Prologue: “Forget me”
“Forget me,” said Father, lying on the floor, coughing up blood. That order, “Forget me” was ringing around in my head for three hours. It wouldn’t stop. I wouldn’t stop. For those three hours I was sat by his side, “I will not forget you father,” I was saying, ranging from angry, to weak, to simply sad, with tears in my eyes, “Ever! Your soul shall guide me on my journey throughout life, and I shan’t ever let it leave me,” I was foolish. I didn’t understand that I had to run. They were chasing us, and I stopped to comfort Father, the roar of the horses’ hooves gradually getting nearer and nearer towards me, slowly more unsettling, more unnerving, “Edward, run! You can make it out alive!”
Father’s command slowly grew angrier, but quieter, he was running out of time, and so was I, if I were to escape alive I would have to go, alas I didn’t go until the last second, and even when I did I was not sprinting to my full potential since Father’s words were still ricocheting around my head, I felt like my world was collapsing, I had tears in my eyes and I could barely breathe through my nose. My muscles ached from all of the running; I had a migraine from the roar of the hooves. I should have died.
Chapter one: “The chase”
So there I was, in hiding, writing this book, on crumpled pieces of paper, anxiously waiting for a knock on the door, knowing that knock will either end my life, or truly start it. It will either be the immigration officer, telling me that I may leave the country, to flee, or the schmerzhafte Kriegsleute coming to kill me.
What a crude name, the schmerzhafte Kriegsleute, translating to painful warfare people, for such an unstoppable, inexorable force, they have the worst name I could possibly imagine. For my ease I shall simply be referring to them as the Kriegs for the foreseeable future.
It’s time I give you some information about both Father’s (probable) death, and the Kriegs.
The Kriegs are brutal warriors, most well known for their prowess in long ranged combat, they proudly boast that they “Verpassen Sie nie einen Schuss” (Never miss a shot). Despite this infamous trait, they are also incredibly able when it comes to hand-to-hand combat, my brother, Noah, found that out the hard way; after hearing this news, him and his army waged war on them with axes, and swords. Noah got shot by an arrow - Guns being a very limited resource at the time, most, if not all Kriegs used a bow instead - but all of the other men simply failed to successfully duel with the Kriegs, this is why, earlier, I described them as “unstoppable, inexorable...”
Father was diagnosed with Gastroesophageal junction adenocarcinoma, a rare cancer of the oesophagus, and was given two months to live. He took this to mean that, instead of resting, and enjoying the two months he had left, he should go into the Kriegs’ hideout as a martyr, armed with a simple sword and shield. He made it almost nowhere in there. I went with him because it felt like the right thing to do. I was foolish. I thought that I could help, I could defend him. I couldn’t. I almost got myself killed.
His Gastroesophageal junction adenocarcinoma (Or as I will refer to it: GJA), was in a late stage, meaning that nothing could be done to save him. It had spread to his lymph nodes, meaning that it could not be surgically removed, even if it hadn’t, the chances of it being able to be removed would have been very slim.
I’m not too distraught about his death any more. He knew it was going to happen and so did I, expecting him to live any longer would have simply been delusional.
By this point you may be wondering, after detail about the Kriegs’ battle prowess, how I survived the trip with Father, and he didn’t. He died partly due to his cancer but mainly due to the wounds to his lower chest, and to his temple (They know where to aim!). I didn’t get hit once due to the fact that I was hiding next to Father’s body, so they did not see me. They only saw me as I got up to run when I heard them approaching. This is when they started shooting me with their bows and arrows, this is also how I know their motto (Verpassen Sie nie einen Schuss) is fake; they missed twice due to the horses’ gallops offsetting the aim of the archers. I do not take this for granted, however, as I should have died, and I think the gods were merciful when they realised what a terrible and grave situation I had put myself into.
The area was - and still is - barren. It is a desert, which stretches as far as the eye can see. There are remains of Greek structures, probably built many centuries ago. It would be an amazing tourist destination, if not for the fact that it was the Kriegs’ main hideout; they have built an extremely rough “house” there, which is probably used as some sort of a storage facility, for I fail to imagine someone living there due to it looking as if it will fall over any second! I personally, unlike many of my travelling companions, believe that they have a second, more professional, more camouflaged base, which looks like an ordinary house, probably somewhere in the inner walls of the city. My travelling companions honestly believe that all of them live in that shack, despite the fact that there must be at least a thousand of them, and that the “house” looks like it can hold about five at a very maximum!
