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Framed By Death
I am going to die next Thursday and there’s nothing I can do about it. Not from in here, at least. Not from inside prison. That was the conclusion I had came to.
So … that's why I ended up breaking out.
Now, don’t get me wrong; that place wasn’t bad. I had a bed to sleep on, three meals a day, and warm clothes to wear, even if they were a horrid shade of orange. It was more than what the urchins living in the gutters had.
But I didn’t want to die. I’d been given the death penalty by 12 jurors who could’ve really cared less about my side of the ordeal. Who hadn’t wanted to hear I was innocent. They saw the case, the victim, the evidence, yet hadn’t seen my face as I pleaded that I was set up. With stony indifference, they stated, “We find the defendant, Celeste Smith, guilty of murder.” Just simply like that. I was given my sentence, as well: death. The judge’s gavel as he slammed it down echoed in my head for ages. The entire trial had taken 127 minutes.
In my dank cell over at the prison, I laid on the uncomfortable cot, staring at the ceiling. Times have certainly changed, I thought. Justice wasn’t like it had been back in the 21st century. It was swifter, harder on people. More and more criminals came flooding in. The murderers of the lot, instead of being given life in prison, were sentenced to death, if only to uncrowd the jails and prisons. In my memories of the time before my trial, I’d gone over the list of those on death row. As a cop, I can say I certainly never expected to see myself on said list.
And, as I laid there and closed my eyes, bits and pieces of the trial came floating back to me. The victim had been a one Timothy Hawkins, banker, widower, and father of three. He’d been killed by a bullet to the back of the head. A bullet which supposedly came from my own police, standard-issued gun. It hadn’t even mattered that I hadn’t a motive for supposedly killing Hawkins. To them, I was just another cop gone psycho, like so many others before me. The evidence stacked against me, and I had lost.
My eyes snapped open. It was in that moment that I’d seen my only way to keep on living. I’d have to make a break for it and try to figure out who really had killed Timothy Hawkins. And I’d have to do it soon. There were only seven days ‘till I was slated to die.
The next few days were passed with my head filled with different plots and schemes. A couple of the other criminals had gotten together, to “teach that new cop that she ain’t in her playground anymore”. After I’d fought one off and she was unable to get back up from the ground, they all left me alone. I was free to my planning.
Three days before I was to die, a plan was established that I hadn’t been able to shoot a hole through. Sure, a lot of it would rely on luck, but wasn’t that the thing with most good plans?
Later that day, I was being escorted outside for my daily exercise in the fenced-in enclosure. A guard was at my side, armed only with a Taser. Thankfully, it was only one guard; otherwise the entire plan would’ve fallen apart then and there.
“I’ve got to use the restroom,” I announced.
“Too bad,” was the guard’s response.
I stopped walking, causing her to take a few steps in front of me. “Oh, c’mon, lady. I really gotta go.”
She grabbed me by the back of my collar and shoved me forward a few steps. I was barely able to keep my balance. “Shoulda thought of that before we left. Now, get moving.”
I began shuffling along again, purposefully dragging my feet. As we passed a bathroom that was probably meant for the guards, I stopped again. “C’mon, two minutes, please?”
The guard stopped, as well, and put her hand to her head, sighing heavily. “You get one. Make it quick.”
As I predicted, she followed me into the bathroom. Inside were two stalls and a puny little sink. The woman leaned against the sink and gestured for me to take a stall. I simply held out my hands, as if to say I couldn’t go with cuffs on. With another exasperated sigh, she moved forward, took the key from a pocket, and unlocked my handcuffs. Obviously, she had been a newbie, because no other senior guard would’ve done that, or even made her next mistake.
As her head turned to put the key back in her pocket, I attacked. One quick elbow strike to the side of the head stunned her, giving me time to get behind her. Wrapping my arms carefully, one around her neck, the other positioned so my hand covered her mouth and nose, I put the female guard into a choke hold. She struggled for a few moments, but then all the fight went out of her as the oxygen stopped getting into her body. I held on the entire time, finally letting go when her body went limp in my arms.
I released my hold and let the body drop to the ground. She wasn’t dead; far from it, in fact. Just knocked unconscious for the time being. However, I gently nudged her with my foot. She didn’t react, which was good. It was simply one of the rules I’d learned in Training. Kick ‘em while they're down. That way you’re sure they’re not getting back up.
