If you are new to The Only City Left, you might want to start with the Table of Contents. Also, in case you missed it, I had a The Only City Left: Behind The Scenes post on Friday that you might be interested in.
At the end of Part 13, Allin started to retell the story of his return to Glin’s Rising, the story of how he killed his parents. Let us enter “flashback mode” for the rest of the story.
The Only City Left: Part Fourteen
It was easy enough to retrace the path we had taken from the utility door. Even if I had not marked the way for Tyena, I was pretty good with directions and landmarks. Mom and Dad had drilled that into me: be familiar with your environment, even if you’re only passing through. The whole time I ran back along our route, I warred between believing I would meet up with Tyena on her way to find me, and worrying that something bad, something really bad, had happened to her and possibly all of the Glinites. With each passing minute, my worry grew stronger.
When I reached the utility door that would open onto the platform that overlooked Glin’s Rising, I put a hand against the wall and leaned over to catch my breath. Frenzied thoughts filled my head. No Tyena. She was right behind us! She’s in trouble. Maybe she got lost. She couldn’t have gotten lost. She’s in trouble. Glin’s Rising is in trouble. I’m in trouble.
My parents had said that the people following us were dangerous. If they had already reached Glin’s Rising and I returned there, I would be throwing myself right into that danger. It went against everything I had been taught. But there was nothing else for it. If Glin’s Rising was in danger, if Tyena was, it was because of us. I had to do something.
Sufficiently recovered from my run, I stood up straight, took a deep breath, and pushed the utility door open a crack. All was silent except for the usual background hum of air being circulated. I half expected someone to be lying in wait on the other side of the door, but the platform was empty when I stepped outside. My growing sense of foreboding did not lessen, though. If anything, the area was too quiet, too still. Which is why I should have heard someone sneaking up behind me, but I didn’t.
All I knew was that all of a sudden a hand was clamped around my mouth and an arm around my chest and arms, and I was lifted up and carried backward into the utility tunnels. Once inside, I saw Mom easing the door shut and I relaxed my frantic struggling, at which point Dad, for it had to be him, loosened his grip on me a little.
“What do you think you can accomplish back there, Allin?” he whispered in my ear from behind me. “If they are in danger, and we don’t know that they are, what can you do except die with them?”
Dad’s voice was cold and hard; I barely recognized this new version of him.
“Lemme go! Tyena’s in trouble,” I spat out from behind the palm of his hand.
“Hon, what makes you think that?” Mom asked gently.
“Let. Me. Go,” I insisted, tired of being restrained by my own father.
He did, but not without moving around to block the door first. Once out of his grip, I stumbled forward and then turned on him, tears in my eyes.
“She was going to follow me. Us. I saw her running, waving. I thought she was excited. But now, now—” I couldn’t finish the sentence. My nose was full of snot and my vision was blurry and my father stood between me and the door, his face set. I could tell I wasn’t getting through to him.
“You think she was running away from someone?” Mom asked, glancing back and forth between my father and me.
“Of course I do!” I yelled, and she winced. “Otherwise where is she?”
“It doesn’t matter,” Dad said. “We’re going. It’s not our problem.”
“How many?” Mom asked.
“How many more will have to die so that we can survive?”
“You never complained before. Should I have left you there for him to play with until he killed you?”
Mom gasped as if Dad had struck her, and he instantly looked regretful, but the hard mask returned to his face. I felt like I was having an out-of-body experience, watching my parents argue like this, hinting at a past to which I had never been privy.
Twin tears glided down Mom’s cheeks. “You don’t get to throw that in my face. You know I’m grateful. But it was your choice. We’ve been on the run his entire life! When is it going to stop?”
Dad started to reply but I interrupted, loudly.
Both of them turned to me with shocked looks on their face. Dad started to speak and I cut him off again.
“Enough! Stop! While you’re fighting, Tyena’s in trouble. So get out of my way and let me go help her!”
“Allin, wait,” Dad began.
“No! I’m not a little kid anymore, Dad. You can’t stop me from going back. You can only delay me. And if Tyena’s hurt because you slowed me down, I’ll hate you forever. Both of you!”
I seethed with frustration, not sure what my next move would be when Dad refused to budge, which seemed likely.
Mom moved in close and put a gentle hand on Dad’s shoulder. He closed his eyes and sighed, then re-opened them and stared at Mom and me in turn.
“It’s a bad idea,” Dad insisted. Before I could argue more, he said, “So stay close to me and do exactly what I say. We’ll try to rescue Tyena, but if she’s… if we can’t, we get out of there and don’t look back.”
“Thank you,” I whispered.
I threw my arms around him and squeezed him as hard as I could, and he squeezed back. Mom joined in on the group hug and then we each stood apart.
“Okay, let’s do this,” Dad said, his voice wary.
Together, we made our way back to Glin’s Rising.
* * *
Continue to Part 15, or read my notes below first!
5/20/12 News: Whoa, Part Fourteen almost didn’t get posted on time, not because it wasn’t written but because I forgot what day it was! I blame Diablo III for distracting me.
Thanks to everyone for reading. Comments are always appreciated; I’d love to know who is reading and what you think. For my new readers, welcome! Care to let me know how you found The Only City Left? Finally, if you could share the link to this story with even one person who you think might enjoy it, I’d be ever so appreciative. Thanks!
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