“Hey, Gee!” He smiled at me, looking like he wanted to come a give me a hug but not being able to move from his position.
I smiled at him before closing my eyes again, defeated by how horribly woozy and tired I felt.
I snapped my eyes open to see Ray looked worriedly at me. I just rose my eyebrows at him and tried my best to keep my eyes open.
“We have a problem…” Mikey spoke and I turned my face so as to look at him.
Both he and Ray were looking into the far distance behind me where I couldn’t see.
“What is it?” I asked, trying to strain my head to see behind me but only making the desert around me jump and move oddly around us.
“We don’t know. We couldn’t see it when the sun was still up but now … It looks like a fire!”
A fire? As in other people, other rebels maybe? Or the enemy, no, they were too clever for that! Maybe …Frank. The very force of that one thought gave my arms this sudden strength and I propped maybe up so as to see behind me. I could see the small orange flames in the distance accompanied by a few other fires. An army of rebels? Maybe this was the uprising that the enemy were so set against. Or maybe it was …
My eyes lit up and I turned to Ray who recognised the hope in the light of my eyes.
“Base.” Mikey nodded at Ray’s word, giving me a small hopeful grin.
No other had dared speak the words. We had been running for months, for what sometimes felt like a lifelong journey, where we had seen nothing but desert. And while we had all decided that we would just run, all of us had the image of the base in our heads as we set out across the desert. The sanctuary. The safe place. We had stayed there with our families, trying to regain some sort of normality by creating new lives after the world had been turned upside down. Until Lindsey, Bandit and the others had been taken. We had gone after them and none of us would ever fully recover from the images of our loved ones dying and screaming in front of our very eyes. But base was the safest place we could be. The other rebels were there and Dr D would be there too. Ray had fixed the transmitter some days ago but we had received no broadcasts so assumed they were laying low. Maybe there were waiting for news of our safe arrival with our families in tow. But still the idea of cooked food and a warm bed was enough to make me sit up fully and study the lights more closely. Sure they looked like fires but it could be escaped lights from the windows, it could be fires lit deliberately to guide us home.
“Gerard, it’s not safe. We don’t know what’s out there!” Ray’s warnings were enough to still me for a moment but then another idea came to my head. Frank. Had I really seen him before, when I had blacked out? I thought it was just the hallucinations but wasn’t there every possibility he could be at the base? He could be safe and waiting for us! Waiting for me! This single thought brought me to my feet and I stayed stood up, forcing the world to stop spinning. Ray held me close to him so as to stop me from moving but I needed to get to Frank. He was so close and if Ray was going to stand in my way then I would have to stop him. But I was still too weak.
“Ray, I need to get to Frank!” He looked at me with pity but tried to cover it quickly.
“There’s no knowing if he’s there. There’s no knowing that we’re not walking straight into a trap!”
I was about to defend myself when Mikey’s quiet voice sounded in the darkness. We had almost forgotten he was there.
“It’s either walk into a trap or wait til sunrise and have them spot us anyway. Or we could run. And then what? We have no water, we wouldn’t last longer than a few more days. This is our only chance!”
We looked at him in shock for a second, both of us silenced by Mikey’s wise words. Mikey just waited for our response, looking suddenly old again, wise beyond his years. He cracked a smile and gave us both a wink, the years falling off him just as quickly as they had aged him.
“Hey! I’m allowed to be clever sometimes!” I grinned at him and looked at Ray, who sighed and pushed my arm more tightly over his shoulders before moving towards Mikey. He helped my brother to his feet before readjusting his arm so that he was carrying both our weights. I looked into the faces of my brother and one of my best friends and it occurred to me this might be the end. They seemed to think the same as they looked back at me. I quickly studied the dips and curves of Mikey’s thin face, his cheekbones and the way his hair hung loosely from behind his ears, clumps stuck together from months of sleeping on the ground. Ray’s hair was as full of life as ever but the past few months had visibly changed us all, including him, the wrinkles around his eyes and on his forehead more pronounced from the worry. I breathed out and smiled at them, causing Ray’s lips to twitch and Mikey to grin broadly at me.