All of a sudden, I heard footsteps nearing. Panicking, I froze. Not something I would’ve normally done, but it wouldn’t look good if someone came in and saw this scene. They might move up my execution. But the footsteps grew fainter and fainter. I breathed out a sigh of relief. I was safe, momentarily.
Quick as can be, while still being careful to move quietly, I searched the guard for anything that could be of help to me. I found the Taser, a ID card, and Bonus! A ring of keys. Not many people used those nowadays. ‘Cept for prisons. Those would be helpful in getting out.
When I straightened up, I saw myself in the mirror. My vibrant red hair was all mussed up, my green eyes sparkling with adrenalin. But the part that stood out the most to me was my bright orange jumpsuit. Some tiny part in the back of my brain commented on the fact that I really could pull off this color, but I squelched that thought with another. I’m too noticeable.
Turning around, I looked for a way to disguise, or at the very least, hide the color of my jumpsuit. Then, my eyes fell on the fallen guard. More particularly, her navy blue suit. Bingo.
A few minutes later found me exiting the stall, wearing navy blue instead of orange. I threw the jumpsuit at the guard, still lying on the ground. Seeing her sparked another idea. I dragged her into a stall and handcuffed her to the toilet. Ripping apart my bright orange clothing into strips, I gagged the woman. No use for her to yell for help and uncover my escape. Finishing up, I checked my appearance in the mirror one more time. I didn’t look too out of the ordinary, so I was good.
The door creaked open slowly and I grimaced at the sound. Poking my head out, I checked to see if it was clear. It was.
I took a deep breath to calm myself and stepped out into the hallway.
Safe to say, I made it out of there without any meetings, encounters, or sirens. Three doors and four hallways later found me a transportation pad. Sighing at the fact of how unbelievably easy it had been to break out, I stepped onto the pad. If I was ever reinstated, I would have to recommend that someone fix that. The guard’s ID I flashed at the scanner.
It came to life at once. “Destination, Miss Davis?” came the feminine voice. So the guard’s last name had been Davis. Could be possibly useful information.
“Um…” My mind went blank immediately. Where to start? All this planning, and now I’d forgotten where to go. Good thing this entire plan was pretty much making it up as I went along. “Uh, the West End Station. New York, New York.”
“1127 Golden Boulevard. Please step onto the marked area.”
I did as I was told and immediately the pad lit up. As I was dissolved into atoms in preparation for transport, I heard alarms blaring. My disappearance had not gone unnoticed for long. That was the last sound I heard before it all went black.
Somehow, I managed to land on my feet. As I appeared in the Subway station, the regular hustle and bustle of the crowd was already in full swing. I stumbled off the pad and onto firm ground. Experiencing what so many jokingly call ‘Translag’, I moved around to a newsstand to get my bearings. Okay, so next stop–
“Can I help you, officer?” asked the man behind the counter. He was muscular, in a t-shirt with visible tattoos running up and down his arms.
Assuming he’d seen my suit and assumed, I lied, “Uh, no. Just having a little time off.”
He smiled and gave me a look as if he knew what he thought I was going through. “Work driving you crazy?”
“Yeah, you could say that.” I examined the newspapers, searching headlines, buying time.
“Sometimes I get that, too. Work drives me crazy. Crazy enough to kill.”
There was just enough emphasis on that last word that caused my head to snap up. He was still smiling, the little freak. But now that smile looked more feral, more wild. More deadly.
He went on. “But you know what that’s like. Don’tcha, Miss Smith?”
And that was when the panic hit me. He knew me. My mind raced, and as you should know, no good comes of having to improvise in a sticky situation. With no other option at the moment, I pulled the Taser out of my pocket and aimed it at him. The newer ones looked more and more like a gun, so I was counting on the fact that he’d assume it was a real gun and be terrified. It did the job, but just barely.
His eyes widened fractionally but that infuriating smile was still on his face. “People are going to see your weapon.”
I jumped over the counter, all the while keeping the Taser pointed. “Guess we’ll have to make this quick, then.” I was counting on the fact that I was in a uniform and holding a ‘gun’ to get me some time before the real police were called. The weapon was pointed directly between his eyes and held unwavering in my grip. I had to get this information out of him. “How do you know me?”
“Well, you ain’t exactly unpopular,” was his response. “Plus, I knows you were in jail.”
