“Back door!” Sadie shouted at us as she sprinted towards the back.
We took off running after her making sure to stay one step ahead of the military. I could hear when they burst through the front door of the building and that only fueled me more. We burst through the back door like a bullet. Sadie led us down a back street after back street. By now all the street names were blurring together. All I know is that we were headed for the border.
Matt ran beside me, still shirtless and Chris was short behind. My head was throbbing and I could still feel the blood on my head seeping through the makeshift bandage. My tattered up swimsuit and swimsuit cover hung lose around my body. I wasn’t going to last much longer. I was either going to drop from exhaustion or loss of blood.
I slowed down and let Matt and Chris pass me. Matt stopped Sadie and Chris and they turned around to face me.
“Come on Chloe we’re almost free,” Matt said walking over to me.
“No I can’t go much longer. Just go on without me,” I replied.
“There is no way we are leaving you behind,” Sadie exclaimed.
“Look I’m either going to drop from exhaustion or loss of blood you guys just need to go.”
“Not gonna happen,” Matt said.
“What are you going to do huh? Carry me the rest of the way to the border?”
“If that’s what it takes I will.”
“That’s really sweet and all but there’s no way you’ll get very far with me playing monkey.”
“So we make camp and hide for the night,” Sadie suggested.
“No they’ll still find us. Look they are probably right behind us. You guys just need to go. You’ll have a better shot of getting free without me slowing you down.”
“Not a chance,” Matt said.
I could hear shouting in the distance and I knew if we stayed there too much longer we would all be in trouble.
“Let’s just move. It’s not a good thing when I can hear them,” I said starting to walk forward.
“Good,” said Sadie.
We continued to jog towards the border. We found a department store and quickly changed clothes. I grabbed an extra shirt to wrap around my head later. I didn’t make it very far after that before I got lightheaded. Matt had been staying pretty close to my side to make sure I didn’t fall.
Just before we reached the border my head go so bad that everything was blurring together and becoming foggy. I couldn’t tell where I was stepping or if I was walking at all. I took one more step and slipped. Matt caught me before I hit the ground.
“Sadie!” I could hear Matt shout. I could faintly see Sadie running towards us.
“Come on Chloe we’re almost there,” Sadie said as she grabbed my right arm.
With Matt on my left and Sadie on my right they continued to carry me to the border. Chris took point and led the rest of the way. ‘It’s no use,’ I thought. We’re going to die before we make it there.
I could feel my body begin to shut down and my eyes close. I remember looking ahead searching for anything. Any small glimmer of hope, that we may actually make it there alive, of course there was nothing but desert. I could feel my body go limp and I was gone.
“Sadie we need to stop!” I said.
“Why? We’re almost there Matt.”
“No Chloe’s stopped breathing!” I replied as I came to a stop and laid Chloe on the ground.
I was not going to lose her! I laced my fingers and started CPR. One, two, three, four, five… I continued to count up to thirty and breathed into her mouth. I kept repeating this process over and over. I’m not going to lose her not a chance!
“Matt,” I could hear Sadie say next to me.
I’m not stopping. I don’t care what that reporter says I’m not stopping. Keep going. Six, seven, eight, nine… almost there. Ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty. Come on Chloe. Twenty-one, twenty-two, twenty-three, twenty-four, twenty-five, twenty-six, twenty-seven, twenty-eight, twenty-nine, thirty! BREATHE! I breathed in deep and pinched her nose again and breathed hard into her mouth. I released and continued CPR.
“Come on Chloe!” I shouted.
“Matt she’s gone!” Sadie said next to me.
Completely ignoring her I continued to do compressions. Over and over not stopping.
“Matt the military is will be on us soon. We have to go,” Sadie said as she laid her hand on my shoulder.
“I’m not stopping okay! You got a problem with that you can leave!” I shouted just before I breathed into Chloe’s mouth again.
“Matt we have to go!” Sadie said trying to pull me away from Chloe.
I shoved her away and continued to do CPR. I did this for about another three minutes. I paused and thought for a moment that it was no use but I continued anyway. Just then Chloe started coughing but fell silent shortly after. I checked her pulse. She had one but it was faint.
“We need to get her to a doctor!” I said lifting her up off the ground.
“The closest one is across the border,” Sadie said.
“Well then let’s get moving and fast before we lose her again.”
