080 – 80808

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“What happened?”

Isabella was standing as the RV kept driving on the highway, teddy bear in her arms. She had a curious and confused look on her face.

I hadn’t changed clothes.

“Those border patrol guys were fucking assholes,” I said, pushing my thumb through a hole in my sleeve, feeling the dampness of the dogs’ dribble. It was gross, but I couldn’t help but give in to a nervous tick. “They were toying with us the second we rolled up to them.”

“But why is your jacket all ripped up? I heard a lot of screaming and shouting. I was stuffed up in that luggage bag, but I still heard it.”

When I breathed, it wasn’t shaky, which was a good thing.

“Their dogs attacked us. Me.”

“Oh. Shit.”

“Shit,” I repeated, the word let out in a breath. The incident was still fresh in my mind, but it was so fresh that it felt like I was still there, thrashing around in the dark, the teeth digging into my skin and the growls filling out my ears. It was so loud.

I tried not to think about it, but something kept pulling my thoughts back in that direction. Sitting in that moment, giving it weight.

“Where’d they get you?” Isabella asked. “Did they bite you? Are you bleeding?”

I answered by deciding to remove my hoodie, letting it fall off my shoulders, the sleeves slipping down. It landed on the floor of the RV, I kicked it aside.

I rubbed my arms again.

“They did,” I said.

Isabella only looked more curious and confused.

“I don’t see anything.”

“It’s kind of another thing that comes with being me. Injuries don’t last, no scars, nothing.”

Isabella took a step forward, hurried. She would have ran at me if there was room in the RV.

Her momentum carried her, though, and she tripped at my knees. When her head popped back up, her hair flew into her face.

“Whoa,” she said, “Can I see?”

Now it was my turn to look curious and confused.

“What? My arms?”

“Uh, yeah.”

“Why?”

“I wanna see.”

“But there’s nothing there.”

Again, Isabella gave me that look. Like I had said something stupid.

“That’s the point.”

Another comparison to D. I didn’t quite get her. But, there wasn’t much to do, and filling in that downtime with something that wasn’t so taxing didn’t seem like a bad idea. I’d let Isabella take the lead on taking my mind off things.

I let my arms, and my guard, down. A small gesture.

Isabella set her teddy bear down, then she took my hands, gentle, observing every detail she could pour over. The tips of my fingers, the fingernails, the joints, the knuckles, the back and palm of my hands. Her fingers traced over mine. Tingling, until my hands became more numb.

It was sudden, it was weird, but I was getting used to sudden and weird.

“Where’d they get you?” Isabella asked, studying my wrist and my forearm.

“Um, one of them got me at the elbow, pulling me one way, and the other got my whole hand in his mouth.”

“Whoa, that’s fucking nuts.”

“I guess? I almost lost my hand back there. The dog’s teeth dug right into my wrist.”

Whoa. And there’s no trace of that anywhere. That is actually so fucking cool.”

I could see why she was seemingly so fascinated by my healing, but she was getting really into it.

“It’s not that big of a deal,” I said.

Isabella started shaking her head.

“Nuh uh, you don’t get to downplay this, because this is fucking cool. You have super strength and you can never get hurt? That is the fucking dream! Could you imagine how many people I’d be able to fuck up if I had your powers? No one would be able to mess with me ever again. I really, really like the sound of that. I wouldn’t have needed you to help me, and I could have fucked up Lawrence, myself. And that bitch.”

Isabella’s eyes were still on my arms, but they looked glazed over as she reiterated, “I’d really, really like that.”

The idea of a little girl running around exacting revenge on those who’d wronged her…

Wait.

“How far would you go to get at those people?” I questioned. “What does fucking someone up mean to you?”

Isabella answered without missing a beat.

“Anything and everything. Whatever I think is fair, even if it means hurting them until they can’t feel nothing, no more.”

Uh… huh…

“You’d say you go so far as to kill for revenge?”

“If it comes to that.”

Well then.

“What, you’ve never gone that far? You lead a gang, after all.”

What did she think gang leaders do, exactly?

