Chapter Eight: The Road Ahead

I wish I had a switch to shut my brain off, but the questions raging a war in my head won’t allow it. They bang violently against a mental barrier I put up to keep them at bay.

Who is The Branch, one yells.

Why did they send people after you, one shouts.

Why do they want you back, another asks.

Does they Branch know your past, one calmly ask.

That question wins my attention. It occupies my focus while I drive up the empty highway. Does this so called Branch really know my past? Is there a way to find the Branch? The image of four intruders flashes across my mind. I could always go back and demand the answers I want. If they don’t answer my questions I could always use a crueler method. The image of Scotty and Bunny chases the dark thought away. A sudden warmth puts all the questions at ease. Bunny and Scotty, my two issues. I can’t abandon them.

No, you can, you just don’t want to.

True, I should have said I won’t abandon them.

I glace at the rear view mirror to double check that they’re right behind me. They are, and bickering it seems. I watch as Bunny says something then huffs in annoyance as Scotty barks a laugh. My eyes stray back to the road in front of me and a plan begins to form.

First, I’ll train them. This way when we get to the city they’ll be able to protect themselves.

Second, we’ll go into the city to try and find their brother. Even as I think this it seems impossible. How can we find their brother with no clues to where he is or where he went? A pang of frustration hits me at this fact.

Third, if no when we find their brother I’ll leave them in his care, get my journal back, and find out more about The Branch.

And perhaps come back to visit the kids?

The sudden blaring of the horn behind me puts me on guard instantly. My eyes automatically go to the rear view mirror to see if the kids are ok. I’m not meet with eyes of panic like I expect no on the contrary they’re shining in amusement. He clicks the blinker telling me to turn over. I turn the wheel in my hands and park on the side of the road. They pull up behind me before turning off the engine. I turn the key and pull it out of the ignition before stepping out of the truck.

“I cannot ride in that car with him anymore,” Bunny says annoyed with frustration thick in her voice as she exits the jeep.

“I said sorry!” Scotty says laughing as he slides out of the driver’s seat.

“What did he do now?” I ask walking toward the jeep.

“He kept farting and wouldn’t open the windows!” she growls marching toward the truck.

Only Scotty, that boy is trouble.

“I get gassy when I’m hungry, you know that!” he says laughing.

“You’re unbelievable!” she yells opening the passenger side door of the truck, jumping in, and then slamming the door.

“Whoops?” he says giving an unconcerned shrug.

“It’s time to ditch the jeep anyway,” he looks like I’m crazy. “I’d feel better knowing we’re all in a car together. Besides it’s probably safer.”

He looks over his shoulder at the jeep and gives it a thoughtful look.

“You’re right.”

“Let’s search it first,” I tell him stepping past his body toward the jeep, “Could be something useful inside.”

The door to the passenger side opens with a single tug. Without a second thought I begin the search diligently. The back door opens and Scotty begins to search. The car falls quiet of any conversation or laughter. I open the glove department and falter in my search. A tan colored folder, some pencils, and a plastic card lay in the small department. My hands dart inside and grabs the folder eager to learn its contents. My eagerness is only meet with disappointment. The papers inside are unreadable. It’s just a jumble of letters. An unreadable jumble of letters. A huff of irritation slips between my lips. My eyes are drawn to the card, but it’s the same as the papers inside the folder, an unreadable jumble.

“Anything back there?”

“Oh only the jackpot!” my hopes raise like a balloon escaping a child’s grasp unexpectedly. He lunges in between the passenger seat and driver’s seat with a small duffel bag clenched in his fist, “There’s loads of food in here!”

And there’s where the balloon pops from floating to high.

“I’m starving,” Scotty says before ripping the bag open and digging in.

“Did you check the trunk?”

“That’s where I got this,” he says pulling out a granola bar, “But as soon as the I saw this bag I stopped searching.”

He shoves the entire bar in his mouth taking giant chops to be able to swallow it.

I shake my head at him before I exit the jeep and make my way to the trunk.

I pull the trunk door open after pulling the small handle. Nothing but empty space.

Guess Scotty found all that’s to be found.

My eyes scan the empty trunk, but this feeling that I’m missing something settles in my stomach. My eyes take in the entire trunk again with a more critical searching eye. My eyes freeze on a small slit right up against the back seats. My fingers inch into the slit and gives a gentle tug. The thin black board almost hits me in the face. Maybe I didn’t pull as gently as I thought. The contents underneath make a million balloons begin to raise with in me. Now this is a jackpot. A set of black throwing knives wink at me as bend down and a ray of sun falls over my shoulder. A pair of hatchets lay crossed creating a dangerous looking X on my left. While on my right a pair of daggers lay parallel to each other. In the center of all the knives lays a small cylinder circle. Out of curiosity I pick up the small device. A metal hook rest on top of the cylinder spearing through a small semi-circle dome. I cautiously press the hook out of the dome. Without warning the extends drastically. It’s a bo-staff, with a sharp knife at the tip of it.

“Well isn’t the neat,” Scotty says leaning over the back of the seats.

“Neat indeed,” I mutter as something glints in the sun grabbing my attention. In the middle of the staff is a symbol. A long narrow slim rectangle is over lapped by a circle and an infinite sign centered in the middle. Hmmm, that’s interesting.

“Times up,” Scotty says pulling my attention to him. “Bunny’s getting impatient.”

She was indeed considering she was exiting the truck.

“What’s going on?” she asks coming to my side.

Wonder if she can handle something like this.

