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Gone Before Dawn

By JMScott All Rights Reserved ©

Scifi / Thriller

Blurb

While on their way to a Virginia amusement park Delta Risotto and her friends find themselves flung headfirst through a wormhole 300 years into the future where the oppressive Puritans now control the earth. With the psychic knowledge of another wormhole hidden somewhere in the same time zone, can Delta lead her friends through the perils of this futuristic world back to their own time and salvation? Dodging the Puritans and the new dangers this world poses, Delta must act as the true leader she really is if she’s to survive.

Day One

Her plane touched down just after four in the morning. Korah grabbed her carry-on and pushed her way through the other tired passengers. Once in the parking lot, she called Delta.

“Where are you?” Delta asked.

“I’m sorry, Del. My plane just got in. I was delayed in Denver,” Korah said.

“Mom, we have to be at the school at 4:30 so we leave at 5:00. I knew you weren’t going to make it,” Delta said.

“Look, I will be there. I just have to drive to Jolly Rodger’s. Mr. Myrnachick already knows I was delayed and he knows I will be driving to the park. I should be there before you guys even arrive.”

“You called Mr. Myrnachick before you called me?” Delta asked.

“Honey, come on, it was 2:00 a.m. your time. You were sleeping,” Korah said as she sped her pace up across the full parking lot of Philadelphia International.

“Mom, Sherry’s mom wants to get going. She wants to get coffee or whatever.”

“I will see you at Jolly Rodger’s. Love you, Delta.”

“Whatever, you love Mr. Myrna-chick.” Delta said and hung up before Korah could say another word.

Korah tossed her carry-on in the back seat and slid into the driver’s seat. She started the car and just sat there. She tried so hard to be the mother Delta used to have, yet Delta was well Delta, and she chose to live with her father after the divorce. And Korah’s job kept her rather busy. After so long of supporting Brian through school and starting his business, this was Korah’s opportunity to make something of herself.

Her phone rang again.

“Keith, I talked to Delta,” Korah said.

“So your flight got in okay.”

“Yeah, I am leaving now. I should be there before you guys get to the park.”

“I missed you, Korah,” Keith said softly into the phone.

“I missed you too. So I’m sharing a room with Amy.”

“Yeah well I’m sharing a room with Dan.”

“Who’s Dan?”

“The bus driver. I was hoping Catherine was driving but she decided on not going. Dan picked up the trip.”

“You know, I’ll have my car. I bet we can sneak off somewhere together,” Korah said with a playful tone in her voice.

She could hear him smile as he inhaled deeply, “Why Miss Korah, I think you have me blushing.”

“Mr. Myrnachick, I’ve been rather naughty.”

“I better get going. Jude is ready to go. ILU.”

“ILU Keith.” ILU was their code word for I love you. Delta knew they were seeing each other, and didn’t really like it. She didn’t say too much because Delta lived with her dad. Delta only knew because she caught Korah and Keith together in her bed. She came over because she had a fight with her Dad and wanted to say the night. Suffice to say, Delta marched right back over to her father’s and didn’t speak to Korah for a couple of weeks.

After hanging up the phone, Korah pulled out the airport parking lot and turned onto the dark road heading for Jolly Rodger’s Riptide Amusement Park only four hours away in Virginia.

***

Delta hung up the phone and tossed it on the bed.

“Your mom still coming?” Sherry, her best friend asked as she stood in front of the closet deciding on what to wear. “You know Mom wasn’t going to leave for like another fifteen minutes.” She selected a short black skirt.

“Sher, we are going to an amusement park not the club.”

“I know but I want to dress to impress.”

“Impress who?”

Sherry flopped on the bed and turned on the computer and brought up a page. “See this guy?”

Delta sat down next to her and looked at the profile picture. He was a little older than they were and he was gorgeous.

“Who is he?”

“He is the guy we are supposed to meet at the park.”

“That’s Ashton whatever?”

“Yeah, Ashton Crosby, the guy who will be taking us on our behind the scenes tour,” Sherry said and slipped on her skirt.

“Isn’t he like some prodigy or something?”

“You are so not paying attention. Uh duh, he is like twenty and already has a PHD in engineering and computers. Remember Mr. Myrnachick like idolizes him or something like it. He spent an entire meeting going about how great this guy was. Remember?”

“I don’t always listen to what he says,” Delta said and slipped on a Jolly Rodger’s Tee shirt and a pair of jeans.

“Why, because he dates your mom?” Sherry asked and shimmed into a short black top with deep cleavage.

“He is retarded. My dad said he is. He doesn’t know a thing about engineering,” Delta answered. “Back to Ashton, how do you know he will be interested?”

“Look at me, Del, I am hot and smart.”

“Yeah but are you his kind of smart?”

“Not everyone is brilliant like you. I am smart enough and since I am smart enough and look this good, I bet I will be sneaking out of our room tonight to meet up with him,” Sherry said.

“You are the sluttiest girl I know and especially in the club.”

Sherry shoved Delta lightly and laughed, “you live through me Delta. You live through me. Anyway you know, Talia is a way bigger hoe bag then me. She has big titties . . . ”

“And big teeth,” Delta added. “I don’t know how she can be a bigger hoe bag.”

“She’s done everyone in our club, and some others. So I’ve heard anyway. I just like to pull them along and then just choose the ones that make me real juicy.”

Delta stuck her tongue out, “Sherry, your disgusting.”

“Same song and dance, Del. You love to hear the stories.” Sherry said as she disappeared into the bathroom and put on make- up. “Del, let me do your makeup.”

“Sherry, we are going to an amusement park.”

“Delta come on, just a little eye make-up to bring out those beautiful green eyes,” Sherry said and came out of the bathroom holding a large bag of makeup.

“No, I’m good.”

“Have it your way but I packed a couple of extra outfits just in case in you meet someone you want to have a fling with.”

“Well I don’t see me having any flings not with anyone and especially not with my mom as a chaperone.”

“You know her and Mr. Myrnachick will bumping nasties in his hotel room,” Sherry said and zipped her suitcase.

Delta wrinkled her nose.

“Come on Delta, you used to have the biggest crush on him. Remember you used to say he was your dream man”

“Yeah that was like when I was fourteen and a dumb freshman. I grew up a lot since then,” Delta said.

“Then your mom started dating him.”

Sherry’s mother called them from the bottom of the stairs. Delta grabbed her pack and Sherry grabbed her suitcase.