“I can’t say that I have,” I answered, “I’ve been trying to be diplomatic in how I handle things. It’s not all violence and games. It does make it easier, thinking in that way, but that’s not the reality of it.”

“Bullshit. You’re telling me you’ve never had to kill anyone, for any reason? Because they wronged you or got in your way? I’ve seen it up close, people killed for far less justifiable reasons. I’ve seen it happen over a candy bar.”

Over something that petty?

I conceded somewhat, saying, “I’ll admit that I’ve been close, I’ve stood at that particular edge before. But, unless I couldn’t help it, I backed away.”

Isabella didn’t look convinced.

“If I had your powers, that’s how it’d go,” she said.

“It’s not all that great,” I said. “I still get hurt. Stings, burns, cuts, rips and tears and slices. I feel all of it, and it’s not like it completely goes away. I heal, but it’s only the physical injuries. There’s no real cure for mental trauma. Just your best attempt.”

I laughed, the sound coming out hollow. What had compelled me to add that last bit, I didn’t know, but I felt as if some levity was needed. To poke fun at myself a little, I supposed.

“And that, that taxes,” I said.

“You can always get help,” Isabella suggested. “Go to others.”

I shrugged, weak.

“I guess you could.”

If there were seeds of doubt, then I’d want my resolve to be like a tree, strong and unwavering and proud. If I had told myself that enough times, it would have been true. It should have been.

That was the point of everything.

“But yeah, anyways, it’s not like it matters anymore.”

Then, Isabella let go of my hands, and stood back up, seemingly satisfied by her very thorough inspection. If she had gotten something out of that, good for her. I just didn’t know what that was.

“Why’d they even throw their dogs at you?” she asked. “I thought we were trying to fly, or drive, under the radar. What ticked them off?”

We. I liked that Isabella had included herself in that effort. In hiding, she was protecting herself as much as we were protecting her.

And I had failed at my end of the deal.

I frowned.

“I thought so, too, but people like that are suspicious and cautious by nature, it’s part of the job. Even if there wasn’t anything to find, they’d make up something to trip us up on, to get us in trouble. Unfortunately, they did find something. They had stalled for time, and one of their dogs sniffed you out.”

“So it was my fault?”

“No, it wasn’t, and don’t ever think that it was, Isabella. They played us, played me. They thought they were being clever, and for a minute, they were.”

Darn, I hated to admit it. No amount of advanced healing could cover up that burn.

“Their dogs sniffed you out, and asked us to step out of the vehicle,” I said. “For a moment, there, I thought we were screwed.”

“And then you got slobbered on and chewed up? Unless I’m getting ahead of your story, I don’t see how you pissed them off to do that. Not that I’d be surprised if they did it just because, I’ve seen that before.”

“You have? That?”

“Oh, abso-fucking-lutely. People are capable of some fucked up stuff if they think they have all the power, or if they think they can get away with it. When that dynamic is off balanced, some nasty things can happen.”

I wondered how much Isabella had seen during her time in this country. How did that shape her, form her views on the world? It gave her enough of an impression that leaving was a better option. It seemed to me that the idea of hope was as foreign a concept to her as her presence was, in this country.

“I don’t disagree, but I don’t think that was the case, here. They only wanted to use their dogs to search the RV. What they didn’t expect was that the dogs would freak out and go after me on their own.”

“They attacked you guys just because? Aren’t they trained so that kind of thing doesn’t happen?”

“Maybe, but that got thrown out the window real quick. Whatever sense of loyalty or command they had was abandoned for…”

I lost the words to articulate it properly. Just the idea of saying it out loud seemed ridiculous.

La comida para perros,” Isabella said, finishing the thought for me. Hearing in another language almost fit, in a way. Still very real, but detached.

“That’s one way to put it,” I said, less enthusiastic.

Isabella went to cross her arms, but the RV shifted over, Sarah switching lanes. She leaned back against a nearby counter, instead.

“But how’d you even get out of that if the dogs got at you both? We’re lucky that the lady there can even still drive.”

The lady there. The lady being Sarah.

“Not us both,” I said, correcting Isabella. “Just me. Only me.”

