Escaping Authority - (J.E.1)
Target Pokémon: Mudkip
Target Length: 20-30k
Final Length: 34.5k (roughly)
Language: Australian English
Notes: I'm not going to call my story "dark", because I hate it when authors stick that title onto their own works, but this is on the mature side of things. It gets a little graphic in a couple of places and there's a little bit of coarse language (not as much as I would normally put in though :D). Also, that main character is like 17 years old, so yes, he appreciates attractive females. Not explicitly, though. Lastly, I will probably write more stories about Jathan and his world, I really enjoyed writing this one, so keep in mind this isn't over.
P.S. I'm fully aware this will probably result in a "Not Captured" because of the lack of a real battle scene. I hope the grader who grades this understands why I didn't put one in.
It's hard to pay attention in Chemistry while listening to the sound of gunfire, I thought. Not only do the sharp, erratic sounds overpower the droning voice of the lecturer, but when you know you are safe, as I am, the sounds almost make you drowsy and peaceful.
I cast a sleepy gaze around the classroom. The ceiling was low, and peppered with holes made by students throwing their pens at the soft material the ceiling was made of. The room itself was square, with the lecturer up the front, using the blackboard and the smartscreen. The walls were white, but covered with prize-winning projects. Almost automatically I sought out my report on combustible elements, and I was glad to see it was still there.
There were seventeen other students in this class, all seated at single-unit desks, like me. They all had small name plaques that told you who sat where. Mine read "Jathan Einherjar, Intermediate Student". A few of the students, like the truants, over-achievers and myself, were mentally phasing out of the lesson. Others, like my best mate Pete and the very yummy Theresa were sitting straight up in their chairs, devoting all their attention to the boredom that bred on the blackboard.
I sighed inwardly. I'd never impress anyone, let alone Theresa, by failing Chemistry. I pushed the ever-continuing gunfire from my mind, and refocused on the lecturer, Mr Manson.
"Humans are carbon-based life-forms," he said. I gazed at him. Manson was aged, balding, and had a reedy voice. He also wore old-fart clothes, the kind I wouldn't be caught dead in. I was imagining him in trendy clothes when I realised I had begun to phase out again, so I wrenched my attention back to the lecture.
"We share this trait with most other natural life-forms, like dogs and horses," Manson had continued. "However, there are some creatures that are not carbon-based: Aura Beasts."
I immediately heard the scraping of many chairs as every student who wasn't paying attention immediately rectified this oversight. The Aura Beasts were a taboo subject here at Zone 19 Military School. Everyone knew they were central to Giravia's ongoing conflict with some of the outlier Zones. Beyond that, very little was known of them. Some of the older students claimed they could spit fire and summon sandstorms, among other magnificent feats, but I wasn't buying any of that.
"Aura Beasts are made of Aura," Manson droned. He almost chuckled at the obvious joke, but he continued at that slow but relentless pace. "Aura is an as-of-yet unclassified element that allows the Aura Beasts to manipulate nature and reality."
My jaw dropped. Surely the Seniors' claims weren't true?
"They pervert reality and are responsible for the state of the world as it is."
I shuddered. Like I needed to be reminded of the dying world I inhabited.
One of the girls stood up.
"Sir, this is a Chemistry lecture, not a political debate. Might not we return to the lesson?"
Half of the class grumbled underneath their breath. Mostly the slacker half.
"Very well," Manson replied. "But remember, the controversy surrounding the Aura Beasts needs no debate. It has been scientifically proven that they are to blame for the destruction of the Razers."
He then returned to his lecture, and I to my stupor.
After the bell for lesson change rang, I found myself still in a stupor as I walked next to Pete on the way to Geography. Pete was tall, in excess of two metres, and he had short blond hair and a fledgling mustache. He was skinny and not in the least athletic, but he was very smart. He had been offered a room in the Intellectual suites, but he had deferred moving, knowing that if he left, I would be moved out of a Reward Room and back into the General Bunkroom. He was basically my opposite, as I was tall but not excessively so, my hair was longish and brown, and I was clean-shaven. I was also a bit on the chubby side, but I refused to admit this, even to myself.
We walked alone, as we were the only intermediates that took both Chemistry and Geography in the first semester. I realized that he was talking to me.
"What do you reckon the soldiers were shooting at?" he was asking me.
