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LINK 33: (VALE) SURVIVORS
We stood, staring at the flames erupting from the canyon that had swallowed the van. I shook my head, unable to accept that Azen, Fletch, and everyone had died. Jacob kneeled on the ground next to me, also taking in the burning inferno. I kneeled next to him and said, "Jakey, I'm scared."
"I am too," he murmured, his voice conveying real fear, something I didn't think he could feel.
I reached out my hand, and he took it. He climbed to his feet.
Looking down, I sighed. My heels were gone, I had a dress charred in places, and my makeup had to be running from all of the tears I'd cried since the prom.
Lieutenant Coldwell appeared from around the corner of a building adjacent to the park. We met eyes, and he heaved a sigh.
"No luck?" Jakey asked, although we already knew the answer.
"Negative," he said. "There's some interference in the air; maybe electrical. I wasn't able to each Captain Majo or Wakil via cell or radio. We're in a dead zone."
"Wonderful," Jakey muttered.
I continued to stare at the flame wall. What could even be causing it? Maybe the gas lines or possibly the old coal mines? It didn't matter if the abysses themselves were trying to pour onto Earth, it cut off our escape. I just wanted to go home and bring Jakey to my nice warm bed; if it hadn't burned to the ground.
"Jakey?" I asked.
"Not now," he whispered, still staring into the fire. I'd been watching the kiss he'd had with that damn girl. He probably had it on his mind, and that made me tremble with anger.
"Dammit!" Jakey balled my hands into fists. "DAMMIT!"
Coldwell put his hand Jakey's shoulder. "I'm sorry, but if this is the worst-case scenario, and we ARE the only survivors, it's even more vital that we get the two of you to Bell's Ferry."
"How do you think we'll make it there?" He snapped. "Clearly the main highway is out of the question. Our straight-shot there is blocked!"
"There are other ways," he said.
"Like what?" I asked. "We need to survive so Jakey and I can repopulate the Earth!"
"Vale, please," Jakey groaned.
Coldwell shook his head. "Repopulation may be needed if no one makes it to the Sanctuary, but I digress. Before we came into town, we viewed maps of the area and all possible escape routes."
"Which are?" I asked.
"One is the old highway up and around the farms in the area. The second are the train tracks that runs past the hospital. The third, which we are closest to, is the river."
"Oh, yes, let's SWIM our way to Bell's Ferry! That'll only take, let's see, FOREVER," I said.
"Drop the sarcasm, Valerie," Coldwell said. "We make it to the marina and find a boat; then we use it to go up river."
I blinked several times as I realized him to be right.
"Coldguy you're a genius!" I said.
"It's ColdWELL," he said. "Let's get going, now, before we run into opposition."
"I know the way," Jakey said. "I'll take the lead."
The Lieutenant reached into his side holster and pulled out a pistol. "Tell me you know how to use it!"
"Yeah, I've played VR Games," my love said. "I'm sure I'll do fine."
"This isn't a VR Game," Coldwell replied.
"I kinda wish it was." Jakey took the gun and walked to the corner.
The park looked empty from a dozen yards away, but I couldn't be sure. I hoped he wouldn't need to use the gun, having failed to mention, he sucked at shooting VR Games.
I grabbed his arm, and he glared at me.
"What?" I asked.
"Not now! I need to focus."
I rolled her eyes and waved my hand, motioning him to proceed. Swallowing hard, he continued. We made it to the edge of the park, and I glanced both ways. The quickest path would be to go straight through to the far end of Main Street, but there were no lights.
"Got a flashlight?" I asked Coldwell.
"It'll draw attention," he said. "We go it without one."
I sighed. "Fine."
We walked onto the cement path through the park, and the darkness seemed to swallow us whole. I almost thought I heard a banshee's cackling laughter nearby. Hopefully, I could chalk-it-up to my imagination and nerves. But so far we hadn't been that lucky.