'll spot you,”

“Edward?”

“Xavier drones!”

“What but....”

Edward slammed the door shut, diving for the ground again, as yet another drone zipped by, quickly processing the area then disappearing silently into the sky.  Edward crawled quickly to the door slipping inside. With relief, Edward noticed this room had no windows, only cinder block walls, making it impossible for any drones, no matter how advanced, to scan and search.

When the tribe noticed this newcomer the outer chaos within the room stopped instantly.  Stella intervened quickly, “I told you, it's okay, he's mine.”A relieved sigh went out as organized panic reigned again.

“Who are these kids?” Edward whispered to Stella.

“They call themselves the tribe, they are Other kids.”

“Their parents?”

“HLU retraining candidates.”

“So they've been deserted.”

“Sort of but not really.  They were snuck here to live with the tribe.  If their parents didn't make it through training, the tribe was their guarantee their society and their gifts would survive.”

“But...” Edward's next question was interrupted by Elizabeth joining the conversation.

“Elizabeth, this is Edward.  He's with us, he's in.”

“I am?” asked Edward bemusedly.

“You are,” said Stella firmly.  Turning back to Elizabeth she said, “So what do we do?”

“Well it's obvious they know something or someone’s here or they wouldn't be coming.”

Stella teared up, “If it wasn't for us...”

“We might never have had a chance at all.We've got to get to the underground camp, to the caves.”

“So we leave tonight?”

“I don't see any other options.”

“I don't want to put a damper on anyone's plans here but we've got flying Xavier drones out there in numbers like I've never seen before,” said Edward.

“Yeah I know. By the way, thanks for alerting Stella, that was a close call.  If you hadn't slammed that door at just the right time, I don't know what would have happened.”

“I do.  We would have all been headed down the express lane to HLU retraining, that's where. 

So how do we get to these caves of yours?”

“The adults sent us a map via computer for emergency situations. I guess that's what we'd call this huh?  The problem is the camp is miles from here.  We'll have to navigate the landscape too, I'm sure it's changed quite a bit,” said Elizabeth, “Our first challenge is to get to the mound fields undetected.  The drones can’t track us there, the metal in the mounds will  cover our tracks.” 

 “Okay first let's deal with the little flying Xavier buggers that aren't even going to let us get out of here,” said Edward.

“Ben's in the back room with his computers, working on that.  He's just invented a new program which might work,” Elizabeth said.

“Lead the way,” said Edward with a grin.

“I'll go with you,” said Stella, “Ben’s not much for socializing and chit chat but he really knows what he’s talking about. Especially considering he's only eight.”

“Eight?”

“Gifts are gifts.  They don't change in a person whether they're eight or eighty.”

“Are you sure you're my Mother?”

“This way Edward,” said Stella.

It took Edward several minutes for his eyes to adjust to the  muted lit room which Ben worked in.  “Whoa! This is one expensive operation. Where did the money come from for sophisticated stuff like this?” asked Edward.

“Not money, mounds,” said Ben poking his head up from behind a computer.  “Mounds and mind that's all you really need and of course the rescued mound fueled modified generator that keeps us going here. It's amazing the perfectly good stuff people throw away.  Some of these computers, like C-63 over there, I've modified to be even more advanced than what it was originally made for.”Ben flipped a switch and a red star appeared on one side of the screen with bright green dots on the other side. Ben wiggled yet another wire in the back and excitedly ran to the front again.  A bright red star suddenly appeared among the green dots.

“What is this?” said Edward pointing at the star.

“That's our home base right there,” said Ben.  “The drones are those green dots over there.I “enhanced” their search by moving false programming pings around  to signal them at random times. It totally overrides their reasoning.”

“What are those blue dots?  The one that are gliding here and there.”

“Those are the Xavier drones.  There's another one, seems like they have only sent four.”

Stella interrupted, “Okay I'll leave you two to your computing.  I'm going to see how Elizabeth’s doing.  Remember we need to get out of here tonight.” 

