The Battle of Wills

Read Chapter 10 “2447”

Maggie nudged Patrick to make sure he was aware that her ship circling around the bushes. Assuming he knew what she was intending to do, she started running towards the bushes. However, she didn’t run too far when something made her stop and look back. She only wanted to see how far behind Patrick was, but to her horror, he hasn’t moved an inch.

For a brief second, Maggie wondered, whether she should wait for him or go. Pragmatic Maggie would have never waited; it could have been the last chance for her to escape, but Maggie, who once loved Patrick, wanted to give him a chance to come with her. Besides they were still on his turf so she needed him to guide her through the wretchedness of the Down Below.

For some reason, Patrick couldn’t move. Being in life-threatening situations wasn’t an alien concept to him. The years of war and shortages numbed him to almost anything and everything, but on this very night, his decision-making abilities failed him. Somehow, he was scared and confused, and couldn’t wrap his head around all that has happened since Maggie showed up.

Besides, he wasn’t entirely sure, if it was a reality or just some kind of simulation trick the Old World was playing on him, to check where his loyalty was. He was rather sure that the overpowering and steadily growing confusion was immobilizing him, and preventing him from making the slightest move towards Maggie. He knew that whatever decision he was going to make, it was going to define the rest of his, and possibly Maggie’s, life too.

Romantic Maggie won the inner struggle and decided to wait. She took a deep breath and started counting to ten to give Patrick some time to make up his mind. It wasn’t much, but that was the only time she could spare.

He waited for that! The fact that Maggie waited for him, risking being captured was enough for Patrick to know that whatever was happening to his reality, he was willing to take a gigantic leap of faith and go with her. He started running towards Maggie, while still holding on to his droid. She felt relief swiping through her body before swiftly turning back towards her ship and running again.

The part of the garden, Maggie and Patrick were captured in, had no trees or greenery for cover. Since Maggie’s ship was quite far away to get to, it was a risky escape.

Jenny’s reaction to their escape was immediate. Without thinking much, she started firing at what she could only assume was Maggie’s ship, hoping to damage the vehicle enough to unable the two of them getting out of this island.

But that very night, the moon and the stars aligned with the runaways. When Jenny raised her weapon once again to fire, the clouds covered the moon making the darkness even more intense. The darkness made it too risky to aim at the ship without hurting some of her comrades.

By the time the clouds blew away, the ship had already gone, along with Maggie and Patrick. Jenny let out a roaring scream, and in a desperate attempt to control the rest of her anger, she decided to burn Patrick’s house down.

While she was watching the fire consuming Patrick’s life belongings, her crewmembers were already trying to track down Maggie and Patrick. With their advanced technology nothing was impossible and out of reach for them.

Jenny’s rage and firing rounds didn’t go completely to waste though. Somehow, one of her bullets found its way towards Maggie’s ship, which begun losing speed and altitude almost right after the takeoff. Luckily, the Old World’s Island wasn’t far off.

Maggie was an experienced pilot and the years of flying in challenging conditions paid off. She managed to crash-land her ship in the forest, leaving only a slight impact on the treetops. However, the violence of the impact and the speed they were travelling at severely damaged the ship’s interiors and only narrowly allowed Maggie and Patrick to escape. After assessing the damage, Maggie knew she needed her fellow Ecotopians to take care of the ship for her, while she continued her search.

– “The Ecotopians will know I crashed, and if we stay in this one spot, they will send someone to pick us up” – said Maggie, trying to pull something out from the ship.

– “How long would we have to wait for the pickup?” – asked Patrick.

– “Too long.” Maggie was already climbing from the wreckage with her backpack and another bag that looked like a small survival supply kit.

– “There is an Old World’s unused station a few miles from here. We could get some supplies there and possibly try to find out where the kids crossed the border and which way they’re heading.” – Patrick suggested. He still felt conflicted, but he made his decision to go all in, and if he was all in, he needed to help Maggie, regardless of the consequences he would have to face.

Maggie surely didn’t expect that from Patrick. She thought he would need more evidence and more convincing, but perhaps the old Patrick she knew all those years ago, was still there, just waiting to be awakened.

Not wanting him to change his mind, Maggie opened a small flap on the side of her ship, which, like everything else in Ecotopia, only opened after the match of the fingerprints was completed. That was one of the ways for the Ecotopians to protect their ideas, resources, and technology. Once done, the ship turned greenish-brownish as part of the camouflage, which Maggie activated to hidden away from the enemies’ eyes for as long as needed.

Maggie turned to Patrick:

– “The Ecotopian scouts will pick up the ship as soon as they can. We never leave anything behind that carries our technology.” – she explained.

As her final act of goodbye and parting ways with the ship, Maggie put her hand on its nose and whispered: “Thank you.”

She only needed a few seconds to compose herself and face the hard reality. She was a warrior, a fighter, and a mother, who above all loved her kids the most in the world and as any mother was willing to go to the end of the world to find them and bring them home. She swiftly grabbed two torches from her backpack and passed one to Patrick.

– “They’re sensitive to human movement. So, if anyone follows us or will come too close to us, we will know. Patrick, your time to shine.”

Patrick took the torch, while still holding on to his unresponsive droid. He looked up at the sky, found the Northern Star and begun walking. Maggie walked right behind him in silence, carefully listening for any movement, both on the ground and above.

Hesitantly, she looked at her watch, which was showing 34 hours and fifty minutes. She was still able to control her anxiety but could feel the pain in her chest growing with every step and every passing minute — a feeling she didn’t experience for a long time.

The moonlight was shining bright, and the forest seemed to be fully aware of two strangers making their way to a place that no one ever goes willingly; a place that was filled with suffering and grief beyond anything Maggie ever felt before.

Read Chapter 12 “Stranger Than Fiction”