Where I then moved to - I don’t even know the name! I just ran until I found civilisation - Their immigration office, as they called it, should have knocked on my door in about an hour. They never did. They were ambushed by the Kriegs, about half an hour before they were meant to give me my visa. I had to fight for my life, unexpectedly. Anyone who has been in a war can tell you for a fact that fighting without expecting to have to fight is one of the most exhausting, and difficult things anyone will ever have to do. It isn’t a thing anyone ever expects to have to do.
I received a knock on my door at 15:30, despite the fact that they should have arrived at 16:00, in my excited haze I opened the door, and I saw a Krieg (I didn’t know he was a Krieg because he was dressed as a businessman) and I welcomed him in, he was holding a briefcase, which I - obviously - expected to contain papers referring to my immigration status. He opened the case, and I excitedly peered over to see what was in it. It was not my papers. It was a dagger. I realised what had to be done. I jumped out of the window, and started running.
Just as I started running he realised that I was running and so he started giving chase. He came alone so as to not scare me off as soon as I saw him, so I knew I had a chance because he was considerably slower than I was. This is, however, when I noticed that he did not in fact come completely alone. There were archers on the top of the roofs, and they were aiming at me.
This is where I knew I was screwed. I thought to myself that there was only one way I was going to get out of this situation. I managed to avoid their arrows earlier, but I did not think I could do it again. I screamed “FIRE! HELP ME! I’M BURNING!” at the top of my lungs, in an attempt to make everybody run out of their houses, and cause major confusion, so that the archers could not get a clear line of sight on me. It didn’t work. I heard the noise of people pouring out onto the streets behind me, but I didn’t look back, I just kept running.
All of a sudden, I felt an immense pain in my left shoulder blade. My world was spinning. I felt numb. Everything was red. Everything was pain. I could hear people running away, people shouting after me, asking if I was okay, but I knew that I could not stop. I had to keep going.
I was stuck between a rock and a hard place, if I removed the arrow from my shoulder I ran a risk of bleeding out, or it getting infected. It I left it in for much longer I thought I would faint, and then I would surely be executed by the archers, or the soldier still chasing me. I had to do something, and I had to do it fast.
Chapter two: “Feel the burn”
I lightly tugged at the arrow shaft, and it caused so much pain I almost vomited. I knew I would have to push through and take it out. I yanked as hard as I possibly could at the shaft of the arrow, and this time I truly did vomit, but it was out. Or so I thought; when I tugged at the shaft of the arrow it snapped off, so it left the head of the arrow embedded in my shoulder still. It was so deep I could not get a hold of it without retching. I knew I needed professional help; although I did not know where I could get it. I had no idea what areas were being raided by the Kriegs. I ducked into a doctor’s surgery which was just around the corner and I screamed, “Help! The Schmerzhafte Kriegsleute! They’re after me! Help me! My shoulder! It hurts!”
This was a major risk because, again, I did not know whether this place was being raided by the Kriegs, this was a kind of last-ditch effort. It would either result in my inevitable demise, or them being able to remove the arrowhead. The walls of the surgery were covered in splatters of blood from my seemingly ever-bleeding wound, and I thought I was about to get either killed, or forcefully removed from the surgery due to the absurd amount of cleaning they would have to do after I left, with such little time.
Since I had quite a large lead on the Kriegs chasing me I was able to skid around the corner and then hide with relative ease. In the time they spent looking for me, the amazing surgeons in the clinic were able to surgically remove the arrowhead. The stitching was rough, so I doubted it would hold up for the remainder of the chase, but I decided I would just have to pray. The painkillers they gave me quickly wore off, so I was back to being in unimaginable agony. I decided that in the heat of the moment the stitches would almost definitely come out, so I decided to duck into an empty room, in the paediatric department (I could tell it was the paediatric department due to the smiling stars on the wall and the smaller bed size) and hide underneath the bed.
The Kriegs quickly heard the commotion and stormed into the surgery by the dozen. They were commanding everyone to get on the ground; “If anyone knows anything about Edward Hayes please step forward”, I was praying that both no-one knew my name, and that no-one would confess that they had seen me, to save themselves.