***

Glenwild High School was situated right in the middle of town. Glenwild was a booming town on the north Chesapeake, partly because of the biomedical facility nearby. It was still black outside when Amy Thompkins pulled into the high school parking lot. The school bus was parked in the back of the parking lot with the inside lights on. Some people were hanging outside. Others were being dropped off by weary parents. Mr. Myrnachick stood outside of the bus with a clipboard in hand. Amy parked the car and the girls dashed out leaving her with the luggage.

Amy sighed and grabbed all the bags. Mr. Myrnachick approached her.

“I talked to Korah and she is going to meet us at the park. So, it is just you and I on the bus.” He grabbed some of the bags, “let me help you with this.” He smiled and she returned the smile. Why did she chaperone anyway? Oh that’s right, she was the only stay at home mom and they were going during the week. No other parent could chaperone except for Korah and now Korah wasn’t going to be on the bus. But of course, Korah would be too busy with Mr. Myrnachick. She could call him Keith, but it never seemed right to call a teacher by his first name.

“Do you want to help get everything in the bus and get the kids ready? We are leaving as soon as we can,” Mr. Myrnachick said.

“Sure,” Amy said and looked over at his smart and tidy jeans and button down dress shirt. Maybe just maybe Korah won’t show. Maybe she will have to fly off to some bizarre location and then poor Keith will be all alone and so will Amy since Korah won’t be there to share the room. She could have him come over and it could be their little secret. Even though Korah was her best friend and has been for since high school, but in the last couple years, since Korah’s divorce and her new job, they drifted apart. She wanted one little dirty secret. Something she could call her own.

They started filing the kids on the bus. They were still waiting for Michael Chen but he pulled in moments later. They were supposed to leave no later than five but everyone was ready to go by 4:30. Dan the bus driver knew a good place for breakfast, and since they were making good time, they could stop and still be on time for the amusement park.

Amy got on the bus and scooted in the front seat and put her bag next to her. Mr. Myrnachick sat across the aisle from her and smiled again.

***

She went to bed drunk, well as drunk as she could be. She built a large tolerance to booze over the years. It helped with voices. It dulled them, but they were always still there. When she was young, the doctors labeled her schizophrenic. Then Aunt Belinda who supposedly had “schizophrenia” at one time, sprung her from the mental institution and took her home.

Belinda was a psychic and said that Moira also had the gift. But Belinda died and Moira was left with her gift and a large inheritance. The older she got, the more pronounced voices were. Moira discovered vodka, the best medicine allowed by law. Moira drank every waking moment in a small cape cod house tucked in the dreary neighborhood in the Detroit suburbs.

She once saw a missing child on one of those mailers. And she heard the kid screaming. She knew the kid was dead so she drank more. She watched the news and she was right. The police found the body of five- year- old Terrence Oliver off an abandoned road in Idaho somewhere. That night, she went out and woke up in the hospital. She smashed into a telephone pole. No one died, no one except Terrence. She could have stopped it. Belinda would have. But she wasn’t Belinda. She was Moira, and she was alone with all the voices that screamed for her on a daily basis.

But that May fifteenth, she had dreaded the entire day and drank herself into a stupor. She woke just after midnight on the sixteenth and the feeling of dread wouldn’t go away. Something bad was going to happen. Something really bad. Moira could stop it with more clear nectar but she was out and she would have to wait until the next morning when she was sober. Instead, she got up from the couch and went to her aunt’s old bathroom and took a bottle of percs and guzzled two down with water from the tap.

The sixteenth would be a very bad day for someone. A very bad day indeed. But really, Moira thought, isn’t it always a really bad day for someone somewhere. She crawled into bed, pulled the covers over her head and waited for the percs to take her to a quiet sunny beach somewhere far away from all the voices.

***

She was making good time, it was already a little after 6:30 and just crossed the Virginia border. Korah pulled into an empty truck stop. The neon lights around the sign blinked in the faint early morning. She went in and grabbed a large cup of coffee.

The guy behind the counter had a porn on as he thumbed through a comic book. He didn’t look up when she came to the counter.

“Yeah just leave the money on the counter,” he said.

“Well how much is it?”

“Whatever, two bucks,” the clerk said not wavering his gaze from his comic book.

“I only have a five,” Korah said.

He grunted and pushed a button on the register and took her money then gave some crumpled bills back.

“Thanks,” Korah said and slipped out the door. Next time, fucker, I will leave.

“Hey beautiful, you need a ride somewhere,” the man at the door asked her.

She looked up and then dashed away from him and back into her car. Once inside, she shoved the cup in the cup holder and locked the door. The man at the door laughed like a demented Santa Claus and heaved his rather large Santa Claus self into the store.

She dialed Delta’s number.

“Let me guess Mom, you have car trouble and now you can’t make it.”

“No, I’m in Virginia. I am about an hour away from the Amusement park. Where are you guys?”

“Hold on.” Korah heard Delta ask Sherry where they were.

“We are about half hour behind you. Hey so the bus driver knows this place, we are going to stop for breakfast. It’s in . . . ” Korah heard Delta ask where the restaurant is. “It’s called Lulu’s. We are about fifteen minutes out from the restaurant.”

“I passed Lulu’s on the way through. It looked pretty busy. So I guess I will meet you at the park. I might stop for something to eat close to the park. Love you, Delta.” Korah said.

“Yeah ok. See you later.” Delta clicked the phone off.

The big man came out of the store and put his giant paws on the hood of the car and laughed insanely. He pushed down on the car and did it again. Korah’s heart pounded. She dropped the cell phone on the floor and fumbled for her keys. The fat man pushed down the front of her car again and then walked off still laughing.

Korah took a deep breath and went for her cell phone. She called Keith.

“Hey baby, I know you can’t really talk. Delta told me you are stopping at Lulu’s. I just crossed over into Virginia,” Korah said.

“Things are going good. We actually left early then we planned because everyone was here and ready to go.” Then he whispered, “ILU”

“ILU, Keith. See you in a couple of hours.”

She hung up the phone and started up her car. Next stop Jolly Rodger’s Riptide Amusement Park. Korah remembered the last time she was there. Brian, her ex-husband and Delta’s father, met her after class and just took her away for their first weekend getaway without the parents. She was seventeen and he was nineteen. That’s when she loved him more than life itself. Of course, it was the same trip that made Delta. She smiled and started back onto the highway.

***

Delta sat by the window and Sherry next to her. The others sat in a seat by themselves listening to their music or playing with their phones. There was only person Delta wanted to talk and she was sitting next to her. She wondered if her Mom was still coming or would there be some random excuse like her brand-new car just happened to get a flat and of course there was no spare tire. There was always something. Because she put her stupid career above all else. Her mother made herself look like a jack ass with some of stupid adventures across the countries. She wrote an off beat travel blog and people begged for her to come and write about them. Delta thought her mother had a worthless job. It was so much better when Korah sat at home like Sherry’s mother.