"What are they always shooting at?" I replied. "They were "repelling unsavoury invaders"."
We both knew that that was legal-speak for cleaning out a nest of Aura Beasts that had been discovered inside Zone limits. I shuddered, imagining bloodthirsty beasts with the ability to cook me before they ate me.
We turned the last corner, and entered the Geography classroom. Our teacher, the dumpy and strict Ms Bitter, motioned with her hands for us to take our seats. I despised those hands. Her nails were like fifteen centimetres long.
We moved across to our seats. There were only eleven of us in this class, and none of them were fun to look at, unlike Theresa. This was probably because the only people who took Geography in first semester were those who planned on taking Advanced Strategic Planning in the second semester, and not many girls took that class because everyone knew that the higher-ups in the military were sexist.
I reached my seat and relaxed. Despite disliking the teacher, Geography was my favourite subject. It was simply rote memorization, and I was really good at that. Bitter began her lecture, but I knew it all already. The world we know was one huge continent, called Girardot, with small islands scattered around the edge and one archipelago in the south. There were fourty-eight official cities, or Zones, spread across the continent. At some point in the past, a cataclysmic event occurred that caused the world to be poisoned by radiation, or so we are told. The human race survived only because of the invention of the condition generators, which create a radiation-repelling, bubble-shaped protective shield. It is these that allow people to live safely. About half of the Zones had banded together and created a government. All Zones that adhered to the laws made by this government were called Giravian Zones, with the coalition collectively known as Giravia. The lands outside the Zones are known as the Razerlands, or simply the Razers. One can survive the Razers for a short time as the radiation is no longer instantly lethal, but the only safe travel between Zones was the high-speed, radiation-resistant concrete transports. Logic and science say that there are more continents, but the condition generators don't really work when they're not stationary, so we haven't been able to confirm these theories.
Despite the lethality of the Razers, small unprotected outposts have been known to survive, and the Aura Beasts have continued to plague us, despite them being declared shoot-on-sight by fourty-one of the Zones.
I focused on the class, and I heard Bitter going on about how the Aura Beasts were responsible for the cataclysm without offering any real evidence. Nothing new then.
It was then that I realised the shooting had stopped. Obviously, the military had destroyed the Aura Beasts' nest.
And so, with nothing interesting going on, I placed my head on my desk and took a nap.
After Geography, we had a free period. We walked back to our Reward Room, which we had won the right to use when we had won the 2v2 Annual Marksmanship Competition. The room itself was one of the few rooms that were exempt from surprise examinations, so of course the walls were covered with video game posters and swimsuit pinups. Pete carefully lowered his bag onto his bed and then powered up his terminal. I dumped my bag on my bed and activated mine. Mine was already running, as I had left it on so it could download the new Preen episode. I moved the mouse, dispelling the half-naked screensaver to check on the download process. As I did so, I saw that I had a new message. I read it, and my eyebrows shot up.
"Hey Pete, get over here!" I called.
He finished logging in, and then slid over on his wheelie-chair.
"Yeah?" he asked.
"Check it out, we've been given access to a new part of the archives," I said.
Pete shrugged. This wasn't anything special in and of itself. When students arrived here they had no access to anything, and they were given access to specific areas only when required.
With a flourish, I clicked on the embedded link, and a new window opened. It was entitled "Archives: Aura Beast Subdivision".
Now Pete's jaw dropped. He shoved me aside and started devouring the information. I pushed him back and told him to read on his own terminal. He shot over and punched up the screen himself.
I looked at the clock. We only had ten minutes left before Mathematics, and I wanted to soak up some sun. I grabbed my PDA off its stand, which was next to the computer, and my bag off my bed.
"Pete, I'm heading out, I'll catch you at Maths," I called.
As I left, I saw him wave his hand at me as if to say get going already.
I walked down the corridor, through the heart of the Male Dormitory. I was sure that I was not the first student here to rue the fact that genders slept in different buildings.
I turned left into a courtyard. It consisted of a large tree, perfect for climbing, surrounded by a low wall. On the outside of the wall were lawns, and these were disturbed by three gravel paths that led from the three entry points. These paths met on the south side of the tree, and the meeting point had some benches that were perfect for relaxing on. However, I chose to sit on the west side of the low wall, so I was shaded from the sun.
