I told you had a second installment today! Whoop whoop! I feel so accomplished. I truly believe I had been dealing with post partum depression after giving birth to my daughter, and after working with a counselor and finding some hormones that are supposed to help with my mood, I have been able to get out of bed, and my brain isn't in a fog as of four weeks ago. And this is a huge accomplishment because the depression hit almost daily, and my good moods only lasted a day or so and then the fog would hit again. So in regards to this piece of information, I am going to say this now- If you or a loved one suffers from depression or just not being able to function like a fairly normal human being, please get help. Depression is a super real thing, and I wish that people wouldn't just scoff at it and make fun of it. I really hope that you reach out to someone for help and guidance, and if you have to take medications, then go for it, because depression is not fun, and it totally affects the people around you. I had no idea I was hurting my husband with my depression, and now not only am I happier, but I have a very happy husband and daughter.
Ok, rant over. I'm just happy to be happy again, and I am hoping that I can get back into the groove of things once again, which means more writing for you guys. So, with no further ado, enjoy this next chapter, and as always, let me know what you think! God bless, my 2034ians.
Sage tried to pull out of Zeke's grasp, but he only tightened his hold on her upper arm. She was going to bruise, but she was already beat up from her run in with the street rats earlier, so it would blend in nicely with the others.
"How much further?" Sage asked, grunting as Zeke pushed her forward. "Careful, there, Frankenstein. Wouldn't want me hurt before you get me there, would you?" Sage shouted at him, but Zeke only grunted. Jordyn walked further ahead, using a device to find their way to their meeting spot. Sage noticed they had left the slums and were heading towards the northeast part of the city, and judging by the buildings around them, she could tell they were now in the business district.
"Are they seriously having you go all the way across the city? Couldn't they have given you a cab? I mean, seriously, don't you know how far that is?" Sage called out to Jordyn, who's shoulders rose and fell in a sigh. Jordyn turned around to face Sage.
"Look, I'm only following orders. If it gets me twelve grand, then all the better. Yes, I know how long this trip is going to be, and no, they didn't get me a cab, and I obviously can't afford one. But hey, after I drop your measly self off at the location, I could afford to pay for a limo to take me home." Jordyn walked slowly towards Sage, staring her down.
"How much further?" Sage asked, stalling for time. Maybe, just maybe, she could get Frankenstein here distracted enough that she might be able to get away, but she needed to know how much time she had left. They'd already been walking for about 45 minutes. Jordyn looked down at her device.
"Maybe a half an hour?" Jordyn replied, then turned on her heels. "Hurry up. We don't want to be late." Jordyn shouted out behind her and Zeke pulled Sage's arm and forced her forward. Sage had to come up with a plan quick, or else she was doomed.
About fifteen minutes later, Sage saw her opportunity. Yeah, she didn't have much of a plan, but she'd been a street rat before, and she knew her way around sticky situations. Jordyn was engrossed on her device for enough ahead of them that she wouldn't be able to catch Sage if she ran. Frankenstein still had his hand on her arm, but it was loose. All she had to do was get out of his grasp and she would be home free. It was time to put her plan into action.
Sage "stumbled" over her feet and fell out of Zeke's grasp. She rolled away from him, hands still tied in front of her, and once she was far enough away, she scrambled up as fast as she could despite being tied up.
"Jordyn, she's getting away!" Zeke shouted, and Sage heard Jordyn spew out a string of curses.
"Grab her, dammit!" Jordyn screamed, but Sage didn't stick around long enough to see the duo in action. She bolted as fast as she could down an alleyway between a couple of the large business buildings, then darted down another one as fast as she could. She turned to look at Zeke and Jordyn getting farther and farther behind, then looked forward just in time to "SMACK." Sage fell down in a heap, dazed from the impact of hitting something, when she looked up and registered a familiar face.
"Orion! Good to see you! Wanna help me out?" Sage lifted her tied hands, then started getting up, hoping he would get the hint to start running. Instead he pushed her back down and rolled her onto her stomach. A sick feeling formed in Sage's stomach. Didn't he know that if they didn't get away, they would get caught? Or was he going to fight them off?
