Hello to my fellow 2034ians! Long time no hear! Sorry it's taken me so long to get up the next chapter, I have been EXTREMELY busy the past couple of months, and that brings me to my HUGE announcement and explains why I've been so busy:
I'M GETTING MARRIED!
Ok... Whew. Got that out of my system. It has been a crazy-in-a-good-way few months, after meeting the love of my life in December, and now we are planning a summer wedding. That being said, that means updates will be a bit sporadic, (when haven't they been?), but I will do my best to update and keep things going. I know that my readers will stick with me- they've shown their loyalty thus far, and I trust you will stay with me during all my craziness for the next few months or so.
Before we begin, I would like to do some shout outs from the last book!
ZEROWRITES: I am so glad that you found my book, and that you find it amazing! I am still amazed that this story originated from little me! I hope you will find the rest of the book intriguing, and will also find you love this book as well.
Anyways, I bet you are all waiting anxiously to know what has happened to the people of Braen, and our little band of Christians, so I will try not to waste anymore time, and let you get on with the story!
Oh, real quick AN here, I would like honest opinions about Josh's character in this chapter. When I started this book, I knew where I wanted it to go, but I had no idea where to start and what all would happen in between. So when Josh came up, I felt like he might have been out of character. I read it to my local writers group, and they said it was very much like Josh to react the way he did, but I just want to be sure. So, please, leave a comment and let me know if he is in character or not.
Well, I've taken up quite a bit of your time, so let's get this story on the road! I love you all, and welcome to "2034- Joshua, God is My Salvation."
Joshua: God is My Salvation
"Your father is unable to function in society. We will need you to come in and sign papers so we can take care of him for you." The female doctor on the other end of the phone informed Josh. His hand tightened around the small device against his ear. He didn't want to have to deal with his dad. And now his father was insane? Impossible. Yeah, his dad did have his quirks and mood swings, but that didn't mean he was insane, did it?
"Mr. Carmack, do you understand what I'm saying?" The doctor asked, and Josh exhaled through his nose before answering.
"Yeah." He nodded, even though she couldn't see him. "Yeah, I understand. Can't I do this over wireless instead of driving all the way in?" Josh glanced around the dark cabin. He hadn't left it yet, still wanting to cling to the memories of Lydia, even though he knew he should be out planning to rescue her dad.
"No, Mr. Carmack. We need you to come into the hospital and take care of this in person. We've been waiting weeks to get a hold of you so we can take care proper care of him, and this needs to be done as soon as possible." The woman replied in a terse tone. Josh sighed.
"Ok." He breathed, pinching the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger. "I will be in as soon as I can."
"Good. I look forward to meeting with you." The doctor replied, then hung up the phone, leaving Josh in silence once again. Josh lowered the phone and stared at the blank screen a few moments before ambling over to the dirty, brown couch and plopping himself down. He stared at the bare wall in front of him, memories of the past few weeks filling his mind. He really didn't want to see his father. He knew he would murder him the next time he saw him. There would be hell to pay for what he did.
Josh's shoulders rose and fell in another deep breath as he lifted his phone to thumb through it. He'd received twenty five phone calls and numerous texts from Gideon, Will, David, Enoch, and other Christian members, and fifty some odd texts and calls from Kenzie. Most of them left voice messages as well, and they all said the same thing.
"Josh! Call me back right now! You can't hide forever!" Kenzie had shouted into the phone.
David's messages were a little calmer. "Josh, we're praying for you. It would be great to hear from you."
"Josh, get your butt back. Moping is not going to bring her back. Dude, we're getting a little worried here." Gideon's voice was filled with concern, but it didn't help to bring Lydia up. It just made things worse. Josh was glad for his cabin in the woods; nobody knew where he was, he could hide and not be found.
Then he'd received the phone call about his dad. He hadn't meant to pick up, but his thumb accidently pushed his screen, and someone spoke on the other side. It was just his luck that it was a doctor informing him that his dad had lost his sanity, gone crazy. Now he was required to go into the city to see his dad and sign papers for his release to the system to be taken care of.
'How much God loves you.' Josh inhaled sharply through his nose and sat up, sifting his right hand through his hair. Damn it, he was still hearing her voice. He shook his head, trying to clear his thoughts. He'd already cried more than he'd ever cried in his lifetime, he didn't need to cry anymore.
