Gone Before Dawn

By JMScott All Rights Reserved ©

Thriller / Scifi

Day Seven

Vince and Jude followed Carter up to his large home that blazed like the sun across the dark night. The windows of other houses had candlelight or large torches. One of other house had electricity but the light was dim compared to Carter’s house. They didn’t speak to one another. This was their chance to make good with the big man so they can stay.

“Olivia, we have company tell Martha to set two extra plates,” Carter called as he hung his coat inside the large foyer. A large staircase swept up to the second floor. Jude saw an ornate chandelier above his head with every single light bulb glowing.

“How do you have electricity?” Vince asked as he limped to the sitting room.

“The finest solar and wind technology available. One day we would like it to be available for everyone but it is very expensive since we do not use silicon for the solar panels. We do not have much sunlight and we needed more powerful collectors to capture what sunlight we do have.”

Carter’s wife hurried in. Like Cassandra, she dressed in a long black dress but her hair was down and blondish. She was much larger than Cassandra and she barely fit into her black dress. Jude watched as she kissed Carter on the lips.

“My husband has done well. I see that wench Cassandra was a traitor. Good for the wench to hang naked for the town to ridicule. When does she die?” his wife asked.

“Tonight. Olivia, I meet you to meet to special boys. These brothers come from over there. This is Jude and Vincent Olsten. They helped apprehend Cassandra and her traitorous companions.”

Her eyes widened, “but I am confused, why are they here with you when they are demons.”

“Yes, they are from other there but they are not demons. They want to join us and live among us. I want them to prove themselves to me and they have. They are more loyal than many of the others. These are good boys. They are from the group of demons. One of those demons include Delta Risotto.”

“The Delta Risotto?” she said.

“We are going to capture her and soon she will beg for death but there will be no mercy. It will be my utmost pleasure to torture her everyday until she just gives up living. Now, these boys will be living in Cassandra and Liam’s home. We have work to do o ver the next couple of days. Jeff Bishop has arrived to take the demons back to the other side. I can not let them go back. But now it is time for eating, we will talk business after supper.”

Carter led them to a large dining room with a long cherry table in the center. They were enough seats for twelve but tonight the table was set for five. Jude and Vince sat one side of the table and Carter sat at the head of the table. His large wife sat next to him. The maid brought the food and served each of them, even the empty plate. But no one came. Carter led the table in prayer and each ate in silence because it was custom. When dinner was over which was when Olivia had three helpings of food. They followed Carter to a dark room behind closed doors. He grabbed a bottle of brandy, scotch or bourbon. Jude didn’t know what it was, his dad was not a drinker. Carter poured them each a little bit.

“Why do you want to join us? “ Carter asked.

“We think this is the ideal world. There is respect and hard work and a peace. Here, we do not have to worry about terrorism. We live so close to Washington DC I want to live and work in peace,” Jude answered.

“How will you contribute to society?” Carter asked.

“Anything you need us to do. We can be police, we can go to college and be scientists, we can help create better solar energy,” Jude said as Vince stared off into space. Vince was a little whacked, but him and Jude fit together.

Carter wrapped his fingers around each other, “We will see, but now let’s go visit Cassandra and try to get more information out of her. I will call the other mayors and the governor to start search for Delta Risotto and her demon friends. And as for you boys what you do for us will determine your future.”

Vince swallowed his liquor in gulp and set his glass down. They followed Carter out to the town square. Where many townspeople gawked at Cassandra hanging naked. Others were marched and hung beside her. There were three other people with the brands. Two were women. One woman was very old and her flesh hung in lumps around her. Another was younger than Cassandra. She screamed and spit curse words at the group. Her taut body gyrated around. Jude would like to have that one, she was so supple. He could whip her into shape.

A group of children were being marched into the jail. Their clothes were torn. The old woman bawled when she saw a band of children disappear into the jail.

