“A chance?” Elijah repeated. “A chance for what?”
The man looked back over his shoulder.
“A chance to get out,” he answered. Elijah didn’t like the tone in his voice. Too earnest. “You’re in my custody till morning. They’ll be coming for you at 8 am. Escape, or hand yourself over.”
“And what happens if I hand myself over?”
“Well, there’s two things that could happen. The best is that they do some testing on you and let you go with minimal monitoring.”
“They take you in for experimentation and no one ever hears of you again.”
Elijah didn’t answer. The two of them stayed in silence. Elijah knew if he could get to the Appalachians he could survive in the wild, but he could only guess that the Correlation knew that too.
He glanced up at the man. He was still looking at him.
“Then I guess I should get going,” Elijah said. He stood up.
“Then you’re taking the chance?” The man turned around. Elijah shrugged.
“I’ll probably get caught either way, but hey, at least I’ll get caught running.”
Elijah didn’t return anything. Instead he turned back around and once again made for the door.
“You’re not going to stop me this time, are you?” he said, stopping once.
The man turned with his hands in his pockets. But he didn’t answer him. So Elijah picked up his backpack and went down the hall.
He went out the front door and down the porch steps. It was still quiet and dark outside. He headed off of the driveway and towards the woods, away from the light of the house. He pushed through the thick hedge and down a small slope, slipping with sticks and leaves. He went on a little while in the dark, until pausing to make sure the house was out of sight.
He crouched down.
The forest hummed with bugs, and crickets chirped up in the trees, sometimes sounding like little saws grading against the bark. The wind flapped the leaves. But nothing seemed to be moving in the underbrush.
He took off his jacket and stuffed it in his bag. He loosened both the straps, then took out his pocket knife and cut one strap at the top, the other at the bottom. He tied the cut ends together, making one loose strap.
He looked around once again.
He slung his bag over his head and shoulder. He stood up, and found a tree to climb. He went up it, deftly, and used his talons to climb it. He made it to the top.
He pushed his way up through the highest of the branches, thin and windy. He looked out at the night.
He could see the house, a little above him on the hill. He could hear the roar of the sea clearer up there, and the moon was brighter. He balanced up higher, and unfurled his wings.
Out of his arms they came. The feathers flapped red and brown as they met the wind.
Then he leapt and took off into the night sky.
He was happy to find there were no lights on in his apartment when he saw it from above. He swooped down between the buildings, not a very wide strip. He dropped down on his porch rail, silently.
The curtains were closed. But he saw a flashlight blink from inside.
There’s goes my hope of no one being at home.
He stayed perched on the rail for a moment. The flashlight kept searching on inside. It was dark around the back of the apartment and in the alley below. A few cars rolled by on the opposite street. Otherwise the night stayed quiet.
He stepped down on the porch. He knew the screen door would be open; he never locked it.
He swung it open and burst through the curtains.
“Who are you?”
The next moment the light was in his eyes and a gun clicked. He dropped and rolled forward, thinking he heard a shot. He knocked into the person and jumped up. He grabbed their wrists. They swung up their legs and kicked him in the gut.
Elijah rolled up just in time before they got to the door.
He flexed out his talons and grabbed their shirt collar, swinging them around and holding them round the neck. The flashlight dropped and went off. He slammed them against the wall.
“Who are you?” he yelled again. They both breathed sharply. Wind swept up in the curtains. Moonlight strayed in.
It was Adrian.