Delta wasn’t going to have kids so she didn’t have to sit at home. She was going to do something worthwhile with her life. Biotechnology. That’s where the money was.

Her phone rang; it was her mom. After their brief conversation, Delta saw Mr. Myrnachick talking on his phone. Nice going Mom, I know you are talking to him.

“Your mom still coming?”

“I guess; she is in Virginia.”

“I am freaking starving. I can’t wait to eat,” Sherry said.

“Mom just went by Lulu’s and said it was busy.”

Faint morning light started to creep into the dark blue night. Trees started to thin out. Delta looked out the window and saw the last stars of night. There was a bright light ahead. It was white and it filled the entire bus. Others shielded their eyes. The bus tires screeched into the light. Sherry and some of the other girls screamed as the bus hurtled into the light.

“Everyone stay calm,” Mr. Myrnachick yelled over the breaking pandemonium.

Delta felt intense heat race through her body then everything was ice cold. Was this death? Did she die?

Suddenly, the light disappeared and the bus slammed into a thicket of trees. The bus driver tried to maneuver the bus but couldn’t. They slammed into a large tree. The front of the bus crumpled, crushing the bus driver. Mr. Myrnachick was standing with is back turned and he went out on the windshield. Everyone screamed.

Darkness fell around the bus.

People turned on their phones.

“Help me,” Mrs. Thompkins croaked.

Sherry grabbed Delta’s hand and dragged to where her mother was sitting. She was pinned between the driver’s seat and her own seat.

“Mom. Mom, are you okay?” Sherry asked with tears falling down her cheeks.

“My mom is trapped; can anyone help?” Sherry called to the back of the bus.

“What are we going to do?” Trisch Lovejoy screamed.

“What happened?” Talia Burchev asked.

Shane Salazar and Vince Olsten came to the front of the bus. Sherry held her mother’s hands and cried. Amy Thompkins reached over and stroked her hair, “I’m okay sweet baby girl.”

Delta stood there and watched. She didn’t know what to do or where to go. Shane looked over the situation, “I think we can maybe unpin her but I can’t promise anything.” He called for the other guys. Vince forced open the front door and he and Michael Chen proceeded to take the bus driver out his seat. Michael dragged his body out into the woods while the other guys pried his seat from Amy’s legs.

They were bleeding and swelling.

“Mom you’re going to be okay. I know you are.”

“Someone should check my dad,” Jude Myrnachick said from the back.

“He’s probably dead. You fucking dumb ass. My mother needs help now,” Sherry snapped.

“I’ll check on him,” Delta said. “I don’t know first aid. I need air.” Delta pushed her way through as Trisch made her way up with some clothes to wrap Amy Thompkins’ legs.

It was cool in the forest. Especially cool for May in Virginia. The trees were quite old as they reached a black sky. The air was cool but stuffy. Something was no right. She pulled put her phone, no service. How was that possible? She just talked to her mom. Mr. Myrnachick just talked to her mom.

She heard gasping and gurgling. She turned her phone and found Mr. Myrnachick laying on the crumpled hood of the bus. She went over to him. He was covered in blood.

“Delta?” he asked weakly.

“Don’t move Mr. Myrnachick.”

“I’m going to die, Delta,” he muttered and coughed up blood. Delta grabbed his battered hand and kissed it.

“Don’t talk.”

“Delta you are a smart girl. You know what happened, right? String theory.”

“Come on Mr. Myrnachick, don’t talk.”

“ILU.” Mr. Myrnachick muttered and gasped once more.

“No, no. Mr. Myrnachick you can’t die. You are supposed to be the smart one. My mom will miss you. I will miss you. Jude will miss you. Mr. Myrnachick, Keith,” she said to him and shook him lightly. She felt the tears. Delta moved away and screamed “Someone help us. Someone please help us!”

Others filed out of the bus and stared at Delta as she screamed for help. Soon the others joined because there was nothing else to do but scream and hope someone heard them. The road couldn’t be that far away. They were just on the road. They were just on the road.

***

Typically the percs kept the voices at bay, where they only murmured. And she could sleep a little better. She was in a dreamless sleep when she heard someone, a girl but older, not a woman, but younger scream “Someone help us. Someone please help us.” She saw the face of a long brown haired girl with blood on her hands. It was a bus accident. The bus hit a tree. She was in forest somewhere but where? The girl wore a Jolly Rodger’s tee shirt and blue jeans. She kept screaming and screaming.

No more percs or Moira would kill herself. She didn’t feel like dying. There was something not right with the trees. Where was this girl? Was she hurt? Who was next to her?

Moira woke and sat straight up, wide awake. Her heart pounded furiously and sweat ran down her face. Maybe she was having a heart attack.

What did Belinda tell her to do when something strong happened? That’s right try talking. Get more info. What was about it a connection? This connection was too strong to ignore.

Moira never talked back to the voices. She took a deep breath and spoke.

“I am Moira Ponds. Who are you?”

Nothing. It was stupid. Maybe she was crazy after all. Try harder, Moira. Try harder. Her dead aunt said in the back of her mind.

“ I AM MOIRA PONDS. WHO ARE YOU?”

She saw the girl stop screaming and fall back against the bus. But the only answer she got was. “I wish mom was here.” The girl rubbed her head and fell to the ground and threw up between her legs.

Moira spoke again, “WHO ARE YOU?”

Then a soft voice said, “I am not ready to die.”

“I CAN HELP. WHO ARE YOU?”

Then there was nothing. She didn’t see the girl again. Moira’s mind went black. She felt sick and threw up blood. She felt dizzy and laid back down as the blood dried on her mouth. Her eyes closed. Maybe the girl died and so did she. Maybe they were connected. So Moira failed again. No surprise percs and booze are the easy way out.

***

Delta fell against the bus. Someone was talking to her. No one else seemed to hear the voice. Of course it was slurry. So this was dying. Delta was dying. They all were, slowly.

The voice hit her hard like someone was inside her mind. What was going on? Then all of sudden, the voice was gone. Delta rubbed her head the others huddled together, their voices silent.

Jude Myrnachick came out of the bus and saw his dad. He didn’t say anything but turned around and went back on the bus.

“We should get back on the bus,” Delta suggested.

Talia nodded, “we should try the radio.”