“We need answers, boys. I will question Cassandra. Each of you pick you one of the other women. Any force necessary,” Carter said and untied Cassandra. She tried to fight him off but he slapped her hard and dragged her off the gallows and into the jail.

“Which one do you want, Jude?” Vince asked, speaking for the first time in hours.

“The young one.”

Vince smiled and darted up the gallows and trotted to the old woman. Jude followed behind, the skinny young one spit in his eyes. He backhanded her. He was more interested in Vince. Vince approached the old woman who was still bawling, snot ran down her face.

“Please don’t hurt my grandchildren,” she whimpered.

“How many of you are in the resistance?” Vince asked calmly.

“They are innocent,” grandma kept wailing.

“Don’t say anything Freida. They will kill them either way. Think of the resistance. You gave your life to the resistance,”

Jude took this cue and kicked her hard in the pelvis. She broke out sobbing.

“I will ask you again, how many of you are in the resistance?”

“You are a puppet boy, you do not belong here. You think Carter would let you and your friend stay and live in peace? You are wrong and when you realize that you are wrong, it will be too late.”

The townspeople grew quiet. Vince shifted his weight then took out a knife. He smiled in the torch fire as he went for her arm and cut the brand off. Then he smashed it in her face as she cried from the pain. Blood pooled at the top of the brand and leaked down her shoulder and started to drip like candle wax over her saggy breasts.

“You are the traitor. You are ungrateful. If you do not answer my questions, I will grab your grandchildren and kill each one of them in front of you. In front of this whole town. You want to watch them die? I will make sure they die so slowly. I will cut them all over so they bleed and bleed and there will be nothing you can do about it.”

“Frieda, don’t,” the skinny one whispered in between tears. Jude took the rope that Cassandra was in and tied it in the skinny one’s mouth. “That will shut you up, your time to talk will be soon enough.”

Frieda cried and screamed.

“I’ll be right back.”

Vince dashed off the stage and within minutes, he came back with a boy who was probably twelve. Carter stood on the steps of the jail and watched with a delightful smile. Vince forced the kid to his knees and cut off his ear. Frieda screamed.

“Okay don’t hurt him. I will tell you everything. I have a book, it is a decoder and a registry of all the members in the resistance in the state of Maryland and Virginia. It is in my house. Under my bed in a loose floor board.”

Vince was in his element. Jude knew this is where he belonged. Perhaps Vince would be a police man, he would be keep to the order. Vince turned to Jude, “you want to check it out, buddy?”

“Sure.”

“Get that a boy a ride to Freida McClure’s house,” Carter barked.

Some townspeople cheered at the sight of the punishment. Some started throwing rocks at the women and the boy. They laughed and sung praises for the Purtians. Jude noticed a wagon pulling up with a happy man. The crowd was thinning. Men and women who didn’t jeer at the traitors watched in horror. He knew they fled into the night. Or at least they were going to try.

He arrived at the large farmhouse on the south end of town and went inside the dark home. The living room was lined with dozens of books and he knew they must be contraband. Carter would love rid the world of those. Many of the books were battered and there were some titles he recognized. Jude went upstairs and found her room easily enough since it was the only one that had a double bed. The others had more than one bed in the room. Shoving her bed across the floor, he found the loose floor board and pried it up and there it was a large leather bound book. He never felt more proud then he did at this very moment. Carter would be so proud. He came outside with the book and went back into the carriage.

Cassandra was back at the gallows. Jude wanted to touch her sweet breasts although they were swollen and bruised as well her face. Blood poured from her mouth and her eyes her almost swollen shut. She looked like shit and he knew Carter must of beat the hell out of her worse than what he or Vince did. He gave the book to Carter.

He flipped through the pages and he smiled.

“This is excellent work boys.”

“Vince, please do as you see fit.”

Vince smiled, a truly happy smiled and slit the boys throat and then rammed his knife into Freida’s stomach and shoved it upward. The crowd gasped then erupted into cheers. Freida’s insides tumbled out of her sagging flesh.