“If this ends badly, I’m blaming you!” Ray muttered, his smile bigger on his face even though by ending badly, we all knew he meant death.
He starting to walk and I did my best not to drag my feet as we went. Mikey stayed quiet despite the effort moving caused him, his bite hidden by his jacket but the pain still registering on his face. As the fires grew closer, Ray’s stride began to get faster and faster and there was no hope of me trying to walk for myself now. Nevertheless, his pace didn’t alter and he carried on nearer and nearer, despite the fact we could now all see what lay ahead. Mikey gave a whimper and Ray seemed to be on the verge of tears while I was just open mouthed at the horrible sight which was met with my eyes. Ray stopped walking when he literally couldn’t walk any further, the nearest pile of rubble stopped his progress. He let go of both of us, causing both me and my brother to flop to the ground. Mikey caught himself just before he hit the floor, using his arm to steady himself but I was too late and hit my head hard on the floor, feeling the skin break in a way I should now be used to. I moved a hand up to stop the steam of blood and used the other to pull myself up so as to steady the sight in front of me. Not that I was sure I wanted to see it. When the ground stilled, the sight brought stupid tears to my eyes.
Our base lay in ruins and the fires were scattered in the rubble. The walls and ceiling, the floor and windows, the doors and sacred equipment that had been collected for our use were lying broken, crumpled and forgotten in the dust. Dirt and dust seemed to hang around on the ground but refused to settle despite the fact the damage looked to have been done several days ago. The piles of rubble and dirty golden brown of the sand wasn’t enough to hide the bright red which glistened on almost every surface in sight. Bodies lay dismembered and slashed all around, faces turned towards us, accusing and sad. Some heads were without bodies while some limbs seemed to be trying to half pull themselves from the rubble in an effort to find their long lost owners. Just a few metres away lay a large figure, whose body was coated in the dark red colour, bugs and small animals had started to settle around him and flies almost blocked off the face from our view. Almost. Dr DefDefying lay dead just a few feet from us yet no one made any attempt to reach him, to reach any of the rebels. They were all dead; they were long past our help.
There was nothing we could say that would make this any better. We had no water and now our last hope was gone. I couldn’t raise my eyes to look at either one of them because I was failed them as a leader and I couldn’t bear to see my look of despair mirrored back at me. I could hear the sounds of Mikey crying and my heart shattered into a million pieces at my feet, never to be mended again. Our last hope was gone.
Suddenly, gunshots sounded all around us and masked figures leapt on us, pinning us down. I saw two jump onto Ray and watched as one of them used their gun to knock him out, hitting his straight between the eyes. His eyes rolled into the back of his head and his last sight was of my face, panicked and scared, I couldn’t help him. Mikey screamed as the majority of the attackers went for him, pulling him to his feet and pulling his hair back so his tear stained face was visible for them all to see. He looked at me as one of them pointed a gun to his neck and his eyes grew wide. I ignored the attackers as they pulled me to my knees instead focusing on Mikey.
“Poison!” He screamed at me as the hand holding the trigger pushed the gun further into his neck.
“STOP!” A fierce voice came from somewhere in the distance and I watched as the attackers parted to allow a small figure through. His mask was pulled up to his eyes and he walked casually up to the attackers surrounding Mikey and shoved the gun bearer hard so they fell down to the ground with a thud. The others looked shocked as the small figure looked Mikey up and down. He found his belted arm and tutted at the bite, carefully tracing it with his finger, causing Mikey to whimper in fear as what he was about to do.
“Leave him alone!” I was surprised at the strength in my voice and the attackers near me jumped at the volume of it.
The small figure turned his back to Mikey and walked slowly towards me. He pulled at a clump of my hair and I winced at the action. He giggled and my mouth opened at the noise. No, it couldn’t be! He gestured to the others to put me down so that I fell onto my back. He knelt down til his face was an inch from my own and drew his mask from his face with a quick tug from his delicate fingers. His lips moved close to my face and he giggled again at the surprise on my face.
“Hello again, honey!” He whispered.
Frank drew up to his full height and expertly kicked me square in the head so that the world became dark.
A/N There will be a New Memories: Part 2 coming at some point. I hope you enjoying reading as much as I enjoyed writing this! :)