“Do you know who put me in there?” I could hear the panic starting behind me. I didn’t have much time.
“No,” the man said, but his eyes flashed to the left quickly, then back. A tell-tale sign of lying.
I grabbed his collar and shoved him back into the wall. Now, normally, this wouldn’t have worked, but adrenalin was on my side for now. Jabbing my Taser into his stomach, I hissed, “If I shoot now, it’ll be a longer death. So, tell me. What do you know?”
There was a spark of fear beginning to kindle in his eyes that told me I was getting somewhere. At the same time, I noticed a tattoo creeping up his neck. Pulling the collar down, it revealed a tattoo I’d thought I was finished with.
“Jesus,” I breathed. “You’re with the Black Death.” Morbid name for a gang, I know. It was also one I’d thought my department back with the police had taken care of.
“I knew you knew us. So you know that there are people out there who hate you, then, don’tcha, Miss Jailbird?” sneered the man.
A quick peek over my shoulder revealed an almost empty substation. No cops. Yet. “Who framed me?”
“Wouldn’t you like to know?”
My eyes narrowed. I didn’t have time for this. “Wrong answer.” With that, I pulled the trigger, sending an electric jolt into the man’s stomach. He cried out in pain and tried to collapse, but I had a firm hold on his jacket. “Let’s try this again. Who. Framed. Me.” I enunciated each word with a harder jab to the gut with the weapon in my hand.
“Wrong answer yet again.” I pulled the trigger once more. The man was crying now, and a suspicious dark stain was creeping over the front of his pants. Well, that’s what happens when that much electricity is forced throughout your body; your bowels tend to release. “I’m not sure you can take another shot. Shall we get the right answer this time?” I whispered furiously.
To this, there was no response. My finger tightened around the trigger. “One.”
“I don’t know nothing!” he cried out.
“Lies!” I barked. “Two!”
The man’s eyes seemed to widen farther now, knowing what was about to come. I could practically see the argument in his head, debating whether to inform me or not. Yet still nothing came out of his mouth. The muscles in my arm seemed to tense as I got ready to pull the trigger for a third time. “Three.”
“No!” he exclaimed. “No, wait! Antonio Pascual!”
And now we were getting somewhere. My mind spun; I’d heard that name before. “Pascual…” Then, the connection hit. “Jesus. The leader of the Death?”
The man shut his eyes, water streaming from them, and nodded. I let him go and he slumped to the ground. Pathetic, I couldn’t help but think. Ratting out your leader just like that. Kicking him as I moved around the newsstand, I heard the unmistakable sound of police sirens. They were here.
I’d like to say that I fought off all the policemen and women single-handedly, that I bravely battled my way out. In reality, I ran.
Years of living in New York City finally paid off. My mind raced to keep up with my sprinting. Up the corridor, round the corner, I plotted out, remembering the layout of the Subway station from years of traveling the city. A ladder suddenly appeared in front of me, and I took it, recalling that it would lead me up to a manhole covering. It was my best bet here, seeing as the police would probably close down the regular exits, carefully screening who came and went.
Hand over hand, up the ladder I went, finally reaching the heavy metal cover. Without pausing, I pushed it up and squinted as my eyes hit fresh sunlight. I pulled myself out of the hole automatically. There was no traffic – on the ground, at least. Within the last thirty years, vehicles had taken to the air. There was now a permanent fog layer on the ground, reaching up about three feet, making all businesses and homes move their entrances up to the second floor. Long and complicated business, when they could’ve just gotten rid of the fog… But I digress. My thing was, as long as I stayed down in the fog, they’d be hard-pressed to spot me.
Keeping low, I crept through the silent streets. Sure, there were plenty of sounds above me, but the fog layer seemed to blanket it all. I was completely alone. It was strange. As I moved, I figured out my next step. I’d need a change of clothes, definitely. Maybe a weapon, as well, seeing as the Taser was running low on fuel. And information. The problem was: was there a place I could go to get all three in one? That’s when it hit me. I’d have to go to Ryan’s place. My ex-fiancee.
Well, I thought, That's just great.
After trudging the three miles to Ryan's place, I was faced with a problem. Looking up, I could see the porch sticking out of the second story. I sighed. Nothing could go easily for me today, could it?