We walked briskly towards the border. We couldn’t run otherwise I might stumble and drop Chloe which wouldn’t be good considering her current condition. When we reached the border there in front of us stood a giant wall.
“We’re going to have to climb it,” Sadie said as she started up the side.
“Yeah and how are we supposed to get Chloe over huh?!” I shouted up at her still holding Chloe tight against my chest. She was seriously cold and was shaking but at least I knew she was alive.
“We have to leave her. We’ll come back with a doctor and get her,” Sadie said continuing to climb.
“No way not a chance!” I said.
“Fine it’s your life not mine!” she said as she vaulted over the top and disappeared from view. Chris followed shortly behind her.
‘Great! Now what?!’ I thought. There was no way I was going to be able to hold onto Chloe and vault over the top of the wall. I’m out of options! Going back to San Diego was out of the question or any place close to that area. The only other solution was to walk to Arizona and that was almost a five day walk just into Phoenix! Probably longer having to carry Chloe, but it was my only option. Maybe I could find a ride with someone that would be willing to help. But that means I have to get to the I-8 which is back going in the direction of the city. Unless I walk along the border until I hit Jacumba and get on the I-8 there. Or I could walk to the I-5 which is really close and catch a ride there and make my way to Arizona.
The last plan sounds like a great plan but it’s going to be a long walk, plus I also have to get Chloe to a hospital. I don’t have time to lose. I can worry about getting Chloe to a hospital after we get a ride. I started to walk back towards the I-5 hoping not to be spotted by the military.
I was exhausted and sweaty but I wasn’t about to stop. After about an hour to an hour and a half later I reached the I-5. I kept my eyes open for any passing cars. I walked along the I-5 for about another thirty minutes before I saw a car pass me. I jumped up and down, with Chloe pressed tight against my chest, trying to get its attention. Just when I thought that it was gone for good, it flipped around and turned back towards me.
‘Yes!’ I thought. It pulled over right next to me and the passenger rolled down her window.
“Oh my gosh is she okay?!” the lady asked.
“Not really do you think you would mind giving us a ride to the nearest hospital?” I asked.
“No problem,” said the driver.
“Just hop in the back,” said the lady.
I opened up the back door and laid Chloe across the backseat. I slid in and put her head in my lap. Her head was soaked with blood. It cannot be good losing that much blood.
“So what happened to her?” the lady asked.
“We were in San Diego when the miss… I mean pipe burst. She got attacked by looters and fell when trying to escape and hit her head.”
“Wow, why didn’t you seek medical attention?” the driver asked.
“Because I thought I had the bleeding under control. Later did I realize I didn’t but by that time it was too late.”
“I’m so sorry. She must mean a lot to you,” said the lady.
“She does,” I said quickly then paused. “I mean… she doesn’t I just met her.”
“Look if you like her don’t wait to tell her. You should never wait to tell anyone anything because you never know when it might be there last day,” the lady said as she turned around in her seat to face the front.
The rest of the way we drove in silence. Chloe’s breathing was getting weaker. I could feel it. She was getting paler by the minute and colder. She wasn’t going to make it much longer before her pulse stopped again. She really needed to get that head treated and fluids in her.
I thought a lot about what the lady said. Did I like Chloe? I’ve barely known her more than two days! How could I feel anything for her? But here I am risking my life in order to make sure she lives! I will never understand how love works. See I’ve never had much luck with girls but Chloe seemed… different. Don’t ask me why but she just is. She’s easy to talk to and a good listener. Most girls just run their mouths and don’t know when to shut them but Chloe had a nice balance between talking and listening. I’ve decided. I may have only known her for two days but it was enough for me.
When we arrived at the nearest hospital we were just outside of Phoenix. I lifted Chloe out of the car, thanked the couple, and then rushed into the emergency doors. Nurses rushed out and brought over a wheelchair. I gently put Chloe in it and as one nurse pushed Chloe into the critical wing I retold what happened to another nurse. The same nurse told me to stay put and when they had any news they would come and get me. In the meantime I had to wait.
The worst part about waiting was literally waiting itself! The thought of not knowing was even worse. I stood there pacing back and forth for hours. ‘I can’t stand this any longer,’ I thought. I started to walk towards the critical wing when the doctor came out.
“How’s Chloe!?” I asked eagerly.