“Oh? The way you phrased that makes it seem like that was supposed to mean something.”

Did it mean something?

“Maybe, it could,” I said. I set my hands on my lap, between my legs. “It’s definitely something.”

“Okay,” Isabella said. The word itself, and the phrasing, made it clear that she had no idea where I was going with this. Hell, I didn’t even know.

Maybe if I tried digging deeper, talking, I’d get somewhere.

I dug deeper, I talked.

“You weren’t there, or, you weren’t there to see that part of it. Those dogs… there was nothing holding them back. They were wild. And it wasn’t just on instinct, either. If animals could actually feel rage, I felt that, too. I felt intent. It was like they wanted me off the face of the planet.”

“What, you’re saying that you’re not a dog person?”

I almost laughed. I settled for a weak smile.

“That doesn’t sound too far off, exactly. You know, now that I’m talking about it, getting my thoughts together, this isn’t the first time it’s happened. Not even the second. I… just didn’t realize then since so much other stuff was going down at the same time.”

I recalled the handful of instances. Back when I first worked with Reggie, Tone, and Sarah, when I was chasing after a kid. Arturo, his name was.

Another time was with Alexis.

It was a reach to pick through the details, and it was a lot like fixing a broken cable. To re-establish a connection.

In Katy Thompson’s home, the night that Solace made his debut and gambit. She had a dog there, too, the name escaping me. If I connected the memory right, the dog flipped out then, too, at the sight of Alexis. There was nothing to question at the time, since everyone’s attention and stress were focused on other things. But now, there were enough data points to extrapolate a conclusion, or at least a decent hypothesis.

There was something about me, or in me, that dogs didn’t like very much.

It was natural that my line of question would lead to other possibilities. Natural still for me to not consider them for now.

“Maybe it would be more accurate to say dogs aren’t a me person. Or… me… dog… I, you know what I mean.”

“Okay,” Isabella said. That word and that phrasing again.

“Are you trying to be funny?” I asked her.

Isabella tilted her head one way.

“Why, did it work?”

A small puff of air blew out of my nose.

“I guess it did,” I said.

Isabella smiled, wide, all of her teeth showing. Her eyes were squinted shut.

“A point for me!”

Hm. What was it about her that made it easier for me to open up? Or Sarah, for that matter?

This road trip was seriously taking me places I had never expected to go.

“Well,” I said, moving my hands to help push myself up, “Let’s go check on that lady. No point in just sitting around, here.”

“I think there could be some good things about doing that,” Isabella said.

“Let’s put a pin in it for now.”

I started walking, crossing over to the front of the RV. Isabella grabbed her teddy bear and followed, having taken my invitation to. We had to step over and around some of the clothes I had tossed out of my bag, earlier. I hadn’t picked them back up yet.

Sarah was focused on the road, but she took the time, and the chance, to look back and greet us with a smile.

“Hey Vo- Wendy. And buenos días, Isabella.”

Isabella brought her hands together, her head tilted downward.

Buenos días, Sarah,” she said, surprisingly meek.

So you do know her name?

“How’s it looking?” I asked.

Sarah put her eyes back on the road.

“Smooth driving ahead. Back on the highway, it’s still early in the morning so the traffic hasn’t been too bad. No other obstacles in the way, expected or perceived or otherwise. We should be all in the clear, until we get to El Paso and the checkpoints there.”

A certain word stuck out to me.

“Should?” I repeated.

A very telling pause from Sarah.

“I can’t get a hold of Tone,” she said, a touch quieter.

A chill up my spine and a knot in my stomach.

“What do you mean you can’t?” I asked.

“I mean…” Sarah reached for the walkie-talkie on the dashboard, but stopped partway through. A half-hearted gesture.

“I got a response earlier, when we first left that last town, but I hadn’t gotten anything since. It’s been radio silent.”

That was one of the last things I wanted to hear at this juncture. Losing Tone meant losing over a hundred other people. The very thought of that made me sick, compounding on the disappointment I had with myself for failing to protect Isabella on my own. That feeling becoming exponential, ending with me drowning in it.

No.

