The chapter I have been dreading rewriting from day one...IS FINISHED! As much as I like this chapter, it took forever
. Plus it's one of the only chapters where something besides mindless talking happens. Rejoice and enjoy it while you can.
I'm also positive there are a ton of errors in here, but it's so long that I only proofed it once.
Alyce in Dystopia
Chapter 7 – San Francisco
“Keeps your hopes up high and your heads down low.”
-“All I Want,” A Day To Remember
“I’m going, I’m going!”
“Not fast enough! C’mon!” Ariadne yelled impatiently. I stood behind her, closer to the door than either of them. For the last ten minutes, Ariadne had been yelling at Phoenix to hurry up and find whatever he had been looking for. This had effectively ruined everyone’s energy that had been gained at our imaginary Last Supper.
Phoenix said we were all going to die during an attempt to get out of the Camp. Was I thrilled with the idea? Well, yeah, getting out of the Camp sounded great—just not the dying part, obviously.
But I figured we’d have a more likely chance of dying inside the Camp if Ariadne kept yelling and drawing unwanted attention to us. She was so loud. How Phoenix planned to escape with me—AKA the clumsiest and most unskilled person to walk the earth—and loud, obnoxious Ariadne was beyond me.
“We’re supposed to make deadline!” she called out to him, irritated.
“Well, at this rate,” he called from the closet, “the deadline probably won’t work. We’re not going to make it all the way to San Francisco and find the right building in forty-six hours. So forget about the deadline, okay?”
“No way am I taking my time! I’ve waited over four freaking years
for this opportunity! I’m not waiting around like this, Phoenix. Let’s go!”
“Yeah, and I’m just going to go out there unarmed, right? Because I can’t find this stupid gu–”
“It’s not like you can’t take hers
! You can do your little savior thing with her while I do the dirty work agai–”
needs it.” He shuffled out of the closet holding a slightly smaller gun in his hands. “Now, let’s get the hell out of here. If we’re going by the ‘deadline,’” he began, glaring at Ariadne with wide eyes, “we’ve got just forty-six hours—”
“More like forty-five, actually,” Ariadne muttered sourly. Phoenix just continued with his little spiel.
“—to get out and get to the city, right?” She nodded, dissatisfied. “Well, we aren’t going to make the deadline, but the faster we get there, the better our chances of keeping our rank and reputation with the Resistance and Black Market.” There it was again. The “Resistance.”
Being oblivious to every last thing that everyone talks about kind of sucks, I’ve learned.
Ariadne decided to chime in before I could ask anything. “Well, since you’re so convinced that we’re all so slow and unable to run, let’s ditch the deadline and just get to the office and report as fast as we ca—”
“Wait, what office?” I butted in. Ariadne elbowed me hard in the side, indicating that I just needed to shut up. I shot her my best look of defiance, but she just stifled a laugh. “Sorry, I just… I’m just out of the loop a bit here.” I hoped my tone didn’t sound quite as sad and pathetic to them as it did to me.
“Way to be Captain Obvious,” I heard Ariadne say under her breath. I scowled to myself.
“Nah, it’s all right,” Phoenix replied.
I think he, surprisingly enough, might have liked me a little more than Ariadne did. This was a huge relief, since I figured I was probably going to be stuck with them for quite a while. At least one person might not hate my guts and want to/attempt to kill me for no apparent reason.
He turned to Ariadne. “But she’s completely clueless, isn’t she?”
I bit my tongue and tried to keep quiet. Talking about me like I wasn’t there upset me. At least they could acknowledge my presence a bit
“Yeah, because Cato is completely oblivious to the Black Market—that’s why,” Ariadne responded. I got the feeling she really liked to make Cato look like a schmuck. She definitely had something against him. Maybe he had tried to kill her, too. Wouldn’t surprise me.
“Wait, what Black Market? Cato actually did say something about that before,” I said defensively. Why I was backing him up I had no clue. He hadn’t really helped me out at all, if I was remembering things correctly. “He said they were ‘a bunch of rip-off artists’ who wanted to ‘destroy the world,’ I think.” I paused as they rolled their eyes at each other. “Or something like that,” I added, hating the awkward silence that followed.
Phoenix and Ariadne exchanged glances and started to laugh out loud simultaneously. “Well, at least the kid’s got one thing right for once in his life,” Phoenix said. “Except we’re not ripping people off completely
. And, just for the record, we only want to destroy a small part of the world.”
