The day I turned 16 was the last time I saw my house, my family, my hometown. I hadn't had a real home in a year and a half. Why, you might ask, would a minor be living on their own, wandering from town to town, getting cash whatever way possible? Well, it wasn't exactly my choice. See, there was this guy. Actually, there were a few guys, and they were all trying to kill me. I don't exactly know why. Something about a 'family feud' and a scary 'employer'. I never stayed long enough to find out. Over the years, I'd mastered the life saving arts of hiding, blending in, and running away. Mostly at night. Night was the best time to travel long distances, and, since I couldn't afford a bus, that night, I was walking. And walking. For hours. On a highway. The long night walks usually woke me up, put me on alert for any signs of danger. Tonight, however, I was falling asleep on my feet. My foot-steps were uneven, my shoes caught on small rocks or branches in my path. I didn't notice the bike behind me until it was only a stone's throw away.
I whipped around, aware that if the person on the bike was a threat, I'd be toast. With nowhere to hide, and only highway around us, they'd shoot me before I was ever in fighting range. But I didn't hear any gunshots, and they didn't seem hostile, so maybe there was just a random person, biking on a highway in the middle of the night. I didn't move, didn't start walking again, until the bike came to a stop in front of me. It was a girl. She was my age, probably, with short, dark hair hidden under a grey hoodie. She looked me up and down for a moment, as I eyed the red bike. It wouldn't be too hard to push her off and ride away on it, and I could go twice as fast. I wasn't above such things, but I guess abandoning a young girl in the middle of nowhere was cruel to even my questionable morals. Instead of shoving her off the bike, I broke the silence. "What the hell are you doing here?"
She looked surprised, but quickly composed herself. "I could ask you the same question." I suppose she expected me to answer first, but there was no way I was telling some random girl my life story. She, apparently, didn't have such qualms. "I can't be at home right now." Ah. Another runaway. "Abusive family," I asked. She shook her head. "Bullying?" "Not exactly," she said, sighing. "Someone is trying to kill me." That left me speechless for a moment. When I got my voice back, I cleared my throat. "Who?" "I don't know," she said, defensively, "There's a bunch of people in black uniforms, and they always find me, no matter where I go. I've been on the road, running from them, ever since my-" "Since your sixteenth birthday." Now it was her turn to be speechless. "How... how did you know that?" I took a deep breath. How could I not tell her? "Because it was the same for me."
We walked together that night, taking turns pushing her bike. I learned her name, Haylie, and I gave her mine. She told me that she had been running for a year, almost, town to town, so much like me. She told me that she hadn’t wanted to involve her family, afraid that they would get hurt. She told me that she was tired of always running, of taking care of herself. I ended up telling her a bit about myself, about my past. It was only fair. She’d shared so much with me. At one point, she looked over at me and smiled. “I never thought I’d find someone to talk to like this,” She said quietly, but the words still stuck with me. Someone to talk to. Someone who knew what I was going through. A friend. Friends were luxuries I hadn’t been able to afford since I left home. Even before then, all my friendships had felt plastic, canned. Never had I actually connected with someone, on a real, personal level. Maybe, that could change.
We ended up coming to a rest stop on the highway, cleaning up and bunking together in the building to try for a few hours of sleep. Haylie shared a thin blanket she had in her backpack with me. Before I fell asleep, I remember asking her if she’d ever spoken to one of the people hunting us, if she knew anything about the reason we were being followed so avidly. “I’ve talked to them a few times,” she admitted, sadly, “but they wouldn’t explain anything to me.” “Me neither,” I mumbled. “I wonder what they want.” I had, of course, wondered this almost every night since I turned sixteen, but I was hoping she would have a new perspective. When she said nothing, though, I closed my eyes. “Whatever it is, it can’t be good. Let’s hope we never find out.” She didn’t say anything, but I was quickly falling asleep, and I assumed she was in a similar place. When I woke, I found out how wrong I was.
By the time I finally opened my eyes, the sun was rising, my stomach was rumbling, and Haylie was nowhere in sight. Also, there was a gun pointed at my head. I stayed perfectly still and raised my hands slowly in the air. My eyes were scanning for escape routes, but I had been outsmarted this time. The black-clothed assassins had blocked every exit, every escape route, and already, there were two pulling me up, tying my hands behind me, pushing me out the door. And I wasn’t even fully awake. Outside, the light blinded me, but I could make out the car they were pushing me towards. I wasn’t focused on the vehicle, though. Standing next to it, talking to one of my kidnappers, Haylie glanced my way. She had changed into a black uniform, clearly aligning herself with them. Our eyes met, and guilt washed over her face. Good. She should feel guilty. She looked away as they pushed me into the truck, down at her feet, but I caught one glimpse of her as the doors closed, before everything went dark. She was looking up, at the sky, as the sun glinted off the single tear running down her face.
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This was a really good read and I encourage you to write more stories to post. I loved the ending and hope she dies. I hope they all die, except the good girl. Let her live.
Thanks so much! I think...