'He died on a cross for you.'
"Damn it!" Josh growled, and stood up, stalking to the bedroom in the back of the cabin. It was time to leave.
"He's right down this way." The female doctor he had talked to earlier led him down a stark white hallway, fluorescent lights shining down upon them. Josh didn't speak as they walked, their steps echoing along the walls; white, sterile doors with small windows flying by as they walked.
"Here's his room." The doctor stopped in front of another white door, the number 856 in bold, black numerals underneath the small window. Josh glanced at the blond doctor next to him as she put her hand on the scanner by the door, and he looked back at the door as it clicked open.
He so did not want to do this. He didn't want to face his father, not now, not ever. He was sure he would kill the man the moment he saw him.
Doctor Monet reached out and opened the door, looking at Josh expectantly, waiting for him to enter. Laughter could be heard within the room; maniacal laughter, echoing off the walls and pouring into the hallway. Josh looked at the smaller woman in front of him, wondering what she would do if he bolted, but then as her eyebrow lifted, he forced his feet to enter the room.
"Ha ha! She's still alive! She's out there, I tell you, I tell you!" Josh walked in to find his dad sitting in a wheelchair with his socks on his hands, making puppets out of them, each sock speaking to each other. His eyes held a glint of lost humanity, his wrinkles looked more sunken than before, his hair unkempt lay in multiple directions. It took a moment for Josh to realize it was his father sitting in the wheelchair; he was unrecognizable without his uniform.
Josh threw a glance to Doctor Monet.
"And what am I supposed to do?" Josh asked, his voice low. The doctor pulled out some files from the large pile of papers she had in her arms.
"We needed you to see him first, to verify that this was indeed your father, and now we need you to sign these papers, signing him over into our care. He is unfit for society, and needs to be tucked away." Geez, this doctor was brash. Josh looked back to his dad, still talking animatedly with his socks on his hand, and noticed the stitches on his left temple.
"What happened to him?" Josh asked, the words tumbling out of his mouth. Why should he care what happened to his dad? That wasn't supposed to be asked. The doctor didn't even look up from her paperwork as she went about placing his paperwork on the top of her stack.
"He was hit with a brick in the attack after the execution a few weeks ago. We think that's what caused the change." The doctor finished pulling the last paper out and then turned to Josh, giving him an expectant look.
"A brick? Attack?" Josh asked. He'd lost consciousness soon after they left the execution site, so his memory was foggy of the events that happened afterwards.
"Some explosions went off around the execution site, and we lost some of our soldiers. Your father pulled through, but now has the mind of a child. Here's a pen," she held out a pen towards him, "and I need you to sign a few of these and we will be good to go." Josh took the pen from her cautiously, then took the papers in her arms and found where he needed to sign. He hesitated, peeking at his dad, then jotted his name down on the dotted lines, handing them back to Doctor Monet.
"Thank you. Would you like some time alone with your father?" She asked, and Josh tried to say no, but instead he nodded.
"Yes. I would." Josh felt shock as the words left his lips. He couldn't even stand to be in the same room with his dad, even if he wasn't mentally sane. It was bad enough he'd been forced to come here. Why did he answer positively?
The doctor nodded, then pivoted out of the room, leaving Josh behind with his dad.
"You have to believe me!" General Carmack cried in a tone a few octaves higher than he normally spoke. Josh closed his eyes and sighed, his back tightening in stress. "She's been taken from right under our noses!" Josh pinched the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger. He didn't want to be here right now.
"Oh, but nobody else saw it. Nobody but you. You're wrong. You're a liar. You're crazy." His dad faked a deep voice, obviously still playing with the socks on his hands. Josh opened his eyes, let his hands fall to his sides, and turned around to face the man he swore to kill when he saw him again.
Josh's stomach clenched at the sight of his father, his brain finally registering that this couldn't possibly be the same man he's seen only weeks before. It hit a nerve, and Josh was unsure how to feel.
"Look, I am going to tell that man right there!" General Carmack raised a sock up, making it look like it was talking, then had it turn towards Josh.
"Someone took her!" General Carmack said in a high pitched tone, his sock bouncing wildly as it "screamed".
