CHAPTER TWO

Things get thrown into my bag as I rush to leave. I have to get out of here. My legs carry me out of my room. 100 dollars flutter from my hand to the front desk along with my key to the room. I jump in my car and put the keys in the ignition, turning it on. Throwing the car in reverse I peel out of the parking lot. Back onto the interstate I go, my heart in my throat. They can’t find me. They can’t. Determined to get a good chunk of distance between me and the Society I weave in and out of traffic.

Twenty minutes into driving I notice a large SUV speeding up behind me. Their lights are bright and blinding making it hard for me to concentrate. I swerve and almost hit the car in the lane next to me.  I speed up and merge into the next lane to get to a lane that my pursuers can’t get to. The SUV also speeds up so they are right next to me. Panic rises inside me. I’m blocked in, nowhere to go. The SUV starts to careen toward my car side swiping me. I get knocked into the car next to me. The car behind me swerves into my attackers as I slam on my breaks.

With the sound of screeching metal they get hit into the wall of the interstate. This gives me enough time to drive around the stopped cars and merge back into the traffic. After a good five minutes I can tell that my stalkers are no longer on my tail. As I pull of the interstate I see a sign for a used car lot. I pull into the car lot taking in all of the available options. After about 30 minutes and 2,000 dollars I drive off in a older prius. One good thing to come from this is I get drive a car that I have wanted for a long time. Slowly I ease back on the interstate in my cute baby blue prius and drive to god knows where.

I have been driving for hours when I finally see the sign for Fort Collins Colorado. I have no idea where I am supposed to go, all I know is I have to go to colorado. I would be stopping soon to find somewhere to call my mom, but I can’t do that now. I am on my own. Closing my eyes I take a deep breathe and focus. Where would mom want me to go. I let my breath out and my eyes fall to my gas gage. I need to stop and fill up.  Stopping to get gas is terrifying. I don’t know where I am and I don’t know who here is in the society. Cautiously I look around taking in my surroundings. The mountains. I have never seen such an amazing beauty in my life. I had been to frantic to get away that I never saw the true beauty of what I had been driving in to. I lean against my car and begin to cry.

“Dani?” I jump at my name and turn right into the person who addressed me. Stumbling back I reach for my car door to flee. “Dani don’t run. I’m here to help you.” I grasp for my car handle behind me, but I can’t seem to find it. “I don’t know who you’re talking about but that’s not my name.”

“It’s okay Dani I swear I’m on your side. Your mom sent me.” My heart sinks as butterflies rise up in my stomach. “What do you mean my mom sent you?” The boy talking to me gestures to the inside of my car and we get in. Adjusting from side to side I take my helper in. His eyes shimmer and I can see the sadness in his eyes. He knows what happened. His fingers fidget with the hem of his shirt, and he lets out a sigh readying himself to tell me what I have to face. He begins to tell me what I already know, and a lot of information I didn’t know.

My mom is most likely dead and the society is ready to kill me to. Apparently The Society can’t control everyone’s Numbers and sometimes they slip up. My number apparently was programmed wrong. Mom had known the entire time and was trying to find a way to fix it before my Number had hit zero and the society realized their mistake. I had no soulmate. They made a mistake. I sit back into my seat and feel the weight of what truly is happening sink in. Before I know it hot tears roll down my cheeks.

When The Society messes up like with me they eliminate the threat. They don’t want us citizens finding out that they are flawed. There has always been entities trying to disband the society, but they have always found a way to stop the rebels before anything too bad happened. There is a new rising though. One filled with mistakes like me. My mom had found them and been in contact with them, trying to figure out a way to save me before The Society found out.

My new confidant looks at me waiting for me to say something. “ You never told me your name.” That’s the only thing on my mind? I internally smack myself upside my head. This boy just told me that my mother’s likely dead, I am a mistake with no soul mate, and I am on the run like several others, and all I can think to say is asking him about his name. I. Am. An. Idiot. The boy smiles “I’m Aaron! I know this is a lot to process but it will be okay. You can join us, we will protect you.” Smiling I agree, though the smile doesn’t reach my eyes. I have never felt betrayal and pain like this. My entire government has lied to me. I don’t feel like a citizen anymore. How can they make a mistake like this? I follow Aaron’s directions into the mountains.

We drive along the mountain on one of those roads you see cars careening off in T.V. shows. This is the first time I have ever seen the mountains, nevertheless driven up the side of one. My stomach does flips every time I have to turn with the mountain. We finally stop at on the side of the road and Aaron tells me to get out. Doing what he says we walk over to the side of the mountain. I watch as he takes out his cell phone and types a passcode into it. The ground starts to vibrate as the side of the mountain dissolves into an opening the size of a door.

What am I getting myself into. Aaron walks forward into the doorway then stops to turn around to see if I’m following him. Sure, why not follow some strange boy into a weird dissolving mountain to my death? Sounds like a great Idea mom, thanks for getting me into this. I follow my strange friend into a cement entry way that hollows out into a large open cafeteria looking room.
We are greeted two women both armed with guns. The first to approach us was an older woman who looked about mid 40’s. She was beautiful with long auburn hair and slate grey eyes. Her eyes even though they were beautiful they were haunted. You could see the pain she had endured. I looked down not wanting to stare for too long. My eyes grazed over her the top of her wrist. Where her Numbers should have been was replaced with a large keloid scar. I fight the urge to look down at my Numbers just then. Looking up I stare into the eyes of this woman, she has been through hell, and she is just like me. A mistake.