"Hey, she's ours!" Jordyn's voice echoed between the cement buildings as the duo pounded up to them.
"I know she's yours." Orion replied. Sage heard chains clinking together. She tried to crane her head back to see what was happening, but Orion just pushed her face into the ground. What was he doing? Sage gritted her teeth as asphalt dug into her forehead. She felt him fumble with her ropes and they came free, but he quickly grabbed her hands and put them behind her, cold metal meeting her wrists.
"What are you doing with her?" Zeke asked, sounding as if he was ready for a fight.
"Just making sure you get her to where she needs to go." Orion replied, then finished snapping on the handcuffs and lifting her up. Sage's stomach dropped. What in the world was he doing?
"What do you mean?" Jordyn asked in a low tone.
"I mean, I've been tailing you to make sure she wouldn't get away like right now. I'm to take you to the Mona Lisa." Orion explained. Sage gaped.
"Orion, I thought, you were supposed to be-" Sage started to say, but Orion nudged the back of her kneecap and she buckled.
"You thought nothing." Orion replied in a cold tone. "Get moving, Sage." He roughly lifted Sage back up and pushed her forward, making her almost land back in the asphalt again. Sage's stomach churned. There was no way getting out of this.
"Where are we going?" Lydia asked Sakura as they walked along in the brush and forest. They'd left the boys about an hour before, and Lydia could only guess what Sakura was going to do, yet she had peace. God had told her something like this would happen, but that she had to go along with the plan.
Sakura swatted a branch out of her way, waving her flashlight about as they trudged. "You'll find out when we get there." Lydia tried not to frown.
"Ok." Lydia answered, then continued on. They walked in silence for a little while, trying not to trip in the dark, getting cobwebs and pine needles stuck in their hair while trying to navigate through the brush.
"Why are you always so calm?" Sakura blurted out, stopping and taking a look back at Lydia, who also stopped and leaned her hand against a tree. Lydia gave her a puzzled look, catching her breath from the exertion of the hike.
"What do you mean?" Lydia asked, unsure of her context. Sakura swallowed and swept some her short brown hair from her face.
"I mean, you have no idea where I'm taking you, and you know that I have betrayed you before, yet you follow me blindly instead of fighting me." Sakura replied, and Lydia smiled. She knew God was working on her, and she prayed that she would be able to witness to Sakura.
"God told me I was to come with you." Lydia explained, and Sakura's eyebrows furrowed together in confusion.
"And you just follow this God blindly?" Sakura asked, and Lydia shrugged.
"I wouldn't say blindly. Maybe sometimes, but I know that if I didn't go with you, either problems would happen or I would not feel peace. I have a lot of peace going with you because I'm following what God wanted me to do." Lydia said, and Sakura looked down at the ground for a moment before looking up.
"So you don't care if I might be taking you to your death all over again?" Sakura asked, and Lydia shook her head, even though her heart felt heavy at the thought.
"If it means God's will is done, then yes, I don't mind." Lydia replied, and Sakura seemed to be taken aback.
"Christians are so odd." Sakura replied, then turned around and started walking again. Lydia hurried to follow her.
"Lots of Christians in the bible did the same, and some were greatly blessed and others met a tragic fate, but even they were blessed with peace." Lydia called out, feeling God speaking through her. Sakura didn't say a word, so Lydia continued.
"But we as Christians are blessed with an even bigger reward if we believe on the name of Jesus Christ. It is said that we will live eternally." Lydia explained as she tried her best to keep up with Sakura. Sakura snorted.
"You Christians are definitely living eternally. I mean, it's not like they're dying in the city right now." Sakura scoffed, and Lydia felt a pang of hurt as she remembered her own family, but she didn't let that stop her.
"Not eternally here on this earth," she continued, "Eternally after this life, in heaven." Lydia said, and Sakura shook her head.
"So you believe in something that isn't real?" Sakura asked, and Lydia smiled.
