I'm running again. It's exhilirating, this feeling of rebellion, of freedom. Miles is with me, as usual. It's far from quiet. The pounding of our feet against the road, the wind rushing in our ears, the sounds of the city in the distance: it's all melded into one calming, rhythmic hum. We stay silent, our breaths coming out in short, white puffs. Conversation was pointless; we were both lost in our own thoughts. Miles and I had come to escape, not to talk. Of course, we always returned. Our lives weren't necessarily bad, we just both wanted something more than the simplicity. We were searching for a deeper meaning, a hidden path to some new treasure. Instead, we found runs.
Finally, we reach our destination. It's an old, forgotten park some miles away from our neighborhood. We push past overgrown shrubbery and dry fountains until we arrive at the top of a hill overlooking the city. Together, we sit down, enjoying the familiarity of each other's presence.
A few minutes pass, and I'm just about to start a conversation when my eyes are blinded by sudden light. Soldiers crash through the darkness, flashlights pointing at our eyes, all yelling the same thing: "Freeze! Don't move!" Guns are pointed at our faces, and Miles and I take a moment to recover. What could we possibly have done to have military track us down, especially when we're at the brink of war?
"What the hell?" Miles mutters in my ear. "Think they're taking us for that fudge I stole from the teachers' lounge?" Naturally, with a gun pointed at him, Miles jokes around.
They order us to stand and we do. They don't tell us what we've supposedly done, and we're both beginning to panic. Then, without a word, they separate us, pulling us to different sides of the park. "Miles!" I yell and the soldier holding me jostles me. "Quiet. It's only worse if you struggle." Miles, evidently, had chosen to struggle. I could see him throwing punches and kicked soldiers out of his way. He was yelling my name, and the last thing I saw before I was blindfolded and gagged, was a soldier stabbing a tranquilizer into his neck.
I'm led through the park and into a van. I'm thrown mercilessly inside and hand-cuffed to the door. I can feel the other soldiers' eyes on me, and I wonder what I could be treated like this for. Then, with a cold rush, I remember that my father is General Evans. Could he be leading the crowd tonight, or is he still fighting out in China? The road is bumpy, and the handcuffs cut into my flesh. After what seems like a lifetime, the van jolts to a stop and yet again, I'm taken by the arm and led out. After many stairs and twists and turns, I'm sat down and unblindfolded. A soldier unhandcuffs me, then leaves the room. Everything is gray. Across from me sits a man I'd only seen on TV and in newspapers, a man I would've never expected to have noticed me: President Morgan. And, oddly enough, he's smiling at me.
"Hello, Holden Grace. It's a pleasure to see you again." Again? Pleasure? "You're, of course, curious as to why you've come here in a manner of a criminal. I'm sorry, but government secrets must stay as government secrets," President Morgan says, his eyes flashing behind thin lenses. Then he clears his throat. "Now, to business."
I interrupt him. "Sorry, President Morgan, but please, I must know- is Miles okay?"
He stares at me curiously. "If you listen for the moment, child, I will tell you what happened to Miles." I nod. There's nothing I can do, and I am now under his control.
"Your father is General Daniel Evans married to the famous Dr. Marisse Kennedy. I've met both of them, lovely couple they are. You're doing exceedingly well at school, and you're very talented. You seem to be the model of a perfect child, yet I see that you've begun these midnight runs. For what purpose? You always return, you aren't running away. Is it to be with your boyfriend? But you don't seem like the type. Are you, perhaps, feeding information to the Russians?"
My mouth opens slightly. The president thinks me to be a spy. The idea is so ridiculous that I burst into laughter and then turn serious. "He's not my boyfriend," I mutter. Then I clear my throat. "I'm sorry, sir, but you must be desperate for someone to blame for the stolen weapon." At his surprised expression, I lean in. "Yes, President Morgan. I know of my mother's project, of her success, and of the security you provided for her weapon. I know that the Russians and Chinese have taken it under their wing, and I know that you're very, very scared." I'm surprised at my own boldness. I remind myself that it is the President I'm talking to, so I add a tentative "sir".
"You're more attentive than I thought you were."
He looked deep in thought for a moment. "Yes, we are looking for a solution. Do you know what the weapon does, exactly?"
"It's a nuclear bomb right? Just times one-hundred. Its force could wipe out an entire country. After that comes the Haze, the new chemical Dr.Phillips discovered, killing any survivors left," I recite.
"Yes. And now that the Russians and Chinese have it, they are sure to use it against us. You know that. There is nothing we can do. The location of the bomb is unknown; we believe it may not even be in either of those countries. We cannot set it off from afar. So what should we do? What can our solution be? Even your genius mother doesn't know. We have no choice but to let it happen. And after that? If any of us do survive, the Haze will surely kill us. But your mother believes, as with all diseases, a cure can be found in those immune. She believes there are certain people who will be immune to the Haze. With their blood, we could possibly find a cure before the bomb hits."
"So you didn't bring me here because you thought I was feeding information. You brought me here because I'm immune."
He nodded. "Don't look so frightened. It's a good thing, naturally, but we'll need to take some blood samples from you." He holds up a hand to prevent me from saying anything. "You really don't have a choice, Holden."
I nod, and he stands up to leave. "Wait!" I call out. "What about Miles? You promised..."
He chuckles. "Miles is dead. Oh, and you won't remember any of this when you wake up. I can imagine you'll be even more confused than you are now. Good luck."
Wake up? I think to myself. Then I feel it. The sharp point of a needle sinking into my flesh. I can already feel my consciousness ebbing away.
When I wake, the first thing I see is blue. I'm a bit confused, the ceiling of my room isn't blue at all. I blink and sit up, looking around. I'm not at home. In fact, I have no idea where I am. The walls are covered with soot. What's left of the walls, anyway. The ceiling is gone; I must've been looking at the sky. Everything is burnt and black. Glass shards cover the floor. The only thing seemingly untouched is the bed I sit in. Then the puzzle pieces begin fitting together in my head. I realize why I feel so angry, so sad, so confused. President Morgan lied.
I remember everything.