We raced on hurriedly through the long grass. I could still hear the shouts of the soldiers at my back, trying to calm the fire.
“Where did you put the boats?” I asked. I did not want to continue running for a long time. I slowed down my pace to hear the answers of the others.
“It’s still at the same place from when you left it.” Toby replied.
I swore. “If the soldiers are gonna pursue us, we’re dead.” I said. “There’s no way we’re gonna outrun those fit soldiers. We’re already tired. We’d collapse first.”
“We don’t have a choice.” said Sophie. “We didn’t bring any supplies. That was stupid of us. We should’ve brought them. We’re not gonna last long out here with enemy soldiers all around.” I nodded while running.
“How did you get here so fast?” I asked Toby again.
Toby shrugged. “Ran here at our best speed. Left the boats where they were when Isaac came screaming to us.” Isaac instantly colored. I guess he still believed himself the manliest of the manly.
The shouts behind us got louder and louder as the soldiers raced towards us. I was already tired, but to stop running was to fall behind and to fall behind was to be captured. And to be captured? No one knows what happens after. Perhaps they executed you, or worked you to death in a labour camp.
“We can’t be go right straight back to Greyville like this.” I shouted. “We gotta go off track and lose them.” With that, Toby instantly jumped into the river. I froze. What was Toby thinking? I had no choice. I also jumped right in, and the sound of splashes soon followed my own.
Once in the river, I tried my best to have my eyes open. It didn’t help much, for the night was dark. The soldiers were still shouting, but I could hear less under water. This reminded me very much of the bee situation. Oh the bee situation. How I wish it was bees flying above the waters ready to sting me instead of soldiers ready to shoot me. How times have changed. I felt so lucky that the river waters were not clear. Unless the soldiers were seriously staring the water, they could not see me.
Toby touched my leg in the water and gestured to Greyville. He wanted to slowly swim back, I could tell. I gave him the ‘OK‘ sign, and gestured to Isaac and Sophie. I quickly got a gasp of air and as quietly as possible started swimming towards the city, the last haven of freedom.
* * * * *
We climbed up to the banks of the river, right next to the Greyville naval defenses. I coughed and spat out river water. It had not been a fun swim. Our mission was accomplished, however. I took pride in that as I helped Toby pull Isaac out of the water. This one was near dead, exhausted from the swimming. I thanked myself for having been in the school swimming team.
A councillor in command quickly strode over to us.
“I take it that you were the ones sent out to destroy the enemy supply building. Did you succeed?” We nodded back.
“Great job!” The councillor was about to give Toby a pat in the back, but stopped when he noticed just how wet his clothes were. “You should go get changed and rest.” The councillor said. I nodded again. You didn’t have to tell us that. We’d have done it anyway. We walked back to our tents. I grabbed myself a new set of clothes and walked towards the central bathroom. When I got there, I stepped in and began my shower. Hot water ran through my skin and I felt pleased and calm. I had helped my country towards defeating a tyrant today and pride was in my veins. I silently thanked Mayor Philip for having been thoughtful enough to install water heaters in the central bathrooms. I slapped some shampoo over my hair.
That was when I heard the explosion. I panicked, but still continued my shower. Probably just one of those attempts at the walls. Nothing scary. Suddenly, however, the alarms went off all over the city. I cursed out loud. The alarm meant everyone was to go to their positions. Suddenly, someone was running outside, saying, “Come out right now and get to the walls! To the walls!” I barely had time to close the water tap and put up my pants. Where was my shirt? I looked around quickly, trying to find it. “Hurry up, whoever is in that room!” someone shrieked from outside. Damn. Not enough time. I ran out.
I found that Toby was also outside, albeit fully dressed. Together we raced for the river walls, and I quickly popped into my tent to get a shirt. By the time we reached the walls they were full. The councillor there, whom we just met not so long before, told us to go to the land walls. “There’s nothing go on here. Get to the land walls! That’s where they need help.” We did as he said and got to the walls, and we saw what was happening.
A whole section of the wall had collapsed, and enemy soldiers were already rushing in. Gunshots could be heard all over and everyone was struggling to hold the streaming mass of people.
Toby and I stood watching as suddenly, someone threw in a bucket of a liquid. I couldn’t see what it was, but it soon set on fire and the whole wall opening was engulfed in flames. People from both the enemy side and our side instantly lit and ran screaming insanely, fire all over their bodies. I stood there, staring. It was a horrific sight. Suddenly, the enemy disengaged, pulling back from the walls. The fire was still burning.
“Every member of Greyville, please meet in the town square.” the loudspeaker soon announced. It was not repeated, but everyone heard, and soon everyone was moving towards the place.
Mayor Philip stood in the middle once again, as everyone crowded in to hear. His expression was stern. The rest of the councillors were also surrounding him, and his bodyguard encircled him. Everyone was talking all at once, but soon the mayor held out his hand, asking for silence. This was given by the populace promptly.
“Citizens of Greyville!” he cried out, his voice clear. “You have fought well today as the enemy continued to try to destroy our freedom. I have been watching and I am proud.” I was puzzled. The mayor would not have called all the people here just for this, especially because the enemy had just retreated. It was dangerous still.
