The Clock Is Ticking Fast

Read Chapter 20 “Kids on Their Way to London”

The shiny object in the distance was what Maggie and Patrick needed the most to speed up their journey. Already from quite afar, Patrick knew it was a Corporate Army car. But what bugged him was why would the army abandon a vehicle in the middle of nowhere. Were the troops running away from something, which wasn’t really that unusual in a current situation? Was the car a trap, not necessarily to capture them exactly, but anyone who wanted a piece of the corporate ownership?

Anything the Corporate Government did was rarely what it looked. They always said one thing and did something totally opposite. Patrick knew that anything could happen anytime. He needed to be on a full alert since finding an abandoned car could be 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. But 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, finishing all those tasks was unrealistic; in reality, it was even more improbable, 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 posh chocolate confetti.

The Corporate Army always had to booby-trap abandoned equipment. The Above didn’t want anybody to have access to anything belonging 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, that instantly deactivated the bomb.

– Now you can open the door.”

– “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 drive an old – fashioned car for many long years.

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

Patrick managed to start the car on a fourth attempt. It felt to him 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 left behind.

– “Right.” – Patrick checked out the map on a screen. 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 and 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 are not 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 also had to scream.

– “Their spaceship is nothing like anything in the Old World, so it’s pretty easy for that shape to stand out on the map. You see?” – Patrick pointed to the shape on the map – “It looks like the Corporate Government is slowly restoring the power supply as well. We need to hurry.”

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

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

The roaring sound was getting 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. 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 following Maggie to Ecotopia, it prevented him from fighting the Corporate Government, and now the fear told him that once again he failed Maggie and the kids, just like he always has.

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 the 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 would give up.

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.

– “You need to slow down.” – warned her Patrick, who until now sat in silence working hard on controlling his anxiety.

– “I can’t now.” – Maggie shouted back, pointing to her watch.

– “The fleet won’t be able to track us down in this fog. For some reason, all the instruments act up under these conditions. So far, none of the Old World’s scientists has been able to figure out what component of the fog effects our equipment to such an extent.” – revealed Patrick. He knew that if he weren’t going to give Maggie a good enough reason to slow down, she would keep on driving faster and faster. Her mind and thinking process were in the reaction mode, which has always been her weakest link and hard to control. Reluctantly Maggie slowed down.

Her frustration was growing by a minute. She was still no closer to finding her kids than she was ten hours ago. Once again, she was forced by the circumstances out of her control to do something she didn’t want to do. The fog, as well as Patrick anxiety attack, lasted for most of their journey. Since Maggie knew about Patrick’s anxiety and his difficulty to cope with unexpected turns of events, she kept silent, giving him the time and space to recover.

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 wanted. 

Read Chapter 22 “In Between”