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Inhabitable | Invasion Survivor Book Two | Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Two

“Get up, boys and girls. It’s morning. We need to get moving.”

Paige heard her mom’s voice as she opened the wardrobe doors, letting the light in. Yawning, Paige, Willow, Tilley, and Peter all climbed out.

Paige stretched, glad to be out of that cramped space at last. It was still weird to sleep at all. She didn’t need it, and her troubled mind wouldn’t let her have a moment of peace anyway.

“We don’t have much time. Hurry up,” Angela urged.

There wasn’t much to do other than go to the bathroom and grab some more food. Paige marveled at the small luxuries she’d been granted. A shower would be great, too, but she didn’t want to push her luck.

As she ate breakfast, she ate slower this time, savoring each bite. If they were really leaving the planet for good, that would mean no more Captain Crunch or Milky Way bars for her.

Soon, they were out on the street and walking as fast as they could. They still tried to avoid strangers because of her mother’s paranoia.  They spent the next few days walking and the nights hiding in various abandoned apartments. Paige felt like she was on a pilgrimage or something, traveling across the land on foot.

“We’re pretty close to the NASA base,” Angela announced on the fifth day, and those words made Paige’s heart race.

Finally, I’ll get to see my Dad.

“I can’t wait to get there,” Willow said, voicing Paige’s own thoughts. “My feet ache from all the walking.”

“I know, Willow,” Paige said. She knew what her sister must have been feeling, but she didn’t feel it at all. Her feet didn’t hurt. In fact, she couldn’t feel any pain at all anymore.  

“I hope my dad is there,” Tilley said, and Willow gave her a hug.

“I’m sure he is,” she tried to reassure her friend.

“Girls, I can see it already. We’re almost there.” Her mother actually sounded excited, and Paige smiled.  It was getting dark, and they were passing the last of the apartment buildings.

“Should we spend the night in one of the these? In a wardrobe?” Paige asked, gesturing toward the buildings. She was surprised to see her mother scurry past the last building in a hurry without so much as a passing glance.

“No,” Angela said flatly.

That surprised Paige. “Mom, it’s dangerous to be outside at night!” Paige countered, shocked at her mother’s reply. Paige was terrified of the black wave.

“I know, Paige.”

“Then why are we risking it and staying outdoors now?” Paige argued, slowing down.

Paige’s mother turned to look at her. “We don’t have any other choice. We’re running out of time. I don’t want us to miss the last space shuttle taking people to the other planet. We really need to hurry up,” she explained in one breath.

Willow looked at Paige and nodded in agreement. Paige knew her mother was right. She was aware they needed to get there on time, but she still didn’t like it.

The sun was setting fast, and their decision needed to be made quickly. Without discussing it further, they started running. Thankfully, Paige’s legs were strong and felt like she could run faster and for a very long time.

Paige still had to hold back and keep pace because she had the rest of the gang to think about. At some point, she picked Peter up and carried him.

As they ran, the compound started to get larger and larger until finally—miraculously—they were practically at the gates.

We are finally here! Paige mentally exclaimed, feeling massive relief.

This journey had lasted a long time, but at last, they’d arrived. Paige could see the compound which was lined with tourist space shuttles.

There was a metal mesh fence around the grounds to keep crowds from breaking in and climbing aboard. Paige was glad to see so many people had survived, but doing some math, Paige wasn’t sure there would be enough space for everyone, and that was heartbreaking.

There were so many people gathered around the fence, all of them trying to get into the compound. Everyone wanted to get off the planet.

But would they?

Paige looked at the metal fence and tried to come up with a way to get through it. They needed to find a way inside because waiting with the rest of the people wasn’t an option.

Paige noticed her mother kneeling. She was rummaging through her bag, searching for something.

Hopefully a pair of fence cutters, Paige joked.  After a few seconds, she took out the black disc she’d gone back for at the institution. “Brooke! Brooke!” she spoke into it. “It’s me, your mom! It’s time to go, Brooke.”

Paige looked at the thing in her hand and waited to hear Brooke’s voice, but nothing happened. There was no response. There wasn’t even static or anything from the other end. Panic-stricken, Paige looked at her mother.

“Brooke!” Angela continued as if it was normal, but Brooke wasn’t answering. “We’re already here, and waiting for you to get us. Brooke, it’s time for you to come get us.”

“Mom, why isn’t she answering?” Willow asked suddenly, beating Paige to the punch. Her face was flushed with fear.

“Brooke! Brooke!” Angela carried on speaking into the disc, ignoring all of them. “We’re here and waiting for you. You’ve got to hurry! We don’t have much time!”