"I keep telling you," General Carmack started bouncing his other sock, mimicking a deep tone. "It can't be. You saw things. That's what they keep telling you anyways. They say you've lost your mind." Josh couldn't take it any longer and her turned and flew out the door, running down the hallways and out the hospital doors, all the way to his car in the front parking lot. He planted his hands on the hood of his car, panting as he forced himself to breath. Everything had changed in the past year and a half, and Josh was having problems keeping track of it all after the past few weeks. It all overwhelmed him and he wondered how he was going to go on living. His best friend had been killed, his sister became a Jesus-Freak, his ex-girlfriend became his mortal enemy, he'd fallen in love with a Jesus-Freak, she'd been killed, and now his dad had lost his mind.
"Fuck this!" Josh shouted through gritted teeth, smashing his palm against the hood of his car, standing up straight, then pacing in front of it. When had life taken this wrong turn? Was there a point in the past where he could have changed the outcome?
"Josh?" A childish voice asked, and Josh whirled around to find Kenzie walking up to him timidly, Gideon standing in the distance, watching. She had her arms wrapped around her chest tightly, her lips pursed, and acting like she was ready to run if she needed to. Josh groaned and rubbed his hand through his hair, looking away.
"Were you here to see dad?" Kenzie asked a little quieter, taking another step towards him.
"What are you doing here?" Josh growled, facing his younger sister. "You know that if dad recognizes you, then you will be taken, as well as Gideon?" Josh asked, glaring down at his sister, whose eyes grew wider at his outburst.
"Josh, he's lost his mind, he won't be able to-"
"I don't give a care about whether he's nuts or off his rocker. I hoped you had more common sense than to come waltzing into the hospital to see him. Do you remember the little designs he left on your face the last time you saw him?" Josh asked, wrapping his arms around his chest, gripping his forearms until his knuckles turned white. Kenzie's lower lip trembled as her eyes began to water.
"We all agreed," Gideon stepped up, and Josh snapped up his eyes up to his. "That we would play it safe, and if anything would happen, we would get her out of the city. She said that God had told her to come here today, and maybe this is why." Gideon put a hand on Kenzie's shoulder and she leaned against him. When had Kenzie become so distant to him? She used to be glued to his side, and now she was leaning on Gideon. Josh made up his mind and reached out to grab Kenzie.
"She's coming back with me. I don't need you babysitting her anymore." Josh ground out, and grabbed her arm, and she squeaked and pulled away from him.
"Josh, stop it!" Gideon shouted, and shoved Josh away, his grip on Kenzie lost. She fell to the asphalt on her hands and knees and Josh landed on the front of his car, using his hands to keep him upright.
"What's gotten into you?" Gideon asked, shaking his hands off, glancing at Josh, then walking over to Kenzie and helped her up. Josh noticed her hands were torn up. Josh pursed his lips and looked away. What had gotten into him? He didn't used to be this angry, and he would have never hurt Kenzie. Why now?
"I want her to be protected, and being with you guys will not protect her. She needs to come with me." Josh held out his hand towards Kenzie, but she only shook her head and wrapped her arms around Gideon, who put a protective arm around her.
"Josh, she's safe and has been safe. That's all that matters at the moment. I don't know how safe she will be with you, either." Gideon said carefully.
"Damn it, Gideon! I'm her brother for goodness sakes! She would be safer with me than with anyone else!" Josh threw his hands in the air and pushed himself off his car and started pacing.
"Josh, what's wrong?" Gideon asked in a low tone, concern filling his voice.
"Give her to me, Gideon." Josh demanded, turning to face the two.
"Josh, answer the dang question." Gideon said a little louder, and Josh saw Kenzie huddle closer to Gideon.
"Gideon, what do you think is the matter? Huh?" Josh felt tears sting the back of his eyes. Dang emotions. He'd had no control over them lately and it was getting on his nerves.
"I have lost everything, Gideon, and for what? There was no point in her death. No point in any of it." Josh reached up and dug the palm of his hand into his eye, squishing the wet tears against his face.
"No point?" Kenzie spoke up, and Josh swiped away his tears and looked down at his sister, who stood straighter, a look of determination on her face.