I sat down, and I looked out at the city as I waited for my PDA to confirm my login. The west side of the courtyard was fenced off, using tacky-looking iron chain-link fencing. The bottom of the fence was covered with low-lying shrubbery in a failed attempt to, at least partially, beautify it. Beyond the fence was the actual city, where I had rarely been, and just over the taller building I could see the farmlands. They extended from the city limits right up to the edge of the condition generator's effect.
My PDA beeped its' login confirmation, but it was ignored. This was because my attention was focused on the now rustling shrubbery.
The rustling increased in intensity, until the little creature making it stumbled out of the bush. It rolled over, and then collapsed.
I automatically moved back. The little creature was mostly blue, but it had orange spiky cheeks. It had a fin-like tail and a tall crest on its' head. It didn't look like anything I'd ever seen, let alone something natural.
It had to be an Aura Beast.
I took a deep breath, preparing to yell for help, but I didn't.
Because I saw its' wounds.
It had scrapes all over its' body, and a large chunk of its' right foreleg was missing. It had a long scratch down its' back that was bleeding profusely, the red blood mixing with the dirt to create a small patch of light-brown foulness.
This enraged me. All of the students had been told that only natural creatures bleed, and that Aura Beasts do not. We had even been shown video of the dissection of a small, rock-like Aura Beast that had two arms. It had emitted no blood at any point in time. We had taken their word as scientific fact, although as I thought about it I realised it was entirely possible that they had extracted the blood before the dissection. If the one piece of information the Administration had deigned to share with us was false, all the stuff they were hiding was probably worse.
The Aura Beast stirred, trying to stand up, but it couldn't summon the strength to do so. Expecting a mauling, I reached out and picked it up, trying to avoid touching the numerous scrapes and cuts. The Beast just lay in my hands. The Administration had told us that an Aura Beast would happily sacrifice its' life to kill a human. Another lie.
I could see its' heart beating under its' slender chest. I gripped the little creature a little more tightly. This wasn't a creature to fear and destroy, that much I was sure of.
I wrapped it gingerly in my P.E towel so that none of it was visible. I then sprinted out of the courtyard and back down the corridor, continuing in the direction I had travelled to reach the courtyard from my room. I reached the end, and decided to take the lift over the stairs. This poor creature probably wouldn't survive a brisk jog down the stairs.
As I repeatedly pressed the DOWN button, I prayed to any gods that were listening that there was no one in the lift.
I pressed the third-lowest button, which was marked LABS. All students who took a scientific subject were given their own private research rooms, with the size depending on the student's year. As an Intermediate student, I had a Research Room the size of a large single-person bathroom. Thankfully, the Student Representative Council had managed to get the Administration to remove the security cameras from the research room: there were rumours of research theft and the Administration had wanted them quelled.
The lift dinged and I shot out of it into the waiting corridor as quickly as I could. This corridor was bare concrete with strip lighting bolted to the ceiling. No reason to give the nerds nice surroundings, I thought sarcastically.
I took the first left into the Intermediate subcorridor and then I quickly swiped my keycard through the lock of the first door on the right. I slid inside, slammed my back against the door to close it, and exhaled explosively.
This room was, like the corridor, a hollowed-out cube of concrete. However, just like my room, I had hung up posters over the bumpy walls, and surprise inspections were not conducted down here either. Right now, this room was acting as my private store-room - my Marksmanship equipment was down here, along with some of my more salacious video games and some stuff I had used to take care of Valerian's (prohibited) pet guinea pig. I ripped the wire mesh off of the cage, creating a low, hay-filled tray. I placed the creature in this, opening up the towel as I did so. The creature watched me through a slitted eye as I carefully inspected it. My inspection revealed two facts: the creature was male, and aside from looking strange, he didn't seem to be exhibiting any supernatural powers.
I pulled out the standard issue Research Room First Aid container and I rummaged through it, looking for bandages and tape. I found some, and I fixed the creature up as best I could. I then made the towel into a pillow and laid his head on it. He didn't resist, and he watched me watch him as he fell asleep.
(Two Weeks Later)
The bell rang, signalling the end of Chemistry. I waved goodbye to Pete, who looked puzzled by my abrupt disappearance as always. I walked briskly to the lift, and it whisked me down to the laboratories. I whistled as I walked, earning disapproving looks from the other students. I slipped into my room, and I was immediately tackled by the Mudkip I had saved. He licked me from chin to hairline and battered my shoulder with his tail. I rubbed his head in response to the enthusiastic greeting.
