Chapter Sixty-Seven

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I was stuck staring up at the clouds.

It reminded me of a time so long ago...back then I'd nearly frozen to death.

But now I wasn't sure what would happen.

My body was slowly regaining movement with each second that passed. My mind raced with thoughts of what had just happened. Asten was somewhere inside, obviously hurt. I'd been dropped out here...back in the snow without reason. They hadn't shot me in the head and left me to die. They may have done the latter, but they didn't shoot me.

I was still breathing.

It took nearly ten minutes of me lying on the hard ground, that was slowly gaining more and more snow, before I finally had full control of my body functions. I slowly sat up and looked around. I was outside of the complex.

I'd escaped.

In the most unexpected way.

The moment was bittersweet. I might have been out, but I was once again alone. And I had no idea what was going on inside, and if Asten and the others were at all okay.

I pushed myself up to my feet, and began to stumble through the snow towards the trees. I couldn't stay by the door, even if I wanted to go back inside and make sure Asten was okay. The snow was getting pretty bad and making it hard to see. I knew there were trees a little while off, but I wasn't sure how far it was. As I continued to struggle my way through the snow, I heard a noise much like the one I'd heard when I'd been kicked out. The sound of metal screeching as a door was opened.

Were they letting me back in, or somebody else out?

For now, I couldn't care. I had to focus on what to do next, even if my emotions were wild and were trying to convince me to do something risky and dangerous. I needed to find cover in the trees, then somehow think of a plan to get the rest of them out of the complex.

Unless it was already too late.

I ignored that thought.

It felt like the snow was purposely working against me. I stopped moving. There was no way I was going to be able to find my way out of the storm like this. It was too hard to see, and at this point, I couldn't even tell if I was going in the right direction.

The screeching noise came again, and I wondered what was going on. Why did they have to open the door so many times? I wondered if maybe they weren't actually letting me go.

They wouldn't let Mace and I leave earlier. Why should they let me go?

I should've known then that something was off about the situation.

The screeching stopped, and for a moment, everything was silent.

And then the shots started.

They came all at once, seemingly everywhere at the same time. Loud bangs erupted in the air, and the sound of bullets slicing through trees and other objects followed. The noise was so loud it erased any possible thought of the silence that had come before it. This was how they were planning on shooting me...this was how it all would end, me back in the snow...getting shot...

But I hadn't gotten shot yet.

And at that moment, the snow began to clear and I could finally see the scene set before me. The moment I saw it, everything got a thousand times clearer.

Lined up in rows were the many people who'd been in the military complex training. Each wore the same, familiar uniforms that I'd worn so many times whenever I'd come outside like this during my training to protect our walls. The snow covered the ground and I could see all of their guns out and ready. It reminded me completely of when I'd first arrived...and how we'd gone outside to protect the borders with our guns ready. They'd told us that the people out there were all guilty...

I guess this was what they did with their prisoners.

I had become the target. It was no longer the little girl from my first day, the one I'd been so curious about. Now they were all aimed at me. And now they could all see clearly where I was, so it would be a thousand times easier to shoot me.

Without second thought, I turned around and sprinted away.

I heard the guns going off again, each one attempting to hit me. I began running in a zigzagging pattern, hoping it would throw them off and increase my chance of survival. The trees were so close now. I didn't even stop to wonder if maybe one of my friends was in that crowd...and they just hadn't realized it was me yet.

The trees turned out to be much closer than I'd expected. I hit the tree line, just as another bullet whizzed by me, nearly nipping my ear. I'd fortunately already been close enough to the tree line to not have gotten shot.

But it wasn't over yet.

I jumped behind a tree, as another bullet shot by, and pressed my back against it, breathing heavily. I had to stay still. If I tried to go out from behind it, there was a high chance of me getting shot. But even so, I had to escape at some point...I had to do something.

I looked around me and couldn't find anything I could possibly use. But then I looked up.

I remembered the snow that had blocked my view earlier. It had chosen just this time to lighten up.

I guess I'd have to change that.

The trees branches were covered in piles of snow. If I could dislodge it, it would create nearly a miniature blizzard in this exact area, and if I could stay behind the fog of snow...I could get out.

This was my chance.

I picked up the nearest stick, a stray bullet almost hitting me as I did. The stick was long enough to reach the branches not too far above me. There was a large pile on the branch above my head. Perfect.

I slammed the end of the stick into the branch.

The snow tumbled down.

Before the snow could even hit the ground, I sprinted away into the snowy forest.

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