The beginning of this chapter... I don't even know. I sat down to write the other night, was drinking soda and eating hot dogs and watching TV, and I was like, "What the heck am I even going to write?" So I just wrote the first thing that came to mind, and that was it. It's okay to think it's strange. It's an Artemis thing. (I parody ever possible thing a person can parody.)
This chapter was written in three different segments, so I apologize if it's choppy. It gave me a lot of problems, so I hope it isn't too bad. (Why must I hate all of my chapters?)
To warn you, something kind of shocking will happen in the next chapter. Like, the first big plot twist of the whole novel.
Oh, and Orchid should just go away. Yup. (I don't know if I'll keep her around, but I'll definitely be using Matt and Westin. LOL. Westin...)
Song for this chapter is the song that always calms me down. Very special song to me. Whenever I get sad, I put on that song. 'Cause when you're a sad fourteen-year-old girl prone to random emotional breakdowns, you listen to Passion Pit. Let's face it.
You should be happy I updated. I didn't plan on updating until Saturday, but I made myself write. BE THANKFUL.
Enough. Go read. CC. FEEDBACK. COMMENTS. COMPLAINTS. COMPLIMENTS. ALL ARE WANTED.
Alyce in Dystopia
Chapter 35 — The Escape Plan
“It feels the way you told me how it'd always feel.”
-“To Kingdom Come,” Passion Pit
'Twas the crisp afternoon before the greatest breakout known to man, when all though the Confinement Camp,
People were starving and trying not to die from the incurable disease that would kill their brains;
The bodies were hung from the rooftops above,
In hopes that the people would get the message and the rebellion may finally end;
The victims were sprawled all hopeless in their shelters,
While visions of a better tomorrow danced in their heads,
And Cato in his bloodstained suit, and I in my jacket,
Had just finished a day of recruiting in the Camp.
Either way, it was a crisp afternoon before the greatest breakout known to man. Cato and I had finished a day of recruiting (I didn’t complain even once, as I had promised in our little deal), and we had gone out to the infamous “fields” that I had periodically heard people talk about.
Here’s the thing with the fields: They aren’t really what you think they are. It’s not a pretty meadow or an escape from the dreariness of the Camp. There’s the same haze from the most recent gassing in the fields as there is in the other parts of the Confinement Camp, and it smells equally as bad. There’s really nothing nice about the place. It’s mostly overgrown grass similar to the stuff Ariadne burned on the hillside and the occasional hill (which, as Cato informed me, are burial mounds and not formed naturally). It’s an ugly place—even worse when you know what happened there.
You see, Cato told me that the fields—which is just a euphemistic version of the real name, “The Execution Fields”—are where they performed the mass executions of the disease victims. He said that the fields are the place everyone in the Camp dreads most, because it’s a reminder of the terrible things done over the course of the last four years, and there’s also a pretty good chance that if you’re there, you’re about to die. It’s generally avoided as much as possible.
For him, it means even more, as he was the one who killed the victims. The sadness in his eyes as we walked through the tall grass broke my heart.
“I never come here, not if I can help it,” he explained, hands outstretched in the middle of the grassy field. “But I figured I should take you out here now, because you can’t fully understand everything until you’re experienced this.”
The grass parted around me as I walked. I took a strand of it and plucked it from the earth. “What am I supposed to be experiencing?” I asked.
He sighed. “Really, Alyce?”
“Maybe you don’t remember everything I told you on the way out here.”
“It would be sort of hard to forget.” I scratched my head and let out a sigh of my own. “I mean, you went on for, like, half an hour…”
He rolled his eyes. “Ten minutes at most.”
“It was may more than ten,” I argued.
“Fine, have it your way—fifteen. Whichever it is, I’m still disappointed. Don’t you get it?”
“It looks like a big field. That’s all I get out of it.”
I could see him clench his fists and narrow his eyes. I must’ve said something wrong, because he turned toward me with pursed lips and a look of anger on his face.
“It’s more than a field. It’s the deathbed of hundreds of people who yours truly killed. Please, a little respect for the innocent dead?”
I backed off, my hands out in front of me. “Okay, sorry. I just…don’t always…pick up on that kind of stuff. Sorry.”
“You should be. Now think—you are standing where a blameless man, woman, girl, or boy died. What do you think about that?”
He sighed again. “You’re still missing the point.”
“No, I get it—it’s just sorta gross, if you ask me.”