“But you got something, right?” I questioned.

“I did, like an hour ago. I heard his voice, he responded.”

It’d been an hour. Anything could have happened.

Or nothing?

“He might be caught up in traffic up ahead, since he went around to pass the town, or something else is holding him up,” I said. “Have you tried calling or texting him?”

“On his phone? I haven’t.”

“Then do that.”

“My phone’s in my bag, on the counter there.”

“I’ll get it,” I said, as soon as Isabella started moving in that direction. “Do you want me to text him? I don’t think I have his number on my phone, yet.”

“Sure, go for it. Password’s just one big square, starting from the top left and going around counter-clockwise.”

I took a seat at the passenger’s side, Isabella having returned with Sarah’s phone in hand. She passed it to me, and I pressed the home button.

I saw the lockscreen. It was Reggie, Tone, and Sarah, standing on a beach, dressed appropriately. The sun was to their backs, their wide grins even brighter. Reggie and Tone were both in trunks, soaked from head to toe. They were both well-built, which I didn’t expect, since I usually saw them wearing baggier clothes.

And Sarah.

They were all standing in a line, but Sarah was above them, propped up by the boys’ arms and shoulders. Her arms were up in the air, as if she was presenting the sun behind them.

Her skin was tanned, a soft glow in the light, her shoulders bare with the type of swimsuit she was wearing. Her body in general was more developed than I could ever imagine for myself. There were actual curves, there, and a definition to them. Not a sore sight at all. Faster and faster, the longer I stared, the more my pulse and-

I flicked the password and got to the home screen. The wallpaper was different.

A quick search through Sarah’s contact list took me to Tone’s number. I called, left a message, and sent a text.

“There,” I said, passing the phone back to Isabella, who was still hovering over me. “I didn’t get anything back, but it’s only been an hour. We usually keep the updates keeping at that interval, anyways, so we’ll just give it a little while longer.”

“That’s fair,” Sarah said, a small hint of uncertainty in her voice. I wanted to get a glimpse at her and see if she was wearing a similar expression, but my face felt red and too warm for comfort. She’d think I was weird if she saw that now.

The road stretched ahead for miles, we crossed the entire length of what was in view twice without any other word spoken.

“So… are we there yet?”

Isabella brute forced her way through the thick silence.

“No, we’re nowhere close.”

“Ah, fuck.”

Please stop with the cursing, Isabella, I think I told you this before.”

“It’s not like you can tell me what to do.”

“I’d like to think that I can advise you on what’s best for the moment.”

“Uh, sorry Wendy, but you can’t. If I can’t do whatever I want, you better believe I’ll say whatever the fuck I want. It’s the only real bit of freedom I have. I’ll fuck and shit and piss as doubly and as triply as many times as I can!”

“You lost me at the end, there.”

“Well, too bad so sad. That’s how it is.”

I wasn’t facing her, but I still put my hands up in mock surrender.

“Alright, you can have that.”

“Yeah, damn right I will.”

Isabella was taking it too far with the swearing, but I couldn’t exactly take that away from her. She’d lost enough already, I’d bet.

I then felt hard pats on my shoulder. Just one was acceptable, but it quickly became overkill.

“What,” I said, brushing the hand away. “What is it?”

“I’m bored,” Isabella said.

Faint, but I heard Sarah chuckling.

“I can’t do anything about that,” I said.

“You coooould.” Isabella drew out that last word.

“Hold on, just give me a second.”

“But-”

“Just a second.”

A small pause.

Isabella muttered, under her breath.

I still had my eyes to the road, but I definitely didn’t miss the swear word she hissed out.

“Isabella,” I warned.

Her muttered turned into a peep, and I heard footsteps move away, down the RV.

I slumped more into my seat.

“Cute kid,” Sarah said. She slowed as a car moved into our lane.

“Is she? She’s seems like a handful. Isabella probably hasn’t had someone to steer her in the right direction for a while. Like a parent, or older sister, or something.”

“You could say the same for Miss D. I have a… fondness for her, but it is true that a girl her age shouldn’t be in the position she’s in.”

