Chapter 5:

Hitting the Fan

Motor (Part 1)

My eyes grew wide. What was Courtney even saying? Didn’t she know what was going on? I took a step back, feeling a little weak in the knees.
“Courtney, you don’t know what you’re asking,” I said, trying to stand straight. I felt exposed, I felt like I was in danger. Like an animal feeling like he was being watched, I felt myself grow increasingly edgy. My eyes darted every which way, every shadow was a threat.
“You need to get out of here, act like you don’t know me, something, anything! Just go!”
I turned and started to run but Courtney’s voice caught me.
I stopped, looking at her. Courtney looked at me before following me down the street. When she caught up, she looked like she was on the verge of tears. My face fell. It’s just like I thought would happen. She didn’t believe me after all. She was worried I was sick, or going insane or something. I was alone in this, I was sure of it; part of me wanted it that way. Even if it would take the whole school thinking I was insane just so they wouldn’t be hurt, I’d gladly shoulder that burden. I started to turn away, somewhat convinced that I had tied off any loose ends before starting this mission, when I felt Courtney’s hand on my shoulder. I turned, my hands shaking by now, and saw Courtney looking at the ground. I couldn’t see her face, but her voice spoke with a waver, but held confidence.
“Michael, I want to help. You’re my friend.”
For a half second, I wanted to believe her. I wanted her help. I didn’t want my friend, someone I cared for a lot, to leave me now. But the moment was gone when I thought I saw a person’s shadow cast itself on the sidewalk a little ways away. Mad fear gripped me. It was a government agent here to kill me! I was toast! I had to run! Now! Pushing Courtney’s hand away, I pushed her away before shouting a last directive.
“Courtney, you have to leave, just go! Don’t stay here, it’s dangerous!”
Courtney struck back. She stamped her foot and screamed, “You’re my best friend and I’m not leaving you!”
Then the shot rang out. Both of us caught our breath. I felt something hot singe my arm, I could barely hear Courtney scream, and in the blind panic that followed, we were both already down the street and turning the corner in a matter of seconds. The only thing I could think of was to get to where Suzuki was. I’d found that my friend’s uncle (the friend at work who liked the bike) had a storage shed. He said he’d put it behind all the other boxes of stuff he hadn’t gotten around to sorting yet. No one, he assured me, would think of looking for it in there. He didn’t understand how valuable the bike was, just that it was expensive and could possibly be stolen. I just hoped he was right. I knew where it was, though; four blocks down, in a parking garage similar to the one in my apartment complex. I looked back at Courtney, who was sprinting alongside me quite in sync with my running, and her only thought seemed to be that I kept moving. She didn’t look fearless, but her words held courage.
“Keep going Michael! We’ve gotta’ get away from that guy!”
Once we got to the apartment complex, I pointed and hollered, “It’s this one, right here!”
Whipping out the key I was given, I quickly slammed it into the lock and opened it. Kicking the door open, Courtney ran inside before I looked for the bike. I heard Courtney close the door and we quickly put a filing cabinet up in front of the door. Then I ran to the stack of boxes, finding they were untouched.
“Suzuki.” I said in a harsh whisper. “Suzuki, are you there?”
I tossed boxes this way and that. As I got about halfway to the back of the room, I heard a familiar voice.
“Michael. Is that you?”
“Suzuki.” I said, relieved. I pushed a few more boxes aside and saw the blank-eyed person sitting with her back to the locker, looking up at me. She looked the same as before, complete with her armor-covered suit.
“How are you?” I asked, coming alongside her, “are you ok?”
“I am fine.” Suzuki said, and I led her to the door after she stood up.
“Someone’s found me, Suzuki,” I said, getting down to business, “and they’re on the move. We’ve got to go.”
I looked over at Suzuki, and her eyes scanned the floor. “Someone must have told them you still had me in your possession.”
I fumed a bit. How could that be? Who would do something like that? But, yet again, there was a lot that hadn’t made sense over the past few hours, so, what was one more mystery? Suzuki looked up upon seeing Courtney, and stopped.
“She’s my friend, Courtney,” I explained, “Courtney, this is Suzuki.”
I hoped Suzuki wouldn’t assume Courtney was an enemy or something.
“Were you targeted as well, Courtney?” Suzuki asked.
Courtney took a step forward. “Michael was telling me what all this was about when someone tried to shoot us.”
“How far?” Suzuki asked me quickly.
“Two, maybe three minutes. This place is hidden, it would take awhile to find it, that much is for sure.”
“Then let’s go.” Suzuki replied, and a moment later was changed into a bike, my helmet hung on one of the handlebars.
Courtney pushed the filing cabinet aside and threw the door open. She left the room then looked back a couple moments later, gesturing for me to ride out. I drove past her than stopped. I looked at her over my shoulder.
“Get somewhere safe, Courtney. I don’t want you to get involved.”
But Courtney wasn’t listening. She ran up to me and threw her leg over the bike, sitting behind me. I was surprised beyond words. This wasn’t the shy Courtney I knew from freshman year.
“I told you Michael,” she said, frowning in determination even though she was clearly scared, “I’m not going anywhere.”

Drive. Suzuki said, and I throttled down the street and we were out onto the freeway in seconds. Getting through traffic was easy enough, I picked a route much like the one I used the other day, but this time staying more towards the inner city. I just figured they’d be looking for me outside of town. After a little while of driving I pulled over in a secluded park area not too many people used and we stopped for a bit. Courtney looked a bit shaken up, and I couldn’t blame her, frankly. Then she snapped out of it as she pointed at me.
“Michael, your arm!”
I looked down at my right bicep and realized the bullet had grazed me. It was bleeding through my school shirt, which was long-sleeved. I checked the wound, and it was minor. Going to the rest room nearby, which conveniently no one was using, I washed the shirt out in the sink just to get the blood out of it and used my undershirt to dress the wound for a few minutes. I threw my button-up over that and buttoned it as best I could. The wound hadn’t hurt any muscles on my arm but it was uncomfortable to move. Jefferson University required we dress in long sleeved shirts and vests that had the school’s crest on it. I was fine with that; being dressy was more my style. Once we were about ready to ride again, I looked over at Courtney.
“Why do you want to help me?”
Courtney looked up at me. She didn’t look scared or angry. She looked like she’d really thought about all that had transpired and had come to a reason for accompanying me. After taking a breath, she answered.
“It’s because I knew you would do the same for me. No matter how crazy the problem sounded, you’d be there to help. So, I can’t turn down someone like that.” She finished with a little smile, which made me relax, really for the first time. Smiling, I stood up.
“Alright, let’s do it.”
“Where are we going?” Courtney asked as she stood.
Suzuki explained.
Since the authorities have seen you, it’s best to surmise that you might have been photographed. You’ll have to alter your identities.
“That’s fine,” I said, getting us back on the freeway, “we needed time to change ourselves a bit anyway. How much money do you have?” I asked Courtney.
“Don’t worry about me,” she said, looking a little embarrassed, “I can pay for another changes of clothes and a new hairstyle fine.” I laughed, despite myself.
So we stopped at an outdoor venue. I parked Suzuki behind some trash cans and, figuring she was pretty well hidden, turned with Courtney to go.
“We’ll be back in an hour.”
[I’ll be waiting here.]