They filed on the bus. Talia reached over the glass and tried the radio. Nothing. There was no static. There was nothing. “Seems like the radio is out.” She dropped the microphone. Her eyes were vacant.

Amy Thompkins was moved to another seat and Sherry sat across from her.

“What happened, Delta? Where’s Mr. Myrnachick?”

Delta shook her head. What did he mean, string theory?

“Someone should go to the road and wave someone down. Maybe we can get a signal,” Michael said.

“We should wait until morning,” Delta said.

“Who died and made you boss? You’re not even the president of the club. Vince is,” Shane said.

Vince Olsten was the president, but he and Jude sat in the back of the bus and said nothing nor did anything.

“Well what do you say Vince, should we wait until daylight?” Delta asked.

Vince turned away and looked out the window. Shane started for the door. Delta reached for his arm, “Shane wait just a little bit, it will be daylight and will be safer. We don’t know what’s out there.”

“What’s out there, Delta? Trees, animals? The Boogeyman?” He snarled.

“You were outside. There are no leaves on the trees. It’s May, the trees are full of leaves. The air feels weird. You know what I mean. We can’t lose any more of us,” Delta reasoned with him.

Before he could take a step out of the bus, the ground rattled around them. The bus shifted side to side as if the bus were a little tug boat in a hurricane. Delta fell to the floor as did the others that were still standing. A deep growling sound filled their ears. Some grabbed their ears. Amy fell to the floor and cried out in pain.

Then it stopped. A strange quiet fell over the bus. Shane picked himself up.

“I think we should wait until daylight. Maybe we could have a couple of us go,” he said and sat back down. The others picked themselves up and sat back in the chairs. Delta and Sherry helped Amy back into the seat.

“You okay, Mrs. Thompkins?” Delta asked.

She nodded and closed her eyes.

“She lost a lot of blood, Del. Both her legs are broke. I can’t lose her Del.”

Delta hugged her. “Is she drugged?”

“Don’t ask. Someone had some painkillers,” Sherry said and started weeping into Delta’s shoulder.

“What happened outside?” Sherry asked.

“He died. I watched him die, Sherry. He said I was smart and I know what happened. Something about string theory. I don’t know. Then he said ILU. Whatever that means. Anyway something really weird what happened when I was out there.”

“What was it?”

“I screamed for help and then all of a sudden this voice entered my head, and she said she could help. It sounded like she was screaming in my head. Then she was gone.”

“It doesn’t make sense, but this place doesn’t make sense. I know we are not even near home. Something isn’t right. What are we going to do?”

“I don’t know Sherry. I wish I knew. I am waiting for daylight,” Delta said.

The others murmured around her.

“And what if daylight doesn’t come?” Sherry asked.

“I don’t know.”

“I know we are going to die,” Sherry said.

“We are not going to die. We are some of the smartest people we can figure this out. We are going to home.” Delta said.

Daylight if you want to call it that arrived it seemed like hours after the bus crash.

The light was faint and muted like pale yellow.

“Delta you coming with me? Vince and Jude won’t talk to me. Michael is going to work on the radio. The girls are going to stay by the bus and look for food. Me, Eric and Anson are walking to find the road,” Shane said.

“Yeah, I guess.” Delta said. She looked at both Jude and Vince who just stared out the windows.

“Good luck, Delta,” Trisch said. “You know we all believe that we are not where we are supposed to be. We ain’t in Kansas anymore, Toto.”

“Or Virginia,” Delta said.

Shane forced open the bus doors. The air didn’t change; it was cool but stuffy. Delta looked through the black tree branches and the sky was pale and dreary blue like a storm would be coming. She went over and laid her jacket over Mr. Myrnachick’s body.

Eric and Anson started ahead and Shane and Delta walked behind some. There were no birds, no insects flying. There was nothing. They walked and made no crunching sounds under their shoes.

“What are you thinking?” Shane asked her.

Delta grabbed a twig and snapped off it a black tree, “I agree with you guys, we are not where we are supposed to be. Mr. Myrnachick said something about string theory but that’s not quite right. There is no cell service here; my phone said zero hours. I am thinking wormhole or something like that but I don’t know. I mean that shit is just theory right? Just some freaking crazy theories that are in no way true,” Delta said.

“But here we are,” Shane said.

“I know. I wish this was a dream and Sherry will wake me up and we’ll be at Jolly Rodger’s,” Delta said.

“It’s not a dream, Del. This is real.”

The scenery was the same every where they looked except for the bus. It was a distant bright yellow blob in the black forest.

Anson stopped and pulled out a water bottle. He passed it to the small group, “I hope we can find water.”

“I thought the girls were looking for supplies,” Delta said.

“They are. I wish at least Jude or Vince would go with them,” Eric replied. “Those guys are weirded out. You think they would live for this. They do this shit on that video game they made. Do you play?”

“Once, because Jude asked me but I am not a gamer.”

“You are not a lot of things, Delta,” Anson said.

Shane stepped in, “well all that doesn’t matter now. Because we are in another place. Maybe if we are lucky we are still in America somewhere maybe right near Big Foot in some Oregon forest and we just moved through a worm hole to a different place.”

“A wormhole to a different dimension,” Eric said and pulled out his phone and started snapping pictures.

“We should keep going,” Delta said and capped the water bottle and gave it back to him. “We have no idea when the night comes again.”

Delta started ahead and Shane caught up to her. He pulled a compass out his pocket.

“Always the boy scout?” she asked.

“No, it was my grampa’s. He was in the war. He gave this to before he died. I never really needed it until now. Though it’s useless, the needle is spinning around,” Shane said.

They walked for a couple of miles, when the trees thinned and a road appeared. It was smooth and black as if it was just made. There were no lines on the road. Delta approached the road and touched it.

“Feels like a road.” She looked at the sky and still couldn’t see the sun. If there was one. The sky was still pale and didn’t get brighter as the sky normally does when the sun moves through the sky. They stood on the road and looked both ways.

“How did we get so far in the forest?” Anson asked.

“I am wondering if there is a town down this way?” Delta pointed. “We didn’t make it to Lulu’s but my mom went by Lulu’s a half hour before I talked to her. So maybe if this world is sort of like the one we came from then maybe there is something down this way.”

“Should we try it now?” Shane asked.

“I don’t see why not.”

“We should’ve stayed together. All of us, you know. Safety in numbers,” Eric said.

“I know but Sherry’s mom can’t walk and we need to get our bearings. We are going to figure out how to get home.”

“You going to open a wormhole, Delta?” Anson asked.

“No, but for action there is a reaction. Come on. We will walk for another hour and then we will turn back and go to the bus. We come out again in the morning, maybe we take some supplies or something.”