“Our new brother Vincent rid the world of a traitorous demon. Applaud him as you should. He wants to protect our way of life.”

The crowd did as they were told.

“Jude, as we do not need this wench before you, what is your punishment that you pass down?”

Carter looked over her sweet, thin body. Her eyes trembled as did her body in the cool air. He want to give a grand punishment like Vince. He could cut her. But he took the torch and set her on fire. Her scream was lost in flames. Jude’s stomach turned and he felt dizzy. Don’t faint he screamed at himself as his legs gave out.

Carter gave him his hand, “I was like you, the smell of burning flesh is nauseating. You will get used to it. With all the traitors, we’ll be burning a lot. You both done real well. Go on to home and get some rest.”

Vince seemed to almost skip down the stairs. The burning woman lit the entire town square. Jude walked slower the air was saturated with the stank of a burning body. There was no wind to carry the smell away. Many of the townspeople dispersed into the night. For the first time since they came over to this side, Jude thought of his mother, who no doubt waited for him to return on the other side.

She was a doctor, who gave up being a surgeon to start a practice in Glenwild just so she could be a doctor and a mother. She divorced his dad because they weren’t a match. His parents had a casual relationship when she became pregnant and they tried the married thing, but they weren’t for each other. She was a strong woman, who was fine by herself, who said what was on her mind, who encouraged Jude in everything he did, who tried to find dates for him because he spent so much time inside and at his computer. But in a world like this, she would be nothing. She would be dead because she was so independent.

And Delta, who she was in the game was not who she was in the real world. He didn’t know really know her in Glenwild not like Sherry, but Delta was shy and nice and so god damn intelligent. He could never feel like he was smart enough to talk to her. She was beautiful and innocent in the real world. Now, her life was in even more danger because of him. He loved her, he loved how she was different over here, a leader, someone people looked up to. She was fierce and a survivor. If there ever was a zombie apocalypse, he would have no doubt, Delta would survive and survive the longest. He wondered where the group was. Maybe. Maybe he should wait and try to find them. Would there be forgiveness? He had his mom. Vince had this place. Here he could be the person he wanted to be. Jude wanted to make video games and he couldn’t do it here. He had to go back.

***

The humvee came upon the smoldering remains of Lulu’s.

“I can’t believe this place was here,” Cowman whispered.

\ “Anything on the satellite?” the major asked.

“Nothing yet,” Fuzzy said.

They found a broken down road just by Lulu’s and went on it. They drove for a short time and heard a lot of yelling and cheers in the distant forest.

“We should check it out,” John said, “could be those kids. Fuzzy, you and me go and check it out. Cowman, if we are not back in a hour, then come looking for us.”

John and Fuzzy grabbed their assault rifles and went toward the noise by way of the broken down road. They came to a town square and they saw three women on the gallows. John recognized the two teen boys as Jude Myrnachick and Vince Olsten. They watched as they took part in torturing the women. Others came through woods, running. John knew they were in danger but he couldn’t help them all. He put his fingers to his lips. The running townspeople didn’t notice them or didn’t care, they just ran, some carrying a small child and others carrying nothing at all.

John motioned for Fuzzy and they went back to the humvee.

“This place is one twisted hell hole. Get the fuck out of here,” John said.

“What about those boys?” Fuzzy asked.

“I don’t know yet; it seems like they are happy.”

They started down the road. When John saw Jude and Vince again going into a house and they were alone.

Cowman stopped the humvee and waited. There movement at the house. The door opened. Jude stepped out into the black night. John got out and waited. Jude came across the road.

“Jude Myrnachick?” John said.

Jude stopped in the blackness.

“How do you know who I am?”

“So I am going to ask you once, do you want to stay here or do you want to go back with the others?” John said.

