“Finally,” Rayna muttered a curse under her breath as she turned onto the isolated, narrow dirt road that led to Deacon’s cabin, stretching for roughly 2 or 3 miles further. Normally, calling it a road would be a stretch—even in the greatest weather. But with all the rain coming down from the storm, it looked more like a mud path. The sides on either side appeared to have eroded quite badly and there were small sections that had already washed away. She was tired and exhausted from driving, mostly due in part to the drive that normally only takes an hour or two, took nearly 3 ½ instead. The poor condition of the road only succeeded in whetting her frustration further.
She cursed again as she leaned forward in the seat to see better out the windshield and gripped the steering wheel so tight that her knuckles turned while. The 4-wheel-drive function already enabled, she slowly drove forward, When one of the tires started to slip in the mud, she swore impulsively—loud enough to wake up Maddie, who sat up quickly, rubbed the sleep out of her eyes with her hands, then looked first at Rayna and then out the window, then back to Rayna—eyes wide. “Whoa. Th-that doesn’t look good, Mom,” she pointed out. “Where are we even?” she asked.
Rayna sighed, not taking her eyes off the path for even a second. “We’re almost to the cabin,” she answered. “Just a couple miles further down this road and then we’ll be there,” she said. “Don’t worry.”
“Um, but Mom—“ Maddie started, her voice laced with uncertainty. “Mom—the road’s all mud. Some of it’s not even there. Should we really be driving down this?” she asked.
Rayna shook her head. “Probably not, but I just drove 3 ½ hours to get here. There’s no way I’m letting a little mud intimidate me into turning around,” she said, smiling a little as she turned to Maddie. Maddie smiled back momentarily before the smile disappeared and her eyes went wide. She raised her hand and pointed out the windshield. “Mom! Watch out!” she yelled.
Rayna turned back to the road in time to see the flood of fast-moving, muddy water rush down from the side bank across the road right in front of them. Maddie shrieked from the passenger seat as Rayna instinctively slammed on the brakes. The act caused a low squealing pitch noise to be heard just as the back tires lost traction and the late-model Range Rover fishtailed around in the mud, bringing the vehicle right into the path of the rushing water. Seconds later, Rayna finally understood why they warned people of flash-flood waters and cautioned them of the dangers of being caught up in any while driving—as the swift current sent the vehicle careening into the wide side-ditch several feet further up the road—doing so at an angle that literally caused the SUV to overturn and flip onto the driver’s side, sliding further down the steep, muddy embankment before coming to a rest .
When it was over, she immediately looked over to check on Maddie. “Oh my God, honey are you okay?” she asked. Maddie nodded. Tears streamed down her pale face and she looked terrified as hell, but otherwise appeared unhurt.
Rayna nodded, sighing with relief as she looked around, trying to get her bearings back so she could get them both of them out of there. From what she could see out the windshield, there didn’t appear to be a lot of flood-water on the floor of the embankment they were in to worry right then, but she sure as hell wasn’t going to stick around and wait until there was. She took a moment to consider their best escape route, considering they definitely weren’t getting out through her side any time soon. She didn’t necessarily relish the thought of going out Maddie’s side though either her side being unobstructed, facing upwards. While it appeared to be the most accessible option, she didn’t want to risk it. God only knew how stable the vehicle was in the position where it lay right then. And the last thing she wanted or needed, for that matter, was to have the movement and additional weight on the one side cause the vehicle to shift further or worse, tip over on the passenger side instead. Besides kicking out a window—another thought she wasn’t too keen on—it appeared their only remaining option was to crawl out the back through the hatch door.
“Okay,” she said, taking a deep breath to calm her nerves before turning back to Maddie. “This is what we’re going to do, baby girl,” she began. “We’re going to have to go out the back, okay?” Maddie nervously bit down on her lip, clearly scared and uncertain, but eventually nodded.
Rayna gave her a reassuring smile. “Okay then,” she agreed. “First, I’m going to undo your seatbelt, so I’m gonna need you to brace yourself against the dash with your feet and hold on to your door handle or else you’re gonna slide,” she said. “Kind of like that Flying Bobs ride you and your sister like to go on at the fair.”
Maddie gave her a slight smile. “Daph always squishes me on that,” she said.
Rayna laughed . “Exactly. Okay, so here we go, I’m gonna unbuckle you now,” she said, reaching over and pressing the release button on belt. Once she did, Maddie started to slide a little…but braced herself a second later like Rayna had instructed her to. “Great job, sweetie. Now give me a second, I’m going to unbuckle, then I’m gonna help you slide down here so you can climb over the console.” Once they got that far, she had Maddie climb over the middle console and crawl towards the back. While she followed suit, Maddie managed to open the upper window section of the hatch. Slowly and carefully, Maddie climbed out first. Rayna followed a few seconds later, praying the car stayed where it was just a few moments longer, at least until they were out of harm’s way. Once out, Rayna grabbed Maddie’s hand in hers and led her up a ways in the ditch, away from the overturned vehicle.
Turning to her, she pulled Maddie into a hug, telling her she did great, grateful beyond relief that they were both okay.