“When will we reach the ward you mentioned?” I squint at Chance, my eyes sensitive from the bright sunlight.
Suddenly, a loud crack resounds in the air, making my whole body jerk with fright. Prickles rush over my skin.
I know that sound. It’s a gunshot.
I swing around in time to see Ethan drop into the wild grass. Aaron comes running as another loud crack thunders through the air.
Frozen with shock, I only move when Chance yanks me down behind the car. He shrugs the bag onto his shoulders and pulls the gun from behind his back. I’m still shocked out of my mind when he grabs hold of my hand, his grip so tight it hurts.
Ethan. What happened to Ethan?
Aaron slides in behind the car and crawls closer to us. His face is streaked brown with dirt. Sweat forms lines as the drops run down his face. He wipes at it, making a mess.
“Don’t move. Wait them out.” It’s the first time I hear panic in Chance’s voice.
Peeking over the car's trunk to the spot where Ethan fell. I remember the way his body went limp and dropped to the ground, and it sends shivers running down my spine.
“Wait who out?” I ask. “What about Ethan?”
Chance’s eyes jump between where Ethan is and the road we’re on. My heart drops as his features tighten with a tormented look.
It’s not panic in his voice. It’s worry. Dread.
“Trackers. We should’ve kept going. The ward’s not far. We should’ve–” Chance hisses the words out. “Fuck!”
His eyes scan the area again.
Five men come running across the field, and Chance’s fingers instantly tighten around mine.
“There they are. We have to run,” Aaron shrieks like a girl.
“We can make it to the gate.” Chance’s voice is clipped. His eyes jump between the five trackers and where Ethan fell. “Ethan!” His shout is loud and filled with desperation.
I flinch next to him. There’s still no sign of Ethan, but the trackers have changed direction and are running toward us.
“Ethan!” He shouts again, his breaths coming faster. “Fuck.” Chance looks at me, then at the spot where Ethan fell.
Suddenly, he wrenches my arm almost out of its socket as he yanks me up and forward. I hit the ground running, my muscles stiff and sore.
“What about Ethan?” I ask, tears welling in my eyes.
“Fucking run, Jai!” Chance barks, yanking at my arm again.
Aaron shoots past us, making me realize I’m holding Chance back. I try to pry my hand loose.
“Just go! Run,” I scream, unable to keep the tears back any longer as they spill over my cheeks.
I can’t have Chance risk his life for me. I remember running with Ethan and how quickly I got tired. The last meal I had was dinner at home, more than twenty-four hours ago.
But he doesn’t let go, his grip on my hand tightening even more until my fingers hurt.
Is Ethan dead?
Intense heartache floods my heart that’s pounding a mile a minute in my chest. I pump my legs harder when Chance yanks at my arm again.
There’s only the road ahead of us and the trackers behind us, and it fills me with intense fear.
We’re not going to make it.
I hear a crack in the distance, but luckily it doesn’t hit any of us. We all keep running.
Is Ethan still alive?
A sob builds up in my chest, making my lungs burn even more than my legs.
We run over the incline in the road, and only then do I see the ward. The gate is enormous, but it’s still a distance away.
At least it’s something to run toward.
My side starts to cramp, my breaths wheezing over my parched lips.
If I survive this, I promise I’ll run often. Every day.
I just have to make it through today.
There’s another blast, and something smacks into the road next to me. Some rocks shoot up.
“Faster, Jasper!” Chance yanks at my arm again, and I push myself to my limit.
I’m winded, and no matter how fast I breathe, my lungs aren’t getting enough air. They’re on fire, just a ball of flames like the sun beating down on my head.
There’s another loud crack, and not even a second later, my arm stings. I don’t scream or shriek. Tears keep flowing down my cheeks.
I tell myself I’m okay because the bullet smacks into the road in front of me.
I know I’m still alive because my legs are aching, and my lungs are still on fire.
The gate is right in front of us, and I can see it’s being opened enough for us to get in.
Come on! You’re almost there.
Aaron reaches the ward and hurries inside.
Ethan was so close!
My tears blur my sight as Chance flings me toward the gate. Another crack resounds in the air, and my cheek burns as I slam into the gate. Chance shoves me hard into the ward, then the gate slams shut with a loud thud behind us.