Maybe she had a point there. Isabella had kept reminding me of D in so many different ways.

“That is true,” I admitted. “It’s the whole lack of guidance thing. Everyone needs a little bit of that, at minimum. Or else you spiral out of control.”

“And what? Do you want to fill that role for her, for them? Give them direction?”

I would have said that I was up to it, if need be. I only paused and laughed, instead.

“Not my wheelhouse. I’m not that capable.”

“I guess it doesn’t matter much, though, considering we’re dropping her off at the border.”

“Actually, I asked if she wanted to join us, or at least I offered her protection back in Stephenville.”

“Oh, you did?”

“Yeah. She says she hasn’t made her decision, yet, but she has until we get to El Paso. Would you mind if she chose to come back to the city?”

“It’s not like it comes down to me. I’m not the boss.”

“I’m just asking for your opinion, silly.”

“Mine doesn’t matter, but if you’re really curious… I wouldn’t object. She’d be a nice change of pace to have around, I think.”

I didn’t mind at all to have Isabella around, but hearing Sarah be in favor of the idea made it feel all the more right.

“Keep in mind she’s only considering it because I promised that she wouldn’t have to be involved with the gang stuff, and that D stays away from her.”

“They have beef?”

“More like the whole cow.”

“Look at you, Wendy, you’re already looking out for them. You might be capable after all.”

That stupid warmth came back to my face. I hated it. It made me feel stupid and lame. And lame. And stupid.

But I didn’t… actually hate it. It was stupid, but it was warm.

“Stop,” I said, wanting to bury my face in my hands. “And it’s just one possibility, she could choose to keep going and cross the border for all I know.”

“Sure,” Sarah said.

She wasn’t taking me seriously. Maybe I wasn’t even taking myself seriously, too.

My headspace was all pulled in sorts of directions, now.

A loud ring.

“Can I answer it?”

Isabella shouted from across the RV.

Sarah’s was in her bag, the sound wouldn’t have been as clear.

“I’ve got it!” I said, moving again. “Oh, Sarah?”

“Oh, Wendy?”

“I didn’t a chance to thank you for saving our butts back there. I should have done more, or at least not fuck up as much as I did.”

“Please, you didn’t screw up, all I did was improvise the best I could, and even then I got too nervous and gave that Peter guy too much of an opening to work with. If you didn’t lure those dogs to you, I couldn’t have finessed an upper hand for us.”

“It was very clutch. Good job. I really did appreciate the help.”

“I doubt I deserve your praise, but, if it means getting thanked by you, I’ll take it. You’re welcome, Wendy.”

She turned back quickly to give me another wink.

Okay. I had to leave.

I got to my phone on the table, only to find Isabella had it in her hands. From behind, I could recognize the caller ID. It was a pseudonym, in case someone was in the know and had seen the screen. One letter could say so much.

I snatched the phone up from Isabella.

“You don’t want to pick that up,” I said. I put the phone to my ear. “Yeah, D?”

Isabella immediately got up to essentially switch places with me. I watched her go and sit by Sarah.

Just checking up. Still good?

“Nothing new to report. Things have been clear since we left that town. I kind of want to avoid any other detours by this point.”

That might be for the best. Just give it a few more hours. The road should be clear for a little while longer, anyways.

“Hope so.”

Enough of a quiet followed that I could hear Sarah and Isabella converse up ahead.

“Hey,” I said.

Hey,” D said.

“I, well, I’m down to go to the barn with you, when we get back. We can put it higher on our list of priorities, if not at the very top.”

The delay in her response was as telling as the response itself.

Good, that’s good. I’m glad. You’re finally coming to your senses.

“Or maybe I’ve finally lost it.”

Nope, this is good.

“To be fair, if I’m going to do this, I can’t do it alone. I’ll need someone with me, on this.”

Gosh, you doofus, stop. You’re going to make me cry.

“Whatever.”

Then you better get back here safe and in one piece. I want to start making headway with this as soon as possible.

I would have brought up the possibility of Isabella coming back with us, but I’d put one thing on our plate at a time. We hadn’t even gotten to El Paso, yet, and I was already thinking ahead.