"Smash, get off me," I laughed.
He licked me once more, and then jumped down into his tray. I carefully unwrapped the large bandage that encircled his body. I noted that all of his smaller injuries were now all gone, and the frightening long gash on his back had scabbed over a few days ago and he'd soon be good as new.
I had been consciously avoiding thinking about what I would do when that happened.
Somewhat more worryingly, Smash hadn't shown any supernatural abilities. The archives' Mudkip data file assured me it could shoot streams of water from its' mouth, among other powers. I hoped that Smash's ability to perform these attacks was undamaged: how else did he hunt in the wild?
I left the bandages off.
"You don't need them any more," I told Smash.
He sniffed the newly-exposed regions, then looked up at me and smiled. I knew I would miss him when he was gone. But where was I to take him?
I bade him goodbye and left to go to my Geography class. My grades had been falling since I rescued Smash, because I had been thoroughly reading and re-reading the newly unsealed Aura Beasts sub-archive.
I entered the lift and pressed the 2F button. As the lift shot upwards, an announcement played over the intercom.
"Attention all students. Attention all students. We have reason to believe the School has been infiltrated by Aura Beasts. There is no cause for alarm. The security team will be sweeping the school for Aura contamination. Please ignore them and continue about your day normally. Repeat, there is no cause for alarm."
I was alarmed. Very much so.
I sprinted out of the lift, dodging groups of students. I didn't know what would happen if I was found in possession of an Aura Beast, but I knew it wouldn't be pleasant. Especially for Smash.
I reached my room and I barged in. Pete looked up in alarm.
"What's going on?" he asked me.
I ignored him, rummaging around in my drawers, tossing various items into my Field Research backpack.
"Did you hear the announcement?" Pete tried a different tack.
"Yes," I grunted. I finished shoving stuff into my pack. I cast a quick look around the room, but couldn't see anything important. I then turned to Pete.
"Pete," I said, looking him straight in the face with a serious expression, "you should take the Intellectual upgrade."
"What?" he asked me, confused.
"I'm leaving," I added, "so you should upgrade."
His expression changed from confused startled.
"You can't leave!" he exploded. "We're not here by choice!"
It was true. Under Giravian law, when a medium or high class couple gave birth to a child, they were taken and moved to another Zone for education. Military School Students were the best PreSchool Students and were seen as a valuable resource. Thus, we were protected by some of the best security teams ever trained. However, these teams had a second purpose: to stop us from leaving. One of the few pieces of student folklore the Administration allowed to thrive, encouraged even, was the story of three Juniors who attempted a breakout. The story itself wasn’t too clear on details, but in the end the boys were caught and shipped off to “volunteer” on an ocean expedition.
“It doesn’t matter, I’ve got to go,” I said quickly. I saw Pete’s mouth open to ask more questions, but I cut him off with a slash of my hand.
“Pete, you’ve been a good mate,” I told him. “I’ll try to talk to you later on.”
Before he could reply, I put on my extra-long coat/blazer and swept out the door, a single tear lingering on my cheek, reminding me of what I had just lost.
But I didn’t have time to dwell on this. I swept down the corridor, my coat flaring out behind me. I got some weird looks from the other students. Normally, that would bother me, but right now I really couldn’t care less.
The lift beeped, and the doors slid open. In the lift were three people that comprised one of the roving Aura detection teams.
Oh God, I thought. If they turned their instruments on, I was boned. Aura Beasts left minute Aura particles wherever they went, just like humans left skin flakes.
I entered the lift, smiled at them, and then turned and stared at the floor buttons. However much I tried, I couldn’t stop my eyes from wandering down to their hips. They sported the newest Scorpian semi-automatic pistols. The QM50, I believe.
The team ignored me, and left the lift when it reached the ground floor. I breathed a little easier as the lift descended to the laboratory level. When the door opened, I walked straight through a group of Seniors waiting to go in. They yelled at me and sneered at me and threatened to kill me later. I ignored them and moved quickly to my room. As I entered, Smash jumped up at me, surprised but happy to see me again so soon. I forestalled the usual greeting by putting my hand firmly in front of me so that he couldn’t jump up like he usually did.
