With one look in his eyes she told herself, “This is going to hurt when it’s over.” There had been several of these moments for Anna over the last two weeks. “But you’re better at being alone,” she reminded herself whenever she felt attachment for him.
The pair had managed to sneak into the city under the cover of night. As the sunlight finally pierced the diseased smog, a silhouette of their destination stood before them. She tugged nervously on the leather straps of her backpack.
“Daniel, wait,” Anna whispered as he began to step forward. When he turned to face her, she asked, “What are we going to do about their security?”
“I’ve got a plan,” he smiled confidently. He was being vague, knowing it bugged her.
His smile made her feel weak, but she resisted. This was no time for heroics, they needed a plan. “They’ll have the labs locked up tight. Guards all over. How are you going to-”
Daniel placed his hand on her cheek, “You have to trust me, Anna. I have a plan.” His caring eyes locked on hers. “You’re not going to like it.”
Anna squinted, trying to read his thoughts. She shook her head to break the stare. “You’re not leaving me here by myself while you charge in there like an idiot.”
“Of course not,” he cooed in a mock agreement. “You’re staying here to make sure the escape route is clear while I cleverly sneak in.” Daniel’s smile was forced. He was trying to keep her calm. “Just keep off the streets. The machines won’t be looking for you. I’ll be back as quick as I can.”
Anna didn’t have time to protest before he disappeared into the shadows.
She saw a small deserted building about a block away. It had likely been a convenient store before. Now the dirty windows were broken and the doors were ajar. Anna crept in and felt her way to the second floor. She found a window overlooking the street and waited.
After several hours, the smog parted for the sunlight again.
A thin shadow stretched down to the street and passed her hiding spot. The shadow belonged to Daniel.
Anna watched as he scurried through vacant streets. With every step, he looked over his shoulder.
“Daniel,” she whispered as loud as she dared. It was in times like these she fiercely envied the ability to whistle.
He searched for the source for a moment before his eyes fell on her. He gestured for her to come down as he made for the abandoned building.
They embraced in a panicked hug inside the doorway. Daniel elbowed her ear as he reached over her shoulder trying to shove something into her backpack.
“Come on,” he said, short of breath. “We have to get out of the city. Now.”
“You got the cure?” she asked.
Daniel nodded. “And the hard drive. I downloaded as much as I could. Now, let’s go.”
He grabbed her hand and they ran. They didn’t stop or look behind them until they reached the maintenance hatch.
Through pained breath, she asked, “Are you sure they’re following us?”
The perimeter wall loomed before them. The hatch they had used still hung open. The pair didn’t slow their pace until the last moment and used the wall itself to slow their momentum.
Daniel helped Anna into the hatch. “Good luck, Anna.”
A thunderous bark drowned out her name. Anna glanced back to see the look of shock fade from Daniel’s face. The sound repeated twice more.
“Go,” he whispered as he collapsed.