Ariadne laughed. “Don’t ever listen to anything Cato says, kid.”
I hated being called a kid. Hated it. It wasn’t like they were any older than me; Phoenix was maybe a year older than me, and Ariadne could have been younger than me, for all I knew. She wasn’t particularly mature and sure didn’t look much older than sixteen at most.
“He’s got logic down and he’s a technical genius,” she continued. “He can hack anything. He knows the Camp memorized. Probably the land outside of the Camp, too. He’s a mastermind with explosives. Only his opinions on everything—especially politics—are complete crap.”
“Oh, thanks for telling me that now!” I shot back. “Now I guess I’m indoctrinated with lies
!” I shrugged, not really caring but being melodramatic just for the sake of it. So far, I had no one to trust, so there wasn’t too much I wholeheartedly believed. I didn’t even know whose side I was on yet. Maybe Ariadne’s version of lies was actually truth. It all depended on the angle you came at things.
,” she spat, smirking as I proceeded to just roll my eyes and pretend it didn’t bother me half as much as it did.
“So you two are part of some…black market
, then?” I asked cautiously. Best to just change the subject and avoid Ariadne’s drama.
Black Market. The Black Market of San Francisco, officially. Now shut up.” Ariadne stared at me with narrowed eyes. I just stared back blankly, finding that it was the one expression I actually enjoyed wearing around her. “Phoenix, can we just go now?
“Okay, then,” he began. “I promise to explain later, Alyce. Just…not yet.”
Phoenix looked at me sincerely, though I’m pretty sure that, when used together, “sincere” and “Phoenix” are the very definition of oxymoronic.
He kept looking at me as he spoke—even though he was addressing Ariadne more than me. “We are going to get through the gate. No matter what. I don’t care what happens. We are going to make it through. It’s just a bit of the way down, so we won’t have to run far.
“Ariadne, you’re going to be in charge of taking out the guy in the control room. You’re going to shoot him dead, then you’ll turn off the electricity, okay?” She nodded, looking upset. I couldn’t quite figure out why, though. “Then you’ll open the door by using the controls up in the tower. After that, you’ll come down and join me and Alyce in the fighting. All right?”
Ariadne shrugged, her eyes on the floor. She made it plenty evident that it was not
“Well, what about her
?” Ariadne pouted lifelessly, obviously upset that she would be missing all of the action at the gate while she was busy opening it and turning off the electricity. “I mean, couldn’t she
be doing the easy part instead of me
, since I actually know what I’m doing?”
“No,” he argued, moving toward the door. He locked eyes with me again. His stare was so intense that I looked away. He turned from me. “I think Alyce and I can handle this one just fine by ourselves. Besides, you’re much better with all that stuff than I am, and I think Alyce would be completely clueless. Do you really trust her with that kind of thing?”
,” I replied. How about you throw me under the bus some more,”
I thought agitatedly.
“Yeah, because she can actually shoot a gun!” Ariadne yelled. I just stood there uncomfortably, letting them discuss whatever seemed to be so important.
shoot a gun, right?” Phoenix asked me anxiously. I looked away from them and wished I could get out of the nightmare that everything had turned to right then and there. Nothing seemed to be turning out very well for me at this point.
When I did manage to shake my head guiltily, he looked like he was about to collapse on the spot. I widened my eyes apologetically.
“Well, you better learn fast. Otherwise, screw this,” he muttered. I slunk back against the wall miserably.
“I’m sorry. It’s just…I...”
I didn’t know what to say.
“They’re going to be waiting
for us! Do you want to keep Angelo waiting?” Ariadne reminded Phoenix with that annoying nagging tone infused in her voice. I figured Angelo had something to do with the mysterious Black Market or Resistance. One of the two, at least.
Phoenix looked at me and sighed. “Look,” he said to me. “Just please
don’t get yourself killed out there, all right? If you’re able to manage that much, you should be pretty well off for a while. When we get into San Francisco, things’ll be much easier.”
“Yeah, sure. But I’m not sure this is a good idea,” I said honestly. “This escape plan thing, I mean.”
Ariadne snorted again. I wondered if it hurt to snort as much as she did. “Psh, we’ve been plotting an escape for years. I doubt you could come up with anything much better than this.”
“Oh, because you’re such
a genius,” I snapped sarcastically.
“Shut up, Alyce.”
