Midnight. The dizziness was killing me. My body felt weak and painful. Sometimes it hurt so much that it made me want to go back to sleep.
My ankle turned blue and blood seemed oozing from the back of my head. Looking at my condition, it looks like I fell down from the top of the small hill.
What happened? Where is this? Did I get drunk that bad? F**k it hurts!! My leg!!
Okay, calm down, breath in. Huuuummm, haaaaahhh. That's better, now... where was I before? Oh right. 6 PM after work I went home in my car and then...
NO WAIT!! That's wrong!! Whose memories was that? I was escaping with my parents from the bad man. I need to go back. Mom might be close! Aaggh my head!! It hurts!!
No, I really was in the car and then... ugh... what is this? This...memory...?
And then I passed out again.
Hours later. I woke up in a room, unlike before out there in the forest. All I could see here was a bright white room. There was an IV drip connected to my arm. Just as I tried to get up, the dizziness came back again, preventing me to move my body.
Ahh right, I guess I was reincarnated.
After I passed out earlier, I dreamed about the life I had before. The life that I barely remembered. I couldn't even recall my name. All I knew was the hobby that I had before I died like watching movies, gaming, and other kinds of stuff. And the last thing I remembered was the truck that drives into my front bumper.
What was it named? Tesla Semi? Damn, did I just killed by an electric truck? What a bummer, if only I survived it, I could have been filthy rich by suing the company.
Suddenly, a nurse came in from the wooden door. She approached my bed after looking at the name tag in front of my bed.
"Edward Kavka, 8 years old," sighing, she started checking my IV drops while not knowing I was staring at her. "What kind of bastard trying to kill a whole family. This world is doomed!"
Hearing her monolog, I recalled what happened back then again. My throat was burning from emotion. I called to her, "Ma'am. Can I have water please?"
"Yes, of co..." suddenly she paused, her mouth opened. She wanted to say something but the nurse just ran outside the room. "Doctor! He wakes up!", shouted the nurse. I can barely hear an old man's voice from the empty room.
A few seconds later, a doctor in a white uniform came in. He looked lost and tired, but after looking at my condition he just sighs in relief.
Oh, I know him. He was my neighbor back in the town. Huh, I guess... I made it back. Mom... Dad... I... I'm Alive.
Tears started dripping on my face.
I'm Alive... but what about you? What do I do now?
I started crying... and crying for hours. The doctor and the nurses that came in didn't know what to do except walking out and closed the door again.
A crisp mechanical voice spoke by itself in the weeping room, unheard by anyone but Edward.
[Status. User -- Survive. Reinforcement Complete]
[Auto-Mode. Switched Off. Manual-Mode. Standby]
[12 hours earlier. Before waking up in the hospital.]
I was laying down in my dad's car, waiting for them while reading a comic book. We were at an old facility outside of the town. I should have agreed to go home by myself after school. I hope I won't miss the Simpson episode tonight. Being impatient, I spoke to the walkie talkie that dad installed in the car, "So boring, when will we go home?"
"Wait a bit, my baby, dad is meeting an important people right now." said my mom through it. "I'll buy you ice cream later."
Perking up my ears, I gladly answered, "Chocolate lava, I don't want that weird green tea flavor like last time. It's weird."
Chuckling, mom promised me and ended the call.
My parents were researchers and travelers. After I turned five, we started to live by traveling from one city to another, and sometimes we went to another country. Mom said they were looking for someplace, a civilization that transcends modern technology. It was her biggest dream to spend her life over there. And it leads us to here, the Democratic Republic of Congo.
I didn't care about any of that, it was too tiring for a child like me to live abroad or somewhere else for a short time. I never had someone to call a friend because of that. However, it doesn't matter, because my parents always spoiled me and stay by my side.
Deep down, they know that what they were doing was burdening me, and felt guilty about it. But I always said, "It's okay. As long as I have you I can fight the world like Captain America." They just chuckled and keep telling me that someday we could stop living like this. They planned to stop looking for it after a few months, and go back home to New York.
Oh! And by the way, my favorite hero was the super-soldier, Captain America. At school, they taught us how he lived in a justice road even before he becomes a super soldier, beating the villain and bring peace to the world.
At first, he was weak like me without any power, but everyone who knew him said he was the epitome of bravery, justice, and honor. I really admire that. But after I heard he died in the war I was saddened by it for weeks. Imagining your hero fought without knowing that he just saved the world is just too sad.
Back in the car, I was truly bored but I held in for the chance to eat the precious ice cream. Without anything to do, I reached inside the hidden pocket under the backseat. Inside it was a gun, a fully loaded Glock-17.
Why there was a gun you wondering? My father came from a military background. He always keeps some guns inside the car in case of a dangerous situation. Before he retired, Mom said he was a war hero. I didn't know what she meant by that but there was a word hero in it. Wasn't it awesome? My dad also a hero like Captain America.
