Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Running Away Pt. 1

Emma sat in her seat on the bus staring out the window with bloodshot eyes. Every once in a while she would shift in the cloth seat in an attempt to get more comfortable but it was a moot point. Comfortable was a word that she hadn’t known for a long time. Being on this packed bus with people she didn’t know was the last place she wanted to be but it was necessary.
The man next to her remained silent for the ride, glancing at her every once in a while. She refused to meet his eyes with hers. Instead, she just watched the rolling hills change to flat desert out the bus window. An audible sigh slipped out which caused the man to finally speak up.
            “Are you okay?” he asked and she rolled her eyes still looking out the window.
            “What was that?” she asked turning to look at him despite her instincts.
            “I asked if you were okay… you don’t look like you’re okay…” he genuinely seemed concerned with her well being.
            “I’m not…” she said flatly then turned back to the window.
            “I know you probably don’t want to share what’s wrong with a complete stranger, but I’m actually a very good listener.”
            “You’re right I don’t want to share,” they pulled into a rest stop.
            “Well it just so happens that I haven’t had the best existence either, so I might know what you’re going through,” he started to get up off the bus.
            “I severely doubt it…” she got up, following the rest of the people off the bus and into the rest stop.
            “Well if you change your mind I’d love to buy you a cup of coffee.”
            Emma couldn’t help but roll her eyes again and walked into the rest stop. Once in line to get a coffee, she checked her purse to see how much money she had. There was very little left and she couldn’t use her credit card yet. She wasn’t far enough away from the police station; they still could be following her. Sucking up her pride, she turned to the man who was now behind her in the line.
            “I guess I’ll have that coffee,” she said determined not to look into his eyes.
            “Gladly,” he smiled stepping in front of her in the line as she adjusted her bag on her shoulder.
            He then bought them both coffees and she was then compelled to sit with him. For about 3 minutes they didn’t talk, they didn’t even exchange names, until he finally spoke up, “I’m Matt by the way,” he smiled and extended his hand.
            “Emma,” she said pitifully sipping her coffee, not moving her hand forward to shake his.
            “So you’re not going to tell me anything are you?”
            “Nope, I don’t know you, and I don’t like to share my personal problems with strangers…” she said looking away, wondering if this coffee was worth putting up with this Matt guy.
            “So where are you going? Visiting family?”
            “You could say that…” there was a growing feeling in the pit of her stomach that told her something was off about him.
            “Is that why you’re so down? Don’t get along with your family?”
            “Listen, Matt… I don’t know you and you don’t know me so let’s quit with the 20 questions,” she stood up from the table flinging her bag back onto her shoulder.
            “Just trying to make conversation,” he said standing up with her, “I’m sorry if I’m making you uncomfortable. I’ll stop; we can talk about something else.”
            “You’re good,” her lips curled into a smirk.
            “What?” he asked, “What do you mean I’m good?”
            “Nice try; you know exactly what I mean. You think I don’t know who you are?” she said backing slowly away from the table, “Your belt has a dent in it,” she gestured to the indentation in his brown belt, “From a gun holster.”
            “Look I don’t know what…”
            “Cut the bullshit… You also have a back up gun around your ankle; I can see the outline of the strap. And last, no guy who was trying to hit on me would want to talk about her family right away. If that’s your strategy with women, I’m guessing you don’t usually get past first base do you… detective?”
            “Talk about good…” he said smiling, walking around the table, “You’re incredibly observant Ms. Carmichael.”
            “Either that or you’re incredibly bad at your job.”
            “I think it was the first one,” he smiled, “Now you’re not under arrest, we just want to know where your brothers are.”
            “Sorry to disappoint you but I really don’t know where they are. I don’t even know how the whole thing went down. I left before the end…” she said swallowing hard to keep from getting emotional.
            “Yeah I know, and I don’t want to put you through anymore grief than you have to. You are pretty much innocent in all this as far as we can tell. The other hostages said you were with them the whole time and that your brother got you out of there as soon as you started to bleed…”
            “Yeah he did,” she said quickly stopping him, “And that was the last time I heard from him. So I’m sorry but I really can’t help you.”
            “Well if you really don’t know then where are you going?” he asked raising an eyebrow.
            “Like I said before I don’t like to share my personal life with random strangers, especially when they’re pumping me for information. Now if you don’t mind I’d like to use the rest room before we get back onto the bus.”
            “Of course, but if I do find out that you’re withholding any information from the police, you will be arrested for obstruction of justice.”
            “Really?” she asked sarcastically, starting to the bathroom, “I’ll see you back on the bus in a little bit.”
            He then smiled at her and she walked over to the bathroom. It was cleaner than she expected with four bathroom stalls, two sinks, and the thing she was looking for most: a window. A few tears fell from her eyes but she quickly wiped them away. Her boyfriend’s words echoed in her head, how he actually thought that it was her fault. More than anything she wanted his voice out of her head. Despite the echoing, she shook her head, slung her bag across her shoulder, opened the window, and jumped up onto the radiator. She then shimmied through the window, fairly easily since she was no longer carrying the baby weight.
 Once she was out of the window, she made sure she pulled it shut.            She looked out to the back of the rest stop where she saw a huge hill that seemed to go off into nowhere. She remembered seeing a sign right before the rest stop, which stated the next town was only 3 miles. If anything, she figured she would walk there and catch a ride from someone. She couldn’t risk being followed again; she needed to make sure she was vigilant which was something she had been lacking as of late.
            Emma ended up walking for what seemed like hours, but really it wasn’t more than about an hour. She walked into the small town and saw that there was a gas station. As she walked into the gas station store she looked around vigilantly making for sure that she wasn’t being followed. A couple with a small child was buying gas; they looked as if they were passing thru. All the pain and sadness was pushed aside as she put on one of her many lying faces and walked over.
            “Excuse me,” she said talking to the couple, “I don’t mean to bother you, but my bus left without me and I was wondering if you were heading out of town.”
            “Well we are but…” the woman said looking at her husband.
            “Look I’m trying to get to my brother’s funeral in Phoenix,” she lied, “But I understand if you don’t want me in your car, especially with your child. I realize it’s not very easy to trust strangers.”
            Emma feigned defeat and walked off towards the gas station exit. Before she could reach the store, just as she planned, the husband called after her, “Miss wait.”
            She turned around to face the man, a look of despair on her face that was not faked at all. He was about to say something, but he couldn’t get the words out. It was as if he was second guessing himself with his choice of words.
            “Look, we live right outside of Austin, Texas so I guess we can take you that far,” the man said smiling.
            “That would be wonderful,” she forced a smile, “Thank you so much you have no idea what this means to me.”
            “No problem,” the woman said, who had obviously been the one to convince her husband to take Emma in the first place, pulling the small child towards her.
            Emma noticed the child was squirming around in his mother’s grasp, struggling to go back towards the candy aisle. Tears started to well up in Emma’s eyes at the sight of the child but she choked them back. The couple led Emma out to their car, where she got into the backseat with the boy.
            The car started and with that started the extremely silent car ride to Austin. Emma noticed the boy kept looking at her and smiling. The bubbled in her stomach that she felt when she had met Matt returned but were even worse. She noticed the boys hand clenched upon the seat like a claw, and concern mingled in with the unsettling feeling. As soon as she looked up into the boy’s eyes his smile curled into a sneer and his eyes rolled back into his head turning as black as night. Emma stifled a gasp and turned to look back out the window at the growing darkness.

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