Can Frank find Ray before everyone else risks their lives? Maps, plans, and would you like Frerard with that chapter?
The next few weeks flew by, and before I knew it, 4 of our 6 weeks had gone. Everyone had been busy training everyday, with Dr D occasionally joining us at meal times. Poison had barely spoken to me since that first night, and instead of upsetting me, it just motivated me further to think of a plan of how I could sneak out and find Ray. So far I'd worked out that we had one extra car than was really necessary, and if I could take one I wasn't stopping any of the others from being able to escape if needs be.
The problem was my ankle. I'd just been given the a-ok to be able to sit up and limp around. My rib had finally healed, although it was still painful, but I wasn't supposed to put prolonged pressure on my ankle. Maybe my determination for finding Ray would take away the pain when driving, though I doubted it. I was just going to have to grin and bear it if I wanted to save everyone's lives.
Also, there was the huge problem of not having seen any maps. At first I was going to sneak a peek during dinner; not everyone came to our group every night, so it wouldn't look suspicious if I was missing, and I could just sneak up to Dr D's office and have a look one night when he came to eat with us. The problem was the stairs. Six flights of them to the third floor where his office was situated, and that was no easy feat for someone mostly hopping about. I figured that he would have to show us all at some point before we left, and I would just have to leave soon after that. I just wondered how close he would leave it. What if he planned on showing us the night before, or worse, on the morning we left?
Mikey was well enough to join training properly, so it was mostly just me alone sat around all day, sometimes allowed on the shooting range they'd built up as that didn't require much physical exertion. It gave me time to think, well-needed planning. But it also gave time for my more negative thoughts to sink in. The masochistic ones, who blamed me for all of this. I was more than thankful for the sleeping pills Rocket swiped from his shop when he went on the run. He said he'd just grabbed anything which might come in handy, and almost didn't take them. I was glad he had. They're what were keeping me sane, keeping the thoughts away.
Today was another day of not being allowed to do anything, drifting in and out of a dream-like state. I had gone over my plan a hundred times, the issue would be once I got in there and had to improvise. I had no idea where they were holding him. I just needed to get him out and in the car, then they could kill me for all I cared, as long as he was safe.
Dinner that night was a drag. Everyone was laughing and joking, but they all had a look in their eyes that showed they knew they were going to die, and it killed me to look at anyone. I was staring down at my half-eaten food when he said it.
"Meeting in ten minutes. We need to start going through blueprints."
So tonight would be the night I would leave. Everyone nodded and hurriedly ate their food before clearing the table ready for the meeting.
"Okay. So we have these four main entrances; each of which is likely to have a number of guard, however this one here," Dr D pointed to a map he had laid out on the table, "this would seem to have less than the others. This is where we will make our entry."
"I think Jet Star may be being held in this general area, most of which is underground, probably quite heavily guarded. They'll want us to stop and fight, we just want to get him and go. Obviously we'll have to shoot our way through, but don't become so preoccupied with gunning down exterminators that you'll get yourself dusted. We want to be in and out, so we can try to build numbers and stage a surprise attack. Okay?" He continued.
"Okay." Everyone chimed in at once. Go in. Don't die. Get Ray. Get out. Simple, I thought.
Dr D told us a little more about the building, including a warning to us against using any elevators, which they could power off at any time, trapping us inside. He then told us we should get to bed in preparation for tomorrow's training, and I made my way to my living quarters, across the hall from the Nurse's station.
I pretended to take my nightly sleeping pill, hiding it under my tongue, and stared at the ceiling, waiting until everyone, except for those on watch, would fall asleep.
After an excruciatingly long time I couldn't hear anymore movement, and I got up, grabbing my ray gun and the clothes I had worn when Jet and I went into zone 3 to look for supplies. I might need to dress like a civilian once I get closer to Battery City, I thought. I left my room, as silently as I could with a creaky old door, and made my way outside. I knew someone would be patrolling the front and back entrances, but there was a small side exit to the school, which I'd found a couple of days ago, perfect for sneaking out.
I stayed close to the wall, in the shadows, as I sought out a car. I hadn't been able to steal anyone's car keys, but luckily no-one saw much use in locking vehicles, and I knew how to hotwire a car. I found a small two-seater. It looked like it would drive pretty fast, which was good. I needed to get as far away as possible before anyone could come after me.
