I kept my word and woke up super-ass early to get a move on. The forest looked rather tranquil now, not scary or menacing at all. I’m sure those “eyes” were either my imagination or some fireflies. Which to me was a perfectly logical explanation. I shook Mac to get him up. Same thing with Gar, although a little harder, plus he appeared to be sober, which was strange. Mac kind of grumbled and made us our daily vitamin-enhanced miracle-slop.
Gar looked at me with disgust as he ate. Mac just looked annoyed. Gar looked like I had just punched his mom in the face. I decided it was just harsh sobriety and it would kick off a bit later. I shrugged it off. I was enjoying the silent meal for a change, that is until I was startled by a loud voice.
“Mr. Mac! Delivery, sir!” a uniformed geeky-looking kid shouted. These lo-techs sure knew how to adapt. Mac took the letter and the lo-tech kid was gone in a flash.
Mac opened up the letter. “What does it say?” I asked. Mac frowned.
“Nothing good, nothing bad,” he replied, “It just says four more lo-techs were killed, everything beyond the damage zone is suspected to be infected, oh and ‘Be vigilant when entering the forest. Good luck and godspeed.’”
“Shit,” was the only thing that came to mind, so that’s what I said.
Be vigilant. What was that supposed to mean? I thought about it for a minute, but then I just shrugged. I would keep my eyes open, but I was sure it wasn’t going to be anything us three couldn’t handle.
Slowly but surely we finished up our meal, put out our fire and packed up. I was eager to lead us up the hill, and boy was it a climb. The closer we got, the taller the trees appeared. The towered over us so far they appeared to bend with the dome of the earth. I probably should have slowed down and maybe stopped staring upwards because the next thing I bumped in to wasn’t so friendly.
“Halt! ID?” I was prompted by a large, ripped, guard as he pointed a gun at me. His clothes made him look like some kind of revolutionary. Olive drab and a combat rifle. Good thing the other two came not a second too late.
“Halt, both of you!” he shouted at Gar and Mac as they approached. He then proceeded to whistle a series of long, loud notes. Seconds later, two more guards showed up in the same uniform.
“We haven’t got any ID,” I told the guard, hoping he wouldn’t be angry.
“None of you have ID?” One of the guards asked. I looked back at Gar and Mac, hoping they had some ID, they didn’t.
“No, sir,” I replied, “My ID is somewhere on a hard drive, I’m sure.”
“Don’t get smart,” he said sternly in reply. He almost looked as if he were going to sock me with his rifle butt for a split second. I decided to be cooperative and not make any additional comments.
“No sir, we have no ID,” I said once again.
“Restrain them and take them in,” said the ‘roided-out looking guard, “Make sure they are neutralized and decontaminated. Oh and put them in cell D. Cell C is under construction currently. Okay boys, hands behind your backs.” We complied and put our hands behind our backs so we could be restrained. The big guard restrained me. And boy, was that asshole rough as he put those zip ties on.
“Owwww! Too tight! My hand is gonna fall off!” I complained.
“Fine,” He said as he cut off the ties and put new ones on. He put them on much better this time.
“Thanks,” I said. He grunted and shoved me around.
“Okay boys, lets neutralize ‘em,” Roids shouted. The next thing I remember was a wooden-sounding CLUNK! I blacked out after that, or rather, was knocked out.
When I came to, I was alone in a locked cell made of logs and sticks. Kind of like a mini-log cabin. Gar and Mac weren’t anywhere to be seen. My head hurt, so I figured I had been clunked on the noggin. My stuff was in the corner of the shelter, about three feet away. The bars were made of wood, but they had been crafted in such a way that they were nearly unbreakable. There was no getting out for now, so I went back to sleep, hoping to get more rest until a guard came in, grabbed my bag, ordered me to get up, put a sack over my head and dragged me out of the cell. I regretted for a second that I wanted to get up so early to get to the forest, but in reality we would have been put in this situation no matter when we left.