The trouble started when they threw the book in the fire. I gave it to them. Was that stupid? It didn’t seem so at the time. They started tossing it around and laughing. The bonfire blazed – light and shadow sending mixed messages I didn’t have time to figure out. I still don’t know whether it was an accident or if it was all part of some plan. There was one of those moments when time stood still, the world holding its breath, and then the pop of the casing cracking.
It happened so fast! No time to fish it out. No time to do anything but run.
Run I did. They had to know what would happen to me. I had bragged that I could live outside the city just fine. That I knew how to survive. That I didn’t need Father telling me what to do.
I had lied. Or, at least, I thought I had.
I was lucky. I picked the right direction. I passed over a dry riverbed and found an entrance to a cave before the hovercars could detect me. Okay, I fell into it, but it was lucky all the same.
Was this an amusing joke they played on all the stupid kids they wanted to get rid of, or was this a test? If I assumed the former, then I should make my way back to the city and explain to the guard what happened. He might take pity on me. Maybe. No. No, he wouldn’t. I didn’t have my book anymore. How could I prove who I was? Plus, I ran.
However, if I assumed the latter, then I should – What? What did they want me to do? This was all Addy’s fault. If she hadn’t shown me how to cloak my movements from Father, I never would have found them. I never would have known that I didn’t have to have the surgery. That there was another way. When she didn’t come back, I thought she had joined them.
I was wrong. Or, at least, she wasn’t around the fire.
So now what? There were still years before I was old enough to get the implant. I could have another chance before then. I could go back and plan and learn so that I could make another attempt…
Who was I kidding? If I went back – and if they didn’t kill me, which was a big if – then I would be put under constant surveillance. I would be in lockdown. Solitary for who knew how long. Father wouldn’t take that chance.
So this was it. My one chance. Was it that important to me?
I looked around. Caves were supposed to have water, right? Maybe if I went deeper I’d get lucky again.