“I do.” said an old lady from the shadows, holding a small vomit bowl, “He was just running around the surgery with an arrow in his back, that is the person you are looking for, yes?”, I knew it, that woman had an evil gleam in her eye the second I walked in; “And what,” The Krieg pursued, “Is your name?”, I knew the answer to this question, before the Krieg invasion I must have used to live close because I have seen her before, her name is Rebecca Otis. “Rebecca Otis.”
I knew little more of the conversation because at this point I began to run, I jumped out of the window, and sprained my left ankle on the floor - it was a bigger drop than I had anticipated - and began to sprint for my life. (Which, mind you, wasn’t very fast), I barely heard; “in room four”, and then the sound of someone trying to brute force the door open. Searing pain is surging through my veins, when I see a sharpened arrow tip flying past my right kneecap. They were on to me again. The pain from my ankle and my shoulder’s stitches (and lack of painkillers) combined made my left half almost completely useless. I had to get a gun, this was, however, harder than I had expected. The Kriegs were intelligent. They had foreseen my plan to get a gun, and had raided all of the firearm shops all around, meaning that a select few Kriegs would have access to guns.
This was hell. I had no gun, they did. I had no bow, all of them did! For the third time I thought I was dead; but then, I found Carter. Carter Allenson.
Carter was a friend of a friend in high school. He was well known for meddling in some narcotics, and it was decently obvious that he would go on to do many more illegal things. He had heard of my situation (assumedly from the news) and had intercepted me. When he pointed that 12-barrel shotgun at my head I genuinely thought that was the end of me. He then shouted “Eddie!” and threw the gun at me. I caught it and carried on running. I had learnt from previous endeavours to not trust anyone, no matter how friendly they may seem to be. I stick by that rule every single day of my life. By this point I realise that I am running back towards the desert in which this chase very first started.
Something... And I can’t quite put my finger on it... is wrong.
I see a bullet, faster than anything I have ever seen before, fly past my right leg. I know I can’t be hit on my right because then I would be unable to walk. Being unable to walk means being unable to evade shots. Being unable to evade shots means being unable to live. Thankfully, however, the primitive Kriegs are not used to the recoil of guns, so they are not good with guns in the slightest.
My odds of survival are slimming by the second but I feel like I might get lucky, more importantly, I hope that I will get lucky.
More bullets are whizzing past my legs and my ear got grazed by a bullet or two, it isn’t the most painful thing I’ve had to endure today, so I keep pushing through.
Chapter three: “Where’s Waldo?”
Something is wrong. It’s Father; his corpse, it’s... gone?
In the heat of the moment I thought nothing about this, “they must have just moved his corpse” I thought, he was shot in the heart, he must have died. That’s what I thought until I got pulled into an alleyway.
I (for the fourth time!) thought I was dead. I thought I had just been kidnapped by a Krieg, and that, assumedly, is what the Kriegs behind me thought as well; they stopped for just a moment, with a victorious look on their faces, until they realised that they should come to check that I was dead. I start to punch and kick him (or her?) furiously. A hairy, familiar hand clamped over my mouth, I turn around, confused, and see, through tears and blood, Father!
He put one finger to his mouth, as if to say “Don’t say anything!” and released the firm grasp he had on my mouth. He then motioned through a window to a trapdoor in a nearby building. I knew what had to be done; The Kriegs were still chasing me. I was attempting to open the trapdoor but in the confusion of Father still being alive I was shaking so much I couldn’t open it.
Father hastily grabbed a crowbar from the shop opposite, and he levered open the hatch, and climbed down the rotten ladder. He did so, carefully testing each rung very carefully, in case one of them was so rotten it snapped. This, however, was far too slow for comfort, so just as Father disappeared down the hatch, I could see a curious Krieg head poking around the corner. I speedily jump down into the passageway underneath the shop - it appears to be some sort of a storage facility - and begin running. In hindsight I realise that I should have closed the hatch, so that the dagger-wielding Krieg couldn’t follow me down, although at the time gaining ground was the only thing on my mind. My own stupidity did result, however, in multiple Kriegs being able to get in the hatch, with more probably on their way!
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