They don’t know our location, that much is obvious. I’m able to get most of the hospital patients wheeled out before the bombs start coming towards our general direction.
The once calm and collected camp is now in complete chaos; people screaming, children crying and cries of horror everywhere I look.
I’ve been assigned the task of getting the hospital patients out and it’s not an easy one. There’s about ten of us in total who can’t move on themselves and another twenty or so who are injured. Thankfully, just as I’m doing my best to help an old man into a wheelchair, a few women burst into the tent, offering their assistance.
I’m offered a wheelchair myself, but I pass it down and do my best to make it look like it barely hurts when I take a step. It’s probably not a very convincing act, but they hardly have time to argue.
Even though it’s utter chaos, the people seem to know the direction they’re meant to go. Floods and floods of people. Women clutching their children’s hands, men helping them along, teens sprinting for the exit.
We’re all meant to stay together, according to Florence, but for some reason I can’t really fathom, I step backwards just as their swept into the sea.
What do I do now? I ask myself this a few times before I hobble through the people and onto the other side of the sea where people are still leaving their camps. There’s a little girl stumbling around and make my way towards her, clutching my back as I go.
“Hey, sweetie, where’s your mummy?”
“I don’t know,” she cries, hot tears making her cheeks a bright red. “I’m scared.”
I use the snitch to scan her details for anything that might help. Ruth Collins, daughter of Maria and Jacob.
I take her hand after promising I’d help her find her mum and make my way through the tents, trying not to trip over the stuff that threatens to send me crashing to the ground. Not totally sure what I’ll do if I don’t find her mum, I try to remain positive.
Maybe it’s the power of wishful thinking, but only moments later do I spot a woman running around the tents, screaming Ruth’s name.
The snitch declares it is in fact Maria Collins.
I send Ruth running and only watch long enough to see her full into her mother’s arms before I turn and walk into the mob of people making their way from the tunnels wall. Miles and miles.
I have one task now and one task alone and that’s having to find Toby.
He was heading to the tunnel wall, that’s what he told me. Something about making sure his mum was packed up and ready and getting the men away from them since, if anywhere near them got hit, they’d be crushed by a rainfall off rocks, even if the rest of the tunnel didn’t give in.
So it’s that way where I’m headed when the next explosion hits, making me full flat on my face as the ground jolts wildly and a rain of dust drops from the roof.
The winds knocked out of me, but I still climb back to my feet, only to be thrown to the side again when yet another explosion hits. Looks like they’ve found our position.
It’s a suicide mission, I know, but something keeps me heading towards that tunnel wall, the one where Carmen would be located around if she were still there at all. Even though as I get closer and the explosions rock me stronger, I’m able to stay on my feet, utterly and completely determined that I will reach it whether it kills me or not.
A guy rushes past, only one year older than me according to my snitch. He stops, turns around and grabs onto my arm, trying to tug me back the way I came from.
“Get off of me!” I yell and try to wrench free.
“The tunnel’s collapsing, you moron. We have to get out of here!”
“No,” I pull free and shove him so he stumbles backwards, landing on his behind. “I’m finding my friend.”
I leave him there, cursing on the ground before running away again, yelling about how crazy and stupid I an. Somehow, I don’t think friendship is a stupid thing.
They seem to be working in a circular pattern, the explosions, and that’s how I know that they have somehow located our exact position.
I pray, pray, pray that the people have found their way out or are at least getting there because once that bomb hits the correct tunnel, every single one of them would die. Hundreds of lives would be lost. I also try not to think of the fact if I don’t hurry up, I too will be a goner.
Besides, I promised Alice I would do my best to survive and I have no intention of backing out from that promise.
How long has it been? Nearly an hour surely, but eventually, the end of the camp is in site, rugged and jagged and I know, even from this far distance that some of the tunnel has caved already.
I pick up the pace, willing my feet to move faster as my heart starts to panic in my chest, telling me that I’m to late. I can’t see anyone now, no one moving around at least. I’m not sure if that’s meant to be reassuring or not, but I take it that way. Maybe Toby’s made it out after all and I’m on a blind mission.
Jogging now, the tunnel wall’s becoming more prominent and after some argument, I will myself to break out into a sprint, not taking my eyes from a jagged edge until bam.
I’ve reached the edge of the camp. Well, some of it anyway because right now, I know that at least ten tents have collapsed in the perimeter.
I’m not sure how I know where to look, but eventually I stumble across the two figures, one obviously dead and the other sobbing over them.
They’ve hidden themselves under a tent, pulling the canvas up. I only spot it because of the shaking and than, as I pull it off and the man turns to me, red eyed and all, I know without the snitch.
“She wouldn’t come,” he sobs, clutching the woman’s hand tightly. “She said she would rather die than let the camp fall.”