Phoenix ignored both of us and continued with getting ready to leave. He eyed the satchel on the ground and glanced back up at me. “Ready?”
“I guess,” I muttered. Ariadne and Phoenix looked pumped, whereas I looked like I was about to die.
He pulled the hood of his jacket over his head and held his gun tightly. Ariadne did the same sort of thing, pulling her long, brown hair over her face. I didn’t know what else I was supposed to do, so I just copied her and Phoenix.
My unruly black hair fell over my eyes, obscuring my view of Phoenix and Ariadne. I tried to see from behind it, but it had grown to be so thick over time that it was almost impossible.
“Just try to stay as inconspicuous as you can,” Ariadne said to me quietly. “They’ve got cameras. And they’re just about always on. Try not to get your face on them, all right? They’ve got people reviewing footage all the time. You’re going to have to get your act together. Heads down low, got it?”
Whoa. A whole seven sentences with no insult?
A new record.
Phoenix threw open the door, and they hit the ground running. I followed as quickly as I could. I was pretty sure both of them were about ten times faster than I was. Especially in my stupid
boots. It didn’t help to have the heavy gun on me, either.
I tried to mimic their movement, but I just ended up looking like a moron in the end. So I just ran in my stumbling fashion and tried to look like less of a moron.
When we came to the last of the makeshift shelters in the row, I was relieved. The less running the better. Somehow, though, I knew there’d be a lot of things worse than running that were about to come next.
Phoenix and Ariadne ducked behind the shelter before any of the guards at the electrified gate could catch a glimpse of them. I followed as best as I could, hoping I wasn’t going to trip on the way over. Thankfully, I made it without completely falling over.
We hunched on the ground, our backs pressed up against the metal that made the wall of the shelter. I tried to fix my hood; it was falling again, which was beginning to get very aggravating. On the way over, it had kept falling over my eyes and making me want to rip it off and yell, “Here I am world! Take a good look at me before I DIE!”
Because, well, you know. I was going to die in a matter of minutes.
Thinking thoughts like that does not help you stop hyperventilating, by the way.
As I worked on adjusting myself into a more comfortable position that didn’t make my back feel like it was about to give out on me, my jacket brushed up against Ariadne’s side. She turned toward me, eyeing the jacket suspiciously.
I had expected that typical look of ire to be plastered across her face, but it was replaced with a smirk instead. Just behind her hair, you could definitely make out her smirk.
“Nice jacket,” she mouthed, amused.
“Sorry,” I mouthed back. I just hoped she wouldn’t kill me before the guards got to me. Death by the Wrath of Ariadne would be a much worse death than if the guards just shot me. And I mean, she seemed to get pretty worked up over the little things, and the jacket wasn’t even necessarily little.
I braced myself for pain.
But to my surprise, she just waved her hand. It was a simple—almost what they’d call kind—gesture that didn’t fit Ariadne’s character at all. I stared at her, dumbfounded.
“It was too big anyway,” she mouthed.
This time, rather than mouthing to each other like we had been, I actually whispered, even though it was barely audible. “Which explains why I’m drowning in it.”
She put one of her fingers to her lips, indicating the need for total silence. I turned my head away from hers.TIME TO DIE,
I reminded myself pessimistically.
To my left, the opposite side of where Phoenix and Ariadne were, footsteps began. They were barely perceptible over the obnoxious hum of the electric fence, but they were clearly noticeable to anyone who was as alert as Phoenix as Ariadne.
And then there was me. I wouldn’t have even known anything was going on if it weren’t for their silent warning.
Phoenix glared at me expectantly. My heartbeat picking up once more, I fumbled with the gun. It felt too big in my small hands and way too dangerous. Given my current state, no one should’ve let me anywhere near any sort of weapon in the first place.
I tried different grips on the gun. All of them felt completely wrong. Why couldn’t they have taught me how to shoot the thing before we got out here? It would’ve only taken another minute of our time.
I saw the guard’s feet before I saw his face of body. In fact, that was all it took for me to react; I let out a small, shrill scream and tried doing whatever I could with the gun. And, hey, if worse came to worst, I could just use it as a club.
But, somehow, I finally got the stupid thing to actually shoot.
Only I missed the guy by about a mile and hit one of the shelters on the other side of the road instead.