"No, it is definitely real. It will happen after Jesus Christ comes back for us. It says in the bible that Jesus will bring us back to life when He comes back to save us from the sin of this planet, and then we will go home with Him to heaven for a thousand years while He cleanses the earth, and then we will live on the earth forever." Lydia felt excitement fill her heart thinking of the time when Jesus would come back for her and her family would be reunited again. She couldn't wait for that day to happen. Sakura laughed.
"Well, you go ahead and believe your fairytales, and I'll believe my reality. I guess if that helps you cooperate, then so be it." Sakura mocked, and Lydia didn't say a word. She only prayed silently as the two marched on, hoping that Sakura would someday believe, and also hoped what Sakura mentioned wasn't true- she really didn't want to die all over again.
"Hello? Anybody around? I've been here for an hour, and still no one has come to see me." Sage called out, her voice echoing off the steel walls around her. She strained against her bindings holding her to the chair, but it was of no use. She was stuck.
"Come on guys. Someone at least has to come talk to me. And why aren't I in a prison cell like the rest of the Christians? I mean, aren't I just like them?" Sage rambled on, mindlessly saying the words that came to mind, wondering if anyone was listening. She took a deep breath, ready to give out another burst of words, when she heard a click at the door. She snapped her attention over to the door, her cheeks puffed out from the breath she'd just taken, watching as someone came in. She let out her breath dramatically as she realized who was walking in.
"Orion." She said in monotone. Orion hardly acknowledged her as she walked in and grabbed a chair and sat down in it across from her.
"The Mona Lisa is out on a business call, and won't be available for a while. In the meantime, you will have to wait in here." Orion said in a business like tone, and Sage could only shake her head, anger filling up her insides. She bit her tongue, hoping she wouldn't lash out. God probably wouldn't approve of what she wanted to say.
"So you're a backstabber? Blackmailer? Bounty hunter? What do they call people who turn against their friends? Oh, yeah, a traitor." Sage said in a low tone, and Orion only took a deep breath and stood up.
"I will make sure someone is available in case you need a restroom or something else." Orion stated, then swept his blond locks back as he turned and walked back out the door. Sage gripped her hands together, feeling each pulse as she ground her teeth together. Josh had been right this whole freaking time, and she'd been so blind. Was it because he'd shown an interest in her? Nah, she knew she couldn't like him, despite how hot he looked. Why hadn't she seen it before? She'd grown up in the streets- she knew how to read people fairly well. She should have easily been able to pick it up. But yet, here they were, she in a prison and he the guard.
"Dang nab it." Sage growled, leaning her head back as far as she could, looking up into the dim lights above her. If only she could warn the others. But then again, what others were left that Orion had still been in contact with? Josh wasn't one of them, so he wouldn't go after him, but Orion had helped the Christians all leave. Why would he do that if he was against them, if he wanted money or power? It didn't add up. Sage pulled her head back up and raised an eyebrow at the wall, deep in thought. She would get to the bottom of this, and if she ever got out of that prison, that man would have hell to pay.
Lydia looked towards the horizon, noting that the hue in the sky getting lighter. Sunrise would happen soon. Her legs felt like jelly and her breathing was ragged, but Sakura kept pushing her on, sometimes pulling her along to keep up the pace. She hadn't done this much exertion in a long time, and it was taking its toll on her healing body.
They'd left the forest a couple of hours before, heading into the cold desert just outside the city. Lydia had seen the city gates for a while now, and she looked up and saw them looming over them. They were very close to the city limits, and Lydia could feel her heart speed up. Despite feeling peace about following through, she wasn't sure how she felt once things started rolling. Of course, she didn't know exactly why Sakura was taking her to the city anyway, but she knew it wasn't with good intention. The last time she'd allowed Sakura to be in contact with her, Sakura had turned against her, and just because Sakura had somehow saved her life did not mean she had to completely trust the girl.
