Away, Chapter 4

Tara Gumpper, Writer

Make sure to read chapters 1, 2,  & 3 before reading this! Find them under the name ‘Tara Gumpper’ in the Staff section of the Falcon Press website!

Chapter 4

“What was that?” Meia whimpered, clinging on to me.

“A gunshot.” I said in disbelief. Even though I knew this journey would be dangerous, I didn’t think it would come with gunshots

“What do we do?” Meia asked.

Another gunshot rang out through open fields, this one seeming much closer than the last.

“Run!” I said, and bolted away from the sound of the shots. 

“Kara!”

I turned around, and realized Meia was far behind me. Shoot. I’m faster at running — and I had just left Meia in the dust to save my own skin.

“Sorry,” I replied, jogging back to my sister. 

“What do we do?” She cried. 

“Get on my back.” I said. “Put the knapsack on your back. We have to run together — if one of us gets left behind, that person will probably be killed.”

Meia’s face paled.

“Sorry, sorry.” I said quickly, trying to comfort her. “I didn’t mean it like that. You won’t die.”

“I know, Kara,” she said solemnly. “Just run.”

Meia hopped on my back, and I bolted. But, the gunshots just kept coming closer. We needed to hide out somewhere. 

“Kara!” Meia exclaimed. “I can see the highway!”

“You can?” I asked. Route 431 was a deserted, raised bed — and there were spots where the asphalt hadn’t settled that well, creating a hideout for us.

“Kara, go to our left.” Suddenly, a bullet whizzed past my ear. 

Meia screamed. 

I ran faster, even though I thought I had well past my assumed maximum speed.  Soon, the highway was in my view. 

“Hurry up Kara!” Meia shrieked. “The gunshots are getting closer!”

Suddenly, I heard a scream, but I couldn’t tell whether it was I who was screaming or someone else.

Even though my heart was pounding and my legs were burning like a wildfire, I pushed myself to go faster. Soon, I was only a couple of feet away from the highway.

Another gunshot rang out into the air, and I slid into a pocket of hollow asphalt. 

I let Meia down, then collapsed.

“Kara?” Meia asked. 

“What?” I replied breathlessly. “Don’t make me talk. I’m too tired.”

My legs were burning, searing with white-hot pain. I turned towards the hole in the asphalt, and I could see the soldier and his horse pacing outside.

Meia looked at me, tears filling her eyes, and pointed to her leg. 

A bright red stream of blood was dripping down her calf, and lodged in the epicenter was a bullet.

“I was shot, Kara.” 

My face paled, then quickly snapped back to attention.

“We have to get you to a doctor,” I said. I opened my knapsack and took out the pillow and the bag of rice. I took the pillow out of the pillowcase and put the rice into the pillowcase. I wrapped the empty burlap rice bag over Meia’s wound.

“That will help it for now,” I said, “but we have to get going.”

“Okay,” Meia said solemnly, and nodded.

I waited until I heard the horse’s footsteps die away, and then I looked outside. It was a miracle that the soldier didn’t notice us slide into the asphalt.

“Let’s go,” I said, and slipped out of the asphalt. But Meia couldn’t get out; she couldn’t even stand.

“Kara, you have to take me. There’s no way that I’ll be able to walk.”

I hoisted Meia onto my back, but she still winced. “It hurts bad,” Meia said, frowning. 

“You’re going to have to deal with it, I’m afraid,” I said. “I’m sorry. The nearest hospital is at mile marker 47, but we’re only at 34. We’ll have to walk around thirteen miles.”

“Just walk, Kara. My leg is killing me.”

I started walking along the highway, but we were going along at a very slow pace. My legs had basically been worn out from running away from the soldier, and I felt like I couldn’t walk even a few steps. 

But I had to.

By the time we’d walked around thirteen more miles, the sun was setting, and the crickets started to chirp.

“We should almost be at the hospital exit,” I mused.  “It has to be around here, somewhere.”

“I see the exit!” Meia said. “It’s right there.” She pointed somewhere to our right. 

“But it’s only trees,” I said. “There’s no exit there.”

“But I see the signpost!” 

I looked at the signpost. “You’re right,” I said, finally seeing the road. But then I realized that there may be a huge problem.

“Meia, the hospital may be deserted, just like the trees overran the road.”

A tear slipped down Meia’s cheek. 

“I just wanted to warn you, just in case there’s no hospital.”

“Okay,” Meia squeaked. “Okay.”

I turned down the road and made my way through the exit. A large red ‘H’ glowed up ahead. “Meia!” I exclaimed happily. “The hospital is still there!”

And even though my legs were screaming, I broke into a run. 

Lots of cars were in the parking lot, and I saw a tired-looking nurse walking out.

I ran up to the nurse. “Please!” I pleaded. “My sister got shot in the leg. Where can I go?”

Even though she was leaving, the nurse immediately snapped back to attention. 

“Come with me,” she said, and led us into the building. “I need a bed for this girl, now!” She said to another nurse.

“Yes, right away,” the other nurse said, and led us down the hall.

I placed Meia onto a clean bed, where the nurse looked at the wound. “It’s pretty bad,” she said. “Who did this to you?” 

“Long story short,” I said, trying not to give away too much. “The police in Zlitovich, which is where I used to live, aren’t happy with us, and one shot my sister.”

The nurse looked at my face with interest. “Are you Kara…”

I cut her short. “Yes. And this is Meia. Please don’t turn us in!” I begged her. “We’re innocent. The government is really messed up. Please!”

“I will help,” she said. “I’m Nurse Rita. And honestly,” she whispered. “The police aren’t that protective and quite rude.”

“Thank you,” I said gratefully. “Is there a doctor who can help my sister?”

“Yes. You can wait in the waiting room while the processes take place.” 

“Thank you, thank you thank you.” I said, and made my way back to Meia’s bed. “You’ll be fine,” I said to her. “Help is on the way.”

I walked to the waiting room, and sat down patiently. 

Not long after, Nurse Rita came into the room with Meia, and turned to me.

“Luckily, she’s absolutely fine and the procedure went well. But the doctor recognized her and called the police. They’re on their way. You have to run.”

I gasped, and as I did so, I heard the blaring of sirens pulling up outside.