“I was hoping to find the others and go back with them. Are you part of the resistance because I am sorry I didn’t mean to kill her. I thought this world was perfect but it’s not. I killed someone,” Jude whimpered and then started crying.

John stared at him through his night goggles and felt bad for him.

“We saw what you did and that is something you will have to live with.”

“I want to go home. I want to see my mom. I want to say I am sorry to Delta. She is danger because of me. I didn’t mean for anything of this to happen.”

“Well come with us, we will get you with the group we are supposed to rendez vous with them soon.”

John opened the door to the humvee and climbed in.

“Who are you guys?” Jude asked.

“We are your salvation.”

Fuzzy grabbed water and food and gave it Jude. Cowman started the engine and crept into the black night.

***

The government brought the rest of the parents to Cape Charles the following after noon after the small military team entered the portal. Brian tried to get back to the island where the portal was located but was turned away.

“God damn it,” he muttered as he went back to Cape Charles.

“What did you expect, Bri?” Korah asked.

“I don’t know a little respect. I have resources. This is the biggest find ever. Einstein would be rolling in his grave right about now,” Brian said.

Korah didn’t know what to say. Moira sat in one of the chairs and just stared out into bay.

“Has she made contact with Delta?” Brian asked.

“No, she’s been trying for an hour now. Every once and while she think she hears her but nothing,” Sam said. “Brian, do you think the government won’t give us our kids back?”

“Honestly, Sam, I have no idea what they will do. I will be here. I will wait on this boat.”

Moira dropped to the floor of the boat and lay still.

The other three watched her when Korah’s phone went off. It was Agent McGowan.

“We have a meeting in an half hour, you are requested to be there as well as Brian, Sam and Moira.”

“Where is it?”

“There is an office building in town. You will be picked up at the motel in fifteen,” he said and hung up.

“Brian we have to get to back to the motel. The four of us have somewhere to be,” Korah said.

Brian moved the boat back to the marina. Moira opened her eyes, she was crying.

“Is Delta okay?” Korah asked.

“She’s okay but they lost two boys, Anson and Eric. They are dead. I couldn’t talk to her long. She is in a dark place, I mean her mind is in a dark place. I don’t know much more.”

Korah wondered what the dark place was and what happened. Moira and Delta’s connection was the only thing giving her hope. Please just hold on a little more Delta. You’re almost home Korah said in her mind even though she knew Delta couldn’t hear her.

There was a black SUV waiting for them at the motel. It wasn’t Agent McGowan that picked them up but an equally stern man with a square jaw and sour expression. He didn’t say anything or answer any of their questions. When they arrived at the empty office space. They took and elevator to the top floor and the doors opened to a large conference room with a polished round table in the center. The other parents were there. Agent McGowan stood at the head of the table. He had a stack of papers in front of him.

“Sit,” Agent McGowan said.

There was another door at the back, the door opened and several men came in including the President and a man who looked like a General and another who must have been important. Agent McGowan sat down.

Everyone looked at the president. Korah knew this couldn’t be good. This was serious.

“I apologize for the secrecy, but we can not have the press knowing about our meeting. This is a matter of national security and we have a lot of things to discuss. First off, I would like to meet Moira Ponds. Would you come up here please?” The president said.

She rose and looked even more frail and shaky then she normally does. She crept up to the president. He reached out and shook her hand. She wanted to dart away but he motioned for her to stay.

“I am going to be honest with you all you children crossed through a portal into another place. Right now, we have a small team of special ops going after the children to assist in their return. There is also a man, Jeff Bishop, the best selling author, who is came from where the children are to our world. This woman is Moira Ponds and she has a connection to Delta Risotto, one of the missing children.”

“Moira, please tell us the status of the kids,” he asked softly.

“Mr. President, I don’t think this is a good time.”

“Please Moira, these people need something.”

Moira cleared her throat. The President gave her a glass of water. She drank it shakily.

