“Chapter 9: Checkpoint”

Mahao Bay was a quiet place, despite the many tourists wandering about. The smell of the salty sea, combined with the alluring aroma of the flowers made the air intoxicating. On the sandy beach, various locals were performing with flaming torches, doing some dangerous and daring tricks.

Emilia and Max were walking among the crowd, his hand firmly grabbing hers. They had already consumed two of the five hours, mostly because Max was becoming a little more paranoid. He had decided to abandon his car just outside the town, so they had to walk there. When they had finally reached, the moon was already up in the sky.

“We are attracting eyes, stop looking so anxious!” Emilia told him for the third time, as they passed in front of a hot-dog stand.

“Any minute now… we’ll soon be at my friends’ place. There, we can rest, before we assume our plan.”

“Can we at least get a hot-dog? Or a balloon?”

“Why are you being so childish?”

“Who said I can’t have some fun? Besides, I’m hungry!”

“You seem awfully calm, for a person who saw herself getting shot” Max replied in a warning tone, which Emilia noticed.

“You can kill me too, you know. Oh, too bad, you need me” she rebutted.

“Yeah… just move, we are almost there.”

The two turned left, in a small, dimly-lit alley. The houses were small and dirty, with most of them having all sorts of insulting graffiti on them. Max was pointing towards each of them, counting under his breath. Once they had walked a few meters, he stopped.

“Here” he said, pointing to the fourth house on the left. It was small, like the rest of them, with a messy yard and a broken front door. Emilia felt shivers down her spine.

“You scared? Don’t be. They are cool” said Max, who noticed her.

They entered the yard and reached the front door. Chunks of red wood were scattered around them, all coming from the old door. Max knocked, and one minute later, a voice was heard from inside.

“Who’s there?”

“Roy, it’s me. It’s Max.”

Silence. Then, the sound of the keys unbolting the door. A very short man appeared in front of them, dressed in blue shorts and a white sleeveless shirt. The look on his face was a mix of anger and relief.

“Take me to Hell and back! Max Petersteel. The escapee, the most-wanted… the murderer” he added with contempt.

“Who else? Listen, we just need a few hours here. Then, we’ll be out of your way, for good.”

“Don’t know if that’s a good idea right now… you see…”

Before he could finish his sentence, two men in police uniforms appeared, guns aiming at Emilia and Max.

“On your knees, dirtbag. You too, lady. We’ve missed you, Maxie-boy.”

“I thought we were friends, Roy!” Max yelled as he oblidged.

“We are, Max, but you know how it is. You know my mom’s sick…”

“Enough chit-chat. Nick, ‘cuff them. And who might you be, lady?” the officer asked, while the other was placing handcuffs on Petersteel’s hands.

“Emilia Day. My name is Emilia Day” she replied.

“Are you fucking with me miss? Emilia Day is dead! That rat’s ass killed her!” the policeman shouted, pointing towards Max.

“Look at me. Reach for the wallet in my back pocket. You’ll find my ID there. I won’t move” she added, seeing the man’s suspicious expression.

“Nick, search her. Don’t even breathe, Petersteel, or I’ll scatter your brains on the floor!”

The policeman did as he was told, and Emilia felt his hand pulling the wallet, and at the same time, groping her. You bastard, you pig, you son of a whore! she screamed inside her head, but dared not make a move. The cops each checked the ID and she could see their eyes moving from it to her and back, their expressions becoming all the more suspicious with each passing moment.

“Why did you tell them? This will ruin everything” Max hissed at her.

“Relax, everything’s going to be fine” she whispered back.

“We will take you to the station, and we’ll confirm what you’re saying. Come on, let’s move!” the policeman said, and he pointed towards the back of the house, where their car was parked.

“Go to hell, Roy! To hell!” Max screamed, as the door behind them closed once again.

“Nice. Nice friends you’ve got” snapped Emilia.

“Not now. Shut up. Not now” he kept repeating, as they were both forced into the car. They reached the police station in less than ten minutes. Max and Emilia were confined in the chief’s office, both handcuffed and in uncomfortable silence. Two policemen were keeping close watch on them, so they couldn’t speak much. After a while, Max decided to speak first.

“How much time left?”

“About two and a half.”

“Good” he said, slightly relieved.

“Shut up you two!” ordered one of their guards, just as the door opened. A tall, stout, middle-aged man appeared, carrying a large dossier with lots of documents inside. He sat on the opposite side of the desk, took of his hat and leaned towards the two, with a smug smile on his face.

“We finally got ya, Petersteel. We knew you had connections here, and we heard you’d been in Valedorn last night. We thought you’d show up. Now you are going downstairs, until the other guys come pick you up. I wanna talk with this lovely lady here” he said, smiling at Emilia, his eyes showing no good intentions. “Take him” he ordered the other two, who grabbed Max by the shoulders and forcibly led him out of the room.

“Use it! When the time is right, do it! Emilia! It’s the only way!” he screamed, before the door was shut behind him. The chief turned to Emilia, who looked surprisingly calm.

“Use it? Use what? Didn’t those fools search you? Seems I’ll have to do so myself, miss ‘Emilia’.”

“You will do nothing. I will be leaving now. Thanks for taking him away from me. He was a pain in the ass, I’ll tell you that.”

“And how exactly are you gonna go, miss? We’ve got plenty of time! Or is it that our accommodations are not satisfactory?” the chief replied sarcastically.

“It’s just that… I’ve got an important task at hand. An appointment, you could say” Emilia said, and she raised her hands, bringing the Watch closer to her mouth.

“Stop that! What is this? You got a bomb somewhere! Stop!” the chief screamed and leaped towards her, just as she knocked the chair back and fell on the floor. Papers, pens and other stuff were scattered all over, making a hell of a mess. Emilia smiled and brought the Watch close to her lips once more. Satisfied that her plan went so well, she whispered:

“Last Checkpoint.”

The screen turned red. The world around her warped and twisted, colors mixing with sounds… until she found herself back in her room, back in her house. She had made it.

“Mister Petersteel, you are not going to use me. I’m going to do this on my own” she said, just as a familiar barking came from below the stairs.

“Aru! Come here boy! Mom is home!”

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