By looking up at the blinding sun, I can tell it's about 1 in the afternoon because the sun is just past its highest point.
We all stand up, brushing the sand off our clothes.
"What is the plan, if you don't mind me asking?" I ask, perhaps timidly.
Tom answers, "We are the only ones who weren't captured by Wicked. So the plan is to think of some way to get our friends back. A bonus would be to end Wicked. End all the bloodshed they're causing."
"Okay," I say deadpan.
To break the boring silence I add, "Why don't we brainstorm now? Nothing else to do."
"It's not that simple," Brenda replies snarkily.
Ignoring her comment, I suggest, "What if we somehow infect Wicked Headquarters with the Flare?"
"That's too risky," Brenda replies.
"Is it? The immune can't get infected which are our friends. Also, I'm willing to be responsible for some bloodshed if it stops Wicked," I say proudly.
"This-this could work actually," Newt says, pondering the idea.
"I'm on board. But to get the Flare there…" Tom says.
"We can't just release a bunch of cranks," Brenda contributes.
"Yeah, that would not be good," Newt says.
"Unless…" I trail off.
"What?" Tom asks eagerly.
"The Cranks are a distraction while we save our friends. And we only release them into certain parts of the compound."
We work out the details of a plan that could be successful or go horribly wrong. Cranks aren't exactly under control so we have to take precautions. The silence that was eating me up before is gone and replaced with talk. I feel as though I'm starting to find my place with them again. I can let my guard down and relax like I haven't in awhile. Weight from the guilt I've accumulated falls off my shoulders and is left behind in the waves of sand. Although, I remind myself that I still have to prove what side I am on to the others that I'm responsible for being captured, when we save them.
We start walking towards Wicked which is a dark spot in the distance, no larger than a penny. The sun sets, creating a sky of colors. We refresh another time in the stream before finding a few slabs of rock. They seem a bit out of place, but make a good sleeping spot nonetheless. I claim a slab for myself that is long enough for my feet not to hang off at the end awkwardly. I almost feel at home, probably because I don't have one. I hope to have a nice house one day with a family and maybe even kids. My mom would have wanted that for me. Unfortunately, it is never going to happen if events keep playing out like they have been. Tom settles a foot away to my left. Brenda is a foot above Tom's head and Newt is a foot above my head.
Newt is the only one who disrupts the peace and says, "Goodnight, guys. Don't wake me up at the crack of dawn if you can help it."
I smile at Newt's comment and curl up against the rock, my back facing Tom. I pretend the rock is a person, holding me. Always there to protect me. It's hard to imagine since the slab is hard and cold, emotionless and unfeeling. I give up my silly fantasy and shift to face Tom as I wrap my arms around myself, shivering. It's not that cold, but still, I thought it would always be warm in a desert. I let my eyes settle on Tom who is curled up, probably because of the temperature change.
I call out to him telepathically: Are you awake?
How does he fall asleep so fast? I sigh and force my eyes shut, letting the darkness swallow me as I listen to the faint yet soothing trickle of water.
Later in the night when I am deep asleep, a familiar hand finds its way into mine.