“Well, at least I tried showing you while we still have time,” Cato muttered under his breath, trudging in the direction we had already come from. His black hair blew in the breeze, revealing his bruised face. He looked sad that I hadn’t given him the response he wanted.
“What do you mean—‘while we still have time’?” There was something very ominous about those words that I didn’t like at all. I hoped it meant something different than what it sounded like.
“I mean that it isn’t likely we’ll be in the Camp much longer,” he said, eyebrows raised. “In fact, if things go well in the next hour or so, we will be leaving tomorrow.”
That same afternoon, Cato addressed the four of us, not to mention Westin (who looked a little out of it and kept staring at the ceiling with tired eyes after a second dosage of the pills), Orchid, and Matt, proposing his plan that he had been working out in his head.
“I think it’s evident that the Corporation certainly means business now,” Cato said. He stood at the edge of the overlook tunnel, and we sat with our backs toward the exit. To emphasize his point, he held up the bottle of pills, looking directly at Westin now. “As you should all know—”
“There are only seven of us. Stop talking like it’s a big crowd,” Ariadne interrupted.
“Seven is indeed a crowd, just a small one. Anyway, to continue my point that was so rudely interrupted by Miss Stark—”
“Stop calling me that,” she ordered.
“I will call you whatever I like.”
“I’ll beat the crap out of you like Westin did if you keep calling me that.” Westin stared up at the ceiling some more, not even realizing the mention of his own name. I had a feeling it was strange behavior for him, since Matt and Orchid were getting such a kick out of it.
“No you will not,” he replied, straightening his suit. “Now, please tell me that you realize what Phoenix and Alyce’s discovery of the samples that Westin is, um…testing for us means?”
“Does it mean he’s gonna be stoned all the time?” Orchid asked, giggling.
“That—or he’ll die,” Cato said. She stopped laughing after that. “Either way, we needed a way to know what the drug does. Know your enemy, correct? That’s essentially what we’re doing. Westin happened to be our test subject—not as a punishment for anything, but because he was willing to make a small sacrifice for the greater good, or whatever it is you Saint people are so fixated with.”
“So you use one of our valuable soldiers for some dumb thing like that?” Orchid questioned.
Phoenix nodded and said, “He was willing. Armando only pressured him a little bit.”
“Way to throw me under the bus right away!” Armando replied, looking aggravated.
“What bus?” I asked.
“There is no bus, Alyce,” Ariadne explained. “It’s a figure of speech. Jeez.”
“Now,” Cato continued, “I think we have all fully realized the gravity of the situation and how close we really are to annihilation. We need to take action, something bigger tha—”
“If you’re proposing we try another one of your dumb revolt things, stop,” Orchid butted in. She didn’t look very enthusiastic—in fact, she looked bored out of his mind. “That’s not working. All we do is kill our own people. We’re not making any progress by doing that, are we?”
“No, exactly. Maybe if you’d let me finish my thoughts you would know that I was going to say that we should—”
“Matt is right,” Matt said. “Your plans suck.”
“Guys, he has to finish,” Armando told them. I wasn’t sure who he was more irritated with—us or them. I hoped I wouldn’t have to spend much time with the Saints, or at least not Matt or Orchid or Westin.
“I don’t care what he has to say.” Orchid was turned toward Armando, disregarding Cato entirely. Cato stood with a blank look on his face, shocked that no one would pay attention to him for once. I felt bad. He had my attention, and Phoenix’s and Ariadne’s, too.
“I think we should probably go,” Matt said, grabbing Westin’s arm. He looked at him with wide eyes and smiled drowsily at him.
“We are going to blow up the MGMT Corporation’s headquarters!” Cato finally yelled. Everyone turned toward him instead of Orchid and Matt. We all looked at him and wondered if he’s gone completely insane.
“You’re joking, right?” Ariadne asked cautiously.
“Not at all,” he replied, grinning. “We’re going to leave the Camp and blow up their headquarters, because what better way to cut the head off the beast than to destroy what they rely on most?”
“You’re insane,” Matt said.
“Exactly,” Orchid said.
“THIS SOUNDS AWESOME,” was all Armando could say.
“Are you crazy, too?” Orchid asked him, wrinkling her nose.
“Of course I am,” he bragged.
“And just how do you plan on doing that?” Orchid asked him skeptically.
