Where are the missing?
Sarah's heart raced as she ran through the dark forest.
She had grabbed a prepacked bag filled with her essentials and few pieces from her past.shed planned this trip for months.
The life she had was over; her world had ended.
She'd been through every scenario and she needed to survive. The urge welling up inside of her with such force that she wanted to scream. She fought back the sensation and began to cry.
At the edge of the cliff;
She took the cliff hanging gear from her backpack , lassoing a boulder, she repelled into a small cave.
She unhooked her heart shaped looking at the pictures .
Inside, a picture of her mother after Sarah was just born.Sarah's mother died of cancer when she was 13 years old and now her father and her brother were gone too.
The other a picture of Sarah and her brother Andrew with their Dads arms around them.
Sarah's Father and brother had been among the first to join the rebellion. The government had swooped in and taken over like a brood parasite relying on others to "raise their young"; to create weak people who blindly follow . Manipulating them into thinking that they're part of us. But really just working their own agenda.
The normalities of life became less and less until Freedom was almost non-existent.
Afterwards,the greatest civil war known to man began. Her Father also told her about The Refuge. There's no fighting, and the people there were setting up a new government . He said it would be like stepping back in time .
No electricity,cars,internet or phones. All of the food is grown there, including meat.
It's also heavily guarded.
Sarah's mind flickered back to reality and she drifted off to sleep.
The next morning, Sarah climbed down out of the cave to a trickling stream in the rock bed below. She needed to replace her water supply.
Someone would come looking for her but she'd bought herself some time.
She called work yesterday and said that she had a stomach virus. That'd give her a two day head start, at least.
Eventually,she found the spring and replaced her water supply.
She continued on the narrow, rocky path until she came to a field .
The sun dipped beneath the tree line as she cautiously approached the dilapidated barn.
It appeared to have once been a place that housed several horses. the horse stall would provide her a sense of security as she slept.
For once in her life,she was glad that she didn't have a phone to call someone. There was no one left to call.
She reminisced about their trips to the Beach . She wished that each special memory of her time with her family could be locked away in her heart shaped locket.
Sarah went back to her mental checklist , right where she left off.
Her next stop used to be a church before the government shut it down.
Now, it was basically part of an underground network . No one would be there to greet her but there would be food ,a shower,and a cot to sleep on.
That night as she slept she was awakened by a scraping sound that woke her from her dream.
" It couldn't be them", she thought, as she searched quickly in her bag for the large Bowie knife. She removed it from its sheath and quietly stood up peering through a crack in the stable door.
A young woman came in through the red door. Sarah really didn't know what to do. She knew there was no way she was getting anymore sleep; unless, she killed her. But then she'd never forgive herself.
She waited for hours until the young woman fell asleep. Quietly exiting the barn she made her way through the clearing ; returning into the dark woods.
Sarah could feel the cold air against her skin. She pulled the hood of her jacket up to cover her head.
She was sure that the sun would be coming up in a few hours but she had to keep moving.
Now the "Church" was all she could think about. Good food , a hot shower and a safe place to sleep sounded really good right about now.
The "Church" was 5 miles from the red barn. She guessed that if she kept moving she'd be there by daybreak.
Back in the barn the young woman suddenly awoke. It felt different to her somehow like something had changed. She shook her phone and her flashlight came on .it was still pretty dark inside the barn. She got up dusted off the hay from her jeans and began to look around . She checked each of the old horse stalls and found nothing until she looked inside the last stall. She found the wrapper from some beef jerky and the foot prints left in the dirt of the stall. Someone had just been here! She was lucky to be alive. She decided to take up residence in the last stall and she wondered who had left her behind and why?
When Sarah, finally arrived at the " Church" she could barely keep going. She found the cellar that her father had told her about before the war and she made her way down the steps. She was able to find a fully stocked freezer and fridge and made herself a lasagna and a glass of sweet tea. She would miss having a microwave in the new City known as The Refuge.
It was almost funny the things that she would miss. They seemed so small and insignificant yet these comforts kept coming to mind.
Still, she could never go back to the city. Even with all of its modern conveniences the City couldn't tempt her to return. There were too many dark secrets there and a War with no peace in sight.