Stella began to slip out the door glancing back only for a moment to see Ben busily teaching Edward everything he knew about his computers and their programming.

Stella went back into the main room, a place where there were usually sleeping children. Tonight instead a palpable sense of urgency greeted her.  Clothes and blankets were  hastily being packed alongside contraband items, which were being more cautiously placed, into the individual children's bags. 

Stella knelt to help a girl packing a plain wooden box, opening the child’s bag so she could place it inside.  The box fell from the little girl's hand and tumbled to the floor, cards spilling everywhere.  Stella started to pick up the cards, quickly placing them back into the box. Suddenly this previously quiet, shy girl began to shriek, taking all of the cards back out.  Calm once again, she laid them out on the floor patiently beginning to organize them. Stella looked quizzically at Elizabeth who’d arrived at the sound of the disturbance.

“I should have mentioned that about us.” Said Elizabeth. “We kind of have our quirks about our projects.  Who touches it, the order it goes in.”

“So there's a system?”

“Of sorts, it's an individual type system for her and her and him,” she said pointing around the room.  “Ask each one of them to explain it and they will, but for the moment let me see what I can do.” Turning to the little girl Elizabeth spoke, “Hattie we need to get out of here soon.  How about we put your work away for now and I'll help you sort them later.”

“But you wouldn't understand.”

“I know but I'll try.”

“What are those markings anyway?” asked Stella handing several fallen cards to Elizabeth.

“Mozarabic. One of the extinct languages.”

“Extinct? But if it's extinct why would it matter to any one?”

“It's not important why it matters to us, it's only important that it matters to Hattie.  If it matters to Hattie it should matter to all of us, we may not understand why until way down the road.  It matters, that's all. There's a reason for the passion.  There's always a reason for the passion. That reason will eventually benefit each and every one of us in some way.”  Stella handed Hattie the last of the cards and she carefully placed them in the box. 

Edward and Ben came out and found them.  “We've got a half an hour window to escape. We've set up more decoys that will even send the Xavier drones scurrying  but it won't take them long to override our block.”

The tribe members were soon lined up, each paired with a companion for safety.  The children were silent in the moving of their large numbers snaking down the stairs and out the door. 

The group stayed close to the buildings for cover, there they knew were places which would provide an instantaneous escape if needed.  As they moved, this living line of Others hugged these structures almost, as if their very life depended on it, because it did. 

The shadows of this city seemed to hunt the children, the darkness quickly pulling back before enveloping them once again, making the children start and jump.  Still they walked quietly, tucking their fear firmly into their pockets, where it always seeming ready to leap back into their throats with the slightest provocation.

Eventually there were no more buildings.  What lay ahead instead, were the remains of an amusement park, gleaming in its memories of the past.  With no drones in sight, this long line began to cross this treacherous terrain in small groups, with Stella shuttling the children forward to Elizabeth who was waiting on the other side. Edward served as the conductor in between, ensuring their safety during the journey itself.

As Stella herself crossed with the last group, a drone reappeared in the distance.  The race was on, with Stella’s group arriving under the rollercoaster framework, minutes before the drone arrived.

With the framework hiding the tribe, the drone could not detect them. It soon left, and the tribe turned, facing the challenge of the mounds which awaited them with this challenge begun as their lives were lived, one step at a time.

The little tribe were soon a speck between the first of many tall mounds of specks. Once they had burrowed into this field and felt safely disguised by these mound guardians, this tribe of gypsies camped beneath them.  They all slept well that first night out, except for Stella who was scared like she had never been in her life.  Still Stella felt more at home and settled here then she had ever felt.  She smiled at the paradox. 

Edward sat down silently next to Stella, “You okay?”

“Thinking.”

“Yeah, there's a lot to think about.  Bet you never thought a year ago, you'd end up here.”

“That's for sure.”

“Then again the best adventures are the unexpected ones I guess.”

“Is that what you consider this then? An adventure?” she said as she turned toward her son.

