In Brightside I counted by days, but since the escape it’s been nothing but nights. It’s nearly Night 7, the last bits of sunlight crawling through the cracked mud that patches together the warped pieces of plywood. The floor is a filthy strip of brown carpet covering dirty concrete, our roof a drooping blue tarp. This hanging black blanket is the only thing separating me from the rest of the shack.
Our shitter’s an orange and black Home Depot bucket; a fifth of the five-gallon capacity is filled with my watery mess. The plastic edge is embedded in my legs and ass because I’ve been sitting here so long. I should be sleeping, but I’m too ashamed to face the person whose life I absolutely wrecked. I can’t let her see me like this.
I assumed roaches would be the biggest problem under a bridge, but right now it’s the flies. Dozens are buzzing between the bucket and my soiled clothes stuffed in the corner, but nearly as many are hovering above my left collarbone, the bloody bandage advertising a feast.
With the sling off, I can move my lower arm a bit, but the upper part is taped tight to my chest. Thanks to the oxy I can’t feel my ankle much either, just a hot throb. My toes are the deep purple of overripe grapes because I’m terrible at taking advice, ignoring everyone who’d said we wrapped it too hard. But none of it matters. All I need the foot for is this one last night.
From the other side of the blanket, she whispers my name. Her voice is sweet and innocent although I tore that away when I refused to take her no for an answer, a true American hero. “Joe,” she says loud enough to hear over the traffic. “Please come back.”
I say I will. I’m almost done. The syringe glistens in my palm. 5 cc. More than enough to end everything. I need to say a prayer.
Even when I was a kid, I thought praying was bullshit. Crazy how things change when the knowledge that you’ll die one day solidifies into the understanding that the end could come any goddamn second.
It isn’t just the Boots that want revenge. It’s the whole fucking country, probably the world. They all saw the videos of what we did. According to the media, I’m a stone-cold killer, the most wanted man in America.
It’s a long story and if you don’t know about Brightside, I don’t know where the hell you’ve been. It’s where they stuck us, a beautiful prison for telepaths, a power so great it made our lives worthless.
That’s the thing I need you to remember. They left us no choice. We had to get out of Brightside.
We did what we had to.
And there’s one last thing left to do.