Resigning myself to climbing up the fire escape like some common criminal, I reached the window to Ryan's apartment. What used to be my apartment, too. My eyes searched through the curtains, trying to make out shapes and such. When one moved, I took a risk and rapped once on the window. One of many risks I'd taken today.
Thankfully, someone up there was taking pity on me all of a sudden, because it was Ryan's face who appeared at the window. He didn't look shocked to see me, either. He just stood there, arms crossed over his chest, frowning at me.
“Ry, let me in,” I said through the window.
“Give me one good reason, Celeste,” retorted a man whom I once thought I was going to marry.
“Because I was set up by the Black Death.”
Ryan looked at me with a look of total disgust that had my heart breaking. Again. “Nice try, but we took those guys apart years ago.” He'd been on my team when we were sent in to dispel the gangs of New York City.
“Apparently not all. Does the name Antonio Pascual ring a bell?” The look on his face said enough. He remembered the man we hadn't been able to catch, sure, but he wasn't going to let me in for dropping his name. “Please, Ryan. I need help.” It was a pitiful spot I was in, pleading with my ex to let me in.
His face softened, slightly, and he shook his head. “Biggest mistake of my life,” he sighed, but I didn't think he was talking to me. Moving closer, Ryan unlocked the window and opened it, then stood out of the way.
I crawled inside, stood up, and said, “Thank you.”
But his arms were crossed over his chest again and he was almost glaring at me with a stony indifference. “You have two minutes to convince me before I call the police.”
It was my turn to sigh and I launched into the details of the case, pointing out that I'd had no motive, no reason to kill that man. Then, I told him about breaking out and cornering a member of the gang by sheer luck. “He gave me the name after a little bit of persuasion and I needed more information before I did anything else.”
“So you came here?” Ryan asked. He'd remained silent throughout my entire story, still in the defensive position.
“Because I knew you kept the information we'd gathered on everyone.”
“Jesus, Celeste.” He ran his hand through his messy brown hair.
“Do you believe me?” I asked, that pleading note still in my voice. It'd been in it all throughout the recounting, as if I needed him to believe me. Which I sort of did.
“I don't know what I believe,” replied Ryan, honestly.
We stood there for nearly ten minutes while he waged a private battle within himself. “What do you need?” he sighed, finally.
A small smile appeared on my face. “An address for Pascual and a change of clothes. Please.” No use asking for the weapon; he wouldn't give it to me.
Ryan looked at me, then shook his head again. “Don't get your hopes up. I'll give you the information and a five-minute head start. I have to call the police, Celeste,” he added, looking at my face. “It'll be aiding and abetting a criminal if I don't.”
“I'm not a criminal!” I cried, not for the first time.
He just looked at me sadly, then left the room. Presumably to get me the information. “Clothes are in the closet in the spare room,” he called over his shoulder as he left.
Going straight to the spare room, I cautiously opened the door to reveal that it still looked like I'd been living there. Pictures of Ryan and I were on the dresser. My books were still on the nightstand. And, yes, my clothes were still in the closet. Picking out a pair of jeans, a white tank top, and a black overshirt, I moved to the bathroom to change. All of my stuff was in here, still, too.
After changing, I went back to the spare room, my attention focused on the picture of Ryan and I. It was taken when we went vacationing in Florida. It shows the two of us smiling, his arm wrapped around me, the beautiful beach behind us. Smiling sadly at the memory, I removed the picture from the frame and pocketed it. It'd be a good memory to keep with me.
“Celeste? You done yet?” Ryan poked his head in the room as I turned around.
“Yeah, Ry. You get the info?”
He came fully into the room now, with a couple of pieces of paper in his hand. “Here it is. The last known address for Pascual was 2901 Volk Road.” Ryan handed over the papers.
“Thanks,” I repeated, grabbing the papers held out to me. Moving out of the room, I stepped around him and went back to the window. My boots from earlier were still there and I slid them back on. They were sturdy enough to keep going. I looked around once more, than turned back to the window. “G'bye, Ryan.”
One leg was over the windowsill when he stopped me. “Wait!” I turned and looked back at him. He was standing close, with a bag in his hand. “Take this.” Ryan gave me the bag and I realized it to be the 'To-go' bag I'd kept packed by the door in case of emergencies. Before all this happened. “There's a nine mil in there, with extra ammo.” I looked up at him, confusion written all across my face. He came forward, kissed me on the forehead, and told me, “Be careful.”