“First off, I want to say I am really sorry for what happened to your kids,” Moira started and drank some more water. “When they came through the portal the bus hit a tree. The bus driver and the teacher Mr Myrnachick died. The next time I talked to Delta, Amy Thompson died from infection. The kids were fine and found shelter at an abandoned diner. Before Jeff went over, Vince and Jude separated from the group and as of yet I do not know of their status. I just talked with Delta and two boys were killed by a bear. The boys were Anson and Eric. They are on the move to meet with the escort.” Moira finished as two of the women broke down in tears.

“Excuse me, how do we know you are telling the truth,” one of the parents asked.

“We believe her,” Korah said.

“Sure of course you do. The chaperone who just didn’t happen to be on the bus,” Dr. Myrnachick, Keith’s ex-wife said.

“I didn’t want this to happen,” Korah said.

The President spoke again, “please we have more to discuss. Play the video.”

The lights darkened and they showed the video Sam took with his cell phone with Jeff and then the humvee disappearing into a bright white light. They also showed the streaming video from the humvee before it disappeared into the light.

There was some muttering among the parents.

“So this brings us to our current matter. As I said, this is a matter of national security. This is a secret we must keep because the consequences are dire. The government is prepared to make you an offer for your silence. We have the same offer for the children which you will have to sign them as well. In short, each of you will receive a million dollars. Each child will receive a million dollars for silence for the rest of their lives. In addition to silence, we must stick to the same story about what happened. We have constructed a story that you should all study and be aware of. Currently, we have information going out on the internet and to media. For this part, I would like to turn your attention to the Director of the CIA, Marcus Frawling.

Korah’s heart thudded, she felt as if she were in alternate universe herself. She never bought into government conspiracy theory but maybe there was just some truth in all of those whacko theories.

Marcus Frawling stood and the two other agents passed out some of the packets of paper to the table.

“I am Marcus Frawling, director of CIA. You will not leave with these papers so make sure you know them well. The story is simple and the less you know, the better convinced you will be that what you say is the truth. Okay, as many of you know Vince Olsten killed his folks before heading out on the field trip. Vince Olsten killed the bus driver and took the kids to an undisclosed location. We do not know the status of the children at this moment. We have many leads and a large manhunt for Vince Olsten and the kids. Look over the story and remember Vince Olsten did this,” Marcus Frawling said and sat back down.

Korah looked over the packet with all sorts of details. It was only two pages long.

The president spoke again, “I will now be giving you the no disclosure papers. Trust me, keep your silence, keep your money and live a very happy life.” Another round of papers came around the table.

“Mr President, I don’t want the million dollars, can’t I have a team go and study both portals?” Brian interjected.

“Mr Risotto, I believe you do biotechnology, not portals,” The president said.

“Science is science. This one of the greatest discoveries of all time.”

“Yes, it is. But even if you were allowed to go and study the portals, you would never be able to publish your work or tell other people about it. It would be a discovery that couldn’t be shared. You should spend your time and resources on discovering something new in your lab.”

Brian sat down and pouted. They each signed their non disclosure papers.

“When we will get the money?” One of the parents asked.

“It will be in your accounts as soon as you leave,” the president said.

Moira looked sick sitting in her chair. She couldn’t still be detoxing but who knows?

Brian reluctantly signed his paper and shoved it on the table.

“The prayers of the country are with you all and godspeed to your children,” The president said and scurried out the door he came.

Agent McGowan stood up, “we’ll let you know when we hear more information.”

He went over and talked to Anson and Eric’s parents. One of the mothers started crying again.

Dr. Myrnachick came over and shoved Korah to the floor, “some how this your fault.”

Sam pulled her off, “damn it Sandy, I had nothing to do with it. It’s not my fault.”

“Why isn’t Jude with the group?” Dr. Myrnachick demanded.

“We told Delta that Vince killed his parents and Vince took off into the night. Delta didn’t want to go after him so Jude did,” Moira said.