"Just up here." Sakura spoke up for the first time in hours, and Lydia saw a form stand up near the gate and start approaching them. Her heart felt stuck in her throat. Images from the last time she had been taken in flashed before her eyes, and she quivered slightly at the thoughts that haunted her. God surely wouldn't make her go through that again, would He?
The duo finally walked up to the figure dressed in black, their face hidden. Lydia looked the person up and down and figured them to be a woman, judging from the curves.
"I see you brought the asset." The woman spoke up through her mask, her blue eyes scanning Lydia. Asset. Such a cold word to use. She was apparently not human to them.
"Just as I promised." Sakura replied.
"Why isn't she tied up?" The woman asked, and Lydia looked down at her wrists, thankful she wasn't tied up. Sakura shrugged.
"Didn't need to be. I knew she would come willingly." Sakura replied, and the woman huffed.
"Oh well, she's here now, I suppose. It's time to hand her over." The woman demanded, and held out her hand to Lydia. Lydia's heart sped up, but Sakura held out her arm, barring Lydia from the woman. Lydia looked up at her in confusion.
"I thought the deal was that we were to take her to General Carmack and that I was allowed to do that myself?" Sakura asked, her voice terse. Lydia's heart stopped. General Carmack? THE General Carmack? The one that had her tied to the stake? Josh's father? This was Sakura's plan the whole time? Lydia began to feel sick. Who knew what that man would do when he laid eyes on Lydia.
The woman chuckled. "Sometimes deals fall through, and you should probably know that by now, Sakura."
Sakura's jaw clenched. "You made a promise. Keep your end of the deal, or else." Sakura replied. Lydia wasn't sure what would be worse, going to General Carmack, or going with this woman.
"Lydia, come with me." The woman held out her hand again. "Guard, can you please take care of this parasite? She's no good to me now." The woman called out, and out of the shadows from the wall came a tall, muscular man holding up a gun.
"No!" Sakura shouted. "This was not supposed to happen. You HAVE to let me take her to General Carmack. You must stand by your promise." Sakura raised her voice, and Lydia could almost hear desperation. Why was Sakura so adamant she take her to General Carmack? What was her big deal?
The guard came closer, pointing the gun straight at Sakura, and Lydia felt a hand snake around her wrist and looked down and saw the woman's gloved hand grabbing her. Lydia felt herself getting tugged and felt herself fall on her hands and knees when she heard a shout and the gun go off. Panic settled in as Lydia scrambled to her feet, looking to see how bad off Sakura was, when a surprise met her eyes.
"Lydia, run!" Fox shouted. There before her were her friends, Fox and Maddox. They had come to her rescue despite what she'd told them. Maddox was beating up the guard, the gun far from the guards reach, and Fox was struggling with the woman, throwing a few hits to keep her from getting the upper hand. Sakura had fallen backwards, watching the group in action. Lydia didn't waste any time and ran towards the city walls, noticing an entrance into the city that wasn't guarded at the moment. Lydia thought to herself that it must have been where the guard had been moments before the woman called him from his spot. This was Lydia's way into the city, and Lydia took it as a sign from God to go in. She bolted inside, praying that God would protect her, and praying that Fox and Maddox would be ok.
Sakura watched as Fox and Maddox took down Mona Lisa and her guard, wondering why they had come to her rescue. Or Lydia's. That made more sense. She was frozen, unsure of what to do, barely noticing as Lydia took off towards the city walls. Within moments Fox and Maddox had taken down the pair and picked themselves up.
"Come on, we need to get out of here before the other guards find us." Fox shouted, and out of the brush came Dash running towards them. The three started towards the city walls, when Fox turned and looked at Sakura.
"Come on." Fox stated again. "We need to get out of here." He ran back and held out his hand to help her up. Sakura, still in shock, took his hand and stood up, and started running towards the walls with the three. She noticed a door that had been opened in the wall, and found no guard nearby. Possibly the post of the guard that had tried to shoot her. The group darted inside the door and Maddox shut it behind them, and they quickly took note of their surroundings. They'd made it into the city, and it appeared there were no guards in sight.
