He crept farther in, and the water was even deeper. He heard shouts. They were running straight to the stream. He could still see it, and he knew he couldn’t get deep enough into the pipe in time.
Not when the first soldier jumped into the stream.
Elijah flung himself down in the water, taking a deep breath and lying flat out under it. He couldn’t hear what was happening out there, and he wasn’t sure how long he could hold his breath. But he knew that the water was dark, and covered him completely.
Elijah stayed in the pipe till dark. He looked up from the water to catch his breath eventually, his hair dripping into his eyes. They had missed him. But still he waited in the pipe, in the thick, hot air. His leg was numb for a few hours. His neck and shoulders were in a hard, burning cramp by nightfall.
He looked up through the pipe. He hadn’t heard anything for a while, at least an hour.
He leant forward. He stifled a groan and began edging his way back up the pipe and slushed through the water. He was soaked and sticky with dirty water and sweat.
When he got to the end of the pipe, he crouched up on his feet and peered out.
The night buzzed. The moon shot through the branches while wind fluttered the thick leaves. Choppers hummed distantly over the compound, but there wasn’t any sound of anyone on the floor. But the jungle was thick and dark. He wouldn’t really be able to tell if anyone was out there. But if they knew I was here, they would have already come and gotten me.
He ducked under the pipe and stood up in the stream; the numbness in his leg was gone. He bent down and plucked out the dart and threw it back inside the pipe. Looking back around, the river bank was steeper than he would have liked. He only had cuffed hands and a braced back.
Follow the stream, he told himself, you’ll never keep direction in the jungle. But his gut told him to head west, like it had before.
He pulled himself up the riverbank, barely, slipping a few times , his shoes rather slick. He shoved himself head first into the brush. He laid there for a moment, while the leaves quieted down. Then he stood up and started walking.
The jungle never got quiet, but the sound of the choppers distanced out. And the moon didn’t shed very much light, only eerie shafts through the trees where it could break through the canopy.
The branches above him rustled once and while. Creatures croaked in the brush. He listened for the sound he had heard the night before: the warbling bird call. He never heard it.
They hadn’t found him, not yet.
He kept walking, walking as quickly as he could, and navigating as straight as he could. He just wished he could see where he was, and where he was going.
He stopped for a moment to catch his breath. He looked up at the sky, dark with leaves. If only he could climb up there, if his hands weren’t cuffed. He closed his eyes.
Just about 48 hours before, he had been sitting by a window in LaGuardia, waiting for his flight. He had been on the phone with Don.
And Don wasn’t happy that he was taking the next flight to India.
“Yeah, Don, you’ve told me this all before,” Elijah said. He bit a sigh and shook his head. “Don, Don, listen, you’re paranoid. There’s only three people who know about me: myself, you, and my doctor, and I haven’t seen him in over a year, anyway.”
“Is that a fact?” Don asked from the other end.
“Well it’s not fantasy,” he answered.
“Elijah, we’re dealing with fantasy here.”
“Seriously, will you stop it, already? I’m not going to get kidnapped in India.”
“It would be the best place for the Correlation to do it, better than in the States.”
“If they even know I exist.”
“They most likely do.”
“Will you do something for me, Don?”
“Yeah, what is it?”
“As my doctor for a tranquilizer.”
If. Elijah knew that was over now. The Correlation did know he existed.