“She’s doing fine. You can go see her now, she should be wake. She’ll be in the recovery wing,” the doctor said.
“Okay, thank you,” I said as I took off down the recovery wing.
When I rounded the corner I started checking every room. Finally I found her in the last room. She was just waking up. I rushed over to her and sat down in the chair by the bed. I was trying to make it so when she finally came to her senses she wouldn’t be completely disoriented.
“You know you’re really bad at making entrances,” she said.
I started to laugh, “Well did you think you could lose me that easy?”
“Nah! Where’s Sadie?”
I sat there silently.
“She left us. She left us to die,” I said looking away.
“What no! She wouldn’t,” Chloe said trying to sit up.
I laid her back down, “Hey you just need to relax, okay. You’ve been through a lot.”
“I don’t want to! I want to kick Sadie’s…”
“Okay, calm down Fighto! You seem to forget that you about died,” I said.
“Look we need to get out of here before the military puts our faces all over T.V.”
“They probably don’t even know we were involved. Sadie was the only one on T.V.”
“Yeah but we were caught hanging around her earlier. Someone may have seen us and turned us in too!”
“You have quite an imagination.”
“No I’m a realist. Watch, turn on the T.V.”
I walked over to the T.V. and turned it on. All over the T.V. were pictures of our faces. We were wanted by the military for hacking into the government broadcast systems.
“Oh no,” I said.
“We’re too late! We have to go now!” Chloe said swinging her legs off the side of the bed and removing the IV’s.
“Oh no you don’t,” I said trying to stop her from getting up but instead she used me for balance.
“Would you rather be turned into the government?” She asked.
“No but there is no way you are going to last long without medical care!”
“I don’t care! We won’t be in any better shape if we let the military get us!”
I knew she was right but I didn’t want to admit it. We had to get way away from San Diego. Then I had an idea.
“Pick a state,” I said.
“What!?” Chloe said shocked.
“Pick a state,” I repeated.
“Umm… Wisconsin,” she replied totally confused.
“Okay then that’s where we are going to go.”
“Okay but where in Wisconsin!?”
“I don’t know. Madison.”
“Because it looks like home.”
“Like San Diego?”
“How would you know that?”
“I lived there for a while.”
“Yes now are you done using me as a crutch?”
“Sorry but you make a really good one.”
The truth was I wished she would still hold on but she let go slowly to make sure she had her balance. I grabbed the clothes from the department store but now they were fully washed. She walked into the bathroom and after a few minutes later she was completely changed. We started to walk out when we noticed military talking to the nurses. We turned the other direction and kept our heads low. We were about out when another group of military started walking towards us.
“Kiss me!” Chloe said.
“What?!” I asked.
Before I could protest Chloe leaned in and kissed me. The military turned the corner right as she did so. They walked right past and didn’t even look twice! Chloe pulled back and continued to walk out. I jogged after; my brain was still trying to process what happened. ‘Did she really just kiss me!?’
“What was that!?” I asked when we got outside.
“It worked didn’t it,” Chloe said calmly.
“How did you know that would work!?”
“I just did, it’s a girl thing.”
“Look are we going to stand around and debate this all day or are we going to get out of here?”
Giving up I shrugged my shoulders and said, “We need to find an ATM.”
“I was thinking the same thing. Oh and a shower! We look like we’ve gone through Hell and then back!”
“And we need our ID’s. I have mine but do you have yours?”
“No I left it at home.”
“That's ok we shouldn't need it.”
“Alright but we need to get out of the hospital parking lot first. We need to either find a rent a car or a taxi.”
I looked around and I didn't see either. I started to walk around the building to where public parking was. There in the back of the parking lot was a taxi! We started to walk faster over to it. I knocked on the window of the car. The taxi driver looked over at me, and then rolled down his window down.
“What can I help you with?”
“We need a ride to the nearest ATM and rent a car,” I said to the driver.
“Sure hop in.”
“And no cheating us got it. You take us to the nearest ones and not any further!” Chloe said.
“Yes ma'am. Don't worry I'm not here to cheat anyone especially someone who's got her head bandaged.”
