15. The Initiation

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Charlie

We took to the back roads, sticking to the paths that had never been paved and had since overgrown with poison ivy, weeds, and tree roots. I knew the paths well; I had explored them for hours in my earlier summers and had found all the best hiding spots for hide and seek.

It was hard keeping up with Tane, seeing as she was some kind of female version of the Flash. But Gaius, who was holding onto Kelsie, I could stay next to for the most part. Kelsie was just a regular human like me. Dethany ran behind me but she wasn't exactly a track star. We passed houses, our shadows getting longer and longer.

 The sun came in flashes between each house; it was getting lower in the sky. Sunset was good. It meant cover of darkness, which was definitely something we needed.

"This way ends soon!" I gasped out, my body screaming at me to stop. "We have to take the main road for a while." Gaius growled under his breath, but he nodded and jerked hard to the right. We all seemed like some strange sprinting group except for Kelsie in her obviously medical outfit.

No sooner had we entered the large road did we hear shouts and yells from far off.

"Oh, shit," Dethany cursed from behind me.

"We must move faster."

I nodded at Tane's demand. I could do faster. Not for long, but I could do it. Dethany would have to, too.

"D, catch up!" I yelled, not even hearing her footsteps anymore. I looked over my shoulder at her and my stomach dropped. She was too far behind us. "Dethany!"

            Dethany sped up and tripped. I went back for her, seeing that Tane and Gaius were taking Kelsie ahead.

"Come on, D, get up!" I urged, feeling sweat trickle down the middle of my chest.

Dethany shook her head. "GO!" Then I shook my head. "Do you think with smoker's lung and two left feet I can really keep up? I can distract them! Go!" I bit my lip and knew that if my life were a movie, Dethany would have been the one to sacrifice herself. And that was, I guess, essentially what she was doing.

How did she think she was going to distract them? They'd just stampede right over her. I blinked, trying to rephrase in my mind. Stampede sounded like we were outnumbered, which I didn't want to think about.

I couldn't waste time talking to Dethany when Tane and Gaius and Kelsie were nearly out of sight.

The sun was gone. The sky was an odd purple-blue. I nodded at Dethany and turned heel to catch up with them. I saw Tane's hair swinging first, the moon helped with light. It wasn't full, but it was pretty close.

"The woods!" I yelled ahead, "We can lose them in the woods!" There was only one wood for miles. Everything else was swamp. I hoped we'd get lucky and the search squad would start in the swamps. We just needed some time. Any time.

We bolted over some fences, Gaius and Tane far more easily than Kelsie and I. I felt like we were slowing them down, from their nervous looks to one another. They didn't complain and never even showed signs of irritation. I swatted a tree branch out of my way and ducked under a low twig.

Gaius grabbed Kelsie's wrist; it boosted her speed whether she wanted it to or not. Tane ran behind them, looking like she was protecting the flank, and I brought up the rear, always calling out directions and keeping us to the back-routes into the woods.

Soon the trees were in sight, and we sprinted for them. My breath came in harsh, ragged spurts. I couldn't do this for much longer. I heard barking. Dogs. They were sending search dogs after us?

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