“Think fast,” I say tossing her the staff. She catches it with no effort and her eyes are instantly drawing in every inch of the new weapon. A look of awe falls over her features.

“Nice,” she whispers to herself giving the staff a little twirl.

“Does that mean I get the knives?” Scotty asks eagerly.

“Yes, and the daggers.”

“What about the axes?”

“They’re Bunny’s.”

“Congrats sis you get tiny axes,” he says teasingly.

“They’re hatchets actually,” I correct picking one up and studying it. Its blade is black, sharp and looks freshly cleaned.

“How do you know?”

Good question, how do you I know? Even as I ask myself this I find myself answering his question.

“It’s too small to be an axe, its blade is significantly smaller than an axe, its lighter and made easily to be thrown.”

Scotty doesn’t reply which makes me look away from the hatchet. His eyebrows are raised in question and Bunny’s finally looked away from the staff.


“Nothing,” Scotty says leaning over the back of the seat. He takes the two daggers and throws them in the long black cloth that holds the throwing knives. He rolls the black cloth up until it’s a round bundle. He disappears over the seats no doubt opening the food duffel bag to make room for his knives.
“Make sure to grab my bow and arrow bag and the blankets too,” I say in a reminder.

“Already on it.”

“Then you guys head to the truck as I finish with this jeep.”

“Yes Ma’am.”

I turn to Bunny and signal for her to hand over her staff. She looks almost upset that she has to part with it for even a second. I quickly push the end till it becomes a small cylinder again before putting the hook back through the dome to close it.

“Go with your brother for me,” I say tossing the cylinder at her.

She nods as she begins to fiddle with the small cylinder walking away. The sound of two car doors slamming in the distance ahead of me confirms that they listened to me. With quick motions I take the two hatchets and slash all the tires of the jeep.

You just wanted to use the hatchets, a snarky thought says making me smile.

Pretty much.


“Scotty if you don’t stop I’m going to throw you out of this moving truck!” Bunny growls from the passenger seat. She refused to sit in the back, so she asked Scotty to move to the back. Well not so much as asked as threatened.

“You’ve eaten so you shouldn’t be gassy!” Bunny complains.

“You’re right,” Scotty says with a smile in his voice. “I’m just doing it to annoy you now.”

As Bunny opens her mouth to yell some more he lets another one rip, a long one.


He doesn’t reply he just falls back against the seats laughing so hard he has to clench his sides. This has been the routine for the past while. The sun has kicked out of the sky by the moon. The intruders make it impossible to go back to my cabin, to my home. I have no other choice. I must take them to where it all began. Where I first woke. Where I first trained myself with my bow I had found strapped across my chest. Where I first learned I was no longer entirely human. Where I first became NoName.

“-our ok?” Scotty says tapping my shoulder and leaning into the small space between the driver’s seat and passengers seat.


“I asked if you’re ok, you seem to be dozing off, I can drive,” he offers.

“No, we’re almost there.”

“Where is there exactly?” Bunny asks staring holes in the side of my head.

“Where I will train you before we enter the city,” I say turning off a highway with a forgotten name.

Just like me.

“Have you been in the city before?” she asks again.

“It’s the first place I can recall in my memory.”


“Yes, it’s where I learned everything I know now.”

“Like how to use your bow and arrows?”

“Among other things.”

“Like what?” Scotty says inserting himself back in the conversation.

“Like always wear my shades, own little to nothing,” I say as I stare Scotty down in the rear-view mirror, “and never grow attached to anything or anyone.”

They fall silent for the remainder of the ride. When we arrive at our destination the moon is at its highest point and Bunny is softly snoring. We’ve arrived at a lone barn in the middle of a grassy clearing. Up the roads a way is the house that owns the barn. My eyes take in the familiar surroundings and I’m suddenly flying into a past memory, the first I ever had

She’s cold, freezing even. The world around had gone black with the cold winter night. Her brain is a mess of thoughts that she can’t comprehend. She stumbles and falls multiple times in the snow. It’s at the point where she cannot feel her toes or fingers. She’s lost to the world and her thoughts. Everything’s spiraling out of control. She hits the snow-covered ground with a shudder rolling through her body. Tears she’d cried earlier have frozen to her rose red cheeks. This is where she dies, she positive. But something within her is shouting at her to get back on her feet.


Get up.

Get up!

The voice won’t shut up, she just wants to sleep. She wants to slip into a sleepless coma.

Let me pass peacefully, she asks the voice.

Get up, the voice urges a couple times. Then it changes tactics.

Please, please get up, you can’t die here, we can’t die here, the voice pleads.

Please……. don’t die, it sobs loudly in her head.

Slowly she places her palms in the snow and pushes herself to her knees.

That’s it, the voice encourages.

She stands to her feet and glances around her tiredly.

A spec of red in the distance gives her new hope. Maybe she could do this, maybe she could live.

This girl is me.

“We begin training in the morning,” I say trying to wash away the memory.

Scotty’s gotten out of the truck and taken up the task of gathering Bunny in his arms. Guess that leaves the rest to me. I forgot just how small Bunny is. Her attitude makes her taller then she is. She shifts till she is snuggled into her brother’s chest. He may tease her when she’s awake, but as she sleeps he’ll protect her with his life. His eyes are guarded as he closes the door. They scan the clearing quickly before he walks toward the barn. He skillfully opens the barn door and slips inside.

Maybe I learned wrong.
Perhaps attachments aren’t so bad.

They aren’t so bad.