I closed my eyes tight and went back in time.
It was June 23rd 2016. Aaron and I were on slowly gliding across the dancefloor in soft rhythm to the music that the DJ played. His hands were lightly cupping my waist and I entwined my arms around his neck and ran my fingers across the back of his neck. He smiled at me a beautiful smile which made it hard for me to stop blushing. His eyes held my attention with so much love it was almost overwhelming. That moment was so perfect that I never wanted it to end. When the song was over the mood changed when the DJ played a fast beat and everyone crammed onto the dancefloor jumping and pumping their fist in air.
We left around 12:15am. During the car ride home, Aaron put on classical music and I fell into a light sleep. He woke me with a sweet kiss on the lips. It was the most loving gesture I had ever received.
We had also gone camping that week. He held me in the water and we made s'mores over a campfire. We also had to put down my old dog and Aaron couldn't have been any kinder about it. We went clothes shopping, as well. For the rest of the week, we watched movies at home and just made sure we stayed as close as possible.
I always finding myself thinking back to that week that we spent together whenever I got stressed and needed an escape. When I opened my eyes I was more calm in the midst of the battle that I was stuck in. I whispered a short prayer for the girl on the ground before me and then I took off running. I fired the gun quickly every time someone spotted me and started charging after me. I had to get to the woods on the other side of town. People called those woods the "Dark Forest". I know it was a terrible risk to go through it but through the clearing was the guarded city. Where Aaron was headed. Hopefully, if I was fast enough, Aaron hadn't made it into the guarded city yet. Maybe I still had time to stop him or at least go with him. The more I thought about it, the more I thought about how crazy he was for turning himself in. That wasn't like him at all. He would never trust the government and their lies.
Once I made it to the Dark Forest, I hesitated. What would I find in there? Would it be as bad as people say it was? A terrible picture of Aaron lying cold on ground crossed my mind. Did he even make it through? I had to find out. I took a look behind me and saw people far off. They didn't see me. Thank God. I took a deep breath and entered the woods.
I took only a few steps and then was instantly surrounded by darkness. The thickness of trees blocked out all the sunlight. I grabbed a flashlight out of my backpack and flipped the switch. It shone bright on the lightly beaten path before me and so I continued on. I always thought it was crazy when people in scary movies obviously had a mission to do but they always walked as slow as possible. It bugged me so much. I still didn't understand it as I ran along the path as fast as I could run while holding a flashlight and two bags full of weapons, ammo, food, and clothes. I didn't have any time to waste like the stupid people in movies did. This was real life.
The forest seemed to go on forever. There was never any sign of a clearing or natural light at all. The soft hooting of owls and the crunching of dead leaves under my feet echoed throughout the forest. Occasionally, I thought I would see a shadow from behind a tree but I just kept on running. I was running fast but I wasn't getting anywhere near the end of this darkness. I had to stop to take a short break because of all the running I was doing. I grabbed a water bottle out of my backpack and took a refreshing gulp. I froze when I felt the bottle of a gun jammed into the back of my head. "Don't move unless you want me to blow your brains out." Her voice was too young to be hiding behind that gun. "Who are you?" I could tell by her short breaths and sniffle that she had been crying.
I slowly raised my hands in surrender and dropped my water bottle to the ground. "My name is Jenny." I started to turn around to face her but she jammed the gun harder against my head. "It's okay. I'm not under the control." I finished my turn and saw that I was correct. She looked like she was only 12 or 13 years old. He long blonde hair was in tangles, her face was scratched, her bright green eyes were bloodshot, and her clothes were torn and dirty.
"How do I know that? How can I trust you?"
I laughed in the midst of everything terrible. "Do I seriously look like one of those...zombies?"
She lowered her gun to her side and shook her head. "Yeah, I guess not. I'm sorry. I've just been so scared and alone." She started hev loud sobs and then threw herself against me. "I'm so sorry."
I sat her down on a rock and knelt down to her level. "Shush now, girl. It's alright." I smoothed back her hair and wiped some of the dirt off of her face.
"But. I-I would've killed you." Her eyes grew big and you could see some much fear there. It was heartbreaking.
"Don't worry about that, sweetie. No one got hurt." She didn't look convinced but I smiled at her and said, hoping to change the subject, "What's your name?"
"My name is Sarah." She said with a smile.
"Sarah, I'm going to go get my boyfriend. Want to tag along?" I held out my hand and she took it greedily.
"Where is your boyfriend?" She asked as we continued my journey down the straight and narrow path. Now, our journey.
"Well, I'm hoping we can catch up with him in the forest before he gets to the city."
"Why would he be in the city?"
"He's planning on turning himself in."
" But why would he- wait! Your boyfriend's name is Aaron!" She said it as a fact not a question. "You're the Jenny and Aaron that formed the rebel group! Can I join? I'm really good with a gun and I'm very smart."
"We don't have a rebel group anymore."
She stopped walking and pulled on my hand causing me to stop too. "Why?"
"We screwed up." I set my jaw and tried to not let the tears fall. "We sent them into battle without a plan. It was my idea, actually. I thought they were ready. I thought we had enough people and weapons to take over the city but before we even got to the wall we were taken out. They have thousands of guards inside that city just waiting for us." I took a deep breath and shook my head to erase the picture and sounds of that battle out of my mind. "I killed them all." I pulled her and kept on walking. "C'mon, let's go." Sarah was silent for a while. She would occasionally open her mouth like she was going to say something but she never did.
It was nearly hour later when Sarah stopped me again this time to say she had to go to the bathroom. I told her to go behind a bush. I leaned up against a tree and waited. I started to regret bringing her along with me. I had to walk slower, stop for her questions and bathroom breaks. She was really slowing me down. However, I knew I couldn't just leave her alone in these woods. Soon after Sarah disappeared behind a large bush she came running back towards me, screaming and looking as pale as a ghost. I caught her by the shoulders and tried to get her to tell me what was wrong but all she did was point. I told her to stay put and then I pulled out my gun from my waistband. I aimed it and walked slowly over the bush. I peeked around it and saw Aaron lying on the ground. "Aaron!" I screamed and dropped my gun and fell onto my knees beside him. I first noticed that he was unconscious and had a terrible fever. There were scratches all over his face, arms and chest but nothing too severe. Then I saw his left leg was bloody and infected. The wound was so large, I couldn't make out what it was from. I put my ear to his chest. A heartbeat. I left out a sigh of relief. "Sarah, help me!" She came running and kneeled down beside me. "Sarah, I need you make a fire, look in my bags for something like a metal pipe or rod, and then place that in the fire. Can you do that for me?"
She nodded her head solemnly and quickly left me alone with Aaron. I gently stroked his arm, leaned in close near his face and whispered, "It's going to be okay, Sunshine. I'm here. I love you."
Well, I hope Part Two has left you wanting more! Stay tuned for Part Three very soon!