The Exile: Episode 26

When I woke, my mouth was dry, and my head felt like I had been pounding it on the pavement. The last thing I remember, I was being helped into a van. . .a woman and her child. Slowly I tried to sit up but fell back against the couch when a wave of vertigo hit me.

From somewhere back in my foggy mind, I heard a child’s voice say, “Mom said you shouldn’t move.”

I opened my eyes and looked in the direction of the voice. Standing just inside the doorway was a small boy, the one from the van. He was leaning against the doorframe staring intently at me, longing to move closer but cautiously keeping back.

“Tell your mother thank you, but I can’t stay. Got to keep moving, ” I said.

I tried again to sit up. This time I held myself upright long enough for the vertigo to pass.

“You can leave,” a woman’s voice said, “but you won’t get very far before you collapse again.”

She stepped into the room and stood next to the boy. It was the lady from the gas station. I was slowly starting to remember.

“Go on up to your room, Son,” she said to the boy, patting him on the shoulder.

The boy hesitated then hurried out of the room.

“What did you do to me?” I asked.

“I saved your life,” she said. “My late husband was a doctor, and he taught me a few things about first aid. Had I not taken you in and cared for you, you probably would have died last night.”

“In that case, thank you. But I really should be going. It’s not safe,” I said, looking around for my things.

“No one is going to hurt you. Why don’t you take a few minutes to relax?” she suggested.

“It’s not me I’m worried about,” I explained. “There are some people after me who will do you harm if they find me here, and I can’t risk that. I’ve got to keep moving.”

She started to protest but thought better of it.

“At least take some breakfast with you. I made extra,” she pleaded.

“Thank you,” I said with a weak smile.

“I’ll just be a minute,” she said and left the room.

I struggled to stand and maintain my balance. Slowly I staggered out of the living room in the direction the woman had gone.

“Where is your restroom?” I asked.

She looked out from the kitchen at me and motioned with her head,

“To your right down the hall.”

“Thanks,” I replied.

Hugging the wall, I carefully made my way to the restroom, knelt over the sink and washed his face and hands. I was just drying off when I heard vehicles pull up outside. I dropped the towel and headed back to the kitchen as quickly as I could.

The woman was in the kitchen staring out the window.

“You did quite well,” I said sarcastically.

“What?” she asked confused.

“Let me guess. You called them while I was passed out. But, I woke sooner than you expected, so you had to find a way to keep me here. That about it?” I asked.

“I don’t understand,” she said, with a puzzled look.

“That was some line about your husband and how I wouldn’t make it far if I didn’t rest. You had me going for a minute.”

“They’re not with me,” she said, pointing outside. I saw that she was clearly frightened.

I risked a glance out the open kitchen window and saw one of the men from the gas station the night before.

Keeping my eyes on the man, I said,

“If you truly aren’t with them, get your son and get out of here! These people don’t strike me as the kind who would be willing to negotiate. Do you have a back door?”

“Yes,” she said frantically, pointing toward the end of the hall, “but we can’t leave. They’ll attack the house and probably burn it to the ground. My husband built this place and all his things are still upstairs.”

“Come on, lady,” the man outside yelled. “Send out the hitchhiker, and we’ll let you go, for now.”

“Who are they?” I asked.

“They run the town,” she said, “un-officially. If I don’t send you out, they’ll come in and get you.”

“What if I run?” I asked.

“Then my son and I and our house will pay the price,” she said.

Uncertain what to do, I froze in place while the wide-eyed woman stared at me in panic. To my left was the front door. To my right, the hallway leading to the back door. I could confront them and probably die, or I could run, leaving the woman and her child to pay for my freedom.

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Published in: on March 13, 2012 at 2:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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