Carlov woke up very early and went downstairs to check up on Doris. She was still asleep.
Feeling a little hungry he made himself a sandwich and looked outside at the still dark street. He loved the quiet of the early morning. Every house still dark except for the van Longs. He worked construction and was always up before dawn when he had to work.
Which was why the lone figure walking slowly down the street trigger his suspicion. He seemed to walk casually but he looked at every house long enough to check them out.
Carlov stepped back into the dark and had a feeling he should take Doris and get out of here.
He went into the back and shook her gently. She woke up wide eyed and looked nervously around.
‘Relax.’ he said. ‘Nothing’s going on right now, but I have a feeling they might be on to us. Or rather, me.’
‘Probably checked out the traffic cams at the industrial site and saw me leaving there.’ he said and looked at the street to see the unknown man halting on the other side of the street for a moment. ‘We should get out of here, and I have an idea on how to get going.’
She watched as he hurried back upstairs, heard him rummage around, then hurry back down fully clothed and tossed her a black sweater.
‘It might even get a little too drafty for you on the bike.’
She put on the sweater while he filled a bag with food and drink, then gestured for her to follow him out the back.
She followed him quietly to his shed. He carefully opened it and led her inside the darkness to what she recognised as a motorcycle.
He strapped his bag on the fuel tank and mounted the bike. ‘Get on.’ he whispered while he strapped on goggles.
Doris sat down behind him.
‘Hold onto me.’
He switched on the bike, dials lit up before him and she heard a faint whine as the bike move forward.
‘Electric?’ she asked.
‘Yeah.’ he said and drove slowly out of the shed, turned in the backyard and went out into the backalley. ‘My prototype of an all terrain bike. Better traction thanks to a flexible tread instead of wheels, just about unlimited range through an electric engine fed by solar power and a small turbine. This should get us through the thick forest and into the hills where they can’t follow us.’
‘I don’t want to get you into trouble.’
‘You’re saying that to the wrong person. I’m not one to abandon a girl chased by men in black.’ he said and stopped at the end of the alley, looking around.
‘There!’ they heard behind them and they saw several men dressed in black running down the alley.
Carlov opened up the throttle and Doris had to hold on tight as the bike accellerated.
‘They’re behind us.’ Doris said, looking behind them while they drove down the main road going east.
‘As long as they stay behind us, that’s not so bad. This thing should be fast enough to hold them off for a while.’ Carlov said, overtaking the couple of cars and trucks on the road.
She hid her face behind his back fr protection, then heard a faint noise above the wind. She had heard it before and looked back again.
‘Helicopter!’ she said, seeing the faint outline in the dark grey sky.
‘Damn! I had hoped they only chased us with cars!’ he said and turned into a sidestreet. ‘I’ll take some detours. Maybe that will prevent them finding us.’
It didn’t take long for the helicopter to find them. Its searchlight chased them down the street.
‘Fuck!’ Carlov said, spotting cars behind them.
‘Can we still outrun them!?’
‘I can lose the cars when we get to the other side of the bridge, but the helicopter is something else!’ he said, then saw the warning lights blink to indicate the bridge would open.
‘Fuck fuck fuck!’ he said and braked.
‘They’re opening the bridge. We have to take another way.’
‘Are there other bridges?’
‘They’ll have them open, just like this one.’ he said, looking around for an idea.
‘No other way to cross the river?’ she said, looking back at the cars coming closer and the helicopter circling them.
‘There is!’ he said. ‘Underground!’
Doris hung onto him as they went back down the street, straight for the cars. ‘Where are we going!?’
‘There were no car or helicopter can follow us!’ he said, seeing the cars chasing them brake and block off the road.
‘We’re trapped!’ Doris said, seeing the blockade.
‘Not yet!’ he said, braked hard in front of the cars, then drove up the sidewalk and dove down the subway stairs.
Doris held on tight as he manouvered the bike down the stairs, through the tunnels with shocked people and onto the platforms. He looked at the signs, then drove onto the tracks into one of the tunnels.
