If you're here to read my A-Z entry for the letter Q, you can find it HERE.
It's time for another Friday adventure. If you've missed previous installments of this story, you can find the entire thing on this PAGE.
Memoirs From the End of the World
RC felt sick.
They were going to kill Alyx. The overlords had grown tired of his defiance, and for whatever reason, they felt he was more useful to them dead than alive. For one terrible moment, she found herself picturing all the methods they might use to kill him. A bullet to the brain was utilized most often, but they weren’t opposed to mixing it up every now and then. They’d also beheaded people, hung people. They even drowned someone who got caught using the river to send food to runaways hiding downstream. And who knew what other inventive ways they might have come up with since she’d become a stray?
It didn’t help matters when Brock revealed his hesitation about mounting a rescue operation. “Our resources are limited, so we focus mostly on creating diversions,” he insisted. “We scatter them. We hit them where we can. Helping your brother would require a direct confrontation, and I don’t see how we can handle that. A public execution is bound to be overrun with security.”
“You can’t expect me to sit back and do nothing!” Ollie protested.
“I never said you couldn’t make an attempt, futile as it might be. I cannot control what you do as an individual,” Brock replied calmly. “And I haven’t said for certain that we won’t help you. I just need you to understand how risky it is. They know who you two are.” He waved his hand to implicate RC as well. “They’ll be looking out for you, because they very well might expect you to try something. And young lady, given the way we got you away from your captors, they may even expect you to have reinforcements.”
RC ignored the fact that Brock called her a young lady, a title that she knew didn’t fit her at all anyway. After all young ladies didn’t live on scraps and live their lives covered in dirt. They didn’t typically team up with strange boys to go looting for survival. A young lady wasn’t generally supposed to usurp authority. And RC had no intention of giving these things up. The so-called authority of their overlords had to be usurped, no matter the cost. There was too much to lose by doing nothing.
So if she had to go it alone with only Ollie, then so be it. That wouldn’t stop them. And sure, the patrols would know to expect them. There was no way to avoid that fact as far as she could tell. How could the two of them hope to get close enough to him though? Then a possibility, albeit a dangerous one, began to take form in her mind. “If we know what they’re expecting, why don’t we take advantage of that?” she ventured. “We just need to catch them off guard long enough to grab Alyx and get back out again.”
Ollie’s eyes widened with hope. “We could create a little distraction and let them think that was our rescue attempt,” he said slowly. “Then, while they’re busy dealing with us . . .” He looked pleadingly at Brock.
“If we did it that way, we might be able to get Alyx out,” Brock conceded. “Unfortunately, if you use yourselves as bait, I can’t guarantee we’ll be able to get you both back.”
“Then we’ll have to make sure we have a couple of tricks up our sleeve so we can fight our own way back out,” RC said stoutly. She tried to sound confident, though her raw nerves still showed through the thin veneer.
Brock silently analyzed both of them as he considered the possibility. RC wondered what exactly was going through his mind. Did he see this as a hopeless cause, or was this something he simply didn’t care about because he didn’t know Alyx? Part of her didn’t blame him for his reluctance, but that didn’t mean she could accept it either.
“I’ll talk to the others,” Brock said at last. “If they’re planning to make a public example of him, it may be worth our while to use this to publicly embarrass them. But I can’t make you any promises yet.”
That night, RC reminded herself that the pledge to consider a rescue attempt left them better off than they were before. She lay back in her pile of blankets and stared up at the ceiling, imagining how scared Alyx must have been. Was he thinking of her too? Did he think there was any chance he could survive this? Did he blame himself for what happened?
The sound of soft footsteps pulled her from her speculations. Sitting up, she saw Ollie, though it was too dark to get a good read of his mood. “What do you want?” she asked quietly.
“I just need someone to talk to.”
RC nodded. She could understand it, because she felt the same nagging urge. “Have a seat.”
They sat together wordlessly for a couple of minutes. Even while RC felt the need to unleash her feelings, beginning that conversation wasn’t easy.
“I’m sorry,” Ollie said at last.
She glanced at him quizzically. “For what?”
“For being a jerk when you and Alyx started spending time together. For suggesting he wasn’t enough for you. I was jealous, and I didn’t mean any of it.” Ollie sighed, as if attempting to release the heaviness from his voice. “He’s looked after me, done so much for me, and you helped us both. I wish I could take it back now.”
RC remembered the incident, and while she was angry at the time, she couldn’t muster any ill-will over it now. “That was a long time ago. It’s forgotten.”
“I wish I could apologize to him.”
“You’ll get your chance soon,” RC promised.
The following morning, Brock made the crucial announcement to the group. They would attempt the rescue operation. When she heard those words, RC thought in a moment of gleaming hope that her promise to Ollie would remain unbroken.