"No point in her death? You were there! You got to see how strong she was until the end!" Kenzie's voice rang out, fire burning in her eyes. "Josh, she died the death of a martyr, one of the biggest honors of a Christian!" Kenzie's voice came softer this time, the fire ebbing. Josh bit his lip, knowing there was no point in arguing with his sister. She'd been brainwashed long ago, and there seemed to be no reversing the effects. He looked away towards the hospital, watching as several people walked in and out of the building.
"Josh," Gideon spoke up, but Josh didn't look at him. "Why don't you come back with us? I think you-"
"It's not time yet." Josh muttered, stuffing his hands in his pockets.
"What was that?" Gideon asked, stepping a little closer. Josh sighed and looked Gideon in the eye.
"I'm not ready, got it?" Josh sneered, then walked around to the other side of his car and opened up the driver's side door.
"Kenzie, if you ever need anything, let me know, and I'll be there in a heartbeat." Josh made eye contact with Kenzie, who bit her bottom lip and nodded, leaning back against Gideon, a few strands of her brown hair blowing in her face. Josh grunted, then sat down in the driver's seat and closed the door and drove away, watching the two in his rearview mirror, feeling his heart hurt for leaving them behind again.
"Will," Kenzie walked into the living room of Will's apartment later that day. Will looked up from the device in his hand, following her as she stood in front of him.
"Yeah?" He asked, pursing his lips, waiting for her question.
"Akeme has been messaging me for a couple of weeks now, but I haven't had the time to reply to any of her messages, and I think she deserves to hear about, you know, everything." Kenzie looked down at the faded flower carpet underneath her.
"Yeah, I see what you mean." Will said in an exhale, and then popped his lips together. "Are you wanting to message her, or something else?" Will asked, and Kenzie looked back up at him.
"I was hoping a vidcall." Kenzie replied, and Will nodded, then held out the device in his hand.
"I know it's an older version, but it will do the job." Will explained, and Kenzie took the device and looked it over. Definitely older, possibly up to ten years old, but Will still seemed to be using it, so it should work.
"Thanks, Will." Kenzie half smiled, then carried it back to her room, turning the device on as she walked. She plopped down on her bed and signed into her account, then proceeded to message Akeme.
"Are you on?" Kenzie typed out on the little touch screen pad. She waited a few moments, checking the time in Japan, then nodding, remembering their time was about 18 hours ahead of her time, so Akeme would probably be awake. As if to confirm her thoughts, a little message notification popped up. Kenzie tapped it and it pulled up a screen for Akeme.
"Yeah. I'm on. Wanna talk?" Akeme had written, and before Kenzie could do anything else, the device started buzzing in her hand, and a picture of Akeme popped up, indicating Akeme was vidcalling. Kenzie pushed accept, and a few moments later, her best friend was sitting in front of her.
"Kenzie!" Akeme shouted, her smile filling her whole face. Kenzie wished she could feel the same way, but inside, she was hurting from the past few weeks.
"Hey, Akeme." Kenzie replied, pushing her bangs back with the palm of her hand. Akeme's smile fell.
"What happened, Kenzie?" Akeme asked in hushed tones, her slanted eyes filled with worry. Kenzie sighed, then swallowed hard.
"A lot." Kenzie replied, slumping back against the bed.
"What does a lot mean, Kenzie? Come on, you're killing me!" Akeme said a little louder through the device. Kenzie swallowed against the lump in her throat.
"Lydia was…" Kenzie paused.
"What? Kenzie, spit it out!" Akeme shouted, then Kenzie watched as her face paled and she sat back in her seat. "Kenzie, Lydia didn't…"
"They burned Lydia at the stake." Kenzie felt tears sting the back of her eyes. It still seemed surreal, like maybe Lydia had been taken into hiding and she would arrive soon. It didn't seem like she had died. Kenzie wished she could have had the closure of at least seeing her after she died, but when the elders went to look for her body in the rubble, the fire had consumed everything, and nothing was left of her.
"What?" Akeme whispered. Kenzie nodded.
"When?" Akeme asked. Kenzie looked at the wall beside her, not wanting to look at her friends horror.
"A few weeks ago. They had a trial and they found her guilty for practicing Christianity." Kenzie explained, and she looked up and saw tears starting to spill down Akeme's face.
"Why her?" Akeme said hoarsely. Kenzie shrugged, feeling the lump in her throat tighten even more.