‘We’ll follow this track back up the river, then switch to the tunnel going under the river!’ he shouted above the noise from the drive. ‘They’ll probably expect us to take the tunnel at that other station!’
‘What about the trains!?’
‘Don’t worry! There are usually none driving at this ti-‘ he said, then saw the lights in his mirror and heard the squeals behind them. ‘Fuck! Too early!’
He sped up as fast as he dared in the dark tunnel.
‘Won’t it brake for us!?’
‘It’s automated! It’ll be too late to see us!’
Doris looked back at the train getting closer.
Carlov saw the lights of the next station and opened up the trottle more without losing control of the bike.
‘Carlov!’ shouted Doris, watching the train getting closer.
‘Hold on tight!’
Carlov swerved right and jumped off the track onto steps leading up to the platform in time to avoid getting hit by the train. The guy cleaning the trash cans jumped out of the way as they sped across the platform and dove onto the tracks at the other side, going down the tunnel across the river.
Doris just held onto Carlov as they went through to the other side without further hindrances.
He drove onto the platform at the other station and up the stairs, surprising the morning shift, and the early folks as they emerged from the subway entrance on the street.
He looked around for a moment, then took off in the direction of the forest.
‘Are you okay!?’ he asked.
‘Just a bit shaken!’
‘We’ll reach the forest soon, then we’re hidden from sight!’
It didn’t take long to reach the edge and Carlov steered onto the first path leading into it and slowed down.
‘There’s a store farther up the path, selling survival gear.’ he said. ‘We’ll stop there and I’ll get us some supplies.’
‘Is it safe to show your face there?’
‘The people running the store aren’t very fond of the government, they’ll keep quiet. I’ll keep you out of sight just in case.’
They stopped just a little away from the store next to a split in the path.
‘Follow this path up the hill, it’ll cross the main path again farther up the hill and I’ll pick you up there.’ Caelov said and handed Doris his watch. ‘I should be there in fifteen minutes.’
Doris nodded and Carlov watched her walk away, then drove to the store.
‘Good morning.’ the middle aged man stocking a shalf said when Carlov entered the store.
‘Good morning.’ said Carlov, looking around. ‘I’m looking for some gear to spend a while out here in the wilderness.’
‘New to this?’
‘Just about.’ Carlov said, leaning on the counter. ‘Last time I went out here with my dad was when I was a kid.’
The man grinned a little. ‘The good ol’ times, eh?’
Carlov nodded. ‘Yeah. My girl thought it would be fun and healthy to spend some time together, away from the city.’
The man looked outside. ‘She’s not here?’
‘She’s coming up here later, has to finish up a few things at work.’
‘Ah.’ the man said and beckoned Carlov to the sleeping bags. ‘Then let’s start here.’
‘I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bike like this before.’ the man said as he helped Carlov carry his gear to his motorcycle.
‘I’d be surprised if you had.’ said Carlov, strapping one bag onto the cases at the back of the bike. ‘I designed and build it myself. And now it’s going for its first real outdoor test.’
‘If it’s better than a regular terrain bike I know some people who’d love to get one.’
‘I’ll let you know as soon as I’m satisfied it works.’ Carlov said, taking the second bag and strapping it behind the other. ‘I could use some clients who’d like to really take it out here. Far from any meddling organisation.’ he said with a wink.
The man nodded and smiled. ‘I’m looking forward to it.’
‘Hey, did you wait long?’ Carlov asked when he reached the point where the paths merged and found Doris waiting.
She shook her head. ‘Not much.’
‘I got us enough gear to keep us warm and dry without lugging a whole tent with us.’ he said, patting on the bags. ‘No luxuries, but we’ll be able to hide for a while.’
She looked at him, fidgeting with her fingers.
She looked down. ‘Doing all this for me, I don’t know why, or how to thank you.’
He smiled. ‘Like I said, I can’t leave a girl in trouble alone. And it’ll give me stories to tell until I’m old.’
She chuckled. ‘I never thought of that.’
‘Hop on.’ he said, gesturing behind him. ‘We still have have a way to go to disappear in this forest.’
She sat behind him and held him close while he drove farther into the hills.