“Smash, we’ve got to go,” I said, walking over to my Marksmanship equipment. Smash made a little questioning growl, but otherwise just sat in his tray as I pulled out my stuff.
“If you’ve got to take a leak, do it now,” I told him, opening the box and pulling out my precious weapon. It was a Kanine G6, but I had modified it extensively. It had a laser sight slung under the barrel, and I had installed and calibrated a very expensive telescopic sight on the top. The G6 was an unconventional pistol in that each round had to be manually chambered by use of a pump at the bottom of the grip. This slowed the fire rate, but made for a more powerful shot. I then strapped on my holster, which I wore in the Agent style: the pistol was holstered over my left shoulder with the butt pointing up and forward. This allowed for a quicker draw than the Guard style, in which the pistol was strapped under an arm, and it was easier to hide than the generic hip-holster. Furthermore, my blazer’s shoulderpads hid the gun itself from sight.
I slid a clip into the pistol, through the grip, and then I locked it in and switched on the safety. I also slotted five clips into the webbing lower down on the holster. Unfortunately, these clips only held stun rounds: bullets that were essentially small batteries with two prongs that electrified the victim. They’d only stop someone for about fifteen minutes, but that should be enough.
I clicked my tongue, and Smash jumped out of his tray. I shoved a couple extra things into my pack, and then I picked Smash up and held him at head height.
“Smash, I need to grab onto my back underneath my coat and stay there until I call your name, okay?” I asked him.
Smash grunted, and I held him to my stomach. I opened my coat and he shuffled around, until he was clinging onto me, nestled inside the small of my back. He weighed no more than a backpack.
I shouldered my big pack, which hid Smash quite nicely, and I walked briskly to the lift. This time, it held no-one.
I hesitated slightly, then pressed the lowest button that was lit up – GARAGE.
The lift descended swiftly to the lowest part of the school. Well, the lowest part that I knew existed.
The door opened. The first impression I had is that I had stumbled into the lobby of a hotel, except there was no reception desk and the windows showed an underground parking lot instead of a bustling street.
Three guards were standing at the entirely-glass double doors, two on the inside and one outside. One of the guards on the inside saw me, shouted at me, and pointed. Smoothly, just as I had practised, my left hand brushed my coat aside, exposing my G6. As I did this, my right hand drew the pistol and brought it out in front of me. As I extended my right arm, my left hand left the edge of my coat and moved to support the bottom of my pistol’s grip. I hunched over and bent my knees, lowering my centre of gravity, and I pulled the trigger.
My pistol emitted a sharp crack, and the pointing guard slammed against the door. The second inside guard turned to look, and I nailed him in the chest as well. He fell against the other side of the double door, but he smashed through the glass. This of course made the third guard turn around, and I dropped him like a stone.
As I jogged towards the door, I let a small smile creep across my face. Three shots, three downs. Still the best in the school.
As I ducked under the frame of the broken glass door, I quickly grabbed one of the guards’ pistols, but didn’t have time to frisk him for clips. I cast the gun a quick look before stowing it in an inside coat pocket: it was a G9, made by the same producer as my G6. Less stopping power, but easier to aim and reload. Not my style, but I’d be able to pawn it or something. I also grabbed a keycard with a tag that read “B06”.
I walked briskly to the car that had the number “06” emblazoned on the side. I didn’t know as much about vehicles as I did weapons, but I did know that this was the standard, four-person in-Zone transportation vehicle. It was white, and looked like one half of a sphere. The wheels were hidden underneath the body of the car, which would make it harder for the security teams to shoot my tyres out. It’s a pity I hadn’t taken Aggressive Driving yet; I was scheduled to start that in three months.
“Smash, its’ time to roll,” I said, opening the passenger-side door.
He dropped onto the ground, which was followed by a leap into the car.
I closed the door, and crossed around to the other side. I sat down in the driver’s seat and swiped the keycard across the steering wheel, turning the car on. It coughed, and then started to growl. I located the pedals, and gently reversed out of the parking spot. I swivelled the car to the left, and drove up the exit ramp.
I circled up past the two underground levels above the garage, and then I was assaulted by sunlight. The exit ramp opened onto a cul-de-sac which was surrounded by lawns. At the head of the cul-de-sac was the majestic Zone 19 Military School. The other side of the cul-de-sac was a road, which led out into the city.