"We need to move away from the walls and this door so we won't be stopped." Maddox waved his arm and started quickly down some allies, the rest of them following behind. Sakura followed like a lost puppy, still in shock at the turn of events. Suddenly Maddox whipped around and pushed Sakura into one of the cement walls around them, some of the cement crumbling around her as he pushed his forearm near her throat, his other hand grabbing her shoulder.
"How dare you try to turn her in. How DARE you." Maddox came within inches of Sakura's face, outrage apparent in his voice. She kept her mouth shut and stared him straight in the eye. They'd certainly come for Lydia. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Fox find Lydia and pull her out from a hiding spot and pat her on the shoulder, consoling her. Dash came up and gave Lydia a hug.
"You must know what she's already been through. Why would you let it happen to her again?" Maddox shoved her up a little more against the cement, the loose rock digging into her back. She only grit her teeth and held back a grunt, not letting them see her weakness. She'd already lost what plans she had anyway, why not let them finish her off? She had nothing left to live for anyway.
"Maddox," Fox came up and put a hand on the big guy, his voice softer. "I think she's already learned a lesson. We don't need to do anymore." She noticed he wouldn't make eye contact with her, like he was ashamed of her. Let him think what he wanted. He had no idea what she'd been through.
Maddox grunted, his eyes meeting Sakura's again, and reluctantly let go. Sakura dropped to the ground, but stood quickly, brushing herself off, a scowl on her face.
"We need to find a safer spot." Maddox spoke up, and the group agreed.
"Where do we go?" Fox asked.
"I know some safe spots." Lydia replied, then picked herself up and started walking down one of the alleys, Dash and Maddox right behind her. Sakura looked over and saw Fox hesitating for a moment until he turned to her.
"Look, I don't know your story, but it would be safer if you came with us." Fox looked her directly in the eyes. She was taken aback. Despite what she had just done, Fox was giving her another chance? Sakura nodded once, not sure if she could trust her voice.
"Just no funny business. Got it?" Fox's eyebrows furrowed together in a frown, and Sakura nodded again, and Fox's face relaxed. "Ok, come on." Fox waved his hand as he started walking briskly in the direction of the group. Sakura stood still for a moment, replaying the scene in her head, wondering what his game was? He obviously had something up his sleeve, or else he wouldn't keep her around and just let her get captured. That had to be it. But she felt something inside of her compelling her to go with them, that it would be better that way. Sakura huffed, running a hand through her oily hair. Oh well. It wasn't like she had much of a choice.
Two days, and nothing. Josh threw the stuffed bunny up in the air again and caught it as he reclined in the chair in the living room. Fortunately the place had a fireplace, or he would be freezing. He'd figured out the room Lydia had slept in, probably shared it with her sister Moriah. Definitely a teen girls type of room. Christian band posters, pictures of them with their friends at summer camps or church events, awards from school, animal print bedding, etc. Josh had seen a few journals lying on the dressers and nightstands, but he hadn't had the heart to pick them up. He still felt like he was intruding in someone's life and home. Yes, he knew they probably weren't ever coming back, but it still felt wrong to him.
What he didn't get was why the angel kept leaving him hanging? He told him to go to all these places, but from what Josh had seen, it had all been for vain; nothing had come of the other visits. Josh threw the rabbit up in the air again, but this time it hit the ceiling and bounced wrong and missed his chair completely, falling to the floor. He sighed and folded his hands on his lap and leaned back in the recliner, staring at the ceiling.
The journals kept coming into his head, almost like they were beckoning him. But he knew that journals were private and shouldn't be read. But then again, what happened to Anne Frank's journal? Lydia was dead, so it wasn't like she would care or know. Josh clenched his hands tighter in his lap, his fingers turning white. He knew he shouldn't, but he had a strong urge to read them.
After a few moments, Josh couldn't handle the pressure anymore and put the recliner down and stalked out of the living room and into the hallway leading to the girls' room. He opened the door once again and walked in to the nightstand and picked up the two leather bound journals lying there, and lay himself on one of the beds, propping himself up and taking hold of the first journal. His hands stopped, looking down at the faux old leather, wondering how he had become so crazy to pick up a dead girls journal to read it, laying on her bed.