He always brought me whenever he practiced shooting. So I know a bit about the gun from him. Although he never let me practice with him, he taught me how to hold it, what a safety pin is, and a lot of things. Of course, the gun was safe without a magazine loaded. Once mom was furious when she found out I hold a fully loaded gun, and she beat my Dad like no tomorrow.
*Bang! Bang! Bang!
Suddenly, I heard a gunshot from inside the building. Taken aback by the sound, I put the gun inside the front pocket of the blue hoodie that I wore. With a bang, the building door opened and two people run out side by side, my mom was holding my dad. I see a red mark on the right side of his abdomen, staining his clothes. He was holding it in pain. Opening the door for them I asked my dad, "Dad, are you okay?"
"Stay inside the car, Ed!", shouted my dad.
After putting him on the front seat, mom sat at the front wheel and started the car. Sounds of multiple boots running on the cemented corridor could be heard Dad reached for another secret pocket on top of him and took out an M1911.
"Damn it! They catch up already."
"Vanessa, word. Close your eyes and ear, Ed", said my father smiling at me. I wear my seatbelt and ducked while closing my eyes and covering my ear. I felt the car shaking start speeding onto the road. I heard gunshot multiple times and broken glass window scraping my cheek.
"I knew it was a trap! That bast... bad man must be behind it. Hold on, Victor. I'll get us to the town."
"We won't make it, Vanessa. You take Ed and the car. Go back and find Mervin. He knows what to do.", said dad, grasping my mother's shoulder.
"No! Don't you dare say that! I won't leave you!"
I could see her tears started to slide on her cheek. Behind us motorcycles and car roaring on the road trying to overtake us. The car took a few turns toward the main road when suddenly my dad shouted.
Startled, my mom finally gave in and slowed the car. Seeing my dad opened the door I shouted at him, "Dad, where are you going, get back inside, please." He just smiled at me, "Edward, be a good kid, and take care of your mom. As long as you be good, Daddy will come back to you."
"No! I don't want you to go!"
I could see the look on his face, that moment I knew. Ahh... He won't come back. Inside my head, there's a voice calling me to stop him.
Say it. Tell him to stop. Tell him to get back inside. But, I couldn't. I just sat there, weeping, like a kid, like everyone else did when they were born.
He opened the trunk and took out a machine gun, an M-16, and a few magazine clips inside. The pain in his stomach was getting worse and worse. He was bleeding a lot and getting dizzy at this moment, but he keeps smiling. I looked at him and saw his face. I was speechless. Why are you smiling? You'll be back, right? Unlike Captain America, you will return, right?
"Edward. Turn around, close your eyes, and cover your ears. It will over soon and I'll be back by the time you wake up tomorrow."
He slowly turned back and start aiming. With the barrage of shot, the car starts speeding on the road. I could see my mom grasping the steering wheel while holding her tears that were about to burst out. I keep calling dad inside my head. I closed my eyes and covered my ear like what he told me to do. However, I still heard his struggle and multiple gunshots.
Night soon fell, the sky turned dark and the only light I could see was the stars. Aside from the occasional howling of the nocturnal animal, the night breeze was calm and soothing.
Mom was afraid to turn on the lights. She knew they were still pursuing us. Soon, she could see a forest at the edge of her vision. Turning left the car reached an intersection and stopped.
"My baby, we're here. You know this forest right?"
Looking at the direction mom pointing at, I could see the familiar forest. Passing behind this forest, you will reach the town cemetery. A few weeks ago, dad and I started hunting rockhare rabbits inside the forest. I knew some marking dad used to make while going inside in case we got lost.
I nodded at mom's question. She covered my head with the hood and put my bag on.
"You go first and keep running, don't stop, don't look back no matter what you hear or think. Mom needs to hide the car first so that the bad man can't find us."
She reached into my bag and put something inside, "When you meet uncle Mervin, give him your bag. you understand?"
Back then I didn't understand what she means and just nodded. Why won't she give it to him by herself? She embraced me for a while. It was a deep and long hug, warming my body. She then kisses my forehead and said, "My baby, I love you so much."
Again, that smile, why does everyone keep smiling like that? I hate it. I hate it so much.
I started running into the forest. My little feet started to hurt midway. I wanted to look back, but I was afraid.
I was afraid when I look back she wouldn't be there. I was afraid to see that same face again. I was afraid because I couldn't do anything about it.
I keep running and running until I arrived at a small hill. I saw a knife mark on one of the trees. It's close. I recall what dad used to say to remind me.
"After this look for knife mark and we will arrive at the pond. Remember the right side points to the pond, and once you reach the ponds look for another mark that pointing to the old graveyard."
Gasping for air, I reached the pond and drank a bit. A body of a child couldn't last running so far but I keep holding on. Soon I found the marked tree. It had the same mark, but this one pointed at the graveyard direction. Suddenly, I heard a gunshot from behind.
I already ran for 10 minutes without stopping, but I could still hear the gunshot. Which means they were close. I wanted to get back to find her. But, just when I started running, I stepped on some twigs and fell down the small hill. I twisted my ankle and a rock hit the back of my head causing me to pass out.