Frustrated, scared, and disappointed, Paige looked at Willow only to discover her expression matched her own.

That thing was a complete waste of our time...

“Mom, what should we do?” Willow asked with desperation in her voice.

Paige walked over to her mother and looked intently at the object, feeling hopeless. She wasn’t an expert on alien technology—if it was even a piece of technology in the first place and not something random their mother found somewhere.  Still, Paige prayed Brooke would say something, but she didn’t.

“Look there!” someone in the crowd said.

 People began to look up and point toward the sky. Paige looked up to see an alien spaceship hovering above the compound, and fear seized her. 

Not them, not now! Not when we are so close!

Paige filled with panic and desperation, wishing she had the ability to blow it up, just like AJ did with the other one.  Unfortunately, that was impossible.  For starters, she couldn’t get up there without being a prisoner, and since the Shadows were really big fans of hers, she needed to stay away from them as much as possible. It was night, and there was no place for her to hide any longer. Their only solution and salvation was her dad. Paige had to find a way to get in touch with him. If she still had her phone, things would be much simpler, but it was destroyed like every other electrical device. With every passing second, Paige started to worry that even her father wouldn’t be able to help them.

“We need a way to get into the compound,” Paige said, thinking out loud.

They were running out of time and couldn’t rely on everyone to come and help them. They only had one another, but to Paige, that was plenty.

Glancing at the spaceship, Paige was painfully aware that very soon the aliens would be right here among them. That was when the real problems would begin. If only she had her friends with her as well. Somehow, all her problems looked less frightening in a group.

“Mom, Paige, look!” Willow suddenly called out in a soft voice, not wanting to alert the others.

Paige glancing around to see if someone had eavesdropped. Satisfied that people were completely ignoring them, she looked to where Willow was pointing.

There was a hole in the metal mesh fence. Paige couldn’t believe her eyes.

Willow looked at her with a massive smile on her face, and Paige grinned back. She pushed open the fence a little more to make room for them to fit through.

 “Mom,” Paige prompted. “Let’s get to the other side and make a run for it. We can’t waste any more time. Otherwise, we won’t make it.”

Angela looked up from the comm device. “Yes, of course. It’s big enough for all of us,” she replied a bit absentmindedly.

Her mother crawled through the hole first. Willow came next, then Peter and Tilley, leaving Paige to squeeze through last. Once they all went through, they sprinted toward the compound.

The people on the other side of the fence noticed them and started crawling through the hole as well. Naturally, guards moved to try and stop the others from breaking in. The guards pushed them back and yelled at them, warning them to step back.

“Move away from the fence or we’ll shoot!”

Paige gulped at that threat, even though it wasn’t meant for them. Luckily, no one stopped them while they ran.

“We need to find Dad!” Paige yelled over her shoulder to her mother.

“Where can we find him?” Willow asked as she picked up speed to run beside Paige.

She held Tilley’s and Peter’s hands, and her mom had Willow’s. Her mom also carried two of her bags on the other hand, and Paige had one on her back.

They looked at one another and, in the new formation, started running even faster.

“Mom! Please don’t fall behind!” Paige pleaded.

She was running after them, the comm device still in her hand as she desperately continued to get a hold of Brooke.

“Hurry up, Mom! Where are we going? I don’t know the way!” Paige tried to get her attention.

They had visited their dad there several times, but Paige was never good with directions, and Willow was too small then and probably couldn’t remember.

“Go through that door,” Angela yelled, pointing.

Paige nodded. Once they arrived, she pushed the door open with one hand, and it swung back and hit the wall. Oops. She’d used a bit too much force on it.

There was a clink as something fell to the ground. Once they were inside, she looked to see that it was a metal lock.

I broke the lock on the door.

Willow looked at it amazed, and Paige was pretty impressed herself, too. Paige could barely recognize the surroundings inside the building. It was Angela who could find their dad now since she was familiar with the layout here. She’d visited him more times than any of them.

Angela looked around as they ran through the corridors. “Guys, we’re headed in the right direction! Keep going!”

“Now turn right, Paige!” she directed, and Paige took a sharp turn with Tilley and Peter, Willow and Mom on her heels.

Right in front of them, Paige saw something that made her sigh in relief. Dad’s office.

Paige pushed down on the handle as Willow began to bang on the window. Dad was inside and grinned as obvious relief washed over him.  The door wouldn’t open. “It’s locked!” her father yelled.

“Not for long! Paige, together,” Willow said, and Paige frowned.

