Hello, my beloved readers! Here is chapter seven of Without Cause!
//Sticks And Stones//
Drip. Drip. Drip. Water softly splashed on my face. “Ethan, stop that! It’s annoying. Get out of my room!” I rolled over and tried to go back to sleep, cuddling my pillow, which felt oddly like a backpack. Drip, drip, drip, drip. This time the water hit my face harder and faster. “Ethan, if you don’t cut that out, I swear—” Whoosh! Icy rain poured on us, jerking me out of my not-so-peaceful slumber, while forcing me to remember where we were. “Why!?” I wailed, waking Ethan, who seemed oblivious to the rain.
He looked around, still in shock by the icy blast. “Aw, man!” We both scrambled up and took shelter under the nearest tree. Ethan ran his hand through his dripping wet hair and sighed. “Well, we’d better head out.”
“We’ll start walking now, and see how much ground we cover by the time it gets dark again.”
“You’re joking, right? It’s raining buckets, and I just woke up. I’m not going anywhere until it stops.”
Ethan grabbed the backpack from me and pulled it on. “We—”
Bang! A gunshot split through the rain.
I screamed as Ethan and I both took off running in the opposite direction of the shot. We hadn’t run very far when another shot sounded. I was scared out of my mind, and just wanted to go back to bed. In my bed. At my house.
Ethan slowed down and pointed to a fallen tree. “Let’s take a break under there.” He wheezed. We crouched under the tree and caught our breath.
“I’m so done with running.” I moaned. Silence ensued while we waited for any sign of anyone. Five, maybe ten minutes elapsed, but we still couldn’t hear anything over the rain.
“If you want to try and get some more rest, go ahead, I’ll keep watch.”
I yawned and pulled my jacket on tighter. “You sure? If anyone starts shooting at us again, wake me, okay?”
He chuckled. “Sure thing. I’ll wake you in a few hours. We need to look for water, we’ve only got a bottle left.”
“Has the threat been eliminated?”
“No, sir, there’s been complications.”
“Care to elaborate?”
“The parents are out searching the forest as well, with a team. It will be too hard to catch the targets quietly, if at all.”
James gave a disgusted scoff. “Garbage. I want them in my office by tonight. Unless, of course, that’s too much of a task for your sorry carcass. In that case, Shannon can do it.”
“No sir, that will not be a problem. The problem is that there’s over two hundred acres of this forest, and they’re in the middle of it by now. There’s been heavy rainfall, which has made the terrain difficult. It’s going—”
“Hugh, are you still talking? Or was that just the wind shutting the door on your way out?”
The victim of the address tried to hide his frustration. “On it… sir.” With a quick turn on his heels, Hugh exited the office of his boss, slamming the door hard behind him, making the windows shake.
I awoke extremely sore, but refreshed. The sun was out now, and it seemed like mid-day.
“Buenos días, mi hermana!”
I stretched and rubbed my eyes. “Hey, bro. How long was I out?”
“Five, six hours, maybe.”
“And you didn’t sleep at all?”
“Nah, I’ve been sitting here roasting and wishing we had water. So whenever you’re ready to get going, we can go.”
“All right, all right.” I got up and dusted myself off. “Lead the way.” The sun found its way through the trees, warming me up and giving my mood a boost. However, a throbbing pain in the back of my head had begun, and wouldn’t go away.
As the day wore on and we continued on our adventure, if you could call it that, the heat began to rise. The mugginess made my headache worse, and I began to stumble.
“Hey, listen,” Ethan stopped. “Does that sound like water to you?” Without even waiting for a reply, he began sprinting in the direction of the noise.
“Wait for me! Oh, never mind.” I followed him, but at a much slower pace, picking my steps with care. As I got closer, it did indeed sound like water. Ethan stopped ahead of me and pushed through brush. As I caught up, he turned back to me with a huge smile.
“It’s a river! Now we just have to figure out a way down.”
“Yay. You do that.” I closed my eyes, leaning against a tree, and listened to the river.