Ariadne shot at the guard before he could figure out what had just happened. I assumed he must’ve been pretty unprepared since I wasn’t already lying on the ground, bleeding to death. To my thanks, the guard fell to the ground. His grey uniform was soaked with bright red blood in seconds. I let out a small whimper, terrified. There was something horribly grotesque about seeing a person die. It reminds you of how fragile your own life is.
The shouting began seconds later at the fence. Ariadne held her gun out in front of her, adjusted her hood, and sprinted across the dirt ground to the shelters on the right. I heard gunshots in her direction—each one so loud that I flinched every time. Footsteps of running guards started toward her, beginning seconds after she had dashed across the road.
Phoenix, seeing that part of the plan also work as a diversion, gave me the thumbs-up signal. I figured that meant I was supposed to turn and run in the opposite direction that Ariadne had. Which, actually, was the farthest thing from what I wanted to do.
I got up onto my feet with regret, leaving my place on the ground. The sandy dirt was covered in the footprints of my boots. I glared at Phoenix, gave him the thumbs-down sign just because I was very terrified of where this plan was going, and ran across the road.
Or, well, I tried to, at least.
A hand shot out and grabbed me around the waist. Following that, my capturer’s elbow slammed into my face. I had the feeling he wasn’t going easy on me by the way my face was already covered in the sticky, red liquid that was my own blood.
I tasted the blood in my mouth before I felt the pain. When the pain did come, it took all I had not to double over and pass out. The excruciating feeling of torture shot through my skull, leaving me to moan and writher in agony.
I could only think a few coherent things:
1: My face hurt like hell.
2: My gun was completely out of reach; it was lying on the ground, yards away from me. Even if I couldn’t shoot it at all, this left me completely defenseless.
3: I was in the hands of the enemy. Literally.
4: Phoenix most likely had no clue of any of this. No clue that I was about to be murdered.
“Get your filthy little hands off of me, you—”
The guard clenched his hand around my neck, repositioning himself in front of me. He tightened his grip and pulled his free hand back. I closed my eyes, trying to breathe despite the feeling of suffocation, and prepared myself for the next wave of misery.
He slammed his fist into my face over and over. Each time I let out a rasping scream, the guard laughed and proceeded with his torture session. The pain inflicted upon me was to the point of unbearable. I could feel myself slipping out of consciousness with every growing second.
He pushed me onto the ground, his fist connecting with my stomach. My body crashed against the metal wall of the shelter. My left hand, the one thing I tried to catch myself from the fall with, dug into a sharp shard of glass, which only added to the searing pain.
But I was not
going to pass out. I would not give the guard that satisfaction.
He slammed the butt of his heavy gun into my face and stomach again and again. More blood flowed out of my nose and my mouth. I screamed as loud as I could, hoping from my half-awake state that Phoenix would hear and come to rescue me from the hands of the guard.
“THERE! My hands are off you! Now shut your goddamned mouth, scum!
“Stop!” I gurgled, blood preventing me from speaking.
My mouth was constantly filling with blood. The blood sloshed around in my mouth disgustingly, and I spit it onto his legs and hands and feet. I figured it would have to work since I couldn’t hit his face from my low position on the ground.
He kicked me—harder than any time before—with one of the feet I had spat on. My head and back hit the metal wall of the shelter behind me.
“Augh, STOP!” I screamed out.
“Shut up, you stupid
girl!” the guard yelled. Clearly, he was fed up with the fact that I hasn’t passed out yet, because he pointed his gun at me instead of slamming it into my face this time. He sneered down at me. “Shut your mouth or I’ll kill you!”
“No you won’t, you bastard
A gunshot fired from behind the guard. His expression was of complete shock as he fell over—dead—on top of me.
“You all right there, Alyce?” the voice of Phoenix, once again my savior, asked, pulling my bloody, dead torturer off of me. He grunted as he threw him off to the side nonchalantly. “You look like total crap.”
“You’re one to talk,” I shot back.
Though I was sure I looked a thousand times worse, he definitely was the very portrait of looking like crap. His face was smeared with blood and dirt, his left arm was cut open and pouring blood like there was no tomorrow, his clothes were covered in the stuff, and his lip was slit open. Despite it all, he was still grinning and making everything look like it was better than it actually was.
“Honestly, you look more dead than alive,” he replied, just staring at me.
“G-good, because that’s how it feels,” I shot, spitting out more blood.
“Seriously, though, are you okay?”
“Uh, if you can c-count half-dead as ‘okay,’ I’m pretty m-much okay,” I managed to say. I coughed disgustingly and spit blood again. Phoenix gave me the universal “nasty” look, so I spat up some more for him.