Dr. Myrnachick sat in chair and started crying. Korah stood there and looked at her. Moira gave her a tissue and sat down beside her, “I wish I could give you better news but the truth is better than lies.”

Dr. Myrnachick nodded, “sorry Korah. I didn’t mean to take it out on you. You just seemed like a good person to blame.”

Korah hugged her slightly. Which was a strange because and her Dr. Myrnachick didn’t get along because Keith started seeing before their divorce was final. With Brian, he was married to his job but Keith was married to a woman.

Koran, Brian, Sam and Moira were the last to leave, they didn’t have an SUV to take them back to the motel so they walked.

“Let’s get on the boat, I just want to be close by when they come over,” Brian said.

***

The humvee stopped when the daylight just appeared with no glorious sunrise even in the darkest of forests there should be more light.

“How many days have we been gone?” Jude asked.

“Seven days.”

“It seems like years,” Jude said.

“So Major, I know we are supposed to meet up with the group at St. George’s, but I was thinking they are probably in these woods just further down, we might be able to catch up with them before then and instead of going through towns we can stick to these roads. There is another cowpath about fifteen miles ahead.” Fuzzy said as he combed through the computers.

“So if we can still use the satellites, can you zero in on any of their locations?” John asked.

“Give me a second, I might be able to zoom in enough to see people but I won’t be able to get a lot of detail.”

“Work your magic, Fuzzy.”

Jude looked out the window, he wondered about his mom. He wondered about Vince and what he was going to do when he woke up. He loved this world so much and true friend would let him stay here and if Vince felt the same, he wouldn’t say anything.

“I have heat signatures that look like people, they are stationary. Might be the group.”

“Okay, move ahead but keep it slow,” John commanded.

“They are about eight miles away from the church; they made good time,” Fuzzy said.

Delta talked with Moira right before daylight but she didn’t feel like talking to much. She didn’t feel like doing much of anything. Jeff sat by the river, keeping watch over the group. Others slept or tried to sleep. They laid on the ground and moved around a lot. Even Sherry and Shane tossed and turned. The only one who slept was Mercy. Delta left Shane’s embrace and went over the river.

“Delta, you should rest, we have the final push for the church. I was going to scout out the area and see if Samantha was available, I don’t want to put her in harm’s way,” Jeff mumbled.

“I can’t sleep. Every time, I close my eyes all I see is death. If it isn’t Mr Myrnachick, it’s Anson and Eric and those bears. How did you do it? How did you live here and not just want to end it all?”

“I wanted to kill myself after Christmas died but for some reason I kept living. I guess I didn’t really want to die because there was something better.”

“Maybe if the bears got me, then my timeline would be safe from this place.”

“You don’t know if what happened here will happen over there. This is a different time line. There is probably a million factors that make this place different from the one who are from.”

Jeff smiled some and moved the hair out of her eyes, “listen this place should mean nothing to you. When you go home and you see sunshine and you smell the flowers and trees and the bay, you will be so happy and appreciative. Remember that, Delta, appreciate the world you are in.”

“For a writer, you kind of suck with the words of sentiment,” Delta said.

“What do you want me to say?” Jeff asked.

“I don’t know.”

“Shh, I hear something,” Jeff said.

“Is it is an animal?” Delta whispered.

“No it sounds like a hum, like electricity or like an engine,” Jeff said.

“What are we going to do?”

“I don’t know yet.”

The noise came closer and stopped.

“I thought cars were outlawed,” Delta said.

“Yeah but military can use them, most of those run on some form of biodiesel.” Jeff said.

Then there footsteps in distance and twigs crunched.

Delta and Jeff waited.

They saw a shape it was a man’s and he wore black. Delta felt faint. This was the end anyway.

“Delta Risotto, I am Major John McGowan.”

Delta went closer and saw him standing with a gun slung around his back.

“How do I know you are good?” she asked. Jeff came up behind her and tried to pull her back. The others stirred awake and sat motionless.