Shane started down the road. Delta followed short behind with Anson and Eric further behind.

***

Korah pulled into the empty parking lot. She checked the time, she had maybe an hour before the kids were supposed to arrive. She called Delta; it went to voice mail. She called Keith and it also went to voice mail. Weird but not alarming. She locked her doors and set her alarm and settled in for a little nap.

When she woke, she didn’t see the bus. She called Delta again, nothing. She called Keith again. Still nothing. She called Amy and Sherry, still nothing. Now it was strange. Korah got of her car and walked to the main entrance, where she found a security guard.

“Hey I was wondering did the kids from Glenwild High arrive yet?”

“I didn’t see a bus come in, but I will get on the walkie.” He squawked into his walkie and no one saw the bus either.

“Have you tried calling them?”

“Both my daughter and two other chaperones, no one answered all calls went to voice mail.”

“I wouldn’t worry, they are probably stuck in traffic in a dead zone,” he said and walked away.

Korah called the hotel they were supposed to stay at and no they didn’t check in. Korah panicked. Where were they? What if they were in an accident or something?

She called the school. “Hi this Korah Risotto. I was wondering if you can get a hold of the bus driver and see where they are they haven’t arrived at the amusement park.”

“I’ll see what I can do, let me call you back.”

Twenty minutes went by and the school called Korah back, and said they couldn’t reach the bus either by his phone or by radio. She hung up the phone. She asked the security guard if the bus came in. He shook his head. What to do now?

They were gone. But where did they go? Maybe the bus driver kidnaped them and had them locked up somewhere. Korah shook her head.

She called the local police and two officers arrived within a few minutes. By then, the kids were already an hour over due.

“I think there is a bus full of kids missing. I called my daughter, went to voice mail. I called the teacher and the other chaperone and went to voice mail. The school called the bus driver.”

“Maybe they ran into some trouble.”

“Well can’t you do anything?”

“We can put an APB out. How were they coming down?”

“Three oh one, the same way I came into Virginia. But they were stopping at breakfast at Lulu’s”

“I don’t think there is anything to worry about but we will see what we can do,” the taller and skinnier police officer said.

“Now what?” Korah asked.

“Now we wait,” the other officer said.

She heard the radio come through, “Lulu’s said they didn’t get a bus of kids in this morning.”

“Ma’am what time did you talk to your daughter last?”

“Six thirty this morning. She said they were almost at Lulu’s. I was a half hour ahead of them.”

The police man got back on his walkie.

“Ma’am, do you know the names of the children on the bus?”

“Yeah”

“What are they?”

“Delta Risotto, Sherry Thompkins, Anson Armistead, Talia Burchecv, Trisch Lovejoy, Jude Myrnachick, Michael Chen, Eric Robinson, Shane Salazar and Vince Olsten.”

“And the adults?”

“I think the bus driver’s name is Dan. And there was Amy Thompkins and Keith Myrnachick.”

“Come with us to the police station. We have to issue an Amber alert.”

“Why? What are you telling me?”

“The bus disappeared. We got a traffic cam picture of it 5 miles before Lulu’s. Then there is nothing.”

Korah started crying, “was there an accident? Are they hurt? What happened to them?”

The tall and skinny one, pat her on the shoulder, “We don’t know, but we will find them.”

Korah got back in her car and tried to the hold tears back. She had to call Brian.

At the police station, the Amber Alert was already blaring. The school sent pictures of the missing students and the missing adults. Korah gave them a picture of Amy.

The tall and skinny one got her coffee and she called Brian.

“I’m sorry Korah, but Brian asked not to be disturbed,” his secretary said.

“Beth, it’s about Delta. It’s an emergency.” Korah blubbered in the phone.

Beth put her on hold.

“Listen Korah, I have no time for this,” he grumbled.

“Delta is missing. The whole bus is missing. There is an Amber Alert on her and all of them,” Korah started crying.

“Where are you?”

“The police station by Jolly Rodger’s.”

“Does the school know?” Brian asked.

“Yeah they know,” Korah said and wished he was there because Keith was also missing and so was Amy.

“Stay there. I am coming down. I will be there as soon as I can,” Brian said.

Korah hung up the phone and watched the tv where the Amber Alert flipped through photos of the kids and the missing adults.

***

Moira woke up and for the first time driven by something other than booze. She turned on the television and there was a bus of missing kids from Maryland right over Virginia border. She watched as the pictures flipped through and then she saw her, the girl in her vision, the one that asked for help. Her name was Delta Risotto. Her school picture was on tv. She was wearing a Jolly Rodger’s tee shirt in Moira’s vision. Moira could save them. She could save them all. She had a connection to Delta for some reason. But where were they?

Forgetting that she needed more vodka, she went to the computer and looked up the location where and Delta and the others disappeared. It was wooded, but not like how it was in her vision. The trees had no leaves and it was thick with trees. The computer showed a much different picture. She clicked on the information about the missing kids and looked at the last photo of the bus before it disappeared. The trees had leaves and it was not very dense with trees. Where Delta and the others were some place else. Now she needed Belinda more than ever. Moira tapped her fingers against the desk, thinking of what to do. She could easily find the mother’s number from the internet but she the mother would think she was crazy. No, Moira needed more to give the mother than what she was wearing. Of course, Moira didn’t remember if the news said what was Delta was wearing.

Moira pushed back from the desk and rushed into her aunt’s bedroom. She never had the heart to pack her stuff up and put away. There was no sense, no one came to see her before. Belinda kept detailed journals of those she helped and everything about the “gift.” They were in leather bound journals that were lined in chronological order on a book shelf that was across her bed. Moira looked at them all. This would take too long.

“Belinda, I know you said I should practice more and focus more but if there is ever a time when I need a little guidance, it’s now. I can save them Belinda. I am connected to one of the missing girls, Delta. I talked to her Belinda. For Terrence. I need to save them for Terrence.”

And of course there was nothing. We work in mysterious ways Belinda once told her after she sprung Moira from the crazy house. Moira wasn’t crazy. Moira could save them. Save Terrence and save herself.

She took a shower and waited for a sign. And there was nothing. She made coffee with stale grounds and tried to read the bottom of the cup but she thought was a stupid trick. Moira looked at the clock, it was noon her time which meant it is 1:00 p.m. Delta’s time. They have been missing for seven hours. Another forty and the police will stop looking because they will believe for them all to be dead.

“Well there ain’t much I can do about it. I don’t even know where to start. Oh well, it’s not like they are in Virginia anyway. The trees weren’t right.”

