As they pushed us to start walking out of a door to the right, Sergeant Stace said assertively, “Wait! We have Chad, and we will trade him for Nat.”
Time stopped in the room, and everyone started to murmur. Looking down and rubbing his hands together, Derick said, “There’s no way. My brother. How?”
“In our last battle, we caught them in a trap that made them look like casualties. We’ve been holding them-treating them well- until we could use them to bargain,” Sergeant Stace said. “You can have them all back for Chad,” Derick said abruptly. “May I borrow a phone?” Sergeant Stace asked.
Derick signaled to one of his men to take her a radio, and she called back to the base; they had Chad on another helicopter and arrived shortly after. Derick took Stace and me with him to make sure that it was indeed Chad. I still had no clue who this guy was or what made him so valuable.
Chad was helped out of the helicopter, and Derick hugged him saying, “Brother.” Derick turned to one of his men and said, “go get them.” I waited eagerly to see Nat; it had been almost a day since I had but it felt like much, much longer. Right when he saw me, he ran to me, and we hugged for a while. At that moment, every wrong thing that either of us had ever done to each other didn’t matter at all.
Captain Phil was with them too and some of the other people who went out with them on their ride. Captain Phil looked at Sergeant Stace and said, “Thank you for everything. Let’s go home.”
We all boarded the helicopters and got out of there and flew back to the Nerd base. Everyone's nerves seemed to be at peace again, as the sun began to sit on the horizon. We could see it all too well from the helicopter; the pink ball slowly fell a bit more and more every second. I looked over at Nat as soon as it was down to see if he was watching it and he was totally asleep and rightfully so. I tried my best to stay awake, but the constant sound of the engine and the smooth hovering let me drift away.
* * *
Mom came in and said, “time to wake up.” She pushed the curtains wide open. The light from the sun darted through, and Nat rolled over letting out a large groan. “Come downstairs. Breakfast is getting cold,” mom told us both.
We moseyed our way down the stairs that were filled with the aroma of bacon. When we sat down at the table, I could tell how tired Nat was. He hadn't been this tired since last Halloween when he ate half of his candy in one sitting. He was bouncing around for a while and then just lied on the couch for the rest of the night trying to keep his eyes open.
A plate of scrambled eggs and bacon was sat in front of each of us, and I couldn’t be more excited about eating. This was my favorite meal whether it be at breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Mom sat down with us and said, “go get ready quick so we can go into town today.”
I wasn’t mad at all about leaving the farm for a bit. I had been here for a few days, and the entire place seemed to just get smaller and smaller by the hour. I could see now why Pop would escape in a book for an opportunity at adventure.
“Is dad coming with us today?” I asked. “No he is gone looking for a job at the factory that’s further away,” mom said. “But, I’m coming along,” Pop interjected in an excited tone.
Nat and I were pretty excited about getting to explore the town so we got ready almost as quick as we could. We got back downstairs, and Pop met us by the front door with his jeans, boots, plaid snap-button shirt, and a trucker hat. “Y’all ready to go?” he asked with a smile.
Mom wasn’t far behind us, and we all went out and loaded up in his old red truck. It had one big seat that just went across the front. I got the middle seat, but Nat had to sit on Mom’s lap. We started driving down the dirt road past all of the cows, and this truck squeaked more with every bump we hit. I was waiting to see which would be the one that would split it in two.
We drove for a while on winding roads, up and down hills until we finally got to a little town. It had one main street that most of the stores were on. They were all brick buildings, some connected, that featured their name and their best merchandise or just a clear view of their business through great glass windows. The first little stop we made was to an ice cream shop that Pop said was the best he’d ever had.
We opened the door, and a refreshing blast of sweet smelling air hit us. Three coolers lined up with glass to see the many flavors. I was overwhelmed by all of the things I wanted to try. “What’re you going to get?” mom asked me. “I don’t even know.”
After looking for another minute and everyone else had ordered, I stuck with my usual order of Cookies ‘n Cream. Nat got some Rainbow Sherbet that looked pretty interesting but didn’t taste like anything. Pop got some Pecan flavor and Mom got coffee, which was her favorite. She would judge how good an ice cream shop was based on how their coffee flavor is.
Nat finished so quickly and had a mouth stained blue to prove it. I took a bit longer, as I liked to enjoy it more. Throwing away our trash we walked outside and immediately felt the wind that blew down the street. It had that smell like it was about to rain with dark clouds in the distance to be the cause.
“Let’s run into this hardware store real quick before the storm rolls in,” Pop said to us as he started walking down the street. We got into this little store that was filled with hundreds of plastic trays of nuts and bolts, and other tools were around. Nat looked up at me and said, “this place is nuts.” Pop chuckled quite a bit as his joke saying, “he’s finally starting to get it.”
Pop paid for the few things that he needed and walked out and headed for the truck. The clouds were much closer to us now; it felt like they were chasing us as the wind pushed on us much faster than before. Thunder would crack in the distance with every few steps I took. I tried to time my steps to see if my foot could hit at the same time as the sound.
We drove home pretty quickly as the storm blew in fast. “As soon as it starts to rain these roads get really slick. The worst ones are the dirt ones by the house because these huge mud holes form that are deceivingly deep,” Pop said as he was driving. I found that I kind of enjoyed the sound of the rain hitting the roof of the truck.
The tree-lined road wasn’t filled with the usual cows to look at by the fence. Pop drove right up to the front of the house and said, “Go ahead and get out here so that you don’t get too wet.” Mom and Nat jumped out quickly, and I follow right behind. Even in those few steps up to the porch from the truck, I got pretty wet.
After we got back in, we sat in the living room looking for something to do. Pop walked up and handed me a book that he thought I would like. “It’s about a boy that runs away from home and floats down a river,” he said. “That sounds pretty boring for this many pages.” “Oh no no. Just give it a try. You’ll see.”
Shortly after I got into the first few pages, dad came in and said that he had gotten a job at the factory down the way. I hadn’t seen mom smile that big in a long, long time. All of our moods’ shifted, and the whole house became a lot lighter.
Three weeks went by with dad working a regular schedule during the week. Nat and I would play outside when it was clear, and I would read or watch the rain when I couldn’t go out.
It didn’t take long for the happiness to wear off though and one night after Nat and I went to bed. We were laughing and heard them start to talk over one another, and it only progressed from there.
Nat looked over at me with a sad look and said, “can we go back?” “Yes. It’s been a bit,” I said.
We laid our heads on the pillow and closed our eyes and woke up in the back of a block wagon. We were riding through the bumpy woods with a driver who was another yellow man with a plastic horse that moved pretty quick. Off in the distance above the trees, I could see smoke that rose high into the clouds before it dissipated.
We came to edge of the woods, and there was a long hill that the path followed down before it got to the wall around the Nerd base. The man holding the reins just said, “Oh my.” I looked at Nat and said, “It’s all gone.”