“Despite our best efforts, however, a total of four breaches have been made on the inner land walls.” said the mayor, his voice loud and clear. “The enemy had been beaten back when these breaches were set on fire, not permitting any of them to come through, but the enemy have found weaknesses in our walls. They will come again. We are no longer able to hold them.”
Immediately, the crowd erupted into a great fury, jeering the mayor. The mayor had never looked sadder in my eyes. He held up his hand, asking for silence, but this time it was not given. The jeers grew louder still, until finally one of the bodyguard shot into the air and peace returned.
“We have done our best, but it is not to be. Greyville will fall, despite our efforts. There is no getting around that. We can, however, delay the fall long enough for everyone to escape. The council has quickly made plans. We will not allow any of you to go as sheep for them to slaughter. We have enough arms for all of you to take; in fact, we also have grenades ready for any group that wishes to conduct guerrilla activity.” The crowd did not interrupt again when the mayor paused. His chest was heaving, for some reason, and he seemed exhausted to speak. Suddenly, the mayor fell down to the ground.
This time, the crowd erupted. A councillor cried out loudly that it must be his heart, and everyone went mad all at once; the bodyguards of the councillors were hard-pressed to keep everyone from running over each other and yelling. Finally, a councillor grabbed a loudspeaker and spoke through it while the bodyguards each held out his gun, read to shoot if the chaos was continued. Mayor Philip was hauled away to the hospital.
“Please return to your tents and pack up. Send a person or two to take one gun for everyone in your group. Everyone is to leave the city together at the same time tomorrow morning. The enemy has not besieged us carefully. There is an opening through the riverway.” With that, the councillors quickly strode away from the angry mob.
I glanced a look at Toby. He said nothing.
“Well, better find where the others are.” I said. Toby nodded.
“We also need to get Anne.”
I nodded. “I’ll go get her at the hospital. You go back to the tent and find Sophie and Isaac. Send one of them out for the guns.” Without a word more Toby went off, and I walked towards the hospital. My mind raced. What would we do if Anne was not yet ready for moving out of the hospital? A million problems would arise. I rolled my eyes. Better not think of the future yet. As I entered the hospital I noticed how much it smelled. Not surprisingly. There were numerous wounded every day and a few of the air conditioners had busted up. Greyville had not been able to secure new replacements. Everyone sweated as they laid on their beds. I headed straight for Anne’s room. She was sitting on her bed.
“Have you heard the news?” I asked.
“Other than some pretty loud explosions outside, no. What happened?”
I quickly told Anne the news. She paled as I spoke, digesting in the information slowly. “We need to get out of here soon. Your leg isn’t wounded, is it? You can walk.”
Anne nodded. “The doctor is gonna release me in a few days anymore. Going out early probably won’t hurt. Where are we going?”
I realized that we hadn’t made any plans yet. “I don’t know,” I answered, “but I’m guessing we can go back to the national park.To be honest it’s safer there than anywhere else. I mean, we might think it’s crawling with soldiers, but everywhere is crawling with soldiers these days.”
“Agreed.” Anne replied. “I don’t have anything valuable here. We can leave right away.
“Don’t you have to tell the doctor or the nurse or anything?”
Anne shrugged. “I haven’t seen him at all today. Only a few nurses scurrying around. Lots of people left without telling anyone anyway.
Now that the city’s been ordered to evacuate they probably won’t care.” Together, we walked out of the room that smelled so badly of sickness and out into the fresh open. We strode through the chaotic city. People were running all over the place, and I saw that a lot were already heading for the walls, despite the fact that the councillor had clearly said that everyone was to leave together the next day. The councillor’s bodyguards were hard-pressed to keep control, as some people were stripping the buildings of valuables. The city was collapsing to anarchy. As I walked, I saw a man carrying a bag full of bank notes. It was just like those robber scene in the movies. I was a bit puzzled, because no one used bank notes anymore; after all, the economy had already collapsed since the revolution, and that man could only have got the bank notes from one place: the central Greyville treasury. I looked towards it in the distance. There were no guards and the doors were wide open, its windows broken. Clearly it had already been plundered.
Anne and I went through the tents until we finally reached ours. Toby had already packed everything up, and he handed my bag to me.
“So we’re leaving now.” I said without introduction.
“Yes.” Isaac said, striding over. “But to where, we still need to discuss with you.”
“I suggest the national park.”
Toby shrugged. “It’s the only place to go. We don’t have much of a choice, anyway. But here’s the thing. We don’t even have the tents anymore, and we don’t have the cabins. We’re going to need to make a camp for ourselves.”
An idea sprang to my mind. “Aha, I know.” I said. “The last time we were in the park, we focused on being mobile and such. It was easy to thrash us out. What if we go to the other extreme? Use heavy wood. Make a camp that’s indestructible. Have holes that we can poke our guns from. Our own little fortress.” I said. To my surprise, Isaac nodded right away. Immediate agreement was not easy to get from a person like Isaac.
“How?” Sophie asked. I groaned and shook my head.
“I have no idea. We’re gonna have to figure it out when we get there.” I said.
Toby groaned, but nodded. “Alright then. We better get moving quickly, before the enemy realizes that everyone in the city is on the move and comes in to wipe us out or something. We’ve already got the arms. Time to go.”