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We were alone. The six of us stood staring down the road, waiting desperately for a rescue we knew would never come. The road was for once completely devoid of cars and pedestrians. A conspicuous lack of any other life made both the silence and the solitude even more pronounced. The sky overhead had turned from the clearest blue to the most opaque gray; a fitting change in scenery given the circumstances. I stared up at Tucker, who for once lacked any emotion in his face. He was looking down the road like the others, wanting as desperately as everyone else for the awful truth we’d learned not an hour before to be wrong.
Austin suddenly let out a breath and shook his head, turning away from the empty road. I didn’t like that. It was so completely out of character for him, to make a noise that sounded so much like he had lost hope. The sound seemed to have broken the spell over us though. Alex began to pace back and forth, and Jackson plopped down on the ground with his head in his arms. Sadie reached for Austin, perhaps to draw what little comfort she could from him. He would have none of it though, just shook his head and pulled away from her. I thought she would cry at that.
I looked over at Matt who hadn’t relaxed his position by the road. His eyes were locked onto the direction our rescue should have come from, as though willing Larkins to appear out of thin air. His unwavering stare disturbed me. Hesitantly, I reached over and touched his arm, and immediately regretted doing so. Matt turned his head sharply, glaring down at me with such intense fury, my eyes wetted under the pressure. His dark eyes softened at that, though he still looked ready to fight.
“What are you doing?”
Austin asked the question sharply, and seemed to question any shadow of intelligence that Sadie may or may not have possessed in his eyes. He was staring at her disbelievingly, as though she’d done something fundamentally ridiculous.
“I’m going back inside the school,” she said. “It’s going to storm soon.” It was true. Already I could feel the telltale drips of water land on my nose and hands.
“No you’re not,” Jackson said from his seat on the ground, his head raised to look at her calmly. “There are too many weaknesses there, too many doors and windows. We can’t barricade them all before they come and find us.” Alex nodded his assent somberly.
“Then where will we go?” Sadie asked desperately. “We can’t stay out here for too much longer. If Larkins doesn’t come soon –“
“Larkins won’t come at all,” I said sadly. As much as I wished that it wasn’t true, it would do no good to deny the obvious. Matt visibly blanched, but didn’t seem willing to argue against the fact that our teacher, our mentor, had left us.
“Then what are we going to do?” Alex asked, his voice cracking a bit with emotion. “If we stay here much longer they’ll find us, and then we’re done.”
The rain had picked up to a drizzle. Low thunder could be heard from far away, and smoke could be seen from over the tops of trees. They were getting closer.
“We have to leave,” Austin said forcefully. “We have to take shelter somewhere big with only one way in and one way out. We have to get to a place where we can defend ourselves” None of us knew where such a place could be found, if at all. Still we knew that it would be dangerous and stupid to try and wait anywhere near the school. What little belongings we had with us we carried in our backpacks as we walked away from the school, and I away from my home.
“Alice.” I turned my head toward the sound of my name, unable to mask my sadness as I looked up at Tucker. He said nothing else, but seemed to know what I was thinking. He seemed sorry for me; as though he knew that not only did it seem that we were all marked for death, but I was walking away from the best thing to have happened to me. Suddenly it all became overwhelming to me and I threw my arms around him, hugging him tightly. I expected for him to cringe a bit and push me away as he usually did, but was surprised when Tucker hugged me back. I tried to put everything I couldn’t vocalize into that hug, and I think he understood. We let go and hurried to catch up with the others as the thunder grew louder and the lightening flashed before our eyes.