The barn. The dogs. Who – or what – I really was, and what that meant in the grand scheme of things.

A sharp fear hit me.

Darn it, seriously. I was letting those seeds of doubt take root in me. Questioning my own capabilities. The very thing I didn’t want to happen. That one thing I wanted to prove.

“I’m not all that great,” I said. A statement, languid, that had no relation of what was said before. A very, very… very reluctant admission.

Don’t say that, Vivi, you’re plenty awesome. It’s just that… no one shoulders everything on their own, including possibly-maybe-not-really vampires with super strength.

“It’d still be nice if I could,” I said.

Save it.

“Yeah, yeah.”

Another thing that I didn’t want to admit. It felt nice getting back into D’s good graces again.

I’ll probably start checking on the territory in a few hours. Call me if anything else comes up.

“Of course. I’ll keep you updated.”

“Bye bye!

The call ended, and I was left feeling a odd myriad of things. Some the opposite of others. Warm, cold, scared, excited. Nervous.

Relief. Like a weight had been temporarily lifted off of my shoulders.

I removed my glasses, rubbing my eyes. Maybe I’d give myself a legit break, and give D another call in a bit.

Maybe.

“Something else came up.”

It was the of the last things I wanted tell D at this juncture.

What?

D sounded noticeably worried.

I’d have to break it to her.

“Tone hasn’t responded.”

The delay from D’s end stretched. Then, out came a loud, tinny sound.

Oh.

It was as succinct as it was a final nail in the coffin that we might be fucked.

It had been two hours since anyone had heard anything from Tone. The sun was rising, now, it was up.

The continued radio silence had gotten agonizing with every passing second, minute, every chunk of time gone without an answer formed an atmosphere of restlessness and uncertainty within the RV. A miasma of sorts.

Even Isabella, who had no stake or responsibility on the outcome of this transport, was pacing back and forth, going from a table to a counter, hugging her teddy bear or chewing the ends of her pigtails.

“You’re on speaker,” I said.

Oh, alright. So… What exactly do we know?

Sarah answered.

“We know that Tone hasn’t responded to any of our attempts to reach him. We went from every hour, to thirty minutes, every fifteen, and now it’s been a constant stream. Through the walkie-talkie and through our calls and texts.”

And nothing.

“Nothing,” Sarah reaffirmed.

Shoot.

“We got split up from them when we got caught up at the border patrol checkpoint at that town,” I said, running through everything one more time, as if I could determine a clue of his whereabouts from just piecing memories together. “Considering Tone got a head start after we stayed behind, he’d have to have been farther along the highway by the time we got past the checkpoint.”

“There’s been so many exits and turns since, though,” Sarah said, “He could have gotten off the highway again to stop and wait for us. You told him to do just that.”

I bit my tongue, holding it there.

Where are you now?” D asked.

“Still going down the interstate, we’re technically still on track to might it in time, but we’d be severely understocked when we get there.”

Then, Sarah added, “I kind of want to stop somewhere ourselves, and figure this out. Somehow.”

Stopping somewhere. That meant halting any forward progress. I wasn’t a fan.

But not knowing where an entire eighteen-wheeler was meant a halt in progress in another way.

Still not a fan.

I asked Sarah, “Do you have any way of finding a whole truck with over one hundred people in it?”

“I do not.”

“Yeah, and the only ones who could, we can’t exactly go to them for help.”

“What do you suppose we do, then?”

I was just as lost as everyone else, there. I had hoped that putting D in the loop would help start any plans, but the silence that continued from my phone as I held it up left me with little confidence.

“Hope and pray?” Sarah suggested, but I could hear the tone in her voice. She was just joking.

“Prayer doesn’t work so much,” Isabella said.

“We need something we can track them with,” I said. Then the word ‘track’ hit me. “D?”

Vivi.

“You think you can track Tone’s cellphone? Would you know how to do that?”

Uh, whoa.

“Is that a ‘no?’”

No, it’s not. I can, or actually I can’t, really, not from where I am at the moment, but if I send a text I can track where it ends up, and that’s like the same thing, except it’s not totally accurate and it doesn’t give me the best read if I want to-”

“Is it a yes or a no?”