Lydia had held this once. This had been in her very hands. She had carefully written her thoughts and life into this book. Josh was holding a small piece of the girl he'd fallen in love with. His hands squeezed the book, his joints turning white, unsure if he should open it, but the feeling came back stronger, and he found himself opening up to the middle of the book.
There he found her neat handwriting in small, precise, cursive scrawled across the pages in blue ink. Each page was dated at the top, each entry about a page or two long. His fingers trailed down the page, thinking about the girl who'd held this book and written in it, his memories going back to the brown haired girl that had stolen his heart before she went to her grave.
"Dear God," The entry on the page began. So maybe a way to talk to God? He flipped a few pages further and found each entry began with the same words. So she would talk to God through writing. He stopped on another page and he began to read.
Today has been rough. Moriah ruined my favorite shirt when she was cooking with mom and she got grape juice all over it. I don't think there's anyway I can save the shirt, and that really makes me upset. Mom says that I need to talk to You when I'm angry, but sometimes I don't think You hear me at all."
Josh's eyebrows raised. So Lydia had doubts? This was interesting to him. He'd never seen this side of Lydia. She had believed in God with all of her heart, and would have never said anything like that in her life, or at least he thought. He read on.
"I'm only writing in this because mom said I had to so I would stop being mad at Moriah. I really hope that Moriah apologizes and maybe buys me a new shirt."
"Momma's not doing so well today. Doctor said the baby should come soon, but I'm worried. I think mom is scared too. Since we lost Levi, no-one has been ok, and we are all afraid mom might lose this baby too. You know we almost lost mom last time. Just please make sure that the baby and mom make it through. Please help us not to be scared. Please make this delivery safe."
Lydia had never told Josh that she'd had a brother. But then again, when had the subject ever come up? Now a whole series of questions popped into Josh's head, questions he would probably never get answers to. Only Richard lived to tell these tales, and who knew if Josh would ever see him again. Josh flipped towards the back of the diary.
"Things are getting scary in the world. They've started The Purification Process, and I've noticed dad has been very quiet lately. We just watched the news where they were pulling Christians from their homes and packing them into trucks and taking them away. They didn't say where they were going, but I know it isn't good. Please keep my family safe. I don't want to die. God, I want to love a man. I want to be married and have a family. I don't want to die before I get that. Please, God, give me that chance."
Josh cleared his throat as he re-read that entry. He didn't realize she'd wanted to love someone that bad. His mind went back to moments they'd had together, where he'd given her the chance to love him back and she'd denied him. Why the change of heart? Why did she push him away if she'd wanted it that badly? Yes, she had told him that she couldn't be with him if he wasn't a Christian, but still, he was better than nothing. He turned the page and read on.
"Today dad preached on salvation. Yes, I know what salvation is, I know what to do in order to be saved, but that's the thing, I only KNOW, but do I believe it? I hear these things, but I don't know how they work in my life. Why can't I be like the others who have these great salvation stories and love God with all of their heart? Why can't I know that I'm saved? Yes, promises in the Bible tell me that all I have to do is believe in You, but is that really enough? Why do I still feel like I need to do something else in order to be saved? I feel like something is missing, and I wish I knew how to fix it. I wish I could have the peace of the other Christians and know that when I die, I will go to heaven."
Josh's eyebrows furrowed. He wondered if she had doubts when she was on the stake? When she was dying? Did she believe she would live? She told him so, but Josh wasn't able to see what was inside her heart, so now he couldn't be sure what she said was true. This shook him. The girl who seemed to have her head on straight and seemed bound and determined to get others to believe what she said she believed maybe didn't totally believe after all.
Lydia had told him time and time again that God loved him, that God wanted him to believe. Why didn't she? Questions swirled around in Josh's head as he leaned back on the pillow behind him, lifting the journal up to continue reading.