As I went to open the car door I was wondering idly whether anyone would hear the car pulling away, when I heard a noise close behind me. I immediately raised my gun, trying in vain to see who was there in the pitch darkness.
"Drop it." I heard a familiar voice command.
"P... Poison? It's me..." I whispered. Shit. I knew he would have shot me where I stood if I hadn't spoken up to identify myself as a killjoy. It was too dark to make out features, and he could have easily mistaken me as a Drac. But would he let me go?
"Ghoul? What on earth..? What are you doing here?" I racked my brains to think of some sort of lie, something to get him off my back so I could try again tomorrow; but my mind went completely blank.
"Me? I... Er... I was going for a walk... Clear my head." I was a terrible liar.
"A walk? At night? On a still broken ankle?"
"Er... Well a limp, then. And I wanted to be alone, there are usually people going for runs for training during the day.." Maybe this could work.
"Why are you almost getting in that car, then?" Okay, maybe it wouldn't work... I dithered a little, muttering lots of 'ums' and 'ers', without being able to think of an excuse.
"Were you... You weren't going to try and get Jet, were you?" He asked incredulously.
"M-Maybe.. I got everyone into this mess, it's not right if everyone else suffers because of my stupidity."
He stayed silent, taking a step closer to me so I could actually see his face in the very dim light of the moon.
"Frank..." He whispered. "There's no way you would have made it back."
"I don't need to make it back. I just need to get Ray into the car so he could drive here. Then they can have me for all I care." I took a step, well, a hop almost, closer to the car and opened the door. "So... Goodbye, Gerard." My voice cracked a little, and I could feel tears in my eyes. But no, I wouldn't allow this to stop me. This was why I wanted to leave without a word, not having to say goodbyes. "You can... You can pretend you didn't see me, act surprised when everyone finds out, and just try to stall them and I'll get Ray back to you."
I ducked to get into the car, but a hand pulled me back.
"You think I'm going to let you go? Let you die?!"
I tried to shrug his arm off, had I really thought he would let me go without a fight? Well... He'd barely spoken to me for weeks, he hated me... Didn't he?
"I'm trying to get Ray back. That's what everyone wants!" I could feel myself getting angry, I just wanted to leave. "Just let me go! There's no use letting everyone else die when this is all my fault. I deserve whatever I get."
"You don't get it, do you? I'm not going to let you, Frank. It's a suicide mission. And... I can't lose you."
He pulled me fully out of the car, our faces tantalisingly close. I could feel his warm breath on my face as I stared into his eyes.
"So... You don't hate me for what I did?" I asked quietly, his closeness having a somehow calming effect on me.
"I... I was angry for a while." He admitted. "But you would never do any harm knowingly. It was a stupid mistake, and I couldn't blame you for it. And you shouldn't blame yourself, either." I felt his arms around my shoulders, pulling me closer. My heart started hammering into my chest as he pulled me into a hug.
No. I couldn't keep feeling this way around him. We both had families to try and find, an attack to focus on. But as he pulled away, still keeping his face inches from mine, all I could think about was pressing my lips to his. He stayed so close to me, I thought that maybe, just maybe, he felt the same.
"Frankie, you're my best friend, and it would kill me to lose you."
Of course. Of course he wouldn't think of me as anything more. I was stupid.
"But... Ray. I need to find him." I couldn't let go of what I'd come here to do.
"No. Frank, we'll find him. You'll never find him alone, and if they don't get all sixteen of us... Who knows what they'll do to him? You have to trust me on this, please. You have to wait and let us all go, we'll have a better chance." I nodded, feeling like I'd failed, but knowing he was right.
"Come on." He said, closing the car door. "My watch is over, let's go to bed." I followed him back into the school, feeling defeated. For all my planning, all my time spent preparing myself for death; I had failed. I should be on the road by now.
We got to my room, and Poison followed me inside.
"Er... Frankie... Not that I don't trust you, but maybe I should stay here... Just in case you feel the need to try your little plan again." He whispered.
I wanted to tell him I wouldn't, I couldn't, after what he'd said, but I wasn't exactly opposed to him staying in my room.
"Uh, sure." I muttered, stepping towards my bed. There was only one bed, and as much as I cared about him, I wasn't giving it up to sleep on the floor. Once I got into bed, though, I felt his arms around me as he slipped under the blanket behind me.
"Goodnight." He whispered, his body so close to mine that it took me a while to fall asleep.