Chapter 25

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Zach takes in a deep breath as though he's deciding a life or death situation. I'm not sure if that's what you can call it but he seemed pretty serious when he explained everything in the bathroom.

"Okay, so I've only had this... power thing for a while now." Zach starts. "I don't even know how I got it. I mean, one minute I'm a normal boy doing normal things. Next minute I got this weird power that makes me like some male Elsa."

He pauses. I nod at him to keep going.

"Yeah, so I knew that I couldn't tell mum. I got really scared and started wondering if I was going crazy. Then one day I was just walking home from school and this boy came up next to me. I didn't know it was Josh at the time but he was nice. Helped me a lot. He explained the situation—"

"Which is?" Angie cuts in. "Cut the faffing about, Zach."

"The situation, Angie, is that the Government hate me. They hate Josh. They hate every single other person like us. They want us cut out from the picture."

"In short, they want you dead," Angie finishes.

"Yes," Zach says a bit wearily. I breathe in sharply at the news. "If they find out I'm one of what I am, they'll be at our house, trying to... kill me."

Angie lets out a low whistle. I sit there with my mouth half open, drinking all this in. It's scary knowing just the amount of danger that Zach's in. I don't even know if I believe it—I mean would you?

"Keep going," I prompt.

"So what I'm doing now—telling you this. It's extremely dangerous. It's so risky that throwing myself tied up in a cage into the sea would be better."

"Stop the exaggeration too, Zach," Angie huffs. "It can't be that bad."

"Oh it is. Josh's dad and little brother faced the consequences."

My mouth goes dry. I don't even know what to think. Joshua told me that his family got lost in the storm. I never knew that they may have been victims under the Government's control.

"That is bad," I mumble.

"See? You know it now. I made the storm along with Josh. Biggest one we ever made."

"That's why you tried to warn mum the night before!" Angie exclaims, piecing the rest of the puzzle together. "When we were playing Chubby Bunny!"

"That's it. I didn't want you guys in danger. The storm was a distraction. An obstacle. Josh told me that they were near—sniffing us out. We made a storm to block them. Make their way slower."

Yeah, I think. And you killed my father.

I rid that thought from my head. Even though the waiting-pain will never pause from stabbing me, I can't blame Zach. I can't put it between us.

But it comes back. Stronger.

Zach and Josh made this storm for their own selfish gain, just to keep the government off their backs. Although it hurts, I can understand Josh's pain. His family were 'unfortunate'. Like Dad, his family didn't make it.

But Zach. Zach lost nothing.

And so there is this crushing pain within me, the pain of waiting.

"You killed my father," I whisper.

The conversation stops. Angie turns to me, wide-eyed. Her mouth opens slightly in shock and she shakes her head as though asking herself if she heard my statement properly.

"He died," I repeat. "Because Zach killed him."

Then she crumbles into me and it's the strangest feeling because I'm the one who's meant to be crumbling.

Zach faces me. I'll never forget the look of horror on his face. His eyes wide, his fists clenched, clutching at the soil.

"I'm sorry," is all he can stutter.

And hidden inside a bush, clinging to my best friend, staring into Zach's eyes, I believe him.

"You didn't mean what you did," I say softly. "I mean, I want to hate you but..."

And it's true. His horror is genuine. He will live with the guilt for the rest of his life.

Angie shifts in her space uncomfortably, wiping her eyes. She peels herself off me, but I know she is not the same as mere seconds ago.

"You made their way slower," I say to Zach. "Carry on."

He bobs his head, swallowing hard. "We made the storm to make their way slower. We knew all the snow would block the roads but we didn't know it was going to be big."

"But doesn't that make it worse?" I ask. "I mean, once they see this massive storm they'll bound to know that one of you guys are near."

"Exactly," Zach concludes, voice shaky. "Which is why I need to move... fast."

"Where?" Angie demands, furious all of a sudden.

"Anywhere but here. I don't want them finding me," Zach replies. "I'm planning on leaving tonight."

"But you can't just go, Zach!" I protest. "What about your family?"

"Yeah!" Angie supports. "What about me?"

"If those guys come, what will happen to us? We know things, Zach!" I say. "You're explaining everything!"

"Which is why I said I shouldn't," Zach replies a bit hotly. "If Josh hadn't got you in this mess, you wouldn't know any of this. You wouldn't be in danger anymore and nor would my sister!"

"I'm coming with you," Angie declares. "I don't care what you say. I'm running away too."

"But what about your Mum?" I ask. "She'll worry."

"I have to, Amelia," Zach says. "If you want to stay protected, I have to."

I pause.

"I couldn't protect you last time," he says quietly. "I couldn't protect your Dad. But now I have a chance to and I'm going to do all it takes to make everyone safe. So I'm leaving."

Outside the trees rustle in the breeze and there's the sound of leaves crackling underfoot. I check my watch and realise it's almost five and Angie's mum will be expecting us home. Actually, my mum will be expecting me home too.

"I've got to go," I tell the others.

"We should go too," Zach tells Angie. "Mum will want us home soon."

We make our way out of the bushes and brush ourselves down, trying to pretend that nothing happened. Then, we walk back but as we round the last corner onto Angie's street, something's different. Their door is wide open and I see an armed officer inside.

Zach curses. Angie gasps. I don't do anything.

"We're too late," Zach whispers. "They found me already."

What do you guys think of this chapter? Do you think Zach's explanation is reasonable enough or do you want more?

Can't wait to hear your ideas on this. School is starting tomorrow so my updates will be a lot slower than usual.

Happy reading!


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