A few moments later, Ethan called from downriver a ways. “Kyles, come here!” I walked slowly to where he was standing. Part of the bank jutted out, with a few stumps here and there, and a few nice sized trees, making a perfect place to sit. “Looks like someone’s fishing spot. We’ll stay here a while, help me collect ferns for us to sit on.”
“Ethan, I’m hungry.”
“We’ll eat later, we only have so much food.” He answered, continuing to work.
“Maybe tonight. Come help me pick ferns the ferns.”
“It’s was really cold last night. Shouldn’t we build a fire this time?”
“You can use my jacket if you want. And no. No fires. We can’t risk getting found.”
“But don’t we need to be found?”
“No, I’m not getting captured by those idiots again. We can get out of here ourselves, then find help on the road.”
“How? What road? You don’t even know where we are. And those ‘idiots’ were helping us! What if it rains again?”
Ethan rolled his eyes and growled, turning to face me. “Kylie, please stop asking me questions! I know what I’m doing, and I have a headache.”
I gave an annoyed sigh and put my hands on my hips.
“Now be quiet and pick ferns, or you can sleep on the dirt and moss.” I slouched my shoulders and glared at him while bending to pull the fern leaves.
We finished collecting and arranging, and sat on our beds. My stomach growled, and I looked at Ethan with pleading eyes.
He rolled his eyes, reaching for the backpack. “Fine. But keep in mind we don’t have much.” Ethan grabbed half a squished sandwich for each of us. “Here. No more until tomorrow, got it?”
I crawled back to my patch of ferns, being careful not to get my sandwich dirty. “Yeah, got it.” I chewed slowly, trying to make it last. My eyes wandered the forest and river, making a detour to stop at Ethan. “I saw that.”
“What? Saw what?”
“You just put that sandwich back in the backpack.”
He shifted and crossed his arms over his knees. “So?”
“So, eat it. I’m sure mum’s not going to be happy if only one of us returns home.”
“Kylie, people can live several weeks without food. I’m fine. It’s the water we need to worry about. And now, we have it.” He concluded by coughing and gagging.
“Ethan!” I got up and knelt by him. “What was that about?”
“Hand me the water bottle.”
“Dude, I think the heat’s getting to you. Quit overworking yourself and not eating or drinking.” I grabbed the backpack and pulled out the last water bottle. “It’s empty. Do you want me to fill it?”
“Shhh! Did you hear that?”
I paused and listened. People! My eyes widened and Ethan pushed me behind one of the stumps, slowly following. We hunkered down and waited, but the voices soon moved on. “Alright, let’s move.”
“You’re insane, we just got here.”
“Yeah, and now we’re leaving.” Ethan jumped up and surveyed the area.
“Ethan, I’m really tired again, I don’t want to move.”
“Whoever that was will be back. We can’t risk just sitting here and getting caught again. Come on!” he coaxed.
“Ethan, please. I’m tired, and I don’t feel well. I just want to rest!” I didn’t mention that my head felt like it was going to explode.
“Shh! Just keep moving. There’s got to be a road or something somewhere around here.”
“A road?! Ethan, we’re in the middle of the woods! And how do you know that it’s the bad guys who were calling us? We should at least check and see.”
He turned around and whispered angrily, “No! I’m not going to risk you getting hurt.” He turned back, and we climbed out from our hiding spot, and attempted to continue our ‘hike’. We had only gone a few steps out, when Ethan saw a figure hunched over looking into the river and examining the bank.
“Get behind me.” Ethan instructed in a hoarse whisper. He ran a hand through his hair, rubbed his eyes, and took a deep breath. He was obviously extremely tired, we both needed nourishment terribly, and it didn’t help that the heat was so intense. Ethan stumbled and caught himself, but crashed into some bushes and made a bunch of noise.
The man who had been looking into the river heard it immediately, and whirled around with his hands up. He looked like a friendly character, with a shorter, more stout build, darkish blonde hair, and a concerned, caring look in his lightly colored eyes.
Ethan coughed until he gagged and had to kneel on the ground. I ran to help him, but became concerned when he pushed me away and sprang to his feet. The other guy had begun to walk toward us slowly, and called out asking if we were okay, and what our names were. I couldn’t find the words to answer him. My headache had gotten so bad, I couldn’t see strait.