I smiled and nodded before climbing all the way out the window. As I stood on the fire escape, Ryan called out the window, “Oh, and the head start begins... Now!”
Chuckling to myself, I moved quickly down the escape and into the fog once again.
Next stop: 2901 Volk Road. To find Pascual and hopefully clear my name.
You don't really want to know what I had to go through to get to that address. I will just say this: Fog? Really boring after about 2 miles. Try fifteen. And you're trying to keep down to about three feet tall while flinching each time you hear a noise. But I digress.
The great stone building loomed in front of me, a specter rising out of the mist. Creepy enough as it was, factor in that the building was in the part of the city we cops liked to call 'No-Man's Land'. It got downright spooky. But I needed to do this; I finally had a chance to prove my innocence. I just needed to get Pascual to confess.
Yeah, I know, easier said than done.
Hiding in the shadow of another great building, I dissembled and reassembled my gun, making sure it wouldn't jam on me. I also loaded the thing. I wasn't going to walk into the center of Death Central unarmed. No way.
As I sneaked around to the building's front, I saw that things would be different here. 2901 Volk Road had an entrance on the ground. Gritting my teeth, I walked towards it, feeling relieved that there were no guards. Hopefully, Pascual wouldn't know I was coming. He couldn't really, unless the man from the newsstand had snitched me out. But that would mean letting up to the fact that he told me Pascual's name, which would inevitably get the man killed. No, I figured I was safe.
My gun was out as I walked through the revolving doors. I scanned the room before moving on, past the front room. There was a long hallway, with a door at the end. Somehow, I could feel in my gut that that was the room Pascual called his office. Sooner than I'd realized, I was there, at the door, waiting to go in. Something stopped me, making me wonder if I had been set up. This entire thing had been too easy.
It was then that the door opened. By itself.
I nearly jumped a mile, scared out of my own skin. Jesus, I thought. I would never get used to the year 2141 and the technology we had now.
I stepped into the room, gun out at the ready. The room was empty, so I moved farther in. The door swung shut with a thud and I flinched, turning around. Only to find myself looking down the barrel of a pistol.
“Put your weapon down, Senorita.” It was Antonio Pascual. He'd been waiting behind the door, ready for whoever came.
I did as he said, flipping the safety on and dropping it to the floor.
“Kick it away,” Pascual commanded. Once again, I did as he told me. The gun skidded across the room before coming to a stop beside a large bookshelf. “Sit down.” There were several large arm chairs in front of the long desk, so I sat down in one of those. Pascual moved around to sit in his desk, the gun never leaving it's sights on my forehead. “You know, truth be told, I was wondering when you would come.”
He spoke with a slight Spanish accent, making me wonder as to his origins. Giving a brief chuckle, he looked me in the eyes. “You were cutting it fairly close, though, were you not?”
“I'm not sure what you mean.” Not many people could talk with a gun pointed at their heads, especially in the hands of a killer. Thankfully, I'd had plenty of practice in this situation, given my old job as a cop.
“Well, it is Tuesday.”
I failed to see his point. “And?”
“Were you not scheduled for the chair on Thursday? I had hoped you would get your act together and get out before then. This confrontation was one I have been planning.”
That little... I struggled to stay in my chair, and to not leap out of my chair and throttle this guy. “What?” I managed to get out, my fury at being caught thoroughly seeping through my voice.
“I knew you would break out, senorita. Only time could tell when. I was merely being sure that I would not be caught unaware. And you deserve a round of applause. You were able to get my name without having me to leak it. Although I'm afraid our mutual friend, Leon, will have to go.” I assumed that Leon was the member at the newsstand.
“Why?” I spat out.
“Because he is untrustworthy, of course. Anyone who cannot stand up to a bit of electrocution now and then is not worthy to be a part of my society.”
I closed my eyes briefly. His society? Sociopath, more like it. “That's not what I meant.”
“Then, what did you mean?”
“Why did you frame me?” That obvious question was one that'd been on my mind for ages.
“Ah, so we have gotten to that point already? Very well.” Pascual stood up and gestured with the gun for me to do the same. We walked towards an empty wall. He pressed a button and the wall split in half, revealing a giant glass window. All we could see was a bunch of fog and the abandoned buildings that rose up out of it. There were no Hovercars around here, making the entire area itself seem empty.
