Chapter 20

Note: Again, sorry for the long delay. School's officially over for me and I know that must mean more time for writing, but I've been too busy lying around doing nothing that I didn't have time to write . . . I know it sounds silly, but hey! I wanted to get this story finished before I move on to other things, so here goes . . .

We lay crouched on the ground for almost ten seconds as the dust and debris settled around us. As projectiles were still flying around, Mike got up and pulled me up as well.

"We've got to hurry. . . Come on!" shouted Mike over the noise. This was caused by two things: the alarms that had gone off all over the facility as soon as the bomb exploded and the guards running all over the place, shouting orders to each other. Some of them were running toward the burning hangar, but most were just running as far away as possible.

This of course was to our advantage and we were able to make it to one of the army issued jeeps without much notice. I couldn't believe what was happening. Just about a minute ago, I was about to die, and here I was running away from something that you only see and should only see in the movies! The comforting thing was that the only three people who knew about the chip would have all died in the blast.

The engine was still running and we hopped in. It had obviously been abandoned by one of the guards. Mike tossed the briefcase into the back seat and started to drive the vehicle. Personally, I would have liked it if the chip was anywhere but here, and I said so to Mike.

"Don't worry," he chuckled, "I'm not interested in any chips, and I don't know anybody in the Russian mafia . . ."

This was supposed to make me feel more comfortable, but after what I'd been through, I still wasn't so sure. Anyway, it was better than leaving it lying around for somebody else to find. So I thought about more pressing matters.

"What are we going to do now?"

Mike was concentrating hard on the road and I had to ask him again before he heard me.

"Well, first of all, we have to get out of this place," he said, still concentrating on the road ahead. We were driving along a wide paved road with nothing around us but bare land and a few trees. I looked behind and could see the base in the distance. A few cars and jeeps were trailing a few hundred meters behind us. I wasn't sure whether they were after us or just trying to get away as well.

I told Mike about this and we turned right into a narrow dirt track that pulled off from the main road. After a few minutes, I turned around to look again and there was no one behind us.

"So where are we going?"

It had been a couple of days since we escaped from the base and we were still on the road. We ditched the jeep and 'borrowed' a black Mercedes. I wasn't one for stealing, but I guessed the people who owned it could afford a new one. We couldn't drive around in an army jeep anyway! It all seemed a little surreal to me, sort of like a strange road trip. We didn't talk much and I spent most of the time getting some sleep and eating all I could. Getting kidnapped is hard work!

"Well, I'm trying to get you home," said Mike fumbling with a map that we found in the glove compartment and also trying to drive at the same time.

Home was all I was thinking about since we escaped, but how I was going to get there I had no idea. All I wanted was to first get away from that horrible place. Now that I learned Mike was taking me home, I was overcome with joy.

"Really? That's great!" I was so happy. "But I thought we would have to take a plane or something?"

"No, we can drive there. It'll take a couple of days though. I'm not too keen on going to an airport, anyway."

"Hey, that's ok, I always wanted to go on a road trip!" I couldn't help but smiling from ear to ear.

Mike was smiling too. At that moment, I couldn't help but feel a slight crush on Mike. I couldn't believe it. I knew about Stockholm syndrome, but this was really weird. Not forgetting the fact that he was almost fifteen years older than me.

I switched on the car radio and looked out the window to try and clear my thoughts. Right now, all I wanted was to get home.

The car came to a halt a few blocks away. It was almost 2 o'clock in the morning but I could recognize my neighborhood

"Well, this is it," said Mike.

"Yeah, I guess so." I wanted to see my family so much but I didn't want to leave either. The days we spent on the road enabled us to get to know each other pretty well. He talked about his life as a rock climber and how his career move came about and I talked about school and my crazy hopes and dreams of adventure, but his stories were always better as those things had really happened to him.

"You'd better get going," he said, "Your family must be going out of their minds . . ."

A tear managed to escape my eyes. I quickly brushed it aside.

"I want to thank you," I said trying not to burst into tears, "for everything."

"No. It was wrong of me to take you in the first place. I did what I had to do."

"But you risked your life and I thank you for that."

He gave me another one of those smiles and leaned over and kissed me on the forehead. He opened the car door and swung it out. I got out and closed it. And then I remembered something. I leaned in through the window.

"Will I ever see you again?"

"Well, would you like to?" he asked with a grin.

I thought about it for a millisecond. "Yes."

"Then maybe you will," he said with a final smile as he pushed the button that rolled up the open window.

I turned away and started walking toward home. In the movies, people tell you 'not to look back.' I couldn't help it, so I looked back. But the car had already disappeared.