The Clock Is Ticking Fast

Read Chapter 20 “Kids on Their Way to London”

The shiny object in the distance was the Corporate Army car.

-“Were the troops running away from something?” – Patrick wondered. “Was the car a trap, not necessarily to capture them exactly, but anyone who wanted a piece of the corporate ownership?” Lots of questions crossed his mind because he knew that anything to do with the Corporate Army couldn’t be trusted.

Anything the Corporate Army did was rarely what it looked like. They always said one thing and did something totally opposite. Patrick was aware that anything could happen at any time. He was on a full alert since finding an abandoned car was as risky as running into the Corporate Troops.

Maggie couldn’t care less why the car was where it was. She just wanted to get going, and nothing else mattered to her. The clock was ticking away, and she only had about 30 hours left to complete her mission. As the timing was getting tight doubts started filling up her head: how could she possibly find the kids in that time, go back to Ecotopia, do a successful blood transfusion and go through the time tunnel? Even on paper, accomplishing all those tasks was unrealistic. But she was never a quitter.

Maggie was just about to open the door to the driver’s seat when Patrick blocked her with his arm. She stopped, looked at him and instinctively took one step backwards. Patrick pointed to the string placed across the door; Maggie froze. In contrast, Patrick was in his element. He pulled tiny scissors from his backpack and put his index finger on the string following it to a little green box that looked completely harmless. Inside the box, they saw five different wires, all connected to a green ball looking like chocolate confetti.

The Corporate Army always had to booby-trap abandoned equipment. The Above didn’t want anybody to have access to anything that belonged to the Corporate Government. Especially the army equipment, which could have been used against the Above if anyone was planning a revolution.

Patrick swiftly cut in half the most see-through wire, which instantly deactivated the bomb.

– “Now you can open the door.” – he said.

– “How did you know?” – asked Maggie who has long forgotten what it was like to be on the high alert day in and day out, fighting the Corporate Government and their cunning ways.

– “It’s what I’ve spent years doing.” – he couldn’t hide a hint of pride in his voice. All his life he wanted to impress Maggie to win her approval. Maggie got in the front seat but quickly recognized that she knew very little of the terrain and surely didn’t feel confident to drive an old-fashioned car without all the computers the Ecotopians used.

– “Maybe you should.” – she moved across to the other seat.

Patrick managed to start the car on the fourth attempt. It seemed like the fuel wasn’t reaching through the wires, a common fault in those old cars. Most likely, that was the reason for the vehicle to be abandoned.

– “Right.” – Patrick checked out the screen map. Maggie hasn’t used screens for at least a decade. They were impractical, and if not connected to the Net, they simply didn’t work at all. – “We are two hours away from London.”

– “Two hours away.” – Maggie repeated in resignation while her heart dropped.

– “I’ll try my best to get there sooner, but the map shows that the Corporate Army has been dispatched in the forest. We also need to be on a lookout for our friends from the “future”, who aren’t that far behind.” – he was screaming now. Unfortunately, the car was louder than anything Maggie heard in a long time and surely hoping for an unnoticed presence wasn’t going to happen.

– “How do you know?” – Maggie screamed back.

– “Their spaceship is nothing like anything else in the Old World, so it’s pretty easy to spot its shape on the map. Look!” – Patrick pointed to the unusual flat shape on the map – “It looks like the Corporate Government is slowly restoring the power grid as well. We need to hurry.”

Patrick carefully navigated the uneven terrain, full of dents, traps and huge rocks densely spread across. Unfortunately, he stopped the car before they managed to get far. Maggie’s heart stopped too.

They both could clearly hear the roaring sound of the Above flying fleet. Her memories quickly travelled back to the not such a distant past when the war between the Old World and New World was raging, while systematically killing the planet they all shared.

The sound was becoming louder by a second. Patrick thought that the Above somehow managed to track them down and were preparing to land.

– “Maybe the car was a trap, after all.” – he thought to himself.

– “Keep on driving. Don’t stop.” – Maggie cried.

– “We won’t get far.” – Patrick wasn’t used to fighting to the very end. Disobedience in the Old World was treated with a life sentence in the work camp. Since the work camps were created to dehumanize whatever humanity there was left in those captured and sentenced. Spending the rest of his life in the work camp was what awaited Patrick for his decision to help Maggie. The fear factor in his life has always been powerful. Fear stopped him from escaping from the Old World, it prevented him from fighting the Corporate Government, and now once again the fear dominated his thoughts and inaction.

But Maggie was fearless. She was a warrior mother, who wasn’t a stranger to pushing through the fear and anxiety. Her objective from the moment she started this mission was very clear: to bring her kids back to Ecotopia.

– “I’ll take over.” – Maggie shouted and Patrick quickly got out of the car and run to the other side. Even though Maggie didn’t drive for many years, it turned out that it was just like swimming. You could never forget it. She sped like never before and wasn’t as careful about the terrain as Patrick was. There was no way she was going to give up without a fight.

The looming sound of the fleet didn’t die, regardless of how fast she drove. Suddenly something unexpected happened. They reached a milky wall of dense fog that emerged from nowhere, covering the horizon in front of them.

– “The fleet won’t be able to track us down in this fog. For some reason, all the instruments act up under these conditions.” – revealed Patrick.

After almost an hour of driving in the fog, Maggie drove out of it with a great relief only to see the Travellers waiting for them. Maggie stopped the car, looked at her watch, which now showed 28,5 hours, closed her eyes and waited.

Jenny, the leader of the Travellers, came forward.

– “This time you are coming with us, Maggie.” – she said. She couldn’t care less about Patrick; Maggie was the one she always wanted. 

Read Chapter 22 “In Between”