Chloe ducked her head and slid into the backseat of the taxi. I slid in after her and shut the door behind me. The driver pulled out of the parking lot and headed down the street. I had no idea where we were or where we were going. But it didn't take long to find the first ATM. He pulled over next to it and I opened my door. I grabbed my wallet from my pocket and took out my card. I shoved my card in the ATM. It asked how much money I wanted to pull. I put in the amount and it was every last penny. $6,785 even. That should be enough to get us to Wisconsin and maybe get us a one bedroom apartment. Then Chloe got out of the car with her phone in hand. Her blonde hair was still tinged gray and her blue eyes were bloodshot from lack of sleep for one and the smoke from San Diego.
“What are you doing?” I questioned her.
“Pulling money. I found my card in the back of my phone case. No ID though. Oh well this should help.”
She slid her card into the ATM. I couldn't see how much she was pulling but I could tell it was a lot from the amount the machine spit out. She gathered up the money and started to walk back towards the taxi.
“How much did you pull?” I asked.
“Every last penny in my bank.”
“Which is how much?”
“Just about $13,000.” She said calmly as she closed the door on her side of the taxi.
I stood there with my mouth gaping open. I slowly regained my composure and got in the taxi. When I shut the door the taxi driver took off once more. We sat there in silence until the the driver pulled into a rent a car place a little further down the road. We payed the driver and headed inside to talk with someone.
“Hi how can I help you?!” the sales person said as he came up to us and shook each of our hands.
“Umm… well we have a quick question.” I said.
“No problem, ask away.”
“Well we were wondering if we could take any rent a car out of this state? Possibly to Wisconsin?” I asked.
“Well your not supposed to. I guess if you'd be returning it here it would be fine.”
“No we would not be returning.” Chloe said.
“Oh then no you could not. Sorry you’d actually have to buy a car.”
“Look please help us out a little here. What if we returned it to one of your dealers down there?” I said.
“No I'm sorry we can't allow that.”
“We’re wasting time! The longer we stay in one place the more of a chance that we will be caught. We need to get moving,” Chloe said.
“Sorry we bothered you! We’ll be on our way now!” I said as I steered Chloe towards the door.
As we walked outside I noticed five black cars lining the road in front of the rent a car. My eyes got wide as I realized who they were. Chloe kept walking toward them and without saying a word I grabbed her shoulder and dragged her the other way around the back of the car place.
“What the heck Matt?!” Chloe shouted as I continued to pull her along.
“We need to hurry up before they can block us off around back.”
“What are you talking about?!” Chloe shouted.
“Did you see those black cars out front?”
“Yeah what about them?”
“They’re the governments. We are already too late.”
“How are we going to get out now?!” Chloe said as she walked up next to me.
“I don't know but we have to get out of here first.”
As we rounded the corner more black cars lined the back alley. There was no where to go!
“RUN!!!!” I shouted at Chloe as I grabbed her hand and took off down one of the allies next to the cars.
We continued to run down the alley and made a sharp turn to the left. I tripped over my own two feet and went hurtling towards the ground. Chloe didn't see me and tripped over my legs and fell on top of me. Her faces was inches from mine. Her head was still bandaged and I could start to see the blood seeping through. Her blonde hair was a dingy gray and her blue eyes were like ice. She was breathing heavy and look like she wanted to sleep for weeks. Of course I didn't feel much better.
I could hear the soldiers running towards us down the alley and I knew there was no hope in getting away. At least without a distraction but there was no way to make one in this short amount of time. This is it. There's no where to go and no way out.
Chloe was still on me and she looked terrified. We both knew there was no hope in escaping them. They would always find us. There's no way to hide from the government. We could never be safe so long as we were fugitives. Chloe put her head on my chest, her breathing still heavy. I could start to see the soldiers barreling towards us. There really was no hope. In Chloe’s own little way she was absolutely beautiful. Even though she looked like she's been to Hell and back, she was still gorgeous. How can one girl make a guys heart skip a thousand beats?! It boggles my mind!
The soldiers stopped at us and looked confused but they didn't ask any questions. They drug us off the ground but Chloe still hung onto me. The soldiers cuffed us and lead us away to their vehicles. Chloe stayed by my side up until they shoved us into separate vehicles. I screamed at them continuously. Chloe tried to fight back but it was no use. We had made such a racket that they decided to put us in the same vehicle. We they got us seated she put her head on my lap and and sprawled out on the back seat. I kissed her forehead and the soldier shut the door.
Now we had no idea what was coming next.