“I am no moron. I know that you Saint people have your hands on plenty of explosives. We could arrange to work together—the four of us and the Saints of the Mojave—and together we could destroy the place where everything happens. Their headquarters. It would be the ultimate revenge.”
Armando looked at Matt and Orchid with pleading eyes, disregarding Westin completely. There was nothing Armando liked more than blowing stuff up, and this was his biggest opportunity yet. “C’mon, guys.”
“How do you plan on getting us all to Los Angeles?” Orchid asked. “It’s not like we’re going to walk three-hundred-fifty miles.”
“We could take the van,” Ariadne offered. Orchid gave her a questioning look. “We drove from here to San Francisco in it. Last time I checked, it was still here.”
“You left the Camp and came back? Why would you do something like that?” she snorted.
“We had crap to get done,” she replied spitefully. Ariadne’s and Orchid’s personalities didn’t mix well together. Both were a little too fiery for each other’s good. “Couldn’t let you poor bastards rot here, could we?”
“Excuse me, but we were off having the time of our lives before your idiots screwed us over by starting a damn rebellion in the Camp. Next thing you know, we’re being hunted down by the Corporation. They left us alone before you came back to ‘save us.’”
“Fight, fight, fight…” Armando muttered.
“My money’s on Orchid,” Matt whispered to him.
“Please. Ariadne would pound her face in.”
“You’re getting off topic!” Cato reminded them. We all turned back toward him and he smiled. “I have everything worked out perfectly. Ariadne and Westin, who is entirely high and useless at this point, are going to get this van you keep talking about and drive it up to Gate 3, which is the one we will use to escape. Orchid will be there with a second vehicle that Matt and Westin will take later so we’re not all stuck in the same van. Just imagine the smell…
“Phoenix and Alyce will take out any workers at the gate. I’ll be waiting about two rows of shelters behind. Normally I’d go with, but as you can see, I’m not in the best of conditions at the moment, but I’m sure you will be able to handle things fine on your own.
“We won’t just take the tunnels exit. Things are different than they were, say, two months ago. It’s our job to do dangerous stunts like this now. It keeps the people entertained, the Corporation frustrated, and the rebellion alive.”
“We’d be wimping out if we just took the tunnels exit,” Armando added, smirking.
“Yes, we would be ‘wimping out.’ Armando is right. We’ll do what we’d normally do in an attack situation and take the van straight to LA. It should be about a five and a half hour drive from here. Sound good?”
“When did you take time to come up with all of that?” Armando asked him.
“Someone needs to do the thinking for us, and I’d rather it be me than any of you, since I’d be terrified to try anything any of you would come up with.”
“I’m insulted,” Ariadne said.
“Knowing you, you would be,” he said. Phoenix snickered with me at that. “Orchid, Matt, what do you think?”
Matt shrugged. “I guess it might be worth a shot. I can’t see what harm could come out of it.”
“Um, we could die,” Orchid pointed out.
“You’re right, Captain Obvious!” Matt replied. I was glad he was starting to take sides with us. One was better than none. “But we could also die doing half of the stuff we do, you know. How’s this any different?”
“It’s a suicide mission. That’s way different than raiding a warehouse or taking out a worker or two. I’m not ready to throw away my life like that.”
“It’s our job to do this,” Armando said. “You should be honored.”
“Am I the only sane one here?” she asked, looking at the rest of us with extended hands. “Aren’t any of you a little pissed off that this self-centered son of a *%^## is expecting us to go on a suicide mission so he can get a little revenge because he has daddy issues?”
“It’s not about me, Orchid. It’s about the good of the people. The revenge scheme is much bigger than something between me and my father—it’s for the imprisoned people who have been victimized by the Corporation for all these years.”
“You’re delusional, and I am not here to entertain you. I’m done,” she spat, storming off in a very Ariadne-esque manner.
Ariadne rolled her eyes. “God, what a piece of work.”
I tried not to laugh.
“She’ll come around,” Matt said, sighing. “I’m sure of it.
“Matt, my man, you in even if she isn’t?” Armando asked.
“Yeah, I think so. I don’t see why not.”
“We can drag West along with us,” he said and Matt laughed. I wondered how much time they had spent together over all that time. Were they close like he and Cato were? Part of me wondered if he preferred Matt over Cato.
“When do you plan on doing this whole escape thing?” Matt asked.
Cato shrugged. “Tomorrow night.”