Ethan was acting strange. He grabbed a long, thick stick with a big knot on one end. The other guy noticed what Ethan had in mind, and brought a walkie talkie to his mouth and spoke rapidly into it. When he finished, he placed the device back on his belt, put his hands up and spoke quickly, with an accent I couldn’t quite place.
“Listen, help is coming! You’re safe now! Please put the, uh, weapon, down. You have nothing to worry about! I’m a friend. My name’s Owen.” He smiled warmly and I instantly believed him. Ethan, on the other hand, thought about it for a second, and I thought he might listen, but no. He went crazy, yelling things that didn’t make any sense.
“Stop shooting, it’s a danger car!” Owen opened his mouth to speak, then closed it. He looked at me and was about to speak when Ethan shouted again. “Liar! Take the lawn and don’t know!”
Owen made an understanding expression, but I was still trying to decode Ethan’s gibberish while trying not to pass out. My hearing kept tuning in and out, and before I knew it, I screamed, “What?! I don’t even know what that means! Just go away!” I fell to my knees and tried not to puke.
Owen looked a bit freaked out, and pulled the walkie talkie from his belt. “Any time now would be great.”
Ethan looked back and forth between us, and I noticed his breathing was heavy. He gripped the stick tighter, and lunged forward in Owen’s direction with a loud yell. Owen backed up a few feet, at the same time trying to explain that he was trying to help. Ethan would have none of it. He swung the stick around wildly at Owen. It appeared, though, that Owen had predicted what Ethan was about to do.
He ducked and stepped around Ethan, who pitched forward and stumbled, then turned around and glared at Owen.
Owen looked over his shoulder at me. “Are you alright?”
All I could manage was “Huh?”
Owen smiled again. “Don’t worry. Your Mum and dad are coming to help you, and your brother.” He turned back to Ethan. “Look dude, put the stick down, you don’t want to get hurt!”
Ethan looked at the stick in his hands, and tossed it away. Owen relaxed a little, lowering his arms and letting a small smile spread on his face. No sooner had he done that, when Ethan barreled right at him. I screamed, and Owen was in the middle of stepping out of the way, but Ethan rammed into his side. That sent Owen off balance, causing him to stumble backwards towards the bank of the river, and sent him plunging in with a yell. Ethan tumbled right over the bank as well, carried by the momentum from hitting Owen. I screamed again and ran after him, overstepping the bank and falling into the freezing river.
When I surfaced, Ethan was splashing and yelling next to me, and Owen was just reaching the shore, where a dozen or so other people now were. They were dressed in some sort of black suits with navy blue trim.
Then, I saw the most beautiful sight I could imagine; my parents. Dad came rushing into the water, stopping when it reached his knees. “Kylie, Ethan! Are you alright?” He didn’t wait for an answer, but jumped the rest of the way in and swam towards us- well, me anyway. Ethan was almost to the shore, yelling and thrashing around like a mad man. Several people rushed to help him, including my Mum, who tried to calm him down.
Meanwhile, I felt like I was going to pass out, and my kicks and arm stroke were getting weaker. I closed my eyes tight, trying to cope with my headache while staying afloat. Suddenly, I felt strong arms wrap around me, and pull me loser to shore. My dad’s voice kept reassuring me that I was “going to be alright”, and to “hold on, we’re safe now”. I tried to open my eyes, but they felt like bricks and wouldn’t budge. I tried to stay awake anyway, but promptly lost consciousness.
And that's it! Sorry for the delay in posting. Our family has been pretty busy. We will be moving in the summer, so we were packing, my brother was showing goats, and the chicken coop caught on fire (no casualties!), among other things. But this week, Billie and I will be traveling with our Grandpa and cousin to another state to visit our Great Grandma. This is exciting, as neither of us have ever been outside of our home state, and haven't seen our Great Grandma in five years.
Anyway, next week, Billie and I will try and work on our Liebster award thing, and post it. Until then,
For the will of Cause,
Psalm 32:7. -"You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance."