Trying to keep to the shadows, Flint hurried through the streets, desperate to make his escape. He glanced over his shoulder—no drones in sight—but, they were coming. They were always coming. It was just a matter of time before the incessant hum of their motors filled the air. He darted down an alleyway, dove into a dumpster and covered himself with garbage. The foul stench was a small price to pay for concealment.
Closing his eyes, he took a shallow breath and willed his racing heart to calm down. Now was not the time to panic. Now was the time to regroup, to prepare for the next phase of his mission—to get back to base camp with his precious find. His hand moved to the pocket of his jacket, feeling for the pack of batteries. The relief flooding his body was short-lived as the dreaded humming drew closer, echoing in the alley.
He lay still, waiting for the drones to leave. After what seemed an interminable wait, the hum drifted away. It was time to go—he knew this—but something in his gut warned him to stay put—so he waited. Two minutes. Four minutes. Five minutes more.
And then it happened…
The sound of a drone as it started up… He stopped breathing – his attention focused on the mechanical whining as it receded down the alleyway.
The operators, he realized, were getting smarter—powering the motors down—operating in a stealth mode, waiting for their prey to expose themselves. Cautiously, he exited the dumpster. He crept down the alleyway, hugging the building walls. The going was slow but slow was good when it meant the difference between freedom and captivity.
The first rays of sun painted the morning sky as Flint entered the compound. Quiet voices welcomed him. He looked at the worried faces. “Where are the others?” he asked.
They shook their heads, unable to answer. But it didn’t matter—he knew what it meant. The Community wasn’t safe. They had to move and move quickly. The Guard were masters of extracting information and considering the missing Night Runners—nothing needed to be said. They gathered their meager possessions and separated, hoping that smaller groups would offer a better chance at survival. With any luck, they’d find each other again.
Note: This is a piece I wrote several months ago. After reading it last night, I tweaked it a bit. It’s one of those stories that keeps tickling the back of my mind and on occasion, I find myself checking in with Flint – just to make sure he’s still alive and well… And he is. At last check, he had met up with his buddy, Clem – but that’s a story for another day.