I haven’t just run a 100-yard dash, but I am out of breath. My hands hurt from gripping the steering wheel. My fingers are trembling. I can barely write this post to you. I’m doing it so I don’t fall apart here. Calm down, Tequila. Get a grip. Breathe slowly.

I’ve hidden my Civic among the tree branches. I can only see leaves around me. I don’t dare turn round to see if the SUV followed me along the forest track, much less leave the car. I’ve locked all the doors. By some miracle, I have a signal and can talk to you.

A short while ago, after the gas station, I continued heading north, with Mystic on my lap. My tail kept its distance. There were a lot of people on the road. Thanksgiving weekend is always like that.

Stuck behind an RV, I started thinking hard. Why was I being followed? Why did I notice that ordinary SUV, just like the ones you see on any street? It must have been because I was feeling edgy. With her message about bowling, my mom put me on red alert. Mystic could sense I wasn’t OK and jumped onto the back shelf to get away from my nervous vibe.

Being in the middle of traffic reassured me. The SUV driver wasn’t going to force me onto the roadside with everyone watching. He was waiting for his moment. I imagined the worst. Maybe he was a fed. He was following me because my mom left me a message she wasn’t supposed to. She was being watched. We were being watched, in order to stop a foreseeable leak: if you had a chance to protect your daughter from a catastrophe, you wouldn’t hesitate for long. Your professionalism and sense of duty would come second. The government must have contingency plans for that. Luckily, no one knows I’m Tequila on InLine. They’d be able to block my account.

So, I exited on a secondary road that goes into an older part of the forest. Right after that, I turned onto the first forest track to hide beneath the branches. I wish I’d thought things through more. Why didn’t I stay on the highway with everybody else?