If you manage to get through the seven-metre iron-wrought gate with laid-brick guard outposts to both sides of the gate itself.
I drove slowly up to the gate. The guard in the outpost on the left rolled down his window, and I rolled down the passenger side window after pushing Smash off the seat.
“Out pass please?” he inquired, not even looking at me.
I levelled my pistol at him and tagged him in the forehead. Unfortunately, the guard in the right outpost saw this, and quickly spoke into the mike pinned to his jacket.
Hurriedly, I aimed at the “Open Gate” button that was on the wall behind the slumped-over guard.
I pulled the trigger.
“Damn!” I swore. I fumbled to load a new clip into my G6 as I looked over my shoulder. A patrol car shot out of the exit I had used not half a minute ago.
“Crap!” I shrieked, only just pulling a new clip out of the webbing.
Smash heard my cry, and jumped up onto the seat.
He saw the unconscious guard still on his chair.
He saw the button behind the guard, and the slug buried in the wall behind it.
He opened his mouth wide, and started rumbling low in his belly.
The rumbling travelled from his gut, up his throat, and into his mouth.
He gurgled a cry as a lance of bubbling water shot out from his gaping maw towards the button I had missed.
The stream hit it.
With a loud shrill blast, the gates swung open, and I floored the accelerator pedal.
“Good job, mate,” I yelled over the wind flying past the open windows.
Smash squealed his excitement, and stuck his head out the window, firing jets of water at our pursuer.
I resisted the urge to follow suit – unlike Smash, I didn’t have almost unlimited ammunition.
We sped down the driveway leading up to the Military School. I made a hard left into the bustling traffic.
Horns blared at me, and drivers hurled abuse at me. Smash continued to fire jets of water backwards, so I assumed that the patrol car was still chasing me.
As I mechanically drove down the road, making lane changes where necessary, I thought about what to do now. I had to go somewhere Aura Beasts weren’t seen as an infestation to be eradicated. That meant either the Razers, or one of the outlier Zones.
For now, however, I would settle for leaving Zone 19.
And that meant the Bus station.
I continued to tear down the street. Smash was firing those jets of water, but it probably wasn’t doing much beyond annoying the driver. I could also see by the way his eyes were squeezed together that his energy was rapidly being drained.
“Smash, give it a rest,” I said. “Save your energy.”
He shot one last jet of water out of his mouth, and then he pulled his head back inside the car. I used the driver-side controls to roll up the window.
Using my PDA, I extended a hologram with a map of the Zone. I could see that the Station wasn’t far away, a couple of turns. I tapped into the Zone’s wireless network and pulled up an outgoing bus schedule. There was one leaving for Zone 29 in six minutes. I mentally accessed my Geography lessons and I remembered that Zone 29 had only recently been assimilated into Giravia, and that Zone 29’s local government had held out for a two-month expulsion period, where anyone with tame Aura Beasts could leave without being persecuted. I remembered how the lecturers had scoffed.
“As if anyone has tame Aura Beasts,” Manson had laughed.
It was hard to believe at the time, but now I knew that Aura Beasts weren’t beastly at all.
I checked the side mirror to see if our pursuer was still there. It was promptly shot off.
I swore, and started swerving from side to side. This elicited a new round of disapproving horn honks from the cars surrounding us.
My PDA beeped at me. I was busy dodging bullets, but I knew that was the three minute bus warning. I turned right, so I was travelling down the road the station was on.
A sudden thought occurred to me. Even if I could lose the School guards in the minute or so I had left before I reached the station, I doubted I would simply be able to pull over and embark like everyone else. I needed a plan.
And I didn’t have one.
I continued to drive down the busy street, largely ignoring the patrol car. The road was too busy to weave in and out of traffic like I had been. There wasn’t really anything I could do. Soon, the word of my escape would get out onto the local police channels and I’d be captured. Smash would be killed and I’d be sent off to look for a new continent.
Smash grunted. I looked at him. I realised that life, both Smash’s and mine, was too precious to just give up.
I honked my horn, and sped up. I also pulled out the guard’s gun and fired a few shots out of the window into the air. The car in front of me immediately swerved into a side street. I took his place, driving almost twice the limit.