She grabbed her purse and her keys and went out the door. Vodka baby, it’s been way too long. As she drove the three miles to the liquor store, a large black Cadillac ran through the stop sign and cut her off. She slammed on the breaks and noticed the last three digits of the license plate- 780. Moira pounded the horn and stuck up her middle finger. The black Caddy sped off.

After parking her car, the door to the liquor store was propped open to let in the already humid heat. She went in and grabbed her usual bottle of happiness. She always knew how much to pay and pulled out seven dollars, but when the clerk pushed the total button it came to $7.80. Moira looked at the number and pulled out another dollar. She got back into her car and turned on the radio. The announcer said the daily number was 780. That was it! That was the sign.

Moira pushed the gas pedal and rushed back home. She left the vodka in the car as she ran in the house. There was only one journal marked 780- July 1980. Moira grabbed the book and flopped on her aunt’s king size bed.

There was only one case in July of 1980 and it took the whole book.

Someone called for help as I was in the garden. While this is normal there was something rather distressing about the girl. I saw the vision. She was with two other girls and two boys and they were teens. I didn’t know where they were, but I know where they were going to Richmond to some new amusement park that just opened. Because her friend, wondered how they were going to get there. Shirley was the girl that yelled for help. They smashed into a tree. But the trees were not right. Here it was hot and July and the trees were black as oil. My visions happen in the present not in the past or future. They were in the present; they just weren’t here or at least not on my plane any longer.

Moira couldn’t believe it. This sounded just like Delta and the school bus. They were going to Jolly Rodger’s as well. There had to be a connection. First was to learn about Belinda’s case and then Moira would try talking to Delta before reaching out to the mother.

***

After they left, Trisch and Talia were in charge. Dumb fuck Jude and his ass buddy Vince sat in the back staring out the window. Shane asked Trisch to come along but she was afraid, she didn’t want to go. Sherry and Talia cleaned up Sherry’s mother’s legs. They didn’t look good. Trisch went through everyone’s stuff just to find the water. Michael Chen had the radio apart in his seat

“I think infection is setting in,” Talia said with her fading Russian accent.

“What does that mean?” Sherry asked. Trisch never like Sherry. She was a little slutty and she was a little dumb, but now she felt bad for her. Poor Sherry, this would be a horrible way to lose her mother.

“You know what means, if we don’t find her some antibiotics,” Trisch started.

“I know. I just don’t want to believe it.”

Trisch was scared as she looked at the dead and black forest. She wanted to be like the others, but she had to be the leader now. Sherry was useless as was Jude and Vince and Talia well Talia followed the herd.

“You going to be okay, Sherry? Me and Talia are going to scout the area for water at least,” Trisch finally asked.

Sherry nodded her head then took a shirt and wiped the sweat off her mother’s forehead.

“You ready to go, Talia?” Trisch asked.

“Yah, guess as ready as ever.”

The bus driver was propped up against the tree, where Shane left him. Mr. Myrnachick lay on the hood of the bus. His blood all dried. He had a look of anguish on his face. Talia turned away and held back her vomit.

“I don’t want to go too far Talia. Shane and the others went that way,” Trisch pointed to a patch of woods. “We’ll go opposite and see if we can find something.”

“There are no leaves, Trisch. It is weird, no?”

“It is weird. There doesn’t seem to be vegetation around anywhere.”

The girls started into a patch of trees.

“What is up with Jude and Vince, they have not went to the bathroom?” Talia asked.

“You know when they go to the bathroom?” Trisch asked and sort of laughed.

“No, not really. They could have went in their pants. All I know is they didn’t move after the earthquake. They just sit there and stare,” Talia said and broke a twig. She felt the sap drip on her fingers. She picked it up and smelled it. It didn’t have a smell she could place. She tasted just a bit. It had no taste either but if it didn’t kill her, they could eat at least to stay alive.

“Who knows, you know the rumor that they are secret lovers?”

“Really, they are? I didn’t know, I dated both Jude and Vince,” Talia said. “For a short time, very short time.”

“I know. We all know everything about each other except for Delta. I’ve known that girl since god knows when and I know nothing about her. I think her mom was dating Mr. Myrnachick. Delta’s only true friend is Sherry. She doesn’t talk to anyone else.” Trisch said.

“I talked to her,” Talia said.

“So have I but only about science or engineering. Her dad owns that huge biotech place. She’s already accepted to MIT and her dad is giving her a job. Her mom is some flighty writer freak. She writes this travel blog. I don’t know it’s weird,” Trisch said.

“You know a lot about her.”

“Shit, that stuff everyone knows,” Trisch said.

They heard something. Talia grabbed Trisch’s hand. Could it be an animal? Trisch almost hoped it was because they could trap it and eat it. The rustling moved closer to them. Talia dug her nail into Trisch’s sweaty hand.

The creature appeared. It sort of looked like a fox but it was black and thin. It almost looked like a skunk. The creature stopped and its eyes were yellow. It raised its lips and showed its long white teeth. Trisch’s heart pounded. The creature scurried back into the thick trees.

“What was that?” Talia asked.

“That was a good sign, where there are animals, there has to be water,” Trisch said. “Come on let’s go a little further.”

“My grandmother told me stories about radiation. She was lucky not to live in Chernobyl but her brother did. She couldn’t identify his body. The government showed her a picture. She went by the picture. What if this place is radioactive?”

“I don’t know, Talia.” Trisch wanted to say we aren’t in Virginia or Maryland. There’s no way home. We are going to die anyway. Of course, Trisch would rather die of something quick and not die of radiation poison. When the time would come, she would find a branch and hang herself- quick and painless.

They walked a little further and found a small stream. It didn’t babble or trickle it was just there. Although it looked like it moved somewhere but it was much too quiet.

“Give me that empty bottle, Talia. I am going to take some back.”

Talia handed her the plastic water bottle and Trisch knelt down on the soft mud and filled the bottle. It seemed like it was getting dark. She had no idea what time it was.

“We should head back Trisch. Maybe we can collect firewood. I think we can have Michael make something to heat the water in,” Talia suggested.

“And what are we going to light the fire with?”

Talia pulled out a pack of cigarettes and a lighter, “shh, I don’t want everyone knowing I smoke.”

So Talia was a bit of a bad ass. “Your secret is safe with me, Tal. Let’s go. It seems more dark then it did and I swear we weren’t gone that long.”

They made it back to the bus just as the last bit of light faded away.

Talia gathered fire wood from around the bus. Trisch went in. Sherry and Michael sat by Sherry’s mother.