"I've been wondering the same thing, Akeme." Kenzie blinked a few times, trying to rid her eyes of tears. "I mean, why would God take her, such a beautiful Christian, and someone who was following God so much more than the rest of us? Why did He allow her to die?" Kenzie asked through gritted teeth. The girls sat in silence, Kenzie pondering the thought in her head, a question that had been hounding her since Lydia had been taken. It didn't make sense, and Kenzie didn't have Lydia anymore to ask these questions to.
"How are the others?" Akeme broke the silence, sniffing and wiping her nose with the back of her hand. Kenzie swiped at the wetness on her face and looked back at the device to Akeme.
"They're doing as good as you can be after you lose someone. I mean, I think we're all still in shock; nobody has done much since we lost her. Josh disappeared off the face of the planet and then showed up today to see my dad in the hospital." Kenzie relayed the information she had of the others.
"Wait, your dad's in the hospital? Akeme asked, leaning forward in her chair, moving her black bangs out of her eyes. Kenzie nodded.
"Yeah, something hit him in the head at the execution, and he lost his mind." Kenzie tapered off, feeling a bit embarrassed at the information.
"Oh, Kenzie! I'm so sorry!" Akeme gasped. "I wish I was there. Then I could help you." Akeme said quietly. "Who are you staying with since Josh and Lydia aren't there?" Akeme asked. Kenzie looked around at the bare walls of her room. It was a nicer place than Gideon's, but still rundown.
"I'm staying with Will, although they're thinking about moving me to a safer location." Kenzie dragged her eyes back to the screen.
"That would be good. But where would it be safer?" Akeme asked, and Kenzie shrugged.
"I've been asking myself the same thing." Kenzie replied. The two sat in silence as Kenzie looked up at the ceiling, her mind still full from everything that had happened in the past few weeks.
"Kenzie," Akeme spoke up, and Kenzie cleared her throat and put her attention to the screen.
"Yeah?" Kenzie replied.
"Have you heard anything from my father or my sister? I'm getting a little worried because neither of them are replying to any of my messages." Kenzie watched as Akeme toyed with her bottom lip, a nervous habit she'd had since the two knew each other. Kenzie furrowed her brows.
"I haven't heard anything at all." Kenzie paused, trying to remember if there'd been anything about them in the past few weeks, but nothing came to mind. "Sorry, Akeme." Kenzie replied sullenly, and Akeme sighed, slumping back in her chair.
"It's all right. Maybe they're just busy with their jobs or something." Akeme replied, and Kenzie nodded.
"Yeah, that's probably it." Kenzie nodded her agreement, but a funny little knot began to form in the pit of her stomach. Something didn't seem right, and she prayed that Akeme's family was ok, at least for her sake.
"You're new here." An older teenage girl greeted as Josh entered the dark warehouse. His eyes searched the immediate area, but he didn't see what he was looking for. He eyed the girl, who eyed him back, her short hair falling into her face. She pursed her lips and stared him down, letting him know she knew how to take care of herself.
"Yeah, not really." He replied, and she scrunched her eyebrows together, eyeing him over once again, then Josh watched as realization poured into her eyes.
"Oh." She said simply, then shook her head, and the determination was planted firmly back on her face. "Yeah, you're the one that was supposed to protect Lydia." The girl replied, and Josh felt anger boil up in his chest. He took a step towards her, ready to strike her, but she flinched, as if expecting the hit, and Josh felt like someone had punched him in the gut. He had been ready to hit her.
"Whoa, there. Didn't mean anything by the comment." The girl replied in a confident tone, but Josh could hear the slight waver in her voice, and it made him feel even guiltier. She reached down and swiped her hands on her jeans, then looked back up at him and held out her hand.
Josh looked down at her hand, then back up to her face, and she looked at him expectantly, then held out her hand even further. Josh sighed, then gently took her hand and shook it, and let go of it as soon as he could. He looked around the room again, surprised he hadn't seen a single person yet. He'd hoped Gideon would at least be in the vicinity.
"And I'm gonna say it's safe to say you're the famous Josh everyone talks about." Josh looked back at Sage, who lifted her left eyebrow in question. Josh shrugged.
"Think what you want." Josh replied, then attempted to step past her so he could find Gideon.