I shot straight past the bus station. I fired more shots and the pedestrians scattered. Quite a few squealed as well. I mounted the curb, and drove along the sidewalk. We were now driving parallel to the gorge cut deep in the city that the concrete buses used. It was currently empty, but the Zone 29 bus was due out in a minute or so. It would be travelling almost twice as fast as I was now.
I ripped out a piece of the plastic dashboard and jammed it under the wheel. I also turned on the cruise control, keeping the car travelling at the same speed. I then fired the last two shots from the guard’s pistol at the windscreen, shattering it. Pieces of glass fell inside the car, causing little cuts all over me. Smash, being the size of a small dog, wasn’t hit.
I grabbed him, and put him under my arm. “Hold on,” I told him.
I climbed out of the speeding car through the broken windscreen, but not before tilting the wheel slightly to the left, so that I was no longer travelling parallel to the gorge. The car listed slightly towards it. I noticed out of the corner of my eye that the patrol car was readying a net gun of sort.
“Where is it?” I yelled to myself.
The car jolted as the car’s left front tyre slipped over the edge. This was quickly followed by the other left tyre.
“DAAAAMN IT!” I screamed.
The car lurched one more time. Then it shot over the chasm. Just as it did this, the caterpillar-like bus boomed it’s horn.
I felt a lurch of joy as I realised it would draw level with us. Then, a lurch of indescribable grief as I realised we would pass over it. We’d draw level horizontally, but we’d be too far to the left!
“NOOOOO!” I wailed.
Smash looked at the oncoming bus, and at the car. He expanded his gut, and completely opened his throat. I could have stuck my fist down there. He gurgled, like when he shot the water jets, but no water emitted from his mouth. He continued to gurgle, looking like a cat trying to spit out a hairball.
As the bus drew level with us, and passed us, Smash made his move.
An epic torrent of water blasted out of his mouth.
It was like a fire hydrant, but it was also like the water was trying to force itself out of Smash. The water immediately hit the roof of the car, denting it inwards and actively propelling it away from us. Thanks to Newton’s Third Law of Movement, we were hurled towards the bus. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the guards shoot the net at us, but they made the rookie mistake of shooting where we were, not where we were going. The net shot past us, wrapping around a light post on the other side of the gorge.
The first cube-shaped carriage whipped past us, followed by the second. Smash continued forcing that unbelievable raging column of water out of his mouth. We smashed straight through a window on the third carriage and collided with the inner wall on the other side of the carriage.
I got up and looked around. This carriage was, thankfully, a cargo carriage. I groaned as I got up. Smash, who had been on my chest, wasn’t hurt in any way. He jumped off me and began to investigate our surroundings. I went over to the broken window and pressed a large button that was blinking red. Immediately, big metal girders slid down over the window, sealing it off.
I took a deep breath. I sighed. Then I laughed. We’d escaped from the Military School! We had even got away from Zone 29!
Smash was rooting around amongst the crates. He had found one containing bread rolls, and was tearing into some. I went over and grabbed one as well, biting a good third of it off in one go. I walked over to an unbroken window and looked out it, chewing. By now we were passing the farmlands. I looked back and saw that there was only one carriage behind us. That was obviously the propulsion carriage. Each carriage had its’ own motor and wheels, but the last carriage on a bus was always basically a rocket that pushed the other carriages. Most times the bus didn’t even touch the ground. The direction of the bus was controlled with wing-like flaps on the front carriage.
By now, we were nearing the edge of the farmlands. I looked to the front of the bus and saw a large, shifting wall of colours. It was slightly curved, like a fishbowl. The colours moved, and combined, and split in mesmerising ways. The bus sped straight towards it. For a moment, I subconsciously braced myself, expecting a collision. But the bus sped straight through it – the barrier was as insubstantial as air. I took a look around.
And I blinked.
The Razers looked even more inhospitable than they had been described. It was an arid desert, with rocks and craggy peaks all over the place. There were slowly-moving streams and dead forests dotted all over, but the wasteland wasn’t completely lifeless. There were birds in the sky, and a couple herds of scraggly oxen, or something. While the Razers looked like hell, obviously nature had tried to adapt, and she hadn’t failed.
"So, Smash, when we get to our destination, you can go wherever you want," I said. He looked at me, considering my words and understanding the import behind them.
I just hoped he'd choose to follow me. I'd need a friend in this new, harsh world.
I looked back at Zone 19, for the last time ever. Or so I had hoped.
To Be Continued...