She quickly realized why Willow had said that. She clearly didn’t want their dad to see their strength. Paige put Peter down, so she could help her sister.

“On three. One… two… three,” Willow counted down. They both ran at the door, and it immediately gave way. It swung open and hit the wall just like the previous one.

Paige’s Dad looked stunned, but it only lasted for a second.

“Daddy!” Willow ran to him with open arms and wrapped them around him before he could even speak. Paige joined in.

“Thank goodness you’re here!” His worried eyes sparkled with happiness. “We don’t have much time. Where’s your mother?” he asked, looking at Peter and Tilley in confusion.

Paige didn’t get a chance to explain.

“I’m right here,” she answered from outside the office. “What are you guys waiting for?” She shook her head in disapproval. They were wasting time.

At that moment, through the window in Paige’s Dad’s office, she could see a crowd of people running towards the spaceships.

They managed to break through!

Some of them were stumbling and falling, while others jumped over them as they tried to make it to the ships first.

“We’ve got to hurry,” her dad said, urgently.

“That’s what I’ve been telling you!” Angela snapped back.

Paige cringed, this was not the time nor place for them to have a fight.

“Angela, I’m sorry I didn’t believe you,” Paige’s father apologized.

“Why would you? I sounded crazy,” Angela replied with a shrug as she flashed a quick smile. Still, her eyes looked as wild as her hair.

Suddenly, the room brightly lit up. It was coming from the outside.

Beams from the alien spaceship shone down on the ground.

Here we go again, Paige thought in desperation.

Paige shuddered as she watched people’s frantic attempts to survive. The petrified screams of those outside gave her goosebumps. People started running in different directions as they tried to avoid being taken. Black masses started to form within the light beams.

They were here.

The black masses turned into alien forms, and there they stood, holes for eyes and mouths. Paige could hardly breathe as panic ripped through her. She couldn’t stand the thought of being captured by them again.

“Come on,” someone ordered, and Paige followed without question.

They ran out of the building and headed towards the tourist ships. All Paige could hear were shrieks and screams, but she moved forward regardless.

Guards standing in front of the ships fired at the people to stop them.

“Dad!” Paige yelled in exasperation. It was clear they wouldn’t make it this way.

“Listen, Paige,” he gripped her shoulders and looked into her eyes, forcing her to calm down. “There are more spaceships on the other side of the compound. We need to make a run for them. We’re losing time. Follow me,” he ordered, and Paige nodded vigorously, even though she was beyond shaken.

Trying not to lose it, she focused on the task at hand. Just make it to the space shuttles on the other end of the compound in one piece. Willow and Mom had overhead the exchange and nodded in agreement.

Peter was Paige’s arms while Willow was in her dad’s. He also carried one of Angela’s bags, and Tilley was beside them as they all ran together. Other people saw them change direction and began to follow.

As Paige ran, she could hear the roar of the black wave as it was set loose behind them. Remembering how it felt to be gripped by that thing, how it drowned her in that pod, Paige wanted to let loose as well. She wanted to make her legs take flight but knew she couldn’t.

At first, the sound was soft, but it gradually became louder. Paige was afraid to look back, afraid she would be swallowed by it and lose every chance she had at salvation. She imagined that by now she’d used all her nine lives up. Peter hugged her even tighter, and that made Paige focus on escaping by any means necessary.

Paige had no idea how many people the black wave had taken while chasing them, but one thing was still certain—it was coming.

She tried her best to run faster, but it was impossible to use full strength. If she did, she would end up leaving her parents behind.

Unfortunately, she could sense the black wave behind her, almost touching her ankles. Suddenly, Paige felt the wave as it grabbed a hold of her feet, causing her to fall to the ground, and Peter screamed.

As she stumbled, Paige looked up and watched in horror as the black wave captured her entire family.

“Paige!” Peter shouted as he, too, was captured.

Nooo!”  Paige shrieked and struggled to escape.

Anger washed over her, and she began to think about everything her family had been through. She had the same black mass inside of her body. That means I’m stronger than before, she reminded herself. This was no time for negativity!

As before, she accomplished nothing as she fought. The wave was more powerful than her, but she continued to fight anyway.

Suddenly, electric blue spheres appeared out of nowhere. The black wave was knocked away almost instantly, and Paige was free to stand on the ground once more. The spheres released her parents and Willow, Tilley, and Peter as well. Paige moved to huddle with her family.

She couldn’t believe her eyes. Paige simply couldn’t believe it when she saw that the blue spheres were exactly like the ones AJ had used to rescue her on the alien spaceship.

How is that possible?

***

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