“Yeah, you’re really not going to be able to make it out, are you?”
“Me?” I tried to wipe some of the sticky stuff off of my face. Seeing and feeling it on my fingers was enough to make me feel dizzy. “If I m-made it this far, I am not going to wimp out n-now. Now’s the…easy p-part.”
He held out his bloodstained hand for me to grab. I stared at it for a while, sort of wondering who it was that was actually giving me their hand. It took me a bit to remember what was going on, since I had closed my eyes and blocked out everything that was—
His voice brought me back to reality. “Oh, God, Alyce. You are not going to make it out.”
I sat upright, willing myself to hold on for a while longer. I could do this. I wasn’t going to give in again.
“You really aren’t all right. Really
,” he said. I stared upward dizzily.
He stooped down to the ground and scooped me up in his arms. He slung his gun over his back so it wouldn’t get in the way. All I could feel was his arm underneath my leg, his other below my back. His hand held onto my forearm tightly, letting me know that he wasn’t letting me go any time soon.
“Just hold on for a bit,” he whispered, beginning to walk. My weight didn’t even seem to effect his smooth, easy movements. I stared up at him, at his cut lip and his alert green eyes. At his face and serious expression. It was all I could do to keep from going under. “Ariadne’s got the fence’s electricity off and the gate open. The guards are dead, and there are no reinforcements yet. We’ve got a moment right now. We’re going to get out, Alyce.” I could hear the excitement in his voice.
I tried to nod, but my eyes were growing tired. “Th…ank…you.”
He looked down at me, smirking again. “Looks like we’re making a habit of it. You know, me saving you. I think we ought to make it a tradition.”
“No th-thanks,” I managed. “I’d…like to stay as far…away from…death as…p-possible.”
He shrugged. “Your choice.” I could see him grinning again.
We moved forward across the dirt road. The ground behind us was littered with the bodies of dead Corporation workers, all of which I knew he and Ariadne had shot and killed. My heart ached at the sight of them.
After a while, I lost track of the number of bodies and just concentrated on not puking on Phoenix.
Ariadne was leaning against the open gate of the fence, her hair shining in the moonlight. She yawned with mock boredom as we—or, Phoenix really, since I was just in his arms, after all—approached her. I noticed that she wasn’t injured at all.
Go figure. I was completely covered in blood while she
sat there, completely unscathed.
She raised her eyebrows as she observed our current position. Not knowing what else to do, she just rolled her eyes from underneath her hood and motioned us forward like an usher.
Phoenix adjusted his grip on me, whispering something I couldn’t fully make out. Soon we were running alongside Ariadne, who was laughing by the sound of it. After she turned around and shouted something—I think it was mostly a lot of expletives, but I couldn’t really tell—she said, “Am I missing something, or is Phoenix the mass murderer now carrying
“First of all,” he said, “she is not my girlfriend. Secondly, she just about got beaten to death. Cut her some slack, okay?”
“Whatever. I just found it ironic that you go from mass murderer Phoenix Cortez to carrying girls around like you’re Romeo or something. And I found it funny that I was completely right.”
“Right about what
“That I should’ve been down at the gate instead of her. Look what happened because of your stupid decision. I was right, and you’re a moron.”
“Care to just take in the moment instead of insulting me and complaining for once?”
“Whatever. You just don’t want to admit I’m right.”
“No, it’s just that you’re being awfully annoying and ruining the best moment of my life. That’s all.”
“You still don’t want to admit I’m ri—”
“Shut up,” he snapped. “Now, evaluate the situation. We’re finally out of the Confinement Camp. We’re off to San Francisco. We’re free
“Yeah, but it’s too bad we’re stuck with her
“Just shut up. You’re ruining the moment.”
“There is no ‘moment’ when she’s here.”
“I’m just going to pretend you’re not talking now,” he responded, making his irritation very evident.
And, eventually, she did shut up.
By the time we reached the city, I was able to walk on my own. I couldn’t tell who was more relieved: me or Phoenix.
I grinned to myself as the sun began to rise over San Francisco. Ariadne and Phoenix and I stood on the empty freeway, the abandoned cars scattered on the road in random patterns. In the distance, you could just see the top of the Golden Gate Bridge.
“Hello, beautiful,” Phoenix said, starting to run into the city, leaving Ariadne and I behind.