"Uh, uh, uh! You can't go back there. I am the security clearance tonight, and according to YOUR rules, buster, you have to be checked for bugs. Besides, you never did answer if you were the real Josh or not. How would I know you aren't a fake?" Sage crossed her arms over her chest and stuck out her hip, pursing her lips together, eyeing him. Josh groaned and pinched the bridge of his nose.
"Fine!" He threw his hands up in the air and faced her. "Fine, whatever, get your little test out of the way. I have to talk to Gideon." Josh exhaled loudly, and Sage smirked, pulling out the bug finder from her pocket.
"Thatta boy." She said as she strolled over to him, her lips quirked in a half smile. She flipped her head back, throwing some of the loose hair out of her face and looked him straight in the eye as she turned on the finder. Josh rolled his eyes and looked away, a scowl settling on his lips. She set to work, using the finder to scan his body, searching for bug and taking her sweet time.
"Are you about done?" Josh finally asked after she had taken a few moments. He heard the girl snort. He glanced behind him and saw her squatting down and scanning his ankle area.
"Impatient, are we?" Sage asked, then promptly turned the device off and stood up, her eyes dancing with mischief. Josh didn't have time for this.
"Look, I really have to talk to Gideon. Are you finished?" Josh asked, and Sage smirked at him.
"You never answered my question." Sage answered quietly, leaning on some boxes stacked high beside him, her arms crossed over her chest.
"I obviously don't need to answer them. You know who I am." Josh growled, and Sage threw her head back and laughed. It made Josh's blood boil. The nerve of that girl.
"I have my assumptions." Sage finally settled down and looked back at him, then shook her head and chuckled. "You know, they said so many wonderful things about you, yet all I see is an arrogant boy." Sage furrowed her eyebrows together while still smiling. Josh felt anger rise up in his chest, and knew he needed to get away from her before he did something he regretted, and pushed past her to get farther into the building.
"Hey!" Sage shouted as Josh began to walk into the main part of the building, searching for the door to enter the warehouse where the Christians met. He ignored her and continued on, pushing past boxes and various containers.
"Hey, you can't go back there without my permission!" Sage shouted, and he heard her footsteps following him as he turned around another set of boxes, finally finding the entrance into the warehouse.
"Josh, you seriously can't be doing this!" Sage's voice sounded exasperated, and Josh had to smile to himself that he finally was able to get past her walls and annoy her.
"And I seriously can be doing this." Josh called back as walked up to the doors to the warehouse and put his hand on the knob, just as someone else opened the door and pushed it open, knocking the edge of the door into Josh's face.
"Shit!" He shouted, seeing bright lights as he squinted his eyes shut and grabbed his nose.
"What's going on out here?" A familiar voice asked, and Josh recognized it as Gideon's. He heard Sage start to laugh.
"Oh my word, that had to be the best thing I've seen all day!" Sage laughed, and Josh continued to leave his eyes closed, swallowing hard, trying to keep what little dignity he had left.
"Josh? Is that you?" Gideon asked, but Josh didn't acknowledge him. He felt a hand on his shoulder and then someone lead him somewhere. Josh peeked his right eye open, and found Gideon leading him to a box nearby.
"Told you you shouldn't've come back here." Josh squinted up at Sage as Gideon took Josh's hand off his face and inspected the damage. She put her hand on her hip and pursed her lips at him, although Josh could see a smile dancing in her eyes.
"Geez, I'm sorry, Josh." Gideon stated, flashing a light on his face, and Josh hissed, bringing his hand back up to his face. The damn lights were still bouncing around in his vision. "I heard Sage shouting, and thought something had happened." Gideon explained. Josh grunted.
"Something did happen, all right." Sage butted in. "This guy thought he was a hot shot, and decided he didn't have to follow the rules." Sage pointed her finger at Josh, then looked at Gideon, who finally put his flashlight away and sighed.
"Well, looks like your nose isn't broken." Gideon told Josh, who nodded, gritting his teeth as a headache started to form. "But you're going to have one nasty bruise." Gideon reached up and gently fingered the area where Josh had been smacked.
"As I said, it serves him right." Sage huffed, crossing her arms over her chest.
