Chapter Five – Finally Got Something Right
Bellamy keeps one eye on the gathering clouds to the west and the other on Alpha Station towering over the trees to the southeast. Still a few miles to go. Anxiety twists his stomach. There’s no shelter between them and Arkadia. Not this time. They left the dropship behind hours ago, and Bellamy’s body aches from carrying his pack and the little girl clinging to his neck. He thinks she understands the urgency because she hasn’t made a peep since the butterflies.
Jogging next to him, Miller is equally quiet. Bellamy’s not sure if it’s from exertion or fear. In the distance, lightning snakes across the sky, thunder rumbling softly behind it. It sounds miles away, but Bellamy knows it’s a false security. The storm is traveling fast, gaining on them every hour. At that speed, it’ll be on us in thirty minutes. Maybe less. His breath catches. We’re not going to make it.
“You should go,” Bellamy tells Miller. “You’ll be able to outrun the storm.”
“I said, ‘no.’ I’m not leaving you. End of discussion.”
As worried as he is about his friend, Bellamy’s kind of relieved. It might get him killed, but Miller’s loyalty means a lot to him, especially after everything that happened with Pike. It gives him hope that maybe he can fix things with the others.
The sky flashes a brilliant white, and this time, the thunder is much louder. Closer. Bellamy knows the moment the storm breaks. The ground shudders with the next boom of thunder. Hundreds of birds screech into the sky, trying futility to escape. He watches in horror as they drop one by one. Shit. We are so screwed.
Miller skids to a halt. Bellamy stops a few feet away, breathing heavy.
“What the hell are you doing?”
“Lose the pack,” Miller says, dropping his bag. He digs through it, pulling out extra ammo which he stuffs in his pockets. Bellamy’s still staring so Miller tugs the pack from his back. “Lighter load means faster running.”
Bellamy moans in relief when the weight of the pack is gone. Miller finds his extra ammo and a knife, stashing them as well. The sky lights up again, nearly blinding them. The girl whimpers into Bellamy’s shoulder—her little hands twisting the fabric of his shirt into knots. He adjusts his hold so he can rub her back. “You’re going to be okay,” he whispers.
“You want me to take her?” Miller asks suddenly. “You’ve been carrying her for hours.”
Bellamy shakes his head. “Let’s just go.” It’s not that he doesn’t trust Miller to carry her. And if he’s honest, it’s not even because he thinks she will freak out if Miller tries to touch her. He just doesn’t want to let her go. He’s committed to getting her back safely. He has to do this. Because your dumbass went and got attached, says that voice. Because I have to do something right to balance out all of the evil. He’s pretty sure the voice scoffs at him.
The screams of hundreds of unseen dying animals encourage them to pick up their speed. Bellamy’s nearly out of breath when they finally stumble out of the forest. The gates to Arkadia stand open—no guards in sight. They’ll all be inside with the storm coming.
The rain starts as they hit the gate. At first, it’s nothing more than little plinks that sizzle in the dirt. But it grows. A drop lands on the back of Bellamy’s neck. He grits his teeth and tucks his jacket around the girl, trying to cover as much of her as he can. The pain doesn’t go away.
Next to him, Miller hisses, smacking at his burning skin.
“Go,” Bellamy yells, giving him a shove forward. This time, Miller doesn’t argue, shooting across the empty yard.
Bellamy’s heart drops when the door to the Ark starts to close. Miller shouts and waves his arms to get their attention. It swings back open, and a startled David Miller steps out. The other guards yell for them to hurry, as if they weren’t already running for their lives. Literally.
The storm finally catches up—the rain falling harder. Every inch of his exposed skin is on fire. He pulls his jacket tighter around the girl, but he can’t protect her completely. She shrieks with each raindrop that burns through the material.
Miller reaches the Ark first, diving in. Bellamy stumbles on the uneven ground, nearly falling. Miller must try to come back out because his father struggles with him. They’re still arguing when Bellamy falls through the door a moment later.
He slides to the floor with a groan. The girl’s screams have subsided to soft sobs. He can’t tell if it’s from exhaustion or if she’s strained her vocal chords. He’s barely aware of the people around him—their shouts drowned out by the pounding of blood in his head. Someone douses him with water, but it does nothing for the pain.
The girl starts crying again. Bellamy has enough strength to wash down her legs where the majority of her burns are.
“What the?” David says, gently removing Bellamy’s jacket. His gasp says it all. “Where did you find her?”
Miller’s lost his jacket, shirt, and pants in his effort to wash away all of the acid. “About twenty miles from here. She almost got eaten by a panther.”
“Jesus.” David squats down and tries to brush the girl’s hair from her face, but she presses it against Bellamy’s chest, her grip tightening. “Poor thing.”
“What’s going on?” Abby’s voice raises above the others as she pushes through the crowd that’s gathered at the end of the hall. “Did everyone make it inside in time? Nathan, are you alright?”
Miller points at Bellamy. “It’s not me you need to worry about.”
Bellamy looks up at Abby’s shocked face. He must look bad because she hasn’t even noticed the girl. He can tell when she finally does by the double-take. “Oh,” she says, placing a gentle hand on the girl’s back, but she cringes away with a whimper.
He cradles her closer, whispering in her ear to calm her. “You’re going to be okay. Just like I promised.” He rests his head against the cool wall. Finally got something right.
Abby’s face goes into full-on doctor mode. “Get her to Medbay. Now.”
Bellamy doesn’t need to be told twice.