“Did you have any luck?” Michael asked.

“We found a stream. We brought water back. Talia wants you to make something so we can cook the water. We saw an animal. How is she?”

“Not good, I don’t think she will last until morning. Her fever is really high. We gave her some Motrin but it’s not helping,” Sherry said and burst out crying.

“What about the dipsy doodles?” Trisch asked.

“Who knows, they are not talking,” Michael answered.

“Didn’t the others come back?” Trisch asked.

“No, where could they be?”

“Well I hope they don’t try coming back until there is some light. Talia said we can eat the trees. She tried some and I guess it didn’t kill her.”

Talia started a small fire. Trisch saw the flames from the window. “Looks like Talia got a fire started. Why don’t you two go out and get warm? I’ll stay with your mom, Sherry.”

They both stood up. Trisch tossed the bottle from the stream to Michael. She went to the back of the bus. Jude sat in the far back on the left side of the bus and Vince sat on the right side.

“We could really use you guys. We need to survive.”

“Why? We are going to die, anyway. Leave us alone Trisch. Go outside and play Girl Scouts or nursemaid,” Jude snarled.

“Have it your way, Jude. Vince, you want to join us? We need your help.”

“Do you think that if meat dies with an infection that the meat will be tainted?” Vince asked and in the dim light from the fire, his eyes were black and hollow.

Trisch moved away from them and sat with Mrs. Thompkins. She picked up her hand and stroked it as she wiped the sweat from her forehead. When she was gone, they would be on their own. Trisch shuddered. She never believed in God but she gave it one shot anyway. She bent her down and asked for him to save them all.

***

There was no sunset. It was if someone just snapped off the light. The four of them were huddled on the road. So close, Delta could smell their sweat. There was nothing but blackness around them. No starlight no moon light. To Delta, it was if someone put them in a black burlap sack

Anson reached for his phone and turned on the light.

“Okay so what do we do now?” Anson asked.

“If we head back now, we could get lost,” Shane said.

“I’m with Shane. We are better off to stay on the road. At least when we can feel the road, we know where we are.”

“Sure we do,” said Eric.

“We have to think of something else other than using our phones because it’s not like we can charge them or anything,” Delta said.

“Well this is what we got right now.” Anson said.

“Let’s keep walking. Maybe there will be a building up ahead we can hole up until there is more light,” Shane said and started walking ahead. Anson walked in front with Shane and Delta and Eric stayed close behind.

It was silent and black. They walked on a road but their foot steps didn’t make a sound. Eric breathed heavy, but even his sound was lost in thick silence. Delta’s mind drifted to the woman that was in her head. She wondered if she was real or maybe she was made up. She wondered about her Mom. What was she doing? She wondered what time it was. It didn’t seem like it was that long ago that the bus crashed but at the same time, it also seemed like it was years ago. Time was a funny thing and being in an unknown dimension. It was always obscure and not quite right.

Then it started with a low vibration. The foursome stopped on the road. The vibration shook harder. The four gathered around each other as the world around them rattled. They grabbed onto each other and crumpled to the road. They hung onto each other and tried to protect each other. The shakes became more violent. It seemed like they were moving from side to side.

Delta wanted to scream as loud as her lungs would let her. Anson’s cell phone dropped to the ground and broke. They were in darkness. She felt the others squeeze around. Then it stopped. They let go of each other and lay on the road in the complete blackness breathing heaving. Someone reached for her hand; it was either Shane or Eric.

They lay on the road when the lightening flashed like an out of control strobe light. It was neon blue lightening. It was close; she could feel the electric charges. Several of the trees caught fire down the road as if someone was lighting a path. It was Shane who held her hand. She looked at him and she could see he was afraid. Because there was no where to run. She had to believe some laws of physics still existed here. She had to believe if they stayed close to the ground that the lightening should strike the trees. They all lay still on the road praying they wouldn’t be struck by lightening or ran over by a vehicle. How long would this last?

Delta thought about the bus. She hoped every single one of them was okay. She hoped Sherry’s mom was still alive. She hoped there wasn’t a fire. Was it minutes or second? The lightening stopped, the rain fell. She expected to be burned with acid but it felt like rain. Delta opened her mouth and took some rain in her mouth. It tasted like nothing, not even water.

They stood up. The trees still burned alongside the road and they continued ahead. Anson scooped up his phone and put it in his pocket. There was always something they could use the parts for. Shane never let Delta’s hand go as they continued down the road.

Delta saw it first. It almost looked like a building. She broke from Shane’s hand and moved faster. The fire in the trees died down in the rain. Delta fumbled for her phone and ran ahead. The other’s followed. It was Lulu’s. There was no one in the parking lot. The wood siding was weathered. The sign was burned out and old as if it should be displayed at the Smithsonian. She made it to the door and yanked on the door. It opened with some effort. There was no one there. The tables and booths were empty and the places were set. She never ate at Lulu’s but went by here when Sherry and her parents took her to Virginia Beach. The others followed her. She sat in the vinyl booth which cracked under her small amount of weight. The foam in the seat also broke down. She turned off her phone as Shane turned on his. He looked around the diner and found a candle and some matches.

Finally there was light. Candle light but it was better than using the cell phones. There were canned goods with an expiration date of July 2380. Delta stared at the date and just couldn’t believe it. The kitchen was well stocked with all sorts of canned goods.

“Is this right Shane, the expiration date is 2380. So if this is the future? How far are we? Where are the flying cars?” Delta asked.

“Del, I think the more important question is where are all the people?”

“We have to get the others,” Anson said.

“I agree but I don’t think we should all go back,” Delta said.

“You’re right, two should stay here and two should get the others.” Anson said.

“I vote for Shane to go back. He is stronger than us and he can help with Sherry’s mom. And with Jude and Vince.” Eric said.

“I’ll go with you, Shane. But first let’s just rest here for a bit. I think we should leave when it is still dark. So we can make it back and stay with the group before dark starts again,” Delta said.

The rain stopped but Delta’s clothes still stuck to her.

“You ready to go? Do you remember where to go?” Delta asked.

“When it gets light out, there was a tree I remember it must have been struck by lightening because there was a deep v that went down the ground. It was the only tree that looked like that,” Shane said.

“Maybe you guys should wait a little longer because it might not be light out for a long time,” Anson said.

“I want to make sure we are back at the bus at the next round of darkness.”

Shane and Delta went through the restaurant and found two large candles and more matches.

“I think the grill is propane. Maybe we can actually cook something,” Delta suggested.