“Moira Ponds, your friend on the other side. She said you would be going to a church in St. George’s.”

She smiled. She ran to him and hugged him as if he was her own father. He returned the hug. “You don’t how it feels to know that you are here. We are going home. We are really going home.”

“Let me call the humvee and we will make a plan to go on from here. We still have a little ways to go to get to the bridge and then to the portal,” John said.

Delta ran back to the group, “the escort is here. They are here. We are going home”

She hugged everyone. They were surprised because stoic, misplaced Delta was hugging everyone.

The humvee pulled up and Jude came out. “Delta, Delta please forgive me. You were right. I am so sorry,”

Delta pulled away from him and he continued to babble, “I left Vince behind. I was wrong, Delta, please.” Then he started to cry, “I thought my mom and you and how this world would kill the two people I love most in this world.”

She pat him on the back, “I just want to get home, Jude, and I don’t want to die getting there.”

Fuzzy passed out dehydrated meals and water.

John talked with Jeff, “so the portal is on the other side of the Bay Bridge tunnel? That is a hell of walk across the bridge.”

“The tunnel was the worst, there is this safe place in the second tunnel. It is a small office but we can stop there and rest. We are better off to travel at night. We made it this far.”

“Okay so why don’t we try to get to this other road it’s about fifteen miles down, it will take us right to Virginia Beach and then they are some other roads we can use. They are probably old but should be okay.”

“St. George’s isn’t far away. We should probably wait until darkness to move.” Jeff argued.

“I think we should go now, we are here to protect you.” John motioned for Jeff to come to the back of the humvee. He opened the back and gave Jeff a gun.

“We are under direct orders from the president to shoot to kill. Our mission is to bring the kids home. Any of them responsible enough for a weapon?”

“I don’t know if any of them shot anything, but Delta definitely should have one she is more level headed, you’ll have to ask the others,” Jeff answered.

John selected a hand gun for Delta and gave it to her. John showed where the safety was and how to load the shells. She put the safety back on and shoved it her pack. John shook his head and gave her a holster. Talia and Shane each took a gun.

“I’ll feel safer already,” Talia said. “You didn’t happen to bring any smokes?”

Fuzzy pulled out his pack and gave her one, “Those things would kill you.”

“Trust me, I would rather die with cigarettes then in this place,” she said and inhaled deeply.

“Are you all ready to head out?” John asked impatiently.

“I think we should wait until the dark.” Jeff said.

“No, if you know what happened the last time it was dark, you are going to want to get as far from here as possible.”

“Why? What happened?” Delta asked.

“They are rounding up people. They are killing people for resisting the fuckers in charge,” John said.

Jeff looked into the woods, “What do you propose? We have to cross the bridge when it’s night. If the out portal is anything like the in portal, it’s only open a certain time of the time. I came to the portal eight hours into darkness.”

“I think we just go and find a safe place, the further we get away from here the better we will be.”

Jude looked at Delta and turned away. “I am ready, Jeff. We should go. I would rather walk every moment just to get the hell out of here.”

Jeff grabbed his pack and started walking. Delta and Shane followed behind him as others filled in between the humvee and the leaders. Jude joined the walking group but no one wanted to talk to him. Mercy moved away from him and joined Shane and Delta in the front. Sherry, Talia and Trisch huddled together as Michael walked in front of them, holding his gun out like a nervous spy.

“Do you trust him?” Shane whispered.

“Jude? No but I didn’t invite him back to the group. Our knights in a shining humvee did.”

“They are under orders,” Shane said and grabbed her hand, which he grasped tighter. “You want to talk about what happened?”

“No, I don’t. I am trying to forget it. I talked to Moira, but it was brief. I lost her.”

“We are going to get home, you know that right Delta?” Shane said.

She didn’t answer and focused on walking. Walking though the woods on a long forgotten road by the river that was too cold to be swimming in.

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