Yes, hey, it’s a yes. But I’m out right now, so it’d take me some time to set up. You’ll probably have to wait somewhere while I get ready.

“That’s a start at least. Sarah, you can go ahead and find somewhere to-”

No, wait, I have it.

“D…” I said.

Sorry, sorry, I overestimated myself. But I have it here, it just needs to… Hold on, don’t touch that. Do you want this to work?

I could have sworn I heard another voice chime in from D’s end.

D spoke. “Then stop. I’m on right now.

“Is everything okay?” I questioned.

I heard some grunts and other sounds of physical exertion before I heard D herself.

Fianchetto,” D replied. “It’s not great, but I’ve got coordinates. I’ll just guide you how to get there. It’s super way out, but to start getting there you’ll have to get off at the nearest exit. Any exit, really.

If only I had time to pick D’s brain.

“Any exit?” Sarah asked.

If you’re only a few hours out of Stephenville, then yeah.

Sarah started making the appropriate signals and turns, switching lanes, and then getting off the highway entirely. Leaving the interstate gave me that pit that I felt when I first saw the border patrol in the distance.

“What do they lead to?” I asked. “The coordinates.”

There’s no official name on the map. It’s just in the middle of the road and the dot is stopped there.

“Stopped there? So Tone is parked at that spot?”

You won’t know until you get there. All I know is that I looked up his phone and that’s what it spat back out.

The middle of nowhere. That didn’t spell out anything good, in my eyes.

“How far?”

One hour.

One hour.

Those were going to be an agonizing sixty minutes.

“Fine,” I said, talking more to myself than her. “Sure. Lead the way, D.”

Leading. Next turn is going to be a right after the three more lights…

D rattled off the directions for Sarah. I placed my phone on the dashboard by the walkie-talkie so Sarah could follow along. I returned to the seat in the back, Isabella electing to stay by Sarah. Which was fine by me. I’d prefer to be alone, right now.

I couldn’t sit or rest. My glasses were still off. I went to one drawer and opened it. Stuffed inside were some of the clothes that I had Isabella put away so she could fit inside the luggage.

I found my mask.

More disturbances for my peace of mind.

One hour. One hundred and two people. One mask. If Tone was stopped there, and he couldn’t answer for whatever reason… It couldn’t have been for a pleasant reason.

And it would all end up falling on me.

Just one dot on a tiny screen, but it could be the root of so many possibilities. Not many of them being any good. Like a bad seed.

The seeds, the seeds.

My grip on my mask got tighter.

I couldn’t sit or rest. But I could very well break.

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13 thoughts on “080 – 80808

  1. Pretty cool chapter. Wendy reaching out, definite confirmation that she’s switched teams (whether she’s open for scoring on both sides is still up in the air), D being suspicious and having someone (cough Styx cough) over, and another crisis!
    I have a single criticism: all of those missing people are just a number to us. Maybe you want to convey that Wendy herself feels like that, but it does lower the tension some. There’s Tones, who we do know, but we haven’t spent that much time on him, partly due to how… focused Wendy has been on Sarah.

    Like

    • I appreciate the comments as always.

      Yeah, I suppose it can come across as Wendy seeing them as just a number, which was the opposite I was going for. One hundred people is a lot of people, and if you’re responsible for that many, that number really weighs on you. So I’ll probably go in an tweak the writing somewhat to give it more of that weight I was going for. Obviously Wendy does care about the well being of these people, otherwise she wouldn’t have instructed to put snacks in each of their lunch bags, or even provide lunches in the first place. We don’t spend much time with time exactly, but Wendy does feel for them, and Isabella is kind of their proxy to that.

      Like I said, some tweaking.

      And with Tone, can’t say much there, I just wanted to give him some more presence in the plot, since he hasn’t had much compared with Reggie, and now Sarah.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s just that we as readers don’t care that much about them, because we aren’t invested in any way. As for Isabella being the proxy… She’s safe. If she were in the truck it’d be a different thing.

        Liked by 1 person

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