An explosion to the right side now. They’re nearly at the front.
“Toby,” I reach out and push his dark curls away from his forehead, cringing when I encounter matted blood and a head wound about the size of my fist. “Did you get hit?”
“With a rock? Yeah, I got hit by many. How I wasn’t crushed by that rock, I don’t know. Somehow it chose to fell on my mum.”
I cringe at the size of the boulder that pins Carmen to the ground. She would have died instantly with its weight, unless she fought it with everything she had.
I hated her, but I would never wish a slow and painful death on someone, except maybe the queen bee Margaret.
“Toby,” I say again, laying a hand on his shoulder gently. “We have to go. Your mum wouldn’t want you to die down here?”
“So it’s okay for her to but not for me?” he spits at me, shoving my hand away. “I’m not leaving her. I know everyone hates her, but she’s my mum.”
“You’re sister’s still out there,” I glare at him. “Do you want me to tell her both her mother and brother were killed down in here because they didn’t want to leave? Do you know what that’ll do to her?”
His resolve wavers a little; I see it in his eyes. Before it disappears, I continue on.
“What about Alice, too? She told me you promised to marry her.”
“She what?”eyes wide now.
”Well, you probably didn’t mean it as a proposal, but she seemed to take it that way.”
His sobs that were just bearable before are now quieter. I reach out again while he’s distracted to inspect his wound, wincing.
There’s this almost perfect circle, practically branded into his head, almost like a dent. The left side of his face is completely covered in blood, making his face an almost purple colour.
I’m not a nurse, but seeing that wound makes me immediately sick and not in the way it grosses me out, but in the way someone is sickened by the mere thought of someone dying.
“You are not making me drag you out,” I climb to my feet, dusting the dirt from my jeans and trying not to wince. “If it comes to it, I will and you know it.”
His eyes flit from his mum to me.
“You would, wouldn’t you?”
“Yes. Now hurry up. Don’t die here like your mum. She wouldn’t have wanted that, no matter what you think.”
Even though I’m not entirely sure of that, it’s very likely. She may have hated Alice and me, but she did love her children.
Toby kisses Carmen’s cheek, utters a goodbye and climbs to his feet warily, stumbling and swaying.
“Are you okay?” I ask, reaching out and looping one of his arms around my shoulder so he can lean on me.
“Dizzy,” he mumbles, eyes fluttering a little.
My stomach curls, but I don’t say anything.
“Right, let’s get moving.”
I should point out that as all this is going on; the bombs are still going off, just slower paced. I wonder why that is. Maybe we’ve over taken them and they’re fighting for control of the bombs or maybe, this is all part of their mast plan. Is it meant to be relieving? All I can feel is terror.
Strangely enough, my spinal pains aren’t as painful like before. Maybe it’s the adrenaline or maybe it’s just the desire to survive, but I can move more easily and pain free, only wincing every now and than,
With each step, Toby seems to falter more and more. Before, when we first set out, he’d speak about something random that I couldn’t even make sense of, but now he’s quiet as he transfers all of his weight onto my shoulders.
“Come on,” I growl through my teeth, compelling him along. “We’ll get you medical assistance as soon as we reach the others.”
“Mm... kay...” he mumbles in my ear tiredly.
“No, you’re not okay,” I translate. “Just keep moving.”
A bomb on the left goes off and even though we’re about as far from it as you can get, I can feel a smash as each rock from the tunnel hits the floor sending out vibrations.
“That’s my home,” Toby mumbles, audible this time. “They’re destroying my home.”
Now I just want to cry. I will the tears away though, determined that we’ll get out of this no matter what.
“How far to go?” I grunt, dragging him further. At least we’re keeping up a good steady pace.
Back to slurring than.
“To far isn’t impossible to beat. Keep going.”
I don’t know how the hell we made it and I have no idea how it is that the cavern wasn’t bombed until we were at least half way through a certain tunnel. I’d ask Alice about it later and she’d tell me that a heap of the Society located those releasing the bombs and fought with them, doing their best to act as a diversion so we could get out in time. I’d than have to tell her what happened when we hit the surface, Toby practically passed out.
Thankfully, there were people at the tunnel entrance, waiting for any strays. They helped me drag up a limp Toby, yelling for medical assistance as I kneeled beside his fallen figure.
The sounds of gunshots were all around, screaming too. Another explosion a few blocks to the right and than another. Toby held onto my hand as the two medics set to work, cleaning the wound and muttering to each other. I held his eyes, refusing to cry even though I wanted nothing more at the time.
We all knew it was too late to save him, Toby included. They’d tell me later he actually prolonged his death for way longer than most would.
He’d weakly muttered for me to lean forward so he could whisper in my ear,
“Tell Alice I love her.”
And to that, I whispered back,
“I will. Let go, Toby.”
So he did.