The Freedom We Gave Up Pt.V

“Hey!…Hey….Wake up!”

Groggy and half asleep, I hear something….a voice?

I feel my body being slightly shoved as I open my eyes. The scent of a dead fire lingers about as the sound of birds sing.

My eyes open, I look toward the voice, “WHA!” Jolting onto my fit reaching for my backpack, “Who are you…what do you want?” I pull out my hatchet and hold it in defense.

The Stranger, his hands held out in front of him, “hey, hey, hey, not here to cause any problems. I’ve been watching you.”

I look to him with curious caution, “Watching me? What the hell, why?”

The Stranger, “I think me and you have the same idea. Evading the S.F.F.A and the mountains seemed like the best choice until now.”

Lowering my hatchet, “How long have you been watching me for and where you come from? And I’m not exactly evading just the S.F.F.A.”

The Stranger, His posture more relaxed, “ I see that, I saw you the bear and the buck. We just so happened to cross paths. A drone has been trying to follow me for weeks now. Luckily I’m not an idiot!.”

A smile draws upon the strangers face.

Looking at the stranger as I reach for my jacket. “ How long you been running around and how do I know you’re not some S.F.F.A agent or something?”

The stranger pulls up his left sleeve exposing his forearm, “See this?”

A branding scar of a cross with the no symbol laying on top of it.

My eyes widen with surprise, “You were in the camps?!”

The Stranger pulling his sleeve down, “For six months, I escaped three days before my execution. Miracles still happen, prayer does more than I ever believed in while in the camps.”

Zipping up my jacket, “What were you in for? I made it into the mountains before they really started throwing everyone who was against the whole “New World Order,” don’t know what really goes in the camps.”

The Stranger, “For having political defiance and for believing in what others mock or are to cowardice to admit….God, the faith of Jesus.”

Feeling my heart shiver in disbelief, “Damn, I believe in God, not sure exactly what though. Since I have been up in the mountains, let me just say, miracles have stacked up like stones in an earthquake.”

The Stranger, “Enough talk, by the way my name is Ryan Theeno, ex-military as well.”

We reach out and shake hands, “Name is David Keen nice to meet you Ryan Theeno. What did you do in the military?”

The Stranger, “Ran through the woods and jumped planes…..hear that?!”

Listening for what Ryan hears, “Here what? Wait are you the one who killed the bear and buck?”

The Stranger looks over at me,Yes but they are not dead, now let’s go, I think a drone is headed our way. Grab your things and lets go, I know a place we can go, I have a friend who can help.”

Grabbing my things Ryan covers up the fire with dirt and starts to dismantle the shelter to make it less visible to anyone who passes by. I place on boots as we get ready to leave.

Exiting the shelter Ryan leads the way into the woods.

Walking along Ryan I adjust my bag, “So, Ryan where we headed exactly?”

Ryan,”We are headed to an old friend up mine just five miles north of here. We served together, he took off to set up a small operation for resistance forces as I plunged myself into offensive with a handful of men.

I’m the only one that made it out, the rest either died in camp or were killed in a fight. We can get into more detail about myself and you in a few hours. For now, keep it quiet and keep an eye out. If you see any known or suspected enemies tap on my shoulder and hide yourself.”

Traveling through the woods I keep my head on a swivel, while doing so I admire our surroundings, the sun is gently piercing through the tree light like a blade of grass rising from a field of dirt.

A gentle warmth hugs my face as slight winds breeze by. I can’t help but remember the short time I had as a kid enjoying such rays of sunlight with friends.

A couple hours go by and my stomach growls. Ryan looks back hearing the growling of my head. His left brow raised as he reaches into his pocket and tosses me something.

Catching it the sound of crinkling plastic sounds off. Looking to it, I see it is a meal bar. Without question I open it and take a bite. “Ugh…”

The bar is almost as hard as a rock and tasteless but I am starving. I force my first bite from the bar and slowly chew on it.

Swallowing my first bite, I can feel my hunger become tamed. I finish off the bar and shove the wrapper in my pocket. I look up and see the sky become thickened with dark grey clouds.

Distant thunder echoes and ran begins to fall. Ryan, looking over at me “This storm will make it much safer to travel. Thunder should hide our sounds and the rain should keep most animals in shelter.”

Tilting my head in joking relief, “I hope so, I have had my fill of bears and drones.”

Ryan smirking, “Ha, you have only just begun to see the dangers my friend. Another ten, fifteen minutes, and we should arrive.”

Looking up into the pouring sky, “I hope your friend has a warm and dry place to stay, be nice to actually feel warm for a change.”

Ryan walking slightly ahead of me as the brush narrows into a deer path, “We can only hope, have no idea what he created, but he has always been quite the inventor.”

Fighting through the narrowing deer path we hunch over as we push our way through. Few minutes pass by as we reach the end. We take our last few steps and find ourselves at an opening.

A slope appears with a more open path, clearly taken by many different animals. Numerous approaching paths from different sides merge at the end of the deer path.

We continue walking without any discussion, we climb over some downed trees and hack down some branches that prevent further advancement. We come upon a massive tree all on its own, larger than I have ever seen. Surrounded by a bunch of smaller trees, about have its size. The shorter trees are almost aligned in a perfect circle.

Ryan pulls a map from his left leg pocket, examines it, looks about our surroundings. I watch and wait for his directions.

He begins to walk around the massive tree to the other side while looking up at it, I think he is looking for something.

Ryan, “Ah! Found it! We go this way, slight west of here, we should see a stump with Ivy coming out from it.”

Following Ryan I look up at the massive tree to see what he saw and I can’t seem to make out what he had seen. Don’t have much of a choice but to follow and trust. Alternative, run around alone and hope for the best.

We push further into the woods as we head west and come upon a stump with Ivy growing from it.

We pass it on our left. About ten minutes pass by and we come to a clearing in the woods, I see the edge of the tree line.

Ryan looking back, “We made it, just have to find an Eagles nest to the left of this tree line and we should be at the spot.”

We start walking along the outside of the tree line looking up, “Right there!”

Ryan, hearing my voice as I point to the nest, “Good eye!”

We move to the nest and stand under the tree. Ryan pulls a small device from his right leg pocket, it looks like a single button remote.

He presses down on the button a red light blinks twice, he then press it three more times. It then blinks four times and then he presses it once more. It blinks four more times.

Ryan looks out at the clearing of the small valley to our north. Off in the distance just behind one of many large boulders, a man stands to the right of it placing up his left hand.

Ryan places up his left and waves it methodically once to the right parallel with the ground then back vertically and does that twice.

The man by the boulder waves us over. Heading toward the man I look over at Ryan and see him wiping away what I think was a tear. I say nothing as his face paints a clear picture of man of more stories than me.

We reach the man by the boulder, he has a grey beard, a green baseball cap with a cross and no sign patch like on Ryan’s arm on the front of the hat. He’s well built and at least six inches taller than me.

I would almost say him and Ryan could be brothers.

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Just a man beneath the thumbprint of God. A man wandering like any other, wondering what will come of him.(Instagram @poemjunkybiffle)

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Micah Biffle

Micah Biffle

Just a man beneath the thumbprint of God. A man wandering like any other, wondering what will come of him.(Instagram @poemjunkybiffle)

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