“Yeah we might take a look at it. But who knows we don’t want to blow the only place we know that is pretty safe.” Anson said.

“Agreed,” Eric said.

“Okay we will be back with the others. You guys should stay here and be safe,” Shane said.

Anson reached over and hugged both Delta and Shane, “be safe guys.”

***

Brian’s arrival meant an entourage. In one way, Korah was glad to see him. He was always the more rational one but of course, he was Fortune 500's most influential man two years ago. Their divorce was rather nasty and all over the news. Korah and Brian hated that, they both liked to be private people and their divorce for some reason was more important than world peace or the latest take over from some militant group in the Middle East.

He kissed her on the cheek and squeezed her hands. He did, at one time, love her and he always loved his baby girl.

“Have you heard anything?” He whispered in her ear.

She shook her head no.

“So, I guess we are having a press conference?” He asked.

“Unfortunately, but I hope that it helps. Maybe someone saw them,” Korah said.

“One million dollars is what I am offering.”

“So it is a kidnaping?”

“Not to my knowledge, but money always seems to get the bad guys talking,” Brian said.

She smiled, “you’re right.”

He took her hand. The police chief waved them along and they followed to the press conference room. Brian and Korah sat in folding chairs in front of a large blue curtain with the American and the Virginia state flag hanging vertically. The press quickly quieted down and sat down in their respective chairs.

“Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I am Chief Robbins. I ask you to please wait until the end to ask your questions. At approximately 6:30 a.m. ten teenagers, two chaperones, and one bus driver seemingly vanished into thin air. The missing are Anson Armistead, seventeen years old, from Glenwild, Maryland. Natalia Burchev, eighteen years old, also from Glenwild, Maryland. Patricia Lovejoy, sixteen years old, from Glenwild, Maryland. Jude Myrnachick, seventeen years old from Glenwild, Maryland. Michael Chen, sixteen years old from Glenwild, Maryland. Shane Salazar, eighteen years old from Glenwild, Md. Vincent Olsten, eighteen years old from Glenwild, Maryland. Sherry Thompkins, seventeen from Glenwild, Maryland and Delta Risotto, sixteen years old from Glenwild, Maryland. In addition to the high school students, Amy Thompkins, forty-four, and Keith Myrnachick, forty-five are also missing. They were chaperones for the field trip. The bus driver, Dan Adams, fifty-two, is also missing. All from Glenwild. They were on their way to Jolly Rodgers Riptide Amusement park here in Richmond. A traffic came picked up the bus on Route 301 from Maryland right before Lulu’s a restaurant over the Virginia border. Traffic cams did not pick up the bus again. As of yet, we have no leads and we are asking the public to share the photos of the missing and to be on the lookout. They could have had an accident. We will be working around the clock to find these kids. Brian Risotto would like to speak and then we will take questions.”

Brian and Korah got up and the flashes went crazy. Somehow she knew they would be on the front page.

“I am Brian Risotto and my daughter is one of the missing kids on the bus that was headed for Jolly Rodger’s. I am offering a million-dollar cash reward to the information that brings all them all home safely,” Brian said and stepped back.

“If you have questions,” Chief Robbins said.

“Chief, this stretch of road between Maryland and Virginia, isn’t it known for unusual disappearances?” asked a reporter from the DC newspaper.

“I don’t know, I have heard rumors but I never looked into it,” he answered with his cheeks flushed from embarrassment.

“Mrs. Risotto, this question is for you. Isn’t it true, you are dating Keith Myrnachick, the STEM club’s advisor and chaperone on this field trip?” a plucky brown haired fresh from college girl asked her.

“Yes, but I don’t see how that matters,” Korah answered.

“Well couldn’t this be an elaborate ploy to get more money from your ex husband? It is pretty suspicious YOU weren’t on the bus all though you were supposed to be.”

Brian stepped in, “not that this is any of your business, but Korah is still my friend. She received a very fair divorce settlement, which you can easily look up through court records. If Korah needed money, all she would have to do is ask and I would give her money. We’ve been divorced for five years. We are fine. She can date whomever she wants. What is important is finding our kids and finding them safe. What is not important is this yellow journalism screaming conspiracy when there is none. Because maybe it was a young starlet, looking for your big story to get the Post or the Times, and you planned it with others to kidnap a bunch of kids and mine especially to embezzle money from me.”

Her face turned red and she shrank in her seat. Good old Brian, always her savior.

“Mrs. Risotto, I’m from the AP, why weren’t you on the bus this morning?”

“I was taking the red eye from LA to Philadelphia. My flight was delayed in Denver. I called Mr. Myrnachick and told him I would drive to the amusement park and meet them there. Because I would not make it in time to be at the school. I called Delta right before they went missing. They were a half hour behind me and she said they were going to stop at Lulu’s for breakfast.”

“Any more questions?” Chief Robbins asked.

“Did you know Dan Adams, was acquitted of alleged child endangerment twenty years ago?” another reporter asked.

Chief Robbins, “no more questions” He failed. He had no clue on anything. Korah almost felt bad for him. What if it was the bus driver? He all of a sudden took the trip. It was supposed to be someone else driving the bus. What if he has been hurting kids forever and no one ever knew because he killed them and hid their bodies. It was possible maybe his thirst for murder increased, or he was dying and wanted to attain some kind of special number of murders then he could die happy. Korah shuddered.

“You doing okay, Kor?” Brian asked.

“Just thinking about that last question.”

Brian kissed her forehead. “Don’t think those thoughts. Because those thoughts are always in the back of the mind and that is where they should stay.”

That’s when the FBI showed up. After the introductions were made, Korah didn’t feel any better. She and Brian left the police station and went to the hotel room.

Her phone was bombarded with missed calls from the other parents. She didn’t want to listen to them. She flopped on her bed. Brian was next door yelling into his phone. She turned on the tv and watched the latest fiasco. The embarrassed police chief, the fumbled questions and answers. It was a witch hunt for juicy stories to sell more papers.

She called Delta’s phone and it went to voice mail

“Wherever you are, Delta, come home to me. You would be shocked right now. Your father is here in Richmond with me. Well he is in his own room but we are getting along well. I always told you we did. It just sometimes people grow apart. I love you so much Delta.”

Then she dialed Keith and left him a message, “ILU,” and started crying.

Brian knocked on their joining door, “hey you calling Delta?”

“How’d you know?” Korah asked.

“I just called her myself. She’s a survivor, Korah. She’s a survivor.”

“I know,” Korah said between tears. He came over to the bed and hugged her. Sometimes even divorce doesn’t change the facts of truly caring for someone.

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