"The fuck it serves me right." Josh growled and stood up, towering over the small teen, who cowered. "You playing security guard may be cute and all, but don't lord that over me. Got it?" Josh held up a finger and pointed it to her chest, and she glared up his finger, then brought her steady gaze up to his.
"Did you seriously just call me cute?" Sage asked in a low tone, and Josh hear Gideon sigh behind him. Josh took a step closer to her, his gaze meeting hers.
"So what if I did? What are you going to do about it?" Josh asked in a voice above a whisper, and Sage pursed her lips, her eyebrow arching. They stood like that for a couple of moments, when suddenly she moved and there was a sharp pain between his legs before Josh realized she had brought her knee up into his groin. Josh's legs buckled and he fell to the ground, gasping for air he couldn't seem to find enough of.
"Don't call me cute." Sage answered, then turned around and left, leaving Josh in a haze of pain and agony. He laid himself on the ground, his voice not cooperating and coming out in little squeaking noises as he fought the urge to vomit. He heard Gideon stand up and walk over to him, exhaling loudly as he did so.
"So, you met Sage." Gideon stated, and Josh snorted through the pain he continued to feel.
"If that's what you call her." Josh's voice still sounded like a dying kitten. "I would say a few other names that seem to fit her well, but I wouldn't want to offend you." Josh huffed, taking a few calming breaths as he squinted his eyes open to look up at Gideon, who was kneeling over him.
"You ok?" Gideon asked, and Josh sighed and lay his head back on the ground.
"I will be." Josh grunted, then attempted to sit up, the pain now a throbbing ache. Gideon shook his head and hissed as he looked at Josh's face.
"Dude, someone's gonna think you were attacked and mugged." Gideon furrowed his eyebrows together, and Josh rolled his eyes and huffed out a laugh.
"You don't call what that girl just did to me getting attacked? She was vicious!" Josh waved his arm towards the direction she'd left, and Gideon cracked a smile.
"She's great for security though. She knows how to handle herself." Gideon explained, then the two fell silent.
"Why are you-"
The two men started speaking at once, and stopped midsentence.
"Go ahead." Josh waved his hand towards Gideon, who shook his head and nodded towards Josh.
"No, go for it." Gideon replied, and Josh rolled his eyes, and leaned his head against a box behind him, sighing.
"Fine." He mumbled, then lifted his head and looked down at his hands in between his legs, his fingers tapping out a rhythm as he thought about the words he wanted to say.
"Gideon, before Lydia died, she made me promise something." Josh looked up at Gideon, who nodded, urging him to continue.
"She made me promise that I would get her father out of prison." Josh tore his eyes away from Gideon and back down to his hands. He heard Gideon snort.
"Josh, we couldn't even get Lyd out of there. What makes you think we will succeed getting her father out?"
"He's been in the prison for over a year." Josh tilted his head to the side, choosing his words carefully. "I don't think those prison guards will know the difference if he's there or not." Josh lifted his eyes back up to Gideon, who was shaking his head again.
"It's max security in there, Josh. Even if we did get in there, there's not telling if we get caught or not. It's a bad decision. I'm not going to allow any of these people to go through the same fate Lydia did." Gideon's eyes darkened and he reached up and rubbed his red beard.
"Fine then." Josh sniffed, wiping the back of his hand across his nose, then hoisted himself up. "I guess that's it. That's all I needed to talk to you about." Josh forced a smile as he clenched his teeth. He should have known that Gideon wouldn't compromise the Christians, and deep down, Josh understood. He would have done the same for Lydia.
"That's it?" Gideon asked, looking up at Josh. Josh shrugged and nodded, then turned to leave.
"Josh." Gideon stated, and Josh stopped. Silence filled the air around them as Josh tensed, waiting for Gideon to talk.
"What are you going to do?" Gideon asked in a sigh, and Josh pivoted to face Gideon.
"What do you think?" Josh growled, bunching his fists at his side. "I made a freaking promise to that girl, and by God, I am going to keep it if it's the last thing I do." Josh shouted a little louder, and Gideon cringed, breaking eye contact with him. The two stayed there in the quiet, the only noise were the Christians singing next door.
"You can't do this alone." Gideon said in a low tone, and it took a few moments for Josh to register he'd even spoken.
"I will do what I have to." Josh grunted, and Gideon sighed.
"Fine, tell me what you need, and we will see what we can do."