PREVIOUS “MOUSE” POSTINGS CAN BE FOUND HERE.
Mouse on the Run—Again!
I’ve been staring at my phone wondering why Alexi hasn’t texted me back. It’s totally unlike him to be out of contact. Even more than me he lives and breathes his electronics. The bars on my cell seem to come and go, which shouldn’t surprise me, but still the message should have shown up.
I glance up briefly. There’s a broken down shack ahead, its roof caved in, windows broken; it reminds me of the one near The Compound. As we draw nearer, I realize that it’s exactly the one near The Compound. I glance at Tom, his jaw is firm, steely.
“Are you crazy? We can’t be here,” I say.
“Why not, Mouse?”
He glances from the road to me then back again. I feel the blood drain from my face. This is wrong, very wrong. I reach for my knapsack where it sits between us, but Tom grabs it out of my hand and shoves it between his body and the driver’s door.
“Now, now, Mouse. Let’s not panic.”
You can be sure I’m panicking. As he slows down for the next curve, I snap the release on my seatbelt, open the door and throw myself out. That always looks so easy in the movies and tv, but in reality it’s a really, really bad idea. I lie there a moment, the wind knocked out of me, and then struggle to stand. He’s pulled the black SUV to the side and is already getting out. I start running toward the woods, feeling like déjà vu, but this time I know he’s not on my side.
I’m not crying. I’m not panicking. I’m not being scared.
I am doing all of the above.
Lush bushes grab at my clothes as if they had fingers, snagging, pinching, and snatching at my hair as I dodge around trees. My eyes are cloudy with the tears. With the next step my foot feels nothing but air and then I’m falling, rolling down an incline into a rocky stream bed. My face submerges in the cold water, almost reviving me. My body feels broken, my arm definitely, my face bruised from the impact, but I force myself up, pushing with my good hand.
“Mouse, stop!” Tom yells. He sounds close, but I don’t look back.
My dad’s words echo in my brain. “Never trust.” What a fool I have been.
I am limping now, cradling my left arm in my right. My sneaker slips on a stone and I am tumbling again. I reach out to snag a bush to catch myself so I stop sliding, not knowing where this slope ends. I lie there, spent, bruised, crying. Tom reaches me, his eyes sad but not sympathetic.
I avert my gaze. This betrayal feels far worse than any I’ve ever experienced.
He reaches for me. “Where are you hurt?”
“Don’t touch me,” I hiss.
I try to sit up, pain douses bravado. I bow my head to lessen the dizziness. He rests his hand on my shoulder, it burns through, proving that I was right about the scorch marks.
“I said, ‘don’t.’” I lie back and close my eyes, hoping that when I open them, if I open them, this will all have been just a horrible dream.