She greets me with a smile, “Hello Danielle, I am Evelynn. I am the one in charge of this little entity. We will keep you safe.” I know she means the words she says, and I do feel safe. She reminds me of my mom. I send a prayer to whoever is listening, “Please don’t let her be dead.” Evelynn walks me into the cafeteria room explaining that this is the main meeting hall. Every morning everyone gathers in this area to have breakfast and talk about what the day will bring. She talks with authority swinging about her gun as if it’s an extension of her arm itself.  

The other woman that walked up with Evelynn has remained quiet but has attached herself to the side of Aaron. She walks pressed up against his arm holding his hand. We all follow Evelynn around until we stop at a hall with several doors on each side.

“ Willow my darling, come here and show Danielle to her room. Danielle, this is willow my daughter. She is the one that you can go to with any questions. She will show you everything in your room and help you find some clothes you can change into.”

I follow Willow down the hall and to the left to a jet black door with a silver 10 on the front. I open it and the heavy metal door scrapes across the ground. Willow follows me in then shuts the door. She shows me around my fairly large room. This is way bigger than my college dorm. I have a comfortable looking full size bed, a wardrobe, and a large bookshelf full of books. To right of the door there is a bathroom with a shower toilet and sink. How they have plumbing inside a freaking mountain I have no idea. Willow explains all of my amenities and then tells me to take a shower, and when I get out I will have fresh clothes.

I can’t think of anything to say so I nod and walk into the bathroom and turn on the shower. Sitting on the toilet I place my head in my hands and allow myself to absorb everything that has happened. After my shower I walk out into my sleeping quarters, nicely folded there are two piles of new clothes on my bed. One pile of shirts and a pile of pants, all black and my exact size. I remove my towel and shimmy on my fresh clothes. The door opens as I am just pulling my shirt over my head. It’s Aaron.

I pull my shirt down as quick as I can and turn around. Aaron’s face is beet red with embarrassment, “I… I’m sorry. I should have knocked. I didn’t think.”

“It’s okay, this is all so weird. Did you need something?”  

“ Uh, yeah I was just coming to let you know everyone is starting to gather for dinner.” He scratches the back of his head looking down. I take this time to really examine this boy in my room.

He has a beautiful olive tone to his skin something my pale ass strives for. He lives in a mountain but his hair looks like it’s well kept. They must have a Hair stylist down here or something. His hair is is long on top with a nice fade down the sides. He has it slicked back, but it doesn’t look shiny. I would love to run my hand through his hair. His body is strong but lean and he has several tattoos on his arms. I look at his wrist to see the glowing green of his Numbers. They are zeroed out, which means he has already met his match. My heart falls a little. Aaron has a match, and I never will.

His eyes shine a bright blue. They show me that he has been through to much, that he is determined to do something about it. As I look at him my heart flutters a bit in attraction. Kids are allowed to have crushes and date before they meet their match but once they hit zero that is to stop. I know I shouldn’t feel this way but I do. “Oh, I will be right down.” I answer and he turns away just like that. For a moment I wonder how he has looked at me. What did he see in my eyes?

Down stairs back in the Cafeteria people are starting to gather. The rumble of voices begin to rise, there is anticipation in the air. I try to stay in the back and keep away from the attention. After about five minutes a hush comes over the crowd and Evelynn enters. She is as beautiful as ever and enters the room with certainty and confidence. Something every woman strives for she has with such ease.

“Good Evening everyone! I hope everyone had a wonderful day. As you know we have had some interaction with the society today, I just wanted to let you know we have it under control. No one should be worried! In fact we should celebrate! Today we had a beautiful young woman join us from the outside! Danielle, Please come join me and introduce yourself.”

This cannot be happening. I feel the heat rise up into my cheeks. I can’t believe she wants me to stand up in front of all these people. Slowly I feel like self rise and gravitate toward Evelynn. After a few steps I feel a hand touch my elbow. Willow smiles at me and whispers to me “It will be okay, I’m here with you.” We walk together up to meet her mother. Once we reach the front Evelynn smiles at me eager for me to talk.

I turn to face the crowd. At least forty people stare back at me with amused looks. I begin to tell them my name, how old I am, and why I am on the run. I half except them to reply Hi Dani in drone like voices, like in an AA meeting. They all whisper to each other about me all while my stomach is doing flips. I scan the crowd some have Numbers some don’t. I glance down at mine 4 days 6 hours and 33 minutes. My mind wonders why it reset in the first place. As I’m looking down at my wrist My numbers flash on and off twice then set to zero.

I stop talking and look up at Evelynn and show her what just happened. Calmly she dismisses everyone to eat and takes my hand. She leads me into a white operating room where she begins to explain that they are trying to tamper with my Numbers to find where I am.

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