Mouse Goes On a Road Trip
PREVIOUS “MOUSE” POSTINGS CAN BE FOUND HERE.
I am about ten minutes out of town when my conscience starts nagging me. I don’t usually second-guess myself, something I learned from my parents. You make a decision and stick with it. However, right now, all I can think about is Tom and leaving him with Sandra and the forest with just a stupid map.
I pull over to the shoulder of the highway and grab my phone and bring up a copy of the map I gave Tom. Which way would he go? What have I learned about Tom in the past year? He doesn’t take the easy way, which was why he dragged me down the hardest trail from the tunnel. If they hiked over the mountain, through some parkland, which would be ideal for laying low, they would come out in the town of Alps, which looks to be a little larger than Wattstone, maybe a little easier to be anonymous, especially since the park has cabins and probably lots of tourists, especially at this time of year.
I’m about to put the car in drive when there’s a rapping on my passenger’s side window. All I see is a handgun.
“Great. What now?”
I roll down the window. “What’s up?”
The tall man leans down. “I’m taking over your car.”
“No, Joe, you’re not.”
This time he squints at me. “Mouse?”
“The one and only. Get in.”
He sits in the seat and his knees hit the dash. “Small car.”
“You can push the seat back.”
I take a long look at him. His sandy blonde hair is greasy, his usually handsome face is smudged with dirt, and his eyes are tired and bloodshot. I pop the trunk and then retrieve an extra baseball cap, this time a John Deere one that I bought when I gassed up. I grab a couple of bottles of water and protein bars and then hand them to Joe, who gratefully accepts them.
Who knew that my dad’s fanatic survivalism would be a craft that I absorbed?
“Do you have a plan, Mouse?” he asks.
I shrug. “Not much of one. I’m driving to a town called Alps, which is on the other side of this mountain. I jerk my head to the left.
“Because I think that’s where Tom is headed.”
“So Tom made it out alright?”
“Yeah,” I say. “He got me out too.” I think: damn, and I just abandoned him. “Sandra got out and I saw a news report that said Nick did too. They’ve got pictures up of you guys. They’re calling you terrorists.”
“Terrorists? Hell. I don’t understand.”
“Me either. You guys seem to have picked up a powerful enemy.”
Joe drains one bottle of water and leans his head back, his hazel eyes are closed. “They don’t know about you?”
“If The Compound is still standing and they dust for prints, they soon will.”
“Prints? Why would your prints be listed anywhere?”
I start driving. “Oh, when I was a teenager, me and some of my friends played a game of seeing who could hack into more government facilities. I was both the winner and the loser.”
“And you seem like such a nice girl,” he says, grinning.
“Looks are deceiving. Take a nap, Joe. We’ve got an hour or so before we get to Alps.”
The sound of a snore tells me he needs no further encouragement.