Trying Something New: The Devil's Dream, Chapter One
So, for long time readers, this won't matter too much. However, if you haven't read anything from me, I'm going to post a chapter of The Devil's Dream every week on here. So if you're bored at work, or your spouse is angry with you at dinner, pull the site up and start reading. Hope you enjoy!
The seat smelled of vomit and piss.
Matthew understood the smells, understood the past they revealed, but that understanding was way in the back. His mind was still warming up and the smells filtering in inspired wild appreciation but mattered little.
Matthew looked up the long aisle even though he could only see a few feet in front of him. His eyes were a cold, gray blue, like he had just been pulled from a deep freezer—but he thought they would change back to the deep ocean blue he remembered with a bit more time. His breath came out measured, but he kept having to remind himself...
In and out. In and out.
He hadn't needed to move his lungs in ten years.
But would it? He didn't know. He doubted anyone did, not after how long he had been behind The Wall. No one tested trials based on ten-year escapees. His lungs might just stop working, or his brain misfire without the gas it had grown accustomed to and blood would begin flooding through the gray matter inside his head. There was a strong possibility he might die here on this piss stained bus seat.
In and out. In and out.
That's all he could control, and after ten years, it was almost more than he could handle.
No. He could control where he was going; he could get off at any stop he wanted on this cross-country bus trip. Except Matthew knew where he was headed. Florida. To warmth. To sun. A place to start again. A place to see his son—to reunite with Hilman and forget about the ten years as a prisoner, and the ten years before that. The Florida sun could do that, right? That's why old people moved there, so that the sun's rays could burn away their past. Could melt the years, leaving them whole once more. That's what Matthew needed, to be whole.
Without any doubt, people would be looking for him very soon. Perhaps even now. America was a big country though and Matthew had learned from his mistakes. Ten years ago he'd been rash, ambitious, and naive. You couldn't spit in the eye of the government, of the collective police force. It didn't matter if you were Matthew Brand or John F. Kennedy, they would put you down. No, he'd learned. It was a big country with plenty of places to hide. Plenty of ways to disappear. That's all he wanted now: no media, no televised events of his life, no knowledge of him at all. The people after him could look but they wouldn't find him. Matthew was going to fade away, going to drop off the world.
Matthew was going to find his son and live happily ever after.
* * *
Allison Moore put her phone back on the nightstand and then turned to look at her husband. He hadn't woken, and it would be another two hours before he did.
She raised her head and double checked the clock—4 A.M.
Thirty minutes to get ready. An hour to get out there. She would be there by six.
Allison laid her head back down on the pillow and looked back at Jerry. This one wasn't going to be just Phoenix. Wouldn't be just Arizona either. This one would take her away and she didn't know for how long. Now she had to wake up her husband and tell him the news, tell him that she was quite possibly leaving for a month or more, and she had to do it in the next five minutes or so in order to make sure she left on time. She would wake him in the early morning, with darkness still surrounding them, and tell him she was leaving.
"Babe," she whispered.
Jerry didn't move.
"Babe," she said louder. "Wake up. I need to talk to you."
His eyes opened, wide and searching for who was speaking.
"Jerry, I just got a call. It's important," she whispered. Marley's ears were too sensitive for the size of house they lived in, and she didn't want to wake her daughter up yet.
Jerry cleared his throat. "What was it?"
"Someone escaped from The Wall."
Silence, Jerry blinking as his mind tried to wake up. "That science fiction thing?"
"Yeah. They're putting me on it."
Jerry yawned and rolled on his back. "Well that's good. You have to go in now?"
"Yeah, but there's more. This guy isn't going to wait around here in Arizona. He's leaving. I doubt he'll get out of the country, but certainly as far away from this place as he can."
"And you have to follow him?"
He sighed, placing his hands together on his stomach. "You don't know how long?"
"No." She wanted to hug him, wanted to wrap her arms and legs around him and tell him how sorry she was, how it wasn't what she wanted but that she didn't have a choice. None of those things would be true though. The truth was she wanted this as much as she wanted anything else in life and that short of him saying he would leave her, she was going to be in her car heading towards Phoenix in a few minutes.
"This is big, Jerry. Bigger than anything I've ever touched before. The guy who escaped, it's Matthew Brand."
His head turned to her so that they were looking into each other's eyes. "Who?"
He closed his eyes as he did anytime he thought deeply, blocking out the rest of the world so his mind could look for whatever he needed. "From all those years ago?" He asked, his eyes still closed.
"He escaped sometime tonight. He's already running and ahead by at least a few hours."
Opening his eyes, he turned back to the ceiling. "Are you going to tell Marley?"
"I was planning on it."
Don't roll over. Don't give me your back, please God, support me in this. She was going to leave but she didn't want to leave with him angry, with him bitter. A month, maybe a little longer, and the man would be caught and they could go on living as normal. Except that's not true, is it? Because normal for you, Jerry, and Marley isn't normal for anyone else. Normal doesn't have your husband not a bit surprised when you wake him up and tell him you may be leaving for a month.
"Yeah, you probably should."
"You going to be okay?" She asked after a few seconds.
"Of course. It's just not the happiest thing I could ask for."
Allison moved in then, putting her head on his shoulder and wrapping her arm around his chest. "I love you," she said.
It took a few minutes, but he finally responded. "I love you too."
They lay there, still and silent, until Allison simply had no time left. She leaned over him and kissed his lips. "I do love you."
She showered and dressed quickly, putting on the lightest bit of makeup. She was told everyone who ran The Wall would be there when she showed up, which was a necessity, because she had no idea how anything inside the place worked. As far as she knew, no one else in the country did either, not even the congressmen who authorized it. They all only assumed it would simply keep working. It hadn't though. A computer malfunction or a little dust in the wires, and now a dangerous person was loose.
Allison went to Marley's room, opening the door as softly as she could.
Her daughter's eyes were open, looking at the door swinging open.
"Yes, baby, it's me. Did I wake you up?"
Marley pulled the blankets up to her chin. "I heard you walking up to the door. What time is it?"
"It's early. You need to go back to bed when I leave, okay?"
"Okay." Marley nodded.
"I have to go away for a little while, baby," Allison said, kneeling down next to the bed. "I'll still be able to talk to you every day, but I won't be able to come home."
"Again? Why?" Marley asked. No tears filled her eyes, not anymore, but Allison still saw pain in them.
"Work. They want me to go catch a bad guy that escaped."
"Will you be careful?"
"Of course." Allison kissed her daughter's cheek.
"How long are you going to be gone?"
"It won't be too long. They know I have to get back here to you and Dad."
This wasn't the first time she'd left. This wasn't the first conversation that resembled this. So when Marley closed her eyes and said 'I love you', it nearly broke Allison’s heart. Her daughter was so used to Allison having to leave that she didn't stay awake any longer than necessary. The I Love Yous and kisses and then it was back to bed because it was too early to be dealing with all this. She reached up and stroked Marley's hair, tears coming to her own eyes. Was this the life she wanted her daughter to have? Early morning wake-ups with a kiss and an I'll be back as soon as I can, dear? No. Of course not. She wanted her daughter to have what all parents wanted for their children: birthdays with both Mom and Dad snapping pictures and hugging all over her. (How many of those have you missed? Two out of ten?) Everyone around the dinner table every night. Both parents there in the morning when she woke up. Instead, Allison’s daughter and her husband were used to her leaving.
Allison kissed Marley's cheek one more time and then left the room, closing the door as softly as she had opened it.