By Jamie Burns
The white letters burned bright in the dimly lit bridge of the Lamplight. “9 O’clock ladies.” Clara and I stayed glued to the screen till it once again went black. Clara turned in her chair to face me, her normally rosy cheeks were as white as paper. I could see a rising panic in her eyes despite the fact she tried to fight it back. “We can’t leave him.” Clara said in a determined, this is set in stone kind of way.
“Well of course we can’t.”
Clara’s face softened and her shoulders relaxed.
“You didn’t really think I was going to suggest we leave my brother here?” I asked.
“Well no… I just.” Clara’s voice dropped off.
I put my hand on her shoulder and mustered up a small smile. “It’s ok, we will get him back… somehow.”
“9 O’ clock is less than six hours away.” Clara said. “What do we do? Just hand over the Lamplight?”
“No, we can’t do that, all three of us will die on this planet if we do.” I started pacing the floor of the bridge, trying to inspire my brain into some kind of brilliant idea. Clara leaned back in the chair trying to do the same.
“Could we buy the guy off?” Clara suggested
“We don’t have enough for him to even consider it. Plus all my money is on my ship, the ship he has. For all I know he has already found it, either way we don’t have it.” I spoke as I rubbed my temples and paced.
I tried to think of a plan but nothing came, what did come to me was guilt and anger. The guilt, why had I said yes to splitting up? When had I ever let Nathan come up with the plans? It’s always been up to me to look out for him and I just let him go off alone. Then the anger, he managed to get himself caught, and ruin another one of my plans. This was all his fault to begin with. I stopped pacing, this was a poor waste of the short time we had.
Five minutes had passed when I finally dropped down into one of the seats. “This is impossible, every idea I have needs at least three people to attempt.” I complained.
“We need help.”
“Yes, we need help. In a place we know no one, and no one we do know would come. Even if they would, there’s no time.” The word hopeless came to mind.
In the softest tone her deep southern voice could manage I heard Clara say. “I might know someone.”
My head snapped to look at her. “Who? Are they trustworthy?”
Clara hesitated to speak, “No, she’s not trustworthy, and I’m not totally sure where she is, but it sounds like it might be our only option.”
“Clara,” I said slowly “Who is it?”
Despite Clara’s obvious hesitation and concern, I was overjoyed. I jumped out of my seat and rushed over to Clara. Quickly pulling her by the arms out of the pilot's seat and took her place. Firing up the engines of the Lamplight.
“Good gracious, April what are you doing?” Clara asked.
“We need to find her right now. On the way you can tell me what went down with you two and I’ll tell you the plan.”
“I don’t know where she is.” Clara said
“Well we have a little over five hours to find her, convince her to help up, and hope she doesn’t screw us over.” I lifted the Lamplight into the sky and headed in the direction of the nearest populated area. Looked like we would be getting to know Exodus better than we had planned.
Clara hadn't spoken to her sister in six years. Her sister Lucinda Bell had been convicted for murdering her husband, who, according to Clara was no winner himself. While he was alive Clara’s sister and her husband had led a life of regular criminal activity. Traveling around robbing people and evading the authorities. Eventually something went wrong between the two of them, and Lucinda’s husband was found dead. She was caught and convicted of the murder but before she was taken to prison she had escaped the authorities once again. After two years without word Clara received a video message from Lucinda telling her she was alive and on Exodus. Six years had passed and Clara had hoped to never contact her again. But today was a very special circumstance.
The only thing Clara knew about the location of her sister was the quadrant of the planet the message was sent from and that was a six-year-old message. Since it was all we had to go on that’s where we started. Thankfully Exodus was a small plant, Clara and I both watched every minute tick by, it took us forty of them to get to the area. I started formulating a plan B, for if we couldn't find Lucinda. Plan B was not looking so good.
Once on the streets we started asking around about Lucinda. Most of the people in this area seemed to be on some kind of drug that made them a starry eyes mess, seeming incapable of understand words. Another twenty minutes passed and the tightness pulled at my chest. I was about to suggest we move to the next quadrant when out of the mess of starry eyed dope heads a man started walked towards us. I pulled out my gun, not sure what to expect. When he saw it he stopped his approach. I saw then he was a young boy probably in his mid-teens, he looked strung out and wiry, he was on something different.
“I just want to talk.” the boy said as he coward a few yards away from us.
“About what?” I asked.
The boy looked around. “Who you’re looking for.”
I looked back at Clara, and she returned a ‘might as well’ look to me. I nodded my head toward an open ally off the side of the street. The boy made his way in and we followed, once inside I raised my guy in case of ambush.
“You, you don’t need that.” He stammered.
“Well I feel pretty when I hold so I’m just gonna keep it, kay.” I masked my nerves with sarcasm as always. “What do you know?”
“Well I want to tell you but…”
“But what?” I asked.
“I can’t tell you for free.” He said as his nervous form looked around the ally.
“Really? You’re going to try and give us the shake down? I have you at gunpoint.” I was already sick of Exodus.
“I, I don’t think you know how to use, use that.” He stammered.
Without warning I shot an empty can that sat next to his left foot, causing it and him to jump into the air. “Is that so?” I asked.
He hunched himself over even more.
“Look kid, we are in a time crunch and if you really know anything you better say it right freakin’ now!” I was losing all sense of patience. My watch said we only had another four and half hours, and it would take 40 minutes to get to the location we were to meet Cryton.
“Ok, ok.” He backed up to the ally wall and slid down to a seated position.
“Well?” Clara said.
“You’re, you’re looking for Lu, right?” he asked.
I looked back at Clara. “Yes.” She said, her eyes growing bigger.
“She’s in the Brice quadrant.” He said as he dropped his head into a slump, realizing his sad attempt to make some money had failed. My heart leapt, the Brice quadrant was not far and it was even the direction we need to be going. We might still have a bit of hope left, if I didn’t think about the fact we only had four hours and fifteen minutes to save my brothers life and get the Thestrious back.
Copyright 2016 JAMIE BURNS ALL RIGHTS RESERVED