She took a hot shower and found clothes left there for those seeking solitude from the City. Sarah spent her evening coloring in an adult coloring book that read,"I can't adult today."
She wished she didn't have to be so grown up. That she had a mom to call or a Dad to run to when she was scared. There was no one to run to except strangers.
For the first time since the death of her father and brother Sarah slept peacefully knowing that a new beginning was just within reach.
Ryan showed up at the Office building at 9:00 am sharp. He tried calling Sarah but her phone went straight to voicemail.
After work he decided to check on his employee and drove by her apartment building.
Her car was in its designated spot so he went and rang the doorbell ; hoping to get buzzed in or at least hear her voice and know that she was feeling better.There was no answer. He waited outside her apartment for about 20 more minutes and continued to call her phone which kept going to voicemail; he didn't want to leave any more messages. He decided to call the Police, instead; just for a welfare check.
When the Police arrived. They'd already contacted the Lanlord.They entered her building and walked hurriedly up the stairs to her apartment. Sarah Shea this is the Police. Can you hear us ? Please let us know that you're ok and come to the door. They repeated themselves but
there was nothing, absolutely no sounds coming from her apartment. They waited a few more minutes and then forcibly entered.
Nothing seemed out of place . Nothing was missing except Sarah. This was now another missing persons case. What was happening to them all ? Where could they be going? This was the 20th missing persons case this month!
Ryan didn't say anything to the Police about what he thought was going on. He just told them the facts. She had called three nights ago explaining how she had gotten a stomach bug and would need to regain her strength before coming back to work. That was all he knew.
Ryan believed that a couple of things could be going on and he really didn't like any of the options. One that she was in a local hospital and just hadn't felt like calling into work. For Sarah's sake he really hoped that was all it was. Two that someone had taken her ? And three and possibly the hardest option for him to stomach. That Sarah had gone " off the grid " and was tired of her life living under the constricting guidelines government.
The time on the microwave read 9:00; wow! She hadn't gotten that much rest in days. She was feeling very chipper today and was hoping to make good time.
She would have liked to stay here for several more days. But until she reached the refuge she wouldn't be safe.
She filled her water bottle, took a few cans of food, and walked back up the stairs.
She needed the cover of the woods and didn't want to stay out in the open.
This was the last leg of her journey. By now her boss and maybe even the Police would be looking for her. One of her co-workers was probably passing out flyers and stapling them to city light poles. Surely, by now she was labeled as one of the missing. But this time she had been the one to make herself disappear.
"One more day, that's all I have
One more day and I can start living my life again
I can be Free!", Sarah said to herself.
Sarah walked through the woods. The dense forest with it's briars attacking her arms as she trudged through. She was trying to stay off of the main path. She needed to go unseen.
She managed to walk for several hours before seeing the large fortress through the trees. Immediately, she knew that this was the place her father had told her about. She quickened her speed and then began to run.
That's when she heard it. She turned and in the distance saw the lights of a black SUV. It was gaining speed and coming right towards her!
It chased her out of the wooded area and into the clearing .
Sarah ran like her life depended on it. She finally made her way to a heavily guarded gate and she screamed," Let me in, I'm Sarah Shea ,I've come to join The Refuge! They're coming for me! "
Immediately, the gates opened and the black SUV slunk back into the darkness. They had lost another one of the missing to this place. Of course they knew about it, but they didn't let the general population know ; How could they? The last thing they needed was another uprising. Soon the war would end. As the men fighting would either be killed in battle or would themselves retreat into the City known as The Refuge. Only time would tell. They would have to figure out a way to infiltrate The Refuge. Either that or come up with some great lie to explain the missing. For now, they would let them be. They knew exactly where they were anyway.
Sarah found herself fighting back tears and being welcomed with open arms into the Refuge.
She came to love it here and didn't miss the trivial conveniences as much as she thought she would.
She learned to grow her own food. She learned how to sew and make clothes. She found her sense of belonging in The Refuge. Not just the place but the people here. Those tired of going along with the status quo. Those unafraid to stand up for family and values. Those biding their time to rescue many more people from a life without meaning.
Sarah remembered what her father had told her about how to find The Refuge.
She was so greatful that he had saved her yet again even when she could no longer run into his arms.