“Adventure, rescue mission. I guess it could have a hundred different names.  Whatever it is, it's the right thing to do.”

“Is it?  We're out here with this whole tribe of misfits, at least according to the society we used to belong to. I'm not even really sure where we do belong these days. ”

“To them I guess,” said Edward pointing toward the sleeping children all around them.“We belong to them and they belong to us.”

It was several days of walking later when Stella sensed something in the air.  A shift in the color, the smell, unsure of what it was, except an unnameable difference.  The next morning when the tribe woke up Stella saw that her feelings were now their reality.  They all felt it now, knew something was brewing.  

Looking  up at the growing more ominous sky, Stella said “Ben can you tell me how far to the nearest shelter?”

“Sure, wood or stone?”

“Either as long as it's undetectable.”

After a few clicks on his hand held gadget Ben replied “About twelve miles tops for a cave and another mile from there for an abandoned cabin.  The cabin has a better chance of heat, the cave a slightly better chance of being undetectable.”

“Good to know both options.  We'll have to see what the day brings.  You two finish packing your equipment while I help Elizabeth with the rest of the tribe.”

While the tribe began their daily trudge, the clouds grew darker, threatening to converge into one massive storm soon.

“I checked with Ben and Edward, they say there's a cave we can reach,” said Stella, “I suppose that would be our best bet.”

“I only hope we make it,” Elizabeth replied.Stella looked back and knew exactly what she meant. More and more the air quality was affecting the younger children’s breathing, which in return slowed their walking.  This through no fault of their own began to slow down the whole tribe. 

“We will,” said Stella, “we have to, there are no other options.”

Elizabeth smiled, “Yup I guess you're right.” 

The wind began to pick up sharply a half an hour later, when Stella saw Elizabeth next to her once again.  “We need to make the caves this morning if possible, this storm's not waiting.”

“How much further?” Stella said as she leaned over toward Ben. and Edward.

“We've got eight miles more easy!” said Edward, after conferring with Ben who was looking at his device.

“There's no way we can do it.  Especially now being slowed down,” Elizabeth said. 

Suddenly Ben looked at both of them with a mischievous smile before pushing several more buttons then handing the machine to Edward.

Edward looked at his calculations and raised his eyebrows.  “1.2 miles? Wait we can't go that way.  There's a big open space, we'll be spotted for sure.”

“Not if we stay on the outskirts of the village.  Behind the mounds.”

“There is no village there though, only an empty space.”

“There's always a village, it’s never marked because the mound people who live there prefer to stay to themselves.”

“Alright look,” said Stella who'd been listening. “We've got to do something, we should be able to make it that far.”

“Let me map it here and send it to my Dad so he knows about the detour.”  Ben swiftly sent the change in plans ahead to the camp, although whether the message actually would arrive at the camp through the soup in the sky was questionable, Ben thought worriedly.

Following the new path, the tribe veered to the left, past more identical mounds.  The sky continued to encompass them, reaching its gray fluffy fingers extended, almost completely to the ground. The tribe members quickly learned to watch the feet of the people ahead of them, a reminder they were together as one, even in this misty grayness of uncertainty. 

She worked her way back over to Ben. “Any idea what is going on?”  asked Stella.

“I'm pretty sure it's a coming mound storm but there's something else mixed in with it too. 

“I guess there's only one way to find out,” said Stella, “Keep walking.”

“Elizabeth!”  screamed Ben.

Stella whirled to see her friend sitting on the ground struggling to breathe.  “Elizabeth, what's wrong?”

“It's the air!” screamed Ben, “Here, wrap this scarf around your mouth, it will help you filter the air.”

Edward suddenly appeared with one of their food sleds.“I split the food between the rest of the sleds to carry.  I didn't think Elizabeth could manage that hill up ahead, even before she collapsed.”  Edward helped Elizabeth onto the sled and Stella started the tribe moving on their uncertain path once again.


© Copyright 2017 Carla Charter. All rights reserved.

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