“Are we supposed to be looking at something spectacular? 'Cause, no offense, but the view sucks,” I retorted. He seemed as if he were off his guard now. If I attacked... No. I'd wait until he'd told me why. But I might not get another chance...
As I battled myself internally, Pascual began talking. “No, this is nothing spectacular. However, it was once. This entire area was once my territory. The territory of the Death. Oh, we were magnificent. No one dared cross us, for fear that we would retaliate. Which we always did, of course. But then, something new happened. The NYPD invaded our lovely homeland, raiding homes, offices, everything. We were caught off guard and were unprepared. Hundreds were caught in so-called 'illegal' activities and were thrown in jails. Many others were evicted from their own homes. All under the order of one person.” He turned to glare at me. “Do you know who this person was?”
That snapped me out of my mental reverie. “That was my job. Y'all were causing harm towards the other people in this city, and we had to take you out. Was that the reason you framed me for murder?”
“Because you decimated over half of my people?” He chuckled, a deep, scary sound, that I have to admit, made shivers run up and down my spine. “No. I framed you for murder because of my son.” I racked my brain hard, trying to think of what happened to the kid. “His name was Felipe Santiago. He took after his mother in so many ways, and, eventually, he took her last name as well. But, when you and your people raided my territory, you took my son and you threw him in jail!” Pascual spat out at me.
And suddenly, I remembered. Felipe Santiago. He was taken into custody for murdering a young woman... and given the death penalty.
“So now you remember,” sneered Pascual. “I thought it was only fitting that you get the same demise of my son. He would like that, Felipe would. The person who murdered him getting killed herself.” The man laughed one more time and then sighed. “It is too bad, really, though. I had wanted to come and watch your death in the chair. Did you know it can take up to seven minutes for someone in the chair to die? Seven minutes of excruciating pain. And now, it will only take a few seconds. What a shame.”
He was going to kill me here and now. As Pascual brought the gun up, I counterattacked, stepping forward and grabbed his arm with the gun, twisting it into a wrist lock. I brought my knee up and smashed it into his wrist, once, twice, three times before he lost his grip on the gun. It went skidding across the floor, landing near my own. With speed that surprised me, Pascual brought his free hand up and delivered a powerful backhand to the side of my head that made me release him and stumble backwards.
There was a quick, shared glance between the two of us before we both dove for the guns. Somehow, we reached them at the same time, neither of us quite in reach of a gun, however. So, Pascual improvised to buy him time. Grabbing a glass paperweight that had been on his desk, he smashed it down, right where my head had been. I had rolled to the side just in time; even so, shards of glass flew around me, catching in my hair. I continued the roll, coming up into a crouch, ready for any other attack he would throw at me. But Pascual had gotten to the guns, and he was now holding them both towards me, one in a slightly weaker grip. His wrist was probably broken from my knee.
“That was certainly a nice try, senorita. But it is I who will be standing after this is all over.” He smiled at me. “It was nice meeting you. I have a feeling if we had not been forced to meet like this, under these circumstances, I would have certainly liked you. Adios, Celeste Smith.”
With that, he pulled the trigger. A split second within each other, the bullets spat out of the gun and were hurling through the air straight towards me.
Natural survival instinct took control at that moment, making me duck instinctively. And, as luck would have it, I was standing in front of the window. Surprisingly, the bullets bounced off and came hurtling back into the room. I cried out in pain as one grazed my shoulder, taking out a bit more flesh than I'd have liked. But, as I stood up, I saw that I had gotten the better deal. The second flyaway bullet had hit Pascual in the throat, and he was lying on the ground, possibly breathing his last breath.
Somehow, I made my way over to him, my left arm protectively cradling my injured right. I saw him struggle to take one last breath, then Antonio Pascual's eyes glazed over. He was dead. And so was any chance of me getting my name cleared. I had had no way to record what he'd said, so there was no proof that Pascual had really killed that man, not me. In the eyes of the police, I was still a killer.
On manual, I grabbed my gun, found my bag beside the door, and left the office. I was on my own now. Just a woman who'd gotten caught on the wrong side of the law. One who had nothing to lose now. I was ready and dangerous. I would not be caught off-guard ever again. And I would make sure to keep one step ahead of everyone else.
I would be a survivor, in a place where those were rare. I would live. Pulling the picture of Ryan and I out of my pocket, I knew right then that life would never be the same again.
Well, good thing I like change.